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Sleep regression and separation anxiety aged 2

(14 Posts)
SpringInTheStep Sun 14-Jun-15 22:11:55

DC aged 2 has suddenly become ridiculously clingy and refuses to go to sleep without holding my hand.

It coincides with a week's holiday abroad, where we went cold turkey with the pacifier on our return.

We had no choice as his mouth is big big to show signs of dental malocclusion, and having spoken to the dentist, it's clear we need to stay strong.

It's been just over 2 weeks now, and it's becoming a huge strain. The bedtime routine takes several hours and involves a lot of tears, unless we give in and sit with DC.

My fear is that we will swap one bad habit for another, and unwittingly encourage a reliance on handholding that we will need to go cold turkey from in the future.

The first 2 nights on our return from holiday, DC was fine. Then norovirus hit and lasted about 4 days. From that moment on, we've had terrible problems with shouts of "mamma" non-stop. If we ignore, the cries become inconsolable screams.

Please someone help us out here. If not by just telling us you had the same and came through it the other end!

SpringInTheStep Sun 14-Jun-15 22:13:04

"Becoming"... Not big big!

SpringInTheStep Sun 14-Jun-15 22:19:56

So as not to drip feed, it's worth mentioning that: twice now DH and I have sat on the stairs outside the bedroom door and talked quietly. Within 10 minutes DC has fallen asleep.

DH isn't keen on it because he says it's not normal and he's worried it will become a sleep crutch. I personally feel it will be great as we can move further down the stairs each night and hopefully DC will fall asleep faster as time goes on.aybe I'm just kidding myself. Either way, if DH won't play game, then It won't work.

DH wants to just give pacifiers back and let the teeth get worse, but he acknowledges they're already pretty bad as the upper and lower teeth don't touch when he bites due to overhang.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Mon 15-Jun-15 07:22:18

Didn't want to read and run. Cold turkey on the dummy can be very stressful on a 2 yo, but it's done now, and I think other "crutches" might have to help in the short term. I don't think you and DH talking quietly outside is a massive price to pay for a better night, and you could do the gradual withdrawal thing. Have you tried white noise?

SpringInTheStep Mon 15-Jun-15 10:34:07

Thank you for your reply. White noise is a great idea, I will give it a try.

I've just thought today that DH has a slight point, in that, due to his work hours, he's not around every other day. Since sleep training requires a degree of consistency then it possibly might not work long term.

FurryGiraffe Mon 15-Jun-15 13:10:12

I wouldn't go back to dummies when your reason for taking it away in the first place is so sound. Talking outside his room sounds a great plan to me and gradual withdrawal very feasible. It's easy to worry with sleep 'crutches' that you'll never break the habit and you'll be sat on the stairs until he's 18 but of course you won't be. From what you say there's a few good reasons why he's a bit clingy at the moment and that will pass in time..

If DH isn't available/willing, could you talk to the dog/cat/goldfish, or ring someone and talk quietly on the phone, or even try reading a book aloud?

SpringInTheStep Mon 15-Jun-15 13:27:37

I did think about that, but when DH was unwilling to sit and chat, I tried to do a one man band chat for a while, and suddenly couldn't think of what to say!

I thought about talking on the phone but there are long silences as the other person talks back, an the speaker phone would be too exciting (ie: where's grandma?).

I also thought about reading a book but am struggling to read for long due to poor balance (gets much worse when reading and makes it hard to keep going for long concentration wise). I thought about making a recording but it sounds like someone else! I could try talking about the day out loud and planning the week ahead, but it is really hard to talk for 10 whole minutes and it's not the same as two voices talking naturally to each other. It's worth a try I guess though - desperate times call for desperate measures!

FurryGiraffe Mon 15-Jun-15 13:48:56

I feel your pain- really. My just turned 2 year old went from brilliant sleeper to 'screams if you attempt to leave the room' a few months ago. There was a point when he'd only fall asleep if someone lay in the bed next to him. We then had a long period of sitting in the room with him (definitely longer than necessary but work/other stress meant I didn't have mental energy to tackle it!) We have now progressed to the 'sitting outside the door and occasionally reassuring him that we're there' stage. Feels like it's taking forever but we're getting there. I keep reminding myself that it's really normal for them to have periods of separation anxiety/not want to sleep alone. But I do wish I could go back to kissing him goodnight and shutting the door!

I think talking about the day sounds a good plan. I see what you mean about the phone but is it worth a try? It may be that the pauses don't cause a problem (although probably best to prime the person on the other end not to launch into a ten minute monologue grin)

SpringInTheStep Mon 15-Jun-15 14:09:44

Thank you FurryGiraffe, I really appreciate you telling me this. I do wonder if it may have just happened anyway, and the dummy is just a red herring. He doesn't ask for the dummy but asks for cuddles, hand-holding, drinks etc. Never once asked for the dummy back.

SpringInTheStep Mon 15-Jun-15 14:12:30

Oops I hit send before replying fully! I think anything is worth a try, so will give it a go. What's the worst that can happen? He will cry? Well he does that anyway, so I only stand to potentially gain from it.

How long has it been since you started all of this torture? <braces self for worst case scenario!>

FurryGiraffe Mon 15-Jun-15 15:39:23

Er, about 5 months blush. But seriously, I was soooo lazy. Could have pushed much harder much faster but I got trapped in that cycle of being scared to change anything in case I wrecked the progress we'd made! It's daft, because as you say, what's the worst that can happen- they cry! And you've already figured that one- so you're starting from a better place than me smile

DuchessOfWeaseltown Mon 15-Jun-15 19:34:23

joining in with the general misery here, OP and Furry... am in exactly same position with my previously-brilliantly-settling 2.3 yo (see my other thread I started y'day!!)

Furry, the frustration is just IMMENSE, I used to leave the room and she'd be happily asleep 15 min later. THese days it's an hour, on average, of shenanigans, and mostly I end up having to stay in the room until she's asleep too.

Spring, I also wonder if it may not be the dummy as such, it may have happened anyway... I have a dummy addict too and I can't even begin to imagine what sort of state we'd be in now if we were having to go cold turkey, you have my immense sympathy and admiration!!

I really really like the idea of chatting outside the door and may steal it, it sounds completely brilliant... Spring, I think maybe your idea of just listing things that have happened in the day or plans for the next day is a good one if you can't actually have a real conversation.

Here I think I am pretty much in process now of dropping/radically reducing nap, as I think it's the only way to get control of the situation. Spring, have you considered this as a possible help? Here, for example, DD is taking over an hour to settle this evening EVEN on the basis of a shorter, earlier nap than usual (1h 15 min at 11am rather than her previous 1h 30 min at 12.30pm) so with huge regret I think the nap needs to be on its way out.

Worth a try?

I feel your pain, it's just awful and sou-destroying, isn't it?

spottybottycream Mon 15-Jun-15 21:06:14

Oh thank goodness im not on my own! My 2.3 year old little boy has recently started doing this. We had one awful night on Saturday where he just WOULDN'T sleep. I think he finally went to sleep after DH gave up and went and lay beside his cot at around 2am. sad
Everything iv read says that I just need to remain consistent in what I'm doing and I really really hope that this episode is over with soon because I am finding it so upsetting as he used to be such a good sleeper and fall asleep so calmly and peacefully.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Mon 15-Jun-15 21:17:06

spottybotty, it's a miserable club to belong to, but I'm glad it's not just me... sad

Is it developmental, do you think?

I think consistency is key, but I'm finding that very difficult as I can't deal with CONSISTENTLY putting her back in her bed 60+ times in 2 hours... I have to work in the evenings (I simply HAVE to, not an option to do otherwise) so I can't take the most painful but most likely of long-temr success option and am just trying to cut the time down by staying in with her until she drops off.

Depressing, as she used to settle so well alone sad

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