5. Get Kaelyn to sleep in her own bed again.
This, my friends, is exciting.
Sometime around September, Kaelyn decided that our bed was the place to be. She would fuss and cry and cling something up a storm when we would try to put her in her bed. It got old. Fast. I don't completely mind co-sleeping. But there does come a point where your relationship as a couple needs to be prioritized a bit above your little one's desire. Plus the whole sleeping thing doesn't really work when you are constantly waking up because she is moving everywhere. Maybe her feet are kicking your stomach. Maybe her head is crowding yours off your pillow. Maybe her head is hitting the wall and waking her up. And maybe your husband develops this reflex that goes "shh! shh! shh!" when she starts making noise.
I came across this book by Tracy Hogg called Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers. My oldest sister expressed her doubts that yet another book would help me help Kaelyn sleep through the night. Well, that may be. But it certain helped us get her to sleep in her bed.
In early January, we started acclimating Kaelyn to her bed again. We would spend a few moments every day with some happy crib time. Yes, I made the incredibly hard decision to take down her hammock cradle (tears, my friends) and moved her crib back to "center stage". (We also weaned her which I talked about here.) I tried to make her crib as comfortable as our bed since that is what she's used to. I laid my crocheted blanket I got from my grandmother years ago (termed my nana blanket) for some cushy factor Then I grabbed a spare very flat pillow since she had started using one in our bed. I gave up my yellow blanket since it was the right size for her crib. She gets three stuffed animals in there: her turtle pillow pet, her original pooh bear, and her Christmas moose. She's not particularly attached to anything, but all these stay in her crib.
We also decided and stuck to a bedtime routine. We have only skipped this routine once or twice and it has always been when not at home. I love it. It is predictable for her and for us. At 7:30pm, Kaelyn gets a bath. Sometimes she stays in there for 5 minutes. Other times closer to 15. When she's done, we let her out. She doesn't have to stay in if she doesn't want to. We also don't wash her every single time. Sometimes her hair doesn't even get wet. (Note: 7:30 may be too late for some people. For Kaelyn it is perfect.) Then she gets a cuddle in her towel before her nighttime diaper and pjs go on. The other parent comes up and we read scriptures while Kaelyn gets an nighttime bottle of milk. Then we sing and pray. This is so predictable for Kaelyn! She knows after her bath she gets milk. She knows that we pray after we read. And she knows that after she is done her milk, she goes to bed.
So the crib is ready and we're spending happy time there and we have a predictable bedtime routine. Our next step was to purchase a blow up mattress. $20 for the mattress, $7 for the batteries (I was NOT about to blow the thing up myself... so we got a mattress with a battery operated pump). I blew it up, threw a pillow and some blankets on it and set it next to Kaelyn's crib. January 23 was our first night.
We didn't know how Kaelyn would react so we agreed to switch off nights so that we could make sure we had guaranteed sleep in between. I had the first night. We had a plan going into that night but we modified a bit based off Kaelyn's reactions. For example, we were going to pick her up and calm her back down when she cried. We were there for her and we wanted her to know that. But she has different kinds of cries (like all children do). She never used her "I'm so completely upset and everybody hates me" cry which is pretty much only heard when Vivi or another child gets really loud (this has only happened with one other child besides Vivi and it doesn't even happen with Vivi anymore). So after a few pick ups, I stopped. It wasn't going to help, I could see. So I just comforted her while keeping her in her crib. That first night it took her 37 minutes to go to sleep and 7 of those minutes were spent sitting up and nodding off. She almost hit her head on her crib several times. I comforted her 26 times. She laid herself down and went to sleep. It felt like a miracle! Okay, okay, so maybe not having a second nap that day helped (we still had 3pm church then) but still. She went to sleep! That night I slept in her room. She didn't have much trouble going back to sleep the 3 or 4 times she woke up except for one time.
The next night was supposed to be Jared's night. However he ended up needing to drive the missionaries home so I laid in her room while she fell asleep. 20 minutes, people. The only time she fussed was when Jared and I switched places so Jared could go take the missionaries.
I hadn't decided until we started this stage to put her in her crib all the time. I was even more wary about naps than I was about night. But we stuck to it. (I forgot to mention that she also doesn't get her pacifier except when she is in her crib. Maybe one day she will stop using it all together but otherwise, we aren't worrying about it.)
Let's skip forward to how we're doing today. It has only been 1 1/2 weeks since we started. 1 1/2 weeks. And yet she is now going to sleep without us staying in the room with her. We can lay her down and walk out. Sometimes we have to go back in there but it is becoming rare. Sometimes she lets us know she is sleepy (although we are not sure if she associates sleepy with pacifier or with actual sleep).
1. Predictability helps. A lot. The bedtime routine, the pacifier and crib staying the same... it all helped a lot.
2. Consistency helps. A lot. If we were inconsistent, we'd be sending Kaelyn mixed signals and we wouldn't be where we are today.
3. Kaelyn likes to be tucked in with a blanket but she usually takes it off for her naps (but not for nighttime).
4. When Kaelyn isn't ready to sleep, she usually kicks her feet against her crib slats or plays peek a boo with herself (and perhaps her stuffed animals?) with a small receiving blanket. A product of happy time in her crib.
5. Kaelyn can wake up happy! This was an exciting discovery and the reason for happy crib time. I have discovered that she wakes up quiet and will just lay there for a while. I'm not sure how long she lays there before she makes a noise to let me know she is awake but it is a far cry from when she would cry before her eyes were even open.
6. Kaelyn can put herself to sleep. Some nights she will fuss on and off for nearly 2 hours. Jared can't quite tell the difference between her cries but if we wait it out until we hear her "I need attention" cry rather than her "I'm just fussing" cry then she goes to sleep. She may not even be awake for all of this. We don't know. We stay downstairs. :)
7. Her average nighttime wakings is two. Not eight. Two. I attribute this success to no longer breastfeeding. TWO, people! This means I'm getting sleep too!
This is glorious, people. Tracy Hogg has my thanks for motivation and ideas and support. And her baby whisperer book for babies may or may not become permanent for my bookshelf.