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Toddler Sleep Training: Success?

As previously reported, Junior slept poorly as a baby. He would wake up, wail at the top of his lungs, and take a long time to be soothed back to sleep.

Blissfully asleep...until he isn't!

His sleep problem persisted as a toddler. He never slept through the night; he would wake up in his room, howl for one of us, and we would have to stay in there with him until he fell back asleep. Some nights, this cycle would repeat itself two or three times.

Hubby was always adamant that Junior sleep in his own room, while I leaned more towards cuddling. However, Junior tended to kick, so I agreed that his being in his room was best for everybody. But how do we resolve his night wakings so we didn't run back and forth every goddamn night, pardon my French?

After much internet research, I found Dr. Craig Canapari’s website. He claimed that Junior suffered from inappropriate sleep onset association, meaning he associated going to sleep with having one of us in the room. Indeed, as part of his bedtime routine, both Hubby and I take turns reading him a book, and whoever gets the night-night shift has to stay with him until he passes out.


Apparently, the result of this bedtime routine led to Junior waking up briefly during the night, as is normal, and then freaking out because he’s alone, which of course he is, we’re outside playing our PC/PS4 games, duh.

So, to start off the new year, we embarked on an ambitious three-week course to correct his sleep onset association. We decided on this protracted timeline because Junior is very, very stubborn. The strategy we used was the Sleep Lady Shuffle:  
  • Week 1: Bedtime continues as normal. After storytime, parent sits in the middle of the room, reassuring toddler until toddler falls asleep. 
  • Week 2: After storytime, parent sits near bedroom door, reassuring toddler until sleep. 
  • Week 3: After storytime, parent sits just outside (closed) bedroom door, reassuring toddler until sleep.
The result is…not quite perfect, but close enough. Junior still wakes up in the middle of the night, but instead of crying until one of us rushes in, he will either (a) whine a little bit, then sleep again; or (b) get out of bed and try to come into our room. When intercepted, he allows himself to be taken back to his room, where he climbs back into bed and falls asleep again almost immediately.

Last night, 9pm
We deviate from this formula from time to time—e.g. sometimes we’ll just let him come into the bed with us—but overall it’s working well. He usually only wakes up once! And sometimes he’ll even sleep in until 6:45am! Only on weekdays, though; weekends are for getting up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at 5:30am.


TL;DR: Junior has improved sleeping habits thanks to sleep training. 


This post brought to you by Final Fantasy XV, which I wake up in the morning thinking about because it’s so fun! I’ll be on Chapter 8 forever because I have sworn to complete all sub quests before sailing from Caem!

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