21 answers

My 22 Month Old Takes Forever to Put to Sleep

My daughter is now 22 months old. I have never tried to let her cry it out. We used to rock her to sleep until she was about 18 months. When we were able to transition from rocking her to sleep to staying by her side, holding her hand and having her fall asleep, it feels like a great step forward. However, I recently had a second baby and spending 1hr+ holding her hand at nap time and night time just isn't viable anymore - at least not without me going insane. Does anyone have any recommendations other than crying it out? I have heard of the "shuffle" but am not sure how it works and if it works.

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I have 3 boys and 1 more on the way. I found that giving them a blanket and warm chocolate milk at night has eased there way into sleeping. Keeping it a routine. I let my 2 year old pick out his bedding and PJs, he gets so excited about this.

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Glad to hear you're anti CIO... I have such a difficult time even hearing about that method. We did the family bed until my son was 3.5, it worked well for us. I don't know that I would recommend changing anything too abruptly, you have just brought a new baby home and your daughter may feel pushed aside due to new baby. I really liked what Rebekah C had to say and her idea of laying down with her while you nurse the baby... however I understand if that makes you feel like you're taking a step backwards... why don't you just pull a chair over and nurse the baby while you are holding her hand?

After an adjustment period why don't you try going from hand holding to placing your hand on her (back, side, shoulder)... then from that to just sitting there next to her, then maybe only stay till she is in that in-between sleep place, tell her you will be back to check on her in 5 minutes (or just tell you you are going potty) if she notices you going.. anyway, I think you get what I mean, baby steps... 22 months is still a baby after all :)

Oh, and don't bother with Baby Wise... The AAP is up in arms over the Author's practices.... he isn't even a Doctor! Dr. Sears was my expert of choice, here is his site: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070100.asp

Here is a great article you can cut and paste: http://www.city-data.com/forum/parenting/137936-harvard-r...

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cry it out...be patient...

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Consider laying down with her while you nurse the baby or sleep with both of them.Look up Dr Sears " night time parenting" published by la leche league. Maybe get a bigger bed put a twin next to yours Before we all got so concerned about ? Children slept with their mama, it wasn't a big deal and everybody slept a whole better . .. Think about how animals care for their young espeacially the primates and how humans beings developed when did at what point in our human history did we begin having these unnatural expectations of little ones ? I think you'll find it was VERY recently and everyone is complaining about sleep deprivation - hmmmm

Fyi - it seems the mamasource community is 'split' about 50/50 on this

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About this age, my son went through this, too. In his case, he did everything he could to extend the night time routine - 1 more book, 1 more drink, sit on the potty, ... At this age, he was too young to respond to reason. My pediatrician suggested setting an egg timer when we started the bedtime ritual and when the timer went off, telling my son it was time to go to sleep. This was a miracle for us! My son would immediately turn off the light when the timer rang. We soon started using it to get our notoriously difficult napper to go down for naps. As he got a little older, and started stalling before bedtime, we'd set the timer to encourage him to hurry to brush his teeth and put his pajamas on so we could read books before the timer went off.

my son now 2 weeks from 2 was always in my bed because i nursed him for 14 months and i dont think he ever slept in his crib. when we got him his toddler bed he was all excite but he still wanted to sleep with us. we did the sit near by until he fell asleep routine for quite a while but i know i have to get him to not need that anymore because we are expecting in may and i dont want to be where you are. theonly advice i have for you is to establish a solid bed time routine. we have bath at 8:30 brush teeth at 9:00 then he picks 2 stories to be read in bed with his favorite stuffed bunny and then when we are done we turn out the lights and turn on either a soft rock or jazz radio station. having a routine helps him wind down and know that it is time to sleep.
up until about a week ago i still had to sit and wait for him to sleep before i could leave the room but usually by the 2nd song (about 10 minutes) he was out. now i just get him all settled in and tell him i have to go potty or let the dog in or whatever to get out of the room and i dont come back and he has gone to sleep on his own every night this week. quite the accomplishment for him. it is hard, the routine thing we established about a month ago so it does take time. also my husband is not allowed to do stories, i have to. i dont know why, but whatever. we never had a schedule or routine before that and i kept thinking it was all hooey but it really does help. good luck

Oooooh, queasy flashback to those nights spent trying to get my oldest to sleep! My husband and I were dead set against the "cry it out method" - he still had memories of listening to his nephew cry for what seemed like hours, while everyone sat around in anguished silence and tried not to interfere...
But then came our first, extremely active child. She never wanted to sleep. Life was too much fun, naps and sleep were for wimps. We would be up with her until 1 a.m., because as soon as we put her down she would yell. We were a frazzled wreck, and by 18 months #2 was on the way. So we relented, a little bit. We set a wind-down time where the toys were put away, the lights turned low, and reduced the stimulus as much as possible (we decided we would "become boring"). Then we would put her in her crib, spend time singing to her and getting her comfortable, then leave. Of course she yelled. We came back after a few minutes to reassure her we were here, but that it was time for sleep. We kept returning to reassure her, but added "wait" time in about 5-minute increments (visit her after 5 minutes, give her a pat, talk to her, but don't take her out of bed, then leave and come back in 10 minutes if she is still complaining, and so on). The first couple nights were horrible, but after a week or so she was sleeping when we put her down - usually she would fall asleep while I sang to her. Our theme was, we love you, we are here for you, but it's sleep time.

I have a story for you...I have a 3.5 yr old who still will not nap/sleep without assistance. Her story is very similar to yours...she was always rocked to sleep, then we graduated to laying down with her in bed, to sitting bedside rubbing her back, then to being in the room sitting on a chair...all of which takes an enormous amount of patience and energy. My husband and I jokingly refer to her room as "the black hole" because whos ever turn it is to put her down seldome comes back out to have a normal adult evening...glass of wine, watch a movie, read a magazine kind of thing. The added challenge is that we also have a 2 year old son who from day one has been sooo easy. In retrospect, our Daughter took up so much of our time and energy to put to sleep that our poor sons wimpers where ignored unintentionally to the point where he learned very early to put himself down. If I had to do it all over again with my daughter, I would have let her cry a little more and been firmer with her and not let her negotiate as much (more tough love). Hope this helped.

We had this problem with both our kids. For a period of time we had both a one and four year old to put down at the same time in the same room. For us the crying it out created more problems because of apartment living and later the second child who needed to fall asleep too.
I started using a bedtime routine that was the same every night with included the bath, drink of water, a story, some cuddling, and all lights out. I gave myself some extra time to put them to sleep so I'd have time left over to do some grown up stuff.
This took a while but we stuck to it and I was able to slip away by replacing my hand with a favorite cuddle toy or a flashlight. I used a big pillow to replace my bulk next to her.When possible we had all activities, lights, and noise cease before bed time. Later, we were able to bring them back slowly and quietly after we had them down.
When it was just my daughter, she would get up and come to my bed and I let her fall asleep there, later I transferred her to her bed. This stopped after a short while and she then stayed in her own bed.
When my son came along we used soft jazz music every night. After a while, I found that the jazz seemed to make it go quicker. We did not to let them wind up with television and physical fun before bed.
We also introduce lights out with music and some glow in the dark or light up toys for them to use in bed as they got older. We had this stars and shapes that whirled around on the ceiling that they loved.
The important thing is to relax, use a soothing touch and tone, make it enjoying to go to put them to bed for them and for yourself. This too shall pass and they grow up and you move on to late-night bliss again. I hope some of this helps you.

The shuffle works great. I did it with my first son at 9months old because I couldn't keep getting up in the middle of the night to help him fall back asleep. You can get the book "Good Night Sleep Tight" by Kim West or go to her website at www.sleeplady.com

But the basics of the shuffle is that you put your child to in bed drowsy but awake. For the first three nights you sit by the crib and can touch your child through the bars and talk to your child until they fall asleep. For the next three nights you move your chair to the middle of the room and just reassure them verbally. Then for the next three nights you move to the doorway just in their line of vision.

The book and the website describe the process much better. But the key is to be consistant in what ever you decide to do. I am the type of parent who can't handle the cry it out method, but other parents have found great success in it. There was quite a bit of crying for us the first three nights, but once I started singing and holding his hand, he would settle down. Maybe since you already hold her hand to fall asleep try to move where you sit just a little farther away so you can't touch her or just barely hold her hand.

The book also gives great tips on how to get your infant started out right on good sleep habits. We tried to follow her tips with our second baby and she has been sleeping by herself and through the night since 2months old.

Good luck

Jody Mindell's book "Sleeping Through the Night". Excellent book with many choices for parents.
Remember, every child needs to learn to put themselves to sleep. Ask yourself and your spouse -- how do you put yourself to sleep? Give your child the gift of learning to put themselves to sleep -- without the hand holding, etc.
Good Luck

I had this same problem with my son. I nursed him to sleep until he was 19 months old, and by that time, he refused to sleep at all unless I was next to him, so he'd wake up every half hour until I came to bed. It was horrible! So finally my husband and I bought him a toddler bed. The first night we sat next to him and waited for him to fall asleep. It took an hour. Then the next night I told him good night and left the room and he fell asleep within a half hour. From then on he has fallen asleep within 10 minutes of turning the light out.

In sum: if you do something like this, you can do it gradually (first, don't hold her hand, next night, sit in a chair farther away, then sit by the door, then sit in the hall). She will probably protest the first few nights (my son did) but she'll probably be okay within a week. I could never stand to hear my son cry either and I always (still) pick him up if he gets too upset. So -- this is doable. Good luck!!!

Get a book about healthy sleep habits...Basby Wise, Baby Whisperer, etc... It will be rough for a week, but well worth it. Start your new baby with sleep training ASAP so you do not run into the same problem.

The best & easiest way is to let them "cry it out" it only takes a few times & they learn it really quickly. Your window of opportunity may be over though. I made bedtime & nap time, mine would take two, a beneficial time. By that I mean they benefited from it. I always talked about what they would do the next day AFTER they had their sleep time which would make them feel so much better. If they cried(due to sleepiness) during the day it was right to bed because they were going to feel so much better when they woke up. I would ask them when they awoke "don't you feel better?" They would always agree & after awhile they saw bed time as benefial to them & they actually liked it. Don't we feel better after we get a good nights sleep or nap? Limit stimulation an hour before bed, start to calm them down, read a book, etc & develop a routine that always ends with a good night kiss(this will come in handy when they are teens).

The only thing that has ever worked by the time the child is this age is crying it out, sorry. You can get a book on it and see that it isn't as bad as you may think, there are different levels to it and it is a gradual process. She is in total control now because she knows if she starts to cry you will stay by her side, so until you change she will have the upper hand. I have had many moms complain of the same problem at about this age and they have had to resort to letting them cry. I know this isn't what you want to hear and I'm sorry to respond with this message if it offends you in any way I just had to at least suggest it and remember there are varying degrees of sleep training your child and it doesn't necessarily involve letting your child cry for 2 or so hours

I think rocking your first child to sleep created a habit you don't won't to start with your 2nd. Your 1st is just going to have to learn the hard way I'm afraid that you're not going to come running in every time she cries. It's going to be hard on your nerves and other mothers will tell you you're being cruel, but crying never hurt a child. Just seriously let her cry herself to sleep even if it takes 30 minutes. As the days go by, the crying will lessen. I suggest with the 2nd one so you're not have to go through this again, don't rock her to sleep. Place in her crib and leave.

I always had a good sleeper and I rarely had those nights where I had to sit by his side and I think it's because early on he knew bedtime was bedtime.

I'm not familiar with the shuffle, but I do definitely sympathize with your plight. We rocked our son to sleep until he was over a year old as well, and then had to slowly transition him to be able to put himself to sleep. It was challenging, but basically we would try to put him down, and if he fussed we'd just rock him again. But each night we were able to rock him less and less, and eventually we could put him down awake. I also found some good tips at www.pantley.com/elizabeth. Good luck to you!

I know a lot of people have very strong feelings about this (cry it out etc.) and I am not going to offer an opinion. But I do think whatever method you choose, and enforce consistently you are teaching your child to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own, your already equipping your child with an invaluable tool! I am going through this right now too!

I have 3 boys and 1 more on the way. I found that giving them a blanket and warm chocolate milk at night has eased there way into sleeping. Keeping it a routine. I let my 2 year old pick out his bedding and PJs, he gets so excited about this.

Have you tried less nap-time during the day? My daughter used to be the same way and now we only allow one 2 hour nap in the morning and try to keep her up through the rest of the day. It was hard at first, but now she's sleepy and puts herself to sleep at 8pm and sleeps for 12 hours.

Good luck! This too shall pass :).

THat's so tough. I feel for you. My son was the same way. I'm not sure what the shuffle is - but we did do the gradual move away from the toddler bed. Holding hand, to sitting a few feet away, to being by the door, to being out of the room. It took a month or so. We also made a CD of us reading his favorite books (gramma and grampa did too) and we would put it on for him if he stayed in bed without us. That worked better than anything! Good luck and hang in there.
Jen G.

I don't believe in letting them cry it out either. And it took 1 1/2 hours for my daugther to fall asleep last night! So I feel your pain. And it makes me nervous to think of how it's going to be when we have our second.

I started reading, "No cry sleep solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers" by Elizabeth Pantley. You can check it out on Amazon.com. It got really good reviews.

My husband and I changed some bedtime routines and we did see an improvement.

Good luck!

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