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Toddlers: Trouble Falling Asleep
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Toddlers: Trouble Falling Asleep
I am sure this topic has been discussed before. However, we are fairly new
to the newsletter. We are looking for advice on success, methods, warnings,
etc. relating to helping our one-year old learn to fall asleep on her own.
My wife breast fed her to sleep for the first twelve months. She is no
longer breast feeding. We can get her to sleep with a bottle, but want to
be able to put her down awake and have her fall asleep on her own. We are
aware of the numerous "cry it out" methods and already have the books. In
addition, our daughter has found her way into our bed and now wakes up 30min
after being put down and wants to sleep with us. This is a huge problem
because she is a big-time "thrasher" and we are afraid of hurting her or
ourselves. We love the idea of having her sleep with us, but we also want
our time together. Further complicating this is that our daughter's crib is
in our room. We will be moving her to another room. We are committed to
teaching her how to fall asleep on her own for our sake and her own. Any
help/advice on trying this with a one-year old would be appreciated.
My daughter just had her first birthday last week and has just started
sleeping through the night. My husband and I thought it would never happen
but it finally did. Of course, we're now experiencing a minor set back
because some new teeth are erupting and she has a cold, but nevertheless
after she turned one, she gave us 2 weeks of 6-8 hours sleep a night.
We've got a routine that we follow and it seems to work for us, thought I
pass this along - feel free to try anything.
Part of the problem I discovered, is that if my daughter didn't get her
fill of dinner (and babies don't or can't tell you at this age), she'd wake
up hungry. Nursing or the bottle will only curb the hunger for a couple of
hours. So, try to really "stuff" your baby before bedtime. Basically, my
daughter gets 4 and a half meals a day. Cereal, lunch, and snack at
daycare. Regular baby food when we get home, then "dinner" with us.
Then we have a couple of hours of playtime, if your baby is crawling or
walking, hide-n-seek in the house works. Keep them on the move to wear
them out. After playtime, we give her a nice warm bath to unwind, be sure
to give them plenty of time to play in the water, otherwise they'll be
cranky if you pull them out too soon (not a pretty sight).
Then she gets whisked to a quiet, dimly lit bedroom to nurse. If your baby
has a favorite blanket/toy/thing to hold, let them hold/finger it now. I
like to stroke my daughter's hair or rub her hands and fingers while I
nurse. Once I get her really relaxed I can try to lay her down in her
crib. If she starts to protest, then I cuddle her next to me on our bed
and stroke her head until she's asleep (5-10 minutes and she out), then I
put her in her own crib and she's usually out until 5am. Of course, right
now this is not working because of the cold, but in general it does work.
With our baby, I've figured out that she really just misses us and just
needs reassurance that I/we'd be there when she wakes up. Sometimes its
just enough to just let her lay cuddled in my arms until she goes to sleep.
We tried the "let her cry" thing too, but both of us were "wimps" and
didn't let it go too long. Our routine works for us and patience really
goes a long way too. Hope this helps some of you.
Every night, my husband and I must sit with our 16 month-old
daughter in her room until she falls asleep. If she hears us
tiptoeing away, she will stand up in her crib and cry. Sometimes
it takes her 45 minutes to an hour to fall asleep. We're
expecting a second baby in a few months and I fear I won't have
the time nor energy to do this every night. We'd like to be able
to do her usual bedtime ritual, put her in her crib, kiss her
good night and walk away. Is this reasonable? How can we train
her to fall asleep by herself?
Your fears are correct. You have to stop staying with her -
immediately. I would get a copy of Penelope Leach's ''Your Baby
from Birth to Age Five'' at the library and read the section on
getting babies/toddlers to sleep. Basically, you stick to a
normal routine - bath, toothbrushing, books and songs, etc - and
then tell her it's time to sleep and you're leaving. Then
LEAVE. When she cries, come right away but stay for only 30
seconds MAX. Tell her again that it's time for sleeping and
that when she cries again you will take longer to come back.
LEAVE. She will cry. After 5 minutes, go in and tell her
again , in only 30 seconds that it's time to sleep and that you
won't be back in if she cries - for 5 minutes. And, do that.
This will take about 45 minutes or so the first night. A little
less the second, etc. It should only last for a week or two -
is quite difficult while it's happening, but truly works. It's
not ''crying it out'' as Ferber recommends, rather helping her to
be alone with you near by, visiting occasionally and BRIEFLY.
Remind her that you love her on each visit. And, stay happy and
upbeat on the visits, not sad and concerned. But, be quick! 30
seconds at each visit. In my 4 y.o.'s life, we've had to do
this routine about once a year - new fears, etc. It always
Sleeping at last.
Have you tried fiddling with her bed time? Maybe she just
isn't tired yet. My 16 month old has been having a similar
issue the past few weeks, so I have started to move her bed
time to 8 o'clock which seems to be taking care of the
problem. That said, she had a great routine until recently
hence my adjustment.
If that doesn't work, perhaps try some white noise in her room
(fan or something else) to allow you a bit more freedom of
And lastly, you may just have to let her cry it out. I went
through about a week of the 45 minute cry sessions (I made
visits in between) several months ago to get her into her
Although we never wanted to ''Ferberize'' our child we did
and it worked in three nights!
Go about it very gradually...move farther and farther away from
the crib each night. Establish a fun bedtime routine. We went
through the same thing with my now-2.5 year old. It took about
2 months to get him having a good routine, but he was over two
when we started. Now he does just go to bed like you desire.
Be patient, and gradual.
Just had to respond to a previous message that suggested a gradual approach to
teaching your child to sleep. The post-er credited Penelope Leach (whose book is
great for many reasons) for this approach, but then wrote ''It's not 'crying it out' as
Ferber recommends...'' In fact this approach is EXACTLY what Ferber recommends.
Ferber actually developed this approach as a more humane alternative to ''letting the
baby cry it out,'' meaning putting the baby down and letting him/her cry until they
fall asleep. Ferber instead came up with this gradual process of going in to reassure
the baby at progressively longer intervals until they give up and go to sleep. Now
don't get me wrong, this does involve a lot of crying. When the parent goes in to
reassure the baby, without picking her up, the baby cries even harder. But
eventually the baby not only goes to sleep but learns how to go to sleep by herself. I
used this approach on my 1st child when she was 14 months or so, and just like
everyone says it involves about 45 min of crying the first night and 3 nights until
you are done, but after that you can put the baby down awake and they will go to
sleep! Another thing though that I didn't know ahead of time is that it is not a ''once
and for all'' kind of thing. We had to do a little ''refresher course'' after travelling,
illness, and the like, but it was never as bad as the first time. You can check out
an overview at:
btw, Ferber also has a gradual process for night weaning that doesn't involve a lot of
--found Ferber useful, not heartless
Helping 18-month-old fall asleep
We have an 18 month girl. Since she was a newborn we've always helped
her to fall asleep by first nursing and then rocking & singing songs or
walking & singing songs. She usually falls asleep in five to twenty minutes
or two to four songs. Our general routine now-a-days is that I nurse her and
then my husband picks her up, walks around the room holding her & singing to
her until she falls asleep. He's finding this increasingly difficult because
she squirms and seems to want to lay down, even though she's not asleep
yet. We think she might be outgrowing it. But when we lay her down and
try to sing to her she just flops around and eventually sits up and then
gets frustrated and cries. We read to her, but she likes to sit up and look
at the pictures and is usually very engaged in the experience. We can't
just lay her down and walk out of the room because she sleeps on a futon next
to ours and she would just crawl off and come and find us. We also don't
want to have to make her cry it out. We know that we're going to have deal
with some protesting, but we want to be there beside her until she falls
asleep and gets used to the new routine (what ever that might be!). Anyway,
I'm wondering if anyone has any advice for weening a child from being walked
or rocked to sleep to just laying her down and somehow soothing her to
sleep another way.
I had a similar experience with my now 23 mo. old son when he was about your
daughter's age in that he seemed restless when I held him and it seemed clear
he would be more comfortable lying down. Since I was rocking him to sleep,
I began the process of moving towards having him fall asleep on his
crib by telling him for a few nights that soon we were going to try
having a short "cuddle time" in the rocking chair and then I would
put him in his nice cozy crib to go to sleep, but that I would sit in
the chair next to his bed until he fell asleep. To my amazement,
this transition went very well. The first night was a disaster, I
think because I let him get too drowsy in my arms and so it was a shock
to him when I set him down. I ended up holding him until he was
deeply asleep because I knew I couldn't let him cry it out. I tried
again the next night, setting him down when he was sleeping, but
clearly aware that he was being put in the crib. Initially, he
didn't cry, but decided he would sit up and play. Knowing that he was
tired and ready to sleep if he would just relax, I told him I would
only sit in the chair if he kept his head down and was quiet. I did
have to leave the room several times (just for a minute or two) over
several nights, and he did cry or yell at me when I left, but he
immediately put his head down when I came back. (Obviously, this will
be harder for you with your baby on a futon, but I guess you could just
close the doors so she can't leave the room even if she crawls off
the futon). Within three or four days, I did not have to leave the
room at all, and now lots of time he tells me "crib time" when he's
ready to go to sleep. (Of course, there are occasional nights where
he tries playing, but now it is usually enough for me to just say to
him "if you want mommy to stay in the room, you need to lie quietly in
your bed". Also, I made a point of not singing or patting him when I
started this as I wanted his faaling asleep to be as much like it
will be when I'm not in the room, whenever we get around to making
By the way, don't feel bad if an approach like this doesn't work for you
and don't do anything you're not comfortable with. Every child and
situation is different. I tried something like this with my first
child to wean him from our family bed and he literally jumped out of
the crib. He was over three before I was able to wean him out of our
bed and get him to fall asleep on his own, which we did very
gradually, by checking him every 3, 5, etc.minutes until he fell asleep
without someone in the room with him, and he still comes into our bed
when he wakes at night (which is okay with us). Our second child,
who is now happily going to "crib time" never wanted anything to do
with our family bed and got very angry whenever I tried to bring him
there. A book I found helpful for ideas re sleep is "Sleep: how
to teach your child to sleep like a baby" by Tamara Eberlein - ISBN #
0-671-88038-1. You can get it from Amazon.com. It covers the gamut from
crying it out to constant reassurance without being judgemental about
any approach. Another book which I believe had a sensitive approach,
but I haven't looked at it for a while is "Winning Bedtime Battles
- How to help your child develop good sleep habits" by Charles E.
Schaefer, Ph.D., and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo, M.E.D.
I had the same experience: what I learned is that singing rocking and
walking were all keeping my little one awake. He needed real quiet and
to be put down, sat next to for a while. It took a while for the
ajustment to happen, but it worked. Good Luck!
You could try stroking her hair or rubbing or lightly scratching her
back in a soothing rhythm after putting her down on her bed.
soothing rhythm after putting her down on her bed. Make sure that she
knows it's a special treat. The element of ritual may help.
Our baby has a musical windup toy that helps him get into a sleepy
mood. We start lowering the lights and talking more quietly well
before the actual bedtime, so that he can get into a sleepy mood
more easily. We try not to vary the routine too much as bedtime
approaches, and especially not to get him excited anywhere near
bedtime. We also keep his sleep area very dark, which helps him
orient himself to his sleep/wake cycle.
My experience, and I must note I get flack for it from family, but I
don't care. I had the same problem with my son wanting me there while
he fell asleep. He used to have a tot-bed pushed up against my bed, but
needed me there to fall asleep. What I started doing was lying him
down, lying down next to him and reading to him where he could see the
pictures without sitting up (with a very low light). The limit was one
or two books and then I would pick up my own book and read. He would
toss and turn, crawl around sometimes, but would eventually fall
asleep. He is now 8 years old and we still do this except now we read
chapter books that are a little too hard for him to read by himself. When
I'm done reading the chapter, I still pick up my own book. If he has been
good about taking his shower and getting himself to bed on time he
will have time to read from his own book too. Then he falls asleep feeling
secure and happy. Some people think it's horrible - I get comments
from family members about how spoiled this makes him. Sometimes I could use
the time for something else and sometimes I fall asleep with him and
don't get to do things I needed to do, but - because I work full time
we have so little time together I don't care. This is quality time! You
would not believe the precious conversations we've had during this
quiet together time. Oh, and his reading level is way up there for his age!
Advice for helping child fall asleep: I'm a One Family Bed person, so
my perspective comes from that direction. When I found myself at your
point (my child is now 10 years old), I simply laid down next to her until
she fell asleep. I timed it so I had a nice rest, and then got up and had
a second evening. Sometimes it took a long time (1/2 hour), but in
retrospect, that was a time I very much enjoyed. I had another older
child, so it gave me a rest to then have a better evening time with
her instead of being worn out from the day. Eventually, and I truly can't
remember exactly when (although it may have been a whole year later)
my littlest one would then simly go to sleep on her own. I think what's
important is not engaging in conversation, etc., but being there and
being very quiet and still while they settle down and go to sleep. I
remember a 2-month period where she wanted to go to sleep on my stomach.
So I let her, and then gently turned and rolled her over onto the bed.
After the two months, she then wanted to go to sleep on her own.
The other key is finding the right bedtime for your child -- my
daughter's slowly moved from 7:30-8:20 -- don't know why, but 8:20 was
the point at which she was quite ready to go to sleep for at least 2
years. Not 8:15, not 8:30. It does no more good to put a child in bed
when they're not tired than it does to do so for yourself. Good luck.
It's really nice to hear about other people who are working with their
child instead of focusing on separating. The American society is
alone. The American society is alone in its separatist attitude towards
its young. I still don't understand it.
Here's a piece of advise on this one. When you're reading in order to get
them to go to sleep, don't be very animated about it. Read verrrrry slowly
and verrry softly. I found Dr. Suess' _Sleep Book_ to be perfect for the
task. The sing-song repetition of nonsense always worked for us.
I haven't been following the whole thread on putting a child to sleep, but
more power to the person (woman?) who puts child to sleep by reading
to/with him at night. That quality time *is* very special. I do something
similiar with my five year old son. And I too don't care about the flack
I have a 19-month old son whose sleep pattern has become such that he is often
awake in his crib for over 1 hour (even up to 2 hours) after we put him down to
sleep in the evenings. (We usually start the bedtime routine at 7:30pm, and he's in
his crib by 8-8:15pm). He doesn't cry (or if he does, it's just once after about an
hour, and we go in to reassure him), but he's awake...playing with his stuffed
animals. He naps about 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the afternoons (I've been trying to have
his nap be between 1 and 4 so he doesn't wake up too late). There are two times
that he fell asleep at 11pm, slept til 9am, and didn't nap in the afternoon, but fell
asleep at 7pm out of sheer exhaustion.
I'd love to hear from people who have been through this with their children. My son
definitely gets enough exercise during the day (in morning and afternoon) that I
don't think that's an issue. I'm definitely not thrilled with him being alone in his
for that time, but I'm hesitant to push his bedtime later. We've had the same
bedtime for months, and it's only been the past 3-4 weeks that this pattern of being
awake in his crib has emerged. His dad is a night-owl, so I recognize he may have
those tendencies, but at this early age? I've thought about severely shortening his
afternoon nap, but he seems pretty tired in the afternoons and in need of those
naps (and is pretty cranky if he gets woken up earlier). Thoughts on changing nap
times, sleep times around would be appreciated. Also, for those who have gone
through this, is this a phase, or does it mean a real , more 'permanent', shift in
Just COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!! Don't change a thing. He's just
winding down at the end of the day, processing, thinking about
things, relaxing, and PUTTING HIMSELF TO SLEEP! Hooray! We need
to wind down, and so do babies. Babies need to learn to put
themselves to sleep. If you change anything, he'll probably end
up over-tired and cranky, and then you'll train him that it's not
okay to fall asleep unless his parents are around. Trust me, you
don't want that. Because then you have to train him back out of
it. Calm yourself by remembering that babies are experiencing
the equivalent of Disneyland just in living every day. He's
happy, rethinking the day. Maybe in those moments when he's
crying, he is remembering something unpleasant, or just realized
that he's awake and by himself. Then it goes away, and he goes
back to sleep. You are very lucky that he already knows that
falling asleep is something that he can do by himself!
You shouldn't be too concerned. Your son just needs time to
digest the events of the day/week and this usually happens in a
quiet, safe setting such as his bed. I suggest that you stick to
your routine (nap at 1 and bed by 8) and allow him time to
unwind/digest. You could build a bit of time into the routine to
help ensure that he's asleep long enough if you need to wake him
at a particular time. If you have the luxury of allowing his
natural sleep cycle to be the reason he wakes up, that would be
My almost two year old went through (and continues to do) the
same thing. The duration of the ''talk to digest'' time varies
significantly and we've actually built a half hour into the bed
time routine to accommodate for it. Even when he chatters for an
hour, he'll still take a normal length nap (3+ hrs) and get a
full night sleep (11+ hrs). But we've found that sticking to the
routine makes a world of difference.
Stick to the routine.
Hi, while I am not sure why your child is not falling asleep
right away, I think this is pretty normal. My oldest one, who
just turned 4, while being an amazing sleeper from the
beginning, has had periods of not falling asleep right away as
well. More so, my youngest is doing the same thing right now! I
am at the point now that this doesn;t bother me a bit, so i
just let him be!
I have read ''Healthy Sleeping Habits, Happy Child'' by Mark
Wiessbluth three years ago and has been basically living by it
ever since. Simple things - maintain the right bed time, have a
routine, and make sure your child doesn't get overtired -seem
to work magic. Maybe because your child is so active now that
this gets him way too excited and overtired and therefore he
simply can not fall asleep right away. Instead of moving his
bed time later, i would actully try and move it earlier by some
20-30 minutes and see what happens. I know it sounds like an
inverted logic, but it worked for me (up unitl 21 months, my
oldest was in bed by - ready?! - 5:30pm! And slept till 7am
every day) and still does. My kids are in bed between 6:30 for
the youngest and 7:30pm for the 4 year old; but if i see that
my oldest one is cranky at dinner and/or didn';t take a nap at
preschool, his bedtime get automatically moved by 15min
earlier. Same goes for the younger one. They sleep better and
longer. Hope this helps. Good luck!
My 27 month old daughter has done what you have described for
about the a year now. About twice a week when we put her down
for bed (bet 7:30 and 7:45pm) we hear her talking/singing to
herself in bed. In the beginning we went in but she does not
seem to want us in there. It's almost like it's her time.
Sometimes this goes on for an hour off and on. Occasionally, she
goes to sleep right away and wakes around 10 pm to talk/sing. I
actually tell sitters about this since they seem to think it's
unusual. She normally sleeps until 7 am and naps for about two
hours from 1-3 pm. We do a bed time routine from 6:45 to 7:30
which includes reading and other quiet activities. Frankly, I
have just gotten used to it. She is an active, happy girl so I
feel that she is doing ok. I have tried changing bed time and
bedtime activities but it has not worked so I roll with it and am
always listening carefully...
My son went through this at different stages. He was never quiet for an
though! I think as they walk and develop language, they sometimes will
act out what
they did during the day in their crib. I remember my son babbling to his
toys. You cannot make your child sleep, but you can give them a routine
them that bedtime is now. It sounds like you have done this very well.
If he lays in
his crib without much fuss, then you're fine. I wouldn't worry about it.
content to me.
From the numbers you give, I see that your little boy is sleeping 12
hours a day and
that sounds about right. I get the impression that he is healthy and
during the day, so he is probably doing a good job meeting his need for
really really really can't make a kid sleep. You can only make it easy
for him to
sleep. You seem to want him to not be awake in his crib so you don't
about him being alone or you are worried about him being safe. Since he
crying, he is probably not unhappy having some alone time and if you
about safety, address that by the standard methods-a monitor or a tent
him from crawling out and wandering. Then count yourself lucky that you
blessed with a good sleeper. This is not a sleeping problem in my book!
My son often does what you are describing at nap time and
sometimes at bedtime. I understand your feelings of not having
him be in the crib alone, because I have pangs of this, but I
have decided that as long as he is content and playing or resting
without a lot of fuss, that it's okay to leave him in there.
And, maybe it's even a good thing for him. He may need/enjoy
that down time, and it's not a bad thing for him to learn to
entertain himself. He often sings, plays with his stuffed
animals, talks to himself. That seems like good coping and
self-soothing strategy to me. Remember that kids don't fake
being content. If your son were unhappy in his bed, you'd hear
Let content kids lie...
Hi. I have twin 18 month olds and one of them just started doing
that too. For naps and at night. She'll stay awake for 30-60
minutes after being put into her crib. Her sister, in the same
room, falls asleep almost immediately. This gives me some
comfort that it isn't anyting I've done. One just needs more
sleep than the other one.
One thing I might suggest is actually moving bedtime up (not
back). Through my three kids and talking with other moms, when
bedtime is moved up, sleep usually improves. Lots of parents
don't want to move it up for fear of bad naps or partners not
being able to spend time with them, but each time I've done it or
my friends have done it, it works. You can try for a few days
and forget it if it doesn't work.
Sleep is good!
I am seeking advice on our 20-month-old's sleep problems. At daycare she
will lie down for her nap (with binky) without being rocked to sleep. At home, it's a different story. She is rocked to sleep at naptime (I've tried to just put her down, but she won't go to sleep - and yes, she is tired), to go to sleep at night, and if she wakes up in the middle of the night (I know! I know!). My daughter, for those on the list a while now, is the one who used to vomit if she cried for 5 minutes so we didn't let her cry it out and rocked her to sleep to avoid the vomiting. Our pediatrician even said it was OK at the time (she was sleeping through the night no problem - just needed to be rocked to sleep). Anyway, so now we have created a very difficult situation for my husband and me, who are very sleepshort particularly of late, as she gets up several times in the middle of the night (and falls asleep instantly in our arms when we
pick her up and sit with her in the rocking chair, but jumps up and cries as soon as we put her back in her crib - aren't you glad you don't live at our house?!?!). Eventually she's out enough that we can put her down again and she sleeps through it. Last night, for example, she went to sleep at 7:40, woke up at 10pm, it took my husband about 45 minutes to get her down again and then she was up at 11pm again. It took me, miraculously, only 15 minutes to get her down again and then she slept through the night and was still sleeping at 6:20am this morning when I left to go to work (my husband does drop off at daycare in the morning). The past two nights have been nightmares of being up for hours with her (2.5-3 hours). So, what type of behavior modification can we do at this late stage to set things on track? Any and all advice appreciated. I realize it will no doubt get worse before it gets better, but we are ready to make it better. By the way, she no longer vomits if she cries for a while, thank goodness
Our 4 year old is a very good sleeper once she is
asleep but she has terrible time settling down every
night. It usually takes her 30 minutes to an hour to
fall asleep. Any strategies from parents who have dealt
with this situation would be appreciated, including herbal/
homeopathic remedies (like Calms) that are effective.
My 5-year-old takes a long time to fall asleep, easily an
hour. She's very active & intense & gets so wound up during
the day that she can't go straight to sleep, even after a
soothing bath and being read to. However, it isn't a problem
for either of us. I put her to bed around 8 p.m., she has a
small night light by her bed, and a basket with various toys,
books, etc. I say good-night & close her door, and the rules
are that 1) she must stay in her bed (or at least in her
room), 2) she must be fairly quiet, and 3) I am not available
anymore until morning. But she doesn't have to go to sleep
until she is ready (after all, you can't *make* them sleep
(oooh, if only they designed these critters with off
switches!!), you can only set up a situation conducive to
sleeping). She plays with her little toys or pretends to read
her books or sings to herself. I'll hear her faintly for
anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, eventually she drifts off.
She just needs that much quiet time alone to unwind.
To the woman whose five year old plays by herself
until she falls asleep How do you get her to stay in
her room without you? No matter what I've tried my
just turned 5 year old will not stay in his room by
himself after his bedtime routine. How do you handle
it when he shares the room with his 15 month old
Someone asked how I get my five-year-old daughter to stay in
her room after I put her to bed. Well, I don't "get" her to
do it, she just does it & I don't know why, it's a mystery and
a blessing (as she is a very challenging child in other areas
of behavior). However, my older daughter was terrible about
staying in her room when she was around 4 or 5. Not only would
she think of a million excuses to come out, one time she
actually came out without even pretending to have an excuse,
five minutes after I'd said good night, and presented herself to
me in the living room saying "Here I am!" The next day I started
the star routine. For every night that she stayed in her room
after I said good night, she'd get a star the next morning. After
10 stars she'd get a prize, some little toy or treat. She loved
getting stars, and while it wasn't 100% successful right away,
it did motivate her to form a new habit. Each star she earned
was stuck on the wall over her bed, and as they accumulated it
was something she could point to with pride & I could take comfort
in seeing how many peaceful evenings I'd had. After maybe 3 or
4 months she had gotten so good at staying in her room that I
started "forgetting" to give her a star each day, and eventually
we decided that she didn't need stars anymore because she had
done such a good job of learning to stay in her room.
We have a similar problem. Lately our two year old has trouble
falling asleep. We do our routine of bath, and then stories/singing
songs. He always insists that we stay with him until he falls asleep.
He sleeps in a toddler bed, and if we leave the room before he is
almost asleep, he hops out of bed and follows us. So leaving him to
cry it out is not a realistic option. Lately, he just doesn't
fall asleep. He lies down quietly, and really tries, but stays awake.
We found out he falls asleep at 9:30 no matter when we put him in
bed. Since the change of clock he also wakes up earlier, before 7:00.
Last week we told his teachers to wake him up from his nap after he
had slept for an hour and a half (he used to sleep for two hours or
more). So far, we haven't seen any changes. Does anyone have
What do you do with a kid that goes to bed at 9:00 and stays in bed without
complaining for over 2 hours without sleeping? After finally going to sleep, she
almost always wakes up at or before 8:30. She tries laying quiet and still with us
but when sleep doesn't happen we'll leave. She will ''read'' books and play with a few
stuffed animals and maybe do a puzzle or two. Sometimes she will eventually fall
asleep on her own and other times she will call one of us in to lay down with her
and will fall asleep within a couple of minutes. Her light is dim, she has a regular
sleeping CD playing .... We wake her up from her nap after an hour (though she
would love to sleep 2-3 hours) because the problem gets worse with too much of a
nap. We never let her nap past 2:00. We tried to get rid of the nap all together but
she just can't last without it. She gets hyper and has an even harder time settling
down for sleep. She doesn't get anything sweet (not even fruit) after 5:00 because it
makes her wired. She doesn't like the idea of sleeping and even when tired says she
doesn't want to. She doesn't have bad dreams, has warm milk before bed, has her
two year molars coming in and fluid in her ears (according to Dr.) We give her
Tylenol to deal with any pain she might be having, but she doesn't complain about
any pain (she is very verbal). This sleeping habit existed before the physical issues
anyway. Since she doesn't bother us when she isn't sleeping, it isn't a horrible
problem, except she really seems like she is happier when she can get more sleep.
So, what can we do? She isn't a great eater - could diet be a part of this? Any
suggestions would be appreciated.
We've been through the same thing with both our kids to varying
degrees at varying times. If they are just quietly sitting in bed
reading, the instinct is to leave them be and let them get tired and
go to sleep when they want. But I know with myself, that I will stay
up reading until all hours and not notice being tired. If I force
myself to put down the book I will go right to sleep even if I think I
am not tired yet. I figure it is the same with kids. So I let them
have a book, and check in every 5 to 10 minutes, telling them it is
time to put it away and go to sleep. After two or three trips, I take
the book away, sit with them, rub their back, tell them a quiet simple
story, or something to calm them and get them into sleep mode. I am
hoping that soon they will learn to do it themselves, but I figure
sleep is too important to leave it up to a preschooler. Also, I
notice a big difference when they are in bed by 8:15 or 8:30 and 9:00.
Just that extra half hour later gets them more wired and it takes them
longer to fall asleep
Mom of 2 and 4 year old
I also have a 2yo who has never been much for sleep. And I think
we are currently living in this culture where everyone is trying
to get their kids to sleep some specified amount vs accepting
that all kids are different with different needs. My kid likes
to be up - and sure, it would be great for all of us if he could
sleep a bit more but you can't make a kid sleep. It sounds like
you all have put a lot of thoughtful time and energy in to your
child's sleep and I can't imagine there's much more to do than
to accept that perhaps she's not a kid that needs as much as
others (mine will sleep a max of 9hs/night, naps an hr in the
day). And certainly from my own experience, being anxious about
some aspect of my kid only seems to further the problem vs help
them feel that things are really OK.
I don't think you said how old your daughter is but I'm guessing
she's somewhere in the two year range. It sounds to me like she
needs to go to sleep at least an hour earlier and needs to get
her full nap without being awoken. It shouldn't be too difficult
changing her bedtime with the sun going down earlier now
One of my kids has always had a hrder time than the other in
falling asleep. It is like she has a difficult time turning her
brain off. When she was an infant and toddler it was as if she
was insulted by us asking her to sleep. At times when she had
great difficulties falling asleep, we would rub her back and
sing calmly to her, and tell her that after two songs we would
leave the room. As she got older, we would ask her to count
backwards in her head, or count by twos or fives so that she
could calm her brain. When we say goodnight to her now, we
usually take her current book out of the room with us to reduce
the temptation to keep reading (those horrible habits they
develop!). We have tried to help her learn to fall asleep by
herself. She would chat with us all night long if she could,
and that won't benefit anyone. So..you could try reducing some
of the stimulation in your child's bed/crib/room. Or you could
take the approach that if she is happy, then she is doing well.
(my late night girl never sleeps as much as her sibling, and
that's just who she is.)
Due to a series of minor events (i.e. sickness, fatigue,
relocation) during the last year, I have developed a consistent
habit of lying down on a futon with my now 2-year-old daughter
when she goes to bed. Because this has been going on for so long,
she is unable (unwilling?) to be put down by herself. She also
needs to touch my arm or elbow to help her sleep (i.e. my skin
instead of a security blanket) and gets upset if I don't let her.
pI am expecting a second child in a few months and am looking for
suggestions for steps to take now that will put me in a better
place come spring. I could use some help on how to ''wean'' my
daughter from this bedtime ritual, as well as myself since I
rather enjoy being with my daughter in this way. Should I change
cold turkey or gradually? Is Ferberizing possible with a
2-year-old who sleeps on a futon? Am I worrying too much? Should
I wait-and-see until #2 comes along?
Early to bed
I say enjoy that special bonding time with your child as long
as you can. Some of my favorite memories as a child are when my
mom came to stay with me. And the older they get, the more it
becomes a time to open up and share. That said, when the 2nd
comes you will need to be able to skip or shorten the ritual
occasionally so find some rules that work for your child. My
first always fell asleep quickly so I would stay as long as her
eyes were closed and she was trying to sleep. My second only
falls asleep quickly when he hasn't had a nap, so if he had a
nap that day, I stay for 10 minutes then he's on his own.
Figure out ways to shortcut now that work for your child but
then enjoy it as often as you can!
I have a healthy, active 2 year old who never wants to go to sleep.
My daughter has been sleeping with us since she was born, and we're
just now trying to get her to sleep in her crib. But we have almost
always (barring a few short periods earlier) had trouble putting her
to bed. She is so full of energy at all times, even late at night she
wants to read (more) and play or listen to songs or just keep awake
somehow. She is a healthy, active 2 year old, but she just never
wants to go to sleep. We have fun all day, she's usually not cranky
or whiny but never seems to need any sleep. Putting her to bed at
night drives me up the wall. I've tried reading to her, nursing her,
singing to her, cuddling, walking around holding her, rocking her,
keeping her out all day so she's exhausted, giving her a snack before
bedtime, just about everything me or my husband could think of. But
nothing works. It takes a minimum of an hour to put her to sleep,
People have suggested trying the ferber method but i hate the idea of
letting her cry for hours, by herself, before she falls asleep. I also
fear that at 2 years and 2 months of age, she's too old for it and it
will take months of crying herself to sleep to get her used to putting
herslef to sleep.
I read through the archives for sleep issues and as far as I could tell,
people who wrote in dealt with this while their children were younger
than my daughter.
I hope someone out there has some advice about something I could try.
Any suggestions would be a big help.
I have no advice, but my 2 and a half year old son is just the same
way! He take a 2 hour nap at daycare (I wish they would cut this
down to an hour- but they are reluctant), and he sleeps 8 hours at
night. He never seems tired- he rarely gets cranky, etc. Needless
to say, my husband and I don't get the hours that some parents get
between the time the child goes to bed, and the time the parents go
to bed. We are tired by 11, when my son is getting tired, so we all
go to bed together. I also have tried everything, but my son is just
not tired. My husband and his whole family sleep less than average,
and my mother in law says she had the same issue with her three boys.
So I am looking for ways to deal with it rather than fighting it. I
often let him watch a calming video, like baby songs or the hungry caterpiller before we start reading books, to give me a little time
to wind down. I hope some parents out there can give you (us) some
The most important thing I've heard for going to bed is having a
regular ritual/routine, that you stick to (ie bath, pajamas, book,
bed). That allows the child to know what to expect and helps them
I'm reading a book "Sleeping Through the Night" by psychologist Jodi
A. Mindell. I haven't finished it, nor started the complete "Basic
bedtime Method" she suggests, but just by understanding more about
sleep issues and by following a few hints (e.g. on establishing
positive bedtime associations) my life has gotten considerably
better. Now I know it can improve even more and as soon as I finish
the book I am going to try the full method, which seemed to have
changed the life of many parents and babies in an average of 2
weeks. Another thing I like in this method is that your baby will never be
"abandoned" to his/her crying, you have to check on them every
few minutes (no pick up or nursing, but ensuring them that you are
there and care for them). And no, your baby is not too old for this
I, too, have a very active 2 year 3 month old daughter. We are done
with naps (she sleeps in a bed so there is no way to keep her
'trapped' even for quiet time. However, she seems to accept the night
time sleep thing and will (usually) go to sleep within 15-25 minutes.
When I was still nursing, my husband would lay down with our daughter,
read a few books (we have now limited it to 2 nighttime books) and
then sing to her (these were songs that I used to sing as I nursed her
to sleep so she was familiar with them). I can now put her to sleep,
using this same ritual. It took some crying but we didn't let her cry
it out alone - I'm sure you are consistent in your parenting, but once
you decide to try a routine, stick to it. It is the only way your
daughter will know that you mean business.
I don't suggest the Ferber method to you since you aren't interested
in it but do suggest that you may need to let her cry for short, 5
minute intervals. At each interval, you can go in, remind her it is
time to sleep and that you love her and then leave the room. You are
right that it will take a while because she is older but that doesn't
mean it won't happen.
Try reading a book called, "Helping Your Child Sleep Through the
Night". It has sections broken down by age so you aren't limited to
information on 9 month-olds. I don't know if this helps. Good luck
Some children need closeness and cuddling with a parent to relax and
fall asleep; other children stimulate themselves into wakefulness with
the same kind of care. It may be your daughter is the latter sort
of child. Since your daughter is old enough to understand some of
what you say to her, you can try telling her that she needs to learn
to go to sleep by herself, and that you will help her. This means
gradually reducing and ritualizing your bedtime routines, then leaving
her. Most likely, she won't like it and will cry, maybe even for a
long time at first. This is hard for a parent to listen to, but
most children only cry for a few bedtimes. Some children (like my
son) will cry routinely for 10 minutes, then fall asleep; and, over
time, give up the crying part of the bedtime ritual.
I think we parents want to be loving and responsive to our children,
and so we go to great lengths sometimes to keep them contented.
While this is generally a very good thing, it can work against the
child's real needs when it comes to helping children learn to
regulate themselves. In a situation in which a child is not settling
to sleep easily no matter what the parent tries, it is worthwhile for
the parent to consider whether he or she is part of the problem.
We also have an active child who doesn't seem sleepy at night. Ever.
She's three now, but has been like this since birth. Some days as
a newborn she would sleep only 20 minutes in the whole day. Even now,
she sleeps less than her 7 year old sister. I have to say, Ferber may
be your answer. Yes, it is really hard, but the truth is, spending over
an hour "helping" your child get to sleep is probably just making
the problem worse, getting you frustrated and angry, and not helping
your kid at all. We did Ferber at 2 (after trying and failing many
many times) and it made a big difference. Remember, you do get to go
in to the room to reassure them. And the advantage of this age is that
you can lay the ground work and TELL them what you are going to do
in advance and work out the whole ritual ahead of time. That
really worked for us. Now, she still can take an hour to go to
sleep, but it's relatively quiet and on her own. The thing I found
with Ferber is that I had to be absolutely consistent with the
method and not fudge it at all. These little guys can sense weakness
and ruin the whole effort. I psyched myself up for it by thinking of
it as the classic testing phase and that I had to be absolutely consistent. It was either that or a nervous breakdown. Now, we can
slip back a bit, but I can talk to her and get it back to a
reasonable number of going back in through non-Ferber methods. It
does get better!
My 2.9 year old will not go to bed. She sleeps in her own room
in a toddler bed. She has always gone right to sleep. Now once
she goes to bed, she gets up and plays with her toys, or sneaks
into the hallway or goes into other rooms until we notice. I
tell her to go to bed and she just laughs. I've tried bribing
her, I've tried reasoning with her, I've tried threatening to
take things away, I've tried actually taking things away, I've
tried closing her door. We have a bedtime routine. I know she
needs the sleep b.c if I wait until later to put her down, she
gets cranky and irritable. I have a 4 month-old and she goes to
bed at 6:00 every night. But I put my older daughter to bed at
8:00 and she's still awake now at 10:00! I could have gone to
bed 2 hours ago if she would just go to sleep! I am worried
she will get up and roam the house with me asleep. It has
gotten to the point where I have to yell at her to get her to
finally go down. I don't want to yell and I don't want to have
to do it this way, but nothing else seems to work.
We have been just going through the same thing and it has started
getting better so I've got a few suggestions you can try. Our
kids have also mostly gone down previously without much fuss and
now the youngest (2.9) has been really difficult the last couple
of months. He shares a room with his older sister so they
started playing together when we put them to bed. The problem
seemed to start because he became scared of the dark and would
turn on the light in their room. We couldn't figure it out at
first because he didn't tell us about his fear and he just seemed
like he was acting out. So, we ended up getting a nightlight for
his room and that helped a little. We also have a babygate on
their room so (only when needed) we close that. He hates that so
we can always just use it as a threat to get him to stay in bed.
Also, we still have a pack n play so we also sometimes take him
out of their room and put him in our room in the pack n play...
he can climb out of it but many times he just goes to sleep. I
also just attended a parenting class and the instructor suggested
that when you child gets out of bed that you steer them back to
their room silently by putting your hand on their lower back and
guiding them back. She suggested starting this tactic on a
weekend night when both parents are at home because you could be
doing this over and over again for a long time. Eventually they
are supposed to get the idea that no matter what they do you will
just respond the same way. After two kids who on the whole have
been good sleepers, I've also just come to the conclusion that
sometimes they go through difficult periods where they seem to
lose all their good sleep habits but if you just remain
consistent and insistent on the importance of good sleep habits,
then eventually they get into a new rhythmn.... but it can take
awhile :) Good luck!
This may sound mean but it worked great. We put one of those
wooden baby gates across the bottom of my son's door. After
doing his whole night night routine, if he didn't stay in bed,
we would give a warning, then the next time hook the gate. You
can leave the main door open or shut it as you wish. He howled
for a while (you have to ignore it and also withdraw attention)
but looking back (he is now 8) I think it gave him the boundary
he needed, to start learning to settle himself down for the
night. We didn't need it all that long. He's a fabulous
We had the same problem with our daughter when she moved to a big
girl bed. We ended up just getting a safety gate to put across
the door. We took the position that when she got tired, she
would go to sleep, so as long as she stayed in her room, she
could do whatever she wanted. I will admit, there was sometimes
crying at the gate, la-la-la, but we ignored it unless it got
really extreme. Now, at almost-3, she has gotten with the
program at bedtime and we can leave the door open and no gate and
she doeasn't come out.
When our 2 yr old climbed out of his crib, we spent 5 hours repeatedly putting him to
bed (he would get out the second we closed the door). After that, we got a lock for the
door, and a camera for the room. Sometimes he goofs around a bit, but it gets boring
pretty fast in a dark room. Now we can monitor him, and not worry about him leaving
the room, or getting into things when we are asleep. Whatever works ya know?
Try a gate on the door. We open ours when our son is asleep, but it keeps him from
wandering. We've also always told him that he could play in his room if he wasn't
ready for sleeping.
-Works for us
Well, my daughter isn't of age yet, but what my mom did with me seemed to
work: she had an agreement with me that I ''went to bed'' at a certain time, but
that didn't mean I had to go to sleep! I could play (or read when I was old
enough), or whatever, I just had to stay in my room. Bed time wasn't an issue
There is a great book you should read - John Rosemond's ''Making
the Terrible Twos Terrific''. Talks alot of understanding a
toddler and remaining the boss - there is a chapter devoted to
sleep & bedtime.
My suggestions - get a door, cut it in half, put a lock from
the outside on the bottom half, lock her in her room. Explain
that she can play in her room (quietly, but coming out is
unacceptable. In the begining, routinely go in & check on her
from the outside so she knows you are there. There will be
screaming & protest, but over time it will subside. You need to
be in charge.
A close friend - with 3 kids - has always said very wisely when
her children challenge going to bed: ''I can't make you go to
sleep, but I can make you go to bed.''
Don't Let the Toddler Run the House
We had the very same problem as you with our daughter at about
the same age. It is so frustrating!!! And it's really hard to
remain patient when you're tired and need the little one to go
to sleep. We went through everything you've tried, and none of
it worked. Finally I remembered reading somewhere how to solve
this problem. You do the bedtime routine, and during it you
tell your daughter that it will be bedtime soon, and that you
expect her to go to bed without a fuss. You tell her that if
she gets out of bed you or her father will put her back into
bed. And then of course she will, and every time she gets out
of bed you immediately, calmly, lead her back to bed and firmly
but calmly tell her it's bedtime. No other conversation or
attention should occur, no threats, no pleading, no arguing.
We had a few nights in the beginning where we wouldn't even get
out of the hallway before she was back out of bed, and I think
several nights we put her back in bed dozens of times. It's
hard to not lose your cool, and that's where teamwork with the
other parent (if available) really helps. Eventually, after a
few nights, our persistent daughter learned that she would
always and immediately get put back into bed, without any
further attention, and bedtime got easier. We also had a few
short relapses, where it seemed our daughter was testing to see
if the rules had changed. I really think the key to this
method is being consistent, completely calm, and saying nothing
other than ''it's bedtime now'' while leading (or carrying if
necessary) the child back to bed. Then, when the behavior
starts to improve, you can praise her the next morning for
going to bed without a fuss. Good luck, stick with your 8 pm
bedtime, and things will improve soon. Good luck!
Lived through it
I had the same situation with my younger child when we moved her
to a bed from her crib - ''Hey! I can escape!''.
Drove me absolutely crazy - ''calmly put child back to bed without
comment, without emotion'' - for an HOUR or more every night??
Yeah, right... Oh, there was emotion all right.
It was a lot harder because the two kids shared a room, so the
older was suffering too. I couldn't close the door, turn off the
soft music, sit on the bed, sit at the door, without affecting
What I wish I had tried: charts - stars for every night staying
in bed, perhaps with more demonstration - ''look at teddy here -
this is how he goes to bed, look how happy he is!'', and maybe
even recruited big brother ''Now your brother will show you how to
go and STAY in bed...''.
But despite my not doing such a great job, it did stop.
Tired Is a State of Mind...
My 2.5 year old has trouble going to sleep at night too - He has
been popping up from his crib reglarly since August. Man is this
getting old! I am anxious to hear others responses but I can
also tell you what we have done that has worked. (As a note, our
2.5 year old shares a room with his almost 5 year old sister -
yet another wrinkle). Our tactics are 3 fold:
1)I explain to him every night that it is bed time and say ''What
do big boys do at bed time?'' He usually answers ''get out of bed!''
and I say ''No, big boys stay in bed, roll over, close their eyes
and fall asleep. I know you are a big boy and I EXPECT you to do
this.'' Recently this has been helpful in shortening the amount
of time it takes him to fall asleep. I think using the word
Expect is important.
2)Many nights I sit in his room, without talking or looking at
him and put him back to bed when he gets up or stands in his
crib. I explain to him before hand that this is what I am going
to do until he falls asleep. This can take 30 min - 1.5 hours. :(
3) At our wits end and our doctor's advice we changed the
doorknob on the bedroom so it locks from the outside. EASY to do!
Some evenings when I just need some space I will lock him in.
Again, I tell him before hand what I am doing. If he gets out of
bed and starts banging at the door, I put him back in bed without
talking or looking at him. Most times he only gets out once when
the door is locked. If you change your door knob make sure you
have akey or some way to open it from the inside. Locking mommy
in the kids' bedroom is now a fun game for them but I have my
hidden key that gets me out.
Like I said, we are still struggling with this but these 3
methods all work some times so we pick and choose based on the
We were having a lot of trouble with our 3 yo getting out of bed
and the ''silently putting him back in bed'' method was NOT working
-- I counted 50 tries before I lost my temper about that. What
DID work was childproof handles on the inside of his door (easier
than replacing/changing door/locks.) We said, if you stay in bed,
the door stays open, but if you get out, I have to close the door
and the special handle will keep the door closed/keep you safe
(He had been running around downstairs at 2 am--a little scary!).
The first night, he cried about 20 min then fell asleep, the
second, only about 3 min., and then after that, he's been able to
sleep with the door open and stay in bed all night long.
Sleeping is beautiful
There is really good advice somewhere in the archive on this.
The recommendation was to check on your child in ever
increasing intervals. This solution worked instantly and 6
months later my son no longer has any anxiety about going to
bed (we're still checking every 5 minutes or so). Good luck.
My 2.5 year old does not go to sleep by himself. For the first
year+ I always nursed him to sleep, then rocked him to sleep and
now he still likes me to lay in his bed until he falls asleep. I
have never let him ''cry it out'' or did any kind of ''sleep
training'' because It didn't feel right.I wanted to know if anyone
else out there has done this with their child, and what age I
might expect him to want to go to sleep on his own? His Doctor
was very critical of this when he was one year, and while I did
and do not feel like I am making a mistake, I would like to hear
other opinions on this matter. Thanks!
I didn't want to do the cry it out thing either, but we finally
did and it only took three nights with every 5, then 10 minute
pats on the back, and our kids finally sleep on their own. I
must say, I believe my kids are as happy about as we are.
Our 4 year old still needs someone to lie down with him in bed
until he falls asleep at night. Totally normal.
Naps are hard, though, especially at 2.5. We didn't do the cry it
out thing but we didn't give him any tools to work with either,
which I regret. Our son stopped napping when he was around 3
years old so it might be that your kid is moving on from napdom
(if so, sorry!). If he still needs a nap, you can always walk him
in the stroller and transfer him into bed; drive him in the car
and transfer him into bed; lie down with him until he falls
asleep. I think it's perfectly normal for a kid to want someone
to be with them until they are asleep -- it's not as convenient
for us parents, but that's our tough luck, I guess. Good luck.
I tthink it depends more on what you want, and are willing to do,
than on the child. I have seen the full spectrum - some parents
always put the children to bed at a regular time in their own
bed, starting as a baby, and some parents have children in 2nd
or 3rd grade and still not able to fall asleep on their own.
Personally, by 8pm I am tired, and I'm ready for some adult time
and I don't have the patience to spend a long time coaxing my kids
to sleep. So I started at about 6 months on in their own bed at a
regular time. Then when they were about 12 mos, settled on a nice
ritual -- brush teeth, 2 books, 2 songs, kiss goodnight, passy
& blanket, and it's night night time. There are always bumps in
the road, some backsliding, some exceptions, but we try to stick to
it. I have been to friends' houses where bedtime took an hour or two,
required one parent to be with the child during that whole time.
I think this is OK if it works for your family but it's good to
be aware that it may continue for a long long time, so if it's not
something you want to do, then you may have to just roll up your
sleeves up and get with it. It isn't too easy to change a bedtime
habit but it is doable and the sooner you get working on it, the
easier it is. It's harder to do at 3 than at 2, and it's harder
at 2 than at one, and so on. What I have seen with my friends is
this: if it ain't happening at about 2 or 3 years, then it ain't
gonna happen on its own for a while.
I have been in your situation about my children not falling
asleep by themselves. Both my boys were nursed to sleep up to
toddlerhood. Even after weaning, they still needed my company to
be able to fall asleep (laying down next to them, sitting on
their beds). Despite criticisms around me, I still felt that I
did the right thing by allowing my children to feel secure.
Eventually, they outgrew that need and go to sleep on their own.
There are no sleeping problems to speak of for years (they are
now 7 and 9). Of course, this is my personal experience and
opinion on this. But I just want to assure you that the sleep
issue will eventually work itself out.
I just wanted to add to the discussion about toddlers not falling
asleep on their own. My 2 1/4 year old daughter doesn't really
fall asleep totally on her own yet, but there has been much
improvement in recent months. Like the original poster, I have
nursed my child to sleep since birth, and still nurse her at
night. She also sleeps with us for much of the night, but she *
starts out* in her own crib, and is learning to fall asleep on
her own. I've also never been willing or able to totally let her
cry it out, but I certainly let her cry now and then to release
tension and tire herself out.
Here's what I do to help her fall asleep by herself: first, we
do our bedtime ritual (bath, stories, milk/nurse). Then I put
her in her crib, pat her and/or sing to her for a few minutes,
and then I sit in the rocking chair next to her crib. I've put a
blanket on the crib rails so she actually can't see me, but she
periodically asks if ''mama's here.'' I reassure her that mama's
here, but she has to go to sleep. Sometimes I sit in the chair
until she falls asleep, other times I tiptoe out. It doesn't
work perfectly, and it took at least a month to work without all
the crying/picking up/patting, but it's much better than holding
her for hours or going to bed with her. And after a month or 6
weeks, she was falling asleep more quickly--like she was getting
the hang of things.
As I said, it is not perfect, but it has helped make bedtime a
less stressful affair.
I'm not sure what ''this'' you're talking about (has anyone else
done this with their child) but I'm assuming you mean parent
their child to sleep' (I keep trying to fix this - there is a
question mark here. I promise! :)) I guess we qualify. I have
an 8yo, 6yo, 2yo and 10mo. The 2yo will be 3 in a few weeks.
She is either nursed or read to sleep. The 10mo (obviously) is
nursed to sleep. The older children don't ''need'' to be parented
to sleep but we frequently do - just holding them as they fall
asleep, or read to them or read silently to ourselves while they
fall asleep. I think that both the older children stopped
needing the presence of someone else with them to fall asleep
I think what you are doing is great and your son will let you
know when he's ready to go to sleep by himself. Judging by your
post, your son is basically sleeping through the night and
waking at a normal time. As long as you feel ok about the
routine, why not continue. My child wasn't really ready to go to
sleep by herself until age four and then some serious family
problems caused a setback for about a year. Usually I found
laying down with her relaxing for me as well. But at five, the
routine became very easy with some discussions about what would
be a good solution. Together we came up with a routine that
worked-- getting ready for bed (teeth, etc.), and two stories
and goodnight. She handles all her night waking needs (going to
the bathroom, or wanting a nightlight) except the occasional
nightmare. I think some ''experts'' want us to have convenient
children, but children take different paths to greater
This may not be helpful, but my 3.5 year old still doesn't like
to go to sleep by herself. Unfortunately, she doesn't fall
asleep until 10:30 or 11:00 at night, so we're really tired of
it. We're getting ready to put a clock in her room (she has the
rudiments of time-telling) and we're going to start setting a
time when we'll be leaving -- she can be awake or asleep, lying
down or playing, at her choice -- but we'll be going. We hope
this works, but can't give you a success story yet. (We also
have never let her cry it out.)
After dealing with sleep issues of my two kids (and my
husband :) ) I came to the conclusion that the ability to fall
asleep and stay asleep also depends on personality and
temperament of the person.
We always put our daughter to sleep into her crib and she cried
every night for 15 min to fall asleep. And would wake up every
night at 3-4am and cry forever, unless we came to her and
comfort her. Every book told us that eventually she will cry
less and less and will fall asleep by herself without crying,
and stop waking up. Never happened. When she was 1 year old we
visited relatives and slept in the same bed for the first time.
That was the first night she fell asleep without crying and
didn't wake up. OK, probably she did wake up, but didn't cry, so
we slept till morning. We were so happy at last to sleep through
the night, that when we came home we got a full size bed for her
and since then lay down with her until she fell asleep, then
when she would wake up at night me or my husband just went to
sleep for the rest of the night in her bed. We explicitely
decided not to take her to our bed but sleep in her bed. When
she was 3 years old she decided that she wants to sleep in
toddler bed. We bought one in Target very cheaply and that was
it, she started to sleep alone in her bed.
She didn't fall asleep by herself though, but after hearing her
crying every night for a whole year we were happy to stay with
her and with time it became easier and easier. We had different
routines with my husband, but it was never a problem. To make a
long story short, even now, when she is nine, she needs one of
us to walk with her to her bed, talk for 5 min, and say her good
night. She simply cannot fall asleep without this short ritual.
We tried. She would just stay awake for hours (even if she is
very sleepy). So we gave up, and actually enjoy those night
talks. She also started to sleep much better when her baby
brother started to sleep in her room.
On the contrary our second child is a great sleeper, loves his
crib, and does not care for anybody sitting near him if he is
sleepy. And was like that since he was born.
BTW, my husband is very much like my daughter: he hates falling
asleep on his own. If he is tired and wants to sleep before I
do, he prefers to have me around, even if I just read a book in
the same room.
My husband and I also do not believe in letting a child cry himself/
herself to sleep. We rocked our daughter to sleep until she was two
years old, actually, at which point she was ready to fall asleep on her
own. It took a few days of tentativeness, but she got the hang of it quickly
and we never let her lie there crying. It might be helpful to know that our
daughter also would vomit if she would cry for 5 minutes or longer, so
we would always do what we could to stop her crying as quickly as
possible. We did run the issue of falling asleep on her own by her
pediatrician when she was about a year old, and she asked if our
daughter, once rocked to sleep, would sleep through the night. The
answer was yes, and our pediatrician didn't see any harm in rocking her
to sleep if she was then sleeping through the night without needing us.
We are blessed because our daughter started sleeping through the
night at 10 weeks and has always been a rock solid sleeper (she's 4
now). But falling asleep on her own took a while. To be honest, we
always loved rocking her, but I have to admit it was reassuring to have
the backing of our pediatrician.
My 5 yr old son still does not usually fall asleep by himself,
but I have made much peace with it. Night time, in the dark, is
a very special time with kids to share and process their
experiences. As my son has gotten older, this time for sharing
is invaluable and so sweet. However, when he was younger and it
would take him up to 1.5 hours to fall asleep, I did sneak in
reading a book by booklight, meditating, or thinking about what
I needed to do for the next day. I would also leave for 5
minute breaks when he could handle it. I don't remember what
age, but at some point he began to fall asleep faster at night.
I wasn't always graceful about my staying with him til he fell
asleep every night, but now 5 years later I am so, so grateful
that I invested in him. I would also add, get a lot of support
from parents who parent like you do. The pressure to follow
the ''book's way'' can get intense and make you feel like you're
doing something wrong, instead of something very right!
this page was last updated: Jul 26, 2011
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