Sleep Training: For the honest parent who has absolutely no idea how to get their kid sleeping thru the night.

Logan has NEVER slept an entire night in his own bed. Ever. He will be two at the end of June. Some of you may remember my post about co-sleeping, something I didn’t intend to do, fell in love with, and have continued to do to this very day. Even when he sleeps in our bed, he doesn’t sleep thru the night.

There are a few reasons for this; firstly, he still breastfeeds and wants to nurse to sleep. It calms and relaxes him at bedtime, which is very important for a child. Secondly, he has battled acid reflux since he was born. I believe that heartburn causes him to wake frequently. Finally, as a light sleeper, I don’t sleep soundly thru the night, so how can I have that expectation of my not quite two year old?
I have absolutely no idea how to “sleep train” my child! We’ve tried variations of sleep training. Co-sleeping by making his crib a sidecar to our bed, laying him in his crib after he falls asleep, and trying to put down in his crib sleepy, but awake. The last is by far the absolute worst option for us. He panics, cries, and lashes out to the point we worry for his safety. I can’t stand it! Not to mention, we don’t believe in using the CIO (Cry-It-Out) method, so that was a no-go.
I adore my son, but I miss sharing my bed with just my husband. I also miss not waking up every two to three hours at night. Something has to change, so I decided it was time for him to have his own room, his own space, and his own bed.
Prior to moving Logan to his own room two weeks ago, I had already established a bedtime routine of tucking Logan in on his mattress next to our bed, reading him Goodnight Moon, and then nursing him to sleep. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a consistent step-by-step pattern for bedtime. This both builds excitement and gives your child specific expectations of bedtime. It took me about two months, but when we had our bedtime routine down, we endured a weekend of long and exhausting work making the transfer. While my husband worked tirelessly putting our room back together, I set-up a room that would be safe for our son to be in without our supervision. With the new layout, his mattress is on the floor in a corner away from windows and he can get in and out of his bed safely without help. I borrowed most of these ideas from Montessori practices and I have to say I love what they’ve done for Logan. As an already independent kid, these just reinforce his ability to do things for himself. I.e. grab a jacket, his shoes, or pick out a book to read.
In addition, Logan LOVES his bed. He climbs in it periodically throughout the day, covers himself up, and proceeds to ask me to read him his favorite bedtime story. He knows where his bed is and we have established a good nighttime routine. We are nowhere close to him sleeping thru the night, but it’s an excellent start. He wants to be in his bed, which is ideal. Of course, he still comes to our bed around 1 a.m., but we’re making progress. Slowly, but surely I have faith he’ll learn to sleep thru the night and I’ll be able to feel good about the manner in which we helped him learn to do it.
The only thing I know for sure about sleeping training is that it should be a positive experience done gradually with lots of support for your little one. They NEED you, which makes this a big adjustment for them. Take it slow to ensure neither one of you gets frustrated. Bring them to your bed when they need it, hold their hand when they ask, read their bedtime story again & again, and hang in there. This too shall pass, and you might even miss it when it does.
Above all, remember that you’re doing a great job, and they love you as much as anyone can.

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