We are having a rough time with our 2.5-year-old son in the morning. Almost every day, he gets out of his bed anywhere from 4 to 5 a.m. and starts playing with the shades, waking his 4-year-old brother (they share a room), coming into our room, and waking up me and my husband. We calmly but seriously put him back in bed with little or no talking, but he never goes back to sleep. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I know he's still tired because when we eventually take him downstairs around 5:30 or 6, he's an exhausted mess and throws tantrums about everything. On the rare day he sleeps through until 5:30 or 6 he's happy and starts the day without tantrums.
It also affects our 4-year-old, who would sleep until 6:30 if he could. Due to space limitations, the boys have to share a room.
Some background information: we have a stable and predictable schedule. He goes to bed at the same time every night and has a regular bedtime routine. He naps at the same time every day and always in his bed (not the car). He has been a difficult sleeper since he was born. We did the Ferber method when he was about 9 months old, but he has never gone more than a couple weeks without waking at night. We never turn it into a snuggle or play time. Before bed we've tried to give him simple rules: "No talking or getting out of bed before Mom and Dad come get you," and we have a night light that will turn green at 6 a.m., so we tell him to be quiet until the light is green. At night he always listens and agrees with us, then does the exact opposite in the morning. We can't punish him for this, and honestly, if he was completely rested I guess I could get used to getting up at 4:30, but he's overtired and we're frustrated and looking for some advice! Thank you!
From: Amy, Quincy
It sounds like you're doing everything right so, as I suggested to someone else recently, sometimes it's the schedule that needs tweaking. Maybe he's ready to be done with the nap...which might mean he would sleep more during the night or later in the morning. Every kid is different and has different needs for sleep. (The typical 2 1/2-year-old needs a total of 11 5/8 hours sleep per 24, usually with one nap, according to Ferber's book, "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: Revised Edition.")
Also, it sounds like he's in a bed, not a crib, and he's kind of young to have made that change. Going back to the crib is probably not possible -- or is it?
I hope readers can share strategies that have worked for them. He's too young for a pallet on the floor in your room. Honestly? Since he's been a poor sleeper from birth and since you're local, I would take advantage of the Children's Hospital Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders. Make an appointment, usually one consultation is all it takes. The best resources in the country are at your fingertips, what have you got to lose?
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