Tuesday, June 15, 2010

3 year old and sleep problems

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Comment: Thanks again! I guess I just needed some reassurance that all was well.

Questioner: Holly


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.

Holly

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.

Check out my list of great videos on youtube. Look me up MKayKeller or AllFamilySolutions either one will bring up a list of recommended techniques for babies and children, most of the babies videos are still applicable to toddlers and preschoolers!

Best Wishes!
Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you! I decided she was a 'proximity kid' and I don't have a problem with it. Most times I love it. My oldest child is so independent and lost the urge to snuggle at an early age. This child, on the other hand, must touch base with me constantly. Her most common comment is "I need you". I float between just accepting that this is who she is and being so tired and frustrated. Last night she was only up once, which is a good night for her. Her daycare routine has not changed in two years, aside from eliminating naps for her this year. I no longer struggle to get her to bed. It's calm, quiet and no-nonsense. I will try the massage since she likes to be touched. Sometimes I think she gets up because she didn't get enough 'mommy time' when she was awake and still seeks out my attention. I've also thought of putting one of my shirts in bed with her so she can at least smell mommy while sleeping to see if that helps out any. She should be winding down this episode of not sleeping soon so I will just hold out and try the massage. Our house is not a noisy one and she's got a fan for white noise near her bed but I will make sure it's not too loud for her.

Thank you!

Holly


Answer: Dear Holly:

What a great mom you are, " I will try the massage since she likes to be touched. Sometimes I think she gets up because she didn't get enough 'mommy time' when she was awake and still seeks out my attention. I've also thought of putting one of my shirts in bed with her so she can at least smell mommy while sleeping to see if that helps out any."

You didn't need me at all. Read what you wrote above. She loves to be touched so of course the massage is perfect for her and it requires more mommy and me time. I think you have answered your own question!

Take Care,
Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!