I Have An Insomniac 2 1/2 Year old

By Sarah Fader

I’ve dreaded writing this, because if the words come out they make it real, but I can’t take it anymore, I have to let it out. My child is an insomniac.

There have been several nights that he’s been up until midnight and slightly beyond.

Now, before you judge me, hear me out. We have a bedtime routine and it starts out around 6:30pm. We have dinner, we watch one episode of the insidious Max and Ruby or Blue’s Clues (his choice), he has a bath, we read 1-3 books at which point he appears to be sleepy. But then…as he’s lying in bed next to me (because as I’ve mentioned in previously, we co-sleep) he starts off whispering:

“I hungry.”

It gets progressively louder until he is audible and finally loud.
Then he says:

I’ve tried both giving him the sandwich or ignoring his pleas. Both result in further sleep rebellion.

In addition to saying he’s hungry, he also demands to switch sleeping locations. He’ll be in the bedroom and demand to sleep in the living room on the couch with me. I’ve recently flat out refused, making him stay in the bed.

He also will try to stay awake by demanding more and more books to be read to him.

Now, you might say:
“Get him in his own bed! He’ll sleep better!”

My response:
1. Sure, that would be nice, but guess what? I’m nine months pregnant and too tired to deal with that process.
2. Many families successfully co-sleep, and their kids don’t appear to be insomniacs. Why is my kid refusing to sleep?

You also might suggest, get him into bed at 8pm and ignore his pleas.

My response:
1. Could you ignore your kid who is right next to you and either screaming or asking the same question over and over again?

2. I’ve already done sleep-training and I don’t have the emotional energy to do it again.
3. Please remember, once again, the constraints of my current physical condition. I’m 174 lbs and there is a human incubating in my uterus.

So I ask you, what are my options? And please don’t judge me. I already feel like the worst parent. I need some practical advice to get my kid sleeping.

Sarah Fader records anecdotes from her daily life at at Old School New School Mom. She also currently runs blog workshops for elementary school children in New York City and provides freelance transcription services for major television networks, in between running after a two year old.

64 Responses to I Have An Insomniac 2 1/2 Year old
  1. Jen
    January 4, 2011 | 1:29 pm

    I don’t have any advice for you since I’m lucky enough to have all 3 of my kids in a phase of going to sleep easily, but know all too well it’s a phase and I’ll have my own issues again soon enough. I just wanted to share one mom to another that no one should judge you for the issues you are having with your child at this moment. You will get through it, but probably not without some more tears. Good luck!

  2. Kara
    January 4, 2011 | 2:57 pm

    No advice because one of my kids is going through a similar phase. My 4 yr old is the master of procrastinating bedtime. His bedtime is 8pm. We do our family scripture study and prayer then take him to bed where I read him a book and say prayers. Kiss and hug, then he goes to brush his teeth and into bed where I spread out his blanket. Then begins the hours of “I need a drink”, “I need to give you another hug”, “I didn’t give Daddy a hug”, “I need another drink”, “I’m hungry”, etc. No matter how often we send him back to bed this goes on for hours. My other 2 go to sleep like magic, just put them in bed and within minutes they are asleep, but the 4yr old just will not go to sleep. As an example- he was the only one in the family actually still awake at midnight New Year’s Eve. I’ve resorted to locking my bedroom door because I’m 36wks preggo with twins and need some sleep and can’t have him coming into my room every half hour to tell me he loves me. So I don’t have any advice cuz I’m at the same point as you, just too tired to do anything drastic, but I can commiserate with you.

  3. Candace Clark
    January 4, 2011 | 6:55 pm

    I have no advice really. My 4 year old has always slept pretty good. We never co-slept though b/c none of us would get any sleep. Maybe you should try him in his own bed and be consistence. At this point, he knows that if he bucks at bedtime, you will give in. All kids are different. Just b/c so and so kid co-sleeps and has no issue, does not mean your kid is the same way. Good luck.

  4. Old School/New School Mom
    January 4, 2011 | 7:04 pm

    Just as a background, he spent 18 months in the crib, slept through the night after 4 months and “letting him cry” then he was able to scale the wall of the crib and climb out on his own. So I let him sleep in the bed with us.

  5. Old School/New School Mom
    January 4, 2011 | 7:10 pm

    Oh, and it’s not a matter of “giving in” necessarily, as much as it is that I am so exhausted and pregnant that I need to do what requires the least of amount of energy so that I can take care of myself as well as him.

  6. Anitra
    January 5, 2011 | 12:31 am

    We never co-slept (wouldn’t get any sleep that way, and would probably push my husband out of the bed), but…

    We’ve gone through I-dont-wanna-sleep/I-cant-sleep phases a few times. We’ve done a variation of cry-it-out each time, but it always took a few nights to get her back into a healthy sleep pattern.

    A suggestion: Does Ari still nap? (I assume so, if he’s staying up so late.) Try cutting his naptime shorter or eliminating it.

  7. melissa aka equidae
    January 5, 2011 | 8:45 am

    i am 9 months preg. too and my son wakes up at 4 am at the moment (though its better than 3 am) however he does go to sleep pretty easily by8 pm and sleep till said time. We did have a problem at one point with sleeping and waking early but its a phase and frankly i did the same things you did ( and we co sleep too!) so really in the end it was a matter of letting go of the issue thanking God of said son and keeping calm as much as possible. Why not try getting daddy to do the bedroutine? it does help not having to do the power struggle yourself!

  8. CH-Proud Mama
    January 5, 2011 | 2:29 pm

    Your son is sooo cute! I love the stories you tell about him. I hope things get better! Oh, congrats on the pregnancy!

  9. Lesley
    January 5, 2011 | 5:54 pm

    Oh Sarah…I’m right there with you minus the pregnancy. My son, Matthew, was a WONDERFUL sleeper until he learned to climb out of his crib. All I can tell you is some nights I absolutely refuse his requests of letting him down (to play, eat, etc…) which lead to me physically holding him (while he flops around) and he cries it out and eventually falls asleep and sometimes he ends up falling asleep between me & daddy (which hubby doesn’t like). I don’t have any advice…other than just do your best and don’t feel like a bad mom because we all go through it at one time or another.

    Oh one thing I have noticed is DO NOT let him know it bothers you. Kids work that angle even at such a young age. If I stay calm and talk softly it happens faster than me getting uptight.

  10. Carolynn Binnie
    January 5, 2011 | 6:04 pm

    Have you tried massage? It is wonderful for relaxing both the person giving and the person receiving. You do not need to do anything too fancy… get him to lie on his tummy on the bed and with just one hand do large clockwise circles right in the middle of his back (using a hand with fingers together ) very very slowly. If you do it straight onto his skin you will get maximum benefit (use a little Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil) but over the top of PJ’s works just as well. You could play some relaxing music as well… which will help regulate the speed. At the same time breath really slowly and do not speak to him, just say its massage time and explain beforehand that the rules are that you will stop if he talks or moves about alot. Every time he moves or talks you need to lift your hand off until he stops. So that he learns that to get a massage he needs to be quiet and still. When you get good at that you can do figure of 8 over his shoulder blades. You can also do the same on his tummy but you must do it clockwise. You can do smaller movements here. Its not going to be a quick fix but it will help you both in lots of ways… you get to relax and sit / lie down and he gets to calm his busy body and mind. You may need to do it for an hour – eventually he will learn to relax – its something we have to learn and re-train ourselves as we forget how to relax in busy life…My son is 9 now and he had years of massage … he stays awake reading now but he is calm and not shouting anymore.
    Lavender Essential Oil works well – 8 drops in a 200ml bottle. However, its the massage that works best so dont worry if you just use plain oil. If you get undressed as well you may both end up asleep.. sounds like you need it as well.
    Good luck.

  11. pickel
    January 5, 2011 | 6:31 pm

    You don’t mention how much sleep he is getting. If he iz getting 10-11 hours that is average for his age. The only thing that worked for us was to take me out of te equation and have dad do all of ghe bed routine. It took negotiations out.

  12. Mel H
    January 5, 2011 | 6:32 pm

    We had a similar issue (no co-sleeping though) from age 2 -4. We tried everything. What worked for us was reading 3 stories, music and rubbing her back. We would read 3 stories then we agreed 15 minutes of time where I would stay with her and listen to music. During that time, I would rub her back. It took some time but she eventually learned. The only problems were when I would fall asleep with her. Then getting up would be a hard move. She’s 7 almost 8 now. We still play music for her and noise seems to help. Good luck and I hope it works out.

  13. Anne
    January 5, 2011 | 6:42 pm

    I so feel for you. I remember how incredibly uncomfortable I was when pregnant with my 2nd and to not be able to sleep is a killer. You don’t mention what time your son is waking up in the morning and whether or not he takes naps. I would suggest recalibrating his sleep schedule (if possible). Wake him up at 7am, don’t have him take a nap and try putting him to bed even earlier. Try starting the night time routine at 6, not 6:30. Both of mine went through a very trying phase where they needed naps but stayed up until all hours if they did take a nap so we cut it and dealt with the witching hour at 5pm, But they were both out by 7 pm so it was worth it and the phase only lasted a few months. If he does fall asleep in the afternoon, wake him up after 15 minutes. After a few days of being tired and cranky he may adjust and go to sleep more quickly at night. Best of luck!

  14. Nancy
    January 5, 2011 | 6:50 pm

    Definitely no judgement here. I’ve had three boys: the first was a co-sleeper, the second was a very independent sleeper (his preference), and the third was (you guessed it) and insomniac. I really felt like his little nervous system just wouldn’t relax enough for him to get to sleep. I finally gave him a very low dose of melatonin and it really helped. We did it quite a bit for a while until it seemed like his body was starting to adapt to the sleep schedule. Now he’s 9 and we just occasionally use it if he’s too wound up. It’s non-habit forming and very safe. Another friend suggests giving them a magnesium supplement to help soothe the nervous system, but I haven’t tried it since the melatonin works for us.

    Hope you and your little guy get some sleep!

  15. Old School/New School Mom
    January 5, 2011 | 7:05 pm

    I just want to say, first and foremost, THANK YOU to everyone for all the helpful suggestions!

    Here are some answers to your questions
    1. Ari does nap, but it’s not consistent. IF he naps it’s from 2pm – 5pm-ish.
    2. Oy gavolt! I would LOVE to have his dad do night time duty, the only trouble is, his dad works the graveyard shift. So he’s not here at night, except for Fridays and Saturdays.
    3. I haven’t tried massage, but that sounds WONDERFUL!
    4. As far as what time he wakes up, well…that depends on when he falls asleep. If he gets to sleep around 10:30pm (which was last night) he’ll wake up around 8:30am- 9:00am. If he goes to sleep at midnight, he’ll wake up around 9am-ish.
    5. Lastly, I am open to trying melatonin, it works for his dad!! 🙂

  16. Sarah
    January 5, 2011 | 7:23 pm

    my suggestion would be to cut down on his naps. I was letting my son nap from 1 ish to 4 most days and bedtime was horrible. Now I get him up by 3 whether or not he has had a nap. I still get him to rest (he’s 3 by the way). It might help with bedtime and it might not but that’s my suggestion.

  17. Anne
    January 5, 2011 | 7:45 pm

    I hate to suggest this, but you say you are desperate and it is safe. An age appropriate dose of Benadryl. Used just on occasion to get you though a night, may do the trick. You can check with your Dr. first, sleep is the other use for this medication. Fair warning…it does have the exact other effect for a certain percentage of kids…they get wound up!

  18. funky
    January 5, 2011 | 7:58 pm

    this is going to sound awful, but i have found t hat my son has no off switch. his mind just runs and runs and runs. on days when it is really bad, i’ve started giving him melatonin 30 minutes before bed. it helps turn his brain off.

  19. Heidi
    January 5, 2011 | 7:59 pm

    I totally understand what you are going thru. My husband works late and frequently travels for business. I have 5 children 11,10, 6,twins 4. I co-slept with them also till the age of 2-3 or until I was too pregnant and needed more room. I will say I cut back on naps and no nap was ever past 2pm or the bedtime only went further into the night. They simply were not permitted or I was never going to get any sleep. Absolutely wake a sleeping child who naps too long. Bedtime for all the kids is 9pm. Nothing stimulating before bed, like tv shows or games because the stimulation keeps them revved up awhile. They eat dinner around 5-6pm and baths or showers by 7-8pm. (the bath definitely helps) From 8 onward it is quiet time things. Nothing sugary or caffeinated before bed either. Actually eating close to a desired bedtime keeps the body stimulated. They can have decaf tea near bedtime. I know being sooo pregnant one can kind of give up on house rules sometimes. Don’t feel guilty over that but you have to make priorities. If you want that sleep, you are going to have to make changes in your routine. Don’t feel guilty about telling him no to things. After that precious baby arrives, you will have even less sleep. Set those ground rules now or it will only get more trying.

  20. Wendy
    January 5, 2011 | 7:59 pm

    No judgment here, I had the same problem with 2 little ones not wanting to sleep while I was preggers with their little sister. UGH! Only advice I’ve got is definitely cut naptime back to an hour at most, only if he’s indicating he really needs that nap, and not at all after 2pm. When my 2 took naps that late, bedtime was a guaranteed battle, but it’s been easy and on-time ever since. Wishing you the best of luck, and congratulations on the new baby!

  21. Amy
    January 5, 2011 | 8:05 pm

    I don’t know how much running around and playing he does, but I would try and make sure he gets a good dose in before dinner time. Then eat dinner, get the bedtime routine going and hopefully he is worn out enough to sleep. If dinner is a little higher on the carbs you could time bedtime around the sugar low 😉 Now, I know your pregnant so their is red light/green light you could do while sitting/laying down. See how fast he can run from point a to point b several times. If you have a WII, let him do that running one on WII Sports, I think it is. I just thought of the Smart cycle – he might be able to do that. I know it’s hard with my kids if they haven’t “used” up their energy. Hopefully you’ll find something that works with your little guy =)

  22. HighlandMummy
    January 5, 2011 | 8:16 pm

    I feel your pain! had the same thing with my first one, and I think some of the suggestions above are what I would do, the only thing I would add is to…do them all!!!
    As in :
    -don’t let him nap ont he first day. Ok, he’ll be tired and cranky but i suggest you do this for one day only.
    -hopefully he’ll be so tired by bath and storytime that when you does him with benadryl and massage that he will just conk out.

    If you want to reintroduce naps, I would suggest much much earlier in the day like 11-1,and only for 2 hours max. My third son just couldn;t sleep at all at night if he had a nap, it was like that tiny amount was enough to ‘boost’ him. If he goes back to that, I would suggest omitting the nap as that may very well be the key to your success. Some kids just don’t nap and sleep at night.
    Best of luck from someone who’s being there!

  23. Michele
    January 5, 2011 | 8:21 pm

    I hear you and totally understand you. My first was a dream. But my second has changed my life. She is stuborn, bullheaded, but cute and that is what makes it hard. She has been a poor sleeper since birth. She would sleep 15-20 min at a time. We have tried and read almost everything there is out there. We have been up at 3am reading to hope to get some sleep. We have a great doctor and have been to Children’s Hospital Sleep Center for her even. After a long time and trying almost everything (arm wrestling her is not an option) we have a routine that we slow things down but we don’t have to do all the special shows, books and things that we thought we did. We now give her melatonin and a herbal thing for kids called calms forte for kids. We were told by Children’s to start out with 1mg tablet at a time and see how that goes and we could increase it to no more that 3mg. You can get it in an orange flavored tablet that they can chew. I call it her “nummy” or treats and she takes it every night. Her doctor and Children’s says this is something she can be on for the rest of her life since it is a natural thing and is something our body produces anyway. This little princess of ours who hasn’t slept since birth now sleeps when we put her to bed at about 8 or 8:30 to about 8 or 9 in the morning. It will take time for this to build up and for you to get the right mix but it does work. The calms forte for kids works great to help calm her down and settle down. I use it for naps too. I don’t use the Melatonin during the day just at night. I hope this helps and that you can find something that helps you and your family. Good luck!

  24. Angi
    January 5, 2011 | 8:22 pm

    Our 7 year old son was just like your son and to some extent still is this way. His body just doesn’t need sleep. He can go 24 hours without sleep and still be going strong.

    After lots of trial and errors, we started using Nature’s Plus® Sleep-Assure Liquid every night with our son. It helps relax him enough to sometimes get him to sleep. We also instituted quiet time where our son must stay in his room and play quietly and not bother anyone in the house. Some nights he’s asleep at bedtime. Some nights he’s asleep after bedtime. Some morning he’s up before everyone. Some mornings he’s up after everyone.

    We just had to accept that our son knows his body and we should trust him to know when he’s tired. It’s working for us.

  25. Jenni Williams
    January 5, 2011 | 8:26 pm

    I am going to tell you my situation.. My son Noah has autism and just physically could not sleep. The doctor wanted to put him on med that had terrifying side effects, like his HEART stopping! Noah was only 4 at the time! So I researched natural alternatives and discovered melatonin. It is widely used for disabled child to help with sleep, especially autistic and blind children. GNC sells 1mg sublingual tabs that taste like cherry. Noah loves them and he sleeps like a baby! We also use 1mg during the day in place of ritalin for his ADD and it works! We asked the doctor about it beforehand and he laughed at us. Said it wouldnt work, but wouldnt do harm so to go for it.
    I have seen it used in healthy children as young as 2, but I am not saying that you need to use it, but look into natural ideas, chamomile tea maybe? Lavender baths? Hope that is just a phase!

  26. Lucinda
    January 5, 2011 | 8:30 pm

    I have no advice for you, but you do have my compassion. I have the same problem with my SPD 4yo son. He stays awake very late and naps hard just before dinner. I’ve tried to adjust nap times and also to shorten them, but my son’s body clock seems to be hard set.

    I hope you find something that works. 🙂

  27. JenB
    January 5, 2011 | 8:37 pm

    I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all. Lord knows I have had more than my share of moments like this where I am at my wits ends and out of ideas. I’ve been fortunate to have a child that sleeps well which is a very good thing because I am a very cranky mommy when I’m tired. She does sleep in her own bed in her own room.

    She tried the procrastinations and it was probably right around 2.5-3yrs, we allow her to do it once and then, if she gets out of bed again, there’s repercussions (no cartoons the next day, no cuddling the next night, etc.). It didn’t take long for her to get out of that phase.

    Assuming you haven’t already done so, I agree with the moms that say to shorten or eliminate naps. Ari may just be getting too much sleep because he’s catching up on the sleep he lost from the night before during his nap. 3hrs seems like a lot for a 2.5yr old. In daycare, they only allowed about 1-1.5hrs for nap. Also, maybe he needs to wake up earlier too.

    One of the things that you may not be up to right now is trying to get Ari up and running around after his nap so he gets physically tired out. Maybe a friend could help out or perhaps there’s a playgroup near you.

    I understand what you’re saying about your child screaming next to you but, if you weren’t pregnant, would you be ready to go to bed at that time? Maybe he needs to be cuddled with for a short time and then left to go to sleep on his own. Then, once he’s asleep, you can go to bed. Having mommy right there may seem like a prime opportunity for chatting. I know my daughter always took the fact that daddy was putting her to bed as a sign it was play time.

    The bedtime routine sounds very long. I remember a SuperNanny episode where she talked about a short sweet routine. We’ve done the same one since she was itty bitty. Even our cat knows the routine and is ready for bed when I get out of my daughter’s room.

    Our routine starts at 7:30 (and always has) is pajamas, brush teeth, 1 bedtime story, cuddle for two songs on the CD (we play it 1 time through as she’s going to sleep) and that’s it. If she talks, plays or keeps moving during cuddling, I give her the warnings, count to three and then stop cuddling and leave the room since it is quiet time when the lights are off.

    She is allowed 1 time out of bed and then she is in jeopardy of losing something important to her. I realize that, at 2-1/2, it might be tough for him to understand losing something that will happen the next day … do you do timeouts? They might work until he realizes it’s unacceptable behavior to keep asking for more at bedtime.

    This is just my two cents. It has worked pretty well for us.

  28. JenB
    January 5, 2011 | 8:38 pm

    OK, I’m sorry for my insanely long response. It’s so hard to just how long it is in this little box. 🙂

  29. Mama Pickles
    January 5, 2011 | 8:42 pm

    We had the same problem with my son at 2.5 years old. It turned out that he has major sensory issues and my son had the same problems just like Jenni from above posting. My son’s body would just physically not let him sleep. His brain and his body were going 90 miles an hour. Once we found out about his sensory issues and started occupational therapy and a sensory diet, his sleep improved tremendously. Please check out this web site to see some of the red flags of sensory issues. http://www.spdfoundation.net/redflags.html Most pediatric therapy clinics give free screenings to see if your child would need a more thorough evaluation. Good luck. I know how frustrating and exhausting this can be. I went through it with a newborn.

  30. Monica
    January 5, 2011 | 9:02 pm

    Haha! I just have to laugh at some of these responses. Simply because my 2 yr old doesn’t respond to threats or taking toys away or anything. Actually he uses reverse psychology on me and says “I want to be bad boy” I no want any presents” etc.

    Anyway, I have a 3 month old and a 2.5 yr old and I totally know what you’re going through because my husband is only home on the weekends. I thought it was really hard when I was pregnant. I wanted to sleep all the time and would try to get my son to lay down w/ me just so I could too.. because I HAD to you know? I was exhausted!

    I think the biggest mistake I ever made parenting was co-sleeping. I go through the same things at bedtime and none of the above suggestions have helped.. especially not taking away the nap! He almost gets insane by 6 or 7.

    I found the thing that works the best for us is dinner at 6. Shower/quiet time and then IN bed at 8pm. No books/toys or anything else distracting in bed. Ever. It took a while to change that but I had to do it. Some days it takes him 2 hrs to get to sleep. After he falls asleep he is OUT. The days where I wake up before him and wake him up work the best. He is always awake on his own every day at 8:30am so I try to beat that time. It’s hard.

    He get’s a nap believe it or not BEFORE noon and never for more than 2hrs.

    Good luck.. just try to keep things consistent because once the baby comes it will be harder… at least it has been for me.

  31. Amy
    January 5, 2011 | 9:47 pm

    My ped ok’d melatonin when my 5 y.o. was 2. It is awesome.

    Also, why not work a snack into your bedtime routine if you know he will get hungry by bedtime?

    Sorry if I sound abrupt – am nursing baby. 🙂

  32. Tracey - JustAnotherMommyBlog
    January 5, 2011 | 10:30 pm

    Honey, I feel for you. There probably isn’t much you can do at 9 months that will be permanent because the new baby will soon make its appearance and everything will change again.

    HOWEVER, that being said, the one thing you can do (when you can commit the energy to it) is be consistent. Either you let him sleep in your bed or you don’t. Either you give him a drink of water or you don’t. But do NOT let him peck away at you until he gets his way. Every time a toddler screams for something (ie water), and GETS what he wants after 3 screams, his brain will retain that information for much longer than you think.

    I don’t personally like the Supernanny chick but the one thing I agree with her on is the sleep training. I suggest watching her suggestions on dealing with a difficult sleeper and seeing how you can make that work into your family.

    Co-sleeping is great. Or it CAN be, for some kids. However, some people need their personal space when they rest. Perhaps your son will sleep better and longer in his own bed? If not, then invest in ear plugs and a face mask so that you can sufficiently ignore his screams without abandoning him. Seriously.

    Take care. Nobody thinks you’re a bad mom! We’ve all had kids who are difficult to get through a stage or process. And guess what? This won’t be the last or worst stage he’ll ever go through! It WILL pass and he WILL sleep on his own. I promise.

  33. CoconutPalmDesigns
    January 5, 2011 | 11:05 pm

    I was so hoping reading through all the comments was going to give me a new piece of advice to try. My almost 3 year old son doesn’t sleep. He’s never slept well. I remember as an infant we were visiting my mother’s house and I put him on a blanket by the door for his nap. An hour later he was still laying there staring at the ceiling and hadn’t slept at all.

    I’ve tried massage, short bedtime routine, long bedtime routine, naps, no naps, lights on, lights off, noise, no noise, etc. Benedryl worked once and the few other times I’ve tried it it only riles him up. Chamomile tea didn’t work either. Nothing works.

    When I work up the courage or get tired enough – whichever comes first – I am thinking of trying something called Pasinerva. I believe it’s made in Guatemala (we live in Belize). Both our doctor and pharmacist recommend it in it’s liquid form.

    Other than that, have you ever read the book Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka? She also wrote Raising Your Spirited Child.

    Good luck getting your son to sleep and congratulations on your new baby!

    Cheers 🙂
    – CoconutPalmDesigns

  34. DebbieG
    January 5, 2011 | 11:24 pm

    My daughter is 25 and still has this problem. We tried everything and the peds finally told me to 1. make sure her room was TOTALLY childproof, 2. put up a gate, 3. do the simplest of routines, 4. put her in bed, if she climbs out and cries and wants attention ignore her. He said, the carpet is soft and it is warm, put in a nite light and let her play. When she gets tired she will fall asleep, and it is not going to hurt her to sleep on the soft carpet. Later go in and throw a blanket over her. It worked, and after a while when she would get sound enough asleep, we could just toss her in her bed.

    As far as sharing the bed, maybe he is just outgrowing that and needs his own space. Gat him one of those cute beds low to the floor and let him try that.

    Good luck, I know what a pain it is, been there and it was horrible.

  35. Trish
    January 5, 2011 | 11:26 pm

    I wholeheartedly endorse melatonin – it has been a life saver for us! If you are open to reading another book (or even just checking out her website), I recommend Elizabeth Pantley and her No-Cry Sleep Solution.

    Also, sleep begets sleep. So I would do whatever you need to so he gets as much sleep as possible first and then try to figure out where to go from there.

    I’ve also learned with my son that if he is hungry at bedtime, he needs to eat or he won’t sleep well or very long even when he does fall asleep. If you don’t make it wrong to ask for a snack, then you aren’t giving in when you give him one. 🙂

    And I’m absolutely NOT trying to say there is anything wrong with your son developmentally, because there is no way anyone could tell from just this info, but IF you have any concerns, you can contact your county’s Early Intervention program to have him screened at no charge. (Once he is three, you would go through the school district, although it’s still considered Early Intervention until age 5.)

  36. Sophie
    January 6, 2011 | 12:18 am

    I would have to agree on the Melatonin. My son takes a very small dose of liquid melatonin roughly 30-60 minutes before bed(that is what works for him, others might need more time before bed) and this is the magic trick! We struggled for 3+ years with him not sleeping through the whole night, getting up, waking us up, staying up late, getting up early, etc… Oh, and the excuses!!! Hungry, thirsty, bathroom, etc, etc….. We finally figured (just assumed, no scientific evidence here to back me up 🙂 ) that his body does not produce enough natural melatonin for him to get “sleepy” even if he is bone tired and exhausted. He now sleeps about 8-9 hours a night (he is 5), which I still don’t think is enough, but is more than before.

    Also, you might try cutting the naps. I know he obviously needs the sleep because he is not getting it at night, but if you cut his naps by an hour one week and then an hour the next week so he is only sleeping one hour, his body will probably adjust pretty quickly. You may have a cranky kid and a few hard nights of adjustment (not that you don’t already) but I think that may really help. Just my two cents.

    You are def not doing anything wrong!! I think all kids go through these sleepless stages, some just last ALOT longer than others.

  37. Nolie
    January 6, 2011 | 12:20 am

    I never did co-sleeping as I like my me time and my bed to myself. However I will never judge another parents way of raising their kids unless it actually causes harm to the child.

    Is he still napping during the day? I find now that naps are done with my son falls asleep quicker at night. So give up the naps.

    Try moving him out of your bed and on to a mattress on the floor in your room. Then pretend to sleep yourself. Yes it is hard to ignored a childs demands but really he is not hungry, he is playing you as he knows it works.

    It must be even harder that you are 9 months pregnant. I hope you do get advice that works as pretty soon it will be even worse with the new baby needing you 24/7.

  38. Candace
    January 6, 2011 | 12:54 am

    Maybe it is time to drop the nap? My son stopped napping at 20 months. He only requires 11 hours a sleep and gets that at night. I can’t imagine being pregnant with a 2 year old. Good luck. I utitlized the cry it out a few times b/c well….there was nothing wrong with him. My son has always been a climber as well. But he was fine in twin bed at 3 years old.

  39. Kendra Field
    January 6, 2011 | 1:19 am

    Give Melatonin a try…it’s natural and it WORKS. Helps the body get into it’s natural sleep cycle. Believe me, our 3 boys (ages 5, 6, 7) go right to sleep with no drama after taking it and they sleep well through the night. Our 7 year old has had some insomnia issues and the melatonin has cure it!

  40. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)
    January 6, 2011 | 1:59 am

    Girl – at 2.5 both of my kids had to STOP having naps. If they nap they are up till midnight. They just don’t require the same amount of sleep as others. So I could never put them in the car or let them watch TV or anything from 1-6pm to make sure they didn’t sleep. Sometimes my son would beg for a nap at 5pm or fall asleep at the table at 6pm. But most days we made it through. And then if he did nap, I just recongized that it would be 11pm when he went to sleep.

    AND melatonin could be an option. I use it now for my 8yrold son. (He definitely has a sleep disorder and always has.) But he got used to it and had to move his dose up. 🙁 Which concerns me.

    Good luck!

  41. monique
    January 6, 2011 | 8:32 am

    I have a 5yr old autistic son, we have been dealing with his sleep disorder since he was born essentially. When they are babies you are told its just because they are babies, but as he got older it got worse. Now on most nights we are lucky if he is in bed by midnight, some days he is still wide awake at 4am.

    We have a routine, and thankfully we homeschool so we schedule his schoolwork and activities around how his nights go. On nights when I am desperate I have given benadryl, but I avoid it because with special needs kids it can often have the opposite effect and he could start bouncing off the walls.

    As he has got older he now understands he needs to at least stay in bed and have the light off, we let him have the tv on because the noise and light helps him fall asleep.

  42. Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)
    January 6, 2011 | 11:09 am

    As Janice said, our kids all had to stop napping at that age. It was (and still is at 3) brutally hard to keep them awake through the late afternoon and dinner hour but I just do everything I can — including giving a little orange juice if they’re getting too sleepy.

    But if they nap, especially anything after 2 pm, bedtime is a disaster. If he must nap, definitely wake him up after maximum an hour and try to keep it as early in the day as possible.

    I co-sleep with my girls and it is the best decision I ever made in parenting. I love it and so do they.

    I believe you’d have similar sleep issues with him whether he was sleeping in your bed or not.

    Also I just want to give you a little encouragement and support as I know this is such a tough time for you. I struggled a lot in the exact same situation of being pg and having my 2 year old not want to go to sleep at night. But every child is different and some are just not as good sleepers.

    My second child has always been a way better sleeper than my first and they both co-sleep.

    I think 2.5 is a very tough age on the bedtime procrastination game.

    I have had great success recently with both girls doing the massage that Carolynne suggested. She recommended it to me recently and it has helped my 5 year old especially.

    Good luck!!!

  43. Linda Kish
    January 6, 2011 | 11:42 am

    I went through this 20+ years ago. My son has ADHD and OCD so life was never easy. And, being a single parent, just made life more difficult. We had serious rituals. I tried laying down with him but decided it wasn’t for me because I was frustrated that he was getting what he wanted. So, I decided after 8pm was adult time. We finished bedtime rituals before then including the last drinks and bathroom trips. At 8pm it became adult time. He had to be in bed, night light only on. He didn’t have to sleep but he couldn’t get up or interrupt me. All I was doing was reading the paper and watching TV, but it was my time. He had to stay in bed and be quiet. Eventually, he got bored and went to sleep. It worked! At least for me and I had a few hours of quiet time before bed. Of course, teenage years brought a whole new can of worms but, we don’t have to get into that. Good luck and congrats on your new baby.

  44. Tarasview
    January 6, 2011 | 4:36 pm

    oh honey, no judgment here! You are NOT a bad mother. You have a kid who has a hard time sleeping.

    My first son ( I have 3 kids) was an awful sleeper. He has high-functioning Autism and it wasn’t until we started using medication that he turned into a wonderful sleeper. But take those meds away and he is back to no-sleep-ville.

    My second son is neurotypical (theoretically) and a relatively decent sleeper… but like Janice and Susan we had to ditch naps between 2-3 or he would be up later and later.

    My daughter is currently 4 and has never been a great sleeper. (oh, I should mention we did co-sleep too, with all three but at different times). Currently she is on her own bed but in our room. I still need to lie down near her for her to fall asleep. It takes her a good 20 mins to fall asleep though no matter what we do.

    I have found a couple things have helped us… listening to books on tapes or music that they like – the same ones every night so they are familiar enough to fall asleep to. Your son is too little yet but when my sons got a bit older I let them use my ipod with headphones on really bad nights.

    A weighted blanket really helps my oldest fall asleep. He uses it every night. I remove it from him after he is asleep so his body doesn’t get too used to it.

    A sleeping bag really helped one of my kids. He liked feeling “cozy”.

    I can’t ignore my kids either but when my husband used to lie down with the kids to put them to sleep he would always fall asleep himself and then they fell asleep too. Go figure.

    I think sensory issues have a lot to do with my kids- the lights are wrong, the noises are annoying, the pj’s have a tag, the blanket is scratchy, the pillow smells, the pull ups were uncomfortable, etc etc etc… it wasn’t until they were older and could really TELL me what was bugging them exactly that I could fix it.

    Take heart… it won’t last forever. Eventually he won’t live at home anymore. (just kidding, it will get better before then!)


  45. hippie4ever
    January 6, 2011 | 9:39 pm

    Well as my son 21 months seems to make his own bedtime, I am right there with you. But if this is a relatively new occurrence, maybe he realizes he will soon need to ‘share’ MOM and is trying to get as much time with you as possible 🙂

  46. Amanda Daybyday
    January 7, 2011 | 10:03 am

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so my apologies if I’m repeating what someone else has said…

    My youngest, who’s almost 4, started having sleeping issues this past year. When I mentioned it to her pediatrician this year, she told us that they won’t even look at a child at a sleep clinic until they’ve checked their iron. Low and behold, when we had a blood test done, her iron was indeed low (owing, i would expect to her refusal to eat most meats).

    Giving her iron supplements has really, really helped. It may or may not be an issue for your son, but I think it’s interesting and as I look back at my own insomniac issues, I think iron levels could have played an issue for me too. And to prove it, I haven’t given it to her in a couple days (because it’s FOUL) and she’s been sleeping horribly again.

    The Doc also suggested melatonin for us, but I didn’t see much improvement in her sleep until we started the iron. I also hate taking melatonin and haven’t found it at all effective for me either.

    Lack of sleep is a horrible thing. I hope your little guys sleeps for you soon.

  47. Shannon- Photogenic Possibilities
    January 7, 2011 | 1:02 pm

    I have a four year old too, she had sleep problems for a while. Many issues were involved in it. We co-slept and it was always a constant mom this mom that, of course I always gave in.

    I would definately check the iron level, and then maybe cut back on naps to only be 30min to 45mins if that doesn’t help try no naps at all.

    Also kids need a schedule, repitition, a routine. Do things in order dinner, teeth, pj’s, read a book and bed. The same everynight and My girls go to bed at 7:00 but sometimes it is after 7:00 when they are in there but that is the time, weekends are free they can stay up one or two hours later…still no naps during the day and then when it hits 6:30 come on girls teeth, pj’s and that book, get your water cup before you jump in bed, it’s getting late hustle hustle hustle. They do share a room together but it works out for the best now. Do what works for you and your family. Good luck and if you want to contact me please do! [email protected]

  48. Beth
    January 8, 2011 | 1:15 am

    I had problems with my kids sleeping. I’m a single Mom since I was 3 months pregnant with my second child when their father and I separated. I thought that the co-sleeping was the problem and tried moving them into their own beds. I sympathize with you- I know how tiring it is. I ended up talking to their pediatrician who recommended I go to the local Natural Food Store- Better Thymes located in Front Royal, VA. I bought a bottle of liquid melatonin 1 MG manufactured by Natrol, Inc (they have a website, http://www.natrol.com It’s 100% vegetarian, it’s natural, and drug free. The directions say 4ml or 4 droppers but also not for children under 12. I consulted the Dr again & the clerk at the store. I gave my then 3 year old, 1 ml (she was about 28/30 lbs) & my 5 then year old (55 lbs)took 2 droppers full. It took a week but it worked. My son is now 7 & sleeps without it but my daughter is 5 (now 42lbs) & she takes 2mls. No juice needed, she doesn’t mind the flavor at all. We take it about an hour before bedtime- the bottle says 20 minutes. 2 years later, both kids are sleeping through the night, now in their own beds, although I have an open door policy- it doesn’t matter where they sleep, they sleep all night….my daughter fell asleep in bed next to me tonight as a matter of fact & will sleep all night…Again, I did change up a few things and my son took a few more days than my daughter but it worked…and again, he now sleeps through the night without it. Stick to your routine and try this- maybe it will help…was a life saver for me. Don’t ever feel like a bad mom just because you ask for help- it takes a strong woman to ask for help when she needs it. That makes you a wonderful Mother. Goodluck! Feel free to IM me- yahoo messenger bb_ash2003 or email me [email protected]

    Thanks! Beth

  49. Lauren
    January 8, 2011 | 12:44 pm

    Hi, and I am so sorry that you are going through this. I had my daughter when my son was 2.5 and I thought “what have I done”. Suggestions are great, but when you don’t have the energy to do them, they are useless. The biggest advice that I have is that the energy that some suggestions will take will be worth it in the long run. And everything you do will get worse before it gets better. The one thing I have learned in parenting (mine are 7 and 5)is that everything is a phase….even the good stuff.
    My son was and is very active. He also knows how to push my buttons (which I taught him).
    1)The first thing I always make sure that he gets plenty of exercise. Let him run around in the yard or bounce house ow whatever, but get out the physical energy.
    2) Is he still napping? I know you love this time, but he might be getting ready to give it up. My kids did at 3yrs. If he is napping, I wouldn’t let him sleep longer than 1 hour
    3)The biggest sleeping advice that helped me is this: It is our job to put our kids to bed, it is their job to put themselves to sleep. He sounds like a child that cannot co-sleep. He uses it to manipulate. I would suggest laying with him in HIS bed for 10 min. max. and face away from him as if you are going to sleep. Remove eyes and voice. Even if he is talking to you. Then get up and say good night and walk out. If your husband can come redirect him to the bed that would be the best. He will get up MANY times the first night. Do not give in to any requests! This only reinforces the manipulation. It might be rough the first and second night, but it will get easier. Each night decrease your time laying for a minute until you get to 3 min. or so. Resist the urge to give in!!! It only sets up worse patterns. Be strong in the short run and it will really pay off.

    Good luck!

  50. Cindy
    January 8, 2011 | 11:18 pm

    Have you tried giving him Melatonin?

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