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2 ½ year old up just won't sleep! Help!

(25 Posts)
JennyB Mon 09-Jun-03 07:23:42

I am now absolutely desperate and am feeling very angry towards my 2 ½ year old daughter and am at my wits end. I put Isabel to bed at 8pm and she is waking at 2 or 3 hour intervals crying hysterically, shouting and bashing on the door (which I keep closed). I have tried keeping her door open but she just come to our room and bashes and crys at our door instead! She doesn't sleep during the day and I have cut out sweets. I have been leaving her to cry but it lasts so long and now we are exhausted all the time. I seem to be telling her off all the time and really dont know what to do now. I also have a 4 year old and 1 year old son who both sleep soundly. What can I do?

motherinferior Mon 09-Jun-03 09:39:56

Oh dear. I had a similar problem with a daughter much the same age who wouldn't sleep a while ago. I have a horrible feeling some of it just has to be waited out - but does the amount of light have anything to do with it? My dd settled much better when we got her a nightlight; others seem to settle with blackout blinds.

And/or is anything else bothering her, do you think? Might it be nightmares?

I'm sure other people can be more help than me. But I do sympathise.

runragged Mon 09-Jun-03 19:54:13

I read somewhere that you can try to control childrens sleep. I haven't tried this so don't blast me(!) Apparently what you do if you have a child who wakes at regular intervals say 3 hours is go in after 2 hours and wake them up enough so that they speak to you, reassure them and let them drift back off. Do this all night then the next night lengthen the time between wakings and so on. The theory is that they get out of the habit of waking them selves up.

The other thing I could suggest which I HAVE tried is the Baby and Toddler sleep program which is a book but basically says put child to bed close door / stairgate to rrom and see child in the morning. If they are sick or wet the bed in anger just go in and put a towel over or something, change child without speaking and clear it all up in the morning, same if they destoy their room. It sounds like you have tried something like this but were you totally strict with yourselves? The book says (and I have to agree) that you can't give in and you must have lots of support from dh or friend that you can phone in middle of night to stop you giving in to dd.

What ever you try though it is going to get worse for you before it gets better but decide with dh what the plan is and agree to stick to it together.

Good luck, not sure if any of this helps.

runragged Mon 09-Jun-03 19:56:25

Oh and the book gives loads of examples of children, I remember one in particular who cried for 3 hours the first night, it really is worth reading as I make it sound harsh but it was one of the best childcare books I have read (apart from the bit about making a child dry at night but thats only 2 pages)

JennyB Mon 09-Jun-03 21:15:14

Thank you v.m. I will read the book but I may very well have strangled her by then! Is anyone looking to adopt a daughter?

Queenie Tue 10-Jun-03 13:51:44

jennyB - she can come and live at my house and keep my 2 1/2 yo dd company as she doesn't sleep through either.

Helenpad Wed 11-Jun-03 09:03:30

hi JennyB - I can sympathise as I had a 2yr old waking in the night - is it at he same time each night? ie she is coming into a light sleep ad can't get herself off again. I found that a nightlight helped. My Dd use to wake up and panic in the dark. It's not much help, but I had to post to show you my sympathy as I've been there! - Good luck!

Imelda Fri 27-Jun-03 14:33:52

Hello there,
just wanted to check how long she has been behaving like this? how long do you leave her to cry? it must be v hard with the other children to worry about. imelda.

JennyB Mon 30-Jun-03 13:52:25

Imelda, Isabel has always been a bad sleeper, but it doesn't worry the boys as they are asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. She doesn't take naps any more. For as long as I can remember the routine has been bed for 8pm, reading until 8.15pm, she then cries for about an hour to which I normally don't respond, then the same all through the night. Lullaby tapes, open doors with stairgates, all have been tried unsuccessfully. I fear also that she is a little slow in her development, e.g. she is not saying many words at all but the health visitor and her nursery (2 mornings per week) are not yet too concerned. I think I may have to talk to my health visitor again!

aloha Mon 30-Jun-03 14:52:20

What time does she get up? Is she sleeping late?

Imelda Mon 30-Jun-03 15:13:44

hmmm - seems as if you have been very resourceful and tried most things. this is something i would be reluctant to try, but have you ever considered letting her sleep with you for a couple of months - to see if you can get her out of the habit of the waking in the night? mind you, that wouldn't solve the bed time thing would it?
have you thought about being really extravagent and taking her to ikea to buy a bed which she can choose, with fave children's character duvet etc? praps that would seem like a new start for her??
do you live in london perchance? we could meet up and brainstorm with our awful toddlers! (i know we love them really but it is soul-destroying sometimes isn't it?)

bellas Wed 02-Jul-03 14:46:24

Let her in with you - it's not forever, she'll decide when she wants to go then you'll never get her back in your bed! Even if you want a cuddle! Believe me, have co-slept with 2 sons and don't regret it a bit.

aloha Wed 02-Jul-03 15:56:15

I have to say that co-sleeping isn't a magic bullet for everyone. My ds 21 months, never sleeps if he's in bed with me or dh. Sometimes if he's ill or unsettled I bring him into bed because I'm too knackered not to be lying down, but ds wriggles, kicks, tries to pull my nose etc for hours. He only settles to sleep on his own, in the dark in a bed. I wish he would sleep with me sometimes, but he won't.

JennyB Sat 19-Jul-03 16:01:26

Hi, thanks for all the advice. Have been on hols where dd has been exactly the same - except daddy has had the brunt of it - she has taken to coming next door and whacking him over the head with her cup asking for more milk at 5.00am! Thank god for the fabulous creche as we had plenty of time ot recouperate during the day! However, having been back a week with no change in her waking habits I have returned to my usual exhausted grumpy state. We have started potty training (nights too as she doesn't want to wear a nappy any more) so for once I have been actually getting up to her when she starts crying to make sure she gets to the potty. Sleeping in our bed terrifies the life out of me and I really cannot bear the thought as she is a wriggler, snorer, and plus the potty training too - I might just jump off the ledge instead! Saw the doctor last week when having youngest son's MMR and he suggested drugs (for her)! - I didn't take the conversation any further. I will take the advice about new bed linen though - anything is worth a try so thanks!

P.S. Live in Much Hadham, near to Stansted Airport/Ware/B.Stortford/Harlow if anyone is local?

suzywong Sat 19-Jul-03 16:39:18

It's easy to see why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture isn't it? you have my sympathies as DS only slept through the night at 26 months, 1 month ago.
We had tried everything - I mean everything - and it would seem that only two things are for certain:
1. some kids just decide when to sleep through by themselves and although this is no help to you now it may be a light at the end of the long wretched tunnel.
2. Recruit your husband for some hardcore training. this is what we did. DH spent a couple of days mentioning that DS was a big boy now and only babies woke in the night for milk and that since he was a big boy he didn't need to do that anymore - all very casually mentioned but there was no doubt that DS understood. Then I went away for 2 nights. I know you have 2 other kids and logistically this could be tough but it has to be done. Then on those two nights DH went to DS on waking (1am. 3am and 4.30) and repeated the big boy stuff and DS replied, albeit teardully, that he understood and went to sleep as there was no Mum to appeal to and DH was standing his ground. (I think it is vital that once a strategy is agreed on the other parent doesn't interfere - it took us 18 months and a sleep counsellor at £50 a through to suss this one).

DS still gets up at 5 for a bottle then DH goes in to DS bedroom and sleeps cuddled with DS on a mattress for another 2 hours but it's better than the months and months of disrutped sleep we had, plus we are having another one in 6 weeks and we have to get some sleep.

I also think taking her to buy a new big girls bed will help, it worked for us.

so good luck and it will end.

Janstar Sat 19-Jul-03 17:03:49

I remember when my DD2 was about 2, she used to come into my room approx 20 times a night and it went on for months. Her dad and I split when she was 14 months, I think her sleeplessness was a delayed reaction to that. She seemed to need to know that I was there and I was not going to suddenly disappear out of her life like her dad. I used to make time to cuddle her every afternoon when she got home from nursery, for as long as she liked, and kept telling her I was not going anywhere. This seemed to take the pressure off at night. The afternoon cuddles gradually shortened over a few months until five minutes was enough to bore her.

Have you had any events that caused upheaval for her in her little life? Like a house move maybe?

runragged Sat 19-Jul-03 21:15:26

Jennyb, I am totally against drugs myself (for the kids, huge fan of Nytol for me!), went though terrible time when pregnat with ds and my friend a gp was surprised I hadn't tried medised, it really is not my thing. However, I am a great believer in homeopathy. At one point dd was waking about 2am and them on and off until 4am. I went to see the phamacist who is a total anorak about homeo medicines and he found her symptoms in a book, worked a treat.

Having said that I'm not sure there is anything wrong with using medised for a few days so that you can recoup enough energy to tackle the problem convincingly

runragged Sat 19-Jul-03 21:19:50

Oh, and Suzywong, your advice is great, just read it. Big girls bed is a great idea, ds is a bit of an early riser - 5.30 so he sleeps on a mattress on the floor in a safe room with a stair gate, he usually plays in the morning. When we put dd in a bed she wasn't quite 2 but dh put the bed together and she was so impressed she told me that daddy had made her bed for months after.

AND that big boys don't have milk in the middle of the night was how I cracked dd when she regressed with potty training, lots of conversations in her hearing about how she was such a big girl and I couldn't understand why she was being a baby...etc

bloss Sun 20-Jul-03 07:20:35

Message withdrawn

whymummy Sun 20-Jul-03 07:44:35

jennyb i went through the same thing with dd at the same age,it started when my mum came to stay with us and i took ds to school before she woke up,after that she just refused to go to bed thinking that i`ll go without her,we went through the screaming for ages,banging on the door etc it took over 6 months and a lot of reassurence,like i kept talking to her about what we`ll do the next morning,what she`ll have for breakfast etc,just to make her see that i`ll be there in the morning.i also read recently that some children have night time blindness wich means if they wake up in the night they can`t see at all although you could,so they need a night light
i hope it doesn`t last too long for you,good luck

JennyB Tue 22-Jul-03 17:06:25

Thanks everyone for the great advice. Bloss, you are like my fabulous health visitor whose advice is always spot on. I really can suffer the prolonged crying at bedtime until she falls asleep an hour or two later but it's the waking through the night that is driving me insane - she wakes at 1ish, 3ish, 5ish then 6.30ish! She must be exhausted but shows no sign of it during the day. I will be more strict from tonight and show no mercy!

Just to let you know, the reason I have infrequently caved in and given her a drink is because our neighbour is always complaining (to us and anyone else who will listen) about the noise, saying that they will call the social services as I am cruel to let my daughter cry for so long, and that I should move her bedroom or even move house! This of course does nothing but make me laugh (as it does my health visitor) but I do think about it. We will see!

dinosaur Tue 22-Jul-03 20:35:09

Typing this listening to my nearly-two year old sobbing and screaming in his cot! Lots of sympathy JennyB! In the last few days he has woken up at 5 a.m. twice and then last night at 2.30 a.m. Last night he woke up my DS 1 who is four. DS1 was very upset so for a while we had them both screaming. This is new for us as until very recently DS2 did sleep through the night, although he has always been a bit difficult about getting to sleep in the first place. Am going to try and tough it out but is so difficult with DS1 getting upset!

Anyway, I'll think of you tonight if you think of me!

marialuisa Wed 23-Jul-03 10:21:19

DD is a grat little sleeper on the whole but when we have had prblems, after moving house or illness we resort to just leaving her. We did try proper CC but quite often me going in just wound her up more! FWIW DD once screamed solidly for 3 hours (1.15 am start) made worse by the artculate little darling shouting "I'm all alone, where's my mummy gone? I really need my mummy, I'm very sad" at regular intervals. I paced the floors and ended up sobbing on the sofa, DH slept through it all!!!

So, try sticking it out, tell the neighbour beforehand, casually saying it was the HV who has suggested this which should stop the threats of Social Services, at least.

Good luck!

marialuisa Wed 23-Jul-03 13:34:21

Thought I should add that she was a ray of sunshine when she woke up at 7am, I was groggy all day. She's very secure and in no way seems damaged by my approach!

runragged Wed 23-Jul-03 22:19:49

marialuisa, your post reminded me of the time dd (nearly 3 at time) was left in her room in middle of night and told I would not be going back, she started screaming at the top of her voice "I don't believe this!" followed by "It's not fair" (and of course lots of "mummy" etc) It was really funny expecially as she hadn't used these phrases before.

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