Control crying 19month old

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Control crying 19month old

Postby Kirsty1906 » Mon 01 Apr, 2013 5:50 pm

My son is 19 months old and is already in a toddler bed. To get him to sleep every night I have to hold him and pat him until he falls asleep and then I transfer him into his bed. Is it to late to do controlled crying? And if I tried I think he would just get out of bed and bang on the door. Any advice on how to get him to sleep on his would be great thanks
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Re: Control crying 19month old

Postby NgalaOnline » Wed 03 Apr, 2013 9:28 pm

Hi Kirsty1906

Thank you for your post. Ngala does not recommend using controlled crying on babies or children, in terms of leaving babies to cry for set periods of time or ignoring distressed cries. This is due to the fact that research shows that being left to cry in a distressed state without reassurance can be very stressful for babies and toddlers, and that children need parents to remain responsive to their distress in order to help facilitate a sense of trust between parent and child. It is true that changing settling patterns often does involve some protest or crying from babies in the first few days when the changes are being made, but Ngala recommends remaining responsive and providing reassurance at any time that the parent feels that the child is distressed.

Some parents do find that if a child is moved into a bed very young they may experience more difficulties with sleep and settling, as the child will frequently get out of bed but is too young to respond to boundaries, limits or conversations about the need to remain in bed. Many parents find that they have more success with moving their child into a bed at a later age, even up to the age of two and a half or three years of age, when their child is more capable of discussing and understanding boundaries around staying in bed. If your child still fits in his cot and has not been climbing out of his cot, you may wish to consider moving your toddler back into his cot for the time being.

It sounds as though falling asleep in your arms has become a sleep association for your toddler. Changing this sleep association is likely to be quite challenging for a period of around 3 - 7 nights, with most parents finding the first 3 - 4 nights the most difficult. It is likely that your child may protest quite a bit at the new method of settling for the first few nights, and that settling may take a lengthy period for these initial nights, but it is also very likely that with persistence and a consistent approach you will be able to make some significant changes within a week or so. It is normal for your baby to protest at the beginning of these changes, as the current arrangements are working for him and he does not understand why they need to change. It is helpful to remind yourself during this protesting that you are making the changes as you feel they will benefit your son and the whole family. It is also helpful to remember that a lot of the protesting will likely related to the fact that your baby is feeling tired but is unsure what to do with those sensations or how to fall to sleep without his usual sleep associations until he is able to learn something soothing he can do for himself.

It is quite common for children to experience separation anxiety during a change to settling habits. If you feel that your child is distressed by you leaving the room you it may be best to remain in the room near him until he falls to sleep for the first week or so, but begin to settle your son in his bed or cot rather than in your arms (even if he protests about this at first). If he is currently falling asleep in your arms, you may like to initially lie next to him on his bed (if you keep him in the toddler bed) for around 2 - 3 nights, patting him. You may then like to try sitting by his bed on the chair or floor, patting him to sleep. Once he has gotten used to falling asleep in his bed for several nights you can then begin to reduce the patting, so that you pat slower each time and aim to stop before he falls asleep. Within several days you may be able to sit there with your hand on him but without patting. This approach can be time consuming and take around a week, but it is quite a gentle and supportive way of helping a child to transition from settling in-arms to settling in bed. Once your child has begun to fall asleep in his bed and you have weaned off the patting, you can then begin to wean yourself out of the room. This may take another few days or up to a week. You can begin to sit closer to the doorway at the beginning of the settling period each night, moving your chair a metre or so closer to the door each night. By the end of a week you can aim to be in the doorway, and then begin to make brief excursions away from the chair and back again, such as starting with just a trip down the hallway and back for 30 seconds - which builds up. Some children are reassured if their parent calls out to them from the next room, or even if they can hear their family going about their evening business nearby. For other children this can be unsettling, so it often takes a bit of experimentation as to what settles your child best.

As this approach can take a week or two and require a lot of patience during this time, it is best to prepare yourself as much as possible for how you will get through this (particularly the initial 3-4 nights which are usually the most challenging) and remain consistent with the approach. Resting during the day, having some relaxation time to yourself away from your child if possible before beginning the evening settling, beginning at a weekend, having support available and reducing other responsibilities at this time helps many parents to get through this transitional period. If you have a partner it can be helpful to sit down ahead of time and make a plan about when you will start, and how you can support each other to work through this transitional period. Sharing the settling can be very helpful if possible. It is likely that you baby may frequently stand up in his bed. It is best to ignore this as much as possible, as this can be a way to gain attention. If you can, it is often best to ignore the standing for a period such as 10 minutes or so before trying again to lie your baby down. It is best to avoid eye contact or conversation during the settling period, as you are trying to convey to your toddler that it is sleep time not time for playing or interacting. It is likely that your toddler will test the boundaries and try different ways of gaining your attention in the initial days - although difficult, ignoring these behaviours is the best way to teach your toddler that this is sleep time.

The Ngala helpline is available 7 days per week, so please feel free to contact the Ngala helpline during the time that you are making the sleep changes if you would like to discuss how it is going or you would like some more support. I hope this information is helpful.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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