18 answers

15 Month Old and Crying It Out

hi mom's - hope this finds everyone well! my daughter has always been an excellent sleeper. She goes down awake and i never hear another peep. These last few weeks have not been good at all! 4 am every night it seems she is waking. i know she's eating and drinking enough. i slightly suspect it's her molars.. she's not a drooler and doesn't really chew on things when she's teething. it feels very very hard in her mouth and in the back.
my question is related to crying it out. i know my daughter, i know her cry and up until last night i've ALWAYS gone in her room when she's cried. when she's cried in the past - no tears whatsoever. i would always just rub her back and she'd fall asleep or quiet down and then i would walk out of her room. So for a few weeks now i've been going in her room when she's cried and have rubbed her back and then she'd be fine... again NO TEARS! so last night i decided to not go in her room and i just listened to her and she fell back asleep in about 15 minutes. I am feeling slightly guilty. i know my daughters cry and it was more of that whiney cry. Would you let your toddlers cry it out? On the rare occasion that she has soaked her diaper or has been sick her cry reaches an insane level and then i know i absolutely need to go in there and take care of her. what's the opinions out there?
My parents have also suggested that we turn off the baby monitor - that's a whole other discussion. they said Gabby has a set of lungs that neighbors can hear and that if she ever was really upset that we would hear her.

What can I do next?

More Answers

You are ABSOLUTELY OK!! I've done it myself and still do it. I also occasionally turn off the monitor. Sometimes I just need a break for 20 minutes - she's in her crib, she's been fed and changed and she's SAFE. Allow Gabby the opportunity to self soothe. You know very quickly if she's just complaining or if she needs you even if you have the monitor off.
We just moved into our new house and the baby's room (she was 19mos when we moved in) is not right next to our room anymore. We had trouble getting the monitors to work in the beginning so there were several days that I wasn't using them at all. A) I found it to be a bit of a relief to not hear every single sound she made wondering if she was going to need me. B) From way on the other side of the house, I knew when she was awake and she wasn't screaming. I woke up to her her chattering away.
We've since figured out the monitors and they are back to being on all the time - except for those moments when I just need a few minutes of peace.
We also went thru the same thing with our daughter suddenly waking up early for a few weeks. I don't know what it was but its seems to have passed. Its 6:50 am and you know by the fact that I am able to type she's sleeping:)
This will pass and you will still be Gabby's perfect mommy who loves her more than anything:) Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I think every parent has a different tolerance level. We as mothers come equipped with radar -- we can almost always tell whether it's a hungry cry, a wet cry or a pain cry. I went through the same thing with my mother who thought I was spoiling my son by picking him up whenever he cried. I guess this is where my stubbornness paid off: I did as I pleased, because I was the mother and I got to make the rules.

Of course I am a strong proponent of attachment parenting (Dr. Sears) and believe that showing up when your child is upset is establishing a bond between the parent and the child.

I remember times where I would lie awake and listen to see if the crying would stop. If my son resettled in a short amount of time, I wouldn't check on him. However, if the crying seemed to escalate, I would get up and comfort him.

You alone can set the boundaries for this one. I understand how you feel, unfortunately no one was given an instruction manual when their baby was born, and everyone has to make up the rules as they go along. What works for one parent may backfire on another.

Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful

D., Do not feel guilty. I think you are on the right track knowing she was ok - just awake. You have been getting up and checking previous to last night, so you did know what was up. A habit is one that sometimes needs help being broken. Babies can get into the habit of waking up because they had been sick or for some other reason. I would have done the same thing. No need to feel bad Momma!

*I just re-read about the baby monitor and for some reason need to insert my opinion here too - I have never used them since my first born was an infant because I heard every single sound and didn't sleep a wink checking on him. I hear every peep and cry without it at night since we are on the same floor. I use the monitor at nap times to check and see if they are awake when I am doing things around the house. I think our Mommy ears are completely in tuned to our kids at night without the aid of the monitor. If you are ready to turn it off, do so without fear because she will get your attention if she needs you!

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No, I don't think this is a bad idea. If she can soothe herself back to sleep, that is teaching her a wonderful skill. If the crying escalates, or continues, then you would go to find out the problem. Dr Ferber has an excellent book called "solving your child's sleep problems." I absolutely love it and have referred to it for each age with my boys. I have solved at least five separate issues associated with sleep. It is a great reference to have. My boys sleep incredibly well and I really think it is because of this book and the great advice I got from it!

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Hi D.! Don't be hard on yourself- you're doing GREAT!!!
What you hit is what I call a speed bump in the sleep process and it happens occassionally when a child is either sick or actively teething.......the fact that she went back to sleep on her own after only 15 minutes means you made the right call. Sometime they just get used to us coming to comfort them (from when they were sick) and it takes a night or two to break them of it. Good job. I have also done this with my daughter on occassion and she is an awesome sleeper...so....NO GUILT!!!!!! You have given your child a great gift in letting her figure out how to soothe herself back to sleep- a VERY important life skill. KUDOS mama! :-)

Of course- once molars start actively coming in and if it affects her sleep again don't hesitate to comfort....those hurt and her pain is legitimate. Just know that when she is done with the tooth you'll have to break her of the habit of expecting you. If you suspect molar pain may wake her keep some Motrin on hand to help.

Best of luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, D. - I feel your pain as a mother, especially w/ the early wake-ups w/ your Gabby. My older daughter went thru ALL kinds of waking up moments between 12-24 months, some nights were just downright horrible.

Your daughter COULD be experiencing teething pain, since 15 mos. is a point at which toddlers have a MAJOR growth spurt, which affects eating and sleeping for the most part. If she wakes up lately around 4 a.m., and you let her cry it out, I'd say just let her do that. If she keeps getting used to your coming into her room and rubbing her back to self-soothe to go back to sleep, she'll expect it ALL the time...and the older she gets and you keep doing that, it'll get worse as she hits 18 mos., 2 yrs, etc...

As much as it's painstakingly difficult to hear her cry on the monitor, just turn the volume down a little bit, which might help. Sometimes, no matter WHAT we do as mothers, our kids just aren't happy, and they just have to live with their discomfort from time to time. As long as they're fed, dry, bathed, have appropriate medications to help them, and they're safe in their rooms, that's all you can do. Parenting is NO easy task no matter WHAT other people try to tell you, and you have to do what's right for YOUR family. However, when our kids are fussy and just unhappy, often the best thing you can do is nothing, 'cuz they'll learn that they're making mountains out of molehills without US losing our cool in front of them.

Before you know it, Gabby will be 2 yrs old and over this hump and on to something else, so like all funks that she'll go through, just ride this out w/ all the patience that you need to find so that you don't go crazy worrying about it too much. Trust me, Gabby KNOWS that you love her, and by loving her, you set boundaries for her. When she's a little older and still might pull the waking up stunts, balance out between helping her while showing her who's boss. Kids are slick, too, so be careful that she doesn't have u wrapped around her finger, either. What worked for me was I after 10 mins. of my older daughter's crying fits, I'd bring her into our room, have her lay on top of me, rock her back and forth, and rub her back while I sang "twinkle, twinkle little star" very quietly. After a few minutes from when I finished, I'd bring her back into her room, put her cd player back on, and just put her in her crib, and closed the door. Most of the time, she'd fall asleep on her own in no time. Other nights, she'd carry on 'til she wore herself OUT from crying. I'd cry, too, when she'd do that, but I also realized that it was for her own good to know that night time meant sleeping for EVERYONE in the house.

My older daughter is now almost 3, and now that we have a newborn, we made sure that she (the older one) was put in her new room w/ a new bed (just mattress on the floor) before the baby was even born. That way, she wouldn't have had to transition through ALL of those changes at once. She does really well, now, pretty much sleeps 10 hrs straight most nights.

Hang tough, this, too, shall pass...good luck, God bless!

1 mom found this helpful

My son is almost 19M now. He does the same thing. Now its down to 5 mins if he wakes atalland he always gets himself back to sleep. I think its important he gets himself back to sleep. As for turning off the monitor, I just keep it very low in my bedroom. That way I still hear him if he really gets to crying or is sick.

Well if she is getting molars give her some infant tylenol or some infant ibuprophen. Another thing that my son liked when he was getting teeth was the hyland teething tablets. They are natural and they work. They sell them at pathmark,walmart and walgreens. I would give her some meds and teething tablets before she goes to bed and see if that helps. sometimes kids do test you and sound like they are crying and then no tears. remember, she could be testing you with the crying sometimes. try the first thing i suggested and see if it helps. if she is still crying then i would rule out the teeth and think that it is that she is testing you. make sure also she is not running a fever and does not have an ear infection. good luck

My 16 month old was waking up about a month ago. For a few nights I'd go in and quiet her down, but then it seemed like she was crying only for me to come in, so I also just let her cry it out. I couldn't have her getting used to me coming to her every time she cried.

Sounds like you know her cry and you know you are doing it right so I say go ahead and let her cry it out, esp. if she falls back asleep after 15 min. (it's not like she's crying for 2 hours!) Good luck!

Hi D.,

A baby cries because it needs something. What it needs is now your challenge.

Is she cutting teeth? Is she hungry? Is she wet? Does she have pain?

Spend time with your baby. She won't be a baby forever. Turn the monitor back on.

If you were crying, would you want someone to be caring?
One day the circumstances will change. You will be old and need care, where will she be?

Give her all the time she needs. She will eventually grow out of it. Let your son and husband take a turn.

Good luck. D.

She may be going through a growth spurt. I could always tell because my kids were and still do get unusually hungry for short spans of time. If it's her teeth, would you consider going in to rub some orajel on her gums and then, letting her fall back to sleep on her own? That always worked for us. Best of luck to you!

READ FERBER'S BOOK. I was totally against cry-it-out, but nothing else worked. Ferber's method works and it is not as harsh as just leaving them to cry until they stop. You go in at different intervals of time. I tried every other method before finally trying this at 13 months... it works. It's hard and yes, you will feel guilty, but when your toddler is sleeping, you'll be glad you did it.

Crying it out gets a bad rap because of the name. Think of it as the "Let You Child Grow Secure Falling Asleep Themselves Method." If your child is well cared for and well fed during the day, has a dry diaper, a full belly, a comfy crib and a nice loving bedtime routine, they DON"T NEED YOU Helping them sleep during the night. You're absolutely right, you know by the cry if there is illness or other factors involved. It sounds like your daughter is doing a GREAT JOB sleeping herself. Don't feel bad! Good work.

We just went thru this our 15month old. His waking started around 5 or 6am and we would put him in bed with us (mistake!). After 2 weeks the time started to get earlier and earlier. We spoke to the pediatrician who agreed we should attempt the crying out method. I think it was more difficult on me. I never turned the monitor off even though we could hear his cry very well without it. After 1 week he is finally sleeping thru the night...no crying! And i do agree with you that a Mom knows when the cry is different (sick, fever, etc).
Good luck!

Hi D., I too have a 15 mo. old. He has been cutting molars and more cranky and whiney than usual. However, he has always gone to sleep and no peep until morning. The past few weeks he would wake up (not every night) screaming like he was hurt or something. I would jump out of bed and down the hallway and get to his room and he would be sleeping. He was experiencing night terrors. It is a terrible thing but I'm sure they don't even remember it happened. Anyway, usually I have a mental checklist for when he wakes up and cries. If he's doing a whiney cry I will wait about 10 min. to see if he falls back to sleep. If he doesn't, I get up and do a quick feel to see if he wet his diaper. If not, I will just rub his back. If that does not put him to sleep then I will get him his sippy cup with water or warm milk. If he is screaming then I know it's usually teeth or bellyache. I will give him tylenol or mylicon (he is pretty gassy). The last resort is to take him out of the crib and rock him. Definitely, last resort! You do not want her to get used to mommy coming in and rocking at 4 am every morning! It's all trial and error because every child is different. I hope this helps!

I had a similar problem with my son when he was 5 years old. No symptoms throughout the day, appetite fine, but every night he awakened at 3 a.m. Of course, since he was old enough to speak he expressed a slight belly ache. I figured it was gas and settled him back to sleep. By the fourth night of this mysterious waking I bundled him up, woke my husband and we headed to CHOP, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Well, four hours, chest xrays, blood work and a thorough physical later, nothing was revealing and the doc did a quick strep test which was... Positive. He was put on anitibiotics and didn't awaken after that.. not until two years later when he got strep again. Only, this time I waited until morning to take him to the doctor... Positive again; antibiotics and now I know that in some people strep manifests itself in the stomach, no fever, no noticeable sore throat, none of the typical symptoms. So, my advice is take that baby to the doctor, request a strep test and any other tests that may reveal why your perfect sleeper is no more. There is a reason, you are her mom, her biggest advocate for life! You deserve the peace of mind and she deserves to be well and sleep normally again. Best of luck. If something doesn't feel right, you are right to trust your instincts and check it out. Kudos to you.

I never let my son cry I know a lot of moms will disagree with that. maybe she is having some nightmares. My son had night terrors and it was horrible. I don't see anything wrong with going in her room and holding her just to give her reassurance. remember she is only going to be this age once and you will never get it back

Maybe it's true that she CAN fall back to sleep on her own, but that doesn't mean it's not still nice to have some help. You're perfectly capable of making all your own meals for yourself, but it's still nice when your husband fixes you a sandwich, right?
I know 4am sucks. Mine was up at 4 yesterday, and 5 today. 1 month younger than yours. We had some milk and snuggled and then I put her back to bed, fast asleep. I don't feel guilty today. I think this kind of thing builds trust. Every time we come to them when they cry, it's a kindness that lets them know we can be trusted.

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