Dealing with extreme bedtime behavior (vomiting)

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  September 1, 2011 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

At bedtime, our 2 yro tries uses delay tactices to postpone going to sleep (requesting, water, juice, socks, book, song, etc). When we've hit our limit of 3 books and she's finished her milk, we put her in but she gets so upset with crying that she makes herself vomit! This is even more distressing because she does not eat well and has been having trouble putting on weight. So to see her lose her whole dinner and evening milk is very worrisome. We are resolving to not give her extra attention because of the vomiting, to just clean it up and put her back to bed, but how long do you think we should stick to this tactic if doesn't immediately work?

From: ElmoDuck, Newton, MA

Hey ElmoDuck,

Stick with it. I'm sure this was a wrenching decision, but it's a good one. Some kids, your daughter being one of them, can get so emotionally worked up that they vomit. Many of their parents, understandably, get so upset that they capitulate and back off from the expectation they were setting. Unfortunately, they then become enablers. Their child learns that if she gets upset enough, her parents back down. This week, it's about bedtime, next week, it could be about not wanting to wear shoes.

I think your real question is whether there's a limit to how many nights of vomiting she can tolerate. "Probably not," says Dr. Dennis Rosen, associate medical director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Boston Children's Hospital. He also writes a blog about pediatric sleep issues for Psychology Today.

He recommends doing exactly what you are doing: matter-of-factly clean her up, change her pj's and stay with your bedtime routine. "If you continue with the same consistent message, she'll learn within two to four nights that crying and vomiting is getting her nothing." That's well within a tolerable range, for her and for you.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

26 comments so far...
  1. Why is she going to bed with a full stomach? Maybe she needs to eat earlier and perhaps have a more digestible meal. Also, some people don't digest cow's milk very well and then it sits in their stomachs and any crying or even any physical activity will bring it up. Perhaps it's nothing but maybe it would be good to go over the eating plan with the pediatrician to see if some of the eating issues are part of the problem.

    Posted by Favorite Auntie September 1, 11 09:32 AM
  1. My nephew was the same way. My brother had to deal with it for a month. The kid would vomit about twice a week. Just keep doing what you are doing.

    Posted by ME September 1, 11 10:34 AM
  1. I think having a routine is very good, but there's probably something that's not working for her anyway. There could be a food that bothers her stomach. Not that's causing her to vomit, but causing her to be unsettled. She could just need more time with her parents. (We laid down with our children for much longer than two years.)

    Anyway, many kids are lactose intolerant. Some are celiac (which can cause poor weight gain).

    I would not recommend being inattentive due to the vomiting. I would look at it as her trying to tell you something rather than simply trying to manipulate you. This is a 2yo--she won't be that age for very long. If the routine you're doing isn't working, don't be afraid to change it up a bit or give her a bit more comfort. Getting worked up enough to vomit is very worked up.

    Posted by Beth September 1, 11 02:02 PM
  1. Never let a kid's tantrum (and this is what we are talking about here) end up in a win for the kid. Even one win in 10 tries teaches them that tantrums are worth it, and you'll enter an endless tantrum cycle.

    Continue with the evening routine, put up with the tantrums, stick with not rewarding her with extra attention when she throws one, and the behavior will end.

    If it does not, re-examine what you do differently when she is upset - you might be rewarding her in some way without realizing it.

    Also, consider having somebody you trust over to observe the routine - maybe they'll notice something that you are missing.

    And definitely, no food just before bedtime - try to feed them dinner, brush their teeth then stick with drinking water until bed.

    Good luck - doing the right thing might be hard in the short term, but pays off handsomely in the long term. Stick with it.

    Posted by HBX September 1, 11 03:31 PM
  1. My son did the same thing! Keep doing what you are doing. Highly recommend reading Dr Ferber's book Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems - it was a life saver!

    Posted by Been There Mom September 1, 11 04:53 PM
  1. Why did we go to bed when our parents told us to when we were young? I'll tell ya, because we were afraid of what would happen if we did not. IF something important occured (like when The Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show), they would tell us we could watch it.

    Posted by George September 1, 11 05:06 PM
  1. I'm going to add something that was told me when I was diagnosed with migraines. Vomiting is a brain stem function; it's not a minor thing. I'm not at all sure that this child's problem is purely a problem of discipline and enforcement of regular bedtime.

    Posted by Favorite Auntie September 1, 11 07:22 PM
  1. I highly recommend reading "The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight guide to Helping your Kids Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep, and Wake up Happy". It was a lifesaver for our family and many other people I've lent it to. It's about $6 on amazon and was the best money I ever spent. You CAN get your child to sleep without them screaming, crying, or vomiting. My oldest child was just the same...leaving him in the crib alone he would just work himself up until vomiting. Even Ferber notes that some children do not respond well to his methods. The Sleep Lady's method is simple and it works. And trust me, some kids just need extra help learning to "shut down" at night. My youngest just lies down and goes to sleep. Immediately. So I know it's not me- it's just their different personalities.

    Posted by Salem Mom September 1, 11 09:10 PM
  1. Vomiting is not an immediate sign of a food allergy. Most food allergies react within 5 to 15 minutes of ingestion/inhalation and usually have other factors (wheezing/lower GI issues/hives, etc) in addition to the vomiting.

    Some kids just get worked up so much that they vomit. It's them having a sense of control over feelings that they are out of control. They could be having anxiety about going to bed, the covers are scratchy, the food (may be) allergy laden or something else in their day.

    Try a routine (yes) and also observe what makes your child anxious/nervous during the day and before bedtime. Avoid these triggers as best as you can or prepare her ahead of time to handle the trigger. Writing out a social story with big pictures helps as they have a visual reminder of what happens next which gives them a sense of security that they know what's happening.

    Posted by Asperger Ninja September 2, 11 07:56 AM
  1. Call me crazy, but that sounds like a kid who has real anxiety about going to bed. Could it possibly be that she is displaying this behavior because she needs a little help managing her anxiety. Teaching her to relax and maybe leading her through some deep breathing exercises could help her out? Christiane Kerr has some very lovely relaxation CDs for children and one of them might be just the thing you need to help your daughter relax into sleep, or there should be meditation scripts on the web you could adapt to her needs and make your own relaxation and meditation tape for her.

    Posted by merilisa September 2, 11 08:13 AM
  1. ITA with the previous commenter about the food and especially the milk. That can aggravate the vomiting.

    Limit after dinner stuff to one small snack (with protein and/or fiber) and water. If I eat too big a dinner and/or something with a lot of dairy, I usually wake up with an upset stomach.

    You might also find out if there is something else bothering your child at bedtime. My daughter went to bed very easily until she was 2, and then it became a nightmare. Several years ago she told me that she used to hear "people talking in the walls." I realized what the problem was: we had moved to a new house when she was 2, and her new room was over the living room. She could hear the television, and the disembodied voices had been scaring her.

    Posted by Holly September 2, 11 09:53 AM
  1. Cosleep. I did with mine and at 10 and 13 they are VERY Independent kids who don't sleep with me.

    Posted by elle September 2, 11 09:54 AM
  1. I have nothing to add about your dilemma, but... Just in case it hasn't occurred to you - don't forget to have her re-brush her teeth afterwards. Stomach acid will erode the teeth.

    Posted by Mommy September 2, 11 02:18 PM
  1. You need to ask other questions, like: once she is asleep does she STAY asleep? Does she finish her food when given it? Does she run out of energy between meals? Does she throw world class tantrums, or wind herself up when she is clearly too tired? Try to answer them, and talk to your pediatrician again.

    It took 6 years of sleep issues, a lot of consultation with our Pedi that our girl was both lactose intolerant and had sleep apnea (which caused night-terrors), because she never displayed the other normal symptoms.

    Switched to Lactaid, had the tonsils and adenoids removed. Went to bed immediately no problem, and slept thru the night. If only I could - once I was trained to get up twice a night, I had trouble unlearning it ;).

    As for the difficulty gaining weight, consider giving her 6 - 8 smaller meals during the day, instead of 3 large ones. Don't make her clean her plate, let her graze. Weight gain will improve.

    Posted by Been there, Acton Mom September 2, 11 03:36 PM
  1. Hmmm... My kid did not eat well, had trouble putting on weight, and could work himself into a frenzy and vomit at bedtime. Turns out he has celiac disease. Since he's been on the gluten-free diet, no more vomiting.

    I totally disagree with this advice. Find another bedtime strategy. Vomiting up her dinner is not doing her a bit of good, and I'm sure it makes her nights and probably her mornings terribly uncomfortable, when she wakes up ravenously hungry.

    Hunger itself can cause behavior problems, as can stomach discomfort. Is laying down uncomfortable for her, especially with a full stomach? Reflux could be an issue, or food allergies, or celiac, or something else entirely.

    I assume you're working with her pedi on the weight issue. Keep at it! Insist on a full failure-to-thrive workup-- it took my pedi 9 months after I brought up his weight problems before she finally ran the (simple!) blood tests. Pediatricians, as a rule, I think are not very good at dealing with underweight kids. It can be subtle, manifesting in behavior as well as physical symptoms.

    Good luck-- and if she's not ready for "sleep training" yet, well, just put it off for awhile. Five years from now it won't matter.

    Posted by CM September 2, 11 05:15 PM
  1. Diet is not necessarily an issue. My 2YO started fighting bedtime when we first put her in her own room (we co-slept until she was about a year old), and still does, but while she made herself vomit a few times, she eventually stopped doing so after we didn't give her any special treatment because of it (other than just cleaning her up). Now she tries to gag herself when she's having a tantrum and only *very* occasionally succeeds in making herself vomit (usually when her tummy is upset for other reasons, like too much junk food at Grandma's house).

    Posted by dx2718 September 3, 11 02:50 PM
  1. I don't understand why parents choose to torture their kids in making them " cry themselves to sleep". How cruel is that? How can you listen to your child's crying to the point of throwing up. Is it that hard to lie down together in bed for the sake of peace and quiet and maybe not letting the kid stress so much? I don't think it is healthy for their mental development to let them scream every night.
    We did go to "sleep" or snuggle together with our kids until they were 3-4 years old. And it didn't last forever. And most of the time it took only 30 min to stay there with them, We actually enjoyed those evenings of closeness.
    Some parents imagine that a two year old should have a mind of a 15 or 18 year old and go to bed whenever you tell them to. It has nothing to do with the routine, kids that age just want to be with their parents especially in the evenings.

    Posted by minia September 3, 11 06:30 PM
  1. Lying down with her isn't a bad idea, but it can be a difficult habit to break. Our first would not sleep alone until he was nearly four -- if the parent crept out, he would wake up early in the night and demand that they return.

    With a second on the way we decided that he needed a "big boy" bed and a new room, which resolved the problem. But it was very disruptive to our lives and our own sleep for a few years first.

    If weight gain and vomiting are an issue, perhaps encourage more frequent smaller meals? Milk at bedtime may help some children relax, but she can get her dairy at other times during the day.

    Posted by TF September 4, 11 01:42 PM
  1. This is a fascinating interchange. And I can see both sides as right. It all depends on the intention of the child. She may be ill or she may be trying to manipulate. Or maybe there's something happening before or during sleep that is terrifying her. I had Graves disease. and I'll tell you the dreams and weird states of consciousness one goes through with that endocrine imbalance are terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Where do you think the ideas of dragons, were wolves, vampires, etc come from? And why do these stories appeal to young people? It helps them cope with a dimension of human existence that many adults forget or have never experienced. Night terrors are very real to whoever experiences them. I like the person who wrote in to say they laid with their children for longer than two years. Bravo for your humanistic actions.

    Posted by Terri September 4, 11 09:08 PM
  1. We had this EXACT same issue. My Pedi recommended we seek out help from Early Intervention. We are co-sleepers and also practicing extended breastfeeding with our 2 year old. Early Intervention helped us with 3 visits. and now he has been going to bed with no problems for about 4 months. Our lives have completely changed due to Early Intervention. For our son it was an anxiety surrounding bedtime and this started as early as 6 to 8 months. The best things about Early Intervention is they come to your home, they help you find a plan that is do-able for your family, and they are experts in this field. Good Luck!

    Posted by Erin Cyr September 5, 11 10:06 AM
  1. My daughter does this - she started a year ago and it's not regular anymore but she does vomit every once in a while because she gets so worked up. I don't think she is doing it intentionally to get a response or anything. She just cries so hard her stomach muscles end up making her vomit. One of us cleans up and one of us puts her back to sleep. There's nothing more we can do. She has a routine - it's the same thing every night too.

    Posted by Bostonweddingblog September 6, 11 10:41 AM
  1. Our daughter is similar. Failure to thrive (ie to put on weight...at almost 3, she weighs 24 pounds, which is what many 1 year olds weigh and she can wear as small as 12-18 month clothing, although she wears larger due to her height, which is closing in on 36 inches), and vomiting from working herself up.

    Regarding weight gain...you are working with a pedi GI, right? If you need a referral, we did really well with George Russell at MGH in their division of pediatric gastroenterology. Confirm that there are no food allergies/sensitivities/etc going on, and that the vomiting is purely a behavioral issue.

    If it is, keep on what you're doing.

    Consider if your child might need a later bedtime. I realize conventional wisdom is that kids need to go to bed between 6-8pm, but our daughter does best going to bed at 10, and sleeping until 10 (and honestly, we're happier too, as neither my husband nor I are morning people either). Our daughter flipped at an 8pm bedtime, but not the 10pm (we go to sleep around 2am, so we're still getting our couple time each night, too).

    Do you have a nightlight?

    Do they need a calming agent/distraction? Our daughter goes to sleep best if there is music or an episode of Sesame Street playing on her iPod. Yes, again, this isn't conventional wisdom, but it works...and both my partner and I went to sleep with music for years, but do not need the crutch any longer. It did not cripple us for life. We each have attended top tier universities (him-MIT, me-Harvard) and the tv that we watched (far more than our daughter does) obviously did no harm. Music was a long established thing, but the sesame street began with extreme jet lag (we travel between the US and Asia...a 12 hour time difference) and has continued to work.

    Does your child need a sleep consult?

    Or do they just need tough love?

    It's all about your family's values. What works for us doesn't mean it will work for you. Obviously with a child who has FTT issues, keeping down the calories is the primary importance and doing whatever it takes is of far greater importance than parents who have never had a FTT child can understand.

    Posted by C September 6, 11 07:11 PM
  1. This is just so sad, there needs to be a better way. I'm all for firmness, and a routine, but this routine is not working.

    The best personal advice I ever got was from a friend who said, "Every kid is different, and then they change." The best advice book was "Raising Your Sensitive Child." The big take-away was that what works for most children may not work for yours. Sleeping was not an issue for my child, but time-outs were: They escalated the tension and upset rather than reducing them. Since my goal was to calm things down, not train a child in time-outs, I had to find another solution. Instead of a time-out corner, I tried a 'quiet step,' with both of us sitting down on the bottom step of the stairs for the five minutes on the timer, no talking. That worked. Consider trying a 'sitting quietly' time, where you sit and read a book to yourself, after the story, while your child goes to sleep. No getting up, no errands for water or other things, just sitting quietly. If that doesn't work, try something else.

    Posted by Susan September 7, 11 11:55 AM
  1. My grandson is allergic to dairy & nuts. He was diagnosed for the problem by the time he was 3. By then he had food aversions in addition to the allergies. He really only ate a few things and would avoid anything not crunchy or crisp.
    "Food school", which used a behavioral & had slowly maked progress but by 7 he still would vomit when an unfamiliar food was introduced. His mom had a micro-stimulation device (CES)that is used to soothe people when uptight. It was avialable when he had just vomited and instead of ending the session she put it on B. and the vomting stopped. Now, each time new food is offered to him his mom employs the CES and he calmly faces and even will try the unfamiliar item.

    Posted by Harold Stecer November 3, 11 10:10 PM
  1. My daughter and son are 4 & 6 - My son who is 4 usually goes to sleep within 5 minutes of being in his bed. My daughter who is 6 on the other hand ALWAYS GIVES ME A FIGHT EVERY NIGHT! It's either she is too hott, too cold, thirsty, has to goto the bathroom, has to ask me something (then when i go in there she just goes ummm ummmm i forgot) She screams and cries off the top of her lungs. . what do i do? I feel sooo bad and have hard time ignoring it. It usually gets to the point where im so fed up and sooo stressed out from all the chaos that I end up yelling. What do I do and how do i make this easier for myself and my children?? I've tried making charts and having stickers that they can earn and every 3rd day in a row they get a sticker they get to pick out of the prize box, if they get a x they have to start all over. It just seems like everything I say or try to do is a joke to them. Any suggestions?!?

    Posted by Stephanie Mink July 31, 12 09:21 PM
  1. Man there are some hippie retards on here!

    Many of you think diet is the root off all issues...get off it friends. Sometimes your kids simply vomits because they have worked themselves into a frenzie...plain and simple. The don't always need soy milk that has been extracted from the nipples of fairies!

    Posted by catdog October 30, 12 09:57 PM
 
26 comments so far...
  1. Why is she going to bed with a full stomach? Maybe she needs to eat earlier and perhaps have a more digestible meal. Also, some people don't digest cow's milk very well and then it sits in their stomachs and any crying or even any physical activity will bring it up. Perhaps it's nothing but maybe it would be good to go over the eating plan with the pediatrician to see if some of the eating issues are part of the problem.

    Posted by Favorite Auntie September 1, 11 09:32 AM
  1. My nephew was the same way. My brother had to deal with it for a month. The kid would vomit about twice a week. Just keep doing what you are doing.

    Posted by ME September 1, 11 10:34 AM
  1. I think having a routine is very good, but there's probably something that's not working for her anyway. There could be a food that bothers her stomach. Not that's causing her to vomit, but causing her to be unsettled. She could just need more time with her parents. (We laid down with our children for much longer than two years.)

    Anyway, many kids are lactose intolerant. Some are celiac (which can cause poor weight gain).

    I would not recommend being inattentive due to the vomiting. I would look at it as her trying to tell you something rather than simply trying to manipulate you. This is a 2yo--she won't be that age for very long. If the routine you're doing isn't working, don't be afraid to change it up a bit or give her a bit more comfort. Getting worked up enough to vomit is very worked up.

    Posted by Beth September 1, 11 02:02 PM
  1. Never let a kid's tantrum (and this is what we are talking about here) end up in a win for the kid. Even one win in 10 tries teaches them that tantrums are worth it, and you'll enter an endless tantrum cycle.

    Continue with the evening routine, put up with the tantrums, stick with not rewarding her with extra attention when she throws one, and the behavior will end.

    If it does not, re-examine what you do differently when she is upset - you might be rewarding her in some way without realizing it.

    Also, consider having somebody you trust over to observe the routine - maybe they'll notice something that you are missing.

    And definitely, no food just before bedtime - try to feed them dinner, brush their teeth then stick with drinking water until bed.

    Good luck - doing the right thing might be hard in the short term, but pays off handsomely in the long term. Stick with it.

    Posted by HBX September 1, 11 03:31 PM
  1. My son did the same thing! Keep doing what you are doing. Highly recommend reading Dr Ferber's book Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems - it was a life saver!

    Posted by Been There Mom September 1, 11 04:53 PM
  1. Why did we go to bed when our parents told us to when we were young? I'll tell ya, because we were afraid of what would happen if we did not. IF something important occured (like when The Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show), they would tell us we could watch it.

    Posted by George September 1, 11 05:06 PM
  1. I'm going to add something that was told me when I was diagnosed with migraines. Vomiting is a brain stem function; it's not a minor thing. I'm not at all sure that this child's problem is purely a problem of discipline and enforcement of regular bedtime.

    Posted by Favorite Auntie September 1, 11 07:22 PM
  1. I highly recommend reading "The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight guide to Helping your Kids Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep, and Wake up Happy". It was a lifesaver for our family and many other people I've lent it to. It's about $6 on amazon and was the best money I ever spent. You CAN get your child to sleep without them screaming, crying, or vomiting. My oldest child was just the same...leaving him in the crib alone he would just work himself up until vomiting. Even Ferber notes that some children do not respond well to his methods. The Sleep Lady's method is simple and it works. And trust me, some kids just need extra help learning to "shut down" at night. My youngest just lies down and goes to sleep. Immediately. So I know it's not me- it's just their different personalities.

    Posted by Salem Mom September 1, 11 09:10 PM
  1. Vomiting is not an immediate sign of a food allergy. Most food allergies react within 5 to 15 minutes of ingestion/inhalation and usually have other factors (wheezing/lower GI issues/hives, etc) in addition to the vomiting.

    Some kids just get worked up so much that they vomit. It's them having a sense of control over feelings that they are out of control. They could be having anxiety about going to bed, the covers are scratchy, the food (may be) allergy laden or something else in their day.

    Try a routine (yes) and also observe what makes your child anxious/nervous during the day and before bedtime. Avoid these triggers as best as you can or prepare her ahead of time to handle the trigger. Writing out a social story with big pictures helps as they have a visual reminder of what happens next which gives them a sense of security that they know what's happening.

    Posted by Asperger Ninja September 2, 11 07:56 AM
  1. Call me crazy, but that sounds like a kid who has real anxiety about going to bed. Could it possibly be that she is displaying this behavior because she needs a little help managing her anxiety. Teaching her to relax and maybe leading her through some deep breathing exercises could help her out? Christiane Kerr has some very lovely relaxation CDs for children and one of them might be just the thing you need to help your daughter relax into sleep, or there should be meditation scripts on the web you could adapt to her needs and make your own relaxation and meditation tape for her.

    Posted by merilisa September 2, 11 08:13 AM
  1. ITA with the previous commenter about the food and especially the milk. That can aggravate the vomiting.

    Limit after dinner stuff to one small snack (with protein and/or fiber) and water. If I eat too big a dinner and/or something with a lot of dairy, I usually wake up with an upset stomach.

    You might also find out if there is something else bothering your child at bedtime. My daughter went to bed very easily until she was 2, and then it became a nightmare. Several years ago she told me that she used to hear "people talking in the walls." I realized what the problem was: we had moved to a new house when she was 2, and her new room was over the living room. She could hear the television, and the disembodied voices had been scaring her.

    Posted by Holly September 2, 11 09:53 AM
  1. Cosleep. I did with mine and at 10 and 13 they are VERY Independent kids who don't sleep with me.

    Posted by elle September 2, 11 09:54 AM
  1. I have nothing to add about your dilemma, but... Just in case it hasn't occurred to you - don't forget to have her re-brush her teeth afterwards. Stomach acid will erode the teeth.

    Posted by Mommy September 2, 11 02:18 PM
  1. You need to ask other questions, like: once she is asleep does she STAY asleep? Does she finish her food when given it? Does she run out of energy between meals? Does she throw world class tantrums, or wind herself up when she is clearly too tired? Try to answer them, and talk to your pediatrician again.

    It took 6 years of sleep issues, a lot of consultation with our Pedi that our girl was both lactose intolerant and had sleep apnea (which caused night-terrors), because she never displayed the other normal symptoms.

    Switched to Lactaid, had the tonsils and adenoids removed. Went to bed immediately no problem, and slept thru the night. If only I could - once I was trained to get up twice a night, I had trouble unlearning it ;).

    As for the difficulty gaining weight, consider giving her 6 - 8 smaller meals during the day, instead of 3 large ones. Don't make her clean her plate, let her graze. Weight gain will improve.

    Posted by Been there, Acton Mom September 2, 11 03:36 PM
  1. Hmmm... My kid did not eat well, had trouble putting on weight, and could work himself into a frenzy and vomit at bedtime. Turns out he has celiac disease. Since he's been on the gluten-free diet, no more vomiting.

    I totally disagree with this advice. Find another bedtime strategy. Vomiting up her dinner is not doing her a bit of good, and I'm sure it makes her nights and probably her mornings terribly uncomfortable, when she wakes up ravenously hungry.

    Hunger itself can cause behavior problems, as can stomach discomfort. Is laying down uncomfortable for her, especially with a full stomach? Reflux could be an issue, or food allergies, or celiac, or something else entirely.

    I assume you're working with her pedi on the weight issue. Keep at it! Insist on a full failure-to-thrive workup-- it took my pedi 9 months after I brought up his weight problems before she finally ran the (simple!) blood tests. Pediatricians, as a rule, I think are not very good at dealing with underweight kids. It can be subtle, manifesting in behavior as well as physical symptoms.

    Good luck-- and if she's not ready for "sleep training" yet, well, just put it off for awhile. Five years from now it won't matter.

    Posted by CM September 2, 11 05:15 PM
  1. Diet is not necessarily an issue. My 2YO started fighting bedtime when we first put her in her own room (we co-slept until she was about a year old), and still does, but while she made herself vomit a few times, she eventually stopped doing so after we didn't give her any special treatment because of it (other than just cleaning her up). Now she tries to gag herself when she's having a tantrum and only *very* occasionally succeeds in making herself vomit (usually when her tummy is upset for other reasons, like too much junk food at Grandma's house).

    Posted by dx2718 September 3, 11 02:50 PM
  1. I don't understand why parents choose to torture their kids in making them " cry themselves to sleep". How cruel is that? How can you listen to your child's crying to the point of throwing up. Is it that hard to lie down together in bed for the sake of peace and quiet and maybe not letting the kid stress so much? I don't think it is healthy for their mental development to let them scream every night.
    We did go to "sleep" or snuggle together with our kids until they were 3-4 years old. And it didn't last forever. And most of the time it took only 30 min to stay there with them, We actually enjoyed those evenings of closeness.
    Some parents imagine that a two year old should have a mind of a 15 or 18 year old and go to bed whenever you tell them to. It has nothing to do with the routine, kids that age just want to be with their parents especially in the evenings.

    Posted by minia September 3, 11 06:30 PM
  1. Lying down with her isn't a bad idea, but it can be a difficult habit to break. Our first would not sleep alone until he was nearly four -- if the parent crept out, he would wake up early in the night and demand that they return.

    With a second on the way we decided that he needed a "big boy" bed and a new room, which resolved the problem. But it was very disruptive to our lives and our own sleep for a few years first.

    If weight gain and vomiting are an issue, perhaps encourage more frequent smaller meals? Milk at bedtime may help some children relax, but she can get her dairy at other times during the day.

    Posted by TF September 4, 11 01:42 PM
  1. This is a fascinating interchange. And I can see both sides as right. It all depends on the intention of the child. She may be ill or she may be trying to manipulate. Or maybe there's something happening before or during sleep that is terrifying her. I had Graves disease. and I'll tell you the dreams and weird states of consciousness one goes through with that endocrine imbalance are terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Where do you think the ideas of dragons, were wolves, vampires, etc come from? And why do these stories appeal to young people? It helps them cope with a dimension of human existence that many adults forget or have never experienced. Night terrors are very real to whoever experiences them. I like the person who wrote in to say they laid with their children for longer than two years. Bravo for your humanistic actions.

    Posted by Terri September 4, 11 09:08 PM
  1. We had this EXACT same issue. My Pedi recommended we seek out help from Early Intervention. We are co-sleepers and also practicing extended breastfeeding with our 2 year old. Early Intervention helped us with 3 visits. and now he has been going to bed with no problems for about 4 months. Our lives have completely changed due to Early Intervention. For our son it was an anxiety surrounding bedtime and this started as early as 6 to 8 months. The best things about Early Intervention is they come to your home, they help you find a plan that is do-able for your family, and they are experts in this field. Good Luck!

    Posted by Erin Cyr September 5, 11 10:06 AM
  1. My daughter does this - she started a year ago and it's not regular anymore but she does vomit every once in a while because she gets so worked up. I don't think she is doing it intentionally to get a response or anything. She just cries so hard her stomach muscles end up making her vomit. One of us cleans up and one of us puts her back to sleep. There's nothing more we can do. She has a routine - it's the same thing every night too.

    Posted by Bostonweddingblog September 6, 11 10:41 AM
  1. Our daughter is similar. Failure to thrive (ie to put on weight...at almost 3, she weighs 24 pounds, which is what many 1 year olds weigh and she can wear as small as 12-18 month clothing, although she wears larger due to her height, which is closing in on 36 inches), and vomiting from working herself up.

    Regarding weight gain...you are working with a pedi GI, right? If you need a referral, we did really well with George Russell at MGH in their division of pediatric gastroenterology. Confirm that there are no food allergies/sensitivities/etc going on, and that the vomiting is purely a behavioral issue.

    If it is, keep on what you're doing.

    Consider if your child might need a later bedtime. I realize conventional wisdom is that kids need to go to bed between 6-8pm, but our daughter does best going to bed at 10, and sleeping until 10 (and honestly, we're happier too, as neither my husband nor I are morning people either). Our daughter flipped at an 8pm bedtime, but not the 10pm (we go to sleep around 2am, so we're still getting our couple time each night, too).

    Do you have a nightlight?

    Do they need a calming agent/distraction? Our daughter goes to sleep best if there is music or an episode of Sesame Street playing on her iPod. Yes, again, this isn't conventional wisdom, but it works...and both my partner and I went to sleep with music for years, but do not need the crutch any longer. It did not cripple us for life. We each have attended top tier universities (him-MIT, me-Harvard) and the tv that we watched (far more than our daughter does) obviously did no harm. Music was a long established thing, but the sesame street began with extreme jet lag (we travel between the US and Asia...a 12 hour time difference) and has continued to work.

    Does your child need a sleep consult?

    Or do they just need tough love?

    It's all about your family's values. What works for us doesn't mean it will work for you. Obviously with a child who has FTT issues, keeping down the calories is the primary importance and doing whatever it takes is of far greater importance than parents who have never had a FTT child can understand.

    Posted by C September 6, 11 07:11 PM
  1. This is just so sad, there needs to be a better way. I'm all for firmness, and a routine, but this routine is not working.

    The best personal advice I ever got was from a friend who said, "Every kid is different, and then they change." The best advice book was "Raising Your Sensitive Child." The big take-away was that what works for most children may not work for yours. Sleeping was not an issue for my child, but time-outs were: They escalated the tension and upset rather than reducing them. Since my goal was to calm things down, not train a child in time-outs, I had to find another solution. Instead of a time-out corner, I tried a 'quiet step,' with both of us sitting down on the bottom step of the stairs for the five minutes on the timer, no talking. That worked. Consider trying a 'sitting quietly' time, where you sit and read a book to yourself, after the story, while your child goes to sleep. No getting up, no errands for water or other things, just sitting quietly. If that doesn't work, try something else.

    Posted by Susan September 7, 11 11:55 AM
  1. My grandson is allergic to dairy & nuts. He was diagnosed for the problem by the time he was 3. By then he had food aversions in addition to the allergies. He really only ate a few things and would avoid anything not crunchy or crisp.
    "Food school", which used a behavioral & had slowly maked progress but by 7 he still would vomit when an unfamiliar food was introduced. His mom had a micro-stimulation device (CES)that is used to soothe people when uptight. It was avialable when he had just vomited and instead of ending the session she put it on B. and the vomting stopped. Now, each time new food is offered to him his mom employs the CES and he calmly faces and even will try the unfamiliar item.

    Posted by Harold Stecer November 3, 11 10:10 PM
  1. My daughter and son are 4 & 6 - My son who is 4 usually goes to sleep within 5 minutes of being in his bed. My daughter who is 6 on the other hand ALWAYS GIVES ME A FIGHT EVERY NIGHT! It's either she is too hott, too cold, thirsty, has to goto the bathroom, has to ask me something (then when i go in there she just goes ummm ummmm i forgot) She screams and cries off the top of her lungs. . what do i do? I feel sooo bad and have hard time ignoring it. It usually gets to the point where im so fed up and sooo stressed out from all the chaos that I end up yelling. What do I do and how do i make this easier for myself and my children?? I've tried making charts and having stickers that they can earn and every 3rd day in a row they get a sticker they get to pick out of the prize box, if they get a x they have to start all over. It just seems like everything I say or try to do is a joke to them. Any suggestions?!?

    Posted by Stephanie Mink July 31, 12 09:21 PM
  1. Man there are some hippie retards on here!

    Many of you think diet is the root off all issues...get off it friends. Sometimes your kids simply vomits because they have worked themselves into a frenzie...plain and simple. The don't always need soy milk that has been extracted from the nipples of fairies!

    Posted by catdog October 30, 12 09:57 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives