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Regression! Frustration. Guilt. The best trio.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm trying very hard not to tell myself I've screwed it up, but... I'm wondering if I've (we've) screwed it up. Please help. 


My 20 month old son is sleeping poorly. It's a major regression - he's never been a great sleeper, but we'd reached the point where he was often only waking once a night, and we'd even made great progress having him sleep in his own bed, either a toddler bed in our room, or his own twin bed downstairs. During the best time, a couple of months ago, he would nurse to sleep in his bed downstairs, I would get up after perhaps ten minutes, and he would sleep there on his own until somewhere between 3 and 6 in the morning, then wake and cry. We'd go pick him up, put him back to sleep, either by nursing or bouncing on a yoga ball, and he'd sleep in our bed for the rest of the night. When he did wake, he'd work hard to put himself back to sleep, often succeeding  - he'd roll around, trying different positions, and giving himself time to lay still. When he didn't succeed, it was usually because he was trying to hard - switching positions too fast when it didn't work immediately, and getting frustrated. Still, we were feeling pretty good, since he was developing self-soothing techniques, sleeping independently, and occasionally even sleeping through the night.

Now? He's awake every hour on the hour, a lot of nights, waking writhing and uncomfortable. When it's particularly bad we give him acetominaphen, but often even that doesn't allow him to sleep peacefully. He nurses, but rarely goes back to sleep after nursing, requiring bouncing anyway. He'll wake and immediately ask for "Pick up" or "Daddy please", sobbing if we give him space or try to soothe him in other ways. Gentle stroking on the back (petting) used to help, now it just makes him more upset. This phase started when he began teething for his final set of molars, and of course we blamed the teeth, but although the teeth haven't shown, he's not showing teething signs at the moment, and his sleep's still a disaster. A good night means we get a couple of three hour stretches. I pray that eventually the molars will come and that will be the end, but I fear it's not all teeth at all.

The irony is that he naps beautifully, most of the time, nursing quickly to sleep often after asking for a nap, and staying asleep alone in his own twin bed for 1.5-3 hours. He'll shift position without waking, or if he is wakened by a disturbing noise, he'll usually close his eyes and drift back to sleep. He wakes up cheerful and alert. 


The one saving grace of our difficult nights is that he doesn't wake up and want to stay awake - he definitely, definitely wants to be sleeping. In fact, he's so angry and frustrated by the fact that he's not asleep, and he makes it very plain. So why can't he? Are we making him too reliant on our assistance to go back to sleep? Is this a phase, and his regression will pass? Are we doomed? I can't imagine having another child, just at the moment, when the one we have can't sleep!



Help! Words of wisdom? Encouragement? Gently mocking pity?



post #2 of 8

Oh mama I dunno. I am sure someone will offer some great ideas and tips for you. I just wanted to stop by and give you a hug...*hug* it sounds so frustrating. Stay positive!

post #3 of 8

Is your ds's bedroom on a different floor than yours? Is there any way you can have him sleep closer to you?

I know all kids are different, but my own kids would have never slept away from me at 20 mo.


Also, I would not give him medicine to help him sleep.


What time is his bedtime? Maybe it's too early?

post #4 of 8

Have you found any correlation between the length of his naps and how well he sleeps at night? One of the things I've noticed with DD is that if she naps longer (usually it's 1.5 hrs) she doesn't sleep as well the following night. What seems to help for us is if I make sure she goes for her nap fairly early, this way she is not as tired and doesn't over-nap.


How long has the sleep regression been going on now? Honestly I'm thinking it may be the teeth still even if you aren't seeing teething signs. For DD the 2 year molars were more disruptive than the other teeth and it seemed like they hurt her for quite a while. And of course I couldn't see what was going on till they broke through the surface but lots of pain happened for her before that point. I did give her ibuprofen as in my reading it seemed like the overdose point for it is much higher then acetaminophen which made me feel better. I tried to avoid it so I usually didn't give it before bed, but if she woke up a couple of times and was screaming and couldn't settle then I took it as a sign that she was in pain and give her a dose. JMHO

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Nightwish, we've coslept from the beginning, so him moving into his own bed/room is new. He has both a bed in our room and a bed in his own room downstairs, where he goes to sleep, but where we only leave him if he seems to be sleeping so soundly that we really don't want to disturb him. So obviously, not recently. *sigh* And his bedtime is when he's ready - usually around nine, but sometimes later if he has more energy. These days he usually goes to sleep easily enough after the bedtime ritual (brush teeth, bath, diaper, jammies, "snack", sometimes with a book or two in the middle) but if he's not ready he'll have a quick mamasnack and then get up again for more books and play, then ask for another snack when he's ready for sleep. 


The medicine is only if he is showing pretty obvious signs of pain - it's not like we're drugging him to sleep. We use acetaminophen, Ola, because he won't take anything orally, and the only option for his age/dosage is acetaminophen suppositories. Since the overdose range is more than one every five hours for his age, and we're giving him one for the whole night on very bad nights, I'm not worried about od'ing. 

The nap seems to have no correlation to how well he sleeps, although if he ends up napping early and then having a long day, and god forbid has a second late nap, then he has real trouble getting back to sleep at night, but that's not a problem we've had in the past few weeks. This particular waking every hour thing has only been a little over a week, now that I could back - it seems longer, of course, because sleepless nights make for very long days. I think you may be right about the teething pain. He does say, out of the blue sometimes during the day, "Hurts, mama. Hurts." He uses both the sign and the word, but when I ask him where it hurts, he's vague, or he says his eye, for instance, which looks perfectly clear and not irritated. So it may just be pressure from the teeth throughout his whole head. I am so ready for teeth to be done. 


Thanks for the responses. Last night was better, although we were still up four times, I think? Maybe it's passing. I still wonder if we haven't made him too reliant on us - we're trying a little more asking him to lie down and try to sleep on his own, but he's very impatient with that. Okay, he says, after 30 seconds. I tried that. Snack? Bouncing? Why aren't you people helping? Can't you see I'm tired here? 

post #6 of 8

Sorry I don't have any other suggestions. At 20 mo he's still a baby, they're supposed to be reliant on us, you didn't make him reliant.


If it were me, I would take him back to my bed. Give it a couple of months and try again. Being up all night and tired for days is not worth it.


Other than that... just hugs and sympathy. Been there done that.

post #7 of 8

I feel like the bad sleep period for my DD due to molars was INTERMINABLE.  She was not anywhere close to sleeping through at 20 months, but definitely got way, way worse around this age.  All I can say is that after a loooong, frustrating period, it passed.  I'm not sure exactly when, though.  I do know that it continued through her molars coming all the way in, and that I had a similar struggle with the idea of giving her ibuprofen or acetaminophen on a regular basis.  The pain reliever WAS the only way I could get any sleep, so some nights I just chose to be exhausted, and other nights I chose to give her a dose of ibuprofen so I could get a little more rest.  Your LO just sounds so similar, with the wanting to be asleep but not being able to.  Definitely sounds like a physical cause at play. 

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks, mamas.  It's better this week, so far - it might go back next week. Who knows? But with even a couple more hours of sleep we're feeling saner and less desperate. 

We've also started trying requiring a little more effort from him on the going back to sleep front - less bouncing, more gentle stroking and shushing or humming, more (short) explanations that he needs to try to go back to sleep. We met initial resistance but the next couple nights he was clearly trying harder! And succeeding, some of the time. Probably coincidence, but if he's not demanding immediate "pick up and bounce" it's progress. Maybe we'll keep it, and maybe we won't. 


He's back in our bed for at least half the night, last night almost the whole night - but as long as I get at least ten minutes of cuddle time with Daddy before that, I think we're doing okay. :-D


I really appreciate the feedback and venting space!

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