Any magic tricks for getting a 4 year old and a 2 year old to sleep through the night??? I feel like I've tried everything and I'm due in 6 weeks with #3 so I'd love to have a night or two before this one comes haha .... My oldest takes a short nap and does fairly well but has bad dreams, we cut out tv before bed and my youngest only wants to sleep if she has a hand on me, I haven't slept a full night in 4 years ... I've put them both in a bed together hoping they would do better because they both like to sleep next to someone but so far I just have to go in a few times a night to get my youngest back down and mama's tired! She won't go to sleep or back to sleep for anyone but me and our bedtime routine is very consistent, 6:30 no more tv we do books and puzzles, 7 is bath time and then a good run down with lotion and fresh pjs by 8 were in bed and they are out fast so it's just staying asleep that's the problem, we've tried essential oils, white noise machines, night lights no night lights you name it. I'm just out of ideas.
It sounds like you have a great bedtime routine in place. That’s certainly a huge piece of the puzzle when trying to achieve healthy sleep habits for our little ones. Cutting out TV before bed was also an excellent idea. As a whole, it sounds like the routine is very well established; the only change I would suggest would be to put your 2 year old to bed sooner.
I’m not sure what your 2 year old’s nap schedule consists of, but she should be taking one mid-day nap that should last anywhere from 1 – 2 hours. If it’s closer to that 1 hour mark, then I’d consider moving bedtime closer to 7pm. If it’s closer to the two hour mark, then 7:30pm makes more sense.
I’m afraid there is no ‘magic trick’ to make your children sleep through the night (oh how I wish!!). Essential oils, white noise, soft music...none of these things alone will solve the issue. However, a cool, dark room is needed for optimal sleep.
I understand you put your children in the same bed because they enjoy sleeping next to someone. However, I think it’s reasonable to say they really enjoy sleeping with mom, not just someone. In this instance, putting them in the same bed isn’t helping you achieve your ultimate goal – having both kids sleep through the night. The 2 year old is still calling out to you at night, regardless of bed-sharing with her sibling. It sounds like the 4 year old might be waking unnecessarily during these outbursts as well. I would suggest giving the children separate beds so that if one awakens in the middle of the night, it will not hinder of the sleep of the other child.
Throughout the night, our children are constantly waking. Their sleep cycles are lasting no more than 90 minutes each. When a child sleeps through the night that means the child is able to connect their sleep cycles without intervention from mom or dad, but they are still waking up nonetheless.
Because your 2 year old is dependent on having you next to her when she falls asleep, she has also come to depend on you when she is waking between sleep cycles. In the beginning of the night her sleep is heavier (her drive to sleep is stronger) but as the night progresses, she isn’t as tired and so she’s more aware of the wake-ups between sleep cycles.
If your 2 year old falls asleep with you next to her – why shouldn’t she call to you when she awakens and you are gone? She is trying to recreate the situation in which she originally fell asleep. In this instance, the long-term goal would be to have her fall asleep on her own. The short-term goal could be to have her begin to fall asleep with dad in the room instead of mom.
You would begin by having dad handle the bedtime routine. This of course would have to be agreed upon between you both before beginning. It won’t be easy but if you are consistent (and don’t give in), she WILL be able to fall asleep with dad vs. mom. This would be the first step in breaking the association between needing mom to sleep and getting to your ultimate goal – your daughter sleeping through the night.
Once dad is able to put her to bed, slowly begin giving her more space to fall asleep. As an example, instead of having your 2 year old hold dad’s hand to fall asleep, she can hold a stuffed toy. Then dad can rub her back intermittently, with less and less involvement over the course of a week or two. You aren’t leaving her to fall asleep on her own (something she’s never done), but you’re also giving her a little space to begin to develop sleep habits that don’t involve a parent being present.
This case is more complex with no simple solution. These are habits that have been ingrained for years! However, it’s not insurmountable – children adapt to change quicker than us adults! If you decide you need more support and guidance as you work through these sleep challenges, I’m here to help.