Elise (my two-year old) has been sleeping with me (and poor DH has been relegated to the guest room) since mid-November. It all started innocently enough; she had a rough night and I let her come in with me. Since then, any attempt to put her in her own bed has resulted in much screaming and gnashing of teeth. We tried the crib, a toddler bed, a regular bed, baths, books, rocking, treats, gushing, and so on. All she wanted was "mommy's bed." And neither of us had the patience to do much about it.
We did try the "Nanny 911" method over the holidays, where you sit close the child in their room. Every time they get up, you put them back in bed without engaging them. We did this for four nights. Each night, it took between 3 and 4 hours to get her to sleep, and she'd wake up every 45 min and scream for another 45 min. After 4 nights, we gave up. We were getting even less sleep than before, which seemed pointless.
Until recently, we were just going with it. But then we decided enough was enough. I am warning you, this is going to be a long post, so either grab a cup of coffee or just quit reading here.
We were at the ped for Beckett's 9-mo check up and I spoke to him about her issues. He told me what I knew he was going to tell me - that the best thing we can do is teach her how to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own. It's not cruel or abandonment.
He said to do the bedtime routine and then put a gate up at the door (he feels closing the door is a bit too confining/separating them from the outside world) and then tell her I love her and will see her in the morning.
She may cry for 8 hours. She may puke. She may do this for 2 weeks. But she will eventually learn.
It made me soooooo sad to think about doing this, but nothing else had worked and we'd not making any improvement, so I knew it had to be done. As the ped said, I wouldn't give her candy for dinner just because she cries, so why is this any different?
I converted Elise's crib back into a toddler bed (for the second time) as she watched me and we talked about sleeping in her bed. I hoped it would help that Mommy was doing it and she was helping. We also totally child-proofed her room.
Did the bedtime routine (brush teeth, jammies, stories, rocking) and then she started getting teary-eyed. She laid down in bed and started bawling. T and I kissed her, told her we'd see her in the morning, and stepped over the gate into the hall. She was right behind us as the gate, wailing, with her dolly in hand.
We were just about to the end of the hall when I turned around and saw her fling herself over the gate, never once letting dolly hit the ground or get hurt. That was the end of the gate and into our bed she went.
Score after Night 1:
Elise 1, Parents 0
I was going to buy a second gate to stack on top of the other one, until a wise coworker pointed out that she'll just fall from higher up if I do that. She's definitely a climber.
So I guess our only option was to close the door.
We started talking about sleeping in her own bed about 30 min before bed, and it did not go well. She was crying and screaming the whole time.
But we did the bedtime routine, and I rocked her. She wouldn't lay down at all, so T and I kissed her and walked out of the room. I had to literally pry her fingers off the door to close it.
She then started wailing like she was being beat and THROWING her entire body at the door. OMG. I was almost in tears. She kept screaming mommy and bodyslamming the door. She immediately got the child proof doorknob off, but couldn't get the door open, thank goodness for antique-y doorknobs that are a bit difficult to open.
For 3 min, she screamed like she was dying.
Then she crawled into her bed and silence followed. We knew it was too good to be true.
About 10 min later, she started softly crying and just repeating mommy over and over again intermixed with times of silence. This went on until about an hour after she went to bed.
She then slept THROUGH THE NIGHT. You don't understand - this is the child who wakes 5 and 6 times a night when she sleeps with me.
I woke her up at 8:45 am that s morning and she cried for about 10 sec. Then started telling me how her baby slept in the bed with her and not on the floor. And on and on and on and on.
We did tons and tons of praise and excitement over sleeping in her big girl bed.
Score after 2 nights:
Elise 1, Parents 1
Once again, she started crying before we even headed upstairs, but she did stop while brushing her teeth and rocking. Then she laid in her bed, somewhat unwillingly, but she did it anyhow. I gave her a kiss and told her I'd see her in the AM.
Closed the door and she was crying, but she never even got up. She cried for about 1-2 min. DH did say she cried a bit more when I was in the kitchen making popcorn, but it wasn't too loud, as I couldn't hear it.
She slept through the night and was happy as could be to see DH when he got her at 9 am this morning (she was still kinda sleeping).
Then it was super cute - she got into bed with me and kept kissing me on the lips and saying "Awt (love) you, too, Mommy". My little sweetie. Guess she doesn't hate me too much for this.
Score after 3 nights:
Elise 1, Parents 2
Night 4 wasn't as smooth. She was crying off and on before we even went upstairs. Then she cried while brushing her teeth. HAHA - that was funny. We rocked for a while and then she resisted going to bed, but I got her in. She kept telling me, "No Elise like it Elise's bed. Elise like Mommy's bed."
Then the little stinker decides to climb over the SIDE of her crib. WTF? I was watching on the video, so I ran upstairs and stubbed my toe on a stupid laundry basket I stupidly left in the hall. She was perched on the side rail, which is about 4' in the air, with one leg on either side. I was expecting her to fall at any moment.
I got her down, and we rocked a bit more. Then I put her back in and went in my room next door and watched her on the video. She kept climbing over the side. Seriously? It's a toddler bed, so she can get out the front no problem. Why does she have to go over the side? But she got down just fine. Then she climbed back in the bed over the side from the outside! I told you, this girl is a monkey! For the love of all that is good, why does she do this? She was giving me a heart attack. But after she did it back and forth about 20 times, I realized she probably wasn't going to get hurt.
She cried for about 30 min total, but finally went to sleep and slept through the night.
And she was so proud of herself when she got up this morning - "Yeah, Elise waked up! Yeah, Elise!"
Score after 4 nights:
Elise 1, Parents 3 (although last night was a doozy, I still think I won)
Night 5 (last night)
She started crying again before bed. I hate that part. And cried through teeth brushing, but not while rocking. I put her in her bed, kissed her and told her I'd see her in the morning. She followed me to the door, wailing and shrieking. I closed it and walked downstairs.
By the time I got downstairs, she'd stopped crying and was in her bed. Asleep.
Score after 5 Nights:
Elise 1, Parents 4
And the victory goes to the PARENTS!