When your two year old is a sleep thief (still)

my 2 year old doesn't sleep

Whenever I used to hear of two year olds not sleeping I used to offer a sympathetic head tilt.  And secretly used to wonder what those parents were doing, what two year old doesn’t sleep??

Now, two years later I’m eating my words.  Who has a two year old that doesn’t sleep?  I do.

I’m now on the receiving end of sympathetic head tilts, and people asking have you tried this, have you tried that.

Yes.  I’ve tried a lot.

No.  He still doesn’t sleep.

He didn’t sleep when he was 4 months old, he didn’t sleep when he was a year old, he didn’t sleep at 18 months and he still doesn’t sleep now.

You need to put him to bed awake, he’s relying on you to put him to sleep.

He goes to bed awake, he lies in the cot, talks to his bunny (or monkey, or lion depending on his mood) before hurling it out.  He sits and reads his books to himself after story time (or rips them up in a fit of temper) and then lies down and goes to sleep.

my two year old doesn't sleep

Most of the time.  He has nights where he needs extra cuddles, he has nights where I hold his hand in the cot, he has nights where I’m in and out like a yoyo.  But for the most part, he puts himself to sleep in his cot.

And he still doesn’t sleep through the night.

You need to try a consistent bedtime, the same every night.  No you need to change it – it’s not working

On the whole, we do.  Bath, milk, story, bed.  Subtle variations but pretty much same same.  He can predict what’s coming next and preempts it.  He runs to the fridge to get his milk, he has his own special seat for story time.  He rushes to give his brother kisses.

Still no sleep.

If your child isn’t sleeping then your bedtime routine is obviously not working.

Helpful.  What do you suggest?

We’ve added stories, we’ve cut stories.  They go downstairs together, they don’t go downstairs together.  Bath time shenanigans at night, bathing them in the day.  We’ve tried all variations.

My two year old doesn’t sleep through the night (still).

my two year old doesn't sleep

You need to increase his nap.  No he naps too much.

Apparently sleep begets sleep.  Or it doesn’t.

Whatever length of nap he has, the sleep pattern through the night is the same.  Sporadic.

Naptime temper tantrums because I won’t let him sleep on the tiled floor….

He doesn’t sleep through the night.

He needs a lovey to help with separation anxiety.

I’d LOVE him to have a lovey.  Not only would it make my life easier, it’s incredibly cute.  What’s not so cute?  Having him hurl anything I give him at my head.

two year old doesn't sleep

So the lovey isn’t in the cot with him during the night when he needs it as it’s been used as a missile.

And guess what?  Still doesn’t sleep.

You need to do some tough love.

What works for you, doesn’t work for me.  Tough love isn’t for us, crying it out isn’t for us, nor is controlled crying.  If it works for you, great, marvellous.  But it doesn’t work for me, it makes me anxious, upset and worked up.  None of which are great for my (already high) blood pressure.

The old saying – you do you and I’ll do me.

My two year old doesn’t sleep through the night

Well, at least not consistently.

He wakes and then he needs a little bit of help to go back to sleep.  Sometimes that’s in the form of me rocking him on the chair.  Or I might sleep on an air bed in his room.  He likes to have a bottle still.


These are bad habits.


These are things that are sleep crutches for him and maybe, just maybe, if I wasn’t so tired and had some energy to work on stopping them he’d sleep.


I may have made a rod for my own back.

But you know what?  My two year old doesn’t sleep through the night.  And it’s still OK.

It’s OK for me to be exhausted from broken sleep.  It’s perfectly acceptable for me to form a caffeine habit.  My moaning to friends?  Totally normal.

People might expect your two year old to sleep at night.

They might give you the sympathetic head tilt.

But it’s just as normal for a toddler to wake up and need help getting back to sleep as it is for them to sleep through the night.

So head tilt away to me, because my two year old doesn’t sleep through the night.  Still.

But he’ll get there, one day.  Of that I’m sure, until then?  There’s always coffee.

my two year old doesn't sleep



You can follow our adventures from the sandpit (and beyond) over on Facebook, see you there!


  1. April 4, 2017 / 9:16 pm

    Ha, yep good old coffee! You’re right, he’ll get there in his own time and in a few years you won’t be able to stop him sleeping all night and all morning. Because that’s life. Does it really matter? Probably to you when you’re exhausted but it will soon seem like a distant memory and it’s definitely nothing to do with anybody else, even if they are trying to help!
    Plutonium Sox recently posted…Family travel tips #2My Profile

  2. April 4, 2017 / 10:27 pm

    No head tilting here. I need to conserve energy because my 2 year old doesn’t sleep.

    Like you I’ve tried everything.

    The only way of getting a decent stretch on uninterrupted sleep is to let her fall asleep when she’s ready. This can be anywhere from 9 to 3 am.

    Her brother was the same. I asked my mother about it and apparently so was I. Of I’d not napped by 4pm she kept me awake with no nap. I tried this once with Little Miss OMG but she was so cranky and overtired that it was hell for all of us. Her included.

    One day, like her brother she will Sleep. Until then I get lots of coffee fuelled quality one on one time with her.
    Alan Herbert recently posted…Prison Break ReturnsMy Profile

  3. April 7, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    It’s so funny because with my first baby who slept through at 9 weeks, i put it all down to me following a specific routine, being so in sync with her needs, bla bla. Baby number two then came alone. Totally different beast. He’s 1 and is still waking up for milk. It’s quicker to give it than spend a few hours trying the cry it out approach and wake up the whole house. The second time mum me would happily punch the smug first time mum me! Coffee, chocolate, wine – anything goes my lovely xx
    Topfivemum recently posted…Living Arrows 13/52 {2017}My Profile

  4. April 12, 2017 / 10:43 am

    Absolutely love this post. My 10 month old doesn’t sleep through, though not exactly your situation i can somewhat empathise. And i totally 100% agree. It’s OK and it will happen one day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge