I’m sorry if you’re here thinking I might have answers to your toddler screaming at bedtime. I’m sorry if you’re going through what we are. I’m sorry if bedtime takes forever and all you hear is screams. You see the devastating tears, and hear that heartwrenching no breathing screams that we do. That horrible scream where you wait, repeating just breath, just breath. The one where you know your little one hurts, they’re upset, they’re really totally devastated. I know how it feels. It’s horrible. It’s all consuming. Something is wrong and you don’t know what. Night after night it’s the same. Our previous good sleeper has turned into a bedtime monster. We dread it all day and wonder if we’ll finally crack it tonight. Solve the problem, find the solution. Find what’s wrong. Figure out if something is scaring her. We can’t plan anything for the evening because our little one might need us. And that little one is our world.
We’ve had this for a couple of weeks now. The bedtime routine goes well, H can’t wait to get to her bath after dinner, she can’t wait to clean her teeth and is excited to read her books. It all falls apart at the last hurdle when we try to put her in her cot. She screams. She grabs us. She’s like a monkey clinging on. She can climb out of the cot by holding one of our arms. But, if we leave her to cry it out (which did work at first, but didn’t improve 9over time), she’s now almost sick with screaming. She asks for cucu mumma (cuddles mummy) as soon as she’s in the cot. Now let me be straight, this is something she does if she’s on the other side of the stair gate, if she’s in her pushchair and wants out, or, if the car has stopped and she is ready and raring to go. She never actually wants a cuddle, she just has a quick one before squirming away to go and do what she really wants to do. She knows she needs a lift to get to where she wants.
We keep trying new things to teach her it is bedtime. Showing her the stars outside the window. That was getting towards last resort time as they’re not out til 9, and she should have been in bed long before that. I’m pretty sure a 21 month old who’s not napping needs more than 9-10 hours sleep in 24 hours. She’s tired in the day but mostly refuses to nap, the car, the pushchair all those usual tricks don’t work. So, that brings me back to bedtime, we needed another bedtime cue. So, we bought a Gro Clock (Amazon affiliate link). It’s screen turns from a yellow sun to blue with stars at bedtime. Perfect. And, she understood! We explained the stars mean bedtime, she said yes. She said stars. She put her cuddly toys to bed. We thought YES! WEVE CRACKED IT! Then she screamed as we tried to put her to bed. It didn’t work. She asked for cuddles. She pointed to the chair. She wanted to read pie (Each Peach Pear Plum).
Eventually after much sitting we managed to put her in her cot, with no screams and she went to sleep. This cycle continues night after night. She always asks for cuddles among her no-breathing screams, red cheeks, tears streaming screaming. Always trying to grab on to us. Not wanting us to go or leave her. It’s horrible, for us and her.
We thought she might be scared of something. She might have heard something somewhere, a quick throw away line on a TV programme or advert, another child mention a monster or being scared. We wondered if it was he dark. We tried leaving a light on. It didn’t work. We wondered if the baby monitor camera light was scaring her. We keep telling her her room is nice and safe, mummy and daddy are just beside her in their bed. There’s nothing to be scared of, mummy and daddy are here. We try to sleep on the floor with her. She snuggles for seconds before running around like a looney, pulling us up too. Telling us we’re stuck when we stay on the floor ‘sleeping’ fake snoring. We try not to laugh when she starts oh no-ing and poking us. We try putting her in the cot and sleeping on the floor beside her. But no, that makes her more frustrated.
We even thought she needed a duvet and pillow, but no, she likes the pillow, but the duvet just gets shoved off. We’re toying with the idea that she wants a toddler bed to be like us. She loved the ones in IKEA snuggling up on the a couple of months ago. We asked if she liked her cot, she said no. We asked if she liked her light, her curtains, her lamp: she said yes to them all. That move would bring other problems, so we’ll broach that later when we’re feeling brave. For now there are other avenues…
Sometimes I leave saying night night, and hubby gives her cuddles and reads the pie book. She still asks for me, but he says I’ve gone to bed. It’s sleepy time. She soon stops asking and eventually goes to bed peacefully for him.
We don’t know, if she actually wants cuddles til she’s nearly asleep (new theory as of last night), or, it’s me. She does act up for me at times, she does behave perfectly colouring in and two seconds after daddy leaves she starts throwing crayons.
We really don’t know what’s going on, which phase this is, why it’s happening, and what on earth to do but I had to write this to get it all off my chest. To show others going through this you’re not alone. I hope this phase is quickly over for us and you. I’m sending hugs to all you amazing parents out there, you’re doing an fabulous job. These little ones are testing, there are just so many phases these little ones go on, so many leaps and challenges that test us, and them. It’s not easy on any of us, no matter what facade we put on in public, most of us are going through it, if not now, then we have. As soon as it’s over we’ll try to block it out and get our evenings back! Hugs, coffee… and wine to you all,