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My 2-year-old granddaughter lives with me. For the last month she is so tired and is hard to get settled down. We tried lots of things to get her to calm down before bed. She used to go to bed at 8:30 but lately it's like 9:30 or later, she has to get up every morning at 6am and it's hell.

Can anyone give me some advice?

  • Perhaps this question has some helpful answers? – Jax Apr 28 '16 at 10:50
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That age can be tough. Both of our boys went through similar issues around two - they had a lot harder time going to sleep, went to sleep later, and were very hard to soothe. Some of it is, unfortunately, just time.

We tried several thing, some of which were helpful:

  1. Consistent bedtime. Try to get it to be a very consistent routine, consistent time, etc. Consistency is key.
  2. Adjust the time to what sleep she needs. Maybe she doesn't need more than that amount of sleep. Trying to make her go to bed earlier than she is tired means you're going to have a struggle.
  3. Reduce naps. At 2 most kids need less sleep than they did at 1. If she's still napping for 2-3 hours in the middle of the day, maybe she only needs 8 hours of sleep at night. (I think the theoretical amount is a bit higher, but not all children are theoretical children...) Our three year old stopped napping most days, and now goes to bed on time at night.
  4. Eliminate screen time within an hour of bed. Adults often think the TV is a great way to fall asleep, but for kids it's usually not helpful. Screens confuse your brain and make you think it's daytime. Less light in general is in fact a good idea - turn your house lights down (either dim them or turn some off) half an hour before bed.
  5. Talk to her about why she should go to bed, and give her strategies for dealing with the fact that bedtime is boring. Teach her to make up stories with her stuffed animals or dolls, for example. Point out to her the fun things she can do tomorrow if she sleeps now and gets a good night sleep.

Overall, though, the most helpful thing we did was 2 and 3 - we stopped trying to make our kids sleep as much. They just don't need quite as much sleep as they get older, and it can be hard to remember to adjust amount of sleep needed downwards (until they're teens!). If your granddaughter is acting like she gets enough sleep, then she probably is getting enough sleep, and you just need to work out when that sleep happens to the best of your ability.

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  • Be aware though, the napping thing can be counter-intuitive. Sometimes kids sleep poorly at night because they haven't napped enough, so bear that in mind. – Nathan Brown Apr 29 '16 at 15:28
  • @NathanBrown True, but I think the fact that she's waking up very early says the opposite most likely. When my kids don't nap enough and are fussy at bedtime, they sleep in the next day. – Joe Apr 29 '16 at 15:30
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I had a similar thing with mine, here's what worked for me and got my toddler sleeping through within 3-4 nights and was a landmark achievement seeing as he was used to sleeping in our bed and now had to go in a cot in his own room:

As already mentioned, a consistent bedtime is key - it is the foundation for their bedtime routine.

The first thing I did was around 7pm put his pyjamas on and brush his teeth, then around 7:30pm say goodnight to everyone and I would take him upstairs. (Again, all part of a routine that teaches them to start winding down)

The first night, he was hysterical as soon as I walked past our bedroom and put him in the cot, so I started reading one of his favourite books again and again. Eventually, he realised that he couldn't hear me and would stop being upset so that he could listen to the story. This went on for about an hour or two and eventually he lay down exhausted and went to sleep.

Second night, same routine with pyjamas and teeth brushing at the same time. Got up to his cot and he started crying but would immediately stop when I started reading the story. After about 30 mins I asked him to lie down and would only carry on reading when he did so. Again this took a couple of hours but eventually he fell asleep.

Repeated this process for the next couple of nights and he eventually stopped moaning/crying about going to bed and would look forward to having a story read to him before going to sleep.

Again, I cannot stress this enough - consistency is absolute key to success with this.

After a few months we had a blip for a couple of nights where he would get upset again about going to bed so we bought a new night light for him and made it his job to turn the stars on and pick a song - this made it fun for him and he would look forward to going to bed.

He is 2 and a half now and we have absolutely no mither off him about bed time. 7pm he gets his pyjamas and some milk. Then has his teeth brushed, says goodnight to everyone and goes to bed for 7:30pm and sleeps through until about 7:30am in his own bed.

Obviously every child is different so it might not be a book or a night light that gets yours excited about going to bed but you will find something that works for you - just make sure it's consistent!!!

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