Sleep issues in 3 yr old getting worse. (need advice) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-20-2012, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello! I can really use advice, my son just turned 3 last month. He never slept well but it's getting worse. He stopped naps around April of last year. He usually slept 10 hrs a night but no longer. It started a few months ago and progressively got worse.


First, it started mild: crying hysterically when put to bed, won't stop unless I stay with him and have a night light on, then waking up early, crying, won't go back to sleep. Then, day by day it's getting worse: Still does the crying but now getting up around the 4am hour crying, will stop crying if I go in but won't go back to sleep, eventually he starts whimper crying to a full out cry until I take him down stairs.


For the last 2 days I got him to go sleep an extra hour by staying on the couch with him so he totaled about 8 1/2 hrs sleep for the day. He refuses to go back to sleep in when he is upstairs. I tried to say with an hour and it didn't work.


I tried: Cry it out: Doesn't work. He cries until he starts to throw up at times.


Going to bed early: Doesn't work Going to bed late: doesn't work Keep in mind he doesn't take naps anymore. He averages 8 1/2 hours of sleep per day the last few days. I don't know if this matters but he is a very poor eater too. We still have him in a crib because of him liking to not stay in bed, but now he is climbing out of it when he gets up during the night so we plan to switch him over to a toddler bed, but I don't know if it's a good idea to do this now because it might be more interruptive.


He has bags under his eyes. I can see he is tired but he won't give in. 


Is there any natural supplements I can give him that can help him sleep better, through the night and longer? Thank you

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#2 of 10 Old 01-20-2012, 12:40 PM
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2 of my kids are poor sleepers but that sounds quite extreme. Are you absolutly sure that there isn't a health issue? Did something scary happened to him and could be giving him nightmares? If so are you opposed to put him in your bed for the remaining of the night?

How is his behavior during the day? Is he playing and active...smiling, relaxed? You mentioned that he doesn't eat well... what do you mean exactly? Does he fall asleep easily or is that an issue too?

There are supplements or herbs you could give is not normal for a 3 yo to need them. Maybe we could try to figure it out?

I know from experience how frustrating it can be when they don't sleep.


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#3 of 10 Old 01-22-2012, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi and thank you for the reply!


The day after I wrote this post, his sleeping was the worst yet. He woke up 12:30 am crying and I couldn't get him to go to sleep until over an hour later. Then he woke up 4:45 crying and refused to go back to sleep and wanted to go downstairs. Now, last night I gave in and slept in his room on the floor. He woke up during the night and the second he started to cry I said "shhh, be quiet" really softly  and he went right to sleep. Then he woke up again crying later on and cried until I took him down stairs at that point, he will eventually fall asleep on the couch next to me but he will be in and out of sleep and it won't last long.


His behavior during the day is happy, playful but I can tell he is really tired. 


 nothing out of the ordinary happened to change his behavior. I tried to do research online and from what I understand, it could be that he might be having nightmares, he might be afraid of the dark, he might have separation anxiety... I think that may be a part of his problem. He doesn't seem to have a problem getting to sleep as long as I stay with him.


I tried bringing him in my room once but he wouldn't stay on the bed. I don't want to try again though, I really want him to sleep in his room, straight through the night. I am very concerned with the amount of sleep he is getting. 


I really don't want to continue to sleep in his room but it seems that might be the only solution to help him get a little more sleep. Because I did that last night he got a little less than 9 1/2 hrs sleep. My husband went out and bought a cheap air mattress but it stinks bad so I have to wait for the smell to dissipate. That means staying on the floor again, ugh! my poor back! sad I know, lol


I hope to find some sort of supplement that is non addictive for him to sleep through the night. I read about melatonin but it only helps to get to sleep, not sleep though the night.  I took it once a few years ago and had nightmares from it. 

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#4 of 10 Old 01-22-2012, 07:50 PM
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I would stay far away from melatonin, especially for a kid.  Do some research on calcium supplements in the evening - I've heard of adults using it with success, but I haven't heard about anyone using it in kids or what would be an appropriate dose.  Maybe your pedi could help out there.


I have no experience to share otherwise, but you have my sympathies!  I hope you can find a way to comfortably sleep in his room, since it sounds like that is working.  Whether separation, nightmares, or being afraid of the dark - you being there close to him all night should help!!

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#5 of 10 Old 01-22-2012, 08:01 PM
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How long has this been going on?


Ds goes through periods where he really struggles to stay asleep (in fact we just went through one). He wakes up out of sorts & often takes up to 3 hours to go back to sleep regardless of what we do. The period passes as suddenly as it starts.


You don't want to bring him to your room but I will admit that is usually my first go to thing - at least then we are all getting a little more quality sleep & so far it has not been a problem to move him back to his own room after the period has passed.


If he's climbing out of the crib it most definitely is a good time to switch to a bed. Personally I'm not a fan of the toddler beds because I cannot lie with him then & it's just an unnecessary extra expense, but some people really like them. You probably will find the first few nights he will have a harder time falling asleep but as the novelty wears off it should improve again. The bonus of the bed is that if you do need to lie with him you can do so more comfortably in his own room.


My rule is that those early morning hours are NOT morning. I do not allow ds to get up for the day that early even if that means we lie in bed awake for quite some time. I may be being selfish in doing so but I just cannot be a good mommy if I am waking up at 5:00am every morning so since ds was quite young those early morning wakings I dealt with just like the middle of the night ones - lights off/low, quiet, stay in bed (either mine or his) until we go back to sleep (very rarely would he not eventually go back to sleep.


What happens if you take him in the car or for a walk in a stroller or wagon or carrier? Will he sleep then? Is it possible to get him a little extra sleep that way to get you through this rough patch?

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#6 of 10 Old 01-22-2012, 11:59 PM
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I expect you have thought about this but what about food allergies? There are other post here every now and them about how their childs sleep is affected by certian foods. Also, I know for me that what I eart affects my moods and my sleep, even judst indegestion. ok MY bad sleeper is waking (10pm)...

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#7 of 10 Old 01-24-2012, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the advice! 


I talked to my husband and we decided to look into having a sleep study done on our son.  I got him to go to sleep a little after 7:30. He got up at 1:48 crying, I went to him, he wouldn't fall back asleep until about 2:45 then got up by 4:45 crying. He refused to go back to bed and wanted to go down stairs. Eventually he fell in and out of sleep on the couch about 5:30. I tried to keep track of the time but he was officially up at 8:30 but because of the brutal night once again, he was and currently is very tired and out of it. As am I!


I think apart of it is separation anxiety because he won't go back to sleep without me so that's why I have been staying with him. I don't think it has too much to do with the dark because even though he wants the night light on when I first put him to bed, when he wakes up during the night, I ask him if he wants the night light on and he says no. He does at times snore during the night so this can be apart of it as well.


he was never a good sleeper but it slowly got worse until it hit this point.


I don't know if it has anything to do with food allergies. He had feeding problems as a baby but then it got better but he is a very picky eater. He pretty much eats the same things until he gets tired of it. I couldn't get him to eat dinner last night so all he had was a small bowl of oatmeal and a small piece of bread and butter. But when I take him to a sleep study, I will surely mention if allergies could have anything to do with it. 


I didn't stay with him all night last night because my back hurts bad staying on the floor and the air mattress my husband picked up still smells bad. Even though the mattress wasn't in his room, it still stunk up the whole upstairs.  I took it down stairs last night and put it in the basement. I found out it's made of pvc and I am not happy about that so I think it's going to be a return to the store.


thank you everyone for your replies. I hope a sleep study will help solve his problem




What happens if you take him in the car or for a walk in a stroller or wagon or carrier? Will he sleep then? Is it possible to get him a little extra sleep that way to get you through this rough patch?


no, unfortunately he won't sleep. He stopped taking naps a year ago.

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#8 of 10 Old 01-27-2012, 07:17 PM
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When we were having serious sleep issues with DD, we found the author of "Sleepless in America" to be a HUGE help. In fact....I just sent her an e-mail tonight asking for another consultation.  She does phone and skype sessions and has a PhD in children's sleep disorders.  We have done 3 or 4 consults with her over the last two yrs (every time we hit a new wall) and every time her suggestions work without fail.  She's my hero and I would highly highly suggest emailing her!  her name is Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and her website is and you can find her contact info on there.  She's not one of those that uses CIO or anything drastic and is very thorough about understanding your exact situation. Good Luck!

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#9 of 10 Old 01-27-2012, 08:39 PM
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perhaps he just wants to be with you and doesn't feel safe alone in his room? have you thought about putting his bed in your room next to your bed?

We have a crib "sdiecarred" which means it is a regular crib with one side off that faces the bed. So I can lie comfortably in bed while I put ds to sleep- and he knows that if he wakes up in the night mom and dad are right here- but we also get our whole bed and he has his own sleeping space. I don't know if your ds fits in a crib still but you can also just put his toddler bed next to your bed.

I am sad that you tried letting him cry it out till he puked- I can't imagine ever doing that - not to be snarky but it did make me sad to read that.

Good luck- do you have other children? would you and your husband be comfortable bringing your son into your room to sleep? It may not work right away and would take some time but it might help him to feel safe enough to let go into sleep..


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#10 of 10 Old 01-28-2012, 06:32 AM
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Poor baby. If you said you let him cry it out, he might associate going to bed with being left alone.

I would stay with him until he falls asleep every night. I would reassure him I'd come to him every time he needs me.


What we did with ds, we put him in his own room at 3 y/o, but we left his door and our bedroom door open, so he could come join us anytime he wanted. It was a couple of times a week at first, but then he preferred to stay in his bed than to walk down the hall to our room .



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