List 17: A Toddler’s Guide to Co-Sleeping

The following is a guest post by my daughter. Some people may say that since she is only 21 months old and can only say a dozen or so words she could not have possibly have dictated this. Those people probably get full nights of sleep regularly, and I hate them.


My fellow toddlers,

Particularly if your mama works outside the home, as mine does, you are always looking for a chance to spend more time with her, but have you noticed that you are both together at home all night? Why would you waste that potential quality time sleeping? I used to sleep through the night, but I’ve learned that there are far better ways to spend those nighttime hours. Here are my tips for how to get your mommy and/or daddy to bring you to their bed and how to make the most of your time there:

  1. Wait. If you call out too soon after bedtime and your parents are still awake they are more likely to try to leave you in your room. Use the early evening to power nap. The extra energy will give you an advantage during the night ahead.
  2. Nights that start with a babysitter are especially good for co-sleeping. Your parents weren’t there to put you to bed, which means they miss you all the more. They’ll be super happy to see you at 2 or 3 a.m.
  3. When you are ready to go, cry out for “mama” or “dada.” Those are much more effective than a generic cry that might be mistaken for a nightmare.
  4. Adding a cough raises the guilt factor and may get you a spoonful of honey or a dropper of candy-flavored medicine. Yum!
  5. Avoid using a wet or soiled diaper as a ploy since a parent may change you and put you back in your crib. Something more abstract like being sick or scared is a much more reliable route to the big bed.
  6. If you have siblings don’t be too loud lest you risk waking them and having parental attention split; however…
  7. If you aren’t getting a reaction, gradually increase your volume. Mama will rush in out of fear that your brother will wake up too.
  8. If my brother was up before me that’s great because daddy is probably already sleeping with him in the guest room and I get mama and the big bed all to myself! If I were a praying girl I would pray for this. (I outgrew religion as a baby. I now consider myself agnostic.)
  9. If we are both awake sometimes mama will attempt a double co-sleep. It’s super fun getting to wrestle with my brother in the big bed, although I’m not sure that is mama’s intention.
  10. Once you’ve gotten taken to the big bed remember the goal is attention, not sleep. You can nap tomorrow at daycare. Make your presence known!
  11. Shift around to find the ultimate comfort position. Vocalize your effort: “Uh. Uh. Uh. Uh.”
  12. Scootch as close to mama as possible. Closer. Closer. Closer still. If she falls of the bed you know you are doing it right.
  13. If you are afraid of falling off yourself, hang on by hooking your toes under mama’s ribs.
  14. Pillows are awesome! (Why don’t you have a pillow in your crib? Not fair.) Be sure to put your head on mama’s pillow. There is plenty of room.
  15. There is plenty of room on the pillow! Scootch up and lay your entire body on the pillow. It doesn’t matter that you are also laying on mama’s head. If she thinks it will help you go back to sleep she’ll put up with anything.
  16. Turn sideways in the bed, and push your feet against mama’s back.
  17. If  mama tries to turn you the right way again keep turning back.
  18. If mama gives up and tries to sleep sideways with you, turn back to facing the right way.
  19. Insist on having mama’s arm under you. This position provides good lumber support for you while ensuring that mommy will never be comfortable enough to fall asleep.
  20. Skin on skin contact is important, and it’s a good way to warm up cold feet or hands. Stick them under mama’s shirt.
  21. If you can’t find a way to wiggle your cold feet or hands into mama’s shirt just press them on her neck. The neck is almost always exposed.
  22. Toddler feet also fit nicely onto grown-up eyes.
  23. On particularly cold nights keeping moving closer to the foot of the bed. In order not to smother you in the blanket mama will have to move the blanket farther down, thus covering herself less and less. The chill will help keep her alert.
  24. Put your head right by mama’s head and repeat “Mama. Mama. Mama.” She loves the sound of your voice.
  25. Playing with mama’s hair is fun.
  26. Hold mama’s hand. See how far her fingers bend.
  27. Mama is very busy during the day, so night is a good time to remind her of things like the fact that your nails need to be cut. Remind her by gently scratching her cheek.
  28. If you achieved co-sleeping due to a legitimate cough be sure to continue to cough directly into mama’s face so that she remembers you are sick.
  29. If you do fall asleep hope that you snore. Daddy does, so mama must find it endearing.
  30. Do not fall into a deep sleep, or you may wake up to find that you’ve been transported back to your own room. Always be ready to wake up the moment your body leaves the mattress.
  31. If you get bored, reach over to see if there is anything good on the bedstand. Mama’s glasses are fun toys as are pens.
  32. The clock makes a big thud if you knock it off the bedstand.
  33. So does the lamp.
  34. In our house mommy usually takes me, and daddy takes my brother. Sometimes daddy gets a turn with me, and that’s fun too. The sound of playing daddy’s bald head like a drum really resonates in the quiet of nighttime.
  35. The one problem with daddy is that he snores loudly. Just hold his nose until he wakes up.
  36. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Place your order with the attending parent as soon as hunger strikes no matter how early that may be.
  37. Don’t fall for the excuse of it still being dark. There are places in the world that get barely any light all winter. Do you think those people let their children starve just because it’s still dark out? Don’t be fooled. There is nothing wrong with eating in the middle of the night. I happen to know that daddy does it all the time.
  38. If you are given an iPad or phone in bed with the expectation that you will play with it while mommy and daddy continue to try to sleep be sure to remind them that screen time should be limited and supervised. Remind them by hitting them on the head with the device.
  39. Once you’ve convinced someone to go downstairs with you feel free to play with whatever device may be available UNLESS the attending parent tries to fall asleep on the couch. Then see the previous tip.
  40. Finally, never forget your ABCs: Always Be Cute. It’s the cuteness that lets you get away with all this stuff.

I’ve been strength training and hope to soon be able to climb out of my crib, at which time I’ll have so many more techniques to employ!

The boy and the girl in bed not sleeping.

Sometimes mama attempts the double co-sleep. Mama is delusional.

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