Sleep training at 18 months is hard. Oliver has always had problems falling asleep on his own and staying asleep all night. It would come and go in waves where we had no problems putting him down at 7 p.m. and he would sleep until 6 a.m. the next morning.
Or, we would rock him to sleep and continue to do so a few times throughout the night. Usually this would happen after he got over being sick when we would let him sleep with us. I know bad idea mom, but I can’t help it when he’s sick.
However this time he was not sick or teething. It was just one of the stages where he didn’t want to sleep no matter how tired he was. At this point, my husband was working nights so it was just the two of us. After a half hour I didn’t want to listen to him cry anymore.
So of course I did the worst thing I could possibly do, I gave in. I brought him down, laid him on the couch, and sat down on the other side. It was a bad idea, but it was comforting to have him there when I usually spent nights alone.
After an hour I would move him to his crib but he would always wake up and end up in our bed. This went on for three or four days until I realized it was time to undo the mistake I made.
I know a lot of people feel strongly against the cry it out method. Believe me when I say I absolutely hate it. But sometimes there’s nothing else you can do.
Although it was a horrible week, Oliver is almost four now and we’ve never had a problem with him sleeping in his bed or going to bed on his own since.
Another issue is breaking the co-sleeping habit. I am all for co-sleeping, I did it with Oliver for the first nine months.
But sometimes if it continues for too long your kids will never grow out of it and you’ll be sharing your bed forever. Decide when it’s a good time to wean off co-sleeping for your and your little and stick to it.
The first night was awful. After his bedtime routine I took Oliver upstairs around 8p.m. (he usually goes to bed at 7p.m. but had taken a long, late nap so he wasn’t quite ready). I laid him down, said it was time to go to sleep and told him I loved him. Of course he was up and crying before I could close the door behind me. Every half hour I went up to lay him back down and tell him to go to sleep so he didn’t feel like I abandoned him. This went on until about 9:30p.m. when he was finally out. For the first time in a week he slept all night.
The second night he was in bed at 7 p.m. and cried until about 8:30p.m.. Again, I went upstairs every half hour to reassure him. He woke up at about 4:30 a.m. so after changing his diaper I put him back down in his crib. We have a one bedroom apartment so when Oliver wakes up at night, my husband and I have to go sleep on the couch until we don’t hear him crying anymore and can sneak back to bed. We fell asleep on the couch so I’m not sure how long it took him to go back to sleep. Once he did, he didn’t wake up again until 7 a.m. that morning.
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The third night I put him down at 7 p.m. but when I went up to lay him back down a half hour later, I could smell that he pooped. So I had to bring him down and change him which gave him the impression that he won. It was a short victory as he was right back in bed and asleep around 8:20 p.m. He slept all night until 6:00 a.m. the next morning.
By the fourth night, bedtime was not getting any easier. He went down at 7:30 p.m., cried until 9 p.m. and slept until 5 a.m. the next morning. I’ve had to retrain Oliver to go to sleep on his own many times but usually by the third or fourth night my work was done. Not this time. The kid was giving me a run for my money. But as I’ve tried explaining to him many times, mommy always wins.
Night five we stayed at my moms. I was nervous because he knows he can get away with a lot more there with my mom and my grandma under the same roof. But he went to bed at 8:30p.m. and was sleeping by 9:00p.m. I’m still unsure if he was just pooped from the excitement of Grammy’s house or if we were actually beginning to make progress.
The sixth and final night of the battle, my mom put Oliver to bed (date night for us!). When we got home she said he went down around 7:30 p.m. and was out within SEVEN MINUTES! And he didn’t even cry, just laid down and went right to sleep.
I haven’t had a problem getting him to sleep one night since I won the Great Bedtime War of ’17. Of course once I put him down he cries in a last effort to get me to come back but never for more than 5 minutes. My biggest mistake was not sleeping training him sooner. The younger a child is the easier it is to break bad habits and start forming good ones.