19 Month Old

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19 Month Old

Postby Felix1 » Fri 07 Jun, 2013 8:55 pm


Hoping that you may be able to give some advice. My 19 month old who has previously been a good sleeper and easily settled himself to sleep (with a few hiccups along the way!) will now not go down to sleep when I put him down to bed. It's the same for both his day sleep and at night time, but, goes to sleep as usual if anyone else (my husband, or his grandparents) put him to bed.

It's quite frustrating- we all follow the same routine- story, song, bed, but when I put him down he starts screaming before I even have him in the cot, and is standing up before I leave the room. If I stay to help him settle, either by putting and shushing, or just with my hand on him, heis quiet, until I leave the room, and then he starts screaming again. When I return (after 10-15 min) he stops screaming as soon as I enter the room and doesn't need any calming down. My husband is able to leave the room when he is awake as usual, with no reaction, however it is not the same with me.

It has been going on for about a week now, at the moment my husband is just trying to help out at bed time as much as possible, but I'm worries that this may exacerbate the problem. On the days when he isn't able to be there, it can take up to 90 minutes for him to go to sleep.

Advice and suggestions much appreciated!
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Re: 19 Month Old

Postby NgalaOnline » Sun 09 Jun, 2013 5:00 pm

Hi Felix1

Thank you for your post. It is very common for toddlers to go through phases where they appear to show preference towards one parent over the other, or are more clingy to one parent. This can be upsetting to the "rejected" parent and frustrating for the parent to whom the child is being clingy, but is a normal developmental phase which usually passes within a few weeks to months. It is common that during these phases children may settle easier for one parent than the other. Parents can often feel very anxious that this phase will continue on indefinitely if they "encourage it" by allowing the one parent to do all the settling but this is usually not the case. It sounds as though your child has some good sleep skills established, such as the ability to settle himself to sleep. It is very beneficial to retain these skills, so if your son is currently settling easily for your partner and therefore is able to go to sleep without needing any extra assistance to settle, then it is best to allow your partner to put your son to bed for now. If your child requires extra attention and settling when you settle him this has the potential to become a sleep association that may need to then be removed. It is very likely that if you try again in a few weeks to put him to bed, this phase will be forgotten and he will again allow you to settle him as he will have retained his ability to settle himself. You may find it helpful to gradually introduce yourself back into the bedtime routine in a few weeks, such as being part of some of it alongside your partner and then gradually taking over more of the routine until you are eventually the one to put him to bed. If he resists this then it is best to go back to allowing your partner to settle him and try again a few weeks down the track.

If your partner is not available and you need to settle your son to sleep, your approach of coming and going (giving some soothing in the cot when you attend) and leaving again when he is settled is appropriate. It is best to attend to him whenever he sounds distressed rather than waiting for a timed interval before returning, but the fact that he is easily soothed as soon as you return suggests that he is likely to be protesting rather than getting distressed. It is best to continue on with a predictable wind down pattern before bed, and try not to show much anxiety or "fuss" if he does protest about you putting him to bed. If you find he gets too distressed about you leaving the room it is ok to remain in the room until he falls asleep. It is best to limit hands-on settling if possible, or if he requires it then gradually wean it off over a few days so you are taking your hands off as he is a little more awake each day. Some parents find they may need to remain in the child's bedroom for a few days or a week or so whilst the child goes to sleep - and sometimes this is enough for the child to drop the anxiety about bedtime and begin settling again without any problems. Often within a few days or a week this phase is forgotten and the parent can again begin to leave the room before the child goes to sleep, as the child has become comfortable again with going to sleep and has retained his ability to self settle. Other parents may find that they need to gradually wean themselves out of the room over a week, such as sitting a little closer to the doorway each night as the child is going to sleep. The parent may then spend a few nights sitting in the doorway of the room and making short excursions from the doorway and back again, which is built up in length as the child tolerates this.

I hope that this information is helpful. I believe that it is likely that this phase will pass shortly. Please ring Ngala if you would like some more help and support.
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 http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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