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very sleep deprived mom of 20mo old

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  • very sleep deprived mom of 20mo old

    Hi everyone! This is my first post, but I've been reading entries for about a month and a half now. You all provide such wonderful ideas and support--I'm hoping you have some for our situation.

    Our DS is just about 20 months old and we've not yet been able to help him learn to get himself to sleep.He's still usually up at least once/night, often for 1-2 hours, and he's up every day at 5:30 or so. I work out of the home 4 days a week and am often trying to get by on 5-6 hours of sleep. After 20 months of sleep deprivation, I'm not functioning the greatest, mostly at work! Here's our current routine:

    Dinner, bath around 7, read a few books, then rocking while bottle-nursing (yes, still!) and either listening to a lullabye CD or me singing until he falls asleep. He doesn't need the bottle to get him all the way to sleep, just to a very relaxed state, and then he'll put in his pacifier, snuggle in further and start to drift off. It's a pretty good routine in many respects, and he usually is asleep by 8 or 8:30. The problem is that he needs almost the entire routine when he wakes in the night (minus the books). Occasionally I'll hear him able to put himself back to sleep, but most often he wakes up (pretty wet from the quantity he's still drinking just prior to bed). Now that he's verbal, he's yelling, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" and sometimes "clean diaper" (we use cloth, so he notices when he's wet). Then it often takes 1-2 hours to get him back to sleep. Frequently he'll doze off in my arms, but when I try to get him settled again in his crib, he wakes up and immediately starts frantically saying "mommy" again and standing up, reaching to be held.

    I'm trying to wean him off the bottle, but it's proving to be very difficult. We went "cold turkey" successfully for 2 nights (he was very tired those days) but then the third night he realized what he was missing and I tried to comfort him unsuccessfully for 2 hours before giving in and giving him a bottle again. Now I'm trying to put less in the bottle, and to water it down, but he often just asks for more. I've tried the method described in "The No Cry Sleep Solution" of gently pulling it out before he thinks he's finished, but he won't have it! It seems really important to wean him off this for 2 reasons: 1) the issue of being so wet sometimes that he's uncomfortable and can't sleep through it, and 2) if he stays dependent on it, he won't be able to consistently put himself to sleep in the middle of the night.

    I'm trying some other things from the "No Cry" book: he's getting more attached to a lovey and I'm using some sleep-association words. I'm also talking to him before bedtime about trying to teach him to learn to go to sleep without needing mommy so much, but he understands just enough to be upset by this. I tell him I won't leave him alone when he needs me, but that it's important he learn how to sleep more on his own.
    It used to work to bring him back to our bed,which would allow me to get back to sleep faster because I wouldn't try to move him once he was asleep, but now he's so attached to his own room and his own crib that he screams "crib, crib" if I try to take him to our room.

    I'm so committed to not using the CIO method (despite some pressure), but I'm also getting desperate. I welcome any ideas you have. Sorry for the long post--I thought it best to give as much info as possible.

  • #2
    You do sound like you are having a rough patch.
    I understand why you want to remove the prominence of the bottle for nighttime.
    My ideas for that are slowly decreseing the potency (water the formula down a little more each night) and the amount. If he starts protesting the changes keep it at the accepted level for a few days and then try lessening again.

    Regarding his love for his own room and YOU when he wakes up- have you thought of putting a single mattress on the floor for you to lie on? It might be a couple weeks but maybe you being right there consistently for a while will reassure him you are never far away (he can't see you in the other room listening to the monitor.)

    I think and even more effective method would be laying with him on the mattress until he fell asleep but you might need to totally childproof his room and you might like the crib idea. Some kids start to climb out/grow out of the cribs at this age I think. Just a thought!

    My second son is 21m next week so I'm in the trenches with that age too!
    There also might be some external stressor too- like the temperature in his room, new foods in his diet and any number of things. Try to make some short term changes to get your self some high quality sleep (single bed on the floor in his room!!!!!) After a while you will likely be able to get up and the go cuddle your husband for the rest of the night. Maybe you will have to go back and cuddle him down to sleep, but you can fall asleep too. That is how I get that extra sleep!
    Keep us updated!


    • #3
      Interesting idea

      Naomi, thanks for your support and ideas. I'm thinking about the matress idea, but I have a few questions. I'm picturing it working well for the middle of the night, but being a little difficult getting him down that way initially, since he's so attached to the rocking... My main question though, is about safety. If I do this with him for a while (sleep in his room with him on a mattress on the floor) and then begin to transition out (whether thats a few weeks or a few months), I'm not sure how child proof it can be... It's obviously already childproofed to a level that I'm comfortable letting him play alone in there for very short periods at a time, but he's in a climbing phase--likes to climb on the rocker, stand on it and try to rock that way or try to climb from there onto the changing table,etc.--you get the picture. I guess I'm just not sure how old is old enough to be left alone in his room, without the crib containing him. Though he could probably climb out now, he hasn't yet figured that out!

      I'd also imagined when he was old enough to sleep in a "big boy bed" that we'd have his door open so he could come into our room if he needed it. But that leaves the whole house open to him, which he's definitely not ready for. (Our level of childproofing is perfectly fine for him with the presence of an awake adult, but we have chosen not to bolt every single drawer etc.) I guess I'd hear him if he got up and left his room, so maybe that's not as much of an issue.

      I'm not trying to be difficult! Just trying to think this through. Any thoughts about my safety concerns? What ages have any of you transitioned a toddler into their own bed, or what indicates to you that they're ready?

      Another totally unrelated idea I got yesterday was to think about trying disposable diapers, just for overnight, since they would pull the wetness away from his skin, and that's one of the things waking him up. I've been totally committed to cloth until now, for both environmental and baby-centered reasons, but I'm weighing the pros and cons of this idea. I would see it just as a transitional step until he's been successfully weaned from his pre-bed guzzle ;-) Has anyone tried cloth during the day and disposable at night?

      Thanks again!


      • #4
        We did the cloth during the day and disposables at night too. Maybe a 'middle ground' like that diaper that just has a disposable liner...I can't remember the name right now.

        I can tell you that both my kids immediately let me know when they are awake. Their first thought is "where's mommy" and make some noise to let me know. My 21m old is sometimes very happy when waking up from a good nap and I hear him walking so go up right away (and the upstairs gate is shut). I am one of those moms’s that has the monitor on super loud so I hear each little thing. The older kid I babysat (2 1/2yrs old) and slept in a toddler bed at my house (and a crib at home) would get up without letting me know so I did tie a bell to the top of the door so I knew if he was milling around upstairs alone. There are things you can do based on your child’s likes and tendencies to feel like he is safer.

        I'd also imagined when he was old enough to sleep in a "big boy bed" that we'd have his door open so he could come into our room if he needed it. But that leaves the whole house open to him, which he's definitely not ready for.
        When our first son moved to having his own room we would baby gate the stairs, shut the bathroom door, put up nightlights etc...I don't know the layout of your house but you might be able to figure something out. It's all about thinking of creative solutions!

        Here is a thread about transitioning from rocking asleep-


        • #5

          Just wanted to give a quick update.
          No progress yet on the night-weaning...oh well, we'll get there.

          But, started with the mattress on the floor in his room last night. (I waited for a little while because my partner was out of town and I didn't want to change too many things at once.) We were at a family camp over the weekend, so DS's sleep routine was different there, and it seemed like the right time to introduce this change when we arrived home. It went pretty well. It took quite a while to get him to sleep, but he didn't protest as much as I anticipated about not rocking or being in my arms. Nice snuggling during story time and then while getting to sleep. We drifted off together, and then I awoke a little later and was able to slip out, finish a couple of things and then go to bed. He slept a solid 9 1/2 hours for the first time in months! I'm not anticipating he'll STTN every night yet, but think this will help.

          So, thanks again for the ideas and support!


          • #6
            That sounds promising!
            What adjustments did you make to his room?
            Let s know how it's going in a week or two and what you did for safety for the other parents reading this thread.


            • #7

              In response to Naomi's request to share what we changed in our son's room (20month old) to make it safe for a mattress on the floor, and potential unsupervised waking time and wandering out of his room:

              - took out the rocking chair (for space reasons, but primarily because of the climbing/standing/rocking issues)
              - moved the night light to a different, less accessible outlet (it had been behind the chair, so was protected from his inquisitive hands)
              -there's one outlet that we need to use for the monitor that's very accessible to him, so what we did was duct tape it into the outlet so he can't pull it out. I don't know if there are safety risks associated with that, but it seemed like the most common sense approach.
              - other than that, just a little more vigilence about moving some of the smaller things that he occasionally still puts in his mouth
              - closing the bathroom door
              - keeping the stairs gated at night
              - making sure all the kitchen safety locks are on overnight

              I think that's all we did. If there's anything I didn't think of, please feel free to point it out!


              • #8
                Very interesting, thank you