This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosures page for more information.
This post is entirely my opinion and not intended as medical advice. It is not to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease, condition, or ailment. Please consult your child's physician with any concerns or before starting any sleep training method.
So I posted about the great sleep myth of babies and toddlers (you can read it here) and I said I would follow-up with details. We are pretty much sleep trained and he has been going into the crib without a fuss and falling asleep on his own. We finally had a night that he slept 8pm-7am with no wake ups! Up until a few weeks ago when we first started trying, he was still waking 2-3 times a night. No good for anyone! But sleep is here and it is glorious.
Tiny Human #2 is quite the stubborn child, not just in the arena of sleep. He is spunky but definitely has a one tracked mind and his own agenda. So when he was almost 8 months old and waking 1-2 times a night, we moved. And for 6 months, he and Tiny Human #2 had to share a room. Which made it hard to sleep train. So we trudged on knowing we would be in our own home again and we could end this eventually.
I spoke with his pediatrician at his 1 year check up and she encouraged me to find whatever method made us both comfortable and caused the least amount of stress. I tried every sleep training method I could find. But if I didn't nurse and rock him to sleep, he would scream bloody murder when I laid him down. And then within seconds, he would be so worked up from screaming he would throw up.
So I set off on a different path. I found every popular sleep training method I could online and scoured over them. I picked and chose what I thought may work for him and made a plan. Here's what I came up with:
Holding him and rocking was not an option to get him to sleep. The first 5 nights I sat with him for about 5 minutes, told him night night, and laid him down in the crib. The tears started immediately. I sat down by the crib and did not touch him. I reassured him with my voice saying "It's ok buddy. Time for night night. Lay down." when he was getting too worked up. Then I stayed there until he fell asleep and then left the room. The first night, it took an hour and a half for him to fall asleep. The last night of this step, he was taking about 20 minutes. By night 4, he stopped crying when I laid him down so I gave it one more night and then moved on to step 2.
The next five nights, I laid him down but this time sat 3 feet away from the crib and faced to the side so we couldn't make eye contact. He only cried the first night of step 2 for about 30 seconds when he realized I wasn't going to be sitting close or engaging. First night was about 30 minutes to fall asleep and by the end of this step, he was at about 15-20 minutes to fall asleep, all tear free.
By this point he was starting to realize what was going on so for the next 4-5 nights I stood in the doorway. Still only saying my phrase and not touching or picking him up. He took about 15 minutes to fall asleep.
He did well transitioning to step 4. I could cuddle with him and then lay him down and walk out with no tears or yelling for me and falling asleep anywhere from immediately to 10 minutes after walking out. He will randomly wake up 1 time during the night, but is very easy to get to go back to sleep (if he doesn't do it on his own!) and is now sleeping from about 7:45pm-6:30am/7am, sometimes later.
Here's what our nights look like now:
Start bedtime at 7pm
My kids are notorious dawdlers when it's time for bed. Getting started at 7pm means we have enough time to get pj's on, teeth brushed and bedtime books read so they are in bed at 7:45pm. Much earlier, and Tiny Human #2 takes forever to fall asleep and then wakes up early the next day. Too much later than that and he will sometimes wake up twice during the night and be grumpy the next day.
Tiny Human #2 is quite a cuddler for how busy he can be during the day. If I give him 5 minutes of cuddles and individual attention before I lay him down, he's much less likely to whine or cry when I put him in the crib or walk out of the room.
Same phrase to signify sleep
I say "Ok, are you ready to get in your bed? Milk is night night, now it's your turn for night night, and mommy's turn for night night." He smiles and gives me a high five and a fist bump (any boymoms out there?? Lol!) and then points to his crib. He still has a paci so he has that in and he grabs his puppy paci that he cuddles with and rubs on his face to fall asleep. He also loves his Little Einstein's musical mobile so that gets turned on (both my kids have LOVED this thing and used it to go to sleep with). The mobile turns itself off after a little while, so I have this sound machine that runs in the background through the night. I rub his back and say "Goodnight buddy, Mommy loves you. Sleep good."
Elaborate walk out
I make a big deal when I walk out of the room. He's a belly sleeper, so he lifts and turns his head toward me so I can wave like a fool saying "Night night buddy, I love you" while blowing him a million kisses. He thinks its hilarious, blows kisses back at me and I shut the door. 99% of the time I don't hear another word out of him and he is asleep within 5 minutes. It took us about 3 weeks to get to that point.
So that is what has worked for us! Everyone is getting more sleep and is less grumpy! Did you wait to sleep train your kiddo until they were a toddler? What issues did you encounter?