Why is it so hard for my toddler to sleep?

Chandyc - posted on 07/29/2014 ( 1 mom has responded )

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We need help.....desperately! My daughter, age 3, has pretty much been a notoriously horrible sleeper. She has been on a bedtime routine since she was 1. We have even seen a behavioral specialist to address her sleep. Nothing seems to work. She is a very active little girl, always on the go. She has very big emotion with everything she does. She has never been able to self sooth. It usually takes 1-2 hours for her to fall asleep. We have tried early and later bed times. We have tried small naps and no naps. She also wakes up in the middle of the night usually between 12-1. Help help! My husband and I have no time to relax and unwind, and forget a sex life! I would love to hear some advice!

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Chet - posted on 07/29/2014

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Our second daughter was like this. She was about 5.5 before her sleep settled down.

As a toddler and preschooler it took her a very long time to unwind and fall asleep. She was the same as your daughter with the big emotions and the high activity level. We just worked hard at finding ways to help her get the sleep she needed.

For awhile we would take her for a walk in the stroller every evening and then transfer her to bed once she fell asleep. The other thing I would do was read with a night light (usually for at least an hour) until she feel asleep. In her case, the trick was finding a way to keep her still for the hour she needed to relax enough to fall asleep.

For us, the night waking was the result of being overtired. The big emotions and the crazy activity level really burned her out. Eventually we figured that if she didn't get 11.5 to 12 hours of sleep she would be super overtired and more disrupted sleep would follow. She always woke up at the same time in the morning, so she had to be asleep by 7:30pm.

It took us a really long time to figure this out though, because a single night with less that 11.5 hours of sleep would take at least three nights to recover from. Once we established that being awake later than 7:30pm was the problem things got better. It also helped us to at least know when to expect the night waking and how long it would last.

2 to 4 was really difficult. We did what we needed to do to get through it. 4 to 5 wasn't so bad. She's 9 now and been okay going to sleep since she was about five and a half.

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