Toddler Who will not sleep??? What to do?

  • I have a 2 year old who from day 1 was a terrible sleeper.  He was colic and the pediatrition has labeled him as spirited.  He is a great kid he just has some ailments we need to work on.  The most important is sleep.  It has been two years and now I am pregnant with our second.  I can't imagine having a newborn baby and a toddler who refuses to sleep at night.  He goes to bed usually okay but then wakes up numerous times a night either crying for hours at a time in his crib or calling for mom or dad.  We have tried to ignore it and let him cry it out, we have tried to be compassionate and we have also let him know this is bad behavior and nothing works.  Please someone help I need sleep!!!

  • Sleep is always a tough one because every baby and toddler are so different when it comes to what works. I would write down your entire routine and share it with other parents and doctors to determine if there is anything you could do differently. Does he nap during the day? If so, maybe try to cut down on the nap time/frequency and see if that helps. I have a 2-year old and a 10-month old, so I can imagine how you must be feeling.

  • Has he always been a bad sleeper? Did he ever sleep through the night? Answer a few questions for me and I may be able to help. I am a mother of 4!!

    How many naps does he take and when?

    How long is he up at night?

    What does he do at night and what exactly have you tried?

    My friend had a toddler who slept poorly and she took him to a sleep clinic for a sleep study. They were able to help her tremendously. Also, do you have a night light in the room and if so is it bright?

  • Thank you for your reply, I am always open to suggestions.  He only takes one nap during the day and that is roughly an 1 1/2 hour it used to be longer but we cut it back.  If he gets less than that he is extremely fussy during the evening.  Plus when he is over exhausted we have found he has an even worse night.  When he does get up in the night, if we let him hash it out himself he will go on crying for myself or my husband for a couple hours, or he will be off and on throughout the rest of the night. 

    What exactly did they do at the sleep study for your friend?  Wouldn't a 2 year old be too young for that??

    Thank you for your input it always helps to talk to other moms!!!

    P.S. he does not have a night light and we pull the door closed most of the way (we have also tried to keep it open but that doesn't work either.)



  • My friend's son was 2 when they did the study and she said they gave her lots of great feedback. Basically what they told her was that her husband needed to be the one that got him on track. When his mommy was around it only made it worse. They told him to pick a routine that he would do whenever he went into the room at night. For example:

    1. Pick him up

    2. Pat him on the back 5 times

    3. Tell him one specific phrase like..." It's night night time and mommy and daddy are sleeping. Go back to sleep, we love you."

    4. Put him back in the bed

    5. Turn on his heartbeat bear

    6. Leave the room

    After you leave the room, then wait for 5-10 minutes and go back in there and do this the EXACT same order. After this....wait for 10-15 minutes etc... You get the idea. Continue to do this exactly without fail. Have the same parent do this and do not alter it. They suggested it be the husband because children usually want their mommies a bit more.

    She tried this on a weekend (may I suggest a long weekend like Martin Luther King weekend). The first night was rough...her son was up 4-5 times. But the second night was better and he was only up 2-3 times. By the end of the 4th night, he was only waking up once and then going back to sleep. By the end of the first 2 weeks, he wasn't waking up anymore at night.

    You can certainly try this, or talk to your doctor about scheduling an evaluation at a sleep clinic or something. Good luck...I know how difficult it can be. We are currently trying to get our 2 year old to stop screaming for 20 minutes before going to sleep at night!!!