Sleep & Nap Issues: Tips For Helping Your Child Sleep Through The Night

Yesterday, I posted the first half of my conversation with Kelley, Mom to 13-month-old Ben. Ben was making his parents crazy from lack of sleep, and they were desperate enough to try anything.

I gave them some suggestions designed to send Ben a clear, consistent message about sleeping through the night, in his own crib. Read on to see what happened!

Dear Dr. Heather,

I am happy, so happy, to report that Ben is now sleeping in his crib and more often than not, sleeping through the night! We still stay in his room until he falls asleep, but he has accepted the crib and sleeping on his own. And once, he even fell asleep AFTER we left the room.

Thanks so much for your advice. Although he still cries almost every night, it's more of an "unwinding" cry, not a distressing cry that I associate with the "cry it out" method. Ben wakes up in a good mood because I think he's proud of himself for being such a big boy! My husband and I needed to get used to sharing a bed, but it didn't take long for us to feel like a married couple again.

We started by creating a game plan based on your suggestions. Our first goal was to get him to go to sleep in his current bed (mattress we placed on the floor of his room) without us snuggling him. To do that, we started by talking to him about going "night-night" by himself and how mommy and daddy loved him very much and how proud we were of him. Then after his bath, we made a production about saying "goodnight" and my husband left the room while I stayed and sat at the end of his bed. When he got up to come to me, I placed him back on his pillow and told him that I loved him and it was time to go "night- night."

It took about 45 minutes, but he finally realized that I wasn't going to snuggle him and he focused on getting comfortable and eventually fell asleep. In the beginning, he woke up a couple of times during the night and we had to snuggle him down once or twice. We did that for about a week and then we re-introduced him to his crib by putting him in during the day with some of his toys. That night, we did our same bedtime routine, made a production with kisses and good nights and then I put him in his crib and told him to go "night-night." Me or my husband leave the crib and lay down on the bed in his room. He still sits up and cries, but when we tell him to go "night-night" he immediately lays down and stops crying while he rolls around trying to get comfortable. We may do that a couple of times, but the key is that he knows that we aren't going to be picking him up. We will soon start leaving the room while he is still awake, but we are so happy with our situation now, that we will not force the issue.

Talking to him about exactly what we were going to do was probably the most important aspect of our plan (that, and following through with it).

I never would have thought that he would understand what I was saying to him. It's actually funny to watch him throw himself down in his crib when I tell him that it's time to go night-night. He understands right away. When he wakes up in the mornings, we rush in to get him and tell him that we are so proud of him for sleeping all by himself and how much we love him.

I swear it's changed our relationship because I'm communicating with him so much more than I did before you suggested it.

We're all happier now and better able to handle the stubborn, independent behaviors that he is starting to demonstrate. ;-)

He really seems happier than before. Thanks again for your guidance!

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What has worked for you to get your baby to sleep through the night, in his or her own crib? Post a comment to share your ideas!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink