How I Got My Toddler To Sleep Through the Night

I have been meaning to write this post for months! It’s hard to get a good picture of her sleeping in low light, and I always love good passed out in the car seat shot. 🙂

Penelope has been sleeping like a champ for many months now and it has been a God-send. I am huge fan of co-sleeping and I enjoyed all the cuddling time I got with her the first two years of her life. But my husband and I decided that things needed to change and most importantly, Penelope seemed like she was ready for that change.

We felt like we had given her a really good foundation and that although the Attachment Parenting Organization recommends letting a child decide when they will leave the family bed, usually around age 3 to 5, they also say that if a child is ready, they are ready. And that most parents do exactly as we do, lay down with her till she is asleep or almost asleep and anytime she wakes up or needs us she is welcome back in our bed.

If she had screamed and cried and showed any sign that she was not ready to leave our family bed, we would have aborted plans and tried again later.

Like I had mentioned in my Over Mothering post, previous to this summer, I felt like I was only a good Mother if there were no boundaries, and that I had to constantly sacrifice my happiness and well being in order to be a good mother.

But then I realized that I was, in fact, an important part of the mother-child relationship and that I had a say. I have a right to say when things are not working for me. And getting up 6 times a night, for two straight years, was not working for me anymore!

The process of getting my daughter to sleep in her own room, in her own bed, was a very, very long process. It began with night weaning. Just that process alone was several months. I slowly introduced the idea, via books and lots of talking about nuh-nuhs only when the sun shines.

Once we had night weaning accomplished and she was well adjusted to that new routine. I started nursing her to sleep, but just until she was alseep. I started hugging and holding her to sleep, and not letting her fall asleep with my nipple in her mouth.

When she was comfortable with that. We started doing a nursing, cuddling routine, but I would leave the room before she totally fell asleep. I said; “night, night, I will see you when the sun shines.” She learned how to fall asleep completely on her own.

Once she learned how to fall asleep completely on her own. I decided to let her sleep by herself.

We bought a video monitor and got it all set up in her room. But a couple of hours before bedtime, it dawned on me that moving her upstairs into a new room for her first night alone was too big of a leap. I would leave our master bedroom and she would stay in our bedroom. The only room she has ever slept in since she was a newborn.

It worked like a charm. She did not cry. She did not wake up once.

After spending much time watching her on the monitor, I realized why she still woke up so much at almost 2 years old. She was rolling around all over the place. I realized she must have been rolling around and bumping into me and then waking herself up. Once I was out of the picture and not around to wake her up, she stopped waking up.

So after couple of months of her sleeping in our room by herself, I decided that it was time to move her to her own room. About a week before, we talked about her new room and her new big girl bed and spent plenty of time in there to get her used it.

We had planned on letting her sleep in a toddler bed, but decided last minute that a twin bed was a better idea. The twin we already had in there, could be dropped down to the point where she can climb in and out by herself. I really like being able to lay down in a comfortable twin, while putting her to sleep.

So my baby who was a HORRIBLE sleeper, up every 45 minutes from the time she was born, is now a champion sleeper. It’s a full on miracle. But really the miracle was me having the courage to against the grain and simply do what was best for my family despite what the “experts” say.

I can’t express enough how grateful I am to be getting a full nights sleep again. I look back on her first two years and I don’t even know how I functioned on such little sleep. I still feel like I am not caught up on my sleep, but I am getting there.

So here’s to a full night’s rest to you! How did you get your toddler to sleep through the night?

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  • Lisa G.
    February 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    Good for you for trusting your “Mommy Instincts” and doing what you feel is right for you and your child. I tried the “crying-it-out” method w/my first 2 babies and it was so traumatic for everyone involved. My 3rd child nursed till 3 and made an easy and gently transition to her own “big-girl-bed” at that time. No tears! Definitely will go that route w/my 4th, currently co-sleeping / all-night-self-serve-nur-nur-cafe’- baby. Yay for “Gentle-Parenting”! 🙂 (Love your blog, by the way!)

    • Stephanie
      February 29, 2012 at 8:11 PM

      Thank you!

  • Angel
    February 29, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    My son was like Penelope – a horrible sleeper, up 8-10 times a night, all night, every night, until he was about 18 months old. I was exhausted. And then, somehow, like magic, when he was ready he started sleeping straight through. No program from me; no hard work; he was ready, and he did it. It was like a miracle. He’s been a great sleeper ever since.

    • Stephanie
      February 29, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      That is great to hear!!

  • Angel
    February 29, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    by the way – we like our video monitor too! It was a great help in letting me feel safe and secure and knowing what he was up to behind closed doors. Which model did you guys choose? Do you like it?

    • Stephanie
      February 29, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      Yeah, I don’t think I would be able to let her sleep on her own without the video monitor. We got a Summer one, can’t remember which model now. We got it off craig’s list, never used, it was a great deal.

  • Jeanine Buchanan
    February 29, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    That thIng about paying attention to your instincts and then having the courage to take action when you know it’s appropriate is so important. My daughter is just 4 and seriously one of the most high need children I have seen. I have made it a way of life to have the courage to move forward at any sign of growth or maturity on her part. It has taken much courage and intuition to raise this child. But every step I took to move her along, no matter how much strength it took me,, was well worth the effort.

    • Stephanie
      March 1, 2012 at 4:27 AM

      Kudos to you Mama!

  • Kate
    February 29, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Right now my son is 11mo and sleeping through the night well. I nurse or cuddle him to sleep in our bed and move him to his crib. My husband also has the magic touch. He give him a head ans tummy rub that puts him out every time.

    • Stephanie
      March 1, 2012 at 4:26 AM

      Hooray for husbands with the magic touch! I need to get me one of those. 🙂

  • Lisa
    March 1, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    Food for Thought: I have an opposing view on this topic. We do not believe in a “family bed” or co-sleeping with childen. An adult bed in just that. Adding children to the mix creates sleeping issues for everyone and creates problems in the long run. Neither one of my children (now age 9 and 6) ever slept in our bed. They both slept through the night at 7 weeks and 6 weeks of age respectively in their own crib. To this day they are very good sleepers. They have to be trained to sleep when it is sleep time and as the parent, your job is to train them to sleep to do that. That starts the first week of their life. My children are very happy, very well adjusted and VERY rested. Not sleeping WITH them didn’t have any influence on our “cuddle time” or our bonding. Did you ever notice on those Super Nanny shows much of the focus of those children has to do with going-to-bed-staying-in-bed issues, behavior issues that stem from improper sleep and most importantly, that 95% of them sleep in a “family bed?”

    • Stephanie
      March 1, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      Thanks for your input. I think that every family needs to do whatever is best for them and it sounds like you have done a really great job about listening to your gut about what is right for yours. 🙂

      • Erin
        March 2, 2012 at 10:20 PM

        I LOVE the way you handled that criticism…such class! Just another reason why I will continue to read your wonderful blog! You’re a great mom, and although I may not do everything the same as you do I think it’s awesome that you share all your stories!

    • StephanieMZ
      March 4, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      Lisa — It’s great that your children were born with the ability to sleep well on their own, but the ability to sleep is a neurological thing and not a direct result of parent behavior (although parent behavior can influence sleep). I never slept with my parents and I’ve woken up multiple times a night since I was a baby. The best guess any neurologist can make is that I never fall into a truly deep sleep so I react to any type of noise. The only children parents really know best are their own 🙂

    • Michelle
      June 1, 2013 at 2:25 AM

      Ha! This is funny, Lisa! My children both slept in their own crib as well. My oldest slept through the night at about 8 weeks, and hasn’t looked back. My youngest, well, let’s just say I haven’t had more than a handful of full nights sleep in over 2 years. What did I do differently? NOTHING! i have tried everything known to man to get this kid to stay asleep, I used to be as judgemental as you, until I was slapped right in the face with reality.

      • Anna
        August 9, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        Hi Michelle,
        I don’t think Lisa was being judgmental. She was expressing another view, which is perfectly fine 🙂 I hope we can all learn to receive opposing critiques, thoughts, etc., without getting offended and/or hurt. Remember, there’s a lot that people read into emotionally in an email or written post that is not necessarily being intended. My advice for people – read the post as if the person were smiling kindly while saying it. That can help. By the way, our toddler didn’t sleep last night from 11:30am to 5am, so, I appreciated stumbling on this post of others who have been in the trenches!

  • Sarah
    March 1, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    I totally agree with going with your Mom Instincts! The first 3 nights my daughter was home from the hospital I refused to let her sleep in our bed because everyone told us “Don’t let her cosleep or you’ll never sleep by yourself again!” She didn’t like it, and I didn’t like it either. I finally decided to let her sleep beside me and we were both relieved. That being said, she slept on a sleep wedge that I could move to her bedside bassinet if i needed more room on the bed (I had an injured back) and she was rarely sleeping with me by the time she was 6 months old. She started sleeping in her own crib in her own room at about 8 months old and it was a smooth transition for us. Now at 2 years old, she goes to sleep in her crib with minimal or no fussing at night and calls for me when she’s ready to get up in the morning. I know the “experts” like to say that you will ruin your child if you don’t follow their advise, but take their advise with a grain of salt. Children are highly adaptable and more resilient than we realize sometimes, and “scientific proof” can be easily misinterpreted to confirm whatever agenda those “experts” are pushing. Don’t let them make you feel guilty if your family’s needs don’t match their ideals.

    • Stephanie
      March 1, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      I agree, kids are so adaptable. The only thing they need is unconditional love! That is so cute, Penelope calls out to me in the morning when she wakes up, its a Maaammmaaaa, I’m uppppp! Then I go get her (or my husband does) and we bring her into our bed and she nurses for like 30 minutes and really wakes up.

  • Jessica
    March 1, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Ran across your website via Pinterest. 🙂 People have so many opposing views on this topic, but I think it’s really because all babies are different! I didn’t plan to co-sleep, but my instincts have told me that’s what works for us. My son (now 12 months) also sleeps at least part of the night (sometimes the whole night) in his crib, but he’s spent plenty of time in bed with me too…and I wouldn’t have traded it! 🙂 I think the most important thing is to tune out the “opinions” and to tune IN to your baby…then, I think you can never fail! 🙂

  • Stephanie
    March 3, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    Every child is different. We did not intend to co-sleep with our first child but that is what we ended up doing. When we had or second child she did not like co-sleeping and even now that she is 2 when she gets sick and I try to cuddle with her in my bed she asks to sleep in her bed. You have to trust your instincts and the needs of your children.

    • Stephanie
      March 4, 2012 at 2:00 AM

      Took the words right out of my mouth!

    • Wendy
      October 21, 2015 at 4:22 PM

      I love reading these comments. I have co-slept with all three of my older children. My youngest however, wants no part of it. He sleeps in our room and has slept through the night a handful of times in his two years of life. I am always so very tired.

      • Stephanie
        October 21, 2015 at 9:45 PM

        So interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  • Tiffany L
    March 3, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Hi! I don’t usually comment on people’s blog because I don’t want to seem like a stalker : ) but I was so relieved to stumble upon this blog! I have a son who will be 2 in April and he is still in our bed and still nursing all night. I am feeling completely drained and ready for a change. Whenever I’ve tried to night wean him or put him to sleep in his toddler bed (which is flush against our bed) he screams and screams and then I break down and the only way to get sanity is to just go back to how it is. Waking up every hour (or more) and being completely uncomfortable all night which results in waking up as a grumpy mommy. When I tell my friends who have kids they all give me this look like I am exaggerating because their children sleep excellently through the night! I feel alone and helpless. To top it off, I am 8 weeks pregnant and I feel like I need to get sleep to create the best growing environment for this new baby. I don’t want to make my son feel abandoned or anything but I know it is time for a change. Your blog gave me the inspiration to try again. Would you suggest weaning first and then working on moving him to a different bed? Sorry for the long post but I just wanted to say it is so refreshing to hear someone who knows that some babies and toddlers really do wake up all night!!! Thank you!

    • Stephanie
      March 4, 2012 at 1:57 AM

      Oh boy do they ever! Thanks for commenting by the way, I know that all bloggers love comments. So don’t ever feel like a stalker, here or any other blog. I would do night weaning first. I mean go with your gut and feel out what is best for you, maybe since you are already 8 weeks pregnant you need to speed the process up a bit and do something more cold turkey. I do think you need to start getting rest. A big part of the reason we started the whole process is because we wanted to try to conceive and I wanted to have this all out of the way before I even got pregnant, because I knew how tired I would be in the first trimester. Let me know how your process is going and if you have any other questions, just ask! Good luck!

  • Amanda
    March 4, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    My sister and I are completely different on cosleeping. I love it and sleep better with baby in bed with me, she does not like it and can’t sleep with baby in her room. We both just had baby number two and with this one she is actually testing out the cosleeping. So not only can we have differing views on the subject but we can have differing views with each child!

    I have a little different story with my 2 yr old and moving her into her own room. I moved her into her bed first, mattress on the floor, and nursed her to sleep. And whenever she woke in the night I would nurse her in her bed and leave once she was asleep again. Eventually she just started sleeping through the night. Then instead of nursing to sleep we would just read and cuddle. My daughter has a very weird habit of pulling eyebrows to put herself to sleep. I would love insight on how to get her to stop that!!!

    After months of a great night routine things started to change. She would usually wake up and come in our room when my husband would go to work and sleep an extra hour with me in the bed. Then I got pregnant and she started coming in earlier and earlier. And with my husband overseas and I was unable to take her back to her own bed, she got accustomed to sleeping in our bed again. She now gets up 4 hours after she goes down and wants to sleep in our bed.

    If there is any insight on how to get her back on her own I’d like to hear it, either from you or your readers! She is really becoming difficult to get back to sleep once she does wake up. And sleep is very precious to me with an 8 week old!

    • Stephanie
      March 4, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      If you are sleeping fine I say don’t worry about it, getting sleep while pregnant is number one priority. But if you need more sleep you are just gonna have to miss out on sleep for a few night while you lay the law back down about her staying in her room. Good luck!

  • Nicole
    March 6, 2012 at 3:35 AM

    Wow, I am so happy I stumbled across your blog. My daughter is 16 months old, sleeps in the family bed and is a night nurser. I can’t remember the last time I had a good night sleep, and yet at the same time I know that this is right for my family – back pain and all. My husband and I were fierce opponents to co-sleeping before we became parents, and I can safely say that the number one thing I have learned as a mother is that each child is different, each family is different, and nobody can tell you what’s right for your own child – momma knows best! It’s so reassuring to hear real stories about moms that sound just like me; I even enjoyed all of the comments. Can’t wait to read more!

    • Stephanie
      March 6, 2012 at 5:05 AM

      Well said! Glad you stumbled across my blog, too! Welcome!

  • Renae
    March 23, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    After mixed co-sleeping, sleeping in her own room, and sleeping in a pack n play in our room, our 8 month old had been sleeping in her own room but still waking a couple of times a night. I felt like it would be good for both of us to learn to sleep through the night so we stopped night nursing and within 2 days she was sleeping through the night. This only lasted a week before we started getting wakings every hour or two. This waking business has gone for a few weeks now and not sure what to try. Some times bringing her to our bed works, sometimes not. All she wants is to be held but is unsatisfied with going to bed with me. We tried a modified cry it out last night (against my better judgment) and after 2.5 hours she was still screaming (if not harder/louder), sweaty, mad, I was mad, and the whole situation was bad. In the end, I finally picked her up and rocked her to sleep before putting her back to bed and she finished the night off sleeping after her scream fest. I hate the crying it out but being in my bed or her crib isn’t seeming to work. I’m at my wits end and looking for any suggestions.

    • Stephanie
      March 23, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      Oh Renae, I am so sorry you are having such a hard time right now. 8 months is still pretty young, so maybe she is just not ready for night weaning. Have you read the no-cry sleep solution book?

    • Allison
      August 8, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      Hi Renae! I had almost the exact same situation with my son (who is now 18 mos). I had him in our bed, his crib, a bassinet. My husband and I’s bed seemed to be the best as far as getting him to fall asleep, but I was not getting any solid sleep. If I tried to let him fall asleep in my bed, he’d wake up when I moved him to his crib. Around 8 mos, I finally did a modified “cry it out” method. Our pediatrician had recommended it with my daughter, and though it was hard to hear her cry, she took it it within a few nights and has been a wonderful sleeper ever since (This was around 5-6 mos). My son did not take to it as easily, which is why I say i used a “modified” method:) The reason I feel it’s important to let babies like this cry it out is because they learn to fall back to sleep on their own each time they wake up during the night. We set a sleeping environment (blinds closed, crib soother playing the same song each night, humidifier on (or white noise) and nightlight). I would snuggle with him while holding him or rocking him, then would put him in his bed when he was drowsy, but awake. I let him cry for 3 minutes, then go in and soothe him & hold him a little more. Then let him cry for 5 minutes. Basically, I’d go in every 5-10 minutes until he settled down. However, I would get him out of his crib, hold him, let him snuggle with me, sing a song, whatever. I didn’t just go in, reassure him, then walk back out…Only when he seemed calm and drowsy again, would I put him back in his crb. I very rarely had to go in more than 2-3 times. My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier. I did it at an earlier age with DD, and she is a much better sleeper, and took to it easier. I had such a hard time listening to them cry. I would pace by their doors, watch the clock, etc. We are planning on having more children, and I plan on using cry-it-out with those children too. I know it’s not right for everyone, or every child, but it was definitely the right decision for my family and so many times, I feel ike we’re made out to be “mean” moms if we let them cry. My hats are off to those that co-sleep for long periods of time. I love the cuddling, but I’m too selfish in that I need my sleep! Another tip that may help…make sure they’re full before you put them down! I always “topped them off” before putting them down. The fuller they are, the longer they sleep:) If they’re tired enough, they may fall asleep nursing and in that wonderful “milk coma”!

  • Jenny
    April 7, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    I am curious about how you went about night weaning. I have done it several times with my daughter-who is now 14 mo old. We co-slept until she was about 9 months and then moved her into her own room. Several times she has been night weaned and slept through the night, but then it seems that SOMETHING-an illness, traveling, etc. ruins our routine and she is back to wanting to night nurse. I HATE letting her scream. I have tried it a few times and just recently when I tried explaining to her that nursing is for the day time, and “the milk” goes to sleep, mommy goes to sleep, and you need to go to sleep, she cried for an hour straight in the middle of the night. I broke down and nursed her. She has really cut back on her nursing during the day and I feel like she is starting the process of weaning herself. I am just wondering if it was an easy transition for you and your daughter, or if you had a few fussy nights. I would really like it to be her decision, but I am feeling like I want to be done getting up at night! Thanks!

    • Stephanie
      April 8, 2012 at 2:35 AM

      It really was easy for us. I did a post on it that you can look up. But I know night weaning can be very difficult for lots of families. Will she let you comfort her any other way? From the research I read, the first three days are the worst and then it get’s much easier. Good luck!

  • Darcy
    April 29, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    I have attempted to co-sleep but my LO (13 mos) never “settles” if I am in bed with her, she just keeps playing and giggling. Also, my husband and I do not sleep well when she is in there. At first I felt guilty about this, but decided it is just what is best for our family. She does sleep well on her own until about 3-4 AM, then like clockwork she wakes up. I always bring her in bed with us to nurse and take her back to her crib 20 minutes later where she zonks back out until 7 AM…so my question, how can I eliminate that 4 AM nursing session? I too feel like I should sacrifice it all as a mother, but I too need my sleep and don’t always zonk right out at 4 AM. I always feel like a new person on the rare occasion she does sleep through the night.

    • Stephanie
      April 30, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      Have you tried to sooth her without taking her out of her crib?

  • MamatoJbee
    July 30, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Not sure if it’s too late to comment on this blog, but I just came across it today. I read it and felt like you were writing about my little bee!! Stephanie your responses and overall parenting approach are very similar to mine. My bee just turned 2 this month. He nursed (even called it nuh-nuhs!) until 18 months. I weaned him through the night first which took time, but he was ready to be weaned and had given me lots of signs. After the night time nursing was over, he only nursed for another month before giving it up all together. We co-slept with him from day 1 and I truly enjoyed every dysfunctional sleep-deprived moment of it.  Before nursing ended, bee was up nursing 5-10 times a night, after weaning he woke maybe once a night, but he was still in our bed. About a month ago, he decided he wanted to sleep in the “special room” at my in-laws vacation house. I trusted his instinct and went with it! He made it the whole night in his special room (a twin mattress on the floor) and even when he called for me in the night, he didn’t ask to go back to our bed. When we got back to our house we set up a “special room” for him (basically a full size mattress on the floor of his room with special pillow and light). He LOVES it and is always happy to be in his room. He naps well during the day (about 2hrs) and going to sleep at night is relaxed and without a fight, though I am in his room reading/talking about the day until he is asleep. The problem is now he wakes every 2 hours if I don’t stay and sleep in his room. Most nights I give in out of exhaustion and crash there, but it’s not ideal for me, or my husband. He has given us a handful of nights over the past month where he has slept straight through, but it’s not regular. And most nights I sleep 80% of the night in his room. After a few conversations I have realized that his excitement about moving into his special room was that to him it meant he didn’t have to share me with daddy and I would be sleeping with him…OY! Any tips, suggestions or ideas on how we might get him to sleep through the night??

    • Stephanie
      July 30, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      It’s never too late to comment on an archived post! I read and respond to them all! I would just keep talking to him about it. Telling him how you need your sleep too and you both need to come to a compromise that works for both of you. I think that they understand and absorb everything we say to them, if we speak heart to heart with them. Good luck!

  • D'Arcy
    September 30, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Oh my goodness, I’ve been struggling with co-sleeping. My older two children are now ages 15 (my son) and 14 (my daughter) and I am pregnant with my third. Looking back, my son could have benefited from co-sleeping, but my ex-husband was very much against it. Let me tell you, I worried every night those first weeks that I wouldn’t hear him wake up and I wouldn’t be right there for him like I was during the day. Finally, the ex agreed that once he was awake to go to work (around 4 or 5am) he would bring our son in to sleep the rest of the morning with me. That lasted for two years, our time to snuggle and sleep.
    My daughter on the other hand, wanted no one near her when she slept and she started sleeping through the night by the time she was 7 or 8 weeks old. I was sad that there wasn’t the same bond, but I also know now that it was what was best for her to be able to get the much needed sleep she needed. But seriously, I felt like she was saying, “Momma, I only needed you when I was inside you, now I’m on my own, deal with it.” And she’s been independent ever since. Oh the rejection, I may have shed a tear or two. 😉

    Now that my husband and I are expecting a baby in January we are discussing the “pro’s and con’s” of co-sleeping. This time around, if baby allows, I’m thinking I really want baby with me at all times and reading your stories and the comments from all the other Momma’s, has given me a lot of encouragement to give it a try and see if it works for us. Thank you all for your stories, can’t wait for this little one to arrive!

    • Stephanie
      September 30, 2012 at 2:58 AM

      Congrats on your new baby! How exciting!!

  • Liz
    October 29, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Quick question, because I feel like this is me!!

    When you had her sleeping in your room before you transitioned her into her own room and her big girl bed, was she still sleeping on your bed? Thanks for sharing this.

    • Stephanie
      October 30, 2012 at 3:47 PM

      Yes, she was sleeping alone in my bed. When she was a baby, we took our bed apart and slept on mattresses on the floor to be safe. So when she was in there by herself, it was still just a mattress on the floor so she could get on and off all by herself at the age she was then.

  • Melissa
    November 12, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Hi Stephanie! I am very much enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences. Parenthood has definitely changed my veiw on many things. I never thought I would be a fan of co sleeping. However, I’m loving the ease for breast feeding and the bonding, but also my little guy just won’t go down on his own! I am lucky to get up to an hour, but mostly it’s only 5-15 minutes before he wants to be picked up again and the thought of letting him cry eats me up. When he sleeps next to me or in my arms, he sleeps 4-6 hours at night. I was wondering if you just let Penelope sleep on the bed or did you use some kind of co-sleeper? I bought one and had limited luck with it- he slept for 45 minutes in it and that’s it!

    Thanks again for sharing all of your thoughts through this blog. I am sure it’s not easy to do as I am already getting the criticism from my own parents about why I won’t just let him cry it out.


    • Stephanie
      November 13, 2012 at 12:25 AM

      Hi Melissa! Thanks for your comment and for reading! Yes, Penelope slept right next to me for almost the first two years, then we tranistioned her to sleeping on her own as mentioned in this post. But when we co-slept it was just me and her in the bed (my husband slept upstairs because he is a light sleeper and had to go to work in the morning), and the mattress was on the floor for safety. I usually tried to get her to give me some space because I am so not a cuddler, but she was like a heat seaking missle and would always end up rightnext to me or she would be nursing and full on attached. Stay strong, go with your gut and don’t let anyone tell you what’s right for you and your baby, only you know that.

  • Stephanie
    December 6, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    I really enjoyed this. I was looking for a good read and some comfort. I fully intended to be the mom that never let my son sleep in our bed, nursed until he was 12 months and then stopped, and had him sleeping through the night by 3 months. Well, things change! My sweet boy was born and those things didn’t seem to be what was best. He is 18 months now. I love having him close and don’t know that either of us are ready to move him to his room. I am, however getting very tired of waking up 4-12 times a night to nurse. My son really prefers to nurse and fall asleep laying on top of me. Sometimes moving him beside me or to his toddler bed beside the bed is impossible. He sometimes will fuss a lil when he wakes up to nurse and go back to sleep. Sometimes he will completely wake up furious if I won’t let him. I don’t want to cut him off if he’s not ready. I just want to find a way to start the process and ease into what I feel is best for both of us. He stopped nursing all except nights and nap time. I have loved it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Thank you for sharing your experience! Ive heard so many negative things ab continuing to nurse and ab him not sleeping through the night in his room that it gets frustrating at times. Any thoughts or suggestions appreciated!

    • Stephanie
      December 6, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      Just do everything in baby steps. So first get him to stop falling asleep or staying asleep on top of you, then move to the next thing that feels the easiest to accomplish. Good luck!

  • Brittney
    December 23, 2012 at 4:10 AM

    I really like your blog, My daughter is also named Penelope. Any who thank you for this post, I nurse my daughter at night and she often falls asleep still nursing you have given me hope thank you.

    • Stephanie
      December 26, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      Hi Brittney! What a small world! So glad you like MBL!!

  • Dina
    January 14, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    Hi Stephanie! Great post. I just bookmarked your blog and intend to come back for more! I can totally relate to/appreciate the slow conversion method you’ve used to get your daughter to sleep. My son is 2 years 3 months. For the last several months or so, I was going along, using similar techniques as you with what I consider to be success, at getting him to nurse less and sleep in his own big-boy bed in his own room 🙂 – but now I’ve run into a bit of a snafu. My husband has suddenly decided to totally butt into the whole sleep/nursing thing, declaring that age 27 months my son should be weaned at a more rapid pace than what I’m currently doing (he’s down to 2 boobies a day). My husband also has expressed his disapproval of the co-sleeping method that I used for the first two years of my son’s life (although I somehow managed to have my way and continue breastfeeding and co sleeping up until this point). My husband was bottle fed and cribbed as a baby, and tends to have a rather narrow view of the whole situation. Right now it’s his work off-season, so he’s around and, to be honest, kind of a huge pain in my behind. I find that dealing with him, on top of trying to slowly convert my son to a big-boy sleeper, is hugely stressful – and out of the 3 of us I am the one losing the most sleep, both from tending to my son when he cries out at night, and just feeling really upset knowing that my husband “does not have my back” in the nursing dept anymore and will likely wake up and “yell” at me for whatever I happen to be doing at that time… or just not pay attention at all, then bark out some stupid advice. In the world of blogging mommies, I rarely hear about husbands, and how they factor into the whole weaning/sleeping thing. Mine is getting on my nerves in a big way. I just don’t feel that he’s read enough or experienced enough to dictate what/when my little guy is ready for. I am really way on board with the “attachment parenting” style, but he doesn’t share my philosophy and feels that I am the one making all the decisions thus far. Which, between you and me, I think I’m far more qualified. Sorry for rambling. Any tips?

    • Stephanie
      January 15, 2013 at 1:24 AM

      Sorry to hear that about your husband. I know that feeling so well and it is so stressful. My husband has my back about breastfeeding and co-sleeping, but he gives me SUCH a hard time about nutrition. Read my raw egg yolk for babies post to get an idea of what I mean. Keep your head up and keep forging ahead. Only YOU know what is right for your baby and you gotta stick to your guns.

  • Sarah
    January 15, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    I am so glad I found this post! I have felt at my wits end with nursing lately! I have an almost 19 month old daughter who has NEVER slept through the night. The most she has ever slept was 7 hours, and that was twice. She has just recently started super-nursing at night, and I think I may be getting a total of about 3 hours of sleep a night. She sleeps for about 2 hours when she first goes down (she nurses to sleep) then is up every 30-45 minutes. I understand that she doesn’t know how to get herself back to sleep on her own because I always aid her, but I don’t understand why she wakes up so frequently! She usually co-sleeps with me, or sleeps an hour or two in her own bed, in my room, before coming to bed with me. Any advice? Input? I am EXHAUSTED, and get a little to cranky with her, for my own liking, at times!

    • Stephanie
      January 15, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Penelope used to do that although by the time I started the night weaning process she was down to about 2 to 3 hour stretches. Not nursing at night helped get that to 3 to 5 hour stretches but as long as we were in the bed together she was waking me up. As soon as I left the bed, she slept through the night. After watching her on the monitored, I figures she was rolling around and bumping into me and waking her self up but then with me gone, she wasn’t waking herself up anymore.

  • Nicole
    January 28, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    My daughter will be 17 months on feb 7. She used to sttn about every other night which was fine with me. I got put in the hospital on jan 16-19 and she was at home with dada. It’s been about 2 weeks and she has only sttn once since I got out. She goes to bed by 10 every night at the latest and takes a nap usually from 12-2 most days. When she wakes up at night and I go in to giver her the paci she refuses to lay back down so I put her in our bed and she is instantly right back out! She usually only sleepy for about 3 hrs before waking. What do I do? Help please! I need sleep!

    • Stephanie
      January 29, 2013 at 1:21 AM

      Sorry, I am not sure what sttn is? 🙂

      • stephanie
        March 14, 2014 at 1:47 AM

        i’m guessing sttn stands for sleep through the night.

  • Jennifer Sassaman
    February 10, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    this is wonderful! congratulations!!
    My 10month old baby girl spent the first 3 months ONLY sleeping on my chest. Then she graduated to sleeping beside me on the bed. I had planned on co-sleeping, but I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I’d be (hello back pain!) and what a light sleeper she’d be (she will wake up if I turn the page of a book too loudly!!). She only sleeps if she’s touching me, and she still wakes up every 45 minutes needing to nurse back to sleep. I am trying to give her a pacifier to go back to sleep most of the times she wakes up in the hopes that I can get her down to nursing every 3 hours (who would have ever thought that 3 hours in a row would sound like a lot of sleep??) but so far it’s not going well and I’m not interested in pushing it too hard.
    I have absolutely fantasized about going to a hotel room for a week and just sleeping and experiencing silence. So I’m with you there!
    My questions for you would be:
    –what age did you start the slow process of night weaning?
    –how did you get her to nap on her own?

    • Stephanie
      February 10, 2013 at 3:29 AM

      She was about 18 months old when I started the night weaning process. She has always napped on her own, unless I wanted to lay with her, but for the most part she napped by herself. BUT she was never a great napper, usually would only take 45 minute naps, and she dropped them completly right at age 2!

  • Sheryl
    February 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    I’m so glad that I found this blog. My daughter, Anna, is now 23 months old and we’ve co-slept from the beginning. I am so tired and so is my husband. It takes an hour to put get her to sleep every night. That part I don’t mind so much. She is mostly night-weaned but still wakes up to ask to nurse starting at 4am. I cuddle her back to sleep. She will wake hourly from that point on to ask to nurse. I usually give in at around 6am before I get up and go to work. Once I leave for work, she will whine on and off every 15-30min until she wakes up for the day. This routine is no longer really working for my husband and I. We are not yet ready for her to sleep in her own room because we aren’t comfortable with that yet and I’m fairly certain that would be traumatic for her. I think I will discuss sleeping on the floor of our room for now and seeing how my daughter does if we aren’t in bed with her. This blog has at least given me hope that my daughter might be able to sleep on her own.

    • Stephanie
      February 22, 2013 at 8:20 PM

      There is hope! Good luck! Let me know how it all goes.

  • Sonya
    March 5, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    My situation may be a little bit different, but yet still the same concept. I am hoping that one of you moms can help me. We are both so tired and frustrated and I desperately want to have another child, but the way it is going, I am not so sure my husband will ever agree!! The first six months of my sons life, were spent sleeping on my chest. He did not sleep in his bassinet ever and I was terrified to let him sleep on his tummy. Which I eventually found was the only way he would sleep, if he ever did sleep. He is now 20 months. We have the same routine every night. supper, playing, pick up toys, bath/brush teeth, lights out, lay on the couch or rock, drink milk, and to bed by 8:45. Sometimes he is asleep before we lay him down, sometimes he is awake. It depends on if he is restless. For the most part when we lay him down, if he is awake he goes right to sleep. By 10:30 he is crying. Crying it out is not an option. He can go on for an hour + and just gets more worked up, never going to sleep. We have a small house, we tried crying it out when he was just over a year, it worked for awhile, then he got pneumonia and we had to start all over and we did when he was younger. I have heard of sleep regression, okay I understand, but at some point that has to end right? So 10:30 pm he is crying, rock him back to sleep-last night it took until 11:45, every time I would lay him back down, he would scream clinging to me. In between 10:30 and 1:30 AM he awakes several times whacking himself on the side of his crib, (you have to walk through his room to get to our room-so I hear everything) 1:30 awake again-rock back to sleep 30 mins, 3:45 AM screaming bloody murder, turned a small light on thinking a night terror, rocked, rubbed his back, sang, back to sleep around 4:?? toss and turn until 5:30, brought him to my bed hoping that would help, he screamed more and we were up for the day. This is nightly. No one in my house sleeps. He takes one nap a day, most days, sometimes 30 mins sometimes 2 hours, in no relations to how he slept the night before. He has never been a good sleeper. I wonder does he not sleep because he is whacking himself on the side of his crib at night? I have tried putting him in bed with me, that doesn’t help, he tosses and turns there to, he would just toss right out of our bed. What about putting him in a pack and play? Would that be bad for his back? He had tubes put in at seven months. Have had him to the doctor his ears are fine. He doesn’t have a cold. He’s a picky eater, sometimes will eat a nutrigrain bar for the whole day. Doesn’t really like meat, but I hear that’s common for most toddlers. I guess I just really need help on sleep!!! I will try anything! Yes-he is my first child 

    • Stephanie
      March 5, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      Sometimes there are counter inuitive reasons for having a hard time sleeping. I see the world in a much more holistic and big picture way. So the getting up at night could be many different things, really it could be a million different things. maybe he is too stimulated by his bedroom environment? Maybe he doesn’t get enough interaction with you during the day so this is an opportunity to get more snuggles, maybe there is something going on with his phsyical health? Maybe he has allergies or poor digestion. Being a picky eater is often sign of major digestive issues, I recommend reading a book called the GAPS Diet for more on that. Acupuncture has also helpe both my daughter and I with sleeping, so maybe consider seeing some sort of alternative Dr. The key is to focus on is that people don’t do things for no reason. Your body doesn’t do things without reason. If you think something is going on and not normal, it isn’t. Trust your gut. Good luck and keep me posted!

  • Diana
    March 11, 2013 at 6:21 AM

    This was great to read. I never co-slept with my kids (except the rare occasions of them being sick), but it was interesting to read about women who loved it. I sure think every mom should do it the way that is best for them. I am a ridiculously deep sleeper– my husband has told me that I have slept through my 3 year old standing on my side of the bed yelling because he needs something. I just knew I would be one of those mothers who would suffocate their child. I know it sounds ridiculous and they say you won’t… but you have to follow your instincts and mine said that was a bad idea. I got lucky though I guess because both of my kiddos were great sleepers as babies. Then my older son started having sleep troubles around age 2. He would wake up coughing and crying. He would cough and throw up almost every night before bed. Since he was underweight I focused on the vomitting and not the coughing. I thought it was one thing, then another, I tried parenting differently and feeding him differently and finally I asked my pediatrician about it. She checked his oxygen level and guess what… he wasn’t getting enough oxygen! Turns out all that coughing was his body trying to breath out enough so that he could get more air in. The doctor gave us an albuterol inhaler. I was extremely skeptical but also scared that my kiddo wasn’t breathing in enough. We used it and from the first use he slept through the night. He didn’t need cuddling, or food… he needed oxygen. What a lesson to learn. We only had to use it about 2 weeks and then his lungs had recovered–after months of struggling. I had a lot of guilt about it for a while because it went on for so long before I thought to ask the doctor. I just share in case anyone else might have something similar. Sleep and health are so closely related.

    • Stephanie
      March 11, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Laura
    April 30, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Ahhhhh I’m in the trenches as we speak!!! I started night weaning my almost 18 month old daughter about a month ago. We still co sleep and she was waking up sometime 4-6 times a night to nurse!! I was exhausted and cranky. All the time! Well I still am but I’m seeing a slow progress. Everyone I talked to said you have to put her in her crib and just let her cry it out! Even her pediatrician !!!! There was no way I could leave her in another room in a crib that she has never been in and let her cry all night long by herself…. So I would tell her as we got ready for bed she could have Bo Bo but after that she could have it in the morning. The first few weeks I picked an 8 hour stretch so she would nurse around 7:30 or 8 pm I wouldn’t let her nurse again till after 4 am. (Which I think kind of screwed me:). She would wake up ask for Bo Bo and scream scream flop around and throw a full on tantrum. This in the past was where I usually gave in. But I didn’t this time I would hold her or rock her and pat her whatever it took to get her back to sleep but no boob. I know the majority of the tantrum was because she didn’t know how to sooth herself back to sleep. The first week it took two or three hours for her to go back to sleep. A month later she knows she gets Bo Bo at nighttime and nap time. She nurses and cuddles and then she pulls my arm around her and falls asleep in our bed . Then I leave her untill i go to bed She still wakes up twice a night the first time around 1 or 2 and she is easly patted back to sleep with my arm around her. The second time is the hard one. The four am waking she dosnt want to go back to sleep until she has Bo Bo. This is we’re daddy has been coming in. When I first started I would nurse her at 4 am and she would sleep till 7am. Trying to eliminate the 4 am feeding is not going well I’m considering giving it back to her but afraid it will set us back. Daddy would rock her and a few nights it works and some mornings she dosnt go back to bed and we all just get up at 6 am She has made so much progress I never thought she would give the boob up at night. It is so hard and taking longer than I’m sure cold turkey or the cry it out would take. But I couldn’t do that to her or myself. That was why I kept giving in. So hopefully this will continue to get better nd work for us! Sorry to have such a long post. I was reading some of the other posts and no exactly how you mamas feel!!! There is a light at the end of the tunnel even if its just the size of a flashlight !!!:) thank you for your blog!!!!

    • Michelle
      June 24, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      Thank you for this long post. I am struggling with this right now. My son is only 16 months and my gut tells me we need to make some very small changes to start the process of night-weaning. Your story and others here are inspiring. Thanks so much. We too have a pediatrician who told us to let him cry it out. We don’t have anyone in our lives who understands quite what we are going through and my husband and I sometimes turn on each other. Fortunately, we get back to an understanding of what and why we are doing things the way we are. Thank you again for your story. I certainly needed some inspiration…

      • Stephanie
        June 24, 2013 at 10:06 PM

        Lots of love and light to you Michelle. Please let me know if you need any more support or have any questions. I can answer quick stuff here or on email or I do Skype consultations. 🙂

        • Michelle
          June 25, 2013 at 11:18 AM

          You are incredible! Thanks again.

  • Jessie
    May 10, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Love this blog! And I love your attitude, I am of the same mindset. My 19 month old son still co-sleeps with us, we had night weaned a few months ago and weaned during the day as well for about 2 months now. Those transitions where much easier than I thought they were. We are expecting our second one this October and were about to make the transition with little man to his own twin bed… (he’s been crawling out of his crib at naptime since he was a year old). But just within this last week he’s been waking up at night, while he’s in bed with us and crying crying crying (2 – 3 hours at a time, he’ll stop and almost go back to sleep and then remember he was crying and start again). Doesn’t seem as if he’s in pain (not teething) doesn’t seem as if he’s had any bad dreams. I think he’s gets up and just doesn’t want to be in bed any longer because he gets angry if I don’t get up. I’ve been almost ignoring him, being available for cuddles but not acknowledging him waking up and definitely not getting up. I thought for sure after a few days he would get tired of crying and just go back to sleep, but no progress yet. Hoping I’m doing the right thing!?

    • Stephanie
      May 10, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      What does your gut say?

  • Michelle
    June 24, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    This post was written the day my non-sleeping, co-sleeping, all-night-nursing or else screaming, 16 month old toddler was born. Occasionally, I need a quick Google search to hear from moms who have the same experience. Yesterday, I decided to start him napping in his crib to get him used to sleeping in his own room. I have cut down drastically on daytime nursing because it was getting out of hand. My gut told me it was time for that and I was right because it was not a tortuous horrible transition. I love the mom up above who said her child finally started sleeping at 18 months. I also know that might not be the norm. Anyway, here’s to you for writing this post 16 months ago and touching my life today! I hope we can make it to the point where he is ready for the transition. We could all use a little bit of sleep and my nipples could use a bit of rest! Was your daughter by any chance a really slow teether? This is our newest theory. At 16 months, he only has 6 teeth and it seems he is constantly in pain at night….Who knows…We create our theories to help us cope I guess! Thanks for this post!

  • Amy DePoint
    March 5, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Thank you for this post. I don’t know anyone else with this issue and even my AP mom friends tell me it’s time to CIO. We did move my now 22 month old into her own room at about 14ish months. Before that we did the Dr Gordon method to stop the every 45 minute wake ups. I got really sick from no sleep and couldn’t even begin to heal until I could get a bit more. It worked and she slept for 2-3 hours at a time. We moved her into her own room with her full size bed and she slept so much better! She is also a roller. Still waking 2-4 times a night though. But when she gets sick I go back to nursing around the clock. For the last 2 nights she screams and throws a tantrum if the right nipple isn’t accessible to her! We are back to waking every 45 minutes. I can not go back there so I thi I we will go back to no nursing, only my partner cuddles from 10-5. After 5 she can snuggle and nurse with me. I hope this works and I can get her to sleep longer in the next few months. Or wake and go back to sleep without a screaming fit. We also want to try for baby 2 but I need to be more rested and healthier for that to happen. Thank you for your inspiration and ideas. Oh, and we have going to sleep on own, err without nursing, down pat. Just need to get more sleep!

    • Stephanie
      March 6, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      Thanks for reading Amy! Lol, you know it must be bad when AP mamas are advocating CIO. I think you are on the right track. You can be firm and set boundaries without your child feeling neglected and scared. It’s a fine line but your health and sanity are important. Lots of love and prayers to you.

  • Portia Billings
    March 20, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    My child’s sleeping habits were terrible and keeping me up night after night. However, I bought a Cuddletunes bear and now he is sleeping through the night! The music and my voice inside the bear really soothes him. Best thing on the market to get a child to sleep!

    • Stephanie
      March 24, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Aw, glad to hear that!

  • Sarah-Jane
    December 29, 2014 at 4:34 AM

    My son is 14 months old and is sleeping on a single bed mattress next to my bed. He rolls around so much at night, he is also a kicker. I am struggling with him rolling around and he often rolls right off the mattress. He does not sleep through he wakes up about 4 – 5 times each night but once he is given a bottle he is happy. I would love to have him is his own room, but his bedroom is upstairs and the master bedroom is downstairs. I’m really not looking forward to the nights I’ll spend running up and down the stairs every time he cries although it would do wonders for my legs haha, this is the main reason why I have not moved him to his own room. Do you have any advice for me on the rolling around and whether or not him sleeping on the mattress next to our bed is a good idea? Do you think it will only be a good idea to move him to his own bedroom once he sleeps through and does not roll off the mattress?

    • Stephanie
      January 6, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      Sounds like his nervous system is not properly functioning and allowing him to fully rest at night. Regardless of where he is, I would work on getting him to stop rolling around so much that he wakes himself up. I’ve got some ideas if you would like to work together one on one, just let me know, would love to help!

  • Becky
    February 15, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    I know this might be a late post but Im having issues with my 11 month old bb sleeping from like 12:30a – 2:30a wakeup rolling around asking for the pacifier and then going back to sleep. But when she is rolling around she not really awake awake just whining for pacifier then would go back to bed for a little bit. Then it’ll happen all over again till whenever I give her some milk. I’m trying to wean her from drinking fluids at night cause honestly anyone I know tells me she should be sleeping thru the night. Is this normally what bb do at night? I was away for two weeks and she would sleep thru the night till morning 7am and then I feed her some milk she would go back to bed till like 9 or 10am. Which was great but then we went back home and now this. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong before this she was in her swaddle and we finally got her out of it cause I lost my luggage and my swaddle was in it. So I kind of benefit from losing it at least I finally weaned her off. I really need help cause now I’m sleep deprived all over again from swaddling every 2 hours she would wake up and now waking up for pacifier every moment it falls out. We are co-sleeping btw. Not sure is it because she isn’t eating enough but I’m feeding her 35oz of formula a day 2 meals. She just started eating solids not too long ago so I’m just getting her use to eating. Can it be that she is not tired enough? I do nap her twice a day total of 2 hours or a little more.

    • Stephanie
      February 18, 2015 at 9:09 PM

      Hey Becky! So sorry to hear you are not getting sleep, that is the WORST! It’s really hard to give advice without knowing the full picture. I would say off hand, this is normal behavior for a co-sleeping, breastfeeding baby. If you would like to talk more in depth about this, I would love to work with you, check out my client services page. Helping mamas is what I do best!

  • Carol
    January 18, 2016 at 11:52 AM

    I agree with your gentle parenting advice and doing whats best for the family. We are currently living the nightmare of not sleeping with our beautiful 20 month old boy. I will say he had sleept thru the night only twice in these period. I have weaned him at 19 months but he still gets a bottle before bed . He asks me to put him in the crib and he falls asleep by himself. But he wakes every night from 2 to 10 times very inconsistent sleeping patterns. He uses a pacifier which he refuses to leave and asks at night for water. My husband and I are going crazy. We tried bringing him to our ved but that makes things worse. He doesn’t like to sleep with us either. Please help us!