Last updated on May 31st, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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Hi! I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady, and in this video I’m going to answer an anonymous mom’s email about her 15-month-old who needs her to lie down in his bed to fall asleep.
“My 15-month only goes to sleep with his arms around me. I’ve tried The Shuffle for 3 weeks now, but when I sit up on his bed (instead of lying down), he thinks it’s playtime and won’t stay laying down. If I repeatedly lie him down, it ends up with him screaming himself to sleep.
When I do our old routine, he only needs me to go back in and resettle him once a night. When I do this new routine it seems that he’s up at least two times before I fall asleep on his bed. Also, he’s in a single bed, not a cot, as he thinks it’s fun to launch himself from the top railing of the cot.
I’m really over listening to him scream himself to sleep. What do I do?”
Mom, you didn’t mention what you used to do in your old routine. I’m gathering that maybe you rocked and laid with him to sleep. Or, perhaps you fed him to sleep with his arms around your neck? I’m not sure, so I’m going to assume for now that you laid with him and co-slept with him with his arms around your neck. Then, when he woke during the night, you needed to resettle him by lying with him again.

Make His Sleep Space Safe

Unfortunately he is very young to be in a bed. But, I agree with you that it sounds dangerous if he’s launching himself out of the cot. Hopefully you lowered the mattress and you tried some other things like putting him in a sleep sack or things that would make it hard for him to climb out. If none of that is working and your only option is a bed, then I think you may want to consider returning to your old routine until he is a bit older.  If his old routine was co-sleeping, then you could put a mattress on the floor in his room. I have some resources on my site how to co-sleep safely.

Sleep Train Him to Lie Down Without You

If you were only lying down with him at bedtime and once during the night until he was asleep then you can decide to address bedtime only. Start with putting him to bed awake, where you are sitting up and you don’t get into a struggle about laying him down.
After a soothing routine in a dim lit quiet room, sit next to his bed (not on it), pat the mattress, and encourage him to lie down. If he starts playing, close your eyes and shush and ignore it. I do not want you to lay him down. If he gets very upset, it’s ok to give him a little hug and say “it’s okay, honey, lie down.” If the first couple of nights he falls asleep on your lap, it’s okay because that’s progress. But just continue to move him off and next to you. Each night try to do a little bit less.
When he’s asleep, you’ll leave and you’ll go back to bed when it’s your time to go to bed.
Resettle him during the night until he’s old enough that you feel like you could talk to him more. Then, you could really do the Sleep Lady Shuffle.
At this age, it’s very hard to teach him to stay in his bed all night long because he doesn’t have the cognitive abilities or the impulse control to help him know to stay in his bed.

Be Sure He’s Well-Napped

Make sure he’s well-napped. I am not sure if he’s on one nap or two naps. That’s going to be really important at bedtime.
Also, be sure that bedtime is early enough.
I hope that helps!

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!