Hark! Glad tidings I bring to moms and dads. Peace. Good nights to toddlers and preschoolers! There is hope for Evan is finally learning to sleep through the night.
If there is one thing I have learned from parenting, it is that never judge another parent. (Ok, there are cases like neglect, abuse, feeding a twelve month old soda, taking young children to an R rated movie at 10 at night deserve some judgment, just not the every day problems.) I don’t know why that mom won’t stop her kid’s temper tantrum. I don’t know why that dad has decided to feed his son ice cream for lunch. I don’t know why that mom is pushing a four year old around in a stroller. I just don’t understand the situation. So why is my almost four year old son still trying to sleep in my bed.
I know there are a few of you out there that have toddlers and preschoolers that don’t sleep through the night. When I first learned about such children when I was pregnant with Evan, I thought obviously the parents did something wrong. Now obviously there’s something wrong with the kid.
Evan was a normal baby waking up in the middle of the night for his feedings, and in my exhausted state, I began to leave him in our bed after the first feeding of the night as I had no energy to get out of bed and put him back in the bassinet, which was at the foot of the bed. I remember there was a night of two hour feeding all night long. But as he was weaned, he still woke up in the middle of the night, wanting comfort, wanting his mommy, wanting to be in mommy and daddy’s bed.
Imagine the complete stupidity and hopelessness I felt when I realized that when I had Sean I would be dealing with TWO babies up during the night. Luckily, Sean would eat ever hour on the hour through the evening and then sleep until four. When people asked me how the baby slept for me, I would say, “Fine; it’s the toddler that wakes up all night.”
During these years, we hoped for a resolution to naturally move on it own. He’ll sleep through the night when he’s weaned. He’ll sleep through the night when he has solid foods. He’ll sleep through the night when he learns to run himself out. He’ll sleep through the night in his own bed. He’ll sleep through the night when he starts playing hard, if you reduce his nap, if you move his nap earlier, if you force him to go back to bed every time he tries to get into yours. The last one was the only one that met with some success, and it was sporadic.
A friend of mine confided with me that her eldest did not sleep through the night until her daughter was five. FIVE! My friend said her daughter would talk, sing, count, and recite her ABC’s lying in my friend’s bed as my friend tried desperately to get sleep for the next day. Then one day, the daughter just slept through the night and then every night after. (And yes, I scoffed because I was still pregnant with Evan. Fate is a bitch.)
For the last three years and twenty-two months, I have slept with a child who likes to snuggle against me, pushing me towards the edge of the bed. He snuggled so close it felt like a barnacle growing from my back. Heaven forbid that I face him. If I faced him, he would pinch and play with my hand, messing with what loose skin he could find, keeping me awake. If he was smart, he would slide into our bed quietly taking the middle of the California king, where I wouldn’t know he was there until the morning. Many nights he wasn’t so smart, so I would march him back to bed until he gave up or move in quietly.
So two weeks ago, Evan slept through the night. We were amazed. The next night I sent him back to his bed, where he stayed. The next night he slept through the night again. I made up a chart, telling Evan if he slept all night for seven nights he would get a toy. He wanted a robot. He only woke up one night, and that was because he had peed so much it ran out of his diaper soaking him. I changed him, put down a towel, and sent him back to bed, where he stayed. I didn’t count that against him, so he earned his robot.
While he slept through the night after the end of the week, I’ll admit we had a rough night last night, but he does have a fever right now. I have a feeling we’re over the hump. Or maybe it’ll have to be a two week chart or a month chart as they say three weeks and the habit is gone.
If you’re child doesn’t sleep through the night, have hope. I really think they’ll grow out of it. But I sympathize with you because I bet your kid has to snuggle right up against you like a barnacle.