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13mo crazy sleep issues


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#1 joeyinthesky

Posted 02 September 2017 - 10:27 PM

I'm desperate. At the end of my ideas and patience.

DS's sleep has never been exemplary but I was happy to wait it out. Great day sleeps, he'd settle himself off to sleep in 10-15mins with me sitting on the floor beside his cot. Night sleep ugh, woke 2-3 times each night but would settle pretty quickly with a feed or a cuddle.

Since a pretty nasty gastro bout, ear infections, repeated colds and a recent start to daycare, he has turned into a screaming, cot-resistant banshee. Flatly refuses to lie down, or be assisted to lie down, screams and kicks and pushes away any attempt to pat or soothe him. Shouts and screams til he's almost vomiting.

I've attempted to persist in gently talking him through it and got to 40+ minutes of shouting and screaming and couldnt bear it any longer. He gets beyond hysterical if I leave the room or hand over to DH (did I mention recent daycare start and extreme separation anxiety?!)

Same thing happens if I bring him into our bed and attempt co-sleeping.

ALL he wants is to BF, for as long as possible, and then to fall asleep on me. Which is all very well, and adorable and cuddly, but takes FOREVER. And then I put him down and he's not quite asleep and it all starts over again. Doing it twice daily plus 4-5 times overnight is killing me.

I have a 4yo who is being pretty patient but also needs me, and I'm so grumpy and impatient from sleep deprivation. DH works away a lot so nil consistent support there.

Anyone have any gentle suggestions? Ideas? Things I haven't considered?   Any suggestions gratefully accepted :-)

Should say, I had him at the dr yesterday to rule out lingering ear issues or mystery illnesses, but he's all good (except, yet another cold) is eating like a horse too so not hungry.

#2 alchetta

Posted 11 May 2018 - 09:24 PM

Hello... this thread is a bit old now and you clearly got zero help (thanks EB) but 8 months on how is it? I could have written this word for word except no daycare here, just some travel, and day sleeps for us are even worse than nights. My DD is 13 months old. What did you do and what helped?

#3 Jenflea

Posted 11 May 2018 - 10:03 PM

I was going to say drop a day sleep so he's only having one.

#4 joeyinthesky

Posted 23 May 2018 - 09:15 PM

Sorry Alchetta - I only just noticed your post!

I got the cold shivers reading my OP, it was a horrible period and didn't resolve quickly. He ended up co-sleeping with me (DH would sleep in another room) from whenever he woke first. I was not a fan of this as I don't sleep well with a child in bed (too anxious about the risks) but it was just easier. After a couple of months of that he seemed to find that more annoying and he was happier to be put back in his own bed.
He still wakes 2-4 times per night at nearly two, but is in his own room now at least.
He definitely wasn't ready for one nap - he was about 18mo when we did that.

If there's one thing I've learned from having two horrible sleepers, it's that things will change/move on to a new phase with time. It's just so damn hard getting through these times.

I hope your LO finds their sleep soon - and you get some too.

#5 joeyinthesky

Posted 23 May 2018 - 09:26 PM

Had a couple more thoughts (I'm struggling to remember back to then... sleep deprived mum brain)

Not sure if you're breastfeeding but in fairly gradual steps I moved to feeding him with the light on and then switching it off once he was done, settling him in my arms in the chair or my bed till he was asleep, and then putting him down keeping one hand on his back (it felt a bit like playing twister!) then to popping him off before he was fully asleep and settling in arms. Then to settling in cot. It took weeks and my poor 4yo struggled. We did get there in the end but I still have to sit beside his cot until he's asleep. VERY determined child this one.

And physical activity - park, walks, created a jumping spot inside etc - when we were stuck inside with not much physical play he was so hard to settle.

Good luck

#6 alchetta

Posted 24 May 2018 - 10:58 AM

Thanks so much for replying. The physical activity thing struck a chord. It's become cold very recently so I haven't been taking her for her run around in the park!
I am still breastfeeding. I guess we will just keep muddling through as best we can and hope it won't last forever.

#7 joeyinthesky

Posted 24 May 2018 - 11:36 AM

We invested in some merino layers (Aldi usually have a range on sale sometime around this time of the year), some cheap waterproofs and gumboots and get outside no matter the weather. It's been a recurrent theme with both my children - if they're not getting a good amount of physical activity and daylight every day, their sleep suffers.

It's a difficult time - and tbh everything in our house took a lower priority to making sure he kind of stayed in routine, and we got plenty of time for connected play, physical play and cuddles with him, and 4yo.

#8 mandala

Posted 24 May 2018 - 05:17 PM

alchetta, what's going on with your DD? What kind of sleep trouble is it - waking frequently, taking ages to settle, tricky naps, all of the above?

If you could share a description of what a typical day is like and what hasn't worked, maybe someone here would have some suggestions you haven't tried.

And it won't be forever, but I know how much it feels like it when you're in the middle of it!

View Postalchetta, on 11 May 2018 - 09:24 PM, said:

Hello... this thread is a bit old now and you clearly got zero help (thanks EB) but 8 months on how is it?


#9 alchetta

Posted 25 May 2018 - 01:39 PM

I'm sorry to totally hijack this thread...
My 13mo DD was taking longer and longer to settle at night as she was feeding to sleep and would no longer sleep through being put in the cot. Plus she was obviously waking every couple hours looking for the boob and we are just too sleep deprived to have her co sleeping while attached, and if we try to co sleep without her attached, she just cries and tries to get back on the boob (even if I unlatch her in her sleep).
We got Tweddle in and they have now given us two strategies. Initially I had success getting her to lie down in her cot after bath, boob and book, then I would "rock" her to sleep by gently jiggling her side to side on her tummy until she fell asleep. We went overseas for 5 days and came back and while it was fine while away, once home again it was back to not being able to get her off the boob.
Our second strategy from Tweddle is very structured. Boob, bath, pjs and sleeping bag, book, cuddle/lullaby then bed. Pat mattress 60 sec without a word then leave. Count 20-30 sec then go back in on a break in the cry. Keep it up and when she winds down the crying stay out longer, 3-4 min.
Be sure to be out of the room when she actually falls asleep.
Worked a few times but now she just stands up and screams and has lost her voice which breaks my heart. Falls asleep for DH if he stays in the room patting longer but for me starts getting up and chatting then blood curdling screams each time I leave. If she falls asleep after 45 min of this it's from sheer exhaustion and we never wanted her to cry herself to sleep.
Tweddle calls this responsive settling but for us it's crying to sleep. I was willing at first if it was short term pain but ten days in we're seeing zero progress.
I called the MCHN line this morning who recommended doing proper CC and being tougher and not patting the mattress but that is not for us.
I'm happy to pat her to sleep but she's just not doing it for me anymore - just keeps playing around until she gets to full on hysterical screaming.
I'm quite happy to night wean her too but also find the midnight screaming heart breaking. If I do manage to pat her back to sleep she seems to sleep longer and had done a few 5 hour blocks. We just have to do something though because our mental and emotional health is suffering from sleep deprivation as we never get more than a couple hour blocks.
Persist? Allow patting to sleep or stay out of the room? Feed or don't feed? What to do when she's still awake after an hour if not collapse into bed with her on the boob and wake up with severe neck pain for the 590th time?!

#10 mandala

Posted 25 May 2018 - 02:55 PM

It's a really hard time for her, as she's now got expectations about how things should work, and can find the change in rules confusing, especially since sometimes they're different. It's also a hard time for you, as not only have you had months of sleep deprivation but she's now able to feel her confusion as anger and really let you know about it.

When does she wake up in the morning? How much day sleep does she get? How long does it take her to settle for a nap? What time is bed? I'm wondering how much sleep she's getting in 24 hours - if you're sleep deprived, she almost certainly is too unless she's getting lots of sleep during the day.

It sounds like she's finding the patting either too stimulating or too upsetting - having you there but not doing what she wants.

I wonder if the pick up, put down approach might help more. You put her down, say goodnight, then leave. Give her a chance to try to fall asleep, if she's crying then go back in, cuddle until calm, put her down again.

With all sleep training, the idea is that it's the baby's job to fall asleep. It's not your job to make her sleep - it's your job to provide a safe, appropriate sleep environment and help her to calm herself so has a chance to fall asleep. If she's fallen asleep after 45 minutes, when you've been going in and helping her to calm herself, it's not the same as being alone and crying for 45 minutes until exhaustion.

I don't think it's about being tougher so much as thinking about what you're trying to achieve for the both of you. You wouldn't let her screaming stop her from wearing a seatbelt, and similarly you might want to think about the lack of sleep for her as being a health concern (as well as a safety one - sleep deprived parents do not make the safest drivers!). Also considering that at this age the screaming is not the same as the screaming of a newborn - it doesn't need the same kind of immediate response to discomfort as it used to.

Do you have any kind of help? Sometimes a different person gets all sorts of different behaviour. There are plenty of stories of kids who will sleep for grandma. It might be worth trying to get someone else to help for a couple of nights to see if that could break the cycle, as well as give you a chance to recuperate a bit.

Okay, that was heaps of words but not sure if any of it's helpful. Good luck - and you all deserve decent sleep.

#11 alchetta

Posted 25 May 2018 - 07:54 PM

Thanks so much for your post.
Her naps probably average 2 hours during the day, one shorter and one longer. She always napped in the pram, car or on the boob with me but we've been putting her in the cot for naps too. With the new approach it might take me 45 min to get her to sleep, she wakes after 20-30min, patting again I get another 30-40 min.

She wakes around 5ish wanting a feed and we usually bring her to bed then if we haven't already and she'll snuggle/feed til 7ish then get up. Bed is also usually around 7 although it's been significantly later with the new system at times, or if she has a huge late afternoon nap (2h).

We tried pick up put down but she wouldn't stop screaming after being picked up which is why we needed a different approach as I could no longer feed or cuddle her to sleep unless she was way beyond tired.

DH is in there now and I can hear her trying to talk to him. I might ask my dad if he would mind staying a few nights - he asked today if I think she'd do ok staying with them. He's very calm and patient and was a SAHD with me before it was hipster and we have a special bond as a result - worth asking, thanks.

Screaming until hoarse is definitely confronting for us but we might just have to try to be more consistent for a good week - no staying longer til she falls asleep, no giving up and feeding 5 minutes in, no bringing to bed at 5am. I was in tears this morning at 3am though because her hoarse screaming was breaking my heart and I was so worried she'd permanently damage her vocal cords!

ETA 2 hours total for naps, not each, she might do one 45 and one 1 or 1.5. Overall sleep taking out night wakings probably only 10-12 hours.

Edited by alchetta, 25 May 2018 - 07:58 PM.


#12 joeyinthesky

Posted 25 May 2018 - 09:25 PM

Alchetta, I think your LO and mine were made in the same mould, that all sounds so familiar.  I feel your pain and sleep deprivation!

I think Mandala will be more help than me (she's been very helpful in my previous desperate threads with my first) so I won't weigh in again except to say that I found that my little guy hated patting,rocking, singing etc - it was too much for him - but loved to hold a finger or thumb while he shouted himself off to sleep. It seems to be about the contact without being disruptive to him trying to settle himself.

And consistency was very important for us - same thing every time, nap or nighttime until he got the gist of settling himself, then we shortened up the day routine.

I really hope for your sakes that your LO finds their groove soon.

#13 alchetta

Posted 25 May 2018 - 09:35 PM

Ooooh that's very helpful, she's actually been grabbing onto our fingers during the patting so maybe she just wants that! Thanks again. Sorry I should have started my own thread so you don't keep getting alerts!

#14 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 25 May 2018 - 09:56 PM

My DD didn’t like patting. We actually discovered that she fell asleep much more easily without us there, we were keeping her awake. It doesn’t sound like that is what your DD needs, but I hope you make a similar discovery soon.

#15 juski

Posted 25 May 2018 - 10:07 PM

At the same age my son was taking 2 hours to go to sleep at night, often only to wake 20 mins later :( he's usually ok once he's fully asleep and will usually only wake once or twice in the wee hours - or sometimes sleep through - but it was eating up our entire evening and we were going to bed just totally stressed and frazzled. He's almost 15mo so this is only a few weeks ago really.

Two things we have been working on:

1) shortening/doing away with naps. I found it took less time if he was awake from his second nap before 4pm. Then within about a week of that suddenly it was 3pm. Then I was waking him from his first nap to get him tired enough for his second nap on time. Then at 13.5 months his naps were getting so short and finnicky that we switched to one nap and life got SO MUCH BETTER. Cold turkey, he coped well and that 2 hour settle was whittled back to more like 20 minutes. Today his nap is about 12:30 to 2-2:30.

2) trying not to rock to sleep. Look sometimes it's just necessary.. but whenever we get in the habit of rocking him, eventually there is a critical point where the rocking actually increases his anxiety about going to bed rather than relieving it. Now I try to rock him for the length of a song, which is usually enough to get him calm, then we put him down and pat his bottom and sing until he seems settled enough to be left to fall asleep. Sometimes it doesn't work and will need another attempt or two but it's important to get him into the cot before 'relaxed' turns into 'falling asleep'. That said sometimes he is so strung out (at the moment he is teething horribly) that he falls asleep in our arms anyway.. but we try to make that the exception and not the rule.

He is still BF but I try to make it a last resort unless he is likely to be hungry. Overnight the usual practice is for my husband to try to settle him first, and I'll go in if it doesn't work. If I go in first he is more likely to demand a feed just for the sake of it, but sometimes will settle for my husband because it's not an option. If he's woken at say 5am though I might as well just go in because it's totally understandable that he'll be hungry.. 9pm not so much. I don't ever refuse to feed him, I'm not ready for night weaning, I just prefer to make sure it is genuine hunger before I offer.


One other thing is temperature - I have found over time that sometimes he is colder than I would have thought and just upping the togs or adding socks makes a world of difference.

#16 mandala

Posted 26 May 2018 - 01:58 PM

It sounds like the sleep amount in 24 hours is a bit low. She's probably overtired (no surprise, if you are also exhausted!) For that kind of age, I'd expect somewhere around 12-14 hours across day and night sleep (although some kids - like my first - need more, and some - like my second - need less).

When are the naps? You tend to find that around this age lots of kids start to drop the second nap, but unfortunately really struggle with the amount of wake time to make it through to bedtime without a second sleep. The choices really are to stick with a second nap but move bedtime a bit later so there's enough sleep pressure to be able to fall asleep, or to go for a much earlier bedtime - which might be a goer if she's working with chronic sleep deprivation.
What you kind of want is to get the sleep timing right - you want her tired but not overtired when you try to get her to go to sleep. It might mean you need to put her to bed either earlier or later than you do currently - but if she's at that right level of tiredness, you might have better luck getting her to settle.

Say she wakes at 5am - I think that's her natural wakeup time, and the dozing isn't good quality sleep. That would mean if you get up then, your first nap would be about 9am. If that's a longer one, say 1 hour, that would mean the second nap is at about 2pm - which would mean a 7pm bedtime is about right, going off 'usual' awake times for this kind of age. The goal would be to get her used to falling asleep without the feeding, then without your help, then shifting the naps and bedtime a bit later to push the wakeup a bit later.

So there are three things going on:
chronic overtiredness
sleep association with feeding (which you've made some big progress with already
wake time too early

If it were me, I'd be dealing with the chronic overtiredness with some car naps or whatever works (not feeding to sleep!!) so she's not so overtired. Almost all kids are on one nap by 18 months (which is 'only' five months away).

The sleep association would be trying other things - holding hands is a good one as you can lie down on the floor and do it, instead of killing your back leaning over the side of the cot. You could also try patting the mattress, playing some music, rubbing her back.

Early wake time will naturally shift as the naps shift to one day sleep. I don't think you'll get much progress on this until she's sorted out the sleep association. I think this might be a place where you might want to consider dropping the feeding/dozing until 7am - it would be pretty hard to understand why she can do this at 5am but can't at 7pm/11pm. I know why you'd do it, but I bet she can't rationalise the difference!

I think getting some help from your dad is a brilliant idea. It might at least give you some more sleep to cope!

#17 alchetta

Posted 27 May 2018 - 05:39 AM

Thanks for replying again. We're up at 5 today so I don't succumb to feeding her back to sleep in bed, so she made it 12 hours without a feed... fell asleep on her own around 7pm after 20 min or so which was a huge win. We had to refrain from going in too soon between patting and it paid off because she went from squealing to asleep! She woke and put herself back to sleep, for the first time ever, at 10 and 11.30 ish... but then woke up four more times and I had to go in and pat the mattress each time for her to lie back down and fall asleep. So now she'll be very, very overtired from waking so often all night long :(
Yesterday she slept an hour at 11am and half an hour at 4pm. I can see how getting up at 5 and moving the naps earlier by 2h would probably work ok.
I have been giving her a few good hour long car naps for respite!
Is the frequent waking most likely just because she's overtired or because she wants the boob? She went back to sleep very quickly each time with the patting. If it's likely to only last a few nights I can hack it but it's like if we win the bedtime battle she punishes us by waking up 6 times instead!

#18 mandala

Posted 27 May 2018 - 07:53 AM

Wow, so it sounds like the settling is starting to work! I know it's painful, but it seems like she's come a long way if the patting the mattress helps. At least that is something that can be shared rather than all falling to you!

I think that 4pm nap is too late, and would make bedtime a lot trickier, even when overtired. A friend of mine would put her DS to bed at 5pm when he was at this stage - he was so overtired that it really helped.

But yes, overtiredness is a huge trigger for overnight waking. She's also still learning how to settle herself, so I can see that she's going to take a bit to figure out how to go back to sleep by herself when she wakes between sleep cycles at night.

I can't promise that it willl only last a few nights, but it does sound like you're moving in the right direction. I hope it continues!

#19 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 27 May 2018 - 08:59 AM

DD woke at 5 am, and had a 5.30pm bedtime for a while. The early mornings weren’t too much fun, but having the evening to myself was amazing! Fingers crossed your DD wakes fewer times tonight.

#20 Pocket...

Posted 27 May 2018 - 09:51 AM

Just to add in another train of thought, sometimes it's worth seeing an ENT to look into the possibility of enlarged adenoids or tonsils. They don't have to be infected to cause sleep obstruction and over tiredness. Signs of large adenoids can include snoring, breathing through the mouth especially when sleeping, difficulty in producing certain speech songs in those talking, postnatal drip, getting green snot at the first sign of a sniffle, sleep apnea.

I hope you all get some better sleep soon, terrible sleep sucks.

#21 alchetta

Posted 29 May 2018 - 07:30 AM

So two weeks into our new strategy, DD had her best night since she was born last night. Fell asleep without me in the room at 6.30 after I only went in twice, then woke at 1.45, moaned a bit for 5 minutes and went back to sleep until 5. It's a miracle! I don't expect it to happen again anytime soon... and now of course I have a headache because my body doesn't know how to handle so much sleep :D
So I'll keep going with this mattress patting routine and hope for some consistent sleep in the not too distant future. The night before she woke 6 times and wouldn't resettle herself so she may have just been compensating!
Thanks for all your comments, it helped me persevere.

#22 Mingles

Posted 26 March 2019 - 12:21 PM

View Postalchetta, on 29 May 2018 - 07:30 AM, said:

So two weeks into our new strategy, DD had her best night since she was born last night. Fell asleep without me in the room at 6.30 after I only went in twice, then woke at 1.45, moaned a bit for 5 minutes and went back to sleep until 5. It's a miracle! I don't expect it to happen again anytime soon... and now of course I have a headache because my body doesn't know how to handle so much sleep :D
So I'll keep going with this mattress patting routine and hope for some consistent sleep in the not too distant future. The night before she woke 6 times and wouldn't resettle herself so she may have just been compensating!
Thanks for all your comments, it helped me persevere.

Hi Alchetta, my DD is 13mths now and seems to be doing what your daughter did! She was an okay sleeper until daycare illnesses and separation anxiety... Now she really fights bedtime, and wakes many times overnight. Shes usually difficult to resettle so often ends up in bed with us for the rest of the night - the first time she's ever consistently co slept... It's so frustrating that as she's getting older, her sleep is getting worse! I used to reassure myself that it would be the opposite... Oh and she's breastfed so generally wants to comfort suck to settle...

How did you end up getting through this phase, if you can remember please?

Edited by Mingles, 26 March 2019 - 12:22 PM.




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