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I am writing here because I have tried everything there is. I am 22 weeks pregnant and my 2 yo (he will turn 2 on the 12th of October) weights 17 kg so I cannot handle him easily.

So here it is: he's always been a bad, really bad sleeper. We got him to sleep in his cot alone, but he won't go to bed if I (or sometimes he accepts my husband) hold his hand. Since my tummy is getting bigger and bigger I find it difficult to stay in that position. Furthermore, we are thinking of moving him into his own room.

The problem is, he can jump from his cot extremely easily, so I cannot just leave him in the cot and wait outside his room because he will follow me.

Has anyone been through something similar? What worked for you? Also I want to do this sooner and avoid him thinking he is thrown out of the room by the coming of the baby.

  • My friends used a proper key to a door with a lock. Wasn't pleasant, but it worked. The kid was sleeping in his own room for more than a year, by then, so it's not the same. – Dariusz Oct 7 '14 at 15:18
  • Ha ha, knowing our son he would wake up the building with his screams if we did that. Also, it would traumatise his little mind, being thrown out from our room and locked in another room. :) – Kytana Oct 7 '14 at 15:33
  • we went through something similar, and we a) set a timelimit (I will sing 2 songs, then leave) when we sat with him, and b) allowed him to sleep in our bed if he wanted to. Every time he left the room we told him to go back, or to any bed. In addition we c) allowed him to have a toy or book in the bed as long as he stayed in his bed. I also used my pregnancy as the 'excuse' - I can't sit on your bed with you. – Ida Oct 7 '14 at 17:06
  • By accepting an answer so quickly you have seriously limited the amount of advice you can get. People tend to not answer questions with already accepted answers. – Dariusz Oct 7 '14 at 19:36
  • Accepting? You mean the "check sign"? I had no idea that's what it did... thanks – Kytana Oct 8 '14 at 7:00
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Getting used to sleeping in your own bed can be really tough for a child! If you try to do this completely and finally, cold turkey style, you're going to have a harder time of it. If you make it a slow change, it will be easier.

It also sounds like your child has his own room, but also has a cot in your room? If that is true, I feel like that might give him some confusion as to where his room is. I would encourage you to firmly establish whose room is whose, so that he understands when he is in your room on the cot, it is your room and not his. If he does have a cot in your room, in addition to his own bed, I would suggest removing the cot and explaining that he does not need a cot in your room, since he has his own bed to sleep in.

I would also recommend not talking about his new sibling in this situation! If he associates his sudden change in sleeping patterns with you being pregnant/his new brother/sister, he may begin to resent the baby and thus trigger some jealously issues.

This isn't about the new baby, it's about him being a big boy now and sleeping in his own room.

Anyway back to issue at hand. For me, there were a few strategies.

  1. Sleeping in child's bed with them.
  2. Making a deal with them, and letting them sleep with you every other night. this obviously won't work if he doesn't have a cot anymore and your bed isn't big enough to fit everybody in it, but it's something we used
  3. Putting on music in their room.
  4. Staying with him in his bed till he falls asleep.

You could also try recruiting DH to sleep with him while you get your much needed sleep. Not sure what your arrangements are exactly, but I suspect he'd take DH over nobody if those were his only options.

We haven't had any other children since my son so my wife never had to go through handling him at bedtime while pregnant, so I don't quite understand the exact difficulties you're facing here.

Also, I'm always a fan of the reasoning route. Using logic and explaining the truth of the matter. I've found children surprisingly understanding, so long as you are able to get on their level of communication. As your child is only two, that could be very difficult.

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First off: Happy birthday to your son! 2 years old is a very interesting time for a child. By then, children have started to get a real grasp on the world surrounding them. They already interact with peers. In a few months your son is likely to start to become self-aware ("Bobby wants..." becomes "I want..."). Language and communication abilities are going to start to explode. This is a very interesting and intense phase, and can put serious strain on children living through it – and on their parents.

On top of this, your son will become an older brother. A younger sibling being born is often a very hard time for the older siblings, especially if there is only one older child. From being the whole family's center of attention and the sole target of care they step down to the second place. And they had no saying in this decision, they weren't asked, and there's nothing they can do about this dramatic change in their world. They can make the obvious connection ("this wailing thing came and immediately took away what used to be mine") and blame the newly born baby, and it's not rare for the older child to lash out in frustration at the newest family member.

Keeping the balance of attention right and preventing the older sibling(s) from feeling bad about the new sibling can be very hard for parents. That is worst immediately after the baby is born (when the newborn is totally helpless and the mother might not be able to do everything she used to), but many toddlers feel it already during pregnancy, when their parents think and care a lot about the yet-unborn, when their mother cannot play with them as she might used to, because this is physically too challenging for her or because she might feel sick or tired. Many children will revert to demanding the comforter they had already abandoned, start again to come to their parents' bed each night, and show similar habits that their parents thought they had long since left behind.

Keep this in mind when you think about your son's behavior. And keep in mind that he is only 2 years old, and just started to get a grasp on the world. You cannot reason with a 2 year old as you can with a 6 or 8 year old. A 2 year old will only have started to learn to not to demand immediate satisfaction of every need or to deliberately step back. He cannot imagine himself in someone else's place and look at the situation from that other person's POV (as this requires self-awareness, which is not quite there yet around the 2nd birthday).

Also I want to do this sooner and avoid him thinking he is thrown out of the room by the coming of the baby.

With this in mind: This might be a hard time to teach your child to be more autonomous. He might already feel the imminent dethronement, and this might make him more prone to demand more attention. When you keep fighting over this for another 8 weeks, it might just be close enough to the birth of the new child that he (unconsciously) makes a connection and blames it on the youngest family member. Maybe this just isn't the right time to do this at all? I know that, after two years with your first child, parents feel like they deserve a little bit of privacy and return-to-normal. But you will have a newborn next year anyway, which will tear down every bit of "normalcy" you have. Is the break of two or three months you might be able to gain until then really worth the hassle it takes? (I'm not telling you to not to do this, because I don't know. I am just asking the question. You as the parents will need to answer it.)

Has anyone been through something similar?

Yes, definitely. Getting your children to go to bed easily is on top of everybody's list of what parents want their children to learn. Basically, there's two ways people deal with it. Some parents just enforce it. They lock the room (or whatever it takes to force the child to stay in bed) and leave, and after a few days or weeks the child will have given up. Now, call me a weakling, but, TBH, I cringe at the idea of willfully abandoning or even locking away a toddler that is upset about the parents not being around. My philosophy always is that, if a child weeps, it's upset, in distress, in need of help. And it's my task as a parent to provide that help. If a child doesn't want to sleep alone, why would I force it to? After all, we also feel forlorn when we have to sleep alone.

So when we expected our second child, we extended our bed (from 160x200cm to 200x200cm), so that there was room for all four of us. Our oldest did have her own bed back then, next to ours, and she was proud to use it, but came into our bed every morning and sometimes during in the night. She was allowed to go to sleep in her own bed or in our bed. We never put any pressure on her to sleep in her bed, other than making her very proud to have her own bed and be big enough to sleep by herself. (This is easy to achieve: Praise her being old enough in front of friends, suggest she might show off her own bed to visitors...) And we required everybody who cam to visit us to see the newborn to bring a present for our older child (who could appreciate it), rather than for the newborn (who could only appreciate warmth, a teat, and a new diaper).

The result was that, when the baby came, our older child slept in our bed a lot, too. (Which was OK, because we had the space for this.) Also she was all over her new sibling, cherishing it, and trying to be "helpful". We allowed and encouraged this as much as possible even though it sometimes caused a temporary "disadvantage" for the newborn, because in the long run it prevented her from feeling jealous and resentful. After a few months, any anxiety about being pushed off the center of attention went away. She retired to her bed more and more. (But I remember the oldest ones coming into our beds in the morning even when they were much older. They loved it.)

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Well my kids were good sleepers but I do have a suggestion, if he can jump from his cot, put the cot on the ground! Or get rails of some kind.

Every kid is different but my son had an attachment to his binkie that was getting worse and worse, then we noticed that his front teeth had a gap, so we decided that he needed to end that.

So I started telling him throughout the day that he wasnt going to be able to have his binkie anymore because of the gap he had between his upper and lower teeth, I repeated this maybe 5 or so times throughout the day and several more in the evening, asking him along the way if he wanted big gaps in his teeth. That night he gave a little fuss but by the next night he didnt seem to care and I didnt bring it up.

So I would be nice about it, give him consequences to him staying with you that effect HIM, you can even lie and say that as my belly gets bigger you'll push him off of the bed, I tell my son that he has to brush his teeth otherwise they'll fall out!

Thats what works for me, semi-true consequences, calm speaking and repetition, and asking him if he wants those consequences to happen.

  • Thank you for your answer! Sounds like a good idea. We already removed 3 bars from his cot so he can get out/in easier but he still likes to get up and simply throw himself in and out of the cot. Sometimes I am scared he will hurt himself... I will remove that side of the cot for good or even transform it into a bed. And from there, I have no idea, but I guess something will come to mind. Thanks again! – Kytana Oct 7 '14 at 13:53
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Go the Cold Turkey way and never stay with the toddler in the bed until they fall asleep, as it may encourage their attention-seeking behaviour. If this doesn't work, lock the child in his room and don't unlock until the next morning. (but this is little harsh)

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