Putting my one-year old to sleep

Melanie - posted on 03/26/2010 ( 18 moms have responded )

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I fell into the bad habit of rocking my son to sleep since his birth. He would have his goodnight bottle, then snuggle on my shoulder until he fell asleep. Then, I would quietly place him in his crib and sneak out. As he is getting older and more attached to me, I feel like he consciously tries to stay awake now just to make sure I'm still there. He'll be sound asleep and then open his eyes suddenly to peek at me and if I'm not still there, the howling begins. I know I should have "ferberized" him sooner, but how do I go about getting him to fall asleep by himself now that I've already waited so long?

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Hi, I had done the same thing with my son, which was fine, but when he was about 6 months, it was getting to be too much & he was too heavy to keep doing it everytime. I had a home visit from a lady called Rene Rees (aka The Brisbane Baby Whisperer) and firstly, she took all of his circumstances into consideration, checked his charts for weight gain, etc & then she recommended that I follow a routine of: Bottle/Boob (as I was still b/feeding at the time), Bath, Bed - no mucking around in between. And, she also advised me to dress him in a sleeping bag so that he could move around the cot as he pleased, and still be warm throughout the night. So I give him a little cuddles, kiss, say goodnight, then put him down. Yes, he did cry at first, but the most valuable advice she gave me was to listen to the type of cry it is before you run in and pick him up. If it is just a bit of a 'I'm tired and sooky, and I can't sleep' cry, just leave him to work it out on his own. Only go in if you know he is either hungry, hot/cold, or sick - simple. And it did only take about 3 nights before he would sleep through the whole night, which was priceless after him waking 4 or 5 times throughout the night previously! I would highly recommend an appointment (they do phone or home appointments) with Rene Rees (Brisbane, Qld) - as she does have alot of experience, and does take many factors into consideration when solving your problem. Goodluck!

Stephanie - posted on 03/27/2010

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Why would you feel rocking your child to sleep at night is a mistake? The mistake would be to NOT spend this time doing it. However, it is true that at some point you or he may feel the need to stop doing it, but I would not consider it a mistake. He needs you right now and until he understands words why break his heart and yours by stopping yet.

Charlotte - posted on 03/26/2010

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Hey, even Richard Ferber disagrees with Ferberising! The Bay Whisperer is not an expert, just someone selling her brand of 'raising a baby' even though she's never had one of her own. Can you not just bring him into your bed with you?

With regard to letting him cry on his own, I advise caution and recommend you google the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health inc and read their policy on controlled crying before you make any decisions. Good luck and best wishes.

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Vicky - posted on 03/29/2010

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HI Melanie, I have a 16month old and almost until 12 months old we were in the same boat as you! I did exactly what Roxy did, the cry out method did not work for us either...We would do her routine, bath, story and a bottle in the crib and lay on the floor next to her crib. She would constantly check to see if I was there but w/in a week or so she was sleeping thru the night.I think because we rocked her she did not know how to put herself to sleep. Now she still goes to bed w/ a bottle but we just give kisses and say goodnight and she finally sleeps 12 hours with no complains!! Big achievement for us, since she would wake up every 3 hours before that. Good luck

Susan - posted on 03/28/2010

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I would go with the option of staying in his room for a while each night until he is asleep and just moving farther away from his cot. In regard to it being a mistake - it is a life experience and it was working for you. Normal & ok are what things work for you (and the rest of hte fam)....if sleeping the baby in your bed works for you then that is your "normal", if helping your baby to sleep on his own is your choice and works for you, that is your "normal". Please don't let others make you feel that you have or have not done the right thing. You need to do what works for you. If you do decide to help him learn to go to sleep on his own, it is not a quick process and you need to stick to what you decide. Good luck :)

Megan - posted on 03/28/2010

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Hi Melanie,
Honestly, as cruel as it may seem, letting them cry it out is the only way I could get my son to get outta the habbit. What you do, so that they still get their bonding with you, is that you still feed him his bottle, then lay him down to sleep, even though he is still awake. He will cry, but every 10 minutes, you can come to check on him, so that he knows you are still there. This will not only comfort your son, but you also, as hard as this may seem, for both you and baby, you must be consistant, and follow through. In a week or a little longer, he will be sleeping through the night, knowing that if he needs his mommy, you'll always be right there. Because you must be tired as he is only getting bigger and heavier to rock. My arms killed me to the point where I had no choice, and after one week, my little man and I slept better than ever! Good luck!

[deleted account]

My son was the same age when we finally got him to go to sleep on his own. We tried everything from lying in bed with him, patting him and sitting in the room whilst he went to sleep but nothing worked. We spent a fortune on books and sleep doctors and in the end we tried controlled crying or comforting as it is also called. It seemed a bit drastic at the time and it was hard work but within 48 hours he was falling asleep on his own and we have never looked back. Good luck!

Kelly - posted on 03/27/2010

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I know that I don't like to sleep alone - I have trouble when my husband is out of town. I can certainly understand why a baby would be distressed to be alone. I don't think you have made a 'mistake' to soothe your baby to a peaceful sleep I think it is admirable that you have been so responsive to the needs of your baby - and, yes, at at 1 yr, he is still a baby. You mentioned that he is waking to check if you are still there - is this when you put him in his bed or when you are holding him? If the transition to the bed is the problem moment, can you try to pre-warm the bed with a heating pad (removing it before putting him in). Maybe it is the temperature difference from your warm body to his cold bed that jars him awake enough to notice what is happening. Another thought, is could you lay down with him somewhere so that when he rouses to look for you, you are there? Then when he is solidly asleep, move him into his bed then (or just let him sleep with you if you are comfortable with that)

I know that there are some who really believe that if you start sleeping with them, they will always want to be with you - but as the mom of 6 kids who have all co-slept to one degree or another, I can tell you that they do eventually sleep on their own.

Ultimately, whatever advice you choose to follow - I suggest you follow your heart in this matter. Your momma instincts will not let you down.

Julia - posted on 03/27/2010

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ja hi.. well i actually did the same with my son as roxy did BUT we had the crib in our bedroom, so i gave him a bottle, then we read a book and after that i put him in his crip.. i surely cover him with his blanket but he insists of crawling around in his bed, so i lay down on our master-bed and but my hand into his crib so he can feel and see it... i pretend to be asleep and after five minutes he lays his head into my palm and falls asleep to..
i wait for another ten minutes, then i get up, cover him again and turn on the babyphone.. leave room and clean up his super-mess he left in our appartment *haha*
good luck!

[deleted account]

We had a similar situation. The sleep lady saved us. It isn't a perfect method, but he is sleeping on his own now! The CIO was so awful! He would poop and scream!

Denise - posted on 03/27/2010

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I started a routine where it was bathtime, then bed time where we read a story in the bedroom. i would read one or two short story books, kiss good night and leave the room. This will take a little patientience but will work. As the child gets older allow him to choose the story.

[deleted account]

I would recommend that you ask your MHN (or whomever it is in your state) for help. I was having trouble with my then 4.5 month old and got a referral to Tweddle. I am unsure if they are a country wide service but basically they help families with all sorts of parenting issues from birth through to 5 yrs and with sleep they take I think up to 4yrs.



I went for a 'day stay' from 9-4 on a Saturday and we discussed sleeping patterns and age groups,what to expect, how they cry, developmental stages and sleep, how to get them to sleep and did practical hands on training one on one when our babies needed to nap. I think my local hospital also runs these as overnights and also 4 day intensive courses. All are free as they are run by the government BUT you must get a referral from somewhere like your MHN.



I have had three babies and all were different and with Ryan a lot of his 'trouble' was actually from a lactose intolerance in my breastmilk. BUT we are still using the techniques I was shown and changing them slightly as he gets older and eventually as with my other two I hope by the time he is one (or before would be GREAT!) he learns to self settle. As far as my experience goes he is doing as expected for 6mths old and I could write pages about all the techniques I have used and what works etc but I would really recommend you look into this first as it was the hands on practical help that was really benefitial and also personal to you and your child.



I also wanted to add that up until 6 months of age I was told it was ok to soothe, rock, cuddle although limited amounts but also that after that by the age of one ish if you have already set up patterns that you used for sleep associations they develop these from around 6-12 months of age so its important (for those who have yet to come across this issue) that if you are 'happy' to soothe them to sleep with whatever aids e.g, bottle, dummy, rocking, patting, co sleeping, whatever it is that you should think about whether you want to be getting up throughout the night repeating this every time they wake.



Personally i use a dummy and it doesnt bother me to have to get up sometimes and pop it back in, I wont rock him like I did my first though as that was a killer for me. The best way to understand what a sleep association does to an infant/child is to say that lets say you fall asleep in bed, with your own pillow, in your own room and then wake up in the night in the bathtub. You would be confused and startled awake? Thats what a sleep association is for a baby....where's my dummy/mummy/bottle/warm arms etc. Thats why I was told by the 'experts' that if you want to rock them to sleep then be prepared to have to always do it every time they wake until they learn new sleep associations.

Renae - posted on 03/26/2010

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Hi Melanie,



There are several people who call themselves the baby whisperer, 3 that I know of. I believe the baby whisperer Amy is referring to is Tracey Hogg. Charlotte is correct, Tracey's method is not a recognised sleep method and has not been formally researched, however look on her website support forum for people using the method and you will see many parents find it successful (though a lot of them say it takes about 3 times longer than Tracey says in her book).



Another option you have, which IS a commonly used and recognised method of infant behaviourists is Gradual Withdrawal. It is a no-cry method. You will find lots of instructions by googling it (or msg me if you cant find it). Basically it involves first getting baby used to going to sleep in their cot - with your help. Then you gradually withdraw the parental intervention - doing less and less to help them to sleep and leaving the room sooner and sooner. The process usually takes 4 weeks. Night sleeps always get there faster than day sleeps (that is the case with all sleep methods).



If Pick-up/Put-down (baby whisperer method) and gradual withdrawal do not work you are welcome to contact me for other options. However both have about an 80% success rate so hopefully one will work for your little boy.

Melanie - posted on 03/26/2010

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Thanks again, Roxy! and I ordered the Baby Whisperer at Amazon.com today as well, so thank you too, Amy!!!

Roxy - posted on 03/26/2010

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Hiya
Yes he did still cry even when I was sitting there with him and I gave in and bought him in bed with me as this was the habit he had got in to (going to sleep on my shoulder and then sleeping in my bed) but I had to be strong even though it killed me inside to hear him cry I knew I had to get him to sleep on his own and the sooner the better. It will be rough for the 1st few nights as they are not used to this new thing of mummy not holding them but just hold his hand through the cot and talk to him and he will eventually get used to it and then do the moving away thing and so on. Just be strong and remember you are doing it for him. He might hate it now but in the long run it worked for me and my son. Are you in a routine with him? As I found this helped quite alot as well. I would bath him (johnsons baby good night bath wash and shampoo is quite good as it has an ingredient in it that helps them sleep and also the baby powder) and then when he was in his pjs I would read him a story as his milk was prepared and then give him his milk and then put him to bed and sit by the cot and do the routine thing I told you about before and after a few weeks my son knew that when he had his bath and story he would be having his milk and going to bed and they anticipate going to bed so its not so bad for them. Also my son got used to being on his own with me next to the cot but not with me and now he will only fall asleep if hes on his own. It will take a while but you will see results in a few weeks and it will get easier. Just stay strong at the beginning and the rest will fall into place.

Amy - posted on 03/26/2010

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i read The Baby Whisperer. She has awesome ideas for putting baby to sleep and getting htem to sleep all nite. Takes a few nites tough work, but worth it. She talks about accidental bad habits. I got stuck doing this too, but with nursing my son. I'd let him fall asleep on me after nursing and then put him to bed. Then i needed to get away from him because it was exhausting. i hope something works for you.

Melanie - posted on 03/26/2010

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Thank you so much for the advice. It is so hard to hear my little man cry, but I'll try not to give in. Did yours cry even when you were sitting there though? Because that's what my son will do. If I'm not almost pretending to be laying there with him (I know I can't believe I let it get this bad), he's crying.... :(

Roxy - posted on 03/26/2010

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Hiya. I had the same problem but now my son sleeps through the night and cant fall asleep if someone is in the room with him. I will share what I did with you and hope it works.

I gave him a bottle and then put him in his crib but sat next to it so he could still see me and knew I was still there. I f he wakes up and starts crying I know its hard but try not to pick him up. Hold his hand and talk to him to reassure him instead. You dont have to stay there all night though lol I foung a few minutes was fine until he had fallen asleep properly

Then after he is comfortable with this move away from the cot a bit when you put him down maybe half way between the door and his cot so he can still see and hear you if he wakes up but your not as close

Then when he is comfortable with this move even further away ie by the door so he gets used to you still being there but far away

When he gets comfortable with this he should be fine to be put to bed and stay there without you there. I know its hard but try tot to rush in there and pick him up when he cries as this will only encourage him to keep you there with him. If he cries for longer than 10-15 minutes go in there cuddle him and kiss him and then put him back and cover him over and go out of the room again. He should get used to sleeping on his own and I know it sounds like a long process but it means eventually you will be able to give him his bottle and put him straight in bed. As I said I had the same problem as you and tried soooo many different things but this is what I found worked and now my son refuses to go to bed if any one is in the room with him.....result

I hope this works

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