Sleep Training My Toddler.

I have tried several times, albeit half heartedly, to sleep train DS to no avail. The reasons for the failures had often been because I could not bear to hear his heart-breaking cries when I put him in his room and also because I just loved his company either ways. What this then meant was that, a lot of times, I ran my day always feeling tired and sleep deprived- and yet, I would have it no other way,
DS co-slept with me. His sleeping habit was so poor that he sometimes slept as late as 12:00am- 2:am and yet, he'd often wake up midway crying for some comfort which would come either in the form of a bottle and some cuddling or just a lot of cuddling.

Well, with this baby almost here, I reasoned that there really was no way we could go on like this- he had to be put on a routine- I dreaded the very thought of what that would entail. It is said that sleep training is often easier in those early months (4-6months) up to a year but I also read articles that said that you could effectively sleep train easily up to four years of age and so I decided to give this a try. We decided it was best to start immediately we moved homes and this was what we did.

I used the method called the Controlled Crying method. This method entails that you have a routine in place for your child and when this has been set, to stick with it and lay your child in bed at the end of the routine. You need to lay him in bed and LEAVE, only coming back after specified minutes to check on him but not to pick him up. It wasn't easy following this principle but we needed to work something out and the gentler methods didn't seem like they would work for us- remember, you have to choose what you reckon will work best for you and your situation.

The routine I have followed has been:

1) Once it's 6:00 PM, begin to wind down, give DS his dinner and then play for a bit after dinner.

2) At 7:00PM, run his bath and give him a wash and brush his teeth. Allow him to play with dad and mum until its a few minutes to 8:00PM.

3) Begin to tell him it's time for bed and have him kiss dad and mum. At this point, I pick him up and take him to his already darkened room (the passageway is always lit and so the light from partly illumines DS's room), lay him down and tell him it's time for bed and ask that he sleep well. I'd also sing to him for a bit (which he really loves), tell him I love him and then.... Leave.

4) Come in occasionally if he is crying to reassure him of your presence. Do not pick him up. Just speak to him in a low tone, reassure him, lay him back down and leave, increasing the time between your first visit and the second until he is fast asleep.

How Effective Was This Controlled Crying Method?

a) The first day of this sleep training had him crying for up to 30 mins- I kid you not- if not more than even. After he'd cried for about 10 mins, I went in to lay him back down (he was standing in his cot and reaching out; he had also kept screaming "Mummy! Mummy!"), stroke his face and then say "Goodnight" again to him. He cried a bit more for like 15mins before I went in again to lay him down again, stroke his face a bit more, sing a lullaby to him (at this point, he had begun to drift asleep) and then tuck him in with his teddy bear and sippy water cup. Just as his eyes kept rolling back into his head, I left the room. What followed was just a few short bursts of crying and then silence. He was asleep.

b) He awoke at his regular time mid-way sleep and began crying again, this was where I'd normally give him a cuddle or a bottle when we were co-sleeping together. DH and I had to still ourselves not to go to him- remember, the idea is not to "reward" him for waking up at night to cry or to reinforce the behaviour. The idea is that if and when you go to him when he cries at night, he then knows that he has that power to call you to him at night simply by crying instead of self-soothing.  He cried for over 20 mins when he woke up at night and just when my heart was failing me and we wondered if we shouldn't at least go and make sure he was alright, there was silence. He had slept off. I went in after about 5 minutes to check that he was okay and saw that all was clear. He woke up at almost 10:00am.

c) The second day, the same routine was followed and he cried for about 20 mins and I went in to reassure him just once before he fell asleep. He cried for a bit at night but fell back asleep after about 5-7 mins. He woke up at 8:00 am.

d) The third day followed the same routine, when you begin to tell him it's time to go to bed and say goodnight, he begins to cry. I hug him real tight, kiss and cuddle him and then take him into his cot. I sing his favourite lullaby and then tuck him into bed with a teddy and his sippy water cup (he really likes his water and it's mostly empty by morning). I leave his room whilst he cries for about 5 minutes and falls asleep. He wakes up at 8:00am.

e) Same routine today, being the fourth day, and he cried for about 5 mins altogether from the time he'd heard "goodnight" to when I left him to sleep. He was fast asleep thereafter.

I just cannot understand why it took me so long to do this as it should make life a lot easier- for the first time, I have slept well through the night without waking up with a headache. However, there is the part of me that feels guilty as I'm thinking it's unfair that he should be alone in a dark room whilst I stay in ours with DH, nightimes are normally quite scary and are times when people want to cuddle up to someone- I feel guilty that he gets to be there alone whereas I myself hate to sleep alone.... :( :( :(

Anyway, just thought I put this here incase anyone is going through this sleep routine trouble and is looking for practical advice-  hope this helps! :) Hope you sort your Little One out successfully! *thumbs up*

Love Always,


  1. I co slept with both my girls because I nursed and as you say it was easier... I was living with my sister when I had Valentina and she took over and got Valentina to sleep at a normal hour on her own and it stuck ... it took her about 3 days but it was well worth it, I actually had my alone time... As far as being alone... it has worked out okay for her xox

  2. Left to me, I would have sleep trained Ds, but dh seems to have this fear of leaving him alone in the room. He sleeps with us in the middle and he sleeps quite well (doesn't wake up for anything).he's always been a good sleeper so I don't feel sleep deprived. I would still love him to be in a room by himself but its not my decision alone to make.