17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Grumpiest Baby on the Block

T is a very sweet 15 month old boy. I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom and obviously biased. He is just a very laid back baby, shy and cautious sometimes, but also friendly and just all-around pleasant. I am lucky. He's a very good boy. BUT (why does there always have to be a but!), there is one time of day where my sweet boy turns into some child I don't know.....

Waking up from naptime. UGH! This time of the day he is the grumpiest grouch I know. There is no end to the crying. At it's worst it takes him up to an hour to get over his moodiness. He denies all help. No he doesn't want milk. No he doesn't want his favorite stuffed dog. No he doesn't want to be held. Yes, he does want to be held.... wait, no he doesn't. He can't seem to make up his mind about anything. Most days I just make up his mind for him and put him back to bed. But does he fall back asleep? Occasionally yes, but usually no. I let him cry it out for 10-15 minutes (maybe that's not long enough??). I feel like I have tried everything. Comforting him. Ignoring him. Feeding him. Putting him back down. Cuddling him. Letting him watch Sesame Street (this oftentimes works). But it is driving me a little nuts. I'm starting to dread this time of day, and I don't want to. It makes me a very impatient mama and I don't like feeling like that.

Once I read that babies should generally wake up happy. If a baby wakes up crying it is because he didn't get enough sleep (according to this expert). Perhaps that is the case with T, but he usually doesn't fall back asleep when I put him back in bed. Maybe I've tried so many different things to try to un-grump him that he is totally thrown off? Maybe there is no way to un-grump him? I mean, I know how he feels... I wish I could cry and flail myself about when T wakes up at 6:30am! So I'm wondering if any of you moms out there have any tricks up your sleeve for dealing with a grumpy toddler? Maybe something I haven't thought of yet? I don't know, maybe there is no answer besides he's just a grouchy waker-upper. I don't expect T to be all cheery when he wakes up from his nap, but the grumpiness is getting a little out of hand (and a little dramatic). What would you do if you were always meeting up with a grouch after naptime?


  • The only pattern I've noticed with my boys and after-nap grouchiness is if they've actually slept too long (or longer than normal) or if they wake up really hungry...not always obvious at first because they might initially refuse food because they are upset. I don't know if this applies to T or not...

    Maybe establish an after-nap routine with a snack and a few minutes of Sesame Street or reading books and snuggling so he knows what to expect and isn't jarred back to his day?
    posted by Blogger Jen at 6/12/2007 01:57:00 PM  

  • My oldest always takes a while to wake up in the mornings. She hates it when her younger brother (who bounds out of bed in the morning) runs into her room and tries to play with her right after she's woken up. She needs at least 15 minutes--less time and she's yelling at me, crying about the smallest thing, etc. (I'm the same way in the morning. I am not civil until I've had a shower.) It might be in part a personality thing.

    With napping, I usually try to determine if the length my child has slept is enough. When they were littler, both mine would occasionally wake up half way through their nap, and it was clear that the answer was to somehow work through that so they could sleep longer.

    When he's had a long enough nap, sometimes my son just needs some alone time. He's the same way as T--wants something, doesn't want something. I can't please him. I let him cry it out a bit and that usually works.

    Jen's idea has also worked for us. We have a small after nap routine so he knows what to expect, making the transition smoother.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 6/12/2007 02:11:00 PM  

  • Do you wake him up after nap-time or do you go get him only when you hear he's up? If it's an issue of not getting enough sleep (and please forgive me if I'm stating the obvious) you could try leaving him alone. Either he'll soothe himself back to sleep or get out his grumpies before you come to get him up. It will probably take a learning curve if he's used to you coming in fairly quickly.
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 6/12/2007 02:54:00 PM  

  • How does he wake up in the morning? The same? Does he go down for his nap good?

    I haven't got to this stage yet so I have no advice, but the advice already given sounds good to me. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 6/12/2007 02:56:00 PM  

  • Hey Beth, I can't imagine Tyler grumpy, but I can completely relate to the scenario. My only remedy is to immediately go outside, give him something sugary (up the blood sugar) or a movie. Nothing else worked for us. I know it's hard especially around dinnertime to handle, but it will pass.
    posted by Blogger charlotte and clarke at 6/12/2007 05:07:00 PM  

  • I second Charlotte and Clark--the only thing that ungrumpifies my 16 month old after his nap is immediately going outside. We go for walks daily at 3:30, which, as the summer wears on, is going to become more and more wretched in the scorching summer sun. But I prefer melting to a grumpy boy.
    posted by Anonymous mhuff at 6/12/2007 07:20:00 PM  

  • Does the time of day that he takes a nap make a difference in the level of grumpiness? My daughter generally wakes up happy from her nap if it is in the early afternoon, but if she takes a late nap and wakes up closer to 3 or 4, she is scary! She will cry and throw tantrums for at least an hour and basically be the biggest drama queen you can imagine for the next few hours. I always try to avoid the late nap if at all possible. When she does wake up like this, I try to distract her with Caillou, toys, or going outside. Usually outside will work. Sometimes she just needs some alone time to work it out, but she is older than your son, so I don't know if that would work for him yet. I would try to notice if the time of day seems to make a difference and maybe just try to let him have some time to work it out by himself. Good luck! :-)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/13/2007 08:41:00 AM  

  • My 2-year-old daughter is like Anonymous 8:41am's daughter--the time of day is the kicker. If I get her down by 12:30, she'll sleep till 3pm and wake up an angel ready for anything. If her nap starts later than 1:30pm, she'll sleep until four and wake up an inconsolable demon-child that lasts until RIGHT before bedtime. So maybe trying to shift naptime will help--if that is possible. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Keryn at 6/13/2007 11:10:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all the good comments.

    Jen - I am going to start being more consistent w/an after-nap routine. A few minutes of Sesame Street, milk, and sitting on mom's lap will do it for those kind of moody days, and I think I'll take the advice of other moms and take him outside if he's being particularly dramatic.

    Michelle - I think you're right about it being a personality thing. I am also NOT a morning person.

    Proud daughter of Eve - I always let him wake up himself after a nap (I mean, who wants to interrupt a good naptime). But I do think that when he is extra grumpy it is because he woke up earlier than usual.

    Melissa - He goes down great, and is always very happy in the morning, probably b/c he got enough sleep at night. I don't think you'll have to worry about this with your guy. It's probably more of a personality thing than a "stage". But if you do, you know where to go for advice.

    Charlotte - I'm so glad you commented. You need to move back to LA so that I can always get good advice from you! And I love that you of all people told me to give T sugar - ha! I guess you probably mean apple juice or fruit since you're the healthiest person I know.

    Thanks for all the advice. He's actually sleeping a lot better this week. He's also getting some of his back teeth coming in, so maybe that has something to do with his grumpiness.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 6/13/2007 01:23:00 PM  

  • An after-nap routine has always been good for us. It includes a show and a snack. It gives the kids some time to adjust to life again and it gives me some time to wrap up whatever "nap-time project" I was working on.

    I have also noticed, like I think someone had mentioned, if the nap was taken a little too past "the window" they usually have a really hard time waking up - no matter how long the nap was. For my kids, getting them to sleep in their window makes all the difference.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/14/2007 07:52:00 AM  

  • My dd saw an occupational therapist for sensory defensiveness disorder when she was younger. One thing her OT taught me was that often children need help getting themselves "organized" at transitional times - waking being one of the key transitions. Something that helps is something slightly sour (like a citrus juice - orange or grapefruit) drunk through a very narrow straw. Something about the oral stimulation really helps children (and adults) who are out of sorts pull themselves together. You could try making it a big fun thing - ooh, look at the fun straws you get to have! These are *special* wake-up straws . . . "

    It's worth a shot, anyway.

    posted by Blogger Shel at 6/15/2007 06:29:00 PM  

  • GL - That's a cool idea. I like it.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 6/15/2007 07:06:00 PM  

  • I can't believe someone has the EXACT same problem as I do! My 22-month-old is EXACTLY the same way! I asked everyone I know with kids if they had this problem and no one ever seemed to know what I was talking about. I tried everything. I thought he was waking from hunger, then gas pain, then because of his teeth coming in, or he was getting a cold. I slowy kept ruling out everything until I was out of ideas as to why he kept waking up grumpy. But then I finally found some good advice in a book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." It talks about Sleep Inertia (the inability to complete all 3 phases of the sleep cycle before waking). So, babies can wake up very confused and disoriented and that's what causes the grumpiness. It suggests to adjust bed time to an earlier time and that will then help with naps. I thought this was crazy when I read it, but it's actually been helping! I put my little guy down around 7:30--8 at the latest. Then, I put him down for his nap around 1:30-2 ish and this has seemed to help a lot. I think it's all about finding the right schedule for the individual child. Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/18/2007 09:00:00 PM  

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