Thursday, November 6

Talking Toddlers & Sleep Training

I am so, so thankful that God gave me a daughter first. Specifically Tenley. Even though I thought I always wanted sons, He knew better when He put this little girl in my life first. She is awesome, and I love this age (even though she's smart enough to be naughty on purpose). It's so fun when your kids start to understand English and communicate back with you in their various ways.

Tenley is practicing talking more and more. She has always been a babbler (just talking on and on in baby language about who knows what), but now (besides like a dozen animal sounds that she for sure knows) she is practicing more verbal speech than just signing "more" and "please" and "thank you." She started saying "more" (which sounds more like "moh"--kind of halfway between "more" and "moo") and it is so cute because she says "moh" and then signs "please." Pretty much anytime she says "please" my heart melts and I give in to whatever it was she wanted because it's pretty impressive that she uses it at all.

She also says "uh oh" a lot (which is really cute, but actually not a good thing since she has started intentionally doing things that might require an "uh oh," such as dropping things or knocking stuff over). She is constantly saying "mama" and "mummy" as she walks around the apartment, whether she wants me to do something for her or not. She says "hi" to everyone, including my belly every time I mention her baby brother (then she runs over and gives it a hug and a kiss which fills my heart with so much happiness). She also says "hello" and "hi-ya!" and she knows a lot of the beginning of the alphabet (it sounds like "a, d, e, d, e"...then when we get to H, she goes "a, i...l, mmflskdjsklf" (that's her saying "l" then babbling the rest of that section)). But it's progress, and she loves saying the alphabet. She announces that she wants to sing it (or listen to it on my phone) by saying "a!"

She also walks around the house "whistling" (or coming very close), and it cracks me up.

The last three nights, I have been trying to sleep train Tenley. I have been exhausted lately and I am tired of getting up once or twice per night (sadly, Tenley went from the perfect sleeper as a baby to a more needy sleeper who wants to be with mom all the time) for reasons other than going pee (though I will admit I'm pretty sick of that, too).

We have both a toddler bed and a pack 'n play (which she used up until one) but we've been trying to transition to the toddler bed alone because we want her to be prepared well in advance for the arrival of her brother and him taking over the pack 'n play. She loves the toddler bed so that hasn't been an issue...except now she knows in the middle of the night she can just get up and walk into our room and pester me until I bring her into bed with us. Then, because she is a very wiggly sleeper and rotates all over the place the whole night, Dalin and I get very little sleep.
This is basically how she sleeps next to me when I let her stay in bed with us. She has to be touching me at all times and have her little body right up tight against mine. I thought I was the snuggler (especially compared to Dalin), but have since learned that apparently I like my space when I sleep. 
So anyway, because every kid is different, I have taken the suggestions I've read in books, online, and from friends and altered them to fit our circumstances and Tenley's needs. It's only been three nights, but it's already going so much better, so I thought I'd share our experience.

I put a gate in Tenley's doorway after putting her down to sleep in her toddler bed. I dressed her in warm pajamas before bed (since I knew she would probably kick all her blankets off like she always does--she hates being warm) and adhered to our strict routine (teeth-brushing, family prayer, nightlight on, singing or humming a primary song, and snuggling at 9pm). I also put down a soft folded blanket and one of her baby pillows for padding on the floor right next to the gate on her side (past experience taught us that she will sleep right there if it we do not get her).

Night One:
The first night was definitely the hardest (as expected). She cried for what felt like an hour or so in the middle of the night until, exhausted, she fell asleep on the floor (I checked on her and her head was on the pillow and her body on the blanket so I didn't feel too bad--but a little bad, yes). She woke up a few hours later in the morning and cried again, but for a much shorter period and eventually she fell asleep in the same spot (I checked on her again). In the morning, she woke up at almost 7am sharp, and even though I was tired, I was okay with timing, so I set my alarm off (I want to train her so that when she hears my alarm go off at 7, she knows it's okay to get out of bed), pulled her into bed with me, and got her a bottle of milk.

Night Two: 
Amazingly, already a huge improvement (in my book). Tenley woke up around 1am (on cue...) and went to the gate and cried (but it was more of a whine for mama and less of the sobbing from Night One). In my delirious, half-awake state, it felt like she cried for maybe fifteen minutes at most before falling asleep on the blanket and pillow by the gate (again I checked on her in case she was partly on the floor). She woke up again at some point, but only said "mama" repeatedly for less than five minutes before falling asleep again. At 7am, she woke up and I let her in our bed with her bottle of milk.

Night Three:
Last night, I figured I would make a few small changes to hopefully help teach Tenley that she should just stay in her bed (or at least, walk back to the bed) instead of sleeping by the gate for half the night. When she woke up around 1am, she cried for only a few minutes before laying down on the floor. Before she had fallen asleep there, though, I got up and guided her back to her toddler bed (like five feet away), and stood there watching her to make sure she stayed. I didn't snuggle with her because I wanted to keep that time boring and teach her that she doesn't need me to be there to fall back asleep. I had to stifle my laughter as I stood there because she popped her head up from her pillow about five times to make sure I was still there and, even without my contact lenses in, I could see and hear her smiling and giving a little laugh when she saw me. It was like she thought she had tricked me into staying in there with her. Finally, after successfully counting down from 20 slowly (I re-started every time her head popped up), I snuck out of the room (while telling her to stay in bed and that I was right near by--which I am--I'm literally on the other side of the wall from her) and she stayed! It was a miracle.

I am hoping that tonight will go much like last night (or better--hopefully better) and that eventually, she will just stay in her bed through the night and be able to put herself back to sleep without getting up (or me feeling like I have to get up to guide her back to bed).

Some notes: 
Letting her sleep on the floor by the gate (even with the padding and pillow) killed me because she was curled up in a little ball and it made me feel so bad, but I knew she'd wake up if I did anything and that she was going to have to get used to going to sleep on her own. Also, I was really not good at keeping silent when she would come to the gate and cry (partly because the doorway to her room is about two feet from our bed and me), so even though I knew I should probably be quiet, I didn't want to be mean and have her think I was ignoring her, so I would talk to her in a whisper and tell her to go back in her bed or lay down, or just whisper "shhhh" repeatedly to try and get her to fall back asleep.

Sleep training is hard work, but if we can get her into a routine and be consistent, I know it will pay off once her brother is here! Now if she could just be potty-trained by 18 months, that'd be great because I am totally not looking forward to changing twice the diapers every day.* How do moms with multiples do it?!

If you have questions or advice for me (about teaching toddlers to talk or sleep training) I'd love to hear it! Maybe your little tip will make my life easier!
*Side note: I may try the very beginnings of potty training in the next month or so to see if she could possibly  miraculously be ready, but I definitely won't be forcing the issue since she's so little. I have been teaching her "potty lingo" the last few months though to hopefully help her comprehension when it is time to start! 


  1. Our daughter is three and we have never had any kind of sleep system so I have no advice for that BUT for the potty training. Wait until she is ready. It can be tempting to start early but they seriously don't do it until they are ready. My SIL tried to train her twins before her son came (they are 22 months apart) but the girls wouldn't have it. Around 24 months, even with new baby, they asked to do it and it took just a few days. Our daughter was much the same way. She showed some interest around 18 months but it ended up being more curiosity than anything else. At 2.5 she said, "I go potty now." And we've been accident free since. I may have changed more diapers but I also felt like it was so painless and so easy to wait for her. Good luck!!

    1. That is great advice about potty training! I think that's neat that in both situations the girls asked to start using the potty. Hopefully Tenley will be similar and have interest around 2. The older they get, the yuckier the diapers get (well, stinkier) so I just am so looking forward to that coming to an end. But then again, if we have a big family like I want, I'm going to have babies in diapers for a while, so I had better get used to it!

  2. Something that I found helped Henry to wake up less in the night was putting him to bed earlier. He goes to bed right about 7:30 and usually will sleep until between 7 or 8, no problem. The nights he doesn't go to bed until later, he wakes up more. I think he gets overtired, and then doesn't sleep as soundly. I think it's great that she's doing so well in a toddler bed! I have no idea when Henry will be ready. He's definitely not ready for that much freedom. Way to go!

    1. I've got to try that, Rachel! Tenley sleeps from about 9pm to 7am which is okay...but I wish she'd sleep an hour or two more. Does Henry nap regularly? Tenley usually takes maybe one nap a day in the early afternoon but it is not scheduled, it sort of just happens if it happens. I wish she would do it regularly, but then I'd have to sit or lay by her toddler bed until she fell asleep. She mostly naps in her car seat after errands or in the rocking chair with Dalin or me. She used to love sleep so much!! :P


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