2. Tell her why. On the first two nights of crazy crying, she would plead “good girl” in between sobs, as if she was promising good behavior so we could go back to the old program. I had to clarify that I wasn’t angry with her and that sleeping on her own isn’t a punishment. She is a big girl now and that means sleeping in her own bed. That calmed her down. These little ones are so fragile and delicate at times.
3. Give a directive and repeat it consistently. I tell her to lie down, close your eyes, go to sleep like a drill sargeant, i.e. with a firm and stern voice no matter how much she cries or smiles or tries to climb back to my bed. Since we’re creating a new routine, she needs to be reminded about what to do and that it is a permanent change. No funny business allowed otherwise I lose credibility.
4.Turn off the lights. This limits her movement, lessens distractions and eventually the darkness makes her sleepy. This was tricky for me. I can’t sleep at 8:30-9pm all the time so I pull out my laptop and that serves as the sole lighting of the room. As long as I repeat the directive, she cannot engage with Mommy.
5. Be consistent. The first night was super stressful for me. With so much crazy crying, I had to toughen up and imagine my happy place to get through it. I wanted to relent but I couldn’t let her think she could crazy cry her way out of undesirable conditions. On the second night, the new routine needs to be reinforced so relenting is not an option, unless you want to go through that first night again… I didn’t think so.
6. Praise her.When she wakes up the next day, tell her “You did it!” — so she sees that she’s ok sleeping on her own and that she connects last nights challenge with an accomplishment. She’ll be very pleased with herself. What a nice way to start the day!
I’m hoping that these steps will help your toddler sleep independently with little or no drama. Realistically, I think it’ll take more time for Little Libra to fall sleep without me in the room at all –just like it took her about 1 month or so with her ballet, swimming and exploring classes. But I think she’ll make the connection eventually. Following the steps above should get her to sleep quicker and allow me to slip away sooner if anything. Then can I finally focus on entertaining guests and other little rewards that moms deserve after a long day.