Monday, January 23, 2012

sleep training a 2.5 yr old

Zach has been waking up once a night for a long time and then waking up for the day at 5:15. I really didn't mind waking up with him in the night. I would just rock and sing to him and he would get back in his bed and go to sleep. But, when he started waking up twice a night and then waking up at 4 for the day, I realized things were getting unmanageable. He has never been a sleeper, but now he's 2.5 years old and sleeping less than some newborns. I burst into tears one morning out of exhaustion and the thought of bringing a newborn home in a few months. David said to research some ideas and that we would make a game plan when he got home from work and implement it that night. That was exactly one week ago today.

We decided to use Supernanny's Stay in Bed Technique (even though I was skeptical and thought it didn't really apply to Zach since he goes to sleep on his own and very easily). Zach's problem is staying asleep. But, it was the only thing I could find that I felt comfortable implementing with him.

Right before bed, we told him, "Zach, if you wake up in the night, we are not going to rock you or sing you a song. We are going to tell you it's bedtime and give you a hug and a kiss and go out of your room." David put him to bed around 7:45 and around 10, he woke up. David and I sat outside his room and after he cried for a little bit, I went in there and laid him down and told him, "Zach, it's night time, you need to go to sleep. Goodnight, I love you." Then, I gave him a hug and kiss and left his room. He cried a little more, then came out of his room. I took him back in there and said the same thing, just briefer. The third time, and each time after, we said nothing to him - just put him back in his bed, kissed his head, and left his room. He begged for a song and a rock. Each time got harder and of course, I had tears streaming down my face. I had to peel his hands off my arm and walk out without saying anything. It broke my heart. After about 6 or 7 times, he got so mad that he started hitting me and pulling my hair (which he never does). Being 6 months pregnant, I let David take over at his point.

As soon as David picked Zach up, Zach stopped being hysterical and in his happiest voice asked to go downstairs and watch TV. That is when I realized that we weren't traumatizing him, he was playing us. David put him back in bed only 2 times and he cried for a little bit then went to sleep. He slept all night until 6:10 the next morning! The next night, he slept all night until 6:20 the next morning. The third night, he had a bad dream about a ghost (so sad). I still didn't rock him or sing to him but I did spend more time hugging him and comforting him. I also turned on his new night light that puts stars on his ceiling. I left, he cried again, I went back in and hugged him some more. Then he went to sleep. He slept until 5ish. I put him back in bed and he stayed in his room until almost 6.

He is definately getting it now. He knows that he has to go back to sleep even when it's 5:30 in the morning. Our goal with him is 6. This morning, he came in our room at 5:20 and I tried to take him back to his room but he threw a huge fit and I physically just can't pick him up when he's flailing about anymore so David took him back to bed. He went back to sleep (something he never would have done in the past!) and slept until 6:30! That is a miracle at the Zantop house. We are really proud of him.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh. It's so hard doing sleep stuff with a newborn- I cannot imagine how heart breaking it is with a little boy who actually understands. You are so strong!! Proud of Zach & y'all too!!