Friday, August 3, 2012

Getting your Baby or Toddler to Sleep

A late-night status update from a friend desperate for her 16-month old to sleep through the night brought back memories of a very long and exhausting first year with Little Man. Until I had him, I thought what I imagine most new moms do: Of course newborns wake up a lot, but once you get through the first 2 or 3 months, baby is on a schedule, and you have your sleep back. I was in for a rude awakening.

I read books, scoured the internet, joined groups on BabyCenter, anything I thought could help me come up with a plan to get him to sleep more than a 2-3 hours at a time. I was exhausted, working full-time, getting up all night with him, and dealing with some pretty major health issues of my own that left me feeling even worse.
We lived in a townhouse, and the second bedroom was on the opposite floor as ours, so his crib was in our room, something that I realize now probably contributed to our issues, but we had no choice at the time. Everyone had their own advice. Cry It Out, someone said. I just couldn't do it. Even if he hadn't been in our room, the thought of letting him lay there and cry was just too much for me. I had resorted to putting him in bed with us when he cried, just so he would calm down and not disrupt my husband, who works shifts and has enough trouble sleeping already, and to keep from disturbing the neighbors we shared a wall with. That worked for everyone else, including him, but I got even less sleep. So co-sleeping was out. We had already weaned him from middle of the night feedings, and STILL he woke up. I would try offering him a bottle, and he would just throw it back at me and keep screaming. I was at the end of my rope, having almost-nightly meltdowns where I just cried along with him.

Around the time he was 11 months old, we moved to a 3-bedroom house and were finally able to put him in his own room, which solved a lot of the issues, and at 16 months, we converted his crib to a toddler bed, and apparently solved his claustrophobic tendencies and the last of the night wakings. There were still a lot of sleepless nights in there, but over time things got better. I did eventually use a modified version of Cry-It-Out, but I never let him cry for more than 5-10 minutes, and now at 26 months, I know if he is crying and doesn't put himself back to sleep within 5 minutes, he's either sick or scared and needs me, without fail.

So let's all help my friend out, what advice do you ladies have, especially for an older infant/toddler who is still waking up?


  1. I was a "cry it out" kind of mom. But I was fortunate that by three months old both of my girls were sleeping through the night. And when I say 'through the night' I mean sleepig from 11pm-5am. I'm sure giving them cereal before bed helped a lot with that.

    I can't imagine having a toddler who doesn't sleep through the night. And I sympathize for those who struggle with it. As many of my friends struggle with this, I've come to learn that each child is different and what works for one does not work for all. You just have to find what works for you and yours.

  2. Very true Nichole! Some times it is very hard to remember to trust our own instincts when so much conflicting advice is being thrown at you from all directions, but every family and every child is different.