New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎03-18-2014

3 1/2 yr old takes forever to go to bed

From day one, he has always slept in his bed and we have always had a routine (bath, teeth, potty, books, etc.), but lately this routine has begun taking forever! Now he wants to swing (hold his hands and swing him back and fourth), then read a book, then do a little dance; and this is all AFTER the bathroom stuff.  Actually even all of that isn't too bad, but the real problem becomes after the light goes off and we rock, then he climbs into bed....then he has to go pee, then he wants another round of hugs, then many times he decides he needs to go #2 as well (yes this woudl be the 3rd trip to the potty since the bedtime routine started), and yes he actually goes potty, even if it is just a little all 3 times!  Then normally after all of that I hear him in his bed playing for 30-60 minutes before he ever falls asleep.  He won't get out of his bed on his own unless one of us opens his door, not sure how we lucked out with that, so he isn't getting up and walking around.  But what used to take 30-45 minutes is now taking 45-90 minutes and I am at my wits end.  My husband is gone 99% of the time during the week which leaves me as a single mother and I have lately found myself getting more and more upset with my son for this procrastination.  Any advice or tips are appreciated!

Regular Contributor
Posts: 223
Registered: ‎08-20-2013

Re: 3 1/2 yr old takes forever to go to bed

I had similar happen with my 3 year old about 6 months or so ago (DH works evening swing to so like you I'm alone for bedtime). It took a lot of consistency to get her to stop procrastinating bed. I would tuck her in and she'd ask to go potty like 5 times!!! And each time she would pee just a little bit or poop just a little bit too!!! To get her to stop that I started to tell her that she could go potty ONE more time after she got tucked in and then no. more. trips. to the bathroom. After about a week of that she stopped going after her last bathroom trip.


For the kisses/ hugs thing she could have me giving her kisses for like 30 minutes if I let her. So I had to start telling her last kiss, all done, then leaving the room.


She also has a water bottle and I'll give it to her and put it back after she's done, but I've had to be really clear I'll only do it that ONE time. Or else I'd be in there all night long giving it to her.


I will warn you though that this was met with MUCH resistance. I want to say the worst night was a 1 1/2 hour long terror (because temper is the wrong word for what happened that night) tantrum. I'm actually amazed her younger sister slept through the whole thing because they share a room. But that was really the only bad night we had. Since then bedtime routine/ bedtime has cut down to about a 15 minute process whereas before it could be an hour long with everything DD was asking for.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎03-25-2014

Re: 3 1/2 yr old takes forever to go to bed

I would be happy to offer some advice on how to help your little sleep. I help families everyday in your situation. Your prior routine was great. I recommend that you go back to basics and limit everything to just once and not offering anything after lights are out. I definitely recommend that the hour before bedtime be quiet play as well so he has time to whine down. He may ask for more but you can set the boundaries and not engage in swinging or dancing right before sleep time. I recommend talking to your child about his sleep routine and even creating a fun chart that he can look at every night so it's clear as to what can be expected during sleep routine. Have them repeat each step as you walk through it each night. Once lights are out, I recommend that you no longer engage him in conversation because you are keeping him up longer by doing so, though we all know it's not your intention. To him, any engagement is a reason to keep things going. If need be, place a chair near his bedroom door and sit there until he falls asleep, but remember no more engagement after lights out. Move the chair outside the room a few days later and continue moving it until out of site. Btw, you may not need to implement this method at all. It might just be sufficient to try all the other things I suggested.

As for using the potty, I recommend moving up dinner time, if possible and limiting food and beverage intake. So, I am recommending that you not give him anything to eat or drink an hour and a half prior to bedtime.

Lastly, he may be getting to bed too late for his age and that can be one of the reasons he is fighting you on sleep. Or, he maybe napping too long and so bedtime is too early. If bedtime is around 8, but his nap (if he naps) is ending after 3, then I recommend capping his nap at 3 or slightly earlier so he can get to bed at a reasonable time without all the song and dance, no pun intended :smileywink:

I hope this information helps you. Feel free to reach out via Baby Sleep Whisperer dot com if you need more help. Wishing you more sleep soon. -Ingrid
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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-27-2014

Re: 3 1/2 yr old takes forever to go to bed

I'm in the same situation with my 3 year old. He's always had the same bed time, the same routine, and has ALWAYS slept through the night. Now, he'll take several minutes to find the book he wants to read and brushing his teeth/ going potty, then once I finally put him down, he "drops" his blanky or his book (he likes to sleep with whatever book we read that night) and he'll cry for me to come find it for him. He'll do this 2 or 3 times before he quietens down, but I still find him sitting up in his bed with a toy if I peek my head in. I've tried taking all the toys from his room, but then he just finds ways to play with his blanky. Its honestly very irratating, especially for a single mother.

Posts: 36
Registered: ‎11-13-2013

Re: 3 1/2 yr old takes forever to go to bed

Being a mom, you should try to do something which could give him a reason to wake up early. Maybe he is lacking the energy level on thst occasion and avoids to go into the same mundane routine. So it's better that you plan out something right in the morning to make him pouce on his routine. It might be tough in the beginning but gradually he would be ok.

Occasional Visitor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎05-14-2014

Re: 3 1/2 yr old takes forever to go to bed

Hi Ingrid;
I'm having an issue with my 2 1/2 going to bed. We also have a routine, but after lights are out he constantly gets up. I will place him back in bed and he gets up repeatedly. This can last for hours even though he is tired.
Also he wants an adult to sleep in his bed otherwise he gets up in the middle of the night when I'm feeding his siblings and then he won't go back to bed until I'm finished feeding and go to bed with him.
I don't know what to do. Any helpful suggestions?
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