Hi moms and dads out there, I thought i'd start a thread to tell you what we did to get our 24 MO DD to finally transition to her toddler bed, and hopefully some others out there can add to this to help those going through it.
BACKGROUND: My DD was weaned at 15 months, slept through the night perfectly from 13 months till 23 months. At 23 months she figured out how to climb out of her crib and started waking up 4-5 times a night. Just like that. All in one night. We had to take off the side of her crib ala toddler bed. For the next 1.5 months we went through living heck. She wouldnt stay put in bed, woke up a million times a night, ditched her nap, etc. We also had to take her binky away during this time since she chewed through it. 23 MO is way too young to have to transition, IMHO, so we had a really bad upward battle.
WHAT WORKED FOR US: Two weeks ago we decided we were being too "loosey goosey" on how we thought we were fixing the problem. We did this, tried that, didnt really stick to anything. We decided to take a stand and be consistent. Here is the stand we took:
NIGHT ONE: My husband put her to bed, she jumped out, he put her back in without a word, she jumped out, he put her back. She did this over a hundred times in a three hour span (he counted). She screamed bloody murder the entire time. She fell asleep, exhausted, finally. He was a mess. Truly one of the hardest things he had done, he said. She slept through the night.
NIGHT TWO: Rinse and repeat, took 1 hour. Slept through the night.
NIGHT THREE: Rinse and repeat, took only 15 minutes. Slept through the night.
NIGHT FOUR: Rinse and repeat, took 5 minutes. Slept through the night.
NIGHT FIVE AND BEYOND: She and he go to her bed, she climbs in, he puts the cover on her, she says night night daddy, love you, he says night night, leaves the room, closes the door and she is asleep through the night from 7:30pm till 6:30am.
This process worked SO well for us. We were SO dead to the world with the 1.5 months that we futzed around not knowing what to do. I cried daily, I was SO fatigued (I'm pregnant) it was a very bad homelife. Now things are wonderful (for the time being at least ;)
Wanted to share our story in hopes it might help someone else out there going through the same thing. Sleep deprivation is a VERY bad thing physiologically. I hope no one has to go through it.
I know what you mean about being unclear in your approach. We are also facing some bedtime issues (DS is 27 mo) and are planning to wean soon (he only nurses to sleep now and that's it, so weaning means taking away the only way he knows how to fall asleep), so I suspect we will have some intense emotions in making the changes we plan to make. I think it's natural and ok when we set limits that our young children get upset. I do NOT believe it's CIO if we stay with them. However, this part of your story jumped out at me:
Doing this without a word seems kind of cold to me; like the empathy is lacking. I understand why people do this: by saying anything you are possibly engaging the child and there is a higher chance they can "pull you in" and you could be swayed to loosen your limits, which you are trying to keep clear. I do get it. I do. But to me, this is not the most loving approach. It is definitely more of a challenge to actually be with the child....not just physically but with your warm loving empathetic words and comfort and support, and perhaps some hugs or back-patting. Of course being there physically as your DH did is way way better than locking them in their room to CIO, as so many parents do. But to my inner feeling this is only one step removed from that approach. Your DH was there physically probably only because he had to be to physically put her back in her bed, but was he really there with his loving presence? Maybe. I am just saying I could not do it this way. I would stay there with loving words and validate her feelings by saying "I know how hard this is for you, you really want to get up, but it's not time to get up yet. I'm here with you and I love you and it's ok to get mad, but it's time to go to sleep now".
Believe me, I know how hard it is to stay emotionally present with a tantruming toddler. But I get better at it every time I have to set a limit my son hates and he gets all upset. I am not looking forward to the tantrums that will likely get triggered by the limits we are going to set with bedtime and weaning, etc....but I'm going to prepare myself to just be there with him through it. I couldn't just sit there without a word through something like that.
One important note: this obviously worked for you and I am not saying that what your DH did was causing massive damage or anything. I actually don't know what is right for anyone else. I was simply noting what jumped out at me from your post, and that I would have done it slightly differently. I think the overall way you guys did this was right on though. Again I so know what you mean about being flippy-floppy with limits and routines and it is so important to be clear.
I just wanted especially to express how I feel because you framed this story as "this worked so well for us, maybe you all should try this" and I wanted to add in another perspective, a slight variation on this method.. Not wanting to argue. Just to say that the same results can also be achieved with validating compassionate words.
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
Nonverbal communication will ALWAYS be stronger than verbal communication, especially with children who have limited vocabulary and who are born with an innate ability to understand nonverbal. There is no need to be chatty kathy with your kid at 3am in the morning when everyone needs sleep. Be firm, deliberate, and help them help themselves.
To transylvaniamom, what do you mean that's a sad story?? It took TWO times (I dare say a record for bedtime transition) of consistency to get it so that she runs herself to bed (she is 24 MO!) lays down, says night night, love you, and goes to sleep - 30 second bedtime and a daughter happy as a clam who gets 11-12 hours of sleep a night. What is sad about that?
We used the same method for our daughter, we just kept taking her back to bed. I didn't talk to her, but I did take her hand and walk her to bed, tuck her in and give her a kiss. Not all communication needs to be verbal, and I felt that she needed to understand that bedtime is quiet time because talking keeps us awake and it's time for sleep.
I agree here. We recently did some traveling and DD was going to bed in different places, so I thought she'd need me to lie with her and sing to her to help her go to sleep, as I did a few steps back in our home bedtime process. I soon realized that my stimulation was just keeping her awake. I stopped the singing - she got sleepier. Stopped the patting - sleepier still. Got off the bed and sat quietly in a chair - she popped right off to sleep. I think there has to be a balance between empathy and stimulation. My daughter lives to converse. She fixates on language instead of just letting it lull her. So...finding a way to be gentle, loving, but non-verbal is key for her.