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miasmom's avatar

I need some encouragement on helping my daughter fall asleep on her own at naptime.

Asked by miasmom (3495points) May 1st, 2009 from iPhone

My daughter is now 18 months, for awhile she was sleeping through the night, then she stopped. On Sunday evening, daddy decided to let her cry it out, it took about 1 1/2 hours, but she did go back to sleep on her own. On Monday night, it only took 1 hour and Tuesday night 30 minutes.

Well, Tuesday even we were chatting with friends and they said we needed to do it at naptime also because otherwise we were sending mixed signals. Up until now, I would hold her until she fell asleep at naps and then put her in her crib. She would stay asleep just fine.

Well, since we switched to letting her cry at naps, life has been horrible. I know it has only been a few days, but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong because nap time is getting worse.

I just need some encouragement and helpful tips. Like how many hours do I let her cry? I do go in there every 10 minutes so she doesn’t feel abandoned.

It has been a tough few days, have you done this with your child? Any pointers?

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14 Answers

casheroo's avatar

When you say she is crying for extended periods, are you going in and soothing her?

When we did the transistion from cosleeping to crib sleeping, we tried a lot of different ways….I even got into the crib with my son to try to calm him down!
We did a mild form of CIO, I’d put him down in the crib and I’d put his music on and leave the room. After 5 minutes of crying, I’d go back in and calm him down, then leave again. It is a long, long process.
I ended up having to lay on his floor, with my hand through thr crib, so he knew I was still there. We found this to be the most effective way to get him to fall asleep in the crib.
Also, the whole CIO thing doesn’t last very long if you do it the right way, I think we were done after a week.
My son has almost always been a good napper, but we did start using the crib at the same time for naps as we did for bed time. At that age, children need a strict bedtime routine.

theartfuldodger's avatar

I started writing but then I erased, because I don’t want to sound condescending. That is not my intent, ok?

I just don’t believe in letting a baby “cry it out”. I don’t believe in making a baby learn a regimen. I certainly don’t believe in letting her cry for hours.

Go in. Soothe her. Hold her till she falls asleep. If she is still crying when you are holding her, see what else she needs. Try feeding her, or changing her.

Her trust was betrayed when you let her cry it out – crying is the only way she can get your attention and no one came. She might just be scared that her cries don’t work all the time.

I come from a different school of thought when it comes to children, I recognize that.

miasmom's avatar

I do go in and soothe her every 10 minutes, so I’m not letting her cry endlessly, I pick her up, calm her down, and put her back in the crib.

theartfuldodger's avatar

Yeah, I’m not saying what you are doing, more like – what a person should do.

I don’t want my words to be judgemental, they aren’t.


MissAusten's avatar

The CIO method is harder with older babies and toddlers. If your current naptime routine was working fine, why not stick with it? Did your daughter seem to be confused? She’s old enough to learn that the routine at night can be different from the routine at naptime. You said the crying at night has been decreasing, which is great. If trying to CIO at naps is causing more of a problem, don’t even worry about it. If you do decide to stick with it, your daughter shouldn’t be crying at naptime for more than an hour. Use the same routine of going into the room periodically to soothe her (try not to pick her up though), but if after an hour she’s still awake just get her up and try again at the next naptime or bedtime.

Is she down to one nap a day, or still taking two? If two, you might want to have her take only one nap. Maybe she’ll go to sleep easier. Most kids transistion to one nap a day around 18 months of age. My kids stopped napping completely by the time they were 3 1/2 or so.

Anyway, you should do what works for you and your baby. We had a lot of sucess with the CIO routine just as you describe, even for naps, but our kids were a bit younger.

miasmom's avatar

She is pretty much ready to do one nap, I think that maybe we shouldn’t have switched up her naptime routine, so I think I will try doing what we did in the past for naps and sticking with the CIO at night. I think she is old enough to distinguish between day and night routine, I’m sorry I put her through this stress. :(

casheroo's avatar

I’m not for the CIO method that most people think it is. Going in and soothing your child, while they learn to sleep on their own is not CIO. People have a huge misconception on what CIO means. I think it all started by parents who read Dr. Ferber, taking it to mean to leave your child to cry it out by themselves…which is not the case at all.
@miasmom As long as you didn’t leave her alone for that entire hour crying, you didn’t do any damage. Don’t beat yourself up.
It’s hard for children to learn to sleep on their own, trust me..I was a mess when we were starting the crib sleeping at 14 months. It took an entire month to get him into the crib without him having a total meltdown! It’s very stressful, but you just need to remain calm and your daughter will catch on.

Judi's avatar

Does she have a white noise machine? It really helps my grandsons. I bought this teddy bear to keep at my house so they always have one there. They love it.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m not a follower of “routine” so if my child/grandson doesn’t fall asleep, neither do I. I am a work at homer, so I have the luxury of chosing when I wake up and go to sleep. When he’s ready to sleep, he walks over to his sleeping mat and goes to sleep, which is my clue to do the same. If it’s nap time, I usually sleep in my recliner, but if it’s nighttime, I go to bed.

Jack79's avatar

Just my opinion here, nothing scientific.

1. I did not have this problem with my daughter. When she was 14 months old, I’d say “go to bed” and she’d just walk over to her bed (whether day or night) and sleep. All I’d have to do was tuck her in. When she was 3 (after a series of psychologically wrecking events in the meantime) she did need a bedtime story and a hug, but it was still easy to do. She never cries when she’s with me. And she always listens to me.

2. Overall, if you want to do the “let them cry” thing, yes, that’s the right way to do it. As you saw, it worked for the evening. But perhaps you should take it easy on her, she’s only 18m and she just had to go through that phase. I don’t agree with the “mixed signals”. One nap is when the sun is still up, the other when it’s not. Children may not be able to tell the time at this age, but they’re pretty clear about day and night (even plants can tell that difference). So I’d cut her some slack for now.

3. If you’re willing to make the effort of helping her sleep (whether it’s a lullaby, a rocking chair or a bedtime story), then by all means do so. You can never give a child too much love or attention. I have now regretted not allowing my daughter sleep with me every single night she asked me to. I was doing it mainly for me, I wanted her to be in bed by 10 and then have the rest of the evening for me, be allowed to keep on a light and so on. I also wanted to be able to have my girlfriend over sometimes. I only allowed her to sleep with me on special occasions, if she’d done something and I’d said she could ask for whatever she wanted. And what she always asked for was to sleep in my arms that night. I know that most of your children do not have her problem, and I truly hope that they never miss their parent(s) as much as my daughter misses me, but I now wish I could have given her more love, and the safety she wanted to feel, sleeping in my arms rather than her own bed. Yes, there is a time when children must eventually learn to become more independent. You cannot keep them with you forever. But pushing them away so early is also wrong. Let them take their time, hug them and carry them as much as they need it, and allow them to sleep with you until they feel old enough to ask for it themselves. And if you’re a mother, breastfeed for as long as possible.

MissAusten's avatar

I agree with a lot of what @Jack79 said. Even though our kids were transitioned to their own rooms as young toddlers, we have still always been softies about letting them climb into bed with us in the middle of the night if they have a nightmare, are sick, or just wake up and can’t get back to sleep. It doesn’t happen often. Our 10 year old daughter probably sneaks into our bed once every few months. Our 5 year old and 4 year old boys sneak in once a week or so. it’s nice to have some extra cuddle time, even though they kick us and steal the blankets. It’s also a bit of laziness on our part because we hate to get out of bed for anything less than a catastrophe and are incapable of arguing with small children at 3 a.m. I’m sure as they get older and gradually stop climbing into bed with us in the middle of the night we’ll start to really miss it. Maybe. ;)

I’m also a big fan of the early bedtime. All three kids are in bed at 7:30. The boys go right to sleep, and our daughter reads in bed for an hour. My husband and I get the whole evening to ourselves, can watch a movie or eat dinner alone, and still go to bed by 10:00. There are exceptions, of course, like weekends, special occasions, or just random summer nights where we’re having too much fun to pay attention to bedtime. I guess the key is to have a good routine, but know when to abandon it in favor of the moment!

miasmom's avatar

She is definitely a routine baby and we try to keep to that as much as possible. Thank you everyone for your thoughts. I think it isn’t my nature to let her cry it out, even if I check on her every ten minutes. I like @casheroo ‘s comment on sitting outside the crib. I did that tonight, she cried a bit, but then after 20 minutes went to sleep. I feel like I didn’t abandon her and yet, she did have to go to sleep on her own. We are going to try this with naptime and see how it goes.

@MissAusten After I read your comment I really wanted to go back to how we did it before, but I tried today and when I put her in her crib she immediately woke up and started crying, so I feel like it would be alot of work to go back and maybe now is the time to transition. I imagine it won’t be easy, but hopefully in a month or so she will be able to fall asleep without me for naptime.

casheroo's avatar

@miasmom I’m glad staying in the room helped! Someone gave me that advice once, and it really helped. Much less crying, and the child does not feel “abandoned” Hopefully you all get some rest soon.

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