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Toddler Bedtime/Naptime

Forum: Attachment Parenting


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August 9th, 2013, 07:50 AM
joonzgurl's Avatar Proud mama of 2 girls
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Small Town, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 5,639
How do you put your toddler to bed?

We do Avery's routine, but she is just at an age where she fights sleep so much we pretty much have to hold her still in her bed with her in order for her to settle down enough to fall asleep. She is much better for DH than for me though.

It is getting very very tiresome!

I am considering resorting to reading to her, laying her down, telling her to go to sleep, and leave the room. If she gets up, put her back in her bed, tell her I love her, leave room again. If she cries, go back in and stop her crying, then lay her back down and tell her it is bedtime. I know this would take persistence and probably 1-2 weeks but it would pay off.

do you think that is anti-AP? Has anyone ever done this?

I am really worrying about having a newborn and Avery. Bedtime and naptime take at least 30-45 minutes... that's not gonna work when I am alone with 2.

Proud mama to:

Avery Elizabeth (08/27/2011) & Dawsyn Brielle (10/29/2013)
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August 9th, 2013, 01:24 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 6,057
Well as you may recall, DH took over the nighttime parenting for M when I was pregnant and we weaned, including putting her down. Over time he took more of my suggestions, especially for creating more of a routine, which helped. But often he basically would just play outside with her until it was dark and she was worn out enough to collapse. Over time (and with the midsummer upon us) it became absurd, she would be up until 10 or later, which is much too late (since she wakes up with the dawn light and does not always nap!!). AND she'd scream and cry ANYWAY most nights, DH would just sit with her screaming in his ear for an hour, it was fraying his nerves badly, and we had the new baby the deal with as well. So finally, after much thought and discussion, we decided she is old enough, she knows we are here, she understands things we tell her, she talks, etc, she is old enough to be left in her room to put herself to sleep after a good long solid nighttime routine. So we talked about it for a couple of days, how daddy was going to leave the room and M would need to put herself to sleep if she wasn't asleep already. The routine was, after winding-down quiet play inside: nighttime snack, PJs, turn out lights and say goodnight to mommy and Baby G, then into the room with the door closed. Three books, two songs, daddy turns out the light and leaves. (Used to be, varying amounts of books and/or songs, lights out and daddy sits with her until she falls asleep.) We have one of those child locks on the door that keeps it slightly ajar (like an inch) and cannot be reached by her. Our house is tiny and our bedroom door is a few footsteps away from hers, we are always really close by.

The first night (maybe 2 weeks ago) was rough, I'm not gonna lie. She FREAKED OUT, gave it all she's got. DH went to the door several times in the first 20 minutes or so and talked to her through the door, saying we're here, you're safe, we love you, but it is time to sleep, you have to put yourself to sleep. She basically cried herself to sleep and passed out on the floor after almost an hour of crying/tantruming, DH took it really hard and cried a little too, she was really giving it 100% intensity. But once her freak out was underway, we KNEW that we couldn't go in, it would be reinforcing that crying like that will get results. Anyway, night #2, crying was more like 50% intensity and didn't last super long. DH checked on her after 30 minutes of silence and she was asleep on her bed with her blanket pulled up on her and everything. Since then, she will whimper and/or cry briefly sometimes, often in response to the baby crying, sort of like a test signal to see if we respond, and then she just stops on her own. Some days she just lies down when DH says it's time for him to go, says goodnight, and he leaves and that's that. It's been SOOOO much easier and she seems to be sleeping much better and more. From her behavior I feel like it's been a great thing and has not harmed any bond with me or DH and she seems happy and confident, especially as time goes on and she really knows what to expect at the end of the day.

I'm sure it's debatable how "AP" this is, but honestly, for a very spirited and strong willed 2 year old, I just know as her mom that this was not bad for her, it was the right decision for our family right now. It felt to me like the first few days of leaving her at preschool, which were also tough, but worth it. She is very passionate and will let us know how she feels, especially when she's uncertain about a new situation. But like with preschool, over time (and not even a long time!) she has seemed to grasp the new order very quickly, and adjusted wonderfully, and seems to feel more confident in having a clear structure to things.

I would never do anything like this with a 6 month old, needless to say. Or even a 15-month old, but when they are old enough to understand things quickly, and express themselves, and have a sense of permanence to knowing that their parents who love them are close by... I think it's fine if it's needed (and certainly for many families it may never be needed!).

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August 9th, 2013, 04:54 PM
ohnicole's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,756
I have also been thinking a lot about our sleepy time routines for Eleanor lately. Usually I do naptime and DH does bedtime, and we do not have the same routine at all. At bedtime, DH gets her in her PJs and takes her into her room, they read/sing and talk while she rolls around in bed until she falls asleep. Some nights this also involves a lot of screaming and kicking the wall. I don't think he really sticks to any limits on anything, and a lot of nights it takes her 45 minutes or so to fall asleep. And DH will often lay his head on the bed with her and fall asleep with her.

I don't really have patience for all that at naptime. I usually still walk her to sleep. I sing one song repeatedly while I walk. Most days, she just lays right down on me and is asleep within 5 minutes. Some days she fights. She will cry and get mad and ask to go in her bed, but if I put her in her bed she just gets right up and plays. So now I just hold her and sing until she falls asleep. Even when she fights, she is usually out in 10-15 minutes. She also nurses a few times a day still (usually in the morning, then before nap and before bed, never in her room). She hadn't been falling asleep while nursing for a long time, but she suddenly started doing it a few weeks ago and it is so much easier on me with my huge belly that I have let her do it. But I know there will be some time after baby comes where I won't be able to carry Eleanor at all, so neither of these naptime strategies are going to work. I guess we will either just all take a nap in my bed together or I will bring the baby in Eleanor's room and let her roll around until she falls asleep. I am trying not to stress about it, since I am so close to delivery now, that there isn't much I can do to change anything now.

But what I really think we need to do, and I'm hoping to get energy to do a month or so after baby arrives, is just teach her that bedtime and naptime aren't playtime. DH isn't good at setting limits for her when she protests, so I think I will have to do it. Ideally, I will take her in her room at bedtime, read her 1-2 books, sing her 1-2 songs, then lay her in her bed. My plan is to sit near her bed, but not interacting with her. If she gets out of bed, I will lay her back down, say, "Time for night night" and go back to sitting. This is very similar to how I night weaned her, so I'm hoping this strategy will still work. Then hopefully over time we can modify it so that I can lay her down and just leave the room (although this can come much later, as far as I'm concerned, I just don't think it needs to take 45 minutes for her to fall asleep).

I agree that there comes a time when setting limits is actually what toddlers need, and our attempts to keep the "baby" routines are really only for ourselves... either to avoid having the emotional battles that come with changing a routine (which is totally my DH) or because it's just easier to keep it the way it is (which is totally me). I know that Eleanor can understand me when I tell her it is time for sleep, and I know that she understands that I still love her, even if I sit quietly and don't engage in her attempts to ignore my limits. I also know deep down that she needs a better routine and that she will get more sleep if we all give up on this 'messing around' at bedtime.

I think you know Avery best, and you will know in your gut what is the right strategy to setting bedtime limits.
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