Sleep Training our 18 Month Old

As you probably know if you’ve ever read anything on here, Elijah has never been a good sleeper. He went through a stretch a couple months ago that were much better just waking up once or twice for a short time most nights with only a night or two a week where he was up for hours, but then he quickly reverted back to being up all night every night and then napping for like 45 minutes. We’ve always said he’s not sleeping in our bed at all. And then he really stopped sleeping and I needed to at least lay down and get a few minutes here and there, so in he came. Combine this with normal pregnancy exhaustion and his non stop go all day long, and I was worn out. Beyond worn out. Like falling asleep in places I really shouldn’t be worn out.

At his 18 month check up we asked his pediatrician about it, and her answer was some kids figure it out and some don’t but if it were me I would give some tough love and let him cry to know that night is sleep time and not mom and dad time. She said it could take 3-4 hours of crying because he’s got the longevity now, and a week or so of doing this, but he would figure it out. Daniel of course was all for it and ready to do what the dr said. I on the other hand didn’t like it. I’ve never wanted to do cry it out because I’ve felt like it’s abandoning your little baby who just wants his mom or dad. Just because he’s little and can’t speak didn’t mean his feelings didn’t matter. He’s part of our family and needs to be loved and respected as well.

But, I did notice myself losing patience with him during the day and having no energy to do things with him because of not sleeping which also isn’t fair to him.  So we had to do something. I’ve read a few sleep books, and they’re all super complicated and not practical to follow, especially for a toddler, so I used portions of what I’ve read and came up with my own plan and compromise so that I didn’t feel like we were leaving him to feel scared and abandoned while also setting some boundaries and getting some sleep for all of us.

The plan:

When he wakes up one of us goes in, gives him his pacifier, gently and sweetly lays him back down, tell him we love him very much and good night, and walk out.  Occasionally if he seems to be heading right back to sleep when we lay him down, well stay for juuust a minute and hold a hand over his chest. But we never pick him up, and we’re only there for a minute whether he’s crying or not.  We then look at the clock and wait 15 minutes before repeating the same procedure.

So how’s it going?


Night One:

Night one he woke up at 9 pm.  I went in first and put our plan into action, and he screamed even louder as soon as I left.  I came back to our room and got ready for bed, mad that we were doing this and bawling my eyes out. I did not like this one bit. 15 minutes passed and Daniel went in and did the same thing. And Elijah did the same thing of crying even more. (So did I.)  15 more minutes passed and I went in again, and again did the same thing. He of course cried like crazy when I left.  5 minutes passed and the craziest thing happened. He stopped crying. Still standing, but no crying.  Then, a few minutes later, he lay down and went to sleep.  It took a few minutes to believe it was real, and then I went to sleep, until 4 am. Then we did pretty much the exact same thing for the same 30 minutes and then we were back to sleep until 6.  My mind was blown that he did this well night one.

On to Night Two:

He woke up at 130 this night, and took the same 30 minutes to go back to sleep.  Then again at 4 which took only 15 minutes, but then again at 5 and finally at 6 for the day.

Night Three:

I honestly don’t remember details from this night, and didn’t write them down.  Pregnancy and mom brain at it’s finest here.

Night Four:

We put him to bed at his usual 7:30, and we briefly heard from him at 8:30, but only for a second, and he got himself back to sleep without us going in.  The next we heard from him was 5:45 am, minutes before I was going to wake him up anyway.  We went to bed at 9 pm and our alarm went off at 5 am. I think this means 8 hours of sleep for us and 10 for him.  I’m kind of in shock, so my math may be wrong, but either way, we slept.

Nights 5-7

Sick baby means no sleep training (or sleeping). He spent most of the nights in our room and was up at 330 one morning. Which if that’s what he needs when he’s sick, that’s what he gets.

Nights 6-8

We started back up when he was felling better for a full day.  The first night he was up a few times, the second night just twice and for only a few minutes each time, and the third night just once for a couple minutes. I went in lay him down, he cried for a minute or two and by the time I finished using the restroom he was asleep.

Overall, sleep training has gone so much better than I ever expected.  No, he’s not sleeping through the night all the way, but being up for 5 minutes once or twice is a million times better than where we were which was being up for hours and him sleeping in our bed. It’s not the perfect fix, but really nothing is. I was as doubtful as could be about it, but overall I say it’s working! It is absolutely worth a try if you are desperate for some rest!!


elijahcribUpdate at 1 Month

MOST nights Elijah is sleeping from 7:30 to 4.  Which is amazing.  The problem were running into now though is him not going back to sleep when he wakes up that early. Occasionally when we cave and bring him into our bed, he’ll go back to sleep, but a lot of the time he’s just ready to head “outside” (Usually his first words for the morning…).  Plus naps still suck, so it’s not perfect.  But you win some you lose some, and for now I’ll take the small win we’ve got, and enjoy the snuggles as a trade off.


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