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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    2,242

    Sleeping issues - with toddlers

    Have any of you had problems with sleeping through the night with your toddlers? My daughter slept through the night for a long time - over a year - (except when she was sick), until about 6 or 8 months ago. She hasn't slept through the night more than once or twice through this time. I'm more tired now than I was when she was newborn!

    About 6 or 8 months ago, she started waking in the night. She was just barely 2 and still in her crib. I would wake up and give her milk and she would go back to sleep. Eventually I decided that she was way too old to be waking up for milk, so I would go into her room and pat her back. I would not take her out of the crib. I let her cry for 5 minutes, then go in and rub her back to settle her down, then leave and let her cry. We would be up for about 3 hours in the middle of the night until she was too exhausted to wake up again. I think it was getting better (she wouldn't cry so much, understood about sleeping in her bed, etc) - when she figured out how to climb out of her crib.

    So, now she's in a "big girl" bed with all the access to my room that that implies. Just last night I decided that maybe I'm focusing too much on her sleeping by herself in the big bed. She sleeps just fine with one of us in the bed - although she wakes up 3 or 4 times a night and says Mommy? to make sure I'm there.

    Any ideas? Have any of you gone through this? I just can't think of what the cause is - we haven't moved or changed our schedules or had another baby or anything. She's almost two and a half and I need to teach her how to fall back asleep on her own. Advice?

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    219

    Re: Sleeping issues - with toddlers

    Hi there,

    I have an almost 2 yr old daughter. She also went through a phase of getting out of her bed and trying to get into bed with us pretty much as soon as she realised she could climb out of her cot a couple of months ago. We dealt with it by basically ignoring her and gently putting her back into bed without saying anything to her or acknowledging her. We have a bed time routine set which happens every night at the same time - she has a bath at 7pm then we get into pjs and sit in her bed for a story then say good night tuck her and her teddy in and leave her room. She has a nightlight and we leave the door half open at the moment. She did cry a lot the first few times we did that (which wasn't easy to ignore...) and we were up all night to keep putting her back for about a week but after that she gave up trying to get a reaction and gradually stopped coming through to our room and now she's in bed without a fuss by 7.30pm and asleep by 8pm. She sleeps through until 7.30am most days unless my hub has to leave early for work at which point she will be up with him at 6.30am. We are rather no nonsense people and have strict rules about behaviour which are enforced.

    The only thing I would say is that if you try it you and your partner really both need to be commited to carry it out for as long as is necessary. The first week is really tough and you basically won't sleep but it is so worth it for all involved. If you do decide to go through with it then you will most likely have a harder time than we did and your daughter will persist for longer because she is used to getting a reaction from you. Leave her door open so she doesn't feel trapped and just keep putting her back on her own bed until she gets the message. If I were you I'd try to nip you sleeping with her in the bud as soon as possible - you don't want to let that become a habit - she can't sleep with you forever so I'd set that as a boundary - tell her: "now you're a big girl Mummy sleeps with Daddy and you get to sleep in your own bed" then follow that through. It is difficult but you really just have to be tough - you can't go without sleep forever and I know people who have a 5 yr old who won't sleep unless they he is in bed with them - they let him and now the tantrums are too much for them to deal with... so they just allow it for a quiet life (you can probably imagine what I think about that but hey it's their lives!).

    I'm sure other people have managed it successfully in a different way but this is what worked for us.

    If you need any support at all just message here.

    Dahlia

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    2,242

    Re: Sleeping issues - with toddlers

    Thanks, Dahlia that is helpful advice. I definitely don't want to encourage this and sleeping with her in the bed is not an option. We were both soldiering through the crying all night while she was in her crib, but are having more trouble now that she can climb out of her bed. She's good about going to bed, similar to what you said about your daughter. You're probably right, that if we just put her back in her bed each time without fuss, she'd get over it. I'm worried that she doesn't know how to put herself to sleep when she should at this age, but maybe I'm focusing on the forest instead of the trees - resolve the problem of her thinking she can get out of her bed and she'll naturally just fall back asleep (since there's no alternative).

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    219

    Re: Sleeping issues - with toddlers

    You're right - They are much harder to ignore when they're crying in the same room as you! (OK that sounds really cruel... but you know what I mean!). I'm not big into psychology but it makes sense to me that it probably comes from the deeply engrained principal that "alone = dangerous". Unfortunately, you can't really help them deal with "alone" so you just have to gradually enforce it and they have to learn for themselves that it's ok to be separated and nothing terrible will happen. Things like leaving the light on and the door open just remove other fears like dark=unknown/being trapped so it isn't quite as overwhelming to deal with.

    I know we worry all the time about things related to our babies that we really know are actually fine (I know I do all the time!) but I would definitely put that worry about her not knowing how to put herself to sleep behind you - of course she knows how to go to sleep. She's probably had a fright one night (or maybe even one time when she was ill) which you reacted to and comforted her and suddenly realised I don't have to be alone and then the need to be with you has gradually increased from there. I tend to think that by calmly ignoring the reaction to being left (or what ever it is that is triggering them to come and look for comfort) and placing them back alone they learn from your relaxation about leaving them that it is ok. Afterall, if they are tired enough then they will sleep eventually.

    This may be a load of rubbish (!) but it is how I see it. It is based a lot on my experiences working with young horses... - overcomforting them in scary situations just makes them more nervous - is like they wonder why you feel the need to comfort them which leads to a nervousness that there is something dangerous around that they should worry about.

    Dahlia

  5. #9

    Re: Sleeping issues - with toddlers

    A happy family is a rested family I say, and some folks swear by co-sleeping, but, for us personally, I can't imagine getting any sleep with my toddler, so when he started to wake in the middle of the night and need extra cuddles, we started using a timer and it works wonderfully! It's the best of both worlds, before bed, in order to get some extra cuddle time, we just work it into the routine, and set the timer for like 10 minutes and cuddle together, and when the timer goes off, it's time for him to go back in his bed. In the middle of the night, we do go to him, b/c usually he is scared or needs something, but, we don't let him get out of bed, and if he needs to cuddle, we will do a timer again for like 2 min. But, the night waking is getting less and less because he gets his extra cuddles at night before bed, and he goes to bed secure. We also turn the night light on and leave the door cracked so he knows we are close and he doesn't have to be afraid of the dark.

    I think sleeping issues with toddlers is very normal. Good luck!

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