22 month old very clingy and having sleep issues

We have a 22 month old daughter who is very clingy with dad (he stays at home and is the primary care giver). Most days she mainly wants to be held by him, and if she doesn't get her way, she starts crying uncontrollably/throwing a tantrum. This leaves him little emotional energy to deal with her at night, and makes it almost impossible for him to put her to bed because she won't let him go. I (the mother) am the one that has to do her bedtime routine and put her to bed. It had been going okay for about a week, but then she got sick and everything went out the window. Now things are worse than ever before.

She was previously a very good sleeper, and slept 12 hours through the night from about 5-6 months old until recently. She went through the usual 4, 8, and 12 month regressions, but those lasted only a few weeks, then she went back to her "normal" self. This new sleep pattern started in February, and since that time she has fought bedtime, and every night wakes up at least once. When she wakes, she's instantly crying and/or screaming. We don't think it is night terrors because she cries that she wants to be held and is aware of our presence when we come in to soothe her. Most recently, she won't even let me put her down to sleep unless I'm cuddling/holding her, and then I have to wait until she falls asleep to sneak out of her room. We tried putting her bed in our room, but that was a disaster because she saw Daddy and just screamed for him to hold her the whole time. We can't co-sleep in the same bed (we've tried) because she constantly moves around and kicks and neither of the adults can get any sleep. 

We are pretty much at our wits' end and don't know what to do. We are starting her at day care part-time starting next week, but are unsure of what other steps we can take to help with the clinginess and sleep problems? The usual sleep training stuff we have tried (Increasing time away, checking back in, etc.). We are uncomfortable with cry it out because there have been a couple times that she has cried so hard that she has vomited. Are sleep consultants actually helpful? Are there any child therapists that might provide some help? Any help/advice would be appreciated, thank you. 

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The only advice I have ever found helpful about parenting and sleep issues is that this too shall pass. It sounds like a phase and I can tell you that I found age 18-24 months absolutely the most difficult for many of the reasons you have shared here. As soon as my son could start to talk and vocalize, he got more of his "power" back and things are much easier now. That said there are still tantrums from time to time and still mama only or dada only phases. This is just them trying to have control.

You could consider only having mom put kiddo to bed and having dad actually leave or not be in the house, and not give in. Once you give in, it becomes a game. It sounds like your husband needs a break and I too emphasize with this as even though I am not a stay at home parent I am the primary caregiver once I am off work and it absolutely sucks the energy out of me. I'm working with my husband on more balance so that I can be more emotionally present. It is not fair that I have to do everything just because our son has decided I'm his personal assistant.

Best of luck to you, and just remember, this too shall pass. What some describe as "terrible twos" you may be experiencing now. We certainly did and it faded at age 2.

I highly recommend our sleep consultant, Darrah Torres. She is extremely knowledgeable, has exceptional customer service, and has worked with families with kids of all ages. Our daughter sleeps 7pm-7am with a regular nap because of her! Additionally, she herself is a mom of 2 kids + she is a pediatric speech & language pathologist. My 9th friend just hired her :) Worth every penny! https://www.sleepwiseconsulting.com/consultants/darrah-torres/

Yep, been there. Our first child (now 12) drove us crazy with such sleep issues. One thing that helped around age 2 was taking him to the track and having him run--easily 1/2 or a full mile each day. I am not kidding. We'd make it a game, use a timer, set goals, etc.  He was happy to do so, and it helped his emotional state by evening so that he'd crash. (**Warning** do not let your kid fall asleep in the late afternoon in a car seat or stroller. That will just ruin the WHOLE night for you.) At some point we just embraced the fact that we have a better behaved kid when focusing on the active time (and making sure it is ACTIVE) rather than wishing for sleep that never seems to come. Good luck.

Sleep issues are always tough.  My toddler daughter went through a similar phase of always needing dad (me) and waking up nightly.  I know it doesn't help now, but all things are temporary and this shall pass too.  One idea would be for dad to sleep on a camp mat/airbed on the floor of her room for the next few weeks.  Not ideal, but it might allow him to at least get some sleep (your daughter would hopefully be comforted by his presence in the room). Otherwise, just try to exhaust her your daughter during the day with lots of outdoor play so that she's very tired.   

I’ve recommended Eileen Henry of Compassionate Sleep Solutions before and I’ll give her another enthusiastic recommendation. She is a true sleep magician and we found her to be enormously helpful with our sons sleep struggles. We have multiple friends who’ve worked with her too with great success. She helps with babies, young toddlers, older toddlers and even early school age kids. Good luck!

Sorry I don't have more helpful advice, but in case it's comforting my daughter was similar. I decided the most important thing was to prioritize everyone sleeping. So I would just sleep with her whenever was most comfortable. And parents took turns napping on the weekends. It was not a fun period in our lives, but eventually she was older and more rational (slightly) and we could discuss why we needed changes in the sleeping arrangements because parents have other things to do. Kids change every month at that age and sometimes trying again in a few weeks is all it takes. I would avoid changes to sleep routine when making other life changes if at all possible. Best to change one thing at a time. Now my daughter is 13 and there's no way I could snuggle her to sleep and she wouldn't want me to. So it won't help you, but for her dad it's nice to try to remember that these years go quickly. I had a much better time of it when I abandoned the idea of sneaking out or trying to get something done and just laid down intending to enjoy the snuggle and fall asleep myself as soon as possible.

Wow you've just described our 21 month old daughter - every single thing. I wish I had the answer, following in case anyone else does. 

My son is now 16 … but YES sleep consultants are actually helpful. This problem will be 90% solved in a week or two, but a little crying and fussing will be involved. I am not a cry it out fan, but children will command every moment of your life and sanity unless you establish boundaries. This is the first of many many challenges you will face where you need to establish rules of the house that work for everyone in the family, not the one who screams the loudest. Hire help. It works. 

Cry it out didn’t work for us, but co-sleeping did. I wonder if playing bedtime routine with a toy would work. Like if you wanted her to sleep on a futon in your room, together you could “teach” the toy about the bedtime routine. One thing to keep in mind is there wouldn’t be hundreds of books about baby/toddler sleep if it was easy. 

May be worth a consult with a child sleep specialist, in our case it was a medical cause and all the sleep consultants in the world didn't suspect that. It was my son's ENT that referred us to one and sure enough it helped so much.