Thursday, May 13, 2010

There is No Way It Was Really That Easy

People who know me in real life and long time readers of this blog know that Pumpkin's sleep has never been an easy thing. When she was a baby, she woke a lot at night. Finally, at about two years old, she started sleeping through the night. But she has always needed someone to "snuggle" her to sleep. If I am home, she almost always wants me to do this. She likes me to lie in bed with my back to her, while she plays with my hair and drifts off to sleep. This usually takes about 30 minutes.

Well, I decided that it was time to change that. I consulted Isabel's excellent Bedtiming book and decided that the period between 3 and 3.5 years old is my last good chance for awhile to break this habit. As much as I love the time with Pumpkin, I need to get more time in the evenings for chores (and blogging, of course).

I was stumped about how to do this without a lot of drama and tears- two things that I don't have a lot of patience to deal with at the end of a long day. Inspired by my success with the binky fairy, I finally decided that I would offer Pumpkin the chance to get a new stuffed animal to snuggle to sleep with. We would read her stories (Hubby and I take turns doing this), I would lie down with her and listen to the first four songs on her favorite CD of lullabies, and then I would turn off the music, turn on her air filter (aka white noise machine), and, instead of getting back in bed to snuggle her like I usually do, I would hand her the new stuffed animal and leave the room.

I explained this plan to Pumpkin and she seemed interested, even excited. I asked her what stuffed animal she wanted, planning to take her to the toy store over the weekend to buy her a new stuffed horse or something. She said she wanted a stuffed crab. A crab? I asked. A crab, she confirmed.

So we ordered this online:

It came today.

So tonight, Hubby read Pumpkin stories. I read her "the last story" (a frequent request when Hubby reads her stories- I don't mind). We've been reading Winnie-the-Pooh. I read her the story about Eeyore's birthday. By this time, it was about 15 minutes past her usual lights out time. We turned the lights out, and listened to her songs. As the last song was almost done, she asked me to tell her a story that I made up and started telling to her at bedtime well over a year ago ("the zebra story", about bedtime at the zoo). I did, getting up and turning off the music at the agreed upon time. I finished the story, handed her the crab (whom she has named "Outside"), and left.

And she fell asleep on her own.

I won't believe it was that easy until we do it again tomorrow night. But enjoy this post- the time to write it and my new guided tour of my blog page was brought to you by Pumpkin and Outside the crab.


  1. paola4:53 AM

    Maybe it really is/will be that easy. Timing is everything and around 3 kids are much more tranquil and open to change than a few months previous and in a few months time. In fact Zoe ( and Noah too) went thru emotional upheavals at around 3.25, so really the timing is perfect for your girl. Good luck, but you'll see you won't need it.

  2. Oh wow that is a promising start!
    Fingers crossed it continues...
    Love both the crab itself, and the imagination of a kid who decides on a stuffed crab LOL how original :D

    And boy you don't know how much hope your post gives me re Bedtiming and the 3-3.5 window! (We are in the 2.5-3 don't bother window now, tho haven't mastered sleeping through the night yet either.)

  3. That's awesome, and I love the crab. I agree it's probably a timing thing. We've been struggling for a long time with bedtime- I dropped the snuggling about 6 months ago, fairly easily, but then there was a long stage of never ending requests for water, potty, one more cuddle. I was wondering if they would ever just go to sleep without all the drama. About a month ago I tried a sticker reward system, which worked wonderfully initially but then wore off. We've just completed a major international move, and now, with no action on my part, they are suddenly so much better. I do my usual routine, close the door, and that's it! They turned 3 in March. I wonder if the sticker thing did work, but the pending move was stressing them out, and now the sticker training is somehow kicking in, because they're 3 and receptive to this sort of thing.

  4. Wow, that's great! Fingers crossed that it continues to be that easy.

  5. Hurray! E goes to sleep on her own, but it appears to be very dependent on her having at least 2 soothers available - preferably 6. It is making me nervous about the day I eventually decide to take them away. She's only 3 bad is it if your 10 year old is still using a soother?

  6. Yay! That is great! Fingers crossed her toy pick is the only thing that will be "crabby" at bedtime! ;)!

  7. Hooray! I hope it goes well all week. I love the crab and its name :)

    I should start doing this. I'm in a rut where I use the lie-down time to listen to Rachel Maddow on my iPod... But Pea is ready to drift off on her own. She's almost 3 1/2. Luckily she falls a sleep very quickly.

  8. Awesome! I love that she picked a crab!

  9. Hooray! That's so awesome!

    I've yet to figure out how to do that final transition to either me or hubby being outside the Pumpkin's room while she falls asleep. You've given me inspiration, and maybe we'll just try it! Or I should say I'll just try it, since it will likley work better for me than hubby.

  10. Anonymous7:46 AM

    Old Mama says: They do grow up. Trust me. Our children, now 33, 30 and 23 YEARS old, no longer snuggle, breastfeed or need bedtime stories from me. For a sense of perspective, get out a measuring tape (or just imagine one). Set one-half inch/year of your life. Just how long will you have your baby (a half inch, tops), toddler (2 inches), young child, child, young adult at home (maybe 3 inches)? Not very long. Really. Just savor the days, and the nights. Give yourself the opportunity to cuddle with that sweet smelling little one. Give yourself the opportunity to rest a little bit more, you deserve it!


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