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Our 16 month old son has been co sleeping with us since he was 9 months old. Usually we put him in his room to sleep when he’s already fallen asleep on me. He will sleep by himself for about an hour. He wakes up, and will not go back to bed unless I bring him to bed with us.

We were told to put him to bed while he’s sleepy, but not sleeping yet. And than let him cry it out. He’s going through a phase of tantrums also, by crying if he doesn’t get his way.

My questions are… what’s an appropriate amount of time to do this?? Do we check on him ever? (We have a video monitor) Do we keep the door shut?

Any advice on other options??

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    Do you want to stop co-sleeping? If your concern is that by doing so you will affect him in the future, my experience is that there is no harm from co-sleeping and that eventually he will be fine to sleep alone.
    – Jim W
    Jun 21, 2023 at 17:39
  • Who told you this? Sounds like a pretty bad, outdated advice.
    – Davor
    Jun 22, 2023 at 10:40

6 Answers 6

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First question is, do you actually want him to stop sleeping in with you, or is this just what 'they' have said you should do? Co-sleeping (with appropriate precautions) is an acceptable way to sleep. If you want your child to fall asleep independently in his own room, that is also valid. Or even to just fall asleep in his own bed while you are there.

There are lots of ways of sleep training, some more gentle than others. You could start off in his room getting him to sleep in his bed next to you, and slowly move away so you're in the room, and then not in the room (this would be a 'fading' method) or you could just explain that its bedtime and leave him in his room and do a more 'cry it out/ferber' style where you check in at short intervals. Start with a short interval (a couple of minutes?) and go longer from there.

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  • We co-slept for the first two years as a way to stay sane - but had a 3 sided cot next to our bed so we didn't get kicked in the night. Then we got our daughter a trundle bed (one on the ground so we weren't worried about her falling out) and then made it with her in her room. She slept in that bed from that day on (with us sometimes having to sleep in it with her).
    – sam_smith
    Jun 22, 2023 at 5:30
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    So much this ("do you actually want to stop"?). When we had our first and only child, we actually bought a bigger bed beforehand, because I instinctively knew that it would often contain a child. With two working parents, it had the side effect that my daughter got a lot of quality time with her parents, just as off hours in the day ;-) It turns out, even if you never make them go to their own bed (or let them come back to yours at each request) they will still start sleeping by themselves at some point. Jun 22, 2023 at 8:58
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Usually, it is a good idea to trust your gut feelings with small kids. If you feel that it is not right to "force" the kid to sleep alone, then don't do it.

Kids are all a bit different, so it is not generally helpful to give advice such as, "at X months, it should be able to Y". Also, whenever kids learn something new (walking, speaking, separation from mom, ...) they typically need more cuddling and close contact than before. So have a good look at what else is going on.

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If you are looking for numbers, to help you feel more comfortable, I can tell you what my wife and I have done with our two children.

When my first child was 5-6 months old, we transitioned her from a bedside cot to a crib in her own room. It was very rough for 5 days - we let her cry for an hour. It was emotionally quite difficult for both my wife and I. But after that, she slept through the night every night.

Our second child moved to a crib in his own room when he was 3 months old. We were less strict with him - we only let him cry for ten minutes before going in and holding him for a while, and then putting him back down. He woke up once per night until he was 18 months old.

There were plenty of variables at play with both kids, but I consider both of them to be a success with regard to sleep. Of course, as the other answers say, every child is different; there are no guarantees. But our gut feelings and comfort levels can and should be informed by what we have heard from others who have gone through similar experiences. Mine is only one such story, I encourage you to talk to other friends and family to see what has worked for them! There are plenty of those on this site.

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    @Davor She was fed if she was hungry. Hunger wasn't the problem. Every child is different, as they say. She has never been a big eater. She has no anxiety or separation issues. Do you have research that shows that this causes anxiety and separation issues? I looked it up at the time, and determined that I had it right. Sometimes our gut feelings are wrong ¯_(ツ)_/¯
    – Nacht
    Jun 23, 2023 at 0:12
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I didn't personally co-sleep with my kids except for allowing several minutes they could lie next to me and calm down when they had a nightmare, but I try not to judge. Whenever you think it's time (assuming they are able to walk/crawl out of bed, of course), a method I've heard called "sleep separation" works pretty well as a compromise between "sleeping in their bed or in their room next to them" and "walking away and closing the door to let them cry it out" methods.

Especially if they are still at an age where they sleep longer than you, you sit in their room, awake, but refuse to interact with them (facing away is helpful and recommended), until they are asleep. You gradually increasing the distance from them over the course of several days to MAYBE two weeks, until you are out of their room and the door is eventually closed.

If/when they get up, you react in the following ways:

  • first time, you correct them with a decent number of words ("I know you want to be with me, but it's time to go to sleep. Goodnight. I'll see you in the morning") and maybe a hug/kiss/tucking them in, etc. Then resume your sitting place
  • second time, you correct them with as few words as possible ("It's bedtime"), maybe helping them cover up with a blanket. Then resume your sitting place
  • third time and after, no words, no helping them with their blanket, but gently guide/carry them to their bed and resume your sitting position. Again, without words.

This method has the benefits of them knowing where you are and knowing that you are not abandoning them, but does not play into the game of "I don't want to sleep". You are awake and able to react quickly and in a controlled manner, and you start gently and lovingly, but quickly just get to the point of helping them to be where they need to be.

If they have fallen asleep and you have left the room, but they wake to find you gone and they come searching, it is essentially a rinse and repeat, except you go back to your room or couch or wherever you are when not in their room.

  • first time, explain the situation with a reasonable number of words ("no, you're sleeping in your own room now. I love you. Goodnight"), tuck them in again, etc.
  • second time, as few words as possible, guide/carry them as necessary to their bed (a single "Goodnight")
  • third time and after, no words, guide/carry them as necessary to their bed and walk away, closing the door

If you're going to increase the number of steps before you use no words, I highly recommend increasing to no more than four gradations as compared to the three I outlined above. They are human beings and they are intelligent. They understand what they are doing and they can understand what is expected of them. Further explanations can happen before bedtime (if you want to introduce them to the idea of sleeping in their own bed with a discussion), or the following morning. Bed time is not the time for philosophical discussions or nuance.

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Our daughter was kind of anxious and we let her co-sleep from birth until she was almost at puberty, at which point she chose to sleep alone, unless she had a nightmare.

If she cried or had a "tantrum" (which was extremely rare) whilst not "giving in", and I would also quietly hold her and let her cry until she was done. I would not fight, engage or argue, until the emotion was expended. It doesn't take that much patience. And after the emotion was expended, if necessary, I could talk with her softly about it.

Today, as almost an adult, she is extremely emotionally generous and empathic. She will make a wonderful counsellor, etc.

I actually don't understand the obsession with "fighting" or suppressing crying in a baby. Why is this considered necessary?

Consider the following description: A human is locked alone in a room. The room is dark; they cannot switch on the light. They cannot open the door. If they cry, their crying is not head.

Have I described a baby's bedroom? Or max-security solitary confinement in prison - something used as punishment for the most intractable of criminals.

For me "cry it out", is simply a cruelty, and nothing else.

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    Children try getting everything the want, and they try it again and again until they get it or until they understand they don't. They learn what they need to do to get what they want. Not every crying means "I need something important and I will become anxious if I don't get it". Sometimes it's ok to not satisfy the need they cry for. You can still comfort them while they "cry it out". Jun 23, 2023 at 13:46
  • @ChrᴉzremembersMonica You didn't fully read my post.
    – Stewart
    Jun 23, 2023 at 15:33
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Go to any kids store Toys r Us store Walmart buy video player allows you to record your voice and your faces hooks to the end of the baby bed and the projection will come off the ceiling Record your voices moms and dads the soothing loving interacting manner as if you were in the room look for any kind of video just video with mom and dad and baby interacting it'll play over and over again it even has a setting please music lullabies mom and dad can sing to close the door leave it open a crack leave the baby to himself he'll cry for her so she'll cry first time but once it starts playing in your voices are heard and you're singing in the video is playing fa ll right to sleep

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