Whole Parenting Family

Toddler Sleep & Big Boy Wakes

sleep traps

Sleep sleep sleep. It’s the obsession of parents. If you have one child, maybe you got lucky and he’s a super sleeper. If you have two children, chances are that at least one is a crumbum sleeper. Or at least when they teethe. Or they grow. Or they are sensitive to their sheets, or the color of their walls, or the company that’s allowed with them in bed (me, AA, baby dolls, baby Jesus, baby bunny, NOT her brother’s bunny). If you have more than two, you’ve probably come up with a sleep system that works for your whole household and involves some kind of cry-it-through-I-can’t-deal-with-this-you-have-to-sleep-now when they reach a little bigger baby size.

I keep this whole section on sleep, with articles like (from oldest to newest):

Establishing sleep ritualsToddler night sleep troubleMorning toddler nap: when does it end?Co-sleeping with your babeOusting the co-sleeperMoving to a big boy bedA sleep sampler: infancy through 12 months sleep tipsToddler quiet time.

Now I’ve got two bigger little kids and balancing their sleep can be tricky. SweetPea is straight forward. She goes down at 10 and 2 for 1 1/2 or 2 hour naps each day, and starts bedtime routine at 7:30, lights out by 8. She never wakes up at night anymore. Thank GOD since she’s the child who woke up every night of her life for the first 13-14 months. Sometimes she protests her naps, but she always goes down within 3-5 minutes at the very max. If she’s hysterical during, I’ll check on her and see if it’s because she has pulled a poopie out of her diaper. Yes, this happens. No diaper can stay on when her fingers are determined.

And Mr. Sleeper? SuperBoy? He turned into a holy night terror. RIGHT AROUND THE TIME she started sleeping through the night. This means almost 9 months ago. It began with him wanting just one more chance at the toilet. Then just one more snuggle. Then his bedroom door became this revolving door of requests between lights out at 8pm and 10:30pm. We tried everything. Sleeping with him until he fell asleep and then sneaking out. Threatening punishment if he came out (screamed his head off & on for hours). Dropping afternoon nap. (Just made him crankier.)

boy in our bed

The best solution thus far has been staking my mom out in front of his door at night in the hallway reading her book. She gives him the hairy eyeball if he opens the door, and bribes him with very minute pieces of a good that he gets when he goes down and stays down without a fight. To get to a happy send off, it has taken almost whole entire month. Granted, she lives here almost all the time with us, so it’s a great break for us. Even if you don’t have a live-in-granny-nanny, the consistency it takes is enormous. And being pregnant meant I just couldn’t do it after 12 hours with the kids by myself. Thank goodness for NuNu.

That still hasn’t solved our middle of the night visitor, SuperBoy, who would sleep with us from 3am onward. Again, tried all conventional tactics including sitting outside his door and continually making him go back to his own bed. None worked. We semi-resigned ourselves to the resurgent co-sleeper. I’m reluctant about this because breaking his sleep in the middle of the night isn’t good for him, and we’re going to be cosleeping with an infant in a few months so there will be no room in the inn.

Although my mom has managed to bribe & cajole a few sleep-through-the-nights with him, at this point, it still is hit & miss. A girlfriend who is a behavioral consultant is doing an interview with me for the blog & a consultation in a few weeks. Let’s hope she has the magic key!! Stay tuned for the secrets to keeping your three and a half year old happily in their own bed at night.

My dad’s idea? Let them play poker with him until they pass out. Nice, Baba. Nice.

poker night



  1. Kate on January 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Whew. Sounds like he’s turned into quite the tough case! I have decided based on this post that Simon will be in his crib until he’s 4. 🙂
    My suggestion: toddler alarm clock plus sticker chart. Give it to him as a present, wrap it up, make a HUGE BIG DEAL out of how wonderful it is and it’s just for him. The special clock tells us when it’s morning. When it’s not morning, we stay in bed. If we succeed, we get stickers in the morning. 3 stickers equals some special treat or outing of some kind. See this: http://www.troublesometots.com/how-to-use-a-toddler-alarm-clock/ (you will note this post is followed by 100 comments from yours truly).
    We bought this one: http://www.amazon.com/American-Innovative-Teach-Talking-Nightlight/dp/B003D7KV0Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1389809554&sr=8-2&keywords=toddler+alarm+clock
    It’s kind of bright for our complete-and-total-blackness sleeper, but we cover the bright part with a blanket. He can still see the green light when it comes on in the morning.

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 17, 2014 at 7:19 am