Big Kid Sleep Stumbles – EP 18

March 23, 2017 |  by  |  2 YO, 3 YO, Podcast
Big Kid Sleep Stumbles - EP 18

Babies have multiple hurdles to good sleep but by the time they reach their first birthday they’ll be Level 5 Sleep Wizards and y’all will be sleeping like sloths from there on.


HAHA…no. Children are growing, learning new skills, have changing sleep needs, etc. and as such what worked one day might not work the next. Parenting is aiming at a moving target. In this episode Ashby and Elisabeth break down some of the big kid sleep stumbles that can creep up on you as your baby gets older.

Topics Covered

  • Reasons why your toddler is struggling to fall asleep at bedtime
  • Strategies to deal with nightmares and fears of the dark
  • The value of rewards
  • Moving to the big kid bed
  • Making the entire bedroom into a crib
  • Why Elisabeth has a box with candy in it in her son’s bedroom (whut?!?)

Further Reading

As always, feel free to share any questions or comments regarding this podcast with You can find this and all of our other episodes at:


  1. I love this podcast! My LO is 17 months now, so it’s perfect timing and so relevant. I’m so encouraged to hear this – reassured me to keep doing what we were doing. Specifically, I’ve been going the extinction route whenever there is a protest at bedtime (rarely) or naptime since I have seen that my LO only gets more worked up if I go back in the room to lay him down or soothe him. I actually feel like it’s harder for me to hear him cry now than when he was younger bc he uses words now and sounds so much more miserable. But it’s encouraging to hear that every kid is different and responds differently to any method.

    Just wondering if you guys had any advice on what to do when, LO throws his lovey out the crib and then cries for it- I have tried going back and giving it to him, only for him to get more worked up and throw it again when I leave, and so it continues. He throws his lovey out the crib when he wakes up in the morning, and then cries for it- when I get him out of the crib for the day, I try to explain to him that lovey sleeps in crib with him, not to be thrown out of crib. He also throws him out the crib when protesting a nap/bedtime- bedtime protest is rare, nap time protests are more common, especially since we are in middle of 2-1 nap transition and working out timing/schedule.

    Thanks again for another great podcast! Looking forward to more about older babies/toddlers!

  2. Personally, I’d replace the lovey once, and then say “this is the last time I’m picking lovey up for you” and then do extinction. Nap time is trickier than bedtime, because sleep drive is so much lighter. At nap time it’s a matter of finding the right equation wherein you minimize reinforcing boundary testing behaviors but don’t end up with a struggle thru the entire nap time. Tricky stuff 🙂

    • Thanks! I was also wondering (maybe this is better answered in a podcast)- by what age are toddlers not as susceptible to overtiredness? I know wake times are important to achieve the optimal “drowsy but awake” and to minimize overtiredness so the child can sleep well- does that ever get easier so you don’t have to worry if you’re running 15-30 min late on putting your toddler down for a nap and worry that you’re going to get a crap nap bc of overtiredness? I feel like my LO at 17 months is still sensitive to overtiredness- if I put him down for a nap too late, I get a crap nap. Just wondering if/when overtiredness causes less of an effect on sleep.

      • overtired can be a thing for your whole life, but the inability to fall asleep *despite* being overtired doesn’t jack you at 9 mos the way it did at 3 mos. By 1 yr i think kids can roll with overtired in a more predictable manner, but the big issue is that they still don’t sleep in to recover a late bedtime. I should add that my older kid still has crazy nights when he’s overtired (he shouts in his sleep), while my younger one doesn’t.

  3. I LOVE this website and like the podcast too; I’ve listened to all of them. I was a little annoyed with this one though; I felt like it was mostly Elizabeth talking about her own children rather than general advice for the rest of us.

    One thing I would have liked to have heard: when *is* a general good time to switch to a toddler bed? (Assuming your child is happy in the crib and not expressing interest in climbing out).

    • Check this out:

      This post is relevant to the the switch, even if there is not a second baby coming.

      • Thanks Ashby. Yeah, I’ve seen that post, and we bought a second crib when our second was born (when our first had just turned 2). I’m just wondering when we’ll switch. Obviously it’s not a pressing concern, I’m just wondering why/when we would want to switch at this point.

        • it depends in part on the child. if yours is climbing out of the crib, then obviously you need to switch. if not, then wait till your child is asking for it. there really is no rush.
          also, after the podcast i realized we never talked about completely eliminating nap, which was an oversight. please bear in mind we are matching very different time zones, so when i do the podcast i am often getting up hella early so i can talk with people 4 hrs different from me 🙁

          • Thanks for that thought; I’ll just wait until he asks, that’s easy enough. Luckily we haven’t gotten to dropping a nap yet . . . I look forward to hearing a little bit about how that can happen.

            (Btw, you from Oakland? Somehow I thought “hella” was an Oakland thing . . .)

    • Personally, I’ve never moved one of my kids out of the crib until they turned 3. I’ve never seen a need to. So my general feeling is that if the crib is working, then stick with it. When they start asking about a “real” bed, then you can start the transition.

    • i can’t disagree! but my kids are the ones i have had experience with, and it didn’t feel as natural to talk about all the toddlers issues i’ve ironed out in the FB group over the years.

  4. Hi! The podcast mentioned total amount of sleep for toddlers. Where is this chart or information? I have an almost 18 month old, but want to know times for older toddlers/kids too.

    Also, it was briefly mentioned that night terrors don’t start until kids are older. I have friend with a STTN (since 6 months) 18 month old. The 18mo woke last night scream crying and was only comforted when being held. When she would lay him back down it started all over. This is very uncharacteristic of this toddler. some people told her that night terrors can start between 18-24 month. I was hoping to give her some more information based on the research that was mentioned in this podcast.

  5. Quick answer – no that’s not a sleep terror. Also when a child has a sleep terror they are STILL ASLEEP and thus not reactive to what you do. Thus “calm down while held” is a clear indication that this was NOT a sleep terror.

    If this kiddo falls asleep independently 100% AT bedtime and last night was a one off, it’s probably a fluke.

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