This is the third time I have rewritten this post about sleep regression and my son, who we are now calling “The Reincarnate of the Great Houdini”. The third draft, because every time I finish putting my thoughts down something changes and I have to completely reassess the situation. Here is what happened: Without any warning at all, Small Boy decided that he couldn’t fall asleep unless I was present in his room. In order to make sure that I didn’t sneak out at any point he would stay awake, sucking on his pacifier like Maggie Simpson and fondling his blankie with his eyes locked on me…for hours. Any attempt on my part to leave was met with screams of terror. Finally, after 3 hours of sitting in the dark one night I tiptoed out of the room but the floor creaks and he woke up so angry and offended that he vaulted out of his crib and landed on the floor. Without going into the back and forth details, let me assure you that he became an expert at scaling the bars of his crib after that moment, and toddled out into the living room in order to fling his stuffed elephant at me to show his displeasure. Huzzybee and I started to question the wisdom of putting him into that weekly gymnastics class.
That was last week. We decided the best thing to do would be to put him in a toddler bed so he wouldn’t hurt himself. We also reasoned that if he could climb out of bed he may also want to climb into bed. He slept on the floor behind his door that night, and the next night. At “nap times” he devoted all of his energy into thoroughly trashing his room. Finally able to express his rage and resentment towards diaper changes, he pulled all of his wipes and diapers out of their basket and attempted to stuff them all into his diaper pail. He pounded in his bedroom door and cheerfully yelled “Oh no, Momma!” He slipped out of bed as quietly as a cat and shuffled into our bedroom at all hours. One morning he came in at 5:30 and yelled next to my ear “FELL DOWN!!” I didn’t fully fall asleep for the duration of our toddler bed experiment.
Finally, after another two-hour battle to get him to take a nap I snapped. “Put the crib back together – I have HAD IT!!!” I screeched at Huzzybee. In record time we had the crib slapped up, the baby zipped into a sleep sack, pacifier inserted into mouth, lights out, and 10 minutes later he was sleeping soundly.
With some hindsight, I think we should have done this in the first place. We completely underestimated the consequences of giving a 20-month old toddler so much freedom so quickly. My only regret is that we gave him the freedom of a toddler bed and then took it away again. I felt guilty about the sleep sack, which I seemed a bit like zipping him into a straight jacket, until I realized that he really didn’t seem bothered by it. The dark circles under his eyes disappeared, and I began to sleep soundly.
**I got the idea to put him into the sleep sack from reading this post from The Sleep Lady while I listened to Small Boy play with his toys at 2 a.m. At first the idea of restraining him bothered me until I realized that it was more dangerous for him to be walking around the house while we were asleep. For anyone else dealing with an exceptionally tall and limber baby who doesn’t have the emotional maturity to be set free in a bed I would suggest trying this before ditching the crib all together. This method works for us, but it may not work for others.