Posted by: Ingrid | August 5, 2011

Sleep and desist

Sleep has not been so good in the Rothell household this week.  In fact, everything I have previously known or understood about Isaac’s sleep habits has gone out the window and I am tired, angry, frustrated, perplexed, sneezy, grumpy and dopey.  Or something like that.

What I am hoping is that someone out there will say:  Oh!  That’s what my nearly 2 year old did and after a few days it was all better.  Because if not… well, best not to dwell on that.

So we had great sleep in California.  He went to bed easily, sleep for 10+ hours and took 1.5 to 2 hour naps.  Isaac was great.  Came home tired and had decent sleep for 4-5 days.  Then, out of nowhere, Isaac started screaming.  Like he was being tortured.  And he can keep this screaming up for a really long time.  So long in fact, that he has been hoarse the entire week.  Now we have dealt with crying and him calling out, and we would go in every 15 minutes and hold him, calm him down, lay him in his crib, and gradually it would subside and he would go to sleep.  With this new screaming if we go in it’s like he resets and doesn’t calm down at all.  He cries to get out.  If we pick him up he clings to us and holds on like a monkey.  If there were any reason for him to be terrified of being in bed, that is the closest thing I can think of for the way he’s behaving, but I have no idea why he’d be scared.

We are trying to get back on a schedule: down around 7:30 pm, up around 7:00 am, nap around 12:30.  We have a bedtime routine, the room is dark, we read books and cuddle and sing songs.  We have white noise going and their is a cup of water in the crib.  And this has all been working.  After his typical 2 hour nap on Sunday we have gone to: 2 hours and 40 minutes of screaming on Monday, a just over 1 hour nap on Tuesday, then 12 minutes, 7 minutes, and another 12 minutes today.  And by this I mean he screams for 35 minutes, sleeps for 12, then wakes up and cries until I get him out.  And last night he was awake until 9:10 and up at 6:15 this morning.  Nine hours of sleep?  He isn’t getting enough sleep at all and he’s showing signs of tiredness at nap and bedtime.

I am literally at my wit’s end.  Our house is small enough that you can’t escape the screaming and crying and frankly, I cannot deal with a toddler up and awake for 14-15 hours per day.  Can.  Not.  I find that by the time he gets up I don’t want to have anything to do with him.  There is no break and I feel like I have a strong visceral reaction the entire time he’s crying – it is physically and mentally painful – so even if he’s in his crib it’s not at all any type of restful break.

What to do, people?  Is this just a stage he’s going through?  Has this happened to you with your toddler?  Is this just a brief segue from normal sleep habits?  Am I going to live through this?

Will someone adopt me?  Please help!



  1. Have you checked his mouth for new molars? Sorry you are dealing with this!

    • This has been different than the random night waking with pain cries. I was pretty sure that he finished up with the molars in April but checked today to make sure (and boy is it hard to get a toddler to open up long enough to count teeth!). All 4 molars present and accounted for.

  2. Night terrors?

    • Maybe… this feels like the closest thing to what is going on, except it happens at bedtime. Maybe he’s had a bad dream and he doesn’t want to go to bed now? Because once he’s asleep at night he is out. In fact he slept almost 12 hours last night, probably a product of the not napping. I wish he could tell me what was going on!

  3. It’s not quite the same thing, but Mirren has had a tough time sleeping over the last couple of weeks, too. I looked online and it sounds like a lot of kids have sleep disturbances between 18 mos. and 2 years. I didn’t find anything helpful, aside from the fact that it’s always nice to know you haven’t suddenly started torturing your child without knowing it. I don’t know what to tell you beyond the fact that it looks like kids get through it and start sleeping like themselves again.

    • Thanks, Sarah. There really is something to knowing that you’re not alone, especially with something like sleep issues. I am amazed at how quickly bad sleep can impact our family.

  4. You will live through it.

  5. Oh yes, we’re getting lots of antics at bedtime that make it very difficult. And I’ve been getting screams when I pick up my 2 year old at daycare. One day last week, I had to sit in the car with him screaming for 20 minutes before he would agree to be strapped in (he’s too strong to force and I don’t want to hurt him), then he screamed the whole way home (5 minutes) then screamed when we got home and wouldn’t get out. At that point, I left the car door open and took a timeout for myself on the front porch. He sat in the car seat for another 20 minutes before agreeing to get out to look at a zoo brochure.

    • Wow…you might be a parent if…

    • Oh my goodness! That does not sound like fun at all! Good for you for giving yourself a time out. I am amazed at how determined (and loud) two year olds can be!

  6. molars

    • I did a teeth count today and all 20 are accounted for. I think he got his last set in April and was feverish and randomly cried out in the night from the pain. This is initially at bedtime and not through the night, it’s like we’re trying to put him in a crib filled with alligators or something.

  7. Yes, we had the same thing happen with our (now 3 year old) daughter. I thought it would never end, but somehow, it did. She now sleeps like a baby again 6.30 to 6.30, sometimes I think she’s like a teenager who won’t get up . I think it’s teething too. We got though with some baby panadol (in Australia) and teething gel. It happened for us after an illness and she became very clingy after that. Hang in there, It must be very tough being pregnant as well. I know that physical feeling in the gut when your baby crys and its just horrible. It will pass.

    • Well, I have ruled out the teething as all his teeth have been in for a few months. Maybe it is the coming off of our three week trip and a longer readjustment period than usual. I am hopeful that his sleep habits will mirror those of your daughter – twelve hours must be wonderful! 🙂

  8. having just come back from California, I vote transition & jet-lag recovery. by the way, i LOVE the honesty of this post. Love it. I think no one can listen to constant screaming and crying without going a little nuts and I have always thought that if I start to go crazy… would it be so wrong to buy ear plugs… NOT th ignore the whole thing but rather continue to comfort and reassure with the ear plugs in just to take the edge off a little bit.
    I used to wonder when my daughter was really young, like the first 3 months, if she even REALIZED that it was HER making that loud, disturbing noise. I had the impression that she was crying partially because of the loud, stressful crying noise in the room!

    • I really am hoping that it is the transition. And seeing as we were back from California for 1.5 weeks before leaving Isaac with a wonderful family for 5 days… I suppose that it makes sense that his sleeping is all messed up. I am actually listening to him yell as I type this. I just hope that things go back to normal soon!

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