My 2 year old does not sleep …
My 2 year old does not sleep. I tried to sleep train her at about 6 months and was not successful. Every night, she falls asleep on her own in her toddler bed between 7:30 & 8:30pm but she wakes up at 10 and then again at midnight, and sometimes again at 2am. I’m so exhausted that by the midnight or 2 am wakeup I give up and just bring her into bed with me. What can I do? We need sleep!
This is such a tough issue because for many of us it is not only exhausting but so emotional. We want sleep and not having it effects our ability to function, to be a good parent and to do the things we need to do. What makes this issue even more difficult for many parents is the fact that child is crying and that they get so worked up and upset in the process. It breaks a parent’s heart and so we start sleep programs then abandon them when it gets to be too much. The stopping and starting of sleep programs actually makes children more upset and anxious about sleep and escalates the problem so they start at a more intense level of protest the next night. The only one getting trained in these situations is the parent who responds by giving in when the crying is more than they can tolerate.
You really have two options you can start with your toddler in your bed or you can chose a sleep program and stick with it until the end. If you don’t mind your child in your bed since she will end up there anyway you can just put her to sleep in your bed. It is better to do that than start a program and quit in the middle. They will learn to go to sleep quickly because they feel secure and will most likely sleep through the night because they sense your presence. If they are going to end up there anyway and it sounds like your child always does just leave it this way until your child matures a bit and learns that falling asleep is something they can actually do. If you do not want your child to sleep in your bed and you or your spouse are not comfortable with co-sleeping, then you need to pick a program and follow it through which means understanding that it will be hard to tolerate. There are several tried and true sleep programs out there, and they all work differently depending on your child. What works with one may not work on another.
The Ferber Method
The Ferber method , developed by Dr, Richard Ferber, can work very well for some kids. It is a bit hard on parents, but when it works, it works. The key is to be consistent and follow through. Every time you give in you make it harder for your child and harder for yourself the next night. If you do have a partner and they can handle it better you may want to leave the house and let them take over. It worked with beautifully with my first child but didn’t work at all with my middle child.
We settled on this sleep method for our middle child, which meant she was put to sleep in our bed and stayed there. She stayed in our bed until she slept through the night without waking, which took a couple of months. You can also have your toddler start in their own bed but when you hear them start to stir and fuss take them to your bed without them fully waking. This can give the brain a signal that they were always safe and that night waking is not necessary. Eventually they have so many experiences of feeling safe, that she did not need to wake up or cry to let us know that and with that knowledge she slept through the night on her own. That worked for us and we didn’t mind. It may not work for everyone.
“The “Baby Whisperer”
This method also is an interesting graduated sleep method that is a little gentler than the Ferber method and can work very well.
It is important to remember not to worry too much. The vast majority of children get over their sleep issues no matter what you do or don’t do, and poor sleeping will become a distant memory. These years are temporary and it helps to remember that, chances are, you will not have your teenager sleeping in your bed.
Sleep is a loaded and emotional issue and many parents compare and feel compelled to share their children’s “sleeping through the night abilities” and some equate this with good parenting. Don’t let this worry you and don’t evaluate your parenting based on you child’s sleep patterns. There are as many sleep techniques as there are kinds of kids. Some work like a charm on some children and fall flat on others. All the advice can seem overwhelming and contradictory. You have to know as a parent which technique will work for your child and which one will work for you. Talk to your Pediatrician if you are worried but remember the key to any program is to follow through with constancy and commitment. The vast majority of children get over their sleep issues no matter what you do or don’t do, and poor sleeping will become a distant memory. These years are temporary and it helps to remember that, chances are, you will not have your 16-year-old sleeping in your bed.