A sleeping milestone

My daughter is 2.5 years old and does not sleep through the night. Never really has. We’ve had a couple of brief stints of making it all the way until 6 or 7am, but not many . . . and not recently.

Now before you decide that her poor sleeping habits are directly attributed to her parents, I would like for you to pause and hear me out. Some kids do not sleep well. Period. While we do not subscribe to the “Cry It Out Method”, it does not mean that in desperation we have not tried it. Frankly, if you don’t have a kid who doesn’t sleep well, you really just don’t understand. We can use the same method every night, and some nights things will go amazingly well, and other nights we’ll be up every two hours with an inconsolable child. Parents who are struggling with kids who don’t sleep well need your support and encouragement – not another lecture about what they are doing wrong. If I sound like I’m on a soap box (I am!), it’s because I’ve had some of this stuff pent up inside for the past 2.5 years. I stopped talking with friends about our struggle because all I ever received was well-meaning instructions on what I was doing wrong as a parent. I felt judged, guilt, defeated, and utterly alone. Fortunately, my husband and I were on the same page and have worked through it together. During one stay, not too long ago, I appreciated my mom (who has always been very supportive – thanks, mom!) validating our decisions by saying, “You know, I hear her when she wakes up in the middle of the night, and it’s just different.” (And she does believe in crying it out.) Anyway, perhaps another time I’ll write a post about our journey and what we’ve learned so that hopefully another parent who’s up in the middle of the night researching sleep problems in toddlers will be encouraged.

On to the milestone.

Our daughter has always had great difficulty in going to sleep on her own. During the past couple weeks, we’ve been trying (again) to use the “Okay, I’ll come back and check on you in 5 minutes” technique (and you lengthen the amount of time each time you come back.) And IT’S WORKING! We can now get her all ready and tucked into bed, read some books, turn out the light, say a prayer, and then tell her we’ll come back in a few minutes. I think every night this week we have not had to go back in a second time. Hooray! Hopefully this will stick from now on. Then we just have to work on making it all the way through the night.

So, parents-of-kids-who-fight-sleep, take heart! Eventually they do learn!



  1. Oh, Tina. This is such a hard, hard thing to walk through on your own.

    I’m grateful I had twins — one sleeper, one non-sleeper. When people would pour all that guilt / advice on me, I really could let it roll off of me. After all, if I was the one doing everything *wrong*, why did one boy sleep great and one boy get up at 4 a.m.??

    It all evened out at some point, I can’t even remember when. Though Twin A. is still a very light sleeper, and often wakes up in the night. Twin B? Nope. That boy sleeps like a ROCK. πŸ˜‰

    Hang in there, girl. This too will pass!!

  2. I think God made you a night owl to enable you to deal with the past 2.5 years. But I’m glad to hear that you are having some success with the 5-minute method because that should help you get more rest in the long run as well.

  3. spaghettipie

    LM – Thanks for your encouragement. It was hard for a while, but the longer we walked through it, the more we realized it wasn’t a parenting failure. It’s just part of our life now (and really not too bad). I appreciate your story; it really illustrates the exact point that some kids are not good sleepers.

    A – I completely agree! We’ve had that discussion many times. God never gives us more than we can handle, right? We faced this battle, but we did not deal with spitting up or blow out diapers – which I could not have handled! πŸ™‚

  4. Amy R

    Hey Tina, What strange timing God has. I made a mental note yesterday to email you about sleep (after our third nught up w/ Nadia for 8+ times; she has never really slept either and we’re in the middle of a really bad patch). I thought I remembered your interview w/ Todd mentioning this issue and I kept meaning to email you to commiserate. Of course, Nadia is only 6 months old, but things have only gotten worse, not better. Anyway, I suppose I should send you a proper email rather than this long blog comment! BTW, we’re in town all next week and hoped to see you guys.

  5. Amy

    You know I have a friend and my sister who both have children who do the same and ironically their children struggle with asthma…maybe a link? My friends says it’s almost a blessing that her child comes to bed with them because then she can monitor his breathing….

    Sorry for the bad advise over the years! 😦 I am learning about not being so willing to speak my mind. Yikes….

  6. spaghettipie

    AR – So glad to see you guys this past week. We miss you, and it was wonderful to catch up.

    A – We’ve definitely considered that before. I’ve even had her adenoids and tonsils checked because we were afraid she might have some apnea as well. Unfortunately that was inconclusive (either way). Who knows? We’ve stopped trying to guess and are just making the most of it.

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