How to Get Your Kid to Sleep Through the Night.

In his own bed. 

Without going the whole bad-parent-who-uses-Benadryl route.

Today’s guide is for the parent of the hardest child on the planet to parent: the strong willed toddler (which includes just about every toddler).

Contrary to popular newborn parent belief, it is toddlerhood when your children begin pose a formidable challenge to your sanity.  Toddler will rivals that of teen will, only at least teenagers can be reasoned with, and grounded, and bribed, or threatened.  Even the nefarious art of backmail works on teens.

someecards.com - All I have to say is, you better be this hard to get into bed when you're 18.

You don’t have that kind of power over your toddler.  Because, the average toddler can not be reasoned with.  They’ve not figured out the whole consequences for their actions bit.  They are still egocentric, little hoarders who don’t feel empathy for others.

Sure, they sound evil, but it’s not by choice.  It’s developmental.  Which is basically just code for: you have to deal with it sucka.

Before I get into my how-to-get-my-unreasonable-small-human-to-do-my-bidding tips, let me just quickly help out all of the newer parents who are struggling to catch some zzz’s with a newborn in the house: ignore the baby sleep books.

Partially at least.  If you want to NOT wake up as a zombie faced monster ready to eat your husband’s face off if he so much as looks at you, do whatever you have to do to get some sleep in the early months.  Don’t worry about Ferber.  Don’t worry about The Whisperer.  Just focus on what works for you and your baby and roll with that.

Personally, I just fell asleep with the kid attached to my chest pretty much every night and that worked until it didn’t.  Then, I feel asleep on the floor in his bedroom while my hand lost circulation from being shoved between the slats of his crib.  And, then, I fell asleep outside of his door with my tear streaked face hidden under a pillow to escape his screams.

It happens to the best of us.  And, somehow, we worked it out.

Possibly this dysfunctional lifestyle is what lead us to being the not-so-proud-owners of a toddler with a sleep disorder.

Whatever.

We eventually found ourselves waking up each night at 2 a.m., barking and glaring at one another, while our 2 and a half year old wailed like a sinister street cat from his bedroom.

We’d fight over whose turn it was (I swear, always me), we’d angrily interact with our temporarily demon possessed child (he was perfect when the sun was up), and then we’d crawl into the shower and sleep for 15 minutes to escape the madness (seriously, check out shower sleeping, it is da bomb).

It didn’t last forever.  It just felt like it!

He has been sleeping through the night, in his own bed, since about age 3.

Here are some things that worked (and many that didn’t):

get toddler sleep in own bed

10 Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Sleep Through the Night

1.  Do the whole routine thing.  Schedules help everyone.  Willy-nilly living is for the birds, particularly the nocturnal sort.

2.  Don’t think that if you exhaust your child during the day they will actually sleep better at night.  Apparently, the contrary is actually the truth.

3.  Make sure their sleeping spot is comfy.  Take a test run on their mattress (probably lay it on the floor first so you don’t break their bed with your heaviness).  A corner in the bathroom may have cut it for you back in college, but it’s no place for a light sleeping 2 year old.

4.  Be soothing before bed.  TV=no.  Bath, massage, and a story=yes, please.

5.  Don’t sneak it up on them.  Talk about going to bed like it’s a good thing.  Shock and awe rarely works with the toddler set; they’re a different kind of terrorist.

6.  Be nice, but firm.  You know, like a mom!

7.  Don’t go cold turkey.  If your kid has been sleeping with you (like mine, woot for co-sleeping!), it’s unfair to expect them to just sleep alone all night.  So, be prepared to take it slow.  You may even have to sleep with them in their room for a bit to get them used to it. 

8.  Be consistent.  like everything else parenting related, you can’t be a waffler.  You have to be a stick to your guns-er instead.  Just a cold, hard truth of parenting.

9.  Talk to your doctor (or your mom).  I know, sometimes they are sort of useless, but they generally have pretty good ideas.  You don’t have to take all of them, but they could shed some light on your situation.  Or point out something you missed in your sleep exhausted state.  Zombies aren’t most perceptive people on the planet.  Duh.

10.  Don’t freak out.  Just like your 10 year old won’t be wearing a diaper to 5th grade, your son won’t still be sleeping with you when he’s 15.  He may at 10 though, so just prepare your mind for that.

Still not sure what works?  Check out these great tips from “expert” moms…

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  3. I have been having the same issue with my two year old. The thing is she has slept in her crib since the day she came home from the hospital I didn’t want her in our bed like her older sister! But now that they have their own room and she has a “big” girl bed and abuela is in town! OMG every night is a fight to get her to sleep and then to keep her that way! I am almost use to waking up at 3am to check on her!

  4. Ooooooooh Amanda!!! This is the story of my life!!! My daughter is almost FIVE and she still crawls into bed with us every. single. night! Some nights it’s midnight, other nights it’s 6:30am.

    Now my 2 year old is going to be transitioning out of her crib in the next few months and I’m dreading the thought that she’ll be crawling into our bed too. The problem….my husband! My daughter comes in on his side knowing he won’t care and he lifts her into bed because he doesn’t want to deal with it. I’ve tried everything and she just doesn’t get it! I really do fear she’ll be sleeping with us til college!

    • Oh and btw, we didn’t do the co-sleeping thing. She’s always slept in her own crib then bed. It wasn’t until she had a big girl bed that she started getting in bed with us and I can honestly say I hate every minute when she’s in our bed! I will take her back to her bed and she’s back in our bed within 30 minutes to an hour.

      • Dumb Mom says:

        Yep, it’s husbands. Pretty much always:). Mine just leaves and goes to his bed and let’s him have his spot. I mean seriously, why WOULDN’T my son come to my bed. Fortunately he’s decided recently that our bed is TOO hot.

        • Actually sometimes I’ll do that! If I’m just too exhausted to take her back to her bed for a 2nd or 3rd time in one night I’ll just get my pillow and go sleep in her bed. Besides, my husband snores sometimes and my thought is, if she wants to come sleep in our bed and hear that all night, that’s her loss! LOL

  5. Margaret says:

    Thanks for sharing that your 4 yo reverted, cuz that’s what my girl is doing. Gah! We did the co-sleeping (it’s just the two of us) then she was happy in her bed, then bam, will only sleep in mommy’s bed again. I want my bed back! I’ll try a new, consistent routine.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      It’s so hard to be consistent when you’re a zombie. Zombie’s aren’t consistent, they’re crazy!

  6. I have tried some of these, but my little girl just likes our bed more. Maybe I need to invest in a plush mattress for her bed, I don’t know. She still crawls in our bed, often. One thing that helps is giving her camomile tea at night.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Pretty sure EVERY kid likes mom and dad’s bed more. It’s warmer and safer and it smells like happiness. #3 though has decided that he doesn’t like sleeping with me because my bed is hot and I “breeve” on him.

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