Encouraging healthy sleep habits in a toddler leads to a child who is curious, engaging and ready to take on the world because the are well rested and able to learn. The world is their Oyster! Speaking of well a well rested toddler, would you like to see the latest work of art from my youngest daughter? I speak of the little 2.5 year old Toddler Tornado that we affectionately call Katie (or Catherine Grace) if she’s really reaching F5 territory. Well, if you glace below, you’ll see the absolutely lovely purple sharpie creation that dear sweet child left for me on one of my kitchen cabinets and part of the wall while I stepped away for no more than 2 minutes to quickly get myself dressed so we could start our day. Apparently, it was 2 minutes too many and just enough time for Katie to procure said purple sharpie from goodness only knows where and scribbles with a flourish that Picasso would be proud of.
Beautiful isn’t it? Katie was quite proud of it as well until she saw my reaction. Mine was a Home Alone hands on either side of the face reaction while I was saying in quick succession, “Oh My Gosh! OH. MY. GOSH!” I’m fairly certain that she thought I had lost my mind. “Oh Katie what did you do?” I asked as I tried to reign in my emotions and not to sob like a baby cry.
Her response, now deflated of all confidence, “ I drawed for you.” Well, obviously! Rapid fire quick I started asking where did you find the marker…WHERE IS THE MARKER? A clear panic in my voice as I thought what else she could have beautified. Looking back, it wasn’t one of my best parenting moments. But it was PURPLE PERMANENT MARKER! And yes, you can get most of it off with rubbing alcohol and a little elbow grease, but alas, that cabinet and wall will need to be repainted.
It’s been a learning experience for all of us. Now all markers have been gathered and stored on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet. Safe for only about a month or two max knowing Katie. But lives are full of learning experiences aren’t they? And while I have learned to never under estimate a highly intelligent and curious toddler, my dynamo of a toddler has learned quite a bit in her first 2.5 years.
Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits: A New Beginning = A Second Chance
From the moment that my second daughter was born I vowed that I was going to do things differently and not fall into the painful, sleep deprived patterns that we found ourselves in with the birth of my first daughter whom we affectionately call Lizzy. I’ve written about my sleep deprived experience with my first daughter in an earlier post (read all about it HERE) and how I found my way back to the land of the well rested.
So when Katie was born I knew I didn’t want to slide down that slippery slope again. We were going to practice healthy sleep habits right from the start. Now that doesn’t mean that we jumped into sleep training a newborn. That’s crazy talk! But what it does mean is respecting Katie’s need for sleep and being sure to allow her the time to slowly learn how to self soothe and put herself to sleep unassisted. As amazing as it may sound, often times I laid Katie down for her naps awake in her crib and gave her time to try and put herself to sleep. And you know what…most of the time she was successful.
Of course, if ever she was having difficulty completing this task I would step in and help her along. But from the first week of life (and after leaving the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), we slowly introduced healthy sleeping and eating practices. And, well, Katie thrived and grew fast. During the day she took awesome naps and was happy and content. At night, when she woke up to eat I made sure that I continued to foster healthy sleep and eating habits for a newborn and avoiding common nighttime feeding mistakes. And slowly but surely over the course of the next 12 weeks,
Katie settled into a predictable nap time and bedtime routine and would drift off to sleep totally on her own. Better yet, she also now was only waking once a night to feed. Yay for longer nighttime stretches!
But that’s not to say that there weren’t some bumps along the way. Of course with age, sleep migrates from that of a newborn to that of an infant and often that is when families will call me in a panic asking what happened to their awesome easy sleeper.
And our Katie was not immune to the sleep disruption during these changes. But that is a story for another day and I will continue with that part of the story in next week’s blog post. Until then…Sweet Dreams!