Last night was yet another battle for bedtime. I'm trying a new strategy. I have a whole list of them, in case you were wondering. I've done lots of research and consulted many other moms. I think I probably set up a few bad habits in the early months (I blame jaundice, croup, and all the other illnesses Baby had where the doctors said to constantly nurse her and not let her cry). Then I never went back and corrected them.
Where was I? Oh yes, the newest strategy.
I read somewhere that if a toddler constantly wakes up and gets out of bed, then a parent should lead the toddler back to bed and lay him or her down to sleep. Quickly, efficiently, and without a word. Repeat as necessary and the child should get the idea that she won't receive any extra attention for said behavior.
Baby doesn't get up out of bed. She's really good about that. We put her in her toddler bed and she stays there. She knows better than to get up and wander around. Instead, she will sit up and scream and sob her little lungs out. She knows Mommy and Daddy can't stand this. We've tried letting her scream it out. This usually ends in coughing and vomit, frayed nerves for Mommy and Daddy, and an overly exhausted child who will wake up screaming again when she's had her sufficient energy boost of sleep.
The other night I decided to try the say nothing method. I would hear her start to cry, go into her room, lay her back down, and walk out. She would lay quietly for about two seconds, then sit up to cry again. Repeat process about twenty times until she gets the idea that she has to lay down. Eventually she just lay on her side and sobbed herself to sleep. (She woke up two hours later, but that's a different story.)
The next night I repeated the process. She kept popping back up and I kept putting her back down (this does hurt one's back after a while, mind you). I started just standing right by her door instead of walking back and forth down the hallway so I would be ready for her. She was really trying my patience and I was getting very frustrated with her not going to sleep. During one of her pop ups, she sat up and didn't start crying. I was standing right by her door, in the dark, but she could probably make out my presence. She sat there for what must have been a minute just staring. Eventually I heard a sweet little voice say, "Mommy?" I didn't move, and she slowly climbed out of bed, ran to me, and gave me a huge hug.
I knelt down and hugged her there in the dark. For some reason this brought back memories of times when my mother hugged me and made me feel loved. She was always there for me and had a shoulder for me to cry on whenever I needed it. I desperately hope Baby and I can have this same relationship. I cried, there in the dark, holding my child who refuses to fall asleep. My sweet, sweet, crazy child.
Then I put her back in her crib where she stayed...for the next couple of hours.