My toddler keeps throwing his lovey out of the crib at bedtime and then screaming for it. What should I do?
Toddlers quickly learn that their actions result in certain reactions from those around them. If they throw a lovey (such as a teddy bear or blankie) out of the crib at bedtime or naptime and let you know, parents will typically go get it for them.
Parents face several choices when deciding how to handle this situation. One choice is to wait until your child is asleep and then return the lovey. This allows you to ignore the behavior at bedtime (that is, tossing the lovey from the crib then screaming for or requesting the lovey) but also prevents your child from screaming or crying again in the middle of the night requesting the missing lovey.
Other choices are to go in when he screams for his lovey, either right away or after waiting 15-20 minutes, and return the lovey without providing any additional attention. The problem with going in right away every time is that it can quickly become a game. Waiting 15-20 minutes and then giving it to him while he is still awake and possibly crying simply teaches him to cry for long periods.
So, instead, try a middle-ground approach. Give your child the benefit of the doubt the first time, but also help him understand the consequences if he keeps doing the same thing. Therefore, retrieve your child’s lovey right away the first time that it gets tossed, but let him know if he throws it again, you won’t get it. If he throws it again, return it to the crib once he is asleep. He will soon learn that if he throws his lovey more than once at bedtime he will have to wait for it.