Sleep issues: not just for newborns!

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Categories Behavior, Napping, Overnight, Sleep, Toddlers

Around six months of age, my husband and I sleep trained our boys because nobody in our family was getting enough sleep. We were all miserable and sleep training changed that for us. After reading Pantley, Weissbluth, Mindell, and Ferber, we found Ferber’s explanations of schedules and sleep patterns to be most helpful to us. Unfortunately for him, Ferber is known as the CIO King when in fact, he believes CIO should be the measure of last resort AFTER you have fixed all other sleep issues.

The biggest lesson I learned from the book is humans thrive on schedule. I looked at my own life. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at roughly the same time every day. I go to bed and get up at about the same time. I have a bedtime routine where I floss and brush my teeth, talk to my husband, then read a book. After thinking about this and reading Ferber, my husband and I have been committed schedulers for our kids. They go to group day care where they eat and nap at the same time every day and we keep the same schedule at home on weekends. Bedtime is always 7:30. Our nighttime sleep issues have been minimal, with exceptions for illness and teething.

It was smooth sailing for two years, until we recently separated the boys into their own rooms at nap time. Sleeping apart, we found the boys napped much longer. Then we spent two weeks on vacation together… two weeks where the boys started suddenly sleeping later and napping longer, both welcome changes for a vacation schedule. You can probably guess what happened next. The boys started staying up later and later. Even though bedtime lights out is at 7:30, they’re in there talking and singing until as late at 10PM.

It happened so gradually that we didn’t notice there was an issue. A month ago, they were asleep by 7:45 and now it’s between 8:30 and 10PM. I consulted Ferber and of course, there is a section for kids who are up too late at night. And I was not surprised to read this is caused by kids napping too late or sleeping in too late. Both of which my boys are doing.

We are now in the processing of adjusting the boys’ schedule to get back on track. (None of the changes including crying, before anyone flames me.)  I can not stress enough how happy I was to have an expert that I trusted that I could consult on what to do. Once my boys were sleeping through the night, I thought we were done dealing with sleep issues. Our recent experience has shown me that worrying about my kids’ sleep is an important and ongoing part of parenthood.

Since my boys are still happy and sleeping well, you may wonder why we even care that they don’t go to sleep right away. Well, two toddlers unsupervised in a room can do quite a bit of damage. I wrote on my personal blog yesterday about the new fun nighttime past time they use to whittle away those bedtime awake hours – taking off their pajamas. If anything can make me consult a sleep expert, it’s the possibility of two un-potty trained toddlers stripping leaving me to clean up the mess.

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8 thoughts on “Sleep issues: not just for newborns!”

  1. I’m so happy to see this post because we are going through the stomach bug stuff right now with night vomiting/diarrhea and it’s killing me! Nothing compared to newborn days, but when you are used to the 7 pm-7am sleep habits of 14 month olds, a week of not having this is taxing!

  2. Ah, sleep issues. Do they ever go away? I find myself thinking ahead towards when we will have to WAKE two teenagers. It sounds lovely….

  3. This rings a big bell for me, too. Like you, we’ve always been good about schedules and sleep and in the past only had problems when the kids (who just turned two) are sick. They are also in separate rooms now due to napping issues that arose over the summer–the separate rooms solved that. Now, though, my son seems to be trying to drop his nap. He won’t sleep at naptime (1 p.m.), or if he does he takes forever to fall asleep (the other day he didn’t go down until 2:30, just played in his crib until then; he then slept until 3:40). And of course at bedtime (6:30 in our house) he doesn’t fall asleep until 8 pm. He is also sleeping later in the a.m. What to do? I have always used Weissbluth and his tactics have worked great for us, but I can’t find any help for this. Could it be time for us to move to a later bedtime, in the hopes of getting the nap back for Will? But how will that affect Ruth, who still sleeps great on this schedule? Ugh!

  4. i think as twin mamas we turn to the schedule immediately to maintain some semblance of order in life. as a stay at home, schedule is huge for us, it allows me some down time and the boys have an inkling of what the ‘real’ world will be like with school etc someday.

    bedtime is evolving for us a bit, we too did the vacation shake up and yesterday i made sure to start bathtime at 630 and wind down before that. it helps them so much.

    i think as they get older, the whole crying thing is lessened as they comprehend what we are asking of them. CIO was not really about crying in our house, it was about we the parents learning about their sleep needs and styles and respecting and adjusting for it all. having said that, we do not have great sleepers, but we know what they need.

    tim and i were talking about the schedule thing the other day and how we just know what they need (and do not need) because of it. all hail the schedule!

  5. I am so glad you wrote this. I have also been having recent problems. My twins are nearly two. My girl goes to sleep no problem, my boy climbs out of his crib repeatedly and two night in a row climbed into sister’s crib over and over. I am working to give him no extra attention and just put him back in his own crib. He puts up a fuss, cries, etc. Other twin ignores and sleeps. I do worry when they jabber and jabber and are in bed and not sleeping… We have used Wiessbluth methods.

    Thanks and take care.

  6. Great points on Ferber, and sleep training methods. I think there is a total misconception about these things out there. I too turned to Ferber out of desperation at the 7 month mark and was surprised to see how much the man made sense! At the time, like many many people, I was really at fault for perpetuating my boys’ poor sleeping habits.

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