The Baby The Mama

Victory: A Toddler Bedtime Journey

March 14, 2018

*Lighthearted disclaimer: every baby/toddler/kid is different. We all know that, it’s pretty much the theme of parenthood. 😆 While my little Hadley has pretty much slept perfectly since she was 6 weeks old, Sadie still woke up once a night until 10 months, and Reese 3-4 times a night until she was 12 months (this induces laughter now, but discussing it back then might’ve made me cry, haha.) With that in point, what worked for me might not work for someone else, but hey, it worked, so why not share, right!? I will also add that I think there are various stages co-sleeping can be wonderful (I personally love it from birth to about 4 months,) but if it impedes on the health of any person’s sleep for an extended period of time, you have the right to want to try to figure something out and not be considered a cold-hearted parent. 😉

You hear so much about sleep, especially from a parent or if you’re a parent. It’s boring when your child sleeps perfectly (or if you don’t yet have or want a little person sometimes waking you up,) so out of mind out of sight…but when one of your little ones has issues sleeping, it’s rough. I’m not even going to discuss Reese, because I basically think God finally answered my prayers with that one 😆 …but I’ll discuss the little blonde wildcard that went from being an amazing sleeper to a horrible sleeper in the midst of toddlerhood and what we did to get out of those days.

If I had to say what happened with Sadie, the problem began when it became noticeable how easy it was to get in and out of her crib. She’s our irresistible snugglebug, and between her sister or one of us climbing over (or sometimes in…major regrets on that one) to hug or cuddle her, she quickly learned how to climb out of it, thus needing a toddler bed shortly after turning 2. Hadley wasn’t out of a crib until closer to 3, and it was glorious. After learning the hard way of a little one getting a toddler bed too early and all the “fun” that ensued, Reese’s crib is now solely a drop-off and pickup location, haha. With the freedom of the toddler bed began the nights of Sadie sneaking into our bed. It wasn’t bad at first, but soon enough, it went from once a month, to once a week, to simply way too much. We wrote it off as possibly a developmental stage, her needing us more, etc. etc….but when it started to majorly disrupt our sleep (hers was already suffering, but she could at least replenish during naps,) something had to change.

Snugglebug Exhibit A 🙂

I reached out on my Instagram stories (@henleyandhadley) to shamelessly ask any mamas for tips regarding my above situation. I was given so much support, whether advice or merely empathy (I had no idea how many toddlers regress with sleeping!) I started with the most simple piece of advice (a sticker chart,) and on night 1 it was successful. I will say, had I tried a sticker chart even a few months prior, Sadie wouldn’t have cared…but the incentive she chose was after 10 stickers (= 10 full nights of sleeping in her bed) she would go on a date with me (yes, I was so flattered that’s what she wanted as a treat with all the endless possibilities she could’ve gone for! 😀 ) Something clicked in her mind that she wanted that prize, so Aaron or I reinforced it with a little pep talk every night, and sure enough, she’d stay in her bed. There had been times in the past she would talk about how her room was too dark (they have a tiny nightlight, but it’s extremely dim,) so with the suggestion of a few friends, one mama friend in particular suggesting the adorable Pillowfort ceramic nightlights at Target, I got her an adorable glowing bear that emits a very soft, soothing light (so the darkness concern is now gone!)

Best nightlight ever!

As far as the sticker chart- in true Christie fashion, it was homemade and minimal frills. I literally took a piece of computer paper, wrote Sadie’s name, and drew 10 squares big enough to fit a sticker of her choice. We had it displayed in our kitchen so she could excitedly show it off. Every morning, she looked forward to putting a new sticker up, and since then, we’ve only had two nights (in the past few months) that she has tried to come into our room in the middle of the night. A few things we also do to better her sleeping:
-She habitually wakes at 10 or 11pm to go to the bathroom. She refused to wear pullups when we pottytrained, so she absolutely won’t tolerate the idea of wetting herself (this is something she’s done all on her own) and in a state of being asleep, she worries she won’t make it in time. Therefore, we try to take her to the bathroom before we go to bed in order for her not to have to wake herself up in a stressful way. The moment we notice her bladder being less full (even though we cut her off from water right after dinner,) we will stop taking her to the bathroom.
-We have a stoplight alarm clock that is red during bedtime, and turns green when it’s okay to come into our room. If she tries to come in our room during a red time, we ask what color her clock is, and she will quickly go back to her room.
-Other than the porcelain nightlight (which I so highly recommend!) and a tiny light in their fishtank that goes off after 3 hours, we have no other sources of light in her room, this is more-so for Hadley, who can get easily overstimulated if too much is going on in there or outside.

Night one of setting up her big girl bed 🙂

While it could be purely luck that’s gotten her to sleep in her bed, I definitely think the habit of reinforcing 10 days of sleep in her room helped. I jokingly told Aaron I’d happily take Sadie on a date every 10 days if it meant her staying in her room (but seriously, I would, haha.) We haven’t had to use a new sticker chart, but this experience mostly encouraged me that it didn’t take any major interventions other than a simple little homemade sticker chart, some positive reinforcement, and a mommy date to get that girl back in her bed for some sweet dreams! 😉

Thanks for reading, and may bedtime be in your favor 😆
<3 Christie

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