So my son is almost 2, and we were happily at the point where he had been waking up once a night, for the most part. He was always a rotten sleeper, but I just got used to it. He never wanted a pacifier or any kind of "lovey" except for me (nursing and my belly button). I am 5 months pregnant and he weaned himself about a month ago, which I was pretty sad about. We have found some different ways to get him off to sleep, like rubbing his belly and lying next to him, talking about everything being "sleepy," etc. Now his preference is to take a small toy to bed, like a little car or train, and I'll do the rest like I usually do. He also likes to take the toy de jour to eat with him at the table at dinner and on trips in the car. The toy changes periodically. It's actually really cute.
But in the night, he is waking up crying and asking, "Where'd it go?" and wanting help searching for the toy. He will sometimes stuff the toys under his blanket, maybe to "tuck them in," but then they get lost in there. It's kind of frustrating for me now, though, especially nights when he seems a little more fragile/restless and we have to retrieve the toy 3+ times (on top of the water/snuggling request, etc.) in the night.
I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for either taking the toys out of the picture, or if you know this phase and can tell me it will end without me doing anything :). Nap time is getting harder now because he is making special sleeping toy requests, even if he already has one in hand. If I give in, the falling asleep part takes much longer, but if I don't give in, there is a tantrum. I feel conflicted about setting limits around this one, because he seems to love having these special things accompany him and I don't want to totally take that away.
My just turning 2yo takes toys to bed when she doesn't fall asleep nursing It started as a way for her to be comfortable with me leaving he room after putting her in bed, and in the beginning it started to get out of hand with her wanting more stuffies (mainly Minnie mouse) than there was room in her bed, and if I didn't grab ALL of them for her night nursing, she would flip out, hyperventilate....like on the verge of passing out even with us holding her. I casually implemented the rule that mommy's arms can't hold anything more than her, blankie, and 2 Minnie's. She threw one or two more fits n the middle of the night, but calmed down and stopped requesting the circus in bed. I think partially it was just a phase that she outgrew. She does still take a few novel toys to bed, but it hasn't been too much of an issue.
When DS1 was that age (or in that phase, and yes, it is a phase) we made a special place in the corner of the bed for his 'toy d'jour' as you called it. That way the toy could be with him, but he could also help put it to bed as well which he liked. When the toys were hard (wooden toys or cars or such) I would make a little "bed" for it with a receiving blanket or something. I toyed with the idea of sewing a pocket that would hang from a headboard or on the wall next to his bed for the smaller toys. The phase was over before I had a chance to start that project though! That might work for you guys...
Good luck mama!