Two year old boy broken sleep - don't know where to start!(7 Posts)
Our ds is two and two months and has never been a great sleeper. An example night last night - bath at 6.00, downstairs for cuddle and stories with a bottle of milk (half formula half milk), upstairs to bed at 7.30, I sit with him until he's fast asleep at 7.50. All good until 12.45 when he wakes up and wants to come in our bed, 60 mins to get him to settle and get back to deep sleep, then wakes up every hour to change position, then fully awake at 4.50 wanting milk and to go downstairs! (I gave him the milk but managed to stay in bed for cuddles until 6.30)
We have many variations on this, but he always ends up in our bed, and then an early wake up. He has 1.5 - 2 hour nap at lunchtime (at nursery during the week) It's been this way since he was 4 months old, and to our shame there always seems to be a reason to not try something (teething / illness / night out etc.)
We're just not sure where to start on improving things, for him and for us (am now 12 weeks with no 2 and really struggling to function). We definitely don't want to go down the controlled crying route but happy to try other things. He's a very energetic little boy so don't think he's going to switch to 10 hour sleeps, but want to try all options before admitting defeat!
All suggestions welcome
Believe me, I'm no expert, but two things stand out. You have, to me, a very long bedtime routine - our son is the same age and he's in the bath about 20 to 7 and in bed about quarter past. Don't know if it's relevant to point it out, but it's a long time to spend.
The other thing is, maybe if you concentrated on cracking getting him to fall asleep alone, without you in the room, in the first place, then that may have a knock-on effect in helping him fall back asleep on his own when he wakes around midnight.
Good luck. I feel for you..
Hypothetically, if you told your DS he could not have a biscuit and he spent the following hour whining until you eventually gave him one. Then next time he wants a biscuit and you say no he will whine and whine until eventually you give in. Then the next time you will think to yourself that he is going to keep on whining until you give him the biscuit, so you will give him the biscuit he asks for sooner rather than sticking to your guns and saying no.
This hypothetical story leads me to...
If you keep on bringing your DS into your bed, he will continue to want to come into your bed when he wakes up.
If you don't want him to come into your bed, then stop giving him a reason to keep on trying by saying no and meaning no - and dealing with the temporary fall out of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
You don't have to use controlled crying or similar for this. He will be cross and cry a lot for a few days, you can stay with him (in his room not yours) to sooth and settle him. You will get very little sleep for a few days in doing this.
You are aiming for him to unlearn that waking in the night (eventually) means getting in bed with Mummy.
You are aiming for him to learn that waking in the night means staying in bed and going back to sleep. At first this will need your help. After a while it won't need your help. After not very long he will stop bothering waking because he will know that he won't get to sleep in Mummy's bed anyway so it's not worth it.
Thank you both, that's really helpful advice. We had been thinking along those lines, just not brave enough to take the first step!
We had fairly similar issues with our 2 year old. My health visitor advised a much shorter bedtime routine, all taking place in the child's bedroom (except for bath obvs!). We explained what this routine was going to beforehand and made it seem really exciting. We even drew little pictures of each step ( eg. A bath, pyjamas, a book then toddler in cot) so she really understood what was going to happen and we checked each step off as we went along. Dd carried the picture round for days and showed it to everyone!
We went cold turkey with giving milk in the night. (Again, we explained to her that she was a big girl now and didnt need it).
Finally, and the most important bit, was that we did gradual retreat so we didn't have to sit next to the cot for ages until she fell asleep. Bynthe time wevwerevsitting by the door, i would say things like "I'm just going to get a glass of water" then reappear 10 seconds later with a glass of water, before she even had chance to start crying. Next night, "I'm just going to the toilet, I'll be back in a minute", etc etc , so dd got used to being in her cot on her own and trusting that we would go back. Within a week we were putting her in wide awake and just leaving her to go to sleep by herself and she started sleeping beautifully all night.
Deep breath! Taking the plunge is the hard bit! Good luck!
OK, the advice above about being consistant and bedtime routines is pretty sound.
However, what I would say is that you possibly have a very overtired boy due to all the messing about...this can cause them to be restless sleepers. (He could be getting too much sleep as that can also have a similar effect, my DS2 who is very low sleep needs can display similar patterns) but on balance he is not getting a decent amount of nighttime sleep for his age.
If it were me, I would possibly reduce his nap and make sure it was maximum of an hour and a half to begin with and reasonably early in the day. Then I would put him to bed earlier. He is taking roughly 20 minutes to actually go to sleep which is about average, so shouldn't be too resistant.
You will possibly find that he will be much less restless as he catches up on sleep, and then will sleep a little longer in the morning and not have such a long waking in the middle of the night.
Both of my sons have always needed an hour less than average sleep, even as tiny babies. When DS2 is tired, he will wake in the night...once he has caught up he will revert to sleeping through without any interference from us. If he is not tired enough at bedtime, he still goes to sleep very quickly but will wake up at 5am after only 9 hours of sleep (he needs 10hours)...... so if you have a "tricky sleeper" you need to get a feel for their patterns.
You will get this sorted - you just need to take a deep breath......good luck!!
Two nights in to gradual withdrawal at bedtime and it's working really well, he only looked for me once this evening and then went back to drifting off. Last night qualified as a good night (he slept in his bed until 3am with no intervention) but I'm reserving judgement on whether it was a fluke!
Pick up put down starts on Friday night
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