FTMAD Epic Fail: Sleep Training a Toddler

At 21-months-old, FTD, the man-child and I have entered into the worst phase of sleep we have ever dealt with, keeping our crazy ass boy in his crib all night.  Holy freaking crap you all, FTD is losing his mind, the man-child is in a full state of crazed sleepy delirium, and I am EXHAUSTED! Not one of us has slept more than four solid hours in two weeks! Needless to say, we are at our wits end, and nothing FTD and I have tried to get the kid to sleep through the night has worked!  Prepared to be wowed with stories and trials of toddler sleep training epic failure. 

Two weeks ago my son was a sleeping BOSS.  He took two to three hour naps like clockwork, and slept from 7pm to near 7am.  Life was good.  Now, life is shit. shit. shit. shit! What has changed?  Well, my mother-in-law is here for a visit, my kid thinks it is his job to climb out of his crib the minute he wakes up to see what every one is doing--EVERY hour on the hour-- and due to lots of stress my milk has dried up. Oh and then of course, like a freaking cherry on top, Daylight Savings time change added to the madness. 

Now that the What and the Why is out of the way, I can move on to the How sleep training has been an epic fail. 

In the past when an exceptionally tough tooth was breaking trough the little guy would sleep poorly and have a mood to match, so I hoped this poor sleeping was more of the same.  Yes, at nearly two weeks, I realize I held out hope for entirely too long.  I first turned to my close been-there-done-that parents for help with getting the dude back on track.  Then, I turned to my amazing First Time Mom & Dad Facebook community…

Between my close friends and the Facebook responses, I had a full arsenal of attack for fixing the sleeping woes, things like: (A few are actual responses from the Fan Page.)

  • I would remain consistent in your approach to his waking and coming to your bed. If you want him to stay in his bed, keep taking him back to his bed until it works (even if it's days and weeks!). If you don't mind the snuggling in with you, then let it. Everything is a phase with these LOs and it will end eventually  PS Don't give up on trying the naps. Kids skip them all the time and go right back to napping after whatever development, distraction, etc has ended. Maybe could try "quiet" time in his room during that nap hour if he's not sleeping. Or a stroller walk! My kiddo knocks out in the afternoon on a stroll when he skips his crib nap.
  • Baby Benadryl
  • Keep going for nap time, even if he is in his room playing quietly he may fall asleep or at least he has "rested." 
  • We locked our bedroom door & the pounding & screaming stopped after a couple nites. Pretty sure that's not in dr. Spocks or what to expect!
  • consistency is your only option.
  • Keep putting him back in bed, don't talk to him, rock him or nurse him, just pick him up and put him back in bed as any times as it takes.
  • Get childproof doorknob covers and a gate for the bedroom door.
  • Use a sleep sack to keep him in the bed.
  • Get a crib net.

The first night I started with putting him back in his crib, repeatedly. Of course he cried, climbed back out and came to find me. This cycle continued on for an hour before FTD could not take the crying anymore, plus we were concerned about his mother thinking I was torturing her grandson.  I gave in, rocked him to sleep and then did it again every couple of hours. It was like having a newborn all over again.

The next night I tried letting him run wild, stay up late and then gave him Benadryl to help him with any teething, illness and hopefully get into a deep sleep.  My friends, this was our first time ever giving him Benadryl.  I was warned it could keep him up, but seeing as how that was already an issue, we had nothing to lose.  

It kept him up. 

Well, it didn't help him sleep, he was still up every couple of hours.

Then last night, I put him in a new sleep sack, and put the child proof doorknob covers on his door.  I felt bad about this, but I need sleep and so does he!  At bedtime we put the sleep sack on him, then put him in his crib to make sure he would not hurt himself trying to get out.  HolyShitYouAll. He climbed right out!!! I mean, sleepsack on and all, he whipped his legs over and climbed out!  ARGGGGGG!

This video is not from this night, but it will give you an idea of what I am working with! 

As for the childproof doorknob covers He opened the freaking door in SECONDS!  Seconds.  He opened the childproofed door in seconds. 

WHO DOES THAT????  My toddler Houdini that's who.  

So now, here I am back at square one with two problems:

1. I have a crazy toddler that somehow has completely forgotten how to settle himself back down, or just doesn't care to.  
2. Unlike the days of using the cry-it-out method to teach him to self sooth as a baby, or more to the point, the days when I could be safe knowing my crying baby would fall asleep safely in his crib when i left him, now I have to worry about the Toddler Houdini not only climbing out of his crib, but then climbing up on his changeable and bookshelf, or just climbing in the toilet while I sleep. (These are all things he does all day long for fun)

Basically, all that is left to do is ride out the storm. Stay consistent with putting him back in his crib when he wakes up, keep trying for naps and not completely lose my shit, because eventually this phase too shall pass. One day he will take his nap again.  One day he will not be so tired from not taking a nap that he falls asleep during dinner…  Only to wake up a few hours after being put to sleep, ready to play.  Eventually I will sleep again too.

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


Mrs. Loquacious said...

So so so sorry you are going through this!! My go-to is still my boob juice so I cannot imagine what I'd do without it. DD is also going through her sh!t sleep stage, napping at random times and staying up late. She does however stay asleep partly bc of nursing and partly bc she co-sleeps with me so she knows she isn't missing a big fun party time while she's conked out. You could try co-sleeping but then you'd be stuck with Ollir in your bed for a while... ;) hopefully this phase passes!! My kid has not once climbed her crib yet (prob cuz she never sleeps in there) but when she does, then it's toddler floor bed time for us! Momma don't need no heart attack to accompany the sleep deprivation! ;)

Katie said...

Hey April,

It's been a while! Sorry to hear about Ollie's sleep problems! I hear you on them though. Will has been getting up at 5:20 or earlier for the last month. I am 7.5 months pregnant and exhausted. Thankfully, he has yet to climb out of his crib.

My only suggestions:
Perhaps try putting him in a toddler bed. The novelty of him climbing out maybe would wear off. (I know someone who had troubles with their kid sleeping and this worked for them.)
Clear everything he could get into out of his room. Toys, books, etc. Put a baby gate on his room so he cant get out. If he wants to be awake, he can play by himself with no toys in his room. :)
Keep doing to nap routine, even if he doesn't sleep.

Good luck!!

AussieMummy said...

Can you put a baby gate across his doorway? Then he can't leave his room at least.

Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families said...

I hope that he gets back on schedule soon. Maybe he is having some separation anxiety issues now that you weaned him. Maybe a few extra cuddles during the day will help with this. ;) Good luck.

Leviticusx said...

Hey April. Have you tried turning his crib around so the higher side is at the front? It might stop him climbing out. It worked when my little brother went through this phase. Hope you manage to get a good night's sleep soon. Emma!

Anonymous said...

Can only imagine the upset in the house after having a 2-3 hour napper and 7-7 sleeper. And then boom, gone. My child has NEVER been this, never. He sleeps 10 hours solid at night and 2 hours in the day if we're lucky. Most days it's only 1.5 hours. If I get him right away at first peep at 5 am, he MIGHT fall back asleep on my chest in my bed for another 45 minutes. I second trying the toddler bed. This appears to be a perfect time for the transition. He may just stay in it like with praise of being such a Big Boy now and the novelty, oh the novelty of a big boy bed and room rearrangement. Plus, wouldn't it be so much easier to rest with him in his bed while trying to relax for sleep? I have admitted defeat and stay with my son until he is asleep at night and for most naps (he will nap without his dad helping when he puts him down, but won't let mom leave his side). Never know, those potential bedtime talks you have while hanging with your son waiting for sleep, could become mom's favorite past time someday. -- Amanda