Sleep Training My 17 Month Old

Updated on May 22, 2009
D.L. asks from Costa Mesa, CA
8 answers

My little guy is sleeping through the night and is a great napper(2-3 hours at one time) However, I still rock or hold him to sleep. Most times I am able to put him in his crib and he will fall asleep but I stay in the room until he is out. He was putting himslef to sleep on his own until his last ear infection and then I went back to rocking and or holding him to sleep. Getting him to fall asleep takes anywhere from 1 1/2- 2 hours and it is sucking up my evening. I have tried sleep training in the past and have been sucessful but the last time I tried it was miserable for him and me. He stood in his crib and cried for over 3 hours he was exhausted and upset i finally held him and he crashed out. I tried it for 5 days and he wouldn't lie in his crib he would just stand cry. I think it's too much to let him cry for over 3 hours. There has got to be a happy medium. I am willing to do the work but not at the expense of his health. Help. Suggestions, ideas.....

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Reno on

I went thru almost the exact same thing with my baby girl when she was 18 months old. She would simply not respong to the cio and would just scream and scream. It was HORRIBLE!! As long as I was in the room, she would lie down and try to go to sleep until she eventually did. What we ended up doing that worked was just simply stop the rocking. I hold her on my lap in the rocking chair and softly talk to her. Tell her that she is going to go night night and that she has to be a good sleeper etc. (The good thing about waiting to do this sleep training is that they can understand you.) Then I just put her in the crib after ONLY 10 minutes. Then just stand next to the crib or in the middle of the room, looking toward the side. Don't look at her or talk to her. Stay there for 10 minutes, then leave. If she cries, I wait 3 - 5 minutes and then go back in. Stand by the crib in the same way for about 15 - 20 minutes. Then leave again. Wait longer this time, then go back in. It took a while, but now she just falls asleep usually on the first time standing in there. And now I can just sit down in the chair instead of standing close by the crib. It is so much better than hearing her cry. It takes patience, but doesn't everything that has to do with kids??? Good Luck!!

More Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

As I was told by a CHOC dr you can not spoil a baby. Yes he's still a baby in that he needs love from his mom. It won't be long and he won't want you to hold him. Please love him he needs you. I would make sure he isn't teething or has anything hurting him, Call his doctor or go see him if you can. If you look on the left side of the mamasourse page you can see different topics and there are other mom's with the same questions. There is lots of responses to this question.



answers from San Luis Obispo on

Check out "The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems" by Tracy Hogg. She's got great solutions for this type of sleep issue. We've used her methods from the get-go and our 20.5 month old son goes down easily on his own and sleeps well. Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on


It is amazing how quickly new habits form- so even though he was able to soothe himself to sleep previously... he now expects you to...

Because he is older (17 months) it takes longer and toddlers tend to be more set in their ways/stubborn than babies...

He has to learn to soothe himself to sleep- he is complaining about the change when he cries. Three hours is a long time, definitely on the longer side... You know he is able to do it so that is reassuring.

Crying is going to occur if you want him to soothe himself to sleep- there is no way around it. And if you wait until he gets older it is just going to be substantially more difficult and take longer.

Some ideas to try and questions to answer:

-What is his sleep environment like? Dark? Sound Spa used?
-What is his bedtime routine? Is it consistent? What is his bedtime?
-Does he have some sort of lovie? A paci? Anything like that?
-You can use a gradual extinction method: sometimes this results in more crying, so you would have to see... Decide on time intervals before you start- each one getting longer (so check on him at 5 min and then 10 min and then 20 min, etc.) until he goes to sleep on his own. You can speak soothing words to him and rub his back- but do not pick him up, feed him...
-You can just let him cry it out- should take a few days- maybe a couple more than that since he is older but maybe not since he already has ways to soothe himself.

Please answer the questions, and I can provide you with more specific feed back.

C., mother of 3, sleep consultant, sleep blog writer

check out this post for some more ideas:



answers from Honolulu on

Try rock/hold him to sleep for a shorter period of time... NOT until he falls asleep...
don't stay in the room until he is out... rock/hold him, put him in his crib, say night-night, then walk out and close the door.

Give him a "lovey" to sleep with. Put some baby safe stuffed toys in his crib with him. Use the Fisher Price "Ocean Wonders" crib toy... at this age, you CAN have other things in his crib with entertain himself and help him to sleep. That is what I did with both my kids. It helps.

Main thing is to have ROUTINE and consistency AND even having a pre-bed/pre-nap routine.

What I found to be important, it to also verbally tell the child what is coming up... and "explaining" in 5 minutes its bedtime... or as I tell my kids "Okay let's start our routine... you can finish what you are playing, then lets go..." And we ALWAYS go to the same room to wind-down first... then my son likes for me to read to him or watch his Little Bear video... I give him some milk, change his diaper, I let him unwind. Then in tandem with that I give him a head's up.... "after this its sleep time..." then we put on pajamas and he now walks into his room and I put him in the crib and I walk out and close the door. Meanwhile, he will play around a little in his crib or talk to himself, then he falls asleep on his own.
He also has a lovey that he sleeps with.

But the key is, I always do the SAME pre-nap/pre-bed routine with my kids. So, there is less protesting, and they do it on auto-pilot now.

BUT, it takes time and consistency, each day. But in turn, the child learns the routine and it becomes a "habit." AND they know what to expect, just by you saying verbally to them "okay, lets get ready, bed time soon...." or "nap time soon..."

Kids NEED to be "cued" as to what is happening. With your son, as you rock/hold him... just calmly tell him "after Mommy rocks you, you go in your crib, bedtime..." Then give him a couple minutes more of rocking... then lay him down. Tuck him in, say good night, then walk out.

With any 'transition' or habit, it takes time... but once they get used to a routine... they will be fine.

I didn't let my kids cry it out. But if after a few minutes I knew they would not fall asleep, then I would go in and take them out and say "okay, but in 10 minutes you go back to bed..." and I would do the routine again. But I didn't have to do it that much.

My daughter was much harder... and with her, being my first child, I co-slept with her or when my kids were sick. But I always got them back to a routine. Which they knew.
Now, my kids sleep on their own... but at night ONLY.... if they have trouble sleeping or are sick, or any developmental quirks, then we co-sleep.

I find that verbal cues and having the same pre-nap/pre-bed routine is most helpful.
Both my kids now, nap and sleep with no problem. And I don't have to nag them about it or fight with them about it and they don't protest. But you have to be consistent. Each day.

Good luck,



answers from San Diego on

Hi D., in my opinion rocking a 17 month old to sleep is great, i rocked all 3 of my now grown kids to sleep, I never believed a baby/tot should have to put themselves to sleep. Once he is a sleep and you lay him down that's it, if he wakes up and you know he is not hurt or sick, don't go back in, that becomes habit forming for both parent and child, and is very hard to break. D. I am 52 my oldest is 25 and my youngest is 20 and some of my most treasured memories is my little ones falling feacefully and secure a sleep in my arms, I can't wait for grandchildren. I rock my 13 month old daycare child to sleep for naps, his parents give him a bottle or pacifire so they can just put him in his crib, I rock and sing to him, and they are so OK with that. J. L.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi D.!

Couple questions: what does your Mom do while she watches is him? Is she rocking him or is he going down alone? Is dad in the picture? If so, can he help offer some support here?

I always tell people, do what works for you as long as it is working...but when it stops working, change it! It sounds like rocking him isn't "working" for you anymore, and it probably won't be easier when your daughter is born.

IF you want to continue rocking him, do it and don't feel bad about making that decision.

IF you want him to go to sleep on his own, you are probably going to be in for a little bit of crying.Since he put himself to sleep before you know he sounds like you just got back into the rocking him to sleep habit. When you let him cry, do you go back in to check on him? Many books recommend the "silent return". If you go and check on him, don't talk, just help him lie down again. I wouldn't pick him up. The book "healthy sleep habits, happy child" really worked well for us and has some suggestions for sleep training children of all ages.

You are right to feel concerned about his health, and of course you don't want him crying until he vomits! However, when your daughter is born, you probably won't be able to rock them both to sleep...and it might be harder on him if you wait until then.

Just a little food for thought. Wish there was an easy answer, but every mom and baby are different! Trust your gut. We let our DD cry it out when she was 5 mo. because it was already taking up to 2 hours to put her down, and I knew I'd be a better mom and show her more love if I had some of those hours to spend with my husband. She immediately started sleeping more soundly, and now (as a 15 month old) LOVES her bed and her blanket. AND, she still loves us too! :)

Take care,



answers from Los Angeles on

The Ferber Method helped us with this problem.

Next question: Eating and Sleeping ?'S