Toddler Sleep and the Big Girl Bed Saga

Why yes, I am talking about sleep again! I feel like my life is ruled by kids sleep. I was reading back over my last sleep post about how we trained Milla at 9 months and over the time since then we have had a few regressions and retraining. Plus a new baby who, in most ways, is completely different. But I’ll save the Dash sleep update for another time.

Milla started to want us to lie next to her cot a few months before Dash arrived. I assume she could sense there was change afoot, or maybe it was just the 18 month regression (seriously when isn’t there a regression)? So we tried to do what we could to make the new sibling transition easier on her and stayed with her to fall asleep each night (which can take an hour or more some nights – she just can’t switch off!) But after a little while of Dash being with us we had to get a bit tough and let her do a bit of crying in her cot (which is pretty awful to deal with every night) but I couldn’t keep spending my nights on her floor, especially as she had been so good at self settling for so long.

Anyway after about a week of that she was all good and happy to go to bed alone again. She was even great when we moved to our new house – no problems going to bed alone in her new room. Then in December she started getting upset about going into her cot again. To get her to nap I was having to lie down in my bed with her. In all my wisdom, I assumed this meant perhaps she was ready to move out of the cot and into a big bed. Oh how wrong I was!

In hindsight we probably should have discussed the change before it happened (although we’d mentioned a big girl bed plenty of times) and even taken her shopping with us to involve her in the decision making. I think a big thing that makes Plum dig her heels in is feeling like she doesn’t have control of the situation. The first night she downright refused to get in the bed and had to come back to our bed to fall asleep then we transferred her. She slept the whole night in it till about 5am. Success (maybe?)! The next night we did the same however she woke around 4am upset and I tried to lie down in the bed with her to comfort her but she realised where she was and chucked a wobbly. Back to our bed. That was Christmas morning.

Well Christmas was a crazy day with lots of people over for lunch, lots of presents and overstimulation. Plum did so well to make it through the day without a nap but was losing it by the end of the day. I ended up holding her to sleep then we put her in her cot (which we’d moved back into her room as she clearly was rejecting the bed). The night that followed was awful. She woke up after every sleep cycle and was hysterical. She demanded that she lie on the couch with both Miles and me. Each time she fell asleep we took her back to her room and it would happen again. We tried to tell her just to come into our bed but she was so far gone with over tiredness that she couldn’t even listen to us (I’m not even entirely sure she was awake but she was certainly loud :/). By 1am when this happened again she demanded that the three of us all move to the couch to sleep. Super comfortable! :/ On top of that, I was also still getting up to breastfeed Dash twice overnight as well. It was the worst night of sleep I think we’ve had with her.

We had to bite the bullet and go back to her crying in the cot to get her to self settle again. It took about a week (and the first couple of nights were over an hour of it – so so hard to do) but she settles and sleeps through in the cot again. She still has a bit of a half hearted objection to it each night but that’s about it.

We also changed up her bedtime routine slightly so we now have lots of stories on the couch with a bottle after bath time (with Dash asleep so she gets our full attention) and bedtime is now 7pm instead of 6:30pm.

I guess this brings me to – what do we do now? Plum’s reasonably small bedroom now has a double bed in it which is super pretty and covered in toys but she won’t get in it (save for one nap time she decided to sleep there); and a cot right next to it which she chooses to sleep in. I guess all we can do is wait for her to be ready to go into the bed in her own time – perhaps the big double bed is too scary for such a small person coming from the safety of a small cot.

We’re going on our first family (with both kids) holiday in Feb to Noosa. Dash is going to be in the travel cot and Plum is planned to go into a single (bunk) bed. I have no idea how it’s going to go and quietly I’m a bit nervous about spending our nights with bedtime battles. I’m hoping as it’s neutral territory it may be fine and may even show her that a big bed is not scary. But I’m also thinking perhaps I should try and push the idea of day sleeps in her bed before we go to get her used to it.

So crazy, most parents are dealing with toddlers getting back out of the bed multiple times a night and we can’t even get her to go into it in the first place!

Anyway Plum is not yet 2.5 so we are a bit early to be changing to a bed. Stay tuned for updates and please send me any tips if you’ve done the transition successfully! I have no idea what I’m doing!

Yours in sleep deprivation,


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