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Toddler Bedtime Battles – A Family Story

Meet Ralph! Ralph is 3 and half! He was a great 11 hour sleeper when he was a baby right up just before his 3rd birthday.

Then, a little holiday away everything changed. Ralph liked to have a story read to him to fall asleep, he then wanted to sleep with Mummy and Daddy. On return home after a week away bedtimes became harder, he started refusing to put pyjamas on and taking up to an hour to fall asleep. He always found an excuse not to sleep, teddy fell out of bed, and his covers fell off, another story and then another then another then another!

Ralph was full of questions as well! He liked to know things especially if he was going to nursery the next day and who will be there! His parents tried to leave the room but it never happened easily or without a battle.

​Then Ralph started to wake in the night and not go back to his bed unless Mummy or Daddy came with him. ​4.30am became a favourite for Ralph to start the day!

Eventually a camp bed was purchased and parents took turns to sleep in Ralph’s room just so everyone would get some sleep. Then, Ralph would wake up at 4.30am and think it was a great time to start the day! Poor Mum and Dad desperately needing more sleep. Television was offered and they often invited Ralph into their bed but it was just too much fun for Ralph.

This was not sustainable anymore for this family.

“We turned to Rachael because our nights had become a daily source of stress, anxiety and desperation. We suffered from torturous bedtimes, broken nights and early mornings”.

Something had to change, they were in a sleep crisis and were not sure AT ALL if anything could change. Could Ralph really sleep in his bed all night long without Mummy or Daddy there?

YES – He can!

Mum got in touch with me to find out if this was even possible and how I could help. They chose a 2 week plan with added phone call support.

So What Did We Do?

Ralph was still having a nap so this was something I knew had to go as it was impacting on his night sleep so much. He needed to have a much earlier bedtime to compensate. Ralph also goes to nursery so they to needed to be in on the plan also. Strict instructions – no more napping!

Bedtime routine was a battle for parents but a game to Ralph, so we changed it up a little and introduced a bedtime routine chart. He LOVED it! Children love routine, they respond well when they know what is coming next and what is expected of them. This was great. Mum did a wonderful artistic job and made this beauty….

Bedtimes went from an hour + of stress down to 30 minutes of calm. That 30 minutes included bath, teeth brushing, pyjamas on, story and lights out! Ralph was asleep in 10 minutes!

During the day a lot of boundaries were being crossed and buttons pushed. Both parents worked tirelessly and consistently to ensure that Ralph’s needs were met but also being mindful of not giving in for an easy life. As soon as a child wins that game we know it can be hard to come back from!

"Rachael came up with a plan and was with us every step of the way"!

We put a step by step plan in place for night time waking’s. Consistency was key but equally a sleep journey is very fluid to start with so we knew we may need to change our tactics and try something from a different angle because children are not robots. They have feelings, needs and emotions.

We knew this process was not going to be a quick one, often toddlers take at least 3 weeks to change sleep patterns.

And that is what it was! 3 weeks to the day we not only saw changes happen at bedtime with Ralph falling asleep in 10 minutes but night time waking’s were less and easier to deal with. Give another week and we then got a run of straight night’s sleep! Mornings changed from 4.30am to 6am!

And lest we forget poor Ralph even had a broken ankle in the middle of all of this! He was a superstar through it all and it did not impact too much at all on his nights.

"Bedtimes are enjoyable and calm, and we have reclaimed our nights"!

Both Mum and dad could not believe the changes! Ralph’s personality in the day was happy, easier to “tame” and even his eating habits changed a little for the better!

"Rachael could not have been more supportive, motivational and informative.

We're immensely grateful to Rachael for everything she has done for us"!

So there we have another happy family back to sleeping well at night again. Everyone’s needs are being met and more with all the sleep they are now getting.

Peaceful nights to you all,


Your paediatric Sleep Consultant



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