My Toddler Sleep Experiences

All things considered, my darling Angel Baby has been just that:  darling…an angel… She was an easy baby.  She was quiet, slept well (unless she was sick), and was a breast-feeding champion.  Right now as I type this, she is a month past her 2nd birthday and has been asleep for 10 hours straight.  Glorious!

Learning Along the Way

The BHE and I got into a pattern of holding Angel Baby until she fell asleep.  She was super easy to just lay down up until around 6 months, when she got her first cold.  All that snot and coughing made for terrible sleep—for all three of us.

Because I breastfed her until 20 months, it was typically my boob that put her to sleep.  We had been breastfeeding less and less so on the day I discovered I was pregnant with Sprout, I just stopped.  No more booby.  Which meant no more suckling to drift off into la-la land.

Gah!

There were nights that I would be walking and rocking and singing for up to an hour.  It started as 10-15 minutes but with her stubbornness and my refusal to let her fall asleep crying, the BHE or I would be in that nursery until way past our own bedtime!

No, no she's not. This pic from December is my gorgeous, energetic child AFTER BED TIME.

No, no she’s not. This pic from December is my gorgeous, energetic child AFTER BED TIME.

Thank God for Libraries

Not only did I scour other blogs and websites dedicated to raising children, but I utlitized my library’s lending system like no other.  You can check out my reading log on Goodreads.

I wish I had written down which book gave me this specific insight.  I wish I could tell you the genius author’s name.  I can’t even remember if I learned this tidbit from a sleep book or a more generic book on discipline.  However, I will share with you what I learned… and maybe in your readings, you’ll come across something even better.

What I Want to Share with You

Be honest with yourself.  Trust that you love and know what’s best for your children.  Take a deep breath and consider that what I say here worked for me, my child, our family.  Know that not every “solution” works for every family.

Set a timer.

Bing!  That’s it!  A timer.

What I read was that parents will do themselves a tremendous favor by taking the onus of “bad guy” off their shoulders.  To a child, an adult saying it is time to stop playing or time to go or time for bed makes that adult the bad guy.  Like I’ve arbitrarily chosen NOW as the time to make your short life miserable.  Ha!

As if I were that diabolical.

No, really.  The book I was reading suggested using a timer to give both parent and child a chance to recognize when NOW will be and to take the weight off of the parent and put it on an inanimate, third-party object.  For instance, if you need to leave the house in ten minutes, your darling is playing with her castle, and you still need to fill sippy cups and double-check the diaper bag, you set a timer for, say, 8 minutes.  You tell your darling that when this little thing buzzes or dings or beeps, that she needs to meet you at the door to get her shoes on.

The first time I did this, it worked.

I shit you not.

Putting the Timer into Play at Bedtime

The day I read this tidbit, I vowed that night to try it and just walk away.  I had to gird myself, build up my resolution to, no matter where Angel Baby was in the stages of sleep, to lay her down and walk out of the nursery once that timer went off.

We have a noise machine in the nursery that can be set to play for 15 minute increments or continuously, and loud noises trigger it to come back on.  It’s a brilliant little gadget.  The night in question (about 4 months ago, I think), I set the music to play for 15 minutes then settled into the armchair, Angel Baby on Boppy.  As I whispered how much I love her and how thankful we are for God giving us the food on our table and the roof over our heads, I also told her that once the music was done, we were done.  I reminded her a couple times during that 15 minutes that when the music stopped, she was going into her crib.

The music stopped.

She pointed at her crib.

I laid her down, walked out, and didn’t hear a peep until the next morning, roughly 12 hours later.

No.  Shit.

Comfy, cozy, in her pjs, with her

Comfy, cozy, in her pjs, with her “Fah-fee”… and peacefully sleeping

Fluke?

On the third night, it still worked.  Here we are months later and it is still working.  She may or may not be asleep when I leave the room.  Most of the time, we bid each other farewell for each step I take towards the door.

“Good night, sweetie.”  “Niiigh.”

“Mommy loves you.”  “Lovey.”

“Sleep well, angel.”  “Seeeep seep.”

“I love you.  G’night.”  “Bye.”

Last night, the little turd talked to her stuffed animals for almost a half hour before I no longer heard her little voice through the monitors.  Some nights, she is out like a light before I close her door all the way.

There have been nights, I’ll admit, where I don’t make the full 15 minutes.  I’m 6 months pregnant:  holding her 22+ lbs on my lap sometimes translates to bladder pressure I can’t withstand.  Just sayin’.

Use this Trick Everywhere

I use a red, owl-shaped timer around the house for different reasons now.  Sometimes I use the alarms feature on my phone.  Angel Baby will announce, “ALARM!” when she hears them… and then she does what I asked of her when I set the darn thing.  I’m not kidding.  It is brilliant.

  • 10 minutes until we have to put our shoes on to leave in 15!
  • Only 20 minutes of Monsters Inc before we need to turn it off and find a book
  • Just 5 minutes of puzzles then off to the bath
  • 10 minutes ‘til dinner
  • 5 minutes ‘til teeth-brushing

BONUS!

I need it, too.  I need the reminder sometimes.  Example:  I was cleaning out the drawers of my desk while Angel Baby watched Monsters Inc (again).  I knew roughly when the BHE would be home from work and that I needed to start making dinner in about 15 minutes.  I don’t like my darling watching the TV for more than 15-20 minutes anyway.  I set the timer for both of us:  only 10 minutes of movie for her and a tap on my shoulder that I needed to get dinner started.

Brilliant!

Any tips or tricks you want to share, lovely reader?

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