Why don’t we use cry it out methods now that our daughter is 1.5 years old? Our daughter is already sleep trained. Sleep training and cry it out methods are designed to help your child learn how to self soothe and how to put themselves to sleep. This is an incredible skill that we need to teach our little ones, so I am ALL in favor of using sleep training to teach those concepts. We did sleep training at 4 months with our daughter, and if we need to do it again with our next child, we will. There are so many benefits that our children gain from learning these skills. Caroline is a well rested child. Because of this she is happy, she is healthy, and she is eager to learn.
So, while we did sleep training when Caroline was 4 months old, we are not eager to do any sort of cry it out method now that she is older. At 4 months, she was crying because she needed sleep and didn’t know how to put herself to sleep. She was also crying because she wanted me. My husband and I felt that we’d be doing her a disservice if we didn’t allow her the opportunity to learn to self soothe. As a result, we did sleep training. It was quite possibly the hardest couple of weeks I’ve ever experienced. It was worth it. We both agree it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Since then, we’ve always told Caroline that if she calls for us we will always come. Calling for us is different than crying. She needs to call “Mama” or “Daddy”, and, if she does, we’ll always be there.
Well, she’s old enough to do so now. She’s learned to call us instead of simply crying! This is such a positive behavior. She’s calling us because she is trying to tell us something. That something is often that she needs to go potty (now that she’s potty trained). That something can also be that she wants company, or doesn’t want to go to bed yet. Maybe she’s scared, or thirsty. Unfortunately, she can’t explain all of these things quite yet, but she does have something to say. So, we now always go in. It might just be for a minute to ask if she needs a hug and explain to her that it is bedtime, but we go in. We don’t give her everything she asks for, in fact we often tell her no and leave. I think it’s important to validate their feelings and reassure them at this age, however, since they understand so much.
Does she take advantage at times? Absolutely! As a result, we are using other methods such as sticker charts and an ok to wake clock, in order to reinforce the positive behavior that we want her to learn. Now that she understands more, we can employ methods that she has ownership of and involve her more. I think this is the key to success at this age, and I think it’s so much more important to focus on the positive behaviors than to focus on what we don’t want them to do. Every morning, I reflect on the night before with Caroline. I tell her about all of the good things she did last night when we were putting her to bed. I tell her all of the things I am proud of so she’ll learn to do them again the next night.
Let’s also not forget….once they are sleep trained, they don’t forget how to self soothe. It’s kind of like riding a bike. They may go through regressions, and they may take advantage at times, but they still know the skills that they’ve learned. Caroline still knows how to put herself to sleep- she just chooses not to at times now that she’s older. That’s ok. She’s experimenting with learning new things, and experimenting with being more grown up, and able to make decisions on her own. She’s testing boundaries, and learning about consequences. This is the age for that and it’s to be expected. This is also the time for parents to get creative in the tactics they use so they are most effective.