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Can This Bedtime Be Saved?

Can This Bedtime Be Saved?

By Amalah

Hi Amalah! Big fan here. I am hoping you can solve this bedtime mess that I’ve gotten myself into.

I have a beautiful 18-month-old daughter that runs the roost around here, especially at bedtime. We do not go to bed until she does, usually around 9:00 if we are lucky. (I have to wake up before dawn because of a long commute, so this is late for me.) She has no bedtime routine, except that when she is tired, she crawls into my husband’s lap and stays there until she is good and asleep. Then he transfers her to the crib. Any attempt to rock her to sleep or put her in the crib while still awake results in a tantrum.

Overall, though, getting her to sleep is the easy part. What is slowly driving us crazy is the night wakings. Five to six nights a week, she wakes up and cries until one of us picks her up and puts her in our bed. I know that is the wrong thing to do, but she can not be calmed any other way. Back rubs just upset her more because WHY WON’T YOU PICK ME UP, MOMMY? and no matter how long you hold her and rock her (standing up, because she hates the glider), she will cry as soon as her head touches the crib mattress.

It wasn’t always like this. The first twelve months of her life she had a solid bedtime routine that ended with her falling asleep (quickly, peacefully) in my arms as I rocked her to sleep. I never succeeded at putting her into the crib “drowsy, but awake” as everyone suggests. But she slept through the night every night, unless a tooth or illness cropped up. The chaos started when I eliminated her bedtime bottle. She would not let me rock her to sleep without it, and she sleepily turned to her dad for comfort from the mean mama trying to make her go to bed.

So I guess my questions are:

1) Can this bedtime situation be saved?
2) Do you have any theories on why she is waking up so frequently at night? And what should I do about it?

Thanks in advance!

Ay yi yi, y’all. Is this not pretty much everyone’s worst nightmare? Sorry, OP.

So. You’ve got a bunch of nighttime problems here, but they’re all pretty much stemming from a singular source: That bedtime “routine.”

1) She’s going to bed too late, basically at her point of exhaustion from the sounds of it, whenever she decides she’s too tired to fight it any longer. Honestly, 9 pm is on the late side for an 18-month-old, even if she was sleeping through the night. Which she is not. Overtired kids are more prone to night wakings.

2) She’s never learned to put herself to sleep on her own. Even before things went completely bonkers, she was dependent on you to basically wait it out and put her down after she’s sound asleep. She still is. The problem is now even more obvious because a) she’s older, and these sleep disturbances SHOULD be a thing of the past, barring illness or the occasional growth spurt, b) she’s overtired and it’s taking a toll on her, and c) well, she continues to basically get what she wants at night, every night, as you guys blearily head to her room and retrieve her. Why mess with what works, yo?

Except obviously, it’s not really working. This is not a sustainable situation, for ANY of you. (Especially since I’m assuming long-term co-sleeping probably isn’t your bag, and you’d like her to sleep in her own room. Word to that.)

I had a come-to-Jesus moment when my third son, Ike, was eight months old and pretty much doing everything your daughter is — the endless bedtime, the wakings at 2…then 3…then 4 — when I suddenly found myself behind the wheel of the car, in the parking lot at my second son, Ezra’s, preschool, with absolutely no recollection of how I got there. I was so tired and I had NO business driving anywhere, much less through an elementary school crossing zone with multiple children in my car. And you’re commuting at dawn! Trust me, as awful and daunting as sleep training can seem before and during…I’d personally gladly trade some tantrums at home for a car wreck on the highway. Or a ton of missed days at work because you’re run down and sick. Or just generally unhappy all the time because your lack of sleep is robbing you of everything. Having a baby does not change the fact that you and your husband are still human beings who need sleep.

I would definitely recommend you at least check out Richard Ferber’s book (Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems). I think a lot of people have incorrect preconceptions about “the Ferber method” — preconceptions he frankly addresses in the latest edition, which I really liked. Ferber is NOT “let ’em scream for hours at bedtime and don’t go in if they wake up.” Ferber is not hardcore Cry-It-Out (CIO), but more of the “gradual extinction” method, in which you (gradually) remove yourself from your daughter’s falling-asleep process. The theory is that once she’s putting herself to sleep initially, she’ll also learn to control those night-wakings before they actually, fully wake her up. And the fact that she won’t be so tired anymore will mean fewer night-wakings anyway.

However, even if you are anti-ANY AND ALL CRYING/TANTRUMS/DISTRESS, I’d still recommend reading Ferber’s book, because he lays out a logical, compelling case on why a good night’s sleep is crucially, vitally important to your daughter, as well. This isn’t a good situation for her, either.  I’ve struggled with bouts of insomnia my whole life — I can get to sleep just fine, but the minute I’m a bit stressed (HINT: ALWAYS) I start waking up at night for no reason, and am completely unable to fall back asleep. It sucks. Over the years I’ve found self-soothing techniques and mental relaxation exercises that allow me to shut off my brain and get back to sleep, but UGH. I hate it. So I’m super-sympathetic to your daughter here, because I know exactly the pissed-off, oh-no-not-again, MOM GET IN HERE AND HELP state she’s waking up to at night.

I think the Ferber book will lay out the right plan for you to move bedtime off Daddy’s lap at 9 pm and back to 8 pm in the crib. If you’re not sure, there’s also The Happiest Toddler on the Block and The No-Cry Sleep Solution For Toddlers. Both of which are highly respected systems that I know have worked for a lot of families. (No-Cry did not work for us, for Ike, but I admit it’s all about consistent, long-term execution and we were all over the place for awhile, especially since we had two OTHER children to deal with at bedtime. Ferber got us back on track in two nights. TWO NIGHTS.) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is another one you could check out.

Basically, I don’t necessarily care WHAT approach you go with, just that I want you to get serious, pick an approach and then STAY WITH IT. Stay strong and consistent. Your daughter is of course the most precious being in the world, but she is Not The Boss Of Bedtime Or You. Nor should she, because babies are ridiculous and make no sense, because YOU NEED TO SLEEP GAH WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Cassie

    May 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child was a godsend for us. Someone gave it to me shortly after my first was born and it is awesome. I like that he explains the science of how much sleep kids need at each stage in life and why. He also provides several options for sleep training, depending on your crying tolerance. It gave me the support I needed to suck it up and let him cry for a little bit. Honestly, the most my son ever cried was about 20 minutes, and he was on a great schedule after two or three days. 

  • Emily B

    May 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Amen to the recommendation for Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.  The best, hands down.  I can’t remember who gave it to us, but we owe them big-time!  And we had a pretty easygoing, good sleeper most of the time–so when things got out of whack, it was really obvious.  That book helped so much, and it was easy enough to find the age/stage we were at and the particular recommendations.  It’s as much about training yourself as it is teaching your child!

  • Sarah

    May 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    We have twin daughters who are just over a year old now. When they were about 8 months, I had one who needed to be rocked to sleep but would then sleep through the night and one who would rock to sleep, wake up an hour later and need to come to bed with us. Needless to say, that was NOT working. I had heard a lot of good feedback about “The Sleep Lady” and let’s just say it was a godsend. The book is broken into sections based on your child’s age, so you don’t have to read 300 pages just to find out what to do. You stay in the room with them while they basically cry it out (but you’re there, so they don’t feel abandoned!) and then slowly work your way out of the room….Start sitting next to the crib, 3 nights later sit in the middle of the room, 3 nights later, sit near the door, etc. My little one who was rocked to sleep basically transitioned to falling asleep on her own in one night. Perfection! Her sister….well, the first night she cried for 2 1/2 hours. But the next night she cried for 1 hour. And the next night, 20 minutes. Now, they both fall asleep within 5-10 minutes of putting them down and they stay asleep. I hear them wake every so often overnight but they put themselves back to bed. Sleep training was the BEST thing we ever did for ourselves and our girls.

    • Emma

      May 14, 2012 at 4:33 am

      Another “Yes” for The Sleep Lady! It works on the same simple “extinction” principle as Ferber but is more gentle on the psychological health of the parent (at least) & (probably) the child.. My son had HUGE problems with sleeping and was incapable of falling asleep without being danced around the house (but unfortunately would also often be perfectly happy to be danced around the house between 2am-4am without falling asleep); at around 9 months we finally bit the bullet and decided that it was our RESPONSIBILITY to help him learn how to fall asleep on his own; the Sleep Lady book helped us do that with maximum consistency and empathy for the poor baby who has to learn the new skill. And to my huge surprise, within 3 days he was falling asleep HAPPILY and BY HIMSELF. It was the most amazing, amazing transition ever. I woke him for a night feeding around 11pm until about 18 months (he was always underweight), but he was also easily trained out of that recently. Plus, the principles help with dealing with occasional night wakings due to teething, etc. 

  • Becca

    May 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have never practised CIO, but a super-mean snowflake-raising mummy launched an attack on a twitter buddy of mine for sleep training this week, calling her “cruel” and “barbaric” for daring to consider helping her child learn to self-soothe. I must stop leaping into other people’s battles, but who-TF calls another mother cruel?

    I just knew I could rely on you to be warm and loving and helpful and intelligent all at once. You are raising some awesome kids. Sorry… This comment is getting a bit creepy, isn’t it?

    Anyway, we got on really well with Gina Ford’s Contented Little Baby book. She’s a bit odd – she kind of barks orders at you – but if you take the scheduling and the routine and ignore the “eat tea and toast at 9am!” and the bossiness, it worked like a dream for us.

  • Emily

    May 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Dont forget the 18month sleep regression.. add it all up and it’s a fun fun ride…..

  • Liz

    May 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Huzzah for The Ferber method!  Our pediatrician recommended we look into it for bad bad BAD sleep problems.   She said the problem would be better in a few nights and should be pretty much gone in a week.  It took ONE NIGHT.  It has changed my life; my daughter is so much more relaxed, well-rested, and happy!  There’s no way to explain to a baby why the rules are different now, so it makes sense they might be resistant to change. I also highly recommend reading the whole book; you’ll have a mch better understanding of what to do and why.  Don’t just skip to the solution section.  Good luck!

  • Eden

    May 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Maybe let her sleep with you and try again in a few weeks to establish a bedtime routine? It may get you the most sleep right now if she’s going through something that she can’t exactly communicate to you. Sometimes trying to master a new skill(such as learning to sleep and stay asleep by yourself) won’t be exactly feasible if she’s having a growth spurt, cutting molars, or others things amongst the list 🙂 good luck!

  • Karen

    May 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Yes to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I loaned it to a friend and somehow can’t seem to get it back. 🙁

  • Jo

    May 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Just to add a HERE, HERE for the new Ferber book. I got it when my firstborn daughter was 6 months old and it solved our issues in two nights. I used it again for my son when he was 8 months old and it got him sleeping from 7-7 every night with surprisingly very little crying (and I thought that would NEVER happen, oh sweet baby who liked to breastfeed every hour). I had to refer to it again with my daughter when she had some issues at 18 months (that’s a very transitional age, yikes) and again when she moved to a big bed. Loving, relaxing, firm and consistent bedtime routines are key. Don’t forget, you are the boss yo. If something is making you miserable, you have to change it. Good luck.

  • JenVegas

    May 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Ferber is a hero in my household. We never had TERRIBLE sleep problems but he totally helped us nip the issues we were having in the bud before bedtime started making us all bonkers. Plus, his book has a lot of helpful hints for OTHER sleep problems. Which reminds me I need to go back and look up what he has to say about kids who wake up too early…although if any commenters have any suggestions I’m willing to take them. 

  • Laurie

    May 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Another fan of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child here. It really, really, really saved my sanity.

  • Brittany

    May 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you for answering my question!  I admit I never gave Ferber a chance, not necessarily because I thought his method was cruel, but because I had preemptively decided my daughter was an “escalator” and that it wouldn’t work for our family.  Also I’m not sure if there is a point of no return, where bedtime is screwed no matter what you do, but my biggest fear is that we are close to it.  I will definitely pick up the recommended reading, and let you know how it goes.  Thanks again!

  • Amie

    May 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    My pediatrician recommended Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, but I found it unreadable–not because I didn’t like his advice, but because it’s so poorly written/organized I couldn’t tell what the hell he wanted me to do. All I could get out of it was that we weren’t supposed to let baby get too tired, and, at 3.5 months, she’s too young for any of the methods. I think. I’m still not sure. And I have a Ph.D., so it’s not like I can’t read. Just sayin’.

    • Amy

      May 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      I’m an MD and I had the same problem with his book! I did finish it though, and I’d recommend reading at least through the chapter on 4-8 month-olds. I found it enormously helpful, and now have a 6 1/2 month-old who sleeps 12 hours a night and goes down for naps (awake when I put him down, asleep within 5 minutes) without a peep. It’s almost embarrassing to admit that to moms of babies with sleep problems. I’m about to read the next chapter to prepare myself for the next stage.

      • Linda

        May 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm

        I thought I was the only one! Plus his condescending tone irritated me. The information has been pretty helpful, but the repetition and anecdotes of “and this is why the parent is stupid” are annoying. I also second that the chapter on 4-8 month olds is the most helpful. We ended up doing Ferber’s methods for night-sleeping at 13 months, but Weissbluth helped me figure out what to do and to expect for naps at all stages leading up to now (15 months).

    • Megan

      May 13, 2012 at 4:26 am

      I also found the book opaque and hard to follow. True I’m constantly distracted by the needs (sometimes very vocal) of an 8 month-old, but it is not an easy read. I’m slowly collecting all these sleep books, still searching for the right mix for us. I was happy to this topic being addressed. Thanks!

    • CAF

      May 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      Exactly!! I had heard from so many people that this was *the book* yet it was so poorly written/organized I lost all respect for the guy. I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one who thought this!

  • Sarah

    May 9, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Hmm… I wonder if she was self-soothing with the bottle? Seems like taking it away was when all hell broke loose. Would it be terrible to put her to bed with a water or sippy cup of water?

  • Whozat

    May 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I’ve heard very good things about The No Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley. 

    Also, I would add that I don’t think bringing her into your bed is “the wrong thing to do” at all. 

    If that’s how you all get the most sleep, then by all means, do it. 

    My daughter slept with us until she was three and then decided, on her own, to move to her own bed. 

    I don’t personally think it’s a big thing for a kid to have to fall asleep on their own, either. My daughter still nurses to sleep, but now it’s after a pretty set bedtime routine, and at a (mostly) set time (within an hour or so). After bath, jammies, teeth, potty and some stories, she usually nurses just a few minutes more and is asleep.

    If your daughter needs to rock or snug to go to sleep for now, then maybe you could just work on establishing a routine and making bedtime earlier and then you can worry about her falling asleep on her own, after she’s gotten used to falling asleep at that time after those other activities. 

  • Mollie

    May 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    So, I’m thinking that maybe since this started when you took away her night time bottle, she could be hungry? And waking up from hunger? We’re quite a ways behind you (mine is 6 mos) so I don’t really know the full deal with bigger little ones such as yours, but is eliminating a bottle before bed necessary? It’s a little contrary to what I assumed was a universal belief: content tummies make for sounder sleep. Also, for us, putting LO to sleep before she is so tired/overtired seems to work. Good luck!

    • MamatoTwo

      May 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      Bottles aftter age one are horrible on babies teeth and just not needed. she is probably not hungry. Definitely read Ferber or HSHC, he explains this so much better than I can and it will help prep you for the future! 🙂 hunger and sleep are unrelated after four months or so, they really can sleep through without a feeding, their metabolism is very slow so they just don’t need those night feedings!  Again like everyone else,I recommend these books to everyone. They are just wonderful and so helpful.

      • Mollie

        May 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

        Actually, I’m quite lucky and my child sleeps through the night so I won’t be reading any sleep books just yet (I’ll wait for the sleep regression). I know you’re not supposed to put them to bed *with* a bottle because of the sugar/teeth issue but I’m wondering if you’re really not supposed to feed them before bed. If she’s going to bed with an empty tummy, wouldn’t she wake hungry?

  • heather

    May 10, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I completely agree that your daughter is probably over tired. I would start an earlier bedtime for her STAT. I’m a big believer that rested children are happy children (and happy parents). I’m also a HUGE believer in a consistent bed time ritual. I take a softer stand on cry-it-out. I think that sometimes it’s effective, but it’s never been something that I have personally been comfortable with. That said, I think it’s most effective after you’ve established otherwise good bed time habits (early bedtimes, consistent and relaxing bed time ritual, etc). I also think you should look into giving your daughter a lovey or preferred stuffed animal. That can be really helpful for her to relax and be more comfortable in her bed.

  • Cheryl

    May 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

    We had this same problem. I’m a working mom, too. My son is in daycare and they take naps on cots in the toddler room. Shortly after he moved into that room, we started having huge problems at night. He would be asleep in our arms and then start screaming the second we put him in the crib. He was waking up all the time and screaming at night. It took us a while to realize that he was afraid of his crib. He felt trapped. So we turned it into the toddler bed. We still have to stay in his room until he’s asleep, but now he will even crawl into the bed by himself. He still wakes up sometimes and I still have to go in there, but it’s not anything like it used to be!!!! Good luck!!!

  • AmyRenee

    May 10, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Cheryl’s comment got me thinking – does she nap during the day? Could you copy the routine from daycare/sitter’s house? Bedtime is going smoother for us now that I got a copy of the naptime CD they use at daycare. And I would also agree with the “is she hungry” comment – what time does she eat dinner? Would a small snack or sippy of milk before bed time help? And last, she has learned that tantrums get her what she wants, so you need to learn to not give in to tantrums, about bedtime or any other time. It’s exhausting, and so sad to hear them cry, but it’s easier to fight the tantrum battle at 18 months than at 3 years old. Last, are the lights bright and the tv going until 9 pm? Turn off the tv & computers and dim the lights about an hour before bedtime – you need to give her cues that it’s time to wind down, bright lights interrupt her signals that it’s time for sleeping.

  • Shera

    May 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Dr. Sears gives a different perspective. He advocates parent-soothing over self-soothing so that children can learn that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and to remain in. He says that kids will learn to sleep on their own in their own time. We’re only 8 months in and have had our share of bumps in the sleeping road, but this is what feels right to me as a parent:

    • Jay

      May 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      You should definitely do what feels right for you, but Dr. Sears has been highly criticized, including by the authors of the studies he claims support his theory.  I think Dr. Sears is responsible for a lot of the mommy guilt and judging of others’ choices that is so popular and prevalent today.

      • Nicole

        July 13, 2013 at 12:52 am

        After years of reading, researching, meeting different parents and observing styles, I couldn’t agree more. The only sane moms I know threw away their Sears books after nearly losing it. Like a lot of theories the intentions are good but it just gets taken too far.

    • Becky

      May 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Us too-love this perspective and it fits so well with our family 🙂

  • BMom

    May 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Ditto on The Sleep Lady here – and yeah, I especially liked that I didn’t have to read the whole book, but could read the first chapter and then the one for my daughter’s age.

    I have Healthy Sleep Habits – and the chapters on why sleep matters were really useful, but I couldn’t understand his suggested methods for anything other than “put them in crib, come back at 7 am, the end” even though he talks about the other ones. Obviously, other folks have loved it though so go with whatever book makes sense for you!

    I also want to echo what someone said about do whatever you can for a couple days maybe to get everyone as much rest as possible before starting whatever teaching plan makes sense to you. Its not likely to make things a whole lot worse at this point, and being slightly more rested will help with being consistent. Good luck!!

  • N

    May 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Might I suggest a timer?

    We have just FINALLY gotten to the point (and when I say finally, I mean, in the past two weeks) to get my 2.5 year old to not need me lying next to him in his bed to stay in bed and to actually sleep. Either at bedtime or in the middle of the night.

    But before the big boy bed issues started, a timer was my lifesaver. I *agonized* over every whimper and cry, torturing myself because he was unhappy in his crib. Every second was an eternity. And my husband finally said enough is enough, we need time to ourselves (at bedtime) and sleep (in the middle of the night.) He challenged me to wait ten minutes. Ten. That’s it. I timed it on the kitchen timer, and you know what? It felt like an hour but it really was only ten minutes. And after a few nights, it WORKED.

    Same thing in the middle of the night. I’d sit on the side of my bed and count down the minutes until ten elapsed. If after ten minutes, my son was still crying/whimpering, I’d go back in to him. But like the bedtime routine, after a few nights, I didn’t have to wait a full ten minutes. He’d settled himself down!

    I’m not saying it was foolproof and perfect and there were never issues, but just realizing that the eternity I was feeling was actually a very short period of time was a lifesaver.

  • Meghan

    May 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for posting this! My 11 month old still seems to do best when we rock him to sleep and then put him down. He’s had spurts of falling asleep on his own when he’s still mildly awake (humming his little sleep song), but ever since we got 4 teeth coming in a row, it’s been back to rocking all the way until he falls asleep. The OP’s question puts in words what’s in my head each night – will we still be rocking him to sleep when he’s 18 months? 2 years? Off to kindergarten in the morning??? AAH! 

    Doing a little digging around on the suggestions you and the commenters have posted, I thought this was a helpful dissection of Ferber and Weissbluth. Not sure which one I quite credit for our situation, but hopefully we’ll figure out a solution to our recent 4-am-rowdy-hour habit (or 1:45, or 3, or whenever… you know, as long as we’re up for 1.5 – 2 hrs, when doesn’t really matter…).

    I hope the situation gets better for the OP, but please let us know what worked for you!!!

  • wealhtheow

    May 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Does she snore? We struggled with sleep for over a year, and then we had his adenoids removed when he got his second set of PE tubes placed. Sleep issues SOLVED. 

    It sounds like Amalah is probably on the money with her suggestions, but if you give that the old college try and nothing is working, you may want to get a sleep study done. A child who wakes up from apnea often can’t soothe herself back to sleep because she wakes up so panicked. 

  • pascale

    May 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I have to say that during the 18-month sleep regression, and the ones before and after, Moxie saved my sanity. This post might be useful:

    • p0nd77

      May 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      I found a lot of helpful videos on YouTube by Dana Obelman (the Sleep Sense lady). She had a question of the week column and would post her video answer on YouTube — I would have to look through the videos to find ones that were applicable to me. They were quick, free, and the best part I really found the specific tips of hers that I followed to be effective.

  • Em

    May 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    My kids are 3 & 18 months…I used a Ferber-ish approach with both and it worked quickly.
    Aside from that we have a SOLID bedtime routine. I do not deviate from it except for really really special occasions…my husband sometimes thinks I’m a little rigid with it but I truely believe it helps them both sleep well. They both know what to expect at any given point and seem to get distressed if we deviate. There is no question about what happens next, or who is in charge. I also believe bathtime EVERY night is key…every night is exactly the same. If nothin else a consistent routine lets you know that SHE knows what’s happening, and you won’t have the mom guilt over does she understand/ is she confused/ am I mean. 18 months is old enough to understand a consistent routine. Good luck.