19 Month Old Refusing Sleep unless Sleeping ON me

by Sarah
(Olympia, WA)

My toddler has never been great with sleeping. He grew at a quick rate and was up every hour and a half in the first 12 weeks at night. He also came out of the womb refusing to sleep away from me. No one else. Just me.

We got it under control when he hit about 12 months, with nearly zero night waking and no longer wanting to be attached to me. However, in December, we went through a three week period where he became really sick and disrupted his sleep schedule. A few weeks ago we started to finally get him back and he got hit with a cold. He wanted me but overall he seemed to just need comfort after his cough woke him up.

He gave me that cold which has turned into pneumonia. In the last three days (before I finally went to the doctor) I cannot go to bed without him in bed with me. Only, it's not just in bed with me. He is persisting on sleeping on me, as if he cannot physically be away from me, just like when he was a newborn. What could be causing this?? Other than the two of us getting sick, there hasn't been any other changes to our routine at all.

Hi Sarah

It is really common for children this young who had been established in their sleep routine to go back to wanting to sleep with mom when they have an illness. Unlike you or I, the only way they know how to soothe themselves is through their mom. Good news is you have a healthy attachment with your baby. When he is feeling bad he looks to you for comfort! Way to go, you did good.

You should be able to use whatever techniques you did before to help this resolve. Whether you let him leave the door open, or used a sticker chart to reward him each night he slept on his own ( both of those help), I am sure he should be back to sleeping in his own bed with a little encouragement from you. Illness often causes this kind of relapse.

Let us know if things get more complicated for some reason.

Good luck

Kristen McClure

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