Battle of wills: Kid vs. parents at bedtime
BY ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writer
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 6:29 AM
Because I Said So is a blog written by six parents and one grandparent.
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A few months ago, I wrote about how my baby wouldn't sleep, probably due to her first cold.
So, here I am, four months later, and we are enduring another battle of wills: My baby daughter, potentially sick, has decided that somewhere between midnight and 3 a.m. is the perfect time to wake up for the day.
Unfortunately, we are learning our first lessons in disciplining our child.
1. Do not reward fussy behavior. When she was younger, she would wake up because she was hungry. Fair enough. A few times, she was so sick that she was unable to breathe because of congestion. Also fair.
However, she is neither sick nor hungry. No, we realized that she was just asking for extra snuggle time with daddy.
For the past few weeks, he dutifully rocked her back to sleep, sometimes for a few hours each night. Think she enjoyed the extra daddy-daughter time? Think she enjoyed extra hugs and attention?
We put a stop to it this week: No more extra rocking or cuddling in the middle of the night. Extra cuddling first thing in the morning and right before bed, of course, but nighttime is bedtime.
2. Have a bed time, and don't change it. You are going to be in bed no later than 8 p.m. The lights will be off, you will have a full stomach, and be bathed and in bed clothes.
However, you will not be playing with your toys. You will not be crawling on the floor, seeking new discoveries. You will not be holding little baby conversations with Mom and Dad.
8 p.m. is your bedtime, 6 a.m. is your wake-up time. Anything in between those hours that is not an emergency (like a dirty diaper) will not result in excessive attention.
3. Stick with it. Oh, did she put up a fuss when she realized that things were different. For a few nights, she was howling every five minutes.
We did a bit of "cry it out" with her but also tried other methods. She's at the clingy age (9 months old), so we will sometimes be near the crib, but not trying to rock her or hold her.
It has been about a week now since trying to take back bedtime from our baby. We have just gotten two nights of full sleep in. No rocking, no soothing, just going to bed and waking up in the morning.
Someday, she will be old enough to scream "NO!" and throw tantrums and stuff when we are trying to enforce bedtime. At least right now, the worst we've had thrown our way is a little plastic spoon.
Althea Peterson 918-581-8361