Using a no cry sleep solution can take more time than controlled crying but there’s less distress for both you and your child. Choosing how to solve your toddler sleep problems and help your toddler and you get a better night’s sleep is always tricky and what works for one person might not work for someone else – you need to do what’s right for you.
The key to any sleep training approach is to plan it, be consistent, remain calm at all times and Keep Going! A no cry sleep solution can work but it will take time and you’ll need to be patient.
The no cry sleep solution approach described here avoids the use of controlled crying and goes at the speed you and your child are happy with.
No cry sleep solution: There are of course different toddler sleep problems but for this example let’s assume that you normally lie down with your child for him to go to sleep and so now your child is unable to go to sleep on his own. He wakes up in the night and needs you to lie down with him in order to sleep again.
If this is not your problem then move onto the next step where you are at. Also, before you start any sleep training program you need to look at your toddler’s whole day – he needs a routine during the day so that he is getting sufficient nap time and activity so that he has not had too much sleep in the day nor is overtired at the end of the day.
Before you start a no cry sleep solution you also need to have established a consistent bedtime routine. If you do not have a consistent bedtime routine then plan it today and start it! Let your toddler get used to this new routine for a few days before changing the way he goes to sleep. Remember that the key thing with the bedtime is not rigid timings – it’s the activities being in the same order. You’re getting the building blocks in place.
Secondly, make sure his bedroom is a lovely place for him to be. His bed and bedding are what HE likes and feels good about. The curtains are lined so the light doesn’t disturb him in the morning, you have a night light in place so it’s not completely dark (other programs may disagree with this – remember it’s a personal decision).
Your little one has to have good associations with his bedroom before you change the way he sleeps. Going to sleep on his own is a big step for him so he needs to feel safe and secure where he sleeps. Take time to do this and you can do this with him.
Thirdly, let’s confirm that you want your toddler to be able to go to sleep by himself so that when he has light periods in his sleep cycles and wakes up he can settle himself without waking you up. You want to solve your toddler sleep problems. Here we go! Feel positive – you’re here because you want to make a positive change! Let’s go for the no cry sleep solution because that’s what feels right for you.
Stage 1: Preparation for the no cry sleep solution
Explain to your child that he is getting so big now that he is going to learn how to sleep by himself, just like mommy and daddy! Make it a positive step for your child – similar to potty training. Talk to him about this during the day.
If you lie down with your child, explain to him that you will start lying down with your child and after a few minutes you’ll sit up and read your book whilst he lies down and goes to sleep – sleep time for him and reading time for Mommy. And then tell him you’ll stay there whilst he goes to sleep.
Ask him whether he wants to have a sleep buddy to sleep with like his favorite teddy or you could buy a new one especially – choose it with him if you do. He has to love it. If he says, no, I want you to be my sleep buddy, you need to say no, I’m your Mommy not your sleep buddy!
You need to choose a book for yourself and have a tiny torch – just bright enough for you to read with but not bright enough for you to disturb your child going to sleep.
Do not have a magazine as they’re too noisy when you turn the pages and have too many pictures which might attract your child. It needs to be unattractive to them. You have your book and torch ready in his bedroom near his bed – he’ll see that that book is for you, ready for you to read.
Stage 2 of the no cry sleep solution: Lying and sitting
Lie down as you do do normally for a few minutes and then slowly sit up so you are next to him. If he protests, tell him, it’s okay, I’m sitting here with you. You can hold his hand – or keep a hand on his back, but do not lie down again.
You could say, it’s sleep time for you and Mommy/Daddy time for Mommy/Daddy. If he wants to engage in conversation, do not engage in conversation, repeat that it’s sleep time for you now, we’ll talk tomorrow. And say your good night phrase.
Repeat this for 3 or 4 nights or until this is easy. He’s making a big step, so congratulate him every morning and tell your friends so that they congratulate him too.
You could also make a reward chart or give him a treat specifically for his new sleeping success. Make each small step a reason to celebrate his success – and yours! Remember YOU are in the process of solving your toddler sleep problems. Give yourself a treat too!
Stage 3 of the no cry sleep solution: Short cuddle and sitting next to him
Now instead of lying down you are going to give him a goodnight cuddle (you just bending over) and are going to sit as before. This is still cosy for him and he knows you are there, but he is getting used to gradually being more on his own.
Again, as before, repeat this until this is easy. You need to be consistent, calm and firm. If he protests you can sing a quiet lullaby to him, but do not give in to any lying down. End with your good night phrase.
If this is hard, then your partner can do this on alternative nights so that you both have support and are doing it together. The more support everyone has the easier it is.
And remember to make sure that you’ve had lots of cuddles during the day and a nice, unhurried bedtime. Also, be sure that your toddler is sleepy but not overtired.
Always congratulate your child in the morning even if it wasn’t perfect. He’ll feel good and you will too.
Stage 4 of the no cry sleep solution: Sitting at the end of the bed
You might not need to do this stage. But if you do, you do, no worries! You need to move to the end of the bed so that you are not holding his hand or touching him. Give him a little cuddle as before as you say goodnight and then move to the end of the bed, read your book whilst he goes to sleep.
If your child wants to talk to you you need to say, “shh, sleep time for you now” and your good night phrase.
Repeat this until this is comfortable and easy. Do not revert to lying down – even if you’re tired, and know you would fall asleep yourself, don’t lie down with your toddler!
Stage 5 of the no cry sleep solution: Sitting in a chair
Now you need to move off the bed. So have a chair in your child’s bedroom and instead of sitting on the bed, sit in the chair, again, reading – you’re there but you’re separate. Or have a nap yourself with your book on your lap!
Your child is now going to sleep on their own.
Stage 6 of the no cry sleep solution: Leaving the room
Since it’s sleep time for your toddler and Mommy/Daddy time for you, you can start going out of the room. You can say, goodnight and your goodnight phrase, and say I’m just going to check on something and I’ll be back in a few minutes just to check on you. DO come back in a minute – don’t be longer than you say. Again, you may not need to do this – ideally not, as then your child might not go to sleep because he’s waiting for your check. But go with the flow.
Your toddler is not only learning how to go to sleep by himself but he’s also learning that he’s safe to go to sleep by himself.
Stage 7 of the no cry sleep solution: Moving on
Your child is going to sleep by himself without you there all the time. Say goodnight and tell him that it’s sleep time for him and you’re just getting on with something and will check him after he’s asleep.
He knows you will because that’s what you’ve done in Stage 6. Confirm with him in the morning that you checked him when he’s asleep. He’ll like that idea and can go to sleep knowing that he’ll be okay.
And there you have it. You can solve your toddler sleep problems without distress. But the downside is that it’s slow and takes time – there are no promised times or limits – you go at your own pace. But your child has learnt how to go to sleep by himself with a no cry sleep solution and he should have only happy associations with sleep time.
When he wakes in the night, he will find it easier to go back to sleep by himself. If he wakes you, then sit on his bed until he goes to sleep and repeat the process as above. It won’t take long as he knows how to sleep by himself.
Do not start lying down with him again as you’ll then need to start all over. “Ssh, sleep time for you” is better in the long run!
Your toddler sleep problems can be solved. This no cry sleep solution approach takes time but is relatively stress free. Use a sleep diary to monitor your progress so that you can chart how long each stage takes. We also recommend No Cry Sleep Solution book which you might find helpful. It also helps you to remain focused on the task and to keep going!
And if you start this program to solve your toddler sleep problems, keep going – your child will soon know what to expect and you will too.