I used the ‘cry it out’ as one of the methods to train my child to sleep independently. He will be 2 and a half yrs in Feb this year.
By 6 mths, he was trained to sleep on his own. I put him in his cot in our room half asleep and if he tries to get up then and there, I just tell him firmly to go back to sleep.
By 8/9 mths, I don’t know why, but he would get up in the night wanting to sleep with us. After 2/3 nights, I let him cry it out. I have to warn you though, you have to have a heart of stone. It gets really really pitiful and can last up to an hour… but I stuck it out and after about less than a week (I think about 4 or 5 days), he was able to sleep in his cot again. I also had a routine for him, ie brush teeth, change pyjamas, then read to him his favourite books b4 singing him to sleep.
This went on well until abt 1 and a half yrs of age. Suddenly he refused to sleep in the cot and crying, would insist on sleeping with us. Same rigmarole for a few nights. Then, I decided enough was enough. The next night, I brought him to the guest/play room when it was time to sleep and explained that he was to have his very own bed and that he can sleep on that from on. Surprisingly, he did not fuss, probably because he takes his afternoon naps there. I kept to the same routine as above. And he slept blissfully.
We deduced later that perhaps he did not want to sleep on the cot because it was getting too small for him. Also, we noticed he moves alot in his sleep.
I also trained him NEVER to come down from the bed by himself, but to call me, daddy or helper in that order when he wakes up. He has stuck to that and does not leave the bed until I come in to get him. Now that he is older, he tries to, but I firmly tell him to get back up on the bed again until I am ready for him to get down. We have always used the logical way ie cause and effect way to explain things to him ever since he was a baby. We never used baby language. Perhaps thats why this works. But that doesn’t mean that its too late for you to use this strategy. By two yrs, they shd understand instructions, if put across simply.
Just some reminders:
You and your husband must be united in this decision. My husband kind of interrupted the routine when he allowed our son to sleep with us again after establishing the latest routine mentioned above. He wanted to bond with sonny and would listen to songs together and fall asleep on our bed. It took me a longer time to bring him back on track.
Be prepared for crying fits, you have to BEAR with it. My hubby couldn’t and I told him to buzz off (sorri dear ) because I knew exactly what I was doing. I would wake up and sleepily move the cot out of our bedroom when son starts crying to emphasize that he cannot sleep on our bed. Told hubby to shut the room door if he couldn’t take it. Of course, in the meantime, I would repeat calmly and robotically, "you want mummi to sayang you, stop crying please." Then when he had stopped, "mummi will carry you, but you must go back to sleep in the cot after that". Only when he acknowledged, then I would carry him, soothe him, put him to sleep and place him back in the cot.
Have a speaker so that you can hear if he wakes up in the nite.
Make sure the room is cozy ie favourite posters, colours, playgroup craft tagged on the wall, books there to create a sense of comfort and familiarity. The bed should only be used for sleeping. We pushed the queen size bed until it was against the wall. We placed pillows to form a protective barrier on the opposite side.
Have a stereo as you might want him to listen to some fav songs to help him fall asleep.
As he gets older, around 2 yrs +, he will probably want to chat before sleeping. Indulge in him but you need to remind him that sleeping time is sleeping time after a couple of minutes.
Stick with the routine. For example, brush teeth, change pyjamas, read, talk for a few minutes then tuck him in, let him listen to songs if it soothes him, stroke his head or pat him sleep. This has become son’s mantra (brush teeth, change pyjamas, read, sleep). He says that automatically now when we tell him its time for bed.
Btw, the helper sleeps on the mattress in the same room, but she has been instructed not to do anything if he wakes him up in the night, but to tell him to go back to sleep as I want him to be able to self-soothe himself back to sleep. I will wake up myself (due to the speaker) and assess the situation, if he is fussing alot, I will go and sleep beside him and then return to my bed later. The first point of contact should be the parents or you will find that the child will start looking for the helper instead.
I compensate by trying my best to lie with him in the mornings before he wakes up so that I am the first face he sees. I do that for his afternoon naps too. May not be possible always, but if I do that often, thats good enough for me.
The only exception I make for him to sleep with us is when he is ill – that is a MUST and on some weekends, not always though.
Have a night light. (But I stopped using it after a few nights because I wanted to train him not to be afraid. Initially he was, but we made light of the matter -not his fear – in the sense that we explained that light was coming from the lamposts outside, we also made him count how many lamposts there are and tell him "see, so many lights coming from so many lamposts" and we played games with the shadows on the wall. He caught on and sleeps with the lights off now).
Get some nice pyjamas, like Thomas the Train which is my son’s favourite so that he looks forward to wearing that to sleep.
Do anything to fulfill that goal, well almost . If it means singing to him then sing, reading then read, buying nice pyjamas, then buy, staying put in your decision, then stay put. But repeat repeat repeat the explaination as to why you are doing this to him … its for his own good.
In the event he does have a crying fit after you have shifted him to another room, you may want to try this strategy which I recall watching in the Supernanny show. She instructed the mom to go lie down with the child, then 2nd night, sit on the floor beside the bed. Then as the nights passed, move further and further away from the bed until she was sitting outside the room, near the door … you get the drift. All the while, speak nicely and calmly but stay firm in her decision not to sleep with him or bring him to her room.
Be prepared for frequent ‘hiccups’ (getting up in the nites) initially and occasional ones later.
All the best
PS. I strongly believe that sometimes, one has to be ‘cruel to be kind’, more so especially when it comes to bringing up a child, but at the same time justify your actions to him as well