The Nanny Godmother was delighted to hear again recently from reader Michelle, who writes:
Hi Nanny Godmother,
It’s me again. I have another question. My son is 3 years old and still has a nighttime bottle when he gets into bed. I’ve tried weaning him off it by reducing the amount by 10ml every night but when we get about halfway (125ml) he starts asking for water when the milk is finished and carries on until I give him a little water (10ml). How do I wean him off the nighttime bottle? Or am I being too hasty?
Another question, going to bed is simple, he gets in and stays in and falls asleep, but most nights he still wakes up anything from once a night to countless times, and each time he wants some milk. I think the once or twice a night is purely out of habit. Generally when he wakes up more, something is bugging him. How do I get him to stop the nighttime wakings? The only time I have a good night’s sleep is when he is with his granny. I feel like I’m undergoing sleep deprivation torture. Please help.
Hi Michelle, welcome back!
It really does sound like he’s gotten into a bad habit. I don’t think you’re being hasty at all. It’s not advisable for children, certainly of this age, to go to bed with a bottle. It’s bad for their teeth and can even contribute to ear infections, among other problems.
To start with, let’s work on the bedtime bottle. Try to make sure your son has a drink before he goes to bed so you are sure he is not thirsty. I suspect he likes the comfort of the bottle, so what you could try doing is give him a sippy cup with just water in it. If he still makes a fuss about the milk, give a mixture of equal parts milk and water, gradually add more water than milk until he is just drinking water. I cover the dilution strategy and a couple of other ideas here.
You say that if your little boy wakes, something is bugging him; if it is something that occurs often then try to remove or avoid that happening if you can identify what it is. Rather trying to wean him off the milk he asks for when he wakes in the middle of the night, I would suggest that you simply put your foot down and say no. You could try the water in the sippy cup, and simply just go in and tell him he can’t have any more milk until the morning but that he can have water. Keep the same sippy cup next to his bed, so he can help himself. This will minimize fuss and disruption for both of you in the night.
I know this sounds like a pain at 4 o’clock in the morning, but I’m confident that once he learns that there is no benefit to asking for milk each time he wakes up, the habit will lessen.
Does he sleep through the night when he goes to granny’s house?
I wish you luck, Michelle, and sleep tight.
Reader Lea is kept busy by three little ones. Her strong-willed middle child, age 5, can be a handful whether it’s out on a shopping trip with mummy or bedtime for him and his siblings. Lea writes:
I have come across your blog at the perfect time, and I think it’s amazing at what you are doing. I have a couple of concerns about my children. I am a mother of 3. A 6 year old, a 5 year old and a 9 month old.
Well, one of my issues is that my 5 year old boy refuses to sleep alone in his own bed, so he always sleeps with his big sister. No matter what I try or do, it’s a tantrum and he goes right back. He used to sleep in his own bed, but when I had to move back home with my mom, he was sharing a room with his sis and my mom. (Limited space.) I have tried putting him in his own room and the baby with the big sister, but he just got right back up and into her bed. In theory I don’t mind them being together (even if him being alone would be the best), but every night they are up till 10 to 11. I have tried looking up on this issue and read through your blogs to try and find some answers or advice, but I seem to have hit a wall and am going nowhere fast.
Another issue I am having with him is tantrums in stores, and I don’t mean little ones - I mean the big outrageous, get on the floor, start hitting and screaming at the top of his lungs ones. I tried to ignore him, telling him no, I don’t want this attitude and it’s going to get you nowhere if you continue, asked him to calm down and we will talk about it, but none of those is working as well as I’d wish it would. It’s to the point where I try to find a baby sitter while I go shopping just to avoid those situations, or not go shopping until my mom gets home so she can keep an eye on them while I’m gone.
Any advice or strategies that could help out both situations would be greatly appreciated and well applied.
Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog. I’m glad you found it!
As I understand from your email, your 5 year old son actually gets straight into bed with his big sister at bedtime, is this correct? If this is the case, I would just continue putting him back in his own bed. Ignore the crying and just keep putting him back if he gets up in the middle of the night whilst everybody is asleep. There is not too much else you can do apart from returning him to his own bed every opportunity you get.
I think it is a good idea for the two of them not to be sleeping in the same room. That way, at least he doesn’t disturb her.
As for the shopping, I would not avoid taking your little boy shopping just because he has a tantrum; there are no lessons to be learnt by this. Find an excuse to go to the shop, even if just to pick up some apples, but take this opportunity (as you know you are not going to be gone long) to take him with you, either on his own or with the others. If he starts to have a tantrum, continue to finish your little shop. Give him one warning; then after that, if he continues, just walk away and leave him screaming. I am sure he is waiting for a response from you. Once he sees he is not getting one, the tantrums might not stop immediately, but I think they will probably start to be less of an issue. Don’t worry about the other people in the shop; pretend it’s just you and your kids. You could try preparing him before you go into the shop, explaining that there will be consequences for his bad behaviour. Do not, however, promise a reward for good behaviour. If he is good, though, you should make a big deal of it and tell him how proud you are of him for being such a big boy. Maybe you can give your two older ones some separate little jobs to do in the supermarket, to keep them busy.
Even though by the time you get home you are probably all friends again, make sure that if you have had to warn him with a punishment you follow it through. If you say “time out when you get home”, then that is exactly what you do; if you say “no special treats for the rest of the day”, then that is what you do.
From what I can see, Lea, you have all had some big changes in your lives and it sometimes it takes kids a little longer to adapt – but they do. However, this is a reason, not an excuse, for naughty behaviour. You will have to be strong and just take control – you are Mummy and you are the boss!
Child behavioural problems, as we know, require a great deal of patience. Yet resolving sibling rivalries often requires extra sensitivity on the part of the parent or caregiver in order to accommodate two children’s personalities and fairly balance the interests of both little competitors. If not handled immediately and correctly, sibling rivalries can sometimes spiral out of control.
The cause of the rivalry can differ, of course, from family to family. There are many things that can trigger it. Jealousy and competitiveness are a big factor. Your children are just trying to find their own individuality; each and every one of them has their own special qualities. Never assume that one child doesn’t need as much attention as the other because they are quiet or never complain.
A child’s maturity can also factor into problems between siblings. For example, if your only child has always been your “baby”, then a new baby comes along and you expect your 6 year old to behave all of a sudden like a big boy, this can be confusing. This can also be the case if you have a second child and a third one comes along. In these situations, try to prepare your child during the pregnancy very gently by giving him more responsibility and independence.
Try not to compare your children to each other. For example, maybe you have one child who performs better in school than the other; find something that the other one is good at and encourage him along. If you have one child that excels in most things, then try not to give her the same activities as the one to whom things don’t come quite so easy.
Maybe one of your kids has certain traits that remind you of a relative your child can tell you’re not fond of; please try to refrain from saying so out loud, especially if another child draws frequent comparisons to a favoured relative. This could not only cause conflict between the children but also have long-lasting effects on your own relationship with them.
Try to avoid having your children compete against each other; encourage them to work as a team. Although I am not against children being competitive, if you’re having a rivalry problem, put it aside for a while and only have them work together. Plan family outings or activities where the kids can have fun together.
When trying to resolve or avoid conflicts:
- Try not to take sides.
- If something has got out of hand, just put them both in a quiet time for 5 minutes to defuse the situation.
- If they are fighting about a toy, take the toy away.
- If one child is laughing or mocking another child because they are in time out, they also get put in time out.
- There should be zero tolerance for physical violence; it doesn’t matter what they fight about or whose fault it is – if one child strikes another, that is time out immediately.
- Try and teach them to negotiate and compromise with each other.
- You can make a rota (roster) if you find that they fight over little things like who gets the first bedtime story.
- Don’t argue with your spouse in front of the children; not only is this very unsettling but can also send the wrong message to your little ones.
If you have older children that are just not seeing eye to eye, hold a family meeting once a week. This way everybody gets their say and everybody has to listen. “She borrows my shoes but doesn’t put them back,” or “He plays his music too loud when I am trying to study.” Pass no judgement; just talk it through. That gives you the chance to take part without taking sides. Also discuss positive things too, like interests, events of the past week, or school.
Mum and dad join in too; talk about current affairs or whatever you want. Just try to make a place where there is no shouting or conflict. If one person is talking, let them finish; nobody is allowed to interrupt.
You might want to keep a little journal or mental notes to see if there is a pattern in aggressive behaviour between siblings. Is it just after school? Just before meal times? Just before naptime? Has there been some change in their family life? If you notice that the fighting has gone beyond bickering and has turned more into physical bullying, then I would seek some outside advice. Maybe call the school and find out if there is anything going on at school and what their behaviour is like. Ask the school also how the children act in certain situations. This might help you figure out if the problem is a sibling thing or an aggression issue. The school might give you some advice or help you find somebody who could.
If any readers out there have any reassuring stories to share about overcoming sibling rivalries, please feel free to leave a comment!
Reader Genya writes:
I was wondering why my 3.5 years old daughter doesn’t like to color and learn letters.
What and how should I do to encourage?
I really don’t think you have anything to worry about. Some children are simply not interested in colouring; I think they find it a little boring and pointless. There are many other creative activities that you can use to stimulate motor skills, such as play dough and painting. Cutting and gluing is also fun for the little ones (although a little messy for you!).
You could incorporate the gluing and cutting with letters. Why don’t you draw the letters, then give your daughter a pair of kid’s scissors and help her cut them out and stick them to make a colourful collage? Maybe find some magazines with pictures to cut out that go with each letter. I think she might be quite proud of her handiwork.
You could also use the alphabet fridge magnets and bath toys to encourage her along with the alphabet.
All children develop at different stages in different areas, in my experience. For example, some kids may take an early interest in arts and crafts and ABCs but struggle at first with speech and numbers. Keep encouraging your daughter’s individual interests, and she is very likely to develop the necessary skills before you know it.
I’m sure that other Nanny Godmother readers have some terrific ideas for creative activities with crafts or ABCs that have worked for their own children. Readers, let’s hear them!
I was looking for some advice.
I have started training my 2 year old daughter 3 days ago following an ebook a friend sent me about toilet training your child in 3 days. Well, it hasn’t worked and my daughter has become terrified of the potty. She has learnt when she needs to wee, we now recognize the cues, but if we try taking her up to the potty she screams and cries. We will take her out and a couple of minutes later she will pee in her underwear. I am at a loss as to what to do. I don’t want to stop now that I have started. We are being positive, trying not to use any negative words and rewarding her if she does get any pee in the potty.
Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for writing.
I am sceptical on one trying to potty train a child in 3 days. There is way more to potty training than just what can be achieved in a weekend. However, to be honest, I have never tried this method although I am aware that many do. The shortest time I have managed is 3 weeks, and that is with years of practice. All children have different temperaments, so I think it is very hard to put them all in the same basket. Trying to potty train a child in 3 days more often than not involves a lot of negative reinforcement from the parent and strict discipline from both parties, which to me sounds more stressful than potty training already is.
However, it sounds as though you have already made a little bit of progress; if your daughter now knows when she needs to go, and you know when she needs to go, then you’re halfway there. Now you just need to get her to become comfortable using the potty/toilet. I suggest that everybody take a deep breath and relax.
Try to guide her to the toilet instead of pushing her. If you have the time, spend a couple of days in the house just concentrating on the potty. If she has accidents in the first few days, don’t worry about it. She will get there in the end. I have posted several articles on potty training which give a few different techniques (see the “Potty Training” category), so maybe you could have a read through and see if there is one that suits you and your daughter. Good luck, and don’t forget to let us know how it goes!
The Nanny Godmother loves to hear from colleagues in the childcare profession who are readers of the blog. Patty has recently written in with a dilemma that’s particularly challenging because of the professional setting in which it’s occurring:
I am a daycare provider for a set of 21 month old twin boys in addition to 4 other children. Within the past month they both started using foul language. I simply ignored it the first week, although some of the older children were quick to point it out to me each time they heard it. During the second week when it occurred, I got down at their level and firmly said “No. We don’t use that word. That is not ok.” The third week, I repeated the steps from week 2, but then put them in time out. They don’t seem to be fazed by it at all and they seem to be swearing more each day. Mom is really no help and simply blames it on Dad.
Any suggestions that I can use as a licensed provider? (When this occurred with my own children, step three included a swat on the rear end which put a pretty quick end to foul language, but as a licensed provider I am not able to use corporal punishment.) Thank you!
Unfortunately, as you know, we childcare professionals are limited in what we can do if we don’t have the support of the parents.
However, I do think you should talk to the mum again and explain what a big problem it is, and that you don’t want other parents to start complaining.
As long as you’re not receiving parental support, your options are going to be somewhat limited, and the best thing I can think of for you to do is to concentrate on teaching the twins that such language is not accepted by you. Try not to make too much of it when they say the words, as although I doubt they understand the meaning, they do understand that it upsets you. Don’t even make eye contact, as they are probably just waiting for you to react. Just take them by the hand and say “You know that Patty doesn’t accept those words” in a very low, calm voice. Don’t interact with them any more than that, and put them in time out (away from each other, if they’re both in time out). When time out is finished, make them look you in the eye and say “sorry” for using bad words, then carry on as normal.
This method may take some time to yield results, but due to their age I think it is about all you can do.
I hope this was of some help to you; if there are any readers who can give Patty more advice on this matter, please feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line.
Reader Claire writes to the Nanny Godmother of her daughter’s struggles to bid goodbye to the nighttime nappy:
My daughter is almost 3. She has been dry during the day for over 6 months and has been using pull-up nappies at night.
She has started to refuse to wear her nappy at night even though it is soaked in the morning. I have tried lifting her when I go to bed but she just screams at me; I have also tried restricting her fluid intake from 6pm in an effort to keep her dry at night.
Should I just let her wet the bed and see if she stops weeing at night or gets herself up to use the potty? Is there anything else I can try?
Well, generally it is not recommended that you remove the nighttime nappy until the nappy is dry for a couple of nights in a row. I would try to go through the nighttime potty training process with her, but I would start from the beginning, as it sounds like her bladder is not quite ready. But we should definitely not discourage her; she sounds like a very independent little girl.
Before bedtime, if she starts to make a fuss about putting on a nappy, have a little chat with her. Explain that because she is still having accidents in her bed it would be better for her to wear a pull-up, but try to make clear it is not a punishment. Make sure she understands that if she needs to get up, she can call or come and get you at anytime. It might help if you put the potty next to her bed and make sure she can take her pyjamas down, and also that she can climb out of bed so she can do it by herself. A night light will make it easier for her to see what she is doing.
Make sure that your daughter drinks enough fluid during the day so she is not thirsty before bedtime. Taking her to the bathroom before she goes to bed will also help.
Even if she screams at you, I think you should continue trying to put her on the toilet so she gets into the habit of getting up. She will get the hang of it.
Good luck; let me know how you’re getting on!
Reader Humreet writes:
My niece is 15 months old and up until recently, bath-time was an enjoyable time where she would love to sit and splash about. Recently, she now completely freaks out if you try and put her anywhere near a bath. She’s ok if you hold her over the edge so she can dip her hand in but if you get anywhere close to putting her in, she goes into meltdown. It’s gotten so bad that she almost stops breathing because she is crying so much. This is obviously taking its toll on my sister who can’t understand where this fear has come from.
We’ve tried pretty much everything, from numerous bath toys to my sister getting in the bath with her to try to show her there’s nothing to be afraid of. The fear doesn’t seem to be water-related, as she loves swimming and isn’t afraid to touch or splash water. It just seems to be a fear of bath-time! Any advice you can offer will be most helpful!!
Let me start by reassuring you and your sister that this is actually quite a common issue. There might be no reason for your niece’s fear of the bath; it could just be one of those unexplained and passing quirks of childhood.
I remember one of my charges was terrified of the plug hole, and used to think that if you took the plug out whilst he was still in the bath he was going to get sucked down with the water. So I would just take him out of the bath before I took the plug out, and leave his toys so he could watch the water disappear but not the toys. It didn’t take long before he understood that there was no danger.
I think, first of all, if your sister and niece are finding bath time stressful, don’t try to force the issue. For a week, don’t take her anywhere near the bath. You can give your niece a body wash or maybe wash her in the sink. You could even use a baby bath if your sister has one or can borrow one from a friend (you wouldn’t be using it long enough to justify purchasing one at this stage).
After a week, start to encourage your niece to take a bath - take her to the bathroom, explaining what you are going to do and how much fun she is going to have. If she starts to get agitated, let it go. Let her put her hands in the bath if she is comfortable doing that; it’s a very good idea. Maybe when you take a bath, leave the door open and let her come in and play – but really don’t force it, because there is a risk that it may eventually become more a battle of wills than an actual fear of bath time.
Humreet, I hope some of this information has been helpful to you and your sister. Even if at first your niece doesn’t respond to any of the tips I have given, I am confident that with a little bit of time this phase will pass and you will all be onto the next one.
Once first-time parents leave the hospital, the thought that they are on their own now can be quite nerve-racking. Even if you’ve had other children, sometimes you’ll encounter something with your newest baby that you haven’t seen before. Don’t panic! Here are a few tips on anticipating and coping with some of the things that you will (or may) see in the first couple of months of your baby’s life.
Let’s start with bottom activity. If your baby is bottle-fed, don’t worry if they only have bowel movements once every couple of days; it’s quite normal for formula babies. They will also have slightly harder stools than a breast-fed baby’s, although the stool should not be so hard that your baby is straining to pass it – that could be a sign of constipation. Another sign of constipation is a swollen hard tummy. If you suspect your baby is constipated, try giving her a nice warm bath; in my experience this generally gets things moving. If it goes on for a week or more, ask your midwife or general practitioner (GP) and they will give you some other little tips to help get things moving. With any infant, you should not resort to laxatives, enemas or suppositories except under medical guidance.
On the other hand, breast-fed babies poo almost as often as they eat. It can be quite runny and yellowish green in colour. However, if your baby soils a nappy more than once in a feed and you notice it is runnier than usual, then it could mean they have diarrhoea. If you notice these signs and it goes on for more than 24 hours, then contact your GP, as your child could become dehydrated. But it could just be a change in your diet that does not agree with your baby.
Make sure you’re always prepared with plenty of nappies and a change of clothes. To avoid nappy rash, try to change your baby as soon possible after they are soiled.
Umbilical cord care
Your baby’s cord will take 2-5 weeks to fall off. Make sure you keep the area dry and exposed to air as often as possible. Don’t pull the cord off, even if it’s hanging by a thread. Until it falls off, refrain from giving your baby a bath; you can just wash around with a warm flannel instead. If it starts to go red or oozing pus, it’s time to contact your midwife or GP.
Cradle cap is a yellowish, patchy, scaly and crusty skin rash that can appear on newborn babies’ scalps. It is completely harmless and they will eventually grow out of it. There are some natural remedies that you can use to try to get rid of it, or at least prevent it from becoming worse. Try a tiny little bit of natural olive oil or baby oil on the top of the head and leave it on whilst you give your baby a bath. Then remove it with a gentle circular massage or use a very soft baby brush on the baby’s head. Wash their hair as usual with a gentle shampoo. It could take a couple of goes, but the cradle cap will eventually disappear. If you notice it getting worse, or a slight redness, contact your GP.
Some babies are born with one or both tear ducts partially or totally blocked. Blocked ducts can cause a yellow crust or discharge in the corner of the eye. Just take some cotton wool and warm water (or ask your local chemist or GP for some sterile water) and gently wipe it away. This might reoccur several times over the first few months of the baby’s life.
If you notice any redness or puffiness, don’t hesitate to contact your GP.
While it is normal for a baby’s ears to produce wax, which is an antiseptic protection for the ear canal, it is never normal for them to produce any other kind of discharge from the ear. If you are not sure that the substance you see is ear wax, consult your GP.
Never poke around in your baby’s ear; you could damage the ear drum. Stick to just cleaning around the outer ear – it’s much safer.
These are just a few of the many things you may encounter in caring for your new baby which can cause concern if you’re not prepared for them. Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this post, where I’ll be examining more of these things in the near future. Good luck and congratulations on your new baby!
Hi, I have a 14 month old baby girl and recently she has started to not want to fall asleep in her cot. From when she was born, I and my mum didn’t have a stable home and my daughter was always sleeping in the bed with me from the time she grew out of her Moses basket. But now we have been settled in our own house and she now has her own room.
When we first got the cot she loved sleeping in her cot; during the day and nighttime she would sleep right through without a peep from her! But recently when I go to put her to bed, before I even reach her bedroom door she starts stiffening up and crying hysterically. I’ve tried putting her in bed and giving her a bottle, soothing her by stroking her head, singing, giving her nighttime baths and even taking her swimming at nights to tire her out. But as soon as I go to leave she bounces straight up and cries for ages. I don’t like to let her cry for too long; she would cry all night as she never gives in! Hope you can help me! Thanks x
As I have mentioned before in other posts, around this age childrens’ sleep routines can start to change. They are more aware of their surroundings, more active, and have more anxieties and fears. You must also take into account that if she is not napping, she will become overtired at bedtime, which can cause her to have trouble sleeping at night. In addition, while I think physical exercise during the day is helpful for this purpose, if done too close to bedtime it can be counterproductive. Your daughter needs to be calm in order to be ready for bed; if she is overstimulated in the evening, it will make it harder for her to settle and self-soothe.
Although it sounds as if you’ve already tried some good methods, have you applied them consistently? If you’ve only tried them once or twice and she still cries, and you’ve given in and tried something else instead, then you are sending mixed signals to your daughter. I would advise you to pick one routine and try to stick to it. If you don’t like to leave her to cry out, then we need to find a routine that can work for the both of you, but you will have to stick to it. For the first couple of days – maybe even up to a week – your daughter might still cry in the beginning, but with a bit of luck and persistence it will become less and less.
The first step, I think, is to encourage your daughter to become more accustomed to spending time in the bedroom and to think of it as a happy and relaxed place; at least that way you can get her into the room without a scene. You can probably manage that by making the bedroom a play area and spending some time playing and reading there during the day. At the same time, refrain from using the actual cot except for her sleeping (not as a playpen or for “time out”, for example).
Try to keep to the same bedtime every night. Start your routine with a bath, all the time preparing her for bed and interacting with her by saying things like “Shall we go have a bath and get ready for bed? Which pyjamas do you want to put on? Shall we brush your teeth before we go to bed?” Then take her to her room and sit on the floor and play with her for about 15 minutes. Before you get her to help you tidy the toys away “because it is bedtime”, have her choose a book, which is the last step before bed. During storytime turn the lights down low, and talk in a very low voice. Finally, give her a little kiss and put her in bed. Don’t hang around the bedroom if she stands and starts to cry, just walk out of the room. I am almost certain that at least for the first week she will cry; you don’t have to let her cry out, but I do advise controlled crying in this situation. Check out my post “Getting Baby’s Bedtime Back on Track“, which explains how this works.
If you do manage to stick to the routine, obviously you can change a few things here and there as you know your child best. But most importantly, make it a routine; children at any age respond better to consistency.