Do you have snuggle time at bedtime with your child? I think it’s okay!
Are you familiar with the early-morning visitor? He is very stealth-like – if I weren’t for my light sleeping, I probably would never notice this visitor……until he was nestled in nicely next to me and his dad. The last time he paid a visit, my eyes flew open just as he barely touched the foot of the bed, and then sneakily slithered his way up, with a huge smile on his face that was very visible, even in the minimal light of the early morning.
Yes, this early morning visitor is……..my 2-1/2-year old son.
We were able to successfully get our little boy to sleep in his own crib when he was 4 months old. It was Thanksgiving week and we had time off from work, so we made this our mission. He fussed for a bit here and there, but when it’s a crib, there’s really nowhere else to go, especially when you’re that little. So you deal with it. Up until then, my husband and I took turns sleeping in our son’s room with him. I’m not sure if this change to his sleeping by himself was harder on him, or me. As a new mom, it took some adjusting to. I was still reveling in my new status and enjoying every moment I could spend with this beautiful little baby of mine, since I am still working full-time. So having him sleep by himself was a milestone for both baby AND me, signaling my little baby was growing, and before you know it, he’s no longer a little baby, but a little boy.
As my baby did grow and learn to stand, he would next protest the confines of his crib by jumping up and down and crying. He would do that for a while, then give up and, over time, he’d just have a little quiet time and play with his stuffed animals, before giving in to the tiredness and finally falling asleep. And he’d pretty much sleep through the night. I was getting used to not feeling compelled to go in and comfort him every single time he fussed. Again, this was a training period for me and Dad, too!
A couple of months ago, we had another milestone – we converted our boy’s crib into a toddler bed. As he’s very much mobile now, we knew we should expect some issues with his staying in his room after this big change, but surprisingly, he had been pretty good with staying in his bed and settling down with his stuffed animals. He does seem to prefer my rocking chair instead for sleeping, though – maybe it’s because it’s so nice and plush! What he does is, if he doesn’t already start off sitting in the chair for bedtime stories with Mom or Dad, he will find his way over to the chair from his bed (and he piles all of his stuffed animals close by). But he does stay in his room!
Of course there have been occasions over these past 2 years where my son’s had trouble sleeping for whatever reason, and either my husband or I go into his room and help calm him – AFTER a reasonable time has passed and he seems he’s just needing a little cuddling. I’m all about self-soothing, but I think sometimes you just need to gauge when your child might just need a little extra TLC – especially if they’ve got a cold or something. We’ll either snuggle with him in his room, or I’ll take him out to the living room, and we’ll snuggle on the couch. Typically, this is just once in a while, it’s early in the morning and we’ve got maybe an hour left before it’s time to get up anyway. Or it’s a weekend night and I just happen to fall asleep with him in the chair. We’ve taken care to not have snuggle-time with him in our bed – we just didn’t want to flirt with something that might bite us in the butts later. We’re at a point where our son is sleeping on his own most of the time, so snuggling for an occasional time here and there shouldn’t be a big deal. Right?
So here we are now, and my toddler is enjoying his growing sense of independence and accomplishing big-boy things – like sleeping in a “big boy” bed. And now he loves being able to climb up onto Mom and Dad’s California King-sized bed all by himself – it’s pretty high up even for me (I’m petite), so this is a big deal. He’s super-quiet about it, but I could still sense he had come onto the bed. He’s only done the latter once or twice in maybe the past month. As I had mentioned above, we don’t encourage snuggle-time in our bed, so as cozy as we might all be, I know I have to pull back the covers and take him to either his room, or the living room couch. And again, it’s typically around 4 a.m. when this happens, so I don’t make too big a deal of it. I know it’s going to mean I’ll be a little tired during the day, but I deal. We’ll get right back on track that night.
Only…….this time we didn’t get right back on track. One week just recently, I don’t know if it’s because he’s older now and trying to exercise his authority a little bit, or simply because he’s in his “Terrible Twos,” but we were finding we were “sleep-training” all over again. The snuggle time in the morning was now affecting his nighttime sleep habits. Somehow, my son expected either me or his dad to stay with him for bedtime, even after the stories were read. He put up a major fuss if we told him no. I worried we got excited too soon that he was doing so well staying in his room without a fight – now it was as if all of our efforts had been completely wiped out. He would scream and holler and sob “Mommy! Mommy!” and then “Daddy! Daddy! Care me!” (meaning “carry me”) – and he will drag it out; he’s persistent! Naturally my heart’s aching to go in and comfort him. I have to credit my husband for helping us stick to our guns. Little Boy will come out of his room, and my husband is the one who takes him back. It has been a little nuts.
But over the course of the week, he gradually settled back down as he has before. He did have a day where he backslid a little, but he’s a kid, let’s give him a break! He’s still waking up at that odd 4 a.m. time, but he just cries a little, and then falls back asleep. Then at 6 a.m. when it’s time to get up and going, he says, “I’m not tired!”
We are learning that, as he’s growing, and because his nap time may vary depending on if he’s at daycare or at Grandma’s house, we might have to tweak his sleep schedule a bit. If for whatever reason he fights off naps and winds up napping later, we know he probably will need to go to bed a little later. If we know he napped “on time” or didn’t nap at all, we know he will most likely fall asleep at a more normal time.
Yes, this is one of those weeks that have been a little rough. We have skimped on sleep a little bit. I’m not gonna lie – it’s Friday as I write this, and I can’t wait to get home and get some sleep! But I can’t say I’ll never cuddle with my little boy ever again – at bedtime or early-morning time. What I’m learning is that at the end of the day, you know what works best for your family and situation. We’ve read up and done research and tried to do what’s recommended – gradually make your way out of their room over a few days, let them self-soothe, etc. What might work for one family may completely backfire for another. My little boy is growing so fast, and as a working mom I don’t get a lot of time with him as it is, so I’m not going to make too big of a deal if he “falls out of pattern” once in a while. Sometimes both you AND your child/ren just need the snuggle time, at bedtime or anytime. They need to know you love them.
Now if he’s 15 and trying to climb into bed with us – that’s a different story!
How do you feel about snuggle time with your little ones? Comment below! (You may need to click on the blog post title at the top of this page, in order to see the comments area.)
Is sleep-training a bit of a challenge in your household? If you feel you are dealing with more than a “minor” issue, I came across a pretty cool resource online you might want to check out. www.babysleepsite.com