Subject: sleeping issues
Question: Hello. I have a three and a half year old daughter that has never slept well. Once she grew close to a year she began taking a good afternoon nap, but was basically done napping by the age of 2. My issue is with her night sleeping. She rarely sleeps all night. I have tried everything. I run an air purifier in her room for white noise, her room is dark (no nightlight and darkening curtains), she does not nap unless absolutely necessary, she does not receive any caffeine of any kind, and I have limited television at night. I have a strict routine for bedtime (bath, jammies, snack, story then bed)and have had one for two years. It doesn't matter. She doesn't sleep.
She is usually up around 2 am to about 4 am. She just gets up and comes in our room. There are no tears, no crying, no nightmares, no need to go to the restroom, no drinks, nothing. She just gets up and comes in our room. I simply pick her up and put her right back in bed. I've even tried telling her to stay in bed until morning. Nothing works. I've tried tracking the issue to see if there's a pattern or cause. Nothing. I've tried putting a baby gate in her door. She either climbs over it or stands and cries. I have been battling this for three years and I'm tired. She was a pacifier kid (had about 10 in bed with her) but she's been without them for a year and a half. She's completely potty trained, although we do have occasional night accidents.
I am at a loss as to what to do now. Any suggestions? When she lays down to sleep at 8 I do not lay with her or anything like that. I simply tuck her in and leave. I do know she is what I'd call a 'proximity kid'. In other words likes to be real near mommy most of the time. Would this have something to do with it?
Any help or thoughts you can provide would be great.
Answer: Dear Holly,
Who told you she was a "proximity" kid? Like this is a bad thing? She is attached to you! This is a good thing. The only reason it seems so terrible is someone set up expectations that all children should be sleeping in their own beds. In some countries children sleep with the parents until they are much older. So drop all the judgements around the situation and you will both feel much better.
Next, have you tried massage? Think about all the things that make you feel safe to go to bed at night. All this power struggling wouldn't make me want to go to sleep and stay asleep either. I know you are probably confused by all the parenting advice out there but really, does it sound like it works really well when we turn on the news and listen to how our children are turning out?
She just wants to be nurtured some more. She is only 3 not 15. I promise she won't be sleeping with you by the time she is 8. She probably won't want to be seen with you when she is 10! :) LOL
I have a whole write up on bedtime routines. Everything from a great CD called Mothers Touch which has soothing music and heart sounds, doing infant massage each night, lowering the noise in the household (the #1 reason for children not being able to sleep at night). Check to see if there is something in her day that is making her insecure. Is her daycare routine okay? Is your routine changing with her? Children are very sensitive to disruption in their routines. They are not time oriented as adults are and are quite upset when something in their routine has been cut short due to timing.
Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!