Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ch Ch Changes... to our sleeping habits

It seems with kids that just when you get used to something or something works well for you, something else goes to heck on you!  At least that is how it seems with us.

A couple of months ago I blogged about Brennan's new bed time routine.  I am happy to report that this routine is still working quite nicely for us.  He actually looks forward to bed time.  The catch, however, is that we never know just how long he'll stay asleep and/or in his own bed.  Since Brennan was several months old, he's been going through good sleeping streaks that last anywhere from a few days to a couple of months.  As soon as we start to think that, "This is it!- he's finally sleeping through the night!" He mixes it up again and becomes a terror after dark.

He's in one of those terror streaks now.

Every night we have been jolted from sleep just a couple hours into it by our crying and screaming two and a half year old.  One of us scurries into his room as quickly as possible to hopefully hush the screaming before he wakes his sister, who is happily sleeping only a few feet away.  We rarely are successful in preventing her from waking and needing comfort (AKA mommy feeding her... probably mostly for comfort).

Brennan usually begs for a bottle, which we rarely allow in the middle of  the night anymore,asks to come into our bed, and finally concedes if we will sit in his chair or cuddle in his toddler bed until he falls asleep.  This may happen once or several times.  Sometimes he is more demanding, though, and will demand to sleep in our bed.  We can try to fight him on this, but he is so stubborn that quite often it is best to just give in so that we can all get a little sleep.

I think part of the problem is that he is getting jealous that Bryleigh gets to sleep with us quite a bit.  You see, when she wakes up, I run in, grab her, and bring her back to our room.  She is very hard to feed and get laid back down in her crib right away without her waking up and freaking, so I normally just lay in bed and feed her so we can all sleep.  Typically some time later on in the night, I wake up enough and put her in her pack and play in our room until she needs feeding/comforting again.

Well, we are really getting sick of having all four of us in a queen size bed!  So we knew that things would have to change.  On Sunday night we tried something new.  I took a Mickey night light that we weren't already using (we don't use night besides the 'on' light on our music machine/projector) and plugged it into a timer.  I explained to Brennan that he needed to stay in his own bed and go back to sleep after waking and noticing that the light is off, but we he sees that Mickey is lit up and shining, he can come in with us.  It is set to come on and 5:15.  He very clearly understood what we wanted him to do.  Sometime between 12:00 and 1:00 on Sunday night (Monday morning) he woke up and came out into the hallway, calling for Daddy.  He didn't come up to our bedroom door, but instead stood in the bathroom dooorway and waited for him.  He obviously remembered that he wasn't supposed to come into our room.  Ryan brought him back to his room and cuddled with him in his toddler bed- a bit of a squeeze.  Needless to say, I fit better in a toddler bed at only 5 feet tall.  After that one wake up, he slept in his own bed until 6:40.  That is great and on the later side for him! 

We used the light again last night.  I asked him to tell me what the 'night light rules' were and he flawlessly explained them to me.  Last night he slept in his own bed until 4:45 before getting up and looking for Daddy (I am always tending to Bryleigh by the time Brennan wakes).  They repeated the routine of going back in his own bed until after the night light came on.  Then they came back into our bed, since Brennan wasn't quite asleep (it came on a few minutes early as these non-digital timers are hard to set perfectly...).

I know it isn't a miracle cure, but it does seem to encourage him to stay in his own bed.  We'll keep working at it and being consistent and maybe one of these days he'll sleep through the night on a regular basis.

Bryleigh's issues are different.  I don't expect her to sleep through the night at not quite 5 months old.  I am realistic.  However, I would like bedtime to get easier with her.  Many times I lay her down and she wakes back up crying within a minute.  We may repeat this 3 or 4 times before finally having success.  I can't let her fuss herself to sleep due to the shared room- ahh, the joys of a shared room.  She also normally wakes up the first time only 3 hours or so into sleep.  I would love to get a little bit longer stretch out of her.  And though it is unrelated to sleep, she still will not take a bottle.

Tackling her sleeping issues is much harder than reasoning with our two year old.  We're starting by stretching out the time between her daytime feedings.  Most days she wants to snack all the time rather than having good feedings.  Now, I'm making sure to wait at least 2.5 to 3 hours between feedings to ensure that she's getting really full at each feeding.  We're hoping that by learning to go longer between feedings during the day will translate to night, as well.  We're also thinking that by eating less often when fussy during the day, and walking or bouncing instead, we might be able to break some of the comfort feeding stuff, which would help immensely at night.  And we're trying the bottle some during the day- not every day, but sometimes.  We would love it if some day she magically just took it!

Well, that's about it.  Here's hoping our ideas will work well!  Wish us luck and if you have any amazing tips, please let me know!


  1. I am having sleep issues too.

    My two year old (who BTW doesn't talk so this makes things more complicated) just doesn't want to go to bed in her room. I can tell she's tired. I put her in and she just cries and whines and we think she's scared, however, since she doesn't talk, I don't know what she's scared off. There's a night light in the room but I don't dare put any more in because the 18 month old will unplug it from the wall and try to put her finger in the socket. Last night we let her pass out on the couch before moving her. The other night she woke up at 1 am and was up until 4 am because she kept crying when I put her back in her bed. Grrr.

  2. Oh Joy, I totally feel your pain! I would imagine the no-talking thing would make it so much harder! We can't make our little man stop talking! Sure wish we had all the answers!

    1. My husband just can't understand it. None of his older children had talking issues but both of ours are behind in speech.

      And the 18 month old fights sleep. Literally cried for 1 1/2 hours in her room before we removed her and let her pass out in our bed.


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