Friday, April 16, 2010

18 month old not sleeping well, help!

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Comment: Very helpful and understanding. Thank you for your help.

Questioner: michelle Subject: toddler won't sleep

Question: Hi, My 18 month year old is not sleeping well at all. Putting him down at night takes forever and we've tried different ways - tried cry it out but I'm not a fan of that one, tried staying in room and slowly moving towards the door after a few days but he still cries as much as if we were gone, even tried the bad habit of laying with him in our bed but even though he doesn't cry as loudly, he will whine and toss and turn.

We follow the same routine -bath,stories, cuddles, etc. We even moved ahead his bedtime to 8pm as he wasn't showing his usual signs of tiredness a 730 anymore and will cry for an hour or more in following asleep.

It didn't seem to change much as he still is up around 4-5pm and seems ready to be up for the day but within an hour is tired again for obvious reasons. So now, we've gotten into the bad habit of getting him a milk and laying in the spare bed with him which doesn't always work anyway but we are soooo sleep deprived (we have a three year old as well with sensory processing disorder and she is a bad sleeper too). So we all seem to be cranky walking zombies!

He usually is ready for a nap at lunchtime and starts to fall asleep while eating. He naps for 1.5 hours most days and because he is almost asleep, it's easy to put him down. At bedtime and in the early morning he will sometimes "try" to sleep but just tosses and turns. I am an insomniac and my husband has sleep apnea....can these be affecting him so young? I know sleep apnea can but I don't detect any snoring so I assume it's not that.

Please help as any advice would definitely be tried.

Thank you very much in advice.


Answer: Dear Michelle, My heavens you have my sympathy and my condolences. You have your hands full and you all need sleep! This is a monumental parenting challenge. Well sleep disorders are probably genetic. However, routines are important and I emphasize routines to all parents. You stated you don't vary from your routine however you open your question by stating you have tried several different approaches all of which are not getting you the results you want. So the routine has varied.

Personally I don't have issues with parents lying down with children to get them to sleep. I challenge anyone to show credible research which says this harms children. However, routines need to be routines even with everyone being sleep deprived and probably more importantly so because you all need sleep. You don't really say what your routine is however I have written many a response on this site about things that help children sleep.

For instance preparing the environment an hour or two prior to bedtime by turning down the lights, the noise anything that makes the environment soothing. Playing music such as the great cd's that have a mothers heartbeat with background nature music in it (knocks me out everytime. Playing a soothing game or two, reading peaceful books, massaging little ones after a soothing bath bringing their body temp down is usually a good way to get them to sleep deeper and longer) etc....finding a routine and sticking to it is the secret to success. Getting him checked for sleep disorder probably sensible as well.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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