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How to train a 2 year old to fall asleep by herself...?

  1. #9
    barbwong_130 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Hong Kong

    How do you know it will take years to overcome?
    All my children slept by themselves without resorting to leaving them to cry.
    Here's a question I’d like to ask. Imagine you were scared or sad enough to start crying. What if another adult you loved knew you were crying, but refused to hug you, reminding you that you'd had a hug just an hour ago or that it was dark outside and so you couldn’t have one? You would probably stop crying eventually on your own, but wouldn't you feel better if that other adult had comforted you when you needed it?

  2. #10
    marlie is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Hong Kong

    I guess the issue you raised is the same debated by parents everywhere - is the cry it out method a necessary evil or is it downright cruel.

    I haven't yet formed a view - I am still trying to get as much info as possible. If you didn't use the CIO, how did you train your children to sleep by themselves?

    My helper sleeps with my 2 year old which is a reason why we have been slow in training her up. We are about to move and in the new flat the helper will not be in the same room - so we are bracing ourselves for the inevitable...

  3. #11
    barbwong_130 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Hong Kong

    There is lots of literature on both sides.

    Some, in opinion, is just totally cruel. It can’t possibly be right to leave a tiny infant to cry at just a few weeks old. At this age his wants and his needs are the same. And following such a routine is disastrous for breastfeeding. You will notice that most of these books say they are pro-breastfeeding (After all who would buy them if they said that following their schedules meant you have an 80% chance of a formula fed baby at one month?)

    But as the child grows the question becomes more hazy. A two year old’s wants are not always his needs. But in my experience children revert to being much younger when they are too hungry, too tired or too ill. My children have been quite grown up and able to hold real conversations at two but only when they were happy. When they weren’t happy it was all tears and no sense.

    And then you have the needs of the parents as well. Obviously a compromise has to be formed. This will be your state for the next 18 to 20 years. I think it is better to have a compromise where no one is so upset that they revert to tears – whether that be the child or the adult. And generally an adult is able to ask for help more easily than a child can.

    Everyone seems to be into schedules and crying it out these days. But my eldest is now 18 years old and very few people in Hong Kong were doing this when she was a baby. So she was brought up with no real routine and no crying. As I worked during the day I actually wanted her awake in the evenings rather than in bed at seven o’clock. So she usually went to bed at around the same time as I went to bed. In order for her to manage this she had long afternoon naps – and carried on having them until she was nearly seven years old. I loved this because at the weekends it gave me a long break in the middle of the afternoons.

    If she was tired then often I’d lie with her but sometimes I wanted to watch TV and then she sit on my knee to go to sleep and I’d put her bed during the adverts. Other times I wanted to go out and then my husband or the babysitter would get her to sleep – everyone seemed to have a different way that worked for them.

    As this was successful with my first child I’ve carried on with my other three. By the time my third child was born my eldest was in school and so needed to sleep earlier. This just happened without any problems because she was really tired by nine o’clock. My younger children also started going to bed earlier because their elder sister was a role model for them. So the cry it out method isn’t a necessary evil. It is possible to enjoy life and not resort to using it but it might take an attitude change from the parents. Raising children takes time and you have to be willing to give that time.

    A lot of the cry it out books I worry me, especially their rigidness and the threat, “you follow my way or there will be disaster”. It plays on the fears of new mothers. What is wrong with letting a child have his way when he’s tired or upset? The time to teach a child sometime is when he is happy and can understand the concept. This is true for adults too. If you are there and have nothing else to do what harm is there in giving in to the wants of the two year old and lying with him until he goes to sleep? Sometimes I run the bath and make a cup of tea for my husband – not because he needs me to do these things but because I’m there and he wants me to. Do you think I’m spoiling him? It seems to me that often people forget that babies and children are people too.

    My other criticism of the books is that they are very bound in their own culture. It is traditional in Hong Kong for children to sleep with their parents – I did and so did my husband. It is also traditional for children to have long afternoon naps and the local kindergartens here still put children as old as six years old to sleep for 90 minutes each day. But books I’ve read tell you never to sleep with your children as bad habits form and to get rid of the afternoon nap as soon as possible. There seems to be no recognition that all around the world different people bring up their children differently and yet everyone grows up.

    There are cultures where babies aren’t allowed on the ground until they are able to walk but are carried around all day until about 12 months old! It sounds strange to us but how can we say it is wrong when it works for them. My belief is that if you follow your heart then you can’t go too far wrong and a working compromise will be settled on. Mothers who are in tears while trying to follow the rules of another are in fact going against their mothering instinct and the result can’t be good for anyone.

    When parents talk they mention two age groups that are the worse, the terrible twos and teenagehood. I haven’t found these ages any harder than the rest. Yes my two year olds were testing my limits but it seemed easier to say no you can’t play with the knife than it was to say no you can’t have a cuddle to go to bed. And I truly believe that my attitude to them as little ones has formed the basis of our good relationships as they have grown into teenagers. My teenage children are happy to talk to me and often seek me out to confide in. When our wants clash we try to work out a solution that everyone can live with even if everyone isn’t happy. This takes two way communication and the sooner it starts the better for everyone. Thus I’m a firm believer in talking to my babies and explaining things – even before they are able to fully understand.

    In bring my children up I’ve tried to keep the big picture in mind – what was I hoping for? I want children who can make good decisions about what they want to do and not be reliant on me making them for them. Thus I’ve tried to meet their basic needs but focused more on developing their self-esteem and confidence. I put importance on their independence and self-sufficiency but at the same time try to provide them with protection and boundaries.

    I’m sorry that I’ve gone on and on but your comments touched a nerve and once I started I couldn’t stop.

    Best wishes,

  4. #12
    jdang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003

    Marlie, before you embark on the CIO (should you decide on it) I'd like to suggest that you take a closer look at how your daughter's day is structured.

    From what I can see, she's just not tired at the bedtime set for her especially if she'd just had a nap & bath a short moment ago. My kids (20mths) nap between 1:30 to 3:00pm. Dinner at 6:30pm & off to the playground we'd go. Back home by 7:30pm for bathtime. A short TV or DVD programme (30 mins) follows while the adults have dinner or do some housework. I'll read to them after that & my maid will takeover while I take a bath. When I'm done, around 9:30pm the kids are ready to go into their room with their milk & usually sleep within 15mins. Sometimes they'd come out again if they can't sleep but I don't mind since everything is done. I'd keep the lights low & TV volume down while they do whatever they want to. By the time they'd ready to go to sleep again, they'll take my hand & lead me into their room. I'd lie on the bed with them until they sleep.
    I'd rather they go to bed happy & willing than forcing them to fulfil their 'quota' of sleep hours.

    Thanks Barb, for reminding me how precious these early years are. There are days when the going gets tough & I'll start to visualise them all grown up & leaving home. My husband thinks I'm loony but this calms me down & helps me realise how fast time passes by so I should not begrudge nor resent my children for the extra 'work' they bring along with them into our lives.

    Last edited by jdang; 09-23-2005 at 08:13 AM.

  5. #13
    Valencia is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2005


    Barb is right in saying that "different people bring up their children differently and yet everyone grows up" and about "different cultures" and "different times" too. It's your mother instinct to decide what works for your daughter.

    Jdang mentioned taking her children to the playground in the evening, which is a good idea if you or your helper can afford the time. It's hard to force them to sleep if they are not tired.

    Marlie, since you mentioned you are about to move to a new flat and your helper will not sleep with your daughter. Maybe you can tackle the problem in two parts: make her fall asleep on her own and sleeping alone. The key to falling asleep alone is feeling tired. Taking her to bed immediately after a bath with a bottle of milk is my trick. If she doesn't feel tired, you may leave her in the sitting room until she falls asleep.

    As for the second part, it's harder because I'm still sleeping with my daughter. It's not a problem if you have only one child or a helper. I think it's the emotional thing that worries you. If your daughter can fall asleep on her own and waking up finding there's someone beside her will that solve your problem? Breastfed children are different from bottle fed children, they need more cuddling. Some children are braver and independent, but some are timid and like to be with people. If the bedroom door opens to the sitting room, your daughter will rest assured she can overlook you and fall asleep. Or you can add a mirror on the wall so that she can see the reflection. You can put a gate at her room door to prevent her from getting out.

    As jdang mentioned, these years will soon be gone. When your kids start going to the kindergarten, you'll worry about their homework and exams. By the time they are five, they won't need a nap. When they are six going to full day schools, they are too tired to stay awake. Hang on and Cheer up.

  6. #14
    JennyB is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Discovery Bay

    I have to disagree with Valencia on this point:

    Quote Originally Posted by Valencia
    Hi, marlie,

    If it takes hours for your 2 year old to get to sleep, I guess she is not tired. Since she is 2 and needs less sleep than before.
    My experience with a nearly 2-year-old is that we recently went through a rough patch getting her to sleep. When I sat down and thought about it, I realised her bedtime had been creeping later and later. She was taking longer and longer to put to bed because she was too tired and cranky and uncooperative, and when she really lost it she was wired and refusing to sleep until she was completely exhausted - but still woke early in the morning. We moved her bedtime earlier and she is not only easier to get to sleep but is sleeping later in the morning. Catch them before they get overtired is my motto, and have a nice relaxing bedtime routine. Obviously they will need gradually less sleep over time, but I think this is a very gradual process which very much depends on the individual. So don't assume that being more tired always equals better sleep.

    However, the first time I took my toddler to Ocean Park she only napped for 1/2hr all day and then she slept for 13hrs at night when we got home, when previously she had slept for a max of 9 or 10hrs (I was pretty worried!!!). Unfortunately that trick only worked once - we have been back twice and her night sleep afterwards was not as good as normal.

    As for the CIO debate, I have always been against the idea but have resorted to it on occasion when I have found my presence at night too stimulating for my child, and we have been on a downward spiral of lack of sleep. She might be unusual in that she has never been able to sleep well in our bed, even when we have wanted her to, because she wants to play if we are there. When I used to lie down next to her while she fell asleep, even though I turned her face away, she would keep turning over to check I was still there. So I decided to try letting her cry for short periods interrupted by comforting. I try to keep the comforting short (which has been very hard) just to give brief reassurance, because if I stay too long it is even harder to extricate myself than in the first place.

    I am still constantly telling her that Mummy and Daddy like to sleep in Mummy and Daddy's bed which is just the right size for us, just like her bed is just the right size for her, and we are very close by; nighttime is for sleeping and we will love to play with her when the sun comes up. Also explain exactly what is happening at bedtime, like the next story is the last one, then I am going to turn out the light and we are going to have a cuddle while I sing you a lullaby, etc, then you are going to sleep. I am sure that this sort of thing gradually sinks in so that the child eventually knows that sleep is going to happen next.

  7. #15
    MickeyMom is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    reading through this thread was very good
    my son is 2.7 years old and i plan to make him sleep in his own room very soon
    he was previously sleeping in that room with his nanny but nanny has since left, so have to train him to get to sleep on his own.
    thanks, all very helpful and informative

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