I have a two-year-old son who goes to bed very well at about 7.30-8pm with his milk. Unfortunately, he does not stay asleep. When he wakes, he cries out for mummy and daddy - whoever goes to him, he wants the other one.
Dylan does not always want to be cuddled and just cries out whether you stay in the room or not. We believe that this began when he started at a nursery back in August, at the same time as my husband went away on business.
So we believe that it's a separation thing, and he needs to know that we're there for him. Please help!
Congratulations to you - you've got yourself on a nice bedtime routine. I would recommend that you don't put him to bed with his milk, as his milk has become a pacifier.
I've got to ask the question, 'is he on a bottle?' If he is, then you need him to come off. The fact that you say that he goes to bed at 7.30pm with his milk shows me that he must go to bed with a bottle. If he does, his bottle has become a pacifier, because he sucks it to get himself off to sleep.
So that's why he wakes up. So give him his milk before he goes to bed, in a Tommy Tippee sippy cup. What happens with a child is that he pacifies himself off to sleep, and then he wakes himself up in the middle of the night and he's grouchy because he's still sleepy.
But he woke up and he doesn't really want anything, and he's crying because he's still very tired. They just want to go back to sleep. So the best thing you can do to help him is to do the sleep-separation technique with him so he gets comfortable and secure going off to sleep by himself.
You're looking at what might be affecting him, suggesting that it might be because he started nursery. Well, he's probably loving that – most two-year-olds do! Or that it's because your husband has gone away on business. Well, he's too young for that to be giving him night terrors.
The fact that you're saying it might be a separation thing suggests that emotionally maybe you're finding it tough with your husband being away and everything else. You say that the child needs to know that you're there for him – well you are there for him, and I know that!
I believe truly that the separation issue is something that you’re finding hard to adjust to, with your husband away on business and your son now away at nursery. Well, that's quite a big thing for mummy because no one’s around now during the day, so it's a bit of an emotional trail for everyone.
But the facts are this: he goes to bed with his milk – that needs to stop; establish a good consistent bedtime routine that allows you to unwind with your child - read him stories, cuddle him and put him off to bed; and then do the sleep-separation technique.
If he's a bit clingy during the day (which also can be common behaviour for a two-year-old in their development) then the sleep-separation technique is the best thing because it will initiate sleep, but it will also allow him to know that you’re present even though you're not actively involved with him during the night. The sleep-separation technique allows you to be present in the room but not to be active with the child. It allows them to initiate sleep on their own and feel secure.
And for you, you need time to adjust emotionally to the fact that your husband is not around because of work, and that your little boy has gone to nursery. It's a big change for you. One needs to recognise that – don’t be so hard on yourself. Things are different for you now – you've got free time on your hands! So look at the new things you can do to build your life in the time whilst the little one is in nursery, so that it becomes more fulfilling for you.