22 Month Old Freaking Out

Updated on September 20, 2008
H.M. asks from Sikeston, MO
14 answers

We co-sleep with my 22 month old daughter. Most nights I am the one to put her to sleep but her dad has started to help over the past few months. There have never been any problems until last night. My husband went in to put her to bed last night and she got upset. I went to her and gave her a kiss and hug and then took her to bed. We normally close the door so the dogs won't disturb us while we are trying to put her to sleep or while she is sleeping. When I went to open the door, she flipped out. It was like she had a panic attack that if I was not there her world was going to end. She has never done this before and I am not sure what to do. Any help or advise on this would be greatly appreciated.

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So What Happened?

I want to thank everyone for the advise and the ideas that were given to me. I still have no idea what caused her to freak out over me trying to leave the room when her daddy was putting her to bed but we are now letting him put her to bed and letting her cry to see that he is also there to comfort her and love her. I put myself a few rooms away so I do not have to hear her because I know that she is fine with her dad. I hope that she will soon see daddy as someone more that just someone to play with.

More Answers



answers from Oklahoma City on

H.: My kids are almost all grown up now (18 year old daughter & 15 year old son) however, I made the same mistake with them when they were babies, by allowing them to sleep with me. Even though it's been so long ago, trust me, I remember how hard it was to get them to sleep in their own bed. But, your little girl, at almost 2, should be sleeping in her own room. It's not going to be easy; I had to literally let my daughter cry/scream herself to sleep for about 2 weeks straight. It was painful for me to let her cry, but I knew that in the long run, it was the best thing for her, not to mention me and my husband (he had moved to the couch because he was afraid he would roll over on her when she was an infant). Once they get in this habit, it is a very, very hard one to break; but, again, you know you are not harming her by making her sleep in her own room; she may think she's dying while adjusting! HA--but, trust me, once she knows that you are serious about her sleeping in her own room and not in the marital bed, then she will eventually go to her own bed willingly.

Now, with all of this advice I've just given you, I made the same mistake with my son, who was born 3 years after my daughter and it took me FOREVER to get him to sleep in his own bed.........my husband ended up sleeping on the couch for the last 8 years or so of our marriage--so, for all concerned, it's best if you can get her in her own room at night! Good luck and let me know how it works out!

God Bless,

S. Woodall



answers from Tulsa on

Lots of good stuff, here. One other thing to consider: has she seen a movie, cartoon or had a book read to her lately that has anything scary in it? Some of that stuff can cause this. If not, I agree, it is a toddler control issue. You can almost look at it like time out. Time for bed is, time for bed, period, and if she has a tantrum, you can go in every 2-3 minutes and reinforce that it's bed time, that mommy is not going to stay but will check on her again soon, give her another hug/kiss then leave again. That's about right for her developmental age. It shows you care, you are around, but rules are rules.



answers from New Orleans on

We have a 22 month old as well. She has always gone to bed in her own room after reading books etc. without problems but occasionally (like once a month, maybe 2 nights in a row) she will wake up at night screaming hysterically and then goes back to sleep and wakes up again a little while later screaming again and ends up in our bed. I think as they get up into this age range they can start having nightares - maybe this is what is happening?



answers from Enid on

it sounds like a night terror to me. my daughter experienced those when she was just about that age. they are horrible and i remember that feeling. i would just hold her really close and tell her it was ok and mommy is here. please don't feel like you have made some great-big mistake by letting her sleep with you. my oldest child slept with us until she was almost 4, my son is 3 now and gets in bed with us almost every night around 1 am or so. i feel it is very important to be close and for your child to know you are there whenever they need you at whatever cost to yourself. i love sleeping with my kids, the snuggly, wonderful smelling, angels will grow up too quickly!



answers from Baton Rouge on

H.!! Maybe your daughter had a bad dream the night before or a bad day. I would just keep up the normal routine and just see if she's goes back to normal . . . You remaining calm is the best medicine. Kids just go through phases like this as they grow up and start to experience their world. If she's verbal, you can ask her during the day what scared her so badly. Try not to have big talks at night, right before bed, sometimes that makes things worse. Just keep your routine going. Maybe allowing her to have a flashlight or soft music on in the room as a special treat will keep her calm. Is she napping too long in the afternoon? Maybe she's having a hard time falling asleep at night and has too much on her mind. Hang in there. It's just a phase. This too shall pass.



answers from Huntsville on

Sounds like nigth terrors & has nothing to do with your hubby or you or the door. I know that if she had a night terro (which can happen at that age) it can be really bad. Check with your pediatrician & you should get some good advice on this!



answers from Tuscaloosa on

I have a 21 month old daughter, and my husband and I have been through something similar when trying to get her to bed. Give her hugs and kisses then quietly disappear about 20 minutes before your husband brings her to bed. She may still get upset, but probably won't flip out.



answers from Huntsville on

Hi H.,
My 30 Mo Old is like that some days and it started a little more than 8 mos ago.
The other day our Neice was here and wanted to get our Daughter up from her nap. Our Daughter started crying b/f our Neice got her downstairs. I don't know if it was that she didn't get to "walk" downstairs herself, or if Mommy or Daddy didn't get her (it was a Sunday afternoon). She cried for about 25 minutes.
I asked her what upset her so, if it was b/c she thought since her cousin came up that meant her Mom and Dad weren't here. I asked if it upset her that her "girl" got her up from a nap-she said "No, I Love Girl"...
So-my theory is that your daughter is a smart little girl (like ours :-) and she is unable to voice emotions/feelings and cries out of frustration that her vocabulary is lagging behind her emotions and the expression of them.
I'm just theorizing here, but our girl's meltdowns happen more when she is really tired/hungry/or situations like that when her brain won't cooperate with her to voice what's going on inside...
I distract, till the tantrum is over and then I try and talk about her "being upset". I try and not punish her for getting so freaked out since I don't KNOW that it's a behavior problem. Our girl is smart and strong willed and Independent (at about 24 mos she started saying "No, Me Do IT"). I want her to be those things, but I know that her always getting her way is NO way to prepare her for the future (which I think is part of the whole parenting thing). I try and save "punishment"-usually timeouts-for things like hitting and throwing-doing things that will be dangerous to her or others.
I have come to believe that having a pre-schooler (not too long ago they were "Toddlers" till about age 4-oops dating myself here), is like having a terminal disease:
You have Good days that are Great and
The Bad Days are REALLY BAD.

One other thing: Try and keep your sense of humor.
Some Days are Diamonds,
Some Days are Stones,
Some Days are Gall Stones,
but They too Shall Pass.
I hope this helps!



answers from Birmingham on

You have just experienced the control of a 22 month old toddler-to-be!! I am betting she got just what she wanted and all was good in her life. It worked for our two many times (less with child number 2). It is hard to put them to sleep fussing but they will get very used to mom/dad being with them in bed or staying until they fall asleep. They will stay awake for a LOOONG time if you are with them and they know you slip away when their eyes shut. It's all about setting boundaries and the sooner she is able to comfort herself and go to asleep alone, the happier you and dad will be and she'll learn her routine is not to be questioned or manipulated by her. It's tough, but really try to give hugs/kisses and then put her in her bed alone. Give her a toy or something to rest with and let her fuss it out. Usually 10-20 minutes will do the trick. It's very hard and I remember sitting in the hall by their doors nearly in tears wondering if I was doing the right thing .. it was. They soon learned that when I left the room, they had to go to sleep and all was well. They love their dad but it was me who was the last one they wanted to see and do the official "tucking in." They would fuss more if he did it.



answers from Tulsa on

I read in John Rosemond's "Making the 'Terrible' Twos Terrific!" that sometimes 2-year-olds develop sudden inexplicable aversions to one parent or the other, and that the way to deal with that is to show that you, the parents, are in charge, and not her. You do this by simply stating that you are both her parents, and you both love her, and "Daddy's going to do X now" and then you do it, whether she likes it or not. And you can tell her "It's okay to scream or cry, but Daddy's still going to do X." And if you calmly go about doing whatever, then she learns after a little while that she will not get her way in this, and she'll accept it and be okay with it after a little while. Rosemond says it's one way toddlers test "who's in charge, me or the parents?"

It's a very nice common-sense book. You may disagree with some parts of it, since he does not advocate co-sleeping, but his advice has so far been helpful for me in dealing with our 13-month-old, who seems to be entering the Twos a bit early... I also recommend "A Family of Value."

Good luck! Happy trails!



answers from Fayetteville on

Maybe she's had a nightmare, or she has started to develop a bit of a monster imagination. You'd think a night light would help, but being so small and dim, it can just make scary shadows. Could you leave a small lamp on for her? Maybe for a few nights, cuddle with her or rub her back or hair (or whatever other comforting measures she is familiar with) till she falls asleep. Don't be afraid to do this. She won't become hooked on it permanently. You can ease back as she feels safer going to sleep.

Also, check out the Sears' Nighttime Parenting book. They have some amazing tips!! They also have a checklist of what could be going on, with things to look for to help you figure it out. They'll save you a ton of headaches. A single one of their tips in their Baby Book stopped our daughter's colic on the spot (the "thermometer trick" for gas - whew! What a relief!). And they REALLY know their stuff. Since you co-sleep with your baby (we do, too - how easy for nursing, and how super cuddly!), you will appreciate their philosophy on parenting. They work with parents from this perspective, so most of their advice will already assume co-sleeping/close sleeping.




answers from Oklahoma City on

do you stay with her til she's asleep? we usually do with ours and sometimes when i think she is asleep, but she is n't really, the noise of the doorknob (ours squeaks) can wake her up and panic her a little. maybe try a noise machine? we use ours on just a white noise sound while she naps, and the extra bit of noise seems to block the doorknob sound and she can sleep through it. maybe now that she is old enough to put together, "as soon as i go to sleep mommy or daddy leaves," she is kind of on edge, wating for that moment, trying to stay alert? btw, proud of you for cosleeping, most people don't make that choice, and miss out on the benefits to their babies!!



answers from Little Rock on

Cradle the baby,alot of times they are having a nightmare and sleep walk with there. Eyes open and you think they are awake.make sure you stay till they are awake and comfort them .I run my fingers over my little girls forehead soft and loving .then she snaps out of it and I also pray for a hedge of protection around my child from anything not like god in Jesus Christs name.it works after about 3 episodes of this and heavy praying it has totally stopped



answers from Fayetteville on

My daughter was a bit younger than this when she started preferring mommy to daddy at bedtime. If he went in to her in the night when she woke up she would get to the corner of the crib and scream for mommy. You stay home with her so she wants you. Daddy's the fun one, mommy's the comforter-that's just kinda how it goes I think. My daughter is now almost 4 and still prefers mommy at bedtime, daddy always gets a hug and kiss before bed, but mommy's the story reader and lullabye singer. For yours this could just be a one time thing-or it could be the start of something new-but she's ok.
God Bless!!

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