We've been having some sleep problems here lately. Yes, some are the result of Brennan's inconvenient position in the womb and the yucky 3rd trimester congestion. But, this is a post about another sleep problem. Namely, the almost 3 year old in our house. Who used to be such a good sleeper.
A few weeks ago we noticed it was taking her longer and longer to fall asleep. One of us usually lays down with her until she conks. What used to be a 10-15 minute snuggle session was turning into 60-90 minutes! She'd talk, sing, flop around, and just be restless. And that wasn't the bad part. The bad part was that she'd wake up again between 2 and 4 am and repeat the process-- coming to get one of us first.
We tried the whole Supernanny bedtime routine and it was literally a battle of wills. 3.5 hours into that we decided to nix it until we can afford to be running on less sleep (which no one in our house can do right now). So after talking to our pediatrician, reading in The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, (click title for link) and asking a few friends, we've come up with a sort of hybrid approach that seems to be working for now.
1. We realized that part of Cate's problem was then when she gave up her ookies (pacifiers) several weeks ago, it was like we had taken away the equivalent of a teddy bear or blankie for some kids. They were her security. So step one has been trying to get her reattached to something else. She's never shown a preference for anything, so we took her to Build-a-Bear where she picked out a dog to make. She enjoyed making him and named him Monster.
Not sure what's up with all of her weird faces. We've kind of been making a big deal about having Monster with her at home, especially at bed time and nap time. It's kind of working in combination with a couple of other things like...
2. A slightly later bedtime. I'd rather her stay up and play for an extra 30 minutes so that Eric and I can sit on the couch and catch up, than have one of lying in her room while she tries to get to sleep and we can't talk and catch up.
3. Letting her zone out to a favorite TV show for about 20 minutes before bed. I know the books say you shouldn't do this, but let's be real here. She watches an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba on the couch, in the dark, snuggled up against Mommy and Daddy, and then heads straight to bed, much more relaxed than before.
4. A playlist of relaxing music. We just tell her to be still and listen while she falls asleep. Usually it works.
5. Rewards for when she doesn't get up during the night to come and get one of us (usually Eric because he's a saint and knows lying in a twin bed with a restless toddler at 2am does not a happy mama make). Right now Cate likes those little GoGo's and Squinkies. Look 'em up if you're not sure what they are, but they're basically little (like miniature) monsters and people and animals. And you can get quite a few for cheap. She's only made it through one night the last 2 weeks where she has not come in to get us. But...
We're making progress. The combination of the above has led to one of us only needing to be with her for about 20 minutes before she falls asleep...often times less, on one occasion it was 45 minutes. But 20 is about average. And I'm okay with that. 20 minutes of one-on-one in bed snuggle time is great for her. And since she now has Monster, when she does get up in the middle of the night, it's usually a 10 minute process to get her back down. Eric reminds her to snuggle Monster, turns on the playlist, and he gets in bed with her for a few minutes and rubs her back; then she's out and he's back in bed with me.
Hopefully the middle of the night thing will stop soon. But if not, it won't be long before I'm up to breastfeed a munchkin anyway. I think Cate's weird 6th sense is just preparing us for sleep deprivation again. I shouldn't be complaining though. Things have gotten so much better lately and I'm grateful for any improvement.