Help! 20-month old still not sleeping well at night - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 10-03-2012, 06:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I NEED sleep, and I'm getting desperate!


My 21mo old DS STILL does not sleep through the night.  The only time he ever did was for about 2 months, when he was 6 months old.  There is no pattern to his waking, which makes things that much worse.  Some nights he'll only wake up once (I could handle that, if it happened every night!!) but some nights he'll wake up 2,3, or on a bad night, 5 times.  There is no pattern to WHEN he wakes up, so I can't even plan my own sleep schedule around a time I know he'll wake.


DS is still breastfeeding and is a VERY strong-willed, stubborn child.  He co-slept with us for many months (we hoped we'd get more sleep that way!), but that didn't make much difference in how often he woke.  My DH really didn't like co-sleeping for a number of reasons, so DS has been in his crib for at least 6 months now.  He shares a room with our older DS, who is 6 & is in school.  We never tried "sleep training" or any other method of trying to get DS2 to sleep on his own because we were afraid of waking our older son & messing up HIS sleep.


For the past month our older DS has been sleeping on the floor in another room, because we thought maybe he was somehow waking his little brother.  But there's been no change in DS2's sleeping habits.


DS2 is still breastfeeding, and if he sees me during the night he INSISTS on nursing - even if it's only been an hour since he last did.  Sometimes DH can go in & get him to go back to sleep, but not always.  He'll often fall asleep, but then wake up 15-20 minutes later & won't be happy unless I come in & give him a boob.


DH works & I'm a homemaker.  DH has been very stressed with a new job for the last couple of months, so I don't want to ask him to get up too much during the night to help with DS.  After all, I can nap if I *have* to (I hate taking naps during the day), but DH doesn't have that option.


In the meantime, I've gone for almost 2 years without decent sleep, and my mind & body HATE being pulled out of the wrong stage of sleep night after night.  I've tried all the "usual" stuff of making sure DS is fed well before bed, being consistent with his nap schedule, making sure he has physical activity during the day - nothing seems to affect his nighttime sleep.



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#2 of 5 Old 10-03-2012, 08:57 AM
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Oh mama, I'm right behind you. My DD is 18 months old and wakes once on rare occasions, 2 to 4 times on the average night and more on a bad one. Luckily the bad nights are now reserved for illness/teething or maybe developmental stuff. One thing that helps keep DD sleeping is white noise. I keep a fan running in her room whenever she's sleeping and the humming drowns out outside sounds that could wake her. We also had some trouble with diapering at night and even when I break down and use disposables, I still have to change her each time she wakes up or she floods the crib. Is the diapering situation an issue with your LO? My DD will also wake if she's too hot or if her legs get tangled in her blanket. She is thirsty at night and drinks water as well as nurses. I'm tempted to try putting a sippy cup in the crib with her to see if she'd have a drink and go back to sleep but the peeing would still be an issue.

So my only ideas are:
1: white noise
2: ensure he isn't too hot
3: try a warmer sleeper or sleep sack and not use blankets (if you aren't already)

I hope you find something that works for you. My DH can't help at night for medical reasons so I haven't had a really good night's sleep since I was in my second trimester in late 2010 so I can certainly relate!
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#3 of 5 Old 10-03-2012, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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We have a white noise machine that we keep on for him, and I've experimented with different pajamas to see if he's too hot or cold.  He seems to sleep *better* (everything's relative!) with long sleeves than short sleeves, but he's had some better nights in short sleeves & bad nights in long sleeves.  So I don't know if that's really an issue.


Never thought about the blankets, though.  I think I'll try no blankets next to see if that helps!!  He definitely sleeps better in disposable diapers, so that's all we use at night.  The diaper might be full in the morning, but luckily it doesn't seem to be an issue during the night.


I forgot to mention that he's ADDICTED to his pacifiers - will not fall asleep without one in his mouth and 1 or 2 more in his hands.  I know sometimes he wakes during the night because he can't find his pacis, and I've learned what his cry is like when that happens.  But often that's clearly not the reason why he's awake.


Skycheattraffic - I feel so bad for you that you have to deal with diapers too!!!!  Good luck with YOUR non-sleeper!

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#4 of 5 Old 10-03-2012, 12:20 PM
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I could have written your post a few months ago! DS is 29 months now, but up until 27 months, he woke up between 2 and 5 times a night. I had to nurse him back down each time---he would flip out if DH tried to comfort him or if I refused to nurse. And sometimes it took 30 minutes or more to get him back down. 


I wish I had advice for you, but things only changed for us once DS stopped nursing at 26 months. For about a month after that, he still woke up multiple times during the night, but little by little it decreased. We've now gone 15 nights without him waking up!!! (yes, I've counted each and every magnificent one!) I guess the only thing I can say is that it will get better....eventually. I know that's not much relief. I vividly remember feeling like a zombie for two whole years, and if someone had told me just to wait it out, I probably would have punched her! 

I hate to encourage anyone to wean early--- I would have liked to nurse longer but I reached a point where it was between weaning and completely losing my mental sanity due to sleep deprivation. 


Sending lots of hugs your way! I know how rough it can be... 

~may all beings be free from suffering~
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#5 of 5 Old 10-03-2012, 03:39 PM
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Sorry, another post without a lot of help.  Just wanted to say that that was us at that age, too.  Never slept through the night, woke up 2 - 5 times (or more when teething).  We tried a lot of things, including eliminating dairy and wheat for a while.  Nothing made an obvious difference, although sometimes we almost convinced ourselves that something did.  One thing I thought helped was lowering her sugar intake during the day.  I don't give her sweets or anything, but I realized that between things like graham crackers, yogurt, "squeezie" fruit (the pouches), etc., it was still a lot of sugar.  When we dropped the dairy and wheat, a lot of those sweet foods went away, too.  So that's something to think about.  


Otherwise, it may just be time, I'm sorry to say.  At 30 months, she still wakes up a few times a night, but I sleep in the same room and I barely notice these wake-ups.  Sometimes I have to go to her, sometimes not.  She's not exactly sleeping through the night, but I no longer have to worry about getting enough sleep for myself.  I hope that's some encouragement... 

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