A plea from a mother of a toddler who will not sleep

Jan 08, 2010

#Life#Rants and Raves#Those Little People

You wouldn’t think someone this adorable could cause any trouble.


And oh, you’d be wrong. And also a suckah.

I can remember sitting behind the recliner listening to the theme song from St. Elsewhere. I remember my mother, without looking back, yelling, “GO TO BED” and wondering how she even knew I was there. I was so quiet! The woman had eyes on the back of her head. She till does.

The theme music has changed, the recliner is different, but the person sitting behind the chair refusing to go to bed is reminiscent of 1982.

My son, my precious baby boy, the apple of my eye, is pissing me right the hell off.  The Boy willl not, for any bribes, threats, pleads, stay in his bed. He will not sleep before 10PM or past 6:30AM. He knows what he wants and he wants it. It’s us. He’s changed in to a little man wanting late night TV and a whisky (ok, fine, “milk” whatever) until way past bedtime. Past OUR bedtime.


Last night in a fit of “what DO I DO WITH YOU” I stated, “Every time you get out of bed, you lose a lovey.” It had a “This Wonderful Life” tone to it but with threats, lovies, and the absence of an adorable child telling a story about angels. It also didn’t work.

I tried putting him back in his pac-n-play telling him only big boys get to be in big boy beds and when he feels he’s ready to be a big boy and stay in his MAN BED, he can have that again. He said, “OH! MY CRIB! YEY!”

Epic Fail.

I’ve lost hair over this. I’ve tried guilt trips, bribes, threats. I’ve let him stay up, I’ve stayed in bed and snuggled, I’ve read extra books, I’ve tried to ignore the behavior.

I have no good answer. I have no good solution. I have my regrets for letting this kid sucker me in to manipulate me with his charming ways of telling me he loves me and his adorable ways of being two.


And now? I’m paying for it.

Help? Please? I’ll let you stay up late. I’ll even buy you a pony.


  1. if this story isn’t birth control right here, i dont know what is. Is it unethical or illegal to slip him a roofie?

    By vanessa on 2010 01 08

  2. Fresh air and exercise are the biggest factors in getting my kids to go to sleep and stay asleep.

    I posted a list of sleep tips here:

    The post includes a number of book recommendations. At his age, I would recommend the No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

    By Annie @ PhD in Parenting on 2010 01 08

  3. Oh Annie, I ran them like mad yesterday thinking the same thing. We hit a park almost daily if I can. I’ll go check out the list including the No Cry Sleep Solution.

    By Mrs. Flinger on 2010 01 08

  4. My sister tells my nephew when he misbehaves that she’s going to sell him to the gypsies. Tried that yet? wink

    By Olivia on 2010 01 08

  5. You know what mine does?  This:  “Mama! Mama! I WUUUV YEEEEW! ” (holds arms out with sweet, expectant look) “Kisses?”

    And then my name is Jello.

    Yeah. Kid gets whatever he wants.

    (P.S. Our sleep problem was similar, but not nearly as bad. I can tell you what I did, that worked for us… If you want. Lemme know)

    By bejewell on 2010 01 08

  6. There really aren’t any great solutions that I have found with our kids.  Patience (what little I could summon) and consistency.

    It is painful.  I agree.

    What I kept reminding myself, and it really did help, is that there are almost no typically developing 12-year-old boys that still wake up and ask to sleep with their parents. 

    This too shall pass.  Stay strong and try to just be consistent.  These kids, they can smell fear smile

    By Molly on 2010 01 08

  7. Bach Rescue Remedy? Works on my LO, but then she’s only 3 months old. But don’t let that fool you. She’ll happily sit and cry about being tired. But sleep? No chance.  Rescue Remedy helps her settle, and is completely natural and has no side effects. And there’s an alcohol free version too.  Good luck!

    By Luschka on 2010 01 08

  8. How about a gate? 

    Our 5 year old got out after she was told to go to bed…she’s the only one we’ve ever had issues with…our two boys go to bed and stay in bed…we’ve taken away pillows, blankets, binkies, lovies, the LIGHTS…

    What helped was talking with her during the day…we had a sticker chart and the morning she got stickers for her paper…10 stickers was sugar cereal…hey, bribes worked for us! 

    Patience…but be consistent.

    By amy Purvis on 2010 01 08

  9. I sit in my son’s bed working on my laptop(after reading him books and such). It’s the only way I have found to “be” with him at bedtime (like he wants) without being resentful about it (like I want.) Not a perfect solution by any means, but it’s working for now.

    By Brigid on 2010 01 08

  10. If you find the solution? Let me know. My darling insomniac princess turns 7 in 2 weeks and it’s a battle at least 4 nights a week.

    Honestly, we’ve just rather gotten into a routine of rock, paper, scissors on who has to take her back up first - then we alternate.  I know she’s giving up when she rolls over to face the wall. Sometimes first try, sometimes tenth.

    The baby gates that went up to keep the new puppy semi-contained while we house train? Have provided a small measure of inability to sneak downstairs. Now she just calls down with “Mommy? Daddy? I can’t sleep…”


    At least she comes by it honestly - I never could either. Still can’t.

    By Lucretia Pruitt on 2010 01 08

  11. Try a warm bath soothing music and reading to him. Try staying with him in the room until he falls asleep and believe it or not sometimes putting them to bed earlier than you have been might work (I think it is called the bedtime window) He could just be growing and this too will pass…if you live to tell about it could be another story

    By alyssa on 2010 01 08

  12. I suggest saying hasta la bye bye to the daytime nap and you are golden (after a while to break the cycle)!

    By Michelle M on 2010 01 08

  13. We have the same issues with our 3.5 yo. Not sure it is a total solution but we have made some improvements by setting the boundary at the door to his room not the bed. If he wants to get out of bed and quietly play with toys or read to himself (turn pages and make up stories) that is ok. He just isn’t allowed out of his room. Only exception is to go potty.

    By Andrew Robinson on 2010 01 08

  14. We have the same issues with our 3.5 yo. Not sure it is a total solution but we have made some improvements by setting the boundary at the door to his room not the bed. If he wants to get out of bed and quietly play with toys or read to himself (turn pages and make up stories) that is ok. He just isn’t allowed out of his room. Only exception is to go potty.

    By Andrew Robinson on 2010 01 08

  15. Aack!  I’ve got a 2 1/2 year old blond boy with a remarkably similar problem.  I have a bit of perspective.  His 6 year old sister did the same thing.  Until she was 3ish.  And then she just started staying in bed.

    By Valerie on 2010 01 08

  16. Sigh. If you figure it out, let me know. There’s a reason I tell everyone that whenever we have a 2nd baby, God owes me a good sleeper. Because my girl? Does not sleep. Never has. I haven’t had a consistent good night’s sleep since sometime in 2006. I am TIRED.

    By cindy w on 2010 01 08

  17. I just can’t get past how gorgeous he is. I think you’re making it up. And, frankly, I think that’s just not right.

    By patois on 2010 01 08

  18. I started giving mine treats from the NightNight Fairy in the morning if they stayed in bed the night before.

    There’s that, or going full-on Joan Crawford/Mommy Dearest and strap him to the bed.

    By Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] on 2010 01 08

  19. Dude, my 2 year old is the same. Bribing worked for only so long. I tried to read the no cry sleep solution when she was like 8 months old and got bored 10 pages in.
    If he’s happy in his crib, let him sleep in it, at least he can’t get out right?
    If that fails, would it be bad to give him Nyquil?

    By Jessi Brown on 2010 01 08

  20. The boy, he’ll turn out ok.  So cute when he’s sleeping… Huh?  Anyway, when I was a kid I would stay up for Cheers. Can still hear the theme song late at night.  Would hide behind a recliner only slightly more hideous than the mancliner you love to hate (may the mancliner live forever).

    By Mr. Flinger on 2010 01 09