I’ve just had my second decent night’s sleep in three weeks. It was about a month ago that we moved two year old Daughter into a “big” bed for “big girls.” The big bed happened on us through a good find (the frame) on Craig’s List then a gifted mattress set from Aunt and Uncle when they downsized from a house in the burbs to a condo in the city. Mommy couldn’t wait to set it up and move nighttime story time from uncomfortable rocking chair to sprawling queen size bed. Yes, the picture of my tiny two year old in the ridiculously big bed (she can use it until she moves out!) was odd, but the need for my comfort outweighed any reticence that this might not be such a good idea. (She wasn’t climbing out of her crib or giving any indication that it was time for her to move.)
Daughter loved reading books on it so much that she started napping in it. Then, of course, she wanted to sleep in the big bed at night. Things went well for a few nights. Then FREEDOM kicked in. She was up and out of that bed faster than our feet could hit the top stair with hopes of legs up on the couch, remote in hand for the rest of the evening.
We were determined not to lie down with her until she slept or start any other patterns we had learned were so hard to break with her older Brother. So, we bounced back and forth along with her, cajoling, rocking, pleading, demanding that she STAY in her bed.
It got worse. She would finally go to sleep at 9 or 10 pm, then wake at 12, 1 or 2 am for a repeat performance of up and down. Downstairs to get a snack (feed her and she might sleep!), rock, sing, hum, pat, rub, whatever it takes when you’re bleary eyed in the wee hours.
She’s GOT to sleep in, we thought, after such a rough night. Not so. She’d be up at 6 am, strolling into our room with such pleasure that she was able to arise and wake the household of her own accord.
I was becoming a cranky hag and watched as my easygoing, well rested daughter became cranky and demanding with dark circles under her eyes. The doctor recommended a gate or lock on the door. I couldn’t lock her in. Even the notion of her room being a “big crib” couldn’t get me to stomach my daughter pounding and screaming at the door to her room.
So, at wits end two nights ago when Husband was working late and I simply had to get her to bed by nine (to watch the debate), I stood there rocking and singing to her then turned around and…. put her in her crib. No words, a quick good night, I love you, and I walked out the door.
She screamed for a minute then went to sleep. She woke in the middle of the night and we reverted to old methods for putting her back to sleep in her crib (walk in, rub back, say goodnight, then leave. Repeat as many times as necessary but don’t get her up or give her anything.) She slept until 7 am.
Last night, she screamed longer (5 minutes) when going to sleep and I went in once to console her then she slept. She slept all night without waking until 7 am.
My gut tells me she wasn’t ready for the freedom and still likes the “safety” and confines of her crib. She’s also experiencing a spike in developmental ability (counting, numbers, etc.) and may need a balance of babyhood as she grows in ability and independence.
I think it’s working to not mention crib or “big girl” or have her feel in any way that she can’t hack it in the big bed or is being punished for getting out. In this case, actions not words seem to work. I’m also giving her major praise in the morning about how well she did all night and letting her put a sticker on big Brother’s responsibility chart.
Eventually, she’ll move into the big bed. And while she may then be a bit older with more ability to understand she needs to stay in it to sleep, we may also be a bit wiser about the need to put up a gate.