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Bedtime Rituals, Bedtime Toys, Sleeping Buddies

By Carol Duncan - 23rd August 2010

Just like your kids, my two sons are entirely different individuals in every possible way. One of them loves fish, the other doesn't. One likes jelly snakes, the other likes chocolate. OK, they both like chocolate. One of them loves every conceivable sporting activity, the other likes to read and draw. One of them had a dummy as baby, the other didn't. And likewise the bedtime companion.

Mr 8 - also known as The Bird - is not a great sleeper and has never been interested in a bedtime companion - teddy or other toy. But he still doesn't like to go to sleep without mum or dad to curl up with. As the early bird in the family, this is my job and one I love. (Sometimes it drives me nuts, but I just remind myself that he won't want to when he's 21!) Even as a tiny baby, if I attempted to put him in his cot to sleep by himself, he would sometimes become so distressed his bowels would go on him.  Why? No idea. But as he's growing up a happy and confident kid, who cares if he still wants a cuddle at bedtime. So do I! I remember my mother telling me not long before she died that I was somewhat similar. Although I would sleep in my cot (next to her bed), I needed for her to have her hand on me to actually go to sleep. Middle of winter, mum with her arm freezing to make sure she was touching me. Kids, huh?! Who'd have 'em! (Actually we parents went out to an election night party and had the grandparents here with the boys. The Bird rang my mobile at 8.55pm and gently enquired if I could come home soon.)

Mr 7 - referred to as The Ninja - is a different kettle of fish. He spent his first two weeks of life in a very busy intensive care and neonatal ward in a major Sydney children's hospital, all lights and buzzers and alarms and noise. This boy has the most awesome ability to sleep! I'm truly envious. Put him in a bed and he's happy and asleep within seconds. I kid you not! Many nights I've gone in to give him a quick kiss to find that he's already out cold. Awesome! I'd give anything to be able to sleep like he does. Although I admit to feeling a little put out on more than one occasion when I've gone in for a cuddle only to be told, "You can go now, Mummy." Not that I've taken it personally or anything.*sniff*

His bedtime ritual is wonderfully entertaining. It involves gathering 'The Buds'. 

The Ninja is a sunny, hilarious, smart, super-confident little boy who is up for anything! Loves team sport, loves getting dirty, stereotypical boy-child.  Bulletproof!  But come bedtime, he quietly gathers The Buds. 'The Buds' are three small soft toys. The pre-eminent bud is "Spesh". Spesh is a plain little blue bear that was given to him by his ancient Russian great-grandmother while he was still in hospital.  'Special Blue Bear' is his full name, but Spesh is what he's called. Spesh has been there forever but we no longer travel with Spesh. A few years ago, The Ninja realised that the Worst Possible Thing that could happen while on holiday somewhere would be to lose Spesh. So each time we go away, Spesh is carefully tucked into bed to make sure he is safe while we are away. To be honest, I'm not sure who'd be more upset if Spesh was lost - The Ninja, or me!

The other two Buds are more recent ring-ins. One is Lobster. Yes, a lobster. A cheap, nasty plush lobster that he won at a school holiday fair last summer. Why Lobster has become one of The Buds, I have no idea. The Ninja has a mighty collection of fine soft toys, but The Buds reign supreme. 

Finally, we have Bat. Bat is a small, well, bat that I bought The Ninja while I was away for a weekend in Sydney recently. I found Bat at the shop at the Royal  Botanic Gardens. I think Bat cost about $5 and has tiny magnets in his wings so he can wrap them around himself.  But Bat is now firmly entrenched as one of The Buds.

And each night, after his shower, The Ninja quietly gathers The Buds from whichever bed he ended up in the night previously (we play musical beds in this house ... that's a whole other story), climbs into bed, tucks The Buds around himself and disappears into luxurious sleep. Within seconds!

Do your kids have bedtime Buds?

Comments (7)

CarolDuncan's picture

Aaaah ... matchboxes. That's

Aaaah ... matchboxes. That's #1 son.

Last night it was the enormous old car stereo his dad just replaced.

Nothing weird about that, right?

MLDB's picture

My preschoolers sleep with

My preschoolers sleep with not just a few "friends" ...what they call bedtime buddies but a hlaf dozen soft toys ( different ones will do when I am desparate and they are prolonging bedtime) ...then sometimes they have Action man (or actually Ken dolls), old 'undressed' Cabbage patch dolls, books, blocks,back packs, plastic bags filled with other treasures, a pillowslip or two lately and puzzles... add in a few matchbox/hotwheel cars and now hard preloved Buzz Lightyear walkietakie & new 4th birthday talking Woody.
There is hardly enough room in their bed now ...if (when) they come into our bed, they just bring one or two friends/things.
I am just glad it isn't the same one bedtime buddy because I'd be forever looking for them or refereeing who owns what !

YvetteVignando's picture

Buddies in Bed

Do our kids have bedtime buds? The older ones have grown out of them but there was always a menagerie surrounding the pillow. I think Mr 8 has about 7 creatures watching over him as he sleeps, the latest addition being a penguin brought back from NZ by Mr 14.

For some reason stuffed animals from NZ have done very well in our household and the star has been a small (ex-white) now grubby, rotund sheep that is found in virtually every NZ tourist shop in 5 different sizes. In our house it is called Sheepamus and he has taken on a personality of his own that is translated by his 8 year old handler and his 12 year old brother in hour-long dialogues (or monologues) that lose their cuteness after the first 15 minutes. He must be present in bed for Mr 8 to go to sleep or the entire house goes into lockdown until he is found.

I always feel a little sad and a little proud when the older ones have bequeathed their favourite stuffed bedtime toy to their younger brother - I think they also feel like it is some kind of rite of passage. I'm pretty sure I'll be even sadder when the last bedtime buddy flies out of the bedtime nest.

CarolDuncan's picture


Sarah - many years ago, long before becoming a parent, I read an article in which Bob Geldof and his then wife Paula Yates talked about having bought a bunch of king size mattresses and put them on the floor next to each other. Result? One great big bed!

And take heart about the age limit or otherwise. I have a thoroughly hilarious response on Twitter from a mother whose 20 year old daughter still has her teddy. Apparently her boyfriend is bemused .....

SarahLiebetrau's picture

Bedtime shenanigans

I don't know whether to be heartened or horrified by the tales of children much older than mine requiring similar cuddles-to-sleep routines as both of mine currently do. I've managed to persuade my husband that it won't be for too much longer - soon they'll be wandering off and putting themselves to bed of their own accord - but secretly I'm in no hurry for it to stop. It's a really nice, relaxing time of day for me. Well, that is, if it lasts for less than 30 minutes. Over and above that and it's just plain annoying (or I fall asleep before the child does!).

My 4yearold son has 'blue bear' - a formerly blue small teddy now much more grey in complexion. We actually lost blue bear for a good 6 months - there were many tears and recriminations, bedtime wailing, pointing out blue bear in happier times in family photos - we'd eventually come to terms with his loss when lo and behold he turned up in the empty drum of the 'spare' (read: broken but never fixed or discarded) washing machine that had been sitting in the laundry next to the working, usable washing machine that whole time. Possibly the only nook or cranny that I had not in fact looked in 386 times. Oh the celebrations that were had when the prodigal blue bear returned from his sabbatical. We too have since vowed never to let him leave the house, although in our case that can't be too reassuring a thought for either blue bear or the 4yearold, given the history.

When our daughter was born our son, who was 2 at the time, had needed me to lie with him each night to get him to sleep, but I couldn't keep doing it with a newborn to feed so we introduced the 'Mum in the day, Dad in the night' system which has more or less been in place ever since. The 2yearold still feeds to sleep, holding her water bottle in one hand and teddy in the other, while the 4yearold needs Dad and blue bear, plus a sincere promise from me to check on him in the night. I have a feeling that the 4yearold will go on needing reassurance at night longer than the 2yearold, but for now they're even stevens.There's a reason why we have three Queen sized beds in our house!

CarolDuncan's picture

Bed buddies

LOL at your pongy quilty! Sounds like a job for the museum conservator!

More items for the kids' 'treasure boxes' that I've hidden at the top of the wardrobes.

Love it Carol. My kids are

Love it Carol. My kids are also remarkably different sleepers. Daughter needed a "lie beside" and then eventually to be read off to sleep up until about a year ago. Finally at 12, we only need a bit of a read then a kiss goodnight and lights out. And even though I've done too many years of patting, rocking, singing, reading and cuddling to sleep, I confess I do get a little twinge to hear her getting up to the bathroom in the night, then going back to bed without needing me.

10yo son - another story. He too drops off to sleep in seconds. If he isn't asleep in 3 minutes he will actually call out plaintively "I caaaaan't get to sleeeeep!" Dude - give it another minute! He has his beloved Godfrey Bear every night - just a little bear that my grandfather gave him when he was 3. His Dad's Sergeant-Major Edward Bear is about too, but not for cuddles as is too old and scratchy. But most important is his "quilty" - a simple "quillow" that was a handmade gift from a great-aunt for his 1st birthday. Quilty is so dilapidated now that I can no longer wash it in the machine, so it is a bit pongy. Rags are hanging from it, and we can't take it anywhere so he has had to learn to do without when we travel.

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