The old saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” But for anyone raising a toddler, I think it should be amended to “If the toddler ain’t sleeping, ain’t nobody sleeping.”
A few weeks ago, my 16-month-old decided he hates his crib. He’d thrash, convulse, and scream at bedtime, like he was being electrocuted or something. Laying down at all was out of the question. And as soon as we’d leave the room, his cry would escalate to an all-out wail that at times has lasted more than an hour.
As the weeks have progressed, his crib-hatred seems to have spread toward anything even associated with that detested wood cage. His beloved binky? Vile. His favorite part of the day, his bath? Torture. It all leads to one place he doesn’t want to go: bed.
My daughter never acted this way with her crib. And just a few weeks ago, my little guy seemed to dig his crib; he’d lay down and go to sleep without a peep. So it’s no wonder this new behavior has thrown me for a loop. Baffled and looking for research, I turned to the source every well-informed parent turns to for information these days: Facebook.
What I’ve discovered through my “research” is that toddlers often have to be retrained to sleep. There are differing opinions about the “Cry It Out” method, also called the Ferber method. And some people just switched their kids to a toddler bed and that was that. Problem solved.
So far, we’re still figuring out the best approach for Oscar. After getting so upset one night last week that he catapulted himself out of his crib — luckily he wasn’t hurt — it’s clear that we need to figure something out. I want him to learn how to sleep on his own, but I also don’t want him to have negative associations with sleep for years to come and I worry the CIO approach may not be the best one for a kid who has already had separation anxiety at night in the past. I also don’t want to deal with a screaming toddler every night. One night last week, he screamed for an hour and forty minutes, off and on. It was painful — for him and us.
At this point, we’ve taken his mattress out of his crib (after the Alcatraz incident) while we decide whether or not to convert it to a toddler bed and he’s been sleeping on that with a baby gate in the door. And it seems be working out OK. He whimpered for a little bit last night when I laid him down and then went to bed. I, meanwhile, did a jig.
But I’m always looking for more advice: What worked for you when your toddler decided all of sudden that he or she hated her crib?