Please watch my baby sleep video on how to get your baby out of your bed (and sleeping in his own).
To ask a question about your child’s sleep, just leave it in the ‘Comments’ section below! I’ll choose one and create a new video answer each week!View the Video Transcript
Hi! I’m Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program. If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve transcribed the text of this video below.
This week’s question is from Rocky. He asks:
“We have a beautiful twelve month old girl and she sleeps great… if she is in bed with us. Now that she is active and mobile, it is hard for us to get a good night sleep with her in our bed.
We have tried putting her in the crib, but she just cries and screams — and if she does falls asleep, she will wake up an hour later and start crying all over again. She won’t let us put her in the crib and she wants us to hold her if we do not take her to bed with us. She is very much a cuddle-bug and she just really wants to sleep with us. Can you help?”
Yes, I can! That is a good question Rocky, and a lot of people are in the same boat. It is okay when you’ve got a baby who is not moving around too much and most people find they can get a relatively good night sleep with the baby in their bed. Once they hit the toddler mark, it is pretty tough. Even a really sleeping toddler is very active. They do lots of moving, rolling around and changing position so I can understand why it is getting to be a struggle. To be fair to her, keep in mind that she has spent the last 12 months sleeping with people and so it is going to be a transition to sleep without people, especially her two favorite people.
It is definitely doable though and I am going to suggest an approach that is as gentle as possible. Making changes to anyone’s sleep environment or habits, adults included, will always be met with protest. We are very habitual about our night time environment and our sleep habits; we do not like a lot of changes or surprises.
If you’re wondering whether you should bring the crib to your room to might make easier for her, I do not think you should. If you want her to be in her own room, I always say start out where you want to be. If you want her in her own room and her own crib then that is where you should start.
I always start with bedtime and looking at the routine. Given her age, she should be taking two (possibly one) nap during the day and then going to bed roughly between 7:00 and 7:30pm.
I would do a routine about a half an hour prior to bedtime. A good example of one, is to start with a bath, then getting her pajamas on, having some milk in sippy cup, reading stories together, brushing teeth and then going to bed.
It should be in the same order every night so she has got time to get used to the idea that she going to sleep for the night; it gets our brains and bodies in line. One of you should then take her to her crib and put her in. I suggest you bring in a chair and sit right beside the crib. She is probably going to stand up right away and wonder what is going on and she might start crying right away so just be supportive. Pick a key phrase like “It is sleepy time now.” or “It’s nighty-night.” or “Daddy/Mommy is here.” Try laying her down a few times, but do not give in to a battle of wills because that’s usually a battle that you cannot win. If you have tried a few times and she just will not lie down, then let her stand. She has really has not spent much time in her crib so let her explore and walk around. If she begins to look a little weary you can try again to lay her down and tell her “Sleepy time.” If she gets back up do not worry; just let it go.
A lot of children are rocked to sleep and then put in the crib already sleeping. They have not even really figured out yet, on their own, that you do need to lay down to sleep and that they need to get into a comfortable position for sleep to come. You might even find she is starting to nod off a little in the sitting or standing position. Just lay her down or encourage her to lie down, if you notice this happening. I would not take her out of the crib; it is just too hard on both parent and baby. If you take her out of the crib, she is going to be overjoyed thinking she is going to bed with you. It just tends to fuel the fire because she’s thinking she is going to your bed and when she doesn’t, it will just aggravate her even further.
If you want to give her some hugs over the side, hold her hand or pat her back, those are okay things to do, just for comfort. You do not want to rub her to sleep though, or you are going to have a whole bunch of new problems down the road, when you want to get out of the room. Make your touch intermittent and very careful that you are not actually lulling her to sleep. The first couple of nights are always the toughest, so you can lay it on a little thick of those first few nights. If you were holding hands when she drifted of, it is okay. You want to keep moving with the plan as outlined in the program, for the stay-in-the-Room method. Start with spending three nights right beside the crib and then the next three nights away a little further, maybe in the middle of the room. Then move for the next three nights to be by the door and finally just outside of the door or completely out of the room all together. I suggest you take turns with your partner because you want her to know that this is going to be the routine always, no matter who is in charge of bedtime. For any night waking, I suggest you handle it exactly the same way. One of you should go in, sit down in your chair being comforting and supportive, until she is back to sleep. I know she is pushing into the toddler years and toddlers have unbelievable will power and stamina. So keep in mind you are facing an uphill battle for at least the first couple of nights.
She is going to want to be in your bed and she is really going try hard to do things to get you to do that, especially if you have tried something like this before. She is going to remember that you were trying something and whatever she did, brought it to an end. At least she knows you are close, your presence is there, and your support and love is there. She has to learn a new skill right now, which is getting herself to sleep without a parent. It is going to take a few nights or perhaps a week, for her to learn these things.
Give her a lovey of some kind; a teddy or any kind of little toy she can use to cuddle. She will probably form and attachment to one or the other. It sounds like you are feeling a little hopeless about it all, and it really is not hopeless. It is definitely something that can be done; it is just going to take some work on everyone’s part.
So thanks a lot Rocky, for your question and sleep well!
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