How Do I Get Him to Sleep on His Own?

Updated on May 17, 2008
M.T. asks from Albany, OR
11 answers

Our 8 month old just recently starting really fighting us when we transfer him from our laps to his crib for naptime or bedtime. Our routine is always nurse, sing/read until he's starting to close his eyes and put him in the crib. I used to let him cry it out and that worked fairly well - the new twist is that he's pulling himself up in the crib and I don't want him hurting himself. Any advice on how I can work towards getting him to put himself to sleep instead of rocking him? I need something that we can use as well as his sitter(s). Thank you!

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So What Happened?

I appreciate all the feedback we received - we've been sticking to letting him cry it out for a few days now and we're down to about 5-10 minutes of crying and he's asleep. Co-sleeping sounds like a nice solution - but with our lifestyle and me working from home it really didn't work for us. I need to be able to work while he's sleeping and sometimes that means conference calls - so being near him isn't always an option. We also wanted a solution that would work well for everyone who takes care of him and not everyone feels comfortable sleeping with him. Thanks again!

More Answers



answers from Eugene on

As a strong proponent of cosleeping, I think that is the very best solution to any and all "sleep problems". Lie down with him till he falls asleep, or nurse him to sleep, and then you can get up, and join him later. He is not old enough to fall asleep on his own, although babies can be "taught" to by letting them cry it out. But what they are really learning is that you are not there for them, and the world is not a safe place, and they have to take care of themselves. If you are there for him while he is young and needs you, he will feel safe and independent when he is developmentally ready. Please don't let him cry it out! He is right now in the separation anxiety stage, and it is a good sign that he is well attached to you that he wants to be with you. He needs to know you are there for him. You could move the crib next to your bed as a cosleeper arrangement, so you could lie with him or nurse him to sleep and then roll back over into your bed. It is absolutely normal and developmentally important for babies this age to want to be close to you and to wake up for comfort from you several times a night. I have raised two wonderful independent secure loving children this way, and they now have their own babies and cosleep with them. It really really works!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

I would stick with your "cry-it-out" method, regardless of the puuling up factor. As your son does new things, has new skills, he's going to want to practice all those new things at night, and it will interfere with his sleeping, but stay the course with your routine, and he will know what to expect from you, that you will be leaving and he'll need to go to sleep, even if he wants to practice pulling up, crawling, walking...etc. I went thru this with my daughter and keeping the routine worked well for us. Best of Luck!


answers from Seattle on


Both of my children would do the same thing. My son is now 4 1/2 and usually goes to be easily. My 14 month old daughter still stands up in her crib and cry when she doesn't want to nap. She'll get so mad that she has made herself sick before. She bonked her head a few times, and now has learned to sit down/lay down before she falls down.

He won't hurt himself if he falls. He may have a bruise or two, but he will learn. As young as he is, he's testing you to see if you'll come back when he fusses. Give him about five minutes to calm himself. If he's still carrying on after that, go in and comfort him until he calms down and starts to get drowsy. Then, put him back in bed. Also, if at any time his cry changes from a "I don't want to be here" to an "I'm scared/mad/hurt" go in immediately and comfort him.

Hope this helps,



answers from Anchorage on

My doctor said we should feed our son a little more throughout the day. My son is almost 19 mos. now but at 8 to 10 months a night light and some sort of musical doll. The frog that has 6 min. of music for naps and a dog that plays a twinkle twinkle little star melody. Plus, I resorted to a pacifier. I have some of his stuffed animals say night night too. That way he can hold them. When I lay the blanket we kind of do a pick a boo by laying the blanket over him a couple times before tuck-tucking him in. He feels more relaxed. Good luck. It seems like you're doing well it just takes time to find what's right for each individual.



answers from Seattle on

Hi M..

Something that I picked up in Europe (my husband is Swiss) is the use of sleeping bags for infants and young children. This really helped us with the standing up in the crib issue. Our son is 15-months old and is just learning how to pull himself up in the crib while in his sleeping bag. At 8 months old this was definitely not possible for him.

I had never seen any of my friends or family members using these sleeping sacks here in the States, but I swear by them now. I've seen them for sale is such places as Fred Meyer, even Target I think. They also make the whole which blankets do I use with my newborn obsolete and they come in summer or winter weights. As the weather is getting warmer, we just pop him in wearing a onesie.

My son started getting fussy for naps around the same age as your child and so, for naps, I swaddle him in one of my old sarongs (we only use the sleeping bag at night now). I know, it seems too old to swaddle, but honestly, unless he's already completely passed out, it's the only way we can get him down. He can totally get out on his own, but somehow, it seems to calm him just enough to help him to fall asleep.

Anyway, I don't know if either of these things will help, but you never know! Good luck.



answers from Portland on

We have had a similar issue with out now 10.5 month old. Our nap routine had always been reading a couple of books and laying him down and sitting in the corner out of site and singing to him until he was quiet and then leaving. about a 5-10 minute process. once he started standing things are much more interesting! what i have worked out that works pretty well is reading and laying him down and just getting out of his room as fast as possible. then i only go back in when he starts to cry (standing up of course!) pick him up, hold him for 15-30 seconds till quiet or pushing me away and i lie him back down and get out of his room. i have very consistent with this technique (modeled ofter the pick-up/put-down method in the baby whisperer by tracy hogg) and now about 50% of the time i never have to go back in. we still have occasional tough put downs where i pick him up 5 or more times and take 20-30 minutes where i still stay in the room with a bit of singing. I really like doing this because he never crys alone which i think breaks trust but always falls asleep on his own.

wow, sorry that was kinda long. good luck! let me know if you have more questions!



answers from Portland on

Does he have enough stimulation in his room? My son slept in the co-sleeper in our room at night until he was about 7.5 months old, then we moved him to the crib in his room with no problem. He has paintings that he loves to look at (Dr. Seuss scenes) - he's been "talking" to the characters in the paintings since he was 8-9 months old.

We also started giving him a particular blanket (tucking it between the crib and mattress) at every nap around 7 months (before then he didn't want to nap except on me, which got a bit frustrating, not to mention painful!) We took the blanket with us on a trip at Christmas, and he slept great on that trip - I think that's when he got attached to the blanket. He now loves hanging out in his crib... (he's nearly a year) - he'll play with his stuffed animals, talk to the pics on his wall, suck on his blanket, and eventually fall asleep. We never had to do the cry it out... if he ever fusses when we put him in there, he usually stops in a minute or less. So I recommend interesting art on the walls, a blanket, and if possible, a change of venue for a few days to get him used to the new routine. Also, having your husband putting the baby down to nap may help.



answers from Seattle on

You need to let him cry. It will take a few days to a week of this for him to get used to it. Another thing that might help is a baby lullaby C.D. If he listens to it, it may calm him down and make him want to listen to it rather than crying. When my boys are fighting, or being loud, I'll put in a Classical C.D. (in the car or at home) and they stop fighting and quiet down almost immediately. It's strange how it happens, but it works. Also, a book on tape or C.D. also is good. I would still encourage the reading-at night as a nighttime routine.
Also, have you lowered his mattress on his crib? If he is pulling himself up, he could fall out. It's okay to let him pull himself up in his crib, just make sure that he doesn't have any toys on the sides of the crib and if he has a mobile-remove it.
It's hard to listen to them cry it out a little, but he will get used to it. The music will help though.



answers from Portland on

Have you tried patting/rubbing his back until he falls asleep? It has worked great for us, and the best part is that baby can't stand up when you have your hand firmly but gently on their back. Our son rolls around so much once he's asleep that putting him to sleep on his back is of little use too, if that is a concern. Falling asleep on his tummy works so much better.



answers from Yakima on

I am seconding the advice to co-sleep. With our first we diligently forced her to sleep by her self in her crib, toddler bed ext. But by the time we had our second, I had heard enough about co-sleeping that I wanted to give it a try. I LOVE IT! I am such a better Mom this time around because I get so much more sleep! Nursing is a breeze and I dare say my son who is 22 months now is happier for it too. Also my oldest benefits because she now sleeps in a loft bed above our queen. No more nightmares! Give it a try. My son falls asleep just fine for other people. Just -with- them! Either cuddled in bed or watching a movie. People all over the world have done it for eons. Here's to your sleep!



answers from Medford on

This probably won't be a popular answer, but ... have you tried putting him to bed with a bottle? I am also a 31 year old mom who works from home part time. My first son (now 2 1/2) was born with a cleft lip and palate but I pumped for him for 9 months. Until he had his palate repaired I had to hold him and feed him his special bottles. I would also have to rock him to sleep for every nap and at night. By the time he was one I was also 6 months pregnant and I felt like I was spending more time putting him to sleep than he was spending sleeping. He was also up 5-6 times a night. Finally I did the cry it out thing. The first few nights were awful and I would sit by his crib and rub his back and sing to him etc. then leave the room for a little bit and go back it. But they catch on quick and in less than a week I'd be able to put him in there with a bottle and his binkie and he would drink his milk and go to sleep. He also started only waking up once or twice at night. My second son was a good sleeper right from the start and seemed to like to fall asleep alone better, I was too distracting or something!

Both of my boys slept with me at night until they were about a year old, but I would put them in their cribs for naps or when they first went to bed. In thier bedrooms I have a strand of Christmas lights around the room as a night light. It is perfect because they like looking at them and if you need to go in to feed or change a diaper or something you have enough light to see what you are doing without turning on the overhead.

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