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started refusing sleep

(11 Posts)
Rats Wed 02-Mar-05 10:38:09

help! my 20-month old has gone from a sleep-through toddler to a scream-for-hours one. have tried control crying again but i can't l bring myself to continue when we're hitting the three-hour mark, she's thrown everything out of her bed and is short of breath due to her panic cries. inevitably i have to cuddle her to sleep. any ideas? is she ready for a bed now perhaps (she's started trying to climb out!)
Rachelx

mummylonglegs Wed 02-Mar-05 11:26:18

Rats, my previously good sleeper turned into a scream-at-night one when she was 15 months old. It went on for a couple of months with us doing everything from trying co-sleeping, reading more and more stories at unearthly hours etc. until finally we did cc, strictly and properly, and after 3 or 4 days of hell it started to work. It wasn't easy by any means and I dread ever having to do it again. But she's 2.4 now and generally unless ill sleeps through fine since we did the cc.

I know there's a temptation to put them in a big bed but personally speaking I would never do it in the middle of a sleep crisis. I think it's jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Having said that my dd has never (yet!) tried to climb out of her cot. Is yours in a sleeping bag? I know some kids can still climb out in one but most can't.

If you are going to do cc it's important to stick to it. If you let her scream for 3 hours and then give in you'll end up making the problem worse. Have you got access to a copy of Richard Ferber's 'solve your child's sleep problems'? There's a chapter called 'what your child associates with sleep' which is very helpful even if you don't do cc because it helps you understand where things might be going wrong.

Rats Wed 02-Mar-05 11:47:40

Thanks mummylonglegs - and if it's by nature as well as name, I'm very jealous!

i see your point about the big bed - and giving in, and I know I mustn't. It's just a nightmare, because I have a 3-month boy and they tend to wake each other up - almost tag-teaming their way until the morning. feel like I'm going out of my mind sometimes. Will get a copy of that book... In the meantime, should I pop in every now and then during screaming to calm her or lie or down again (she only pops back up again!). When I do she gets this false hope that I'm coming to get her out of bed, and when I don't the volume seriously goes up. Never before have I fancied a stiff gin in the middle of the night (no,well, that's a lie!).

Ratsy shortlegs

mummylonglegs Wed 02-Mar-05 14:52:59

HI Rats, yes I've got long legs but believe me they're not a pretty sight! Imagine two long white pieces of string with a knot in the middle for a knee ...

Oh, that must be hard if you've got a 3 month old too. It's up to you really if you give cc a go or not. The only thing to note is that you've got to be totally committed to it. As you say, your dd thinks that when you go in, you might get her up, well, cc is meant to be very definite - you'll go in to let her know you're there but she is not getting up. I don't know how verbal your dd is, but mine was quite verbal when we were doing it which I think made it harder. She'd shout out things like 'don't leave me!' 'I don't like this!' 'Mummy, cuddle me, cuddle me, cuddle me' and we'd lie in bed feeling awful. But the truth is she wouldn't co-sleep, if we got her up to cuddle her she just wanted to play, reading stories made her more awake than ever etc. etc. so we weren't doing any of us any favours by trying to be 'kind.'

I followed Ferber, the gentlest version. It went something like this:

1st night: Go in after 2 mins, 4 mins, 6 mins, then every 10 mins after that.
2nd night: Go in after 4 mins, 8 mins, 10 mins, then every 15 mins after that.
3rd night: Go in after 8 mins, 15 mins, then every 20 mins after that.

By the third night she was going off after about my 2nd visit to her and after a week she was saying goodnight and going straight to sleep without a murmur. BUT the first few nights were truly awful. The lowest point was when she woke at 4am and was calling for me until 6.30 . I kept going in, like a zombie by the end, and telling her I loved her and in the end she just went to sleep. After that she got rapidly better. And she's never seemed the slightest bit traumatised by it. Now she goes to bed, snuggles up and loves her cot.

When you go in it's important not to make it too 'pleasurable' i.e. a reward for their crying. Be calm and firm and give a cuddle when they're in the cot (never lift out), kiss, tell them it's sleepy time and leave, no longer than 2-3 minutes in there.

Rather than being cruel which some people think it is, I think it works to show the child that they're not alone but that they have to sleep in their bed and that no amount of crying will change the fact that you love them OR that they have to go to sleep.

There are loads of other things you might try, however, some people swear by that pick up / put down method which did nothing but send my dd into a total frenzy of confusion 'am I up? Am I down ... waaaahhhh!!!'

mummylonglegs Wed 02-Mar-05 14:53:30

Gosh, sorry, didn't mean to ramble on quite that long!

Rats Wed 02-Mar-05 16:28:37

no don't apologise - very comforting. my daughter is very verbal - "mummy back", "open door", "mummy cuddle", "don't like it" etc... heart breaking stuff. the problem last night was that i was letting her cry for an hour at a time and she was going nuts. i'll feel better too if i can pop in at staggered intervals. i'm a zombie anyway...yawn...wish me luck! x

mummylonglegs Wed 02-Mar-05 21:12:16

Rats, no, I'd never just leave her for an hour at a time like that, she wouldn't understand and would feel very abandoned. Going in gently and regularly is a bit like brainwashing in a way, they are confident you're there but confident that you mean what you say and that what you say is for the best. Even if they do protest loudly for a while! Also it's much easier for you yourself if you have a plan to stick to and know you will be going back in again in a few minutes. I used to say things like 'no more shouting now, time to sleep, all your friends are asleep, mummy loves you' etc. etc. like a mantra. In the end she'd get too tired to fight it but wouldn't be in a horrible state when she went to sleep.

Rats Thu 03-Mar-05 08:04:06

Took two hours to get her to sleep, and when she woke in the night it took 3.5! Feel shattered, obviously, but much happier about the approach. She wasn't panicking - and she finally gave up, lay herself down and went to sleep. Thanks for the advice x

mummylonglegs Thu 03-Mar-05 09:30:09

Sorry you've had such a hard night! If you can stick to it, it will get better, I promise! Good luck for tonight. .

WideWebWitch Thu 03-Mar-05 09:43:19

mummylonglegs, thanks for posting the Ferber routine, we are about to try this. 4am starts are really doing us in!

mummylonglegs Thu 03-Mar-05 10:08:53

www, I hope I got it right then!! Well, the being consistent part is the most important anyway. Good luck www. 4am is NOT good.

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