2 year old won't sleep through the night - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 02-01-2012, 12:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm at my wit's end.  Our daughter has been having trouble sleeping through the night. She will wake up, start crying for me, and when I go in her room to comfort her, she refuses to go back in her crib. We have tried to bring her in our room (which calms her down), but she doesn't always fall asleep. Tonight she was wide awake and eventually sat up and climbed off the bed. It's now 3am, and she's been up since 12:30. I know she must be going through some sort of separation thing because she's even getting clingy when I drop her off at daycare now. She's been going to daycare since she was 3 months old and has NEVER given me trouble until now. Now when I drop her off she has the saddest look on her face and seems upset with me. She won't even say good-bye most of the time. 


Yesterday she wouldn't fall asleep and for 2 hours my husband and I alternated between letting her cry and staying with her. Eventually we brought her in our room, and when she fell asleep I put her in her room. Tonight though was the opposite. She went to bed perfect, and after just 4 hours of sleep, woke up and now won't go back to bed. I really don't know what to do. Letting her cry is not going to allow us any sleep, and I'm so afraid that will only increase her anxiety (if that's what it really is). But at the same time, I know she's also going through this power struggle with us because she is constantly trying to assert her independence (saying no to EVERYTHING, getting really picky with what she eats, etc.). I don't want to allow this to turn into a manipulation thing either. I'm so torn and feel guilty regardless of what I do. 


I'm also so mad and frustrated I could punch a wall. I'm dealing with so much stress aside from this that not getting any sleep is making me even edgier than I already am. But how do you really get mad at a 2 year old who is crying for you? I've never been a believer in the cry it out method, especially now that she actually cries out "Mommy" in a sobbing fit. Plus the few times I tried it in the past, it's never worked. She always got herself so worked up, it took twice as long to calm her down. 


I'm desperate for tips, anecdotes, advice, anything. 

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#2 of 12 Old 02-01-2012, 03:37 AM
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If you are open to bringing her to your room, you can try a mattress on the floor in your room just for her. Then lights out, make sure the door is locked so she can't wander at night and you can go to sleep. If she chooses not to sleep, at least you know she's safe. But staying by herself in the dark she WILL get bored and fall asleep eventually, if no one entertains her / replies when she talks.


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#3 of 12 Old 02-01-2012, 04:31 AM
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My youngest baby who is now 26 months, just really started to hate her crib after awhile.  We ended up taking off the side when she turned one and moving her into a twin with a bedrail a month or so later. 


We never really co-slept but if you have the space to try that, I would.


It will get better.  I never had a baby that didn't STTN by at least a year.  It was hard and people looked at me like I had 3 heads whenever it was discussed.

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#4 of 12 Old 02-02-2012, 04:34 AM - Thread Starter
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We had a great night last night. I'm believing more and more it's a separation anxiety from me most of all. I'm getting my masters degree online, so lately right after dinner I'm heading upstairs to my "office" to do school work. My husband has been putting her to bed so she's not really seeing me much. When I dropped her off at daycare yesterday she was hysterical crying when I left. She never does that. So last night I decided to hold off on doing school work until after she went to bed and this time I gave her a bath and put her down. She cried for about 30 seconds when I left her room, and then was out. She slept till 5am, when she cried once. I went in her room, put the blanket back on her and left. She went right back to sleep. We'll see how daycare goes today, but it makes the most sense to me. 


Thanks everyone for the advice. It's greatly appreciate. 

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#5 of 12 Old 02-02-2012, 04:44 AM
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My son is 20 months old and has the same problem. I am trying to find a way to get him to sleep all night as well. Its driving me crazy! He will cry when i put him to bed to begin with at 8:30pm and then he will wake up screaming around 11:30 .. Ill put him into bed with us and by 4 he is up again and stays up till about 7:30 when he goes for a short nap till 9:30... It is extremely tiring. Our girls were really good sleepers . I know exactly what u r going through lol 

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#6 of 12 Old 02-03-2012, 11:17 AM
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My DS does this in fits and starts.  He'll sleep really well for several weeks, and then he'll have 2-4 days of getting up in the night and staying up.  Or getting up before 5 and staying up.  And then he's right back to his normal schedule.  Consistency in sleep is really important for us, so that means napping at the same time every day (if taking a nap), bedtime being consistent, etc.  Making sure he has a good dinner before bed.  If you don't have a bedtime routine, maybe it's time to make one, etc. 


But I will also say that at almost 2 1/2, he's also not STTN.  He goes down at 8, and just this week is down to only 1 waking at night, and is up between 6 and 7.  Most of the time he's past the screaming, but he will lie in bed yelling for me - "mama!  Mama, where are you?", or sometimes get up and come looking for me. 


You didn't specify what her sleeping arrangements are, but maybe it's time to convert the crib to a toddler bed.  Maybe a floor mattress might work better, so she feels like she can get to you if she needs to.  If you're really struggling with not being able to go back to sleep, maybe it's time to make yourself a pallet next to her bed so that you can lie down next to her, she knows you're there, and you can both get some sleep.  When my DS wakes in the night, I lay down next to his floor mattress with my back to him, and I go back to sleep.  He can't really get out of his bed without climbing over me or otherwise waking me, so if he wants to lie there awake, I let him.  If he starts getting loud, I remind him that it's quiet time, but otherwise I do not engage him at that hour of the morning.  Taking him into our bed at that hour would guarantee he was awake, and so would we both be, but keeping him pinned in his bed and not engaging him means I have about a 50% success rate of him eventually getting back to sleep.  But regardless, that way I'm not a zombie in the morning (most of the time) because I can catch a few more Zs before DH wakes me up to start the day. 


Oh, and some mornings when he's up at that hour, what he needs is food - a cheese stick or a banana can take care of a rumbly tummy.  Gotta love those growth spurts. 

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#7 of 12 Old 02-04-2012, 10:00 AM
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Aww, I am so sorry to hear you are going through this! I think not sleeping and sleep training are among the hardest things we ever go through as parents.

My middle son was a terrible sleeper, and everything is so much worse when you are tired. I love the person who suggested a mattress in your room..we did that finally because I just needed sleep! So I would go get him, and then lay him in a little toddler bed in our room. We just made sure he always started in his own room. It helped! We also added a sound machine with white noise and a night light to his room. Eventually, the pressure came off everyone (or he just grew out of that phase) and he stopped needing to come to our room. Try not to worry about the right and wrong thing to do in that moment, parents and little ones need sleep! So if she wants to sleep next to you, or you to rock her back to sleep, I say "do it!"! Soon she will move past this.

Here is an example of the night light thing we used:


Sweet dreams, hoping things get better for you all very soon!


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#8 of 12 Old 02-07-2012, 08:16 PM
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My situation is a little different because ds coslept with us from the beginning so transferring him to his own bed at 21 months wasn't easy and he still wakes once in the middle of the night and comes and gets in bed wih us. around 3 am or so. he's 3 years old. We were frustrated at first but once we let go and realized he won't do this forever, it took off a lot of the stress. He still keeps us up some nights but we give him a snack or threaten him going back to his own room and he usually settles down and goes back to sleep. In your situation, I'd suggest a mattress onthe floor in your room and don engage conversation...depending on her age. If she hasn't gotten all her teeth yet it could be teething. For a long time my son was havin leg cramps and waking nightly crying. Took us forever to figure it out but we didn't just let him cry.

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

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#9 of 12 Old 02-08-2012, 06:16 PM
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Funny, I essentially came to this forum to write this exact post.  My 22 month old has never slept through the night and is now having hour-long Mommy-mommy tantrums with me 6 inches away and rubbing her back the whole time - but not picking her up and snuggling her, which is what she wants.  It's extremely frustrating, but I think you may be right about it being a separation anxiety thing.  DD has been very clingy during the day as well, which makes things doubly hard when I'm extra tired.  AND we both had bad colds last week, which is how this whole thing began.  For my DD, we had just made it to a wonderful point where she no longer needed me to rub her back while falling asleep, although I still lay beside her.  It took us months of slow, gentle progress to get to this point, but I think I have to let all of that go and spend a week or so doing whatever she needs me to do.  Perhaps she needs to regain a sense of security and consistency before we move ahead.  OP, I'd love another update.  Have things been consistently better?

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#10 of 12 Old 02-09-2012, 05:26 AM
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I coslept with my daughter when she was 2 years old on a mattress on her floor (in her own room).  I would sing, cuddle, do whatever.  She still woke often at night, and it was hard.  I thought she'd be sleeping by 2!!  Most nights I'd sneak away, and sleep in my own room, and end up in hers.  Sometimes I just brought her in with me.  It was hard.


Advice.  My advice is this too shall pass.  It might not be next week or next month, but it'll pass.  Trust your instincts and go to your baby.  Let her snuggle with you, let her sleep near you if she needs to.  You need sleep as much as she does -- find a way for EVERYONE to get it.  

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#11 of 12 Old 03-20-2014, 06:48 AM
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I have 23 months that will not stay asleep to save my life.
She will go to sleep some times at 12:30 then wake up at 4am stay up till 10am. I have a 11month old as well so I understand how you feel my lil one has been getting clingy as well she was never like that but she has been lately hope all children have peace and comfort so we can rest
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#12 of 12 Old 03-27-2014, 10:45 AM
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I can RELATE to this word for word. we were having the same problem!! is it bad to admit mine still uses a sippy cup at night? that usually does the trick for us but she went through the LONGEST phase of the same thing. We ended up buying her a big girl bed so she would be excited to sleep in. Our daughter still wakes me at least once but I give her her sippy cup and she's out. Whats the update? I hope better than before. 

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