"I want my mommy" - heart-breaking bedtime meltdowns - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 03-26-2011, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
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My 2 1/2 yo son had been having a r-e-a-l-l-y hard time getting to sleep since we stopped nursing in October. It took us about 3 months, but I was finally able to get him to bed around 8-8:30 without the nightmare sobbing / yelling / hitting / thrashing about scenarios that had become routine. Thanks to advice here, and in The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers by E Pantley!


But ---- we had a baby on March 7th and things have totally fallen apart since then. We KNEW that it would be hard for him b/c I was the one always putting him to sleep, and I had to lay with him for at least 30 mins before he fell asleep. My husband would try and sometimes it worked, but mostly he wanted me. We realize now we made a big mistake by not making this a priority, ie, getting to a place where daddy could get him to sleep. Or, better yet, getting to a place where we could tuck him in, kiss him goodnight, and he'd fall asleep by himself.


Now for the past 3 weeks bedtime has been a nightmare for him -- poor little guy! Our newborn has fussy time right smack in the middle of our son's bedtime, so I'm out of commission totally during bedtime. He sobs, cries, begs for mommy - sobbing "I want my mommy" over and over and over .... and can't get to sleep till after 10pm when he's just sooo exhausted. And usually by that point our newborn has settled down and I can bring baby into our son's bedroom while baby is nursing, lay down in bed, hold both children, and our son falls asleep clinging to me. I've tried laying with him while baby is nursing but baby is so fussy at this point that it is just too disruptive.


Do you have any advice about this?

Also we really would want our son to get to sleep on his own .... he's not afraid of the dark, but when we've tried in the past he always asks for me to come in and lay with him, hold him, sleep with him, etc.


We have tried: 1) leaving the room for a few minutes, coming back, then a few minutes more, then a few minutes more ..... but after 40 mins or so of this he asks for me to lay with him and then he falls asleep. 2) standing outside in the hallway with the door cracked open and coming in every other minute to say, "get back into bed honey" and put him back in bed. This will go on for another 40 minutes or so and then he asks for me to lay with him and quickly falls asleep. We have not tried either option for more than a few days at a time ....


Feeling sooo terrible and at a loss for what to do. It's so heartbreaking to hear him sobbing for me when I can't come to help him out. And he's not getting nearly enough sleep now, and of course my husband is burnt out with all the sobbing and hitting etc.


Thank you!


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#2 of 6 Old 03-26-2011, 05:07 PM
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well, I'm sure I'm going to get some negative responses for this, but here's what we did. In late January, my hubby had a week off of work due to weather being bad, so we took advantage. I'm due with a baby in May and my son will be 2 1/2 then as well. I didn't want to have the same scenario that you are going through right now, because I had a feeling that exact thing would happen. DH can now put him to bed if he's home, but that's the thing, he's rarely home for bedtime, so I knew it would be all on me most of the time. SO, that said, here's what we did. We put a baby gate on his door. I'd read him a story, turn off his light, and turn on his audiobook(it's an 8 minute story, that turns to music then to white noise in about 30 minutes) and leave the room, and for the first few nights, I sat by the gate and told him he needed to go to go get in bed and go to sleep, he's a big boy, he can go to sleep by himself, etc. He cried for about 40 minutes the first night, and it got progressively less and less each night, and now(as long as he's not way overtired), he goes and gets in bed pretty quickly. Now, I don't even have to sit by the gate, and he locks the gate himself. I go and unlock the gate after he falls asleep so if he gets up in the middle of the night he's not trapped in his room. After about a week, he was going to sleep in his bed fine. Now, the nights that he's overtired, it's a bit more difficult, especially since he's going through giving up naps, and just can't make it to bedtime without a few meltdowns, but we just take it day by day. If you don't want to do that, have you considered letting him sleep on a palate on your floor in your room? Maybe he'd be more likely to go to sleep on his own if he was in your room? At least for awhile while you are getting through this newborn stage!

DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)

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#3 of 6 Old 03-26-2011, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for this idea! I totally get it ... The baby gate is an interesting idea. What has happened when I left the room is that my son climbs up on the dresser, jumps from dresser to bed to chair, crawls under the bed, unplugs the lights, turns on the overhead light, opens the drawers and climbs into them, etc ... ! We kind of gave up b.c of this .....


I like the audiobook idea ... can you tell me what it is so I can find one that has music and white noise?


My husband also will be away a lot traveling for business so bedtime will be all on my own sometimes, too. I bought a Hushamok hammock for baby, hoping that he could calm down and sleep gently in that while I'm doing bedtime with our big boy.


Oh, speaking of big boy ... I told him he was a big boy and could sleep by himself, and for days and days he cried and cried, "I'm not a big boy, mommy. I'm your tiny boy" etc.

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#4 of 6 Old 03-26-2011, 05:48 PM
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Is there a way to push his bedtime back a few hours, so you can be with him when he goes to bed? You can always fade his bedtime back to 8 or so when the new baby is less fussy. IDK that's a hard situation. I hope things improve soon!

Wife to amazing dh, mama to dd 12/08
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#5 of 6 Old 03-26-2011, 08:37 PM
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We recently (the past two weeks) transitioned ds to falling asleep on his own. For about a week before we started I told him it was coming (4 more nights, 3 more nights, etc.) & discussed it lots during the days. I still do the same bedtime routine with him but then after a couple minutes of cuddling I leave the room. I give him the option of soft music on or off & the low light on or off. Then I sit in the hallway. It's terrible uncomfortable & boring but it's working great.


The first few nights were not easy. It took him a realllllly long time to fall asleep (up to 2 hours) & I needed to go in periodically to cuddle & calm him. Mostly I would just respond really calmly to his calls for me "it's time for sleeping" "lie down, close your eyes & then you'll fall asleep" (things I used to say to him when I laid with him to fall asleep)  as well as validating that the transition was hard. I tell him "I know it's not easy to try something new but mommy knows you can do it".


During the days for the past two weeks I've told everyone how great he is doing falling asleep at night & he's gotten lots of congratulations. And with each successful night I can remind him how he did it last night so he can do it again tonight. The past two nights have been really good - absolutely no crying at all & quickly to sleep (under 30 minutes).


At least with being in the hall it might be easier to also deal with a fussy babe. It's a tough time but it will pass.

Doula mama to dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08) and expecting (Apr '17)
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#6 of 6 Old 03-26-2011, 08:57 PM
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When our second and third born entered the picture dh took over the babies care while I put the older one(s) to bed. It worked for us because our babies were never ready for sleep before 930-1000 and so dh just had to keep them relatively happy while I did the older bedtimes at 7pm. He also took the babies after I nursed them to sleep and they slept on his chest until we went to bed. Eventually they didn't need me to nurse them to sleep but were used to dh rocking them or jiggling them to sleep.  He then transitioned them to going to sleep on their own about age 2.  Not saying this will work for you but it's been pretty positive for us so far. 


Hope things settle down soon! 

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