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Need to save my saniity - let's talk about independent toddler sleeping

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

So I've been browsing some threads, and noticed there are a few of us with toddlers who needs a lot of help falling asleep.  And I know I am at the point where I am burnt out and need a change.  So let's make a place where we can come up with ideas, support each other, and chat about progress...or the lack there of......

post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

Okay, my story is this:


My three year old has always been a very cuddly boy - always reliant on nursing, always wanting/needing cuddles to sleep.  I couldn't even get him to sleep and roll away until he was maybe 8 or 9 months old - he had to be held.  In my lap.  while nursing.  As he got older he started to sleep better for naps (but was still up 50 billion times at night), but always still relied on nursing to sleep and cuddling.  And up until this point I have actually really enjoyed that time.  I have no real regrets, and I don't think that I "created a reliant sleeper", I think he just has these needs and up until now it has been a joy for me to meet them.  Night time he actually sleeps decent most of the time (now), but again wants to nurse to sleep and co sleeps with me and DD while DH sleeps on the couch. 


I also have an almost 6 month old DD.  Because of DS needing to check in on us so often, I just get her to sleep in a wrap while I do stuff around the house or converse with DS.  She co sleeps at night time and actually I think she would be a relatively independent sleeper if circumstances with DS allowed me to cultivate that for her....although again, I really do enjoy the baby cuddles.  Having her obviously has an impact of DS's neediness.


The other issue that complicates things is that DS has a lot of GI issues, which makes him feel like crap and I feel like I need to nurse him more than I would currently like to because he needs the comfort/nutrition.  Really up until now it hasn't been a huge deal, but obviously after three years of this I am beginning to feel burnt out! I think that I would enjoy things a bit better if I could get him to sleep in his own bed at night.  Nap times are hit or miss for him, and I am willing to just go with the flow for that.  But night time I desperately want to not have to worry about him being restless and kicking me and the baby.  And waking up to nurse.  And taking forever to go to sleep, but not accepting any help from DH.  And speaking of DH, DH has wanted DS in his own bed for a loooong time now, but has put up with things because it was getting everyone the most sleep with the least grief.  Now that DH knows that I'm feeling *done* he wants to do things very quickly.


So our idea is to get DS's room set up really cool and get very excited about it with him.  I have a feeling that a huge component of the success or failure will have to do with making this a positive experience and me not being sad and sappy about it.  Because there is still a part of me that feels super guilty for wanting to push towards this transition before he is ready...then again something needs to change because what we are doing now isn't really working. We are thinking about doing his room as kind of a Christmas thing.  So for now I am working on nightweaning.  Which is hard when I'm trying to not wake up the baby, who will want to nurse back down when I'm trying to say no to DS.  So yeah.  I also feel like DS will feel all alone in his room while the rest of us are in the big bed....DH just thinks that's normal, but my biggest fear is that DS will feel put out, and I don't want that.  OTOH, I can't do this sleeping arrangement any more either. 


What are your stories?

post #3 of 16

Well we've just past the 2yr mark on sleep deprivation so I hear ya on that!  DD co-slept similarly with me in bed, DH on couch, til she was 3 or 4mos, then she started pushing me away and did fine in her bed so I let her be. And it worked ok, she was sleeping long stretches (10hrs), then I went back to work part time just before she turned 6mos and the night waking was more frequent (3-4x) - I figured she missed me and was making up for it.  She too has GI issues, always dairy sensitive, cut that out of my diet at 3mos and that's prob what led to better sleep at that point.  At 9mos we learned she had oat issues/almost anaphylactic...so we cut out the puffs she so dearly loved (because of trace amounts of oat flour) and that seemed to help for a while. Then came teething...and walking....she'd sleep good for a week or two then something else would pop up.  I took her back to the ND just before she turned 2, tested sensitive to gluten and soy, so we've eliminated those (me too) and again it helped for a while then she was back to waking.


Fast forward to current situation.  She's potty training (introduced it at 12mos for her to get used to, on her 2nd birthday she up and ditched the diapers - except for pooping - and has been doing great) and to make it easier for her to do so independently, she was also "upgraded" to a big girl bed when I took off the crib rail and put on the toddler rail.  There's a potty next to her bed so she can roll out and pee at any time, and she did so pretty well for the first week.  So sleep was something like nurse her to sleep on the couch or my bed, and either she'd pass out and I could just move her into her space, or she was tired enough I could put her in awake and she'd fall asleep after playing with her stuffed animals a bit.  Now with the bed converted, I've found myself laying with her nursing her to sleep on her bed and then I roll away once she's out.....which unfortunately has gotten later and later so we're at like 9-10pm! That along with 1-2 wake ups a night (well last night was 4x, ugh!) and she generally up when DH gets ready for work at 630/7, and I've got some lovely bags under my eyes to show for it.  I'm hoping *fingers and toes crossed* that we're due for a round of good sleep in the near future as she's starting to cut her 2yr molars and generally she follows good sleep patterns after cutting teeth.  I'm also hoping that as she goes along mastering this potty thing the confidence will allow her to think less, sleep more lol.  It's a whole lot of wishing and hoping, and we've only got the one to worry about!  So no real help there, just commiserating :-)

post #4 of 16
Yeah. This! This this this! I was going to start a thread but this one will do just fine.

DD1 turns 4 in a few weeks and I'm still embarrassed at how we get her to sleep. We are rocking in a mei tei she's too big for (not weight wise!) but really, she's 33 pounds and 32 (or more now) inches and it's back breaking work! Sometimes we nurse but my aversion is crazy. Her baby sister is 3mo. and I just don't want to nurse the older anymore. 4 years is a great run.

The adjustment for sleep has been the most horrid thing we've ever dealt with. It's the best birth control and the thought of having a third makes me shudder and want to run screaming out the door. I mean one screaming fussy baby at night is enough-- adding a toddler who is overtired and tantruming because mama can't put her to sleep is so heartbreaking.

So now daddy gets to put her to sleep. She's ok with it. But he grumbles about how it takes 30+ minutes (um that's nothing!) and is really not getting nearly enough sleep on weeknights. This is a problem. I'm worried about him.

I sort of want to take over and get her to just start laying down while I tend to baby. She's just not going for it. I want my husband to try and lay down with her. He's trying to figure out how to start doing that. He tends to pass out the second his head hits the pillow so the logistics of that might not work.

I don't care to sleep without my babies right now. I know this time is fleeting so I want a family bed. My baby is a loud little thing and wakes DD up constantly throughout the night. So we decided she sleeps with daddy. It's not great for me. I miss her terribly. I can't hold her anymore. It's sad. But she's not sleeping well AT ALL in her own bed (where I sleep) and I got another twin which is equally uncomfortable. I'm not sure if this is the reason or it's that we have always had her sleep in our bedroom so she's just used to that.

So do we go with a "wait and see" approach and let things taper off? As far as nursing-wise, she's pretty much weaned. Will she just decide one day and say "I don't want to be rocked anymore let's just lay down?".

Or do we work on laying down? Maybe rock for 5 minutes then lay down or just go cold turkey? I feel like she's not too young to understand this idea and am shocked we haven't gotten to this point. I don't know any parents who rock their 3-4yo but I'm sure you parents are out there. I'd appreciate all perspectives here!
post #5 of 16

I will jump in too as we're planning a Christmas bed transition as well. DD will be 3 in March and we have baby #2 arriving in April. We do get her to fall asleep in her bed but I sit with her until she's out or she gets out of bed and gets all worked up and excited. Plus she is waking usually 1-2 times per night and at least one of those I have to sit there until she falls asleep again which is anywhere from 1.5-3 hours. I can't do that when I will have a newborn to take care of too!


So our plan is to give her a new bed and shelving unit for Christmas, and take out the crib (with side removed), dresser and glider that are currently in her room. We'll need to use that stuff for the baby and I want a sufficient time gap between the two events so she doesn't feel like the baby "took" her furniture. Then her and DH can assemble it (which they both love, she's his little helper and hands him tools and stuff), I hope that will make her excited about it. Then I'd like to start transitioning her to falling asleep on her own. Right now I sit in the glider and if I try to sit somewhere else she gets upset or jumps out of bed. I'm hoping either the bed will be interesting enough for her to stay in it, or I can sit on the floor and more gradually move out of her room. Maybe that will help with the night waking too? I don't mind tucking her back into bed when she wakes but sitting there for literally hours is not fun and will not work with two kiddos around.


Originally Posted by tillymonster View Post

Will she just decide one day and say "I don't want to be rocked anymore let's just lay down?".

This is kind of what my DD did. She stole a throw pillow off the living room couch and decided she wanted to sleep on it. Didn't want to rock but would rather lie on her pillow in her crib.

post #6 of 16
Totally joining this thread! I'll probably have to share my story after thanksgiving though bc I don't have time right now. Really glad to have people to commiserate with! smile.gif
post #7 of 16

Well tonight was looking hairy as usual and inching closer to 10pm.  I had laid in bed with DD, she nursed, said she was done then said to me "mommy, go check laundry".  I was like huh? "No mommy, go, go check laundry, I stay right here."  So I walked across the hall to grab something in my room, turned around to see her tiptoeing to the door, made a crazy gasp and told her to get back in bed (she was amused) and walked away.  The kicker? She didn't follow me out!!  I walked in about 20mins later to find her asleep with her butt and legs hanging off the bed :p  Of course it's totally a fluke and will not happen the same tomorrow night but it would figure that the night she goes down with minimal fuss I can't head to bead early because I'm trying to get some baking done!

post #8 of 16
Ha! Don't you love it when flukes like that happen? I really hope mine passes out like that a few times. She's yet to fall asleep on her own without intervention except in rare cases when she's EXHAUSTED.
post #9 of 16
Just wanted to bump this up to see if anyone in this exclusive club wink1.gif has more stories to share!
post #10 of 16

Hmm, like how bedtime has become midnight the past 3 nights?!  Two molars down, two to go....must keep chanting it.....

post #11 of 16

So I just wrote about what we did with DS here:




Hugs to all of you who are frustrated and losing your minds! BTDT and I still lose my mind in the daytime. I think that every kid is different, but I also think that you never know until you try something new. Like I was sure that DS wouldn't fall asleep any other way than with me lying down next to him and rubbing his legs. Then his older cousins came to visit, who use a night light to sleep and fall asleep without their parents (instead with stuffed animals and books to look at). DS wants to be like them, so I said, "remember how your cousins have a night light and don't need their mama and daddy to go to sleep. Maybe we could try that. You could talk to your stuffed animals and try to fall asleep and I'll be back soon to check on you." Yeah, I have to "check on" him 2-3 times, but I really was shocked that this worked. Not saying it would for every kid, but I was too afraid to try it before (y'know, not wanting to mess up a "good thing").

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yeah, things went haywire for us during the holidays too.  dusting myself off and trying to get things better situated....i'll post more soon.  hopefully good news!

post #13 of 16
Just wanted to chime in again, even though our little guy is sleeping in his own bed and we do the "I'll be right back after I do (insert boring mommy thing)" he still doesn't STTN. Gets out of the covers and wants help getting them back on, needs water, then wants me to stay and the tactics don't work anymore. Any luck teaching your kid to pull covers up or find the water?
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

I think every kid goes through that phase - whether it's testing the boundary, learning the rules, or reaching out because they aren't quite there on their own yet.  And I think that it happens no matter where they are sleeping.  


Our situation is complicated by DS's health issues, so we aren't a classical case, per se, but we do still haven all of the typical behavior.  Right now, DH brings DS into bed with me and DD and some nights if he is really tired he will go right to sleep after nursing.  Other nights, he is up asking for a glass of water, or some other request, even though I am there too (albeit tied down under DD at that moment).  Sometimes he will stay in bed, but he clearly hasn't wound down enough and chats and makes his car and train noises ad nauseum, and I feel bad, but it always ends up in me explaining that he needs to be quiet at bed time, and if he wants to be loud, he needs to go sleep in his own room.  I always feel kind of guilty saying it, like I am threatening him or something (sometimes he does say that can't happen because of the monsters and cuddles in close).  But since we went bed shopping, he now bemoans that he wants his own bed.  Whether or not he will sleep in it is another story.


We were planning on getting his room all set up around Christmas time and then see if he was excited enough on his own to take the plunge....but besides our schedule getting all thrown off, DS has been having another bout with his GI issues, so he is clingy and cranky and won't eat (which means he is nursing like crazy around the clock).  I think he also just got over having the norovirus.  And progress on his room is slow.  Hopefully as things settle down, we will get back on it, but the independent sleep has hit the back burner, and now we are just hoping for sleep period.  

post #15 of 16
Hi OP, my only suggestion is to use books to help your child to help understand how the process will go.

My DS is 25 months, I'm currently lying with him while he naps as it's all we've ever done and I honestly don't think he'd nap otherwise. Until 22months he woke a crazy amount of times to nurse every single night. I thought night weaning would be impossible. But I got a book called 'Sally weans from night nursing' and read it to him daily for about a week before I decided to nightwean. The process went surprisingly peacefully. We started with him nursing once on a chair at 2am and gradually lengthened that to him being able to nurse in bed only after 6am. I still nurse him to sleep, we cosleep, but he understands that he must wait until the sun comes up (or with our dark winters, until his 'ready to wake owl light' come on).

I intend to transition him to his own bed when it feels right or when I need to for my sanity. My DH sleeps in spare room. I imagine that I will do this gradually, starting with his toddler bed against my own and then over time I'll increase the distance to eventually his own room by supporting the concept with books and getting a carpenter to transform his bed into a tractor or fire engine. I wish you luck! You sound like a wonderful mum.
post #16 of 16

I can totally relate!  My 3-year-old son has never-ever taken a nap.  Occassionally, he has fallen asleep while driving in the car - but that doesn't count!   My son just doesn't like sleeping.  It's almost as if he thinks my husband and I host amazing parties every night after the kids go to bed and he doesn't want to miss it!  Also, my daughter has many fears and nighttime is a struggle with her.


I have found success with the nighttime routine by using Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils.  I put Peace&Calming or Lavender on their feet or in the diffuser at night before bed.  And specifically, since my daughter has fears, we apply Valor (blend of oils) to the bottom of her feet every morning and night.  I have seen a huge improvement with them.


Not only have I used Young Living Therapeutic Grade essential oils for sleep issues, but I have used the oils on my children when they had strep throat, fevers, bronchitis, staph infections...  Through my journey, I have transformed into a passionate educator about the oils because I have personally seen what they can do and I feel obligated to share my information with other mommies. Please private message me your email address if you would like me to add you to my monthly newsletter on essential oils.



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