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I'm trying to learn the do's and dont's of parenting for when my baby comes along, by watching other parents. I'm able to learn a lesson or form a theory on most things except this one area:

The baby in question is almost 3 years old, doesn't go to sleep till 3 or 4 in the night if he sleeps in the afternoon. The afternoon nap happens sometimes when he's awaken early in the morning or is tired out. And it gives the parents a really tough time when it happens. They have to take care of dinner and other things at night and go to office the next day which becomes next to impossible. So what they do, is try their best to not let the baby sleep in the afternoons, no matter how sleepy he gets. So naturally, he gets moody and cries and yells and throws uncontrollable tantrums. Parents have a tough time with that too, but choose this over sleepless nights.

I was never for constraining the baby too much, be it about sleeping or eating - as long as its safety/health is not compromised with. Sure, build a schedule early on and stick to it so that the baby's body is also in sync with it. But when and how should I start enforcing the schedule? And at the cost of upsetting the baby this much? Parents certainly cant change their schedules and office hours, either.

The question boils down to "what do i do if the baby's sleep pattern/schedule is different from the parents' even after 2-3 years"?

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    Your friends could try allowing a brief afternoon nap as a compromise, half an hour shortly after lunch. // There is also over-the-counter baby Melatonin drops which could be tried at bedtime. If in doubt they could check with the pediatrician -- who could be a good resource regardless. – aparente001 Nov 23 '16 at 13:57
  • The transition from one daytime nap to no daytime nap can be difficult for some children; but it generally only takes a few months to make it through. It's important to have a regular getting up in the morning time and no morning nap; it can be helpful to serve dinner earlier than usual, and put more emphasis than usual on exercise, fresh air and soothing evening bath play. Water can be so therapeutic. – aparente001 Nov 23 '16 at 14:01
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    Regarding gentle guiding of a baby into a schedule, I like Spock's Baby and Child Care. – aparente001 Nov 23 '16 at 14:02
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After a certain age, you can reason with a child. "You can stay up but you have to stay in your room, and be quiet." You take away toys/privileges if you are having to involve yourself. (No TV or computers in bedrooms.) IMO, not arguing is most powerful. The child understands the consequences and you carry through with them without discussion. When it isn't a battle, the kid falls asleep -- perhaps on the floor. As they see that the choice of sleeping in their nice warm bed vs the floor is theirs to make -- most will ultimately choose the bed.

Infants are not the same. Many parents have to make concessions while kids are too young to be reasoned with. Some take turns sleeping in the room and cuddling. Some allow the kids to cry themselves to sleep. This is the time to sleep when the kid sleeps. Again, fighting it out just gives the child leverage. Pick your battle. If you have to sleep and the only way you can is to let the kid sleep with you -- don't battle for hours before you reach that conclusion. Battle on weekends when you can afford to not sleep. Give them rewards for staying in their room. Not money-costing rewards -- choices to do things with you that you all like.

There are tons of books on the subject. I'd go to the library, read a few over and pick the one you think makes sense. Then buy it and follow through with the plan it suggests.

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    the thing about battling or saying a definite 'yes' or 'no' is that if you change your mind, what you've done is taught the kid that if s/he cries for long enough you'll give in. Once you give the answer, stick with it. Behaviourists will tell you that giving in after a long fight is the worst thing you can do. So, if you know that you will have to give in if such a thing happens -- do yourself a favour. Give in immediately. – WRX Nov 22 '16 at 21:17
  • Yes, very wise advice. This also (like many things) applies when dealing with adults :-). There it is called "Pick your battles". – sleske Dec 16 '16 at 9:59
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In my experience you can't really "build a schedule early and stick to it". Rather, you have to adjust as the child grows.

At younger than 3, all three of my kids were able to take a one or two hour nap and still get to sleep at a reasonable hour. However, if they stayed down for four hours, not so much. One of the tricks was figuring out how to wake them from a nap without their waking up into a tantrum.

My recommendation is to try things with your kid and see what works. And as Willow Rex says, some time around age 3 you can start reasoning with them.

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