11 answers

I Can't Get My 16 Month Old to Go to Sleep on His Own!

My 16 month old son has been waking up for several weeks in the middle of the night and will not go back to sleep unless I just give in and put him in the bed with my husband and I. July was a stressful month and he has been teething badly so I thought that was all it was. It isn't stopping. I think my biggest problem is that I rock him to sleep every night and he cannot get to sleep on his own now. I have been trying for the past couple of days to put him down awake and let him cry it out. I hate it, but I know this is my fault and it will be better for him in the long run. The problem is that now he starts to panic whenever you go into his room and gets himself all worked up. I have tried everything I can think of. He panics being in the crib on his own. I am not being dramatic. He was so upset last night his pj's were soaked with sweet and he was starting to hyperventalate. I even tried laying on the floor last night so I was close, but still letting him fall back to sleep on his own. He screamed less, but still didn't go to sleep. Does anyone have any advice on how to transition him to fall asleep on his own? I am tired and I really want to do what is best for him, but I don't feel like this is working.

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Think of it from his perspective: you're terrified of being alone in the dark, and when you scream no one comes to help you.

Crying it out doesn't teach them anything except that you don't come when they need you. Most of the experts--including Ferber--have now recanted their support of CIO. In repeated instances, it's been known to cause brain damage. It's not something you want to do.

He's a baby. He still needs you. Who cares if he can't put himself to bed yet? Unless you're planning to go out and leave him on his own, rock him to sleep. I promise you won't still be doing it when he's 10. Children learn independence when they know someone is there to support them; they learn clinginess when they have to beg for that same support. What's best for him is getting him to sleep happily, and teaching him that his bed is not a scary place where he is abandoned.

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Think of it from his perspective: you're terrified of being alone in the dark, and when you scream no one comes to help you.

Crying it out doesn't teach them anything except that you don't come when they need you. Most of the experts--including Ferber--have now recanted their support of CIO. In repeated instances, it's been known to cause brain damage. It's not something you want to do.

He's a baby. He still needs you. Who cares if he can't put himself to bed yet? Unless you're planning to go out and leave him on his own, rock him to sleep. I promise you won't still be doing it when he's 10. Children learn independence when they know someone is there to support them; they learn clinginess when they have to beg for that same support. What's best for him is getting him to sleep happily, and teaching him that his bed is not a scary place where he is abandoned.

2 moms found this helpful

We just went through this with our 15 month old. He had started getting up every night - I thought it would pass, because at 6 months he did it for 2 weeks and then stopped. But it went on for a month. As much as I knew it would cause us problems, we had begun rocking him to sleep because it seemed that nothing else would work. Otherwise he would immediately stand up and scream. I read a lot and had decided he'd just have to cry it out.

He cried for 15 minutes, and I swear he was going to hyperventilate. We decided that that method just wasn't right for us. Sure, it's worked for plenty of people, but we decided to start small and work our way up. So our game plan was to lay him down while he was still awake but drowsy, and every time he stood up, lay him back down, and in a very matter of fact tone and showing no emotion say "it's time for night night, lay down and go night night". As soon as he stood up (within seconds), do the same thing. No stimulation at all. Each night only one of us would do it. My husband took on the first night.

In the monitor I watched as he carried it out, but sang to him the whole time. I was out of my mind, and came so close to running in and asking what the heck he was doing! But I have to say that it worked. He struggled, but the first night he was asleep within an hour or so, the second maybe half an hour. And he's only woken up once during the night since (a couple of months)! I truly believe that the problem was twofold: falling asleep in one place and waking up in another, and we took from him the ability to comfort himself back to sleep.

At first we did sit in the glider until he fell asleep, but we have been leaving increasingly early and can usually just walk out. Another thing that we were going to try but never needed to was to use one of the sound machines that have a little projector that cycles fish and other kiddie images on the ceiling (or wherever). A friend used it and her son would lay and stare at it until he finally fell asleep.

I hope this helps somewhat. I felt like everything I read was very cookie cutter, and that with my child bordering on hyperventilation, it wasn't as simple as some made it out to be. Hopefully you will find options that work for you and your child.

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Susanna and Lynn said it better than I. Babies are not designed to sleep without their parents. Historically sleeping alone is a relatively NEW approach to child rearing.

He'll fall asleep on his own when he's ready. It's like potty training, each child is different.

Hi A.,
Perhaps gastrointestional pain? If motrin calms and eliminates the problem for 4 hours, you can perhaps know that it is teething.
Gastrointestional can be made substantially better with the removal of cows milk/ casein and additionally gluten, and perhaps egg. Egg is a big one, but he may not even eat eggs yet. You can add proibotics (1 capsule per day added into juice or rice milk). and cod liver oil (1/2 tsp a day). Was he vaccinated at 15 months and this started after?
The one thing I would say strongly is your baby is trying to tell you something, try to find out what he is telling you. Watch and try until you make a change. Think about when it started and what you changed. Best way to solve the problem.
J.

I have had similar issues off and on with my three children (4, 2, and 4 months). Currently, it is with our 2 year old. She used to be so easy. Now she seems really scared and was waking up at 3 after making us stay with her at night until she fell asleep. The thing that has worked best with her (2 nights of all night sleep and counting) is praying for her. I prayed she would have peace and comfort and not be afraid. We also talked about her fears and she is seeming to feel less tense and afraid. Take it to the creator of your 16 month old! Also, read Isaiah 40:11. He is aware of how hard this all is.

Hi A.,

I don't know if you'll find this helpful. However, I suggest visiting www.MomsOnCall.com. This is two pediatric nurses with decades of experience and they specialize in helping babies (AND parents) sleep through the night. I was a bit skeptic at first. However, within a week, their suggestions and advice helped my 8 month old sleep through the night with no problems. They also have suggestions for munchkins your son's age. Make sure you read the testimonials and see if it might be the right method for you.

Good Luck!

Hello A...I remember those days well. Omg.thinking your about to loose your mind and about to snap. Your mind and body feel like your on Jetlag and start hearing hummy in your head. It will pass. Amen At this age, I was rocking,singing for 2hrs some nights. So.. by night light only I happen to have a a simple Mother Goose big picture poems and short stories..And read that book over and over again while my child was sometimes just keeping them on the changing table for a few mins after rock with a sm. soft toy for them to hold ..give your rocking arms a rest as I kept reading standing next to them. Then over the shoulder rock and walk around. What then I started to do was in the Day..important put them in the crib, with that book and soft toy and read for a few, then say..Mommy be right back..Take advantage and go to the bathroom or whatever.. but keep going back to the room, So how is the story..and read a few more with great expression, then tell them be right back again..etc..Bottle if need be or pacifier..Eventually what worked for me was they started looking at the book on their own..and had their comfort things with them too. Try it before their day nap, but before they are at their cranky part..Go in the room earlier then let it be fun and exciting..At this age they are coming into independence, and you cant keep them still..But, keep them occupied. Eventually, may take a few days, but then follow the routine at night too..A few times before this started I was laying on the sofa with a 2 hr. kid movie on in the dark..I was falling asleep not child. I had child in bed too for awhile, like you...Keep loving them..maybe after dinner go for a stroller walk and keep the discovery going, tree, flowers, sky, birds..and name things. That discovery time will be fun and tire them..have that same voice and discovery with the book in the crib routine. Guess what..after having three children, now a grandma of a 4mo. old. They all turned out to be A/B students in school. Wonder if the books early in the crib days got them started. Best Wishes L.

Good Morning A.. I am sure you have heard this from other mothers but I thought I would offer my opinion to you. Try not to let him sleep in bed with you. This is a habit that is incredibly hard to break. You must tough it out and let him cry himself back to sleep. Crying never harmed a baby (that is what everyone always told me. The best advice I ever received.
It sounds like he may be having night terrors. My daughter had those for a while.
Do you put on soothing music? Give him a little tylenol for the teething - Babies are wise....they will get conditioned to having you react to their crying...that is how they know to get your attention.
Have you asked your pediatrician for some advice?
If he is crying - you have to go somewhere that you can't hear it (put headphones on). He will cry himself to sleep. If you are consistent with the same behavior - he should eventually fall asleep. I wish you the best of luck. I have 2 little girls - 17 months apart.

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