You Won’t Believe How We Finally Got Nora to Sleep!

posted by Andrea | 02/19/2015

nora sleeping

I’ve been waiting to write this post for 3 years now… and I’m sure there are at least a few of you who are somewhat anxious to read it!

That said, I should tell you right off the bat that as far as we know, there was no ONE specific thing we did or didn’t do that magically helped Nora to finally sleep. I have a feeling the biggest factor was that she grew up and we could reason with her more effectively. However, I do also think there were a few different factors that contributed in her ability to finally sleep through the night… shortly after her 3rd birthday.

Yes, you read that correctly… she was THREE years old before she ever slept 100% all the way through the night! 

The Back Story:

In case you’ve never read my blog before, let me just share a quick summarized version of Nora’s story.

Nora is apparently “high needs” with some major “sensory issues” as diagnosed by a local Occupational Therapist. We didn’t find this out until she was about 17 months old… and the minute I realized what her issues were and did a little research, the previous 17 months of her life all fell into place and made total sense.

READ :: Our Journey With a High Needs Baby. This post documents everything about Nora’s high-needs personality from about birth – 20 months, along with various tips, tricks, and therapies we tried.

Along with not sleeping, crying all the time, being completely freaked out by strangers, and not letting me out of her site, she also REFUSED to eat anything except breast milk (straight from the source) for the first 21 months of her life… this was also due to her crazy sensory issues and high-needs personality.

READ :: Nora’s Food Journey (and my thoughts after 21 months of nursing). This post documents everything about  Nora’s sensory issues with eating and the food therapy we used to help her get back on track.

Also, here is the 1-Year Update for Nora’s food journey, along with what worked and what didn’t work for us.

In case you can’t tell, she LOVES food now 🙂

nora loves food!

Where We Are Now:

Aside from the eating and the sleeping things, Nora is completely “normal” in my opinion. She is VERY smart, cute as a button, interested in everything, and she will eventually open up to almost anyone if they just give her 10 or 15 minutes to “scope out the situation” and make sure she feels comfortable.

Yes, we have SO much to be thankful for — and I do realize our “issues” are hardly anything compared to what some families go through. But it has still been a rough 3 years with very little sleep for Dave and for me… until recently!

We were thankful to get her eating issues under control by age 2; but since she was born, we struggled daily with getting her to take any type of nap, to go to bed before midnight, and to sleep longer than a few hours on her own before screaming non-stop until one of us would finally give in and sleep in her bed.

However, right before Christmas time (roughly 2 months ago) we made huge progress and she not only started sleeping through the night — but she also started falling asleep ON HER OWN, without us in the room for hours and hours each night!!

Can I get a hallelujah! 

For the last 2 months, she has slept fully through the night (usually from 8:00pm – 7:00am) about 80% of the nights. The other nights, she has only woken up once or twice and has gone right back to bed when we bring her back upstairs. She still doesn’t take naps, but that’s been a non-issue for over a year already.

Some of you might be wondering why we are so excited about our 3 year old “only” waking up once or twice at night… but after 3 years of VERY little, VERY broken sleep and almost never sleeping in the same bed with Dave (I’m totally serious), this is honestly life changing for us. 

How We Got Here:

It was obviously a long process, especially when I think back to how awful the first year of her life was (Dave and I seriously contemplated only having 1 child). I can remember when she was 6 months old and someone told me, “don’t worry, they usually grow out of it by the age of 4 or 5”.

I had all I could do not to break down in tears right there on the spot. I was SO tired and SO overwhelmed after only 6 months. I didn’t know if I could do another 4+ years — and thankfully, we only had to endure 3 years of sleeplessness!

That said, here is a list of the many things we tried in attempts to get her to sleep. This list is not complete as I’m positive I left things out unintentionally — we just tried SO many different things I can’t even remember them all.

I will say that to the best of our knowledge, nothing listed below offered any noticeable change in her sleeping habits. Also, the list is in random order by how I remembered it 🙂

  • Fans and other noise makers versus no fans or noise maker
  • Nightlight versus no night light (multiple different night lights with different brightnesses, colors, etc.)
  • Music playing in her room and on headphones
  • Sleeping in a swing, bouncer, car seat, and stroller
  • Taking long walks and/or drives and transferring her inside
  • Different pajamas
  • Different laundry detergent (in case she was sensitive or allergic to anything)
  • Pacifiers (totally not interested)
  • Swaddled versus not swaddled
  • Letting her sleep with various toys, stuffed animals, blankets, favorite books, etc.
  • Different sheets and blankets
  • Different weighted blankets
  • Different mattresses (we were getting desperate at that point)
  • Different pillows once she was older
  • Humidifiers and portable heaters
  • A heating pad to warm up her sheets before we laid her down
  • Several natural and herbal remedies
  • Melatonin (3 different times — it made her EXTREMELY hyper each time)
  • Essential Oils (this was even before they were a fad and they totally did not work)
  • Full body massages and using special “brushes” to brush her skin
  • Lavender lotions and bubble bath
  • Strict bedtime routines that we followed night after night for months
  • Room darkening shades (these are totally amazing, but still didn’t help her sleep any better)
  • Rocking / feeding her to sleep versus putting her down awake
  • Chiropractors
  • “Regular” Doctors
  • Various Specialists (including an ENT as we thought there might be something with her ears)
  • Occupational Therapists (these did help for her eating issues but not the sleeping)
  • Various changes to my diet (since I was nursing her exclusively for so long)
  • Altering her diet once she was old enough to start eating regular foods
  • Transitioning her to a big girl bed at 10 months old so we could lay with her (this was by-far the BEST decision we made off this entire list!)
  • Adding in various vitamins
  • Eliminating red,  yellow, and blue food coloring from her diet for set periods of time
  • Giving her a liquid iron supplement (this stuff was SO nasty and started turning her teeth gray)
  • Giving her lactose pills to see if she might be reacting to dairy
  • Reading boatloads of books before bed
  • Watching TV versus no watching TV in the afternoon and evening
  • Lots of playing and extra activities to hopefully “wear her out”
  • Staying home and being “low key” to keep her from getting over stimulated
  • And of course… crying it out for HOURS and HOURS

The list goes on…

One of the only things we didn’t try (but seriously thought about) was getting a dog and training the dog to sleep with Nora in her bed.

The only way we could ever get her to fall asleep and stay asleep for the first 2.5 – 3 years of her life was to lay with her. Period. NOTHING else worked… until recently.

What Finally Worked:

#1 BRIBES: 

For starters, about a month before her 3rd birthday, we started talking about how 3 years olds never slept with their moms and dads because they were too big. We told her over and over and over again that once she turned 3, we wouldn’t be sleeping with her in her bed anymore.

Every day for at least a month we talked about how much fun it was going to be for her to sleep in her own bed, all by herself, all night long. We also talked about how happy it would make mom and dad to be able to sleep all night long in our own bed.

I could tell she was excited to make mom and dad so happy — but also that she was pretty unsure about sleeping all by herself. So the “kicker” was that we told her she could have sleepovers at both sets of grandparents’ houses once she learned how to sleep by herself.

That little bribe almost immediately changed her disposition and she started looking forward to turning 3 so she could sleep all by herself.

So literally, on the night of her 3rd birthday, Dave and I put our foot down and we agreed that no matter what, we would NOT sleep in her bed.

It was a couple of very sleepless weeks for us as she is very stubborn. Dave slept on the floor of her room a few times, I slept in the guest bedroom right next to her room a few times… and I even slept at the foot of her bed a few times — but we never slept in her bed with her.

Within about 2 weeks, she was starting to sleep much longer periods of time without waking up and then she magically slept through the night several times during Dave’s Christmas break (so we got even more sleep because we could sleep in!)

She ended up sleeping over night at my parents’ house and Dave’s parents’ house over Christmas break and was THRILLED to have that privilege.

#2: PERSONAL CHOICE: 

We let her keep her door open if she promised she would stay in her bed (it took about a week before she actually stayed in her bed). We also let her keep a little lamp on in the hallway outside her room — along with the nightlight in her room.

I have no idea why, but apparently the light in the hallway with her door open is very comforting to her and every night she opens her door to the exact “right” spot and then she’s satisfied.

She also wanted to sleep WITH a water bottle — like in her bed. So we said fine, as long as she didn’t spill it (it’s a spill-proof cup).  I’m not sure if that’s helping or not, but it certainly isn’t hurting anything.

And finally, she insists on wearing Pull Ups to bed and not big girl undies. I feel like it’s kind of obnoxious that she’s already 3 and still not potty trained at night, but at the same time, if 1 Pull Up every day allows Dave and me to sleep — she can wear Pull Ups as long as she wants!

So… like I said at the very beginning of this post, there is no “one thing” that we did or changed or altered to magically get her to start sleeping through the night.

I honestly think that for us, was HAD to wait for Nora to decide that she was ready to suck it up and just stay in her bed, even if she woke up or didn’t fall asleep right away. Once we could reason with her and “bribe” her into staying in her bed, everything else just seemed to click into place within a few weeks.

My Advice for Sleepless Parents:

Sleep deprivation is awful… yes, I totally get it! There were MANY MANY nights when I got little to no sleep at all — and if I did sleep it was in a chair with Nora on my lap or laying on the floor of her nursery with my arm squeezed through the bars of her crib.

I know for a fact I have never been more tired and completely exhausted than I was the first 2 years of her life. In fact, I still VIVIDLY remember driving to the dentist when Nora was about 9 months old. I was so tired that I didn’t come to a complete stop at the light and was coasting into the intersection. I realized it before I caused an accident, but I remember thinking that if I got in an accident, they would take me to the hospital and I could sleep as long as I wanted to.

THAT’S how bad it was! 

I hesitate to give “advice” to others who are also super sleep deprived because every situation is so different and I know how defeated I felt EVERY time I tried something others said worked for them… and of course, realized it wouldn’t work for us.

That said, here are some very practical words of advice that helped me a lot.

1. Don’t forget to think BIG picture.

This is SOOOO hard to do when you’re in the thick of things, but it was the one thing I kept coming back to time and time and time again when I didn’t know what else to do. I would remind myself that she certainly wouldn’t need me to sleep with her forever — after all, she’d go off to college at some point!

I know 4 or 5 years can seem like an eternity (especially if your baby is only a few months old) but I promise, the time will pass eventually and they WILL start sleeping on their own at some point (even if it’s not until they go to college!)

2. Don’t listen too closely to what others say.

Now, I don’t want to tell you never to take anyone else’s advice — but I will say to “take it with a grain of salt”. Don’t buy into it too much and don’t let yourself feel totally defeated if someone else’s advice doesn’t work for you and your children. Also, DO NOT let someone make you feel like a bad parent because you “can’t get your kid on a sleeping schedule.”.

You know me, I’m super scheduled and organized. I had Simon on a really awesome sleeping schedule within 2 months of his birth — and he’s been sleeping through the night for MONTHS now (even before Nora did). So obviously, it’s not my fault for not being able to get Nora to sleep better. And it’s not YOUR fault or something you did or didn’t do that is causing your child not to sleep either.

3. Don’t feel lazy or like a failure if you “give in” to your children.

There were so many nights when I told myself, “I will not sleep with her” but by 3:00am when we were both totally exhausted and I was so sick of hearing her cry, I had nothing left to do but give in. I often felt like a failure or like I was so lazy for not sticking with my plan — but there is a point when you are just too tired to care or to do anything differently.

Just do what you have to do right now, keep trying new things, and try not to get discouraged (I know, that’s practically impossible).

It’s been a LONG, sleepless 3 years for us — but we made it through and I know you will too! 

Also, I need to take a moment to say thank you to the hundreds and thousands of you who sent me comments, suggestions, ideas, emails, tips, and your sleepless stories in hopes that you might help Nora to sleep.

Although most of the tips and suggestions didn’t work (just being honest!), it was still very encouraging to know I had so much support, encouragement, and empathy from parents around the world. Plus, your sleepless stories helped me realize that we were not alone!

Thank you. Thank you! 

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66 comments

  1. gina

    02/26/2015

    Thank you for sharing your story. So many of us have been through this type of difficulty in our parenting experience and yet there is such a feeling of isolation and failure when your in the middle of it. One thing that struck me was your frustration with Nora wearing pull ups at night. Night training is also one of those development delays that more children experience than is discussed. Its way more typical for young kids to need pull ups until they are about 4 at night so don’t be discouraged. My daughter quickly learned to dress herself in panties when she woke and discard her pull up on her own. It helped her to gain independence but also feel secure at night. You are doing an excellent job!

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  2. Marisa

    02/26/2015

    I’m so glad for you and your family–and especially for Nora! It’s hard to imagine what she was thinking or feeling that made it so difficult for her to sleep alone even as she got older, but she’s fortunate to have understanding parents who are letting her grow at her own pace even while encouraging her try new things. (I remember finding the hall light outside my room extraordinarily comforting when I was 4 or 5, BTW.)

    My son is 20 months and I’ve found that we get best results with him if we try to follow his own timing rather than ours (when to wean, when to give up paci, when to introduce food, when to stop bottles, when to sleep alone, etc.). At every stage I get nervous, “What if he insists on doing this until he 7 or 8?” I think it’s good for me, however, to learn to trust my child and his growing process.

    We’re still cosleeping, and I’ve worried what we’ll do if we decide we need our boy to sleep in his own bed before he wants to. “We’ll bribe him, of course,” said my husband, unconcerned. “We’ll attach sleeping alone to some other big-boy thing he wants to do, and the two will go together when he decides he can handle it.”

    I had to laugh that the first thing you listed was bribing! There’s great wisdom to working with human nature rather than against it!

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  3. Alisha

    02/25/2015

    I have three girls ages 6, 2 and 1. My 1 and 2 year old are 16 months apart and both have sleeping problems. To this day since September 2011 I have not slept longer than 6 hours and a broken up 6 hours at that. Many nights I feel like I’m going to lose my mind. My 17 month old wakes at least once every night wanting to be held, get a new bottle and a clean butt. My 2 year old it is a struggle most nights to get her to sleep or to take a nap. If she doesn’t nap though she will pass out at the dinner table. She tries most nights to sleep with her older sister and if she is not successful she invites herself into our bed. My 17 month old would NOT sleep in her own bed until 15 months old and even still it was only a couple hours….. I’m at a loss. My six year old has always been an awesome sleeper. I just want my bed to myself and to sleep a solid 6 hours. One can dream.

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  4. Shannon

    02/23/2015

    Congrats – that is a huge deal!!! On top of the sleep deprivation, it’s even more difficult when you are a “problem solver” by nature and despite everything you try, nothing works! Enjoy your sleep – must feel so good!

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  5. Melissa Q

    02/22/2015

    Yep, and Amen! We’re still in the midst of sleep deprivation – between my two non-sleepers and my crazy pregnancy anxiety and insomnia, it’s been 7 years since my husband and I have regularly slept through the night. Our best “streak” was the five nights in a row our youngest slept through the night just last month. We’re now at about 2 or 3 nights a week when we get to sleep all night long. Sounds awful, but I’ll TAKE IT after 7 years of not sleeping!

    Your post reminds me of my two favorite mommy-isms — “Ya do what works” and “It won’t always be this way”.

    Thanks for sharing, even when you know some readers won’t understand…

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  6. Veronica

    02/21/2015

    So happy all of you are finally getting restful sleep!

    Just wanted to let you know my sister wore Pull-Ups to bed for a very long time. (I can’t remember how old she was when she stopped, but she wore them long enough that she went to a few sleepovers with them and tried to hide them because she was embarrassed.) Everything else about her is “normal,” but the Pull-Ups at night thing took quite a long time. It’s a hassle, and it’s expensive, but she eventually grew out of them with no lasting side effects!

    P.S. Weirdly enough, we were both comforted by my parents leaving the hall light on at night! I’d completely forgotten about that until I read your post, but we specifically asked for it on every night.

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  7. Courtney

    02/21/2015

    Studies are showing a link between bed wetting and sleep apnea. Our youngest had issues for many years with this. He was 14 before he was dry with any consistency. He did not snore and was not overweight. A sleep study showed that he had sleep apnea. He was non-compliant with the c pap so he had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Follow up sleep study indicated no more sleep apnea. He had been a restless sleeper and woke many times throughout the night.

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  8. Ashleigh Swerdfeger

    02/20/2015

    Interesting~ You have described my son perfectly other than food issues. He loves to eat and is also a very intense nurser. He is almost 3 years old and has rarely slept through the night. I was so amazed when our second was (is) a better sleeper. I have tried everything as well. it doesn’t work. He has so much energy and is always on the go that you develop bad habits just to get some sleep (as someone who seems to need more sleep than my son lol).

    I am going to try this to see if it can help. I am not always fond of bribes and I am sure it can be done for the wrong reason. However, in this case I don’t see the harm in trying it out. Thanks for sharing your tips 🙂

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  9. Laura

    02/20/2015

    This post gives me hope! My daughter is 26 months and has a similar personality and the same sleeping issues. My husband always tells me that she will figure it out by the time she goes to college. Our second daughter is 3 months and is already a better sleeper. I occasionally leave her on the bed while tending to the other kiddo and she will randomly fall asleep! It’s amazing. Glad things are going better for you, send some of that sleepy luck my direction 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Sigh… sorry to hear that your 2 year old still isn’t sleeping through the night (Nora wasn’t either at that age and it’s SO hard). There were so many nights when I was up with Simon and Dave was up with Nora — it was just crazy. Fortunately, it sounds like both our 2nd babies are good sleepers! I can’t even imagine having 2 bad sleepers at the same time 🙂

    Good luck!

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  10. Jenny

    02/20/2015

    By the time our son was 1 year old, he would not sleep in his own bed. Being very tall for his age, he was able to climb out of his crib so we tried to transition to a toddler bed. Didn’t work. Nothing worked to help him sleep. He is our third child and we never had these issues with our other two. We both work outside the home and the sleep deprivation became more than we could deal with so we let him sleep with us. I remember my mom saying “You’re going to regret this!” But we didn’t care. We just wanted sleep, lol. So, yes, he slept in our bed for way too many years but looking back on it, those are some of our sweetest memories with him. Now he is 17 years old and 6’6″ tall.
    I wouldn’t change a thing.

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  11. Reese

    02/20/2015

    You are a good mom. Thanks for your honesty. This will help many others.

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  12. JustAng

    02/20/2015

    I so understand. It took 3 years for our oldest to sleep through. And now we are at 20 months with kiddo #2 and same problem. I remember telling my husband that I was excited to go to the hospital for induction just so I could get a few hours of sleep before labor hit. I pray our second grows out of this. We have tried nearly everything as well. I finally realized that this one issue is simply out of my control…

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  13. Lee Cockrum

    02/20/2015

    So glad to hear that she is sleeping through the night! I think it is so helpful for other people to hear your honesty, so thank you for that!

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  14. Louise

    02/20/2015

    I think you are being a bit hard on yourself – I think you have done an amazing job. My eldest never slept, didn’t come out of pull-ups until he was 7 and had a bottle at night until he was 6. I’ve listened to all the advice (judgement) – about routines etc. I, like you, tried everything. It was only when I accepted the situation and did what worked that the situation improved. My eldest slept in our bed until he was 2. Never went into a cot but straight into a bed.

    He is now a happy 11 year old – without nappies and a bottle! Although he still doesn’t sleep much, he will go to his room and rest so we have an evening. He has been identified as gifted and is doing extremely well at school so maybe it has something to do with that.

    My second child sleeps very well – such a relief to find out it wasn’t me!!

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  15. Kathy

    02/19/2015

    Great to hear that she’s finally able to sleep in her bed and don’t worry about the night time “pull ups”………that time will come and the last thing you want is to be changing wet sheets and pjs’s in the middle of the night. I was very late in getting my daughter off the pull ups at night time as I was going through a very emotionally challenged divorce with a not so nice person and the last thing I needed to be doing in the middle of the night was worrying about changing kids and sheets so I let that slide for ages. I did what I did in order to survive….she was however a great little sleeper. I’m so pleased that you will be getting more sleep now because being sleep deprived is a shocker. You certainly did have a tough introduction into mother hood with eating and sleeping issues and I’m glad that little Simon was easier on you and of course you have another little one. That first introduction into motherhood is HARD that’s for sure for everyone and much harder for some more so than others but as you say if we all offer some advice on what we tried then you can try it, move on to the next, everyone’s here to help. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  16. April

    02/19/2015

    Hi Andrea. So happy about the sleeping. I smiled at the part where you almost decided to have only one child, because I experienced the very same feeling. I remember thinking “there is NO WAY I could ever go through this again!” But I am really glad that I changed my mind. ☺

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  17. Danielle

    02/19/2015

    Hi Andrea,

    I had to laugh when reading your post about the “bribes”. Not too get too technical, but as a behaviour analysis in training, you totally managed to used positive reinforcement and not a bribe. The difference is you delivered the reinforcement of sleeping at the Grandparents’ house after and not before she slept alone, like a bribe would have been (which in the field is the best way to train for behaviour!) so bravo to you and Dave!

    Can’t wait for your announcement tomorrow,

    all the best to you and your family.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well good. Looks like Dave and I did something right this time 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement!

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  18. Ann

    02/19/2015

    I laughed when I saw all of your pictures of Nora sleeping. We too, have one in our house that has sleeping issues. He turned 3 a month after Nora and is now sleeping through the night but it still takes 2 adults 4-5 hours every night to get him to fall asleep. We have SO many pictures of him sleeping! Every time he fell asleep we were so giddy that we took a picture! When one looks through our albums, you’d think he sleeps all the time! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know. We have almost NO pictures of Simon sleeping because he only sleeps in his crib, he lays down before he’s actually sleeping, and we are never around when he IS sleeping. I guess I could take a picture of him on the monitor 🙂

    Nora, on the other hand, it was such an effort to get her to sleep that we were always snapping pictures of her once she was finally sleeping. Plus, we were ALWAYS there with her while she slept!

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  19. Michelle

    02/19/2015

    Thank you for this post. It comes at a perfect time when I am exhausted from my 10 month old who often wakes up. I think he just misses me at night. Other times it’s a number of other things. This is a helpful reminder that he will get there at some point. And fortunately he is cute and good company on sleepless nights.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, it’s so hard… and I know nothing I can say will make it any less hard. But you’re right, at least they are cute 🙂

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  20. Melinda

    02/19/2015

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the pull ups a night. I think my daughter was past 3 before she started wearing big girl undies at night (my son is 4 and still wears pull ups at night).–most children are not night time potty trained until they’ve been daytime potty trained for quite some time. If the pull ups are wet when she wakes up in the morning, then she still needs them. If she wakes up dry the majority of the time then it might just be a comfort thing and I’m sure the day will come, as it did with my daughter, when she no longer wants “the baby pants.”

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  21. Amber

    02/19/2015

    All I am thinking, Andrea, is “How the heck did you make two more babies??” Lol! So glad Nora is sleeping well now. Thanks for the honest post!

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  22. Jennifer M

    02/19/2015

    “I feel like it’s kind of obnoxious that she’s already 3 and still not potty trained at night, but at the same time, if 1 Pull Up every day allows Dave and me to sleep — she can wear Pull Ups as long as she wants!” Hi, night time bed wetting is not an uncommon for children. I know many children who continue to do wet their beds, including my daughter (she is also has been diagnosed with sensory issues). We have tried every trick in the book and have seen Doctors. Some children are very deep sleepers, and just don’t wake up. Or it just may take their bodies longer to mature. And sometimes it’s plain ol’ genetics. Please try and not to feel that you are alone or it is unusual. Hang in there! =)

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  23. Kristin

    02/19/2015

    Re: Bribing. I don’t think you should feel bad about this!! Bribing is actually paying someone for illegal behavior. What you are describing is just rewarding good behavior– nothing wrong with that!!!!!

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  24. Priyanka

    02/19/2015

    I am so so happy for you! I could in the past, like many other parents who have sleepless toddlers empathize with your sleep-deprived situation. And now with Nora finally STTN, I feel happy for you and rejoice with you ☺.

    With my 2.5 year old, are in the process of getting to the STTN miracle, I’ll report back when I can say that he is finally doing it too 🙂 Would you mind doing a poston how you got Simon on a schedule? I am 6 weeks away from meeting our daughter and want to make sure that I do everything right for her, and if she is still a bad sleeper like her big brother… just my luck 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Priyanka — and congrats on the baby on the way!

    As far as getting Simon on a sleep schedule — I really didn’t have to DO anything. He’s just been a good sleeper from the beginning! We did try to initiate an early bedtime as soon as we felt it would work (and it miraculously worked!) Other than that, I think just having 2 years of mothering experience and dealing with everything we dealt with for Nora prepared me to “go with the flow” a lot more and not stress about his sleeping as much.

    So no, I probably won’t be writing a post about what we did for Simon, because I’m honestly not sure what exactly we did or didn’t do that seemed to work for him, and I don’t like giving parenting advice that’s so subjective for each individual child.

    I do know one thing though, even if your next baby is a horrible sleeper, it won’t feel as horrible or as bad as it did the first time around. YOU will naturally have more confidence the 2nd time around and that will translate into everything being easier and less stressful (at least that’s how it worked for me!)

    You’ll do great, I know it!

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  25. Julie@frugallyblonde

    02/19/2015

    My son had sleeping problems when he was young, too. By the time he was 11 months old he would climb out of his crib and then go to sleep on the floor. He did it for about a month and then we bought him a adult mattress and put it on the floor. He never had any problems again. I think each kid just has their own thing that they like and it sometimes takes time to find it.

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  26. Maggie

    02/19/2015

    holy cow! I am exhausted by just reading what you went through! It’s amazing how every kid is so different. We got lucky and our daughter has been a great sleeper ever since she was just a fee months old. Now she is 2 and I honestly cannot remember last time we had to get up in the middle of the night! Now we have a second girl on the way, due in May and I am hoping we get just as lucky. I am glad your little boy is a lot easier in the sleep department!

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  27. Rachel

    02/19/2015

    That’s great! I remember sleeping beside my daughter’s crib holding her hand through the bars. I love all the pictures you have of Nora sleeping. They document the major accomplishment each time she fell asleep.

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  28. Lea

    02/19/2015

    A three-year old in a pull up at night – seriously, no big deal! I really don’t like how society today pushes and pushes to get our kids potty trained right away. I also totally get how having two in diapers means you feel like all you do is change diapers but seriously, a pull up at night at three is definitely NO BIG DEAL.

    Thanks for sharing your story and I’m so glad you all are sleeping through the night now! What a relief!
    Lea

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  29. Abby

    02/19/2015

    That is great news! It also gives me hope for my 18 month old will one day sleep on his own, so his dad and I can get some sleep. It is hard to see the big picture when you are in the middle of sleep deprivation.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Abby — and honestly, I felt like most days it was nearly IMPOSSIBLE to see the big picture. I had to literally force myself to think about her going off to college some day to realize that we would eventually make it through. Good luck to you and your babe as well. It’s SO hard!

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  30. lydia @ frugaldebtfreelife

    02/19/2015

    This is such great news! I am so happy for you. Prayer girl, don’t forget that prayer works.

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  31. muriel

    02/19/2015

    Both my kids insist on a water bottle too. Both of them were a challenge on sleeping & we also tried so many different things (and had a lot of tears for them & us). Getting sleep again is life changing! Congratulations!

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  32. Bonnie

    02/19/2015

    I’m glad that Nora is sleeping much better. God’s blessings to you and your family.

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  33. Crystal

    02/19/2015

    All I want to say is I am really and I do mean REALLY happy for you and Dave! Now get lots of sleep before the new baby gets here!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Awww.. thanks so much Crystal! I was so excited to share this post today — not only because of the relief it has been for our family but also in hopes that it might help other sleep-deprived parents out there.

    And for the record, Dave and I both slept for 7 uninterrupted hours last night 🙂

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  34. Sandy

    02/19/2015

    As happy as you were to write this post, I think I’m just as happy reading it and rejoicing in this major milestone Nora has finally achieved. I can’t even begin to imagine what the past 3 yrs. have been like for you, but am thankful that your sleep deprived nights are finally coming to an end. Definitely a cause for celebration and for what it’s worth, I think bribery is the perfect tool for helping motivate strong willed children. My second child was VERY strong willed…did not take a pacifier and slept most of the first 9 mos. of his life in a swing, which back in those days was NOT battery operated. I had it easy compared to you! He was also three when I finally found the right ‘bribe’ for him to give up diapers and wear ‘big boy’ underwear. He was MORE than ready….just being his usual strong willed self, knowing that the situation was something HE controlled. One day he saw a big truck in the store that he wanted in the WORST way and I gladly bought it, put it up on his closet shelf where he could see it and told him that he could have it as soon as he gave up his diapers. In less than a week he made the decision to give up diapers and never had a single accident, proving to me that he was more than ready and was just being stubborn. Helping strong willed kids find something they want MORE than the thing/habit you’re trying to break is HUGE. It’s life changing when you feel you can finally reason with them and then empower them with choices, letting them feel they have some control, which ultimately is what it’s all about….at least it was with my son. After the potty training incident, I found that giving him choices (and yes bribes too!) in as many areas as I could was very helpful and while there were times he didn’t have a choice and didn’t always like it, there were fewer meltdowns . I hope this is just the start of Nora feeling empowered to make more choices that are good for ALL of you!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Sandy!

    Nora is VERY verbal and is quite easy to communicate with — so although she is super SUPER strong-willed, her ability to community well from a very early age has helped tremendously. We are (obviously) making huge strides and I do think she is feeling more and more empowered — maybe sometimes too empowered for her own good!

    I’ve always said I wanted independent children… so it looks like I got one!

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    Brenda Reply:

    I would not call this bribery. I call it reasoning. As adults, we are bribed by money to do extra at work… We live in a rewards system society. I think its fine to use the same system with the kids, especially with something as important as sleep and eating.

    As a mom, I always figured if my kids were happy and healthy, I was successful. We need to stop stressing out about being a pinterest-perfect parent.

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  35. Holly Moran

    02/19/2015

    So glad she is sleeping through the night! What a huge relief for y’all. We used bribery to get my oldest to stop sucking her thumb at SIX years old! She wanted a pink room–so a pink room she got–as soon as she stopped sucking her thumb. I usually say we used a reward system rather than bribery–but whatever. It worked!

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  36. MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    02/19/2015

    Ok, my oldest is 7 and she JUST started being able to fall asleep on her own!! So you are doing great! It’s funny, though, we also had to do the door open/light in the hall thing to get her started. We have been doing this for a little over a month. She has had some setbacks but it’s moving along. I’m Glad it’s working for you now, because we have had some backsliding in her behavior at school because it’s taking a long time for her to fall asleep on her own and she still wakes up super early.

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  37. Rebecca

    02/19/2015

    We did not have near the issues that you had with Nora but we do have a VERY specific bedtime routine that we must follow. Door in a specific place, light on just right, we must have ice in our water jugs, both the little boys sleep with their heads at the foot of their beds, books read in the same way. Who cares! They sleep!
    Sleep deprivation can be scary!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — our bedtime routine is pretty specific now too (but it works, so who cares!)

    Every night, I have to tuck her in the same way, then open the door the same way, turn the nightlight and the hall lamp on, and then we go through a whole “good night, sleep tight, love you, love you too” routine that’s actually pretty cute. 🙂

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  38. Eileen

    02/19/2015

    Congratulations to all of you! As I read the whole story (I was semi-familiar with her having a sleeping issue, but this is the first time I saw it all in one place), I kept thinking ‘thank goodness they didn’t allow her in their bed’. I was thinking that would have been a much more difficult transition (not that this one was easy!) . Were you ever tempted by that?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh Eileen, she slept in our bed SOOOOOOO many times — especially when she was really tiny and I was SO sick of sleeping in a chair or on the couch with her.

    We eventually put a queen size bed in her tiny little nursery because that was much more comfortable for Dave or I to sleep with her than on the previous twin bed 🙂 The main reason we didn’t have her sleep in our bed once she was older was because she moved CONSTANTLY all night long and would literally wake up every 30-40 minutes — so neither Dave or I would sleep. If one of us slept in Nora’s room with her, then the other person could sleep.

    If she would have been still and content to sleep in our bed, I have a feeling that’s what we would have ended up doing more long-term. But you’re right, it probably would have been a more difficult transition. Either way, she’s sleeping now — praise the Lord!!

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  39. Ali G

    02/19/2015

    I can’t imagine being that tired all the time! Congratulations for you and your family surviving!
    Regarding the Pull Up at night, my 8 year old and 6 year olds still have to wear Goodnites to bed and we take them to pee before we go to bed and we still have bed wetting issues. They are simply bed wetters. We’ve been told there isn’t anything medically wrong with them and that they should out grow it between 12 and 14 years of age. Ugh. I’m very tired of wet sheets and we’ve developed our coping mechanisms but I’m anxiously awaiting their teenage years. 😉

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    susie Reply:

    One thing that worked for my 7 year old was to wake her up at midnight and set her on the toilet till she went pee and she always did. We did this for about a week and it stopped the bed wetting. She still sleeps all night, once and a while she will wake up to go pee. With one of my older bed wetters I had an alarm and it would always go off about 12- thats why I picked midnight.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Well good to know Ali! Now I don’t feel so bad about the 3 year old sleeping with a PullUp. She’s just so dang stubborn and every morning she comes downstairs and tells me exactly how many times she peed in her PullUp at night 🙂

    So obviously, she’s totally conscious of what she’s doing, but you better believe I’m not willing to change wet sheets EVERY single night just because I’m too stubborn to let her wear a PullUp 🙂 I’m guessing she’ll grow out of it once she decides she wants to sleep over at a friend’s house!

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    Ali G Reply:

    Through trial and error we’ve discovered it’s completely unconscious for our two. If we take them to the bathroom too late, because say I fell asleep on the couch, we usually find one of both has a wet but not leaky Goodnite.

    I couldn’t take getting up every night or every couple of nights to change the sheets so I started having my son get a towel from the linen closet himself to cover the wet spot so he could go back to sleep. That was when the bed wetting was at it’s worst. It’s been quite a while now since either once has leaked through the Goodnite. Phew!

    It kills me that they can leak through even when we take them to pee, and they do every night, and we limit fluids after supper. Nights we have soup can be dangerous though. 😉

    It’s interesting how every kid has their own quirks that we as parents have to work through, and what seems unimaginable to one parent becomes quite easy and run of the mill for another.

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    Kristin Reply:

    My son is almost 5 and just a couple months ago he showed an interest in not wearing diapers at night. He is dry now about 80% of the time. But we put this bed mat on his bed and it is great. If he does have an accident it holds all of it.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002DMPFS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kristin, we actually have those mats too 🙂

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    MomofTwoPreciousGirls Reply:

    When we were night training both girls I kept 2 sheets and protectors on their beds. So protector over the mattress, sheet, another protector and another sheet. If there was an accident I could easily remove the top layer so we could all get back to sleep faster.

    Again with my oldest (7), she is perfectly fine at night but still sometimes has issues during the day. She gets so involved in whatever she’s doing she doesn’t want to stop for potty breaks.

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    Angela Reply:

    One of mine wore pull-ups at night for ages. Finally, we put him to bed without a pull-up, but we’d slip one on him when we went to bed while he was sound asleep. It helped him think about sleeping in underwear and not to be dependent on the pull-ups quite so much since he didn’t realize he had one on while sleeping until morning. One night we forgot to switch him out of underwear into a pull-up and he was dry! So we had a party, used those life-saving wet pads and never used another pull-up! He had many accidents, but he quickly improved and learned to RUN to the bathroom. It was the right time so it worked.

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    Mary in Maryland Reply:

    Trying to comfort me when my boy was still bedwetting at 14, our pediatrician said that his brother had been sent home from basic training because of bedwetting. When our boy was 5, I devised a system with a rubber pad topped by blanket and a sheet. But they were only about a yard wide stretched over the center of the bed and tucked under the sides. I got by washing his pajamas and the small pieces, which fit with doing laundry twice a week. When he hit six years, I taught him to change the pads himself.

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  40. Paulette

    02/19/2015

    One good thing comes from our sleep deprivation years. TOTAL appreciation…for sleep, and for what others go through. I had many years of this with 4 girls, but not for the same reasons. I thought I would be sleep-deprived forever. Hated those stories from mothers who had children who slept all night from the beginning and always wondered what I was doing wrong. Felt like a failure. So happy for you and Dave.

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES — to everything you said in your comment!

    I’m 100% positive that if Nora would have been one of those Angel babies who slept through the night perfectly, I would be a VERY judgement parent who basically thought I had everything under control. It would have been ugly 🙂

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