Creating a Sleep "Plan" for My Toddler

Creating a Sleep "Plan" for My Toddler 1For those who aren't up-to-date with our sleep saga, my Little Beauty is sixteen months old. She began her newborn days in a bassinet, then transitioned to our bed shortly thereafter so that I could nurse laying down (that's a lifesaver, by the way).

Now, we have a bedtime routine that begins around 7:15 and ends around 8:15 (bath, diaper, lotion, pajamas, book(s), "mama's nighttime milk", sleep). She sleeps on a makeshift bed on the floor in our bedroom for the first half of the night and then comes into bed with us when we go to bed (usually between 11 and midnight). After several "wakings" throughout the night (she nurses and goes right back to sleep), she wakes up for the day around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. - happy and energized.

What's working
* The bedtime routine: Our Little Beauty knows that bath time indicates bedtime is nearing and she seems to have a positive association with sleep/bedtime. She'll often point to her bed toward the end of the night or even put her head down on the pillow. Plus, our hour-long routine seems to be just about the right length and it's usually pretty peaceful.
* The closeness, the comfort, the safety, the snuggle, the kisses in the morning - all of the wonders and benefits of sleep-sharing.
* The wake-up time: 7:30 or 8:00 is perfect for our family - not too outrageously early, but not too late either.

What's not
* Loss of our bedroom - My husband and I both feel that we'd like to have our bedroom back for the early part of the night. As it is right now, we are basically barred from our own room from 7pm onward, which can pose a problem when we want to grab a pair of shoes, change clothes, etc.
* Too many nursings - At sixteen months old, I know that my daughter doesn't need to nurse at night for nutritional reasons anymore (she doesn't nurse at all during the day anymore - she stopped on her own around 12 months). Yet she still wakes up often and sometimes even has all-night-nurseathons. Surprisingly, I don't mind that much (especially after midnight), but I think it would be best for all of us if we cut back on those wakings and she was able to put herself back to sleep.

With those things in mind, we're creating a new sleep plan with help from Elizabeth Pantley's books - The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night (read my review) and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers (review coming...).

Some of the things that we will be trying include...
+ transitioning Little Beauty to her own room (on a mattress on the floor) for at least the first half of the night
+ using white noise
+ writing our own bedtime story (read Pantley's books for more info)
+ gently cutting back on nighttime feedings using some suggestions in Pantley's book

I'll keep you posted about how the plan works.

How is your baby sleeping and what "methods" did you/do you use to help baby sleep longer and more comfortably?

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5 comments on “Creating a Sleep "Plan" for My Toddler”

  1. Ahhh the joys of motherhood!

    Hopefully this will come across nicely (because that is how I whole-heartedly mean for it to be)...YOU ladies are the MOMS. YOU are in charge. If something isn't working for you anymore, YOU should make the changes. Baby might not agree the first few nights, but I truly believe that our little love muffins need parental guidance in these difficult areas of sleep, self-soothing, etc. Learning to sooth yourself to sleep is a learned habit, which means it must be practiced. I'm not saying it'll be easy, but it will be COMPLETELY worth it in the end when parents feel they can have their bedroom back and babies feel they are working towards independence being in their own space.

    Good luck everyone!! No matter what, you are WONDERFUL moms!! :)

  2. I'm having the same sleep problem you are with my 15 month old. She starts the night out in the crib in our room and ends up in our bed. I loaned the new mommy next door my copy of No Cry Sleep Solution, and now I'm wondering if I should borrow it for a few nights. Please keep us posted, I'm tired of so many "night nips". It's hard getting a good night's sleep, isn't it? One thing is that she's getting FOUR teeth in right now. Do you think yours is teething and needs a little snack and/or reassurance as well? I can't wait to see how this goes for you. All the best and I wish you lots of success!

  3. If you don't mind the night nursings, why cut back?

    Make changes because that is what is best for your family, not because it "should" be done. :)

  4. Well, you know from my post on your last book review that at 2.5, Bridget's routine is VERY much like your daughter's. I am at my wits end. She has a bedtime ritual too, but must be nursed to sleep. We've tried having my husband put her to bed with stories and rubbing back, but she will stay awake until 11PM unless she gets her "boob." She will get up from bed between 11-1 and climb into our bed. Sometimes I don't even notice until she is lifting up my shirt and copping a feel. Then I am too tired to do anything about it. So please, when you figure it out, let me know. ;-)

  5. We have been pretty strick with the Mikayla will always sleep in her own bed. She has only been in our bed about 3 times and she is 2 1/2. About 6 to 9 months (don't remember exactly) she would fall asleep on her own but if she woke up in the middle of the night I had to rock her to sleep. I eventually ended up letting her cry herself to sleep as tough as it was it took about 3 nights and I was ready to be a mess. After those 3 nights she would only wake up and cry if she needed me. I was also able to take of her needs and then put her back to bed and she would fall asleep on her own. Don't get me wrong it did take a while for her to fall asleep on her in the middle of the night. Now that she is 2 1/2 she goes to bed around 8pm and sleeps to 8am. It is rare that I have to go deal with her in the middle of the night, a night time has helped that and I don't have to rock her to sleep at all.

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