How on earth do you get your child to fall asleep on their own!?!
My oh so gorgeous girly, Isla Jean, is 14 months old now, and I love her to pieces. Until last week she still insisted on being cuddled to sleep. Whether it be nap time, or bed time. We would cuddle her to fall asleep. And sometimes it could take up to 90 minutes. The only exception to this is when she fell asleep in the car, or very rarely in the pushchair. So how on earth do you get your child to fall asleep on their own, when they have spent so long cuddling up to you to fall asleep? I asked some lovely bloggers for their advice on getting your child to fall asleep.
Lyndsey at Me, him, the dog and a baby decided one day that things needed to change.
“I gave Erin milk before nap time and put her down in her cot awake. She started crying and I went into the next room. I waited a couple of minutes and the cry quickly changed to a whimper and within 10 minutes she was fast asleep.”
She wrote a post about this recently, so check it out to see how she got on.
Katy from KatyKicker.com said she “personally […] would enjoy the cuddles. My daughter has not been a cuddly baby since a few months old (thanks Reflux). However, I think after 14 months it would be getting pretty hard to do it ALL the time and never have a break…
I would begin using the self-soothing method. Personally I used this with my daughter and I used the no tears method. Where I wouldn’t leave her to cry, however, if she was just having a grizzle or a moan I would go in, tell her she was safe and loved, offer her a toy to play with, a dummy or her milk (as appropriate) and then leave again. The only time I ever leave my daughter to cry is if she’s reached that point where she can’t calm down and she is hitting and nothing works.”
And added this lovely message to me to say “Good luck to you and remember it isn’t a bad thing that your baby enjoys your cuddles so much so try not to be hard on yourself 🙂 x” Thanks Katy!
Amy & Tots “held [her son] to sleep until he was 18 months old and even then it was hard to get him to sleep on his own. In the end we started a pick up, put down method. So when I would put him in his cot before he fell asleep and if he cried, I’d pick him up give him a cuddle and then put him down again and carry it on until he fell asleep. When he was in the cot I would rub his face and back and that’s what he liked. It was hard but worth it. I only used this because I don’t like the idea of other sleep training methods that involve crying.”
Clare over at Clare’s Little Tots said “This was my son until at 20 months he was just to big (he liked to fall asleep on my chest) and he struggled to get to sleep on me. So I gradually started putting him down more and more awake. The first few weeks it did take him up to 2 hours to fall asleep. I kept going in an reassuring him if he got upset or threw his teddy or dummy out but I was in and out as quickly as I could.
I wanted him to know I’d come if he needed me and I was still there but also made it really boring when I went in until after a few weeks he gave up and just went to sleep quickly.
My only tips would be be consistent and keep any trips into the bedroom quick. Once they learn it’s not a game and nothing exciting is going to happen if they mess around they should fall asleep.”
Sarah from Arthurwears son “didn’t start falling asleep on his own until he was 2 – some just need a little bit more help and reassurance and although it can be tiring it doesn’t last forever – we just tried to enjoy the cuddles and we always agreed that controlled crying wasn’t right for us.
His ability to be left was def linked to development and understanding. I started by explaining I was going to have a wee (I’d leave the door open and tell him to listen) and then a few minutes later I’d come back. Once he was used to that, I started going to get a glass of water, then a cup of tea (which took longer) and eventually to cook dinner.
We have a very set bedtime routine with lots of stories and cuddles first and then he understands that I have to go and cook dinner – as long as I tell him what I’m making and he can try and listen then he seems to be ok and usually falls asleep by 8.30pm.”
Kaiden from The Habitual Blogger found that her “son would only go to sleep if I cuddled and rocked him while patting his bum (something I did from day one). When he was over the age of 1 I started by putting him down on his front (the only position he’d sleep in) and pat his bum. Eventually he fell asleep. Then I was able to stop patting his bum and he would go all by himself. I found it helpful to transition him like that rather than ‘cold turkey’ ”
Victoria from Mummy Times Two “moved to lying down with my daughter and stroking her back, then to holding her hand, then to sitting in her room. It was a slow process”
Ann from Rainbows are Too Beautiful suggested try to transfer the comfort is a tactic. Introduce something else to the process like a cuddly toy or a blanket when cuddling, then slowly withdraw yourself after they associate with the toy/blanket. Hopefully they associate falling asleep with the new sleep aid (the toy instead of you).” And wished me luck!
Jessica from That Mummy Blog found that she “had this issue with my first. The problem was she connected me with feeding (breastfed) so the husband started cuddling her to sleep instead. She slowly started waking less and less and we were able to move her into her own room at 2. She now sleeps through the night without waking 7pm-7am.”
It’s so reassuring to find that other parents have been through this too. I always feel like we should have tried to put her to go down to sleep sooner. But as I’ve mentioned before, I do love having snuggles with my little girl.
Since asking for advice from the wonderful blogging community, we have had a little bit of success with sleeping. I feel as though I shouldn’t say this, as last time I mentioned how well Isla was getting on with sleeping, things then went to sh*t that night and were bad for quite a while!! However, on Friday afternoon, after Isla was refusing to go to sleep snuggling me, I took her upstairs and put her in her cot. She was so so tired as she’d been playing lots at play group. She cried a bit at first, but I turned on the music we play at bedtime, so she knew it was time to go to sleep. I turned Ewan the Dream Sheep on and put it under her cot (if she sees his face she just gets excited and plays with it. She’s never really taken to it as a sleeping aid, hense why I was hiding it under the bed) so there was a bit of white noise, and if she cried then I was sat next to her cot, and did some gentle ‘shushing’. There were times where she sat up, or tried to stand up, but whenever I sat up or stood up to put her back down again she immediately lay back down (she obviously knows it is sleep time!) It probably took her about 15-20 minutes to fall asleep like this. But it worked, and she napped for about 1.5-2 hours.
We have been doing this for both nap time and bedtime since, and so far, so good. As long as she can see us, she is happy to lie there and fall asleep. It’s taking about 10-15 minutes now. I think I might have to take my kindle in there and read it with it hidden under the cot, so that I’m not bored out of my brains, and I can also manage to work towards one of my 20 wishes for 2017, which is to read more.
At some point we will progress to just putting her down and leaving her to fall asleep on her own without us in the room, but, one step at a time! For us both!
Thanks to all the lovely bloggers who offered their advice and support. Here’s hoping nap and bed times are easier from now on.