Advanced search

13 month old suddenly not sleeping alone and self harming

(25 Posts)
SaltySeaBird Sat 26-Oct-13 20:16:48

My lovely little sleeper has turned into an all night screamer.

She slept through really early, from about 8 weeks (I know, I'm lucky). She was in a cot in our room.

At 6 months we moved her into her own room and she was fine, just carried on sleeping through.

Then a few months ago she went from being a fantastic sleeper to one who won't sleep at all in her own room. We tried crying it out which worked brilliantly and after two tough nights she was sleeping through again. Then she started screaming again, only this time she will violently bang her head against the edge of her cot as she knows it will bring us running. We tried her in her padded travel cot (mesh sides) and tried crying it out in that but we broke after she had been screaming and throwing herself against the side for four hours. Non stop. How she didn't drop down with exhaustion I don't know. She won't even lie down.

The second we take her into our room she falls asleep. The second we move her back she starts screaming the place down again. This last week we've ended up co-sleeping as it is the only way we get any rest (and she sleeps all the way through in our bed).

But we really, really don't want to co-sleep. We never have done. It isn't a solution. It also means we can't put her to bed before us. She will just not settle in her cot in the evening. She also won't nap during the day in it at all (although will fall asleep on us if we are downstairs and cuddling her, or will sleep in the car seat).

Nothing has changed in her room at all.

She may be teething but this has been going on for about 6 weeks now and we are at our wits end. She never had problems with previous teeth coming through.

The health visitor said she would try and book us into a sleep clinic but this hasn't happened yet. She has been examined by a paediatrician at the hospital and our GP in the last three weeks and there is nothing wrong with her (that they could find).

Has anybody got any ideas, solutions or been through similar?

KippyVonKipperson Sat 26-Oct-13 20:32:43

Do you think she might be scared, having been left to cry for so long? What happens if you sit with her in her room and pat her or sing or whatever? Perhaps she is distressed from being left? I don't mean to start a CC debate, I'm just wondering if a gentler method might be less scary. 4 hours is a long time to be crying for on her own?

stargirl1701 Sat 26-Oct-13 20:34:56

Have you tried gradual withdrawal?

bundaberg Sat 26-Oct-13 20:37:07

my initial thought was the same as kippy.
she's distressed because she has been left to cry for so long and she is scared that it will happen again. she's really too little to get that you will come back, even if you always have thus far.

i would suggest a gentle approach.
do you have space in your room for the cot? could you take off one side and push it up against your bed? that way you could co-sleep in your own space, whilst simultaneously getting her used to being back in the cot in a non-scary way?

Mumraathenoisylion Sat 26-Oct-13 20:37:59

It sounds like she might be a bit scared.

If it was me I would have one of us sleep in the same room as her (her room) for a few nights, pat her tummy is she wakes up to let her know you're there and after a week change to sitting in the room with her when she falls asleep. If she wakes up then sit in the room so she knows you're there....I'm no expert but this is where I would start.

It's tough, hope it gets sorted for you soon thanks

Mumraathenoisylion Sat 26-Oct-13 20:39:16

And maybe put an item of clothing or muslin cloth that smells like you in her cot. Does she have a blankie type item?

StrangeGlue Sat 26-Oct-13 20:40:40

Will she settle at all if you lie next to her and sing/stroke her hair/ pat her tummy?

Did she cry it out entirely alone for four hours? I didn't think that's what your op said but others seem to think it is.

bundaberg Sat 26-Oct-13 20:42:45

cry it out means leaving them alone

going in at intervals is controlled crying

either way, i stick with my initial thought which is that she is very distressed and scared of this happening

Rhubarb78 Sat 26-Oct-13 20:45:30

Things that worked for us through various periods were:-
Settling in arms until lightly asleep and then putting in cot and patting/ rubbing back until properly asleep. Then gradually put them down more and more awake but stay there until they are asleep. We went from this to putting down and sitting next to the cot and moving further and further away from the cot until we could put him down and leave the room straight away. Sometimes he cried and whinged a bit and i just let him because i was there with him. I wouldnt leave him hysterical though, i would pick him up and comfort again if needed as an hysterical baby is not going to settle well imo. Good luck, lack of sleep is so hard to deal with!

SaltySeaBird Sat 26-Oct-13 20:50:04

Thanks everyone for the fast replies.

She was over a year old before we tried control crying (we didn't need to before then, she was a good sleeper!). When I say four hours we were going in every 15/20 minutes, not speaking to her but lying her down, stroking her tummy a couple of times before retreating.

She is okay when we are in the room with her though so you could be on to something (and I feel awful that she might be feeling scared or traumatised). She cries a little bit when we first go in but if we sing or read a story she will generally quieten down.

She seems to have a radar though and the second we leave the room she is wide awake and hysterical again. The slightest noise seems to wake her (me and DH are both light sleepers, could that be genetic?).

Our room isn't very big and we have to move out our bedside tables to get the cot in (and then climb into bed from the end). Unfortunately we can't take a side off the cot either but we could try moving it back in next to the bed.

My DH is sitting up there with her now, we'll try keeping one of us in the room with her tonight and see if that helps to reassure her. She is lying down and quiet at the moment but that is only as he is sitting next to the cot.

I never thought she might be scared but her screaming is definitely not normal crying. Poor thing, I never want her to be scared!

SaltySeaBird Sat 26-Oct-13 20:51:14

Sorry I get confused between crying it out and controlled crying. It was the latter, we've never left her alone screaming, we go in and out at increasing intervals.

redspottydress Sat 26-Oct-13 20:53:09

Co-sleeping might not be best for you but it sounds like that's what she needs. It is a short time out of your life to rebuild her confidence that you will meet her needs, day and night. I agree with pp that a bedside cot might be the way to go.

bundaberg Sat 26-Oct-13 20:55:14

if you stay with her while she falls asleep (in whichever room you use) then leave it for a good 10 minutes after she drops off before you try and leave.
that way she should have fallen into a deeper sleep and you ought to be able to move

redspottydress Sat 26-Oct-13 20:55:18

Sorry just read you are short of space. There is a small Ikea cot that is easy to adapt.

3xM Sat 26-Oct-13 20:57:27

What's your bedtime routine like?

KippyVonKipperson Sat 26-Oct-13 21:00:22

Don't worry salty, tomorrow is a new day and all that, you can start afresh tomorrow night. If it was me I'd stick with her in her own room, but one of you sleep in there with her for a few nights, gradually reducing the level of closeness and interaction. Do it sat her pace though, if it seems to be getting to much for her then go a step back. Have a look at gradual retreat method online, that might give you some ideas. You can start with singing and patting, shhhhsing, then lessen the verbal and physical contact over a period of nights/weeks. It will be slower but you'll avoid her being scared of the dark and being alone, or getting distressed. Hope things get better, I'm sure they will, it's always worse when you are exhausted through lack of sleep yourself, you don't know what to do for the best.

batfuttocks Sat 26-Oct-13 21:18:41

We used controlled crying at various stages with out son, with great success: never left it more than five minutes between "visits" though. I suspect going in more often actually helped drum in the message that, whilst we would always come, it was still time to sleep.

That said, with our daughter it failed miserably. We had a similar situation where, almost overnight, she was very distressed if we left her. After a few sleepless weeks of trying other approaches, we eventually caved and realised she was just frightened of being alone. We tackled it by staying next to her bed as she fell asleep, and keeping the hall light on, door open and making obvious noise to suggest we were still there nearby even when we had left her room, we gradually changed this to putting her in bed then saying we'd pop in after five minutes to check she was ok ( same audible pottering about nearby etc.) it worked well.

She was a little older than your child, nearer to 18m. We've had a few regressions but the techniques worked each time.

Good luck.

SaltySeaBird Sat 26-Oct-13 21:23:19

Thanks again for the suggestions, and the reassurance Kippy.

We'll try gradual retreat, I like the sound of that approach.

Red, I don't mind co-sleeping but we've always been worried about the safety aspect. I know that is a whole other debate though that I'm not looking to start here! We have had the cot in our room so we could squeeze it in again if gradual retreat doesn't work.

I've called my MIL and I'm picking up her roll up foam mattress in the morning so I can set up a bed next to her cot. Will have to be the floor tonight but we will try it as it is something we haven't tried yet!

Just to answer about her routine, she has dinner about 6.30/7.00pm (normally with us) followed by a bath and then a bottle of milk before we attempt the bedtime battle.

She has fallen asleep at the moment, DH is sitting in with her reading (just reading himself not to her).

redspottydress Sat 26-Oct-13 22:30:58

co-sleeping Co sleeping doesn't have to mean bed sharing. I hope you get a better night tonight, and that you find a way to help.

Mumraathenoisylion Sat 26-Oct-13 22:38:26

Salty, just out of interest what is her whole daily routine?

Just asking because that seems quite late for her to be going to bed and if she is overtired then she may be more likely to wake up during the night? May be completely wrong but thought it might be worth asking?

CreatureRetorts Sun 27-Oct-13 06:26:20

We slept in the DC's room when they had these phases - which is all it is. So they don't get used to sleeping in our bed, see their rooms as safe and we get sleep. Then when they calm down, we don't need to do it anymore.

notadoctor Sun 27-Oct-13 09:36:10

We're currently taking turns to sleep on an air bed in our DDs room - as like yours she seems to be scared to be left alone at night. She gets very hysterical when we go and although she doesn't hit her head we have caught her biting the idea of the cot in her hysteria/ frustration. We have never done controlled crying with her - and so I just wanted to reassure you that your DD hasn't necessarily been traumatised by being left - this could well have happened anyway, being alone in the dark is a natural fear for many toddlers and like someone has already said is (hopefully!) just a phase. Hope you all get some better sleep soon!

Alanna1 Sun 27-Oct-13 16:42:33

I've not read all the above but my DD did this (although different ages). We've discovered she has little nightmares. A night light helps but we let her come into our bed as well if its the wee hours.

SaltySeaBird Sun 27-Oct-13 17:42:53

Hi all

Thanks again for the support and reassurance.

That was a really interesting read Red, I've sent it on to DH to read too. She was EBF for 6 months and slept right next to me in her moses basket for four months before swapping to her cot, again next to me but it was very, very tight for space. We do have a super king size bed (salesman did a good job on us when we brought it years ago) so when she is in with us we do have the space. We both can't but help worry about the safety element though.

Last night one of us (in turn) stayed with her in her room for a long time and she did fall asleep. The floor is a bit cold and draughty so neither of us slept on it and when she started crying at 3am we brought her straight in with us. We now have a bed rigged up next to her. Hopefully she will sleep better tonight.

If this storm is really bad though we might do another night all in the same bed though and start tomorrow!

GingerDoodle Sun 27-Oct-13 22:26:36

I know a lot of people will say she might be scared and to try the gentle approach but it doesn't work for all children. Sushhing / patting / sitting next to our DD when she is in strop mode will achieve only ear ache!

We've tried a range of things, some of which you might want to try:

- Radio on all night

- Adjusting temperature (socks / blankets / temperature)

- Switching back to formula from cows milk (she does seem better tempered!)

- Pillow (

- Extra dummies (our DD likes to take hers out / throw it! and find another)

- Walking until she is asleep then transferred

- Keeping her up until she crashes out then transfer

- Changing her naps. She no longer sleeps past 2 (although she did today so we'll she how that works!)

And at 2.30 am when I had a sense of humour failure - lugging the buggy upstairs and sitting her in it next to our bed! It does seem for what i've read that there is a massive growth spurt and developmental leap around 12 - 13 months so in truth its probably a stage!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now