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2 year old won't sleep

mommazilla

Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Joined
Jan 16, 2012
Messages
180
I hope this is the right place to post. Ya'll have helped me with so much and this is the only forum I belong to (maybe I should join a parenting one but the guinea pig parents here are so much better than judgy, catty human parents on parenting forums ;) ) so I thought I'd get some of your ideas.

My 2 and a half year old has a lot to be desired in the sleeping area. She's in a big girl bed and does really well at falling asleep but she still wakes up in the middle of the night about half the time. It's not just a little wake up though, it can last HOURS. She sings, she counts, she names colors and shapes (even in a dark room).

We've had a solid bedtime routine since she was just a few weeks old. She goes down most nights without incident. She is welcome in our bed as long as she actually goes back to sleep. I won't do 'cry it out' (fussing and crying are 2 different things in my book, I'll let her fuss). She goes to bed every night between 8 and 8:30 and rarely naps (god bless our souls, right?)

On a great night she will go down by 8:30 and we won't see or hear from her again until 8 or so the next morning. Typical is down at 8:30, up around 3 for an hour or two and then sleeps until 8ish. A bad night is down at 8:30, up at 1 until 3 and then back up for the day at 5:30.

Here is the only problem I can see... she is the worst eater and sometimes pecks at dinner like a bird. So, assuming that is the problem, what do I do with that? It took a lot of convincing by my pediatrician that she will eat when she's hungry but I'm not getting up and cooking her something at 3am. Is it ok or cruel or just expecting too much of a 2 year old to let her be hungry through the night? Will she figure it out after a few nights? I mean, there isn't a point of letting her be hungry (and all of us awake and miserable) if she's not going to figure out that she needs to eat dinner.

Could it be her bedtime? Could it be something else I'm not seeing? We need sleep! I expected middle of the night wake ups when she was younger, I handled them but at nearly 2 and a half I thought we'd all be sleeping again. Help!!
 
Maybe a snack before she goes to bed? Not a junky one, but maybe something you would have given her for dinner but saved it until later?

Does she get snacks in the afternoon? Maybe limiting those to just one, and not after about three o'clock, might help. I agree with you that it sounds like she might be hungry. A food/sleep diary might help you figure out a pattern of when she wakes and whether it has anything to do with how much supper she's had.
 
I have heard (but not had success) with the go to bed a half an hour later or earlier routine. Sometimes that helps. Maybe she is over tired or not tired enough so she is waking up, at least that is the theory.

You may want to try to load up on some protein before bed. Like a scrambled egg with cheese and a glass of milk as a bedtime snack. If she is waking up because she is hungry maybe something heavier will help her sleep longer.

I have had problems with getting my 2.5 year old to eat dinner as well. What has worked for us is simply limiting snacks. He eats breakfast, then lunch, gets a light snack around 3pm and then nothing (no milk, juice or food, water is OK) until dinner at around 5:30. He has started eating his dinner! Healthy kids will eat when they are hungry, they will not starve themselves to death, but we as parents can control when they eat! Eating a snack at a set time has really improved his dinner appetite.
 
a lot of 2 year olds are very picky with foods, i was the main carer for my little sister and she just wouldnt do it, i didnt want her to go hungry so i had to make her sit in her high chair and just wait it out with her, warming the plate up if it got too cold, she learnt she would rather eat it than miss out on her favourite toy time before bed, the first time it took 3 hours, she did cry but after that she ate and in the long run it helped her, i also did the same at bed time, when she got out i put her back in and sat with her just sat on the floor of her bedroom, and she got the message that i was there and she could sleep safely, eventually i didnt have to be in there i could walk out straight after. helps a treat, these techniques might seem harsh, nobody wants to see a 2 year old upset or cry but i feel in the longrun i helped her, she is now 5 and sleeps through the night peacefully and also eats up her meals and asks for seconds,
 
Are you getting up and going into her room every time she wakes up? Have you ever just let her sing herself back to sleep? As long as she's not getting up and walking around the house at night, I'd let her be. Put a baby gate by in her doorway so she can't walk around and see if she'll eventually fall back to sleep on her own. I wouldn't feed her at night, either. That could lead to poor eating habits. I'd keep a sippy cup with water near her bed that she can drink from if she's thirsty.
 
@bpatters and @Inle_Rabbit - Afternoon snacks are rare and if they are given it's light, like a couple crackers or a pretzel rod. I hadn't thought about a sleep/food diary but I like it! I have actually made an appt with her pediatrician but they can't get me in until July 2nd so I have time and he can look it over. The protein snack is a great idea, I'll be searching for something the picky little thing will eat! I do feel like 8:30 is plenty late for a 2 year old going to bed so I don't think I want to play with that to start with but if I could get her to take even a 30 minute nap during the afternoon, I think it might help. Right now I just sit her down on the couch with some cartoons or put her in bed with a few books. The cartoons keep her down longer and I choose them wisely.

What is it with toddlers and refusing to eat? She ate SO well as a baby. I ate stuff I hated just so it was in my milk and I hoped it would increase her tastes and she'd gobble anything off her tray but since she turned 1, the kid refuses to eat almost everything. (no joke, it felt like she went on a hunger strike the day after her birthday party!)

@scruffytufty - that's awesome that you were able to give her that reassurance.

@pinky - She has access to our room and even has a footstool at the end of our bed. If she goes back to sleep, she can stay but after 15 or 20 minutes we'll take her back to her bed with the only verbal engagement being 'it's still night night time, go back to sleep'. I actually just locked her in her bedroom this afternoon for the first time b/c I knew she needed a nap and I was sitting, wide awake, just a few feet from her door if she lost it. I don't know that I'd be ok doing that at night unless I sat up. I guess I could. She can scale a baby gate in no time though. It's still a great suggestion that I'm willing to try. Maybe she does only sing and count etc in bed with us since she has an audience and won't do it alone in her room.

Thanks for the suggestions!
 
@bpatters and @Inle_Rabbit - Afternoon snacks are rare and if they are given it's light, like a couple crackers or a pretzel rod. I hadn't thought about a sleep/food diary but I like it! I have actually made an appt with her pediatrician but they can't get me in until July 2nd so I have time and he can look it over. The protein snack is a great idea, I'll be searching for something the picky little thing will eat! I do feel like 8:30 is plenty late for a 2 year old going to bed so I don't think I want to play with that to start with but if I could get her to take even a 30 minute nap during the afternoon, I think it might help. Right now I just sit her down on the couch with some cartoons or put her in bed with a few books. The cartoons keep her down longer and I choose them wisely.

What is it with toddlers and refusing to eat? She ate SO well as a baby. I ate stuff I hated just so it was in my milk and I hoped it would increase her tastes and she'd gobble anything off her tray but since she turned 1, the kid refuses to eat almost everything. (no joke, it felt like she went on a hunger strike the day after her birthday party!)

@scruffytufty - that's awesome that you were able to give her that reassurance.

@pinky - She has access to our room and even has a footstool at the end of our bed. If she goes back to sleep, she can stay but after 15 or 20 minutes we'll take her back to her bed with the only verbal engagement being 'it's still night night time, go back to sleep'. I actually just locked her in her bedroom this afternoon for the first time b/c I knew she needed a nap and I was sitting, wide awake, just a few feet from her door if she lost it. I don't know that I'd be ok doing that at night unless I sat up. I guess I could. She can scale a baby gate in no time though. It's still a great suggestion that I'm willing to try. Maybe she does only sing and count etc in bed with us since she has an audience and won't do it alone in her room.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I think there's a big difference between crying and singing or reciting ABC's and singing. She sounds like she's just waking up and trying to settle back down. My son was in a regular bed at 18 months because he'd flip out of his crib. He'd hold the rail and flip himself over, almost like a somersault, to get out. He was always really active. We had nightlights in his room and the hall and a baby monitor in our room so we could hear him. We let him sleep in our room if he wanted to. He never wandered around the house at night but he would come into our room sometimes. My daughter was a deep sleeper and didn't wake up at night. Is your daughter very verbal? You might also want to talk about it with her during the day and see what she says. My daughter was a lot more verbal at that age than my son was so I'm not sure if that would work with your daughter or not.
 
My daughter went through a little bit of this both the picky eating and lack of sleeping. A snack before brushing/bed time really helped a lot, we did fruit, crackers, carrots, nuts, yogurt, pretty much anything healthy that we had on hand and that she wanted. During this time I also took the nightlight out of her room and put it in the hallway so when she did wake it was semi dark and made it easier to fall asleep. It lasted a couple months but with the snack and removing the night light it became less frequent till it pretty much stopped.
 
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