Monday, 23 January 2017

Switching to a toddler bed at 18 months

Toddler bedroom


Recently we decided to switch Emme to a toddler bed at just 18 months. We have co-slept with her since the day she came home! Not through our choice (ok, maybe we could have persevered) but because it turns out the big wide world is actually a pretty scary place for a newborn baby and being close to mama and dada is the only place Emme would settle! I can't say I blame her, it must be terrifying going from being all curled up and cosy in the womb to suddenly being placed in an open and seemingly cold moses basket without the familiar sound of mamas heartbeat, the first sound she ever knew and one that she had been so used to for the past nine months. 

The first two weeks of Emme's arrival, Dan and myself took it in turns to have her curled up on our chests for two hours whilst the other slept because our chests were the only place she would settle. I wouldn't recommend our method, we are first time parents, it was all so new to us and we weren't yet familiar with sleepless nights, little did we know how used to them we would become! This method was the only compromise we managed to reach through the exhaustion and tears, neither one of us could stay awake for more than two hours at a time during the night and two hours just seemed enough to keep us going for another two while the other caught up. 

Needless to say we soon realised that we couldn't live like this, Dan was due to return to work after his paternity leave and with him working permanent night shifts at the time, I knew that I could not survive the nights alone this way. After a heck of a lot of research, the only thing helping to keep me awake during the small hours, I came across the wonder that is the Sleepyhead Deluxe. With a hefty price tag, I knew it would take a lot of persuading Dan but I was willing to try anything and in all honesty, I was desperate! Luckily the research and persuasion paid off and the sleepyhead became the answer to our prayers! We finally had a baby that would sleep somewhere other than our chests but because it was too big for the moses basket we decided to place the sleepyhead in the middle of our very small double bed and use it to co-sleep, we may not have had much room but we finally started to sleep again, kind of!

Honestly I thought by 18 months, Emme would be sleeping through the night! I remember complaining when she was around 3 months old because she still woke several times, I was so naive but when you hear people saying their babies are sleeping through from so early on, you can't help but feel sorry for yourself when yours is so far from it. At six months we put Emme in her own cot in her own room but still using the sleepyhead, we hoped that with the sleepyhead staying the same that the cot and room wouldn't be too much of a change and the first night went amazingly well, maybe because we weren't all squished up in one bed, maybe because she didn't have our shuffling, snoring etc waking her and I wish I could say that this was the answer to all our problems but this was just a one-off. 

Every now and again Emme likes to surprise us with a full nights sleep but i'm talking once in a blue moon and the rest of the nights are spent settling her for up to two hours in her room, with a few re-settlings before we go to bed and then eventually, at some point between us going to bed and waking up, Emme will join us for the rest of the night. If she's having a particularly bad night she'll hear us come to bed and ask me to 'come on mummy' and points to the door saying 'dada' because she wants to get in mummy and daddys bed. If Dan's on earlies he needs his sleep, he cannot do his job whilst tired so i'll sleep on emme's floor once she wakes and often we'll end up on the sofa, usually on these nights she wants to play and then when Dan leaves for work, usually between 2.40-5.30am we'll go back to bed for a few hours, which takes a lot of pursuasion.

On the nights that Emme comes into our bed, cuddles into me, stroking my head whilst saying ahh and then falling asleep soundly through until morning, I love co-sleeping and on the whole this is how she sleeps. However on the nights that she wakes crying, she spends the whole night kicking me, pulling my hair, whimpering and shouting cat every time she hears Luna's bell, I want to cry with exhaustion and i plead with Dan that we find a solution the next morning.

So our sleep journey so far hasn't been the easiest and yes I sometimes look at those mum's with babies who have slept through from three weeks old, with green eyes but I know I probably don't have it the worst and every child is different. I know that one day I will miss her tiny arms draped across mine and her tiny feet scratching my legs, I know that i'll miss the warmth of her body against my side and the sound of her breathing quietly next to me and I can't blame her for not wanting to sleep alone, I hate sleeping alone when Dan works nights, so I love that she wants our comfort. However the sleepless nights don't do any of us any good and because we have co-slept for the most part, our bed is where she settles best so we thought her own bed, where she has more room and the freedom to get in and out as she pleases, i'm sure i'll come to hate that part, will hopefully help her to love her own bed and to sleep better.

Whilst she was at her grandparents last weekend, we went to Ikea and bought her the Minnen Extendable bed, which goes from toddler to junior to a full sized single bed in three stages. We put it up ready for her coming home and I have never felt so sick and worried about such a big change. Luckily as soon as Emme saw the bed she climbed straight in and tucked herself and her babies up in it. We took her downstairs to say goodbye to her Nana and as soon as she left, Emme asked to go straight back upstairs to bed she loved it that much! Settling still took us an hour and she stirred a few times, eventually getting in our bed at around 3am.

Fast forward a week a later and unfortunately it hasn't made any difference at all! She has been taking up to 2 and a half hours to settle and still comes into our bed during the night. Maybe I just need to persevere and maybe i shouldn't be giving into her during the night, I'm not sure. She has been poorly and is cutting teeth though so fingers crossed when that's all over she'll start to love her bed, still clinging onto hope here aren't i? I'm hoping that by buying a few extra things for her bedroom and making it into a big deal that she'll be excited enough to want to stay in her bed. I am also considering the Lulla sleep doll but at £50 its an expensive risk so if anybody else has tried this with their child, i'd love to know your thoughts!

How wrong were we to think that our child would ever fit into our routine when she came along and not the other way around?! You know you thought it too!

Is your toddler in a big bed yet? What age did you switch them over?

Love Abbie x

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