Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sleep Training Update

So, it has been a little over a month since Matt and I started sleep training with Nicole and I feel like we have FINALLY gotten into a rhythm. The first 3 weeks were awful. Nicole fought us and fought the training and cried... a lot and we had to tweak what we were doing here and there and this is what we finally ended up with that works for us and works for her.

7pm: We start our bedtime routine. No matter what, we try and be home by 7pm so that we can give the kids consistency in bedtime. Obviously, on special occasions we may not get home by 7, but on regular weekdays, this is our goal.

I put both of the kids in a warm bubble bath and then get them out and put them in pajamas.

7:15pm: Get Dan a bottle and put him in his crib. Then, I take Nicole into the bathroom to go potty and brush her teeth.

7:25pm: I take Dan's now empty bottle, give him his pacifier, turn on his mobile, give him his blanky and sing the "night night song" (this is a song that Nicole made up when she was young and we liked it so much it stuck).

7:30pm: Nicole gets exclusive Mommy time because I have been at work all day and she needs time just with me. We will usually snuggle up and watch one of her short shows.

8pm: Prayers, hugs, kisses, and bed.

Some of the things we have changed in the room is that we are now down to one night light, but Nicole now has a lamp clipped to her head board that she can turn on at any time that she needs it. Being scared of the dark was a big thing with her, but there couldn't be too much light in the room or Dan couldn't sleep. So we got this lamp that is clipped to her headboard that doesn't give off much light and she can use it whenever she needs it. It has helped her SO much! She actually doesn't even use it every night. I think the comfort of knowing she CAN turn on a light was all she needed.

8:10pm: Go and check on Nicole and give her kisses. Repeat every 10-15 minutes until she falls asleep. She usually falls asleep between 8:30 and 9pm.

Even though she isn't falling asleep until later in the evening, I don't even care because she is going to sleep by herself and she is no longer crying, coming out, or throwing tantrums.

We started a Bedtime sticker chart to reward her when she had a good bedtime and Nicole just finished it up yesterday.

In case you can't read it, it has our mission statement at the top. She gets a sticker if she:
1. Doesn't cry at bedtime.
2. Doesn't throw up at bedtime.
3. Stays in her room at bedtime.

It took 7 weeks, but she finally filled out the chart with stickers. The reward system works so well with Nicole. She is so much better behaved if she is rewarded for good behavior than if she is reprimanded for bad. Snapping at her for bedtime or yelling at her or taking away her privileges does NOT work, it only makes her escalate.

Instead, we've replaced it with the reward of us checking on her every 10 to 15 minutes if she is good. So, she knows, now that we have had weeks of practicing, that if she is quiet and in her room, we will come in and check on her.

We still get incidents where she will come out because we have waited too long to check on her. One night, she came out of her room and saw Matt and I just laying in bed and said, "Daddy! I wanted you to check on me but you are just lying there. Why aren't you checking on me?" And then she immediately started crying. She was so hurt that Matt was just lying in bed instead of taking the time to check on her. It was a little funny.

Sometimes, Nicole gets a little confused when she wakes up in the morning. She wakes up, thinks no time has passed and it is still night and comes into my room crying, "Mommy, I wanted you to check on me but you never came!" When, in reality, she has just been asleep all night. I just have to remind her that it is morning and I can't check on her while I'm asleep.

So, for finishing her bedtime sticker chart, we took Nicole to the store to pick out a toy. She already knew that she wanted a new puzzle. We got her a box that has four puzzles in it and you can put the puzzle together on the top of the box. I love these puzzles that come with a surface to put them together and a storage place in the box for each puzzle. Whoever invented these is a genius! Nicole loves her new puzzle and she is so good at putting it together. I thought new puzzles would challenge her, but she put them together like she knew where every piece goes. She is just so smart.

One other thing that we have discovered is a big contributer to a happy bedtime is an ample nap. Nicole used to stay up until 10pm at night, so we decided to cut her nap to get her to go to bed earlier, but the more we cut her nap the later she tended to stay up. Our approach seemed logical to me, but after reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, I realize that day time sleep and night time sleep are not created equal.

If we let Nicole nap for 2 hours in the early afternoon, not only is she a happier child at bedtime, but she actually falls asleep faster. Weird how that is. But, because she isn't exhausted at bedtime, she is able to relax and fall asleep more easily. If she has her naptime cut to one hour because we have to wake her up to.... say, go to church, then bedtime is a lot harder. She cries more, she stays up later and it is harder on everyone.

So, we have finally hit our groove! She naps every day in the afternoon for two hours and always starts our bedtime routine at the same time and we have a much happier child and happier parents. It feels like it took forever to get to this point. Hopefully it lasts.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I applaud your diligence, determination and creativity to find a night time routine that works for your kids. You are good parents.