18 month old having major meltdowns at nap and night time! help!

(17 Posts)
GlummyMummy Mon 21-Dec-15 14:35:44

My nearly 19 month old has suddenly started going mental when we put her in her cot at nap and bedtime. She's never been a great sleeper (only sleeping through maybe a night or two a week) but prior to this was able to put her down awake and leave her to settle without having to go back in at all. She would regularly wake up looking for her dummy during the night but never before midnight, and certainly never just after being put down. Was always pleased that she seemed happy for us to just shut the door and leave her to it at bedtime/nap time.

It's awful as she is howling the place down, getting herself hysterical and it's taking up to an hour before she eventually cries herself to sleep. I know she's tired so I think it is possibly just an anxiety thing?? At her nap today, I tried letting her cry it out but she was starting to choke with crying so much that I gave up and picked her up to try and cuddle her to sleep but that didn't work either. Am concerned that if I let her cry it out when she's anxious, she will just become a stressed, insecure child.

Wondering what others have experienced and what worked for them. Dreading Christmas as family coming and don't want them to have to sit and listen to her screaming!!

Jw35 Mon 21-Dec-15 14:48:44

Hi didn't want to read and run. Not sure what the problem is but its worth obviously checking for signs of illness. My 12 month old had a rough few days before I realised she wasn't well. Now she's full of cold.

I would advise against cry it out. I agree it will make her anxious, I think it would make things worse. Can't you sit next to the cot and reassure by patting/singing etc? What do you do when she wakes in the night? Does she sleep with you?

FATEdestiny Mon 21-Dec-15 21:51:28

If she was previously going to sleep independently, without your presence - then the crying indicates a need she has. She is telling you she needs you for something.

It cannot just be a case of leaving her until she cry herself to sleep because if she just needed to go to sleep, she already has the skill to be able to do that so she would have done. Therefore her cries shouldn't be ignored, it is just a case of figuring out what the problem is and solving it.

Could she be in pain with teething? Maybe she has a poorly tummy? Maybe she is uncomfortable in her nappy - be it too wet or too tight? Maybe she is cold or too warm?

You just need to go through all of the options until you figure it out.

I am not against CIO totally, so I am not advising against it on moral grounds here. CIO is only considered when all other needs are met and the only problem is baby cannot get to sleep alone, so they are left until they learn to do this (if we forget all of the debate around the rights and wrongs of doing that). In your case your DD has the skills and ability to settle to sleep alone and independently, so this cannot be the reason for the crying.

You just need to figure out what her need is. The quicker you do this and meet that need, the quicker she will go to sleep.

MingZillas Tue 22-Dec-15 07:31:59

I think it might be the 18 month sleep regression.

GlummyMummy Tue 22-Dec-15 14:03:21

thanks all for your advice.

Jw35- I don't think she's ill, recently had a bad cold and was still settling herself fine so don't think it's that. Normally when she wakes in the night we reinsert her dummy and lie her back down and she goes straight back to sleep, so this recent behaviour is very odd. Tried singing to her last night and she was a bit less hysterical but it still took 30 minutes before she would let me leave the room.

FATEdestiny - your point is really useful, certainly she has always let us put her down and come straight out and within 5 minutes or even less she is snoring away. Thought we were through the teething a couple of weeks ago as she was very dribbly. She's been very clingy during the day too and very grumpy so MingZillas is right, what I've read online points to the 18 month sleep regression thing. Just so hard to deal with her just now, she had previously been a very happy thing!

MingZillas Tue 22-Dec-15 20:14:59

Good thinking to Google it, I've been doing the same as my dd is 17 months and sleeping badly. Though her sleep has never been brilliant! You'll get through it ok, they've got another one at 2 years old as well fwink

GlummyMummy Tue 22-Dec-15 21:08:41

Oh joy!!! Something to look forward to! She's so clingy during the day too so it's exhausting! Hope things improve for you soon! 😃

MingZillas Tue 22-Dec-15 22:28:28

I know, mine's the same with the clingyness. I tried to dare get up and shut the living room door earlier and she started shouting like I was abandoning her!
I just go with it though, and pick her up and cuddle her as much as she needs. I hear you though it's really exhausting and I find I'm living on toddler time now where things take 5 times as long to do.
Is your dd tantruming a lot? Bloody hell I find those really hard to deal with.

Artandco Tue 22-Dec-15 22:44:38

Have you tried just letting her settle in your bed? You can lay next to her and read to her whilst she falls asleep. Leave her there for naps and move for nighttime once she is asleep. At least it will make it all a lot less stressful and quicker.

GlummyMummy Thu 24-Dec-15 20:50:41

Thanks Artandco - I've always been reluctant to start co-sleeping as worried it'll form a habit. We've never done it before so kind of feel it'd be like a backward step if you know what I mean?

Mingzillas - yes, mine starting tantruming early on, stopped for a while, and that has come back with a vengeance during this recent spate. She's really REALLY clingy at the moment - just wants picked up all the time and can't even get to the loo just now without a wee companion who wants to sit on my knee!

UnplainJane Thu 24-Dec-15 21:05:33

Glummy I remember going through that clingy period when DS was 18 - 19mo. I couldn't go to the loo without him trying to rest his head in my knickers because I wouldn't sit him on my knee. I think it coincided with sleep regression and teething canines. Much better now at 20mo.

GlummyMummy Sun 27-Dec-15 13:30:05

UnplainJane - that is really encouraging to hear that it passes soon. Had to laugh at your comment as that's exactly what it's like here! Her favourite phrase at the moment is "up please" - bless her, I think she thinks that if she says it politely she's more likely to get what she wants! ;-)

GlummyMummy Thu 07-Jan-16 14:34:44

well, I thought we were over the worst as dd had been a lot better, but another meltdown at nap today. She cried for an hour and eventually I relented and cuddled her to sleep which felt like a major step backwards, but I was desperate!! Is it just that some days they don't need their nap at this stage? I thought that if she wasn't tired she would babble to herself rather than howl, so the crying meant she did need her nap but was just trying to fight it? not sure if I should just get her up if crying starts as an hour crying in her cot seems a long time. Anyone else any ideas?

FATEdestiny Fri 08-Jan-16 00:28:25

This sounds like separation anxiety issues.

I wouldn't consider needing to cuddle her to sleep as a really terrible thing. If she seems to crave your presence when going to sleep it may well be just that - she is anxious about you not being there. So the answer is simple - be there for her at sleep time.

Could you do some gradual withdrawal?

Do everything needed to be a reassuring presence at asleep time, but ideally all done in the cot. If possible lie/sit next to the cot, leaning into the cot. Firm hand on chest/back patting as required. Shushing, tickling, stroking, whatever is needed really. Overdose on loads and loads of reassuring presence. But avoid picking her up, do it all in the cot.

Stay until fully asleep. Don't make any attempt to reduce reassurance, keep it at same level until asleep. Stay like this for a week or so.

Then over time make small changes to reduce the amount of reassurance needed. Maybe in time you will get to just needing to place a firm hand on chest and not move it until she is sleep.

Then just reaching into the cot and reassuring periodically, but not all the time. Stay doing this until asleep. Then get to the point where you just need to stand next to the cot. Then stand further away.

and so on and so on.

With separation anxiety trust is really important otherwise sleep issues will only get worse. She has to trust that you will stay and do what you promise all the way until she is asleep. No sneaking out early. If she notices you starting to withdraw reassurance more than she can cope with it will bring back all the anxieties.

Given that your DD was previously sleeping well, Gradual Withdrawal shouldn't take as long as it might for others. Just a way to get her back to what she already knows.

It might be that there are little set backs and regressions along the way that have you back to square one. But each time it should be quicker to progress in the withdrawing because she will be more used to it.

GlummyMummy Fri 08-Jan-16 20:11:00

Thanks for the advice, we have tried things like this before and it's worked for us as she can generally put herself to sleep okay. She's fine at nighttime, it's just been naps during the day. Is there any reason why she might be fearing us leaving during the day but not at night?

FATEdestiny Fri 08-Jan-16 20:58:02

Could it be that she isn't quite as tired at naptime (still tired, but not as tired as bedtime) so it takes her long to drop off to sleep?

It could be the other way, that she is over-tired.

Are naps predictable like bedtime is? I am not sure how routined you are with naps (in terms of the same time and the same run-up to nap time each day) but things like - 'I always have dinner, then a drink, then a nappy change, then go for a sleep' - can help. Children are fickle, mostly they like predictability.

GlummyMummy Sun 10-Jan-16 12:52:07

thanks FATEdestiny. We have a set routine for naps as well, the time fluctuates slightly, depending on what we are doing in the morning, but it's only ever 15 minutes or so different. It just appears that two days out of the week she just doesn't want to nap!!

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