Tips for getting your little one to sleep

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So being a Mommy this week has been rough.  We made Dean’s crib into a bed on his birthday and added a “Cars” tent which he loved and he broke.  I guess I should not have expected much from a cheapo tent.  Anyways we rigged it up so it still works (actually even better) and he still loves it, he just doesn’t love it enough to keep his little butt in his bed.

At night Daddy works as a milkman and I work from home so naptime is very important.  Dean naps in his crib at naptime and sleeps in my bed at night and it has never been an issue, he really doesn’t care where he sleeps.  Dean has always been a good sleeper, when he was a newborn I had no problems with him sleeping.  Even now as a toddler sleep is no issue until we took the dang side off the crib, now he won’t stay in it, which is strange because he could climb out of it no problem with the side on but he would still stay put and go right to sleep.  Now he will not stay in it for nothing.  He is up playing with toys, tickling my feet while I am trying to sleep, therefore I have been running on 5 hours of sleep a day, staying up till 4:30 am working and then getting up with him.


Again he has been such a good sleeper, I would just plop in the crib at naptime and he would pass right out.


At night it is a different story, he comes out of the room a million times because he knows I am still up, but he doesn’t fight me, I just march him back in there for the millionth time and eventually he curls up on my pillow and goes to sleep.  But now this toddler bed business has driven me crazy, every day I am tempted to put the side back on and save my sanity but I know I should not go backwards and he is 3 so he should not need a crib.


I have resorted to napping on the floor so he will stay in bed and I can recharge for the rest of the long day/night ahead of me.


When he doesn’t nap he turns into the Hulk, growling, throwing, smashing and wearing his already exhausted mama out.


I have no doubt in my mind that if I put the crib side back up he would again be napping without a peep.  So I took to the web and scoured the internet for help and found some good tips and compiled a list to share with you guys.


I found quite a few tips that are a little different than the same old “keep a bedtime routine”,  “calming bath before bed” and all those kinds of tips because at this point I’m pretty sure we have all tried those and need something else.  These tips might not work for everyone and everyone might not agree with certain tips but each child is different and each mommy is different so I am sure there is a useful tip in here for everyone.


1.  Bribery:  Sometimes employing a star chart or a sticker chart, with the promise of treats when a certain target is reached, can have some success. A typical example might be to give one star for going to bed nicely and one star for staying in their own bed all night


2.  “I’ll be back in two minutes”:  The old trick of ‘I’ll come and check on you in X minutes’ works for some toddlers. Say something along the lines of: “I’ll just be in my bedroom and I’ll come and check on you in two minutes if you’re quiet, otherwise I’ll go downstairs.” Some toddlers can be persuaded by this, but do remember to check on them, otherwise they’ll get very annoyed and won’t believe you next time.


3.  Be boring:  The first rule of dealing with night-time waking is to be very, very dull. If you give in to your toddler’s demands for warm bottles of milk, or stories, then your toddler will learn that making a fuss yields positive results.  If you’re just a very boring person who stumbles in, places them back in bed and tells them to ‘shhhh’, then, as one mum advises: ‘Eventually, they’ll realize they are getting all they are going to get, and will hopefully settle better.


4.  Co-sleeping:  Some parents choose to co-sleep as a way of dealing with the night wakings. If this is what your child wants, then you might already have filed co-sleeping in the ‘doing nothing’ box, but for some parents co-sleeping can be a solution for surviving night-time perambulations.  The idea of co-sleeping is that the unsettled and wriggly toddler will be more settled in the parental bed, and so everyone will get more sleep. Not having to get out of bed to deal with night-time shouting can be more restful, and toddlers often stop waking fully in the night when they find mummy or daddy next to them already.


5.  Repetitive replacement:  Waking in the night to creep (or most likely stomp) into the parental bed is very common, and if this is something you want to stop you’ll need to practise ‘repetitive replacement’  – ie consistently hauling yourself out of bed and replacing your toddler in his own bed.  “When the little one wakes or gets out of bed you take them back, tuck them in, kiss them goodnight and go back to bed. No other interaction is permitted; you have to ignore the yelling or the tantrum. If they get out of bed you have to put them straight back in. You will have to do it 50 times a night for a few nights (it usually takes about three nights). It’s very hard work and very frustrating when you do it but actually works really, really well.”


6.  Consistent Napping:  Good sleep promotes good sleep. A lot of parents whose children do not sleep well at night mistakenly think it would be a good idea for them to give up naps. Instead, parents should try to institute a consistent nap routine. The baby’s last nap should not be too late in the day either to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with nighttime sleep.


7.  Tune out: If your baby seems sensitive to household sounds, try running a white-noise machine or a fan in her room.


8.  Anticipating all her requests and including them in your bedtime routine:   Your toddler may start trying to put off bedtime by wheedling for “just one more” – story, song, drink of water. Try to anticipate all of your child’s usual (and reasonable) requests and make them part of your bedtime routine. Then, perhaps allow your child one extra request – but make it clear that one is the limit. She’ll feel like she’s getting her way, but you’ll know you’re really getting yours.


9.  Recognize that This Too Shall Pass:  Our kids are only little for such a short period of time. It isn’t always easy dealing with night wakings or sleep deprivation and I know it is frustrating for a lot of parents. I think it is important though to realize that it will pass, things will get better. You do not need to teach your child to self-soothe using cry it out. Your child will learn that skill with time on their own. In the meantime, if these tips are not working and you are frustrated, get some help. Certainly spouses/partners should help each other and find a way to share nighttime parenting wherever possible. Beyond that, find someone that can help you out during the day so that you can take a long nap when things are really rough.


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