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Avatar Nicky...
20 mth old can't self settle

My 20 mth old won't go to sleep by himself and wakes at least 3 - 7 times during the night and won't go back to sleep without being patted. We tried controlled comforting but he keeps crying until he throws up. He can climb out of his cot so I want to move him to a toddler bed but I think he needs to be able to settle himself first ??? Please help - I am exhausted. He will only sleep for 1 hr during the day ( 1 sleep )

Jane ...
Answer: If he's climbing out of his cot, this is a safety issue so he would be better in a toddler bed, perhaps with safety rails. It's unfortunate that this is coinciding with needing to do some responsive settling management - containing unwilling toddlers in a bed is a separate challenge in itself, but really you don't have a choice. It he's used to being patted to sleep and has learnt to rely on your presence and help to go to sleep and then help him again and again overnight, then you need to change what you are doing in order for him to learn new self settling skills. He will protest because you are changing your usual responses to him but until you do this he won't be challenged to learn there are other ways of going to sleep. His vomiting may well return as he gets upset but he also needs to learn that when he does this, it does not mean he will then be patted. Just clean him up and be very matter of fact about it all, don't give him too much lovely attention and go back to telling him to lie down, it's sleep time. Sometimes at this age and stage, less attention is better than more, you could try sitting on a chair in his room, quietly reading a book and then over a few nights move the chair closer to the doorway. This way he's being reassured that you are with him but you're no longer patting him to sleep. You need to be in control of the chair and it's position in the room and how long you stay with him, not him. Check the Huggies website for more comprehensive information on "toddler in a bed" settling strategies. You may also want to check in with your CHN to see if your toddler is eating and growing as he needs to. If you don't think you can change what you're doing without some additional support, then investigate a referral to an early parenting centre for a short residential stay. Cheers Jane
Answered: 07 Jul 2013