Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: I always tried to make my toddlers’ bedtime early because I needed a few hours to myself or with my husband. I did not have a lot of patience for a worn-out child at 9 pm. I knew my limitations, and irritable crying was not something I could cope with.
I found that a long bath time at 6 pm, a warm bottle, and songs/books were a good formula for getting my toddler to sleep. “Bath, bottle, bed.”
I also never waited until any of our kids were fast asleep to put them in their crib– I put them in tired, but let them sooth themselves to sleep. This led to a lifetime of good sleeping habits and also the ability to self-soothe. I figured that wherever the kids might be later in life, I could not always be there to pat them or sing to them. They should learn to rely on themselves.
Sure I spent plenty of nights soothing a crying child, but I never took our kids into our bed or indulged non-sense at bedtime. Our children had my attention all day, they did not need it when they were sleeping. Letting a child into our bed (if there was not a really good reason) was no solution in the long run. All of our children learned to be great sleepers.
—Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD, MPH, a mom of 13- and 8-year-old daughters and 12- and 10-year-old sons, a radiation oncologist with 21 C. Radiation Oncology, and the inventor of the Mommy Bag, filled with supplies for moms-to-be having C-sections, in Scarsdale, NY