Posted by: nhfalcon | January 28, 2008

Some Parenting Advice – PLEASE!!!

OK, here’s the deal – Little Man has been having a horrendous time sleeping of late, and it’s driving Cookiemaker and I to the brink. He usually (but not always) will be put down for the night easily enough, but almost always wakes up at some point in the early morning howling like Satan himself is in the room with him. He will not go back to sleep for me – in fact he usually screams “No!” and / or “Go away!” as soon as he sees me. Any attempt by me to settle him down is only met by more screaming. He’ll only go back to sleep for Mommy, and even then it usually takes an hour or two for her to settle him down. Even then he sometimes can somehow tell when she’s left the room and will wake back up screaming for her again. When that happens, the only thing left to do is bring him to bed with us, which obviously is not a habit we want to encourage.

We do live on a ground floor apartment, but our neighbors are not noisy and he has a good, dark shade to keep out any streetlights or random car headlights. He sleeps with both a fan on and a CD player playing classical music set on “repeat.” He sleeps in a crib with several of his favorite toys and stuffed animals. The crib has a tent-like structure over it made out of a mesh material. He does sleep with a nightlight on. He wakes up almost always between 1 and 3 AM.

We have considered just letting him scream / cry himself back to sleep to break him of the habit, but he is now over three years old and has a decent set of lungs on him, so if we do that we are likely to wake our neighbors, so that is probably not an option (besides which, if he truly is frightened and not just trying to get his way, we don’t want to psychologically traumatize him). We thought perhaps he was waking up for some other reason and then seeing the shadows caused by his nightlight and then becoming afraid, so we tried leaving his bedroom light on last night – no luck. We’re now thinking that perhaps the mesh tent is somehow making him feel trapped, and it’s about time he got out of the crib and into a bed anyway, so maybe that will help. Cookiemaker also thinks that the air in his room is dry and that may be making breathing difficult for him, so we’re also going to get a humidifier for him.

Cookiemaker also called the doctor today (something our daycare provider strongly recommended when I was discussing it with her this morning at his dropoff) and they seemed to think it was night terrors, which, unfortunately, is something that really can’t be “cured.” It’s just a phase he’s going through, they think, and we’re all just going to have to suck it up until he gets through it. 

I should mention that other than this, Little Man is great. He has no problems physically (though he does have this habit of rolling his head from side to side as he falls asleep). He’s generally in a great mood all the time. He hasn’t had any issues whatsoever at his daycare. But he only wants Cookiemaker at night, and she’s the one who gets up early most of the time to get to work. When she starts her new job, she’s going to have to get up even earlier until we move closer to the new workplace. Either she loses sleep by staying up with him until he calms down, or he starts sleeping in our bed a lot until this “phase” passes.

Any advice? Anybody? Please, HELP!!!

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Responses

  1. My first reaction was nightmares so the night terrors thing seems spot on to me. Can he tell you if/what he dreams?

  2. He’s too distraught to say much more than “No!” and / or “Go away!” to me, Kizz, and he desn’t seem to want to talk about it to Cookiemaker at the time. Come morning, it’s almst like he doesn’t realized it happened. We’ll ask him, and he’ll either (pretend to?) not hear the question or say “What are you talking about?”

  3. Our eldest had this happen a few years back. I guess she was about 4 when it happened. That early morning hour (between 1am and 2 am — I call it “the witching hour”) has always been a tough one for her, even when she was a baby. If she was awake at night, THAT was when she was awake.

    Unfortunately for all of us, that was the absolute worst time for me to be awake (I never get back to sleep), so the cycle spiraled — crabby mama, tired/crabby kid, no fun at all.

    I wish I could tell you what solved it. She shares a room with her younger sister, so our solution involved moving younger sis into my space in our bed, while I tried to get the elder back to sleep. I did find that the more normal and predictable I could make her day while she was awake, the easier it was to get her back to sleep. No changes in schedule, etc. And talking about it helped, though she was a bit older than yours.

    Basically, I wish I had THE ANSWER for you, a quick solution that works, but it really took a lot of patience, a lot of time and commitment, and a lot of napping to get us through it. I just wanted to let you know that it is hard, and the more you can do to be sure that most everyone gets the rest they need, the better equipped you’ll all be to handle it.

    Good luck! I’ll be thinking about you. And hoping my belated comment to your post comes to you on the other side (I just realized that your post is from two weeks ago)!

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