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What are the best ways to transition a toddler to falling asleep on her own?

We all want our kids to learn independence as they grow older, and one step toward that goal is helping our toddlers learn to fall asleep on their own. What are your best tips for making this a smooth transition?

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13  Answers

55 4

A gradual transition with clear boundaries that you stick to. The most important thing is to stick to whatever plan you have and don't go back or regress if it's a little tough at first. Wavering only causes more confusion for your child. I think staying with them until they fall asleep at first then slowly transitioning into a routine like a set number of books and then hugs and kisses and you leave works best. I strongly disagree with using TV/movies to put children to sleep. It's a bad habit and more and more studies show it negatively affects sleep patterns.

3 49

When my daughter was born we sold our house and moved into an apartment with my mother for what we thought would be a short while. She slept in a cot at the foot of our bed. She is 1 year 9 months now and last week we finally moved into our new home. My greatest fear was putting her in a bed in her own room in a new home! I made sure to fill her room with all her familiar toys and I also bought a little doll's house to help her understand the concept of a new home with separate rooms for doing different things and especially, to show her that mummy sleeps in a different room to her. I was pleasantly surprised. She loved being in her own bed. I followed the same bathtime routine and put her straight to bed; lay down with her for a few minutes and off she went. The first two nights she woke up crying at around 4 am and I was too exhausted to try and calm her down so I simply carried her to our bed. The third night I waited through her cry till she fell back asleep. By the fourth night she slept through the night till 6 am and she was able to establish her new routine. Actually, she seems more settled in the new house than I am!

0 21

I have an 11 month old, I still cant get to her to sleep on her own. I give her a bottle, sing to her, Im currently at the stage of taking her to tresilian (seeing Dr next week). I won't let her cry herself to sleep because to me it's slack. Some nights it takes my 2 hours to get her to bed, it's exhausting. Once she goes to sleep she lasts about 3 hours, she'll wake up crying for milk or a dummy. Am I the only one this has happened too?

6 7

She is only 11 months. It takes time. A technique that my dad used when I was a baby and continues to use on his grandchildren does work. He leans over the crib and pats the baby's butt until he/she falls asleep. It's his way of letting the baby know, "I'm here but I'm not picking you up because it's bed time."

0 1

a nice supper 4 an 11 month old who is waking up 4 milk.. may be becoz she hungry?

0 15

My daughter is 2 and i go through the exact same thing as you everynight it doesn't matter if she is in her own bed or sleeping with me she'll still wake and want her bottle and me there to go back to sleep

0 0

My daughter is 9 months old and I'm having the hardest time putting her to bed also. A few weeks ago I had no problem at all but now I'll lay her in her crib after rocking her to bed and with second she opens her eyes and reaches for me. I'll grab her so she doesnt cry but then shes at it trying to crawl away and play with her toys. Mind you this is about 10 pm so I know shes exhausted. Finally after about 2 hours I've had enough and rock her to sleep again after that i'll lay her down and she sleeps but then about 3-4 later she wakes up and to be picked up at this point there is no rocking her to sleep she'll have to sleep in my arms until she finally decides to wake up around 7:30am. What do i do, I'm physically exhausted right now and I'm a single mommy at the moment since my husband is deployed. PLEASE HELP!!!

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0 1

We've been lucky with our little guy who's been sleeping through the night since about 6 weeks old. I know every baby is different but routines have worked really well with this little guy. We've also learned his likes and dislikes and adjusted routines to suit how he likes to fall asleep. Here's what we did:

1. Set a bed time and stuck to it. We'd give him his last feeding and lay him down to sleep at a set time between 7:30 and 8:30 depending on how feedings went during the day.
2. Allow him to learn self-soothing. Not necessarily from letting him "cry it out" but trying a number of different techniques so he would learn ways to calm himself down at night. We tried music (singing), rocking, mobile, etc. What really worked was rocking with him until his eyes got heavy then laying him down. He wasn't exactly asleep so he learned that to fully fall asleep, he had to do that last little bit.

Now, at age 2, he actually asks us to go to bed and sings himself to sleep if he's having difficulty calming down. The transition to a toddler bed didn't interrupt his sleep schedule and he'll do bedtime just about anywhere we are (grandma's house, hotel, etc.).

42 254

We run through the good stuff that happened that day. Grab two books one read normal the other is read with her eyes closed addlibbing due to no pictures seen. Good for the imagination. Some times we mix it up by reciting the first book. Then we leave the room if we have not fallen asleep first while reciting.
We also have the rule if you sleep in your own bed we will come in and read books but some times she really wants to sleep in ours here she must go to sleep by herself and we will move her later.

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30 18

I mostly agree with Mariah, however I am a firm believer that the child should learn to adapt to the parent's and not the parents to the child. It is okay to follow a schedule but not to the point where the child does not know how to cope outside of it. Life sometimes gets in the way of a schedule so the best way to keep your child in the range of a bedtime routine is simply to get them exhausted. I tried everything with my kids (6, 3, 2) to get them to sleep at roughly the same time every night and it never really worked. I learned early on with my second child that a nap in the day (no matter how short or long) would cause him to stay up until midnight. So I cut out the nap during the day and bedtime is a breeze. The same thing for my nap in the day (although she gets really cranky between 4-5 pm) and she is in bed between 7:30 and 8:00 pm. Sometimes I hold her and whisper in her ear, other times she asks to be put in her bed and sleep on her own. I choose not to read a story every night because if I can't do it one night it won't upset them and they can still sleep without it. This is how it works at our house, it may or may not work for you. You really just have to experiment. I hope it works out for you. Good Luck!

0 0

My 17 month old son will not sleep straight through the night. He will go to sleep around 9:30 then wake at 2:30a.m. He looks for his sippy cup with milk. Next, he wakes at 5 ish and does the same thing. Should I just give him one sippy cup of milk to fall asleep and the let him cry it out when he wakes again.....

First time mom

5 0

Hello! I am a fellow mama and a sleep training consultant. I have a lot of experience with helping parents of toddlers find a solution that works for them. There is hope!

If you don't feel ready to hire a professional, there are a few books I could recommend. You can contact me on my website and let me know what your current routine is and what your goals are and I can let you know some tips to help you on your way and if you feel you need more support, I am available for that also!

I have a sliding-scale sleep training consultation business that helps many families get the sleep they need.

sweet dreams pdx offers customized sleep plans that you can feel comfortable with and follow up email and phone support. You are not alone!

I work with all types of families. I offer help with co-sleeping, night weaning, transitioning to crib, sleep training, re-training after sickness or traveling

sweet dreams pdx is here to support your family in reaching your sleep training goals.

Don't give up! Contact Mitzy at

6 0

How about white noise? I use this iphone app which plays soothing noises. You can record your own sounds or voice too.

0 4

So, I have a two year old daughter and a four month old son. My daughter has been on a schedule since she was two weeks old. I was lucky. When I had to transition her to go to sleep in her own bed, I simply laid her in her crib and let her cry it out for 15 minutes. Then I would go in, pat her head and give her a bottle. Crying makes them even sleepier, so when you calm them down afterward they fall asleep comforted. Repeat this for a week and then theyll go to bed when you lay them down. Whatever you do, DO NOT PICK THEM UP OR GIVE IN!! All that is going to do is show them they can get their way with you. I am transitioning my son now and its going great. Establish authority now and you wont have many problems later.

0 1

My son is 21/2yrs old. We always put him to bed awake as a baby. Somewhere along the line he started needing us to lay with him till he falls asleep. Sometimes it takes almost 2hrs. Most nights 45min. He also wakes up nightly once a night and cries for us. We now have a 8month old girl, whom still wakes 3 times a night. We have no idea what to do and are so exhausted. We get a average of 4hrs sleep a night. We have tried many options and nothing seems to work. I really think it just depends on the kids!

6 7

My son is 4 and has always gone to sleep by himself. We follow a routine: Bath, brushing teeth, reading anywhere from 2-5 books (depending on how late it is), hugs and kisses with a few stall tactics thrown in (glass of water or idle chit chat). But he's overall very good about going to bed. There are nights that he will tell me he wants to go to bed around 7:30 pm (his normal bed time). On the occasion that he asks me to sleep with him, I go through a list of everyone who sleeps alone (cousins, friends, myself). What probably helps him fall asleep is that we have a dog who he does not go to bed without and vice versa. I am not a fan of the dog but they really do love each other.

13 9

Sometimes I don't know why people want to have kids when all they care about is them selves. Put your child first until they are 5. The important brain development happens from 0-5. Show more compassion folks. "Cry to sleep" has been proven to cause ADD and worse. No wonder ADD is on the rise in this country.


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