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Almost 4 year old has never slept through the night

(37 Posts)
canigoontheipad Thu 22-Dec-16 20:44:27

I have no idea how to tackle this.
DS wakes up every night, several times a night. It's almost like having a baby. He goes to sleep at 7, but the longest he'll sleep for is until about 11.30, at which point he comes into our bed. That isn't too bad in itself, except on nights like tonight where he has woken at 8.30pm sad
He just doesn't like being on his own I think.
I've tried over the years to do controlled crying - failed, gradual retreat - failed, sticker chart - failed. The reason these things have failed is that he is SO strong willed and after a period of time of there being no improvement and/or illness etc I have basically given up.
Just don't know what to do now - please help!!

Wolfiefan Thu 22-Dec-16 20:48:12

That sounds so tough. I think the key though is that you've given up each time. I would either co sleep for a bit or pick a method and follow it through.
What does he say when he wakes?

Smartleatherbag Thu 22-Dec-16 20:49:33

Hi, it's tough, my second child was the same. Sympathy to you. Can you sleep with him there? Or is he too restless? How about putting a little camp bed near you and telling him that he can come through any time, and get in the camp bed.
None of the 'tricks' worked for us either. He just needed to be near me. In the end, it just stopped. One day I realised that I was having to wake him up every morning, in his bed! It was nice, though I miss the snuggles, ha ha ha!

Artandco Thu 22-Dec-16 20:50:10

Does he sleep when in your bed?

Ragwort Thu 22-Dec-16 20:50:41

You need to get tough, I expect you are giving into him really easily so he has just got used to coming into your bed every single night.

I have a friend like this .......... her two children still don't sleep through and they are 11 & 13 shock.

What's stopping you from toughening up, a four year old should understand that staying in bed means ............. staying in bed.

rachyconks Thu 22-Dec-16 20:50:48

My almost 3 yr old is the exact same. I know he's a year younger, but I can't see it changing anytime soon. Some nights he is like a newborn. We have even considered putting him in with his DSis (4) to help combat his loneliness. I think he suffers bad dreams too, but he won't tell me.

It's really hard going. And just when you think you've turned a corner, boom! Back to square one!!!

AnnieAnoniMouse Thu 22-Dec-16 20:55:42

He's almost 4. Blody hell, he'd have been lucky to make it to two here!

If you celebrate Christmas there's no point in trying to deal with it until afterwards, but then, if you are home for a few nights...

Time to get tough.

Talk to him in the daytime and explain he has to stay in his own bed & go back to sleep.

First time he appears 'Back to your bed now Fred, we talked about this today, you have to stay in your own bed & go back to sleep'. Tick him up, kiss good night etc.

Second time 'We have talked about this, back to bed'. Guide him back to bed, no cuddles, chatting etc

Next time - no eye contact, no talking, no cuddles just guide him back to bed & leave

Rinse & repeat. A thousand times if you have to. It might take a few nights, but it will be worth it. Of course you can try carrots or sticks too!

AnnieAnoniMouse Thu 22-Dec-16 20:57:55

Honestly, sleeping well is important, not just now but throughout life. Teaching him to self settle & sleep well isn't just for your benefit, but his too.

Smartleatherbag Thu 22-Dec-16 21:00:02

Honestly, we just waited and it stopped.
No one got ill or died.

Artandco Thu 22-Dec-16 21:02:01

Annie - OP doesn't say how he sleeps in her bed yet. Most adults share a bed, so why a child has to sleep alone or they will suffer is mind boggling

My children also slept in our bed at 4 still at least half the time. I would say they slept through and well though as they started sleep in our bed and slept, or in own bed and joined and slept but didn't wake anyone

Smartleatherbag Thu 22-Dec-16 21:04:36

The projection on sleep or feeding threads is always hysterical.
No consideration of what the op is looking for.

TheWrathFromHighAtopTheThing Thu 22-Dec-16 21:06:01

My friend finally put a stop to this a few weeks ago, and her son is 7 and a half.

He is strong willed as hell, and he went ballistic the first night, screaming his bedroom down. But when he realised she meant it, he relented.

Their family was a wreck before they got this sorted, they were all sleep deprived and in bits.

Good luck flowers

KatherinaMinola Thu 22-Dec-16 21:10:05

Honestly, we just waited and it stopped.
No one got ill or died.

Yep. Some dc just take longer to get there - mine starting sleeping through at just turned four. Sympathies flowers

IAmAPaleontologist Thu 22-Dec-16 21:12:56

Dd was like that. She woke multiple times a night. She was happy to stay in her own bed though when we pushed her bed and her brother's bed together so she felt she had company. She stopped at some point after she started school, basically when she got old enough to roll over and go back to sleep herself, she will be 8 tomorrow and I know she still wakes at night. Now I'm just waiting for ds2 to sleep, he is 4 at the moment! Sometimes I think I love ds1 best. Ds1 slept.

Bobkinyoyo Thu 22-Dec-16 21:16:43

My children also slept in our bed at 4 still at least half the time. I would say they slept through and well though as they started sleep in our bed and slept, or in own bed and joined and slept but didn't wake anyone

The OP has not asked for advice on how to continue co sleeping so presumably she doesn't want to do it any more.

You need to pick one approach and stick to it for a considerable amount of time op, it's the only way.

DoofusMcXmas1 Thu 22-Dec-16 21:17:11

cani you have my sympathy and a hand to hold. My ds is nearly 5 and exactly the same.

It's all very well people saying 'get tough' but, unless they have been there, they clearly have no understanding. We've had sleep practitioners, GP, paediatrician, hv, all sorts involved and not one of them came up.with a solution that worked.

It's fucking hideous, yesterday I spent all day puking from a migraine that was set off by ds screaming every 45 minutes. Come 4am he finally settled so I didn't want to go downstairs to get pain relief in case I woke the detriment ofyou own well being sad

Believe me, we have tried many things. A couple of things worked for a couple of weeks then the shit Ness crept in gradually until we were back to where we started, you then do anything you can just to get a bit of sleep.

My relationship has suffered, I'm too exhausted to be intimate, I'm grouchy and I feel rough all the time. I'm just waiting for the time he sleeps properly and then I want to wake him a million times a night to see if he likes it 😂

Sorry that's no help at all, just wanted you to know you're not alone!

Marilynsbigsister Thu 22-Dec-16 21:20:35

OP you have two choices, you just have to get tough or get a big bed.
I lived in South East Asia for years and parents would no more think it acceptable to put their child in another room at night then they would cut their own heads off. !
My S.e. Asian friends cannot understand this weird western behaviour... 'you carry them around all day, you never leave them be. Then you put them in a room on their own and wonder why they cry.' ...

I did this. I had two double futons next to each other. Futons because the baby rolls when you roll over on a sprung mattress. Two futons because babies/4 yr olds wriggle. With lots of space, everyone sleeps. Everyone is happy. Three dcs of my own. First left of her own accord at 3yrs, No. 2 left at 3 yrs and littlest hung on until 6yrs (but that was more about me not wanting to give up my last baby. ! )

Never had a sleepless night... [runs away before gets flayed for being too smug]

Artandco Thu 22-Dec-16 21:24:19

Bob - I'm trying to say some just aren't really to not co sleep at 4 years. So going with it can be easier and more sleep
Than another year of putting them back constantly.

I have a 6 1/2 and 5 1/2 year old now. Like I said at 4 both slept in our bed at least 1/2 the time. Now eldest only comes in if ill, 51/2 year old probably sleeps in our bed once every 2 weeks. Had I made both always sleep innown beds at 4 I would have lost more sleep from them waking then if they just settled straight into our bed at 9pm with a story, maybe OP son would be the same?

OP what would he do if you read him books in your bed and just let him fall asleep there? Would he still wake in the evening? In the night would he just wake, see you there and go back to sleep? Could you maybe move his mattress into your bedroom as a compromise until he is ready to sleep alone?

OnlyEatsToast Thu 22-Dec-16 21:27:08

OP I am exactly the same. I have no answers but am laughing at some of the suggestions here; albeit well-meaning!!! If only it were that simple!!

WhatWouldTheDoctorDo Thu 22-Dec-16 21:32:04

What size of bed is he in OP? DS was exactly the same and we gave up trying to get him back to his own bed and got used to waking up to find him snuggled in between us. He used to complain it wasn't fair he had to sleep by himself. However, age 4 1/2 we got him a full sized single and immediately he slept through fine.

I think DS just wanted more space. A few years later he's pitching for his own double bed!

100milesanhour Thu 22-Dec-16 22:50:25

My 5 year old wakes up and comes into my bed, he goes straight back to sleep. I'm happy with the arrangement.

It's up to you op, if you want your child to stop then there will be something that can be done to stop but if you're happy with what's happening then carry on as you are.

canigoontheipad Fri 23-Dec-16 14:46:27

Thank you so much everyone for all the supportive messages.
To answer some questions:
What does he say when he wakes? He doesn't say much, just goes into our room and gets into our bed. If we're not there then he will stand at the top of the stairs or come down. Sometimes he cries and sometimes he doesn't.

Can you sleep when he's in your bed?
Yes I can sleep with him in there but now that he's so big, inevitably either me or DH will have to decamp to DS's bed otherwise it's too crowded.

Thank you for the camp bed idea, might try that if nothing else works.

It's very difficult to just "get tough". Honestly before I was in this situation I would have said the same. My first born was a great sleeper and when we did have any trouble I was tough and it worked quickly. The problem I have is that in trying to be tough with this one, he is so resistant that he will scream and cry and tantrum until he has ground me down to a wreck of a person!

I haven't tried putting him down to sleep in our bed so I don't know what would happen if he woke up in that scenario.

He's in a full size single bed so it's not that his bed is too small. He says he just likes it in our bed.

Basically the issue is that if he was waking once at say 2am and he came into our bed then it wouldn't bother me. The issue is that he is waking up when we are still downstairs eating dinner, watching TV etc and I feel that I can never relax in the evening. I also want him to get a good nights sleep so I definitely do want to move towards him sleeping in his own bed all night.

So would you agree that the answer is to just keep putting him back to bed every time he wakes?

canigoontheipad Sun 25-Dec-16 21:04:44


kittybiscuits Sun 25-Dec-16 21:10:22

Here's how I dealt with this with a 3.5 year old who was waking me 6 times a night. I said 'you are a big girl now and need to sleep in your own bed and let mummy sleep at night. It's Friday today and if you sleep in your own bed every night I will buy you a bike next Sunday'. She came through the first night and I said 'remember your bike, are you going to sleep in your own bed? Shall I tuck you in?'. She never got up again. After years of suffering, reading books, looking for answers. Bribery. That's all it took.

Andcake Sun 25-Dec-16 21:14:29

Ds was like this ...we put him in a single bed and said no more in with us just one of us would go in with him. Very very dark so he became tricky unaware if we were there or not. Somehow worked in 3 days..

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