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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nighttime for Toddlers (As Best I Know)

Here are two juxtaposed photos of my toddler (15 months) on a not-so-good night. After stand-up crying* for 10-15 minutes and throwing his lovey defiantly onto the floor, he actually fell asleep leaning on the side of the crib and ultimately readjusted to the more appropriate (and comfortable) position seen below the first picture.

As a conscientious parent, you have probably read that for babies, routine is EVERYTHING. Every night after my son eats, I change him into his PJs while audibly mentioning the impending "night-night." I let him turn off all the lights around his bedroom (he would turn them off and on all day and night if I let him), and we read a story. Then we turn on his (fabulous - get one here - just do it) white noise machine/projector, he turns off his bedroom light, and by the time I reach the last verse of his bedtime song he is already reaching longingly for his crib. This starts at 7:30 PM on the dot (most of the time; I'm only human) and he never puts up a fuss.

Tonight, we put a wrench in things. Not only did my husband come home early (he is usually in school until after bedtime), but he also brought a friend with him. This excited and confused my son. Dad was home (WOW!) and there was an intriguing new stranger to stare at/play with/talk to/and, again, play with.

Although I urged Johnny to say "Night-night" to his dad and the intriguing stranger, his routine was disrupted. And because I stopped to exchange pleasantries with the intriguing stranger, it was going on 8:00 before we started our routine. Not to mention, Dad and stranger were still in the house, presumably doing super-exciting things while I was sadistically trying to force my son to leave the fun and go night-night!

The combination of him being over-tired and the presumed excitement going on downstairs was enough to make my son "stand-up cry" for a long time (rough for everyone, especially the single stranger with no kids trying to enjoy some adult interaction).

In conclusion, you can't control everything. Life is crazy: routines get disrupted; naps sometimes don't do the trick and children become over-tired; intriguing strangers stop by unexpectedly. However, if you can maintain a pretty predictable structure for your child, nighttime will be much easier on everyone. Don't believe me? Consult the experts (as far as I'm concerned).

Good night, and good luck!

*As previously discussed, "stand-up crying" in the crib usually means, Forget it, I'm not going to sleep so you better get in here and make it better or lose all hope. "Sit-down" or "lay-down" crying just means I'm so tired I have no idea what's going on but here's a comfy place to lay down and I will probably do just that in a few minutes.

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