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Desperately overtired toddler - help!

(17 Posts)
ilovetosleep Wed 16-Dec-15 19:52:38

DS2 is 20 months and ridiculously overtired and its a vicious cycle of terrible sleep.

Juts to set the scene, up until 2 months ago he woke every 2-3 hours for breast feed. Has self settled at bedtime for around 8 months maybe more. Miraculously around 6 weeks ago he started sleeping through but waking between 4.30-530 and not going back to sleep even with bf. He naps between1.5-2 hours after lunch and sometimes I have to wake him to do school run but sometimes he'll wake himself after only an hour and maybe I can feed him back to sleep - so naps quite variable.

Anyway last 2 weeks he has started kicking off at bedtime and screaming at the mere sight of his cot. We have reverted to gradual retreat which is what worked in the first place but we don't seem to be getting anywhere and despite putting him to bed at 645 he's not asleep for an hour after that and then still waking around 5am.

Random strangers comment on how tired he looks. his eyes are red and watery and he can't keep awake in the car at any point after 9am for more than about 2 mins. The more tired he gets the harder bedtimes are becoming (a typical bedtime after a lovely routine is 15 mins of standing and screaming and begging in the cot, then 15 mins of rolling around the cot whinging and then 30 mins of shushing and patting to finally drift off)

Tonight we went for a 730 bedtime to see the difference and there were fewer tears but he's not quite asleep yet (DH is with him)

What the hell do I do. We can't seem to work on both bedtimes and early mornings simultaneously. I can't get him to nap longer because of school run (and actually I don't want to, I'd rather he got the sleep at night!) We're all shattered and resentful and DS1 is getting woken up an hour earlier than he needs to and is going to school (reception) exhausted.


lorisparkle Wed 16-Dec-15 21:00:42

I remember this stage with all of my DSs - if they napped they did not want to go to bed, if they did not nap they would be really tired. I decided that I was just going to forget about naps and go for an early bed time. Of course this was a nightmare with the school run as the younger DS would fall asleep in car / pushchair. I am afraid I don't have any good advice as we just worked through it until they did not need a nap in the afternoon. I am guessing that you have the book ' teach your child to sleep' by the Milpond Clinic as that is were we got the gradual retreat from but if you haven't it is well worth a read.

Hope things get better soon.

Hufflepuffin Wed 16-Dec-15 21:24:36

Have you tried waking him up consistently after 1.5 hours or 1 hours nap?

My son is a bit younger than yours but any time his sleep has gone doolally we've worked out after a while that it's time to cut a nap out, so maybe cutting your son's nap time down could work?

CwtchMeQuick Wed 16-Dec-15 21:37:33

What time does he have his evening meal? DS started waking at 5am about this age and I think it was because he was having dinner at 5pm so was hungry.
Could you try giving him some supper (toast, porridge, weetabix) before bed?
I'd probably cut down his nap a bit, ie nap 1-2, dinner at 5, bath, supper, bed for 7.
I also started to leave DS a couple of biscuits and a drink next to his bed but he was a bit older than yours when I did this

99percentchocolate Wed 16-Dec-15 21:52:01

I remember this stage, it was awful. A sleep trainer told me that whatever they need to get them to sleep at 6pm, they'll also need at 2am, 11am, etc whether this is patting, shushing, singing, breastfeeding.
I don't know if that helps at all but it all suddenly clicked with me and things started improving.
This is about the time that DD started needing earlier bedtimes and dropped her nap too.

UnplainJane Thu 17-Dec-15 07:34:39

99 That is not strictly true - my 20mo DS settles himself alone at bedtime without any props but still wakes 3 times a night to be tucked in....

Peppapigallowsmetoshower Thu 17-Dec-15 07:42:58

Yeah I respectfully disagree 99. My son needs us to stay as he falls asleep but can settle through the night. He went through a spell of self settling at bedtime but woke through the night needing us. It's totally backward and not at all what I'd expect! I too would think if they settle themselves they could do it consistently through the night but nope.

I'd limit his nap to 1.5 hours every day to see if he balances out. I think this age is a tough patch for sleep.

ilovetosleep Thu 17-Dec-15 07:52:50

Yes that last point doesn't apply here either - as I said in my OP he self settled at bedtime for 8months and still woke regularly throughout the night, and now he's not self settling he's still 'sleeping through' until 5.30, which is far from ideal but I wouldn't call it night waking.

I am a bit nervous about capping the nap while he's so so overtired. But I can see the point. The less he sleeps at the moment the worse he sleeps. Eg yesterday. He napped 1.5 hours, didn't get to sleep until 8 (it was a tricky one tho as we were out for nativity concert til 7) then he was up at 5 this morning. DH did manage to get him back to sleep very easily at 5 though until 6, but I am certain it was overtired ness causing that wake up.

Re dinner, that is also something I've thought of. They eat at 5pm, but that leaves little time for a supper afterwards as they go straight up to bath at 5.45, and play in their room after bath from 6.15-6.45. At the weekend they have dinner at 5.30. We are usually out so can't do an earlier dinner then a snack. He eats an enormous dinner but no pudding as he's dairy free and hates all alternatives, so he has a bowl of fruit but that's hardly going to make a difference. Then in the bath we have a weird little tradition of a banana in the bath but neither of them are that bothered and hardly touch it. When he wakes at 5 he can go u til 630 without milk I just need to get him to stay asleep that time!

In reality I'm prepared to accept a 530 start for a phase as along as he's napping for 1.5 hrs at least AND going to sleep nicely at 7pm. It's all three things up in the air that's causing me so much grief!

99percentchocolate Thu 17-Dec-15 09:07:26

Sorry, I didn't mean to offend or wind anyone up - just offering what worked for me. If it doesn't apply for you then just ignore. It's pretty hard to give advice when you aren't in the situation yourself. I remember tearing my hair out and nearly falling down the stairs with dizziness caused by exhaustion. Just trying to help hmm

99percentchocolate Thu 17-Dec-15 09:07:44

Hope things improve for you soon OP

ilovetosleep Thu 17-Dec-15 09:16:10

Gosh don't worry 99 I don't think anyone was offended just offering other opinions.

Am also shock that so many kids have dropped their nap so young, DS1 napped until he started school and still drops off in the car now! We did have phases where he resisted or had short naps but there was no way I was going to give up 'me time'! Most of his friends napped until at least 3yo!

Peppapigallowsmetoshower Thu 17-Dec-15 20:14:26

Not offended or wound up 99, sorry if it came across that way.I totally agree with the principle and i know it makes sense and works for some - I wish it worked for all! Sleep really is a mystery, we all just struggle along as best we can smile

UnplainJane Thu 17-Dec-15 20:34:23

No offence taken here either 99, just offering my resume experience which differs to your sleep consultants advice smile

UnplainJane Thu 17-Dec-15 20:35:13

Resume?! Where did that come from? ^^

Artandco Thu 17-Dec-15 20:44:34

I would actually increase nap time. Sleep breeds sleep imo. Give him early lunch, in bed by midday so he can sleep until 2.30pm if needed before school run. So 2 1/2 naps. Then 7.30-8pm bedtime.
It's only a few months, as he grows he can cope with slightly less naps so can move lunch back a bit as needed

Mine both napped until they started school so def wouldn't have coped with no naps at 20 months. Actually I think they still had 2 naps a day then.

ilovetosleep Fri 18-Dec-15 13:54:22

artandco thats what I thought - sleep does breed sleep in my experience with DS1.

How about sticking with 1.5 hr nap but more of a 7pm bedtime?

Candlefairy101 Fri 18-Dec-15 16:01:20

I have a 15 month old, she's my second, and what has always worked for me is a good nap during the day, my little one will start her nap maybe 10/11 and can sleep until 1pm then have lunch and a mid morning snack before nap.

Also I think we can get into a habit of making the cot a negative place, imo if they have gone into their cot not wanting to then they wake up earlier because they've woke up still in that mood. Have you ever gone to bed annoyed and woke up annoyed?

I wouldn't push ' baby has to be a sleep at a certain time' because if he goes to bed later that night he may well make up for it with his next nap?

What I'm trying to say is make the cot a positive thing and he will want to stay in it longer (only my experience). Does your little one self settle for his nap or are you still having to shush him to sleep? X

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