Life with a toddler is rough at times, especially at bed time. But I now see a light at the end of the tunnel.
As a baby bedtime was easy baby A just fell asleep where ever and when ever he felt like it. I’m sure there are people scandalized by the lack of structure in baby A’s early life but it worked for everyone and he was always a healthy and happy little boy. As he got older, I believe around one years old, he started fighting going to bed and I started implementing a routine to help him. I got a lot of help from the book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, and it worked for a while. Then the trouble started.
Routines don’t work unless everyone is participating!
With a lot of work and I had baby A going to bed and falling asleep on his own without anybody in the room with him for about a month. Then I got sick! So Dada stepped in to help, which we appreciate. Unfortunately Dada has a problem with staying awake in a dark room and dealing with the inevitable questions and talking to convince baby A it’s time for bed. Dada fell asleep on the floor beside the crib. Baby A loved this and because I was sick for about a week got it into his head that he would only go to sleep if someone was laying beside him and nothing could convince him otherwise.
This has gone on for about a year when I was able to finally convince him to put himself asleep but only if I was the one to put him to bed and Dada stayed out of the picture. This was better for me of course but Dada is the one who helps baby A get ready for bed most nights so they can spend more time together, it started out as Dada’s consequence for screwing up all my hard work.
Now to fast forward to today. Baby A is now almost three and a half and for the last couple months a miracle has happened. Both Dada and I can put him to bed and walk out of the bedroom and he stays in bed and quickly and quietly falls asleep! This is how it happened.
It all started with baby A wanting DUPLO Super Heroes Batman Adventure (Wonder Woman) and I didn’t mind him having it but wanted him to earn it. So I made up some responsabilities for a week and let him know that if he finished every one of them we would go buy him his Duplos. It worked! Baby A feed the dog, and helped take out the trash, and watered the plants, and picked up his toys every day for a week. He was so excited when we went and he got to buy his toy.
So I decided that I should continue with the responsibilities, so I bought a Melissa & Doug Responsibility Chart and hung it on the wall. I picked out his responsibilities like making his bed, brushing his teeth, getting ready for bed, picking up his toys, and doing his homework (something educational) and each day that he gets all of his stars he gets a dollar. So every night we go through his list and put stars up and almost every night he gets his dollar then Dada reads him a story and he goes to sleep. He has earned over $50 dollars so far and has been able to buy himself two additional Duplo sets.
About a month ago I was putting baby A to bed left the room as I usually try and do and baby A didn’t come out looking for us. A couple days later Dada was able to do the same thing, and before we knew it, we now both can help baby A through his responsibilities, read him a story and walk out of the bed room and baby A will fall quietly asleep!
So if you are struggling with baby and toddler sleep issues I hope this gives you some hope that there is an end to the madness.