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My Ngala • View topic - 1yr old and 2yr old can't go to sleep and waken early

1yr old and 2yr old can't go to sleep and waken early

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These forums are being moderated by Ngala Online. Questions posted will be answered by a Ngala parenting professional. They are open for use to all residents of Australia.

Re: 1yr old and 2yr old can't go to sleep and waken early

Postby NgalaOnline » Sat 15 Dec, 2012 2:30 pm

Hi Sleepisadream

Thank you for your post. It does sound as though you are going through a very difficult phase at the moment. It is common for parents to feel that their confidence is being shaken during a time that they are experiencing trialing behaviour with their children.

Your evenings do sound very stressful at the moment. If at all possible, it would be very helpful if you would be able to get some support in the home for a week or so in the evenings whilst you try to make some changes to your children's evening settling. It may be that your partner is able to take some leave, or you may like to ask a friend or family member if they could spend several evenings helping you with your children's settling. When there is just one child to deal with it is often possible to make some changes whilst still remaining in the room if the child seems to derive a lot of comfort from parental presence in the room. For instance, it would be helpful to look at whether you are doing anything that may be a sleep association for your child when you are sitting in their room - such as having physical contact with your child as s/he falls asleep, talking or singing. If you are doing any of these things it may be helpful to try to stop doing these things but still remain sitting on the floor in your child's room. In this situation the child would usually protest about the change for around 2-4 nights and then adjust to the new way of settling. You would then be able to begin to move yourself towards the door over a period of a few nights - beginning every evening sitting a little closer to the door. By the end of a week you could aim to be sitting on a chair in the doorway at the beginning of the evening. When your child has experienced this for a night or two you could then begin walking away from the chair for short periods such as 30 seconds or so before returning - building up your length of absence over a few days or a week. This approach can take some time and patience but many parents do find it a successful way of getting their child used to falling asleep without them in their room.

With 2 children both needing you in different rooms at the same time, however, if you are not able to find another person able to assist you for a week or so this approach above may not work for you. In this case you may need to take the approach of giving your children a calming and predictable evening settling routine incorporating several cues that bedtime is approaching (such as a story in their room, turning out the lights together and then a verbal cue such as "sleep time now"). You may then find that you need to sit in the hallway and come and go into each of your children depending on how they sound. If their noises are low toned and have pauses in them this indicates they are not distressed at that time. If your child's cries change to highpitched cries without pauses this indicates the child is becoming distressed and needs some reassurance. You may like to then go in and offer some calming (in the cot where possible) before leaving the room again to attend your other child. Some parents find that their child is reassured just by them standing in the doorway "sssshhhing". If your children are disturbed by each others noises at settling or early in the morning it can be helpful to have some white noise in their room such as a fan or radio playing static.

Early morning waking can be difficult to solve, particularly if the child has had a full night's sleep and is feeling rested. If your child has sleep associations s/he cant perform for himself (such as being patted or sung to sleep) it may be that s/he is rousing between sleep cycles and waking fully when s/he notices the absence of the sleep association but then being unable to return to sleep as it is nearing morning. Most early morning waking, particularly in summer, is in response to light or sound coming into the child's room. Often even a few rays of light are enough to cause a child to wake, so it may be helpful to look at ways you can darken your child's room further. Birds singing, sprinklers coming on or neighbouring cars going to work can all wake a child but can be dulled by white noise playing in the room. It is usually best to first address causes of night time waking and unsettledness, and many parents find that this in turn leads to longer periods of sleep.

It sounds as though you may find a consultation very helpful. In a consultation you are able to sit down with a Ngala worker and make a plan as to how to address your children's settling. After this consultation you would receive phone followup from the same Ngala worker for several weeks. Consults can be done via webcam or phone if you are rural. For more information or support please call the Ngala helpline. I hope you see some improvements in your situation soon.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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