Care and Feeding

Baby Godiva

How do I get my toddler to stop stripping down in the middle of the night?

Photo illustration of a toddler joyously naked in her crib.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Feeding? Email careandfeeding@slate.com or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group.

Dear Care and Feeding,

How do I get my daughter (22 months) to stop getting completely naked at night?

The first time it was funny. She’d waited till morning, had previously showed no skill or interest in taking her PJs off, and was really quite pleased with herself. The second time it was much less funny, as she’d smeared poop on pretty much every available surface. Another time recently, she’d done it early in the evening (we checked on her when we went to bed, and found her curled up completely asleep and completely naked) so we had to wake her up and put everything back on. She’s not doing it every night, but it’s often enough that it’s a problem. In addition to the potential mess, she wakes up pretty early in the mornings, probably because she’s naked and cold.

Most nights she’s wearing the basic Carter’s one-piece PJs, with a diagonal zipper and a snap at the top or something similar. (Also cloth diapers with snaps, but I think any diaper is probably easy to get off.) I know she can definitely get a shirt off and is getting good with pants, as well.

—Just … Keep Your Clothes On!

Dear JKYCO,

Hahahahahahahahaha. Well, yes, this is extremely common and also annoying as heck (especially when it gets messy). But marvel at her fine motor control!

My solution is actually pretty straightforward (and has been tested in the field): You gotta put the jammies on backward. Most of the time you can do it fairly easily (and I sense it’s worth it to you to acquire a few new PJs that can be worn backward with ease). Either that will hold her, or she will become a Cirque Du Soleil performer and you can be proud of her and tell all your friends.

One quick question, though: How’s the temperature in that room? She may wake up naked and cold, but is it warmer when she goes down at night? Just something to think about.

Dear Care and Feeding,

My husband and I have two lovely girls and a third baby on the way. One of my best friends (we’ve been friends for over 15 years) and her husband are infertile and have been trying to adopt a baby for over two years now, with no success. I try to avoid complaints of pregnancy-related woes to her, include them both in my kids’ lives when I can (they live out of state), and generally keep up on their lives as best as I can.

My question is this: Can I be doing something else or something better to support her and her husband? How often is appropriate to ask someone how they’re doing with sensitive topics like infertility and adoption? I try to send her “just thinking of you” notes and care packages every so often, and ask about the adoption process when it comes up naturally, but I feel like I don’t have the life experience to address it correctly without bringing up pain and jealousy more often than necessary. I never want her to think that I think of her only in light of their adoption process, but as she’s probably thinking about it all the time, I can’t tell if it’s rude to not bring it up more? Help!

—Feeling Guilty for Procreating Easily

Dear FG,

It sounds to me like you’re handling things pretty well as is: Being self-aware when you have a friend struggling with infertility is half the battle. I would assume that if she wanted to talk more about the adoption process, she would, and just being a present and warm friend is what she needs most at the current time. Adoption, as you likely know, is not a cure for infertility, and when and if she and her husband succeed in adopting a child (also never a given), keep in mind that she’s likely still going to be processing this stuff for a long time.

I don’t want you to feel like you can never ask; it’s just hard to repeatedly have to say “No change!” to a painful question, so sticking to engaging when the issue comes up naturally is a good plan for now.

My only other piece of advice is to think about what topics you can chat about that do not involve children or parenting or fertility at all: music, movies, current favorite show to binge-watch, how much you dislike the brunette in your speed-walking crew, etc. Things that make her feel like a “normal” person talking about “normal” stuff.

You’re being a good and thoughtful friend. Keep up the good work.

• If you missed Wednesday’s Care and Feeding column, read it here.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My husband and I are talking about moving—not far, just about 25 minutes from where we currently live, in order to be closer to our respective workplaces. Our daughter’s day care would be closer to our new home so she would be positively affected with a 45-minute commute cut to 20. One of our ongoing conversations is: At what age does transferring schools—and having to make new friends—really matter?

Our son is in kindergarten now and has been doing great. He didn’t know anyone there before he started but is excelling academically and is very happy. We are torn between moving this summer (prior to first grade) or next summer (prior to second grade). He’s currently in a K–1 building with all the other kindergartners and first-graders from our district. In second grade, the kids are split between other schools. Other parents have told me that in advance of that division, there is a concerted effort made to mix up the kids from kindergarten into first grade, and he’s unlikely to be in a first-grade class with more than four or five from his current class.

He has always been very shy and, while he’s still quiet, I am amazed at how quickly he’s adapted and made many friends he enjoys playing with. To be fair, I don’t really think it’s a big deal and I trust that he’ll adapt either way, but I’ve known my best friends since third grade, when I transferred to their school. They had known each other since first grade so I’m still acknowledged to be the new one to the group … and that was almost 30 years ago.

—Now or Later?

Dear Now or Later,

I do not think this matters at all from a parenting point of view at this age, so I would make the best decision for your family’s general happiness level: Cut that damn commute in half right now, and never look back.

I’m sorry this is not a more interesting answer, but it’s the truth. He’ll be fine either way.

Dear Care and Feeding,

I’m a single mom to a stunningly beautiful 3-year-old daughter. (People in public are constantly commenting on her beauty and suggesting she model, I’m not being biased or egotistical—OK, maybe a little!) I’m wondering how to have a conversation with her about places people shouldn’t touch on her body. She currently speaks like a little Frankenstein so I know it’s not going to be some in-depth discourse, but I want to at least start talking to her about these things. I don’t want something to happen and find out about it 20 years from now and quietly die inside because I failed to protect her or teach her that she needs to come to Mommy with these kinds of things right away. What advice do you have for me?

—This Is Hard to Talk About

Dear Hard to Talk About,

Look, here’s the thing: There is not the kind of connection between being very beautiful and being preyed upon that one might expect. Talking about bodily autonomy and how no one is allowed to touch us against our will (yes, yes, sometimes you gotta yank them into snow pants for their own good, I know) is a conversation to have with all children. It is not something we save for the cute ones.

It seems to me like there are two basically unrelated questions here: how to deal with the attention your daughter gets for being a very cute 3-year-old who may or may not grow into a very attractive grown woman, and how to talk to your small child about the dangers of life in this world.

Do not cross those streams. Should your next child be, well, plain, they would still need to learn about not letting people touch their bodies! In both cases, however, it’s important to talk about inappropriate touch and conduct from both strangers and close friends and family. You want to work on honesty and transparency and building the sort of trust between you that will ensure she comes to you if she is scared or worried.

—Nicole

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