Author Topic: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling  (Read 1563 times)

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Offline Spamelina

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I posted on here a few weeks for some advice on transitioning our early wakening DS from 2 naps to 1.  Were now working on that and thankfully he's sleeping a bit later in the morning now and so we're just trying to go straight to one nap a day from about 11.30/45 onwards.

 A new problem has arisen over the last 2/3 weeks though.. he has gone from self settling really well at bedtime to being a nightmare!  He screams hysterically as soon as I leave the room and wants me to stay with him patting his back before he will settle down.. I've been letting him cry for a few minutes then going back in, doing this until he calms down then leaving again.. and doing it over and over again he finally falls asleep.  He's now started wakening overnight as well though and then it's worse, it takes a lot of screaming and going in and out, it can take 1-2 hours until he's asleep again  :(

I'm guessing this is all part of the dreaded 18 month sleep regression.. we don't think he's teething, we can't see or feel any teeth coming through but saying that he's only got 6 teeth and hasn't had any new come through for about 6/7 months.. so I'm sure some must be on the way soon.  we are giving him calpol / nurofen  just in case that is what is bothering him but it doesn't seem to help.  We also make sure he isn't too hot or cold and he has leaked out his nappy.

Will this just pass??  Is there anything else I should be doing?  I've been quite scared of getting into a habit of staying in his room and patting him until he's completely asleep as I don't want to set up any bad sleep associations, but then I also hate leaving him to cry for too long as he can get quite hysterical (and loud!).  He is generally a very stubborn little boy so is he just testing his boundaries?    I've been going in very 5/10 minutes but it doesn't seem to be working.  Help!!!

His rough routine is -

Wake up - 6.30 ish (sometimes wakes up 5-5.30 but we try not to get him up before 6)
Nap - 11.30/45 (at the moment only 1-1.5 hours.. but have just started one nap a day so going to persevere and hope it extends)
Bedtime - 6.30 ish (have brought this forward from 7 as he's been waking overnight and sleeping less during the day)

Sorry for the long post.. any advice??

Offline Lindsay27

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 13:19:15 pm »
I am wondering if it is OT related since the nap isn't very long?  My DD is also 17 months (almost 18) and she's been on 1 nap for a while now, but I'm thinking that you may need to push the nap out a bit, and by doing that it will hopefully extend and get you a longer nap and avoid the OT.  My DD usually wakes at 6:30 also but she doesn't go down for a nap until 1pm, but then she sleeps for a good 2.5hrs.  I would try to move it out to 12:15/12:30 and see what happens, and if things improve then push even a bit more.



Offline Spamelina

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 18:30:53 pm »
Yeh, I might try that.. I'm just not sure if he'd get past lunchtime or not.  He was at nursery today and I told them just to put him down for one nap at 11.30ish then when I collected him they said he was tired and grumpy in the morning so went to sleep at 9.30am for 55 mins!  :o. Then he had another 55 mins at 2pm.  He was awake for about 1.5-2 hours in the middle of the night last night though, then slept till 6.45am so despite wakening later than normal he was obviously still very tired.

And now he's just gone to bed relatively easily (well only screamed for 5 mins!) tonight.. despite sleeping till nearly 3pm today.  Go figure!

I'll see how tonight goes and take it from there, maybe I'm pushing the one nap thing too early?  But then he is nearly 17 months.  He seems to be all over the shop at the moment  ::). Will keep you posted!

Offline Spamelina

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 05:18:20 am »
So last night he woke 2-3 times overnight crying, but seemed to resettle himself after only a minute or so each time.  So I didn't have to go in to him.  He was then awake at 5.20 this morning though, and very loud!  I tried to resettle him but he was wide awake, tried leaving him some books/ soft toys to play with in his cot but he just started screaming loudly again so I got him up at 6 as I didn't want him to wake his older brother.

He's at nursery again today so I'll tell them to try to hold off his nap until lunchtime if they can, but they probably won't be able to and that will mean another day where his routine is all over the place again!  He seems to do something different every night.. the only pattern I can see is if he wakes up for a long period at night then goes back to sleep he'll sleep later (6.30ish) and if he doest wake then he's up at 5/5.30.  So I'm really struggling to know how to then get him on to any sort of routine during the day again!

Should I  keep persevering with the lunchtime nap regardless of when he wakes up?  When I last posted it was suggested that he have a cat nap at 9am on early waking days to get him through.. but that's proving difficult with nursery starting at 9 and also having to accommodate his older brother.  If he goes down in his cot at that time and I wake him up after only 15 mins then he's really grumpy!

Offline Katet

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2017, 06:48:55 am »

He screams hysterically as soon as I leave the room and wants me to stay with him patting his back before he will settle down.. I've been letting him cry for a few minutes then going back in, doing this until he calms down then leaving again.. and doing it over and over again he finally falls asleep.  He's now started wakening overnight as well though and then it's worse, it takes a lot of screaming and going in and out, it can take 1-2 hours until he's asleep again 

This sounds like Separation anxiety to me - kicks in and up a level around 18months old & they will get more upset if they are left for 5-10mins without any interaction because it's really confusing to them as to "why don't the people I love come to me when I cry"


  He is generally a very stubborn little boy so is he just testing his boundaries?  

PLEASE don't think of a poor little 17mo as stubborn, they don't have the skills to be labelled that way. at that age they are totally meant to be egocentric and everything they do is because they have an unmet need. They don't cry to test the boundaries they cry because they are struggling with a situation they find themselves in. The level of crying may also increase because of confusion. It might make sense to you to leave for a bit to cry & then go back, but the reality is their minds don't work that way all they think is "I want Mum & I will keep crying because last time I cried she came back" & so you actually train them to get more & more upset & confused as to if you will come back or not. Then as you say they get upset & you feel it isnt' working because they are stubborn, when actually it's just them being a different temperament to the "expected" textbook child.   If you feel the need to leave then it should literally be for a few seconds, when they are calm & return as soon as they get upset, so they learn to trust you are there to help. Having a calm message to say each time your return with minimal interaction also helps increase the trust without it being too much of a helper.

dc1 July 03, dc2 May 05

Offline deb

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2017, 08:52:56 am »
In addition to wise words from PP, I'd suggest trying pain meds before bed. This age was hell for us because canines were coming in. Molars can hurt like the dic kens too.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2017, 10:21:31 am by deb »

Offline Spamelina

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2017, 09:37:36 am »
Thanks both, I hope that people don't think we've been leaving him to cry for ages as it's literally only been for a few minutes at a time.. and sometimes he just resettles himself hence why we don't go in straight away.  But maybe I've been making it worse and more confusing for him by going in and out and sometimes staying and sometimes not.. hard to know what to do for the best  :-[. If he wakes up tonight then I'll try going back in straight away if needed.  I've just been scared of him becoming dependant on me being there to get to sleep.  Though he was able to do it before so hopefully once this stage passes he will again.

We have been giving him pain meds, though not consistently every night.  I will make sure he has some before bed for the next few nights to see if that helps.

Offline Katet

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2017, 10:35:25 am »
  I've just been scared of him becoming dependant on me being there to get to sleep.  Though he was able to do it before so hopefully once this stage passes he will again.

I think that's an important point, if they have done it before, then there is a reason (SA or pain being the main ones) as to why things have changed & if they do need you there more it's because they do need you.

I kind of find it sad (in a general sense, not specifically to you) that we as a society get caught up in concern about our babies becoming dependent on us, when really we should be saying "I want them to know they CAN depend on me" ...  I will help them when they struggle, I am there for them.  There if a big difference between rocking a toddler until they go to sleep & comforting them so they are no longer upset & relaxed enough to go to sleep & just like older children & adults, sometimes it's hard to fall asleep because they are struggling with things emotionally.  Just out of interest how does he separate from you when he goes to Nursery? How well has he connected with carers there? have they changed? Are there new children there? little things like that can completely upset toddlers & it's usually with sleep that those "stresses" come out.
dc1 July 03, dc2 May 05

Offline Spamelina

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2017, 14:04:10 pm »
Thanks Katet, I do understand what you are saying.. we didn't have any of this with DS1 (yes, he was the text book child!) and so it's all new to us. I think we can be a bit guilty of sometimes expecting DS2 to behave the same way and of course they are all different!  And know what worked when he was much younger won't necessarily work now that he's older and can understand so much more..

He's usually fine  at nursery, waves me off when I leave him and the staff always say that he has a good day.  Though this morning for the first time in ages he cried when I left, and he is generally much clingier at the moment with me.  So I'm pretty sure it's SA.  He's only there 2 days a week and I'm not aware of any big changes that have taken place in terms of staff etc.

Offline Katet

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2017, 22:02:50 pm »
I think we can be a bit guilty of sometimes expecting DS2 to behave the same way and of course they are all different! 

So much harder when the first was textbook... Mine eldest is now a teenager  & have to say the best piece of advice I've ever had is it's not what they "should be doing" it's look at "why they are doing what they are doing"  Both my children are very intuitive and self aware & do take credit for that because I spent a lot of time thinking "ok 9/10 you are happy to tie your shoe laces but today you want me to help, so I will"...  & on that occasion as I tied their shoelaces they told me something that was bothering them. To me if it's abnormal behaviour then it isn't about getting it back to 'normal' it's about trying to see the abnormal is communicating that they are out of balance & work with that.

Sounds like he's going through some SA and just needs a bit more love & time & developmentally reached a point that he feels stressed by being left at bedtime.
dc1 July 03, dc2 May 05

Offline Spamelina

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Re: Help! Stubborn nearly 17 month old suddenly not self settling
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2017, 05:26:30 am »
Well last night was much better.. he just had one nap at nursery yesterday which was only 55 mins.. they said he was fine all day though and he went to bed at 7pm easily and he only woke once at about 10.30pm when I just gave him a quick cuddle and he went back to sleep again.  Still woke at 5.20am this morning mind you  ::). But not sure what else I can do about that apart from hope that his nap starts to extend once he's used to just having one a day and that means he stops waking so early!

He was sometimes waking an hour later when we were on holiday in France a couple of weeks ago and so I'm wondering if the daylight coming in at 5 is not helping when he wakes.. despite having black out blinds and black out curtains, the light still comes in round the sides.. So might have to go back to hanging a duvet over the window!