Hi Zacks Mum,
I posted this a few weeks ago and this is what wored for us. I am now at the stage of just reading to Bella, tucking her into bed, saying good night and leaving the room.
I have been having so many sleepless nights in the past 6 weeks due to Bella (21mths) not wanting to stay in her single bed without screaming the house down, crying for hours or needing dad or I to sit with her until she has gone to sleep, up to 2 hours and 4-5 times a night! I needed her to sleep in her bed as I am pregnant and due in August.
Anyway, after lots of reading other posts, and ideas, we have finally got Bella to go to sleep in about 5 minutes and only waking 1-2 times a night. So I thought I would share or experience with those who are in the same boat as us.
We have a very strict bed time routine. After a bath/shower, Bella can do what ever she wants proving it is a quite activity. Her bed time is 6:30pm so at about 6:20, we tell her that she will be going to brush her teeth and bed in 10 minutes. When we get her teeth clean, we go to her bedroom, and ask her to choose any one book to read in bed with mum or dad, and we sit on her bed quitely and read her the story. When the story is finished, we put the book back and tell he it is time for bed (she sometimes tries for 2 books, but we said one so we stick to it). We put her in bed, tuck in the blankets with her 'sleeping buddies', say thank you for a great day and what fun we have had, I love you and now itis time for Bella to go to sleep, and then turn the lights out. When we began this, we sat on the end of her bed, not touching her and just 'shhh it's time for sleep' whenever she asked for mum/dad. We did this for 2 nights, then stood at the end of her bed, and gradually moved closer to the door as the night went on. We now stand on the other side of the door and just listen, when/if she calls for us we just 'shhh' and she gets the message.
If she wakes during the night, we don't say anything to her or pick her up. We just hold her hand, she climbs back onto her bed and we 'shhh' while we tuck her back in and might say 'it's time for Bella to go to sleep' very quietly. We still do this at 5am, from about 6:30, she can come into bed with us for a cuddle as the alarm goes off soon anyway.
We always left the room completly before she actually went to sleep so that she learnt to go to sleep without us being there.did this during the day. I also Even though she still wakes, it is getting better. I also found keeping a sleep diary helped; when she went to sleep, what I did and how long it took. I found this a great help especially on the days when I thought I was going backwards.
I hope this helps. It has been really hard, and sleep deprivation is horrible. I was so tired every cell in my body hurt, and I was loosing the ability to look after myself, let alone Bella- all I wanted to do was sleep.
Find something that works for you and stick with it. I have found that all it takes in repition and not letting them win.
Good luck. If anyone has any other questions, please feel free to PM me.