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20 month old won't go to sleep / won't stay asleep

(14 Posts)
doodlebug83 Wed 07-Sep-16 09:40:07

I am desperate for some help, I am at my wits end!

I have a 20 month old little boy, who has slept through the night since turning one in January. He has the odd blip, especially when he is teething, but nothing like this.

I put him to bed at his normal routine, but when I leave the room he screams until he is nearly sick. I have tried controlled crying, but he wont stop crying until I go in and stay in. He wants me there until he falls asleep. Last night, this took two hours.

He woke up at 2.30am screaming, and it was the same routine with me not being able to leave without him screaming. It took two hours for him to go back to sleep, and that was only because I passed out on his bedroom floor.

For the grand finale, he woke up at 5.45am screaming, and my partner got up and took him downstairs because I have t work today.

I honestly don't know what to do. I have checked everything, the bedding, the temperature as you do. I don't want him to get used to me being in there at night, as it will become a habit and I don't want that.

I know its a long shot, but does anyone have any ideas?

peaceloveandbiscuits Wed 07-Sep-16 09:43:22

Place marking because my 20mo is exactly the same. We've been having on/off issues since around 18m - I believe there's a sleep regression around this time - but this having to sit in his bedroom is completely new.

DollyBarton Wed 07-Sep-16 09:48:40

20 months, he has quite a lot of awareness. I'd talk to him during the day explaining how the night will go 'mummy will put you to bed and give you a hug and then you will go asleep like a big boy in the nice quiet room'. I'd also get him a nightlight, the owl from IKEA is fab and changes colour so you can big it up as an exciting treat turning it on before you leave him for the night. Also maybe buy him a best friend bear to look after him in the night and talk him through this, tell him that the bear looks after him for mummy all night long and if he needs mummy he just needs to hug his bear. Maybe a mobile playing music as part of the leaving the room routine, my 3 all love theirs. Finally, how about using a monitor if you have one and speaking into it when he's upset. That way you have a method of being there without going in and you can be stern without engaging in face to face stuff which will inevitably lead to you folding when you see his little face.

It sounds like he's afraid so I would find that kind of crying distressing too but you cant be sitting in the room with him all night. If you put in place a few comforting things, prepare him throughout the day by explaining how bedtime will happen and then stick to your guns about executing it he will learn it quickly and feel comforted about knowing how it works. I think it's very distressing for kids thinking they might get mummy to come back in if they get upset enough. It inevitably leads to them getting upset!

Does that make sense?

peaceloveandbiscuits Wed 07-Sep-16 10:07:09

Does make perfect sense, but my 20mo isn't aware enough for that level of comprehension. I know in the next 6 months he will develop it, though, so it's given me good ideas. He doesn't have any attachment to his soft toys at all. I think I will get a night light, though.

DollyBarton Wed 07-Sep-16 10:13:18

Honestly don't underestimate their awareness. He may seem like he's not listening (my first was like this) but they are taking a lot in. He might not get it today when you say it but it will make sense to him maybe next week. So speak to him like he understands anyway, even if you feel like a bit of an arse!

It was only on later babies I realised how much they understood from 6months onwards. On my first I didn't move at his pace but rather made assumptions on what he could do based on last week. They are all different but I even speak to my 8 month old now about what's going on and what will happen.

doodlebug83 Wed 07-Sep-16 11:24:42

Thank you for your responses. Unfortunately I work during the day, so I am not able to test the reassurance thing until I get in which is 5.30. I suppose I could try it from then, but its only a couple of hours before he goes to bed.

When I am in the room with him after he stops crying, he starts laughing and giggling like its a game, tries to play with his mobile and tries to climb out of his cot also.

Its like a complete change, two different emotions so quickly.

DollyBarton Wed 07-Sep-16 13:37:55

I guess he's feeling insecure without you in the room. But staying in with him is only a short term solution. His insecurity needs to be dealt with and removed (by teaching him how to be secure in himself) not reinforced (by teaching him that his security is dependent on a parent being there).

That's my theory anyway!

doodlebug83 Wed 07-Sep-16 15:56:08

I'm going to persist with controlled crying and see if that helps. I hate doing it, but it might be the only way.

I don't fancy waking up on the floor again!

DollyBarton Wed 07-Sep-16 16:19:31

Good luck!

FATEdestiny Wed 07-Sep-16 21:53:05

At 20 months old (my dd is 23m) I had to start leaving the bedroom door open at bedtime/naptime and milling around upstairs while she went to sleep. If close the door once she was asleep.

I believe thus change was developmental. After being completely independent in her sleep and no problem at all, she suddenly started reassurance that someone was around when she was sleeping.

She's just got over this, so it lasted a few months. We can just say nan night and close the door now, as we used to.

I suspect that the controlled crying you did initially had exasperated the problem. I'm not agsint CC at this age, but I'm this instance I think it's making the problem worse. She's likely to need more reassurance (like you actually staying in the room, actively reassuring her) than she would have needed if you just have a bit extra reassurance as needed.

Because DD is my fourth child, I had remembered this stage. So I started leaving the door open, staying in the doorway, milling around, generally making busy noises so she knew I was there while she went yo sleep. I also introduced a night light at this age.

peaceloveandbiscuits Wed 07-Sep-16 22:08:08

I tend to agree. CC has always worked well for us in the past and DS generally responds very positively to it (it only takes one bad night of being strict for him to get the message again), but it's just not working now, because he's not crying with anger, he seems really distressed. But I do have that little voice in the back of my mind saying you're making a rod for your own back hmm

FATEdestiny Wed 07-Sep-16 23:18:14

Why would you not give a distressed child comfort?

My nearly 12 year old DD started secondary school on Tuesday. Monday night at midnight , she arrived in our bed - nervous about her first day. She's not come for a night time cuddle for firctears and years! I cannot imagine a world when I would ever deny any of my children comfort when they feel it from me. (Even when nearly a teenager!)

I always maintain a parenting ethos that I am teaching my children to be independant and this does stretch back to the baby and toddler years with sleep. But it can easily be done in a way that doesn't deprive comfort.

By freely giving enough comfort I was able to just mill around upstairs with the door open while toddler goes to sleep, instead of fanning insecurities and ending up lying on the floor next to the cot. Within a couple of months she was secure enough to have the door shut at bedtime again, so no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

peaceloveandbiscuits Wed 07-Sep-16 23:41:31

Yes sorry I was agreeing with you. I'm not withholding comfort, hence him ending up in bed with me last night and me getting about an hour's sleep angry
When he's just pissed off CC works well for us but not so much at the moment.

FATEdestiny Wed 07-Sep-16 23:43:58

Oh, sorry cakeflowers

I'm sure he'll grow out of it, hopefully soon.

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