Toddler Crying About Crib

Updated on July 21, 2011
A.M. asks from Bend, OR
5 answers

My 15 mo old son always fusses when I place him in his crib for his nap and at bed time. He hasn't been nursing himself to sleep for months now, and he's always responded this way. I just finished weaning him last week after a month long process. The response hasn't necessarily increased in volume so much as just intensified, the cries are louder and the thrashing is a bit harder. Weaning was nice and easy (easier than I thought, actually!), and overall he seems to have adjusted quite well. We have our new nap & bedtime routine down, but it never fails that he still cries about being placed in his crib. At first the afternoon naps were just awful without nursing. But he slowly adjusted and after a week, when he was no longer screaming hysterics, I cut out the night nursing. This was a slightly easier transition. I think he was confused by nursing at one and not the other, just the lack of consistency. Pre-weaning I found that if I stayed in the room with him he would stay relatively calm and eventually put himself to sleep, which is something that I maintained through the weaning process. Now that we're post-weaning I feel like I need to wean him from my presence in the room. If I try to leave he reverts to the aforementioned hysterical screaming for at least 10 minutes (it all depends on how tired he is); although he will eventually calm himself down, it never fails that he gets *quite* upset.

I'm at a loss of why he reacts this way. Like I said, he cried when he was placed in there even while we were nursing so I don't think it's a closeness issue. Most nights, after the initial frustration cries are over, he hangs out there just fine with his book and his bear, tossing and turning with his pillow, babbling away without a perceivable care in the world; so, he doesn't seem to dislike his crib. But if he is calm or drifting off and I leave the room he gets just flustered all over. Any thoughts on why he reacts this way, and how I can help him move past this? Sometimes it takes him 45-60 minutes to fall asleep, and while I'm getting a lot of knitting done, it's not always the most practical use of time. I want to help him realize that he is falling asleep on his own, regardless of if I'm there or not. Thank you so much in advance!!

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answers from Chicago on

He's reacting this way because he is trying to get you to stay in the room (like you used to.) It's phenominal how intellegent our babies are at such young ages when it comes to getting what they want! :)

Go to the library and check out a copy of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, MD. You need to find a strategy to help him through this stage that you are comfortable with -- and then stick to it with 100% consistency. If you work on this now, you won't be dealing with these issues when he is 2, 3, 4 and 5 years old.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

Do you know that humans are the only mammals that place their offspring away from them to sleep? This is their most vulnerable time. He cries because that is nature's way of letting M. know he needs her. Pick him up. Hold him. It may not seem like it now because it is rough, this time passes instantly. One day you realize your baby is a young child. And you will long achingly for this time back. You desire to smell his baby scent and baby breath so hard that you will swear you feel it to your very marrow. Hold that little one while you can. I promise you won't regret it!

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answers from Eugene on

Stay with him a while longer. He's just gotten over not nursing which is hard.
Do you have another place in the house he can nap. We had a Graco portable playpen/crib in the living room and that worked okay. Sometimes we just had to put him in his car seat and drive around for 20 minutes and then he'd be fast asleep and we would put him in his crib.
I am a rather indulgent sort and think it's better for the child to be emotionally present. All those tasks can wait. You'll be so shocked when he's 9 years old and has something to do for 24 hours and you'll have to think of what to do with the time.
Every age changes your child. Might as well enjoy the one you are in with him.

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm with the posts by Jeanie and Laeh. He is not old enough yet to manipulate you into staying in the room, as others seem to indicate. He simply wants to know you're there.

He's still young enough to think that when you leave the room, you disappear completely from the universe, in his mind; so he's distressed when you leave. He's close now to the age when he will realize you still exist somewhere else when you leave him -- but he's not quite there yet.

I don't think it's spoiling a child to go to him and meet his immediate emotional need for you at this point; it does not mean he will still be crying for you to be in the room when he's five! (Or even four, or even two.) If you gradually prepare for moving farther and farther away from him as he goes to sleep, he'll make the transition. When my daughter moved to a toddler bed, I used to sit in the hallway outside her door -- where I was outside the room but visible -- until she was asleep. After a while of doing that, I could then leave her, but checked in on her after five minutes; then after 10 more minutes; then after a longer wait of 15 minutes, and she eventually would be asleep before the next visit. But she knew I was around.

So many posts on Mamapedia are about "how do I get my child to fall asleep on his or her own, without me, without asking for me," but it does happen -- gradually and gently if you work it that way, which is better than screaming it out. If you are there for him, he learns trust and knows you'll meet his needs; that makes him more secure, and secure kids become more independent kids, I think. But if you leave him to cry it out, he learns that the person he most wants does not come when he feels insecure and distressed -- which can only teach him lack of trust and make him feel less, not more, secure.

For now, try moving physically farther from him but still be in the room; even turn yourself away from him so you're not facing him as he's in the crib; and then later perhaps move out the door or try returning at lengthening intervals. Don't respond too strongly to those first minutes of hard fussing -- you want him to know you're there but you're not going to necessarily pick him up or talk to him while he's fussing and settling, you're just present.

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answers from Seattle on

My son does a similar thing. I'm surprised at how persistently he will fuss when we first put him down (and then calm down and be peaceful pretty quickly), and it bothers me a lot. I do not believe that being with him, or keeping him in our bed, would help in the least. The presence of another person just encourages him to play and fight relaxation and sleep. Co-sleeping may work for some folks, but has NEVER worked for him, so i don't think that is necessarily your magic cure.

I second the 'healthy sleep habits, healthy kid' book, and would mention that he may be actually over tired. My son definitely fights getting into bed a lot more when he is over tired. I tried keeping him up more so he would go to sleep more quickly, but that seems to make it worse. Getting to him early is the only thing that has ever gotten him to get into bed without a fuss.

1 mom found this helpful
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