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Advice for me – changing toddler sleep patterns

I wondered if anyone had any advice for me? Tibbs has always been the sort of child that goes to sleep first time. She has a big track record of early waking, but this new phase is puzzling and a bit stressful so I’m looking for advice.

Tibbs is two and a half.

Basically, I put her down after stories, cuddles and singing, and instead of drifting off, she slowly starts to cry for me. The only way to settle her into relaxation is to ‘lie on the floor’, which she asks us to do. Being on an exercise kick as I am, I often change into my workout clothes before I put her to bed and then do my crunches and floor workout in her room as she goes to sleep. She doesn’t seem to mind my puffing and panting, she just wants someone in the room.

We have a Gro Clock and we make a big deal of the sun going down and the stars coming out. We’ve also tried, not very successfully, letting her ‘cry it out’. She becomes absolutely enraged, throws everything, including her dummy, out of the cot, and shouts for us. A couple of times, the end point has been settling her in our bed, where the dog keeps her company and we move her back to her cot when she falls asleep, or putting her in her ReadyBed beside our bed to sleep.

As she’s on the small side, we’ve not felt the need to take the sides off her cot yet and have her in a sleeping bag and light pyjamas.

Has anyone else experienced this, and what have you done to solve this phase?


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  1. Holly Holly

    Hi Eleanor,
    My son at 18 months changed his pattern and regularly struggles to sleep at bedtime and woke many times inconsolable in the night. It was horrible for everyone. After a few months if various things and ‘cry it out’ attempts I went and saw Camilla fr Night Nannies at a free drop in clinic at Bubba Hub. She was great. Said to stop any kind of controlled crying as he was too old to start that… She said be consistent with what you do and tell them what you are going to do. Do and say the same things eac time. Have one person attend the child all night and then swap adults the next day… But do/say the same things. So for example… Lie them down if standing, say time for sleep, mummy is going to rub your back 10 times and then leave you to sleep… And count out the rubs so they can hear…I know it doesn’t sound very different to prob what you do… But the consistency is the crucial thing I think. If you leave the room and they cry… Go back in and do it again… No crying it out. Also don’t let any anger you feel reflect in your voice. It took a couple of weeks… But we saw improvements within a week… My boy is now back to a much better pattern and we are all a bit more sane. Good luck with it, as it is tough. Also contact bubba Hub and see if they have another clinic soon if you need that.
    Ps… Thanks for the blogs x

    • Holly Holly

      Ps… I know my experience is based around all night proba, rather than just bedtime… But I think the same basics might apply to both. Sleep well Tibbs

    • No, Holly, thank you for the advice it’s brilliant!

  2. Hi Eleanor.

    Im not claiming to be expert but I have raised two now teenage girls and a 2 year old with no sleep problems.
    A few questions…

    Does she have a daytime nap? If so, for how long and at what time? Also at what times do you feed her? What does she drink during the day and are drinks given regularly?

    It bugs me that I can’t remember the name of the book that I read over 13 years ago when I had the same problem with my first born – but these where the questions … Just a small tweaking with times or lengths of Daytime naps can mean LITERALLY EVERYTHING!!
    AND..If all else fails Id highly recommend a (BALTIC AMBER) teeth necklace.

    • You raise some really interesting points actually, because Tibbs is at nursery, I know the loose times at which they eat, but not how often and when she drinks. She has water before bedtime and milk before bed though. I’ve asked nursery to limit her nap to an hour from today onwards, to see if that helps. And then, I guess, we’ll look at cutting it out. Thanks so much for that link too, it’s really fab. Thanks for taking the time to advise, really kind.

  3. Vicky Sands Vicky Sands

    Hi Eleanor, we had a similar experience at that age which seemed to coincide with his imagination and emotional development. There was a bit more of ‘there’s a tiger in the tent’ and him starting to be afraid of the dark. I used to sit and stroke his head for a bit and try to get him to think of nice things we’d done (or were going to do) and then I’d just bang around upstairs so he knew I was nearby. If he shouted me I’d be able to call back that I was just in the next room making the bed and that seemed to reassure him. Might not be the same but worth a try if she seems to settle with you in the room. Good luck x

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