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What should I do if my child strips off her clothes and diaper in her crib?

By BabySleepAdmin 7 years ago

Brett R. Kuhn, PhD

What should I do if my child strips off her clothes and diaper in her crib?

Removing clothing is a common behavior that often starts for no other reason than your child has learned a new skill.  If you notice it is occurring more and more frequently, it may be time to figure out why the behavior has taken on a life of its own.

Is the bedroom too hot? 

Parents worry about their little ones getting cold at night, when in reality the bigger risk is that they are too hot.  Humans sleep best in a cooler environment.  Check for clammy or sweaty skin at night.  You might consider lighter pajamas or bumping the thermostat below 70 degrees F.

Is her sleep-wake schedule appropriate? 

If she takes longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, she may be taking off her clothes simply to combat long periods of boredom.  You could experiment by slightly reducing her time in bed by moving bedtime a bit later – maybe about 10 or 15 minutes, or waking her a little earlier in the morning (which may help her become sleepy at an earlier time in the evening).

Because a quality sleep environment is dark, quiet, and boring, many young children learn to deploy a variety of antics specifically designed to drag parents into the bedroom, which results in attention from their parents.   Some children will work and do things for attention, even if it is negative attention in the form of scolding.  For some children, dressing and re-dressing may become an enjoyable parent-child interaction that is preferred over a boring bedroom environment.  As with any child behavior that becomes a problem, first increase positive attention for what you want your child TO DO before ignoring the behavior you want to reduce.  So, for instance, when s/he is lying quietly in bed and not fiddling with his/her clothing, enter the bedroom to give your little one some positive attention specifically for lying down calmly. You can do this in the form of specific verbal praise and positive, gentle physical contact. For example, you can say “I love how you are lying quietly,” and give your little one a quick hug or pat (if s/he likes physical contact).   Do this calmly, quickly (10 sec. visits), and frequently the first few nights and fade the visits over the next several nights or weeks. Next, ignore the problem behavior by not commenting about it or entering the bedroom to address clothing removal.  About 30 minutes after your child falls asleep, slip into the bedroom like a ninja and gently replace the diaper and/or pajamas.  Fortunately for parents, most children tend to outgrow this behavior by the time they reach 18 years of age!

  Schedules & Routines, Sleep Problems, Sleep Training