Won't Fall Asleep - Help!

Adrienne_11February 6, 2002

I need your help! My 18mo old has just gotten over a bout of the flu, complete with sinus infection and infected tonsils. The round of anti-biotics gave him terrible runs and ... of course, diaper rash.

He's still cutting his molars and I know he's just getting back to normal. But I cannot get him to fall asleep. Not at bed time, and not for naps. The strange thing is that 2 of his little play friends are both doing the same thing.

One Mom's doctor said that they just go through these phases. But I'm worried that he's still sick and can't tell me, or that he's afraid of the dark or something.

All three Mom's use different approaches to putting our children down, but none of us can seem to settle them. I still cuddle my little guy and then put him in his toddler bed and stroke his cheek as he falls asleep, usually within 5 to 15min. These days, it's more like 2 hours.

I know that some of you will be saying that I need to let him fall asleep on his own, but even the Mom who does that can't get her little one to sleep.

Will this pass? Have any of you experienced this? Help! I feel so lost!


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My experience is that between 18 and 24 months, they do go through phases where they're sleep schedules are shifting (or non-existant). Does he seem upset/hungry/scared to you, or is he just awake? He may need to cut down to one nap during the day, if he is taking more than one. I *personally* don't think it is critical to make an 18 month old go to sleep on their own (especially if he may still be feeling crummy), but I know some people disagree. I would try cutting out one nap, letting him stay up a little longer (at least until he gets back into the habit of falling asleep right away), and keep doing what you're doing! It IS normal at this age, if that helps =)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2002 at 1:36PM
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What meds is he on? Pediacare decongestent and others with sudafed can make some children act like they've drank coffee :-) Try withholding decongestent and using things like vicks vapor rub when it will be naptime or bedtime soon.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2002 at 1:48PM
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Thanks Mausie! I guess that that is what I needed to hear, that A, they outgrow this, and B that he is normal!

We cut to one nap just passed 12mo's. He did it all on his own. He also weened himself from the bottle around then, and doesn't use a soother, teddy or blanket at all!

I haven't been giving him ANY meds for several days now, although I have used some advil for his molars...maybe I'll try without that too.

He does seem excessively upset. Normally, if he is taking ages to fall asleep, I'll just leave the room for a couple of minutes and he whines and complains, adn then I go back in and POOF, a couple of strokes and he's out. Yesterday though, as soon as I started leaving (after 45min), he really started crying hard, and even my returning to the room didn't help at all, and he kept crying and crying. So I picked him up and he was fine. But then as soon as I lay him in bed....he started crying again. I ended up taking him to the bathroom for a little water break - to break up the crying and when we went back in and lay him down....he went to sleep.


Any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks All.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2002 at 2:12PM
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Could you try a special toy or stuffed animal or blanket? I know you said he doesn't need one but sometimes it really helps with kids who don't want to go to sleep. DS wasn't quit taking his pacifier when he was about 3 months old and wasn't attached to anything but at about 18 months he latched on to a baby blanket. He won't sleep without it now. I remember being the same as a child, I needed my blankie and a bear to feel comforted and then I could go to sleep. Also, I ask DS what he wants to take to bed with him before he goes down for a nap and he picks a toy to lay on his pillow or beside him.

If it's the dark, get a nightlight. DS at about 2 started to say it was dark in his room even with the night light. I added some clear minature Christmas lights in his room that I plug in when he goes to bed (we have one of those that's shaped like a ball with the lights on it that we bought at Christmas for him now). He asks for his ball light if I don't turn it on. Anyway, I later go back once he's asleep and unplug it and he's fine. I remember MIL using a strand of colored lights because they weren't as bright to get my niece to sleep at her house. Maybe you could pick a cute holiday light cover set or patio lights? It may seem crazy but it's worked for us.

The fact that your son is 18 months old and just got over being sick also plays a big part in this. They seem to love to try you at this time in they're lives. You just have to be consistent and figure out what works for your son. Like I know somedays I can let a nap slide and others we absoultely can't. Some days DS is just not tired until later on in the evening and then he'll take a power nap and be fine. DS is almost 3 though but he's been like this for quite a while.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2002 at 11:45AM
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He sounds like my dd who is 22 mos. She acted the same way - wouldn't lie down and go to sleep and I couldn't work out why. But a few weeks later her eye teeth came through, and in the past when she has reacted the same way, teeth have emerged a little time later. I'm not saying in your case it's his teeth, but now I know the signs for my dd when more teeth are moving.

During this time, the ONLY way to get dd to sleep was to take her for a drive - day or night. The thought that this was to become a habit that would never be broken scared me but it was just during her teething. I could tell she was tired and just wouldn't fall asleep on her own, so into the car we went - sometimes 3am drives were part of it. She usually fell asleep within 5 - 30 mins and then I would return home and carefully take her up to her cot and not hear a peep until morning.

Hope all goes well for you.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2002 at 8:30AM
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thanks all!

looks like the teeth were the culprit...the last 3 cusps of molar # 2 came in (ugh, there's more?) AND his little cold has cleared up.

i appreciate all the suggestions about cuddly toys, and believe me, i am trying, but he's not interested.

he has a pooh and tigger in his bed, a really soft teddy, which he loves during the day...and i always slip a soft blanket under his arm (he sleeps on his tummy) as he gets into bed....but they're gone within a few minutes!

well, till next time, thanks.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2002 at 2:21PM
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Ahh, the dreaded molars! well that certainly explains it!

Best of luck, and glad y'all are doing better...

    Bookmark   February 15, 2002 at 8:26AM
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