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sleep issues with my 2 yr old!! help?

Posted by on Oct. 11, 2010 at 4:21 PM
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I have a 2 yr old daughter (almost 27 mos old), and am 34 weeks pregnant. My husband has been gone 6 mos to Afghanistan (and wont be back for a few more weeks) so I have been through this whole pregnancy alone while taking care of a toddler.. Anyway about a week ago my daughter started climbing out of her bed every 2 seconds after i would put her down for a nap, so i would go in there and put her back in her bed and she would wait until i shut the door and she would get out again! It was a nonstop vicious cycle.. every day the past week has been like that. NOW the past 3 days she has been waking up 3-4 hours EARLIER in the mornings, giving her a total of about 9 hours or less of sleep a day... and theres nothing that i can do to keep her in bed! i have tried everything from being nice and letting her read books quietly for "quiet time" to mean things like taking away a stuffed animal out of her bed every time she gets up, and everything in between. its like nothing works and she just doesnt care. Im at my whits end with this girl.. it doesnt help that im not sleeping at all either, being this pregnant (between potty trips every hour, not bein able to get comfy, back aches, havin hot and cold flashes, and not being able to breathe all night, among other things), I only get TOPS 5 hours of sleep, usually around 3 though. So with sleep deprivation, I am on edge all day, using my yelling voice close to 50% of the time I talk, i think im going to lose my mind! We started potty training a month ago and she was doing very well with it, and then lately she has been having waaaayy more accidents.. idk what the deal is.. and for some reason she always holds her poop until i put her down for a nap and she will poop in her pullup (she wears panties all day and pullups at night and naptime). I will ask her if she needs to poop right before I put her down and she won't go, she will sit on the potty and not go.. or she will go pee only... i think she does it on purpose as another reason to get out of bed... im just LOSING MY FRIGGIN MIND seriously.. Nothing works for the naptime or early mornings, no matter what in the world i try, she still wont take a nap, even if shes exhausted. I just dont know what to do anymore :'( i can't stop crying about it because i feel Im going to go crazy or something, and no one has any answers for me, not even my parents as teachers lady.... i just dont know what to do   :'(   If you have ANY ideas or tips, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW

by on Oct. 11, 2010 at 4:21 PM
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by Group Owner on Oct. 12, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Oh you poor thing!  You must be incredibly exhausted!  Do you have any family or friend support?  I'm glad you came here and I think I can help.  First, it is within the range of normal for 2 year olds to not take naps on some days.  Most children stop napping around 3 years old, although the range varies greatly.  What is her bedtime and usual nap time?  On days that she does not nap, you may have to move bedtime much earlier.  If she is waking for the day much earlier than normal, that is a sign that she may be overtired and you should experiment with much earlier bedtimes.  A 6pm bedtime for 3-5 days may get you back on track.  When a child is overtired, the child starts producing adrenaline and it makes it much harder for the child to fall asleep, stay asleep, and be well rested from the sleep. 

Here's what you should do:

1.  Move bedtime much earlier than what it is right now. 

2.  Get a gate and put it in the doorway so that she cannot leave the room.  Ensure there are no chairs, etc. that she can put next to the gate so that she could climb out 

3.  Start a routine chart with pictures so that she knows what to expect throughout the day, e.g., wake up, breakfast, play, lunch, nap, play, dinner, bedtime 

4.  Post simple "nap/sleep/bedtime rules."  Tell her that at "x time" it nap time and that you want her to get some rest.  She is not allowed to leave the room for at least 1.5 hours, preferably 2 hours.  If she chooses not to nap, she can have "quiet time" where she reads books, etc.  Ensure that there is nothing in her room that is unsafe or that will make her too stimulated, such as TV, electronic games, etc. 

5.  Do a quick nap routine and then leave the room.  Do not engage with her protests--it will only prolong things and will get her more agitated and less likely to sleep.  You can go in once if she is still putting up a fuss after 30 minutes.  Firmly (not yelling) remind her that its nap time and that she needs to go to sleep.  The leave and do not return until the end of 1.5/2 hours, whichever you choose. 

The first few days may be hard and she is likely to put up a huge fuss.  But if you remain 100% consistent, she will get the idea eventiually.  Remeber to compensate with even earlier bedtimes if she doesn't sleep.  Also, keep in mind that she will pick up on your stress levels and her behavior will be affected.  Yoou are in a tremendously difficult situation right now, so do hang in there and draw on your supports as much as possible.     

Please let me know how it goes and if you have any further questions.



Child Sleep Consultant

by New Member on Oct. 13, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Thank you SO MUCH  for your help, I will definitely give all this a try. I have a few answers for you and questions about clarification before i begin this, i just want to make sure im doing everything right and know everything possible just in case i run into a problem. No, I do not have any family on this side of the country (due to my husband being in the military we had to move away), and i do not have many friends here, and none that i could rely on for help. So its just me haha. Which stinks sometimes. Ok so since she was like 10 months old, her routine/bedtime hours have been the same... she would go to bed at 9:30 pm and wake up at 9 am, with a nap at 1:00 that would last anywhere between 1 to 3 hours, depending on how long she wanted to sleep. I have continued this routine since, and has always worked until now. I put her to bed around 10 pm now and she wakes up around 6 or 7 am at the latest and refuses naps (usually around 1 still, but i have tried earlier and later naptimes and nothing seems to make a difference when it comes to naptime). Also, about the gate in the doorway, im pretty sure she could climb over the gate anyway (she can climb out of her crib perfectly), but when I try it, im worried about her potty training, should I put her little potty in her room so she can use it in there, or should i put the gate after the bathroom in the hallway (which would give her access to my room and the bathroom only)? As for the routine chart, where is the best place to hang this, and when do i need to go over it with her (every morning, or every evening, or only once, or every couple days... etc). Also, with the naptime, Do I place her back in her crib when she gets out, or just let her do her own thing in her room as long as she doesnt come out? She usually wont cry but for a minute after i put her in bed, because she will get out of bed and play for a while before coming out her room.

Thank you so very very much for all your help, and I look forward to hearing from you so i can get these new ideas started! :)

Thanks, Tyra.

by Group Owner on Oct. 13, 2010 at 9:25 PM

Hi Tyra,

I;m a military wife as well so I can understand how hard it can be.  Hang in there and remember, this too, will pass. 

I really recommend putting your daughter to bed earlier.  If she won't slepe past 7, try putting her to bed at 730pm at the latest for 3 nights in a row.  This should help her get caught up on some missed sleep. 

Make sure you have your daughter help you with the chart.  Have her draw pictures or look for pictures in a magazine.  Go over it as many times/day as you can.  You can refer to it each time you change activities. 

As for the baby gate, the ones I have are 30" tall and I have a hard time climbing over them.  There are extra tall 36" ones like this one that you could try.  I would have her go to the bathroom before nap time and then not until nap time is over.  Maybe limit fluids 1-2 hours prior to nap time.  You should not place her back in the crib once she climbs out.  Just allow her to do her thing.  Be sure to keep the lights off and you can even take the bulbs out if she knows how to flip the switch to turn them back on.

Good Luck!


by New Member on Oct. 15, 2010 at 10:45 AM

last night i put her to bed almost 2 hours early, and she cried and fought it and climbed out of her bed 6 times before falling asleep at her normal time. I was not sure what to do when she got out of her room, so i placed her back in bed, and then she would just get right back out. She eventually fell asleep right around her normal bedtime, and slept for a while. Then she woke up around 4 am and got out of bed and was playing. So i got up and told her to go back to bed, its still dark outside so its time to sleep, and she got up quite a few more times until she woke up at 7:15, which is around where shes been waking up the past week. Im not sure what to do, she was at least going right to sleep and not gettting up much in the middle of the night when i put her to bed at 10 pm. But it seems since i put her to bed earlier, the nightmare from naptime is coming to bed time as well.

Anyway, I will let you know how naptime goes!

by Group Owner on Oct. 16, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Sorry bedtime didn't go so well.  How did last night go?  It sounds as if she is definitely testing limits and boundaries.  This could be a reaction to the new baby as well.  I would encourage you to continue to be 100% consistent and as patient as possible.  You may want to allow her to play quietly in her room when she wakes at 4am.  What would happen if you didn't go in?  Sometimes not engaging with the negative behavior is much more effective than constantly trying to enforce what you want her to do.  Eventually getting up at 4am will lose its novelty if there is no response from you.

Hang in there and please keep me updated.   

by New Member on Oct. 25, 2010 at 5:57 PM

well the past 2 days she has taken a nap and not woke up in the night! I am not sure what worked, but I think it was just that she was so exhausted from not taking a nap and sleeping shorter amounts at night for over 2 weeks... but she finally crashed and has taken naps! She is in a TON better mood during the day now that she sleeps, and ultimately i am too because i get to rest as well! I hope this continues now, I am a little worried that she will start messing up the naps again in a few days because her daddy is coming home from deployment and she wont want to go to bed so she can spend time with him. we will see though! Thanks for all your help!!!

by New Member on Oct. 26, 2010 at 8:35 AM

Hi, see she is just a kid,you cannot expect her to behave like a grown up.You need to have patience to handle the kid.She will learn with time.You can ask your sister or mum to come to your place for sometime,to help you unless your husband is back.toddler girl

by Group Owner on Oct. 26, 2010 at 10:34 AM

I'm so glad she's sleeping better for you.  Remember, consistency is key.  Dad coming home will be a big change for her, so try to stick to your routine as much as possible.  It will help her with the huge transition of having dad home again.  Also, as much as both you and dad will want to spend extra time with her, try to limit the extra time it as much as possible so that she continues to get the rest that she needs.  A well rested child will enjoy quality time with mom and dad so much more than a cranky-overtired child.  When she is resting, you and your husband will have the chance to enjoy your time together! 

Congrats on getting back on track and I'm glad your husband is coming home safely!  I'm so happy I could help and please come back with any more problems or questions! 

by New Member on Oct. 26, 2010 at 11:50 AM

I do not have anyone that can afford to come all the way across the USA to help me.

Quoting SweetNewBaby:

Hi, see she is just a kid,you cannot expect her to behave like a grown up.You need to have patience to handle the kid.She will learn with time.You can ask your sister or mum to come to your place for sometime,to help you unless your husband is back.toddler girl

by New Member on Oct. 26, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Yes, I have now realized she was acting out a lot because of lack of sleep, it really does make a difference!! Not that shes perfectly behaved now that she started taking her naps again, but she is definitely a lot more polite and doesnt throw tantrums and is a ton more patient. Its a lot easier on me now that she is rested and in a good mood throughout the day. I truely appreciate all the help you have given, and will definitely be coming back if any other issues arise, or if this one comes back for some reason! Thanks again

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