How I Sleep Trained My 15 Month Old

Sleep training is difficult. Especially when you wait until your baby is already a toddler! #sleeptraining

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(Last Updated On: March 9, 2018)
How I sleep trained my 15 month old with minimal tears! #sleeptraining #toddlersleep #gentlesleeptraining

 

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.

 

*UPDATE!!! I have heard from so many of you wanting more detail on my sleep training methods that I wrote an e-book with more detail on how I sleep trained my toddler! Click through this link to check it out!*

 

 

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:

 

 

 

Step 1:

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.

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.

Step 3:

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.

Step 4:

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.

Cuddles

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?

 

 

 

To get your copy of my e-book Sleep Training Your Reluctant Toddler, click the button below!

 

 

 

 

Sleep training is difficult. Especially when you wait until your baby is already a toddler! #sleeptraining

 

 

 

 

 

17 Comments

    1. Thanks! That was key for him. As long as he felt I was there but wasn’t going to assist him in falling asleep, he figured it out!

  1. I would add that our goal in adjusting to his comfort levels were based on making sure he understands he is in a safe place. Kids naturally (and sometimes irrationally) depend on parents for safety, reassurance, and guidance. This method was what helped communicate to him that he is safe despite the new routine, and that he can be certain all is well and there is nothing to fear.

    Adults do the same and require the same. We naturally strive for safety and assurance in the many circumstances we face. We often cause a fit when we don’t feel safe or assured. When we are uncomfortable with our surroundings or routines, we either exist in a state of insecurity or we are somehow assured and therefore confident.

    Adults often turn to peers or a deity to acquire this security, but children instinctively seek their parents first. To some degree, I believe everyone should be allowed a state of insecurity in order to build character – but not more than they can sufficiently handle while not causing short term or long term harm.

  2. I love this tips . My toddler is 17 months now and the only way I get him to sleep by his own is have to place an iPad with lullaby songs next to him and he will later fall to sleep. But I want to change this habit of using a iPad and let him sleep on his own completely I will try and implement some of your advise see how it goes for me . Thank you

    1. Good luck! It took a lot of patience on my part, but it was totally worth finding what worked for him. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. This sounds great. My 15 month old is up 3-4 times a night right now and I’m exhausted. He puts himself to bed fine but will not go back to sleep at night without nursing. Any tips?

    1. Oh my goodness, that’s EXACTLY where we were! We went cold turkey overnight. When he woke up to nurse, I went in his room and sat down by the crib. He screamed bloody murder, but I just sat nearby and reassured him. It took a few days before he stopped screaming for 30 minutes every time he used to wake up to nurse. But I sat close and just kept reassuring him for the first 5 minutes and then just sat there and let him settle himself down with me there. It took about 2 weeks and he stopped waking up overnight to nurse. Hang in there mommy!

  4. I’m in the same boat with my 14 month old and would like to implement your plan, my only question is where in the bedtime routine did you move nursing? We too nurse to sleep and it’s clearly not working anymore. Did you start nursing earlier in the evening?

    1. Oh, I did forget to mention that Shelby. I started nursing after I put his pj’s on, but never in his room. If I nursed him in his room, that was the end of trying to get him to sleep on his own that night. I usually took him in the living room and nursed him before we went to his room for bed. It was hard at first because even though he had just nursed, he wanted to again when we got to his room. He finally let it go about 3-4 days into not nursing right before laying him down. Hope that helps, and that you get some sleep soon!

  5. Did you do this during the daytime for naps at all or did you nurse to sleep at that time? My little boy (1 yr old) sounds pretty similar to yours and it is torture for me to let him CIO, so I will definitely try this routine.

  6. Did you do this during the day time for naps at all? My little one (12 mo) sounds pretty similar to yours, so I will definitely try this routine.

    1. Cassidy, I did integrate it at naptime as well to keep the consistency. Good luck! And be on the lookout over the next couple of weeks. I’m working on an e-book with a more detailed synopsis of how I sleep trained my toddler!

  7. Oh my gosh!!! My twins have been great sleepers since 4 month old, when they were 11 months we had a huge fire down here in SoCal and had to evacuate in the middle of the night. Since December (they turned one in January) they have not slept a solid night. After MUCH research I came across this, although I adjusted it slightly for our needs, my babies have been sleeping all night for about two weeks!!!! Thank you thank you thank you ♥️♥️

    1. Ashley, I’m sooo glad this was helpful for you! Using it to suit your twins needs has clearly paid off. You are so welcome! I remember those sleepless months thinking it would never end. I’m so happy you’ve been 2 weeks now with sleep!

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