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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.
Recently, Amy wrote in about her 14 month old son. Jessie had been sleeping on his own since he was few months old but after a major ear infection, he refuses to let her put him in the crib unless he’s fully asleep. When Amy tries to put him down awake, he stands up and starts to cry. Amy simply asks:
“How can I get my evenings back?!”
Ear infections especially can really throw off sleep patterns. They are quite painful and tend to be even more so when a child lies down. Soon the child associates lying down or their crib with pain. The challenge is to get them to realize that the pain is gone and that they can return to sleeping in their crib. This is a time when you want to make the transition back to their normal sleep pattern as easy on them as possible.
Go back to some structure and boundaries around bedtime and make sure you have a nice routine leading up to it. One of my favorites is having a bath, getting pajamas on, reading a couple of stories, brushing their teeth, and then getting them into their bed or crib.
If the idea of going in the crib upsets them, instead of rocking them to sleep, try the “stay in the room” method. Pick a key phrase like “It’s sleepy time” or “It’s nighty-night now” and put them in the crib awake while you sit in a chair beside them. If they stand up, try lying them back down while repeating your phrase “It’s sleepy time now.”
They’ll probably pop back up and you’ll lay them back down, they’ll pop up and you’ll lay them down. If after five or so times they keep getting up, then they’re up; don’t try to lay them down again. In a battle of wills with a toddler, even after 85 times of popping up-lying down, they’re going to pop up, so just let them stand.
As time goes on, they will get tired and you can then try some “coaxing.” Put your hand in the crib, give the mattress a couple of pats and say “Lay down please…it’s sleepy time now.” They may not respond the first few times but every two or three minutes, try again to “coax” them to lie down.
If it looks like they’re getting sleepy while standing, closing their eyes or doing some heavy blinking, try to lay them down again. If that means that they pop back up, then that’s what that means but do not give up and take them out. All that does it teach them that if they put up a big enough fight, you’ll take them out. If you do that, every night will look exactly the same, so hang in there until they’re asleep in the crib.
You’ve got to dig down deep for a few nights. The good news is that if they used to be a great sleeper, they know how to do it and they’ve just lost their way a bit. A gentle push back in the right direction is going to get them back where they were, sleeping well.
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