18 mo old crying it out - going down to bed issues — The Bump
Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

18 mo old crying it out - going down to bed issues

Hello all,
My wife and I. have an 18 month old daughter. She sleeps straight thru the night from 8:00-8:15pm to about 7:30am. We have a bedtime routine of going upstairs, picking out her pajamas, changing her and then we brush our teeth. Every two days we give her a bath, so on bath nights she gets a bath before all that. We give her a bottle and hold her until she falls a sleep before we put her down in her crib. Certain nights she goes right down after she finishes her bottle, other nights she fights it some and it takes 45 mins for her to fall a sleep enough to go down. I know we have trained her to sleep this way but we have wanted to start getting her to self soothe to sleep. My wife wants to let her cry it out but I honestly have a hard time with it. I have such a hard time letting her cry for longs stretches. It makes me feel like we are abandoning her and stressing her out.  We have started to put her down after her bottle and if she doesn't stay down to sleep, we stay in the room with her (to let her know we are there with her). And soothe her every so often with words (which doesn't seem to work). My wife says to be firm with her and tell her to lay down and go to bed but I just feel like this is wrong to do and I don't want to be yelling at her like that before bed I've found this difficult to just sit there and watch her cry as well. I almost feel like it would be easier to just walk out the door. But the whole thing is very hard for me. Tonight our daughter was hysterical when I put her down. She held her breath for long periods of time and at one point it seemed like she was going to puke. I let her go on for 15-20 mins and it wasn't letting up. I was in the dark crying over this and then I gave up and picked her up and she was so upset she pulled a tantrum and it took me twenty mins to relax her enough to go back to sleep in my arms before I could put her down.  My wife says I don't have it in me to let her do this and cry and I think she's right. But I'm willing to try if it makes our lives easier. We are expecting our second child in October and wanted to help our first self soothe before the baby is born. I'm carrying this baby (my wife carried our first). She is home with our daughter most of the time. She works part time and while she works her mother watches our daughter.

So in addition to that,  I feel like me not completely being on board with her crying it out is making it difficult for my wife to put our daughter down for naps during the day. She normally takes her naps from 12:00pm-2:00pm, just recently she has been refusing her naps. She will either wake right up (wide awake) and stay up once we put her down for her nap or she will beg for us to hold her while she naps. This piece is just recent. I don't know if it's her phasing herself out of naps or if this is from us trying to get her to self soothe by letting her cry it out after her bottle. I just don't want us to backwards and make it worse for her either. 

Like I said I'm willing to continue to try having her cry it out but it is hard for me. I do want our lives to be easier though. Does anyone have any suggestions at all? This is become a huge issue in our lives and I want to do the right thing for us all. 


Re: 18 mo old crying it out - going down to bed issues

  • TwizBeansTwizBeans member
    100 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited May 2016

    I have 2 kids and my youngest is 19 months old so I can relate. Luckily I have some experience in the sleep department because of my older child so I was able to get my 19 month old sleeping well from an early age.

    Right now my DD has the same schedule/bed time routine as yours. Almost exactly, except we brush her teeth after she drinks a cup of milk. Does your LO still drink from a bottle?? Sorry, not the point here. BUT you should be brushing her teeth after she drinks her bottle.

    Anyways, I totally agree with your wife on this. I think you've waited too long to do this and she's older now, more aware, and it's going to be harder on everyone but it will only get worse. Because you've waited so long, you have to use extreme measures. She's smart and she knows that you will come running the moment she cries. This is now affecting naps. She's very reliant on you both to help her sleep and you have to break her of that. You won't scar her for life, I promise.

    You don't have to yell at her and tell her to lay down. Do your bedtime routine, even giving her a bottle of milk in her room, cuddle her for a few moments then say "it's bedtime, time to get in bed" and put her in her crib then walk out. I do this with my daughter and she wraps her little legs around me and says "no bed!" but I put her down anyways. Your LO will most likely cry so give her 10-15 minutes and if she's still crying, go back in, rub her back and walk out again. Rinse and repeat.

    This technique is fail proof but you have to be 100% consistent every single night. You cannot give in or it will not work.

    I know you think that you are doing what is best for your LO and I always encourage parents to do what they feel in their gut, but in this case I think your good intentions are backfiring and you need to sleep train her.

    She will still love you :) Don't worry. Good luck!

  • edited May 2016
    This is hard. We did gentle sleep training with my daughter when she was much younger. I am not a cry it out fan, but I know other families swear by it. If she's truly upset and screaming, I would be inclined to stay, but not pick her up. Maybe a hand on her and quiet reassuring words, shushing, or calming singing. I would avoid picking her up at all costs because then she is getting what she wants and there is no progress. Eventually she should get used to this and you can try just staying in the room and one day just walking out. I agree that you don't need to tell, but I would keep calmly repeating that she needs to lay down, it's bed time, etc. as often as necessary. Again, if you sound upset, she sees that what she's doing is working, the calmer you can be, the more effective it will be.

    Edited to add: If she's really fighting with you and not laying down with your reassurances, I might tell her to lay down or mommy will have to leave and close the door for just a few minutes. When you come back, ask if she's ready to lay down so you can sit with her.
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  • My pediatrician told me to stop giving her a bottle and laying her down at night to drink it. Also stop giving her a bottle in the middle of the night. Mainly because of her teeth. She told me to give her a bottle 20min before bedtime brush her teeth read her a book and put her down. The first night I did this, she had fluoride on her teeth so they told me do not brush them. When she woke in the middle of the night I let her cry for over half an hour and she ended up in my bed. The next night I did my routine and she fell right to sleep when she woke in the middle of the night she cried for 15mins then went back to sleep.  The next night she never woke in the middle of the night slept through and since then she has been sleeping through the night. It is amazing how out of no where she has this change.
  • If you stay in the room with her while she is fussing/crying, I personally think it makes it harder, because she knows you are right there and is less likely to give in to sleep. If she isn't hungry, sick, or uncomfortable and you do the interval checks every 10-15 minutes, she will know that you are not abandoning her. Also, there should be no yelling involved. Just gently say that it is time to sleep now, pat her and lay her down, and leave the room. She will learn that that time of night is for bed time. I'm also a big fan of CIO. It worked so well for us and DS sleeps like a champ now (so much that he doesn't even want us to rock him ever... :( ). Anyways, since you don't seem like you are quite there yet with CIO, I would recommend you read up on it if you haven't already. Reading about the process and how to achieve it really helped me with coming to terms with CIO. I was hesitant to do it at first but the book explained a lot and made it easier to deal with.

  • Some people are never ok with crying it out and that's ok, you are not ruining your child or ruining their ability to sleep, you just have to be on board with what the routine is and ok with that. You still may be laying with them at 4 or 5 years of age to put them to sleep but they do grow out of it. Check out the no cry sleep solution book and also http://www.gentlesleeptraining.co.uk/ CIO is not the only method of sleep training out there and while there is a huge variety of studies for and against all methods of sleep training, I think ultimately it's important to figure out what's right for you guys.

    Also, if your daughter is sleeping through the night, she knows how to self soothe, she just hasn't figured out how to go to bed without you there. Babies, like adults, wake up a number of times throughout the night for whatever reason. Once a baby sleeps through the night, that means when they wake up, they are putting themselves back to sleep without any help. I also look at it this way. I wake up at night for a number of reasons. I'm hungry, I have to go to the bathroom, I had a bad dream, I'm restless, I have pain somewhere, I heard a noise, or whatever. As an adult, I have the history and knowledge to figure out what to do to help myself. Whether I get up and go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen and get a snack or a drink of water, get more pillows to get comfortable. Or I may go check the house for a noise I heard or push my husband out of bed because he's snoring. I am taking care of whatever it is that woke me up. As a baby, they don't have that independence and rely on you as their parent to help them figure out the world. If they woke because they are thirsty, get them a drink, if it's because they had a nightmare you cuddle. Making them lay there in their bed crying after waking up for some reason is not helping them to learn how to deal with the various things that wake them up. This is my opinion. But again, your daughter is sleeping through the night so you've already won one of the many battles so celebrate that!!

    I can't tell but it sounds like you may do bedtime every night. I know you feel it's impacting naps for your wife and it very well may be, so it is something you guys have to be on the same board about how you are going to parent for sleep time. Do some research together, look in to the site and book I mentioned and have an honest discussion about each of your feelings on the topic. You guys will both find research and studies to support each side so really you just have to decide what is right for you. If you truly cannot do the cry it out but your wife is set on it, then maybe you compromise and for the week you are doing it, she does bedtime and you leave the house.

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  • Listening to a young child cry and scream can certainly tug on the heart strings! 

    My DS is just about to turn 2, but we did some sleep training at a much younger age, somewhere between 6-12 months. I used recommendations from the book "The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight", I believe authored by Kim West. It gives recommendations for all ages of children. I found it extremely helpful and got DS sleeping better within a few days to a week. He's a good sleeper now! 

    If if he is overtired he will cry when he's put down, I'll let him cry for 15-20 min and if he is still going strong at that point, I will go in and comfort him for a few minutes. Sometimes it will be picking him up and singing for a few minutes and other times he just needs a little reassurance that mommy is still nearby (in which case he will actually tell me to go back downstairs!! Lol). 

    You and your spouse just have to be agreeable on the plan and stick to it! Your little one will get there, just be consistent with whatever you choose! :)

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  • ShanonL79ShanonL79 member
    Second Anniversary First Comment Photogenic
    edited November 2016
    We did 'CIO' with our daughter around 9/10 months.  It was something I thought I would never do and it was heartbreaking. But it worked SO well and I'm so glad we did it.   First night was about 40 minutes of hysterical crying.  We had planned to do the gradual interval check-ins, but those made it SO much worse.  Each night was less and less crying, and by the 5th night, she laid down and went to sleep by herself and slept all night (she had previously been up every 45 minutes, ever single night).

    If you decide to go the CIO method, here are my tips:
    • Tell your LO what is going to happen, and what you expect of her.  At 18 months she won't understand it all, but they can understand a LOT!  Give her the benefit of the doubt here and involve her in the process. Tell her it might be hard, but that you love her and you want to help her learn how to go to sleep all by herself.
    • When you put her in her bed, don't stay.  Again, this is letting her know that the expectation is that it's bedtime, and at bedtime she goes to sleep without you. 
    • Each night we say the same thing as we leave our DDs room: Goodnight, love you, see you in the morning.  It's a verbal cue that it's time for sleep, no more play, cuddles, nothing.  Sleep time. 
    • Leave the house if you can't handle hearing her cry.  Let your wife stay, you just leave. Have her call you when LO has settled down.  For my husband, he turned up the TV so he couldn't hear our daughter.  I turned op the monitor and suffered along with her. 
    • Know that if she gets sick, is teething or is experiencing some other big life change, she will likely revert back to having a hard time going/staying down on her own.  That's ok!  Use your mommy judgment to decide what you need to do (cuddle longer, go to her in the night, etc) and trust your instinct.  Just know that it might start a new habit and you might have to start CIO/sleep training again at some point. And that's not the end of the world. 
    • You WILL NOT ruin your child.  I promise.  My 17 month old is a wonderful, loving, amazing girl who adores her mom and dad, even though we let her cry.  What would have ruined her was having a mommy literally go insane from lack of sleep. That's not good for anyone! 
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