13 answers

Help! My Son Won't Go to Sleep by Himself!

My son is almost 1 year old (will be on Nov. 2nd) and he won't put himself to sleep! I have to rock him until he's almost out and then put him in the crib, and then he still fights it. I've tried the cry-it-out method - I'm trying again at this very moment - he's been screaming for an hour and still going! I've tried the go-in-every-so-often-and-calm-him-back-down method, and all that does is make him mad. He used to put himself to sleep back when he had the pacifier (he's been off that for 4 months now), but ever since I took it away, I have to rock him to sleep. Any advice? Has anyone tried any of these methods with success? I've tried both (I gave each one 2 weeks and then decided his nap was more important than him putting himself to sleep!) Please help!

Updated 10-21-06 noon:
Thanks for all the advice. Here's a little more info. This only happens at naptime. During the night, he puts himself to sleep without help. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he puts himself back to sleep.

I have a routine in place for naptime. I have a music CD that we play, I rock him for the first two songs and then put him down. I also have a fan in the room that we turn on for white noise. I also stay in the room with him until he falls asleep - usually leaning into the crib with my hand on his back so he knows I'm there.

I will not be giving him back the pacifier after I already broke him of the habit. It took me two days to break that habit and I don't want to be dealing with it when he's three, besides the fact that I didn't really want him to have one in the first place, so that's not an option IMO.

When did people's kids start moving to only 1 nap? Maybe that's the problem - he's just not tired enough for two naps anymore. Any other thoughts on getting him to put himself to sleep for naps?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your advice and help. I finally just got fed up with having to rock him for 1/2 hour - 45 min. and then laying him down and him waking up and screaming and having to go through the entire process again. So I decided that I was just going to let him cry. I took him into his room when it was nap time, rocked him for the first 2 songs on the CD and then layed him down and told him "night-night, mommy loves you, go to sleep" and walked out. He screamed for 1 1/2 hours the first time, then went to sleep. Yesterday, it took 45 minutes the first nap and 40 the second nap. Then today he was out in like 10 minutes, but they tested the stupid tornado siren that's like right around the corner, and it woke him back up! Grrrrr. I decided not to go in, and it took him 45 min. to put himself back to sleep. This may take a while. Oh well, I think it will be worth it in the end. Thanks again for the help!

More Answers

You may just have to let him cry longer. If there isn't anything physically wrong with him, he will eventually fall asleep. It may be hard, but trust me, it will work and it will probably only last one night. A good routine can also help, one that doesn't entail rocking every night...maybe singing, a book, etc in a darkened room, then tell him it's time for bed, kiss him goodnight, then leave. I know it won't be easy, but he will be just fine. If all else fails, give him a pacifier. At his age, a pacifier won't hurt him. You can always take it away when he's older and used to falling asleep on his own.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello E.,

my son is 20 months and he started taking one nap a day around 8-9 months. I would suggest maybe to try that. If he is getting a decent amount of sleep at night and takes one 2-3 hour afternoon nap that is sufficient for a 1 yr old.

I always had the opposite problem, my son would not let me rock him to sleep after he was about 3-4 months old..he wanted to do it himself. We took him out of his crib and moved him to a toddler bed a couple months ago and since then he now needs to be rocked. We are working on doing it on his own again but it is taking sometime. So in a way it nice to have a baby that wants the cuddling.

i hope things get better for you and your son.


1 mom found this helpful

Hi E.! Sorry to hear about the sleeping issue. I wanted to let you know that when my son was younger we tried the cry-it-out method and it worked...but only at bedtime. At naps, he would just stand in his crib and cry for an hour if I'd let him. I started giving him a sippy cup with water and that seems to do the trick. Most of the time he doesn't even drink the water, I think it's more of a "security blanket". HOpe this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Try a routine that you always do before it is time for naps, or bedtime, and try to put him down at about the same times every day. Kids thrive on routine, and once they get used to it, they usually don't fight as much. Another thing to consider- if he is still taking two naps a day, he may be ready to transition to one nap in the afternoon. If he isn't tired, he's going to fight a nap. When you put him down for naps, put him down still awake. Don't give him any toys in crib to keep him awake (except for music to help him sleep). After all that, let him cry unless there is something wrong. If you try all that for a couple weeks and he is still crying for over an hour afterward, you may want to consider giving him the pacifier just for bedtime/naps. He may still need it to help him get to sleep, and as long as you can ditch it around age 2, you should be okay. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

This is extremely common at this age. I had to lay down with my daughters for naps until about 2 1/2 years old. It was worse when I stopped breastfeeding. I nursed my first child until 3 years old and could get her to sleep so much quicker, but my second child was weaned at 20 months. It took forever to get her to nap. We resorted to driving her around in the car with the bass turned up. Seemed to work.

Maybe if he's been crying for more than about 15 minutes, he's just not tired yet. I know it can mess with bed time to let him stay up past nap time, but kids frequently don't follow our schedules. Just be a little flexible and it will work itself out.

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe you should give him the pacifier back, he's not too old for one. Honestly I had one until I was almost 3 years old and I remember deciding to give them up on my own. If crying it out doesn't work after 2 weeks, I would give that method up. People I know who tried the cry out thing had it work in 2-4 days, past that I think it too long. If he's teething give him baby tylenol or something that may help, it could be why he's having trouble sleeping. But we still can't just lay our child down and have her go to sleep on her own either, so I can't give too much advice, but she has started teething, and the tylenol has really helped her stay sleeping and she's falling to sleep within 5-15 mins. instead of 1/2 hour or longer and stays sleeping.

1 mom found this helpful

Try reading The No Cry Sleep Solution for toddlers and preschoolers. There's some good info in that book, and its worked well for us. I still rock my 16 month old daughter, but not for more than 10 minutes. I view it as our cuddle time instead of a chore I MUST do. I look at it this way, I don't know any teenagers who have to be rocked to be put to sleep..

1 mom found this helpful

Hi. I have a 14 month old boy. My little guy started taking one nap instead of two around 10 months. Of course every child is different. To switch him from two to one.. I kept him really busy around his first nap time and then put him down in between the two times he usually would go down... so if his nap times are 10 and 3 try like 1:00. My guy puts himself down at night as well but doesn't for nap time either. He never had, so I don't even try anymore. But he is really easy to put down. I just rock with him sitting in my lap watching blues clues or some other cartoon he likes.. this makes my guy sleepier and then he will roll over and let me put him to sleep. Another thing is that you want make sure he is ready to go to sleep... my guys starts to get fussy and is asking to be held, so thats how I know he is ready - it lands about the same time everyday. I have to admit though my guy does use a pacifier at naptime... its the only time he gets it. But if don't want to resort to that I would say trying to find something else he trusts and soothes him, like a blanket or stuffy. Another thing, is make sure he if full and not hungry. Try to make his lunch right before his naptime. Sometimes my guy does decide to give me problems, like fights sleep big time by throwing fits and such, when he does this I put him in time out for one minute (you put a child in timeout according their age, so a two year old would go for two minutes) - well anyways timeout calms him down because he just happy that he being held again and doesn't fight me anymore. If that doesn't work try walking around holding him in the cradle position with a blanket over his face to make him want to close his eyes, and just give him a light shake or bounce as you are walking. If he likes you singing, this is good time to try that. I always am either singing to calm him down or have a tv on to block out any loud noises, such as a car honking its horn, or kids screaming outside, dogs barking; stuff like that. Well I hope something here helps. I firmly believe in schedules, and it sounds like you are doing that. I thnk your problem will be fixed by cutting him down to one nap... if you need more advice on how to that just let me know.

-J. (full time mother of 14 month-old)

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