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Vomiting at Bedtime
We are having trouble getting our 22-month old son to put himself to sleep. If we put him in his crib awake and we leave the room, he promptly stands up, cries for a few minutes (and I mean like no more than 3), and then throws up. He used to be a great sleeper: from the time he was 6-9 months until 18 months we had no problems putting him down at night. We would give him a bottle, read a story or two, sing a song, lay him down and say ''mama loves you! night-night'', turn a little music box on (that only played for a few minutes), leave the room, and he'd be asleep in like 10 minutes. But then one night last August (at 18 months) all of that just changed. The normal routine just stopped working, and as soon as we left the room and let him cry for a few minutes he promptly threw up. After he threw up 3 nights in a row, I decided I couldn't deal (I am one of those vomit-phobic types) so I came up with a work-around. I now read him a story or two while we snuggle on my bed, then turn out the lights and give him a bottle. He usually falls asleep in my arms drinking his bottle, and if he doesn't, I lay him down in his crip and back away but don't leave the room until he is asleep. This solution has worked for me, and it avoids the vomit episodes, but it does not work for my husband (our son won't go to sleep in his arms and still vomits), and I realize I can't continue putting him to sleep this way forever.
I have read lots of chapters in baby books about sleep issues, but
none really address what to do if you have a vomiter. They all say
to check on the child after 10 minutes or so to see if they've
vomited, but the books don't say what to do if they have vomited
and especially if they do it nightly (and seemingly on purpose).
Obviously we clean it up, change sheets and jammies as quickly as
possible, and we don't pick him up to console or comfort - we
don't want to reinforce that if he vomits he will get taken out of
the crib. So what do we do? Do we just let him continue to throw
up and hope that eventually he tires of it? Do we not clean it up
one night, so he knows it really doesn't get any reaction from us?
Do I continue putting him to sleep in my arms in order to avoid
the whole situation? I really hate dealing with throw up (in fact
it was one of my worst fears about motherhood! Luckily my husband
is more able to deal with it), and I know there has to be some
solution that won't scar my son but will be less nasty and
anxiety-inducing for me and my husband. Any and all suggestions
frustrated and vomit-phobic mama
Our experience was that our daughter preferred to fall asleep with help. Early on, that was rocking or walking to sleep. Later it was just staying up, in our laps, while she watched a favorite video while falling asleep. Her sleep schedule was so irregular, that *we* finally felt we needed to take action, though, because we weren't getting the time alone that we needed for our relationship, and to take care of the home. We experimented with sleep aids (melatonin, and later tryptophan--I'll be happy to discuss the details if anyone wants to know), but what seems to have been a success is a modified version of "cry it out." But I feel it makes a HUGE difference that we waited until she was 2 1/2 to do this, when she could understand that she wasn't being abandoned every night. The whole process took less than two weeks, to go from her not being able to go to sleep on her own, to putting her in her bed, closing the door, and being done with it. Basically, we established a routine (bed time, clean up toys, brush teeth, jammies, story), and then my husband closed the door and let her know that he was in the next room if she needed him. Since she's in a toddler bed, this meant that she got out of bed repeatedly and often the first couple of nights. He'd just reassure her and send her back to bed Within a few days, she was only getting up once or twice. Last night she didn't get up at all. We're ecstatic.
One of my main points here is that we went from a family bed, to a modified family bed, to her being in her own bed and going to sleep on her own Not making your daughter go to sleep on her own at 1 year old is not necessarily going to "cause big problems" down the road. It may just mean a period of concerted effort on your part when she seems ready to learn to go to sleep on her own. But if she is so upset that she vomits, then it's too early to be forcing this on her. She's not ready, and you should go with your instincts and with what works, and let her fall asleep in your arms. The time will come soon enough when she won't want to anymore! Good luck!
Personally, I've never allowed/required my (now two-year-old) daughter to cry herself to sleep, and feel very good about that decision. We do a family bed, which is working very nicely for us, we all get a good night's sleep most nights. Almost every night, my daughter asks to go to bed, which makes me feel confident that she too feels good about our sleeping arrangement. I can wholeheartedly recommend this arrangement.
If you don't want to get involved in a family bed, there is lots of middle ground, particularly since your daughter falls back to sleep well on her own. For example, I don't see anything wrong with what you are doing -- hold night. Or how about sitting at her side and reading or singing or whatever, until she comfortabley falls asleep in her crib. Or you could try getting her a toddler bed (with side rails to keep her from falling out in her sleep), and lying down with her until she falls asleep. Maybe just knowing that she can get out of bed if she needs/wants to will lessen her objection to getting into bed.
What is your intuition about what bothers her so much about being put into her crib? Is she afraid (I've read that 12 months of age is a peak for separation anxiety)? Is she angry about being left alone? Is she not really tired? Maybe if you can figure out what her objection is, you can respond to that, and she will be able to get back to falling asleep on her own.
By the way, I've "talked" (live and virtually) with a lot of parents, and it seems to me to be altogether typical that a child's sleeping patterns change over time--"good" sleepers get wakeful, and wakeful kids get sleepier. Probably it will all even out "in a few years."
I hope you have an open-minded pediatrician on this subject. I know for sure that there are lots of theories and options about sleeping arrangements, but I also know that many "experts"--e.g. pediatricians--get stuck on one particular theory and start to think that everyone must adhere to it. If your ped. tries to insist that you do something that just just doesn't feel right to you--don't do it, you don't have to. At least that's my approach.
Hope this (or something else) helps you get back to sleeping well.
I am seeking advice on our 20-month-old's sleep problems. At daycare she will lie down for her nap (with binky) without being rocked to sleep. At home, it's a different story. She is rocked to sleep at naptime (I've tried to just put her down, but she won't go to sleep - and yes, she is tired), to go to sleep at night, and if she wakes up in the middle of the night (I know! I know!). My daughter, for those on the list a while now, is the one who used to vomit if she cried for 5 minutes so we didn't let her cry it out and rocked her to sleep to avoid the vomiting. Our pediatrician even said it was OK at the time (she was sleeping through the night no problem - just needed to be rocked to sleep). Anyway, so now we have created a very difficult situation for my husband and me, who are very sleepshort particularly of late, as she gets up several times in the middle of the night (and falls asleep instantly in our arms when we pick her up and sit with her in the rocking chair, but jumps up and cries as soon as we put her back in her crib - aren't you glad you don't live at our house?!?!). Eventually she's out enough that we can put her down again and she sleeps through it. Last night, for example, she went to sleep at 7:40, woke up at 10pm, it took my husband about 45 minutes to get her down again and then she was up at 11pm again. It took me, miraculously, only 15 minutes to get her down again and then she slept through the night and was still sleeping at 6:20am this morning when I left to go to work (my husband does drop off at daycare in the morning). The past two nights have been nightmares of being up for hours with her (2.5-3 hours). So, what type of behavior modification can we do at this late stage to set things on track? Any and all advice appreciated. I realize it will no doubt get worse before it gets better, but we are ready to make it better. By the way, she no longer vomits if she cries for a while, thank goodness. Lori
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