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Benjamin Franklin famously said “There are 3 things certain in life: death, taxes, and babies cry a lot.” Ok, he didn’t exactly say that but it certainly feels that way if you’re the parent of a Grumpy toddler. The truth is that all toddlers cry, but some cry a whole lot more than others.
All this fussing requires energy, so you’d think these grouchy little ones would collapse at the end of the day and snore through a 12-hour slumber. In fact, it’s just the opposite- Grumpy toddlers fight sleep! If your mini-curmudgeon spends most of his day scowling and complaining, chances are you’re both sleep deprived.
In this article we’ll describe the Grumpy toddler personality type, explain why sleep doesn’t come naturally, and give advice on how to get your crabby little one (and you) sleeping well.
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Is My Toddler Grumpy?
If you affectionately call your little one “Oscar the Grouch” or “Grumpzilla,” chances are he’s a Grumpy toddler. More than likely, he frowns and whimpers throughout most days, and his first reaction to most things is to cry.
Fun, photo-worthy activities like dressing up make him irritable and tense. In the early months you probably had endless visitors coming over to help “fix” your baby. Swaddling, baby wearing, vibrating chair, infant massage, anti-gas medicine, organic hypoallergenic formula, baby chiropractor- you’ve tried it all!
You’ve blamed yourself, your diet, and your pregnancy for your baby’s sour temperament and you’ve probably had some dark days. Having a child that cries this much makes you wonder why people have more than one. The upside is that when he smiles you feel like you’ve won the mommy lottery!
Why Won’t My Grumpy Toddler Sleep?
Toddlers with Grumpy personalities get overwhelmed easily. Much like Sensitive toddlers they need order, routine and consistency to feel calm.
If something throws off their daily routine, or if they don’t have a routine, they get frazzled, frustrated and angry. Imagine that you’ve had an argument with your partner and you’re really worked up about it. How easy would it be for you to go to bed and immediately fall asleep? Pretty hard, right? It’s the same with a Grumpy toddler. A change of routine or surprise visitor can send him into hysterics, making sleep near impossible. His system is too overstimulated.
It’s worth noting that if your older toddler has suddenly started fighting nap time with a vengeance and you’re wondering if he’s outgrown napping, check out When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?). In addition, my new Big Kid Sleep Made Simple program addresses sleep disturbances that occur in children ages 2-6 years of age and offers step-by-step instructions and guides to get your toddler sleeping independently. Personality traits can impact sleep, and I kept that in mind when developing my sleep guides. Check it out!
What Can I Do About It?
All children do better when life is relaxed and fairly predictable, but Grumpy toddlers especially need this because they are inherently resistant to change (like your grouchy old Aunt Carol.)
Having a familiar flow to each day does wonders with calming a Grumpy temperament. Start by setting consistent times each day for meals, wake-up, and bedtime.
Keep your bedtime routine the same each night. Grumpy toddlers feel secure when mom sings a familiar lullaby and Dad reads favorite bedtime books. Keep your little guy in the loop by explaining the day’s activities so there are few surprises.
You may be reluctant to introduce a new routine. Have we mentioned he doesn’t like change?! But I bet you’ve noticed his mood was better on days when he’s slept well. Let that be your motivation! We’re all happier when we’ve slept.
Does Sleep Training Work with Grumpy Toddlers?
Yes! Grumpy toddlers do very well with sleep training because they find comfort in its consistency and predictability. There are no curve balls when it comes to bedtime, so they can relax and welcome sleep. Gentle methods suit Grumpy toddlers well, giving them time to adapt and welcome changes in their routines.
Still have questions or would like more information on how to handle your grumpy toddler’s sleep? Check out my new Big Kid Sleep Made Simple program; it addresses sleep disturbances that can occur in children ages 2-6 years of age and offers step-by-step instructions and guides to get your toddler sleeping (and staying) in their own bed.
Please note: All Grumpy toddlers should be seen by their doctor to rule out any medical issues. Trust your parental instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, seek professional advice.
What are your tips and advice for helping your Grumpy Toddler sleep well? Let us know in the comments below.