My 27-month-old daughter has until this point been a dream to put to bed at night. She sleeps well and doesn't mind going to bed when she is tired.
Four days ago we took her pacifiers away from her for sleeping. She had huge difficulty falling asleep on the first night and first nap, but after that she seemed to be rolling with it. Then today she refused to nap, and tonight would not even lay in her bed. I had to hug her while she fell asleep in my bed which she has never slept in in her life.
Do you think that she had some kind of nightmare last night that makes her room an unhappy place to be? It seemed that she went into hysterics every time I asked her to close her eyes. I felt so bad for her; she was terrified. The soothers have already gone out in the trash so there's no turning back. Any advice?
The first task here is to be sure there is no illness that might be interfering with your daughter's sleep. An ear infection, for example, hurts more when lying down. Once cleared of illness, comes a discussion about sleep associations. These are objects or people that children use to comfort themselves during the transition from wake to sleep.
Children learn these associations just as they learn other behaviors, and 'unlearning' them can be hard. While some toddlers can go cold turkey, most need some time to adjust. Many parents substitute one association (a pacifier or bottle) for a more acceptable one (a blanket). Beware, however, of allowing yourself to become that association, or you may find yourself involved in a bedtime ritual that takes your evening hours, and being called again in the middle of the night. Most experts feel that infants and toddlers should be put to bed sleepy but not asleep, so they drift off to sleep alone and can rely on themselves again if they awaken.