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Going crazy - 3yo still wakes at night

(7 Posts)
ImogenTubbs Tue 06-Sep-16 05:24:03

Can anyone help me out of this awful pattern of sleep behaviour we have got into with 3yo DD?

She has always been a poor sleeper, and I'll freely admit we have been inconsistent and indulgent, giving her milk, cuddles,whatever she wanted in the middle of the night. For a long time we would just bring her into our bed, which sometimes helped, sometimes didn't, but although we stopped this a few months ago she still regularly wakes two, three or more times in the night (it's still a special occasion when she only wakes once).

Usually she just wants a cuddle, but sometimes DH will get her milk. We find ourselves doing whatever it takes to keep her quiet as we don't want to wake the other one up - this is usually: for me - climbing into her bed and cuddling her until she (or both of us) are asleep, and for DH - he still picks her up and rocks her off like she's a baby, and whichever of us wakes first races straight in to stop her making noise, which I know is a bad idea as we don't give her much of a chance to self-settle, we just want to try and prevent her waking the other one up. Her behaviour during the day is good/normal, she still sometimes has an afternoon nap, and this doesn't seem to have any impact on the kind of night she has.

We HAVE to change things. It is seriously affecting our lives, and has definitely had an impact on our trying for a second baby. We are just too damn tired to try! At this rate she's going to be an only child.

I'm now wide awake, DD having got me up regularly for the last three hours, my heart's racing and I'm trembling with tiredness. I'm determined to start a new regime tomorrow. Can anyone share any pearls of wisdom? Pleeeeease!!!!!!

Minkybinkyboo Tue 06-Sep-16 05:47:41

No wisdom I'm afraid but wanted to let you know you're not alone. My two year is DD is not a sleeper and comes padding into our room every night! We've given up! I keep telling myself that nothing lasts forever; when she stays at my parents house I miss her now. I read all the articles etc that say persevere with putting them back to bed, no talking etc but I think you have to be prepared for the fallout which I'm just not! On a happier note my 4month DS (miracle we found time to make him) happily sleeps in his own room.... So far hmm

lazydog Tue 06-Sep-16 06:09:46

What finally helped us with ds1 (also at age 3) was what I referred to as "controlled-NOT-crying".

Basically I told him that if he stayed laying down and kept quiet when he was put into his bed I'd always be back in 5 minutes to check on him.

The deal was that each time I checked on him, if he was still awake and was "being good" I would come back again 5 minutes later. Thankfully he didn't know that sometimes it was a slightly stretched "5 minutes"...

He was told (and he definitely understood, at that age) that if he started getting up and screaming for me, I'd completely ignore him until he'd been back in bed and quiet for a full 5 minutes...

Sounds pretty cruel, I know, but we were all at the end of our tether with sleep deprivation. This solution worked really well in that he had a real incentive to keep calm. To begin with I had to go back to him many, many times before he'd be asleep, and then do the same all over again for his frequent night wakings, but gradually he got more used to falling asleep without me beside him and so, over a relatively short time (probably talking weeks - hard to remember now that he's 16, lol!) he was asleep much earlier in the evenings and the night wakings reduced too.

lazydog Tue 06-Sep-16 06:17:39

Meant to say, over the course of this we always referred to it as "back in 5 minutes" but sneakily gradually extended the length of time each evening, by tiny amounts, and after a while we found he was occasionally asleep even before the first return.

He was quite a bit older before he started sleeping through reliably, but the gaps between wakings got longer over time, and this method immediately stopped the stressful night-time full-on screaming sessions!

ImogenTubbs Tue 06-Sep-16 08:42:43

Thanks, Lazygod - I actually did something similar to get her to go to sleep in the evenings without me having to rock her off for hours! I wonder if it would work in the middle of the night - she's so dozy and sleepy.

Minkybinky - good news about your 4mo! Long may it continue. smile

lazydog Tue 06-Sep-16 09:01:49

Haha! Lazygod - Hmmm... That name-change is quite tempting, despite having had this one for years grin

It should work. It did for ds1 and I don't think he was unusually reasonable for a 3 year old. He was drowsy and more confused at night, but he was already familiar with the idea, so accepted it.

It was SO hard to stay awake until he fell back to sleep, instead of the usual just passing out on his floor beside his bed to be woken by his cries (we couldn't risk that happening because he could have been lying there wide awake, just waiting for us) but it was totally worth it in the end.

ImogenTubbs Tue 06-Sep-16 14:41:25

Ha ha - pesky autocorrect. Thank you, I might try it - as its a format she knows.

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