Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Toddler Beds

I'm utterly and completely shocked at how difficult the change from crib to toddler bed is going, and I'm also a little surprised that I'm surprised. This is a big deal for kids, particularly Little Bear: he's been sleeping in a crib since he was born. He's been in this crib, particularly, since he was four months old. There's an attachment and comfort in this crib.

I guess I just didn't expect the struggle and the screaming fits and the lack of any kind of stability in his keeping patterns with this adjustment. I guess the freedom of movement allowed him by the toddler bed has put extra ideas into his head that the crib would have prevented; in the crib, if he wanted to protest bedtime, he didn't have much of an opportunity. Now, he can wander to the door, screaming his head off, and there's no realistic way to prevent it.

It's frustrating because, until this change, Little Bear has been the best sleeper in the house. He's gone right into his crib with few protests and gone directly to sleep without passing go and without collecting $200. We've had a nice routine: nap, playing less-active games, watching Goodnight Moon or Winnie the Pooh, reading a couple of stories, and going to sleep. The room has a nice nightlight over the door which bathes the room in a soothing 15 watt glow.

Now? Same routine, but insert an hour and a half of screaming, carrying on, running to the door, throwing it open, and screaming out into the hallway. He's dramatically overtired because he's not getting to bed on time. Scratch that - he's getting to bed on time (8:00-ish) but the screaming and fit-throwing is taking him to 9:30 or 10:00.

What do we do? I'm pretty satisfied with the bedtime routine. Maybe we shorten the television, but the shows are very soothing and relaxing. The stories seem to be about enough, and he tells us when he's done with the stories and ready to go to sleep. That's when the screaming begins.

We can't sit with him, because he won't fall asleep. He'll stare at us while he sucks his fingers and force himself awake. I've been in here for 30 minutes, after 20 minutes of hugs and kisses, leave the room, wait until he opens the door, then walk him back to bed repeat.

This is such a dramatic change, particularly since The Boy also has his nighttime issues still unresolved. At least, Mom can put Little Bear to bed, or I can do it. The Boy is still only really satisfied with me. Worst part of the whole thing? Little Bear's communication skills are still not quite where he wants them, and it's very difficult for him to communicate his needs to us. That only makes the problem worse, because he's trying to tell me things like he wants music, or wants me to sit with him, or wants me to leave, or wants different music than what I put on, or something like that, and he can't say it.

I hope number three is somewhere in the middle of these two when it comes to sleep issues. I don't think I could handle this for another three years. Now it's time to really work my way through Elizabeth Pantley's "The No-Cry Sleep Solution." I still am uncomfortable closing the door and letting him scream - Lord knows he has enough trust issues with me already. I don't need to add this on top of everything else.

Update: left him alone in his room with the gate up while I put The Boy to bed; TB had fallen asleep earlier in our bed. Finally, I resorted to holding to door handle when he tried to open the door; after three attempts to open it, he wandered back to his bed and fell asleep. I think I'm going to pay for that later.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I have a friend who has a 2.5 year old with some peristent sleep issues.
She put daughter back in the crib with a contraption on top so that she can't get out. It looks sort of like a canopy. Her comment was that sleep trainers say toddlers are not ready for the decision making that comes with being mobile in their room and are better off staying in the crib. Just a thought...