If you are a parent of a toddler, it’s pretty likely that you’ve woken up to that little voice through the monitor calling “mommmmmmyyyyy” in the middle of the night.
As an advocate against leaving your child to fend for themselves, I always recomme
nd answering your child’s calls, and here is an example why:
The other day, at 5:30am, my 3.5 year old woke crying. Had we sleep trained, and looked at the clock, we probably would have left him until his clock told him it was morning, at 6:30am. I’ve heard this countless times, particularly from parents with early risers who have been sleep trained: “It’s not morning, so they’re going to have to wait.” The trouble is, if you aren’t responding to your child’s cries or calls, you very well may not know when there is an issue.
Hearing his cries, my husband checked the monitor and didn’t see anything wrong, but as responsive parents, he went to check on him anyway. He was having a massive nose bleed! We held pressure on his nose, gave him the cuddles he needed to reassure him everything was okay, and started our day with a bath to clean him up – all at 5:30am.
Our kids know that if they call us, we will come. But that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. The night before, this same kid woke us in the middle of the night to ask 100 questions about the excavator he had just dreamed about (you can probably hear my eyes rolling from behind this screen!). So these two back-to-back nights were a great opportunity to review our nighttime boundaries when it comes to the middle of the night wakes.
Here are the 4 reasons to call in the middle of the night in our house (which, by the way, we had our kids help us create, based on the things they thought were reasonable, and the things they thought they could manage on their own):
- You’re not feeling well
- Something is wrong
- You need to use the bathroom
- You had a bad dream
Setting these types of nighttime boundaries made up of realistic expectations allows children to feel secure in knowing that their primary caregiver will respond to their needs, no matter the time of day. They also empower kids to gain some independence with things that are developmentally appropriate to expect (for example, taking a drink of water from a cup within reach, fluffing a pillow, searching for a stuffy in the bed/crib etc.).
Need help sorting out toddler bedtime battles? Book your free discovery call to see how I can help!