Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend wonderings: Teething, tummy, (sleep) training trauma, or just terrible twos?

The boy, during one of his cheerful moments this weekend.
These moments are getting rarer!

We have been faced with the challenge of training the boy to sleep on his own, since my preggie back can no longer take sleeping on the mattress on the floor in his room (and I will eventually have to move out anyway, since I will have to nurse number 2).  We started the training about 1.5 weeks back, with us following our usual bedtime routine (stories and milk, prayer and nurse, sing a song), however, instead of me sleeping on a mattress next to his, I would go out.  Since we had already night-weaned him and he was able to fall asleep without me being right next to him, so it went ok for the first few days, with him falling asleep on his own with no protest at all.  He did wake up two or three times each night though, and we would go in to comfort him, while slowly extending the period of time we would wait before going in, and these waking sessions seemed to decrease in frequency (except for a night or two) until there were some nights where he would sleep through (with of course the usual stirring in between, but without requiring us to go in to comfort him).  There were one or two times where he did get upset that I did not stay with him until he fell asleep, but he managed to go back to sleep pretty quickly after some protesting.  Only once did we have a major meltdown, where he screamed and cried and did not let me out of the room, and would run out to pull me back in, but this was during the night when we had our bible study group over and I think the break in usual routine might have contributed to his meltdown.  But after that night (we were wondering if we should stop the training), everything went back to normal, so we thought the sleep-training was going ok.

He's still interested in learning and playing each day,
so we thought the sleep-training was not affecting him negatively.

However, even before the little boy started the sleep training, we noticed that his appetite had gone down the drain for about two weeks or so.  We initially blamed this on a sprouting molar (of which the gum still looks rather red and sore).  He was eating less than before, and would sometimes spit out certain foods (like meat), and there was one night when he woke up about 8 times, screaming and crying (that was before we even started the sleep-training).  Then we thought he had caught a tummy bug as well, since he started throwing up half-way through meals, and having loose stools for a few days.  That started less than a week ago, but seems to have resolved, however, his appetite has been getting worse and worse.

And to top it all off, he's started becoming more and more clingy and difficult, and it has been particularly bad for the past few days, especially this weekend.  So on top of not wanting to eat his meals, he would mess up his food on purpose and insist on having his way for everything.  With the hubby, he's been insisting on being carried all the time (he knows I will not carry him, so he doesn't try his luck with me most of the time).  We thought things were improving on Sunday when he woke up and was extremely co-operative for once with the hubby (I was away at a run), and he was his usual smiley, sweet self all the way to Sunday school... then after that everything changed.  He refused to sit down for lunch after church, then proceeded to knock his head on the table and howl the entire restaurant down.  Then when we went home, he refused to nap, and was so grumpy by dinner time, he threw a tantrum and refused to eat his dinner entirely.  This morning, I had this major tussle with him to get him changed out of his jammies, and got a few kicks in the tummy for my effort.  He later then threw up part of his breakfast, cried and wanted me to carry him when I had to cook his lunch (I had to leave him screaming on the sofa after reasoning with him failed), and it took quite alot of coaxing before he finished his lunch.  Its as if we took the wrong kid back from Sunday school yesterday.

I guess we've been blessed because Junior J has been quite mild-tempered and good-natured, and his terrible twos seemed to be quite manageable previously.  Now I wonder what happened to that dear little boy of mine.  Could the terrible appetite be still due to the molar?  (It has erupted 90%, and the boy seems to be ok chewing now.)  Then what about the recent bad behaviour?  I was initially worried that it was due to the sleep-training, but the problems started a week into sleep training, and for the few days at the start of the training he was more or less his usual sweet self.  Or perhaps the boy has not really hit the terrible twos yet, and is now experiencing it in full force?

Have any of you tried training your toddler to sleep on their own?  How did it go?   And did the eruption of molars cause any of your kids to really lose their appetite for a few weeks?  Meanwhile, I guess we can only wonder (but we are going to bring him to see a dentist, to be on the safe side), and pray for patience and wisdom to ride out this hopefully passing phase.  Parenting sure is challenging!


  1. Hmmm...sound just like Zach's normal day, minus the vomiting. He just wouldn't eat, so not vomit...

    Will have to check Zach for his molar. I thought all the teeth are out.

    Can't be bothered about putting him to sleep in a separate room. We are already having a 1 King + 1 Super single. The 4 of us should be able to squeeze in. Rationalize that eventually, he would prefer to sleep on his own (plus we don't have any spare rooms )

  2. Jus, we never train our kids to sleep alone. All the four of us sleep in one room. We even remove our bed frame. We bought mattresses for the kids to sleep around our bed mattress. For us, we feel that now they still wanna sleep with us so take this opportunity to cuddle each other. In future, I am sure they want to be on their own... So we are enjoying their company as long as we can.

  3. Does he take a routine nap for 1-2 hours? For Vee, he'd go bonkers only when he's overtired by nap time (or bedtime) or woke up a little too early. Once his sleep timing is good for the day, he'd be an angel.

    We'd still continue co-sleeping when #2 comes along. He's too fussy a sleeper to sleep in his own now. For 1-2 weeks, he was happy to have Daddy put him to bed. But now, he wants me to put a hand on him until he's very drowsy.

    With #2 coming along, #1 may also start to be more clingy to Mummy cos they can sense the potential loss of 100% attention?

    Same, we've a King & Super Twin thick mattresses in the floor, enough space for 4. Hopefully #2 will be an easy baby to sleep in the cot.

    All the best! :)

  4. we have a few similar problems and seeing that JJ is about 2months older than T.

    I'm still nursing T to sleep but I've cut down on his night feeds totally by telling him that i'm drained. I've made up a song so that he knows when I'm drained, he has to detach himself. We don't put him in a separate room either cuz I think in time, he would prefer to sleep on his own. I mean, they are only so little such a short period of time. Soon, he'll be out with his friends and this is my time to cuddle with him. I also think he is able to remember things very well now. For eg, we went to a friend's birthday party a few weeks ago and everyday, he tells me that he went on a pony ride at Em's party. So, I know he remembers things very well which is why I don't know if I can do control crying cuz I don't want him to feel that I'm going away from him and then he will remember the night before and the whole sleeping experience becomes very negative for him. I mean, sleep is supposed to be very peaceful and serene. But, hey that's just me..everybody feels different about sleep training their kids.

    With the tantrums, i can relate. T wants to be carried all the time when we go out, sometimes at home. Distraction is the key, i think. But i've started slowly to tell him that we can hop together by holding hands. He would do it for maybe less than 2 mins but we just carry him and then we hop again and try again and again.

    With not wanting to eat, I can relate too. He is not a bit fan of meats too but will eat minced meat. So, i mix up minced chicken with maybe a few pieces of chicken and hide them. Also, I bought this book by Jerry Seinfeld's wife which she hides all the veg in her receipes..pretty interesting.

    Parenthood is the toughest gig there is, no paid job comes close, and you don't even get paid! It is 24/7 relentless, with no clear instructions or job description! Just when you think you are getting the hang of it, something changes and it is tough all over again! As you ascend each mountain, you see another in the distance. It is a thankless job, with no end in sight. But it is the most rewarding, wonderful experience in the world! Through the sleep deprived haze, you rejoice the milestones. Though the feelings of inadequacy, you overcome each new challenge, through the constant giving, a tiny smile gives so much in return! None of us would change it for the world, but we can each yearn for the days of no responsibility, of nights filled with sleep, or sex, or partying! Of days where things went as planned and we had control of our own lives! Parenting is hard work and it always is. As each issue is resolved, a new one emerges, or sometimes they come in quick succession or all at once. Don't be too hard on yourself in the times when it feels overwhelming. Make time for yourself. Rustle up babysitting from whoever you can and have well deserved ME time! Don't ever feel guilty, you will be a better mother by being yourself first!

    Holy crap batman!!! I think I just preached too much cuz I'm writing about what I go through everyday too!!! I'm just an email away if you need to talk.

    muaks muaks! kisses kisses!


  5. In our house, we blame any unexplained behavior on the tooth fairy. Sometimes looking for answers leads you to nowhere so you just have to ride out the storm. As I type this, little M is crying in his room. He used to be able to fall asleep all on his own, no problem. But we have had house guests and the kids shared our bed while they took their room so now M thinks I should sleep next to him every night. Since he has Ally for company, I leave him to cry it out after our usual bedtime routine. This method isn't for every parent, M is the sort to give up after a while. If I used the same method with Ally she would be crying for hours on end. So it really depends on the child's personality.

    Like Junior J, he has become clingy and demanding. My sweet mild manner son has been replaced with someone I don't even know. He wants me to carry him all day long which is impossible. Some well meaning friends and relatives have said it could be that he senses baby no.3 is on the way. We just put it down to him being in a difficult phase. Ally went through something similar though it was only for a few weeks, or maybe my memory has failed me with time.

  6. Hi,
    Sounds like tough and so many things to tackle...
    I admire you for not losing yr temper in these difficult times. I feel this is impt as there are times I couldn't take it and lost my temper on my boy, resulted in worsening the situation.
    Also I had to constantly remind myself to 'forget' his naughty times when they are over, in order to have more patience.
    My boy is a difficult one too. Just this morning I hard to dragged and forced-carried him to climb the stair, take the lift and wait for the school bus for some time before shoving him into the bus finally. All those while he was punching me, screaming and trying to wiggle and run away refusing to go to school. It had not happened for months hence it was so unexpected and leaving me feeling drained out the whole morning. However this noon when he was back, he said " sorry mommy, I hit you this morning" sounding so regretful and it melts my heart.

  7. Sounds like a massive battle on your hands. For me, my older kid still sleeps in the same room, though he doesnt need us to "actively" make him sleep (just be lying on the bed with him).

    Just before the little one came along, he had a spurt of horrendous behaviour, which to me, I attributed to the fact that he felt a tad insecure with #2 on the way. I thank God that didn't last, but what we did do was to continually assure him, spend lots and lots of time with him...

    But I'd agree with some of the commenters above. A good afternoon nap is paramount to good behaviour. My boy needs at least 2 hours.

    My heart is with you, and just hang in there. :)

  8. Hugs Jus! It must be really tough to have to deal with the pregnancy, managing the home, and having to care for a little boy going through a difficult phase! One of my mentors shared with me that parenting really is about going through all sorts of phases with our children. She shared that I need to remember to go through the phases WITH them, and not just watch them fumble through phases themselves. It is really easier said than done as we all know! But that advice has helped me through the hardest times (so far).

    I think what makes it harder is that at this age, they are too young to articulate everything that causes them discomfort and we're torn between wanting to ensure that we put in the right disciplinary measures while at the same time concerned that there could be underlying causes for bad behaviour!

    I don't have a lot of advice although Bubbles did go through a very contrary phase last week but emerged so much sweeter and lovelier than before! I still don't know what happened! So I can only encourage you to lean on God and pray for this phase to pass soon while continuing to observe him keenly. I suspect that teething can be a big reason for the discomfort though. I heard molars are the worst! Could there be another one popping out?

    As for sleeping, I'm afraid I don't have much to share :( Bubbles was moved out to her own room when she was 9 months old. To the request of my husband! We moved her cot one day and I actually teared =P But then she had no problems transitioning I think because it was the same cot, and also because we hung out together a lot in her room prior to the move. Now, she would rather sleep in her own room than ours, although she does want me to lie with her while she falls asleep at night. She's ok when she wakes up in the morning alone though and would hang out/talk to her toys before deciding to walk out by opening the door herself! There were however, several occasions when she would wake up in the middle of the night calling out for me, but then it was always a phase thing - ie. a few days and then she stops doing it. For us it was either teething, illness, or a developmental leap/change that caused those wakings (so many different reasons!). I really hope poor J gets back to his usual routine soon so that he gets properly rested, and that you too get more rest! hugs again!

  9. Hi, I just read this. Sounds like a tough time you're going through. I'm thinking it may be due to his awareness that you're having another baby. (???) Happened to my kids when I was pregnant. At this age, they're not too little to be unaware of changes in the family, yet not old enough to be able to articulate their thoughts and feelings well. That explains the misbehaviour and tensions. Hang in there... This, too, shall pass. *hugs*

  10. Your post really resonates with me! As a mother of a 20 month old, I often wonder where I have gone wrong in parenting my kid. She is incredibly clingy to me and wants to be carried all the time. This has been going on since she was a baby. She has also not been able to sleep through the night till now and this has been a source of many fights between me and the hubby. Recently, she has added throwing tantrums and refusing food in the list. I have not tested how long her tantrums can last, but trust me, she can keep the crying going and the decibels high for more than 30 minutes. Both the hubby and I love her to bits but seeing the way she behaves, she may end up being the only child! We have recently decided to try to discourage her from co-sleeping with us as well...wonder how that will turn out!

  11. I can fully empathize with what you are feeling and going through right now. My advice is if you intend for J to sleep on his own when #2 comes, it is a good decision to do sleep training now. Just hang in there for a while more and you will all get there.

    We have never done co-sleeping with my boys. We moved their cots out of our room to theirs when they were 18 mths. #1 was because of the arrival of #2 and for #2, it was just because I felt it was time to do so. The challenge is not to let the child feel that being moved out of mum's bed/room means he is being kicked out because of the new baby, but it can be done with sensitivity and explanations. It is good for his emotional development too, to learn to separate the act of sleeping together from being loved.

    As for the poor eating, and I am speaking from experience because my kids were hard to feed too, try not to worry about it. No kids will starve themselves. Seriously. Kids who eat little for a few days will make it up later through a growth spurt and as long as the weight is not dropping, even if it is stagnant for a while, the eating will improve after the teething episodes and/or illnesses are over.

    I know it can be so hard, on a day-to-day basis, having to deal with so much crying and tantrums and things not going as planned, but l find it helps me when I was going through them before, to just take it a day at a time. Do your best to cope and manage on a daily basis, while always keeping an eye on the end goal.

  12. Gosh, thanks everyone for taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts! Reading all those comments, I can only conclude its probably a phase they go through, with the terrible twos as well as some anxiety with the coming of his baby brother. Guess its part of growing up, and we'll have to ride it through...

    I am very encouraged to know that we are not alone! As for those currently dealing with sleep-training, tantrums and other toddler troubles, hang in there... I guess it will get better!



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