18-month-old who wakes up crying is normal

Parent Q&A

March 26, 2000|By T. Berry Brazelton, m.d. | T. Berry Brazelton, m.d.,new york times special features

Q. Our 18-month-old son has slept in his room in a crib since he was 6 months old. We are concerned because he always cries when waking up from a nap or a full night's sleep. We rarely find him lying awake in his crib, playing. He cries himself awake, or we find him standing in his crib -- crying.

We have always answered his cries and gotten him up if it is time. Is this the only way he knows how to tell us he is awake? Is this normal behavior? We're worried because he is crying, not whining or whimpering. What can we do to help him?

A. I'm not sure you need to be concerned. It sounds as if you respond to your son's cries by trying to comfort him, and that's great. But many children (and adults) wake up cranky. Then, after they are fully awake and their blood sugar has mobilized, they settle down. Sometimes, having a glass of orange juice first thing in the morning, as a source of sugar, helps.

Q. My daughter recently left her live-in boyfriend. They have a 4-year-old girl, my wonderful granddaughter. We have taken care of her since she was 6 weeks old.

She is now in day-care and alternates living one week with each parent. Relations are strained between the parents, so we only see our granddaughter when she is with her mother. We still keep in touch, however, with the father.

My granddaughter seems fine but misses her mother terribly during the week that she lives with her father. Although she loves both parents, we think this arrangement might be doing her harm. We want the best for this precious child and appreciate your advice.

A. I find it difficult to see how a small child can adjust to two different environments, to being torn apart -- even if it is to be with her two parents.

I think it's to your granddaughter's advantage that each parent cares about her and wants to live with her, but I wish they could move in and out and leave her in one place that would be her home.

It sounds as if you are very important to your granddaughter, and I'm glad you are able to be there for her.

Loss of the family and of one parent at a time is hard for a small child. The most important thing for her future is that her parents try to stay friendly. They need to share her in a way that gives her more continuity and protects her best development.

Questions or comments should be addressed to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Dr. Brazelton regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Pub Date: 03/26/00

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