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AllNightLong

Our 2.5 year old has sleep regressed so badly he's a danger to himself

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AllNightLong

I'll try to keep this as short as possible. Nobody I know has ever dealt with this so I'm hoping someone here has.
 

My son has always been a terrible sleeper, but we worked our arses off for a solid routine and from 18 months on he would nap and go to bed at the same time every day, putting himself to sleep in his cot. He never really slept through but would resettle quickly in the night.

A couple of months ago I couldn't get him to nap for the first time ever. He was definitely tired and definitely doesn't sleep enough at night generally to be able to skip naps. This happened a couple of times. We saw his molars coming through and started giving him Panadol before sleeps, and that worked.

Then a month later it stopped working and it has been downhill from there. It got harder and harder to put him down at night. He started waking at night but not resettling and we were up with him for hours and hours.

Then two weeks ago we moved house. I expected him to feel uneasy so when he asked me to stay with him, I sat next to his cot for up to an hour while he fell asleep. Then one day he didn't fall asleep, threw a massive tantrum and jumped out of the cot for the first time ever. So we were forced to take the side off and convert it to a toddler bed.

Since then we can't get him to sleep at all. We have tried every method. The firm ones don't work - he will scream and cry and make himself hoarse and still be up 5 hours later. We have learnt he developed a fear of the dark so he has a night light now but that hasn't helped much. There is absolutely nothing I can do to get him to lie in bed. Nothing.

It's been several days now where he's so tired he's nodding off in the car during the day, something he never used to do, but come naptime he will not sleep, even if I sit with him calmly for an hour, and at night he has massive tantrums, we have to drive him in the car until he falls asleep (important to note that he falls asleep in the car because he is restrained and we can't keep him still at home), and then we put him in his bed where he'll sleep about 8 hours.

So he's undersleeping by about 4 hours every single night. He has never been one to be violent or tantrum during the day but when he refuses to sleep he gets so crazy he is a danger to us and himself.

No advice I have ever read applies to us - I would happily let him sleep with us or stay with him all night or whatever but he rejects literally everything.

Any thoughts you have are helpful.

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BrainFart

We had similar experience when my DD learnt to climb out of the cot. We immediately took the side off, because that’s what all the advice told us to do and it was unsafe with the climbing. 3 months of hell later (constantly getting out of bed, refusing to sleep etc) and in desperation I put the cot side back on and BINGO - the problem went away literally overnight. I’d put her to bed and she’d settle - sometimes playing/chatting to herself for a while but she didn’t climb out while she was supposed to be going to sleep.

She learnt to climb out of cot either in the morning or overnight for a snuggle. Thankfully she never had a fall and learnt to safely navigate the cot side.  

This was a sanity saving moment for us. I assume, in hindsight, that something about the cot side made her feel safe & secure and for whatever reason deterred her from the constant up/down. 
 

We removed the cot side again about a year later and it was a much smoother transition. 
 

I know it’s unsafe for a toddler to be climbing the cot side so don’t recommend this. Just telling our story and how we managed

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littleboysmum

Gosh that sounds dreadfully hard. I didn’t have a bed refused, I had the opposite, my DD begged to go to sleep but she did under sleep  every single night and woke between 4 and 4:30. Every single night of her life until this year when she was 7.5 and I went back to work and her days became very long and she became extra tired. 
 

I used to say every year she will grow out of this but no luck. What I will suggest is to go and see a doctor who is a sleep specialist and who can conduct a sleep study to make sure there is no underlying medical issues. I can recommend an excellent one if you are Sydney based. PM me

 

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AllNightLong
30 minutes ago, BrainFart said:

We had similar experience when my DD learnt to climb out of the cot. We immediately took the side off, because that’s what all the advice told us to do and it was unsafe with the climbing. 3 months of hell later (constantly getting out of bed, refusing to sleep etc) and in desperation I put the cot side back on and BINGO - the problem went away literally overnight. I’d put her to bed and she’d settle - sometimes playing/chatting to herself for a while but she didn’t climb out while she was supposed to be going to sleep.

She learnt to climb out of cot either in the morning or overnight for a snuggle. Thankfully she never had a fall and learnt to safely navigate the cot side.  

This was a sanity saving moment for us. I assume, in hindsight, that something about the cot side made her feel safe & secure and for whatever reason deterred her from the constant up/down. 
 

We removed the cot side again about a year later and it was a much smoother transition. 
 

I know it’s unsafe for a toddler to be climbing the cot side so don’t recommend this. Just telling our story and how we managed

Thank you. We thought about putting the cot side back up but then decided against it. Before he jumped out we were 100% decided to keep him in a cot as long as possible because we knew a toddler bed would be a disaster for him, and we were right.

Maybe we should still put it back on. I don't know now - we've made such a big deal about his "big boy bed" and he's told all the family and I'm worried it will hurt him emotionally to the point of no return.

Edited by AllNightLong

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Jenflea

If he's never slept well does he snore too? Have you had his tonsils and adenoids checked? 

I'd actually try putting the cot side back on, plenty of kids learn to climb out without any issues and if it helps him sleep, then it's worth it I think. 

 

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AllNightLong
Just now, Jenflea said:

If he's never slept well does he snore too? Have you had his tonsils and adenoids checked? 

I'd actually try putting the cot side back on, plenty of kids learn to climb out without any issues and if it helps him sleep, then it's worth it I think. 

 

Yes forgot to mention about a month ago we took him to the GP and he's healthy as can be.

You're the second person to suggest putting the cot side back on and I think this might be necessary. Thank you.

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AllNightLong
21 minutes ago, littleboysmum said:

Gosh that sounds dreadfully hard. I didn’t have a bed refused, I had the opposite, my DD begged to go to sleep but she did under sleep  every single night and woke between 4 and 4:30. Every single night of her life until this year when she was 7.5 and I went back to work and her days became very long and she became extra tired. 
 

I used to say every year she will grow out of this but no luck. What I will suggest is to go and see a doctor who is a sleep specialist and who can conduct a sleep study to make sure there is no underlying medical issues. I can recommend an excellent one if you are Sydney based. PM me

 

Thank you. I'm in Melbourne which means my son has been cooped up almost seven months now. I have a referral for someone here and hopefully can beg for an appointment tomorrow

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mandelbrot

You've got a lot going on here! I agree that a medical check is not a bad starting point, although it does sound like it's fallen into a vicious cycle of behaviour. Have you tried the maternal and child health line? They can be a pretty good starting point for other ideas, and if you get someone who isn't helpful you can always try another time and get someone new.

First of all, he sounds massively overtired, as do you. Have you got enough sleep? Are you switching it up with your partner so you're not both sleep deprived? It will be much easier to manage all this when you can be calm in the face of another midnight party.

With his overtiredness, it seems that you have managed to get a bit more sleep into him with the car naps/bedtime. Could you add a nap in the car or pram to that to just catch him up a bit? How much sleep is he getting overall, and what timing does it seem to be? e.g. when does he wake, when does he tend to fall asleep in the car, how much does it all add up to?

Once you're all somewhat human again with a bit more sleep, you can start to sort out the falling asleep in the cot/bed bit.

So, with the cot side off - we also had an escape artist and what worked with him was a week or so of putting him to bed a little bit later so that he was REALLY tired at bedtime. That would mean that he was falling asleep much quicker and it didn't become a fun and exciting thing to climb out. After a week we went back to the normal bedtime and he had forgotten about doing it. That got us from about 18 months to about 3? 3.5? years. I know you've made a big thing of it, but it could be that 'his teddy' is sad about the cot and we need to put it back on to help 'his teddy' feel cuddly and safe in bed. There are other big boy things he can do like helping around the house, putting his own toys away, putting butter on his own toast (spilling his own milk - there will be some currency that works for him).

It also sounds like your presence in the room is a bit too stimulating. He wants you there but can't settle when you're in there. You could try the pop in-pop out/gradual withdrawal method, giving him longer and longer opportunities to fall asleep alone. Does he do the same for your partner? Sometimes that's worth a try, switching it up.

Also, have you tried an audiobook or music for him to listen to and relax? We borrowed a bunch of playschool audiobooks from the library and I played them on my phone.

I would also be very flexible with the bedtime routine. If he's showing that he's tired/you know he woke up at 7am, he needs to be in bed by e.g. 6pm. It sounds like 'ideal' sleep for him is about 12 hours a night? Then I'd try to bring it in a bit earlier, as then you can hopefully miss the manic 'I'm so tired I can't sleep and will now be a total terror' stage.

Okay, that's a whole lot of questions and ideas. Sleep stuff is so tough, as you know, and some kids will always be harder than others in this area. You've cracked this problem once before, and you will do so again once you have worked out what he needs right now. And then everyone will feel much better!

Finally - and you know this - you can't make him sleep. You can give him a safe place that's suitable for sleep and he will need to work with the rest. He has done it before, he will do it again.

Good luck!

 

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RichardParker

If you’re in Melbourne, the lack of outside play and stimulation of other kids could be contributing - not enough sunlight and fresh air exposure to get the sleep habits into a decent rhythm.   I know a lot of people think that’s baloney, but it made a huge difference to my kids.  He also might be picking up on your stress, if that’s a factor. 
If it’s possible Under the restrictions, I’d try and work in as much vigorous physical activity outdoors as possible.   Sending you strength. 

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22Fruitmincepies

My almost 3yo will only nap in the car, although he naps for 2 hours on the mat at daycare no problem. He can climb in and out of the cot, but we have left the side on. When he first learned how to do this (a few weeks ago, it’s a tricky one to climb out of), he was doing it constantly, he was so pleased with himself!  But he likes me to stay in his room while falling asleep, so I would leave every time he got out. There were some rough nights but he learnt. 

So I say do naps in the car if you need to, and put the side back on the cot. Do what works and good luck! 

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~Jolly_F~

Have you tried cosleeping with him? This is the only thing that worked for us. We had to do what was necessary for the kids safety and our own because no sleep was destroying our family. 

 

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SeaPrincess

By 2.5, he actually could be ready to drop his nap. Yes, he’ll be tired and need it if he hasn’t slept well at night, but one of mine would be up till midnight if she had even a 30-minute daytime sleep at that age, but would sleep 11 hours without it. During the transition phase, we had earlier dinner and bedtime to compensate.

Definitely try the side of the cot back on, but it might also be worth considering a full-size single bed. My children were close together, so rather than get a second cot, they went into single beds. Both of the older 2 were in beds before they were 2. DS1 had the cot and the bed in his room for a short time before DS2 was born and to begin with, he would choose where he wanted to sleep. He always chose the bed, but if he got up 3 times, we put him in the cot. He stopped getting up after only a few nights.

DS2 (now aged 13) is my worst sleeper and will regularly still be awake when I am going to bed. He goes to bed at bedtime, but he just doesn’t sleep.

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onetrick

We had my husband in the single bed and son on a trundle on the floor for the first week or so out of his cot (I was with our then-newborn). This seemed to help a little?

We purchased a gro clock but kind of expected it to be a very expensive nightlight, but my son has loved it. He loves colours so that helps, and knows to stay in bed until its 'yellowy orange'. 

But yes, it was hell for about a month. The cot was the worst thing for us as he just screamed and screamed to be let out so no matter how hard the transition to a bed was, it was definitely better!! 

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Bono25

If it's security would a bed rail help? Not as high as the cot, so less likely to hurt himself. I'm sorry, I don't really have any other advice, but try to make sure you get some rest yourself. This is such a tough age, but try to remember that he won't be like this forever. 

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PrincessPeach

I’d not put the side back on the cot, but swap him to a normal bed - depending on how big he is, the cot might be to uncomfortable for him to sleep in.

When we swapped the youngest to a bed (at 18 months because he kept climbing out of the cot), we took all toys out of the room except his teddy bears & then put a baby gate at his bedroom door. So if he got out of bed, it didn’t matter - he wouldn’t climb the gate.

 

other than that, I echo everyone else,  look into a sleep study or other medical issues, there is usually an underlying reason they don’t sleep. My youngest was a very restless sleeper and was subsequently diagnosed with asthma at 21 months. Get his preventative dose right & he sleeps very soundly now. 
 

other medical issues to rule out would be reflux, ear issues & enlarged adenoids (my niece has these - she’s on the waitlist to have them out).

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Jenflea

A consistent bedtime routine will help too, no matter the issue if you do the same thing every night (bath, quiet play, teeth, books and bed) it will start his body settling into sleep mode.  Keep the house quiet if need be, make sure he's not hungry at bedtime, maybe some warm milk an hour before bed might help too. 

Be calm, be firm, be consistent. 

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SeaPrincess
1 hour ago, Jenflea said:

A consistent bedtime routine will help too, no matter the issue if you do the same thing every night (bath, quiet play, teeth, books and bed) it will start his body settling into sleep mode.  Keep the house quiet if need be, make sure he's not hungry at bedtime, maybe some warm milk an hour before bed might help too. 

Be calm, be firm, be consistent. 

This is so true. We took our children overseas and even with time zone changes, they knew bedtime was coming because the routine never varied, only the location.

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CCABW

When our DS was a toddler and a shocking sleeper, we put his toddler bed in our room. That really improved things for him and it broke the anxiety about being in the room on his own to go to sleep.

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José

At one point i used a service/ sleep nurse "sleep and settle" based in Newcastle nsw but does phone and Skype consultations. 

I would access something like this in your position. You can run through everything you have tried, they can give a plan that you commit to trying and then give feedback about hows it going.  

I think something like that would be most helpful. Good luck. 

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marple

For what its worth my advice is drop the nap. All 4 of mine rarely had a nap past 2yo unless they were in the car for a longish trip.

Either get a single big bed or put a bed rail on the side of the cot.

Put a mattress next to the cot on the floor and lie there until they go to sleep at night.

Otherwise, chuck it all in and take him to bed with you. My youngest slept with me for years , its actually sad when they are all grown up. 

Do whatever makes life easy for your family . 

( Remember there's no teenage boys insisting on sleeping with their parents- these years go very quickly)

 

 

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AllNightLong
3 minutes ago, marple said:

For what its worth my advice is drop the nap. All 4 of mine rarely had a nap past 2yo unless they were in the car for a longish trip.

Either get a single big bed or put a bed rail on the side of the cot.

Put a mattress next to the cot on the floor and lie there until they go to sleep at night.

Otherwise, chuck it all in and take him to bed with you. My youngest slept with me for years , its actually sad when they are all grown up. 

Do whatever makes life easy for your family . 

( Remember there's no teenage boys insisting on sleeping with their parents- these years go very quickly)

 

 

Ok just to show how difficult he is - I have done every single thing you mentioned here. None of it works. Bed rail, sleeping next to him, sleeping with us. I mentioned in my post that I'm happy to do all these things but he resists every single one.

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DQMission

I had a child who dropped their day sleeps at 12 months, I kid you not. They were clearly tired and would sometimes fall asleep at the table, or just while playing, but any shifting them would result in complete disturbance and they would be unable to resettle. It was suspected that he was experiencing the kinds of sleep disorder that contributes to night terrors. It’s about the sleep cycles being out of whack. Could it be something like that? My child went on to have actual night terrors several months after the sleep disorder began. It required medical advice and intervention for us. 

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Ellie bean
54 minutes ago, AllNightLong said:

Ok just to show how difficult he is - I have done every single thing you mentioned here. None of it works. Bed rail, sleeping next to him, sleeping with us. I mentioned in my post that I'm happy to do all these things but he resists every single one.

I really feel for you. My daughter dropped her nap right on 24 months, if I do much as put her in her cot she would stick her fingers down her throat and vomit until I got her out. Stubborn doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had a sick non sleeping 12 month old at the time too... we just had to bear with the afternoon crankiness and rock her to sleep at night. She sleeps more hours now at 8 than she ever did as a newborn to 5 year old. Now she’s a great sleeper if there’s any consolation. She did have severe reflux, reflux meds helped a bit but didn’t solve it. And while it didn’t last forever, anyone who said to me at the time “it won’t last forever “ was getting a huge slap in my imagination, it really didn’t help... no advice just commiseration

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Ellie bean

Also bath, book, milk routines etc made absolutely no difference with her. None ;) 

definitely try stuff but if it doesn’t work remember it’s not your fault! 

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CCABW
1 hour ago, AllNightLong said:

Ok just to show how difficult he is - I have done every single thing you mentioned here. None of it works. Bed rail, sleeping next to him, sleeping with us. I mentioned in my post that I'm happy to do all these things but he resists every single one.

Have you been to a paediatrician? It might need some additional exploration/medical help with this?

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