How to Sleep Train Your Toddler

Children need about 12 hours of sleep a day to promote healthy growth and development but making sure your child receives the sleep he needs can be a nightly challenge. As babies move into their early toddler years it can be difficult for children to shut out all the exciting stimulation that fills their world and settle down for sleep. Beginning toddler sleep training when your child is young (typically at 4 to 6 months of age) can help your child develop important life-long sleep skills.

There are two primary methods of toddler sleep training: The Ferber or Cry-it Out Method (see our previous post) and the Sleep Lady Shuffle. Considered less traumatic than allowing children to cry themselves to sleep, the Sleep Lady Shuffle is based on the belief that children need the comforting presence of a parent at bedtime.

Here’s how the Sleep Lady Shuffle works: After completing the established bedtime routine (bath, story, etc.), the parent places the child in bed and says goodnight. The parent then sits quietly in a chair near the crib but does not engage the child. The parent only picks up the child if his crying becomes frantic. After comforting, the child is returned to bed.

Every 3 to 4 days, the parent moves his chair closer to the doorway, then in the doorway, then into the hall and eventually out of the child’s sight. The gradual distancing shows the child that even if he cannot see or hear his parents, they are still there.

Next time: A new method guaranteed to succeed


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