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Help with frequent night wakings for toddler

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  • Help with frequent night wakings for toddler

    I'm looking for some advice or feedback on whether my situation is normal or if I need to start looking more seriously for solutions. I am totally exhausted and often exasperated. I can't keep this up any longer. I need to figure out how to cope with our lack of sleep situation.

    Here's what it looks like:

    My son is 26 months and still has never slept through the night. He slept for 6 hours straight one time, but other than that he wakes every 2 or 3 hours. This is a vast improvement over the first year, when he slept in 45min (or less) cycles, then went up to 1 or 1.5 hrs over the next year. When he got up to 2 hours, I actually started feeling relatively good because I was so sleep deprived! Even during the day, he still can't nap for 1.5 hrs without waking up at least once. I"m STILL chronically sleep deprived to the point where naps don't really help at all. I'm really struggling and concerned how my daytime mothering is being affected. I'm grumpy way too often and I think it's because I'm just so darn tired.

    When my son wakes up at night, he asks for the boob. On good nights, it's not a big deal and we can go back to sleep. On bad nights, he wakes up crying or whining. Sometimes he has nightmares or even night terrors, I don't know which. Sometimes he thrashes around in his sleep, or while falling asleep, kicking and rolling all over me and the bed. Sometimes he can't resettle and we're up for awhile in the middle of the night. The bad nights happen often enough that I can't ignore them. I know my son isnt' getting enough rest on those nights either because he wakes up cranky in the morning and after naps. Two sleep-deprived cranks, we are!

    I don't know what's going on or how to help the situation. I've often attributed it to teething (he suffers worse than most), illness, or developmental milestones, but I just don't see how any of those could happen so often. Could they? I've wondered about food sensitivities, but the prospect of revamping our diet sounds even more exhausting! He was also born 2 months premature and was in the NICU for 3 weeks. We visited and held him every day but were gone most nights. I know this has a deep effect that I've been trying to resolve but I'm not sure what more I can do.

    A couple of months ago, I was so sick of not sleeping that I started working on night weaning (after thinking about it for many months). Really all I've done at this point is reduce each session at night. At first, it went well and we cuddled more than ever. Lately, he seems to want the boob more and more and I'm too tired to deal with crying in the middle of the night. I still keep the nursing sessions shorter, but I haven't made further progress night weaning him. I'm afraid it won't make a difference in helping him sleep better.

    Another problem I have is that I'm on my own at night. My husband is virtually useless at night. I can't even trust that he will wake up next to a screaming child so I can't sleep elsewhere and leave my son to be comforted by dad. Also, we live in a tiny 1-bedroom so even if I left the room I can still hear my son and wouldn't be able to sleep. Occasionally, I can sleep in later in the morning if my husband is home, but for several months now my son just comes back to me crying for me to get up. Ugh.

    Does any of this sound familiar to anyone? I'd appreciate any feedback or ideas.

  • #2
    Sounds familiar, but it also sounds like maybe something bigger is going on. My daughter was a rough sleeper we weaned right around the same age your at now. I was 7 months pregnant and it became painful so it was much more forceful then I would have liked. I would def. look into food sensitivities, it might be a lot of work at first, but if it helps everyone get more sleep that would be good. My daughter started having nightmares a lot around 2, and they finally started to taper off. She also started to wake more at night as she was potty training. She would feel herself get wet and that would wake her up and upset her. Would your doctor be able to test for food sensitivties as a short cut around the cutting things out of your diet one by one? I don't have much experience in this area, but I know some friends whose kids are really sensitive to foods, and it can cause similar troubles to what your describing. Good Luck, are there any friends or a mothers helper who could come play with your son so you can get an extra nap in during the day?

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    • #3
      I have asked my son's ped about symptoms of food sensitivities before, but she said it would be more like a rash or something obvious and immediate that would happen after he ate that food. She didn't seem to think it would affect sleep at all, even after I pointed out "what if he eats it almost every day?" That's mainstream medicine for you! I like your idea of simply asking her to do a screen and see what comes of it. I've already noticed that my son becomes a total spaz (sp?) after eating squash, so maybe there are other things I'm not aware of. He has occasionally cried in the night saying he had peed, so that's definitely a possibility, too.

      I've pretty much given up night weaning for now because it seemed to make him more clingy and needy during the day. I was even more exhausted! I don't think he's ready yet, even if I am! My thought is that if I give what he needs now, he will be emotionally satiated and then it will be easier to night wean later.

      So, I guess I 'm back to thinking about food again...

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