Last night when I was settling Immy to sleep we had lots and lots of leg bouncing, leg banging and leg twitching. You know, the kind where they are laying down in the cot but their legs seem to refuse to quit bouncing, bobbing, twitching and banging (usually into the lovely, noisy sides of the wooden cot).
I tried not to get frustrated as I gently coerced her to lie still, “Yes, that includes still legs”. It’s not that she hasn’t done this before but it has been a long time since we had such a bouncing, banging bedtime.
That got me thinking about why her legs were so restless. I knew she was tired as we had seen lots of eye rubbing during her bath and she was eager to have her bedtime story and settle down quietly in the dark for her ‘booba’ before getting into bed. So why the bouncing legs?
Then I remembered a piece that I had read in Australian Baby Guru, Robin Barker’s book, Baby Love;
“Many things related to normal development have the potential to interfere with sleep: separation anxiety; learning about cause and effect; learning new skills.“
(Okay, so I didn’t remember it word for word like that, I checked back in the book this morning!)
So as I sat there in the dark, thinking that this annoyingly interminable leg banging and bouncing might be something related to learning a new skill, I recalled that in all probability the last time I had really seen this particularly frustrating (for me!) bedtime behaviour was when Immy was learning to walk. So what new physical skill was she learning now? She has learnt to walk, she has pretty much mastered jumping (to the extent that an 18 month old can actually get both feet off the ground), aah, that’s right, she has been trying to extend jumping to jump down from small (very small) heights. Just that afternoon she had tried jumping down from a step and then at the playground she had pretty successfully tried jumping off a low balance beam. Could that be it?
Honestly, I don’t know. But it helps me to be more patient during such times to think that this in all likelihood is related to the mastering of a new developmental skill, it;s just disguising itself as particularly annoying bedtime behaviour.
I have talked beforeabout my belief that as parents we need to accept that babies and toddlers simply ‘sleep’ differently then we expect them too. However in this case I don’t think that babies and toddlers are that different to adults. I know that my ‘sleeptime’ is affected by new developments occurring in my life.
For example, I have been having some bizarre dreams about (of all things!) blogging lately. And, if I wake during the night I often find myself thinking about potential ideas for my blog or new blog posts. Blogging is new to me. I am fascinated by this whole world of information, connections and friendships that exists purely online. As well as starting my own blog and designing the new look for my blog, I have been reading lots of other blogs, including blogs about blogging, joining various forums about blogging, and I have also been reading books about blogging (ironic as that seems). Well, when you list it all like that it is not all surprising that blogging has infiltrated my thoughts during nocturnal hours.
So, I will try and be patient tonight if Immy again has a banging, bouncing bedtime, remembering that in all likelihood it is just a new developmental skill manifesting itself as twitching legs. After all, I don’t have anything more important to be doing, just blogging!