Sleep and the over 1’s – Top Tips & What we think about Controlled Crying

Nathan’s Mumma Says…

Nathan has always been a good sleeper, not wishing to gloat. He slept through at 7 weeks until he hit a 4 month sleep regression. We then had 5 months of broken nights until he settled down again just before his first birthday. As Leyton’s Mumma mentioned in her blog about sleep, there are many different routines and products for newborns. Once they get to a year old the advice seem to stick with the few methods of getting your child to self settle: Cry it out, pick up put down, gradual retreat etc

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According to current research, toddlers still need 13-14 hours of sleep (11 of them during the night) until they are 2 years old with one year olds needing 2 naps a day and then reducing it to one nap in the afternoon at around 18 months old. Nathan is an exception to the rule, as usual, he dropped a nap just after his first birthday and still only sleeps for an hour on average during the day. He stopped napping in his cot during the day at 11 months old after a bout of gastroenteritis. He will sleep in the car while we’re out or in his pushchair wherever we are. He sleeps 11 hours at night on average though, 7.30pm to 6.30am.


We stick with the bedtime routine we’ve always had since he was 7 months old and in his own room…


Nathan’s Bedtime Routine

Tea time   4.30/5.00pm

Playtime.. 5.00-6.00pm

Bathtime   6.00pm

Put on pyjamas and do his cream routine for his eczema

Quiet play, storytime, bedtime TV   7.00pm

Bedtime   7.30pm


The only difference now is that he no longer has any milk at bedtime, this is not through lack of trying. Nathan had a tummy bug a few months ago and therefore wasn’t having any dairy. We decided this was the opportune time to stop him having a bottle. Once he was well again we offered him milk in a beaker (refused), open cup (refused), warm, and cold (refused).

We decided when Nathan was a baby that we wanted to use dummies, for the comfort value and due to the research on dummies helping to prevent SIDS, so for us we were focused on helping him find his dummy in the night to self settle which he can now do (since 18 months or so) unless it falls out the cot. We have recently added in a cuddly donkey named Dominic for when the dummy goes to the dummy fairies 😉 The same principle applies whether its with a dummy, teddy, blanket or thumb. We need to teach them to find their comfort when we aren’t there.


Some experts suggest that soothing your child to sleep with music is a bad plan as they become dependent on it whenever they wake up in order to go back to sleep. Now I can tell you that its not a good idea but that would be hypocritical as we rely on the wonders of Ewan the Dream Sheep whenever Nathan needs some noise to settle him back down.It not very often now but when he was 1, until around 20 months, he regularly needed sound to help him drift off. It coincided with us dropping the base of his cot down to the lowest setting and not being able to reach him to pat his back anymore (progression of the sleep routine is alive and well). He now only needs it occasionally but it’s a great invention and we have recommended it to several friends who all love it too.


You could also buy:

The ToddlerCalm Toddler Relaxation Sleep CD

The First Years Sounds for Silence Deluxe Sound Machine

TOMY First Years Starlight Dreamshow

Gro-Hush White Noise Baby Calmer

Slumber Buddy Frankie The Frog





As mentioned earlier, there are several ‘recommended’ methods of tackling toddler sleep issues. These are the most common:

Pick up and put down: if you want a gentle and comforting method of sleep training then this one may suit you. It involves going in to your child when they are unsettled, remaining calm and quiet whilst talking to them. If they continue to cry then you pick them up to comfort them. Once the crying stops you put them back in their cot straight away, all the time telling them that it time to sleep. Chances are that they will start crying again, just repeat the process but leave upto a minute between putting them down and picking them up. Repeat these steps until they settle down, and use the same method each time they wake up in the night.

Gradual retreat: (this is what we are working on) Allows your child to adjust to falling asleep alone. We started by sitting next to Nathan’s cot (patting his back and shushing) until he fell asleep. The expert suggest this method is done on consecutive nights but we are taking our time (quite a long time) and they then recommend, after three nights, that you move a little further away. We stopped patting first (still sitting by his cot) as mentioned above, we then stopped shushing but still sat by his cot. We then moved to sitting at the end of his cot, and now sit in the doorway to his room with our backs to him. We always stay until he is completely asleep before we leave. It can take anything from 5 minutes to an hour, dependent on his mood and how tired he is. The next step in to be totally outside his room with the door pulled too.

Controlled crying: this method is far more strict and less comfort based. You need to have a regular routine at bedtime for it to work. It is especially successful in situations where you don’t use a dummy etc, bottle/boob or any other means of pacification. When they wake in the night, and you are confident that they are safe and well, you leave them to cry for increasing intervals. Begin with a one minute wait, then go in to them. Build up a minute at a time until you wait 5 minutes before you go in. Then you progress to 10 minute intervals until your baby falls asleep. When you do go into them remember to reassure that you’re there, everything is ok and that its sleep time, you don’t however, pick them up. Again you repeat this every time your child wakes up in the night.

Cry it Out: This controversial sleep training method is a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it. It’s not something I would choose to do but as the experts suggest, it is sometimes a necessary evil. It is not a good idea to attempt this type of sleep training if your child can’t sleep through without NEEDING a feed, is wet, sick or in pain. It does not involve putting your child into a room alone and shutting the door for the rest of time. Cry it out is a way of breaking the associations your child has made with getting to sleep…feeding, cuddling, rocking etc. It allows you to set boundaries on what you will and will not allow your child to when its time to sleep, be that at nap time or bed time. You implement this regime with clear boundaries for everyone involved such as how often you will go in to pick up a cuddly toy or to retrieve a dummy. This is not a system to help baby sleep, it’s more about setting the scene so they can go to sleep themselves with no crutches.

All of the above methods of helping your baby self soothe are dependent on you and your child being ready and willing to stick at them. There is also no fixed age at which you should ‘train’ your baby to sleep better. As we know, most areas of raising children is vastly dictated by the child themselves, and driven by your instincts as parents. The same goes for sleeping. You know your child best, and only you will know what will work for you as a family to keep you all happy. 🙂


For further information and guidance on the above methods, or for a different idea, we like the following websites and books:

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A step-by-step programme for a good night’s sleep

The Cheshire Baby Whisperer Ultimate sleep guide for babies & toddlers: Multi-Sensory Sleep Techniques and Sleep Routines perfect from birth to five years – simple & innovative

There’s also a list of favourite bedtime story books here, if you want some inspiration for story time.

Please feel free to let us know what works for you and baby; it’s always great to hear about real life scenerios!

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma and Leytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found at if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉


One thought on “Sleep and the over 1’s – Top Tips & What we think about Controlled Crying

  1. Pingback: Taking time off… making time for Mumma | Mumma Says

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