Letting Toddlers “Cry It Out” At Night: UPDATE

A few days ago I wrote about the issues my wife Kate and I were having with our 1-year-old toddler, Max, who wasn’t sleeping well at night.  Click here to read that post.  Your suggestions and support were great and we agreed that a little tough love would do him good, so 2 nights ago we agreed to try letting him cry it out.  The first night showed great results with him waking up 4 times and crying for only about 30-45 minutes each time and then going back to sleep on his own.  Last night was night 2 of this tough love experiment and it was a different story.

Max went upstairs for his nightly bedtime routine right on schedule.  Bath time was fun, a quick book, a quick nursing to top him off, and into the crib he went.  We then waited to see when he would wake up and if this night would be as easy-going as the night before.  It turned out to be easier.  Max woke up around 2 AM.  He cried for about 15-20 minutes but it was more of a whimper than a wail.  He then slept till 6:45 AM this morning when we woke up.  The result?  A happy baby and two well-rested parents!

I can’t remember the last time Kate and I got sleep like that!  Of course now we feel groggy from getting more sleep than we’re used to but that is a problem I’ll take any day!  It felt even better to know Max was getting back on the right track.  As Kate said this morning, “I like that we have a clear plan on what we are trying to convey to him.”  She felt before we were unsure of what we were teaching him about nighttime so he was unsure how to handle/react to that time.  She is right.  Prior to this plan we had offered him food, comfort from both parents, a quick binky and “go back to sleep,” singing, holding, etc.  We were all over the place!  Now it is a clear message; soothe yourself and go back to sleep till morning.

It is tough but it is working for us, let your little one cry it out or at least be consistent with what you offer them.  As my friend Ben always tells me, “If you do something with them one night, be prepared to do it every night after that.”  So right…but also as we are discovering, it’s never to late to change a habit and send the right message to your kids.  We’re new parents.  We’re learning.  As I’ve discovered in the past few years there is no “right” way to raise a child, just the way that works best for you and for them.

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