|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Baby Hates Crib

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My son refuses to sleep in his crib. He is 19 months old and we have tried letting him cry for twenty minute intervals and have gone in after the first five then waited, unsuccessfully, for him to go sleep on his own. We made the mistake that many parents do of bringing him into our bed since my husband and I both work full time and we are exhausted at the end of the day. Any suggestions to how we get our son to realize that he is to sleep in his crib? We thought about purchasing a bed, but he has not attempted to get of his crib. Thank you.

A: It's very difficult, as you have stated in your letter, for your son to self-calm himself to sleep without your being present. He has learned that if he screams loudly and for long enough that you will come get him. I do understand that for two exhausted people, just letting him go to sleep with you seems the only way you'll get any sleep. Unfortunately you are not doing your son or yourselves any favors by sending him these mixed messages.

If you can prepare yourselves for a period of time (a week is usually sufficient for most kids his age) where you will expect not to sleep as well or as long as you'd like, then you will have a very good chance of turning this habit around.

Go through all the regular nighttime rituals that help him prepare peacefully for sleep; if he doesn't have a transitional object (blanket, toy, etc.) that he associates with sleeping, you may wish to cultivate a "sleep buddy" for him. Prepare him for his new sleeptime routine by talking to him and showing him what's going to happen. Do this during the daytime and pretend it's sleeptime. Putting him through these brief dress rehearsals and then pretending like he has slept through the night in his own crib and you're coming to get him in the morning (excited and full of praise, of course) will dramatically prepare him for what's coming.

Put him down in his crib, calmly saying you'll sit by his crib for a few minutes while he gets sleepy and ready to have a great night's sleep. Don't let him actually go to sleep while you're there because that reinforces then notion that you need to be there in order for him to get to sleep. When he cries to get out, wait 5 minutes, go in and pat his back, sit down a little farther away from him for a little shorter period of time, and leave before he falls asleep. Do not pick him up or let him fall asleep in your arms while rocking him, etc.. Continue this for as long as it takes him to drop off to sleep. Resist bringing him into your bed and take turns going into his room. If you need more techniques, consult Dr. Richard Ferber's books. Good luck.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

3 Fun Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Looking for some great Thanksgiving games to play with your kids? Print our free Pin the Feathers on the Turkey game, Pin the Hat on the Pilgrim game, and Thanksgiving Parade Bingo game for loads of laughs this Turkey Day!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Surprising Sources of Caffeine in Kids' Foods
Even low doses of caffeine can have an effect on your child's health. Since the FDA doesn't require caffeine content on food labels, learn about hidden sources of caffeine in kids' diets.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!