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How to teach toddler to self-settle?


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#16 ~Kylie~

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 11:56 PM

Maxi, that is a good idea, I’ll try that thanks smile.gif We’ve also started brushing her teeth before her bath, then we offer a short massage before we dress her.

Jantastic
, very true, thankyou.

Kerala, thankyou. I read your comments to my DH, who was concerned the decision meant we’d never make any progress, and the weekend would be a ‘waste’.

It’s hard when he has no idea how to proceed, and looks to me for guidance, and I have no idea either and tend to go by my instinct at the time, which leaves him having even more of no idea on what I need him to do/say. Needless to say, communication is something we are working on happy.gif

Thanks Tastebud smile.gif

Thanks Kisma, no such luck with the day sleep I’m afraid sad.gif

Myst, thankyou so much for taking the time to share your story. I’m similar in that I’m tired of spending an hour every night getting her to sleep. I just have no time in the evening for anything. Then when she’s finally asleep I can finally relax and have some down time, and then 5 minutes later it’s time for bed. Then I’ll usually ignore the clock, and ‘stay up’, then get to bed much later than I should, and then the next day suffers and it’s a vicious cycle.

But I feel guilty, like I’m trying to ‘force’ her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Maybe I’m expecting behaviour that is beyond her ability. Maybe I’m being selfish in wanting a few hours to myself in the evening. Or maybe I’m being a lazy parent in not teaching her to self-settle. I feel like we have created this issue by letting her use us to fall asleep, and now we have to re-train her.

Greenwich, thankyou for sharing. We tried rubbing her back, but to date we have always put her on her back to sleep, so it doesn’t really work. We tried having us rub or pat her, but she not allowed to reach for us, but I’m not sure that works, she just gets confused. I really like your approach of telling your DD you would stay with her, as long as she laid down nicely.

Thursday night she woke twice overnight, and I was up for an hour getting her back to sleep. I have a crook back from slumping over the cot rail. Sitting beside the cot parallel, on a chair, twisted at the waist, and then slumped over the rail with my arm in the cot half asleep. Actually I think I did fall asleep for a bit. So it's a bit sore. sad.gif

Yesterday (Fri) she slept for 1h7m from just after 12 (but was settled with hand holding), so that is pretty good, but I know she can sleep longer. I tried re-settling her (without any touching) for about 15mins before letting her out to play.

Last night (Fri) she was in the cot at 7:45, and was unsettled for about 1 hour (no contact), before her cries escalated again and I decided that was enough and held her to sleep (hand holding wasn't enough by that point). She was asleep 3 minutes later, and slept until 5:30 (8.5hrs!). When she woke we decided for DH to bring her into bed with me, and we slept another 2.5hrs. (While DH slept in the spare room).

Her day sleep today (Sat) was a challenge. I put her into the cot at 11:50, and she finally fell asleep at 12:20 (with brief contact), then slept only 30 minutes, and I resettled her (with skin contact), and she slept another 11 minutes on and off before standing and chatting. So I got her up to play.

Tonight (Sat), she was placed in the cot at 7:20, and I said ‘Goodnight, we love you, it’s time for sleep’, and left the room (lamp on and door open). Then she started protesting, in increasing volume. Each time it escalated one of us would go in, replace her dummy/blankie from where she’d thrown them, pick her up & give her a quick cuddle until she was calm (she would immediately respond, touching our skin, and closing her eyes), then say again ’Goodnight, it’s time for sleep’ and place her in her cot, and leave the room. Gosh, now that I’m reading it back it just sounds cruel sad.gif She has a runny nose atm too, so each time we'd need to wipe her nose and face from the tears and dribble sad.gif

DH & I discussed that we could hear it was just protesting/shouting for us, and there were short gaps of silence, which we hoped would lengthen.

At about 8:10 she CLIMBS OUT OF HER COT and comes out to us in the lounge crying. OMG she can climb out of her cot. She’s never done that before. I took her back to her room, and held her to sleep, she was in the cot asleep at 8:15. She woke & cried out about 30 minutes later, but went back to sleep, and hasn't stirred since.

So I feel that changes our whole approach. Now we will take the cot rail off, and install a safety bar tomorrow. I’m not comfortable with her in the cot now that we now she can climb out. So she’ll be able to climb in/out of bed herself, and she can open doors. We have a baby gate, but wonder how you can have the baby gate installed and still close the bedroom door? I suspect it is one or the other. And she may just climb over the baby gate! Lol. I have had a feeling recently that it was time for this, and perhaps we should do it all at the same time, and now the decision is made for me. Maybe we should incorporate losing the dummy, because she is such a ‘big girl’ now that she’s in a toddler bed.

It’s like we either let her hold our hand (and she settles relatively easily but sometimes not too quickly) or we don’t (and she cries and reaches for us. Then it’s too hard to be in the room with her so we leave. Then she protests for an hour, then we give up and by this time skin contact isn’t enough and we have to hold her to sleep). I don’t know where the middle ground is. Maybe set a time limit on the hand holding? I’m also considering trying leaving a night light on (to date her room is totally dark overnight), and leaving her door open (so she can still hear us).

The ‘books’ say that putting up with some unsettled times now, could mean long uninterrupted sleeps in the future, but I’m not confident. I feel right now we are sending really mixed messages, and are just doing everything wrong! Lucky she doesn't remember any of it in the morning, and is her usual adorable self the next day.

I think:
- We should stop hand holding/skin contact with her, but how long do you go? And now that she will be able to climb out of bed herself, we will have to just start putting her back into bed. Maybe tell her she can have a few minutes of cuddling, and then she needs to lay down in bed with her comforter.
- We have to stop bringing her into our bed, this just sends mixed signals, as she lays close to me and has constant skin contact.
- We may as well hide the dummies during this process of change (even though she's just started saying 'dummy', and will ask for it). But this is the least of my concerns, and I'm not interested in making the process even harder. Perhaps this is a battle best fought when she moves to a big bed.
- I've also thought about getting her another comforter, and letting her choose a soft toy that will be 'instead' of mummy/daddy, just for cuddling in bed. Not sure if this approach will work though.
- We have a general daily routine, but are not very strict on the timing. Maybe this is an issue, maybe she should have a set bedtime each night, or do we just keep it flexible based on her tired signs.
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#17 *MrsW*

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 07:06 AM

First of all I just want to give you a great big hug. It sounds like you have a billion thoughts running through your head and trying to find the "right" answers when you are sleep deprived can't be easy.

We use the safety gate on D's door and we can still open and shut his door. We do always take the gate off before we go to bed. He rarely gets out of bed, usually just calls out to us if he wants to.

Personally if it were me, I'd stick with the dummy for now. I think it would be a good comfort tool to keep while she is getting use to the new "bed" (cot).

I know how much this part sucks. You're drained, E is upset and it feels like the whole world is against you, but I do promise once the changes happen and you are in your new routine you will be so much happier for it.

It was the hardest (but best) thing we could do for our family. I stopped resenting my hubby and the whole bed time routine. It was only the other night that hubby turned to me and told me how much fun the bed time routine is now!

All I want to say is hang in there. It sucks and it's hard and you are going to feel miserable. But once it happens, you will know that it was worth it.

You can do this xxxx
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#18 ~Kylie~

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 09:09 AM

And of course I spoke too soon. She woke just before midnight. I was up for an hour getting her back to sleep (with hand holding). Each time she appeared to be asleep and I could remove my hand, she would wake up.

So at this point I hadn't gone to bed yet, so I'm tired, then frustrated, then angry, and this is not a happy mummy sad.gif

Previously at this point I would take her into our bed & wake DH so he can hold her in bed, so then I can shower & get into bed. Then she would stay in our bed all night.

She finally fell asleep at 1:15, but woke 24 minutes later and I resettled her again (with skin contact) and she was back asleep at 1:53.

So I finally got into bed at 2am. sleep.gif

She woke at 6:50, and DH got up (as planned). I've slept in to 9am.
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#19 greenwich

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 09:11 AM

Sounds like you've had a rough couple of days. Hang in there! It might take a bit of trial and error to find the compromise that works for all of you.

QUOTE(~Kylie~ @ Apr 21 2012, 11:56 PM) View Post


Myst, thankyou so much for taking the time to share your story. I’m similar in that I’m tired of spending an hour every night getting her to sleep. I just have no time in the evening for anything. Then when she’s finally asleep I can finally relax and have some down time, and then 5 minutes later it’s time for bed. Then I’ll usually ignore the clock, and ‘stay up’, then get to bed much later than I should, and then the next day suffers and it’s a vicious cycle.

But I feel guilty, like I’m trying to ‘force’ her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Maybe I’m expecting behaviour that is beyond her ability. Maybe I’m being selfish in wanting a few hours to myself in the evening. Or maybe I’m being a lazy parent in not teaching her to self-settle. I feel like we have created this issue by letting her use us to fall asleep, and now we have to re-train her.

I have had all these thoughts and more. You are not a lazy parent for not teaching her to self settle. I think with a lot of things (particularly the development milestones, walking, crawling etc) they will do it when they are ready. With my DD we tried a few times to teach her to self settle, and when it didn't work after a while we'd go back to our old ways and try again later. I know all the books say 3 days of awfulness and it gets better - but if my DD wasn't ready, it was a few days of awfulness escalating to even more awful as time went on.

QUOTE(~Kylie~ @ Apr 21 2012, 11:56 PM) View Post

Greenwich, thankyou for sharing. We tried rubbing her back, but to date we have always put her on her back to sleep, so it doesn’t really work. We tried having us rub or pat her, but she not allowed to reach for us, but I’m not sure that works, she just gets confused. I really like your approach of telling your DD you would stay with her, as long as she laid down nicely.


It was tough at the start, I seemed to spend an hour just lying her down saying "Lie down time for sleep" and she'd crawl to the end of the cot, pull herself up and we'd do it all over again.

QUOTE(~Kylie~ @ Apr 21 2012, 11:56 PM) View Post

I think:
- We should stop hand holding/skin contact with her, but how long do you go? And now that she will be able to climb out of bed herself, we will have to just start putting her back into bed. Maybe tell her she can have a few minutes of cuddling, and then she needs to lay down in bed with her comforter.
- We have to stop bringing her into our bed, this just sends mixed signals, as she lays close to me and has constant skin contact.
- We may as well hide the dummies during this process of change (even though she's just started saying 'dummy', and will ask for it). But this is the least of my concerns, and I'm not interested in making the process even harder. Perhaps this is a battle best fought when she moves to a big bed.
- I've also thought about getting her another comforter, and letting her choose a soft toy that will be 'instead' of mummy/daddy, just for cuddling in bed. Not sure if this approach will work though.
- We have a general daily routine, but are not very strict on the timing. Maybe this is an issue, maybe she should have a set bedtime each night, or do we just keep it flexible based on her tired signs.


That is great that you've come up with a plan of attack. With the stopping hand holding/skin contact, what we did is (with lots of advance communication) give DD a cuddle then pop her down into bed. She can say "Hug" and will request several follow up hugs, so I go in, hug her for a while and pop her down again. Its a bit easier as my DD is in a bed, so there's no lifting in and out of a cot. I often tell her I'll hug her while I sing XYZ and once thats over she has to lie down (current favourite is Farmer in the Dell). I think giving her an expectation helps.

My DD has never had a dummy, but I'd be inclined to let her have it for comfort now, and battle that one separately later.

My DD is also not one for tired signs, so we have a strict-ish routine in terms of bedtime timing, but its flexible depending on when her daysleep is and how long it goes for. I don't mind her taking a while to go to sleep as long as she's in bed and not crying. But my strictness stems from having #2 to contend with and really really really looking forward to that little bit of adult time in the evening. My personal thoughts at this age are that kids can't tell the time, so its more about the order in which you do things type routine rather than a schedule to the minute.

We don't have a safety gate on our DD's door, as she can't reach the door handles, so I can shut her door and know she's safe in there. She likes to get out of bed when she's supposed to be going to sleep, but I can see her bedroom door from most places in our very open plan house, so she's easy to catch and herd back into bed. I used to leave a book with a squeaky thing within reach so she'd give herself away having gotten out of bed if she hadn't left her room. Very rarely will she get out of bed during the night or in the morning - she usually calls for us, or I hear her up (the baby is usually up before her, so I'm up anyway).

good luck for this week. Let us know how you get on.

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#20 kisma

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 09:47 PM

Wow what a time to learn she can climb out of the cot. Hopefully the bed helps.

Im another who would be inclined to let her keep the dummy - it could be helpful. Do you only give it to her for sleep times? It could become a good sleep cue.

I also think hang in there (so hard when your the one doing it though, I know) as I dont agree with a blanket, 3 nights of crying and its all better etc etc. Every child is unique.

QUOTE

I have had all these thoughts and more. You are not a lazy parent for not teaching her to self settle. I think with a lot of things (particularly the development milestones, walking, crawling etc) they will do it when they are ready.

Totally agree with this, all kids will take to things different, so try not to build up too many expectations on others experiences. And you are a great mum just remember that.

My son used to wake crying which turned into screaming if I didnt get to him within a few minutes until he was maybe 11months? And now he barely says boo when he wakes and often will lay there for a good 20minutes or so without saying anything. I will often feed DD in the morning and notice on the video monitor that he is awake and he will lay/sit in his bed or get off and get shoes or toys but not say anything or make much noise. Other times he will start talking to things and I know he is awake.

QUOTE(greenwich @ Apr 22 2012, 09:11 AM) View Post

I often tell her I'll hug her while I sing XYZ and once thats over she has to lie down (current favourite is Farmer in the Dell). I think giving her an expectation helps.

^^ I like this approch, I find DS understands things quite well if I explain them and give him an idea of what to expect. So ie when im about to take him out of the bath I tell him he has one more minute of playing and then its time to hop out. The good thing at the moment is the minute can vary laugh.gif Sometimes its only 30 secs other times it could be 5mins. But when I then say your minutes up its time to pack the toys up and hop out, there is rarely any whinging and he will usually start putting things straight away. I do this with his day naps alot too now - although he will often then just start walking to his room anyway and usually when I need another minute to finish something.

I remember reading in I think a Pinky Mckay book about how we should explain things to kids and the example she used was along the lines of - just picking a child up that is playing with their toys to change their nappy etc is no different to coming over and picking you up while your doing work and expecting you too be happy about it. Explaining things can make things easier.

And if you think toys will help her sleep, let her take them in and just go in later and get them out. I still let DS take stuff to bed but I try not to have them be the same things as that way there is no attatchment. We also dont make him stay in bed - he can get out and play as he usually goes to bed when he is tired enough. But he must stay in his room - when he learns to open doors I think I will be getting some of the handle cover things so he cant come in and out. DH and I figure its a fight not worth creating to make him stay in his bed. He usually isnt out for long. He has also never fallen asleep on the floor, but he has ended up on the floor during the night as he went through a stage of hanging his legs over the cot and I think sometimes he just kept going.

Maybe even look into a video monitor if you think it will help. Ours is great as I often thought DS was awake/asleep only to find out when I went in there he wasnt and I woke him etc or gave him another reason to be awake for longer as I disturbed him laying there quietly.
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#21 Myst

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 11:30 PM

QUOTE(~Kylie~ @ Apr 21 2012, 11:26 PM) View Post

It’s hard when he has no idea how to proceed, and looks to me for guidance, and I have no idea either and tend to go by my instinct at the time, which leaves him having even more of no idea on what I need him to do/say. Needless to say, communication is something we are working on happy.gif


We go through this too, it's hard when they look to you for guidance and you feel just as clueless, it just makes you feel even worse because apparently you're the one who's supposed to know what to do unsure.gif

QUOTE(~Kylie~ @ Apr 21 2012, 11:26 PM) View Post

Myst, thankyou so much for taking the time to share your story. I’m similar in that I’m tired of spending an hour every night getting her to sleep. I just have no time in the evening for anything. Then when she’s finally asleep I can finally relax and have some down time, and then 5 minutes later it’s time for bed. Then I’ll usually ignore the clock, and ‘stay up’, then get to bed much later than I should, and then the next day suffers and it’s a vicious cycle.

But I feel guilty, like I’m trying to ‘force’ her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Maybe I’m expecting behaviour that is beyond her ability. Maybe I’m being selfish in wanting a few hours to myself in the evening. Or maybe I’m being a lazy parent in not teaching her to self-settle. I feel like we have created this issue by letting her use us to fall asleep, and now we have to re-train her.


I can absolutely relate to having no time in the evening for anything non child related and this is one of the reasons that we had to make some changes. Unfortunately for me even when A has a good night I still stay up so I guess I can't blame that on her tongue.gif I know what you mean though, I know how it feels to question yourself "am I forcing her to do something she doesn't want" I have asked myself this a lot and in the end the answer I came up with was "yes" but .... our children can't always do what they want, they want to stay up all night and they can't so we have to decide what is best for them when they aren't able to understand why it is best for them yet. You are definitely NOT selfish for wanting time to yourself, you need time for you or you will struggle to be the parent that you want to be. You are NOT lazy! I am with some of the others when they say that children do things in their own time. My DD slept through and self settled for 8 months but then her needs changed. Back then people used to ask me what I did to 'teach' her to self settle and sleep so well, the answer is nothing!! I did nothing, children learn and develop at their own rate and their needs also change at different stages. Parents make different choices when it comes to meeting their individual childs needs but IMO it is normal for LO's to have needs at night, laziness as a parent has nothing to do with it.

QUOTE(~Kylie~ @ Apr 21 2012, 11:26 PM) View Post

The ‘books’ say that putting up with some unsettled times now, could mean long uninterrupted sleeps in the future, but I’m not confident. I feel right now we are sending really mixed messages, and are just doing everything wrong! Lucky she doesn't remember any of it in the morning, and is her usual adorable self the next day.

I think:
- We should stop hand holding/skin contact with her, but how long do you go? And now that she will be able to climb out of bed herself, we will have to just start putting her back into bed. Maybe tell her she can have a few minutes of cuddling, and then she needs to lay down in bed with her comforter.
- We have to stop bringing her into our bed, this just sends mixed signals, as she lays close to me and has constant skin contact.
- We may as well hide the dummies during this process of change (even though she's just started saying 'dummy', and will ask for it). But this is the least of my concerns, and I'm not interested in making the process even harder. Perhaps this is a battle best fought when she moves to a big bed.
- I've also thought about getting her another comforter, and letting her choose a soft toy that will be 'instead' of mummy/daddy, just for cuddling in bed. Not sure if this approach will work though.
- We have a general daily routine, but are not very strict on the timing. Maybe this is an issue, maybe she should have a set bedtime each night, or do we just keep it flexible based on her tired signs.


Just remember that "the books" say a lot of things and much of the time it simply depends what books you are reading tongue.gif Lots of books you find on gentle/attachment parenting suggest that if you spend the time night parenting in the first 3-5 years then you will have much more independent children in general after that. Mainstream sleep training books tell you three nights of horror and then long peaceful nights, who knows - Your instincts are always a better guide than any book so have faith in them. I agree with the others that keeping the dummy might help for now with extra comfort. My DD can also climb out of her cot so we are about to move her in to a toddler bed. This is another reason I am happy to stay in her room until she is asleep (so I know that she is safe and asleep in bed). We also have a general routine but it is more about the series of events than a set time, we adjust the time based on her day sleep but she must be in bed by 8:30pm at the latest if we are home.

I feel so bad for you ATM and I wish that there was some magic trick that worked on every child but there isn't. I think that it sounds like you're still struggling a little with what you want to do and how you want to do it. I do think that consistency is important with things like this but I am also a big believer in judging what is best for your LO in that moment. Perhaps for now just keep doing what you need to get through the night and work on trying to come to a decision about what you are happy implementing then stick to it. Only you can make the decisions on what you are comfortable with, each parent and each child are different so advice is wonderful but at the end of the day you have to believe in what you're doing and believe that it is the best choice for your family right now.

Just remember that this too will pass and you are not alone. Lots of toddlers need assistance to fall asleep and stay asleep. I know that it doesn't make the night any easier but at least you can remember that there are loads of other parents asking themselves the same questions at 2am wondering when they will get back to bed.

Good luck with it all!!


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#22 HayleyNZ

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:42 PM

Just wondering how you are going?

You have to make a decision and stick to it religiously. Mixed messages are cruel and confusing. It will only take three days of hell to be set for a lifetime of good sleeping. What you are doing is not working for you and you sound exhausted.

My honest opinion- put her in the bed/cot and leave her to go to sleep by herself. Shut the door and busy yourself with something else. The protesting is worse the older they are and cannot be helped now. If she comes out, do not make eye contact or talk to her, do not cuddle her, just put her back in to bed and leave. EVERY SINGLE TIME, even if its 100 times. She will get the message, the protesting won't last. You just have to make the decision that you will win.

It sounds cruel but it will be harder on you than her and you'll be doing all of you a big favour- you will be able to enjoy more quality family time with everyone not so sleep deprived.

You deserve a medal for going as long as you have under these conditions! That is bloody hard work day after day!! That takes grit IMO and I know you will be able to use that to teach her to self settle biggrin.gif
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