Thursday, January 24, 2008

Separation Anxiety and Naptime Refusal - Part III

If I complete this post, you may assume I have achieved some reasonable amount of success in the sleep stand-off between me and my toddler. I had considered waiting until I had triumphed completely and reestablished a normal sleeping routine for several days, but as I have yet to find a complete account of my problem described anywhere else I thought it better to publicly share the process.

I called the pediatrician’s yesterday, stating that I had a question about a change in my child’s sleeping patterns. I was immediately connected with the doctor.

“How are you?” he cheerily asked.

“Not so good, Dr. The baby is turning 18 months old this week, the incisors are coming in, and she is refusing to go to sleep. She will not nap at all during the day, and at night she will only sleep for a few hours at a time. When I lay her in her crib, she clings to me and screams,” I summarized the problem.

He listened, and then I asked, “Is this normal?”

“This happens sometimes,” he answered, “There is one thing you can try. Give her a teaspoon of Benadryl at night.”

“Thank you,” I happily replied.

Of course in the past week I had wondered if there was such thing as a sleep medication for babies. Surely if there was everyone would have heard about it. I was glad to hear there was something considered safe to give.

Still, I had some reservations about giving any kind of cold or allergy medicine to an under-two, especially considering the current debate among pediatricians that has resulted in many children’s medications being taken off the shelves. So, upon purchasing the bottle of Children’s Benadryl, I warily asked the pharmacist if there was any reason I should avoid giving the medication to my child.

“How old is she? How much does she weigh?” she asked while studying at the ingredients.

“18 months, about 25 pounds,” I replied.

“There are only 25 mL in a teaspoon. As long as you don’t give any more than that, there are no side effects other than sleepiness,” she assured me.

I questioned her about the current debate regarding cold and allergy medication being given to babies.

“That is because people were over-medicating,” she replied.

(Of course, I highly caution any parent or guardian reading this to consult your pediatrician before giving any over-the-counter medication to a child under age 6.)

Armed with a new tool in my battle against her (our) sleeplessness, I put her to bed at her usual time of 7:00 PM. As usual, she went to sleep at that time with little problem. When she awoke at around midnight, fully alert, I gave her the teaspoon of Benadryl before nursing her.

When I lay her in her crib, instead of coming to with an anxious jolt as she has been doing of late, she settled herself calmly. She slept until 5:30 AM.

Today, at the normal naptime of 12:00 noon, I made up a sleeptime area on her bedroom floor. This consisted of a large blanket to lay on, a large Winnie-the-Pooh to lay her head on, and her favorite blanket. I nursed her to sleep on the floor.

The idea here was to re-establish her normal routine and eliminate her fear of being alone in the crib, before trying to have her nap in the crib again.

I waited until she was in a deep sleep. Carefully, over the course of about five minutes, millimeter-by-millimeter, I removed myself from her side. I replaced myself with a large stuffed cat.

I tiptoed over the squeaky floor to the door and cautiously closed the squeaky door.

I unplugged my printer before turning on the computer. The printer is very loud when it turns itself on during the booting-up process.

A half-hour later, she is still asleep! A mini-triumph!

[Author's post-note Jan. 31: The Benadryl was used for exactly three nights before her normal sleeping habits were naturally restored.]

Above: "Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child"
Sandro Botticelli, circa 1485
Tempera on canvas, 122 x 80.5 cm

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Yayy!! Hip Hip Horray!! :)