No announcement yet.

toddler insomnia

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • toddler insomnia

    I'm an older (48) single mother by choice with one 22-month-old son. We are going through a really stressful time right now and my son has terrible insomnia. He is absolutely exhausted, but it often takes him a couple hours to fall asleep and sometimes as long as four hours. Everyone is telling me I should put him in a crib so I can get some sleep and get other things done, but I feel this would only add to his stress.

    This is what I've tried so far:
    nursing (he moves his arms and legs around or pinches me with his fingernails and if he can't keep himself awake doing that, he twists himself off the breast and stands up).
    rocking (again, he keeps himself moving and keeps trying to start up a conversation)
    singing (he sings along and shouts out suggestions when he feels himself starting to fall asleep)
    swaddling (this sometimes works, but I often have to hold him until he cries before he stays still enough to fall asleep. It feels cruel to me).

    We have a bedtime routine of pajamas, toothbrushing, book reading, nursing, sleep. I lie down next to him until he falls asleep. The room is dark, but there's a light on in the adjoining room so we can see a littles. On bath nights, two nights a week, we also do a massage before pajamas and I've started asking if he wants a massage even if it's not bath night. The massage seems to make no difference either way.

    He's getting about seven to nine hours of sleep a day, including naps. At daycare (5 days a week) he naps 45-60 minutes and on weekends, he naps 3-4 hours. I hate to wake him from those weekend naps even though it messes up his sleep schedule, because he really needs the sleep.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? If I just have to wait it out, do you have any suggestions for how I can keep my sanity and get enough rest myself? I don't have much in the way of social support here and I have no money.


  • #2
    Sleep issues in our children are particularly frustrating because they always impact our own sleep quality.

    I wanted to say that it is normal for children to take a couple hours to wind down enough to be able to fall asleep. If you're looking for your son to fall asleep earlier, you likely will need to start winding him down a couple hours before his bedtime.

    Because he's so exhausted, is there a way to try to head him off before he becomes overly tired (and therefore won't sleep)? Maybe some signs he has that he's starting to get tired...for example, one of my kids doesn't listen as well when she's starting to get tired but before it's really obvious that she needs to go to bed. She also goes from item to item in a busy sort of way -- opening drawer after drawer, for example, with no purpose. My other daughter will insist on me sitting with her on the couch when she starts to get tired, even tho she's not likely to fall asleep right away -- she's ready to wind down. Any clues your son shows?


    • #3
      My dd has the same problem. Generally when we're hitting a big milestone (crawling and walking were both big ones for her). I can remember standing one night with her in a sling bawling because I just wanted her to go to sleep! I was sooo tired. When dd was learning how to crawl and walk it was almost like she couldn't stop. She felt she had to keep moving. Often I would swaddle her or hold her, or even wrap a blanket around the 2 of us so she felt close to me and yet was still restrained. I would tell her "honey I love you and I know you want to be up moving, and I can see that your tired. So mommy will hug you tight until your able to relax enough to fall asleep". I always felt horrible.

      She still does that sort of behaviour when she is over tired, had a really fun day, or whenever I'm stressed. I too have tried everything for reading, rocking, singing, baths, massage, dim lights 30 min before bed, all noisy toys turned off 30 min before night time routine, boring documenteries, getting her to run/crawl as much as she could before bed and nothing seemed to work! I did find a connection between things like juice and caffeene. So the only juice my dd gets is vegtable and she's only allowed chocolate on special occasions. Try and sleep whenever your lo does. That can make a world of differance and try to go to sleep when your lo does. Just like he was when he was a newborn. Another thing I found is meditating while laying with my dd (expecially when i'm stressed). I imagine that I'm putting everything that stresses me into a bunch of boxes. I put all the boxes into a closet until my lo is asleep and then I'll deal with them. Generally once everything is in a box I try and imagine myself some place calm. I hope this is only a phase for you good luck
      Last edited by smurfsammy; 04-07-2010, 09:55 PM.


      • #4
        This is such a helpful set of postings, and I hope it will continue. I've been in almost the exact same boat--I could have written the first post too --and I've been alternating between being really worried that something is wrong with my dd, taking a breath and saying "everything is allright," and feeling like I'm just plain out failing her in this aspect of her development. My dd is almost 21 months old and such a wonderful little girl. I really am so blessed, despite my frustration about the sleep.

        We have family visiting, and yesterday she couldn't settle down for a nap, so we scrapped it. When bedtime came, no dice. Just talking, sitting up, nursing, kicking, rolling, etc. etc. So she stayed up until 9 p.m. and then woke up crying so up until 10:30. Back to sleep until 8 a.m. An hour and a half nap in the afternoon, and then after a VERY active day, down to bed at 8 p.m. Oops, not so fast! Up at 9:25 p.m., after an hour and a half of kicking, nursing, and rolling around (and frustration by me that always ends in her saying,"I love you." Then I feel like a total schmuck and want to cry--and often do.) she was up again until 10:05 and then easily asleep.

        I'm wondering to myself does she really just not need sleep, or what's happening here?

        Is how we're doing things, how we've been doing things--nursing to sleep--just not working anymore? Do we need revamping?

        Do I just need to be patient and compassionate for her developmental stage and settle down myself (yes, I know the answer to this one, but it's hard in the moment . . . so easy once she's asleep . . . )?

        Like miel, I'm sure, I see her tired and think,"She must be ready to fall asleep. She's so tired!" and then somehow she isn't.

        Thanks for all of your suggestions. Our schedule makes winding down early hard, because my husband gets home late. Her sleep is the most important thing, so we'll amend whatever we need to.

        Miel, good luck, and please update us on what's going on and how things work . . . I have found, similar to smurfsammy, that meditating is very helpful. And two books--Everyday Blessings by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Momma Zen (can't think of the author . . . ) keep me centered when I am a little off.

        Good to connect and hope to hear more from people. XO