How to Put Your Toddler to Bed

Aaaahh, toddler bedtime. The time of night that takes up pretty much the whole night, and sometimes has an encore performance at 3am that culminates in a little person joining you in bed. This little person will tenderize your kidneys with their tiny (yet hard and sharp feet) until the wee hours of the morning when they will pry your eyelids open and state "You 'wake?".

We were co-sleeping but when Yasmina turned one we found out she was going to be a big sister. We let it slide for a few months until my growing stomach and her pummeling fists made sharing a bed a bad idea. And the agony started, hour long bedtime negotiations, crying, middle of the night wakeups. I read every article I could find. We tried it all warm lavender pre-bed baths, stories, sitting with her, letting her cry, giving her a lovey, warm milk, singing, a fan for noise, rubbing her back. None of it worked. Even if my husband was able to hold her, get her to sleep and lay her down without waking her she'd be standing up in her crib at 1am clutching her bear yelling "Daddy's bed" (yup- not Mommy's- apparently a confusion picked up by the fact that my pregnant self sometimes fell asleep on the couch and stayed there).

Around a month before the baby came we finally had her sleeping through the night. Then I was dilated early and given the speed my first two came in, our one our drive to the hospital and the fact that our town was doing downtown road work that could contribute an extra 40 minutes to that drive we started sleeping at my parents. Cue middle of the night drama. Yay... (not).

The baby came and we divided and conquered as so many parents do. I was sleeping with the baby and my husband was sleeping separately so he'd be coherent at work. He'd get the toddler if she woke up. And as every parent who likes sleep (or remembers what that is) does he'd just bring her into bed because it was easier. Life went on. Then after one night of attempting to sleep in my own bed and getting the crap kicked out of me by someone 1/4 my size I decided I'd had enough.

The rules were set. Two books read in the same order every night. She gets to shut the light off. Teddy bear in the crib with her, we tuck her in, we leave. Or I should say I leave. My husband would sit with her. Which of course meant she preferred him to put her to bed. He went out of town on a hunting trip and the method was tested. Exasperated beyond belief as I attempted to put her to bed and could hear the baby starting to whimper downstairs she looked up at me and said "Sit with me Mommy" in her toddler lisp. Thinking fast and attempting to escape to tend to the baby I replied with "Mommy can't sit with you right now because the baby is crying and I have to get her. Pooh will sit with you". I grabbed Pooh and plopped him on the chair. "Otay" she said. She went to sleep that night and stayed in the crib. A fluke, I told myself. The next night the same thing. My husband came back and doubted the method would continue to work. But it has. Night after night Pooh sits with her and she goes to sleep. And as happy as I am about it sometimes I just want to scream "REALLY? SERIOUSLY THIS WAS ALL IT TOOK?". The hours lost to methods and madness are quantitatively greater than the alone time my husband and I have had over the last 2 years.

*Results are not guaranteed :)


  1. Oh wow! What an easy solution to this (oh-so-common) problem! I'm happy for you that you finally found something that works :-) - is it still working? Will remember to try a "stand-in" or i guess in this case "sit-in" if our daughter has the same sleep issues at some point! Thanks for the idea :-)

  2. Amazingly enough this is still working. Trust me we overcomplicated the whole bedtime thing for months before realizing this worked for us! Every kiddo is different.