We made two changes in our daughter’s life last week, that honestly felt like taking two steps backwards. Despite the fact that she is nearing the age of four, we bought her cloth diapers, and we sold her twin bed, buying her a toddler bed instead. Not what you’d normally be doing at this stage of the game. However, we felt these choices were for the best.
I have written before of our struggles with our daughter’s insomnia. From day one, she has struggled with it, at times worse than others. In her almost four years, she has yet to consistently sleep through the night. Every night she wakes up at least once, normally coming downstairs and spending the rest of the night in our bed. If we tell her to go back upstairs she will – but she won’t necessarily go back to sleep. We have tried natural supplements and Melatonin. We have tried magnesium baths and lavender. We have tried just about every sleep remedy you can think of. We’ve sought out doctor’s opinions, only to be told that unfortunately sleep problems are common in children on the spectrum, as well as those who were seriously ill as babies. Which basically means – there’s nothing we, or you, can do, but wait it out.
We’ve desperately been trying over the last year or so to find a pattern, a reason for the insomnia. We’ve looked back at the places where she has slept the “best”: on the floor in what she calls a “crib” (blankets piled around her like guard rails), in a small area next to her bed, in our bed with us, in a tent, in a small cubby-style bunk bed in a camping trailer. We realized that all of these have a common factor – they’re small, often enclosed spaces, generally low to the floor. Could it be this simple?
We started researching bed tents, however they wouldn’t fit on her loft bed due to our sloped ceilings. Then we looked at getting rid of the loft and getting a regular twin bed, with the bed tent, however we weren’t crazy about the idea of the tent in the middle of the night, if she was struggling to get out of it in the dark. That’s when we started looking at toddler beds. With their raised sides, small size and nearness to the ground, they seemed to combine all the characteristics of the places she had slept the best. One night while browsing, I found a used Little Tikes playhouse bed, complete with a window-style cubby at the head of the bed. This seemed to suit our daughter perfectly, what with her penchant for hoarding treasures.
We showed her the picture online and it was love at first sight. We bought the bed two days later, and it was brought home to us just this past weekend. She loved it even more once it was in her bedroom, and she quickly made a place in the window for her “baby” to sleep in.
(Ignore the red and blue walls, this is our son’s old room which is waiting to be painted princess pink!)
While it is too soon to tell for sure, I am so excited to say that our daughter has stayed in her bed all night, ever since we got the bed! Now Murphy’s Law of course dictates that tonight she will wander down at 1:00 am and crawl in bed with us, but, just in case his law miraculously fails… our fingers are crossed that our “needs-small-sleeping-spaces” suspicions have been confirmed, and we may be on the right track towards blessedly sound sleep.
Our next change, or step backwards, was putting Ashley in cloth diapers. Technically this isn’t really a step-backwards, since she’s still in diapers at night time anyways. But, probably most people would not bother investing in cloth diapers when their child is nearing four years of age. We did a lot of research on the different styles, brands etc… In the end, I purchased 6 Kawaii diapers. What a phenomenal value! The diapers were only $8-10 each, each come with two soaker inserts (they are pocket style, one size fits all), and they are adorable! All in all, we only spent $62.25 for 6 cloth diapers (definitely enough for a week, since she is normally in panties during the day). Considering that we spend $15 a month on disposable pull ups/diapers, our investment will have paid for itself in only 4 months.
So, why did we do it? One of the biggest reasons is that we have yet to find a store bought diaper or pull-up that does not give our daughter a rash. This ties into our desire to live green, and get away from the chemicals that surround us. Also, realistically, our daughter is going to be in diapers at night, for at least quite awhile longer, since she is not even close to being night-trained. Knowing this, financially, it makes sense – as I already mentioned, the diapers will have paid for themselves in four months’ time. We also still need them occasionally during the day if we’re going on a long outing, as our daughter can’t be trusted to use the toilet consistently when her routine is off. We might take her to the potty, and have her try, and then 10 minutes later, she’ll pee her pants. Trouble potty training is just another joy of life on the spectrum, as we’ve been told!
We have been using the diapers for 5 nights now. I am happy to report that not once has our daughter woken up with a rash since we started using them. I’ll admit, she’s only so-so on the bulk of them. I had to remove the second insert and we just use them with one. That seemed to work better. Also, she is sensing the “wetness” more in them, than her diapers/pull-ups, and she is not nearly as content to wear them when wet, which is precisely what we wanted.
Our daughter wearing her new cloth diapers
So, despite the fact that it felt like we were taking steps backwards, I think our decisions are actually helping move us forwards with two of our major goals for this year: sleep and potty training! Moral of the story, don’t worry about what others think or say, or worry that you think your instinct is crazy – just go with it!