Toddler Sleep Problems

February 12th, 2013 posted by Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, FAAP

Dear Dr. Gwenn,

My daughter is 3 1/2 years old. I just spent the last year raising her alone while my husband was in Korea. Since we are a military family, our lives change every so often when it has to. Lately our daughter takes up to 3 hours to go to sleep, we have left her by herself and we have to take her back into her room at least 6 times. We’ve tried reading stories in her bed and staying in her room until she falls asleep. On occasion, she has lain in our bed for hours before falling asleep. During the evening struggles, she often throws fits and kicks and screams. I need help! This is affecting my marriage and now I have become one of those mothers that I didn’t want to become with a spoiled child. Please help! Signed, Rebecca

Dear Rebecca:

Please know you are not alone in your frustration – we’ve all been there! Toddlers become easily disrupted when their schedule and sense of security change. Was your child sleeping well in your husband’s absence? How was the adjustment to his homecoming? How long has your husband been home? There is no stock advice for this particular situation because there are so many variables that need to be addressed. I’d suggest you talk to your child’s pediatrician and get a referral to a sleep specialist. Family counseling may also help if you feel your marriage is becoming strained. The military often has excellent family services which I’d encourage you to explore since part of this situation is an adjustment for all of you to your husband’s tour of duty and his return. In the mean time, you and your husband should try and be consistent with your daughter and present a united front. She may be toying with limits now that two parents are actively involved. Best, Dr. Gwenn © 2005 – 2006 Pediatrics Now. All rights reserved. PEDIATRICS NOW™ is a trademark of Pediatrics Now

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Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, FAAP (36 Posts)

Pediatrician, Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Gwenn is an experienced columnist, educator, and practicing pediatrician. Dr. Gwenn strives to write as if she were talking to a parent. As a parent herself, she knows how important it is to obtain information but also understand how precious little time parents have to find that information on the internet. Pediatrics Now was developed to fill that gap and provide a bridge between the parenting and pediatrics worlds.

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