14Th Month Old Is Poor Sleeper

Updated on July 23, 2008
S.J. asks from Washington, DC
4 answers

I have three kids, the youngest of which is almost fourteen months old. I am still nursing him at night, which is know is a big "NO-NO", but I don't have the heart to make him cry. We never truly did this with the other two either. They are now 6 and 8.

The little one is still co-sleeping with us. My husband has been extremely patient and accepting with my desire to not ferberize our baby, but is becoming increasingly frustrated with the baby's restlessness and poor sleep habits at night. Frankly, so am I.

He does take occasional naps in his crib a few times a week. However, he is a poor sleeper even during the day.

While I am used to this as my others didn't sleep through the night until 15 and 22 months, I am definitely more strung out as I have three now.

Are there any milder, gentler alternatives to ferberizing as far as infant/toddler sleep habits are concerned?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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answers from Norfolk on

I believe that the earlier posts have given great advice. The only bit I'd add would be to give the child a comfort device to go to sleep with. It may help to have a stuffed toy or favorite blanket to go down with and help self-soothe if the little guy wakes up in the middle of the night. We always check on our 14 month old before we go to bed and move his "dollie" (one of those stuffed animal heads with the blanket body)within reach just in case he needs it in the middle of the night. So far, it has seemed to help if he does awaken. Hope this is helpful and good luck!!



answers from Washington DC on

I have to give kudos to the last two responses - excellent advice!

I understand it is SO hard to stop nursing at night due to tiredness and emotional reasons, but it sounds like you're ready for a good night's sleep! Leigh R gave great advice about *gently* showing your baby that it's okay to sleep in his own bed. Just like we teach our kids to talk, use a spoon, use the potty, etc., we also have to teach them how to sleep independently.

Just prepare yourself - it WILL be heart-wrenching, especially if he can cry 'mama'! Remember, he knows no other way of sleeping and this is a teaching activity. If at all possible, take a solid 3 nights to do this tactic, being consistent night after night, and by all means DON'T give in. You may even want to arrange for someone (family or sitter) to come over and help you during the day so that you can take a nap to prepare for the night's disruption. It may not take that long, but if you expect to solve it in one or two return trips to his bedroom then it can be easy to think it's too hard and give in or to think you're damaging his little psyche. The other comment about having your husband do the 'night training' would be great if at all possible. Even at 13 months, kids are incredibly persistant and if you give in and bring him back to your bed it may be a very long time until you can break the habit. Just think of this as a very hard few days to ensure years of good sleep for you and your child. All things in parenting are hard work at first :D

My oldest daughter (now 3) was always a great sleeper and has needed lots of sleep, even today. My second (almost 2) didn't need as much sleep and she went through an I-don't-need-a-nap phase at about that age. With my girls being 16 months apart and a military spouse overseas ALONE while my husband was deployed, this mama needed a break! I enforced 'quiet time' for both my girls, regardless of if they actually sleep. I kept my oldest in her crib until age 3 by insisting that climbing out was not acceptable and she had to wait for me to come get her. I provided them with board books and a few safe toys on their nearby changing table so if they woke early they could have something to do. Oftentimes, they would wake to play and then go back to sleep. I sacrificed my own sleep and relaxation time to be strong-willed about this - after they both realized that just because they were awake (day or night) that did not mean it was party time! Of course, this was after they were both finished nursing in the night or every two hours. It did take a lot of practice and reminding and the 'no encouragement' tactic does work - just go in and lay them back down without eye contact or holding, just say 'it's time for sleep'....over and over and over! Like I mentioned earlier, you have to teach children good sleep habits just like any other skill. My oldest enjoys her quiet time, especially now that she's in a big girl bed. She has a basket with Barbies and paper-paged books and a few other special 'big girl' toys that her little sister is too small to play with. Sometimes she doesn't take her nap, but she at least gets some time for rest and I get a time for rest.

It's not easy and it will cause some stress for you - but so will having a toddler in your bed. Some people don't mind having a 2+ year old in their bed and that's great for them, but I certainly can't and it sounds like you are ready for the change. I would highly recommend the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg. That particular book is geared toward helping newborns sleep in their own beds, but she does speak to how to re-train an older baby. There's also a Toddler Whisperer - I haven't read it but I've heard it's the same principles but for toddlers. There's no way I'd have been able to handle my two kiddos so close together without that book!

Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

S., if "ferberizing" means the "let them scream themselves to sleep" approach, then I'm with you. I didn't do the cry-it-out thing either. My daughter transitioned from bassinet to her crib at about five months (she never slept in our bed) but you could try somewhat the same routine: Rocking and ready for bed, but not fully asleep; place him in the crib almost but not asleep; sit on the floor next to the crib with one hand through the rails, touching him very lightly, maybe continuing to sing the last lullaby you were singing etc. Then you're silent for a while, even if he's trying to interact; I used to pretend to be asleep. Then departing once he's asleep.

A big HOWEVER: This worked fine with a five-month-old, but at his age it may be a far bigger struggle since he can pop up and protest once you lay him down. You may have to gently and quietly say goodnight even if he's standing up in the crib yelling, then return after five minutes and just say goodnight and don't interact with him more than goodnight (don't approach the crib or lift him out again, and don't shout at him to go to sleep as that will only wind him up more). Then if he still yells/stands, leave and come back again in seven minutes. Then return in 10 minutes. Then 15 minutes. You extend the times between returns. That way he learns that mom IS still there, and mom does come back -- but she does not remove him from the crib, so yelling/standing/crying won't get him what he wants, which is out. Yes, this routine will wear you out for a while.

One important safety note: Unfortunately, he's old enough that very soon he may be too big for the crib and trying to climb out! If he is close to climbing out, you may have the problem that just about the time you get him to sleep in the crib, he's escaping on his own. Please don't try to keep him in the crib if he is able to get out -- a friend's kid broke an arm at about 18 months while climbing out of her crib. And think about how long the fall would be from a top rail of a crib to the floor for a toddler! You may end up with a short crib period for him and a swifter move to a toddler bed. But either way, he has to learn that his room is his and yours is yours. Good luck.



answers from Norfolk on

My son is doing the same thing. I still nurse at night...frankly it is laziness. At night, I am tired. I do not want to soothe him in other ways to put him back to sleep. I want a quick fix - so I nurse. Even if I attempted to do something else he fusses, wiggles, and tries desperately to get into my shirt. My husband wanted his wife back so he did some research. It turns out that many success stories have come from the mother giving the child up to someone she trusts at night and someone that the child feels comfortable with - like...daddy. Supposedly, Daddy takes over at night at putting the baby back to sleep when the baby wakes up. After the baby gets used to it and your supply runs dry the baby should be done nursing. I haven't had the chance to try it out yet because my husband is Navy and has been in and out to sea for the past several months. Let me know if you try it. I am curious to know if it actually works.

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