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March 07, 2006



Oh, hot topic. I have an almost-one-year-old and have made friends who have first babies about the same age. We all do something different - some find their own sleep needs outweigh the need for teaching their baby to sleep on his/her own, others find the need to instill good sleeping habits paramount to the point of major crying it out, while some of us have tried to establish a happy middle ground. Personally, we have a good bedtime routine but we will have to adjust when I start weaning in a few months - yikes!


we do whatever works. and in the 26 months of jake's life, that has changed so much.

to the mainstream population, what we do is frowned upon. i fall asleep with him every night, get up around 11 and then dh goes in with him around 1 or 2. this works for us. sure i worry that he'll be psychologically damaged, but i can't make my family do things they don't want to do.


I have a daughter the same age. (Almost exactly.) She watches a video (sometimes) and hangs out with us while we watch the news or talk in our bedroom. When it's close to 8 p.m., I ask her if her video is over. If it is, we brush teeth, sometimes read a book, occasionally rock for literally three minutes, then I put her in her crib. (Yes, crib. Still. I know.)

Then she sleeps until morning.

It hasn't always been this easy. She didn't sleep through the night until she was almost a year old and then had a 4-month nap strike at about the same time.

Our bedtime routine used to be much longer, but now, thankfully, it's short because by 8 p.m., I'm officially off-duty.


My 4 month old had been sleeping for about a 6 hour stretch at night and then nursing and he would immediately go back to sleep. For the past few days he wakes up every 3-4 hours and cries/screams until I nurse him. The sleep deprivation is starting to get to me. I know he is teething and I have read that can cause them to not sleep very well. Any ideas?


Ours is 10 months, and slept through the night two weeks in a row about six months ago...and never slept through before or after. Until this week. Did I mention until this week? She was up repeated times every night, including some nights where she was up every half hour or so. Don't get me started on when she was asleep. Nursing her to sleep almost never worked...she would be awake the instant you moved her. She would go down easy to bed, though, initially even though she was awake. It was the repeated night wakings that made me a "Mombie". We tried Ferber, extra food, earlier, later, more naps, less naps, the car (she hated until 5 months and it's only in the past two that she'll sleep in it), the swing, our bed (ha ha ha...that was a nightmare), crying it out (that was the two weeks...but she slowly crept back to her repetitive wakings because I lost my watch for a few days and we don't have a clock...husband uses his phone as an alarm). Well. We even tried Benedryl like our pedi suggested (take for a few days to shake up her "routine" of waking and waking and waking), and that didn't work because it only mellows her, it doesn't make her crash.

We tried crying it out again two or three times but it never worked because we hated it. So we accepted that we'd be waking indefinitely--she is a breastfed baby, they wake more, yada yada yada. Then last week the sleep deprivation went too far. I felt exhausted and drowsy while driving, and could tell that I was putting us both in danger. I browsed sleep books in the book store but they didn't have enough of what I was looking for to buy them, but I read a couple things that I thought I'd try, and voila.

It was a mix, and mind you, we're still holding our breath, but here's what we did:

--Picked a bedtime and stuck with it. That was easy because it has been 8:30 for months.
--Baths don't help us because although they do make her sleepy before bedtime, putting her to bed initially isn't the problem. It's getting her to stay asleep. And it's (expletive) 17 or less % humidity here, so baths every night aren't an option anyway, even with humidifiers. However, building a routine IS helpful, so we started putting on soothing music and turning down/off lights around the house at 7:30. Bath time or gentle play happens at this time.
--We had to let her cry it out at least some, but I nurse her at the 5-hour mark. The goal was for her to sleep a total of 9-10 hours each night. She cried a lot the first night but after that, she made little squawks and that was it. She wakes up a few times each night but now settles herself down. Between 1 and 3 she "hard wakes", and I go nurse her.
--I go to bed no later than an hour and a half after she does. This has been crucial. I get at least one REM cycle before she wakes me.
--I get her up no later than 10 hours after she goes to bed. That's the time she needs to wake to go to daycare anyway on my work days.
--I try to get her morning nap at the same time every day, and try to encourage a long one with the same soothing music (soothes the savage wee beastie in my wee girlie)
--If I go somewhere in the afternoon and she falls asleep in the car, I drive around or park somewhere and read until she wakes up. That way she gets a decent pm nap.
--We make sure she gets her reflux medicine at night just in case heartburn has been causing her trouble
--We cross our fingers and anything else we've got and pray a lot.

--A week of sleeping through the night
--Cessation of temper tantrums
--Child who is able to play by herself for up to an hour at a time
--She laughs, she natters, she drinks and eats better, and is just generally much more cheerful.
--We are not zombies. For the first time I also feel cheerful. The house is getting cleaner. We go for walks without screaming and fuss.

Okay, I hope I don't jinx myself, but we are ecstatic that we have even come THIS close to discovering a possible solution. The key to her "difficult" behavior has been sleep deprivation, and if we can keep it up!!!! Hooray!!! But wish us luck, but we are very cautious...


As a mother of two, this post sounds like the plot of a horror movie to me. Except for the happy ending. Congratulations on finally getting your daughter to bed by herself and at a decent hour! What an accomplishment.

I, for one, believe very strongly in early bedtimes and routines. Both my 2.5 year old and my 1 year old bathe together at 6:30. The 1 year old is in bed by 7. The 2.5 year old is in bed by 8:30. If I didn't have these evening hours to do my own thing, I would be insane. No question.

That being said, it took a lot of hard work to train my kids on the idea of bedtime. The bath/nursing/bed ritual happened at the same time every night. After I weaned at 12 months, the ritual became bath/story/bed. Every night. The same thing.

You were right in making a workable routine, getting your husband on board, then sticking to it. I'm convinced that kids actually hate spontanaeity when it comes to sleep.


I think one of the best gifts parents can give their children is the gift of knowing how to put themselves to sleep. We have one child. We had no experience. I listened to the wise counsel of my earth mother pediatrician - she said to feed him and change him and put him in the bed (I'd been rocking this breast fed boy to sleep, and it usually didn't take long). She said he'd cry, and he did. She said, rub his back, arm or whatever but DON"T pick him up. Talk to him. I did that, and the first night he cried maybe 20 minutes. Not screaming crying, but crying. Second night, we did the same, and he cried about 15 min. Third night, maybe 5 min. Fourth night, maybe 2 min. Fifth night, I put him in bed. He gazed at me with those big, solemn eyes and let out the biggest sigh. Then he closed his eyes and turned his head to the side. That was that. We've NEVER had another problem putting this child to bed. Yeah, when he was 4 or so, he'd stall and say he didn't want to go to bed. We always acknowledge his feelings, and that seems to be enough. He's now 11 and a champion sleeper. Will my method work for everyone? Heck no! But it worked for us. It gave us peaceful evenings and it gave him the confidence to be alone. Thank you, Dr. Ives.


Ooh, this is a toughie. I'm very sleep deprived.

The bedtime is easy, we finally used the book, "Helping Your Child Sleep Through the Night". IT has worked for us.

Then Child #3 comes along with his own issues, has problems with waking up in the middle of the night and NOT falling back to sleep. Strange to explain, he has inner ear problems, vestibular issues, tinnitus. Especially when allergy season is very bad. The doctor told us to use Benadryl, when needed, for the allergies. We use it sparingly, but it also helps him sleep, go figure.


My four month old has slept through the night *once* so far (grumble, grumble).
But getting her to sleep in the first place has not been a problem since we put her to bed every night with a music box that plays for 30 minutes. Now she'll go to sleep almost on cue (between 7:30 and 8pm), as long as that music box is playing. I think she's so used to the routine that the music itself makes her sleepy.
It's portable, so we can take it to the grandparents' house too, which helps her sleep in an unfamiliar environment.
Now if only she would stop waking up at 2AM.

Wicked Stepmom

The Boy (also born in 2002) goes to bed at 8pm. Before I had The Mouse in November, I used to put him to bed. Our routine was read one book, turn on a CD of his bedtime music, kiss him goodnight and leave.

HOWEVER, DH took over the job of putting The Boy to bed while I was recovering from my c-section. He puts on his CD, snuggles with The Boy in his bed and, yes, falls asleep. Then 9pm rolls around and it's Cinderella's turn. DH gets up, walks to the other side of their shared room, turns on HER CD, snuggles with her and... you guessed it... falls asleep.

While all this snoozing is going on upstairs, I quietly nurse The Mouse in our room, put her to bed and then listen to the slumbering sounds of my family over their respective monitors. :)


Our daughter goes to bed at 9PM. The routine starts 10 minutes prior. She brushes her teeth, Mommy or Daddy picks 1-2 stories (one old and one new)and we kiss her goodnight, turn off the light and close the door. Our 3 month old gets her last bottle at 8 and is in bed by 8:30PM, crying or not. She doesn't cry very often at bedtime anymore. :)

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