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sleep ...... advice from adoptive parents please

(19 Posts)
twoblueskies Thu 01-Dec-16 21:16:56

Hi , want thoughts , advice ,anything please ......
Im a mum of two , youngest is adopted , came to live with us at 11 months and is now 2 years 10 months.

She has been a dream , always settled and slept really well , sometimes woke in the night but with a little cuddle and sometimes a bottle would settle straight down.

she never lived with her parents , was removed at birth and lived with one set of foster parents ...... who are wonderful.

Im at work 3 days and she has been in nursery for 8 months , again really doing well , confident , sociable and funny. the nursery manager has commented on how unlike other adopted children she is because she doesn't show any signs of being adopted ( not completely sure what she means by that .......)


we were putting her to bed at 7 but have moved it now to 8 , but she will often still be shouting for us at 9 or 10 and keeping her sister awake and running us ragged .....we try to just offer reassurance and tell her to sleep,
when we wake her in the morning at 7.30 she is fighting to stay in bed she is so tired ,,,,, so are we !

I find myself getting very serious and firm with her , not shouting , but saying firmly " you need to sleep"..... she then starts to cry and will then settle and sleep .... but I hate seeing her get so upset to sleep .... feels like when i tell her off she wants me to leave her alone and is very sad ( understandable).

So what would others do regarding settling / sleep difficulties in a nearly three year old who is adopted.

Meant to say we have a good settling time , tea, telly , bath ,bottle , story and cuddle .

She is definately a strong character who knows what she wants and can be determined. But has always loved her sleep from moving in with us.


catsnickedallmypens Thu 01-Dec-16 22:10:23

Hi twoblue, this is probably a stupid question but have you cut out her lunchtime nap yet? Just that if you haven't it made a significant difference to my DC's sleep pattern.

Also, although your DD was never in a situation where she was abused or neglected she did have to leave her very good foster carers at 11 months so that would constitute a 'trauma' imo. Our DC was in a 24 hour staffed residential unit from birth to 4 months so little chance of trauma. Our DC then went to very good FCs until 18 months when they came to us. I consider this move to be the big issue re our child's trauma.

I have a friend who used to be the only person I knew who had experienced anything like the behaviour from her child that I had from mine. This was a birth child in a stable and secure family. Turns out friend was hospitalised for a couple of months with her 2nd pregnancy. 1st child had to stay with grandma whilst friend was in hospital but from thereon he displayed challenging emotional and social behaviour until late adolescence.

We are learning more and more about what constitutes early trauma.

Your current situation with your DD sounds tough.

flapjackfairy Fri 02-Dec-16 08:16:19

It could be an age thing as she is becoming increasingly aware that she is a seperate person in a big scary world and this can lead to children being clingy or unsettled when alone. I would continue with a strong routine and regular bedtime but it may help if she has the radio or soft music on so that she feels less alone. One suggestion is to simply record the chatter of a family mealtime and play this in the backgrpund to see if she is more settled. Also nightlight etc which i am sure you have tried . Is it possibly just the fact that nights are darker and scarier for example? I have a friend with on older as who still has to have the radio on low to sleep and he is practically an adult !
Obviously you are not wanting to hype her up just reassure and keep calm and pat back etc rather than engaging too much. Try not to talk at all if possible in fact just shush her quietly.
All children seem to have random bouts of trouble with sleeping imo so it will probably pass in time . Maybe have a chat with her during the day to see if you can get some ideas from her of what it is that is unsettling her. And good luck. Let us know how you are doing .x

giraffessay Fri 02-Dec-16 10:37:31

Do you leave her at 8pm, or stay until she sleeps?

Kewcumber Fri 02-Dec-16 15:55:32

the nursery manager has commented on how unlike other adopted children she is because she doesn't show any signs of being adopted ( not completely sure what she means by that .......)

What she means is your child doesn't appear to be an axe murderer which is many peoples perceptions of adopted childrens behaviour. In fact her experience may be of adopted children with very disturbed behaviour simply because she needed to know, she might not have been informed of the details of all the other adopted children whose behavior was within the realms of normal.

DS also adopted at 11 months, sleep was always a bit of an issue but deteriorated around 2-3 and hasn't been great since to be honest. Dropping a nap made no difference. Frankly nothing made a difference.

The only thing which helped was "The no cry sleep solution" book by Elizabeth Pantley (from memory) who does a toddler version.

It didn;t make DS less scared to wake up or go to sleep on his own (I eventually came to the conclusion that it was anxiety that kept him awake) but it gave me permission to deal with it in a way which suited me and was kind to DS.

2catsandadog Fri 02-Dec-16 15:58:47

Sleep regression. It's normal. It sucks.

Poppystellar Fri 02-Dec-16 20:07:44

Huge sympathy for you. I can totally empathise. I have a DD who struggles with staying asleep. Kew has hit the nail on the head about the permission to deal with it in a way which suits you and is kind to your DD though. This is what has ultimately worked for me.

My DD slept through from 7-7 for the first 8 weeks or so then wham sleep became a HUGE issue. She's always gone to bed fine, but struggled to settle on her own and then would wake up anxious anytime from about 10-2am every single night. It was exhausting.

I tried everything included a version of controlled crying (on the advice of the bloody health visitor. By the way, do not do this, it was hideous) However, ultimately I came to the realisation that DD may have sleep issues for years and I needed to find a way for us to cope with it whilst getting enough rest.

I stay with her til she falls asleep, (usually takes 20 mins or so), then when she wakes up (it is definitely when not if) she has an extra bed in my room she can come in to so that she is reassured I am close. She has eventually (over last few years) mostly got to the point where she calls me when she wakes up in the night but is reassured by seeing my face at the bottom of the stairs and can settle herself down in my room usually without needing me (although sometimes a particular bad dream or worry will mean she is a bit tearful and needs a hug or cuddle as well before she can drift off again). It did take a good few months for this routine to become fully established, and even more months to get to the point we're at now where it requires minimal time and intervention (compared to the time and effort involved near the start) BUT it did work. And mostly saved my sanity.

I guess what I'm trying to say is do whatever it takes and whatever suits you and DD best to ensure you both get some rest, whether this be co sleeping, staying with her til she drops off, audiobooks, radio whatever.

Also, don't give a hoot about what other parents say you should or shouldn't be doing to 'sleep train' her. She's a frightened anxious little girl who needs your reassurance. I used to sometimes forget this when I was in the middle of being totally sleep deprived and feeling horrendously tired all the time.

When I wonder longingly if I will ever have my room to myself again I try and reassure myself with the thought that at the age of 14 she's unlikely to want to be still doing it (I hope grin)

MintyLizzy9 Fri 02-Dec-16 20:39:25


DS is almost 3 and we've have bouts of this as well.

I've not found a quick fix yet! At its worse I lay on the floor next to his cot until he falls asleep. At best I go in and out countless times, I don't speak to him but I rub his forehead until he calms down then leave - and repeat.

We can go a few months between these bouts. He tends to have a run of nightmares/terrors that then puts him off going to sleep.

Still naps though thank god and will have between 1 to 2.5 hours every day and normally sleeps 7-6 each night. If he has any less than this it can impact him sleeping at night and will take a couple of weeks to get back on track with early nights. Have you tried putting her up early some nights? I go with a 6 pm bedtime when it's all going Pete Tong and that sometimes works wonders as over tiredness can mean less sleep.

Alljamissweet Sat 03-Dec-16 18:59:44

Things that have worked here.
Laying with LO till they drop off, takes about 10-20 most nights. Tricky if they are in a cot......
Audio book. Same repeated few stories.

dimples76 Sat 03-Dec-16 22:14:23

My son is 3 1/2 and he was going through a phase of taking ages to go to sleep - not distressed just singing and chatting away to himself. I'd go in and say 'Sleeptime, night night' he'd respond with night night then he'd carry on singing.

I actually pulled his bedtime earlier (it was 7:30 and now I aim for 6:45). I don't like it as it means v little time together on the days that I work but I think he was over tired before. I hardly dare type that he is sleeping v well now ..hopefully I have not jinxed it.

OlennasWimple Sun 04-Dec-16 01:08:59

I second audio books on a small CD player - the noise is more soothing than music for some DCs, and can be just enough to reassure them that they are safe

planesick Tue 06-Dec-16 10:35:59

Hi, we adopted Little Miss a week before her 1st birthday. She was with her foster carer from 12hrs old. She didn't sleep well until she was 4 and sometimes suffers night terrors still.
What worked for us; attending to her every need as a new born when regressing. We then phased out our presence slooowly!
Started by being at the side of the cot holding a finger... to sitting by cot... to sitting by door... to sitting on stairs.... til we could leave her to settle herself.
When she woke in the night we followed the same pattern when she woke in the night, but the trick is to recognise when they are awake and when they are just stirring. don't go in too soon. we used to run in and soothe and we used to do it often. once we waited til she was definitely calling us, she would settle much easier.

oh and the other thing that works sometimes is putting her to bed earlier rather than later as she becomes over tired and then cant calm down for sleep.
this is what works for us...
Good luck.

drsholmes Tue 06-Dec-16 23:50:26

Unfortunately no advice as we are still in approval but I also recommend the no cry sleep books. I have both baby and toddler versions and were very useful when my daughter suddenly decided she didn't want to sleep (around the same age as yours is now)

Italiangreyhound Thu 08-Dec-16 02:54:08

twoblueskies sorry to hear this is a pain.

Our adopted son, who came to us at 3, was still having the odd afternoon nap, so I do wonder if you have stopped the afternoon nap. If so, maybe this has impacted on her.

Or maybe any change in diet?

My dd (birth child) was a terrible sleeper! she came into our bed a lot. Almost every night at some point up to about age 8 and then just stopped doing it. We were so relieved as we adopted ds when she was 9 and we did not want him to pick up this habit.

You said "I find myself getting very serious and firm with her , not shouting , but saying firmly " you need to sleep"..... she then starts to cry and will then settle and sleep .... but I hate seeing her get so upset to sleep .... feels like when i tell her off she wants me to leave her alone and is very sad ( understandable).

If this is making you (and her) unhappy, can you find an easier, lighter way of making her know she needs to sleep. Maybe a little song or lullabye?

Or a made up song around her name.

We had this CD when my daughter was little

Some of the songs are so lovely.

If I listen to this like Lynn Morrison - Cradle Spell Dunvegan and the few moment of Dreamland - Track 1 it takes me back 12 years!

Good luck.

twoblueskies Fri 16-Dec-16 23:05:50

thankyou everyone , some great suggestions here . Havent had much of a routine as we have been away for last two weeks , so plenty of activity with us all falling gratefully into bed
we have stopped the daytime nap , changed time to later to bed and stopped hanging around in her room ( i know !) 2 stories , a little chat , hug , kiss , night and telling her to get back into bed , not going in with her . we tell her she is such a big girl and we will come and tuck her up in 5 minutes to find she is either asleep or drifting off
thankyou again , i will keep suggestions for when i may need to pull another rabbit out of the bag smile

meandyouplustwo Wed 18-Jan-17 11:15:41

so ........ here i am again sad

last night spent 3 hours resettling from 1 til 4 . but everytime i thought she was asleep and tried to leave (escape!) she started to cry for me , i managed to reassure from outside the room and she stayed in bed room but kept repeatedly waiting ( i sat one time for 45 mins listening to her snoring only for her to wake as i got to my bed, how !).

this is happening most nights and we are exhausted . i work part time and have adjusted my hours to spend with her , she is also showing anxiety at being seperated from us when taken to nursery , but not wanting to leave when we collect her .

any more ideas about night time settling , she is going to sleep much better than when i first posted ,,,,,, but night time waking is a killer !

Anyone sharing my pain ?

PoppyStellar Wed 18-Jan-17 11:58:40

Hi meandyou I wish I had something tangible to offer to help but all I can say is huge huge sympathy and I share your pain flowers

Fwiw, when the night time waking was really bad I used to grab half an hours 'me time' downstairs when she first drifted off to sleep, then be prepared for her waking up and me not being able to leave so that when it happened I had the box of chocolates / trashy mag or book / large glass of wine (delete as applicable) ready to take up with me and I would just lie on my bed next to hers and wait it out. It is mentally exhausting though. I really feel for you.

PoppyStellar Wed 18-Jan-17 12:01:35

Oh, just remembered. DD's sleep is always worst when anxious, if your LO can talk might be worth trying to explore what's making her feel anxious (although this is way easier said than done I know)

EatSleepRunRepeat Fri 20-Jan-17 11:33:35

We're having sleep issues at the moment as well...

DD is 2, came to us at 8 months, was a great sleeper. Now will wake intermittently between 1am and 6am. No idea why. Not screaming the house down at the top of her lungs, but it starts as murmuring, then calling and actual crying after a few minutes.

Thought maybe it was becoming a habit, so we were going to start a few days of waking at around 12-12:30 to try and break it. But each time we tried, she woke up earlier than midnight (how do they know??).
This week, we've tried taking some juice up to let her have in the night when she wakes as this seems to settle her a bit better.

Currently replacing sleep with caffeine. Hoping it's a phase that will pass.

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