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Putting Toddler to Sleep Question to 'No Cry' Moms

Hi Moms,

This question goes out to 'No Cry' Moms. I would like to know how/when you transitioned your toddler to going to sleep on their own. The easiest way for me to get my little one down to sleep is by holding him in my arms and walking him back and forth in a room (it takes me about 3 minutes to get him to sleep). In situations when I am too tired to walk him, I lay down and in his own time he lays down next to me and falls asleep (this can take a 1/2 hour or so). My husband thinks my little guy is too old for me to walk him to sleep which is why my question goes out to Moms for advice. Thanks!

2 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Thanks to all the Moms that responded. Based on the recommendations I got I have changed our nap/sleep routine. Now, I say 'it's nap time' or 'bed time' and my little one knows to go up stairs and hop into bed with his book. To my surprise the transition was super easy. He only cried the first night (I was directly next to him). Because I already transitioned him out of his crib and into a full size bed, I can lay next to him and go through a book with him and help the sleep process along. Thanks a bunch!

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I think my daughter was about 18 months to 2 when she started sleeping somewhat on her own. We didn't really get her fully incorporated into her own bed/ down time until she was about 3-1/2 to 4. So, good luck with that! LOL I found once she was too big to hold, then it was easy to lie her down in her bed and stand beside her and rub her back/ pat her back till she fell asleep. ALSO helps if you can start to give them something to cuddle with at this transition, something they come to recognize with sleep only.

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Hi J.,
I don't have any advice for you, but I'm glad you posted this question. I don't walk, but I rock my 16 month old to sleep or lay down with her, too. However, it usually takes much longer than 3 minutes! My husband thinks she's WAY too big for this. So, I'm interested to see the responses you get. I cannot and will not let her stand in her crib and cry for Mama either. :)

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Hi J.,

First, I don't think that 1 is too old to rock to sleep at all. I was still nursing both my boys to sleep at 1. My younger son (not including the one in my belly) is 2 and we just recently (in the last few months) started the process that worked really well with my older son when he was 2 (now 5 years old).

First, make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine. At the same time every night, brush teeth (or tooth, or just gums) ;o), put PJ's on, then read a couple of books snuggled together in a chair or in bed (or whatever you want to do). Some kids (maybe needing to be slightly older?), also really like having visuals to help them understand their bedtime routine. For example, print or color or cut out pictures of specific steps (brushing teeth, putting on PJ's, reading, sleeping.) If you talk about them before you start the routine, they get into it. The routine also really helps the little ones understand what's to come.

Sometimes my boys would fall asleep during reading time, but if not, we started with snuggling with them in their bed until they fell asleep for a few months. In the last week or so, we would talk about taking the next "big boy" step (to prepare them for a change), then we would stay in their bed for a specific amount of time, then move to the floor right next to their bed (usually keeping a hand up on the bed touching them) for a few months. This transition usually includes some whining and a little crying, but you are right there and if you stay firm, yet assure them that you're right there, it will probably only take a few nights for him to get used to the idea. For the next few months, we would again start talking a week or so before the change about the next step, which was to stay and cuddle for the specific amount of time, then leave the room. (We starting with 30 minutes and worked it down to 15.) We have stayed with the 15 minutes for several years with my 5yo because we both really enjoy that time that we have together to snuggle, and he usually falls asleep before the 15 minutes is up anyway.

Around 3yo, we also started doing a 5 minute "talking time" after reading time where my oldest could talk and "clear his head" before cuddling to fall asleep - but then it was "quiet time" and time to go to sleep. This helps get all the thoughts out to help him relax, but that's not until he gets a bit older obviously. Explaining the time thing might not work too well with a 1 year old yet either, since they have little to no concept of it at this point, but the idea is to figure out some sort of similar gradual process. Again, it did involve a little bit of whining/crying, but nothing like the CIO method. (This all is only if YOU'RE really wanting to do this, not just your husband.) I know having a "lovey" helps with some kids too, though it never worked with mine. I've heard the key is to wear stuff it in your shirt about 5 - 10 minutes before bedtime so it gets your scent on it. Another thought is to add to the routine, something like "we get to have 10 kisses, then it's bed time."

Another thought to share is to have your husband help put him to bed at night. My husband and I switched off every other night when we had one, and have switched off with each child with 2 every other night (he puts one to bed and I put the other to bed). I have no idea what we're going to do when the 3rd comes. We'll be outnumbered! ;o) I realize that some hubby's are better about night-time involvement than others, but it's not only reasonable and fair - it also helps the separation for night time, so if you're husband wants to participate in taking the steps to help make what he thinks is necessary possible, then that will be a huge helping factor.

As a final note, ENJOY THIS TIME! I still get to have it with both of my boys, but I know that it will be soon enough that they won't want me there anymore.

Also, never doubt your own feelings/instincts as a mother! :o)

Best of luck to you!

4 moms found this helpful

We had a similar situation where we would give our daughter milk and rock her to sleep. How we did the transition to help her go to sleep on her own was 2 things:

We got her a lovey, or more accurately she was given a pre-loved bear blanky (the little Carters ones) by the son of our friend who was 3 and apparently ready to fly solo :-) I left it with her in her crib and after about 2 weeks I noticed that she wanted it when it was bedtime or naptime. It's made a HUGE difference in how well she can sooth herself back to sleep and it gives her a piece of home when she has to stay at nanas or a babysitter. Studies have actually shown that toddlers with loveys were as secure in new or unfamiliar situations as if their mothers were with them.

Second we used sort of a "WIO" Whine It Out method rather than "CIO" Cry It Out method. I began by rocking my daughter with her milk, then putting her in her crib drowsy but still awake. She would inevitably start crying when I left and I would only stay out for a few minutes. Then I would go back in and put her back in my lap for as long as she stayed quiet. If she fell asleep, that was fine...but if she wanted to get down or play or anything but quietly sleep I would put her back in her crib for another 1-2 minutes of crying. Then I would go back in and repeat the process. After about 3 days of her falling asleep on my lap every night still, I left her and she didn't cry she just kind of whined for about 15 minutes then fell asleep on her own! I think part of the key is to separate crying from whining. I only went back in if she was all out crying, not for just whining or "complaining".

3 moms found this helpful

My daughter was ready to go down by herself shortly before her 2nd birthday. We transitioned her to her own room and bed at about 21 months, but I would nurse her to sleep most of the time. It took 2-3 months for her to transition from nursing to sleep, to falling asleep on her own. Before bed, we still read her a book, cuddle, and nurse. It usually takes about 30 minutes total. She's usually awake when I leave her room, but at 1, it's totally reasonable that your son would need or want you to help him fall asleep.

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Hi J.,
If I could get my toddler to sleep in 3 minutes I would be ecstatic. He's almost three now, but has always been a little hard to get down for the night. However, at the same time, I just love the cozy, relaxed time we are spending together in the process. I treasure it because it is a special one on one intimate time for us, for me it is a break from the hectic multi-tasking life of my days, and I know it is a brief time in our lives together. In fact I know that this may be part of the problem with him not dozing off more quickly, but I don't care too much! The only thing left for me after he goes to bed is chores and a shower and bed myself.

But, if you want him to be able to fall asleep without the walking, I think a gradual process will help. All of our sleep transitions have only worked when done gradually (a week or two). So, walk until he's almost asleep, then lay him down, you can pat or rub his back after laying him down until he falls asleep. But if he fusses to the point of waking himself all the way up again, pick him up and walk him to the point of being almost asleep again. It seems like a chore, but it should work out.

Sorry to say but I just disagree with your husband. I don't know of any 1 year olds who you can just lay down and have them fall asleep. Maybe there are some, but there's no *should* about it.

Best wishes.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi J.,
I don't have any advice for you, but I'm glad you posted this question. I don't walk, but I rock my 16 month old to sleep or lay down with her, too. However, it usually takes much longer than 3 minutes! My husband thinks she's WAY too big for this. So, I'm interested to see the responses you get. I cannot and will not let her stand in her crib and cry for Mama either. :)

2 moms found this helpful

I don't think that he is too old to walk to sleep. If it is only a few minutes what is the harm? I think it is nice to cuddle with the kids for a few minutes when the day is over, and it is much better than having them cry for a half hour. My two year old still needs that too. I would say as long as it's not a burden for you or you have a lot of back pain ;) why not.

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Our son turned two last week, and we rocked him to sleep at nap and bedtime until he was about 18 months, but he wasn't sleeping through - and so I'd be up rocking him back to sleep once or twice (or more!!) in the middle of the night, too! I decided to transition him to going to sleep in his crib by lying down on the floor next to him and slipping my hand through the bars of the crib. He'd hold my hand (or my husbands) until he fell asleep. This technique also worked in the middle of the night. After two or so months of this, we stopped holding his band and would simply lie down hext to him, and then we started sitting in the rocking chair scross the room from his crib until he's asleep. This has been working great, though I'm ready to move on to the next step - moving the chair across the room close to the bedroom door, and then into the doorway and then out into the hall... I'd like to move him into a toddler bed in the next few months, but I want him to be able to put himself to sleep alone before then (or at least be comfortable lying in his bed awake!) Good luck to you. Transitioning him will probably go more smoothly than you think it will.

2 moms found this helpful

I am probably no help, but If you love the time that you get with your boy by holding him, then do it. These times are so short and it is nice when you can snuggle with them. Before you know it, they are big and don't want you to be close. My daughter, the oldest, has autism and she really never wanted to snuggle much, so when my son came along and loves to snuggle with me for sleepy time, I totally cherish and take in every min... Good luck!

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