Sleeptime Rituals at 18 Months

If you calculate that I have sung Kale to sleep twice a day since he was born (accounting for multiple naps in the early days plus times when Ross put Kale to sleep rather than I, it evens out) , I have sung “You Are My Sunshine” 1080 times, because Friday, Kale was 18 months old.

We’re concentrating on sleep really hard right now, because both Ross and I agree that they way things are just isn’t working. We can’t spend up to 2 hours trying to put Kale to sleep, he can’t continue to only fall asleep in bed with us or in our arms, and we both agree that something has to give. I’ve read in a number of places to pick the thing that bothers you most and work on it, and not to try and fix it all in one go. And it bothers me the most when we are exhausting ourselves to get this kid to bed. So, we’ve started working on getting Kale to fall asleep in his crib this week, with fairly good results. He understands when we say “It’s sleeping time, Kale”, and so the routine has changed. Instead of two books, “You Are My Sunshine”, and an undetermined amount of time snuggling till he falls asleep and then a gentle transfer to the crib, it’s now one book, two short songs (“Twinkle Twinkle” and a single verse and chorus from “You Are My Sunshine”), and then really short cuddling – no more than 15 minutes, and preferably less than 10 – and as soon as he starts to blink and drowse, into the crib he goes. We get him settled in the crib, tuck him in, and we both are trying really hard to walk out while he’s still awake.

Sometimes, it’s so so so so frustrating when you then hear him wake up, stand up, and start to play with the curtains. And so we go back in when that happens, and firmly and quietly place his little butt back into a lying position, get him settled again, remind him “It’s sleeping time, Kale,” and walk out as soon as he’s calm. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. I’m committed to doing this a hundred million times, I guess. It’s time for him to teach himself to go to sleep, to learn to love sleep, to understand the purpose of sleep. I won’t let him cry (although I have seriously considered it a few times recently – especially when we were in High River and it took 2 hours of SCREAMING for him to fall asleep one night. See also: Worst Sleep Night Ever) because sleep isn’t punishment. Sleep is lovely. Sleep is something that every human must have, like air, and food, and water and he should welcome it, and cherish it.

But 18 months is time enough and so here we are.

Where else are we? Well, we aren’t breastfeeding anymore, although I haven’t mourned the loss of that nearly as much as I have mourned the loss of Kale’s hair. Which, although slightly embarrassing, tells me that it was a good time for the breastfeeding to come to a peaceful and amicable end of Kale’s choosing. Kale has a dozen or so words he says, and at least triple that that he understands, if not more. It’s awesome to watch his brain process and choose. I have said it before, and will say it again. I can’t believe we’ve made it here.

12 years ago


  1. I am glad you are working on sleep now. Once he goes to bed it should be time for you and Ross. Grown up conversation, Plan making, working on craft, watch a little TV, etc or whatever you Guys want. Keep up the good work. Consistency, it will work and you will have some time to yourselves.

  2. For some reason, last night was tough getting him down. That being said, I’m really impressed with how well and how quickly he’s taken to falling asleep on his own. Once we have this in hand (4-6 weeks or so?), we start working on getting him to sleep through the night.

  3. We did basically the same thing, at around the same age. I eventually backed off from going all the way back in for a hug/bum pat, to standing in the doorway, to calming him verbally from outside his door, to calling from my room across the hall. The nightwakings went from nursing at each one, to a sip of water and a hug or some walking cuddles; now we go in and fix his blanket if needed and whisper for him to go back to sleep and he does. Anyway, for what it is worth, Colin is our best sleeper at this age and puts himself to sleep happily at nap and bedtimes without fuss. After our routine he climbs into bed and that’s that. Loving it.

  4. About 2 (maybe?) months ago I decided it was time for Moira to start sleeping through the night and I was determined not to give her a night bottle anymore. (I kept up with it for so long because of her digestive problems last summer and to supplement the weight she was losing/pooping out mutiple times a day.) After 2 hours of crying and carrying on the first night I caved. Same thing the second night. I stopped trying. Last week I decided it was time – again – and haven’t had to give her a bottle once. Some nights she wakes up and I go in and rub her back and/or sing a little song (Twinkle Twinkle over here too), some nights she doesn’t need me, one night she asked for some water and went back to sleep. Maybe she understood this time when I said no more bottles? Maybe she was just ready? I dunno – but I’m really freakin glad it is working this time.

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