Question: I have a two year old girl who has just learned to climb out of her crib. her first experience wasn’t too good as i was down stairs for at least a half an hour and she had climbed out of her crib and her door was shot so she was in her room alone in the dark. When I came up stairs she was crying so I checked on her and she was by the door. It was sad. since then I have not been able to get her to sleep at night.
I have no problems with her naps only night time. she has always been a difficult one to get to sleep and fights it as much as she can but I had her able to go to sleep on her own, now she won’t. I have done some research and have established a set bedtime routine starting after supper. She wakes up in the morning at 700 ( I have to wake her up) nap is at 1230 and there is no problems she sleeps for 2-21/2 hrs. She then is in bed between 830-9. she asks me to sit with her and I will for like 1/2 hour and still while I’m in there she will cry. I don’t know what to do I’m lost please help me!
Answer: Dear Christine:
First of all a bedtime schedule is not the same as a routine. A schedule is about time and a routine is all about processes. Children do not understand time and I fail to understand parents and experts who advocate on set bedtimes. Children are approximately 6-8 years of age before they start to grasp the concept of time and clocks.
You daughter is only 2 years old and children sometimes do not sleep through the night until they are 3,4 or 5 years of age.
It sounds like what you are doing is not working for either one of you so I assume you are open to doing things differently. Please do read all the past postings here from parents who ask the same question. My responses are full of suggestions.
Next, establish a bedtime routine. Making sure the noise in her home is down, turn off the TV, the radio, computers etc….spend time reading to her, bathing her and playing with her. (Bathing is important as it lowers the body temperature and often helps children sleep better.)
Next why not spend time with her until she is asleep by practicing baby massage. Who doesn’t sleep more soundly and better when they have a full body massage. Also try putting something in her room that smells like you so she can comfort herself when she does wake up. There is nothing wrong with laying down with her to calm her down and get her back to sleep.
Lastly remember she is only 2 years old and while there are no ghosts and goblins hiding under her bed or in her room she doesn’t understand the shadows and strange lighting that she may encounter when she wakes up to look around. Nighttime can be scary for some children especially ones with active imaginations. Remember she is not waking up and crying because it is fun for her, something is bothering her. While you may not ever know what that something is you can massage her back to sleep, sing to her or read her a story until she drifts off.
M Kay Keller