Curing the nighttime tantrums is no easy task
Jan 21, 2013 (Tulsa World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
My baby daughter recently turned 10 months old.
There are many challenges of parenting that parents of babies face, or only parents of older kids face. However, tantrums apparently are universal, older kid or not.
In our case, for at least the past month, our normally happy, healthy, growing baby girl was -- there's no other way to describe it -- throwing a nighttime tantrum when we weren't giving in to her demands to hold her or give her back a pacifier.
My caffeine intake was increasing at work. Some nights were so bad that my eyes were tearing during the day at my desk (I hope everyone thought it was allergies instead).
I called our pediatrician's office to speak to the nurse. Perhaps our baby was sick and needed an appointment.
The nurse told us to let her cry it out.
We confirmed that we were checking her for dirty diapers. We confirmed that it wasn't illness, such as an ear infection. We confirmed that we had a perfect routine setup and ideal sleep situation: Regular bedtime, dark room away from parents, full stomach before sleep.
Cry it out.
It was to take up to four days. Our baby may go on for a few hours. Our baby may even cry so hard that she vomits (she fortunately didn't). We needed to pick a time where we could commit to this for up to four days, and then get brave.
Night one: Our baby was so exhausted from the night before of not sleeping that she slept all night. Well, OK, then.
Night two: Like many nights before, she let us know that she expected a nighttime parental visit about three hours after initial bedtime. We visited to confirm that she didn't have a dirty diaper, quietly told her to go back to sleep, then left.
She let us know in an angry cry (it's very distinct from being upset, injured, sad or scared) for about two hours that she did not approve.
It helped to have a spouse to cling to at night. We had never let her cry for so long without going to her side immediately before.
Night three: Once again, about two hours after initial bedtime, she cried for us. Again, we checked on her diaper and shushed her. Forty-five minutes later, her angry crying relented.
Night four: Less than 10 minutes of angry crying, she seemed to be figuring things out. Nighttime tantrum cured.
Tips for baby nighttime tantrums: Don't reward bad behavior. Your baby likely loves to snuggle with you for hours in the middle of the night, get to see you whenever they cry, or even get fed. Your baby will be happier in the morning with a full night's sleep.
Encourage her to do the right thing. We had spare pacifiers around her crib for her to find and soothe herself. We also removed any toys that lit up or played music from her reach at night.
Don't let crying get the better of you. Would you remove your child from a vehicle's car seat or take off her seatbelt if she cried
Althea Peterson 918-581-8361
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