Sleep Training a 20 Month Year Old

Updated on January 27, 2013
R.S. asks from Bridgewater, NJ
9 answers

How do I make my 20 months old daughter sleep in her own crib/ bed, and nap on her own everyday?

She currently sleeps in bed between me and my husband and is extremely attached to me and will only sleep if I put her to bed every night (won't sleep even if her Dad tries to). She needs to hold my hand against her cheek in order to feel comfortable enough to sleep (doesn't care about having her blanket, bunny etc). As far as her naps go, I take her out in a stroller everyday and walk around our apartment corridor till she falls asleep. No matter how tired she is, she will not put herself to sleep.

I don't mind all this, however I'm 6 months pregnant and need her to start sleeping in her own crib/ bed. More importantly, I would like to train her right now itself, before the other baby arrives, so things don't startle her too much when I'm in the hospital/ with a new born etc.


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So What Happened?

PS: Thank you for your suggestion everyone! The thing is my girl never cries at bedtime, she is happy all the time. She jumps around the bed, rolls over to me, gives me lots and lots of kisses and hugs and holds my hand and sleeps. As much as I love it too, she definitely needs a change in routine well in advance before the arrival of our little one.

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answers from Chicago on

I just read The NoCry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and she talks a lot about moving from co-sleeping to crib/toddler bed.

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answers from Savannah on

Start getting her taking naps in her own bed first then work on bedtime when that is going good. You are going to have to stop holding her till she falls asleep!!! When it is nap time, put her in her crib and call it done. Go in there every few mins (making more time between visits too) and talk to her calmly. Do not pick her up!! You can rub her head, belly or back but only for a min then you must leave the room. It make take a few days to a week or so before she is napping in her own bed and then you can work on getting her in there for bedtime as well. You may think this is torture for her, that it's mean or what not, but it isn't!!! You may not realize it, but you get less sleep when your child is in bed with you at night!!!
Good luck and congrats on baby number 2!! And IMO I'd forgo co sleeping with the 2nd baby and go straight to the crib so you won't have to go through this again in 2yrs.


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answers from Gainesville on

You won't be able to go cold turkey and plop her in her bed and expect her to sleep. She doesn't know how to sleep on her own and babies need to be taught how to sleep. And given that you co-sleep I can't imagine that using the cry it out method is for you and your family (and it certainly isn't for mine either!). Cry it out doesn't teach a baby to sleep. I think it would actually be pretty cruel to try cry it out/Ferber method with your daughter. She has virtually no idea what her crib is or what she would do in there.

Check out Dr. Sears Baby Sleep Book-there is a section on toddler sleep. Also, I was just looking and there is a Baby Whisperer for toddlers book. I was able to glean a lot of useful info from Dr. Sears, The Baby Whisperer and the No-cry Sleep Solution to come up with a sleep game plan. The Baby Whisperer and No-Cry both have toddler versions.

The bottom line is your little one has a sleep routine now. That is what she knows. She knows what to do when you start the routine. Learn about toddler sleep via the above books and begin a new routine. Routine is how little ones learn what is expected and what to expect. And you are now dealing with a toddler that has a mind of her own. This will take time.

My suggestions are to read at least the Dr. Sears book and The Baby Whisperer for Toddlers. I would also start taking her into her room at naptime, turn on soft music or white noise, tell her it time for sleepy (or whatever phrase you want to use), sit down, rock her, love her, get her sleepy or drowsy and lay her down, stay with her, put your hand on her, then lay your head down on the side of the crib and stay with her till she's out. Don't expect this to go smoothly at first and expect some tears but there is absolutely no reason to put you or your little one thru torture by trying the cry it out method.

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answers from Barnstable on

In our home, we have always believed in co-sleeping and breastfeeding. I have always been a babywearer as well. We have been able to transition our children out of our rooms when they are no longer nursing at night.

We take the crib and remove the side and lash it to our bed. We do this from infancy, but you could still start now. I would lay down with my child in my bed and nurse them till they were sleepy, then move them into the crib "co-sleeper" This way they get used to their crib right from the start. Their crib becomes associated with good, confident sleep memories, rather than crying, panicked memories. Once I am able to put my child consistently in his crib without him waking, I put the side back on and leave it tied to my bed. We put him to sleep this way for a while until he seems fine with it.

We start moving the crib away from our bed in stages. He is now as far from our bed as possible, but still in our room (he is 22 months old) because he still night nurses and nurses to sleep. When he weans his night-time nursing and sleeps the whole night, we will make that one last move into his room.

We did this same process with our daughter and it worked brilliantly. No trauma and you get a confident, happy sleeper.

Best of luck!

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answers from Jamestown on

if you want her to go to sleep in her own can start out by setting up a toddler bed in your room and then laying down with on your bed and her on her bed, with her bed right up near your you can reach her cheek with your hand. Speak of all this as positive...and in a happy tone. Don't punish...she just wants to be near you. She loves you. Or you could even set up her crib with the side off pushed up against your bed. So you have more room in your own bed. My 24 mth old sleeps this way. We love it! and plan on keeping it this way until (maybe he's age 3). we aren't sure yet. look at this link for more info on how to attach crib to your bed. we love it! and



answers from Detroit on

I would start having your husband put her to bed. I know you said she won't go to sleep, but you need to get her past this (which you obviously know or you wouldn't have asked for help.) Does she have a bed time routine? What I would suggest is this:

-Buy her a toddler bed ( or something like that to help her feel like a big girl.
-Let her pick out a stuffed animal she really likes at a toy store for her to sleep with and explain that this is what she will be sleeping with at night.
-A half hour before bedtime, mom, you should go out for a walk, to a coffee shop for some tea or just somewhere where your daughter won't be able to see you.
-Have Dad give her a bath, get her dressed for bed, put her in bed and read one or two stories. Then, have him put on a soothing cd/nature cd, turn off the light (make sure there's a night light) then have him leave the room, closing the door behind him.

Your daughter will come out of her room, several times, I'm sure because my kids still do this. Here's what I've picked up from supernanny (i love that show); have your husband take her by the hand or pick her up and say, "It's bedtime darling." The second time, have him say, "It's time for bed." The third time, just have him tell her good night as he's taking her back into her room. After that, he says nothing, he just escorts her back to her room. It may take awhile, but eventually, she'll stay put.

Good luck and mazel tov on the new baby!



answers from New York on

Put her in her crib and see what happens. Bad habits are hard to break.
Have you ever been away from her at night; i.e. going out for dinner
with husband and having babysitter put her to bed? Think she is too old
for CIO.

Whatever way you chose to handle this, just be consistent. What are
your plans for her when you have the baby? Good luck.



answers from Miami on

For bedtime, how do you get her to sleep? Do you lay down with her until she falls asleep? I would get a toddler bed or a twin mattress if it fits and put it next to your bed. Then transition to getting her to sleep alone on it with the comfort of her parents right there. If there is no room for one in your bedroom, then I'd start laying down with her in her bedroom. And I'd get rid of the crib and go straight to a twin in her bedroom if you can, even if it's just the mattress on the floor without a boxspring or frame. The main reason for that is comfort for you! We sleep with white noise in our bedroom and in the kids rooms. They've become conditioned to get sleepy when they hear it, so you might want to try something like that to help the transition into her room. The white noise helps in settling when we sleep away from home too.

I agree with the advice of a routine. Perhaps you could incorporate one into your strolling. Maybe start out strolling and end with laying down in her room with her?



answers from New York on

Your 20 month old still need you but you must get dad involved in caring for her or there would be trouble on your hand with jealousy and separation anxiety once newborn arrives and she when she starts pre- school.
Allow her and dad some time alone to something fun for her, even if its an hour long trip to the zoo, or a drive for a treat, and you both can tuck her into bed, in her own room. Carry in through, it is bound to work.