15 answers

Help! How Do I Get My 1 Year Old down to Sleep?

My son is 1 year old and I have always either breastfed him to sleep or given him a bottle to go to sleep. I would love to be able to read him a book at night, then lay him in his crib and have him fall asleep! But that is not the case if I try and lay him down in his crib before he is asleep he SCREAMS and CRYS until he throws up all over the place. I feel so bad when this happens it breaks my heart.
I guess what I am asking is should I continue to help him fall asleep or should I do the cry it out method? And what time should a 1 year old go to bed at night? Please HELP!!

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I can relate to what you are going through. My DD is now 17 months and around 1 year we had major issues with putting her to bed. It was never a problem before that. It was a phase for us and it lasted for about 2 months. We just stuck to a routine of bath, books and then bed. It took awhile and it was very trying on us, but sometimes we would have to read her more books, or go in to comfort her a few times and then put her back down, but she eventually got the idea that it was bedtime.

Another thought, I do notice that the earlier she goes down, she easier it is and the longer she sleeps. Her bedtime is 6:30 and to this day, if we put her down at 7, it is a lot harder to get her to settle down.

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Well, first of all I don't think there is a "right or wrong" time to put baby to sleep. Just listen to your son's body. I have some friends who put their kids down at 7pm, and others who kids' take naps at 5pm, and then go to bed at like 11pm because the daddy comes home really late from work, so its the only way for Daddy and Baby to spend time together. Whatever works for you guys (AND him, of course.)

Also, please don't let your son cry until he throws up. Just think about how you would like it if someone did that to you? He is a person too, after all!

Just my opinion is; do whatever it takes to put your son to sleep happily. Eventually he will put himself to sleep (by his own choice), but for now, rock him, cuddle him, sign to him - whatever it takes. They are only this small for a very short time, so enjoy it now while you can. Someday, all you will want is a hug and he will be "too much of a big boy" to give mommy hugs, and THEN, you will be happy you cuddled him while you could ;)

Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi J.,
I have the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Mark Weissbluth, and I know several people who have used is successfully and have great sleepers. He does advocate either the cry it out method or a version of the Ferber method (cry it out with gradually increasing times between checking in on the baby). I like the book because it recommends schedules and strategies by age group. He does say "extinction" (crying it out without checking on the baby) is his preferred method because he's found it easier for the parents to get the kid back on their routine when there is a disruption. Personally, I guess I follow my own modified cry it out method. My daughter is old enough that she is crying because she doesn't want to go to bed and miss out on anything, not because she's hungry or wet or anything else. So I only let her cry it out if it's past her bedtime and she's fighting my soothing methods of trying to put her to sleep (nursing and/or rocking) because she doesn't want to go to bed. My limit is 8:15 pm, because I'm usually tired and want to relax for a little while before I crash into bed.

A 1 year old should go to bed between 7 pm and 9 pm at night; it helps if you are consistent with your routine so they get used to the "sleep cues" and to going to bed at the same time every night.

My daughter is 19 1/2 months old and I am still nursing her to sleep every night. I figured she will only need this for another year at most, so what's the harm? Why make her suffer, when I can nurse her peacefully to sleep as long as I can put her in her crib after she has gone to sleep? The doctor advocates a 7 pm bedtime, but what's worked for us is 8 pm. A few weeks ago, I tried putting her down without nursing her to sleep, and she screamed. We tried moving her bedtime up to 7:30, but all it did was increasing her crying from 5-10 minutes to half an hour. I decided it just wasn't worth it, so we went back to the 8 pm bedtime. It depends on when and how many naps your son is getting during the day. Is he still taking two naps? Is he tired and cranky at night?

We keep to a consistent routine of bath, pajamas, stories, brush teeth, nurse, and put down in crib. If she falls asleep nursing but wakes back up when I put her in her crib, I don't go get her. Bedtime is bedtime. She did that one night last week, but she cried for less than 5 minutes. Last night she was so exhausted I think she fell asleep almost immediately upon nursing. I have started talking to her about not nursing when she's a big girl, like her friend (my sitter's daughter, whom she LOVES). She nods her head and says yes, but I'm not sure that she really understands yet. But I think it's important to get it in her mind.

The one area where my situation and yours might be different is that my daughter goes to the sitter's house 5 days a week, and she naps without nursing there. So she is used to napping without it. I think that will help when we stop nursing and she has to go to sleep on her own.

Good luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful

http://www.parentchildhelp.com/
Check out the book SLEEPLESS IN AMERICA. It's not a "how do I get my baby to sleep alone in his own crib book" (that's Ferber - cry-it-out method), but it will help you a lot with regarding how much sleep a child needs and what would help your child feel comfortable at night.

Should you do the cry-it-out method? Depends on who you ask.... ask me and the answer is no. I don't think it's "good" for babies and toddlers to cry themselves to sleep (induces stress, high cortisol levels harms the brain - it kills brain cells). If any baby is so upset that they are throwing up, that's really not good.

http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/4356.htm

http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/focus/earlybrain/earlybr...

Even Ferber updated his "recommendations" and backed away from some of the stuff he wrote. Here he admits to co-sleeping (woo hoo - a step for mankind and babykind!)

http://www.intuitiveparenting.org/ferber.html

http://lonestarmablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/ferber-recants...

BUT I think there is a middle ground... yet I don't know HOW to do it gently.

I nursed my kids to sleep till they were 3 (that was a bit much, I know) and then lay with them till they conk out.

Though looking back I wish I nightweaned my 2nd child at 2 yrs because the nighttime nursing to sleep wasn't working well for me.

Essentially, MY middle ground is, they are not in our bed (family bed - hubby doesn't like being kicked at night - go figure - LOL), they are in their own bed, BUT I do lie with my youngest (she will be 5 in 2 weeks) to sleep. When she wakes up around 5 am, she quietly walks down a long haul, quietly knocks on the door and I quietly walk back (no arguing, no lectures, no punishments) and I cuddle back to sleep and stay there.

How perfect is that? Everyone gets their needs met. Hubby gets his need for sleep, young children get their need to feel save and loved at night and I feel no guilt and I know I'm doing the right thing.

My kids (9 yr old boy and 5 yr old girl) share a bedroom. He's in a twin bed and she's on a mattress on the floor next to his bed. She's been there since age 1. (They have never slept in a crib. They hated it.)

When she was born, DS was 4. He would insist on cuddling with us (me and baby) while I nursed her to sleep - when she was in her room. Of course it was uncomfortable, but I let it continue. Within a few months, he realized, "this is so uncomfortable, I'm going in my own bed, later!" And from that point on, I didn't "have to" cuddle with him to sleep. Woo hoo!!!!

While ALL of us would love the fantasy of putting a child down in a crib and walking away without doing any of the "work", I don't think we can or should. I have a friend (now in her late 50s) who was adopted as a 3 yr old child. She is Japanese. She has fond memories of being rocked in a chair and read to as her nighttime routine. Wouldn't just leaving her in a bed, blowing a kiss, and shutting the door be easier on the parents? Guess so, but consider the child's feelings.

I have a friend who did CIO (we have the same age kids) and she used to brag how easy it was to get her to sleep. Around age 1.5-2 her daughter wised up and realized, "Hey! I don't like this!!!" So the parents were forced to driver her around for naps (all I had to do was the "bad habit" of lie down and nurse my kid, or just lie down with her). Or her daughter would wake up at 5am and there was NO WAY to get her back to sleep, so one of the parents had to stay up. Yikes.

Nothing is perfect. You have to make concessions. Find what works for everyone, without the trauma. :)

1 mom found this helpful

Help him fall asleep. He is just a baby. My 10 & 7 year old go to bed fine, however my 5 year old still needs her mommy and that's what she gets! They all grow up and before you know it, you'll wish he needed you more! My husband and I were and are always there to comfort our children when they need us. Bedtime is so special and a great bonding time.

1 mom found this helpful

Absolutely the best book out there to help you is called "The Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg. It can tell you everythng you need to know. She doesn't believe in the crying it out method and has a very gentle and soothing method for you. I promise you, this really is the BEST book out there.

She even has a book for older kids too--that may help you with your older child. Kids aren't born knowing how to put themselves to sleep, it is up to us (as parents) to teach them how to do it and obviously the younger you start the better--but don't give up for your older child either. I can't remember what the other book is called, but I'm sure it will be listed with the Baby Whisperer, when you look it up!! I promise you, this will be the best book you use (and useful for a lot more than just sleep problems)--Good Luck!!

Have you tried swaddling? He may be too old for it though, but it wouldn't hurt to try. :) The idea is to wrap him up so he can't jerk his arms and legs because these involuntary actions can cause him to become alarmed.

My son is just a bit older than yours. I nurse him still but i put him down fully awake. In fact, he's sitting up in his crib when I put him in. That has helped to teach him to self-soothe and what he does is very funny to me!! But that's another oprah entirely. I don't like the cry it out method at all!!! I think it's cruel. The baby is crying for some thing and as parents it's our job to attune ourselves to their needs.

As far as what time the baby should go down... well my son goes down at about 6:30pm and sleeps until about 6 am. He doesn't sleep through the night though, but I know he DOES get hungry at night... lately it seems as though he's very restless so it maybe a growth spurt. Watch out for those ... they really mess things up!

Hi. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I have done the Babywise method from when they were about 1 month old and by 3 months they slept throught the night.

I don't know how good or fast the other methods work, but I am a firm believer that if you pick one method and follow it to the letter and be consistent for long enough, it will work.

If you get random advices from different sources, you will mix the style of training and will most likely not get a result.

So, my best advise to you is to pick one method that is proven (cry it out, babywise, or whatever you like best)follow what the book says and keep at it no matter how hard it looks until you get a result.

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