I’m sorry for the constant barrage of baby related posts here lately. I promise I will move on soon, but I wanted to recap on a few subjects while they are still fresh because let’s face it, Aubrey is already 15 months and I’m just getting around to writing this post. Babies grow fast man!
So, most things you read out on the interwebs will tell you children typically don’t become afraid of the dark till somewhere around age 2. Something in their little brains clicks in and they suddenly become aware that their rooms are really really dark, and that could mean all kinds of things could be creeping and crawling around in their bedroom. Couple that with their new potential for nightmares, or worse, night terrors, and you find yourself seeking something that will offer them comfort during the night, that doesn’t involve them pulling you from your restful sleep.
Not to be one to follow the crowd, Aubrey decided all of this would take place at one year instead of year two. We returned from our long stint in Italy and Germany and after the first night of sleeping just fine due to pure exhaustion, she suddenly was terrified to be in her room. Seeing this reaction to going to bed coming from a child that has been no stranger to sleeping in a different beds constantly was puzzling. We had her white noise going, she had her baby, but as soon as we walked out of the room she would scream bloody murder. A pitch we had until that point not experienced yet. I tried multiple times to settle her, rocked her until she fell asleep on my shoulder only to go through the same screaming as soon as I left the room again, and finally just accepted that she was going to have to work it out on her own and readjust to her room. But as I watched the video monitor with nerves on edge, seeing her sitting up in her crib crying crocodile tears and screaming, and clutching her baby for dear life I realized something…our little girl was scared.
There’s not much quite so heartbreaking as seeing your baby hugging their lovie as tightly as possible as they try to get a hold of the fear that has gripped them in it’s claws, but we were totally confused as to what the problem was. She had all of her normal bedtime comforts, a full belly, a clean diaper, and had always slept in complete darkness, the only thing we hadn’t tried was a night light.
We, of course, were fresh out of night lights besides a really crappy LED one I had tried back during the early newborn breastfeeding night sessions, and it clearly wasn’t enough. So I moved the diffuser from our room into hers, added a few drops of Peace and Calming for good measure, and set it to a soft amber glow. We left the room again and within minutes she finally went to sleep for the night.
The next night we did the same, and I watched again from the monitor and saw her startle awake, look over at the light, then lay her head back down and resettle. The mystery was finally solved. Contrary to all the best advice of the internet, it was possible that our one year old was afraid of the dark.
She has slept with some form of night light ever since, and we try to always have one of her lovies in the crib. There have been a few nights here and there when she has been so exhausted going to bed it hasn’t been necessary, but generally, turning on the night light is part of our bedtime routine. We now use a himalayan salt lamp instead of the diffuser for general night light purposes. I love that you can dim them to your liking, allowing us to set it super low for her. I believe sleeping in total darkness is really key to a good nights sleep, so this is our way of sort of weaning her. If she is particularly restless, doesn’t feel well, or I just feel like it, we will put a diffuser in her room with some Peace and Calming or a blend of Lavender and Cedarwood. And while she doesn’t actually hug any of her lovies, she likes knowing they are there with her.
If you are dealing with newfound nighttime fears our best advice is a calming night light, relaxing diffuser blends, a lovie or two, and a little reassurance from mom and dad from time to time. We wish you night’s of peaceful dreams and catching lots of zzz’s!