October 30, 2009,
E.F. asks from Herndon, VA on October 27, 2009
STILL Having Sleep Problems with 15 Month Old
I just don't know what to do. My baby is so easy with everything except his sleep. For a brief summary: He slept in the bassinet, then our bed, then with me on a mattress on his floor (at night and for naps), then after much struggles we got him to go in his crib at night. For this, we had to endure the "cry-it-out". It still did not work perfectly. We tried the kind where you go in at intervals to tell him it's ok. That just made him more upset. Then we ended up just letting him cry. This went on for HOURS. He just could not calm down & relax to go to sleep. So, we ended up going up there after he would cry for quite some time & hold him or nurse him & then he would finally go down (being exhausted from crying & then calmed down by the nursing or holding). This went on for a few weeks. Eventually, he accepted the crib & went down immmediately after nursing. Sometimes he slept through the night, sometimes not. On nights he awoke, I nursed him & he went back down. So, that's been the situation for a while - nursing him to sleep at night. Unfortunately, he will not relax for naps in his crib, so I have been driving him in the car every day & then sitting in my car for an hour or more (I have a little "office" in my car now with stuff to do while he sleeps!). We started doing this after we took the mattress out of his room (where I'd been sleeping on the floor with him). The driving is obviously not ideal, but I've been doing it b/c I know how important it is for him to get a nap, so he won't be overtired at night, so he'll sleep at night! (But what about MOMMY being overtired??) So this week, all of a sudden, he is no longer going right down after I nurse him. He seems really groggy & pretty much asleep, then I unlatch to put him down & he jolts awake & freaks!! I leave him & let him cry for about 30 minutes, then come back & nurse him again (this used to work). No. Same thing - falls asleep, unlatch, body stiffens & he is hysterical. So, I leave him to cry longer. At this point (or sometime during the night) I don't feed him any more - I just hold him till he falls asleep. Again - when I stand up to put him down, he wakes up, hysterical. So, we end up just letting him cry for hours till he falls asleep. I hate this. I was up until 4 am last night & was crying myself after my husband & I moved to the guest room which is further down the hall so the crying wouldn't be as loud. This should not be happening at 15 months old. We ALL need to be getting better sleep in this house. What should we do????? By the way, I only nurse him now once in the morning, and then at bedtime to put him to sleep. I've been gradually weaning & wanted to drop the night feeding, but didn't know how I would do it since that's the only thing that puts him to sleep. This week, even the nursing isn't working, so maybe I can wean now. I hate this though. Help!!!
2 moms found this helpful
S.T. answers from Washington DC on October 28, 2009
first of all, i don't see anywhere in here what i consider to be the best option, laying him down awake and then just sitting with him, rubbing his back, singing to him, but not holding or nursing him. it's much gentler than CIO and yet still allows him to learn to fall asleep in his own bed. at this point he's already expecting anxiety at bedtime so it will probably take a long time, but it's also very important to commit to your method. nursing him to sleep, then CIO, then driving, then sleeping with him, all create an atmosphere where he doesn't know what to expect and is thus making him even more anxious. no matter what you do, at this point he's going to take some time to get used to it, there are no easy fixes. but you are right, you should all be getting better sleep and there's no way a 15 month old is so desperate without reason. his fears are very real to him. so even if he's howling, stay with him, calm and quiet. allow your calmness to slowly filter through to him.
1 mom found this helpful
K.L. answers from Washington DC on October 28, 2009
My son is not a great sleeper either. We had been holding/ nursing him at night for a long time. Whenever we left him he got really upset and I wasn't interested in doing cry-it-out, plus I suspected it wouldn't work because he is pretty stubborn and gets himself worked up.
At about 10 months we decided to try and get him to fall asleep in his own crib. We did a modified "Baby Whisperer" approach with a little "No Cry Sleep Solution." What I did was nurse him as usual but then put him in the crib awake. Everytime he pulled up to standing I laid him back down. If he got upset, I held him for a couple of minutes until he calmed down and then put him back down, even if that meant laying him down calm and then picking him right back up. I did this at bedtime and at his naptime.
The first night it took 75 minutes and I laid him down 109 times. The next couple of nights it took 45 minutes. It has been a couple of months and progress is slow but evident. Now he puts himself down for his morning nap about 90% of the time with almost no problem and at night about 50% of the time. The other half we have to go up a few times and comfort him either by picking him up for a minute or just patting his back.
More importantly he sleeps 2-3 hours for his morning nap and 7pm-5am at night. Still trying to figure out how to get him to 6am.
This approach worked for us so hopefully it is helpful, but I think every kid is different. I read like 6 sleep books and put the ideas together in a way that works most of the time for us. Good luck!
R.H. answers from Norfolk on October 28, 2009
We have thee same trouble when my daughter was about the same age and you just have to stay the course. It all seems to end or slow down when she was about 2yrs old than it seemed to all end. She started to conform and things got better. My rule of thumb is and always will be with my now 7yr old and current 2 mo. old. I don't start something I'm not willing to do until they are 10yrs old. That includes driving for naps or rocking to sleep, patting for more than a min or so. You can normally tell if something gets him going to or calms him down. Keep doing what is calming stop what seems to annoy. At that age with my daughter i remember putting her down at 7:30pm (which could also be your trouble i don't know your bed time) Than after a few min. not being able to handle the yelling and going to set on the porch for a while. So she could yell and it not bother me. Good luck
S.M. answers from Washington DC on October 28, 2009
I've had SO many sleep problems with both of my little ones. Nursing them down for naps and bed is so effective when they're tiny, but it sure as heck doesn't work anymore when they turn about 15 months! My little one is 16 months now and starting to have trouble with naps and bedtime (argh), just like my three-year-old did. Now I'm having to pull out all the tricks I used before to help my little baby get to sleep. My tricks are much more effective at bedtime than naptime, though, I still can't figure out naps, darn it all! I like the idea of a pacifier -- most of my friends who have kids who don't have any trouble napping have kids who use a pacifier or thumb (or at least a special soft soothing toy). Also, get really good black-out curtains (cheap at Home Depot or Wal-Mart). The curtains will help with naptime and at bedtime (all those car lights making pretty designs across the ceiling can be distracting).
If your little boy is pretty adept at climbing, you might even try setting up a low big boy bed (with a rail to keep him from falling out at night). You might think this is going in the opposite direction, and it COULD be... BUT, if you have a kiddo who has trouble sleeping, it's not going to get any easier until they learn how to put themselves to sleep, even when they have that choice to get up. You can choose when to fight that battle, now (while you still have breastfeeding on your side) or later. So, nurse your baby right after dinner, then play, brush teeth, read, etc. Then put your baby to bed in a big boy bed with a soft soothing toy. If the baby gets up, you take the toy and put him back to bed. Hopefully, he'll be upset (I know that sounds cruel, but it's only for a few seconds!). Then go back in to his room and praise and comfort him if you find him in bed and give him back his toy. You can sing songs outside his door, play soothing music, etc., but less petting, rocking, etc. at bedtime. You're doing all the work and he's not learning how to do it!
But don't worry too hard about naps -- if your baby doesn't get them, he'll still grow up OK. A resting time of reading books with you and cuddling can help both of you get the rest you need in the middle of the day. In fact, you may just want to resign yourself to a resting time with reading for now, because you may find it (as I did) less of an emotional roller coaster when trying to guess whether the baby would nap or not. And then I found that bedtime was much easier without the nap in the middle of the day! Well, try the black-out curtains, paci, and soothing toy first! Oh, and when you wean, try a sippy cup of warm cow's milk at naptime while you cuddle and read -- I've heard that works, worth a try!
Edited to say that some rocking, petting etc. is OK, use your judgment, but try to remove yourself from the room while your baby is still awake.
J.D. answers from Washington DC on October 30, 2009
I completely understand!! I have 17 month old twins (boy & girl), and I have struggled with sleep challenges with our boy for a year!! My advice to you is to take back control. I know it seems IMPOSSIBLE!! But you can do it!! Trust me...I did all the same things you are doing as far as "work-arounds" to deal with his high-maintenance sleep situation. When he was 7 months old, he stopped sleeping through the night in his crib (I think teething initially started it all). I tried rocking, bottle, etc.. and nothing worked. He REFUSED to go back in his crib in the middle of the night. I figured out that if I brought him in my bed...he would go right back to sleep until 7am. So I started doing that every night...for many months. It worked ok. I just got used to waking up every night at 2am-ish and getting him when he cried. But this eventually spun out of control when he got older (12 months old) and realized that he wanted to sleep with Mommy at bedtime and naptime instead of just middle of the night. So I ended up having to rock him for an hour at bedtime to get him in his crib....and same with naps. It was incredibly stressful. I tried letting him cry it out at bedtime...but he would vomit after only 1-2 minutes of crying. So I felt like I had no options and had to continue all the rocking!? Right around this time...we had our 12 month pediatrician appt....and she said to me, "you need to take back control." She recommended that I let him cry it out (without going in the room), and if he vomited (which I could hear on the monitor)...that I go in and quickly change him and put him right back to bed. I couldn't IMAGINE doing this....but I was so desperate that I tried it. And it was amazing! I honestly did have control of our lives/sleep back!! He only cried for 10-15 minutes at bedtime, and 10-15 minutes in the middle of the night.....and this only lasted a few days before he was sleeping through the night with no crying!!! It was a wonderful summer....UNTIL he started waking in the middle of the night again in August. My initial response was to let him cry it out again....but I got rattled after he cried for well over an hour for the few nights that I let him cry. So I would eventually go in and reassure him, and then leave. Which would result in another hour of crying after I left. So neither him nor me were getting any sleep for about two weeks of this!! So once again...I figured out a "work-around" where I realized that if I went in as soon as he started to cry and patted his back for 5 minutes...he would go back to sleep in his crib for the rest of the night. So for TWO MONTHS...I again woke up every night in the middle of the night when he cried to pat his back. It was tolerable....until he started waking 2, 3, 4 times at night wanting me to pat his back. I was up on and off all night!!! I couldn't believe that we were back in another crazy un-maintainable sleep dilemna!! So I sucked it up and took control again. I decided that I was not going in there at night anymore. And I let him cry. I actually turned off the monitor when he cried at night. And he thankfully didn't cry that long. And he pretty quickly figured it out that it wasn't worth his crying b/c there was no payoff. So we are (thankfully) in an OK phase right now. I am sure there will be more setbacks in the future. But my pediatrician made such a powerful point to me that OF COURSE he would rather be with me and be rocked to sleep....but it was not sustainable for me and not good for him...and I couldn't allow him to be in complete control of something was not healthy for him or me. I needed to take control back.
If someone had described "crying it out" to me before I became a Mom....I would have violently disagreed and felt it was too mean. But now, I realize that sleep is a healthy and necessary thing for my children to properly grow and develop. And I am confident that my twins get a tremendous amount of love and care from my husband and I. But as my pediatrician said....I cannot allow my 17 month old to be in control of demanding un-healthy sleep habits for our family. I need to set up the right situation and help guide him to follow it.
Good luck!!! I completely understand how stressful it is.
M.C. answers from Washington DC on October 27, 2009
If this has been happening for awhile, I would ask the dr. He could have reflux that acts up when he lays down, a gas bubble that won't go away, fluid in his ears, or he could be teething.
As for the laying down part.
1. Try to keep a blanket between you and him, then when you move, he won't feel the temp difference.
2. when detaching, put your pinky in his mouth to help break the sucction, if you think he's done.
We have a recliner in my daughters room, and when she won't sleep, I sleep with her in the recliner. It's not ideal, but at least we both get to sleep.
T.S. answers from Washington DC on October 28, 2009
I know that some people are against pacifiers, but I think they are great. When my son falls asleep nursing or with the bottle, I just replace the nipple with the pacifier and that calms him down. I also tend to rock him in my arms for a little while. Also sometimes I put him down awake in his crib and let him cry for a few minutes ( I don't let him cry for more than 5-10 minutes)and then I go in and just put the pacifier in his moouth. That calms him down and puts him to sleep easily, sometimes immediately. Since your son is 15 months old he may not accept the pacifier now if he is not used to it.
S.F. answers from Charlottesville on October 28, 2009
I nursed my little one to sleep at the same age and it was easy to sneak away once I figured out how to LIE DOWN and nurse him. (Avoiding MOVING him after he was asleep)
I didn't really have him in a crib. We stopped fighting to get him in a crib and just had a full size mattress on the floor of his room - so there was no lifting, changing positions, moving him -- I just unlatched him and snuck away. Sometimes the sneaking away would take a minute or so because if I made a PEEP my son would wake up and freak out that I was leaving. So I understand what you're going through.
He's only 15 months - remember - so he's still a baby and just wants to be near you!! So that's what I'd try.
Scrap the crib idea for now. Let him sleep on a mattress on his floor or just WITH YOU in your bed. Same with naps. Just let him nap on a real bed, lie down to nurse him to sleep. Sneak away.
R.W. answers from Washington DC on October 28, 2009
I, like Tina, used the paci as well. It was a pain but it was the only thing that would soothe our crying boy. After I'd unlatch him, he'd cry so I would just insert the paci. We would put several in his crib so if one fell out he could find another.
K.L. answers from Washington DC on October 28, 2009
i hate to tell you girl but you are going to have to let your baby boy cry it out. If you can get through a couple of nights in a row he will get the point. He is using the nursing as a 'helper' to fall asleep. He hasn't learned how to put himself to sleep. A skill, that unfortunately, you can't teach him. He has to figure it out for himself. Maybe you could go away and let daddy handle it, if it is too hard for you. My daughter has a lovey, somthing to cuddle with. Does you son have anything like that? Also, my daughter sleeps with white noise on, basically sounds like static. that may help too. Don't do music b/c when it goes off he will cry for it to be turned back on. Another suggestion is a routine. Bath, lotion, pjs, a book, then bed. That way they know what is coming. I really hope this helps. Good luck!
L.R. answers from Washington DC on October 27, 2009
I know some parents are fans of "cry it out" but I'm not. Here's why: When you leave him, he still doesn't get that you will come back later, or that morning will come and you'll be there; when you leave him, in his mind, you vanish from the face of the earth entirely. So he screams. He's too young to be manipulating you -- he can't think that way yet. He's the exact age for separation anxiety and that's what's happening at night. You may see daytime separation anxiety starting soon, not because of the nighttime issues necessarily, but because he's at the age for that phase.
When my daughter was little we would put her down (not asleep but still slightly awake), then sit on the floor next to the crib and reach through the crib bars to keep just the fingers of one hand very lightly on her until she was asleep. This seemed to work well for her; she came to think of her crib in her room as a safe place, not a place where she was ever left to cry it out, and she eventually would go down slightly awake and go to sleep without us there.
Also, be sure he doesn't have acid reflux that kicks in when he's lying down or that the room isn't too hot, too cold, that he's not overheated with blankets or scared by stuffed animals that he loves by day but that can look scary at night. It's hard with kids his age to know if fears are at play because they can't yet speak enough to tell you "The nightlight casts shadows that look like monsters," etc.
But overall I think the crying it out may be making things worse, so try showing him very gradually that his crib is a good place to be and not a place he associates with crying and wanting but not seeing you. That is probably why he won't nap there -- it's a place he associates with being unhappy. As for car naps, we did that for the year between ages two and three since my daughter was out of her crib and couldn't settle to nap in her bed, but still needed one. You're smart to carry stuff with you to do while he sleeps. The phase eventually does end, and at least he's getting a nap. But making bedtimes easier could lead to easier naptimes.