19 answers

Baby Cries Self to Sleep Every Night

Despite having a consistent and soothing bedtime ritual every night, my almost 18-month-old baby still won't go to sleep without crying - for anything from 15 to 45 minutes. I'm sure she's tired; and I put her down awake in a quiet and darkened room, her usual lullaby CD playing softly, she's comfortably dressed and the room is a good temperature. Could this just be her temperament? I thought the crying was supposed to stop after letting baby 'cry it out' for a few days (we've been 'crying it out' for many months now). Anyone else have similar experiences?

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Featured Answers

Hi C.,
Well you sound like all the rest of us who have gone through it.
I have 2 sons and another on the way. My youngest is 15mos. He still cries to sleep, but think about it, they know they want to be with you and not in the bed. :) That's the way they let us know, Hey I like it better with you!
So, don't worry, I can't tell you when it will pass, but don't feel like you should do anything, unless you want to rock to sleep, but they have to get use to going to sleep on their own. I rocked my first son for 2 yrs or so. Until I was too big being pregnant and it was uncomfortable, and I am glad I did it, but I do like having a son who can go to sleep on his own. All of us have gone through and we as babies probably cried it out too. No worries.

Will she use a pacifier? My children always slept better with a pacifier. I saw some liquid baby calming herbs at the Vitamin Shoppe.

More Answers

I'm going through the same thing. I've found that a regular routine seems to make the crying bouts shorter, but it is still disheartening to hear the crying. I think my daughter might just need a good cry, because she sleeps much better after that than when I rock her to sleep, and consequently so do I. Good luck, know you are not alone!

My 2 year old never cried more than 15 minutes at a time, and I've tried a combination of techniques. What worked with my girl... I talked to her through what I was going to do (it's time for her to sleep on her own, Mommy and you are always connected even if I'm in the other room, etc.). I also tried holding her and staying by her side to help her go to sleep (maybe she just needs your comfort). Then, I slowly inched my way to the door over the next few days. Sometimes, she'll still cry out for me, but I'll only have to whisper "Go to sleep from the hallway." THe No Cry Sleep Solution is a helpful book, but I did finally let my daughter to some controlled crying after I had had it.

Good luck. There's no one right way. You just have to find out what works for you and your baby.

I have performed the same night time ritual with my now 20 month old son, since he was three months old. He still cries to sleep every night for at least 30 minutes. I have tried everything. I am resigned to the fact that this is how it is and I am praying that by the time our daughter arrives in July he will be easier to sooth to sleep! Good luck and let me know if you find anything that works.

Although "cry it out" does work for many children and families, I think that even the biggest advocates would agree that it is not right for some kids given their temperament. Could be the case for you guys. There are other ways of helping your child get to sleep, but they usually take longer. Although since you've put in 2 1/2 months on this strategy I'm guessing that you aren't looking for a totally quick fix!! We used a combination of No Cry Sleep Solutions and Sleep Lady info - www.sleeplady.com
At 18 months your child is really beginning to be old enough to understand what's going on, so you might want to consider starting over. Help her get to sleep in a really nurturing manner, and then start to slowly withdraw your assistance/presence. That's what worked for us.
You didn't mention whether your daughter wakes up at night, but in case she is and your current strategy has been to let her cry back to sleep (if she is crying for you), then I should warn you that many of the books mentioned will advocate that you go to her and comfort her in some manner. So it will take more of your energy at bedtime and during the night if she is waking up or starts waking up. Except the Healthy Sleep Habits book - good sleep research and information, but very cry it out oriented.
Good luck!

Hi C.,

Not sure yet if you have tried reading a book called babywise - it is hardwork, but it saved us.. my 16 month old has no problem going to sleep by himself...and there is no crying

Good Luck!

Yes at 12 months still have a crying baby so I just give up. I am a single mom of a 12 month old and have been doing this on my own w/no help from dad from the beginning. He left when I was 4 1/2 months pregnant so it has been rather difficult, so as a result i just gave up and rock him or while i give him a bottle he falls asleep but not sure what to do when i start weaning off the bottle in a couple of months.

If you come up w/anything please keep me posted and good Luck!

I find it easier on me to just rock the crying baby to sleep. It saves me from having to listen to the crying. I rocked my little boy until just recently. He will be three next week. He let me know when he didn't want to be rocked anymore. I know most parents hate to rock their children b/c in today's times it is considered best to let them "cry it out". But they are only babies once and you can never get those times back.
Try rocking her. I'm sure she will love it.

Will she use a pacifier? My children always slept better with a pacifier. I saw some liquid baby calming herbs at the Vitamin Shoppe.

Hi C.,
Well you sound like all the rest of us who have gone through it.
I have 2 sons and another on the way. My youngest is 15mos. He still cries to sleep, but think about it, they know they want to be with you and not in the bed. :) That's the way they let us know, Hey I like it better with you!
So, don't worry, I can't tell you when it will pass, but don't feel like you should do anything, unless you want to rock to sleep, but they have to get use to going to sleep on their own. I rocked my first son for 2 yrs or so. Until I was too big being pregnant and it was uncomfortable, and I am glad I did it, but I do like having a son who can go to sleep on his own. All of us have gone through and we as babies probably cried it out too. No worries.

I would get the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It could be that you may need to adjust the bed time in order for your child to go to sleep without crying. It's a great book and highly recommended. Good luck! :)

Wow!! You're pretty tough. I couldn't let my little one "cry it out" in her room all alone every night for months. That is just too much.
Maybe you could try lying down with her (if she is in a toddler bed; my baby has a futon on the floor) and/or maybe patting her back or her bottom until she stops crying. Or rocking her until she stops crying and then lay her down in bed. She obviously needs a little extra TLC.
Alot of children are naturally afraid of the dark (even with a night light) and afraid to sleep alone. It is not her fault or your fault. We are one of the few cultures that do not co-sleep with our children. I personally think co-sleeping is just fine in the right circumstances.
Good Luck

Hi C.. I have a 12 month old and I've been doing the same thing for the past week. I also was thinking this will take a few nights, but as soon as I leave the room, the crying starts and she cries herself to sleep. If you find the solution, please share. Thanks.

Hi C.,

I would like to recommend the Baby Sleep book by Dr. Sears. The Cry it Out method, although popular is so hard on mother and child. It might be time to try another angle.

Best wishes.

B.

C., my daughter is almost 16 months and has cried herself to sleep all but about 2 months of her life. Sometimes for up to 2 hours. This is her temperament. She has been a very "high needs" infant. Did you read any Dr. Sears? Sleeping has always been an issue for us as well and do not figure this will change for us. Sure this is not much help, but hope there is comfort in knowing you are not alone. Best wishes, sounds like you have done all you can.
R.

Hi C., it looks like you have received a lot of good advice from other moms. I thought of something also that I had seen on tv a year ago. It was a baby/toddler still in a crib who had a real hard time going to sleep at night. She would get so upset crying she would throw up. They determined she was just afraid and that after she spent more time in her room and in her crib awake, she felt comfortable settling down to go to sleep. With our babies, we spent little time with them in the actual nursery and more time in the family living room so I can see how a baby might feel like they are in a strange room. I would recommend you try to spend 15 minutes in the morning and maybe 30 in the evening with baby awake but in her crib so she is comfortable. Just a thought - when I read your request it reminded me of a similar situation I had seen on tv. Maybe that will work but it also looks like you got a lot of other good advice from lots of moms. Good luck!

L.

I think this may just be temperament. I have a 3 year old who 'cried it out' for 2 1/2 years. She just seemed to need to let off steam at bedtime. Her older brother never did that, so that's why I think it's a case of individual temperament. I read all the books and it sounds like you're doing all the thing they all recommend: consistent bedtime routine. My advice is to keep doing what you're doing and if the crying gets to you, go ahead and check on her - it won't hurt her and if it helps reassure you, that's okay because it's HARD on mom to 'ignore' the crying. As long as she's happy and healthy during her waking hours there's no cause to worry - hang in there, it DOES get better, it just takes time.

I am one who does not like to hear a child cry themselves to sleep. I think crying can become a habit just like other habits we do over and over. A child is insecure and feels frightened when you leave them alone. Just think about where they are all day. At that age, they want to be in the room where you are as you move about. You have to work at this like anything else and it will be easier for some than others. I believe all the things you are doing are great but maybe you might try reading books and then singing a favorite song before putting your daughter in bed. We leave a sippy cup of water in the bed plus soft baby wash cloths that he likes to hold close to his face. In fact, to make the transition from rocking chair into bed when he was as young as yours, I would put several wash cloths on the faces of the stuffed animals in his bed. He would love to take them all off and sometimes play with them while I walked out of the room. He never knew when I left and would lay down and go to sleep in a few minutes. I didn't announce I was leaving until he got older and could understand me more.
So, though some will think this an odd thing to do, it worked for my grandchild. It was when he saw me leaving was the nightmare, but when he had something to occupy himself while I diddled in the room for a few short minutes and was all calm, I would just slip out without him looking and he never made a fuss. In other words, I made bedtime fun for a few minutes when I put him down. After time, they get use to being in the bed alone without knowing they are. When he got older, I was able to talk to him about me being outside the door. In fact, I tell him, that I needed to go now and clean the kitchen and he was fine with that for some reason. He is now 2 and half but the best thing to put to bed there is. So, don't give up and work on it for it will soon become an enjoyable time of day. You will find something that your little one will like to do when you first put her down and it will calm her so she can get to sleep faster. Hope this helps you. And, we read all the books but this is what worked for us.

two things... this happened with my sister's middle child..and it turned out that it was undiagnosed acid reflux... her girl was literally in PAIN as that acid would be burning her throat... you may want to check that... just to rule it out... otherwise, YOU do what YOU have to to a) get her a good night's slleep and b) make YOU feel good about what you're doing.... don't let books or others tell you anything different! :)

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