To be at the end of my tether with DSs sleep(22 Posts)
DS is 2.5 and has never been a great sleeper. He has never to my recollection slept through the night. Until a month or so ago he co-slept as it seemed like the only way for anyone to get any sleep, but it just reached the point that he was wriggling and climbing on me so much that I have had to move him into his own room. ExW has done the same at the same time so there is consistency at both homes.
He goes to bed at 7, usually takes about 20 mins including stories. That's the easy bit.
Whenever he wakes fully he sits up crying hysterically until he is settled back down and coaxed back to sleep. He does occasionally stir and settle himself but only if he doesn't fully wake up.
On a good night, he probably has 3 full on wake ups. On a bad night its 6+, including some nights where he wakes every 15 mins between 12 and 2. He often wakes once or twice before I go to bed so don't even get time to unwind.
The absolute latest he will ever sleep in is 630.
It's completely and utterly shattering. ExW and I both work full time and are both exhausted at work. I'd go back to Co sleeping if it helped, but neither of us get any decent sleep that way either.
Should I just be accepting he's a terrible sleeper or is there anything I can do?
I have the same with DS 2. Has never been a good sleeper. We had some hope when we found out he had enlarged adoniods that were causing him to frequently wake during the night and whilst their removal has been of significant benefit to his sleep, he now won't sleep unless we co-sleep. Sometimes he sleeps through the night, other times he might wake 2-3 times, but falls asleep very quickly. Unlike us! He goes down very well in his own cot at around 19:30, but wakes up at 23:00 and just won't go back to sleep unless he is in bed with us, which isn't great for me at 38 weeks pregnant! And he's up, bright as a button at 05:45.
Looking to pop him out of the nursery and into his own room next week with a nice, low bed. Hopefully if he realises that he can get in and out of bed of his own free will (which he currently can't do in his cot), it might help him stay there during the night.
You have my sympathies, but I am coming to the conclusion that some kids are just not great sleepers.
The solidarity is appreciated! His bed is really low, sadly all that means is either just sits crying in it or comes crying into my room at 4am!
Oh......well, as per usual, potential hope goes out the window! . I can see that scenario for us too. The waking up with hysterical crying was the same for us too, and that was the adoniods. Does he have any general breathing issues, such as breathing noisily through his mouth or snoring? DS used to get out of breath quite quickly when exerting himself. Otherwise, could it be night terrors?
I know this is such an unpopular opinion in the UK but my DHs family is not British and we have been raising our children with a mixture of his culture, British culture, and the culture of the country where we are currently expats.
In his native country, as well as in the country where we are now living, (as with MANY other countries) children don't have these ridiculously early bedtimes. It's not unknown for toddlers to be up until 9, even 10, sometimes even later for special events! The UK is quite unique in this "strict routine/early bedtime" thing - I've lived in France, Italy, Spain, and travelled extensively and lived in different parts of Asia, and nowhere else do parents do this. Forcing your kids to bed so ridiculously early seems very odd in other parts of the world! Battling to get them to sleep when they're not tired, which then encourages them to get up ridiculously early! My (British) mother tried to bully us into this parenting style and we gave it a try just to pacify her - it was a disaster. We would have to cut out day short to make meals ridiculously early, our whole day came to and end at 4pm so we could start to implement the strict dinner/bath/bed "routine" 🙄. Our kid hated going to bed so ridiculously early when he wasn't at all tired and frankly it was daylight outside (during summer!). We were miserable as he would cry for a good hour not wanting to sleep, sleep restlessly, and wake up at like 5am! It was a disaster.
All my British friends suffer like this - battling their kids to bed, having awful nights sleeps, and then being woken up horribly early.
After much misery and speaking with my French aunt (who said she found the British parenting method just as disagreeable when she lived in the UK and was encouraged into it by her British MIL) and my husband's Asian family, and after I met more mum friends in our new country, I realised that the problem might be the British routines and I decided to try out the more relaxed Asian/European bedtimes.
We eat dinner together with our kids, we relax together or go for a lovely walk with the dog after dinner, maybe we read some books or play a bit in the evening. We have a bath when we feel like it and when we are tired we all go to bed (around 9/9.30 or 10). Kids are sleepy and happy at bedtime and sleep wonderfully, not a peep all night! DH and I wake up before the kids and can have our mornings! We get ready, have a tidy, make breakfast for us all. When the kids wake up it's lovely and relaxed, we are all well rested and happy, there are enough hours in the day!
If the kids go to bed a little later one night, they go to bed a little earlier the next night - they're never too tired and they always get the recommended amount of sleep each night. They're active and happy and healthy. A later bedtime and a later wake up don't do them any harm - I'd say it does them the world of good. It's the AMOUNT of sleep which is important, not the bedtimes like is implied in British culture.
I know I'll probably get ripped to shreds on here with this unpopular opinion but I just had to post as I suffered so much before this and I really cant recommend it more. Bedtime doesn't need to be this huge battle that British tradition makes it with its strict unnatural routines being forced on everyone! And it's not a battle like this in many parts of the world. My friends in the country where we live find it crazy when I tell them about British bedtimes - if you go out at 7pm where we live the streets, parks, restaurants, are all full of babies, children, families, elderly grandparents, all socialising and spending time together. This bedtime battle doesn't need to be a thing. I just wanted to let you know so you could try it if you wanted to - it really changed my life (and my kids lives) for the better.
(I know you said that your child falls asleep easily, but my children slept so restlessly like you described and I think it was really to do with them going to bed so early. Once I let them fall asleep when they were truly tired it really made the world of difference to how they sleep through the night - not a peep now!)
His breathing is generally fine unless he has a cold. I had wondered about night terrors - what on earth do you do about them in a young toddler?
I have tried pushing bedtime to 8 but he's so grumpy that I wouldn't want to put him through it again! The trouble with mornings is that he needs to be up at 630 on weekdays for childcare. But being contrary, he tends to sleep right to 630 and need an alarm then, and can be up anytime from 4 on a weekend!
This sounds like my DD1. She improved when she went to school and now goes down easily, sleeps through most of the time and gets up at a more reasonable time. We tried absolutely everything and it was a killer. I’m sorry I don’t have any better advice but, in our experience, it does improve.
@Kathy Not all British children are poor sleepers. And I know from my European friends that not all European children are fantastic sleepers, regardless of differing routines.
About a million people will disagree with me on this but is his bedroom big enough for you to put a single mattress on his floor? My son was a terrible sleeper....due to v bad reflux as a baby (if slept on his back would wake up every 20-30 mins), and then even when that was better I guess he was never in good habits. We co slept for ages and found when we got him in his own room he was just like your little one...would settle ok first time he went to sleep but after a certain point would be up multiple times each night...... He never woke til midnight ish so we started going to bed in our own room but when he woke one of us would go and sleep in his room...having a mattress in there meant we still got good sleep and if one of us was in with him then all the other times he roused he would just see us there and go back to sleep. Gradually the time of his first waking got later and later until we weren’t going in every night and eventually we persuaded him that he was such a big boy now that he could sleep on his own. He is 6 now and though wakes early is a great sleeper at night. I honestly think this saved our sanity and I think it’s worth a thought....... Otherwise though, and if you have an open mind to different approaches...have you tried a sleep consultant? It might be worth a try.....people think they are all really harsh, controlled crying etc but if you do your research you will find their styles can vary a lot. Don’t know if this helps at all but wanted to reply as you really have my sympathy...... I know how exhausting having a bad sleeper can be x
Not sure how to tag but ss2011 I have a folded over duvet and pillow that is kind of wedged between his bed and the wall which is my back up plan (and where I sometimes fall asleep without meaning to). It does sound like our children are quite similar!
Thank you all, will definitely consider. I fear the motto of "it will get better" may be continuing for some time!
Have you tried any form of sleep training? A sleep consultant?
Also how does he get to sleep initially? If you are cuddling or singing to sleep etc then he will expect this every wake up
KathyS901 how very interesting and lovely. I love hearing about cultural differences like this. How do you and your partner find time just for you as a couple though?
Haven't read all the responses but re night terrors you need to wake them after the crying stops to break the cycle. I would wake toilet and then read my DD a story in soft light and fall back to sleep.
@kathys901 if that works for you then great. I personally don’t ‘force’ my children to bed. Around 7:30 they ask to go and then they sleep till 7. When I’ve tried to keep them up later they can manage to about 8:30 before they are a mess.
Children need about 11 hours sleep at night. If they’re going to bed at 10 and can sleep in till 9 then great. But if they have to get up earlier for school then not great.
You don’t have the magic answer, sorry
Sleep with your child? My DD is 4.5 and has slept through about 10 times. She's now got a king bed and I often spend most of the night in there. May not be what you want to hear but 1. It's normal and 2. I get enough sleep that way.
@KathyS901 I know what you're saying about children from other countries and cultures going to bed much later but I've known of some children to be very tired in school because of this. Also my children didn't have any sleep or bedtime issues. They went to bed early and that was that. The rule I had from when they were very small was they had to stay in bed even if they weren't asleep but they could have toys and books with them to play with before they went to sleep and again if they woke up. Worked for me with both of them. I never co slept.
Lot of sympathy here as a mother to two non sleepers! DD didn't sleep through in her own room till she was 2.5, just in time for DS to be born, great.
What worked with DD was reward charts, making her bedroom very much hers and involving her in choosing new bedding. Beyond that? I think it was just luck and the stage she reached when she was ready to do it. Still co sleeping with DS who is 16 months so yeah, no advice to offer, but good luck! It's bloody relentless and exhausting...
OK will try and reply to the helpful questions/suggestions people have made.
Some time ago ExW and I tried controlled crying. It was awful and just resulted in DS being an inconsolable sobbing mess. Also had an initial consult with a sleep consultant who advised his naps needed adjusting. But any combination of earlier nap/later nap/short or long/No nap at all has made no difference.
How he goes to sleep varies. Some nights he's having a cuddle, some nights stroking, some nights singing, some nights just cuddling a toy. Occasionally completely on his own when I've told him mummy is going to top up his water or some other task.
I have been sleeping with him since birth but get hardly any sleep as he fidgets and climbs on me and will practically push me out of the side of a bed no matter how big!
He has toys and books available but generally wakes up screaming. How do you enforce staying in bed with a toddler in those circumstances? I would love to if it's possible!
Oh gosh ColourMe I feel for you. I've got him a pirate ship bed and paw patrol bedding which at least makes him want to start the night in the bed. Maybe a reward chart is worth a try though
I live in a culture where children and toddlers get dragged around late in the evening and put to bed way too late. So many grumpy sleep deprived kids and kids falling asleep at school.
It works only when kids are taking really long naps/siestas during the day.
I suggest the OP gets a sleep trainer in.I know she says she saw a consultant, but it sounds like the advice all stopped short of allowing the kid to cry, and the OP says that she stopped CC because her child was crying too much. She might benefit from having a trainer who would actually come in and take over for a couple of nights, and who isn't going to cave in the face of some wailing.....!
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