We didn’t have the best start with our first born daughter. She had horrible acid reflux which meant she barely ever slept. We couldn’t seem to figure out our sleep schedules at all.
But, after a couple of months, we were able to figure out a pretty good rhythm with her. Even better, just before I went back to work, my daughter was sleeping through the night at just 3 months olds.
It was awesome. She would take two great naps throughout the day. She would lay down on her own, in her own bed, and she would sleep almost 11 hours at night. We felt like we hit the baby sleeping jackpot. But, we were also advised not to go bragging about it either. Soon we found out why…
I was 5 months pregnant with my son when we took a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina. My daughter shared a room with us in the condo our family rented. She was in an unfamiliar setting and she could not go to sleep without me in the room. I abliged for the entire trip and didn’t think twice about going back to our normal sleep schedule when we returned home.
The first week back from vacation was extremely rough. We spent some nights with her in our bed. Other nights, while trying to get her to stay in her bed, we laid on the floor next to her bed. I’m not sure which was worse; getting kicked in the side all night or laying on a hard floor. We knew we were dealing with something new and had to make a change.
Over the course of the next few months, we started to take the next several steps to adjust to our toddlers new sleep schedule:
- Night Lights: We let her pick out the one she wanted and made sure it was bright enough to make a difference.
- Music: We found different types of musical items to place in her room to help her feel less scared being in her room alone. We initially started with a Sea Turtle Sound Machine like this: http://amzn.to/2wI6HeB. As she got a bit older, she preferred just regular music. We utilized our Amazon Tap portable speaker to play disney songs or nursery songs to help her fall asleep.
- Presense: We wanted her to know we were there but we didn’t want to be zombies all day either. We would start by laying next to her in bed until she fell asleep. After a week of that working well, we would sit at the end of the bed until she fell asleep. The next week, we would sit on a toy bench near the edge of her room. Finally, we were at the door. Once we had that working well, we slowly made our way back to laying her down and escaping down the hall.
- Books: We allow her to pick different books that help her fall asleep each night. One book that we read first then she read it back (her version of the story at least). She usually ends up feeling more comfortable falling asleep after reading a fun story.
- Stuffed Friends: Instead of us getting sleepless nights sleeping with a child that becomes a black belt at night, we replace our warm bodies with her stuffed friends. Lots of them. Sometimes she chooses to sleep with all of them, other nights she just picks one in particular.
- Sleepovers. These are our favorite. We only do these on rare occasions so she doesn’t get used to it but when we do them, she loves it. We make room in our bedroom for our inflatable mattress and let her sleepover in our bedroom. It’s a fun night for everyone.