Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MOM LIFE :: The Toddler Sleep Regression

We did not go through a sleep regression at 2 with my first.  It took a while to get her routine down but once we did she was set to go.  With my youngest, it's a different story.  He turned 2 right after New Year's but our sleep problems started a little earlier than that, right after Christmas.  At that time, he began to realize that when he went to bed life still went on downstairs and he started to fight bedtime.  Our bedtime routine stopped working overnight and we have been trying to work on it since.

So where are things now?  Well, bedtime tends to be a bit of a battle zone right now.  This is what we have tried so far:

1.  Changing his bedtime-  His bedtime has always been between 7:30 and 8 pm at night.  He's always been an early riser (5:30- 6 am, sometimes 5am) so he's usually tired by this time.  His afternoon nap lasts until 3 pm so there's a wide enough window to ensure he is somewhat tired.  We have moved his bedtime up until 9 pm on different days but we find that it tends to backfire.  He's usually too tired or overstimulated from playing and then settling down for sleep just gets harder.

2.  Limiting screen time- Right before his second birthday he got really into cartoons.  His 7-year old sister likes to watch one daily cartoon after school and he started to join in on the fun.  I only let them watch one show which is about 25 minutes long.  She does spend some time on her Kids Fire tablet and he has become increasingly interested in it so I have also started to limit his exposure to the tablet too.  The latter can be hard to handle.  I do not find that restricting his screen time makes a difference though but I still limit it because I think they should be spending time playing instead.  On days in which he does not watch any cartoons at all, he can still have the same trouble falling asleep at night.

3.  Night routine tweaks-  As my toddler started to fight bedtime, he also started to climb out of bed. He is now old enough to realize that the physical barriers surrounding his bed are surmountable and he is strong enough to pull himself over the railings.  He is also into climbing, onto everything.  After a few intense days of actively trying to climb out, the interest waned but he will still try to get out of bed randomly so we need to remain in the room until he's asleep.  We try to avoid communication with him while we are in his room but this can be challenging.  We are nowhere close to the spot of being able to just sit outside the door until he falls asleep. 

How much progress have we made?  Well it depends on the night.  He's not actively trying to climb out every minute but it's still a bit of a battle to get him to sleep for the night. 

Here are a couple of approaches I have heard or read about but have not tried:

1.  Melatonin:  My pediatrician suggested this on our last visit as something to try.  There is actually evidence that some kiddos just don't make enough melatonin to help them go to sleep so they get really hyped up at bedtime.  I have seen the supplement at my local pharmacy but have not purchased it.  I just find myself at odds with this approach.

2.  Crib nets:  These literally provide a top barrier over your toddler's crib that they should not be able to breach.  I have heard they can actually make your child more anxious so again I'm at odds with this too.  He's a bit of an escape artist (he can get through gates) and I think he would feel more anxious and be more prone to trying to escape his crib with a net over the top of it.

So here's where we are at.  Mamas of two-year old kiddos, do you find yourself in the thick of a sleep regression too?  If you made it past one, what worked for you?  My eldest (a girl) did not go through one so we are figuring our way through this one, one day at a time.  I would love to hear about your experiences!

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