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2yo Night Waking


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#1 FEdeRAL

Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:58 AM

Apologies in advance for the essay. Am wondering if anyone else went through this and any advice would be appreciated.

Have just spent another traumatic night with 2yo DS. He was awake between 2 to 6am and I had been saying "Close your eyes" a gazillion times.

DS has always been a bad sleeper. He slept beautifully up until 4mo corrected. From then on he was unable to settle himself and was waking up multiple times at night. I can count on one hand the number of times he slept through. We tried all the tricks except controlled crying - patting, cuddling,  rocking and in the end co-sleeping because we were falling asleep rocking him! It worked and everyone was happy. He would go to sleep for the night in his own cot, if he wakes after a couple of hours he could be settled back (by us) rather quickly. If he wakes after midnight we would bring him to our bed and he would fall asleep immediately again and not wake until 7-8am. 

2 months ago, he started not falling back asleep after waking in the middle of night. He would ask for milk and/or food, which I refused to give other than water after being tricked three times (he couldn't even finish 1/2 a slice of toast). We told him to close his eyes and he would lie there and try but as soon as we settled into sleep he would be up and getting up to all sorts of mischief. Cue very stern voice, threats (back to your room!!) and tears. And of course poor 7mo DD wakes up in her cot next to our bed. And this goes on for HOURS. A typical night would be waking at 1am and not asleep until 5am. And then 2 hours later he would be up again because he would be hungry for real.

In the beginning this only happens once in a while. Then in the week before Christmas he was doing it almost every night. The lack of sleep has taken its toll on the household. Everyone is cranky and DD's schedule has gone to the dogs (she now sleeps from 3-11am :-0).

So 2 nights ago we decided that enough is enough. DH won't be back to work until mid-Jan so we might as well train him to sleep in his own room. We took turn lying down on a rug next to his cot trying to get him to sleep. TO NO AVAIL. 4 frigging hours of screams/tears and pleadings (on both ends) and finally fell asleep due to exhaustion. 

Then it's the same last night again. NYE and we went out to watch family fireworks at 9:30. He was asleep by 10:15.  He woke at 2:30am, DH went in first and we swapped when I realised they started talking & giggling (DH's defense was someone needed to calm DS down first - he was a little hysterical from screaming/crying). As soon as DH left DS started crying and saying papapapapapapapa non-stop (he's a daddy's boy). I tried to make him lie down he just started screaming. So we spent the night with DS alternating between screaming/crying and me begging/yelling "No papa!!" at him. When he got a little too hysterical I picked him up to calm him. Put him back down and it started all over again. He finally fell asleep at 6am. So I left. You'd think he would be totally ko'd by now. Less than 5 minutes he woke up screaming again. 

So here I am bunked down next to him writing this. I am against controlled crying but I felt like what we did the past two nights isn't far from it. I have never let DS cry like this before. It wasn't full blown tantrum, more of a drawn out crying episode which made it all the more heart wrenching. I considered giving in and bringing him to our bed but I know the result will be the same, minus the screaming (although the neighbours will thank me for it!!)

So anyone had child who wakes for a long time in the middle of night? As far as I can tell DS isn't teething, hungry, sick etc. What did you do, if anything, to resolve it? And any tips to stop DS crying eventhough I am already next to him? Or should I just resume co-sleeping in the hopes that this will eventually pass???

#2 axiomae

Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:16 AM

I don't have any experience with this but just wanted to say that if the co-sleeping isn't working for you then don't go back to it - pick one method of settling and be consistent. Controlled crying is wholly appropriate at this age, despite however stressful it may be for you, and it may well be the best thing for everyone in the house to finally get some sleep. But you must do what you are comfortable with. The current situation is obviously not working for you so don't discount it as a method to help you get sleep - it will be traumatic for your DS in the short term but could be worth it for the long term.

#3 EJ75

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:14 AM

OP you poor thing.  We are currently going through a similar stage with DS2 who is 16 months.

He started consistently night waking in May.  He would have a bottle and then be awake for the next 2 hours.  He wouldn't let me put him back in the cot or sit down, he wouldn't co-sleep, he wouldn't have a bar of DH, he sleeps in his own room (and had done since he was 5 weeks old).  So I was having to wander round the house for 2 hours (or more if he woke more than once) in the middle of the night.  DS1 was in kindergarten this year so I didn't want to leave DS2 to cry (I also thought he was too young at that stage).

I finally had enough of it (and felt like I was getting a bit of PND) and got an urgent referral into Tresillan in August.  The week we were meant to go in DS2 contracted measles and there was no way we were unable to go until he was better.  We finally got to go in September and he spent his first birthday there.  Tresillan were great.  They were very hands on and supportive.  DS2 slept through nights 2 and 3 and his day sleeps were also sorted.  Unfortunately we both left with chest infections and DS2's developed into pneumonia  so we were unable to implement what we had been taught at Tresillan as he was too sick.  We went back to our old habits of me walking round the house carrying a 10kg baby feeling physically and mentally miserable.  

We were rebooked into Tresillan only to have to cancel that as I had DS2 assessed by an ENT and discovered he had a chronic adenoid infection and severe glue ear.  He had surgery in November and I finally feel that he is well enough for us to do some controlled crying.  

Only the problem is he settles (without tears or hysterics) for everyone but me.  At daycare, my mum, DH.  It is leaving me feeling exhausted and over it.  DH is also on holidays at the moment so he is doing all the settling and resettling.  Sometimes we hear him and don't go straight in and he resettles on his own.  I can't work it out  sad.gif  

I'm sorry that I don't have any advice but just wanted to let you know that unfortunately you are not alone.  Please don't discredit places like Tresillan (not sure what State you are in).  They will only do what you are comfortable with.  I hope we all get our DSs sorted out soon.



#4 TotesFeral

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:31 AM

We went through something similar with DD. Apparently there is a sleep regression at 24 months.
Hers coincided with the arrival of DS. She has been going to sleep by herself no issues since she was about 6 months old, and sleeping through until roughly 6/7am. But when DS came home she started crying at bedtime, coming out of her room multiple times, waking up multiple times during the night and sometimes taking forever to get back to sleep.

There were a few nights where we argued quite a bit with her so DH and I just had to decide what we were going to do and stick with it.
Basically at bedtime we just took her back as soon as she got out of bed. We told her the first few times "No sweetie it's bedtime" and then anytime after that there was no speaking to her.
If she woke during the night DH took her back to her room with no talking. We found talking to her only worked her up more. And he would sit in there with her until she was asleep. Sometimes he even fell asleep in there on her floor.

DS is now 8 weeks old and DD is a lot better. She doesn't really get out of bed at bedtime now but occasionally she does cry. She very rarely gets up during the night as well. If she does it's only once and I usually find her asleep on the floor outside our door or on her little fold out lounge.

#5 flowermama

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:48 AM

I went through something similar with DD1 - she would be awake for 3 or 4 hours straight most nights. Sorry to say nothing I tried worked (I didn't do controlled crying) but eventually she gradually started improving on her own. I ended up with a mattress beside her cot so at least I'd get some sleep! At 2.5 years she started sleeping through reasonably often. She'd go through periods where she'd wake up but never for the prolonged lengths of time that she previously did. DD is 4 in March and is now a good sleeper, it's rare for her to wake up. So not a lot of advice, sorry, but it does eventually get better!

#6 FEdeRAL

Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:12 PM

Thanks all for your replies. He eventually slept from 7 and woke at 10am and has just gone down for his nap. I am in two minds as to how long i should let him sleep? For as long as he needs to make up for last night, or waking him up before 2:30 so that he can go to bed by 8pm??  I have tried both and it doesnt make much different to the night waking. The prolonged waking up is also affecting meal times. Breakfast at 10:30, lunch at 1pm and by then he is not hungry enough but totally exhausted from lack of sleep.

QUOTE (CherryAmes @ 01/01/2013, 08:17 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just to clarify - your little boy is in his own room, will go down ok but wakes in the middle of the night. Does he call out or begin crying? Do you wait a bit to see what happens then?

DS has very senstitive gag reflex from day one. If you even let him cry for more than 2 minutes he will start gagging and throw up everything in his tummy. So when he wakes we head straight to his cot. He generally screams the minute he comes awake  sad.gif Since he started solids, every couple of months I would crack it and resolve to wait for 5 minutes and see if he can settle himself. And every single time he would throw up before the 5 minutes is up. I guess it's partly our fault. He knows if he wakes in the middle of night we will bring him to our bed. So I guess he was holding out for that last night.

DH and I are still deciding what to do tonight... unsure.gif

#7 CupcakeMumma

Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:29 PM

Sleep deprivation is awful, but if your lo is making himself sick, then perhaps it's time to see someone?  Being awake at night for such long periods is messing with daytime routine and then your nights get more out of whack and ergo the days get more nuts too.   As hard as it is, try and keep day times, daytime.  So don't let him sleep in, wake at 7, keep him busy in the morning, no car trips, pram rides, lots of play, make sure he has some protein based meals, and nap time at 12 no sleeping past 2 / 2.30.  Does he sleep okay in the daytime?   Perhaps bedtime is too late as well, if he wakes at 2 then - 7 pm bedtime might work better.  

I didn't have one that slept badly at 2 but our 5 yo nearly did us in after sleeping so well till then.  Thankfully shes back to sleeping well again.  Some kids have lower sleep needs than others as  well.

#8 raven74

Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

The most crucial thing for us was making sure she didn't oversleep during the day.  I fear you will be in for another horrendous night becuase your little one will sleep off his tiredness today, thus repeating the pattern.
Sleep is hell in this house, always has been.  DD is a multiple waker, now with night terrors, demands for milk, all that.  If she has a particularly bad night she must still have her day sleep at the normal time and if she refuses then it is far better to deal with a really grumpy kid and keep her awake until her bed time.  She must also get up at her normal time - no extra sleeping in.  All this helps get her pattern into place and not burn off her "night sleep hours" during the day, which is what they do if they sleep in and have longer than normal or later day naps.  Also, we are VERY strict on her bed time.  We have just increased it to 7.30 which seems to suit her at 2.9 months old.
I sympathise, OP.  I really do!

#9 JillyJellyBean

Posted 01 January 2013 - 05:04 PM

A friend of mine recently attended the sleep clinic at QE2 (mum and childrens hospital?) with her DS2.5 and DS8 mnth, as they were both waking a million times a night. She says she wishes she did it sooner. Its certainly made a huge change in her life and is worth exploring in your area.

#10 Penguin78

Posted 01 January 2013 - 05:23 PM

QUOTE (axiomae @ 01/01/2013, 08:16 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't have any experience with this but just wanted to say that if the co-sleeping isn't working for you then don't go back to it - pick one method of settling and be consistent. Controlled crying is wholly appropriate at this age, despite however stressful it may be for you, and it may well be the best thing for everyone in the house to finally get some sleep. But you must do what you are comfortable with. The current situation is obviously not working for you so don't discount it as a method to help you get sleep - it will be traumatic for your DS in the short term but could be worth it for the long term.


I agree with those, and also the suggestion of getting professional help particularly with his gag reflex.

Just also wanted to add that my son also is sometime awake between those hours ( he is 2.2) but he is generally happy and just plays in his cot. I tried multiple methods of trying to get him to sleep but the more I interfere with his patterns the llonger he is awake for. All professional advice I got said to leave him if he is happy. I know that is different to your situationbut ijust wanted to let you know that there are other two year old night wakers out there.

We did a form of CC when he was six months (not that he cried really he responded really well to just being left alone in the not) and so now that if he does wake and want us he is content with a quick cuddle and a sip of water then goes back to through cot.

#11 Mummy Em

Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:19 PM

My dd1 was quite similar by the sounds. She always took a long time to fall asleep and would wake frequently in the night, sometimes half hourly. We went to Ngala when she was very small but weren't happy with their methods. We got some help from an in-home consultant when she was around 20 months and that made the biggest difference but still didn't get her STTN. We eventually buckled to recommendations from HPs to do controlled crying but she was about 2 by this stage and very persistent and I couldn't listen to her crying for more than 2 hours at a stretch and would end up laying with her to get her to sleep at that stage.

From around 20 months until a bit over 2 she was regularly  waking anywhere between 11pm - 2am and staying awake between 1-4 hours. I used to sleep with her during the day so I could keep breastfeeding her back to sleep so I could get her to have 90 mins (albeit broken) sleep in the day.

What we did in the end was
1. Gradually stop feeding to sleep. The first few days we rocked, sung, walked -whatever we had to do to get her to settle. Then we stopped the rocking and just lay with her (she was in a bed) and patted. She cried, but she was never alone. Then I would only pat if she asked and I would tell her she could have 5 pats only. She eventually discovered she didn't need the patting in order to sleep. Then I put a chair in her room and explained that big kids don't need mum to lay with them to go to sleep so I would sit in the chair. By this time I was big pregnant and so DH took over. He gradually moved the chair back and out the door, then around the corner where she couldn't see him. Then he'd start saying "I'm going to the toilet" or "I'm going to get a drink" and stay away longer and longer until she realised she didn't need him there to fall asleep. This process took until she was 2 and a half. She is 3 and a half now and probably wakes and comes in about 3 times a night every 3rd night. She seems to still have wakeful nights where she is restless in the middle of the night, but now we can just march her back to bed and explain that she needs to stay there and try to sleep.

The main things I found important were: talking, talking, talking. You'd be surprised how much they absorb before they have the language to articulate it. We talked about what to expect when we made changes and we discussed why we need to sleep, that everyone sleeps etc.
2. not letting her out of her room. We were totally stuffed while we were making changes, it was very tough. But the more I let her get up when she couldn't settle the worse it got. If I was losing my cool I would step out, even if it meant leaving her to cry for a moment. Even better, DH would help me as much as he could. But we had to keep her in that room.
3. we had to accept some crying, but we stayed with her and supported her.

I hope that all makes sense and helps.

ETA: we actually continued having someone sleep in her room until she was over 2.5, it was just too much for us to respond to all her wakings from another room.

Edited by Mummy Em, 02 January 2013 - 12:23 PM.





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