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Training a Baby to Fall Asleep on their Own

training a child to fall asleep

Our 8 mo old son is very attached to me and I typically put him to sleep (while daddy is putting our 2 yr old daughter to bed) - lately he doesn't want to sleep unless he is touching me.  He immediately starts crying if I put him in his crib while still awake.  He wakes up usually once in the middle of the night and will not allow my husband to soothe him.  I can only get him to go back to sleep by either rocking him to sleep and placing him in his crib and switching my arm for a small stuffed animal or taking him in our guest bed.  I fear that I have made the issue worse.  We have tried letting him cry it out, but he gets so angry and so upset.  How can I correct this behavior?

Your division of labor is typical. Fathers are often more comfortable with toddlers and babies often need to be nursed prior to bedtime.

You need to train your 8 month to fall asleep on his own. This is a lifeskill he needs to learn. Once he is sleeping well it will improve the quality of life for your whole family.

Follow a strict bedtime routine: feed, dim lights, bathe, dress, feed a little more, read a book, say prayers and place in bed awake. I realize that the first night you walk out of the room he will begin to scream and cry.

You can either follow my advice to “cry it out” or follow a plan like that of Dr. Ferber. Dr. Ferber recommends periodically checking on the crying infant. I think checking on them makes the crying worse. It will seem like forever, but he will stop crying and fall asleep. Night #1 will be horrible, but night #3 or 4 will be the worst. If you give in you are teaching him to cry. After 2 weeks, the crying will end and he will know how to settle himself down for sleep.

Once he has learned to fall asleep on his own, the waking in the middle of the night will resolve. Right now, he thinks he needs you to fall asleep. Until he has learned to fall asleep at the beginning of the night, continue to go to him when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Do as little as you can to help him get back to sleep.

Do not begin until both you and your husband are full committed to the plan. “Crying it out” can not be done half way. Do not set limits like “I’ll let him cry for 30 minutes”. Once you have taught him to fall asleep on his own you will wonder why you waited to teach him this valuable life skill.


Written October 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician






gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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