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.
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.
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):
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…