30 answers

Getting My 17 Month Old to Sleep Through the Night

Hi everyone, my 17 month old daughter has yet to sleep through the night. She is used to being rocked/held to fall asleep and this seems to be causing a problem for her because when she wakes up around 11pm, 1am, and/or 4am she is unable to go back to sleep unless held. As you can imagine this is very tiring for my husband and I. So what I was wondering is if anyone has any helpful ideas on how to get a 17 month old to sleep. I have tried the whole lettingher cry thing and as much as I know it will work she cried for 45 mins straight. Isn't that cruelity? I do not know what to do about this. My husband and I debate about maybe we are trying to live up to society and where/how they think a child should sleep or maybe we are being selfish because we can not spend the night out leaving her to keep someone else up. What to do?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

so I want to thank everyone for all their help and support. Getting my daughter to sleep through the night has been a very exhausting experience. Now granted I have been only trying this for two nights but my daughter is responding to it well. What i starting doing is putting her in her crib while she is awake. I stayed in the room with her, just placing my hand on her back (letting her know that I am there), after a hour and half Iwas able to leave the room. She woke up once that night for 2 hours. But I refused to pick her up and as long as she felt my hand on her back she did not cry. The next day I was able to put her in her crib at naptime wide awake and she feel asleep on her own. At night time she went in easy again but did wake up twice, however i went in laid her back down and she went to sleep no more then 5 mins each time did I spend in there. Hoping tonight will be even easier. I just could not hear her cry for mins on end. This for now is working and I will keep you all updated. Thank you again.

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Since she falls asleep with rocking, do this slowly. Start off the first night with her mostly alseep when you put her in the crib, but still awake. Then slowly increase the amount of awakeness she is. So by the time all is said and done she is wide awake going to bed. I also play music for my kids in their rooms when they go to sleep. It's very soothing and sets the tone. Now my kids are 4 and 1 and all I have to do is start the music and their right back to sleep.

Something you might want to try is when you are holding her and she is just about to sleep but not all the way- lay her down so she will learn to fall asleep on her own.. try to wean her from being almost asleep to being more awake and this will help her learn to put herself to sleep. if she wakes up when you put her down maybe try rubbing or patting on her and lessen that too as you go along.. Hope this helps.. i am a mom of 3 girls and I have been there..it seemed to work pretty well. Good Luck!!=)

Hello, It is not easy at all. I dealt with that by getting up and rubbing the back of my child. I also did go through the rocking for a very very long time. I had no idea what to do. I then found that my daughter just wasn't testing me she really had bad night terrors. so my advice isn't the best at all. I then started to co sleep and its been wonderful nights since she was 18 months old. Transitioning to her bed was not hard at all. My husband and I loved it and hated it but we all are great now.

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i do think its cruel. society in the united states has made us act as though are child falling asleep on their own is somehow related to the parents "teaching", when in fact, sleep is a natural biological function that all humans perform. i am an advocate of cosleeping and there are many scientific studies to show the benefits of cosleeping. there arent the same studies to show sleeping alone is beneficial in anyway. my 3 1/2 yr old and 6 month old coslept/cosleep and have never cried themselves to sleep, nor have they ever cried when awakened as they feel secure with us here. you dont have to have your child cry, it doesnt teach them to sleep, rather teaches them that when they cry no one responds. it makes them so exhausted they pass out. i do not define that as teaching.

with daughter number one, we coslept. we rocked her as a baby, then around 1, we laid in bed together and i left when she was asleep. at 2, when she had an understanding, i would put her in bed after a book, and leave the room telling her i would be right back. she would fall asleep while i was out. then at 3, in her own room, i just tell her goodnight and she goes to sleep after playing in her bed awhile. i would suggest to you to get away from the rocking, and instead lay next to her, as thats much less draining and less to miss, overall, an easier transition.
also, i would focus on making sure there are no reasons she wakes up. try a white noise machine to see if that works, and put a bottle of water in her crib.

i would like to point out that the crying methods that doctors have suggested like ferber(who i dont agree with but..) were not intended for a parent to leave their child to cry for 45+ mins and they were definately not intended to cause a child to vomit. these things are cruel. the doctors originally had a detailed plan intended for a parent to start with 5 mins, check on the baby, then 10, ect. the parent was to acknowledge the baby with back rubbing, ect. these books people refer to never said just leave a baby alone in a room one night to scream for an hour, but time and time again i read that. if i were to cry for 45 mins hysterically, you better believe that i would pass out. the only thing taught is that no one came. please read up on the negative effects of crying it out. seroton levels, trust issues, crying more, ect.

as for selfish, my grandmother passed away last year at 93. i choose to do things that may not be easiest on me, but i feel are the best for my children. in the big picture, if i sacrifice 3 years of my life to not allow my child to cry, i will have 90 years of "me" time. they are this young for such short time. good luck to you, i hope you can find a balance for everyone.

2 moms found this helpful

I just want to encourage you and the fact that you question whether you should live up to societal standards. The fact is most children slept with or near their parents for thousands of years. It is common for some children to need more attention in order to sleep. Each is different.
My 1st born was just like your daughter. She did not sleep through the night until she was 3! She was rocked or held to sleep or I would simply lay next to her until she fell asleep. My second daughter loved sleeping by herself. She would fuss and let me know she was tired by rubbing her eyes and then we would put her down and she'd be out like a light (from day one). If we tried to hold her to sleep, she'd stay awake. My 3rd baby and son slept through the night practically from the beginning, he likes being held or being alone. And we are the same parents with the same techniques.

So though your daughter's style may be more draining, it is part of who she is. I definitely recommend reading The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears and Marth Sears R.N. It will give you such confidence about your instincts.
Best Wishes,

1 mom found this helpful

Oh, gosh. My husband and I went back and forth on this too. I read several books and they are all different! Most are on the list below. Except for my favorite:

Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep by Jodi A. Mindell

This type of research is great to do at your library...Free books!

One good thing is it is fast and easy to read 'cause who has time to read a 200pg book when you're this tired! Also the section that was most relevant to me was only about ten pages!

But most important is that you do what feels right for you and your spouse. Anything you do you need to do consistantly for several days. Don't give up, it will happen. You might consider encoraging a lovely (my son loves his boppy) or give her a tee-shirt you've worn (it'll smell like you)

Do you have a bedtime routine that you do the same each night? This helped us too. And made some consistancy between Mommy night-night and Daddy night-night. When we read "Tumble Bumble" and "Good Night Moon" he gets into sleepy mode.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,

I'm going through the same thing. We tried the letting her cry it out and she cried so hard she made herself throw up!!! Not once but twice.

The last couple of days I've been reading to her 3 stories and then I'm putting her in the crib and putting her Fisher Price Aquarium on and staying the room with her till she falls asleep. she's been crying and trying to get me to pick her up but I just tell her that I'm here and she's all right and eventually she falls asleep. If she wakes up in the middle of the night I simply go in her room and rub her tummy or back depending on how she is facing until her goes back to sleep. I've only been doing this for a few days but it seems to be working and she cries a little less each time.

Good luck I hope this helps.


1 mom found this helpful

Are you still nursing her? If so, you may want to try a formula. I know it is crazy talk for some of us. However I nursed my 1st baby until he was 1 yr. and he did very well. My 2nd, only until 6 months, she just wanted a change and she has been out like a light every night since, and I mean all night :o)

You have to get the book Good Night Sleep Tight (I think the sub title is "The Sleep Lady") You do not have to read the whole book. Just the first few chapters and then your age appropriate section. It is a "kinder" way to get them to sleep on their own. I used it at 8 months with my son and it worked like a charm, just a couple of days. Right after I got it, this woman was on channels 2, 4, 7, etc. She is well known and it also discusses co-sleeping, rocking, etc and why they are more problematic than just not sleeping through the night. You will feel like a new person and so will yoru child. I highly recommend it.

I'm right there with you! My 13 month old won't sleep through the night, and, won't even sleep in her own bed!! My husband and I were really crazy; she's our second child, and we did the "crying it out" thing with our first child and it was just horrible. It worked, eventually, but it took a LONG time as my son was really stubborn and he screamed his head off like we were scalping him, every night, for HOURS and HOURS. It was so stressful for everyone; Jack was beside himself screaming and crying, and my husband and I were at each other's throats. ("It's your turn to go in!" "What do you mean it's my turn, I went in last time!", etc.) That being said, I know a lot of people who did it that way and it worked really well; my son is just one of the those kids who took a long time to adapt to sleeping alone.

So, we decided not to do that with my daughter, but we swung a little too far in the other direction; she's never slept anywhere else but in our bed (or arms) and views her own crib as the "penalty box". But, feeling secure is important, too, and maybe she's just not ready to sleep on her own yet. I also think that for us, it has a lot to do with the fact that I work full-time, so sleeping in the bed with me is "our time", and makes her feel close. She just started falling asleep on her own (She gives herself a bottle, and then will fall asleep on our bed), which is an improvement. But, if we put her in her crib, she wakes up screaming after about 2 hours. I think it will get better with time; she'll adjust to the crib, and the intervals will get longer and longer. But it's going to be a sleep-deprived road, in the meantime....

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