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Background: A few months ago we had a well-sleeping kid, zero or one short wake up a night and pretty much 7 pm - 7 am, life wasn't too bad. He slept in his own bed in his own room with a blanket and bunny.

Disruption: Some temporary accommodation including a temporary cot we needed to use for several weeks. He slept fairly well there, maybe not quite as well as home but nothing concerning. Now we've moved back though things are very different. He's waking several times a night, often needing an hour or even two more to put back to sleep.

Problem: The most common pattern is he wakes, I quietly and as boringly as possible lead him back to bed, he lies down, grabs bunny and I put the blanket over him. He appears to go to sleep easily and his breathing slows. I leave and 5 mins later he's up again. This can last 2.5 hours on a bad night. Some other times he's harder to get back to sleep and I struggle to ever leave the room. It's been six weeks and I'm struggling.

What I've tried: He's warm enough, fed enough, drinking enough (and often drinks water on wake up), breathing well, he's not particularly sick or teething, changing his nappy sometimes helps but it doesn't need changing. I've tried with and without white noise and with and without a small amount of light. I've tried shortening his daytime nap but it hasn't helped and I think he's now generally a bit short of sleep and cranky because of it. He has got pretty clingy over the time and he does want hugs/contact overnight so maybe something there?

What should I try next? What has worked for you?

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  • Have you tried adjusting his bedtime at night? When he wakes, is he anxious, clingy, ... or just “I’m up”?
    – AsheraH
    May 28 at 4:58
  • @AsheraH I haven't tried that, would you suggest earlier or later? He wants to get more sleep and he'll often lead me back to his bed where he'll lie down. About half the time he'll want a hug/cuddle.
    – Daniel
    May 30 at 22:16
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Your child doesn't feel as safe in his relationship to you two as he did before, possibly because of the mentioned disruption. To be able to re-gain his trust he has to experience that you're always there for him, whenever he needs you. 2.5 hours of trying to have him stay away from you will feel like a rejection and not help him re-gain his trust.

Within the limits of your own personal boundaries you should allow him all the cuddling and being close to you, that he obviously needs. If possible, start the night in his own bed, but if he comes into your room, let him stay. He doesn't come without a reason.

All this will strengthen his trust, which is the basis for him to become more self-reliant (again).

Don't worry, that "one doesn't do that" regarding letting him sleep in the parents' bedroom, if that's the main reason against it. If he needs it now, he needs it, and very few kids still sleep in their parents' room when they turn 18.

If there are personal reasons against letting him sleep in your bedroom (beyond society's expectations), you'll have to give him the closeness he desires in another way. Maybe, you could put a matress in his room and sleep parts of the night in there? Or you leave the doors open so he can hear you sleep from his room?

Unfortunately my sources are in German language, but maybe some other readers might benefit from them. My main sources are "Mein Familien-Kompass" bei Nora Imlau and "Der Eltern-Kompass" bei Nicola Schmidt. (Even though both books have "Kompass" in the title, they are very different in style.)

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  • Thanks for your answer. It's not that I'm against him sleeping with us, it's that I feel like that if that begins it won't end. I agree that by 18 he'll have moved on but I have friends with school-age children who haven't and that's not a future I look forward to. I might try the mattress in his room.
    – Daniel
    May 30 at 22:08

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