Toddler Sleep Boot Camp

Since last October, right around the time change in the fall, our toddler has been waking up at 5 am.

Every. Day.

It doesn’t matter the time she goes to bed that night, what kind of nap she had the day before, or what she ate for dinner, every day at 5 am we get a wake up call. At first, I thought it was the change of seasons. But then in the Spring, when we moved the clocks again, her clock stayed the same.

We tried bringing her in our bed, where she would kick and fidget – but never go back to sleep. We tried to sleep in her bed with her, where she would kick and fidget – but never go back to sleep. We gave in to television, and would doze as she watched Nick Jr. on our bed while torturing the dog when he, too, obviously wanted to sleep.

And then it got worse.

This summer, she started waking up at 4:30 am… then 4 am… then 3 am… then midnight. Each time she would stay awake for 2 or more hours- or not go back to sleep at all. We were inconsistent in how we treated the wakings. All the sleeping-advice books told us to put her to bed earlier. She was overtired, they said, and that was leading to earlier wakings. Our doctor’s office suggested melatonin before bed.

For a while, we thought it was the fact her diaper was so wet in the mornings, so we limited her drink at night. It seemed to work – for a day or two.

I admit it, I was beginning to get angry with her, which was totally unfair. I wanted to sleep. I wanted her to sleep. When she gets up early she’s cranky and tired by 8 am. I missed my sweet little well-rested girl.

But now? I have had enough. No more pussyfooting around. I mean business: Sleep Boot Camp – Toddler Style. She wakes before 6 am? Back to bed. No eye contact. No words. No kisses or cuddles. She wakes at 5:45 am? Back to bed. Midnight? Back to bed.

I am not messing around anymore. We’re locking our bedroom door. We’re letting her cry it out.

Bad parenting? Quite the contrary. We’re trying to instill good sleep habits. Good sleep means better development, less stress on the household, and better temperament.

We’re giving her the best gift possible. But let’s be honest…Sleep Boot Camp is going to suck – for everyone.


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Desperation at 4 am

We are at our wits end. No, not because we have a newborn who doesn’t sleep more than 2-3 hours at a time… Believe me, I can handle that.

What I can’t handle is this: Our 2-year-old gets up at 5 am. Every. Day. And lately? The Girl has been getting up at 4 am.

The other day, she woke up at 3:45 ready to start the day.

5 am wake up calls are beginning to look good.

It all began last fall around Daylight Savings Time. Her usual get-up time of 7 am began creeping backward. Television would usually entertain her until we were ready to join her amongst the awake.

7 am became 6 am, and 6 am soon became 5 am. We were confused. What could be waking her up? Was it the change in time? Was it a neighbor’s car? Were we putting her to sleep too early?

Yes, that must be it. We started putting her to bed later, and still, nothing changed. At 5 am she was awake. No snuggling in our bed for more sleep, or playing quietly in her room. She was awake. Up. Wanting attention.

I thought it would change back when we Sprang Forward in the Spring. It didn’t. We began to take more action.

We put in two sets of room-darkening shades and a white noise machine. Still up at 5 am.

You might be thinking, “Well, E, maybe that is all the sleep she needs.” And I would agree with you if not for the fact she has a meltdown by 7 am and falls asleep in the car to daycare by 8 am.

The girl is tired.

And so are we.

And we feel so alone, like no one else we know has this problem.

So, I am asking for advice.

How can we get our toddler to sleep past 5 am?

We’ve begun putting her to bed by 7pm. We’ve tried melatonin (not working). We’ve tried the, “You can’t get out of bed until the sun is out” routine (doesn’t work). And we try (without success) every morning to crawl in bed with her until she falls back asleep.

Please don’t tell me to put her to bed later. Please don’t tell me to try the “Sleep Lady Shuffle.” We’ve tried all of these before. And frankly? Nothing seems to work.

Please don’t tell me it’s “just the way she is” because her falling asleep at 8 am is not normal.

Please tell me you’ve been there before with your kids. Please tell me she will outgrow this. Please tell me what worked for you.

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I am The Luckiest

I’ve been in a mood for weddings. Maybe it’s because my friend Celeste just got engaged, and I am so happy for her and her hubby to be… Maybe it’s because I see my awesome wedding photographer posting wedding photos on his blog… Maybe it’s because I was missing my man while on vacation… but I had to pick this Writing Prompt from Mama Kat this week:

Write about your wedding song. What was it and why did you choose it?

Choosing wedding music in general is pretty tough, but this song… that first dance with your new spouse holds a lot of pressure.

When we were trying to pick a song, we had requirements: It had to be some sort of alt/indie/rock band or artist. It couldn’t be about death, it couldn’t be about breaking up. But that was tough, because all the pretty songs are about death and breaking up.

After pouring over music libraries for hours and running songs and artists through our minds for days, we chose a quiet, lovely song by Ben Folds called “The Luckiest.”

Photo by Douglas Benedict

As the title implies, it’s about feeling like you are the luckiest person alive because you found the one person who makes you wholly happy. It’s about standing by someone and imagining what life would be like without that person only to realize it would not be life at all.

It’s a beautiful song. And though it was a quiet song (I am pretty sure no one heard or knew the lyrics but us) it made us feel good. It made us realize how lucky we are.

And you know what? Listening to these lyrics still brings tears to my eyes.

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What’s Your Reason?

Things have been a bit challenging for me and my husband these past few days. It’s one of those situations when you think to yourself:

“God, it sucks to be an adult and deal with adult things!”

but somehow, you need to just get through it.

And through this, one thing keeps getting repeated over and over:

Everything happens for a reason.

I know it sounds cliche, but I really do think it is true. As my father-in-law reminded me, when one door closes, another door opens.

Yet, sometimes when you are in the thick of all things horrible it is hard to remember that. So, this post is dedicated to a few of those “reasons” for which things have happened to me.

Reason #1 – Missed connections

Back in my single days, there was a guy who kept trying to get me to go out with him. We never could find a date that worked for us, and our plans kept falling through. Days later, I met my future husband. Score!

Reason #2 – I was mugged

Once upon a time, I was working nights at a television station. I was mugged while walking to my car. It wasn’t horrible, but it gave me the push I needed to get off of night work in television, and from there I changed careers into healthcare marketing. Changing careers was one of the best decisions I could have made, as the television industry (well, local news) was changing a lot, and chances are I might have gotten laid off in the months/years to come. Plus, I love what I do now.

Reason #3 -I was robbed

I know, within months of each other, really, I was robbed. I was living in an apartment – just moved there, actually, and my place was broken in to. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to make me reconsider my move into this neighborhood. I broke my lease, said “See ya!” to my security deposit, and months later, my now-husband and I bought our first place. One could argue that it was a bad decision based on the housing crisis a few years later, but buying rather than renting was one of the best decisions we could have made. Plus, our mortgage payment wasn’t much more than what we would have paid in rent.

See, doors closed… and opened.

So what are some of your “Everything happens for a reason” stories?

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Can Formula Rightfully Campaign Against Childhood Obesity?

I’ve never claimed to be a lactation consultant, but I did breastfeed both of my children for as long as I could. Bombarded with coupons from formula companies like Similac and Enfamil while pregnant, I always knew I would breastfeed. These big formula companies’ attempts to lure me with coupons while promoting “breast is best” always felt, to me, like they were saying:

Sure, you say you want to breastfeed, but when you give up, give us a try instead.

It’s almost like they were waiting for breastfeeding mothers to fail so they could swoop in and pick up the pieces.

We all know the benefits of breastfeeding, both for mom and baby, and I am not here to argue scientific research, but when I saw this article about Nestle baby formula partnering with the city of Newark NJ to fight childhood obesity, my casual breastfeeding activism kicked in.


Nevermind the American Academy of Pediatrics advocates breastfeeding for at least 12 months.

Or that the World Health Organization actively promotes breastfeeding.

Or that research has shown breastfeeding to help prevent obesity.

So where does formula fit in?

I don’t find any coincidence that a formula company is spending time and money investing in a campaign in one of the most poverty-stricken cities in New Jersey, which has a very high childhood obesity rate.

Is this good PR for Nestle? Or just bad for New Jersey?

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Not A Good Listener

Here at the Fabulous household, we’ve entered the rationalizing phase of toddlerhood. It is awesome, really. I can do things like offer choices when The Girl demands one thing or starts acting out:

The Girl: I want a LOLLIPOP for breakfast!

The Mom: Okay, you can either have milk, or nothing. What do you want?

The Girl: I want MILK!

And she’s also starting to get the whole “time out” thing, which was not really working for us before. And, by “getting it” I mean, we try to give her time out and she jumps out of her seat the second we are out of sight.

But I think I’ve found the one thing that really concerns her – not being a good listener.

It seems that at daycare, if you are labeled as “not a good listener” it is like being ostracized from the class community. Much like being a leper, I suppose.

And if my toddler is acting out, well, then she is not being a good listener.

I learned this one day when we were talking about school.

The Mom: How was your day today?

The Girl: Ryan is not a GOOD LISTENER, Mommy!

The Mom: What? Really? Ryan? Not a good listener!??

The Girl: I a GOOD LISTENER, Mommy. I am!

Learning that not being a good listener was probably the epitome of a slander statement at school has really empowered me as a Mom. Because now when she’s acting out, or is, well, not listening to me, all I have to say is this sentence:

You’re not being a good listener right now.

And immediately she snaps out of her tantrum or drama-queen moves and starts to listen.

For about 5 minutes.

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My Present to You: Baby Socks That Stay On

Moms and Dads, Ladies and Gents, I present to you the Holy Grail of Childhood Fashion:  A baby sock that stays on.

Why is it so hard to find a baby sock that stays on a baby’s  feet? I’ve tried Carters and Old Navy, Target and Wal-mart, even fancy schmancy Baby Gap socks, and you know what? They never stay on. It seems like I’m always missing one. Sometimes I wrangle shoes on The Boy just so his freaking socks will stay on.

In the summer it didn’t matter so much, but in the winter? The Boy can’t go around without SOCKS for crying out loud.

Okay, so back to the sock that actually stays on. Here’s the deal. I kind of sort of swiped it from daycare. Okay, not REALLY, but this pair of socks found their way into The Boy’s diaper bag, and I have no idea where they came from.

People, this is a problem. Because, being the ONLY pair of socks that actually stay on The Boy’s feet, I want more. I want to stockpile these socks in every size.

Alas, I only have one pair. And despite me examining every stitch on these socks, I cannot find a tag or name to get more.

So will you help me, Internet? Where can I get more of these socks? And do you, fabulous readers, have any suggestions on socks that stay on babies’ feet? Because there’s no way I am washing these puppies every day.

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