Falling Asleep On His Own

Excited About His New Bed

Excited About His New Bed

Rocco spent the first 17 months of his life sleeping with me about 90% of the time.  Between 14 and 17 months, I researched every alternative to the Ferber CIO (cry it out) method and tried them all with very little progress.  I was able to get him to fall asleep without nursing him, but I spent an hour or more each day bent over his crib rubbing his back and soothing him to sleep.  Within a few hours he would wake up screaming and trembling with fear.  Even though I rushed to him every time he woke up, I would spend the next 30 minutes with a scared toddler clingy to me for dear life.  I thought he just disliked being in his own bedroom alone, because he was happy to play in there during the day, and was fine in the crib with me in the room.  We had a nice bedtime routine established, which took place in his room as well.  I nursed him, read him stories, rocked him, and sang him lullabies.  I reassured him daily that I was always in the house and would come to him whenever he needed me.  Nothing helped.  Soon, he started regressing and would become upset at the sight of the crib.  I went back to nursing him to sleep.  Within about a week, he started waking up and literally flying out of the crib before I could get into his room.  The mattress spring was in the third and lowest position, so I took it off and dropped it another three inches to the frame of the bed.  That did not help and he was out the second night at midnight, less than three hours after going to sleep.  That was the 31st of May, 2008.  He was 17 months old.  On the 1st of June, I removed the side of the bed and decided to use it as little love seat/daybed.  We would sit and read books and cuddle with stuffed animals, and I would co-sleep with him until he went off to college.

Rocco “helped” me take off the side, which was very exciting to him.  He helped me put blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals on our new love seat/daybed.  At that point, I was not even thinking about having him use this as a bed.  To my surprise he loved it.  He played on or around it for the next two hours, and even pretended to sleep with his blanket covering him and his eyes closed.  When nap time came, he didn’t want to get out of the bed, so I climbed in there with him, which was very uncomfortable, and nursed him to sleep.  He slept 90 minutes, a nap time record for Rocco.  He had never napped for more than 30 minutes in his crib, and always finished him nap in my lap in the living room chair.

That first night, I decided to give bedtime a try in the new toddler bed.  It went as smoothly as nap time had gone and he was asleep at the regular time.  He had never slept alone in his room for more than three hours, and I did not expect the toddler bed to change that.  Well, it did, and he slept over four hours the first night.  After a few weeks, he was sleeping six to seven hours straight in his bed, and I was thrilled!  Soon, I moved his bedtime two hours earlier, which I have written about in another blog, and he was sleeping eight to nine hours straight in his bed most nights.

Now, for how I got him to fall asleep alone without fussing or crying and without me in the bed nursing him to sleep.  The first step was nursing him into a groggy state in the rocking chair, laying him in the bed, and rubbing his back until he drifted off to sleep.  That worked almost immediately.  When it didn’t work, I repeated the process until it did.  In other words, if he got upset and sat up or tried to get out of bed, it was back to the rocking chair to nurse until he finally drifted off to being nearly asleep.

I moved to the next step after about four days.  With each step, if it did not work, I went back to the last step that worked, and kept trying.  On the fifth day, I rubbed his back for a very short time and then stopped, but continued to sit next to his bed.  If he started getting up, I’d lay him back down and rub his back more. That happened a few times.   Within a week, I was able to lay him down, rub his back for less than a minute, and he would go to sleep.  A week or so after that, I stopped sitting next to his bed and sat across the room in the rocking chair as soon as I put him in his bed.  If he got upset, I simply moved back to his bedside, settled him down, and went back to the rocking chair reassuring him that I was close by.  Once he was comfortable with that, I stood at the doorway.  That was the longest step, and it took Rocco over two weeks to become comfortable with not having me in the room.  Finally, I tucked him in his bed, gave him and hug and kiss, and walked out of the room.  It was about six weeks to complete the entire process.  The last step was the longest.  The first night, he got out of his bed no fewer than 50 times and followed me into the hallway.  I clearly and firmly told him that it was bedtime, and that he needed to close his eyes and go to sleep.  After putting him back in bed the first time, I did not say a word to him when I put him back to bed.  That was an exhausting process, but thankfully, there was no crying. I took a very long time, making sure he was comfortable with the routine and never felt scared or anxious.  He did not cry or have tantrums during this process, which was very important to me.  It took a lot of patience on my part, but it was priceless for me to have Rocco learn to fall asleep on his own without it being traumatic for either of us.

Thanks for reading~Sid