Won't put herself down to sleep

Maria - posted on 03/18/2011 ( 27 moms have responded )

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My dghtr is 21 mths and refuses to go to sleep without one of us next to her crib or at least sitting in the room. It is now after 9 p.m. and we are still trying to get her to sleep. If you leave the room, she cries and cries. I have tried to just let her cry it out but just can't do it. It seems like the more play and activity, the harder it is for her to go to sleep. Any advice other than crying it out?

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Kate - posted on 03/19/2011

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Maria, maybe try quieter, soothing activities right before bed. And try a definate routine (like dinner, bath, quiet play, snuggle with a book, then bed) for at least one week straight. Stick with the routine even if it seems to not work. You may be pleasantly surprised by the end. Also make sure she is getting plenty of naptime. Oddly a good nap is a good predictor of a good night's sleep (even though it might seem that less nap=more nighttime sleep). Best of luck to you and all the other sleep deprived mamas out there. I know firsthand it is not fun!
Erin, I had almost the exact same experience with my firstborn. People would say let her cry, but she would just play FOREVER. If I were you at this point I would try a drastically earlier bedtime and see if that helps (like 7). I know it seems a little silly but it sounds like her bedtime is not lined up with her natural sleep rhythm, and then she is getting overtired and wired. I would feed her early and get her all soothed and even let her start her crib play, if that's what she's going to do, around 6:30 or something, and then hopefully she'll surprise you and fall asleep much earlier. Good luck, I know it's hard.
There's lots of sleep books out there. I think there's one by David Weisbluth that I found really helpful with my first; sorry I can't think of the name...

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Heidi - posted on 05/15/2011

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my son 22 months and my 4 year old girl wont go to sleep unless i lay down with them

Candi - posted on 04/25/2011

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I feel your pain! My daughter is the same age and we are going through his right now. I just did some research and we are going to try something called the ferber method. Hopefully we have success! You should look it up and give it a shot!

M - posted on 04/04/2011

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That's pretty young to worry too much about her not getting to sleep on her own. I know it can be frustrating, but it might get easier if you let go of that expectation.
My son is around the same age and he does talk himself to sleep with someone in the room, no touching or cuddling. My husband deals with that and is able to be on the computer. My oldest only wanted (wants!) to be cuddled to sleep. I bring a book for myself.
I second the recommendation for the No-Cry Sleep Solution. At the very least you might get some suggestions to shorten the amount of time it takes for her to fall asleep.

Juleen - posted on 04/03/2011

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I found the letting her cry worked for me. My daughter is 21 months and we generally put her to bed around 7. we give her tea at half 5 give her a play for about half an hour then change her for bed. I take her in my lap for a while before bed and i won't let her down to play. This seems to relax her more and by the time bedtime comes she's nearly falling asleep. i hope this helps and i know how hard it is to let them cry i've done it with all mine and my partner often had to physically stop me from going up and picking them back up but it does work. it takes a few days but it definately works. best of luck with it though. one of the harder parts of child rearing i've found :)

Aisha - posted on 04/03/2011

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I have the same issue with my daughter, she is turning 22 m soon and rarely she sleeps by her self, I just started laying next to her crib after the routine of bath, snack, story, chats. pretending that I am sleep and she holds my hand until she falls to sleep.

Most nights she wakes up in the middle of the night once or twice to go through the same laying next to her to fall a sleep (sometimes I really snooze).



My sisters kids are almost the same age and they sleep by themselves

Hina - posted on 03/31/2011

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I think its too early for them to sleep on their own. I have 21 months old and he lovesto cuddle and kiss me until he gets tired and believe me he has a set routine and he follows all that very well. I seriously dont mind staying with him until he fall asleep because in few years he will not be needing me and I am sure I am gonna miss all those kisses. But its my opinion.

Lyla - posted on 03/30/2011

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Wow i never even considered trying to put my son in his bed to fall asleep alone, i always cuddle w him maybe 10 minutes ttill he has fallen asleep,nap time same or sitting together w cartoon . My son sleeps 10-12 hrs nite , and 3-5 hr naps...
Hes my baby for so long i couldnt imagine wanting him to sleep by crying it out ,or just staring at the wall, ceiling. Or blackness ,enjoy cuddling , he falls asleep so much faster by mine or husbands side :)

Traci - posted on 03/30/2011

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I know what you are going through, we did with our daughter. You need to toughen up. You must let her cry, she will never learn to self-sooth if you do not. You can make it easier for her. My daughter's bed time is 8pm, no matter what, she gets put in the crib at 8. But at 7:30 we start soothing activities like reading a book while sitting on mommy or daddy's lap. Or watching nature tv or listening to soothing music. This is followed by just laying quietly on one of us with her blanket over her. She likes to stroke the soft blanket and touch her face. If she does not fall asleep or if she does, she goes in her crib at 8. In her crib is a frog that has rattles in the feet and plush baby that she will jingle sometimes. For teething sometimes she her a ring in there. She sometimes screams and throws a fit but if all her needs are met (hunger, diaper, blanket, maybe pain killer for teething) we do not go back in to her room. It is very hard to let them cry and even once they get used to self-soothing there will be nights when they cry for an hour or more anyway, but there are plenty of nights they are just fine. You just have to grin and bear it. There is nothing actually wrong with the child, she just doesn't want to learn to do it herself. Obviously it REALLY bothers you, you must find a way to get your mind off it, like a hobby or a DVD. You know there is nothing actually wrong with her, keep telling yourself that when you find you really want to go in and sooth her. She will get over it and you really need to get this down while she is in the crib. Once you transition her to a toddler bed, she will expect to sleep in your bed not hers, then nobody gets good sleep. Good luck, stay strong.

Danielle - posted on 03/29/2011

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I suggest going to the library or buying the book, "Good Night, Sleep Tight" by Kim West. We had trouble with our son as well and this book helps you step by step for each age group. It starts at infants and goes through 5 years old. It worked for us. I thought he was never going to go to sleep on his own or sleep through the night. Once I got this book & stuck to her plan he started doing both. He was 16 months old when he started telling me he was ready to be put into the crib for bed & has slept through the night since. It will happen for your daughter. You just need a plan that you and your spouse are comfortable with. Good Luck!

Charne - posted on 03/28/2011

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My little one is almost 22 months, and he wont go to sleep at night without me rocking him to sleep. At his play school and with his dad he will go lie down and go to sleep, but if Im there, he wants to be rocked. I dont mind as I love the time with him but he is getting so tall now so its getting difficult. What would you guys suggest?

Tracey - posted on 03/27/2011

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I had the same problem with my DD who will be 2 in June, we found putting her in a big girl bed gave her more confidence and she felt more "responsible" for herself and now we say our goodnights and walk her to her too
she climbs into bed herself, blows us a kiss and one of us sits on the floor at the end of the bed, usually she is asleep in 5 minutes, next week we will sit in the doorway until we are out the door (we only started doing this 1 week ago) it's just amazes me the difference in her attitude towards bedtime now she is in a big bed!!!

Becky - posted on 03/27/2011

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Try starting a bedtime routine with her. We give our daughter a bath usually every other night, more often over the summer or if it was a particularly dirty day, then we read a book, turn out the lights, and say good night. She goes down with little or no problems. We started putting her to bed almost asleep when I went back to work (she was 10 weeks) and have been progressing to putting her down completely awake so she can fall asleep on her own. It will take time for you and her to get to that point, but it's so worth it. If activity seems to wake her up, try winding down about 45 minutes of so before you get her ready for bed. She will learn how to fall asleep on her own and you will have some freedom. Good luck!

Caitlin - posted on 03/27/2011

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There are lots of great tips in the No-cry sleep solution- by Elizabeth Pantley- we have made progress with our 21month old who won't self settle either, but she used to be much worse with multiple nightly wake-ups and habits that took a little while to change. Each child is different and achieves the ability to self settle at different times and with different required effort levels. I definitely recommend a set routine that reflects your family's usual needs. Nap time is important, though I personally find I limit naptime to no more than 2 hrs, otherwise bedtime settling takes longer. I also try to keep the hour before bedtime routine starts down to calmer activities. Sometimes children will fuss over changes but if you remain calm and insistent this will go away. My daughter also used to be a pincher/nipple twister during nursing and once I realized it was a habit for her I refused to let her do it my any means necessary - she definitely protested and cried, just like she did when i started enforcing the no get out of bed rule, but i wouldn't give her ten scoops of ice cream if she cried and anything that hurts mommy or is not good for baby is just not a possible choice - remembering that helps to assuage the natural guilt we feel as mothers when our children give us the pity pouty's.
Good luck, my best advice is to decide what you need in advance and stick to that decision with complete consistency- be calm and kind, but relentless and you will win, battle by battle, bit by bit.

Tina - posted on 03/26/2011

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I too have a 22mth old little girl who will not sleep on her own. I have to hold her till she falls asleep then put her to bed. Now she is always ready for this process around 9pm. She gets her foo her blanket and crawls up on my lap. I know i am going to have to find another way to start getting her to sleep, but letting her cry it out is not one of them for me. I can't let her cry like that!!

Rebecca - posted on 03/25/2011

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Sounds overtired. Try a lot earlier and make sure nap time is at a regular schedule. If my twin girls don't get a good 3 hour nap in the afternoon they will not go to bed good at 8 and they will wake all night long. Does she have a favorite stuffee or blankie to cuddle? also try twilight turtle by cloudb It projects constellations onto the ceiling and walls of the room and automatically turns off after45 min. My girls love staring at the stars and the moon.!

R - posted on 03/24/2011

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At 21 months, she ought to be old enough to tumble out of that crib - maybe if you got her a "big girl bed" you could make her feel like a big girl, going to bed by herself...

Kellyn - posted on 03/24/2011

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I know the feeling, it takes my daughter 1 hour to almost 2 after shes put in bed to sleep, she stays up in her room and play, because she no longer sleeps in a crib shes get out of her bed and play around her room until she gets tired. I have had to remove almost all her toys and books so she has less to do but its not helping too much.

Chantelle - posted on 03/24/2011

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Make a HUGE fun spectacle out of going to bed .. and way over do the i loves yous and kisses and hugs like your gonna miss her forever ... her reasoning is that she will go to bed and u will be gone when she wakes up ... so she feels she needs u beside her no matter what ... so try beside her for 3 days ... a little further ways for 3 more days and slowly foot by foot move out of the room until ur sitting in the door way .. and start closing it little by little until one night u can almost close it all the way .. it seems like a lot of work .. but i swear it does wonders all 5 of my kids had the same problems and well the 5th is only 4 months he still has it but he is still only 4 months lol ...

ur kids will trust you more when they see that even though they can not see you .. your still there and if u make a huge deal out of bedtime they will happier to do it .. and if u make a huge deal towards the good nights and love yous, and a huge deal of the affection they wont worry that you will leave and eventually things will taper off and it will all even out

Siobhan - posted on 03/22/2011

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We have been going through the exact thing with ours who is the same age. She used to settle fine by herself until about 2 months ago and now gets really anxious if we leave the room. It used to take us hours and would have to cuddle her or lie with her to get her down until I was channel surfing and came across the same scenario on 'Supernanny". For the last 2 weeks one of us will sit in her room so she can see our face side on. We ignore everything and if she gets up just put her back in bed without any eye contact or conversation at all. We have been slowly getting further away from her bed each night so that now we are about 1metre away. Now it takes up to about 10 minutes for her to go to sleep and then we creep out. We have also put a night light in her room.

Siobhan - posted on 03/22/2011

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We have been going through the exact thing with ours who is the same age. She used to settle fine by herself until about 2 months ago and now gets really anxious if we leave the room. It used to take us hours and would have to cuddle her or lie with her to get her down until I was channel surfing and came across the same scenario on 'Supernanny". For the last 2 weeks one of us will sit in her room so she can see our face side on. We ignore everything and if she gets up just put her back in bed without any eye contact or conversation at all. We have been slowly getting further away from her bed each night so that now we are about 1metre away. Now it takes up to about 10 minutes for her to go to sleep and then we creep out. Next step is to try and get out the door.

Shauna - posted on 03/21/2011

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My daughter is hit and miss when it comes to going to sleep in the evening. Usually, we eat dinner, play and watch an episode or two of Spongebob and then take a shower together, get our teeth brushed, read a book and then listen to calm music in the dark while she nurses to sleep.

The big problem is that she loves to twist and pinch my nipples. It hurts SOOOOO bad, and even if I try to hide my breasts so she can't get to them, she'll burrow under the covers and fight to touch them...or she'll cry her head off if she can't....ugh.

I just wish I could get her to go down by herself, but the big thing is that she still sleeps in bed with us and we only have a 1 bedroom apartment, so I doubt that she'd sleep in her own bed even if we got her a bed of her own.

Michal - posted on 03/20/2011

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My DS does not fall asleep on his own.....never has, probably never will. Just kidding. He is such a better sleeper than he used to be. Try not to get them wound up before bed is good advice. I know with my DS he gets so excited with his bath that we cannot do that before he goes to bed as it overstimulates him.

Right now right before bed, we read stories, sing some songs, cuddle and then go lie down. Me or DH will lie on the floor next to him until he falls asleep. Depending on the day he had depends how fast he goes to sleep. Usually about 20-30 minutes. I actually don't mind doing that as I know someday soon he won't need us to be close to him to fall asleep.

Maria - posted on 03/20/2011

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Thanks for the advice. Tried something of these things tonight. After about 20 minutes of her fussing and trying to get comfortable, I left the room. She cried for about 10 before my husband went in. She then went down about another 20 minutes later. I want to get to the point where I can read her a book or two, put her down , say goodnight and leave w/o her screaming. seems like that will never happen.

Katherine - posted on 03/19/2011

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I agree with Lexi - just let them sort themselves out... with a proper routine behind it. Both of your bubs (Maria & Erin) are well past the age where they can and should be self settling. My daughter is the same age as yours and we started with a set bedtime routine at 6 months and by the time we hit 10-11 months we had it right. But in saying that it's never too late to start with a new routine for both bubs. Set down the same routine every night - I'd probably suggest just putting extra night time activities (like going out for tea etc) on hold for a few weeks.

Start with the 3 B's - Bath, Book, Bed - every night in the same order at the same time - in saying that dinner at the same time every night helps too (depending on your working arrangements I know that it's not always possible!!) Dinner, maybe a little play after they've eaten. Then bath (this starts the process of winding down) don't let them run around after bath time, just hold her and keep her quiet, then pick a comfy place and read a couple of books (I usually do this in the lounge room with lights on - and I wouldn't suggest that this be done in their bedroom, I know other people that do but in your case I would suggest that it wouldn't be successful). Kiss, cuddles, tuck into bed with favourite toy and a quiet "good night, I'll see you in the morning". Do not give in and go back to them when they start screaming for attention. Allow at least 45 minutes for the whole routine so if bedtime is at 8.30 start at 7.45 with the bath because it will take them that long to calm down. After a couple of weeks of doing the same thing I could almost promise you that you won't have anymore problems and even if you have to vary the time it starts, say if you go to family for dinner or go out to eat, as long as you stick to the same routine they will take it as the cue that it's bed time.

Just remember that you know what's best for your baby and you know that they need sleep to function, grow and learn. Be strong! And the very best of luck to both of you, Maria and Erin, if you take even one of my suggestions on board I thank you! Contrary to some peoples belief that children shouldn't be held to such strict routines because everything should be led by what they want and when they want it I think that is garbage. Small kids respond better to routine and it sets up habits of a lifetime.

Lexi - posted on 03/19/2011

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well one nothing wrong with letting them cry, it is just their way of getting you to come back! I know that is hard though. You need to have some quiet time before bed though, give her a bath, then its quiet time, read a book with her, no activites after dinner, maybe take her for a walk before bath, just have a routine of down time before bed! Play and activities before bed just get her going, you are stimulating her, why would she want to go to sleep! Try some down time, hope it helps!

Erin - posted on 03/18/2011

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I am also having issues with my 21 month old and am in desperate need of help. My daughter also won't go to sleep on her own. She likes to be held. She has never gone to sleep on her own - not bedtime or naptime. She asks to lay in her crib at night but when we put her in there and walk out, she plays. Then when she gets bored, she wants out and will call us and then start squealing until we get her. She doesn't cry, so the "crying it out" thing won't work. She just gets mad and screams at the top of her lungs. If we get her out and lay down with her, she plays. She pokes your face, pulls your hair, sings, and no matter how frustrated we get, she just laughs and laughs. The stinker is up until midnight almost every night!! And we start bedtime at around 8:30/9:00. I would love to hear suggestions. It has gotten to where I am on the verge of tears by the time she falls asleep.

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