HOW TO: get your toddler to sleep without a fuss

This isn’t so much a “how to” as it is “a method which worked for me.” I’d love to hear what has worked for you.

We have wanted nothing more than to get Little Miss to fall asleep without the required presence of a parent. At almost 20 months we are finally there.

Background: Our home is cribless. From birth to eight months, Miss slept in an Amby Baby hammock, in her own room after the first month. At eight months she moved to a twin mattress sitting on her floor. She sleeps with the door closed because — without a crib — she could get up and walk around the house.

Bedtime Ritual:

  1. Take a bath or shower.
  2. Put on pajamas.
  3. Breast feed.
  4. Brush teeth.
  5. Read one or two books on her bed.
  6. Mom or Dad stay in the room until Little Miss falls asleep, usually 30 minutes to an hour later. I lie on the floor in the middle of the room, or next to the bed letting her hold my index finger.
  7. If she hears me leave the room, or I wake her up when closing the door, she wails and the whole ordeal starts again. She must fall asleep with a parent in the room.

Enough is Enough: One night, about three weeks ago, we decided we would get Little Miss comfortable sleeping by herself. I handled bedtime exclusively to get her used to someone besides Mom putting her to sleep (without breast milk). In other words, to pave the way for babysitters.

1. First Night: I sit outside her doorway — with the door open — and wait. Miss sits up in her bed and cries for a good 30 minutes, but I remain calm because she can see me and I know she is safe. Every 5 or 10 minutes I remind her to lie down, stay in bed and go to sleep. I am really lucky she doesn’t try leaving her mattress. She eventually puts her head down and lets sleep take her.

2. Second Night: Miss cries for 10 minutes before deciding to sleep. When she cries, I verbally comfort her a little, but mostly I let her cry. When she asks for “Mama,” I tell her Mama has gone to sleep.

3. Third Night: I sit at the foot of my bed in my bedroom — directly across the hall from Little Miss. She can see the light in my room, know I am in there, but not see me. She tries everything to entice me into the room. She calls for “Mama!” She calls for “Papa!” She yells, “Book!” She
whimpers, “Poo!”

The poo trick is a good one because I am compelled to enter the room once to check her diaper. After that, I listen to President Bush (Youtube.com video).

There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once … shame on … shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” — George W. Bush

OK, so maybe Scotty was more concise.

Anyhow, Miss cries for 5 minutes, then just sits in bed for a good half hour before lying down. There is nothing more freaky than looking into a dark room and seeing a toddler sitting silently in the middle of a big mattress staring back at you. Demon child.

As I sit in my bedroom I watch Band of Brothers, tilting the TV screen away from the doorway, plugging in headphones and enjoying the next hour. Daytime naps (one per day) work the same way.

4. Many Nights, Maybe Eight. I do as before, putting Little Miss to bed, watching a different episode of Band of Brothers in the next room for each sleep period. Before I leave her room she tries to drum up things to delay me, reciting the names of the people she knows, mainly “Mama” and our two cats. I tell her they have all gone to bed because it’s their bedtime. Sometimes one of the cats walks by the doorway and reveals my lie. Little Miss sits quietly in bed for 15 to 30 minutes before lying down.

At this point I am happy. This situation is 100 times better than what we’ve been doing every night for the last 12 months.

5. Maybe Eight More Nights. Before leaving Miss’ room, I close her door halfway to assure she cannot sit in bed and watch for movement in my bedroom across the hall. She cries only the first time I do that, and only because of my timing. If I close her door halfway when we enter her room together for the first time, she is oblivious to the whole door situation when I leave.

6. Two Nights Ago. After reading her a book, Miss asks for her blankets to be tucked around her — a first. She doesn’t sit up. She doesn’t cry. She knows it is bedtime and wants to sleep. So, I chance closing her door when I leave, and it works! The next night works the same way, too.

Whew! Now that Little Miss is not dependent on her parents to fall asleep, we can finally get a babysitter and go out once in a while in the early evening. Hallelujah!

Footnote: If you did the math, you may be wondering how I watched episodes of the 10 hour miniseries Band of Brothers twice a day (at nap and bedtime) over at least 18 days. Well, sure, sometimes I watched half an episode. Truth be told, I’ve watched the entire miniseries numerous times, each time seeing new layers of detail. It’s a masterpiece and I highly recommend watching it twice.

Comments

61 Responses to “HOW TO: get your toddler to sleep without a fuss”

  1. Kevin says:

    Your technique is very similar to what I had seen on a nanny show a few weeks ago. It seemed to work great for them and obviously you as well.

    I am very lucky that Rylan now falls asleep on his own and does not need to be bounced or swaddled to sleep. He is only 3.5 months old and I figure things will change, but it sure would be nice if he kept up on this schedule. One can only hope.

    February 7th, 2006 at 12:51 pm

  2. Becca says:

    ah the woes of bedtime. I appluade yout efforts and agree that this techniqueof doing slowly and over a long period of time(or variations of it) works excellently. I myself have lucked out and never had problems putting Caity to bed even though we don’t really have a bedtime routine. Congrats to you on ‘weaning’ Miss!

    February 8th, 2006 at 6:32 pm

  3. Redmenace says:

    I’ll have to say routine for us was the key. From about month 2, Ava has not only slept through the night (around 12hrs a night,) but she goes to bed without a fuss. I think for us it boils down to: from day one she slept in her own room. We put her in her crib and that is where she slept. It was only for about 3 hours, but it work fine.

    From there, the sleep times just became longer. I don’t really remember her ever crying for any period of time when she was first put into the crib.
    After that, we always make sure she goes to bed at the same time. We have our own proceedure (diaper, breast/bottle, brush teeth, 5-10 minutes of final play with mom/dad time and then in the crib.) Outside of a few times when she was sick and didn’t want us to leave (which meant about 30minutes of sitting next to her crib until she went to sleep) we have followed this proceedure for all 11 months of her life. I can only hope it continues. :)

    February 9th, 2006 at 2:05 pm

  4. tod says:

    Ditto to Kevin’s comment. I saw something similar on Nanny 911 a month or so ago and it seemed to work well. Routine is definitely a key ingredient.

    Like Kevin & Becca, getting thNut into bed has never been a problem. Ever since she moved into her crib at 3-1/2 months we have given her a small (3 oz.) bottle to fall asleep with along with turning on her electronic aquarium (lights and soft music). We then leave the room, but monitor her to make sure she doesn’t spit-up, choke, etc. Works like a charm.

    February 14th, 2006 at 10:21 am

  5. Emily says:

    Thank you so much! I was just looking for a little guidance and your suggestions really helped with the transition of our 20 month to a big girl bed. Thanks again.

    March 15th, 2006 at 11:33 am

  6. Maria says:

    I love to see that other parents are going through similar bedtime stories. My 23 month old just moved from crib to toddler bed. First 2 nights she slept right through, I think she didn’t quite get it yet that she could get up. The next week and a half was a nightmare. I started laying in bed with her, then moved to the floor the next night. A couple nights later after I tuck her in I sit on the rocking chair for 10 minutes, then I give her another kiss and stand near the door, if she puts her head up, I simply say, “put your head down.” as long as she can see me she is fine. Eventually she falls asleep. For the past several days, she was getting up 3 4 times a night, but luckily would get right back in the bed when I say, only, “Get back to bed” and guide her back to her bed. I stand outside the door so I can see her in the crack of the door and she can see my fingers popping through. Last night, she slept from 9:30 to 4:15, got up at 4:15, guided her back to bed, stood in the hallway, “Go to sleep” firmly, and she went back to sleep. Woke up at 8:45. Amen. Remember the 3 “C” ‘s. Even though I wanted to give up after the 2nd night, I just keep trying. She got a big reward in the morning, a BIG Dora sticker to put next to her bed. She is so proud of herself. Dad will try tonight since it’s Friday. ehehehehe. The 3 “c”‘s????
    CONSISTENCY , CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY.

    March 31st, 2006 at 11:57 am

  7. Aimee Bentley says:

    I love your ideas but don’t know if they will work for me. I have a sixteen month old that I still rock to sleep every night with a bottle. I have tried putting her to sleep on her own and she will cry until she vomits. Then I have quite the mess to clean up and she gets to get out of bed. I don’t know the answers with or without a bottle she vomits. Any ideas???

    June 11th, 2006 at 8:31 pm

  8. becca says:

    i have a 15 month old (Caleb) he is a monster when it comes to bed time. he has had his own room and full size bed since he was 8 monthes old and that is were he sleeps. never once has he slept in my bed. at 7 exactly i give him a 20 minute bath every night, read him a story and lay with him in bed until he falls asleep. sometimes it takes 5 minutes and most of the time a half an hour or more. i have tried swaddling him and laying with him with a blanket over his eyes so he cant see (always removing it when he falls asleep). I have tried putting him in bed and leaving. just letting him cry to sleep. that never works. he gets out of bed and (when i leave the door open) runs to the hall and screams at the bottom of the stairs. or if i close the door he will bang on the door for hours crying and crying. at his day care they swaddle him put him in a chair and give him a bottle. he sleeps for 3-5 hours each day for nap. ive tried cutting out so many hours of sleep down to 1 or 2 but then by four or five in the afternoon he falls asleep with nothing. just litterally lays on the floor and goes to sleep. each night he wakes at least twice. ussually more. im at my wits end.. ive tried having different people put him to bed but that ussually takes at least 2 hours for them to lay him down. i have NO idea what to do. if anyone has any suggetions please please let me know. im almost willing to try anything!

    June 21st, 2006 at 8:15 pm

  9. C-Mo says:

    I think it is sad to hear about babies crying and vomiting because they want their Mom. I think rocking a child to sleep is sweet.

    My baby breastfeeds to sleep in my bed and I join her later when I go to sleep. I love it. No tears, no screams, no getting out of bed at night.

    My 2 year old only gets to watch TV after his bath in the evenings. He falls asleep while watching TV and we move him into his bed. He used to me held and breastfed to sleep but he doesn’t need that anymore.

    June 25th, 2006 at 7:56 am

  10. Brandi Griffin says:

    Praise the Lord from whom all rich blessings flow!!!! I have prayed and finally, someone with the exact same story as mine! Including the vomiting. So it eventually works?! I always give up…our Little Lilli is incredibly head strong and will not give in. I have done this trick in the past and it’s only taken 2 to 3 nights, but now that she’s two, I guess it’s just gonna take longer…But that’s OK. Any tips on how to get her to stay in her own bed all night? I breastfed for 7 months and she has always slept in her own bed until about 6 or 8 months ago when she started coming into our room. Now, I am a firm believer in the reward system and spanking, after all, “spare the rod and spoil the child”, but I’m not gonna spank her for sleeping problems that all babies have, however, she can’t sleep with mommy and daddy forever. We have to have our time too. And no, we’haven’t moved and don’t have a new baby. She is potty training and does not go to daycare,just to the nursery @ church on Sundays and Wednesdays and I stay home with her. If you can help me, please do. Oh…and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for letting your child cry. Lots of parents do it and their children turn out just fine.

    July 6th, 2006 at 5:15 pm

  11. Brandi Griffin says:

    To the vomiting baby mom….Mine did the same thing and it was at about the same age, too. I called the doctor, obviously, because that’s a liitle odd to see your child pukingout of nowhere. They told me it was an attention getter. They puke, you go in there all upset trying to figure out why, everybody’s in his room trying to clean up the mess. They told me, and I also read this online, when she vomits, one parent needs to go into her room without a single word, clean up the mess, ie: new sheets, jammies, etc. Put them back in the bed with no story, nothing…a kiss goodnight, and walk out of the room as if it was only a really wet diaper. They also suggested leaving them to lie in it, but that was a little much for me to even think about. So the next time she did it, we made her help clean up the mess…she was not a happy camper, needless to say. She hasn’t done it since. She goes to bed now with me sitting in the glider in her room after her little routine, and falls asleep in about 20 minutes. However, as I stated in the other post, I want her to go to bed on her own…but if it aint broke, I guess don’t fix it. I also had never heard of babies vomiting like that, but the docs told me it was very common. Some babies bang their heads against the wall, or other body parts, and some vomit, but it’s all a way to scare the parents into thinking something is wrong and therefore taking their baby to bed with them or staying in their room.

    July 6th, 2006 at 5:30 pm

  12. AJ says:

    It’s important to draw a distinction between crying for attention and crying out of distress. It would be a very special toddler who is smart and skilled enough to induce vomiting. It’s more likely that vomiting is simply a physiological reaction to sustained crying and panic.

    My personal experience, as stated in the article above, involved slowly stepping back over a couple weeks. If my daughter’s crying shifted from frustration to panic, I would have calmed her down by talking to her, and if needed, by entering the room. Sooner or later the kid has to fall asleep. Sooner or later the kid has to give in and accept sleep time. It’s a battle of wills, but be careful to notice when things start to go overboard.

    July 6th, 2006 at 5:43 pm

  13. Kim says:

    I’m listening to my toddler cry as I read all of this. The schedule thing doesn’t work for her although we still do it. Daddy usually sits with her for about 20 minutes. If she starts to get up and wants to play (he’s rocking her in the rocker) he puts her in the bed and leaves the room. So she has learned what not to do with him.I’m sure we’re lucky she’s still in a crib. Oh she’s 18 months.

    What she wants is mommy to hold her all night. I tell her, “you and mommy will play in the morning”.

    I’ve heard the same about the vomiting. Thank goodness I’ve never had that issue. I would be very irritated. I know they can’t necessarily induce it but they will cry until it happens in some cases. My mom used to work for a daycare center that took in neglected and on the verge of being abused children. They would care for them during the day and try and work with some of the issues like malnutrition and sleep. She’s seen it all. She says just hang in there and don’t give in to the detriment of your sleep and sanity. The crying is not usually a bad thing they just think they are missing out on something. After 10 to 15 minutes go in there quietly (don’t speak) and make sure they are okay (just crying) and lay them down and leave the room. Consistency is key. Once you give in you have to start all over.

    Why do I say this? Because my Peanut is so sweet and adorable I often go in and give her what she wants, I rock her for hours and then we have the screaming nightmare the next night all over again.

    Hush now she’s finally asleep!

    God bless all!

    October 19th, 2006 at 8:33 pm

  14. Diane says:

    Hi-
    I have similar yet different problems. My son is 2.5 years old. He has always been rocked to sleep because he had reflux when he was born and I was afraid to lay him down. He did grow out of it, but I guess I never did. I still ROCK him to sleep for naps, if I don’t he will never take a nap. He jumps in his bed, talks to himself, sings loudly anything but will not fall asleep. I can leave him in there for a couple of hours. It makes me feel bad to leave him in there that long. But at night he has been going to bed at night without rocking for a long time. He has always had a hard time falling asleep and we also went through the criying and such. Now I sit with him. and leave the room, go back in and sit, and leave for 1.5 or 2 hrs. He can be so exhausted and ready to fall asleep and the minute he gets in his bed he is wide awake and begins jumping in his crib unless I am in there. That clearly keeps him awake. I did try a big boy bed for about 1.5 months. The first week was the best week of my sleeping since he was born. He ran into his bed and took about 20 min. and fell asleep. I thought I was in dreamland. BUt soon I realized the glory was over. I had to go out of town for a week and when I got back, he would not stay in his bed for anything and thought it a game. We were both sick with colds, ect so getting very little sleep because he was also up at night because he was sick. Long story short. He is all better and back in his crib but continues to jump in bed to keep himself up and/or get me to come in there. He also will just stand there. It works because I go in to tell him to lay down. I can’t stand it taking him so long to fall asleep. It really makes me feel bad that I have even gotten him up and rocked him to sleep. I know that is the worse thing to do. But how am I going to get him to quit jumping to keep himself up without me in the room. The other thing he does is several times througout this event he will take his diaper off. (I have tried every kind of pajama so he can’t get them off and he has figured them all out). So he takes off his clothes and diaper. If I catch it in time, I put another diaper and clothes back on. Sometimes, I miss it and of course he wets the bed and I have to change everything.
    ANyone else have suggestions on what to do.
    Diane

    October 27th, 2006 at 7:27 pm

  15. Jeanine says:

    hi, great that there’s so many other parents with the same problems that braved it and it work! My little one is 14mnths and was also breastfed till 7 mnths. i’ve always rocked/sung to her and given her a bottle before bed but now its got to the stage where she can take upto 45 mins to fall asleep in my arms and once she wakes up in a couple of hrs, she’ll only fall asleep again in my arms and wakes up 4/5 sometimes alot more often than that. we have tried letting her cry to sleep but gave up after 3 nights because she would vomit and i’d give in!
    I did however do it this afternoon for nap. She cried fo 1hr 15mins! she did puke again but i went in and cleaned it up and changed her diaper because she poohed too, poor thing and didn’t give in.
    Now, does anyone recomend that i start off slow and just doing this for nap times then move onto night times too in a week? a nurse advised me to do so. Is this right or should i do both now? Also, once she’s asleep at night, when she wakes up, how long do i let her cry for before going in to check on her again?

    God Bless

    Jeanine

    November 9th, 2006 at 8:05 am

  16. Annmarie says:

    It’s such a relief to know we are not alone! I guess everyone thinks their child is the only one with problems at bedtime. My son is 1 week shy of his first birthday and is incredibly hyperactive 24/7. He also vomits at bedtime but infrequently.
    He’s been difficult to get to sleep since birth. He’s an active sleeper(ie. he sleepcrawls, moves his arms and legs in his sleep, and often springs to a seated position in the middle of the crib, all while asleep). We have tried everything, and just when we think we have figured him out, he changes the rules!
    One night falling asleep in his swing works, then watching a video before bed, etc. Eventually they stop working. We have even gone through months of letting him cry for longer intervals until he falls asleep. Eventually though even this stops working.
    A few people directed me to some SCARY websites about sleep disorders and neurological problems. At this point we are going to talk to our doctor and see about possibly seeing a specialist, but will keep up with the “cry it out” technique in the meantime. By the way it’s now midnight where we live and the little monkey has finally fallen asleep( he’s been up since 8am). So I am going to try and get a few hours of sleep!

    Good luck everyone!

    Annmarie

    November 21st, 2006 at 8:56 pm

  17. jane says:

    I used to rock my little one to sleep for the night. It got to the point the moment I laid him down he started wailing. I have worn the same perfume forever and my husband told me I should put some on our little one’s sheets so it smells like me. I put some of my perfume on her cuddling blanket and when he laid down he nestled in that.

    January 9th, 2007 at 1:00 pm

  18. Lucy's Dad says:

    I can’t believe it. For the third night in a row our 8 1/2 month old baby girl lays down in here crib awake and goes to sleep without crying. It’s taken a long time to get here, and a lot of work, but I must tell you, I feel so proud of her, and at the same time I went up to my wife tonight and hugged her and felt like we were really good parents. That seems so arrogant I know, but I really feel great about this. For almost 8 months we rocked her to bed every night. It sometimes took a half hour. Fine, we enjoyed it, no problem. Then we decided she was emotionally mature enough to handle a little crying, so we decided to try the Ferber method. The first night she cried for 30 minutes. We stayed close by and went in the room a few times to let her know we were there, but we didn’t pick her up, just comforted her a little. The second night it took 15 minutes. The third night it took 5 minutes. After four or five nights she started to go down in less than a minute every night. I couldn’t believe how fast it was happening and how lucky we were. And now, a couple of weeks later, I really can’t believe it. Of course, we spend a lot of time with her. Long walks in nature or 1 hour runs in the baby jogger by the river in the afternoons. Trips to the play group or playground and in the car about town. Meals as a family everyday and play time in the living room after supper. A bath with daddy. Some songs on the guitar. Excercises on the bedroom floor. PJs. A couple of books. (Moo Baa La La La and 5 Monkies are her favorites). Then we turn on some classical music and hold her for a few minutes next to the crib. She has taken to putting her head down on my shoulder during this time and it is so incredibly precious. Then I put her down and she is just ready. I tip toe out and hug my wife. Let’s see if we can keep this up!

    February 2nd, 2007 at 9:15 pm

  19. Paulina says:

    I just don’t know, I’m tired. I’m fighting this thing of trying to make him fall asleep on time. I’ve been doing that by taking a drive. I know that I’ve have chosen the absolute worst method. First of, since my little one was born we have moved 5 times. (FIRST WE WERE AT MY INLAWS ABOUT 3 MONTHS. THEN WE GOT AN APARTMENT. THE APARTMENT WAS A RAG SO WE GOT A HOUSE W/ MY PARENTS WHICH WAS GREAT. THEN MY DAD GOT A JOB IN ANOTHER STATE. WE MOVED W/ MY SIS IN LAW COUSIN WAS BEATING UP ON OUR LITTLE ONE SO WE WENT W/ MY GRANDPARENTS. MY HUSBAND FINISHES COLLEGE. GETS ACCEPTED IN THE UNIVERSITY WE WANTED. WE’RE MOVING TO THE UNIVERSITY STATE IN JUNE. NOW WERE here with MY PARENTS FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS. WE GOT HERE 3 WEEKS AGO.) With all that moving how the heck are we suppose to set up a schedule. He’s 2 in march. He doesn’t have his own room so he sleeps with us. I’m just so tired and he’s stressed too from the move.He woke up at 4am and did not go back to sleep. I take him for walks, give him his bath with lavender to “RELAX” but he fights it. He fights it till about 1:30 am So now i’m just taking him for a car ride. I don’t know how to do it. I need advice. I’m desperate.
    I want him to be able to fall asleep on his own but I don’t know how to get him there.
    paulina 22

    February 15th, 2007 at 10:50 pm

  20. Kat26 says:

    Now working on my thrid tiresome toddler who doesn’t believe in sleeping I feel for every single parent out there who has sat unblinkingly staring at a wall wondering if their child is demon possesed. As I type my 18 month old is playing in her room at 1:18 a.m. My little Rhea is the youngest and hardest out of my three children. She has never been a snuggler and hates for me to rock her, she will yank my hair and slap at me if I lay in her bed, she doesn’t cry in her room but she doesn’t sleep. As of 11:45 tonight we had to make a special trip to the local Wal-mart to buy a baby gate. I moved Rhea into a pack and play after she scaled her crib and nearly broke her arm one night at bedtime. We bought a toddler bed but she refused to sleep in it. Tonight after placing her back in her pack and play seven times and her jumping out of it seven times I came to this idea. I bought the baby gate, set it up, placed Rhea in her very safe bedroom, and now I wait. If she falls asleep I will go scoop her out of the rocking chair or toy box that she has fallen asleep in and put her in her toddler bed. At least for now I am not dealing with the fear that she will escape from her bed and injure herself while I sleep. Not to mention I might get two seconds of my homework done now without her hanging from the back of my hair while I type. Whatever advice you follow I have only a little to add. No matter what you choose to do to handle this traumatic (mainly for the parents) transition do it with safety in mind. Little ones need sleep and so do parents. If that means we have to let them cry. Tears are usually forgotten by morning. If that means we have to cage them in their rooms with gates. As long as the have a safe room what does it really hurt? Giving into a child’s pleas for momma or dadda will only encourage the behavior. Hearing your mean or as in Rhea’s case, “Help pa pa! Help! may make you feel guilty. The key thing to remember is as long as you know they are not in pain, are safe, and have had all their emotional and physical needs met you know they will be fine. Now it is time to end this rant because there is no sound in Rhea’s bedroom and that means I can finally get some sleep. Good Luck to everyone.

    March 18th, 2007 at 11:30 pm

  21. Jayson says:

    Help! 2 year old who climbs on everything — goes to sleep at 8:00 PM, but wakes up every night at 11:00 PM — takes 1 hour or more to get him to sleep, but wakes again in 1-2 hours. Cannot leave him alone (because he climbs out of crib, out of bed, walks through the house).

    Any ideas why a 2 year old boy would wake up every night, every 3 hours, ….grrrr, really tired :(

    March 28th, 2007 at 9:47 am

  22. Chantal says:

    Sorry guys, not a whole lot of options here, I’m afraid. My first child was aterrible sleeper for at least two years, up all hours of the night and had to hold him back to sleep, but by 3, it usually changes. Kids just seem to settle after this age, even with short periods of night fears and bad dreams. My second son is a vomiter, and we are having to do all the usual stuff, holding to go to sleep, not too much of an emotional response to the vomiting and quick clean-up. Very tiring, irritating and guilt-inspiring. The good news is that it all passes. its exhausting now, but it gets a lot better as they get older. throw them in your bed if it helps, and let your partner sleep on the couch – then alternate nights. Sleep training can work a miracle, but be warned, a week of illness or teething can lead you right back to square one. if you can, just keep a pic in mind of a great kid sleeping through in a while. My 5 year old son is now a perfect sleeper – in fact, now i have to bully him to wake up for school. Good Luck!

    April 24th, 2007 at 1:06 pm

  23. jenn says:

    when my daughter was in a crib we had no problems putting her to sleep. but since her first birthday we put her in a big girl bed and it has been nothing but problems. I could not get her to stay in the bed to fall asleep…so I began laying down with her. at first this was working out fine. she would fall asleep within a half an hour, and then i would get up and she would sleep through the night. so I kept doing that. Now that she is coming up on her second birthday, for the past 2 months she has been becoming more aware of when I am, and not in the bed. so she wakes up when I get up from the bed, and even if she falls back asleep without me having to lay back down with her ( which almost never happens) she end up waking up in the middle of the night and comes to get me out of my bed to lay with her. It is effecting both of our sleeps, and is quite frankly
    driving me crazy!!!! I have tried not laying down with her a few times now but there are several problems with that. she will either scream her head off until she throws up, keep climbing out of the bed until it becomes more of a game to her than bed time., or try to trick me into thinking she has to go potty. she is already toilet trained, so at night it is hard to tell whether or not she really has to go. does anybody have any ideas on what to do???????

    April 29th, 2007 at 4:01 pm

  24. jenn says:

    when my daughter was in a crib we had no problems putting her to sleep. but since her first birthday we put her in a big girl bed and it has been nothing but problems. I could not get her to stay in the bed to fall asleep…so I began laying down with her. at first this was working out fine. she would fall asleep within a half an hour, and then i would get up and she would sleep through the night. so I kept doing that. Now that she is coming up on her second birthday, for the past 2 months she has been becoming more aware of when I am, and not in the bed. so she wakes up when I get up from the bed, and even if she falls back asleep without me having to lay back down with her ( which almost never happens) she end up waking up in the middle of the night and comes to get me out of my bed to lay with her. It is effecting both of our sleeps, and is quite frankly
    driving me crazy!!!! I have tried not laying down with her a few times now but there are several problems with that. she will either scream her head off until she throws up, keep climbing out of the bed until it becomes more of a game to her than bed time., or try to trick me into thinking she has to go potty. she is already toilet trained, so at night it is hard to tell whether or not she really has to go. does anybody have any ideas on what to do???????

    April 29th, 2007 at 4:01 pm

  25. stephie says:

    heellooo people—-ever heard of the crib tent???

    We’ve used them for both babies…..mainly to have piece of mind that they are safe…….and not falling/climbing out of their cribs…

    Second baby great sleeper no troubles…

    1st born….sometimes…fights and fights and doesn’t want to go to bed…..(has nothing to do with the tent mind you..they both seem oblivious to the tent…)

    she screams and cries for a few minutes then goes to sleep…now (she’s 2 yr 9 month) while potty training I MUST put PJs on backwards…….

    she’s not like the second one who does all the “mooooommmmmaaa moooommmaaa hearfelt rip your heart out cry… she does almost a fake cry…i think maybe she’s just hyper!!! Both are verryyy active girls!!!

    anyhow..Ive read to try to keep them in a crib until they’re three….because they don’t really grasp the whole big kid bed thing till they’re three…..but when I do switch i will make sure the room is babyproofed…and probably put a tall babygate at THEIr door……then let them sleep wherever they end up……

    Can I have some feedback on why everyone seems afraid to gate the babys room door…or use crib tents??????

    July 19th, 2007 at 9:10 pm

  26. amanda says:

    To the mom who breastfeeds to sleep, I too traveled down that road with my first son. Me and my husband were in grad school and were desperate to get him to bed to get some study time, he would cry until he vomited-once he literally fell asleep on his crib railing and broke open his lip. So, the end of the crib marked the beginning of him sleeping in our bed and being fed to bed. It doesn’t last though, and now he is a terror to put to nap or bed at night-and that never is a real sleep solution. He is already 2 and a half, so if they get better at 3 I look forward to it. The car ride always puts him to sleep-but not a great long term option. Baby number 2 is so easy-sleeps through the night in the crib at 4 months, no fussing at all. We are trying to be more consistent with both-best of luck to everyone. I now think all of the sure fire ‘methods’ were based on kids that are easy to get to bed. Hey, you can always give up like my sister in law-no fighting and her toddlers sleep on their own by 11pm.

    September 13th, 2007 at 6:34 pm

  27. BROOKE says:

    My son is about two and half and has been in a toddler bed for about 2 months. The first week was great, he would lay down and fall asleep. Then it all changed. I started to lay down with him and he would fall asleep within 30mins. Now he thinks it’s playtime when I’m in his room. He will lay down with me for a few mins then get up and play. I have tried to lay down in his bed just to get him in bed, but as soon as I get up, he’s up and heading for the door. I just move away from the door and when he’s not far enough from the door I sneak out. Rocking him doesn’t work anymore either. Any suggestions? I’m tempted to breakout his crib, but not so sure that he wont try climbing out of it.

    October 6th, 2007 at 9:38 pm

  28. Danielle says:

    Hi, to all tired Mommies, I have a 5 yr old & a 26 month old, who has never slept through the night except maybe once here and there. He has always layed down both for nap(12:00pm-2:30pm) and bedtime(8:30pm) by himself and he almost always falls asleep shortly but he wakes up between 2am and 4am and cries for more milk in his sippy cup, (a habit we need to break very badly so we can potty train!). But I can not seem to build up the energy at this time of morning to convience him that he does not need it. Even if we give him the milk he will wake up at least 1 or 2 more times before morining. I must say that my 5yr old since he was weaned at 14mon from the breast has slept all night in any kind of bed we put him in. Everyone says the 2nd child is more difficult but we are expecting our 3rd baby in April so I would like to be able to get a little bit of rest before we are up every 2 hours for feedings. By the way my 2yr old is still in a crib but since he is not sleeping all night I feel there is no way to move him to a big boy bed b/c we would never be able to keep him in since he already gets out of his crib if we do not respond quickly enough to his want for milk. I would love it if anyone could give me any advice on “HOW TO GET A TODDLER TO SLEEP ALLLLLL NIGHT!!!!!!”

    October 8th, 2007 at 8:02 am

  29. Dominique says:

    I am happy to know someone else has the mothering instinct that I have when it comes to babies. I rocked, nursed and slept with my first child (my son) until he was 2. At that time, I transitioned him into his new room and new bed. He was very comfortable in his environment because he trusted me and his father. (His father is 100% supportive of sleep-sharing, by-the-way…) We stuck with a routine every single night. We had dinner, bath and 2 books, then we tucked him in, kissed him good night and left the room. We couldn’t believe how adaptable he was! After his little sister was born, he would challenge us a bit at bedtime by getting out of bed, etc. When this happened I left it to my maternal instincts and they were right on. He needed more of mommy. I had to start all over again and reassure him that we loved him very much and had to nurture him again as I used to. (Regression is typical with a new sibling.) Sometimes I would lie down with him but only for about 15 minutes. I would rub his back and tell him a story or sing him a song. It worked. Consistency is key. His daddy and I would trade off from night to night so he had his own time with each of us. We no longer have to lie down with him. We just have the routine we set and he follows it perfectly.
    Now, his sister is 21 months old and is sleeping with us full time still. We are about to purchase her bedroom set (w/ twin bed) and train her just as we did her older brother. I have no doubt that she will be fine, too.
    What parents need to keep in mind is that it’s WORK to have a baby and take care of your child. I get so tired of hearing how many mothers complain about raising their children. Why can’t you nurture them to sleep? Why would you force a child to cry in PANIC until they vomit? It makes horrified to read these statements. If I heard my neighbors children screaming for 30 minutes, I’d call child services. Most of the mothers I hear saying this go to work full time while thier chidlren are in day care all day long. ( I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my chidlren as my husband is a great provider; although, I wouldn’t have children if I couldn’t be the one to raise them…) My son is now in Preschool and he loves it and I will be resuming my full time work schedule when my daughter is 3, in case you were wondering.
    Mothers, stop looking for shortcuts. Stop having children if you can’t handle taking care of them. I have seen the difference in children who were “ferberized” and those that were “attached” and let me tell you, it shows!
    Listen to your heart when you look at your baby. If it aches when you hear their cries, it’s supposed to. Their cry is letting you know you need to act no matter what you think is right by anyone’s (society, peers, Ferber) standards. You need to listen to your maternal heart and act. When you ignore their cries you are intentionally avoiding them and they know it. They will wonder what they did wrong to cause this. As they age, they will act out in other (negative) ways to get your attention. If it doesn’t “feel right” to you, it’s not right. If you are irritated when you hear them cry, soothe them. I promise it will stop. (Plus, it’s a good way to get in shape! I am a size 2 and I NEVER exercise! I just held my babies and walked them around and did my lunges and squats and they fell asleep in my arms and I am really toned!) It’s not too late to turn it around. It just takes a little work…and it’s worth it. Both of my children are asleep right now and it’s 8:05. I had time to write this and I’m going to snuggle on the couch with my husband (and have fantastic intimate time with him as well.) We will sleep knowing our home is peaceful and our chidlren are secure in the world, and most importantly with themselves.
    Thanks for letting me share. :)

    November 23rd, 2007 at 6:38 pm

  30. Dawn Jameson says:

    I’m at my wits end, y’all. I have a beautiful 20 mo old girl, Teeghan, who has been a perfect sleeper her entire life. She started sleeping through the night consistently at 8 weeks. Has been in her own crib, in her own room since then also. Never in my bed, never with me or dad, never rocked. We always say prayers, put her down and walk out of the room. No muss, no fuss. However, she had a particularly nasty round of sickness 2 weeks ago and now she just clings to me at night and won’t go down to sleep alone. I’ve had to rock her to sleep every night. I’ll get her to sleep and when I go to put her down, she wakes up and screams until I rock her to sleep again. I know I was spoiled with such a great baby but this is killing me. Oddly, she is back to super-baby with dad, not demonstrating any of this behavior with him. She goes right down, as usual. What the heck is going on? I spoke with a friend, who’s son is 2 weeks younger than Teeghan and he’s not doing anything like this. Is this an age/stage thing or is it related to the sickness? How do we get past it? Help, y’all. This is way uncharacteristic of my sweetie.
    Thanks!
    Dawn

    November 30th, 2007 at 1:10 pm

  31. Susie Kiltz says:

    I don’t know what to do! I guess I could try this scenario, maybe it will work…I’m a single working mom…I take care of my daughter all day and then work the majority of the night. My daughter has never slept through the night, she’ll be 2 in one month and I still nurse her to sleep…well, if that works anyway…she wakes up every hour or so screaming and crying for me and I go up and try to comfort her anywhere from 10 min-2 hours. She will not nap during the day, I dance with her, sing to her, rock her, try everything and she’s just not interested. She stopped about 2 months ago. I don’t know what to do…does anyone have any suggestions, I’ve been reading the no-cry sleep solution book which is fine I guess, but the majority of the people out there are married mom’s who don’t work..I work from home doing graphic design so if I’m up with my baby all night I can’t get any work done or make any money, I know I should probably just let her cry (which I’ve been doing as of hte last few nights) but I can’t help but feel like she thinks I’m abandoning her. I don’t know what to do…help!

    December 4th, 2007 at 5:35 pm

  32. Nicole says:

    My son Michael will be two next month. I am a fan of Dr. Sears and co-sleeping, and Michael has always slept with us, and was nursed to sleep each night until he was a year old. Our doctor urged us to put a stop to this when he was an infant. Now he drinks milk from his sippy cup as he falls asleep next to one of us. We know we must break him from this habit, as it will ruin his teeth. Michael is unable to self-soothe. One of us has to lay with him to get him to sleep at night (for naps I take him for a drive). He tries all the tricks, including asking for a diaper change, more milk, water, or even juice, a toy, a wipe, the t.v., etc. Sometimes it can take an hour and a half to get him to sleep. My husband and have no time together in the evenings unless we stay up very late, and then are exhausted the next day. Michael also wakes up once during the night wanting more milk. We are too tired to argue. He has his own bed in our room but will not sleep in it. If we move him to the bed during the night he wakes up screaming for one of us to put him back in the bed. We are not trying to spoil our son but somehow he is the one in control and we are not sure what to do. Help!

    December 4th, 2007 at 9:08 pm

  33. Wendy says:

    My son is 26 months old, we started to wean him from his “binky” about 3 months ago. He was only using it at night and naps, then only at night. We took it away entirely about a month ago. He does not ask for it, but he knows something is missing. He has replaced the confort of the Binky with me. He will be tired and I take him to bed, he screams and will not stay in bed. I hold the door shut for 1-2 minutes encouraging him to go back to bed and once he is in bed I open it, he runs back out or wants me to sleep in there with him. If I say no, it starts all over again. 3-4 times a night. My husband and I have both lost a lot of sleep and do not know what else to do.

    December 14th, 2007 at 7:42 am

  34. christy roberts says:

    my 19 month old twins will not sleep in their crib. they want to sleep with mommy and daddy. my girl has a temper that you would not believe. i tried verbal comforting the other night and she squalled for an hour and a half. well, one thing leads to another, now her twin brother is starting the same temper, squalling fits. all advice is appreciated!

    December 21st, 2007 at 10:16 pm

  35. Mommy on burn out! says:

    My two and a half year old son had always slept by himself. I would just lay him down in bed and he’d go right to sleep.

    Well, when he was one year, he had RSV. He started sleeping with mommy and daddy. We thought the extra comfort would help him through his hard time.

    We haven’t kicked him out of our bed since. I don’t even know how to go about it!!!

    December 27th, 2007 at 2:39 pm

  36. Huda Basha says:

    my toddler joe is 17 months and we used to have the well known bedtime routine and till lately since we moved alot between my mother’s in law house and ours his bedtime routine got messed up and not only that he sleeps late at night , he also reversed his bedtime all night he is awake and all morning time he is sleeping soundless … my time and life is really messed up … I am in need of an advice that could make my life and his life back to normal

    January 16th, 2008 at 9:52 am

  37. Becki says:

    I have a comment for “Dominique”- i.e. the “Perfect Mother” (see November 23) who gets to stay home because her husband is such a wonderful provider. You listen to me Dominique, just because some of us mothers HAVE To work, and still want to experience the joys of motherhood, it does not mean we don’t want to “nuture” our children to sleep. I have a two year old who is terrified of the dark, afraid of shadows and can’t fall asleep in less than 1 hour. I sit on his floor every night, I rock him, I read to him, I bring him to my bed when he cries, I do anything to try and make it easy for him, and then I drag my tired butt up at 5:30 every day and go to work so I can give him a chance at life, a college education and food on the table every day. So step out of your glass house for two minutes and realize that life is not so priveleged for everyone as it is for you. How dare you suggest that working moms should not have children, how dare you judge those of us who try day after day to balance it all and are Succeeding, albeit tired, at raising beautiful, well-adjusted and talented children who will some day grow up to be leaders, and teachers and doctors. I hope your dear husband never loses his job and leaves you suddenly with the “burden” of working. And by the way, what is your grand plan for YOUR LIFE once your children have left your house?

    Sorry for using this page a forum to vent, but I felt like someone needed to defend those of us trying everything we can think of to raise our kids the best way possible (and get a couple hours of sleep for ourselves while we’re at it.)

    January 25th, 2008 at 10:31 am

  38. Summer says:

    We didn’t get sleep for the first year our daughter was born. We even talked to the doctor about it – and she recommended a book about letting your children cry yadda yadda. She basically explained the book to us, so we didn’t feel the urge to buy it – just jump in and try it. The doctor said she would be sleeping on her own in three days.

    Every night one of us rocks her to sleep. Usually me (the working mom by the way). The first night I had to put headphones on and could still hear her crying and screaming….but after an hour or so she was asleep.

    Night two – crying was still loud and screeching but down to 30 minutes. Night three we only heard 30 seconds of whimpering and she was out.

    We’ve been sleeping through the night ever since – so has she! Maybe we are lucky… but I firmly believe in the tough love method!

    My brother’s wife still sleeps in the room with her kids and they are 4 and 5. You can’t let the kids control you – you gotta be the adult. Same with Pacifiers…. lots of kids still have pacifiers even at 3 years old. Parents don’t want to take it away. Out of sight out of mind. One night when she was 1 year old we just threw away all the pacifiers. She was cranky for 3 days and that was that. No more pacis!

    January 26th, 2008 at 4:24 am

  39. Uncle Hannah says:

    Hello All,

    I just wanted to express my appreciation of and comfort to all of the tired moms and dads out there. Regardless of method or background, we all have the same challenges and I think these forums are here so we can support each other and air our stories. The longer I’ve been a mom, the more compassion I’ve had for every method out there. Even though I am technically an ‘attachment parent’, I don’t pigeon-hole myself and I am trying to be open to lots of different methods because I know that there is no one ‘right way’. For one thing, I do think a lot of it depends on the child themselves, and the family, and circumstances. There are pros and cons to every situation.

    One thing I’ve been trying to do to mitigate the stress of an overactive 2-year-old that doesn’t sleep well and is having lots of tantrums is to look to other areas of my life which need tweaking. I realized that I NEED time to be creative and away from the home, even if only a few hours a week. I watched my mother, aunts and grandmother devote their entire lives to being a mom (most of them have 4-5 kids) and although I admire them, I know that I am not necessarily going to do the same thing, and I am trying not to feel guilty for having different needs or ideas.

    In any event, be good to yourselves, all. And realize you’re doing a beautiful and amazing thing by helping raise your children and all the other oftentimes complicated things of life, work and love.

    Your Uncle!

    Hannah

    January 30th, 2008 at 2:03 pm

  40. Anonymous says:

    Not only is Dominique the perfect mother (and I knew she was a SAHM before I even got to the part where she said so) but she’s also a perfect size 2. Must be nice to be so gosh darn perfect. I, on the other hand, work full time and have a daughter who will be 2 this week. She still likes to party all night and sleep all day, so I have been up since midnight and am now trying to make it through a day of work without passing out and waking up with keyboard impressions in my forehead. I’m not going to win any mother of the year awards, but when you are an unwilling member of the “Sleep is for Sissies” boot camp, you do what you can and celebrate that you have kept your child alive without major injury for another night.

    February 4th, 2008 at 8:59 am

  41. Andrea says:

    Wow, i have to admit that it’s good just to hear that other people have babies that vomit from crying too!! I didn’t know anyone that has had to deal with this and it’s so hard. My daughter has been terrified of her crib since the day we brought her home. She refused to sleep in it and has always been a battle. I never agreed with co-sleeping but once i had my daughter it hit me..all she has ever known is me, she spent nine months inside my belly and the second she pops out i expect her to be comfortable and feel safe in crib all by herself in another room?? I understood her desire and gave in to sleeping with her most nights..although i have never enjoyed co-sleeping and wish i never had to do it but at 3 am your exhausted and you do what you have to do to get some sleep. I find it so frustrating when people brag about how their babies never slept in their room with them or in their bed…just because you have had an easy baby doesn’t mean i’ve done something wrong. Trust me, i would have loved to do this and i fought her constantly to get her to sleep in her crib and to go to sleep on her own but after trying every method out there it didn’t work!! I couldn’t stand letting her cry it out, it felt so wrong and i decided that if something in my gutt is telling me something is so wrong for my child (i’m not saying it’s wrong for every child..just wasn’t right with my daughter) than i have to follow my instincts.

    At 8 months of age i finally gave in to everyone telling me i should let her cry and finally tried it. After several nights of vomiting i finally threw it out the window. At 8 months of age she was not crying to manipulate me she was just so hysterical and scared that her little body couldn’t handle it and she would vomit. I tried it again when she was around a year with the same result..after only 5 minutes of hysterical crying she threw up. When she was around 15 months i tried the pick up put down method which was recommended by a friend who tried it and only took three days…again vomiting…and felt so wrong. My daughter stopped trusting me and you could tell she was stressed out. After two weeks of that i gave up and tore down the crib and let her sleep on a mattress on the floor. Her sleep improved tremendously and i wish i had done it even sooner..she hated the crib from day one and there was no way she was ever going to like it! We are far from having good nights and good bedtimes. Most nights i feel like a huge failure and get so frustrated and terrified about what may happen in 5 weeks when my second child is due. The only thing that has helped at all is switching to water in her nighttime bottles. I did this a few months ago and after two nights of hell she slept through a night for the first time ever. We’ve only had a few nights here and there but it’s a start. She does not need milk at night and i found it was only making her not eat well during the day. I wish she went to sleep on her own at night and slept all night but i have to say that i don’t feel so alone right now after reading about so many other people who are in the same boat as me!

    February 19th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

  42. sarah says:

    you know no matter how hard we try as mothers – be it working mothers or stay at home ones – our children will always find a way to test us and make us doubt our parenting skills.
    i am the mother of 2 children aged nearly 7 and nearly 2 and have a third due in a couple of weeks. I have learnt that the best way to survive the toddler years is to not show fear. bedtime in my house is a complete non-negotiable and i do not back down. if my son, who just moved to a big bed, leaves his room when i put him to bed then i put a stair gate across his door – it took him 2 nights to work out i wasnt kidding and to go to sleep. it took a couple of weeks to get him sleeping through like he was in his cot.
    he knows i love him, he knows that in the morning i am there for lots of cuddles but he also knows that my rules are my rules and he has to abide by them. he has climbed his stairgate – i put him back in his room asap – he did it for one night constantly and then gave up. i dont look at him once i have put him to bed and give him no attention for misbehaviour however i reward him with heavy praise when he does the right thing. he is slowly figuring out that good attention is better than a yelling mummy. that is not to say that we dont have days when i could nail his beastly little toddler butt to a wall but hey that is the joys of children.
    i have continued these methods right through – those of you with young children are yet to experience the joy of a 5 or 6 year old who refuses to go to bed – my response is the same. i do not look at her, i give her nothing at all except one word ‘bed’ – if she cant engage me in an argument then what is the point really. i dont raise my voice at all – i dont see the point in everyone, especially me, getting upset and yelling – what a horrible way to go to sleep with anger and tension all around.
    i have put a dream catcher in all my kid’s rooms and we kiss them every night before we go to sleep – my youngest has no idea why but he loves kissing everything in the house.
    to all of you tired and struggling mums out there – be strong!!! You are the boss – so long as your children are safe and know you love them then they will be fine if you are rigid about bedtime – and trust me when i say that when kids are sleeping through the night family life completely changes – all mums regardless of circumstances, need time out and if you dont get it you burn out. my time out is when my kids are asleep at night – if i dont have quiet in my house by 8 at the latest i am not a nice person to be around let me tell you! they have learned this very quickly – but you know what. i took me a long time but i realised that my needs are really important too and need to be met as much as possible. after all a mum holds a family together (not discounting dads by the way!) and if she is not coping then NOBODY is coping.
    I wish you all the best of luck with getting your children to sleep tonight and beyond – the fact that you are talking about it shows that you are already great mothers because you care enough to seek help. unfortunately some kids out there are harmed by the ones who are supposed to protect them the most because they dont know how to ask for help or admit they need it.
    oh and by the way – by no means a perfect family or mother over here – my lovely bright, active children drive me absolutely bonkers most days especially now i am working from home and dealing with them 24/7 – their one saving grace most days is the fact that they sleep through the night!
    it will happen for all of you too i promise
    sorry i know i talk alot :)

    March 19th, 2008 at 5:08 am

  43. swill says:

    ” If I heard my neighbors children screaming for 30 minutes, I’d call child services…..preachy preachy…blah blah blah”

    Appreciate the sharing but know that what works for you in your perfect world doesn’t work for many of us on either a philosophical or practical level. Let it go.

    April 9th, 2008 at 4:31 pm

  44. Kim Perez says:

    Everything sounds great but any ideas on what to do when you 3 1/2 yr old will not go to bed without and if you try throws a rip roaring fit and wakes up his 17 mth old sister. Everyone keeps telling me to let him cry but it is difficult because his room is next to his sister’s and we don’t have anywhere else we can put him. He has a very loud cry or should I say scream. Any ideas would be great. Thanks Kim

    April 13th, 2008 at 8:18 pm

  45. Julie says:

    My daughter is now 17 mo. old and ever since day one I have rocked her to sleep with a bottle while she is being swaddled. She wakes up at leaste twice a night and only stays asleep if I put her in our bed with us. I know this is my fault bucause I have made her rely on me to get her asleep. But it is taking longer to get her to fall asleep and I would like to have my bed back. I have been told to let her cry herself to sleep in her own bed but I always worry if I am doing damage to her. I will gladly take any advice I can get.

    May 2nd, 2008 at 9:49 am

  46. Tiffany says:

    I have a 24 month old who would go to sleep in his room in his own bed with no night light or anything and now bed time is like pulling teeth, he will cry and cry. I have tried letting him watch his movie, I have tried reading a book and rocking him, singing to him and now I have no idea what else to do?? Any Ideas??

    May 5th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  47. dani says:

    I have been reading for an hour every night (and 30 minutes at nap/rest time) since he was about 6 months old. P.S. before he was 2 he knew all his letters at random and number up to 20, his left and right hands and feet by 18 months, basic shapes, and colors before then. At the end of “book time” my voice is a bit horse, but our son goes to sleep without me having to sit in doorways, rest on the floor or rubbing the back or finger grabbing. The fact of the matter is that he’s gotten a lot from our time together and now that he’s 3 he doing basic math up to 5 and starting to spell and read. Can’t beat it. Time well spent.

    May 14th, 2008 at 9:00 pm

  48. GRACE says:

    my 3 year old girl hate to sleep we have to yell and scream for her to sleep any time you mention sleep she start to cry please help me i have a 15 months old gir that sleeps well please help from birth my 3 year old would not sleep.

    May 28th, 2008 at 11:30 am

  49. Toddler Crying at Bedtime says:

    Hi all, first of all I would like to say thank you to the author for articulating the issues surrounding toddler sleep so thoroughly. Almost every mother I speak to has been in this situation at one time.
    I applaud your energy and stamina in continued breastfeeding for there are many health benefits for you and your baby in doing so. I hear that you are wanting your social life back again through your reference to babysitters and you are ready for your baby to become an individual and put herself to sleep.
    I have had three children of my own and years of experience with effective parenting training and seeing parents put attachment parenting techniques into practice. Here’s my opinion;
    Toddlers in general are tricky because as they start to develop their own individuality they don’t always want to play on your team so to speak. It took time for you to get used to your new baby and it will take time for you to adjust to your new toddler as well. it is natural for your maternal instincts to ease up and normal for you to long for aspects of your pre – baby life back again.
    But here’s the thing, your toddler needs you at bedtime and you should comfort her even if you absolutely cannot bring yourself to continue breastfeeding, you should still stay with her until she falls asleep. All day long she is learning to develop her individuality but at night when she is tired and at her most vulnerable point you should be there to comfort her. This is the time when she. needs you most. If you stay with her and comfort her, you will find in the long run that she maintains a higher level of respect for you and for herself, she develops a strong sense of self confidence and handles separation anxiety with more maturity.
    Unfortunately there is a lot of poor professional advice out there about how to handle toddlers and it almost always involves ‘toddler discipline’ and harsh ‘firm’ practices that result in a toddler crying.
    When you look at the bigger picture you realize that your baby was only a baby for a short time and then would not behave like a baby anymore, but rather became a toddler. The same is true of your toddler and just as you are now feeling ready to reinforce your child’s individuality, she too will very soon become ready. Bedtime is the last aspect of her life in which she will accept her separate identity and that is because she is vulnerable when she lies down to rest and relax and instinctively she wants your parental protection. But eventually she will be confident in this area too and it doesn’t take long in the big scheme of things.
    A traumatic separation in this area can set the scene for a more difficult struggle as you try to teach her other appropriate behaviors later on. What I mean is she will lose respect for her if you leave her to cry and then later you will also need to use more controlling disciplinary tactics to influence her behavior, where wimple words and suggestions may have been suffice.
    The other thing that bothers me about these practices is that your toddler does almost all of her growing, both physically and mentally at night while she sleeps and it is important the she sleeps peacefully and deeply for at least 13 hours each night. A crying and stressed toddler will often wake again during the night and may have a compromised sleep. Think of the times that you have fallen asleep feeling stressed and make your own decision about whether or not it affects the quality of your sleep.
    Now I want to say that I learned these ideals the hard way, my first child was left to cry and the implications down the track were massive. Even years after I long to re-establish the pure bond we developed when she was a baby and then severed when abandoned her at toddler bedtime. There is no question that I notice the difference with my third child, he is more confident, listens to me, has been a breeze to work with and sleeps through the night perfectly on his own. And I have seen the positive results in many other families.
    The thing is, it is never too late! I urge you to comfort your daughter to sleep, it may be only for 6 more months or a year before she naturally develops security in herself at bedtime and doesn’t need you anymore. She doesn’t have to cry, you are a fantastic mother and you can get through this tough period, it won’t last long.

    August 25th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

  50. Difficult, but hang in says:

    We also have a problem sleeper. As a newborn he would fall asleep on the breast or in our arms while being rocked/cuddled. But would wake immediately when laid down. So there were were for the first 6 weeks holding him and not sleeping. Ouch. Plus I had breastfeeding difficulties with him being tongue-tied and me with cracked, bleeding nipples. We worked it out though, but the sleeping was still very hard.

    We got a great book that I highly recommend for anyone with a baby, “Happiest Baby on the Block”. It described swaddling, rocking, shuushing and swinging. So we tried it. He would sleep beautifully. Each night from 6 weeks on I’d nurse then put him in his swaddle and swing when we went to bed (10:30-11) and he’d swing all night and sleep until we woke at 7-8am.

    At 2.5 months we moved him into his bassinet and he slept fine, but needed to be rocked and swaddled after being nursed. At 3 months he was too big for the bassinet, so into the crib he went again swaddled, rocked after being nursed.

    Then it all went to pot at 4 months. He started teething and would not sleep. We swaddled, rocked for hours, nursed, etc. But once we layed him in the crib he’d wake and cry and we’d have to start all over again. He got 4 teeth at 5.5 months old. Then 2 more at 6 months. I know. Ouch. Poor kid. Luckily we figured out he was in pain and gave him baby Advil to help.

    During that tough time, we fell prey to the sleep trainers and tried cry it out one night. I still regret it. I didn’t know he was teething that many teeth and now know he was likely in so much pain and needed cuddling and nursing. Instead he was left in his crib alone to cry and suffer. I feel so guilty even now. He vomited and that was so sad.

    Once the teeth started coming in we knew and then ditched the swaddle and I started nursing him to sleep in our bed every night and for naps after a bath and book at 7pm. We figured the bedtime routine was a good thing to start and the nursing then moving to the crib was the best we could do. When he woke at night I’d nurse and keep him in our bed til morning. We didn’t sleep great, but it was better than rocking, crying putting in crib then crying then starting over. We slept. All three of us which was most important.

    We discovered that co-sleeping worked best for us eventhough neither my husband nor I really want to do it (we love cuddling him, but want our bed back!). When our son was a year we got the bright idea that moving him from our bed to the crib was a problem. He had so many wake-ups in the crib either being put in it or once he was in he’d roll over and wake up and cry for us that we ditched the crib altogether. Our families think we are nuts – but our son is 14 months and actually sleeping!!!

    We took our bed apart, put the mattress on our bedroom floor and the room is babyproofed. I nurse/cuddle him to sleep then turn on the baby monitor and we have private time from his bedtime to ours. We watch movies, eat dinner and do whatever together knowing he is where he wants to be and asleep.

    He sleeps fine until we come in then he wakes and I either nurse or cuddle him back to sleep. He has 1-2 night wakings then gets up for the day between 6-7am.

    For the next week we plan to sleep on the couch and let him stay alone in the bed to see if he can sleep the whole night without us. If so then we will continue this until we move at the end of the month.

    For the new house we have bought a mattress for his bedroom floor and a gate for his door. We will continue the bedtime routine plus cuddling/nursing in his room. Hopefully it will keep working and then once he’s asleep I’ll slip out to go back to my bed.

    This is the only thing that worked for us. Frankly, I wish back at 4 months we’d started co-sleeping then and I’d ignored all the “cry-it-out” advice I read. Thankfully I didn’t let him cry too long and it was only twice. I felt like a horrible person for it too. But I so know how desperate people get. Even co-sleeping when he’s teething is hell for us. Like when he got 4 molars at once when he was 1 year old. Oh my GOD!! He will toss, turn, kick, etc and not sleep.

    Some kids are born to sleep, some need help and need to learn. Do what you have to to get your kids to sleep as well as possible, but remember they are only small for a short period of time. Cherish them and be attentive to their needs. If they are vomiting it is due to stress and panic. Not because they are trying to get your attention. If they want your attention they cry, say Mama or “Poo” like in the original blog post above. :) Love them and do what you can to keep them comfortable.

    September 1st, 2008 at 10:15 am

  51. BRANDY says:

    DOMINIQUE
    I would love to hear how the transition went for your little girl. Hope your sleep issues blew up in your perfect little face. All children are different and are faced with different sleeping needs and challenges. I read your post and agreed with you, all the way to the point you started slamming other mothers and their situations. Not only am I a working mother, but I am a full-time student with a deployed husband. You should consider yourself lucky and be thankful instead of judgemental.

    December 13th, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  52. MEOW says:

    Hello
    My little girl is 26 months and still having a hard time getting to sleep , she keeps going to bed with laying down with her and then about a couple hours in she wakes up and wants to play and play sometimes I give her the warning that I am going to go for abit then I get feeling bad for her and I go and come back and when i tell her its not time to play its time for bed and then sometimes she will hit me and tell me to go away and it hurts my feelings i know she doesn’t mean it but still .. Anyways I find at night my husband and I are so tired by time she finally is out for abit and we end up well not well doing anything lol anyway I just don’t know if I should give her naps in the day or not give her naps in the day I duno I guess im just fustrated with stuff and then also we live in an appartment so for the crying it out thing its bugs me for reasons of someone thinking im doing something or that I am neglecting my child becuz of the woman that mentioned that what was her name dominque? now that i read that it really erks me as to what I can do about figuring a way and I love my little girl I want more kids very soon. I pray I can figure a routine and help her sleep on her own and what not .
    I am also trying to get her to do toilet training *yes i know its sorda late)anyways so many things to train her with that i don’t want to make her feel bad if she can’t get one you know ? Im sorry I am just not sure what more to do to be honest

    December 30th, 2008 at 11:34 pm

  53. Renee says:

    My 2 1/2 year old, throws a major “super Nanny” like fit every time it is time to go to bed. She calls for us constantly and takes up to 2 hours to go to bed. Can someone please give me some advice?

    January 1st, 2009 at 9:01 pm

  54. Kristianna says:

    I am going through the same thing with my son who is 22 months old. He was the BEST sleeper when he was younger. Then he discovered how to get out of his crib and started climbing out. We switched over to a “big boy” toddler bed and even re-did his “big boy” room. We have had a steady schedule with him since he’s been sleeping in his crib/bed (about 5 months old) but nothing seems to be working. He wants us in there with him until he falls asleep and then if he wakes up or hears something he starts crying and gets out of bed. My doctor told me to put on some soothing music at night, which has helped a little, but I’m still exhausted! My doctor also told me to do the same thing every night, when possible, which we do. He said to let him cry for 15 minutes to start, then go in and lay/calm him down. Each time we are supposed to add 10 minutes to the time that we leave him in there. Hopefully this works for someone!! We are still trying to find the magic tick that works for us!

    January 6th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

  55. worried:( says:

    I have a little girl who just turned 18 months old. Up until a month ago she was a perfect sleeper. Last month she was sick a few times and was also getting her molars. At this time her sleep patterns changed. The only thing that worries me so much is that she was on a few antibiotics and had the flu shot right before these changes started. I have read of so many bad effects from to many antibiotics and the flu shot. I have worried myself sick over it. She acts fine during the day except for being a little more easily aggitated. But come bedtime its a different story. I put her to bed and she immediately stands up and screams and cries. If I let her cry to long it takes 20 minutes or so to get her calmed down again. If I sit in the room with her and try to rock her she just cries and wants “dowm”. This usually leads to going back downstairs until she plays herself to sleep. I just can’t help but worry maybe the flu shot has had a negitive effect on her. I have read so much about mercury in the flu shot and the harm it causes. I hope its just her getting out of her sleep routine and needs to be taught again about bedtime. ??

    February 16th, 2009 at 8:08 am

  56. Yvonne says:

    I have a 22 month old little boy who took 4.5 hours to go to sleep last night. This has been a pretty normal event for me since he was born. He has never been one to sleep through the night and rarely sleeps beyond 3 hours without waking up. Since birth it has been like this. Of course I am a single mom and have to deal with this alone. I have usually resorted to letting him sleep with me so I can function in the morning for work. Another downfall is that we live in a one-bedroom apartment so we share a room. He will fall asleep quite easily and doesn’t give much trouble, but he wakes every 15-20 minutes screaming for me. I am so frustrated and sleep-deprived I barely notice it anymore that I’m exhuasted. But I know this is not healthy for either of us. I need some tips on how to handle the abrupt wakings several times each night. This occurs mostly when he sleeps alone, however when he sleeps with me he still whimpers a lot at night. I have mentioned this to his Dr. but they didn’t seem to think much of it, he is healthy and growing as he should…please help me….

    March 12th, 2009 at 9:12 am

  57. Joey says:

    Hi, I am going to try this. I have a 2 year old that will be turning 3 in May and has issues going to sleep alone! Enough is enough! Our daughter use to be a good sleeper at night and nap time until we decided on her 2nd b-day to transition her to a toddler bed because her baby brother was coming and we needed the crib for him. I thought this wont be an issue since she is a good sleeper and we have never had issues. Wow we were wrong! She was ok the first couple of months that her brother was home but then she would cry hysterical at bed time! needless to say she sleeps with mommy and daddy and naps in our bed too! I know this is a bad sleep habit but with the newborn I had to get some sleep! I think this adive is going to work and I am going to try it. I know I have to be conistant and stick to my guns every night…so I will try my hardest!!!

    March 17th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

  58. Molly's Mommy says:

    OMG I laughed so hard that I was crying when I read the part about her sitting in the dark on the mattress being freaky….that is so funny. I can relate to that

    March 19th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

  59. So Sleepy says:

    My daughter is 2.5 and also threw up when we tried letting her cry herself to sleep. It was too much for me, so we tried a different routine. Our little one is very sensitive and seems to think bedtime is a punishment since we are trying to leave her in there. So we are slowly working on getting her comfortable with being in the by herself. She has a little night light she can use to read her books and then turn off when she is ready. I stay in her room and let her hold my hand until she falls asleep. I will slowly work to sitting at the end of the bed and then move to sitting in my room, but I agree, it is all about baby steps and making sure your child is comfortable in their room by themselves. If you really want them to sleep on their own, you are going to have to put in the time to get them there, otherwise if you are too pushy it will all backfire!

    April 13th, 2009 at 10:42 pm

  60. Kim says:

    My husband has been pressuring me to stop nursing and co-sleeping with our 19 mo. daughter because he is concerned that she isn’t independently sleeping. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the issue and am so glad I found this website. Wow – I have been so blessed. She’s not the perfect sleeper, but she falls asleep within 20 minutes after reading (usually by 7:30p) and sleeps through the night until 8:30 or 9 in the morning. I have my evening time free, and climb into bed with her without her waking up and sleep soundly by her side through the night. She naps the same way for an hour to two hours each day (when I’m lucky I get to nap, too!). It’s not always convenient, but I love our close time together. I have already noticed that her interest in nursing is starting to taper off and she is more interested in the stories and pictures in the books we read. I tried at one point to let her cry in a crib, but it felt so wrong to me, and I’m glad I followed my heart. I think what I’ve learned from reading all these comments is that you have to do what feels right to you and what seems to work for your child. My daughter is happy and healthy and more than developmentally appropriate for her age. We have a loving and respectful bond. I hope I can find a way to convince my husband that there is nothing “wrong” with her sleeping and that we are actually really lucky to have such a great sleeper and such a beautiful and healthy daughter!

    April 18th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

  61. Cheri says:

    Someone would really call child services on someone who lets their children cry it out? That is obsurd. Maybe the parents are letting them cry out their tantrum. Maybe they are letting them cry themselves to sleep. Maybe they are crying so long because they dont feel good and the parent IS nurturing them, there is just no helping it. So why would someone call child services when they don’t know exactly what is going on at their neighbors house? Ridiculous people. I am a stay at home mom and my son drives me nuts sometimes so yes i am going to let him cry it out so i don’t lose it and hurt him.

    May 5th, 2009 at 10:21 pm