13 answers

Sleep Issues - San Diego,CA

So, I have this wonderful, very strong-willed and independant 2 1/2 year old daughter, that has had a habit of waking once or twice in the night (she is in her own room-we leave the door open) crying in a fit. When this happens we have tried going in and soothing her, but she ulitmately insists on my husband or myself staying until she falls back asleep. Sometimes she will only allow myself and others it's only daddy that will do. She often wants milk at those times too. We have tried everything from the above to "tougher love" which breaks my heart. We feel she is trying to get her way, so to speak, and have tried breaking the cycle. This has gone on for at least a year. Our Dr. thinks it may be night terrors and he thinks it should pass. Another issue is that most mornings she wakes up crying too. Almost as though she is angry she woke up! Other days she is sweet as pie upon waking. On top of all of that we have a really hard time getting her to sleep as well. We have watched her on the monitor and she just lays there looking around the room for at least an hour or so. She does have a nightlight and this falling alseep will sometimes happen as late as 11:00 or so. She is not a great napper, but she will take one most days. Any ideas? Or are we just being to soft?

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Featured Answers

You know it sounds like you're little one doesn't need a nap. As hard as it will be on you.... try eliminating the nap. I struggled with a similar situation and it improved when I let go of my "sanity" time (nap time).

Best Wishes!

More Answers

I think you are being too "hard." If this has been going on for a year, what you have doing hasn't been working.

I had the same "problem" with my children, but I just went to them at night and stayed with them until they fell asleep (so the problem was solved - it did not last a year +).

The real issue is that MOST human babies/young children expect/need human contact at night. (The other real issue is that we Western parents don't see this coming, and do not expect it. We expect them to sleep contently in their crib/bed alone the first few years without a peep. That's not really realistic.) Unfortunately, our culture (which encourages independence training since birth, encourages sleeping apart, separate sleeping rooms) does not encourage nighttime closeness. Yet babies, wake up terrified at night (it's dark! What's in the dark? Some animal that is going to "get me"? Where is my mother?) seek comfort, and we basically shut the door on them (mainstream books and magazines do not help).

My 8 yr old son used to wake up SCREAMING hysterically when he was that age. It wasn't night terrors. I always went to him and just stayed in his twin bed because I was tired and wanted to sleep and not get back up. He usually woke up at 2am and woke up a lot after that.

My now 4 yr old daughter basically slept through the night, but would wake up at 5-6am, quietly walk through a very long hallway, quietly knock at my door and I would just stay "hi sweetie" take her hand, walk her back and cuddle with her. She was grateful (for the immediate kind response) and so was I was for the way she handled it.

Children cannot fall back to sleep easily if their body is in a HIGH STRESS situation. That's why the screaming is going on (hysterics/panic). Really, if you are little and a night light is on, it's not enough. If you just really want/need human reassurance that you are safe, a night light ain't gonna cut it.

(Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's SLEEPLESS IN AMERICA has a great chapter on explaining that topic.

http://www.parentchildhelp.com/

So, to help my children get back to a very relaxed state, for their bodies to feel really, really relaxed, I lie next to them. (I'm not stressed or angry either. If I am, they pick up on it and stay wide awake.) They fall asleep in 5-10 minutes. No screaming, no begging for this or that (when I know what they really want is one thing - human touch.)

If your daughter just wants you to stay with her, go for it. If she doesn't need you to lie next to her to relax to go to sleep (rejoice) and do it. Help her to relax her body. But it is essential if you do this NOT to get angry about it, because if you are (and I speak from experience) it will keep her awake). Slowly, she will learn that nighttime is safe, she can count on her parents (she is ALWAYS safe, but she needs to learn this first) and eventually she won't need you in the room. But don't push this issue now. Be gentle with her.

http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/tami_breazeale.html

3 moms found this helpful

Hi U.

Poor you! Don't worry... exactly the same thing happened with me and my daughter who is now 2 and a quarter. She too wakes through the night, always wanting milk, and whinges and whines, rather than screams and sobs.

We don't have a nightlight, but I have left the hallway light on, on occasion, but find she sleeps better/faster in a darkened room.

So - what we did was we moved her room around, moved her bed, put a bedside table next to it, so it was a 'grown up girls room'. Then we gave her a bottle of milk (or a sippy cup) to go to bed with, which she puts on the bedside table when she's finished, and then when I go to bed, I fill the bottle again and leave it for her, for when she wakes in the night. It took a bit of getting used to, but now she just reaches for the bottle, has a drink, puts it back and goes back to sleep.

I hope you find a solution - try not to worry too much, it's pretty normal for children to have peaks and troughs in terms of sleeping through the night. Perhaps she has her big back teeth coming through (they come around 2-3years), and they are giving her pain, waking her and then she's looking for something comforting - milk!

Good luck!
C. x

1 mom found this helpful

"Silent Nights" sleep patches by Lifewave. Your child will go to sleep between 5 to 25 min. and will sleep all night and wake up rested! No drugs or chemicals, nothing enters the body. Once your child is sleeping, peel the patch off and use it for the next night or when needed. SAFE for youth and adults. Here is the website for more information Lifewave.com/kherihealth You can order a sample, they will change your life. Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful

if she's wanting to be carried and asking for milk, it's not night terrors. when your child has night terrors, they scream and cry and do not want to be picked up. they're really still asleep and only they can stop themselves. while it's horrible to have to wait it out, that's all you can do. if it's not night terrors, just check on her to make sure that she's safe and not hurt, reassure her briefly, and leave the room. she doesn't need to drink milk. my son (21 months) used to a grumpy boy upon waking, but has slowly, but surely learned to wake up a little happier. it's a personality thing, no big deal. you don't say what time she's being put to bed, but it's important that she have a consistent bedtime.

Hi U. :) Have you tried waiting until your daughter has been awake for several hrs. then letting her play in a nice warm bath or swimming for about an hr.? It works wonders for my 2 1/2 yr. daughter at naptime as well as before bedtime. If we go swimming, I'll usually give her a bath/shower afterwards. That really knocks her out! Also, if you don't already do this, try reading alot of books together at bedtime & singing songs after turning off the lights. Sometimes she'll wiggle around for abit but might fall asleep shortly there after. Keep having fun being a mom, even enjoy the challenges. Best of luck to you.

Hi U., what alarms me a little is that you used words like she insists, or allows,? sweetie you and your husband have given this child power that she should not have. I have told peobably 50 to 60 young moms that if your child is waking up at night and you keep getting up and going in the room you are creatng the cycle/habit not stopping it,kids that way up and behave in this manner is because they know someone will come in, it's a form a manipulation, and if its not niped in bud now in will get worse, especially cause she is a girl. As a mom I know it breaks your heart when she cries
thats the manipulation, it will work everytime, just pull on the heart strings of a mom and get your way, I know I had 3 kids of course it tool we awhile to learn and catch on, but see I was the softy, daddy was the disipline person, so at least my kids had a balance, but one thing we always made sure of and that our kids knew we were the parents and they the children. J.

Does she snore? Does she have allergies or other breathing problems? If so, look into sleep apnea. Its actually pretty common in children and could explain waking up a lot. Poor baby! My heart goes out to her and you. If its night terrors, can you do anything for her? I would try to see a sleep specialist, there's got to be something.

~N.

Both my boys at just that age went through bad night terrors and nightmares. The night terrors were just terrifying because they aren't awake even though they seem to be. There is nothing you can do to console them. All you can do is keep them from getting hurt until the episode passes. At that age we started lots of soothing things to encourage non-scariness for lack of a better word. We walked their room and the rest of the upstairs saying good night to everything they needed too-pictures on the wall, books, nicknacks, the windows, the moon shining in the bathroom window..Anything. We made dream pillows and they have dream catchers about their beds. Nightlights, blankies and various sleeping buddies. My youngest had it so bad that we ended up with him sleeping in our bed most nights with my husband and I trying to calmly talk down a screaming, crying, thrashing and hitting child.
This is a great resource on night terrors on Dr Sears' web site http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T071300.asp
I have the book this was in and once I read it after my son's first episode I was so relieved.
They weren't always as severe all the time, sometimes it would be no more than a nightmare they woke up to and didn't want to go back to sleep from for a while. Sleep deprivation is a cause.
There are some other great sections on Dr Sears' page about sleep issues. He has been my greatest inspiration in the way I parent and my kids are turning out great and I've been able to deal with everything they've thrown at me so far ^_~
Best of luck! I'm sure you'll work it out and it'll pass :)

I am curious about a couple of things- what time does she usually go to bed, take a nap, etc.? I have been obsessed with sleep since my first born (now three) was a couple months old. We had early waking issues, short naps, etc. What I do know that helped was a somewhat early bedtime and for him a somewhat early nap. Bed by 7:30 and a nap usually around 12 or 12:30. From what you write it sounds like she is possibly overtired.
What worked for my son was being firm (but loving) and having a reward after staying in bed all night.

My now almost 4 year old had night terrors a lot at that age. it took us a long time to realize that he was not actually awake at all, but still "dreaming" and by going in to soothe him, we were waking him up. We have a video monitor too. Once we realized what was going on, we started watching him and analysing first. We only went in when we were sure he was awake. Sometimes the sleep crying would last as long as 1/2 hour or longer even. It all finally passed around his 3rd birthday. Now he is the best sleeper ever. About the milk thing- as long as she is still getting it, she will keep demanding it. There is no way out except tough love which may take a couple of hard weeks, but save you another year of midnight wakings. If there is no reward for waking up in the middle of the night, she will stop doing it. If you want the softer approach, try diluting the milk a little more every day until eventually she will just be getting water-not much reward in that.

Both of my kids can play in bed for quite a while before they fall asleep. I heard that it an important time to "digest" all they experienced that day. You are teaching her how to fall asleep without anyones help- awesome job and don't worry. My now almost 4 year old gave up naps completely at 2. He now sleeps a full 12-13 hours at night. Your daughter might be heading that way.

Good luck
L.

U., I feel your frustrations. My husband and I went through that with my two year old son and now we are trying to conquer nap time. What our son would do is what we thought wake up, scream and cry. He'd even thrash around and hit us. It is what you call night terrors. Its best NOT to try to wake them cause even if they seem awake they are not and the only thing that will stop them is when they stop on their own. Its horrible and sometimes they can last for up to a half hour in my experiences! We also discovered sadly after a week of our son either having night terrors or waking up crying in pain that he was getting his two year molars and that was causing him extreme pain and discomfort. As you know teeth pain hurts worse when you lay down cause your putting pressure on your head/mouth. We would give him tylenol and baby oragel and that seemed to work wonders. Sure enough he stopped waking and even having night terrors . Check your little ones mouth top and bottom! Good luck and let me know how it goes!
N.

If she's really having night terrors they might not just "pass". My 10 year old still gets them. When he was a baby, he would wake up crying sometimes and NOTHING would comfort him. We didn't realize he was having a night terror until he was older and started talking and crying in his sleep and wouldn't respond to us at all. He is not awake at all and doesn't remember them. He will walk around the house talking and crying and even do somersaults on the couch. One thing that does seem to help them occur less often is talking to him about his problems during the day. Sometimes he will have them every night for a while (when we move to a new house or a big change is happening) and if we talk to him and let him try to work out what is stressing him out, he will go for weeks without having any night terrors. I imaginge he'll at least talk or walk in his sleep his whole life, though.

My three year old daughter, however, wakes up crying in the night sometimes and usually she just has to go to the bathroom. She won't tell us that, though, she'll just cry until we set her on the potty and then afterwards she'll go right back to sleep. Every once and a while, she just needs me to rub her head for a minute and she'll calm right down and go back to sleep.

You know it sounds like you're little one doesn't need a nap. As hard as it will be on you.... try eliminating the nap. I struggled with a similar situation and it improved when I let go of my "sanity" time (nap time).

Best Wishes!

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