I had a hard time falling asleep last night, thanks to a lingering mental image of our bedroom door sloowwwwwwwwwwly creaking open and a mysterious Shape creeping towards us underneath the covers (stupid Paranormal Activity trailer), and when I finally did drop off I found myself ensconced in a dream where I was carefully applying lipstick while peering at myself in a mirror. I suppose I should be glad it wasn’t a sweaty nightmare featuring supernatural attacks or that one deal where you’re naked and you forgot your homework, but still: lipstick? Really? You go off-leash and that’s the best you can do, brain?

Before I could even move on to a different, equally gripping scenario involving, I don’t know, undereye concealer or something, I was jolted awake by an unearthly howling coming from the hallway. I lay there for a minute staring into the dark while JB snored peacefully and obliviously beside me, thinking how I should NEVER have watched that goddamn movie preview because NOW look what’s happened, we’re being haunted, probably by the shambling, rotted occupants of the Indian burial ground our house had unknowingly been built upon.

A moment later the noise resolved itself: Dylan, blatting from his crib. Again. This marks the second or third week he’s been going off like a misguided rooster in the dead of night, and people, I don’t know what to do about it. I’m frustrated with the situation, mostly because I guess I truly believed sleep training was a one-time deal. Like, sure, there might be setbacks now and then, but not a total regression, right? WRONG.

The idea that we might have to do sleep training again makes me want to curl up in a ball and wait for the ghosts to eat my face off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we did it, it worked, I recommend it for anyone who’s losing their shit because of sleep deprivation, but oh my god please don’t send me back to the bad place. That was a phenomenally unpleasant bitch of a task and if it didn’t stick, well, I think that is colossally unfair and the parenting gods need to bend over and take one up the old poop-chute for designing certain children to be both sleep-resistant AND a picky-ass eater AND . . . well, adorable, but STILL.

Have any of you had to deal with sleep setbacks during toddlerhood (context: Dylan is 19 months)? What did you do? Go in and comfort until it resolves itself, even if that takes until high school, or haul the big guns out again?

PS: I think I’ve ruled out teething and temperature-related discomforts, although the jury’s out on whether or not he’s having upsetting dreams about lipstick or being naked.

PPS: He’s also going to bed later and waking up earlier. So maybe this is all part of his master plan to slowly kill us off so he can finally eat all the dog hair he wants?


88 Responses to “Same as it ever was”

  1. briana on September 23rd, 2009 4:09 pm

    21 month old Ryan has regressed as well, we decided to try the sleep sack again. He’s totally going to be wearing the effing zebra Snuggie as-seen-on-TV!! He was getting up 5 times a night and crying about his “bantie” (blanket) which he would throw out of the crib. I think my sweaty little sleeper was just getting cold in the night. Last night–no sound, but also warm enough in Seattle for no Snuggies.

  2. sooboo on September 23rd, 2009 4:12 pm

    Gah! Why oh why did I watch that trailer?

  3. CM on September 23rd, 2009 4:19 pm

    Almost everyone had great advice! We sleep trained both of our boys around 4 or 5 months old. They both are usually great sleepers. My oldest (now almost 6) napped until he was about 4, but my youngest (just turned 4) only napped until he was about 18 months old. Also, at that age he was routinely climbing out of his crib (for over 2 weeks) and we had to move him into a toddler bed. So, excuse the rambling, but it could be a ~quirky~ 18 mo. olds have odd, anti-routine behavior thing or maybe (based on my youngest) he is sleeping lightly due to too long or late of a nap? Good luck and sweet dreams!

  4. Marilyn (ALotofLoves) on September 23rd, 2009 4:21 pm

    My son was (is) one of the worst sleepers. We also got to the point of desperation and had to undergo what felt like a century of sleep-training. When he was around 18 months or so he totally regressed. Horribly. I actually had to call in sick to work a few times because I had been up for HOURS with him. Hours and hours and hours. Like 2am to never sleeping again. It lasted a few weeks and then it got better. In the end I did have to get tough and I would peek in – say you’re alright – and then leave. I wouldn’t let him into the bed and I didn’t hang around in his room. It sucked. But it stopped after awhile. Of course now he’s almost 3 and he’s doing it again. Yeah. Awesome.

  5. Audrey on September 23rd, 2009 4:27 pm

    Please tell me what works for you. We have a 2.5 year old who won’t sleep through the night…until she’s in our bed. And we’ve got another due in a month. Pretty sure I’m going to go bat-shit CRAZY rather quickly from lack of sleep…especially when I return to work next year. We’ve tried the sleep training and it works for going to bed, but so far, nothing is working (bribes included!) for STAYING in bed the whole night through.

  6. honeybecke on September 23rd, 2009 4:43 pm

    Oh yeah, I know this well. We are in the middle of undoing our (stupid!) kindness we lent our sick 2 year old last week. If we even give him an inch, he takes a mile and punishes us by starting the wake-n-cry shit all over again. And all that just for being kind to him…you know, waking up with him to wipe his snot, snuggle him back to sleep, or give him another dose of tylenol.
    So yah, as much as it sucks BAD, we do have to do the whole sleep-training thing over and over again because he just doesn’t get it. In my boys defense, it must be confusing to him because suddenly heartless parents who let him cry until he falls asleep are now wiping snot and comforting him back to sleep. It’s just how it goes I guess. We now know that a bout of sickness will follow with a bout of sleep training. Every time.
    I hope Dylan remembers not to wake up soon. If it makes you feel better, the training stage of the whole he’s-been-crying-for-45-min get’s much shorter, like only a week.

  7. kayemess on September 23rd, 2009 5:13 pm

    Thanks for taking my call, Linda. Long time listener, first time caller:
    My daughter is 20 months exactly and we are just exhaustedly pulling out of the Sleep Regression station. (Speak of the devil, she just woke as I typed those words!) It was pretty awful, some nights were spent sleeping on her floor and for some reason we combined it with ditching her pacifier as well – which actually worked like magic. A few really awful nights – and it seems to be over, just like they said it would be.
    The going to bed earlier thing – it seems to work too! She had been 7 pm bedtime forever – then we moved it to 8 because she didn’t seem to be sleepy at 7 – and uh, she was waking up at 5:30 am. No. So the last week we’ve been putting her to bed at 7 pm again – and we make it to 6:30, which is an improvement. It doesn’t make sense, at all.
    All hail collective internet wisdom.

  8. Eileen on September 23rd, 2009 6:04 pm

    OH and since I got to pee I totally forgot to come back and say, hi Talking Heads, kissy kissy, bewbbbbie flash. :)

    and to think, 4 of my friends chastised me for my “this must be the place’ ringback tone. saying ‘um, like.. who IS that?”

    yeah, looking for a new group of friends…

    which brings me back to, nice bloggy title your hotness.

  9. Anyabeth on September 23rd, 2009 6:14 pm

    My daughter is a week or two older than Dylan I think? and yeah, the same thing.

    She was teething and I would go in and settle her down. But after that I just did a bit of sleep training and it’s back to normal (of course by the rules of the internet she will wake up ten times tonight). If it is ANY comfort, the sleep training was fast and much less painful. Like 1000% easier.

  10. Belle on September 23rd, 2009 6:48 pm

    I don’t have any advice because our kids were notoriously bad sleepers many moons ago (so sounds like nothing ever changes), but damn, this was a wonderfully written humorous entry. I laughed. Sorry. :)

  11. Rachael on September 23rd, 2009 6:51 pm

    Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child–as mentioned before saved our everlovin’ lives–put them to bed 15 minutes earlier every night until you find the “magic” time where they blessedly sleep for 12 hours straight–it works–we are alive b/c of it! Also, we use a fan (white noise) just because I can’t sleep without it, so I figured, why not.

  12. jonniker on September 23rd, 2009 7:33 pm

    Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) IS a bit of a sadist, but I love it anyway. Also, Ferber. The book is FANTASTIC, and I recommend both even if you don’t plan to sleep-train (not so much mentioned for you as for The Lurkers).

    I’ve got no idea if their shit works on 19-month-olds, but the wisdom I gained from those bad boys, plus some Ferber-for-Hippies shit I pulled from my pediatrician saved my kid from getting up every 45 minutes to sleeping fairly well at 6 months. Sure, we have setbacks, but it’s not so PANIC INDUCING as it used to be.

    I can’t believe I’m on here hawking books, like I’m Oprah or something, but really, they’re worth picking up, even for a kid his age.

  13. jonniker on September 23rd, 2009 7:38 pm

    Oh and you know, just to ALSO mention that I thought the early bed thing was bullshit, too. Now, I know Sam’s younger than Dylan, but so help me God, she’s a SHITTEH sleeper, as you know. Anyway. The earlier she goes to bed, the later she sleeps. No one believes me, but you can ask Adam how deadly serious about it I am when I am all FREEEEKING OUT because I get her to bed ONE MINUTE past 7:15. Seriously. Even when she doesn’t seem sleepy, it’s changed our world.

  14. Lori on September 23rd, 2009 7:44 pm

    Sleep. I miss sleep. There always seems to be something. We were finally going good with both kids sleeping through the night for several months. Then, my little one decided to potty train herself. We deemed her a genius and were feeling pretty good about ourselves until we realized the nightly 2am call from her toddler bed, “Mommy, I have to go potty,” wasn’t going away. Good luck figuring out this latest sleep issue — sounds like some folks had good advice.

  15. Kristi on September 23rd, 2009 8:23 pm

    I agree about the putting to bed earlier solution – who knows why the hell it works (and at this point, who cares why!)

    I secretly think it’s your PPS and this is all part of his master plan to RULE THE WORLD WHILE EATING DOG HAIR!

  16. Michelle on September 23rd, 2009 8:26 pm

    My now 3 year old didn’t sleep through the night consistently until sometime after her second birthday. We just brought her into bed with us when she woke up (after I night weaned her at 14 months and I couldn’t use the boob to put her down again). Now she has a full bed, so when she wakes up upset (only occasionally now) one of us goes and sleeps next to her.

  17. Angella on September 23rd, 2009 9:15 pm

    I couldn’t leave you at 66 comments, because that’s kind of a creepy number. Especially with all of the crazy dreams you’ve been having.


    Dude. DUUUUUDE. Hate that stage. Hate. Which is why I will NEVER DO IT AGAIN.

    My kids regressed. Many times over. (Comforting, I know.)

    We would usually do the whole “cuddle in the rocking chair”/Sleep on a mattress in their room” thing.

    Then the exhaustion would turn me into the Devil Woman and I would let them cry it out.

    Because seriously? They need to grow some balls and learn how to sleep.

  18. Christy on September 23rd, 2009 11:21 pm

    I’m with Angella. My kids regressed many times over. Now, my 8 and 6 year old hardly ever wake up in the middle of the night. That’s good news, right? My 16 month old goes back and forth between her crib and our bed. Whatever I have the energy for in the middle of the night. Maybe I’m too sleep deprived to devise a plan.

  19. el-e-e on September 24th, 2009 5:36 am

    Every time ours has sleep issues after a nice stretch of GOOD SLEEPING, we finally conclude, after a post like this and then some guilt about ignoring her in the hopes she’ll just GO back to SLEEP… “Oh, DUH. Teething.”

    Poor little monkeys. Ow.

  20. Dana on September 24th, 2009 5:56 am

    I have no advice but I’m going through the same thing. My daughter is 18 months old and pretty much slept through the night for about 12 hours since she was 2 months old. Now she’s waking up at around 4 a.m. and SCREAMING over and over. If I go in there, she requests a bottle, I tell her no, and she continues to scream for about 15 minutes. If I don’t go in there, it’s the same deal without the denied request.

    Then, she’s up at around 6 a.m. for the day, a full hour earlier than normal.

    What gives?

  21. Kim S. on September 24th, 2009 6:04 am

    My twins haven’t slept through the night for 2.5 years now, so I’m obviously no expert, but are there any other reasons to suspect he has any food allergies? My girls have a lot of food allergies (we found that out a few months ago when we had to rush one to the ER). We have subsequently found out that kids with food allergies, even mild ones, often have bad sleeping habits. Things we noticed (in hindsight) that were symptoms in the girls: on and off bad diaper rash, eczema, occasionally tiny red splotches around their mouths when they ate certain foods.

    Might be worth a conversation with the pediatrician.

    Good luck!

  22. Kristin on September 24th, 2009 6:17 am

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so I don’t know if everyone already said this, but yeah, sometimes you have to do sleep training again, and again, and again. My almost three year old seems to have 6 month cycles of good sleep followed by bad sleep. We’ve been through some variation of training 3 or 4 times. Of course now it sucks more then ever because he’s in a bed, not a crib, so it’s putting a gate up across the door and it’s just not very effective.

    But what sucks the most about it is that he was doing great until we had a baby 7 weeks ago. Then it all went to shit. Now I have the most ironic and annoying situation ever…a newborn baby who miraculously sleeps 7 or 8 hours at night (I didn’t know this could actually happen) and a 3 year old who wakes up every two hours. I was obviously very, very bad in another life.

  23. Pam on September 24th, 2009 6:27 am

    I agree with the put him to bed earlier advice. Like an HOUR earlier. See what happens. I love the “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” book too. I always reference it for my two kiddies. If it’s not illness, it’s usually some over tired issue.

  24. hydrogeek on September 24th, 2009 6:44 am

    Moxie says 18 months is a common sleep regression time. So does my 32 month old. She LOVED not sleeping at 18 months-ish. And like you, I thought we were done with the sleep crap and it about killed my soul. I don’t remember doing anything to “fix” it though. Just waited it out and it finally went away. Good luck!

  25. Melis on September 24th, 2009 7:10 am

    As much as I hate to be a parrot, my kid was the same. 19 months came and with it the “I feel like jabbering and I want YOU to witness it” all night long. We totally went the route of earlier to bed. It pissed him off for a week or so but then he got over it and slept well. We also had to put foil on his windows to keep out the aliens (I mean the LIGHT) but keeping his room darker helped too.

    BTW, every single time I see the trailer for Zombieland I think of you.

  26. Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com on September 24th, 2009 7:29 am

    Reading the comments here was a real eye-opener. It sounds like if the parenting gods started taking one up the poop chute now for each of those kids, they’ll be real sore by the end of the millenia – which is about when they’ll be done.

  27. jen on September 24th, 2009 7:49 am

    Ok, you’ve gotten a lot of good suggestions but I’m just going to chime in with the earlier to bed idea. Start in small increments…so if 8 is his current, try 20 – 30 minutes earlier for a full week (this courtesy of HSH,HC). I actually started moving bedtime a bit later because he just didn’t seem tired (but his bedtime used to be 6:30…now it is b/t 7 or 7:30).

    Also, I’ve found that sometimes even the loudest of midnight callings doesn’t necessarily mean he is awake. So I always try to wait a few minutes unless I know he is sick and I try to go in quietly so if he is not really awake, I won’t wake him but can just rub his back and shush him to calm down.

    I read somewhere to that you have to be very cool, calm and collected when approaching the night wakings too (which I am totally bad at because if he is actually crying hard enough that I get out of bed, I am usually concerned). Try to be matter of fact, no playing, etc.? Gosh, I don’t know, kids are so hard to read wtf is going on.

  28. sheilah on September 24th, 2009 9:48 am

    You did not say how many times he wakes up or how long he stays awake. Does he cry out and then go back to sleep? Do you go in to him or does he go back to sleep?

    My son (at age 6) still sometimes cries out but he is still asleep. Sometimes I get up to check on him but usually he goes right back to sleep (if indeed he ever woke up).

  29. Liz on September 24th, 2009 9:55 am

    I was just thinking about this when my 12-month-old woke up at 4:30 this morning and I had to give him a bottle before he’d go back to sleep. It’s so much worse now that he can talk! Letting him cry it out is one thing, but when he just moans, “Ba ba! Ba baaaaaa!” it’s pretty soul-crushing. Can’t wait for more of this to come. Ugh.

  30. Denice on September 24th, 2009 11:04 am

    Gracie started waking up in the night at around 21 months, but it turned out that she was just getting her 2-year-old molars. It lasted about a month, and then she went back to normal.

  31. Crystal on September 24th, 2009 1:28 pm

    Ahh! So, I said, DONT LOOK! DONT LOOK! But what did I do? I looked. Now I am sure I will have dreams as well.

    I have crazy dreams too!

  32. Anne on September 25th, 2009 10:43 am

    This may be too old for Dylan, but my almost-three year old started regressing this summer after our second child was born. I did a classic “positive reinforcement” thingamabob with her. Namely, I told her that if she would put herself back to sleep if she woke in the night (with the exception of going to the bathroom, since she still needs help with that) for two nights in a row, I would take her out for ice cream. The girl loves ice cream. It worked. Then, I increased the nights she would have to sleep to three. Now we’re up to four nights, and it’s still going pretty well.

    Now if I could just teach her to go potty by herself and night, we would be in the clear…

    Also: “brain off-leash”? LOVE it! :-)

  33. ladybughugs on September 25th, 2009 1:14 pm

    The good news? We are nearing the end of Daylight Savings Time. It will be dark earlier in the evening so it might be easier to get them to go down. The bad news? It will be light earlier, so they might wake a whole hour earlier than they do now.

    My daughter will be four in December and we still have sleep issues. I had finally gotten her to sleep in her own bed, had a meeting one night and was out of the house at bedtime, and the husband let her back into our bed. So now I end up with knees in the ribs and feet in the kidneys and I’m having a devil of a time sleeping. I’ve put him on notice: I did it the first time, if he wants her in her own bed it’s on him.

  34. Meg on September 25th, 2009 8:59 pm

    I hear ya, Sundry, sigh. My 1st slept through the night (apart from the occasional blip when sick/teething) from 11 weeks. My 2nd only started sleeping through regularly a few months ago.

    She’s 4 and a half.

    She’s pretty good at night now, but last night she only slept for 7 hours, and spent 20 minutes calling out cheerfully, “Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!” at long enough intervals that I thought/prayed/sacrificed a chicken each time that she would be ASLEEP already. I’m pregnant with number three, and I’m not sure if it’s good that I’m used to no sleep or bad because I’ll just crumble like a cheese in the first week of having a newborn.

  35. Diana on October 11th, 2009 11:44 am

    I LOVE Theresa’s post…Sept. 23, between Amy and Briana…
    Just goes to show you…how much we dont know a thing, and how much all kids are just different…and how much we’ll just have to live with the sleepless nights if that’s what is in our cards -ha ha- sorry to be so cynical…
    it just may be that he’s on to his master plan,like you think…aren’t we all?

    p.s. mine is 20 months, sleeps same bedroom -necesary under circumstances-, different bed -not crib- 1/2 of night, wakes up twice, comes to our bed, asks for milk -bubbie milk still, mind you- gets it, goes back to sleep, and so do i -for the most part. We did do sleep training and it only worked until he could stand up, at which point he would ANGRILY cry until I would come in and take him out of his crib and give him some milk…Very VERY -did i say very?- strong willed boy

  36. Diana on October 11th, 2009 11:46 am

    Oh! I hope its gotten better and you are now on the sleep side of the turn. Thank you for your AMAZINGLY fun and smar writing…forgot to say that in my other post :)

  37. Diana on October 11th, 2009 11:46 am

    I maent to say SMART

  38. Leida Peplau on November 3rd, 2015 8:02 pm

    Hey guys, I am a new mother and I am trying to get my three month baby to sleep longer during night. At the moment I’m lucky to get four hours sleep each night. Thanks

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