I know how you feel… and I’m sorry – Toddler screaming at bedtime?

Life with a toddler
Toddler bedtime screams, night terrors, scared of cot... we don't know.
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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,

Lynne x

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  • Reply
    Mummy Muckups (Anna)
    September 5, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    All I can say is; same crap that everyone says that doesn’t help right now, but it WILL pass. You will get your life back and you will sleep; possibly not a full night, but enough to get you through happily. My daughter was not a sleep fan. All you can do is, keep trying, just like you are doing. Make sure you do it one night, then you partner does the next; give yourself a night out every now and then. Go or a walk or go see a movie. Make sure you look after each other because it is so bloody exhausting. All the very best. #bigpinklink
    Mummy Muckups (Anna) recently posted…A REAL THIGH SLAPPERMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 1:10 am

    I really feel for you. Sleep is so important for you and your daughter. You’ve probably already read all the books, I can really recommend ‘no cry sleep soloution’, I believe there’s a toddler version. I really hope you get your evenings back soon and that much needed sleep.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Maybe a leap or maybe separation anxiety. Holly had a little of that from my OH. Totally broke my heart when she didn’t want me.

    Maybe let her pick her own bedding or some music in the background would help.

    Good luck
    lisa recently posted…Pokemon Hunting At Edinburgh Zoo VlogMy Profile

  • Reply
    Pink Pear Bear
    September 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Oh, the nights are the worst! When they don’t sleep like that it can be traumatic. They get it eventually but in the interim, knowing that doesn’t help much. Thanks for joining us at the #bigpinklink
    Pink Pear Bear recently posted…Discovering Num Noms.My Profile

  • Reply
    Jaylan - Diapers at Dawn
    September 9, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Awww I hope she goes back to sleeping soon. I think all kids go through this in some way or another, our potty trained child is now having ‘accidents’ all over the place! Apparently stress can cause it so I’m putting it down to us being on holiday for ten days and then returning back to our normal routine – and back to work – being the reason he’s doing it. Maybe it’s something similar with your little one? It is horrible though x #KCACOLS
    Jaylan – Diapers at Dawn recently posted…What’s in my Trunki!My Profile

  • Reply
    September 9, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    No advice to share I’m afraid but you have my sympathy – you must all be exhausted. It can be for some many different reasons and it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack!!

    I hope the phase passes for you soon. xxx #KCACOLS
    Maria recently posted…Beauty Event at Bentalls, KingstonMy Profile

  • Reply
    Madeline (This Glorious Life)
    September 9, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I wish I had some advice to give you, but I do feel your pain. We’ve had various issues with both our two at various times and half the time all you can do is ride it out. x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…A fun morning with Smiggle #backtosmiggleMy Profile

  • Reply
    The Unsung Mum
    September 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Wish I had an answer for you but I don’t. My eldest is still going through it at 4 but the 2 year old has settled a bit. All i can say is loads of cake and coffee, oh and hair dye, lots of that too. #KCACOLS

  • Reply
    September 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    This sounds tough. hopefully it’s just a phase and she’ll get over it – but thats doesn’t help you for the here and now! #kcacols
    OddHogg recently posted…The Hairy HoggMy Profile

  • Reply
    Petite Words
    September 10, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    You’re doing amazingly and just hang on in their, focus on the positives and ditto it will pass. #KCACOLS

  • Reply
    Jane Taylor
    September 11, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Although it has been tough for you, I’m glad you’ve shared because you aren’t alone and so many folks will feel encouraged to realise there are others going through it. Its hard when you want to ease their distress but you also want them to break the cycle and nothing seems to work. All I can say is ‘this too will pass.’

    I hope this phase passes soon! Roll on happy bedtimes. Thanks for linking with #KCACOLS
    Jane Taylor recently posted…Window film: a thrifty alternative to blinds & curtains.My Profile

  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Sleep is so tricky, it must be so hard for you. I hope things get better soon, a very annoying phrase but everything is a phase! #kcacols
    Claire recently posted…It’s ok…007 #mumguiltMy Profile

  • Reply
    becca farrelly
    September 12, 2016 at 9:15 am

    I really understand how your feeling, I have ended up sitting in Mia’s room while she falls asleep for the past 3years and even though its a bad routine, it only takes 30mins ish and at least I know shes asleep and in bed so I can enjoy the rest of my evening. I cant stand her crying and cant relax thinking shes still awake so it just works for us. The problem we have at the moment is that she wont go upstairs to bed and wont get into her pjs so after an epic battle, she ends up 9/10 times in bed fully clothed! It will be something else in a few months time! 🙂

    becca farrelly recently posted…Raul E New York Signature Shadow Quad ReviewMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 13, 2016 at 11:58 am

    You are certainly not alone and I wish I had the answer for you. We’re stuck in a similar routine where one of us has to lie with the toddler until she’s fallen asleep before we can sneak out. This can be as late as 10pm which means we have no time for ourselves and end up going to bed which isn’t healthy for either of us. I hope you crack your bedtime routine x #KCACOLS

  • Reply
    September 13, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Aaah, the joys of toddler sleep! I was there with my first and didn’t even bother with my second! He went straight from co-sleeping into a toddler bed in his brother’s room at 15 months old. It caused different issues but at least I didn’t have to deal with the screaming!

    ‘This too shall pass’ has been my mantra for almost four years now…a chuff lot of good it does for you, but like you said, it’s good to know someone else is going through it! #KCACOLS

  • Reply
    September 14, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Sounds pretty normal to me my lovely, but these phases come and go I promise. Eventually…just keep telling yourself that 🙂 xxx #KCACOLS
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