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2.5year old waking at 4am. On my knees.

(28 Posts)
xinchao Mon 28-Mar-16 23:39:03

My previously great sleeper (2.5 years) now takes 1 or 2 hours to get to bed and wakes at 4am. I work full time in a pretty stressful job and am studying. I have a really supportive husband doing many/most of the wakings but he is also in a stressful job. It is having a really negative impact on our marriage and generally happiness. I am a terrible/shouty mother at 4am.

I have travelled with work a lot recently so thought it could be that - but have been home and no difference (plus my husband is here).

We put him to bed later. No difference.

We skip his one daytime nap. No difference.

Give him more/less food. No difference.

I have tried bribery, promises, shouting, soothing. Everything.

We lie down silently in the dark for as long as possible. No difference - he is wide awake and ready for the day. Frankly this approach makes me furiously angry because I am so exhausted.

The GroClock is meaningless to him.

Anyone have experience of this? Did anything work? Do I have to ride it out?

I am really just exhausted and totally fed up.

xinchao Wed 30-Mar-16 00:21:33


PennyHasNoSurname Wed 30-Mar-16 00:25:51

Have you tried putting him to bed earlier?

Is he getting sufficient fresh air and exercise in the daytime?

We found the trick to a good nights sleep with our two is
* a decent daytime nap (though not at that age so Id drop it)
* a good run around outdoors late afternoon
* a bowl of porridge before bed

If you know he is sufficiently tired and not hungry then rapid return to bed would be the result in our house. Its night time.

waitingforsomething Wed 30-Mar-16 00:51:26

I would do a couple of things:

Drop the nap consistently.
Persist with the groclock. Put it up high so he can't mess with it and just return him to his room every time he comes out until the sun wakes up. It might take a few days but if you are consistent it will start to work. Be reasonable about the groclock time. Try 5am to start with then push it back

ohlittlepea Wed 30-Mar-16 01:06:08

Feeling your pain xx no advice except this too shall pass.

Katarzyna79 Wed 30-Mar-16 01:17:26

some of my kids did this. If it's the same time everyday then it's habit rather than hunger.

For the next week wake up 1 hr before your child usually does. Give him a good budge enough so that it stirs him and he moans but don't fully awake him, and don't speak to him. A week or 5 days of doing this, then don't do it anymore see if it has worked.

If not i'd do it a 2nd week, and it should have worked, I've never had to do it more than 2 weeks.

Your child may get up at 5 or 6am as normal though. When my kids were younger this was normal time for them, as they got older it changed slightly now theyre up between 6 and 7 am. But at your sons age I'm afraid 5am was normal for me sad

But I agree 4am is insane, needs to be fixed.

Worked with my 4 kids, I hope it works for you OP good luck! Take turns with your partner doing the budging flowers

Katarzyna79 Wed 30-Mar-16 01:20:18

I wouldn't stop the day time nap just make sure its not too close to bedtime. my youngest is almost 4 and she's a monster without her midmorning or early afternoon nap. 2.5 is very young still the more sleep the better.

MigGril Wed 30-Mar-16 01:54:07

Hum yes normally of they don't need the day time map any more you have problems putting them to bed at night. Not with them waking early in the morning, both mine did this when we needed to do the nap one was 2 the other was almost 5 so he's not to old for his nap. In fact if he wakes that early and you do it your just going to make him overtired. Which could make things worse.

I do feel your pain though as DS did this in fact at 5 he will still very up at 5.30am of not remind that he has to stay in bed until his clock wakes up. Always has been a very early risers, unfortunately I don't think they understand about you working though. Taking it in turns is probably the best you can do. I like the nudging awake idea whish I'd hurd that one before. We did do return to bed frequently, but probably not till he was just a bit older and could understand a bit better.

When I mentioned it in passing to the HV, she was helping us with potty training. She said they get many calls about it small children wake early and there isn't much you can do about. So much help she was not.

icklekid Wed 30-Mar-16 02:02:58

I'd try early to bed to see if helps.
Then upon waking either rapid return or bring him into bed with you to see if will resettle. Ds was walking between 4-5am if after half an hour no sign of sleep would give him my phone to entertain /Netflix and gp back to sleep. Lazy parenting maybe but also survival mode. Dh and I would take turns at weekend to recover/have a lie in 1 day each!

MigGril Wed 30-Mar-16 23:03:01

Oh and do make sure his room is super dark. I mean we have black out blind that velcro's to the window frame and curtain with blackout lining in the summer months after the clock change. The lighter mornings make it worse, just a tip there.

xinchao Thu 31-Mar-16 08:50:39

Thank you everyone!! I really appreciate all of your advice.

I don't think the nap is the problem..he goes to bed ok and is very active in the daytime.

I am going to try to nudging next! Fingers crossed.

I can cope with 6am and even 5am (we wake early anyway. But 4am is not ok!

Thanks all. Much appreciated

xinchao Thu 31-Mar-16 09:06:17

Oh, we also thought maybe the neighbour's rooster was waking him so we asked our neighbour to move it...he killed it!

icklekid Thu 31-Mar-16 10:38:44

Wow extreme measures! At least they don't ignore you!
Has the hour time difference helped at all? We've gone from 5am to 6am by not really telling ds its changed! Going down to 1 nap (or shortening your 1 nap) I think has also benefited him. I have never tried the wake to sleep but do hear it often does have an impact.

xinchao Sun 03-Apr-16 14:01:02

We're not in the UK so no time difference for us sadly. We have been away for a few days so yet to see if the rooster death has helped! He slept until 5:30am on holiday but was sharing a bed with a grandparent which I think helped (that or they are fibbing about how well he slept..). I am planning to try to wake to sleep tonight if I can muster the energy at 3am....

Emptynestermum Sun 03-Apr-16 20:03:43

I wouldn't necessarily drop the day time sleep as it won't help if he is overtired, but don't let him sleep too late or too long in the day. Definitely get blackout blinds or curtains - these were invaluable when mine were little, though not so great for teenagers!!

It should be a short-lived phase, but that doesn't help when you're in the middle of it. Is he waking because he's wet?

AnnaT45 Sun 03-Apr-16 20:29:13

Try putting him to bed earlier. It seems crazy but its what works for us

xinchao Tue 05-Apr-16 01:02:44

Emptynestermum - I really think he still needs his daytime nap. Occasionally he will skip it or take a really short one. Maybe I will try to keep it to one hour or less??

We have wooden shutters on the windows plus lined black out curtains so it is wonderfully dark in all the bedrooms. It is bliss.

It isn't because he is wet I don't think...

AnnaT45 - we tried and nothing!

On Monday he woke at 3:45am. Last night we set the GroClock to 3:45am to start training him to use it properly (planning to move it 10 mins every couple of days)...but last night he woke at 12am and got out of bed maybe 6 or 7 times with my DH doing rapid return. I did the last one and he finally stayed in bed. We woke this morning to find him lying down (but not asleep) on our landing between our bedroom doors. He went downstairs with DH and is now fast asleep on the sofa and has been for an hour. At a total loss...he hasn't done that before.

I am going to call in a sleep consultant to get some advice over email/Skype. I really appreciate all suggestions and have tried most of them. All, sadly, to no avail!

PerspicaciaTick Tue 05-Apr-16 01:09:57

When mine was going through a similar phase, I had a blow up mattress and a spare duvet on the floor of his room. I would fall asleep/nap a bit - I don't know how quickly he went to sleep but he never woke me up apart from a couple of times when he climbed in with me. So basically he woke up, I went in, lay down, said night night and dozed off while he sat around and eventually nodded off. At least I knew I didn't have to try and stagger back to bed silently.
It wasn't ideal but it got me through a tough time.

MunchieCrunchie Tue 05-Apr-16 01:35:06

We had similar problem when I was pregnant with dc2, it was separation anxiety and painful. Tried; gentle retreat, read every parenting book and website known to human, groclock, star chart rewards, return to bed, leaving bedroom door open if dc stayed in bed, cio method, rang a helpline, did praise at 'how happy good bed behaviour made mommy last night'. Dc wanted my attention, not dh's. Dc1 wanted to be number 1. It settled eventually, but it took a long time and a lot of patience and effort. There's a book called "the rabbit who wanted to sleep". Some say it works it didn't for me flowers "This too shall pass" was my mantra

xinchao Wed 06-Apr-16 02:58:50

I am sorry so many have been through similar but gives me some hope that this will pass. It feels never ending. Did anyone use a sleep consultant? Can anyone recommend someone who can do remote consultations?

snowydrops Thu 07-Apr-16 19:21:01

Sorry, late to the party with this but we went through a similar thing with our DD at age 2.5! We had recently moved house and she had gone into a bed (instead of cot). After about a month in it (fine) she started waking at 5am (was always 7am before) in the end I told her the cot was coming back and I would put a stair gate on her room door so if she got up there would be nothing to do. Sounds harsh but I knew she was just doing it for fun but was totally shattered. It took a few weeks (grow clock, rapid return) and also ensuring daytime nap never ever exceeded 40 mins and it seemed to sort it. She now sleeps 7-6.5/7 every night really unless has a bad dream or whatever. There is hope!!

Is he fully potty trained? Could be waking because he needs a wee / has done a wee?!

snowydrops Thu 07-Apr-16 19:23:32

We also used the rabbit who goes to sleep book, it didn't fully work but I think helped to get her relaxed enough to fall asleep alone (went through the separation anxiety thing and wouldn't drop to sleep alone for a good two months)

As everyone says it will pass, hard to remember when in the thick of it, I have a non sleeping 1 yr old at the moment and it's tough but I know it will improve! Hang in there and be kind to each other (best advice anyone gave me!)

Artandco Thu 07-Apr-16 19:30:34

Could you bring him in your bed at 4am? Maybe he's missing you slightly if your have been working a lot. Mine often moved back to sleeping with us if either of us were away a while

Onsera3 Thu 07-Apr-16 19:33:05

Oh we had this with DS. I was pregnant too so it was hell.

He did sleep better once we ditched the nap. There comes a point where they lose more off their night sleeps than they gain from napping. Also the longer consolidated night sleep is supposed to be better for their brain.

It was spring as well and I think that always makes his sleep worse.

The setting the alarm and bumping him then resettling before he woke helped.

Have you considered it might be a melatonin thing? We had to be careful with screens before bed time. I didn't want to actually give him melatonin so I used tart cherry extract and definitely had some success. Have a google.

Onsera3 Thu 07-Apr-16 19:36:34

I gave him less than a teaspoon of the juice concentrate

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