Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Go to sleep, little baby

Em is a good kid.

No, Em is a GREAT kid.

She has a wicked sense of humor. She's courteous. She is so much fun. She's smart.

Sometimes she's too smart.

Bedtime used to go so smoothly. Bath, books, a song or two, then down for the night.

Then she started complaining and protesting and stalling. She'd throw her United Nations of stuffed animals from her crib to the ground -- or worse, shove them behind her crib because she enjoyed the ride when we had to push the crib from the wall to retrieve her pals.

She'd remove her PJs, then complain about standing there in her diaper.

She'd ask for repeat performances of the dog shadow puppet her dad does so well. She'd ask for me. Then Brent. Then me.

The whining. The crying. The "I WANT DOWN!"

It was annoying but not so bad when this went on for a half hour. Then over time it grew to an hour. Sometimes two. And recently? THREE.

Not that all over her requests went on for three hours, but the time it took to wind down and finally fall asleep was extending to three hours.

I chalked it up to teething. Then a fever made me think it was an ear infection. So off to the pediatrician we went.

Em's ears were fine. Her top molars aren't poking through yet. When I lamented that it was just so strange that Em's sleep had gotten so bad, she asked how long this has been going. I told her all I mentioned above, and, well, yeah.

Our toddler is too smart for her own good and has us wrapped around her little sleep-postponing fingers.

It was time for us to sleep train Em again and give her the tools to soothe herself to sleep. As the pediatrician said, there's no medical reason the gal just can't go to sleep on her own after we've gone through our bedtime routine.

For the past five nights, before placing her in her crib, we calmly tell her, "No crying. No yelling. No screaming. Just sleep." Then we help her repeat it back to us -- twice.

She treats it like one of our fun nursery rhymes or songs, a twinkle in her eye and a slight smile as she says it.

It's worked. It's WORKED!

She's not pulling the crap anymore. We've stopped going in her room at her beck and call.

It's been lovely, and now I wonder how calm, reaffirming mantras might work in the rest of this parenting thing.


  1. I love reading your posts because it prepares me for what we will likely experience in a couple of months! We just went through some nighttime drama, but realized it was because our Em wants a completely empty bed at night night - nothing but her fleece blanket folded like a pillow, her blanket, a sippy cup, and that's it. No blankets to cover her (back into a sleepsack), no toys, no stuffed animals. Think she's is getting her dad's cleanfreak OCD habits! :)

  2. OMG Ben does this too! He used to be the BEST go-to-bedder ever...and now he gets out of his crib, wants the door open, the light on, a juice, a-nunner book, etc. DRIVES ME CRAZY! So glad that your mantra is working with Em. I'm going to try it too.

  3. We just started this at home ... Ben likes to wake up at 2 am and watch SpongBob (thanks to my husband). He has to repeat "No TV when dark" when he goes to bed. Seemed to be working so far.

  4. In the world of public school behavior management, this technique is known as 'pre-correcting.' You tell them exactly what you expect and then make them repeat it back to you. Works like a charm with about 95% of children. And everyone is happy and safe. Good job figuring it out on your own!


  5. This sounds familiar. I guess because Roy is in Charlie's room with him, rocking him in the glider. It's almost 9 PM. Bedtime was 7:30. :/

  6. This has got to be one of the best blogs yet. It encapsulates Em's personality, smarts , etc. A joy to read - as long as I'm not the one staying up three hours.


  7. That's a really good idea...having the child repeat it back. I hadn't even thought of that..its genius!

  8. I'm totally trying that! Dahlia's in the phase where it's everything from "my tummy hurts" to "I have to go potty" to "I don't like my room." Ay yi yi....

  9. yup, the bean's transition to sleeping in her bed alone has been rough. but worth it. oh, so worth it.