We've enjoyed co-sleeping on and off--we put our daughter in her crib at around 8 months b/c we couldn't leave her alone in our bed safely. Most nights, she'd end up with us, but sometimes she slept through the night. Up until a few months ago, we could put her down for a nap or put her down to sleep. She would still wake up at night, but at least she fell asleep by herself. We were OK with things until recently, we realized that she doesn't sleep very well with us anymore, and she also doesn't let us sleep well, either.
I am now 5 1/2 months pregnant with Baby #2 and we have been making changes. I had to wean her a couple months ago. And I can't hold her as much b/c it makes my back ache. I don't know if these changes are what made her clingier or not, but for whatever reason, she has become a really terrible sleeper. No matter how tired she is, she will resist naps and bedtime. I tried a few times unsuccessfully to put her down, and had terrible meltdowns of my own when she resisted sleep despite being so exhausted. She used to be OK going to bed alone at night but now it is a very rare occurrence!!
I should note that the rest of the day, she spends with me. We laugh, play, read books, do chores, etc. Its not like I've made other drastic changes like put her in day care (not judging others who do, just saying that she is still with me otherwise). I have the sole responsibility of putting her to bed and training her since I can supposedly take naps during the day to catch up on missed sleep. Hah!
We finally decided to try to Sleep Lady Shuffle, where you put your chair next to the crib for 3 nights, staying there the whole time to reassure your tot that you are there for them, and then every 3 nights you move further and further away until you are in the hallway or in an adjacent room. We are on night #2 and she kept me there until almost 6 AM. She starts to cry for me and reach out for me, and to prevent total hysterics which would wake her up and DEFEAT THE PURPOSE OF HELPING HER SLEEP, I lean in and hug her or pat her, and she starts to fall asleep holding me tight. Eventually, she lets go, I sit back and pretend to sleep, and then eventually she sits down and falls asleep. That is what happened the last 2 nights. But she is exhausted today, and when I tried to lay down with her for a nap, she just played around and escaped. I was so tired from last night that I just put her in her crib. I've 'explained' to her that its nap time, that she doesn't have to sleep but she has to stay in her crib for some quiet time. I gave her all her dolls that she loves. And I left. 30-45 minutes she is still screaming her head off DESPITE BEING SO UTTERLY EXHAUSTED, but I don't think I can afford to be the slave of her sleep whims 24/7!!!
I have some doubts about what I will have to do to comfort her on day 4 of this Sleep Lady Shuffle, when I move my chair further from her crib and can't lean in to hug her and pat her head when she cries for me to hold her.
I've already worked so hard and I need to know that I can do this and that she will sleep better at nights!! I don't want to live a nightmare when Baby arrives!!! Do any of you have similar experiences with positive outcomes???!!!! I am trying to protect my sanity and prevent a meltdown of my own again. I am trying to not create negative association between her and her crib. I am trying to be rational and calm and loving about all this BUT ITS DRIVING ME CRAZYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!
I agree with putting a mattress on the floor and lying down with her. I did the Sleep Lady Shuffle with my oldest at bedtimes and naptimes and deeply, deeply regret it. It didn't "work" for us and my daughter ended up crying herself to sleep for almost two years. We had many, many "naps" that were just an hour of screaming. It actually felt wrong to me as I was doing it but I kept at it anyway because I didn't trust my own intuition. Not saying it won't "work" for you and your daughter, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Listen to your heart and if it is telling you this is not the way to go after a week or so please don't put your daughter through what I did to my daughter. I feel like letting her cry so much disconnected our relationship. She also has a lot of anxiety and I'll never know for sure if it was caused or exacerbated by the "sleep training" I did with her.
I did things differently with my son; we still lay down with him for bedtimes and naps. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it is harder in many ways. But it will not be forever and just as we transitioned him from nursing to sleep to being able to fall asleep without nursing I am confident he will be able to fall asleep on his own in time.
When the baby gets here if your husband is home at bedtime he can hopefully step up and start handling the oldest at bedtimes and during the night.
DD 12/07 DS 9/10
I find that when my daughter demands more and I give it to her, it often spurs a leap forward without me having to push it. Your DD may just need you more right now, and I know it must seem really weird if your daughter always fell asleep on her own before, but...I would suggest just going with it. Develop some sort of routine that's relaxing for you where you give your DD the comfort she needs to fall asleep. You may be surprised to find that your DD really doesn't need it for that long, and you can always try a more gradual type of approach if she doesn't head back towards sleep independence on her own. I know it must be really worrisome with a new baby coming along, wondering how you'll manage if your older daughter needs you to stay while she sleeps. I think you should talk about it with your SO and see if you can get some help with the night-time parenting so you can feel a little more secure about what might happen when you have a newborn. Then you might not feel so much pressure to get your daughter back to independent sleep.
As for naps, I feel like a lot of kids have trouble at this age. I don't know if they're just more busy, more self-aware, or what. I think that if your daughter is not the type to give up after a little bit and go to sleep, then she probably isn't going to start being that kind of kid any time soon :) Maybe you can find a way to convince her to lie down with you for a certain amount of time (and thus trick her into falling asleep)? My DD thinks the idea of daytime sleep if abhorrent, but even so I can generally convince her to lie down quietly for the duration of 2 long, slow songs.
Also, as a general encouragement, my DD has always been an awful sleeper who hates falling asleep and needed lots of help to get to sleep through infancy and toddlerhood. And yet, at about 2.5, she started falling asleep independently, of her own volition. If she can do it, anyone can!!!
Thank you all for your responses!
After having to stay up till almost dawn only to create a new sleep crutch, I stopped that shuffle. I was going to start a more gradual, co-sleeping friendly approach (which BTW the Sleep Lady has in her book for toddler who start off co-sleeping, a major detail I missed out on until too late!!), which is basically to put a mattress on the ground like you all said, and get her used to sleeping with me for a little bit, then moving on to having her sleep there by herself.
BUT THEN. The plan was that in the meantime, we would let her sleep in our bed. BUT SHE WOULDN'T SLEEP. The girl could wiggle and squirm and fidget for more than 2 hours. Last night, after I finished my shift, her dad took over. And he could only take so much. So into the crib she went. It was the only solution. I have given her lots of love and cuddle time and down time and sleepy snuggles, and all of it she just took as a game or something. I'd say this is what happens at least 75% of the time with us, and we had both had it. So we let her cry it out, and I'd say she was asleep in about an hour or less. It wasn't exactly fun, but it looks like that is our only solution.
I just wanted to follow up here in case someone was having a similar situation to ours. She will most likely do the same thing tonight, but we'll be prepared, and we won't waste 2-3 hours of laying down with her. Instead, I am aiming for a nice, solid bed time routine done entirely in her room, and then give her a little pep talk, and then lights out. She will probably hate it for a while, but at least I know that she is just mad, not deeply wounded.
Also, I wish I had taken cues from my weaning experience with her--it should have given me further insight into how she is. That is the hardest part for me as a parent, trying to guess how she will react. With weaning, it had to be kinda cold turkey b/c I was sick and was worried that if I continued to nurse her I would get dehydrated and go into way early labor. So her dad slept with her at nights, and I had to say no to her during the day. So sad but doable. So I just wanted to share that in case any other moms are, like me, confused about what to do for their child and how to read their cues...mine is a sweet, gentle little pepper pot!
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