Category Archives: Toddlers

How We Settle Our Energetic Toddler Down At Bedtime

Anyone who knows us, knows we’re not big on routines. They just don’t work for us. I’m guessing we can’t be the only people in this world that don’t mesh with routines. Drake is no exception. We attempted routines over and over for the first year and a half of his life and  they just weren’t working the way all the books and pediatricians said they should. Just one more reason why I don’t believe one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to raising children. We manage just fine without strict routines. Obviously there are things that repeat daily in Drake’s life (i.e. brushing his teeth twice a day, bath time every evening, eating three times a day, etc.), but that’s as close to routine as we get. You’re probably wondering how we get anything done this way. Funny thing, we accomplish more this way.

One thing that we struggled with though was bedtime and how to get Drake to settle down at night. We did the whole bedtime routine for a year and a half and he still didn’t go to settle down. For a year and a half we  had set nap times and a specific bedtime routine consisting of bath time, teeth brushing, Story time, cuddles and sleep was supposed to come after that. It never did. My son just doesn’t like to sleep. It took us a while to figure out what was causing him to stay up or wake up in the night and not go back to sleep. In the process we learned several things that help him settle down and wake up less and we’re still learning and trying new things.

Drake at Naptime

Drake at Naptime

Overtired = No Sleep
Most of our friends and family suggested that we drop his second nap and keep him up and active. I imagine this is good advice for most people. Problem is Drake didn’t sleep from nine or ten at night until six or seven in the morning. He still doesn’t sleep that way. He sleeps about eight hours, sometimes ten. Needless to say as new young parents we listened to everyone. We dropped his second nap and didn’t let him sleep passed 5:00 PM. It was brutal and Drake was more cranky. It didn’t take us long to drop the advice and try it our own way. We realized he wasn’t ready for just one nap a day. So we reintroduced his second nap and decided no sleeping after 6:00 PM was more reasonable. His naps usually only last about one to two hours, sometimes even less.

The Lesson Learned: A child who is overtired will not be able to settle down and go to sleep.

Grumbling Tummies Keep Kiddos Awake
This one was another one we learned pretty quick. Even at two Drake doesn’t always tell us when he’s hungry. We learned how to read his hunger cues long ago, but we’d often heard that you shouldn’t eat before bed. I did a lot of research on this because I realized Drake was often peckish just before bed. What I discovered was that there is plenty of evidence to support and oppose that theory. So I did what I thought was best. About 45 mintues to an hour before bed, if Drake is peckish, we give him a light healthy snack like apple slices dipped in peanut butter or a Happy Squeezy which is an organic fruit and vegetable puree. This usually keeps him full through the night. We found a lot of great tips and bedtime snack ideas on the blog Super Healthy Kids.

The Lesson Learned: Make sure your kiddo isn’t hungry around bedtime. Sometimes a small snack makes a big difference.

Sleeping Environment Preferences
I know what the books and the experts say. Keep the room quiet, dark and cozy. That worked great when he was an infant. Once he turned one, that didn’t work so great anymore. Drake doesn’t like the dark. He’s good if it’s a dimly lit room, whether by a lamp or moonlight (which we don’t get through our windows in the big city). So, we keep one lamp on at night in our room. Now for the quiet part. Drake does not always relax when it’s quiet. He tends to enjoy filling the silence with his voice. He’s not one to be bored to sleep. We found having background noise whether it’s a favorite TV show or a favorite music CD playing, helps him fall asleep. Sometimes just hearing our voices singing or reading works, if he’s especially tired. Now for cozy… Drake gets overheated very quickly. Our room is above our building’s laundry room. The pipes are all right below our floor. This heat in this room year round is unbearable. We have to regulate the room temperature with our air conditioner. I think this may have lead to Drake developing a preferene for a cooler environment, which is what mom and dad like too.

The Lesson Learned: Kids have preferences too. Not every child likes the Quiet, Dark environment so often recommended.

Relaxing An Energized Toddler
Drake is energetic, even after getting the environment right, making sure his tummy’s full and so on.He just loves to play, no matter how tired he is. I call him my little energizer bunny. It took us a really long time to find things that relax him. One of the first things we tried was lavender bath soap and bubbles. That really didn’t do much since he gets so excited and energized for bath time. We tried a book before bed, but he’s a bookworm like his mommy and it excites him.

The first thing we found that settles him down is cuddling. He likes when mommy and daddy snuggle with him before sleep. Sometimes, though, he just wants to play with us instead of sleep. I started stufying herbalism when I was in high school and picked it back up again about a year ago. My husband and I both knew the calming properties that Lavender has to offer and we just so happened to have lavender essential oil and dried lavender. So we tried three things:

1) We put a single drop of lavender oil on Drake’s stuffed dragon, called Draggy’s tail. Whenever our little dude is tired he rubs the tail of his dragon under his nose. This would probably work for anyone who’s child sleeps with a stuffed animal or a special blanket.

2) We burned lavender essential oil in our oil burner about a half hour before bedtime. This fills the room with the smell of lavender and even makes me and Colin a little drowsy.

3) We placed a satchel dried lavender under our pillows. Sometimes Drake pulls it out takes a whiff and then puts it back, but often it just stays there and keeps us all calm.

The Lesson Learned: Lavender is magic! Sometimes we need a little extra help settling down.

That’s what works for us. We haven’t had any more sleep trouble. What works for you guys? What tips and tricks do you have? Do routines work for your kids? Let us know below in the comments.


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Drake Is 2 Years Old!

Drake blowing out his Birthday candles.

Drake blowing out his Birthday candles.


Drake is 2 years old!!
On December 5, 3013, my little boy turned two years old. It’s hard to believe that two years has already passed since that cold, rainy day I brought him home from the hospital. I am so proud of everything he’s accomplished in the last two years. He’s an amazing little boy; smart, handsome and incredibly kind-hearted.  Colin and I are truly blessed to have him. He has given us hope for the future of this world.

I often hear first time parents say things like “after this I’m getting my tubes tied” or “I can’t handle being pregnant again”. Things along those lines. Whether they mean it or not is another story. Colin and I, however, feel completely the opposite. From the moment I got pregnant to now we’ve never once considered not having more children. If anything Drake has made us want more children a whole lot more. He is a great kid and he’ll be a great big brother.

So the Parties…
Yes, parties. Well, I wouldn’t call what we did on the day of his brithday a party. We had dinner as a family, with the rest of my family (even my aunt came from DE), and we had a small cake. The kids got to play all day and that was about it.

His actual birthday party was the Saturday after his birthday. We decided on a Spider man theme after about two months. We were going to go with a Rescue Bots theme (which is favorite TV show), but we would’ve had to get the decorations and favors online. We didn’t have enough time for that. This was all very last minute. So his favorite super hero seemed like the next best option. We didn’t have as big of a party as we did for his first birthday. This one was just in our house. We invited a few cousins and family friends. There was about six kids including Drake.  He had a lot of fun running around with them. He even learned how to sing the Happy Birthday song. He’s been singing it ever since (including right this moment). Now if only I could get him to say “Merry Christmas”.

Drake and his Cousin Gabbie, his best friend in the world

Drake and his Cousin Gabbie, his best friend in the world

Drake Update…
So at 2 Drake is really well developed. He’s brilliant, we think. Since he was born, he’s hit all his milestones early and he still continues to do so. He has been walking now since he was 11 months old and he’s recently started trying to frog hop. I’m assuming that’s the first step towards jumping. He’s been speaking in full sentences since about 20 months. He started with 2 or 3 words phrases at 18 months and now he’s got the gift of gab. He’s always talking. He sings too. He knows the lyrics to the songs from all his favorite shows and movies. He’s even learned the lyrics to a song that he likes from a band called Icon For Hire. He’s exhibiting early signs of musical ability. He’s been mimicking my melodies on the piano, sloppily, but noticeably. I think if his hands were bigger he’d be able to copy exactly what I do. What else… oh, he counts to 20 and he knows his ABC’s. He’s very polite; always saying please and thank you. His best friend is his cousin Gabbie. His favorite TV shows are Rescue Bots and Spider man. Drake’s favorite movies is Wreck it Ralph and Nightmare Before Christmas. He’s a eclectic with music like his mommy. And lastly, he’s picky, not because he doesn’t like the food we give him but because he just always wants to play. When i say he’s picky I mean he’s picky about where and when he eats.

So yeah, we are going to try again with potty training. We started when he was 18 months but he lost interest and we don’t do force. He’s still a co-sleeper and we’re in no rush. He’s taken an interest in his bed though, ever since we put Jake & the Neverland Pirate bedding on it. Like I always say, whenever he’s ready we’ll support his decisions. For now we are keeping his guardrail on our bed. We have so many plans for the spring. There are museums we want to take him to and parks, and zoos, etc. We treat everything as a learning experience  and it’s been working so far. He’s so curious and adventurous. We can’t wait for what the future holds.


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