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My situation is a little complicated. I have a 2 yo daughter that spends half of the week with me and the other half with her father. We recently both decided that it was time to move from a crib to a toddler bed, which was great at first.

Recently her father had to move back in with his mother because his apartment flooded. He's been living with her for roughly 6 months. Since there aren't enough bedrooms for everyone to have their own room, my daughter sleeps in her grandmother's room. At my apartment, she has her own room.

Apparently when she spends the night there, she sleeps through the night pretty well, and will occasionally stir, but go back to sleep when she sees her grandmother in the room. When she spends the night at my apartment, she wakes up every single hour of the night and screams for me to comfort her. At first, she wouldn't go back to sleep unless I sat by her bed until she fell asleep, and she would open her eyes every few seconds, just to check that I was still there.

I eventually got her out of that by standing outside her door where she couldn't see me and assuring her that I was still there every time she woke up. However, she still wakes up every hour screaming to see me and I have to get up 6 to 7 times a night to get her a bottle, or tuck her in (again), or change her diaper. It's terrible for both of us, but I have no idea what to do.

She also wakes up at 5, which is hard to discourage since that's the time she gets up with her grandmother. I'd be okay with the early rising, if she would just sleep through the night and I could get more than 1 consecutive hour of sleep at night. Any advice?

  • @WillowRex I have taken her on a few trips with me where she had to sleep in the same room as me. She generally slept pretty soundly on those nights, only waking up once at night and then at 5am to play. I don't know how much of this is related to her proximity to me and how much is related to her getting more worn out after traveling and over stimulation from a new environment, though. – Faulkner Dec 8 '16 at 17:56
  • @WillowRex - Please do not answer in comments. Comments are for asking for clarification, etc. (E.g. "Are you opposed to her sleeping in your room for a while?") Your comment is a fine answer. Please post it as such, or if you need clarification from the OP, ask. Thanks! – anongoodnurse Dec 8 '16 at 19:07
  • What does OP mean? I tried to ask in Meta but the site won't allow the question. – WRX Dec 8 '16 at 19:36
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    OP = original poster (or sometimes original post) – Acire Dec 8 '16 at 19:55
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You might consider setting the crib back up and explaining that she's not to get up in the middle of the night, and if she does then she'll sleep the rest of the night in the crib. If nothing else it should feel familiar to her, and if she prefers the crib then it may simply be that she isn't ready for the toddler bed.

One solution, perhaps unusual, is to set up a baby video monitor for her, but in reverse, so she can see you if she does awaken in the middle of the night. Depending on your personal sleeping arrangements this may be awkward and you may choose to turn it on only after she's gone to sleep, or the first time she wakes up, but isn't that much different than her walking to your room and coming in unannounced. You should be able to frame the camera so that only your pillow/head is on screen if there are concerns about privacy. You could conceivably use an internet video camera set up with grandma in this way as well, but that seems excessive and not a very robust solution.

Another option is to train her to use a toy for comfort. If, when she is sad or distressed during the day you get and have her hold a particular stuffed animal, for instance, while you hold her she may come to associate your presence with hugging that stuffed animal. Leave that with her in bed and she may choose to use it to soothe herself rather than rousing you from sleep. The challenge, then, is to make sure you have it available, which can be hard as she moves between homes.

Lastly, it may be that the situation is bad enough that you need to talk about sleeping arrangements with her father and reconcile it. It may be that something needs to change on his end, or on your end, or both. You may not want to assume that you should be the one to resolve the problem.

  • Unfortunately, my crib is a 4 in 1, so in order to go from a toddler bed to a crib, I have to adapt the toddler bed itself. She has several stuffed animals that she lugs around and hugs constantly. She won't sleep without them, but she still wants comfort directly from me at night. I have a gate on her door so that she can see out into the hall, but can't wander the apartment freely at night. The camera idea could be a good one, but I go to bed several hours after her. I also have a feeling she won't buy it. She's very stubborn (and probably a little spoiled). – Faulkner Dec 8 '16 at 20:46
  • I think the easiest solution would be if she had her own room at both homes, so that she didn't become accustomed to having someone else always in her room. I've brought this up with her grandmother, but since her father doesn't have other options for his living arrangements right now, it's an issue that is hard to get around. I was hoping there was a way I could teach her to feel safe and know that I'm not far away. – Faulkner Dec 8 '16 at 20:53
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I've never had this problem -- but could you try putting the child's bed in your room or you sleeping in her room on the nights before you have to sleep because of work? Try taking this on when she is old enough to understand better and you can start on weekends or a vacation period. Lack of sleep on your part isn't going to help you on any level. She is feeling separation anxiety, plus not being able to tell you how upsetting change is for her. Families around the world sleep with their children, and especially if it isn't in the same bed it should not be harmful to your daughter.

I am an adoptive parent and did not experience trying to teach a child to sleep. Your local library will have a ton of books on the subject. Select one and then you can buy the one that agrees with your own style.

Best of luck.

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