3 year old up 10+ times at night! Help me! - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-01-2011, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I (well, and DS too, I imagine) are all at the ends of our ropes.

 

Starting 3 weeks ago, DS has been getting up 6, 7, 8+ times during the night.  The last few nights it's been 10+.  We are so overtired.  I am 37 weeks pregnant.  We need some serious help.

 

He does not usually nap.  We dropped naps a while ago, since even a short nap would keep him from falling asleep until 8pm or later. We have a regular night time routine including a long bath, 3 stories, songs and cuddles, lights out by 6.  He is able to fall asleep on his own, and usually does so within 10-15 minutes.  

 

Most nights, even these last terrible nights, DS will sleep soundly on his own from 6:15 pm until sometime around 11.  He's almost always woken up at 11.  We'll take him back to bed, tuck him in, give him a kiss, and that's enough to help him settle back down.  But, now between 11pm and 6am (when he's up for the day), he'll wake up hourly, or even more frequently.  He will settle down with a kiss and tuck in, but then be up again right away.  Sometimes he's calm about it, sometimes he's crying, sometimes he's yelling "I'm not tired!"  I'll ask if there's something scary, and he usually says no.

 

He's never been a "good" sleeper.  In fact, I don't think there's ever been a time that he's slept from bedtime until morning.  Ever.  For the longest while, he'd get up about twice (at 11pm and one other time) and easily re-settle in bed.  That was manageable.  He's demonstrated that he can sleep for a good chunk on his own, because he usually does between 6 and 11pm.  So, how can I help him get more of those long chunks?

 

We've tried:

-nightlight/no nightlight

-curtains closed/curtains slightly open

-warmer/cooler temperature

-white noise on/off (he insists on it being off now)

-changing his diaper in case it's too wet (we use disposables at night now)

-"to-the-point" tuck-ins ("time for bed.  we love you.  goodnight") vs. extra cuddles and calming words vs. angry "stay in your bed!" demands

-Benadryl bag.gif

-lots of praise after a good night of sleep, telling him how happy we are that everyone got lots of rest

-reiterating that he's safe and loved at night and that we're always here if he needs us

-DH sleeping in bed with him (not our ideal, but no one was going to sleep last night if he didn't do so)

 

Co-sleeping with him does not work for me.  We did for a long time, but I can no longer sleep if he's in my bed because he's all over me.  Plus, with the new baby coming, this is not a good solution for us.  

 

I'm thisclose to gating him in his room.  It's not what I would normally want to choose, but our current situation is not sustainable.

 

What other ideas can I try?  I'm up for just about anything!


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Old 08-01-2011, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I should add, he does eat/drink dairy.  I have not noticed any signs of allergies to dairy or to any other foods.  Is it possible that bad sleep would be the only sign of some sort of food allergy?  It still wouldn't seem to answer why things have been so much worse the last few weeks...  Should I call the ped to ask about allergy testing?


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Old 08-02-2011, 08:31 AM
 
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My DD is going on 3, and we are also starting a new routine since she is sleeping less at night and waking up earlier in the morning than usual.

 

My first notion here, though, is that 6pm seems like an early bedtime (we're just eating dinner then) and what's wrong with him going to bed at 8 or later?  Is he truly tired at 6, or is this just the routine?  Would it be difficult to push that back incrementally to see what happens (ie. by 30 minutes)?  

 

From what I remember, at this age, kids should still be getting around 10-12 hours of sleep.  If your DS is on the shorter end of that, then putting him to bed at 6pm is really setting him up to wake earlier than you'd want.  Ideally, he might sleep until 6am, but it sounds like he doesn't need 12 hours.  My DD would be up by 4am if we had that bedtime...  

 

With DD, we made strong efforts to get her to self sooth and get herself back to sleep, and also occupy herself in her room if she gets up early (this is our current problem, though).  She has a music box attached to her bed that she uses to get back to sleep if she wants.  And if she wakes early, we try to encourage her to play in her room, read books, etc. until we get up.  Lately, she wakes up crying for us, and in desperation we have even broken out the ipad for her to play on quietly while DH and I get in that last hour of rest.  

 

You have mentioned a number of tactics, but I'm wondering if you've stuck to one as the plan.  Mixing it up with DS can be confusing - for instance if one day you bring him into your bed, but the next day insist he stay in his own.  In terms of following up with the ped, I don't see much indication of an allergy, but he/she might have some suggestions for you or concerns of his own.  I think it's worth mentioning....  

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Old 08-09-2011, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your reply, lunabin.  He goes to bed at 6 because he wakes up around 5:30 or 6 am no matter what time he goes to bed.  If he went to bed at 8, he'd still be up at 6 or earlier and would be even more over-tired the next day.  While it'd be great to someday find a way for him to sleep later in the morning, the 6am wake-up works for us as long as he's not waking us 10+ times overnight.  If he gets much less than 12 hours of sleep, he's obviously over-tired.

 

We've definitely stuck with one plan/change of routine at a time.  The things we've tried we've done spread out over the last few months.  It's now been about 5 weeks where he's been getting up 10-12 times.  The months before that it was usually 2-3 night wakings, which again is not ideal, but that was manageable, since he'd usually go back to bed easily.

 

The ped said there was no obvious physical thing that seems to be affecting DS's sleep.  He recommended melatonin, which we've been trying.  So far, no changes, though I know it can take a while to help.  I picked up some kids valerian tincture to try.  Using medications, even herbal ones, is not normally my first choice.  But I haven't slept in weeks.  I am a complete wreck.  And I'm over 38 weeks pregnant.  DH is willing to do most of the overnight help with DS, but even with earplugs it all keeps me awake, so there's no sleep for me even with the help.

 

Anyone else have a situation like this?  What helped?

 

I forgot to mention in the first post that we've also tried setting up a little "nest" next to our bed that we told DS he could sleep in if he needed to get up out of his bed.  He refused to try it.  He said he wanted to sleep in our bed, and when I told him that wasn't an option, that he could use the "special bed" or his regular bed, he opted for his own bed.  i know lots of people have luck with this approach, and I'd be happy to use it, but it doesn't seem like our miracle cure.

 

Agh.  Help.


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Old 08-09-2011, 11:57 AM
 
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I second the suggestion that 6pm is too early for bed. Our three year old goes to bed sometime around 8 every night. This is with a 2.5 hour nap during the day from about 12:30-3. He also wakes up around 6:30 every morning.  If we were to skip a nap and put him to bed at six, he would definitely be up around 11, we've been through it a few times when he fell asleep early because of no nap.  Even moving bedtime to 7:30-8 changes things. But, if he falls asleep at 6, he will not sleep through the night and will be wide awake when we are trying to sleep.  

'If you put your DS down at 8, he'll wake up around 6 (that's 10 hours of sleep), then you can give him a nap if he's tired. 

 

So...are you trying to make him get 12 hours of sleep at night? Why not just break it up with the 10 hours at night, 2 hours during the day? You might find he's very well rested and not over tired at all. 

 

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Old 08-09-2011, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We gave up naps months ago, because even a 30 minute nap would set his bedtime back by 2-3 hours, and he'd end up with way less sleep than concentrating the hours at nighttime....  He adjusted quickly to the stopping of naps.  It was getting to the point that it would take him an hour+ to fall asleep at naptime, then he'd struggle and struggle to fall asleep at nighttime (and he'd still wake up multiple times during the night).

 

The no-nap lights off around 6/6:30 had been mostly working for a long time.  Having him get up only 2-3 times at night was the best sleep we've gotten since he was a newborn.  It's just been the last 5 weeks that he won't stay asleep anymore, despite being obviously tired.

 

Usually the 11pm wake up is the easy one, he'll almost always go back down easily.  It's all the wakings after that that are unmanageable.


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Old 08-09-2011, 01:40 PM
 
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I wonder if giving the melatonin at the 11pm wake up would help? 


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Old 08-09-2011, 02:10 PM
 
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What about just trying one of the supernanny techniques - basically, if he gets up just quietly, and without any conversation, take him back to his bed.  Tuck him in, maybe turn on some sleepy music, and leave.  

 

When DD (2 1/2) has gotten in the habit of waking too early, we have explained to her that it's still "sleepy time" and not time to get up yet.  That if she gets up before Mommy and Daddy she should try to rest or play quietly in her room until we come get her.  In that, we leave stuffed animals in her bed, and books within her reach and usually she stays put without any fuss.  Occasionally (ie. when she was teething 2 weeks ago), she will wake up crying, but it's rare.

 

I agree with you, that it should not take hours to fall asleep - but it still seems that his first 5 hours of sleep are just a good power nap.  Ultimately, this is about teaching him how he can cope with this.  DS has to be part of the solution; you can't make him sleep.  I would gauge his total hours of sleep, and slowly adjust his bedtime to shave off at least a couple of these wakings.  Though he may be more tired from this, it may help him get back to sleep faster as well as sleep more soundly.  Sounds like he gets close to 12 hours, but not quite if he is up 10+ times a night - maybe closer to 10 hours.  This may be perfectly normal, but it sounds like you're going to have company during the multiple middle of the night feedings with your newborn, and with that stimulation may make things worse.  

 

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Old 08-09-2011, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiLStar View Post

I wonder if giving the melatonin at the 11pm wake up would help? 


That's when we've been giving it.  I've been doing 1mg.  I wonder if I should up the dose?  Our ped said it would be ok....

 


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Old 08-13-2011, 04:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2soren View Post

 

The no-nap lights off around 6/6:30 had been mostly working for a long time.  Having him get up only 2-3 times at night was the best sleep we've gotten since he was a newborn.  It's just been the last 5 weeks that he won't stay asleep anymore, despite being obviously tired.

 

Usually the 11pm wake up is the easy one, he'll almost always go back down easily.  It's all the wakings after that that are unmanageable.

 

Unfortunately I'm going to be the third to say that 6 is too early.  With my 12 month old, who has naturally fallen into a rhythm of an early bed time with one nap, I try very hard to have her go to sleep closer to 7.  If she falls asleep before 6:30 she is tossing and turning and waking every hour after midnight. I know you said it had been working for you but I think the key is that it is past tense.  Sleep transitions are incredibly hard.  My kids always got "stuck" for a while.  You mentioned a 30 minute nap would set back bedtime until 8-9.  That sounds perfectly normal to me and the pattern of my DS and all the little kids I know.   We went for months of some days with no nap and a cranky/tired kid barely keeping his eyes open through that 4-6 pm period, and then days with a nap and no sleep until after 9 pm.  It was incredibly frustrating but even my nephew who was a very early waker as a baby/toddler, GRADUALLY began sleeping later after he phased out the nap.  It is so, so hard, but I think it might be easier if that good solid 5 hours he's getting happened later at night. 

 


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Old 08-14-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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If it were ME, and we have been there, I would quickly invest in a queen size bed and have DH sleep in there with him from 11pm on. You are going to be in survival mode once baby arrives...

We have  7, 6, 3 and 2 year olds and I am due in December. DH has almost always slept with the 2 or 3 year old in another room so I can be up with baby at night to nurse, diaper, etc. It has worked well for us. We get our kiddos to bed around 8, have plenty of time together and all sleep better when our kids sleep better, you know. ;)

 

Most of the time, just laying a hand on the back on the toddler or preschooler will calm them enough to stay/get back to sleep.

 

I hope you guys are able to work this out! Hugs.

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Old 08-19-2011, 01:05 PM
 
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I know you mentioned that your son has been a not so great sleeper all along, but it sounds like there was a pretty significant change 3 weeks ago, right? I'd think that there was something going on.  I see that your pediatrician said that there is nothing physically wrong, but has your son gotten all of his molars yet?  My son will be 3 next month and he just got his top 2 year molars and it caused MAJOR sleep disturbances.  He also just had an ear infection that didn't cause fever - it took a while before we realized but again, sleep was majorly disturbed.  Our DS is a pretty bad sleeper so I know how hard it can be to tell one thing from the next.  I also know how tiring it can be to try to constantly attempt to figure out why.  I just thought that the 3 week thing really stuck out and that maybe there is something going on.  I hope you get some rest before your newborn arrives! 

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Old 08-19-2011, 05:30 PM
 
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When you gave up naps, months ago, it worked okay, because it was new, and he was most probably exhausted. And he still is. !2 hours awake without a nap, is a long time for a 3 year old. Sleep begets sleep, and really, I would trade a later bedtime of 8 or 9 pm instead of being up all night with a restless sleeper. If he is waking 10 times during the night WITH melatonin, it's not working. And he is not getting good quality sleep waking that often. 

 

hugs, sweetie. It's especially hard on you because you are pregnant. HUGS! I would actually encourage a nap for your son because of the newborn coming. That way, you can maybe get a break of mothering 2 kids during the day and if the stars align...maybe they will both nap at the same time!!! A girl can dream, right?! You'll be up late at night with a newborn, so it won't matter too much if your son is up with you guys too. And really, 8 or 9 pm is not a really late bedtime. I'd find it's pretty typical. 

 

Good luck!!!

 


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