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We're having trouble getting our 1 year old to fall asleep at night. She fusses and cries, and we have to work with her (rocking, singing, breastfeeding etc) for at least 1-2 hours, sometimes longer. She cries hysterically when we put her in her crib, even if she is sleeping when we lay her down.

The weird part is that the daytime naps are trouble free - 2-3 minutes of rocking, putting her down in the crib, singing for 5 minutes and then she sleeps for a good hour without trouble. If she wakes during that hour she usually falls back to sleep on her own.

But at night time its all different. It's been like this for at least 6 months. It feels as if she notices that she is falling asleep and it freaks her out. She is really working actively to stay awake.

What we tried: - Long routine (bathing, PJs, reading stories, singing etc). She is happy but resists sleep. As soon as the routine ends she cries.

  • No routine (mimicking daytime naps). She cries hysterically even before we try to put her i the crib.

  • Different routine lengths.

  • Different people, both I and my wife have tried. It works better when she does it but it takes 2+ hours. When I try she just cries, even though I do it every day at nap time without her crying.

  • Letting her cry in the crib while singing and patting her on the head. But she tries to roll and crawl away and cries when we stop her. After a while she starts coughing and gagging on her tears so we have to pick her up.

  • With/without breast feeding, pacifier and other tools. We've tried every combo :)

  • Different bed times, we've also experimented with naps, like skipping the afternoon nap or doing it earlier.

What else can we try?

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    I've been trying to figure this out for about 4 years. All I've learned is that I've learned nothing. Good luck – Kai Qing Feb 4 '16 at 20:51
  • I feel your pain. Only thing that worked for us was a sling and long walks until she learned to fall asleep on her own in her crèche. – Seul Feb 4 '16 at 21:12
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    I don't know the correct name for it but in german it's called "Federwiege" and it had an amazing sedating effect on our old one. He went to sleep in minutes. It's basically a spring fixed on a door frame or similar where you hang in a cradle. See a google image search (google.de/…) – Volker Feb 4 '16 at 21:34
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    This question and it's answers might help you: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/11288/… – Ida Feb 4 '16 at 22:59
  • It sounds to me like she's not tired enough at bedtime. What is her schedule? I know you said you've experimented with the schedule but perhaps it still needs some more work. – MiniMum Feb 4 '16 at 23:11
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The schedule sounds OK, although it's more sleep than my son would have managed at that age, I know that some children do sleep more. The problem seems to me like a combination of not being quite tired enough at bedtime and possibly too many negative associations with her crib and bedtime.

I think this can be a tricky age as it's around the time that many children start to transition towards one nap but are not quite ready for it yet. The fact that it takes so long for her to fall asleep, whatever you do, really sounds to me that she needs a bit more time awake before bedtime.

At this point you might expect bedtime to get a bit later. So as a first step, I would suggest starting the bedtime routine a little later so that she can still fall asleep at a similar time but without it taking so long and causing so much stress to all of you. Another thing you could try is pushing the naps a bit later and cutting the second one a bit shorter. She should eventually, as she gets older, transition to one later, longer nap.

However, the fact that you've said this is not a new thing and has been going on for several months, suggests that she is feeling badly about her crib and bedtime. This could be from trying to get her to sleep when she's not ready to or it could be something else worrying her. It's almost impossible to know at this age as the communication is limited. But what you could try is doing something as part of her bedtime routine where she's doing something enjoyable but restful in the crib that's not trying to fall asleep. This could also help in the process of getting her to fall asleep alone and without breastfeeding. We started this process with our son by making sure he stayed awake for his bedtime feed and then my husband or I reading some books while our son sat in the cot. You could also try to tempt her in with a few of her favourite cuddly toys. After a while of starting this our son would lay down by himself when he got really sleepy.

Although your question title is about how to get your daughter to fall asleep alone, the question itself sounds more like you are just looking for a way to get her to fall asleep a bit quicker without so much upset so I've mainly focused on that. However for the bit about falling asleep alone, you could see my answer to this question:

How do you get your kid to lay in the crib?

As I mentioned in that answer, there are various methods which involve letting your child cry for certain periods but we've tried to avoid that so I can't really offer any advice on it but I think there are plenty of places on the internet with lots of details. I've given more details on a gentler option in my other answer.

We are now a bit further on from that answer. Our son is now 2 and still likes one of us to be in the room when he goes to sleep but he recently stopped wanting us to pat his back or try to help him sleep. This particular step happened without any effort on our part so it seems it was just a natural progression as he developed. As the accepted answer to the question that Ida linked suggested, children should naturally start to sleep with less adult interaction as they get older. Our son's sleep is still not perfect but it has improved a lot and we're now starting to realise how quickly the time passes and he needs us less as time goes on. Now we're feeling that we want him to stay small a bit longer.

  • Thank you for all the tips, we will try to shift the schedule a bit and see what happens. The last few days we have tried keeping it more consistent with the same parent, same method etc and it seems to be working, although it still takes about an hour before she is sleeping. We will keep at it. – DukeOf1Cat Feb 7 '16 at 8:36
  • I also updated the title, hopefully it better matches what we are trying to achieve. We don't mind being in the room or even carrying and rocking a little, but we don't want to do it for hours, and we want her to sleep longer in the crib when she finally falls asleep. Partly for our sake (so we can get some alone time) but she also seems to sleep better and become more rested when she sleeps in the crib. – DukeOf1Cat Feb 7 '16 at 8:39
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Do you put your daughter to sleep with the light switched off or on? If she hasn't got a problem with her day time naps maybe she associates night time with something she does not like. I would try experimenting with light. Maybe try leaving it on until she falls asleep and try to put her to bed like you do during the day.

Also as mentioned above, maybe try to make some positive associations with going to bed. Do something that she likes. Maybe it will slowly calm her down and change the way she behaves.

Best of luck!

2

The best advice I've heard is the controlled crying technique. The essence is that you leave the baby to cry for a five minutes or so, go back in, briefly reassure the baby, and repeat. Its tough for the parents, but often works.

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    We've deliberately left out CIO methods because we don't think that we would be able to go through with it in a consistent, confident manner that is necessary for it to work. We need something with less emotional stress. – DukeOf1Cat Feb 7 '16 at 8:31
  • I think the stress of spending 2-3 nights of letting your kid cry and then being DONE might be better than the daily stress of taking more than an hour each day to get your kid to sleep. – swbarnes2 Feb 9 '16 at 22:24
  • @swbarnes2 probably true, but I meant that we lack the mental strength to go through with it, and it's best not to try it if we expect to cave in after an hour. – DukeOf1Cat May 2 '16 at 16:59

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