Tuesday, June 8, 2010

3 year old not sleeping

Questioner: Shelby

Subject: 3 1/2 year old doesnt sleep

Question: I have a 3 1/2 year old girl. Ever since she was 6 months old she hasn't slept through a night. I have taken her to doctors before and they say it is just a phase.

She does not take naps, wakes up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed 8 p.m. Most of the time when I go to bed at 10 p.m. she is still awake in her room. There are nights that she has waken me up 6 times in that short amount of time.

She refuses to let her daddy go to her at night. Most of the time she just wants me to cover her back up. But honestly I can not keep getting up all night long for much longer. I am exhausted. I need something, some advice on what to do. I feel as though we have tried everything that we can think of. We have tried to let her cry it out, either she wakes up her brother or just leaves her room.

We have tried putting a baby gate up so she can only go to the bathroom but not down the hall, again, she will cry until she wakes her brother up. I try to not go in her room when she starts screaming for me, but again, she wont stop, and she will wake her brother up. She gets so hysterical when she starts crying that she actually has trouble breathing. My Family needs sleep!! There is no way this is a phase, a phase does not last for three years!


Answer: Dear Shelby,

There are many prior posts on this site about bedtime routines. Try infant massage! Who doesn't sleep after a good massage? Remember to have a consistent bedtime routine as she may actually be anxious about going to bed at night.

I know you are exhausted however I promise you, your patience will pay off in the long term. She will outgrow this and you will once again get some sleep. Possibly try not expecting her to sleep 12 hours a night. Maybe she needs less sleep than most 3 and half year olds. Maybe she needs more physical activity or less physical activity.

Mostly I suspect the environment is too stimulating for her. Make sure her bedtime environment is soothing and quiet at least an hour before bedtime. Do read prior postings...do a search on bedtime routines!

I don't see any option here of co-sleeping with her maybe she was not ready to sleep alone and is hanging on to a need to be with either of you. What I would suggest is doing what works and stop doing what does no work for you or for her.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Kellr