When my babies were newborns, I was pretty tired. Getting sleep in 2-3 hour stretches makes for a rough introduction to parenthood. Three years into parenting, I can now say that you do in fact get to sleep again. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are some seriously rough patches along the way.
And we’re in one of them right now. Having recently transitioned my toddler out of her crib (due to frequently climbing out), there have been many nights when I have had flashbacks to my early weeks as a new mom. The frequent wake-ups are back, but this time it’s because my toddler needs to use the potty. Or needs me to fix her blanket. Or needs a tissue. This list goes on and on. And then repeats itself. How many times can one child go potty each night?
While my toddler wakes me up throughout the night (and way too early each morning), I also have a 1-year-old with hit-or-miss sleep habits.
Through the struggles, we have found some tactics that really do work. With the right mix of innovative products (hello Hatch!) and advice from my mom-friend community (and plenty of crowdsourcing via Instagram Stories), we’ve been making progress.
Can you relate to my sleep struggles? Please tell me I’m not alone. If you need some ideas for getting through it, here’s what has been working for us.
There are so many products that moms told me I absolutely had to get. The Hatch Rest was among them, and I’m happy to report that it’s fully worth the hype. If you’re not familiar with the Hatch Rest, it’s a device that checks all the boxes for your child’s sleep and wake needs. It is a sound machine offering several sound options (we like classic white noise or ocean sounds) and a nightlight with various colors to choose from (my toddler loves pink!). With these features, it can change sounds and light colors to signal when it’s time for your child to wake up. Plus, it’s WiFi controlled, meaning you can adjust settings without interrupting your child’s sleep.
There are so many products that moms told me I absolutely had to get. The Hatch Rest was among them, and I’m happy to report that it’s fully worth the hype.
I’ve had and used the Hatch Rest since my 3-year-old was born, and I recommend it to all my mom friends. Recently, Hatch released their 2nd Gen version of the Rest, and it has some great upgrades. If you’re new to Hatch, spring for the newer version to get the most out of your device.
While we use the Hatch Rest for a variety of things, we are currently really into the time-to-rise function. We use this with my toddler and have her Hatch Rest change colors to signal to her that she’s free to leave her room. Until her pink Hatch Rest turns blue, she’s free to lay in bed, play with toys, or read books. This is a work in progress and some mornings are better than others, but it’s an important skill we’re working on. We can pre-set the Hatch Rest so it sticks to the same schedule each morning.
While we use the Hatch Rest for a variety of things, we are currently really into the time-to-rise function. We use this with my toddler and have her Hatch Rest change colors to signal to her that she’s free to leave her room.
I’m so glad we have the Hatch Rest that has this built-in capability along with the many other features. We use the nightlight and sound machine every night, and it’s become a consistent part of my toddler’s routine. We also love the Time-for-Bed Beacon which begins to play gentle music and shows a glowing light to let little ones know it’s time to wind down. We have this start as we begin our bedtime routine.
Additionally, we have a Hatch Rest in my 1-year-old’s nursery, acting as his nightlight and reliable sound machine. It’s a must-have for kiddos aged newborn through toddlerhood. If you’re working on your first or second baby registry, this is worth adding.
Willpower, Even in the Middle of the Night
Imagine you are in a deep sleep: It’s 2 a.m., you’re comfortable, and you’re finally getting some rest. Suddenly, a cute and cuddly toddler creeps in. They miss you! They want to snuggle in bed with you! It’s easy to just let them in, promising you’ll deal with this tomorrow.
I’ve been there. I knew I should walk my toddler back into her bed at 2 a.m. (and 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. when it inevitably happened again), but giving in and letting her hop into bed was just easier. I was tired! This went on for a few weeks, and I knew my best bet was to break the cycle early.
I committed to getting myself out of bed and calmly walking her back to hers each time she visited. It took a few nights and a lot of willpower on my part, but I’m happy to say this broke the cycle.
Here’s a list of things my toddler absolutely insists she needs right at 7 p.m., which happens to be her bedtime: her nails cut, her hair in a ponytail, to go potty five times, a sip of water, a snack, more stuffed animals, less stuffed animals, more books, no the smaller books, wait not that small. You get the picture. The demands are endless. Just like in the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, it’s not going to end. Give in to one demand and you’ll be answering to your toddler leader all night.
I’ve learned to say no. But I’ve also learned what demands to expect, and we work to get ahead of them. For example, before getting into bed, I make sure she’s gone potty, has her hair in a ponytail, and that her nails have been cut (why my toddler is obsessed with having her nails cut, I will never understand).
Come up with a system that works for you, do your best to set boundaries, and stick to them.
Trying Different Things
While a consistent routine is important, it’s also great to be flexible and try different things. When we were struggling, we did a bit of trial and error. This goes for both my 3-year-old and my 1-year-old. We switched up nap times, changed bedtimes, and added elements to the evening routine (like saying goodnight to each stuffed animal or allowing a few books to stay in my toddler’s bed). Eventually, we found a routine that worked.
If you’re going to play around with routines, make sure you give it time to set in. Don’t expect for whatever you’re trying to work from night one. It might take a week or more to see the impact, which is hopefully a positive one.
Bring in Help
When I think of sleep consultants, I think of newborns and infant sleep. I was surprised to learn that there are sleep consultants for toddlers as well. If you are really struggling with sleep and it’s impacting you and your toddler’s energy and health, it’s worth reaching out for help.
While I didn’t hire a sleep consultant, I did get some advice from a sleep consultant friend, and it really did help.
And most importantly, know that you are not alone. There will likely be some rough patches along the way and you will get through them. And you will get your kids to sleep more. I look forward to the day when my alarm clock isn’t my child with her face three inches from my face. That day will come! That is my promise to myself and to the other very tired moms out there.
This post was in partnership with Hatch but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.