This post has been eaten three times now so I’m scared to hit post again, but here goes…
“I’m stumped, and I’m losing it. My 22-month-old son, always a
not-great napper but a great night sleeper, is involved in some kind of
He’s always been an early riser, but lately he’s been getting up at 4:30-5:00,
for about 3 months. We sleep in a basement, so it’s very very dark and
he has no way of knowing when it’s morning. There also isn’t enough
light for him to sit and play in his crib. He’s up at 5 and READY TO
GO. In desperation sometimes, we let him sleep with us in the rocking
chair for an extra hour, but he’s getting too big now and I’m trying to
break him of it.
We’ve always had trouble with naps. A few
months ago, I gave up and was sleeping with him for his naps–it was
good, since I got rest (I’m pregnant with my second). But now I’ve
realized I can’t commit to it forever, especially not with an infant on
the way. We trained, and it was a textbook four days– hour of
screaming, 40 mins, 20 mins no screaming. It lasted about a week. Now
he’s refusing again, and the last few days he’s screaming for a full
hour, no signs of sleep. After the hour we just get him up, and then
he’s exhausted and cranky until bedtime.
His day looks like this:
wake at 5:00
down for “nap”: 1:00
goes down fine at night, but wakes three and four times a night whining
or crying (not hysterical, not afraid), but wanting to rock in the
chair or sleep with someone. Usually with a pat he goes back down
easily, but wakes again a couple of hours later for more of the same.
- He’s not hungry: often won’t want to eat until 9 a.m.
- He has water in his crib if he wants it.
- He has an aquarium he can turn on if he wants some light
- He has a consistent bed and nap routine that has been the same since he was 6 weeks old.
- Temperature in his room is consistent
- His diet hasn’t changed
- As far as we can tell, he’s not sick or teething
- He snores, so his mattress is propped up at the head
- he’s going almost 8 hours between waking and nap. Is this too long? Is overtired/awake time still a thing at this age?
- We haven’t told him outright about the baby (it’s early yet),
but people are talking about it around him and he’s very smart. Is he
maybe sensing something? Do I smell different?
- I’ve heard of ignoring until 6 am, but how does that work? Does their body just suddenly learn what 6 feels like? Today he screamed from 4:30-5:30.
- Is he too young for one of those “ok to wake” clocks? I thought
that might help. He’s good with logic (as much as a toddler can be), so
maybe the image of sleep time and awake time will help?
We are losing our minds– we live
in very close quarters and we hear every sound he makes. I’m a SUPER
wimp about CIO, and I’m just at my wits’ end about how to fix this.
Please. pretty please. I’m trying my best to do everything right, and I’m failing at this. Help!”
no! You are not failing. And please, please don’t try to do everything
right–that’s an impossible goal. No parent can ever do everything
right. And even if you could, it wouldn’t be worth it. Kids need to know
their parents as people. Flawed, loving people. Not robots. So just be
who you are and stay connected to your kid.
Now, I’ve got nothing on the early waking thing. In the
almost-eight years I’ve been writing Ask Moxie, the waking at 5 am phase
is the only thing we’ve never come close to cracking. So the only thing
I can say is that he’ll eventually grow out of it.
The list of things you’ve already eliminated is
impressive. You hit everything I’d have told you to look at, especially
his diet (particularly artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners and gluten)
and teething. This sounds like general bodily discomfort that isn’t
letting his body fall or stay asleep, either night or day. Diet and
teething are the two things that directly cause bodily discomfort, but
it’s not either of those.
This also sounds like a sleep regression or developmental
stage, but it’s smack in the middle of the period right between the
18-month regression and the 24-month regression. So unless he’s a kid
who hits developmental stuff off the usual schedule (and I’m assuming
he’s not or you would have mentioned it), it’s not a typical regression.
So what else? It definitely seems like something’s just
not letting him stay asleep. Learning some new kind of movement? (But
for three full months?) Reflux? (But the times he’s waking and the fact
that he doesn’t want to eat when he wakes up don’t align with typical
Readers, what am I missing?