What I've Learned About Toddler sleep
So most recently (like as in the last 2 weeks) I’ve had a taste of what sleep regressions are like. I don’t know HOW the fuck I got so lucky to not go through that before, but as we approach age 2 apparently it is pretty normal for their sleep patterns to change and for parents who have been very accustomed to seamless sleeping habits to be thrown for a loop. And when I say thrown for a loop, I mean full-on anxiety, stress, and aging happening over here. I feel completely debilitated during bedtimes and quite frankly, it probably has to do with my own lack of sleep. So let’s back it up so I can give the full story.
It all started the week of July 4th – we had family (& TT) over and Capri was in heaven with all her favorite people. We always assume going down for a nap after all that stimulation and excitement might take longer but this day was especially painful. She was full-on SCREAMING in her room for us to come get her and it went on for almost 45 minutes. Since we are used to her simply laying down and us exiting the room in silence it put us in a panic. You can’t enjoy yourself when your baby is screaming like that. We did go into her a room a few times to comfort her but after that kept making it worse, we decided to just let her cry it out.
Following this day, every time Paul or myself puts her down to sleep it leads to bloody murder screaming. However, the second we go back into her room she immediately stops. So…nothing is wrong. Her sound machine is on, she has full black-out blinds, she has a little nightlight, she has a bunny, she has all her pacis, she sleeps in a sac, the temperature in her room is 71º, she gets an hour of chill time before bed (no screen time), her diaper is clean, I don’t think she’s teething, she has a warm bottle of milk before sleep. SHE IS FINE.
So WTF?! Well according to all of you guys it’s a regression. Some say it’s the 18-month regression hitting late or the 24-month regression hitting early. Either way, it blows.
A lot of you have mentioned everything we are already doing (listed above) so we had no choice but to resort to letting her cry it out. Paul did try sleeping on the floor or staying in her room until she falls asleep but she wakes up the second he leaves the room so that method is a no-go. She even asks for that now, “Daddy sit” “Daddy floor” as we are leaving her room. Ughhhh….so heartbreaking.
To be completely honest, Paul is a total melt about the whole thing. It’s excruciating to hear her cry, yes, but I also know going in when nothing is wrong is only going to prolong the hysteria. After about 15 minutes Paul is ready to go in there and I have to give him the death stare LOL. He really can’t take it. What ends up happening is he goes to take a shower (aka drown out the crying) while I sit glued to the couch watching her on the camera. She stands there crying off and on anywhere from 3 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Since we made the decision to let her cry it out I started documenting how long she cries to see if we are making any progress. It might be too early to share this since we haven’t quite reached “the end” but I’m seeing progress so clearly it’s working.
Nap – cried for 1 hour & 15 mins
Bedtime – cried for 35 mins
Nap – cried for 3 minutes
Bedtime – cried for 8 minutes
- woke up at 3:30AM and cried off and on until 5:30AM – I eventually brought her to the guest room to sleep with me (FML, my bad, desperate times!)
Nap – no crying
Bedtime – cried for 8 minutes
- woke up at 12:07AM and cried off and on until 12:50AM then went back to sleep until 6:00AM
Nap – cried 2 minutes
Bedtime – cried 1 minute
- woke up at 11PM and cried for a minute
Nap – No crying
Bedtime – No Crying
I haven’t been documenting exactly how long it takes her to actually fall asleep, but as long as she’s not crying and just peacefully hanging (or standing) in her crib until she falls asleep I’m good with that. I truly hope this regression ends soon because the anxiety alone is severely affecting my productivity and moods. It’s times like this that make me wonder how parents do this alone or have dealt with this type of sleeping behavior since birth. Sleep is SO important for the body and mind and I am not ashamed to say that I place a very high priority on QUALITY sleep. For us that meant getting a night nurse in the beginning to allow my body to heal and to give us a break at night. Worth every penny IMO.
Other things I’ve learned from you guys: Toddlers are trying to control you and they pick up on new habits VERY quickly. So it is especially important not to reinforce any behavior you don’t want to continue (like sitting in her room until she falls asleep). They start having night terrors and nightmares around this age so fear can become a factor. Mental development often messes up sleep patterns in kids, and as their vocabulary grows and they absorb so much new information it affects sleep, too. Also, separation anxiety begins kicking in around this time. So basically there’s an endless amount of reasons they could be refusing sleep and it’s up to you to figure out which one it is and how you want to deal with it.
Right now Capri is approaching 2 so I know I’m in for a wild ride between the mood swings, regressions, molars, mental development, etc. While it’s exhausting, frustrating, & heartbreaking everything in between those moments makes up for it.
Full disclosure: Felt like I had to end this post on a positive note for my own mental sanity AND to also let you all know that I love being a Mom (LOL).