Some time during your toddler's second year of life, their sleep habits could inexplicably change. If you are fortunate enough to avoid this phenomenon, be thankful. It is one of the most frustrating things to deal with as the parent of a toddler, other than getting crayon out of carpet (WD-40 is the answer according to Crayola's stain tips website). During this time, you may have to face a number of different changes to your child's sleep habits, and it is important to know when, and how, to react in order to get the desired result - a sleeping toddler.
"I'm Not Sleepy!"
You should always interpret this as, "I'm so freaking tired I don't know what I'm saying, so please make me go to sleep." Nuff said.
The BinkyIf your toddler is still using a pacifier, for whatever reason (no judging), now may be a good time to get them to break free. My daughter was really attached to the pacifier, and it was a great calming aid when she would get so worked up while crying. We tried cold-turkey a few times, but it just wasn't the right method for her. Then I read about cutting holes in the end of the pacifier. GENIUS! With the holes in the end, there was no suction. With no suction, there was no satisfaction. With no satisfaction, I got a puzzled look and she said, "I don't want my paci." To which I answered, "It must be broken." Toddlers are able to understand that things are broken. We haven't looked back. It was almost instantaneous dislike. If your child is old enough to understand the concept of receiving money, you can try "The Binky Fairy" on them. They can put their binky under their crib in a box, and the binky fairy (read: YOU) will put a quarter in the box that they can put in their piggy bank. It's never too early to start saving.
To avoid binky attachment madness, simply poke a pinhole in the end of the pacifier. If your child is still not giving it up, use scissors to make cross-shaped slits in the end. If he still doesn't give it up, go ahead and cut off the tip. If you're lucky, you won't even get a tantrum. At worst, you may have one or two days of difficulty getting to sleep. Pretty soon, she won't even remember them.
The Big Girl BedAhh, the big girl bed. My recommendation is to change one sleeping habit at a time. We had the binky issue and the big girl bed at the same time, and it was a nightmare for a week or so. Our little girl was so excited to be in her bed that she had trouble going to sleep, and not having the binky meant that her sleep routine was disrupted. This was too much change all at once. We had to go back to the crib, and we will try the big girl bed in a few weeks once she is caught up on her sleep.
Adjusting Nap TimesIf your child usually sleeps from noon-3 or 1-4, they may talk you into letting them stay up longer. Resist this if you can. We have found that it is easier to put them to sleep before they're OVER-tired an hour past their typical nap time. Just do plenty of morning activities to get them worn out. Get outside; go to the park; go to the farmer's market; go for a walk.
What sleep changes in sleep habits have you experienced with your toddler? What advice can you give those of us that are going through these changes? Any special memories of this time with your own child?