My 18-month-old wakes up wanting to nurse or even play in the middle of the night, but I want to sleep. How can I teach her that nighttime is for sleeping?
Try “playing dead”. Baby wakes up and expects you to wake up, too. Instead, you and your husband stay asleep (well, you pretend to be asleep.) If she’s happy to just play in the dark let her, as long as you know she’s safe. Eventually, she’ll go back to sleep, because it’s just not very interesting being awake in the dark alone.
If you have a toddler who persists in protesting this approach by crying or screaming, realize that it is okay to say “no” to her at this age – after all, she is not crying alone in a dark room down the hall. You will be teaching her, by example, that nighttime is not for playing. Her protests may be hard for you to ignore (you’ve responded so lovingly in the past), but she’s old enough now to handle this frustration, and she’ll handle it better if she senses that you are not anxious about her.