Sleep: Preschooler doesn't sleep well since surgery

My three-year-old daughter had sinus surgery a few months ago and this has completely disrupted her sleep habits. She was the model sleeper before -- in bed easily by 8pm and up around 7am, with a two-hour nap. Since the surgery, she wakes around 4am and comes in to sleep with me. I take her back to her room repeatedly and neither one of us gets much sleep. She has also stopped napping. It is even a struggle to get her to take some "quiet time." Any suggestions?

Question:

I am sorry to hear of your daughter's sleep problems. I'm sure that her operation must have disrupted her sleep habits, but it is also that time in her development when she may, in fact, be getting ready to give up her nap.

This special set of circumstances requires flexibility in your parenting. You might want to consider letting your daughter sleep with you when she comes into bed at 4am. You can get the remaining two hours of sleep, which you both need. This may also help your daughter to stay awake until 8pm so that she can learn to do without her nap.

Once she gives up napping during the day, you may find that she doesn't come into your room any more. Until then, I suggest that you allow her the extra sleep time in your bed.

Don't forget that she may still be reacting to the uncomfortable experience in the hospital, and may also need the reassurance that you are there for her. So, for a while, try giving the extra time to her in any way she needs it. I do believe the problem should lessen as your daughter gets used to the new, no-nap schedule. Kids at this age sleep much more soundly when they are only sleeping at night.

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