Toddlerhood is an Epoch

Monday, February 2, 2009

Over the last week, Piper has been waking us consistently at night, screaming and yelling for us to come and get her out of her bed - this after long days of the same loud story. We are essentially her security blanket, and as I'm pushing the weaning idea right now, she is becoming more and more demanding and clingy. She refuses to go back to sleep on her own, and to make us come to her, she has started hitting herself and banging herself against things.

There really needs to be a light at the end of this tunnel. The problem is that I'm too brain-fogged to come up with a way to get there, so I'm stuck in this week of eternity that I'm not going to remember in five years, wondering what to do.

I'm wide open for suggestions here. Please, does anyone have any helpful ideas for dealing in a loving, firm manner with a very smart, stubborn, sleep-deprived toddler?


the Joneses said...

As one friend who has five children says, "Anything that gets you more sleep is what works." Once you get more sleep, then you can figure out what to do from there.

Daphne woke us up regularly until she turned two. As in, waking up and refusing to go back to sleep on her own. As in, screaming for two hours at a time. As in, not sleeping unless one of us took her out to the living room and slept with her. I don't know how many nights I slept on the couch while she slept on the floor next to me. Or how many times one of us took her on a 1 a.m. drive to get her to sleep.

Gradually, she started waking up just for a bottle in the middle of the night. (Horrors! A bottle! At night! To get her to sleep! Hey, it worked.) By now, she rarely wakes up between 9:30 and 7:30, and I hardly think of those sleep-fogged days anymore.

It's harder for you with your indifferent health (I've been reading Jane Austen), and you know Piper's personality best. But my advice is, don't kill yourself trying to make her sleep in her crib. Do whatever works. Most sleep troubles come in phases, and you need the sleep.

-- SJ

~Me said...

I really agree with the previous responder. It isn't always textbook, but you need sleep. Especially with your physical weaknesses. I've noticed that with my second I'm willing to just do whatever I need to do in order to get enough sleep to survive. When he was first born, I let him sleep on my chest for about 2 weeks...all night long...just so we could sleep. So, if it's possible for you to get her to sleep when you go to her or even if she will sleep in bed with you. Just do it until you both have more even temperaments brought about by more sleep. This could easily be a phase that she will grow out of. Also, like you mentioned it might be exacerbated by the fact that you're attempting to wean her. Handle one difficult hurdle at a time and make adjustments around the other ones.

Hang in there. Sleep deprivation is so tough when you have an active kid to deal with all day long too.

Carol said...

If weaning is the issue in her waking and acting like this, stop the weaning. You can try it again a little later. Or change something about the weaning so it doesn't affect her adversly. If that's not the issue, I'd bring Piper into your bedroom to sleep. If she doesn't fit on the bed, or you don't sleep well when she's there, then a toddler bed might work, or a mat made from blankets on the floor. We had children of varying ages in our room for many years. They all turn out well. :-)

the Joneses said...

I want to add -- and it's completely up to the parents -- that we always slept with a baby somewhere else besides in our room. We've always kept our room kid-free at night. That was our preference, and it isn't any better parenting. Just gave us a little extra space that was our own.

-- SJ

Hilary said...

Well, we had a pretty strict response to our children needing us to fall asleep. We let them cry until they stopped. We did not go in and comfort them. It happened maybe 3 nights and numerous naps, and went on a long time each time, but eventually the children learned to put themselves to sleep. Once they learn this, you won't have to jump through any hoops to get them to go down. You tell them it's time to sleep and they'll go to sleep on their own without needing any stimulus. (Gary and Mary Ezzo technique--Growing Kids God's Way). I did this when the kids were babies--right from the beginning. I do agree that maybe the weaning could wait until this separation anxiety and willfulness is resolved.

dancebythelight said...

Duncan was kind of like this. Owen slept through at 5 months at that was that. Duncan, not so much. A nursed him at night longer and when I was trying to wean him from nursing once at night, he also became clingy and insisted on nursing and getting very angry if I didn't. Like what some of the others have recommended, I'd say delay the weaning a few weeks or so, then try again and see if the response is different. I don't know if Piper is wanting to nurse at night, or before sleeping, or whatever. I also started giving Duncan a drink of water when he wanted to nurse and this seemed to help. He was a good bit younger though, when this was going on (10ish months) so he wasn't as physically capable to "insist" on things, which makes it hard.

I always recommend to everyone the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. I like that the book is organized by age so you can just go to what you need. Also, although he has his view, he includes many suggestions depending on your parenting type, from strict cry it out to attachment style. This is helpful because he helps give guidance to your decision without trying to force one style over the other.

The last good nap the boys had was last Tuesday, due to their different issues. I can feel your pain. It's so hard to function when they don't sleep when you expect them too!

Esther said...

I often pat myself on the back for finally figering out some fantastic trick to get my kids to behave, when really it is the child finally feeling comfortable enough with themselves that they don't need to act out in that way anymore. When I am really struggling with something...potty training, sleeping, eating, biting, clinging, and many more...I try to focus on the other areas where I might be missing something. Connect with them, look in their eyes and listen. What need am I not caring for. Help them feel comfortable, secure and loved, I know that's vauge, but sometimes if I take a deep breath and step back, their need is glaringly obvious.

She sounds like an awsome day that smart, stubborn personality of hers will take her far...until then, you have my prayers :-)

Anonymous said...

: ) I appreciate all the positive advice for keeping the priority as getting sleep and not making rules. Smart kids figure it out VERY early that it's not fair that mom & dad get to sleep together and they have to sleep alone. Not FAIR! Also, active kids tend to keep busy all day and then need to make up for that by nursing all night. (Both of my kids did.) I had a youth bed in my room. Sleep and happiness were my priorities. NOT some prideful story about how "my child" . . . . and I had the same goal that you do - - I wanted my kids to find me as their security (not a pacifier or a blanket) I wanted to reflect the relationship that I wanted them to have with God, available at all times. PRAY. Do what God tells YOU to do! "Aunt Cindy"

SKELLER said...

no words of wisdom as to actions to take. just tons of sympathy.

and encouragement that it doesn't last forever. :-}

Anne said...

I, too, found help and encouragement from "Healthy Sleep Habits..." by Weissbluth. Once a baby is a year old, they are usually secure enough in their family routine that crying it out is the best way to go. Infants can't manipulate (contrary to Ezzo nonsense) but toddlers can and do. You're the mom, make sure she knows who's boss. Like Sara said, the best way is what gets you sleep the fastest. Letting Piper cry it out for a few nights will pretty much guarantee you end up with a good sleep routine (not counting illness and such). And I'm not sure if this is an issue you're dealing with, but I'd definitely recommend never ever nursing her at night. Its not good for her teeth, no human (after four months old or so) needs to be eating after bedtime, and it just gives her one more way to manipulate. Good luck!

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