October 2, 2008

The unwanted family bed

The past two nights L has done something downright annoying: she goes to sleep just fine but then wakes up a few hours later crying. After I nurse her she falls back asleep but then reawakens every time she's put down in her crib. It's as if she just wants to be held. So she comes to bed with us. Our queen size bed is a little too small for the three of us to be super comfortable, but I'd rather sleep on my side than not sleep at all.

Have any of you encountered this before? Why is it happening and how long did it last? We know she's not wet, hungry, hurt or cold.


  1. Oh yes, we've ALL encountered this! She's most likely teething, could also be an ear ache. Teething symptoms can start months before any teeth actually show up which is why a lot of parents don't realize what's going on.

    There are great teething tablets that I've sworn by over the years at daycare and with Jonah. They're called Hylands and they're all natural, they come in tablet and gel form. Walgreens sells them and also Walmart. Of course Tylenol always works but I like that those are natural and they WORK!

  2. We've hit this at various stages. It was really frustrating at times to have a child that had been previously sleeping through the night to all of a sudden have night needs again. Then I realized that my child will probably always have night needs as long as she lives in our home and we decided we wanted her to know that we are available to comfort and soothe her, no matter what time it is. When she's 10 years old, if she has a bad dream or is scared of a storm, we want her to, even at that age, feel like it's ok to wake up mom and dad because she needs the comfort and security that we are uniquely suited to give her.

    I've heard people say that if they're dry and have full tummies, then their needs are met and they shouldn't need anything at night. I think little ones can have emotional needs that are just as strong and important as physical ones. My 9 year old nephew does not like physical contact at all during the daytime hours, but ever since he was able to be mobile as a toddler, he has sought out his parents in the middle of the night as well as needed someone to fall asleep next to him. His need for physical touch for security is much higher at nighttime.

    Make sure you and Travis are on the same page for however you end up handling the nighttime situation. And make sure that the decisions you make are based on what Lydia needs at that time. We, unfortunately, picked some arbitrary rules for our daughter for nighttime and it was absolutely a mistake (both with the timing of implementation and with the fact that it wasn't consistent with how we were parenting her during the daytime hours). Another glitch for us is that my husband and I haven't been in agreement with how to handle the nighttime stuff. Not good for a marriage. When I went back to IL for a month this summer, Hannah and I were in a different place with different routines and she got sick right away with croup. She and I slept together in the bed most of the time we were there and we were both gloriously happy to be together at night. :-)

    I think your friend may be on to something with the teething thing. Consider that, as it will be fluxing in and out of your lives for months and can certainly disrupt sleep.

    - Audrey in AZ

  3. oh, man. the sleep cycles can really be tough.

    with simon, i viewed sleep issues in a pretty black and white light. sleeping all night = normal. waking at night = not normal. and not normal meant i would get out all my books and try to find a solution... some sort of trick or system to try to 'fix' his sleep issues. it worked okay, i guess. simon was naturally a great sleeper, too.

    with theo, my view has changed somewhat. now i see the whole sleep thing as one big cycle, something that is always changing. two weeks of all-night sleep are heaven, but i always know that a period of night-waking will be close behind.

    i am with audrey in the night-waking philosophy. i want my kids to know that i'm available to them at all times, for all their needs, no matter how exhausting they are. i am looking forward to the years when they are older and sleeping more consistently and soundly. in the meantime, i'll just get through night-waking as best i can.

    this comment is pretty rambling, because i am tired. i stayed up too late last night, and then theo woke up at 2:30. most nights he needs something completely arbitrary or even seemingly unnecessary (a kiss, a pat on the back). but i was glad last night that my policy is just to go and help him (and not to make him cry it out or anything) because he had soaked through his diaper and had sopping wet jammies. once we took care of that problem, he slept til 6 am.

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway. enough out of me. one thing i would say is during these hard times of exhaustion, don't feel bad about laying down for a nap whenever lydia does. you deserve and need the rest, so take it when you can.

  4. My theory on the family bed (and knowing myself, this surprises me) is that there will come a day when Riana never wants to sleep with us again. Until then, we enjoy the precious sounds of shared breathing, the coziness of legs everywhere...

    I definitely agree that it is key to be on the same page with the hubby. Also, Riana does have the option of her own bed, but she usually ends up in ours. And there are nights that we end up with the girls in our bed and Ry and I in Riana's bed. My mother would be mortified by all of this sleeping in the same bed, but it's one place where we decided to go with what felt the most natural and comfortable for our family.

    good luck!

  5. oh gosh yes! I feel a little guilty reading all these comments about how much they love sleeping with their children. We do not choose to co-sleep, but being a nursing mom, it kind of comes with the territory at night time. When Bridget ends up with us, it's usually just because i fall asleep nursing at 3am, and/or both of us are too lazy to put her back in her bed. honestly, i do not like it when she is in our bed. She has to be between us since im nervous about her falling off, and both her and her dad like to sprawl out, so i'm stuck on the edge with very little space, not being able to sleep next to my husband. When lucy was about >6-7 months old, i did very much enjoy when she woke up with us in the morning, because she was so cute and fun and in the best mood of the day. Anyways, once lucy was old enough not to be nursing through the night (maybe somewhere around 8 months ish), I just wouldnt nurse her through the night. I nursed her whenever she wanted during the day, but at night, if she woke up Ryan would give her the pacifier. We knew she wasn't hungry-it was just the sucking she wanted to calm her down and get her back to sleep.

  6. So have the nights gotten any better?