Coping with change

Sleep deprivation is awful for parents, and many of us go through it, but ultimately it means your child is sleep deprived or unsettled too. This anonymous poster needs some help with night-time waking…


We have recently moved our boy into his new room, and a new bed. We feel his attachment to both of us is sufficient enough for us to push him slightly in a direction that would allow us to make changes that are necessary.

His reaction to his new room (he used to be in with us) has been a lot worse than when he first came to us, and he is struggling to settle. We have now become accustomed to helping him during the night, which inevitably means one or both of us losing at least an hours sleep.

What is worse, is that we are not being consistent with our reaction to his midnight awakenings, and we genuinely do not know what is for the best.

We have tried sleeping next to him on a spare mattress, sleeping with him in or on top of the bed, and taking him into our room.

It is virtually impossible to settle him on his own.

Are we being lazy by not settling him when he wakes properly? Are we making a rod for our own back by one of us sleeping in the same room (even for just an hour)? Or does it not matter – will this simply pass with time?

3 thoughts on “Coping with change

  1. Suddenly Mummy

    You have my sympathy – sleep problems are so draining, and it is very hard to be consistent in the middle of the night when it’s all you can do to keep your eyes open and walk in a straight line! As a foster carer, I have to use a less attachment-based approach than others might recommend as I am not allowed to have the child in my bed, or sleep in their bed or in their room. Therefore I have always used a modified form of controlled crying. I know some people are vehemently against this, but I’ve looked into all sides of the debate, and I’ve become comfortable with what I do. I go in regularly, comfort in cot, leave briefly, go back in and repeat, reassuring the child that I am there for them. I usually find that things begin to settle after a week (a terrible week of very little sleep!). When changes happen or problems arise again, we do the whole thing again.

    Your situation is different as you don’t have any restrictions. But I think any parent has to decide what they need their nighttimes to look like, whether that is possible to achieve, and what they are prepared to do to achieve it. The phrase ‘rod for your back’ only applies if the method you are choosing is so unsustainable that you won’t be able to see it through. So, if one of you is ok staying in the room with your little one, and it seems to work, then it isn’t a rod for your back, it’s a workable method to make sure you all get some sleep. I’d prefer that to bringing him into your bed as that way you’re all getting disturbed, whereas you can take it in turns to get up and go into his room and at least one of you has the chance of some sleep.

    As there is a clearly identifiable cause for your little one’s problems (new room, new bed) then I’d imagine that after a period of time, he’d settle down and not need you so much hopefully. It’s not surprising he’s missing that sense of someone else in the room at night – perhaps a nightlight or some soft music or heartbeat-type sounds might help. A dark, quiet room can seem a very lonely place.

  2. Suddenly Mummy

    Oh, just another thought, you could try taking him up to his room in the daytime as well and doing some fun things in there. Otherwise his bedroom might just become a negative space where he feels lonely in the dark and he might not want to go in there at all.

  3. Jan

    You don’t say how old your little one is… But I could write a very similar post about our 3 year old’s response to changing from sharing a room to having his own room. We started by settling him by staying with him in his room. At first on his bed (not under same covers), and then sleeping on floor. Now we can mostly get him to settle alone, but when he does need extra I sit on the floor by his bed for a while.
    We’ve had great success with the Relax Kids little stars CDs. They have really helped ours to get back to sleep in the night (although we also sometimes fall asleep with them!!).
    We’re now working on him staying in his own bed & gradually stepping back. I think it’s a process and you need a feel for what he needs at the moment. If he’s talking have you tried talking about it during the daytime? There might be things in the room that are unsettling perhaps?
    We’re also sorting out a picture of us for his room as we think he’s struggling to remember us when we are not there.
    Make sure you’re getting enough sleep though – sleep depravation is the worst. We took it in turns to sleep downstairs recently as you need to recharge sometimes. Good luck with whatever you do!


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