Toddler sleep update

Well, thanks to all of your helpful comments responding to my cry for help, things are going a bit better on the sleep front.

Your suggestions reminded me of something that I knew deep down in my heart–J is getting bigger all the time, and I will probably always be a few steps behind, thinking he still might need his crib or only drink 4oz of milk at one sitting or that he’ll want to sleep swaddled until his mid 40s.

So I did it. Thanks to my trusty IKEA-supplied Allen wrench, I turned his crib into a toddler bed.

J explores the joys of toddler-bed-dom.

I was definitely terrified of what chaos might ensue, and also just clinging lazily to old routines. It just takes so much damned energy to construct a whole new set of bed time procedures. But it seems that we’ve done it.

Naps are still the real challenge–we’ve gotten him to fall asleep in there on his own for nap time once. I was so giddy with excitement that I had to take a picture:

All other times, he has either fallen asleep nursing (which I must say, I think I am finally ready to give up at this point) or he has never fallen asleep and thus had “quiet time” which consists of bursts of quiet or loud play alone in his room, punctuated by opening his door and having chats with me. I have yet to find a way of enforcing quiet time that feels right to me. The one thing I haven’t tried that I might is turning on an album and saying that he has to stay in his room until the music ends. I welcome any other tips you might have.

Nighttime is much simpler. My friend B sent me this very applicable quote from this website, which seems quite helpful especially for the 0-1 set.

I want to be clear that we are talking about BEDTIME. This is the time you put your child to bed. The only rule is that they stay in bed. You can’t make an older child sleep (nor can you make them eat or poop FYI). This is why we don’t call it SLEEPTIME. As a parent your job is to give them an age-appropriate bedtime, a soothing consistent bedtime routine, establish the limits (primarily that they stay in bed), and then leave. What they do at that point is up to them.

Does that mean it’s OK for your 2 YO to sit in their bed awake and talking to themselves for 45 minutes? It sure does!

Is this a form of torture? No it isn’t! Learning to entertain themselves, care for their bodies, or (*gasp*) spend a moment of the day without constant stimulation is actually really healthy! As adults, what do you do when you can’t fall asleep? You lie there and think quiet thoughts until you DO fall asleep. Your child is learning to do this too.

I found this particularly helpful and found the extra added reinforcement of a Goodnight Moon pop-up book that J and I found on the street corner the other day. Granted, many of the pop-ups had been torn off, which is probably why this book had been jettisoned by its former owner, but one function that remained delightfully intact was the pop up of the little bunny who goes to bed in the great green room. There’s a little tab that you pull and the little bunny sits up, and if you push it, she lies down. But she doesn’t get out of bed. Because she knows it’s BEDTIME. I explained all of this enthusiastically to J and really put some ooomph behind it. I’ve been reminded of the power of ooomph by this post about intention that my blogging friend Turned on Mama wrote. (And she also happens to give great sex advice to boot.)

Anyhoo. He bought it. He stayed in his little bed and fell asleep. And he’s done that a few nights now. Of course, it’s not always perfect. Sometimes he clucks around in there for what seems like forever. Other times he gets out of the bed and winds up falling asleep like this:

I mean, he did technically fall asleep in his bedroom. Though maybe his nose didn’t…

But I can handle that.

5 thoughts on “Toddler sleep update

  1. Oh Stephanie!! I’m laughing out loud at that last photo. But not at you…with you! I can commiserate. Thank you for your blog; it reminds me that Brad and I are not alone in this crazy parenting journey!

  2. This may be advice you’ve already gotten and/or tried, but our huge parenting revelation when Noah was a toddler was *alarm clocks*. We’d set a clock radio to go off at the end of nap time (later, quiet time) and one for morning wake-up time. He had to stay in bed (or in his room), without chatting us up, until the music came on. It worked like magic! And he slept way more all of a sudden, because he knew it was still time to sleep and we hadn’t just overlooked the commencement of super-fun family awake time.

    At age 6, we still do an hour-long quiet time every day, beginning with ten minutes of compulsory lying quietly in bed in case his body needs to fall asleep (happens once every several weeks). But now he can read the clock and remember what time to get up, what time to come get us, so he can listen to his own CDs and so forth as he pleases. And yeah, quiet time is rarely quiet here! Sometimes it’s crazy dance party with drumming time. Whatever. Alone time, right? It’s amazing how much it seems to reset him, and us.

    Good luck!

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Steph! We had been having such a hard time getting Apollo to fall asleep once we moved him into his “big boy” bed and I think we were putting too much emphasis on him having to go to sleep. We would sit in there for sometimes an hour rubbing his head so he would fall asleep and it just wasn’t sustainable. A couple of weeks ago we just decided to read bedtime stories like usual and at the end gave him a kiss good night, asked him to stay in his bed and let him keep the book in his bed to flip through. It worked! Every once in a while he get out of bed and into the living room but mostly he stays put. Again, thank you for sharing and the pictures are amazing!

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