When I last left off, Miss H was sleeping perfectly well in her new twin bed. We had a fantastic first month where the switch from crib to bed seemed like a great idea – she was napping great on the weekends, sleeping great at night, and all was well.
And then she realized she could get out of the bed whenever she wanted. Miss H loved this newfound freedom. She also realized that she didn’t have to stay in bed when I put her to bed.
All of a sudden we were hit with an endless amount of bedtime battles. Screaming, yelling, crying, you name it. And although I’m not proud to admit it, there were also plenty of threats surrounding taking away certain toys if she didn’t go to bed. It was a dark, dark time in our household.
In addition to the troubles at bedtime she started getting out of bed over and over again in the middle of the night asking to be tucked back in. Sometimes as many as 10 times between 1am-4am. Sleep deprivation hit us hard. I’m sure my co-workers assumed my zombie-like appearance was due to having infant twins in the house, but in reality the bags under my eyes were caused by an incredibly stubborn toddler.
After a solid 3 months of these bedtime troubles, I’m hopeful we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Miss H has started going to bed very well, eliminating bedtime battles most nights. Her middle of the night wakeups are lessening on some nights, with the rare night here and there where she doesn’t even get out of bed. Otherwise it will be 2-3 wakeups per night. While not fantastic, it’s definite progress.
In the midst of all of these sleep troubles, I did a lot of reading about toddler sleep habits trying to figure out how to get us out of this sleep rut. Now that things are slowly getting better I thought I would share what seems to have worked well for us.
Miss H loving her new unicorn quilt from Land of Nod!
- Consistency – we do not let Miss H sleep in our bed and we do not lay with her until she falls asleep at night. There are no exceptions to this rule! If she ever saw either of these things as an option, she would always expect it and that’s just not feasible.
- Stories before bedtime take place in Miss H’s room. We had gotten into the habit of reading books in our bedroom which made it harder to get Miss H to want to sleep in her room after stories were done.
- We’ve shown Miss H that nothing exciting happens after she goes to bed. Basically, if I see on the monitor that Miss H has gotten out of bed and is headed for me, I turn off our bedroom light and pretend to be asleep. This may seem extreme, but for awhile she was constantly getting out of bed at the beginning of the night, and if she sees that we’re doing something it is nearly impossible to get her back to bed. I think she is finally starting to understand that she’s not missing out on any fun.
- Wakeups are as low-key as possible. When Miss H pops out of bed in the middle of the night I silently walk her back to bed and tuck her in. No excitement, no extra cuddles.
- We have moved back Miss H’s bedtime. This one was a huge decision for us, but overall a good one. Miss H had a 7pm bedtime since about 12 weeks old. Since the twins have arrived her bedtime has been more around 7:30pm, but we could see the signs she was outgrowing that bedtime. She was often telling us she wasn’t tired and we could tell she was still full of energy. Now her bedtime is around 8pm-8:30pm, leaning toward the earlier side of things if we sense she didn’t take a nap at daycare. Now there’s more time for her to play at home and really spend some quality time before we started the bath and bedtime routine. I really feel like this has made a big impact. She definitely not feeling as rushed in the evening and by 8pm she is starting to yawn.
- We traded out a heavier comforter for a lightweight quilt. I theorized that Miss H was getting too hot at night under her covers. She would then wake up on top of her comforter and come get me to tuck her back in. I finally ordered a lightweight quilt and I think it’s helped her stay under the covers overnight.
As I said, Miss H’s sleep is still a work in progress and every night I still hold my breath at bedtime, anxiously wondering what awaits. But the good nights are starting to outweigh the bad and slowly but surely we’re all getting some much needed sleep. In many ways I feel like we were hit by this very unexpectedly because Miss H has always been a great sleeper and transitioned so well to the new bed. When things started to go awry we didn’t have the necessary tools to cope with it and things quickly spiraled out of control. Now that we have made some important changes, primarily with how we parent, I am becoming more confident that the “bad” nights will soon be few and far between.
What changes have you made in order to help tackle terrible toddler sleep?