Toddler Sleep Update 20 Months

The fact that I am even writing a sleep update tells you everything, right?

But first, a quick tantrum update

I blogged a while back about the screaming from baby F that was driving us crazy. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point that has all settled down. She still has her moments, but the complete hysteria seems to have abated. We did actively ignore several massive tantrums, returning only to see if she was going to quiet down, so I think that might have been the key (ignoring also worked a treat when L was a toddler and he became obsessed with throwing things – it’s really hard to do, but it seems to be just about the best parenting strategy for horrible behaviour!).

So that’s good.

The sleep thing

Almost two weeks ago baby F picked up a vomiting bug, and as is so often the way with illness, her sleep routine has now fallen apart.

For the last few months she has been going down at around 8pm (late, I know. She hates sleep). Then, she might have a bit of a cry at around 12am/1am. Then she would sleep through til around 6 to 6:30am.

This wasn’t too bad – I tend to be in lighter sleep in the first half of the night and sometimes I didn’t need to go in, she’d just settle back down.

Now she is waking at least twice a night. She does the 12am/1am cry and then at 4am/4:30am she does a much bigger cry. I always have to go in, pick her up, soothe her, and try to resettle her.

On top of that she is getting ever more demanding at bedtime. She goes into her cot for 6:45pm. We follow a bath-teeth-pyjamas-story routine that we have done since forever. Once she’s down I start bedtime for C. He’s 5 and he needs to be down asap after 7pm because  he needs more sleep than average. He’s a great sleeper and is normally asleep within 10 minutes of being in bed.

However, Baby F meanwhile is crying on and off and calling for mama. This means every few minutes I pop in to reassure her, while also trying to get C into bed. She will be fine for a few minutes and then the crying starts again.

The husband has been coming home earlier since F was unwell, so we’ve gotten into the habit of one of us sitting with her to keep her from crying. However, it will take an hour, or sometimes longer, for her to actually fall asleep. We can see she is exhausted, as she’s rubbing her eyes and looks completely worn out. But she fights sleep for as long as she physically can. I swear, most nights, she passes out from sheer exhaustion.

Too tired to keep on doing this

The whole bedtime crying, followed by 1am crying, followed by 4am crying is taking its toll. My joint pain is getting worse as the days go by and I’m still struggling to recover from the run I did on Sunday (it’s now Wednesday). Not to mention that my patience and tolerance for everything is really low.

Last night I left her to cry at 4am, which she did for around half an hour before I finally got up, told her everyone was sleeping and came back to bed. And she went to sleep straight after I’d been in there.

It seems to me that she just has extreme anxiety about being left alone – either because she is unhappy being on her own, or because she feels she is missing out on what the rest of us are all up to in the house.

I don’t know how to solve this, and I feel awful today. All I can think about is how much I want to spend the next 48 hours in bed. Preferably sleeping and maybe watching a movie when I’m awake enough to actually have my eyes open. The lure of the soft blankets and the dark room…


Solutions, no solutions

So what shall I try? The rational part of my brain says I need to steel myself for a few nights of wailing and just ignore it. The fearful, guilt-ridden part of my brain wonders if I’m going to give her some awful sleep complex if I do this.

One alternative is that we move F into our room and see if her being in there helps. At least that might allow me to get some sleep. But then I have the problem of the cot being back in our room, which I don’t really want. And maybe going through all this again at some future point.

I know that she’s not hungry, and some days she will barely nap for 40 minutes, so she’s not sleeping too much in the day. I am certain it’s an emotional, not a physical issue. How best to calm it?

I have even thought of changing the room sharing around and putting her in with C or L to make her feel less alone (perhaps she wonders why everyone else shares a room??).

Maybe I should put all three beds in one room, and use the other room as a playroom?

I just don’t know. I am just so worn out and tired today, I can barely do the minimum required to parent three kids, let alone anything else.


5 thoughts on “Toddler Sleep Update 20 Months”

  1. Awe my friend, sleepless night are so incredibly hard! And multiple sleepless night are the worst.
    I firmly believe you have to do what’s best for your family. I know for us, we determined cry it out with timed entrances just escalated Little MPB’s crying, and it didn’t work for us/him. In the end, and I know I’ll be judged by some for this, we did full on CIO. Within 3 night he was sleeping through the night, basically every night. Those first two nights were pure hell, but we all survived and now we all sleep. (I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but that’s why I stated right away you have to do what’s best for your family). Anyways, I hope you find your way to more restful sleep.

    • I do think that there is something to be said for CIO. I’ve heard many accounts of things being immeasurably better after the hellish first few nights. It is hard though. Sigh. I’ll see how tonight goes – I’ve explained that if she wakes in the night she must cuddle BeeBee and go back to sleep. She actually nodded when I told her this but she’s currently crying now, having been asleep for 40 minutes and come into a lighter sleep phase. Oh gawd. I think I’m going to just shut my door and wait it out. I feel like I am dying inside I’m so bone-achingly exhausted ?.

  2. Oh boy, that is exhausting. We were having big wake ups this past week – like 2.5 hours at a time – but think our was hunger related. She needs so much food at the moment – more than I imagined. But she won’t get it all by having a big dinner. She wants variety. So after dinner I do rice cakes and yoghurt and maybe other stuff if she’ll keep taking it. It is amazing how much she has. Anyway she didn’t wake up last night so that seemed to work. The other thing we do have is a little day bed in her room so if we have to stay in there with her we can at least be comfortable. I’m not a patter so don’t do any of those things. Every now and then I will calm by stroking her face if she is really losing it but otherwise it is just my company she needs. S was exactly the same so I am less resentful of it this time and just go with the flow. He grew out of it and she will too. It does sound like F’s issue is def emotional though, you are right. So maybe company in the form of brothers or parents – whatever you decide to try – might be worthwhile. Good luck!!

  3. I know you said you dont want her cot back in your room, but for us thats what worked best. When my DD would wake just a gentle shhh and to know I was close by was enough and she fell back asleep, I didnt need to get up, all dark etc. she only needed to hear my voice that she wasnt alone I guess.

    • I am certain this would work for us too. The biggest problem really is that having her cot in our room means limited access to the wardrobe as it has to sit in front of it against the bed. Our house is just tiny. If we had a bigger room I think I’d have moved her back already. It’s so difficult. Modern life sometimes doesn’t work well for me, I think. Maybe I need to get rid of a wardrobe. I only have about 20 things I wear regularly! I don’t know – we’re going through another bout of viral-something or other, so this week has been awful again for sleep. Nonetheless, we shall get there!

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