Author Topic: Sleep training for 28 months old toddler  (Read 1520 times)

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Offline PenPensmom

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Sleep training for 28 months old toddler
« on: July 14, 2019, 20:39:03 pm »
Hello, I am looking for advice with my DD1.  She is 28 months old and I am trying to teach her to sleep independently. I started sleep training when she was about 3 months old and it was going ok but from about 6 months old onward she was starting to be ill on a regular basis which meant more crying than sleeping and it seemed wrong to make her cry when she was so poorly so I stopped. Depending on how ill she was, she would either fall asleep in my arms or in her bed with me next to her patting her back. This went on until she was 17 months old. She was eventually diagnosed with aspiration and at 17 months, had to have an nasal-gastric tube fitted through her nose. It’s extremely stressful to have those placed through the nose when they’re so little so I became paranoid that she’d pull it out accidentally as she went off to sleep. I once again gave up on the sleep training so that I could watch her as she went to sleep. By this point it would take about 15 to 30 minutes of me sat by her bed, patting her back to get her to sleep (which wasn’t so bad). She’s now got a peg fitted and she’s no longer sick all the time. I want to start sleep training again - I want her to fall asleep without relying on my presence in the room.  I started gradual withdrawal - I stopped patting, then sat slightly further away, and further away again, but I don’t know if I’ve done it too fast because it now takes her 40 minutes to an hour to fall asleep. There’s a lot of whining, sometimes crying, a lot of calling “mommy mommy”... I’m not sure how to react. I don’t respond all the time but on a regular basis I will try to reassure her and say I love her and it’s sleepy time... She can also just be really chatty and noisy so I’ll tell her that if she’s noisy and chatty, I’ll need to leave the room and she can call me back in when she’s ready for sleep.  I always follow through and eventually she’ll tell me she’s ready for sleep but this adds a lot of time to the 40 to 60 minutes!

I could do with any advice out there! I don’t like letting her cry out (unless it’s a tantrum cry which I tend to ignore).

Offline Katet

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Re: Sleep training for 28 months old toddler
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2019, 02:36:26 am »
As they get older their emotional needs change so it's not abnormal to have changes in how they respond to bedtime.
Given the trauma of her illnesses, it's understandable that Separation Anxiety would be greater and it's always worse at bedtime. It is possible you moved too quickly and so she struggles, so it's worth going back a few steps.   

Also while ignoring 'tantrum' crying is what everyone seems to say, I found it can make it worse as it's like saying 'your feelings don't matter. To me empathy without giving in is better eg 'oh I can see you are upset Mummy won't let you ...it's ok to be upset, but I can't help while you cry'  or 'do you need a cuddle while you cry over ... '  I actually believe ignoring teaches so many undesirable things and doesn't help a child deal with emotions, where as communication helps so much more. Eg at bedtime  (even at 2.5yo) explaining it's hard for Mummy to stay so long and why and this is what you think you will try....
With both my boys we went through a stage like yours and like everything else in parenting you get passed it... For one of mine it was a longer story time at bedtime, the other it was falling asleep in my bed and being moved to their own bed later. Sometimes it's not the patterns of behaviour that is the issue, but a natural biological response, which is it's actually not natural to sleep alone, but a westernised cultural pattern and so with the need for mental security when they realise they are a separate entity to you, they respond by struggling to be alone at night in the dark. So in many ways it's just part of the journey of development rather than a problem solved by different adult behaviour.
dc1 July 03, dc2 May 05

Offline PenPensmom

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Re: Sleep training for 28 months old toddler
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2019, 19:55:42 pm »
Thank you, that’s helpful.  Would taking a few steps back not send mixed signals? The last thing I want to do is confuse her more or make her think that we are reverting to old ways only to start drawing away again.  Also by tantrum cry I meant that she sometimes looks over to me to see if I’m looking and if she catches my eye, she starts to “cry”, there are no tears, she just makes the same sounds as she does when crying. I agree completely on not letting them cry real tears. I’ve always preferred to talk her through everything and she speaks full sentences and is surprisingly good at expressing herself with words so conversations just make more sense than allowing lots of crying. At bedtime she just tries every way she can to get my attention whether it’s calling me or doing something she knows she’s not allowed to do.  I feel like it’s all delay tactics, trying to push back sleep as much as she can in the hope that I’ll give in and sit next to her. She’ll shout “boo” or grab something to bang against her bed, pretend “crying”, roll around in her bed nonstop... it starts all light hearted with cheeky grins to see if she’s had an effect on me but as I don’t react she gets frustrated and sometimes it will turn into tears and that’s when I try to reassure her that I’m here but the more I respond the more she asks for me. I just can’t work out whether she will get used to the gradual withdrawal and stop fighting sleep or whether I really do need to start from scratch. But if the latter, I think she’ll just think that by delaying sleep she can get her way again. What seems to have worked well tonight is a longer bedtime story though. It still took 40 minutes but there were far fewer attempts at catching my eye. Fingers crossed it’s a sign of things improving.

Offline Katet

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Re: Sleep training for 28 months old toddler
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2019, 21:39:56 pm »
Ok all that information says she needs that sort of play more in her day and she's going to bed without her cup being full. She's showing you she still needs to engage and in typical human ways not being able to actually understand and communicate that. The fake cries are much the same a way to say ' help I don't know how to tell you I need more  connection with you in the way I need it, and I don't know how to tell you that. My DS1 liked play time, my DS2 cuddles, spend an hour cuddled up with DS1 and no play time and he was hard to put to bed... Reverse for DS2, it's often thinking about what their behaviour is showing rather than the symptom of their emotions that helps the most.
dc1 July 03, dc2 May 05