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3 year old does NOT sleep well

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have posted before (probably in Toddler!). Everything is still the same.


I have a high energy 3 year old. We stopped napping in December. We DO still nurse at night and Yes I know that that is part of the reason she has only once ever slept the night through (and that was three days ago). I keep thinking it will get better because she occasionally has good nights where she sleeps for longer periods. Generally, she wakes at least three times. She also starts stirring like crazy in the wee hours.


I feel like it is not just nursing. I just don't get it! WHY does she sometimes sleep for hours without waking? WHY did she sleep the whole night a few days ago? WHY OH WHY does she wake up so many times. She doesn't just stir. She sits up and calls for me.


I have tried to find a pattern (food, exercise etc) but I can't. 


Anyone have any ideas??


Anyone have new advice about night weaning a three year old???? I am SO afraid to but I am not sure I can keep up with the lack of sleep anymore.



post #2 of 7

I have not read your other posts so maybe this has already been addressed but I have found handing them over to dad at this age to be put down to bed usually helps. Also keeping water by the bed so they can get a sip and lay back down. 


She might also need to potty but is not telling you?

post #3 of 7

I recall reading in Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep solution for preschoolers, that 1-2 wakeups per night is average. So, she's really not that to far out of the realm of reasonable 3 year old behavior. I know it can seem that everyone's kid is sleeping through the night, but it's not always the case. 


I would try night weaning, if you think that will help you. It will be rougher at first, but it will get better if you stick to it. Since she's old enough, you can explain to her, that she can nurse when mommy wakes up for the day, or when the sun comes up, or whatever you'd like to explain to her. Tell her if mommy doesn't get enough sleep at night she's too crabby and can't be the best mommy for her. Do keep water on hand, so if she wakes she can have a sippy and go back to sleep (with snuggles, or whatever you may need to get her through the nightweaning.) Don't expect her to know how to go back to sleep without the nursing. She'll need to learn, but she will learn. Like I said, it may be painful to nightwean. If after trying it for awhile you decide it's not worth it, no big deal.


However, don't think that the nightweaning will cure all the wake ups. It likely will help, but there's no guarantee. And she'll still likely wake up at least once a night still.


If you're open to it, cosleeping will likely make your nights much easier. Even part time cosleeping. Maybe tell her when she wakes up, she can come to your bedroom and sleep next to your bed, or in your bed, whatever works for you.


Good luck!

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks so far. I DO take her to potty at foor of the bed the first time she wakes. We do co-sleep. So, I am right there to wake up, ha ha.

post #5 of 7

I used to be in your situation.  I weaned mine right around her third birthday.  I was using distraction methods during the day but at night I just let her nurse anytime because I slept through it.  She woke multiple times a night.


I began explaining to her about the need for her to stop nursing and how I would give her other kinds of comfort and love her in other ways. I told her it is part of growing up.  So we did a lot of prep talks plus the distraction during the day.


Then one night we were sipping on a homemade vanilla milk shake.  I asked her which was better, milkshake or mama's milk?


She thought for a moment and smiled and said milkshake.  I then asked her if she thought she could stop nursing since we can make milk shakes.  She said YES!


So the next night daddy, mommy and she got together before bed and I explained that daddy will go night night with you because tonight we will stop nursing.  She gave me a sad look then hugged me and went off with daddy to go night night.


I was shocked.  THat was the end of nursing for her and she took it so well.  I think she was ready.  I really had no idea how I was going to wean her completely.  She was so attached to the breast.  I was amazed at how easy it was and no tears on her part.


I think you will find a way.  Have you tried talking about it with her?


And that did help the night waking, but she still wakes at least one time for potty.  Other times she is just a restless sleeper or her legs hurt from growing pains. It's always something!

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have really been trying to remember how many times she wakes. It is on average 5!!


I am really having such a hard time. I am so beyond exausted. The other day when she slep t well I felt SO much better. I procrastinated less, was less stressed and less crabby. The thing is she loves milk. If ever I refuse her especially at night she gets so so upset. More than just crying but pulling me to her, grabbing me. She won't take no for an answer.

post #7 of 7

That was my daughter...really.  I think there are some things you can start if you want to push the weaning.  I really could not imagine mine ever stop nursing.  Here's what I did:


Kids love to be 'big'.  They love to feel like they are so 'big' and growing up.  So I played that up with potty training and with weaning.  My dd has friends that are 4, 5, 6, and 7.  So I began to prepare her that one day she would not nurse any more just like so and so.  I told her as you grow you stop doing certain things like throwing your food on the floor and like nursing.  It's part of growing up.  I believe in preparing my child for life and life's difficulties.  At three they can get it.  Life changes as you grow.  Point out that babies cannot do many fun things that you do, like swing, go down slides, ride bikes because they have to grow up some.   If your child knows a baby you can use that to make it more real to her.


Weaning at one yr old and three are totally different.  AT three they can begin to see all they have done and accomplished.  You can use her intellect to her her understand what is happening to her.


Also, I believe in doing things that are good for the whole family.  Nursing 5 times a night is physically and emotionally draining you and that is not good for the whole family.  I tell my dd sometimes we do things for you and sometimes we do things for daddy and sometimes we do things for dd2, etc.  This time we need to do this for mommy.  She may protest, but I think it is good for them not to be the center of the universe all.the.time.


The other things i did was distract during the day. I weaned her in the day time before the night time.  I used distraction and delay.  If distraction didn't work, I would say ok lets nurse after we go do ______________.


I stayed flexible.  If she really needed it I let her have it.  I could not do the cold turkey thing.  IT just isn't my style.  But gradual and explaining and encouraging growth is the way i took. 


You can begin to point out all the ways that you comfort and love her.  Not all at once, but gradually as you are snuggling point out how wonderful it is and that is one way mommy loves on her.

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