The Bed-time Tango.

Moving your child to a bed is a big decision. Some parents are forced into it by their offspring deciding to become trapeze artists over night, clambering over cot sides and springing onto the floor in one graceful swoop. When not so graceful, these midnight escapades can end in tears, with bumped heads and carpet burns aplenty.

I wasn’t one of these mums. My son never tried to, let alone succeeded in escaping the prison bars of his cot. So you might ask why I decided to move him to a bed at all.

I’ve always been an advocate in not ‘baby-ing’ your baby, and I don’t make much of a secret of the fact I hate seeing 3 year olds with bottles and dummies, or in high chairs and cots. Add into that, the fact that my 2 year old is far too big for a travel cot, meaning we are stuck in our home until he can sleep on a mattress, and the striving for maturity that he seems to be going through lately in every way other than speech, I thought the time had come to move him. As he is starting nursery in three weeks, I wanted him to be settled into the bed by then, so decided to bite the bullet last week.

First the good news: It looks adorable. I was not prepared for the metamorphosis his cot would go through in order to become a bed. In fact, we thought it was just a case of taking off the sides. That’s why we started the process at 6.40pm. Once the cot sides were off, it didn’t exactly look right, so we cleverly decided the next stage would be to find the instruction manual. Turning to the right page, C read out step number one. “Completely dismantle the cot.”

Oh.

An hour and a half (and a lot of peppa pig) later, a very tired boy was put into his bed, thrilled and yawning.

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The bad news: It hasn’t exactly helped his (or my) sleep. When he isn’t coming into our bedroom at 4.30 in the morning with his buggy and baby from the playroom in tow, shouting “Maaa..?” I am lying awake in bed anyway wondering whether it was the right decision to forgo a bed guard, because apparently C fell out of his bed countless times in his childhood and it ‘never did him any harm’  ….

This craziness on my part means that every hour or so, I pause in listening out for potential ‘falling’ noises, and I tiptoe into his room to see what position he’s in. moving his limbs out of precarious ‘will he wont he?’ positions. Cue night vision camera and a lot of crossing fingers that the flash doesn’t wake him. And when the latter doesn’t work, a lot of running away cursing.

The horizontal sleeper.

Although not worrisome  as probably the least likely position to fall out of bed in, (unless he is going to land standing up) this is a bit of a puzzler. How did he get into this position to begin with? I can only imagine it was managed with incremental shuffling further and further clockwise. Even then, the geometry doesn’t seem quite right.

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The now you see me… 

So glad we had the bright idea to pad out the ‘gap’ with boxes, because right now that appears to be the only thing stopping my son from being wedged into the teeny space between bed and wall. Next thing to be nervous about, that he will inadvertently kick or headbutt the wall, resulting in an avalanche of those (only mostly) soft toys. Wonder whether I will recognise the thump of photo frame hitting toddler?

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The furtive play
Coming out of my own room at various times of the evening, to be greeted by the following, fills me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, “R, it is the middle of the night and you should be in bed, not secretly playing with your Vtech laptop in the hallway.” On the other hand, “R, well done for not disturbing us, and could you please learn to entertain yourself so effectively without my help during daylight hours?”

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The where’s my cup? I want my dri-… Zzzz…
It’s not just babies that fall out of beds. Objects are also suddenly not where we left them due to these cunning contraptions. This clever position shows that he obviously knew where the likely hiding place for his cup was… if only he could summon up the strength to stay awake for another…few… millimetres. So close.

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The cosy I love my bed

Seeing my tiny newborn all grown up and in a big boys bed, is definitely one for the baby journal. Tucked in properly, lying on his pillow, out for the count to the rest of the world, he looks so peaceful. Would it be so terrible if I just had the quickest of cuddles?

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Snug as a Bug in a Rug

Not sure if it’s going to help the night-time issues… but R recieved the best present ever from us yesterday. A duvet and a pillow! I figured I sure wouldn’t want to be in my bed without mine, so who says he feels any differently? Making his cot a more comfortable/fun place to be in couldn’t hurt anyway.

I took the pic before I left him in bed, feeling very fuzzy and emotional at the idea of my little boy all tucked in for the first time. Of course by the time I checked on him a couple hours later, he had discarded them both entirely, and was curled up in a ball in his own baby-made duvet free spot. He did sleep all night though, so who am I to complain?

Now to find some boy friendly Peppa Pig sheets… He will never want to get out!

The Night-time Tango

My ‘baby’ is almost two. Although he has always been a great sleeper, the last month or so has been really tough. Not tough in comparison to you reading this, whose child hasn’t slept since 2009, and whose kid is regularly up for 30 hours at a time, and dropped their nap at 5 and a half weeks, and spends the hours of 2-6 am playing the steel drum through your bedroom wall…. but tough for us, who are used to a baby who goes down at 7ish and wakes up at 7.30ish.

The facts are as following. We put him into bed as usual at 7-7.30. He has had his bath, milk, story/ies and we have sung him his night-time songs. We put him in the cot, turn his mobile on, and say goodnight. Before the last month, that would have been it, and the next we would hear is lively chattering at about 7 in the morning, followed by annoyed moaning at about 7.45. But now, the very second the door closes we are met with pitifully angry and upset screaming, which escalates in decibel level and seriousness of tantrum the longer it’s left.

I believe in controlled crying, to a point. Sometimes a toddler just has to be allowed to scream it out, and nothing that you do will make a difference, they just don’t want to go to bed. But I also believe in checking all the other boxes first before you leave them to basically cry themselves to sleep.

So that’s what we’ve been doing. But the resulting checklist is confusing and inconsistent.

I always leave him to ‘cry it out’ for fifteen/twenty minutes first. Then, a number of possibilities cross my mind.

Maybe he’s hungry…
Whether he didn’t eat a proper supper, or didn’t finish his milk, or it’s just been three hours since supper so why shouldn’t he be hungry, I often find myself going in with a snack, like a cracker or raisins. He always takes it hungrily, (but that proves nothing because he always takes ANY food hungrily) and mostly falls asleep after eating it.
Problems: Firstly, that i am “making a rod for my own back” as he will come to expect the snack, and get hungrier b/c he is used to eating then. Secondly that there is a niggle in my mind as to whether he is actually hungry at all, in which case I’m just feeding him to ‘shut him up’ so to speak. I’ve tried giving bigger suppers or a yoghurt/fruit pot after dinner. No change.

Maybe he’s scared…
I have read that this age is a common one for developing fears of being alone/ the dark/ nightmares etc. If this is the problem, I’m not sure what the answer is. If I stay with him, how does that help the underlying problem when I leave again? I could buy him a nightlight, or glow in the dark stars or a projector, but I’m not overly keen on making him reliant on something to sleep with, especially as up to this point he has been fabulous at falling asleep in travel cots and other peoples homes and the like, with nothing more familiar than his baby bear.

Maybe he’s over-tired…
In my experience, an over-tired baby can scream for hours. And hours. And I’m just not that strong to listen to the tears and chokes. 😦 I’ve tried making his nap longer during the day, sometimes it works, other times, not being tired yet- he plays in his cot for so long that he never ends up sleeping at all. In addition, being at a childminder some of the week means I’m not always in charge of how long he sleeps in the day. Just to confuse matters, on Friday night he stays up with us until about 9pm, and always always drops off instantly afterwards.

Maybe something is wrong…
One of the reasons I find extended controlled crying hard is that you dont know whats going on in there. Twice I have gone in to shrieking noises, only to find my son’s leg trapped in the cot bars red and sore looking, and sometimes (less dramatically) it is as simple as giving back his baby bear who has escaped from the bed. If the problem can be solved easily, why not give yourself that chance? Short of buying a baby monitor for my 2 year old… I have to poke my head in ocassionally, dont I?

Maybe he’s lonely…
When I go in after the 15 minutes, he never tries to get up out of the cot, rather lying down and staring at me forlornly. I bend down and shh shh quietly, stroking his hair and making calming sounds. And he lies there, watching me. He is perfectly happy as long as me or C are there with him, but he doesnt close his eyes. If I pick him up, he nestles into my shoulder and lies still on me, giving the best cuddles ever, eyes open, and stays there as long as I’ll let him. Generally as soon as I put him down again and leave the room, the crying starts up again. Eventually after two or three of these cycles, the crying stops and he falls asleep until morning. The whole thing generally lasts no longer than 1.5/2 hours, on a bad night. and I wont pretend I dont love the cuddles.

The longest I have left him to cry is about an hour, and by that point he was so worked up that he could hardly breathe, and it took two hours to get him to settle.  It’s been a month, so i don’t think the answer is as simple as “he’s probably getting ill” or “his teeth are bothering him.”

Is this just a rite of passage in having a 2 year old?

I miss my evenings, so all advice and sympathy gratefully recieved.