I've been working with young children and their parents for a solid 8 years now, and I never understood the "he's the baby" excuse when referring to the youngest child. Not until, of course, I had a "the baby" of my own!
When Sweet Pea was born we were pretty consistent and held firm to our limits for the most part (except that we let her sleep in the swing too much which created a nasty habit to break, and we let her keep her nuk too long which was also then a nasty habit to break). We had her sleeping through the night regularly at about 6 months old (from 7am to 7pm), if she woke up we'd check on her, shush her, give her the nuk that she had lost, and lay her back down. If she cried right away, we ignored it and let her fall back asleep.
Fast forward to child number 3. He is usually the easiest kid to put to bed. His bed time is 7:00, so at that time you just give him a little cuddle, lay him down, give him his teddy, cover him up with a blanky (he doesn't care which one, as long as he's got teddy), tell him you love him and goodnight, and walk out the door. He then usually sleeps for at least 12 hours.
Last night we went to the pool at the hotel where my mother-in-law works some Saturday mornings. We got there at about 6:30, swam for quite a while, and then got home at about 8:30. As many of you know, keeping a baby or young child up later than normal does not usually result in a child who sleeps-in unless you make it consistent. What staying up late did to my son was cause him to scream and cry in his crib for HOURS!
Not "hours" straight, but broken up. When we first put him to bed he started crying, not normal for him, but we ignored it for a while. Then after not being able to stand it any longer I went in to check on him, he had pooped. Now, he had a clean diaper when we put him to bed, so I of course wondered if in all his cleverness he pooped on purpose so we'd get him up... not so sure about that, but it crossed my mind.
Quick diaper change and back to bed, screaming commences. It was like if he had the vocabulary he would be screaming things like, "My parents don't love me!" "You're so mean!" "I just want to play!" "I'm not sleepy!"
After once again not being able to stand "the baby" crying, Spence and I did something we never did with the girls...
We got him up and let him play!
Sounds bad? Oh just you wait... Before he got down and played he sat in my lap and helped himself to a bag of popcorn and some milk.
Yep, he screamed in his crib so we got him up and gave him a popcorn party... followed by some play time with blocks. I can see you shaking your head at me, I'm shaking my head at myself! I know better! This kid is going to do this every night if he thinks he's going to get a popcorn party!
After throwing my parenting experience out the window and letting him play, we put him back to bed because he seriously looked tired... but he continued to scream.
At this point we're at about midnight folks.
Spence suggested giving him some medicine in case his second set of molars were coming in, or he had an ear ache, and because it's the last trick we had left.
Ibuprofen in, a half hour later he's still screaming, but there was nothing else we could do. I had to actually remind myself that he is a year and a half next month! He's not a baby anymore, he's a toddler with a good size bag of tricks of his own that he will use to get what he wants. He's a toddler with strong feelings about what he wants and doesn't want. Very strong feelings! He's a toddler who absolutely should not be staying up until 12:45 screaming, playing, and popcorn-partying!
But then again... he is "the baby".