I remember this game all too well! My son would throw his favorite lovey (a turtle, aptly named Turtle) out of the crib repeatedly as soon as I put him into his crib for bedtime (or naptime).
This was pre-sleep training, so I didn’t have the knowledge back then to deal with this situation properly.
I would go in and reason with him as a 12 month old (that in itself is a crazy idea!) and have lengthy conversations about why he shouldn’t be doing that – not wanting to hurt turtle, he needs to go to sleep, etc.
Since I’ve got experience now as a sleep consultant, I have a better approach on HOW to curb this behavior.
The best thing you can do when your child throws his lovey out of the crib is to quietly and calmly go into your child’s room and without eye contact or conversation, toss that lovey back in the crib and leave the room.
You may have to do it several times a night (or for a nap), and maybe for a few days in a row, but the no-nonsense approach will quickly make this game boring for your child.
This can be a frustrating situation for parents and I always explain WHY your child thinks throwing a favorite doll out of the crib is such a delightful thing to do:
- It’s a new skill. Between 7-9 months, fine motor skills are developing and babies are able to pick up a medium-sized object and drop it. By 12 months, babies are intentionally doing this to get a reaction! (To see milestones by age, click here.)
- They can get your attention. Babies love to get a reaction out of their parents and by dropping a toy and seeing mom or dad pick it up 100 times in a row, they are getting a lot of attention from you!
- Beginning to understand cause and effect. Understanding object permanence is a big milestone for babies and learning that a toy is still somewhere, even when they drop it, is pretty cool!
- They want more control. Let’s face it, you pretty much make all the decisions for baby–when to get in the crib, what to wear, what to eat, you probably even suggest the books to read and the toys to play with…It’s no wonder baby is wanting to have more of a say! By throwing the lovey out of the crib, your baby is saying, “I’m telling YOU what to do for a change!”
As the baby becomes a toddler, this behavior becomes a stalling technique as well, especially if the child hasn’t yet learned how to fall asleep independently.
So now you know WHY your child is throwing his dearest toy out of the crib and HOW to solve the problem.
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