Let me preface this by saying the Ferber method of sleep training is not for everyone. It wasn’t for us, and the only reason we even attempted it when my oldest was 15 months was because our pediatrician urged us that it was the only way. I became so frustrated with him over our differences in sleep training because our thoughts on feeding and vaccinating children were the same, and I couldn’t believe how different we viewed the “sleeping” situation. He assured me that this was what he did with his child and it is the only method that worked.
So, we gave it a try. No child should be screaming in their beds to the point of vomiting. Really? Are we trying to set good habits in children or are we making them think that they will be neglected? Everyone’s opinion differs on this topic, and different things work for different people. After an unsuccessful run with the Ferber method, I was drained, my baby was withdrawn, and it was time for something else.
A friend had actually told me that their baby would scream in the crib. Their pediatrician suggested that the baby was claustrophobic and suggested a toddler bed at only 12 months of age. It worked like a charm and their 5 year old has been sleeping comfortably since. I had this idea in the back of my head when I left my toddler in my bed for an afternoon nap. I lay pillow all around her and left her in there while I sat on the floor watching her outside the room. Within 10 minutes she was asleep. This gave me the idea to take the rail off her bed and convert it to a toddler bed. This worked like a charm and for a few months we had very peaceful nights and easy bed time routines. Then it all changed…
She would climb out of her bed and come into our room at night. At some point she just stopped falling asleep in her bed altogether and asked to be rocked in her rocking chair. I felt that she had regressed a bit, but with my hubby getting up at 5am to go to work and me being pregnant, we ended up in survival mode and gave in. We knew that it would be a while before we could actually establish good sleeping habits because we didn’t want to rock her world when the baby came.
We knew exactly what we had to do. We watched enough Super Nanny to know that you had to establish a routine, be consistent, and be strict. The routine was set: we had been doing the same thing every night- brush teeth, read a book, drink milk. So we had one thing down. Next was to have her fall asleep in her own bed. This was a bit trickier, and I had to throw in some threats to keep her in her bed. I told her that if she didn’t sleep in her own bed, she wouldn’t get to keep her favorite Hello Kitty sheets. It only took 3 nights before she was falling asleep on her own. The next hurdle was getting her to stay in her bed at night.
She got up three times that night and we had to walk her back in each time. The second night she only came in once, and by the third night she stayed in her room all night. Success! We still have some setbacks, occasionally she does get up in the middle of the night and ask to come to our bed, but we are consistent and bring her back to her room each time. I feel that after a few more weeks of this her sleep issues should be solved.
My best tips for sleep training without tears is:
- Be Consistent- Mean what you say
- Be Firm- Children are really smart and can be great at manipulating. Once you give in, they will try to take advantage
- Reward good behavior- My toddler asked for a Hello Kitty bedding set and got it the first night she slept in her bed. To keep it on her bed she had to continue to fall asleep and stay in her bed. Use a reward chart to help them understand.
- Set a routine. Make sure to keep things the same every night so that your child knows what to expect.
- Explain to your child what you expect from them and set realistic expectations.
- Make sure your child feels safe and comfort them when necessary
- Don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first night. A few sleepless nights for you means a much better road ahead for peaceful sleep!