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16 mo old awake every 2 hours! HELP!

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  • 16 mo old awake every 2 hours! HELP!

    Hoping for some practical advice, sorry in advance about the length of this post, but here's what's been happening:
    First some background info...
    My daughter is 16 mos old and sleeps in her own bed in her room(at her request-she can't stand bed sharing, she just screams and says no everytime we move lol). She's been in her own room for about 5-6 mos and has slept through the night 12+ hours since 7 mos old.She isn't teething, she isn't sick and I can't nurse her back to sleep because she weaned herself a few months ago when I got pregnant with #2.

    ok, so for the last week she screams everytime we put her to bed(naps too) and wakes up after an hour during the day and will not take another nap and at night wakes every two hours. She is so scared! This isn't just a trantrum that she's going to bed(although it does turn into that if we don't respond within 30 seconds), but she's downright terrified. And she is grumpy during the day from being so tired.

    Some things we've tried:
    -we took her out and let her pick out her own nightlight
    -we leave the door open and hall light on
    -One of us sits with her for 25-30 min next to her bed while she falls asleep
    -I bought her a "special" toy to sleep with that puts lit up stars on the ceiling
    -Bringing her to bed with us-she hated it

    The only thing that works is sitting with her. While I don't mind this at bed time, I'm not willing to do this every 2 hours all night long and neither is my husband. He is getting woken up when I get up with her crying and he works 13 hour days begining at 5:30 am.

    All of this wouldn't be such a big issue except that he's military and leaving for a few months soon and I can't take care of a newborn and a toddler waking up all night long-I'll be a zombie.
    Our daughter has no idea he's leaving-we don't discuss it in front of her and neither of us have any misgivings or anxiety about it, so it can't really be related to that.
    Anyone have a similar problem or a practical solution that gets us ALL to sleep?

  • #2
    Hi Daisymama,

    It sounds like this is a really challenging situation for your family and that you have been working on some creative solutions. I'm sure you're all really tired!

    Before I make any suggestions can you tell me what she is afraid of or why you think she is afraid? I realize that at her age she may not be able to verbalize why she is scared, but do you have any ideas? Any changes to her daytime routine recently or something else that has happened?



    • #3
      in response to your question...

      I can't think of any reason she'd be afraid. I'm with her all day and nothing has really changed. I believe she is afraid of the dark. The reason for this is because of something that happened about 2 weeks ago. She loves the moon so I took her outside one night to look at it and suddenly she realized where she was, looked around franticly and just started screaming, shaking, and shouting "no,no,no!" and reaching for the front door. I quickly took her back in the house but it took us about 20 min to calm her down. It was really strange. The sleep problems began after that night. At night for bed a similar response occurs the minute we leave the room.


      • #4
        Thanks for the extra information. My youngest is about the age of your daughter, so I can empathize with the fact that you are trying to figure out the reasons for her new behavior. My husband is also in the military, so I can also understand your concerns about parenting two young ones and meeting everyone's need for sleep!

        For both my girls (even the 5 year old who is very verbal) I try to remember that behavior = need. So even though we can't be sure why or what she is afraid of, it seems like your daughter is conveying her need for your presence at night.

        Would it be possible to make her a bed in your room or make a bed for you in her room, so you can be present to comfort her when she wakes, but also so you can get some sleep? We have done this for my oldest at various times since she began sleeping in her own room. Often, she would sleep by herself for a few hours and then I would go to her when she first woke and end up sleeping with or near her.

        I think that if you are able to give her lots of extra comfort and gently parent her through this you will find that she will return to her more normal sleep habits - but that may take a few weeks.

        Her sleep habits will probably change again as she changes developmentally and as you have #2. If you are able to find some ways to relax through any of your nighttime frustrations (deep breathing works for me) that may also help. For both my children I've found changes in sleep patterns about every 6 months or when they were both “working” on a big change - like learning to walk.

        At this point, in our family we all sleep where we get the best sleep, even if it's not the greatest sleep, if you know what I mean! So one night that might be N in her bed in our room, L next to me and my husband upstairs in the guest room. Since he is military and needs good sleep to be safe at work this is the arrangement that works for us. Perhaps it might work in some variation for you all too.

        I wish you well with this and I'd love to hear how things go for you over the next week or two.



        • #5
          Originally posted by mamak05 View Post
          Would it be possible to make her a bed in your room or make a bed for you in her room, so you can be present to comfort her when she wakes, but also so you can get some sleep? We have done this for my oldest at various times since she began sleeping in her own room. Often, she would sleep by herself for a few hours and then I would go to her when she first woke and end up sleeping with or near her.
          yes I could but I'm wondering if this will create a new habit and how do I ever stop? This seems great for now but what about when the new baby comes and DH is gone?

          She is going through alot of developmental changes right now. I've considered that maybe she's just on overload. She is VERY verbal and learning 10-15 words a day, so this could be freaking her out.
          Thanks for your advice. It's so hard to parent at night in a way that respects not only her needs, but everyone elses too. Balance is key I guess. I'll let you know how it goes


          • #6

            I know it can be scary to think of making a change that feels like it may "become a habit." Always remember that you have a choice and you have the opportunity to find a way to meet the needs of your child and the situation, even if you don't know the best answer yet!

            So, yes, if you change sleeping arrangements you may at some point have to change them again, but it sure sounds like what you have going on now isn't working well for anyone. Perhaps if you make a change for one night you can evaluate from there - just stay in the present moment.

            Also try to remember that you are trying to help your child have long-term healthy sleep habits, as well as a securely attached relationship with you. Working to meet her needs in the short-term will help you in the long-term. When she doesn't need you at night, you'll know.

            It also sounds like you're feeling some concerns about how you'll be parenting two while your husband is gone. I know how that is! I can tell you that for me having both my children near me at night made solo night time parenting much easier (and still does).

            There are lots of other aspects of parenting two while your husband is gone and in general that might be coming up for you - post them up when you can.



            • #7
              well, I can't say I know what changed, but for the last 3 nights she's slept straight through 11ish hours! At the start of the night we change her, pjs, brush her teeth, read a story (all things we've always done) and put her in bed with a favorite toy. Then, my husband and I alternate nights of sitting on a chair in her room while she falls asleep-takes about 15 minutes. Right now we're next to her bed, but I think every 3-4 nights we'll move back a few feet till hopefully in a a couple weeks we'll be in the hall. Thanks for all the advice!