Sleep. Sleep?

Sleep is not easy for us. J. wakes up several times a night and asks to be creamed. Because this is so much easier when he lays next to us, he is used to sleep with us. He loves to cuddle at night and of course his favorite place is between me and my husband. The problem only is, that (a) he is getting to warm under the blanket (he is wearing his relatively thick anti-scratching overall at night and eczema children are heat sensitive anyway) and tries to kick it off, resulting in me and my husband getting cold; (b) I am a bad sleeper and J. and I keep waking each other up. So, all sleeping in one bed is just not working for us.

We could finally convince J. to sleep in his own bed, and my husband (and sometimes me) sleeps on a folding bed next to him. This works at least for some part of the night – until J. wakes up and crawls under Papa’s blanket. And it is not that he is just awake for a minute or two and then goes back to sleep quickly after crawling under the blanket. J. has usually a period of light sleep that lasts for 2-3 hours during which he frequently scratches and needs to be creamed around his neck and sometimes also his hands and knees. My husband manages him during this time and is only too grateful when J. finally falls back into deeps sleep next to him. The interrupted sleep is hard on both of them.

Then I had to glorious idea to promised extra reward points to J. when he would stay in his bed all night long. That worked for one night. After the next night I found him again under Papa’s blanket and before he was fully awake he told me that he didn’t want any extra point. Well, he made the conscious decision FOR sleeping under Papa’s blanket and AGAINST the extra points. I guess that’s a 1:0 for J. So, this attempt to do it with positive reinforcement failed, and I didn’t come up with something that would be more tempting than the immediate reward of sleeping under Papa’s blanket.

Now, my big question is: How to sleep train a child with eczema. If he fully wakes up at night and is getting upset because we don’t allow him to sleep with us, he will start scratching heavily, and scratching attacks at night are harder to calm down than during the day. And if he does have a scratching attack, than we surely will hold him until he is back asleep, which is entirely counterproductive and feels like a catch 22.

So, what shall we do? The let-him-cry-and-scratch method is unacceptable. A search on the internet didn’t bring up anything useful how to deal with the scratching at night while sleep training. How do you manage the nights of your child with eczema? How did you manage to sleep train them? Maybe someone has a tip for us?

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5 Responses to Sleep. Sleep?

  1. Marcie Mom says:

    Hey, I am still co-sleeping with my baby and not yet find a way to get her to sleep in her own bed. The good thing is that she is waking up less frequently and we can sleep better even with her in the middle (usually only have to wake up once to apply moisturizer).

    You can read about my co-sleeping experience here.

    • Caroline says:

      Thanks, Marcie Mom, for your comment. Yes, I agree with you that co-sleeping is a good alternative for a child with eczema and in general I am all for it! It makes it so much easier to control scratching or, as you mention, to apply moisturizer in the middle of the night. And to be honest, I enjoy having “my baby” next to me. However, the problem is my sleep. I wake up very easily and have difficulties going back to sleep. With J. sleeping in our bed I wake up more frequently and as a consequence don’t get enough sleep. This is not good for me and also not good for him. Therefore I would love to find a way to help him sleep by himself….

  2. Laura says:

    I, too, am trying to come up with an easy way to wean my 2 1/2 year old little princess from cosleeping with me. She falls asleep scratching and wakes up most nights for about an hour scratching. Right now she won’t let us put any creams on her. The steroids an most moisturizers burn and she rubs off the aquaphor the first change she gets. I’ve been putting olive oil in her bath and it seems to help but her hair is always greasy. I can live with that tho. We are expecting a baby at the beginning of February so I would like to try to help her sleep on her own before then. I’m worried she will resent the baby more if she isn’t already sleeping on her own. I have no good ideas. Would love to hear if you made any progress!!

    As for the getting too hot at night, we each have our own sheet or blanket so she won’t get too hot and I won’t get too cold. It works for us.

    Best of luck catching some zzzzzzz’s.


    • Caroline says:

      Dear Laura,
      I would love to report that everything is easy now – but it isn’t. The good news is that J.’s eczema is well under control so he doesn’t fall asleep or wakes up scratching often. The not so good news is that he still has problems sleeping by himself. We did manage to have him sleep in his own room in his own bed, but he still can’t fall asleep by himself, wakes up at night and comes to our bed. Most of the time we carry him back but this can reoccur several times at night…. Of course it doesn’t help that his little brother (who is 1.5 years old and luckily does not suffer from eczema) still sleeps in our bedroom.
      My feeling is that because we always were holding his hands and trying to protect his sleep with our presence, he never learned the to fall asleep by himself. Now going to bed is a fight every evening because he is afraid to be alone at night. I am now trying to get professional help. We have here a Children-Sleeping-School and I am waiting for it to start. If there is anything useful coming out of it I will write a blog-post about it.
      One other thing that did help us a lot was to redecorate his room and buy him a nice new bed. At least that help for the initial transition out of our bed into his. We will try now to follow this pattern and move his little brother into his room, in the hope he will not feel so lonely. We’ll see.
      I am sorry I can’t tell you more at this point.

      • Laura Tan says:

        Thank you for your reply, Caroline. It’s good to know that we aren’t alone in the sleep battles and eczema. For now, my husband has taken over the bedtime routine in hopes that she will, at least, not resent the baby. I am, however, still sleeping with her….much easier on me not to have to change rooms when she wakes up itchy. Thank you, again.


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