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  1. #1
    citymama is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    Default Desperately seeking toddler sleep advice - at wit's end

    I am going crazy with my 2.5 yr old's sleep habits which have gone from good to bad to worse. Does anyone else's toddler stay up till 11 pm every night, no matter what, and wake up in the middle of the night *every single* night?

    How many hours of sleep does your toddler get in a day? What is their bedtime routine - and how long does it last? Do you have to sit with your toddler till s/he is asleep?

    The main issues we are having are
    a) that she does not want to go to sleep at bedtime (typical, I know). She gets so tired and then cranky, and then over-tired and unable to calm herself down - it is a downward spiral that's draining for all of us!
    b) she will not go to sleep by herself - mama (not either parent) has to be with her till she falls asleep, which can be as long as a *3* hour process! (Usually about 1.5 hrs long - plus another hour in the middle of the night = approx 2.5-3 hrs of my day spent trying to get my toddler down to sleep ) Note: at daycare, she falls asleep on her own, immediately - no problem.
    c) I don't know if she is getting enough sleep. She sleeps about 8 hrs at night (11 pm-7am) and 2 or more during the day at daycare. (I requested them to wake her up at the 2 hr mark in an attempt to get her to be sleepy early! She seems tired and cranky ever since we made this switch.)
    d) she wakes up at night and wants me to go in and sit with her till she falls back asleep - i usually pat or rub her back until she is asleep. Somewhere between 2 and 3 am, every night!

    I am always proffering advice to everyone about what to do about this or that, but now baffled by how to make *sleep* work! HELP! Any advice? Thanks!

    PS Unfortunately we can't eliminate her afternoon nap b/c of daycare policies - and she does seem to need it.
    Last edited by citymama; 11-06-2008 at 04:06 AM.

  2. #2
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    What does she do if you put her in bed at, say 8pm, and leave her there? DD went through a phase when she'd come out of her room. We'd take her back in and put her in bed. The first two nights took a good 2 hours to get her to stay in her room. There was some crying, but really not very much. Mostly, protesting that she didn't want to go (she was just over 2 years). Now, she goes and unless she has to go potty, she'll stay in her room and is asleep within 15 minutes or so.

    My almost 2.5 year old gets about 12 hours of sleep at night and often an hour in the car during the day. She sleeps 7:30 to 7 or 8.

    I'd probably try to break both the 11pm and the sleep with mom habit at the same time and just prepare for a few hard nights of putting her back in the room and giving her a couple minutes to cry. I've never left my kids to cry for an extended time, but at 2.5, she can cry/protest for 5-10 and I can deal with that.

    ETA: Sorry you're not getting sleep! It makes it harder to fix anything when you're tired.
    Kris

  3. #3
    WatchingThemGrow is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    I just grabbed Toddler 411 and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child as references. As I read, I'll come back and add more info. Here's what they say so far.

    Toddler 411: from Chapter 8 p117-134

    1-3 yrs 13 hours of sleep
    3 yrs 12 hours of sleep

    Typical 2 yr old bedtime 8 pm

    If the afternoon nap is causing problems going to sleep, eliminate it.
    Toddler hears noises after going to bed, thinks it is "partying" (ie watching the Wiggles without her, making ice cream sundaes).

    So sorry you're going through this. We don't do well w/o sufficient sleep here. FWIW, I'm battling this same thing, but at naptime. Afternoon is wartime in our house 4 days/week. I'm exhausted, shaky and collapsing, DD is fighting the nap and coming out of her room repeatedly. We've considered things we've heard others do - gating the room, turning around the doorknob. I'm just going to read up on our own issues today and hopefully find some answers. Thanks for asking questions that prompted me to open the books on my nightstand.

  4. #4
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    KHF is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    I feel your pain. Really. DD went from being a great sleeper to a total nightmare at about 1.5. She's 3 now and we're just now getting into a semi-decent routine. We've had MANY ups and downs with it though, and it varies often. This may be long, because we've been through several things that worked for us for a while.

    This is what we've finally settled on that works for us right now. DD always wants one of us to be with her initially when she falls asleep, however, it does only take her between 15-30 minutes usually. DH or I bring our laptop in with us and browse the web while she's falling asleep. She has a few things that she always wants me to do with her. We read a book, rock and then I get her a drink. *Usually* she will stay in bed and go to sleep pretty quickly.

    She had been waking up between 5 and 8 times per night and that was just getting nuts. DH decided he'd had enough and would let her scream. That wasn't really conducive to anyone getting any sleep at all and with me being 8 months pregnant, we *had* to figure something else out. We have finally figured out that she does best with me putting her back down, and I talk to her and tell her that mommy is sleepy and that she needs her rest too. For whatever reason, if I tell her that I'm going to the bathroom and I'll be back to check on her after that, 9 times out of 10, she's asleep when I get back! If not, I just kiss her again and tell her I'm going night night too. That is what works for us now. She's down to only getting up a couple of times at night, which is a huge improvement for us. She goes to bed at about 8:00 and gets up around 6:00 (we leave for daycare about 6:10) with a nap from 1-3 at daycare.

    We also went through a time where she always wanted to sleep with me, in my bed. (DH sleeps in another room, he snores loud enough to peel paint off the walls.) This was when she was 2.5...we found that if she got out of her room and into my room, it was harder to get her to sleep again without full on meltdowns (by all of us). We started closing her door and using the monitor to listen for her to try and open it. Before she could open it very well, we were able to get to her room before she left and put her back into bed. There were a couple of screaming nights, but once she figured out that she wasn't coming to bed with me, she was more amenable to going back to bed.

    Seems like the single most helpful thing we did was establish a good bedtime routine. Our evening routine can be a little weird because DH is in class some evenings, so I had to put together a schedule that would work for nights when he was there or when he wasn't. At 7:20 (after she watches SuperDog...), we take our bath. Then the TV goes off for the rest of the night. After 10 minutes (or less if she's done) in the bath, we brush teeth and then go in her room and play. Sometimes we listen to music, sometimes play a game, read books, whatever she prefers. Then at about 8:00, we do hugs and kisses and proceed with the above process of her rocking, getting a drink and going to bed. She's almost always been asleep by between 8:30 and 8:40. When we first started doing this, I used a kitchen timer to time the bath, and then to set a limit on playtime. When the timer went off, we would both say, "Time for night night!" and she'd crawl into bed. It seemed like she just needed to know when it was time to transition.

    Anyway, I'm not sure if any of this rambling was helpful, but maybe you'll find one or two things to help you out. We never had a lot of trouble with going to bed late, it was getting her to stay there and waking up earlier and earlier (at one point, she was up for the day at 4:00 am regularly).

    If you want to talk more, feel free to PM me off boards. I definitely know what you're going through.
    Last edited by KHF; 11-06-2008 at 09:08 AM.
    DD - 2005
    DS - 2008

  5. #5
    citymama is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisM
    What does she do if you put her in bed at, say 8pm, and leave her there? DD went through a phase when she'd come out of her room. We'd take her back in and put her in bed. The first two nights took a good 2 hours to get her to stay in her room. There was some crying, but really not very much. Mostly, protesting that she didn't want to go (she was just over 2 years). Now, she goes and unless she has to go potty, she'll stay in her room and is asleep within 15 minutes or so.

    My almost 2.5 year old gets about 12 hours of sleep at night and often an hour in the car during the day. She sleeps 7:30 to 7 or 8.

    I'd probably try to break both the 11pm and the sleep with mom habit at the same time and just prepare for a few hard nights of putting her back in the room and giving her a couple minutes to cry. I've never left my kids to cry for an extended time, but at 2.5, she can cry/protest for 5-10 and I can deal with that.

    ETA: Sorry you're not getting sleep! It makes it harder to fix anything when you're tired.
    You ladies are all so wonderful! I appreciate your taking the time and putting so much thought into your replies. I forgot to add in my original post that leaving DD alone, or even having DH go in to sit with her, results in not just crying but sometimes complete hysteria and crying to the point of throwing up (her, not me! ). We've tried to let her cry for short periods of time (we never did CIO but we walk out of the room for 5-10 minutes, or stay in there saying calming things - but the result is still the same. More crying and hysteria, which can often only be soothed by what she wants - being in my arms, another cup of milk, another song, etc etc)

    And she used to be a great sleeper until about 4 or 5 months ago.

    I should add that when she wakes up at night I don't bring her into our bed. I sit by her bed and give her "pats and rubs" on her back, which is what she wants. And it gets her to fall back to sleep, so I do it even though I'd rather she be self-soothing. (Bad mommy.)

    I also think that DD needs another 2-3 hrs of sleep a day. She is not getting enough sleep. I am not getting enough sleep - and am soooo cranky after putting her down for the night, that my poor DH has to either stay away or risk getting snapped at by his grouchy wife! So not good for us as a couple either.

    Maybe we should just start instituting an 8 pm bedtime - for a few nights it will mean 3 hrs of getting her down, but (hopefully) eventually she will start to fall asleep closer to 8. My bigger question is how to get her to self-soothe herself to sleep v. needing mom to be part of that equation.

    Oh, and she is still in a crib - can't imagine what will happen once she can get herself out of a toddler bed!

    Thank you for your help! Keep those ideas coming.
    Last edited by citymama; 11-06-2008 at 02:46 PM.

  6. #6
    HIU8 is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    When DS was having sleep issues we did the sleep lady shuffle and it worked really well. You basically put them to bed and sit in their room close to their bed (in a chair, on the floor) until they fall asleep. After about 3 nights you move to the middle of the room and stay until they fall asleep. After 3 more nights you move to the doorway and do the same thing. Then you move to the hallway. We had to do this twice with DS and it worked both times really well (you sometimes have to redo after a vacation etc...). DS will be 4 in a few weeks. He goes to bed at 8:30 and wakes up anywhere between 6 and 7. He averages about 10 hours a night and naps 2 times a week for about an hour. DD is 16 months. She sleeps from 7:30 to between 6 and 7, so she averages about 11 hours a night with a 2 hour nap during the day (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter).
    Heather

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  7. #7
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by HIU8
    When DS was having sleep issues we did the sleep lady shuffle and it worked really well. You basically put them to bed and sit in their room close to their bed (in a chair, on the floor) until they fall asleep. After about 3 nights you move to the middle of the room and stay until they fall asleep. After 3 more nights you move to the doorway and do the same thing. Then you move to the hallway. We had to do this twice with DS and it worked both times really well (you sometimes have to redo after a vacation etc...). DS will be 4 in a few weeks. He goes to bed at 8:30 and wakes up anywhere between 6 and 7. He averages about 10 hours a night and naps 2 times a week for about an hour. DD is 16 months. She sleeps from 7:30 to between 6 and 7, so she averages about 11 hours a night with a 2 hour nap during the day (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter).
    Was thinking more about all this today. We tried the above with no sucess. But, what did work for DS at age 2, was to tell him that I would be back in 1 minute. I just went around the corner to my room and went back in in 1 minute exactly. Then, I stayed in his room for 2 minutes and then left for 2 minutes. I repeated the 2 minutes in and 2 minutes out the first night. Second night, we started at 2 minutes and increased to 2 minutes in and 3 minutes out.

    Each time I went in I told him how great he was doing at staying there. It took a while to get him to sleep and there was some crying. In your case, maybe start at 15 seconds
    Kris

  8. #8
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by citymama
    You ladies are all so wonderful! I appreciate your taking the time and putting so much thought into your replies. I forgot to add in my original post that leaving DD alone, or even having DH go in to sit with her, results in not just crying but sometimes complete hysteria and crying to the point of throwing up (her, not me! ). We've tried to let her cry for short periods of time (we never did CIO but we walk out of the room for 5-10 minutes, or stay in there saying calming things - but the result is still the same. More crying and hysteria, which can often only be soothed by what she wants - being in my arms, another cup of milk, another song, etc etc)

    I should add that when she wakes up at night I don't bring her into our bed. I sit by her bed and give her "pats and rubs" on her back, which is what she wants. And it gets her to fall back to sleep, so I do it even though I'd rather she be self-soothing. (Bad mommy.)

    I also think that DD needs another 2-3 hrs of sleep a day. She is not getting enough sleep. I am not getting enough sleep - and am soooo cranky after putting her down for the night, that my poor DH has to either stay away or risk getting snapped at by his grouchy wife! So not good for us as a couple either.

    Maybe we should just start instituting an 8 pm bedtime - for a few nights it will mean 3 hrs of getting her down, but (hopefully) eventually she will start to fall asleep closer to 8. My bigger question is how to get her to self-soothe herself to sleep v. needing mom to be part of that equation.

    Oh, and she is still in a crib - can't imagine what will happen once she can get herself out of a toddler bed!

    Thank you for your help! Keep those ideas coming.
    Yeah, you've taught her to need you. Stinks, doesn't it? They learn what you don't really want them to learn so darn well!

    Anyhow, I think I'd start with an earlier bedtime. I know when my kids are lacking sleep, they sleep much worse for a few days. Since she cries so hard, maybe just work on getting that bedtime earlier and then work on getting yourself out of the sleep equation.

    I know I'm not making a lot of sense in my answers, but maybe something will work for you.
    Kris

  9. #9
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    I have a 20 month old, who was a great sleeper until 18 months of age (well, we had to do CIO when she was about 9 months, but since then she was great). We have been MISERABLE for the last 2 months, and I just took her to the pediatrician yesterday to beg for an answer.

    Everything that everyone said in earlier posts I have read as well. They are all right -- we have taught our children that it is more fun to be helped to sleep (or even, in our case, to play) than to sleep on their own. At this age, we also have some separation anxiety built in, and I can't do CIO when I know that this is part of it (as a working mom) (not sure how I differentiate b/t doing it at 9 months, but not now).

    Our ped said some kids need less sleep, but to aim for 10-11 hours a night for us. So we moved our bedtime up from 8 or 8:30 during the summer, to 7 or 7:30. The routine starts at 7 with a bath, then books in rocking chair with some milk, and then into bed. She gets to pick all her stuffed animals and blankets to bed, we use a CD player and then I will stand there and rub her back (which is a change from rocking) until she falls asleep.

    When ours wakes up in the middle of the night, I let her cry for 10-12 minutes max. This "wears" her out more, and then I do rock her for 5 minutes (telling her that I will rock her for a little bit but then time to lay down). Then I rub her back in bed.

    This worked for us last night, and we just had one wake up.

    I feel for you, I don't have concrete advice but I know how it feels, all of my friends kids are sleeping wonderfully and that adds to my angst, but some of us just don't have an easy transition here.

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    I don't have a whole lot more to add to the great advice that you've gotten already except that I've been a huge believer in Weissbluth's "sleep begets sleep" mantra. My DD has been getting to bed on the later side this week and I find that she's waking earlier and earlier. Tonight, she goes in early and hopefully will start working towards a later wakeup.

    Lots of good vibes coming your way. I'm a wreck when sleep-deprived, so I can't imagine what you're going through.
    Jessica

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