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Babies and Sleep

On Memorial Day my husband and I made the grim discovery there were no more Dora bandages in the house. It shouldn't have been tragic since no one was actually injured. But my older daughter, who is nearly 4, requires at least one Dora bandage daily, and in its absence, she might just actually attempt to stay awake until one is found and subsequently applied to her emotional boo-boo du jour.

That it was Memorial Day was significant because we live in a small town, and most businesses either close entirely or early on holidays. The nearest open drug store was 40 miles away. And the Dora-less discovery was made at 8 p.m. Fortunately, right before we shifted into panic mode, I remembered an emergency Dora Band-Aid stash in the car, so catastrophe was narrowly averted. Which meant we only needed to exorcise two monsters and three nightmares from her closet, fill up her water bottle ("With fresh water, I said!") twice, cuddle with her two times, tuck her in four times (until we got it right), and sing the entire original Broadway cast recording of Annie once before she'd go to sleep, or at least quiet down.

This has been the nightly pattern for the past six months. It's fun, bedtime in our house. Or, rather, it's torture. It's unclear if her newfound sleep allergy is a fear of missing out on something (because things are pretty rockin' on the couch downstairs in the evening as my husband flips between SportsCenter and The Daily Show while I study Facebook as if I'm preparing to defend it for my nonexistent dissertation) or her nightlife is just that good that she can't bear to cut it short.

Some evenings are better than others. But most are pretty grim. We threaten and she cries. We threaten and she sings. We threaten and she laughs. We threaten—and follow through with our threats. The end result is almost always the same: She will not go to sleep one minute before she's good and ready, which is usually sometime between 9 and 10. Did I mention we start the bedtime process at 6:30 p.m.?

Our only saving grace at nighttime is knowing our situation is hardly unique, so we aren't alone. And since we don't have the first preschooler who breaks out in figurative hives once the sun sets, there are plenty of experts with tons of experience on how to break children of bad sleep habits, and how to get them on the right track early in life. Here are 10 of the best tips we've come across.

Expert Sleep Tips: How to Get (and Keep) Your Little One Snoozing

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