Three year old sleep issues - waking at same time each night, difficult falling back to sleep - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 10-28-2013, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone! I was wondering if any of you have any opinions or advice on a sleep situation we are having with our three-year-old DS (our only child). This has cropped up fairly recently - just about a week ago - but it's been going on pretty consistently ever since. My son will wake up around 12:30-1:00am, I will go into his room and lie down with him for a few minutes to help him get ready to go back to sleep, then I leave the room and go back to my bed. (For the record, I leave the room while he's still awake, but before I leave I always ask him if he's ready for me to tuck him in. He's never surprised by me leaving.) Up to this point, things are pretty normal - this is the way it's been forever. He usually falls back to sleep at this point.


But now, after I leave, he'll wake up again within minutes. I go back and do the same thing, and then the pattern repeats again. And again. And again. I don't know how long it could go on. Once or twice last week, this went on for about an hour before I broke down and slept in his bed with him. That seems to be what he wants, because once I'm in the bed with him, he doesn't really have any more nightwaking episodes.


Up until a week ago, DS either slept through the night, or woke up once and went back to sleep with a little comforting.


At this point, because I don't really know what's going on and I don't have any ideas for solving it, I'm allowing myself to sleep in his bed after he wakes up, rather than fight it. (Simply because when I fight it and keep going back to my bed, I end up exhausted the next day.) I feel like I need to figure out (1) what he is looking for when he wakes up (what does he need to STAY asleep, without needing a parent in bed with him for the rest of the night?) and (2) how do I keep him in his bed? (if DH or I don't go into his room, he simply gets out of bed and comes to get us.)


Any thoughts or advice on this? Has anyone experienced something similar? Thanks in advance!

First time mom to Max, born 8.23.2010!
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#2 of 3 Old 11-03-2013, 09:11 PM
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I don't have this problem with DS (I'm gonna say . . . yet). But I did have a couple ideas, don't know if you've tried them or not:


1) Have a conversation about night time and try to figure out what he is doing/needing then. Seems like trying to sleep with you :p.


2) If that's what you think it is, then maybe try to do a little reward for staying in bed. I have a book by Harvey Karp about sleep for babies and toddlers and he has some cool ideas for toddlers who are old enough to understand reward/token systems. He wrote something about having two tokens and you trade one for something the next day, I think. One goes away if they ask for something. And you don't make a big deal about them asking or not having any more tokens, just when they are ready and really want the goldfish crackers (or whatever) . . . they will do it.


Just some ideas. I totally get the breaking down and sleeping with the kid. That's what I always do because I'm too tired to to anything else and it's just not bad enough yet :). Guess it comes from having had it much worse before; it's like heaven now.

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#3 of 3 Old 11-03-2013, 09:22 PM
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Wanted to offer some support but I don't want to scare you. My older twin was known as the 430 am party animal. It lasted up until he started sleep walking into my bed at 430. I ended up locking my door and putting up a baby gate to prevent him walking into the front room. Set my alarm for 415 and I heard him at my door then nothing. Went in to check on him and he was asleep in his bed. I repeated it for 2 more days and then he stopped. But at almost 4 years old, he still has spurts of waking up at 430am.

I know baby wise suggest making sure baby is fed, dry and then letting them cry it out but I would give in and cosleep.
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