Attachment Parenting

How to get away from laying with 2 year old to fall asleep

My son in 27 months and up until he turned 2, we nursed to sleep every night. I weaned him at 2, and now I lay with him in his own bed until he falls asleep, and sneak out. Sometimes it can take up to an hour or more for him to fall asleep, and I dread it. I am also due with #2 in 2 months, and don't really see this working out much longer. He is extremely smart, vocal, and understands just about everything I say to him. What I'm thinking is that I will continue the same routine, except when he gets tired, explain to him that he will stay in bed and close his eyes, and I will be right outside the room... I know he wont like it, but he has surprised me in the past, so you never know. Has anyone attempted this with a child this age, and how did it go? Or any other suggestions? 

Re: How to get away from laying with 2 year old to fall asleep

  • I'd try the "be right back" method instead. Lie down for a minute, then say "I need to ____ (potty, get a drink, check the laundry), be right back. You stay here." and leave for a very short time. Come back. Lie down for a few minutes, repeat. The goal is for the kid to fall asleep with you gone, and as the nights go on to extend how long you're out of the room at a time.
  • I also started with a variation of the "I'll be right back" method.  Though I used distinct increments, not ones tied to events.  (Those aren't bad though - DD seemed to do well when I was doing something concrete.)
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  • A friend of mine did what PP suggested, but with "a glass of milk". She would tuck her DD in and ask if she would like a glass of milk before she went to sleep. DD would always say yes, so she'd say "I'm going to get your milk. I'll be back in a few minutes." Then she would go get a small cup of milk for her DD.

    DD started asking for milk after a few nights, and my friend would just wait a minute or two longer before coming back. Within a couple weeks, she would tell DD, "I love you. I'm going to get your milk." And her DD was asleep before she could get back.

    Some LOs may stay awake anticipating the milk, so it won't work for everyone, but it worked very well for her.

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  • Can your partner take over bedtime with him? What's going to happen when the new baby comes?

    DS1 would fall asleep with me sitting in his room, nursing DS2 (just on nights that DH had to work). He was okay with that for some reason. You could also try sitting near him at first, and then moving further away after a few nights. Kim West's "Good Night, Sleep Tight" has some good methods for toddlers. 

    DS1 - Feb 2008

    DS2 - Oct 2010 (my VBAC baby!)

  • Thank you, I will try the be right back method. I actually have thought of that, I don't know why I forgot. Sometimes I'll get up to get him water if he asks for it, and I always think should I just stay out here for a little longer and see what happens...
  • We did a version of the Sleep Lady Shuffle around 17 months and it and worked well. It also didn't take that long and I never had to do the more extreme versions where you sleep outside they're room. I started by moving off the bed and sitting on the floor with my arm on the bed, then just sat next to the bed, then sat across the room, then stood at the door, then outside the door. I moved through the stages quickly and within a week he could fall asleep on his own.
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  • When we transitioned DD from our bed to her own twin bed at 2 years old it took a good 2 months to get her to go to sleep on her own. Mind you, shes a VERY high maintenance and high anxiety child so I think she took far longer and far more difficulties than the average child would. We sort of "weaned" off the laying-with-her method until she fell asleep. First I would read a few books to her then tell her I would stay right next to the bed and hold her hand until she fell asleep. At first she protested and wanted me laying with her, but I was firm, but gentile and stuck to "no honey, but mommy will hold your hand and be right here. I'm not going anywhere. You are safe with me." The first few nights it took 1-2 hours for her to fall asleep. After about 2 weeks of that and she was falling asleep quicker, I started to sit with a book and tell her I would stay with her right next to her bed but I was going to do some reading while I was there, so I needed my hand to hold the book. I did this for another 2 weeks. Then I started to move the chair I sat in further from the bed, every other night moving it just a little bit until it was near the door. After 2 weeks of that, I finally started to say "mommy will be right back. You can always call for me and I will be here. But mommy is never far away." This part took the longest and it was a good month of her calling me every 5 mins, and I always responded. Now, she gets a book or two read to her, a kiss and hug, and I'm out the door. She has a few books with her in bed to look at and she usually passes out in 20 mins. :) 

    There is no rule to how long it should take and some kids take much more time than others. Especially those that are used to feeling you all night long. They have to get used to a new routine and breaking of an old habit. I've heard it takes 21 days to create a new habit, 41 days to break and old one. So give it time. :)

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