Toddler Sleep Problems - East Bridgewater,MA

Updated on September 15, 2009
A.G. asks from North Easton, MA
11 answers

I am in desperate need of advice. My 2-year-old daughter is having major, major sleep problems. Up until now, she's been a pretty good sleeper. We (husband and I) transitioned her to a twin bed (just a mattress on the floor) a few weeks ago. It took a few nights, but the transition seemed to be smooth. Now, suddenly, she absolutely refuses to sleep in her bed (or anywhere, really) alone. Our bedtime routine has not changed. (Maybe it should? Since she knows bedtime is coming and keeps saying: "Don't go far away.") But now, the second we say goodnight, she gets absolutely hysterical. She is out of bed screaming before I can even get to her bedroom door. We've tried letting her cry it out, but the crying goes on for HOURS. I've been lying on the floor beside her bed to get her to sleep, then sneaking out. But the second she wakes up and notices that no one is with her, the hysteria instantly sets in. We had her checked at the pediatrician, of course, to make sure that nothing is physically wrong (no ear infection, no molars, etc.), so I know it's not that. I just really don't know what else to do or try. Things aren't getting ANY better. If we let her cry it out, are we being mean? Does she just need to feel safe right now? Will she outgrow it? Or should we avoid bad habits (letting her fall asleep with us in the room) at all costs?

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answers from Boston on

I've heard a lot of stories about parents who transitioned their kids out of cribs and the kids had strong reactions like the one you're describing. And a number of people I know ended up putting the kids back in the crib because they weren't ready yet. We took the side off my daughter's crib so it would be a gradual transition. We put a full body pillow on the floor next to the crib and block her in with a pillow on the outside. She seems to like it. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

Instead of a mattress on the floor, try either a toddler bed with rails, or pretty high rails on the twin. I think the openness and large size of twin bed is what scared our daughter. Her previous bed was small and cozy, and all of a sudden she was on this huge slab of mattress. Our daughter also wanted 2 night lights and pretty much all her stuffed animals placed around the bed. This is the separation anxiety stage and it will go away. Hang in there.

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answers from Boston on

We had the same problem with our 2 1/5 year old. After a vacation she was terrified staying in her bedroom alone. Screaming crying when i leave. It took ten days for her to accept she can not sleep with mommy and daddy. I read to her until she fall asleep. Yes everytime she woke up during the night too. Sometimes I just sit there to comfort her but did not lie down until she fall asleep. Never let her get in our bed once (although i was so tired to read to her )so she got the message. Now i bought a cd player to her room. She listens to soft music when she is sleeping and she gets to get our bed only if sun goes up to have a morning snuggle. My advice do not give in because you get tired just be consistent letting her sleep in her bedroom. I believe we are doing the best for them by letting know that it is safe to sleep alone and mommy and daddy are right there if she needs them.



answers from Burlington on

I actually have the crib mattress on the floor, and he loves it (running around got him back in the crib (JUST 1 NIGHT :)) I did put in in a corner, with a dresser at the foot and storage tubs on the outside to make a fort for him (2 1/2) He likes the security of the "walls". Try this if she doesn't want to be in a crib. good luck!



answers from Boston on

I don't have advice so much as commiseration, as I find myself in a somewhat similar situation with my two year old (also born 8/07). She's still in her crib, which I'd like to keep her in as long as possible as it makes things MUCH easier/safer for me. She climbed out once but we talked about it and agreed that she could get hurt doing that and when she wants out she is to call for Mommy or whoever is watching her and they will come get her. That's working for us so far, plus we have a video monitor so we can easily see when she wants out but she's very happy playing in her crib for up to an hour after she wakes.

Anyway, she has mostly been a great sleeper, we would have bath, stories & a bottle on my lap, then I'd put her in her crib and leave and she'd fall asleep.

Up until the last week in July, suddenly she was hysterical if I tried to leave the room. Mommy stay! Mommy sit on the chair! Mommy stay by the crib! So I've been sitting in the glider in her room and leaving after she falls asleep. It can take awhile, and sometimes when I get up she shoots straight up.

However, she's fine with my nanny - she can still put her in for her nap, and she's much better with her Daddy & Grandma, so you might try letting someone else do the caring if you can. Apparently, the Momma can never leave the room. I work during the day so someone else always puts her in for her naps and she's usually fine. Do you have trouble at nap time as well? When my little one gets up at night these days I send my husband in as I will never be able to leave but somehow he can sooth her and leave and she's fine.

ANyway, if you want to have an off-line conversation please feel free to email me so we can commiserate. I am hoping it's a phase. I do not believe in crying it out for us though I realize lots of people like it.

Best of luck!



answers from Boston on

Have you thought of using natural ways to help her relax? I did foot massage with lavender on my son. He was so sleepy afterwards that he did not wake up during the night. I also did CranioSacral Therapy. You can find a practitioner on
Good luck



answers from Boston on

I'm having the same problem with my daughter who is just over two. We just set up a twin bed a month ago and have not gotten any sleep since. For her to go to bed I have to sit with her until she is asleep. Then when she wakes up in the night (once and sometimes twice) we are up for an hour tru=ying to get her to go back to sleep. We got one night the other night where she slept through the night but I'm starting to wonder if we will ever get a decent night sleep again! I'm glad I'm not the only one... but don't have any good suggestions for you. If we leave her to cry none of us gets any sleep... so we end up either sitting with her and sometimes bring her in our bed because I just want to sleep! Let me know if anyone out there has a solution!



answers from Boston on

If she's only two why not put her back into the crib? Our youngest never slept so we switched him to a big boy bed in hopes it would help and now I find him in the closet screaming instead of in bed screaming. I know plenty of kids that slept in a crib until about 3.5 if she was climbing out and that's why you switched spend the money and get a crib tent at least then you will be getting sleep and your daughter will be safe and sound.
Just bc they didn't see any molars doesn't mean they aren't getting ready to come in. Our youngest was miserable for almost a month before we could see his molars coming in.



answers from Boston on

is it light enough in her room? lots of kids around this age who needed complete darkness to sleep before need a little light.



answers from Nashville on

Do NOT let your child sleep with you. Trust me. However, did she transition from a crib to a twin bed? If so, that may be the problem. She has gone from this confined space, if you will, to wide open expanses and it may be scary. I would recommend getting a toddler bed that had the side rails built in. There is a nice one at Wal-Mart that is $55 that is wood and of course uses a standard crib mattress. I had a hard time with my oldest son and it has only been in the past year and a half that he will actually go to bed by himself without having to be rocked. (Yes, I rocked him until he was 4 -- we learn from our mistakes, lol)

But talk to her. Ask her what is so scary and see what she says. I wish you the best of luck.



answers from Boston on

Hi A.,

The first thing I thought of after I read your story is maybe she felt safe in her crib having the bars all around her and now being on a mattress she is feeling very vulnerable. It does sound like she's terrified. Does she ever say anything about being afraid to sleep in her bed? Is it possible to put her in her crib for a night as an experiment?

I am an advocate for letting them cry it out, but not if she's truly afraid of something. Have you questioned her and if so, what does she say or indicate?

Good luck. I know you must all be exhausted.

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