How I Got My Toddler to Fall Asleep Alone

If you remember many months ago I was writing out my co-sleeping woes. I had a toddler who slept with me most of the night.  I was pregnant and needed space, plus I knew a new baby was going to be bedsharing with us so I wanted to get the toddler into his own bed.

We were able to do this successfully in a very gentle way. I slept next to my son’s bed on the floor for a week.  Eventually he stopped waking at night.  When he did, he came to our room and let me put him back in his bed.  It was a HUGE accomplishment.

He backslid towards the end of my pregnancy.  He wanted mama cuddles.  I’m sure he knew something big was up.  2 weeks after the baby was born we got things back to normal and he was napping and sleeping in his bed.

Well…. almost back to normal.  My well meaning husband started laying next to my son in his bed for him to fall asleep after I gave birth to Everett.  We used to sit in a chair in the room, but not lay with him.  Our hope was that we could start just laying him in his bed and say “Nite, Nite” then leave.  Having hubby lay with him really put us backwards.  Eventually I was going to use the “walking chair” method to ease him into falling asleep alone.

In December we drove to North Carolina to visit family.  Christmas Day I had bought tickets for my husband to watch a movie, a special gift to get him out of the house and give him some time alone.  Unfortunately, Fletcher stayed up later than usual and I was faced with a problem.  How to get him to sleep while Everett was awake.  Both kids needed me at the same time.  Everett was crying without me, even with my Mother-in-law, and Fletcher needed to be put to bed.

Steven laid him in bed and left for the movies but he was still awake.  My husband swore he thought he would fall asleep.  I laughed because he has never fallen asleep without one of us with him.  Then I had a lightbulb moment!

I started talking to Fletcher, from downstairs, through our Summer Sleek and Secure Video Monitor (which I reviewed for this site). I told him to go Nite Nites, go to sleep, that I loved him, etc.  He was talking to himself.  Then…….. silence. I heard the tell tale deep breathing.  He was asleep.  I was in another room, downstairs even.  It was truly a Christmas Miracle!

We tried again the next night.  It worked.  The following night we tried again and it didn’t work.  Eventually we stopped trying at home because he was sick and I felt better cuddling with him before bed.

A few weeks ago my husband informed me he had to go out of town, twice, in February.  Cue Mommy Freak out.  I had no idea what I was going to do at bedtime.  Naps are hard enough here but I manage.  I still have to lay with Fletcher so Everett has to be happy or asleep.  That can be hard to make happen around nap time for Fletcher.

2 weeks ago I decided to give the monitor another shot.  I put Fletcher in his bed after reading a few books.  I laid him down, tucked him in, handed him his Robot, and told him to take a nap.  I left the room and he started yelling for Mommy.  Quickly, I pushed the button to talk to him.  “Mommy is in the other room taking care of the baby.  Put your head on your pillow, close your eyes, and take a nap.”  “OK” he said.

He talked to himself.  Then called out for me again. “I love you, take a nap.  We will play when you wake up.”  “Yeah!” He chattered a minute.  Then fell asleep.  He never even tried to get out of bed.

That night I did the same thing.  This time we turned on his Twilight Turtle (godsend because he wants to lay in bed to look at the stars on his ceiling.  He loves it!) and tucked him in.  Lots of kisses, love you’s, goodnights.  Then I left.

As expected he asked for us.  No crying though.  My husband took the monitor and told him “Count the stars on the ceiling.  Go to sleep.  Goodnight.” Then we hear “boo, bah, boo, pour, figh….” It wasn’t long and he was asleep.  Celebrations occurred in the living room!

Every day since I have successfully used this technique. It is to the point that I don’t even have to use the monitor often, if at all.  I still like him to know I didn’t just leave him.  But he doesn’t need it anymore.

I feel like we are at the stage where he is a true independent sleeper.  We have gone through the tiniest baby steps to get here.  Co-sleeping, to part time co-sleeping, to night weaning which lead to the end of co-sleeping, then laying with him for sleep, to a simple “Good night.”  A part of me is dying a little inside knowing how fast he is growing up.  I marvel at him every day and the little boy things he does.  When I tell him something, he understands.  That is why this method works.  He knows we are right next door.  He knows his brother needs Mommy for milkies so I can’t stay in his room.

While he is sick I still lay with him if he needs me.  I am happy to do it.  Knowing I avoided having a huge dilemma while my husband is gone is a huge weight off of my shoulders.  I am so proud of my Fletcher-man.  I am also so proud of my husband and I for doing the best for him, even when his sleep habits had us in tears.

Just to give you an idea of the benefits of learning to fall asleep on your own, before this I rocked him to sleep or laid next to him in his bed for every nap.  He would go down for a nap anywhere from 11:30-3:30.  He would sleep 1-3 hours, but usually around 2 hours.  At night he needed someone laying next to him.  His bedtime was usually 9:30-10:30.  We waited until he was tired, otherwise he would fight sleep and we would be in his room for an hour or more.  He would wake around 7:30-8:30.

Now, he naps almost every day at 12:00 -12:30.  He doesn’t have to look tired.  I put him in whether he is playing and happy or already drowsy.  His naps are almost always over 2 hours, one day he took a 4 hour nap!  No matter how long his nap, he gets put in bed around 8:30, sometimes even 8!  And he wakes for the day at 7:30.  I get no real protests, and he has even asked or agreed to nap or go to bed. How is that for most improved sleeper of the year?!

Maybe this method will work for some of you in the same situation.  I used the Summer Infant Sleek and Secure Handheld Color Video Monitor (Amazon Affiliate link) I received to review. If anyone knows of a cheaper alternative, maybe just a regular, non video monitor that you can talk through, please let us know in the comments.  I didn’t have a lot of luck with that.

Have your babies always fallen asleep alone?  If not, how did you make the transition?

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