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Why Consistency in Cry it Out is Critical: A Case Study

July 16, 2014 |  by  |  cry it out, parenting, Q&A, Sleep Consults
Why Consistency in Cry it Out is Critical: A Case Study

If you read many of the posts here you’ll find that the term “consistency” comes up approximately 1,203,468 times. Consistency is a really powerful component of helping your child sleep. Where does your child sleep? Who cares, just be consistent! What does your bedtime routine look like? Who cares, just be consistent! I use the phrase “consistent” as many times each day as I say, “Stop hitting your brother.”

Consistency is doubly important when it comes to cry it out. Because when it comes to sleep training, even small well-intended inconsistencies can blow up on you.

Almost immediately.

Here’s a great illustration of how that can happen, taken directly from a comment:

Consistency and Cry it Out

I am on day 6 of cry it out method. And I desperately need your help to make this a success. I have been very consistent with my schedule. 7PM feed+bath+lullaby+bedtime at 7:30 PM. One feeding at 11 PM and a second between 3:00 -3:30 AM.

Day 1: Cried for 16 minutes. Woke up 2-3 times but fell back to sleep on her own after fussing. On One waking session at 12:45 AM she cried for 1.5 hrs and fell back to sleep.

Day 2: Cried for 7 minutes. Woke up 4-5 times but fell back asleep on her own after crying/fussing for some time.

Day 3: Cried for 7-8 minutes. Woke up 3 times but fell back asleep on her own 2 times. On one waking session at around 1 AM and cried for 1 hr before falling asleep.

Day 4: Cried for around 15 minutes. Woke up 2-3 times but fell back asleep on her own after fussing for a bit. One waking session she cried for 7 minutes at around 10pm.

Day 5: Cried for 22 minutes. When I went in the 2nd time I Shshed her for 30 seconds of patting her and she fell asleep. Did not wake up till 3:15am. But after feed she was completely awake at 3:45am. Unfortunately, had to rock her to sleep for 45 minutes after 10 minutes of crying.

Day 6: Cried for 30 minutes. When I went in the 3rd time I again Shshed her for 30-45 seconds while patting her and she fell asleep.

Her crying during bedtime has NOT reduced but is increasing each passing day and we are on the verge of giving up. My husband is concerned about increasing amount of crying. We’re not sure how to proceed. Please help!

Sleep Training Gone South

Please note this is not somebody I know, nor do I have any information beyond what is presented in the comment. I don’t know how old this baby is, what they’re trying to wean out of, if baby has medical complications, if they’re co-sleeping, etc. But even without that background some things jump out from here:

Sleep training on night #1 went fantastic. At bedtime anyway. Only 16 minutes of crying at bedtime for a baby who presumably was previously (insert: patted, rocked, fed) to sleep? This definitely qualifies as amazeballs! Then there’s a big crying jag at 12:45 AM. Why? I’m not sure. However the fact that it didn’t reoccur on subsequent nights makes me inclined to write it off as “one of those things.”

Night #2 is fantastic – some grumbles at bedtime, a few other minor grumbles during the night. But overall, simply fantastic.

Night #3 is less fantastic, another hour of crying at 1 AM. Again without more history I can’t say why for sure. My gut says this may be a baby who was eating a ton at night prior to this and is seeking more food than the 2X scheduled feedings provides.

Night #4 – fantastic again. If she was starving at 1 AM (and this is debatable) she’s doing amazing now and clearly doesn’t need to eat then. Phew, the hard part is over. Tally ho!

Night #5 – Aaaand the wheels come off the bus.

CIO Analysis

With the exception of the 2 long sessions of night crying (again, a bit of a mystery but I’ll assume it was a food issue and temporary) things were going extremely well. Some people get hung up on the brief crying at bedtime or during the night but they shouldn’t because…

1

10 Minutes at Bedtime

5-15 minutes of crying at bedtime is nothing. Sadly there is lots of unnecessary self-flagellation among parents out there who are feeling terrible about a few minutes of grousing at bedtime. If you are one of these, please stop and repeat after me, “This is nothing.” Some kids simply need to vent a little steam before they fall asleep. Others are complaining because they don’t want to separate from you nor do they want to sleep. Because they’re not verbal they express this through crying. When they’re three years old they’ll spend 10 minutes yelling, “Mom! I don’t want to sleep! I’M NOT TIRED!” before nodding off for a solid 11 hours of sleep.

2

Brief Night Grumbles

Little bouts of fussing/crying periodically are normal, especially for a kiddo who is just learning to sleep without you. Babies cycle through sleep every 45-90 minutes so they’re literally waking up all night long. Usually they fart (I mean jellybeans, babies fart jellybeans), roll over, and go back to sleep so that you’re not aware that this is happening. This baby is “new” to falling asleep on her own so a few times at night, when she cycles through light sleep, she’s grumbling about it. But she’s fine; if she really needed Mom/Dad it wouldn’t just be a few minutes.

So anyhoo, in general things were going well.

But then night #5 threw them a curve ball in the form of an extinction burst. I bet you $1,000 that’s what happened. I don’t even have $1,000 but it’s fine because I’m totally winning that bet. It was an extinction burst.

So Mom, who is a loving and concerned parent, got nervous and went in to do what she felt was meeting her child’s needs. And this happened,


Shshed her for 30 seconds while patting her and she fell asleep

30 seconds.

A child who is in pain, or has a serious “need” doesn’t fall asleep after 30 seconds of patting. Although entirely well-intended, that 30 seconds meant that after 5 days, baby didn’t fall asleep on her own. And this small 30-second bout of being INconsistent has just blown up this families sleep training journey.

Because the Goddess of Consistency is an unforgiving wench.

Because now after 4 days of solid progress we have a baby who has just been patted to sleep. She sleeps through till 3:45 AM but is upset, crying, and needs to be rocked for 45 minutes until she’s fully asleep and can be put back down in the crib. She’s crying because she fell asleep with Mom there patting her and woke up later with Mom missing. So from her perspective something disorienting and mysterious had occurred. Now she’s upset and WIDE AWAKE.

On the next night she’s crying for 30 minutes because the 30 seconds of patting on night #5 put us squarely back into “I can only fall asleep with help from Mom” territory. And clearly that’s what’s going on because again, if the child had a real need (hunger, gas, pain, etc.) it would take more than another scant 30 seconds of patting from Mom to fall asleep. We don’t know what happened after that but I’m confident there were more tears and rocking required in the middle of the night.

So Now What?

Now Dad is questioning this whole strategy. Mom’s feeling guilty. And baby is crying way more than when they first started down this path. It would be easy to give up and maybe they will. If they decide to double-down on sleep training and re-commit to being consistent it will work. But there will be more crying before things get better because that is the unfortunate and unintended result of being inconsistent.

My advice would be to decide on a plan and commit. If they’re going to pat her to sleep at bedtime then do it AT bedtime. Don’t let her cry 20-30 minutes and then rush in to pat, just do it as soon as she goes into the crib.

It’s OK to say, “This is where we are and what we feel comfortable doing right now.” Yes she will wake up during the night, possibly upset and disoriented, and need your help to fall back to sleep. Potentially (depending on history and age) they could be facing developing bedtime battles as baby recognizes that Mom disappears after she falls asleep so she fights sleep to keep Mom on the scene. Night wakings could become more frequent or difficult. Or maybe they’ll level out at 2 feedings + 1 waking to be rocked.

It’s hard to say, my predictive abilities when it comes to babies night time behavior is roughly equal to my ability to predict the outcome of World Cup games.

It’s that or back to cryitoutsville with full commitment to baby consistently falling asleep on her own. No patting. Full stop. However there will be more crying on this road, far more than the 16 minutes they started out with.

So if you’re considering sleep training, you have to commit fully to being consistent at bedtime. Because the Goddess of Consistency will not forgive you even the slightest betrayal. Seriously, she’s the worst.

Does anybody else have any experiences with being consistent (or not) that they’re willing to share?


204 Comments


  1. Hi,
    I responded on another post and now I have a question I’m a bit sleep deprived (we r in Germany) so bare with me if I’m not coherent, regarding consistency tonight will be round three and I will be changing the whole routine before I would bath our 9 mth old get her in pj’s sleep sac and feed her to sleep she would fall asleep right away and I would put her in the crib. She started to wake up 45 min after and that is why I am now on the sleep training route. Now I will start a bedtime routine of putting her in bed awake ie boob bath book fingers crossed! I will keep in mind that consistency is Key but my main concern is that when or if she wakes up In between her 3 am feed or even when I attempt to put her down using this new routine she will fuss for a bit and then sit down and just wait night 1 she waited from 9-2 with me going in and helping her lie down slept from 2-3 woke up to fed I put her in the crib and she slept til 6 last night was a disaster she went to bed by 8 woke up at 8:45 didn’t fall asleep til 12 after I lay her down and patted her back then she woke up at three to feed and I ignored her (she was not crying just sitting there) then I found your website and realized I should still feed her and also in between all this she pooped her diaper twice so I changed her she fell back asleep at 5 woke up at six to feed slept for 45min. To get to the point finally what should I do when she is just sitting there and nodding off and refuses to lie down 🙁

    • Hey Shirley,

      I’m a bit fuzzy on what is going on but what I gather is that bedtime is 8:00 PM but that if you don’t nurse her to sleep she is sitting up and hanging out between 8:00 PM – 12:00 AM. That is an impressively long time.

      There is a whole host of things that could answer the “why so long?” question but my best guess is that it’s you going in to help her lie down. She’s fully capable of lying down on her own right? She doesn’t need your assistance to do this during the day? If so then she doesn’t need your help at night and your visits might be propelling her to stay awake. Bedtime is bedtime. If she chooses to sit in her bed that’s her business.

      You normally feed her at 3 AM – so great, stick with that plan. And yeah sometimes babies poop and while nobody likes to have babies sitting in poop, a little poop here and there never hurt anybody.

      She got very little sleep last night (boo!) but don’t let her nap more than normal today. Tonight she goes into her bed at 8 PM. What she does in there is her business. I’m hopeful that without those visits she’ll fall asleep more quickly. If she DOES fall asleep sitting up you can try helping her gently lie down while she’s still asleep (this may backfire on you but it’s worth a try). Hopefully removing the visits will vastly reduce the amount of time it takes her to nod off. Good luck!

  2. Hello!

    My husband & I are trying out your advice tomorrow. We just have a couple questions. Our daughter is 11 months old & has never slept in her crib. She fights us for naps & bedtime. Naps aren’t as bad as nighttime but it takes about 45 minutes of patting her back to get her to sleep. Nighttime is anywhere between 1-4 hours of crying, kicking, squirming. Our routine at night consists of, dinner between 6:30, bath immediately following which is 7 or 7:30. Give her a bottle at 8:30 & start the agonizing fight to get her to sleep. When she finally does fall asleep, most the time when we put her down in our bed she wakes right up & has to be patted again. She then wakes up 6-10 times a night. (6 is on a good night) we were wondering if we should follow your advice & start putting her in her crib for naps & let her cry it out, or do we strictly put her in their at night time at first? How long do we allow her to cry before going in & saying it’s ok without picking her up? She has, in the past, worked herself up so much crying that she was not consolable. Also, when she wakes at night do i feed her then put her right back in the crib & walk away? When she does sleep for naps, she only will sleep about 20 minutes, do I leave her in her crib to try & fall back asleep? & if I do put her in her crib for naps how long do I leave her? For instance, if I put her down for a nap at 11 am & she cries & fusses till 2 – pm is that okay? I feel like she will spend most of the day in her crib! Any help is very much appreciated! We have so many questions!!
    -tabbatha

  3. I have the same question as Tabbatha about the naps. If he cries for hours, then what do we do? Yesterday he cried so long I just got him up to eat bananas and take a bath because it was time to do those things if we wanted to get to BED at a normal time. He then did sleep really well at night, but how long should I expect him to just cry and basically not nap at all during the day? Thanks.

    • Hi Summer! Does your little one sleep in his crib by himself at night? Or are you going through the cry it out? We are on day 3 of CIO & she has gotten about 12 hours of sleep in 3 days. It’s awful! I finally caved in today & put her down for a nap myself bc I felt so bad!

  4. Tabbatha — We have done 2 days/nights of CIO so far and the 2 nights have worked great, but the daytime has been a disaster the last 2 days with basically no sleep. Before this, he slept at night in the bed with me, and during the day would only fall asleep nursing & I could never put him down anywhere without him waking within 20 minutes.

    BUT– I have been reading lots and so today I decided to change my strategy with the naps and at least right NOW (he is taking a nap in his crib as I type) it is working. I made it much more ritualized and also am offering a lot more comfort & then I stayed in the room until he fell asleep (our bed is also in the room so I just lied down). I also had to put up curtains in the bedroom because it wasn’t dark enough with just blinds during the day. Fingers crossed this strategy is a winner for his naps and this isn’t just a fluke!

    I wish you all the best with your daughter. I have almost lost it and wanted to throw CIO out several times already. Last night I cried so hard when we put him down, but in the end he cried for 30 minutes and then slept for 10 hours straight. Even so, it’s been hard to keep reminding myself this is definitely for the best. He cannot continue to insist on physical touch from me for his 14-16 hours of sleep he needs in every day!

    <3

    • Just an update– I am still looking for some answers about naps. He will go down initially with the new routine I started–but only for 30 to 50 minutes. If I try to let him cry it out after he wakes up from that very tiny nap, he never stops crying. Right now he has been crying for 1 hour nonstop. I do not know what to do. Should I expect his days to just be filled with crying and nothing else??!

      He is perfect at night. So I don’t get it.

      • Hi there! As far as I know you are just suppose to keep them in the crib for 1 hour. So if they cry for the whole hour you are suppose to pick them up. And if they wake after 30 minutes they stay in the crib crying for 30 minutes until you get them! Hope your journey is going well!!!

  5. LONG story short we are consistent w bedtime routine and have been consistent with CIO technique and it is getting worse. She cries for an absolute minimum of 1 hr and has increased to almost 2 over the past 4 nights. Prior to trying CIO we would basically do the method but didn’t time ourselves and she would fall asleep pretty well but wake up 2 hrs in and want to be up for three hours playing which is why we started this. Now she won’t fall asleep at all at night and she used to have no trouble w naps but now has started crying hysterically.

    She’s just about 8 mo old, when she wakes up she has no desire to eat, all other variables seem fine/ ruled out —

    Is she just not ready for this? Is this just not going to work for her? Are we supposed to stick with it and let her keep crying–?? At what point (how many hours) do you say ok, time to pick her up and switch gears?

    Please help—

  6. My daughter is 7.5 months old. She’s an amazing nighttime sleeper. I put her in her crib at 6:45pm awake and she falls asleep on her own by 7pm then she sleeps through the night until 7am. Naps are a completely different story. She fights them and will not take them in her crib. She will only nap in my arms in the rocking chair. Yes I have created this problem. Decided to get her napping in her crib and she screams 30+ minutes until I finally give up and go in and get her. How long do you let them cry for before giving up?

    • My daughter didn’t want to transition naps to the crib. I had to get her used to going in the crib during the day. The first few days I moved her rocker next to the crib and let her sleep there. Then I put her in the crib during the day for short periods and gave her some toys to hang out in there. She eventually got used to napping in the crib but only after I put up blackout curtains to block all light.

      At 8 months she is still a high needs baby and occasionally needs to CIO for up to 90 mins. At that point she does pass out but any time I go in to check on her before she does, she gets upset all over again and the whole thing takes double the time. You can stick it out and get her a bit more sleep or you can assuage your guilt and draw out the process. Either way it’s not fun but it’s gotta get done.

      Basically the more you coddled your baby to sleep, the more she’ll be upset about being left. I try to relax her with the tone of my voice and reduce stimulation before naps and bedtime. I keep her room very dimly lit always. We read books during the day because it excites her too much. I lay her down and smile and tell her it’s naptime and make the sign for sleep in sign language. Then I kiss her head and quickly turn off the light and close the door quietly. This usually works in reassuring her that I’m not just leaving her in the dark and that it’s sleepy time.

      Hope something helps!
      Good luck ladies!

    • I have the same question. First couple of nights went so well but then has gotten worse. I go in every ten minutes (ferber method) and rub her back for no more than 1 minute. It seems to make her even more mad b/c she knows i am there and wants me to pick her up. I leave, she gets mad again. Last night she cried for over 30 mins and i almost lost it. I will admit i wasnt consistent then and picked her up to nurse her to sleep. She slept until 4am.

      She is a twin but her twin is still catching up weight wise after heart surgery, so I am not sleep training her yet. She needs to eat during the night. I want to sleep train but I also want that time with her, because the girls will be my only babies (by choice).

      My question is, is 6 months too young to start with sleep training? our Dr says its not. Also, how long do you let her cry (hard) before you go in to try something different? If I start over, should i wait a few more days and start right away tonight?

      • Emily,

        This isn’t about her being too young or having heart surgery, although I totally get why you must be super freaked out after this. But the answer that you need to change how you’re handling things. The Goddess of Consistency is merciless and you’re not being consistent.

        No nursing to sleep. When you start down this path you are forever removing that from your arsenal of tools. For real.

        Also no more checks a la Ferber. I adore Ferber, I really do. His book is fantastic. But checks almost ALWAYS lead to more crying over more days. No checks, no back rubs – 5 days. Do that consistently for 5 days and then come back to tell me if I’m wrong (you won’t though because I’m totally right about this).

        Good luck!

  7. Hello!
    We are considering sleep training our 9 month old. He only takes one nap a day in the afternoon anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. He always seems to get a little tired in the evening. We bathe him, put on pajamas and he is WIDE awake. We can’t even hold him on our laps to wind down or read because he is arching his back and writhing to go play. Squealing with delight at his toys. We will bring him into his room with low lights, sleep music and a bottle and he will fight sleep for a good hour. We tried CIO but it ended up with him having panic attacks until he vomited. This wasn’t just a baby crying this was a baby who was angry and frustrated and petrified to his core. Hearing our voice if we said anything to him made him cry harder and louder. So we started rocking him to sleep which can take a very very long time.
    Also, if he hears the floor creak outside our room he often wakes up. We can’t avoid walking there because that’s where our bathroom is. The only fix is to rip up the brand new carpet we installed less than a year ago. Every time this happens, we are looking at 15+ minutes spent trying to get him to settle down again, or he screams and we are so exhausted we bring him into our bed which I HATE.
    Some nights he is fine and falls asleep and sleeps through the night for the most part. Other nights like tonight are frustrating and they’re increasing in frequency. He napped and slept well until about 6 months so we never implemented a schedule. I don’t remember when he dropped the morning nap. He always sleeps in the car regardless of time of day. It could be 20 minutes or 45 and I hope this changes when we switch to a convertible car seat. I know you mentioned consistency but how does that help when the baby won’t sit still and is fighting the routine?
    Thank you!
    PS I love your hair

  8. Hi Alexis,
    Thank you for your website. I have followed all of your advice and it really has helped us. My son is 9 months old and we did CIO at bedtime about 2 months ago. It worked like a charm. We have a sound bedtime routine that I follow religiously every night. He is in his crib asleep by 7 every night. About 2 weeks ago, we did CIO during the night and he dropped his 1 am and 3 am wakings. However, he has always gotten up for the day at 4. This has never changed. I tried an earlier bedtime, a slightly later one, CIO and nothing has worked. I must be doing something wrong and was hoping I could get some troubleshooting tips on how I can get him even to sleep an hour later. He is ready for a nap by 6 am when ideally he should be getting up then. We are all extremely tired. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Ellen

  9. Hi,

    We tested the water with our 5.5 months old last night. we have to carry her in a baby carrier for nap, and at night, i used to nurse her to sleep, and she Sometimes do great and will sleep through 5 hours. Last night, i fed her at 9pm, bath, said goodnight to everything, and then put her to bed and left the room. Our goal last nigjt was just to see if she will simply fall asleep on her own so we let her cry for 15 mins. We went in and her eyes were close but still crying, so i just pat her and said mami is here, and she then fall asleep. She woke up once and i had to shs her back to sleep, and i fed her at 2am, woke up crying at 5:30am and i changed her diaper and she fell back asleep till 6:50am and i nursed her again and she slept till 8:15am, woke up happy.

    My question is, what should i do tonight? let her cry but not go in to pat her? Or is it okay to pat her or shss her and gently wean that off later?

    Thank you

  10. Hi Alexis
    Thanks for your site it’s really wonderful.

    Ok so I sleep trained my first child successfully. Trying again with my 6.5mo son. Main issue is the pacifier.

    The first night – 45 mins crying. Woke at 12.15am – I nursed he fell straight back to sleep. Woke at 5.20am – nursed and back to sleep until 7. All good after being up every 1-2 hrs previously.

    Night 2 – put him down after usual bedtime routine. Happy and quiet as a mouse, not a sound for 30 mins. I congratulate myself, this is amazing, pour wine.

    Then he starts grizzling. Then it ramps up, and up and up and stays there for an hour. It’s now way past time for my daughter to go to bed (they share a room) so I cave and give him a cuddle and his dummy. Straight to sleep.

    NOW WHAT? I am so mad at myself for caving in like that but I’m just not sure what was going on – why was he quiet/asleep for 30 mins then a screaming wreck for 1 hr? Is this par for the course? And now should I leave the training for a bit or just continue with the plan like this never happened?

  11. We are on night four of letting our nearly 8 month year old cry it out and it is brutal and seems to be getting worse. Keeping in mind that she has fallen asleep at night either nursing or in my or my husband’s arms for her entire little life (save the past 4 nights of hell), I mean, I can get where she’s coming from, but I don’t know if I can take much more of the heartbreak of hearing her cry.
    The first night it was 40 minutes of angry screaming, followed by beer (for us); the second night was 50 minutes of the same, followed by beer and then wine; the third night was only 16 minutes, so we got by with just wine; and tonight was 45 minutes of angry screaming accompanied by the most violent rolling around yet. Frankly I feel like knocking over a liquor store, but I’m nursing so I only get a sip anyway.
    So it’s getting worse. The first night she fell asleep nursing and woke up after 20 minutes crying, and we just left her there. The next two nights I nursed and then put her down awake. Today she was basically asleep on my boob and then the ups man came just as I was putting her down and she woke up and started crying before I could even get my arms away. Also, our 6 month strong bedtime routine ends at 7pm on the dot. then I sit down to nurse her. The past 10 days or so she has pooped after about 20 minutes of uncomfortable pushing (new solids constipation) – an act that takes place like clockwork right in the middle of my bedtime nursing. Diaper change, more nursing and then down in the crib, but the whole thing can sometimes take over an hour. She has slept great more or less all night after crying herself to sleep, but is incredibly tired and cranky during the day and nursing way less than normal, not to mention the fact that I spend all day analyzing her behavior to see if she is mad at me.

    So tomorrow we’re looking at day 5 and I’m dreading it like airport security. Please tell me what we’re doing wrong or if we can have any reasonable expectation of success before we officially decide our daughter hates us and we are the meanest, cruelest parents in the world for letting her cry it out. I often think that she is a precious awesome little thing and if I have to rock her to sleep in my arms until she’s 18 just to not hear her cry, I will.

    • If she is sleeping through the night, what is the CIO for?
      After re reading your post, it seems she’s sleeping through the night only because she’s exhausted in the last couple of days, and you are CIOing to to teach her how to fall asleep by herself? If so, no nursing near bedtime. Nurse first, then do your bedtime routine, and lastly (about 20 mins after nursing), put down awake. If you are nursing almost to sleep or even as last part of the night routine, you won’t break the boob-sleep association. Hope this helps.

    • LOL!

      She’s not mad at you. I mean she will be in a few months – trust me toddlers get MAAAD. But she’s not mad now.

      So that is a bit of an unusual pattern but not totally off the mark. And I think part of the issue there is that you’re nursing RIGHT AT bedtime. She’s used to nursing TO sleep, now you’re nursing right AT bedtime but not to sleep and this is probably pretty frustrating for her (she’s like MOM WHAT THE HELL?!?!). Also the nights where you inadvertently nurse her to sleep are messing things up. So I would start by separating nursing out so that it’s earlier in the routine and not the last thing you do just prior to putting her in the crib. She should be a) wide awake and b) not “just nursed seconds prior” going into the crib – OK?

      The 16-minute night is super encouraging and a sign you’re on the right track. And if I’m right (I am!) then the 45-minutes of angry screaming was an extinction burst.

      Sorry about the poop – poop happens.

      So make that change at bedtime, have faith, you’ll be drinking tea at bedtime sooner than you think!

      • Thanks for both of your comments. After going through the past few nights of horror I’m a little worried that changing the routine on her will make tonight even worse (we’ve been doing that same routine since she was less than 2 months). Then again, obviously it doesn’t seem to be working very well. I’m ridiculously nervous. We are in Spain, so now’s the time! Will let you know. thanks again

        • Ok, I didn’t listen. I didn’t see your replies until we were well into the bedtime time frame and i couldn’t see how to make the change logistically, not to mention the fact that in the last let’s say, 30 times I’ve nursed her before bed, she hasn’t fallen asleep except once this week. Her dad always ends up rocking her to sleep after nursing. So what are the odds right? I was sure she would be awake and we could change our routine tomorrow. No. She fell asleep immediately, no poop, no nothing. So so asleep. So I left her in the crib… she woke up 10 minutes later and has been screaming ever since. 42 minutes. I just can’t seem to get my head around how to change her routine and nurse first, but you can be sure I’m going to try tomorrow. This is torture.

          • Adri,
            The whole point of sleep training is that she needs to fall asleep independently. If Dad goes in to rock her to sleep then you’re defeating the point of going down this path in the first place (which gets to the subject of this post – consistency). No nursing to sleep. No rocking to sleep. No nursing NEAR sleep.

            So this is how you change your routine, nursing becomes the first step in whatever your routine is. Lots of people do boob, bath, books, bed, but whatever you do is fine as long as:
            a) Boob is #1
            b) Bed is awake (no rocking to sleep)

            IT seems like there’s a lot of crying and the reason things aren’t getting better is because you’re loving attempts to intervene are tripping you and her up. Trust me on this – make this change, fully commit to consistently making this change, and report back in 3-4 nights.

            • Hi again,
              I have been meaning to leave an update just to show my appreciation and also to help anyone else who might have faced the same doubts. It ended up taking about 8-9 days in total, but my little one is now sleeping like a champ and waking up only once (feeding for 10 minutes and then going right back to sleep) or not at all. My husband and I were really torn on everyone´s advice to stop nursing her right before bed. We debated changing this habit time and time again (over an 8 night period, imagine!) but I confess that I was reluctant to change her 7 month-strong routine and I do love that moment we share right before bed. In the end we didn’t. I did however keep her awake by any means (talking, singing, lights on) for the duration while nursing her, so that I would put her down awake. It wasn’t easy, and I’m sure that the CIO process may have taken longer because of it (it went something like 40 min, an hour, 30 min, 15 minutes, and hour, 8 minutes, 40 minutes, 20 minutes, 4 minutes…). Very frustrating and all over the place and the third-fifth nights were the absolute worst.
              Now she falls most of the way asleep nursing every night and then stretches out in my arms and basically begs for her crib. Once in a while she doesn’t fall asleep and I put her down awake and she flips over and goes right to sleep more often than not. I also nurse her down to sleep for naps but it takes 5 minutes (so much better), and at night if she wakes up she goes right back to sleep on her own.
              Anyway, just in case anyone is struggling with giving up the before sleep nursing – it just feels so natural and right to me to do it – it can be done. but ack! that was so hard!!!
              thanks again for your help, encouragement and great advice!

  12. Hello! Ok…so my 5 mo old sleeps through the night for the most part, but I have to hold him till he’s really asleep. My main issue is with naps. He will not sleep unless I’m holding him! The second I even think about putting him down his eyes pop open & he’s like, lady don’t even think about it! I love the little guy but he’s got to start napping without me! (Especially since I have a 2 yr old) we’ve been doing cio for 3 nights/days now & I don’t know what to do…..for naps he cries the entire nap & at night he cries for 2 hours and then I get him & put him down. 2 hours seems a little long, doesn’t it?? Or is it just me? Most things I’ve read people talk about their little one crying for 45 minutes to maybe 1 1/2 hours. Should I let him keep going? Is there a ‘too long’ for them to cry? I hate it, but I know he’s got to learn to sleep on his own. & I’d rather nip this in the bud now rather than giving up & having to start from scratch!

  13. Hello, very good blog, Ive tried reading the Weissbluth book Happy Child Happy Sleep Habits but it was incredibly long and verbose, he writes about all these studies and gives all this data when all I wanted was a list of things I can try to get my 11month old to finally sleep. This blog is pretty much what I was looking for.

    Now a question, we have a 11 m old girl, she was never a good sleeper, always slept light and cried a lot, first 6 months she had reflux so we didnt try cry it out then, but now its become a complete nightmare.

    We usually have a good consistent routine, dinner for her around 7.30, bath at 8 and try to get to sleep around 830, usually by letting her fall asleep next to us on our bed, then I’ll move her to her crib. The wife was never happy with cry it out (we tried once or twice for a day or 2, but never went through w it). The baby will sleep for about 2-3 hrs but almost every day now shes waking up at around 11p and it takes her at least 2 hrs to fall asleep. The wife or I will go in, stand next to her crib so she doesnt have separation anxiet and shoosh her. As soon as shes sleeping we try to leave the bedroom but the baby wakes up, starts walking around the crib and crying. Its a complete nightmare and we are both exhausted and angry.

    It looks like the baby has major separation anxiety where she will try to sleep, then wake up after few min to check if we are there. To add to the problem we have a 1 bedroom apartment so we have to sleep in same room as the crib. She also cant fall asleep by herself. We thought it was teething, then it was her mechanical skills stage (she practiced crawling during middle of night!) Every night its like a war zone, in her 11 months we had 2 weeks of peaceful sleep when she was around 3 or 4 months.

    Can anyone suggest a few steps to try? (we will try thhe cry it out again, and I’ll make sure we are consistent with it and let her cry even though my wife starts crying and complaining that it hurts her to hear the baby cry).

    • This is my identical problem, help us someone!

      • The root issue to BOTH issues is that the baby isn’t falling asleep independently. If you’re sneaking your fully asleep baby into the crib they WILL wake up later and struggle to fall BACK to sleep. The key here is to change how they’re falling asleep at bedtime.

        Everything flows from bedtime.

  14. Alexis, I love your blog, it has been so helpful to me as a first time parent to twins.

    We are doing CIO…. one of my munchkins is a genius… after one night of crying he knows what’s up and has been sleeping independently now for 3 days (naps and night). However…. my other little nugget is a different story. What could be different is that I broke down a couple times and went to reassure him because he just seemed like he was going to die or have a heart attack, also the crying went on for almost 1 hour. It was very different from his brother’s crying. What are your thoughts on this? Are there different types of cries that warrant a check, or not? Is there a time limit on how long I should let this little wee one cry for?

    Thank you!

  15. We have committed to crying it out, but here is our typical scene (our baby is 5 months old): feed about two tablespoons of cereal, bath, soothing (massage), nursing, then bed. The baby typically goes down without a fuss, but then wakes up an hour into it. He cries/whines for close to three hours, at which point it is basically time for a feed. I have two others where cry it out worked perfectly. Is the three hours of crying normal? What should I do?

  16. Hi, we just started cry it out a week ago because our son was still crying for a while whilst being patted, shushed etc and increasingly is biting and pinching because he’s so tired and upset. Not good. He is still crying for between 15 and 30 minutes but having read some of the posts I wonder if this isn’t getting better because…. He is still waking in the night around 2am and is either falling back asleep whilst feeding or I’m patting him back to sleep. I take it this is a no go which ruins all the bedtime sleep training? The main reason I am doing this is that we are in a terraced house and the neighbour is a little nuts so we are trying to avoid waking her…
    Thanks

  17. Please help. Day 3 of CIO.

    Our 6.5 month baby Jou goes to sleep with minimal fussiness with a consistent bedtime routine, awake, at 7pm. Dream feed at 10pm. Then wakes up at 2 or 3am to play by himself in his crib, no crying for an hour. Then he starts to cry, building up for the next hour.

    On night 1, 30 mins
    On night 2, and hour
    We’re on night 3 and it’s been over an hour and I’m going to cave. I did have to go in and flip him because he got stuck on one side of his crib. Did that mess it up? Why does he get up to play every night?

    It’s getting longer. Are we doing something wrong or is this part of the process?

    He was weaned off the night feelings about a week before when we were still waking up and giving him a binkie to self soothe middle of the night.

    Please help!

    • If he’s crying at 2 AM there is likely something else going on (this is not a traditional CIO issue). Best bets are:

      – he’s not falling asleep indepdentently
      – he’s legit hungry (I doubt it)
      – It’s a scheduling issue*

      *Most likely. I would try pushing bedtime back by 30 minutes and see what happens. Try giving him more time prior to bedtime. Good luck!

      • Thank you! We’ve followed your instructions. Bedtime was easy as always. Let’s see what happens at 2am.

        Please help. Day 3 of CIO.

        Our 6.5 month baby Jou goes to sleep with minimal fussiness with a consistent bedtime routine, awake, at 7pm. Dream feed at 10pm. Then wakes up at 2 or 3am to play by himself in his crib, no crying for an hour. Then he starts to cry, building up for the next hour.

        On night 1, 30 mins
        On night 2, and hour
        We’re on night 3 and it’s been over an hour and I’m going to cave. I did have to go in and flip him because he got stuck on one side of his crib. Did that mess it up? Why does he get up to play every night?

        It’s getting longer. Are we doing something wrong or is this part of the process?

        He was weaned off the night feelings about a week before when we were still waking up and giving him a binkie to self soothe middle of the night.

        Please help!

  18. Help!

    I’ve been doing CIO with my 4 month old for about 3 weeks. The first 2 weeks seemed to be working. She only cries about 15 mins max before she falls asleep.

    Heres the problem:
    She has always slept on her belly because of reflux. We have an angel care monitor that monitors her breathing (to prevent SIDS). Well… in the past week she has learned how to turn over to her back.

    She gets frustrated during CIO and turns herself on to her back and we have to go back in the room to turn her back on her belly. Sometimes we are doing this 2 or 3 times before she finally goes to sleep on her belly.

    Are we messing up by going in the room to turn her back over?
    Should we just let her cry until she falls asleep on her back (even though the crying is horrible)?

    Also, is crying after 3 weeks normal? I was under the impression when I started the CIO method that after a week or so she would just whimper a little but fall right asleep knowing that crying will not get her anything.
    Am I starting the CIO method too early?
    Should I wait until 6 months?
    I just need someone to tell me what to do. My goal is to help my baby sleep better and nip bad habits early. If I’m being an over achiever and it’s not fair to my 4 month old please tell me.

    • I also wanted to add that I don’t let her CIO at night. She usually wakes up 2 times to breastfeed. I feed her and put her back in the crib and she doesn’t cry at all.

      Do you think I should do dream feeds? Like set an alarm so she’s not crying to be fed?

      • This my situation almost EXACTLY!!! I have no idea what to do 🙁 my son will be 5 months next week. The 4 month regression hit us bad and he was waking every 1-2 hours after midnight. So we decided to ST. We have had a consistent bedtime routine since birth basically of books bath pjs lotion nurse to sleep…when we started ST we moved the nursing to the first step so now we nurse, books, bath, pjs lotion sing song/sway and in bed awake. The first night he cried 18 mins slept till 2am and the second night didn’t even cry! The rest of the first week he fussed 5-10 mins and I would feed him around 2am and 5am and up at 7am.

        So one week into this he learned how to flip from his tummy (he has always slept on his tummy) to his back. Well this lead to an hour long scream fest of me going in and flipping him and him almost being asleep the flipping over and waking up hysterical. Now it’s been terrible ever since 🙁 he cries/screams on and off for around 30+ mins every night now with me letting him stay on his back then eventually flipping him…he has learned now to roll back to his tummy from his back and it it still hasn’t helped! Also he now wakes up SEVERAL times again. No pattern…sometimes 11 then every 1-2 hours after. Last night he was up at 12, 3& then at 4 I sent my husband in and we couldn’t get him to settle back down until 6:30am!!!

        I’m just so confused. Do I keep letting him cry? Do I keep flipping him?? How come this was working for a week and now it’s not…is all just because of the rolling? He also appears to be trying to crawl which is crazy because he’s so young. I don’t want to go back to nursing him to sleep but if he’s sleeping just as terrible as when I was then I might as well do it so I don’t listen to him scream every night right?

        Also for naps I have still been wearing in a wrap with him having a paci or holding him so that way he isn’t too overtired. He still only managed cat naps but they literally only last 20 mins if I put him down but when hold/wear him they are 40mins-1hr

        sorry I went on a ramble. I hope someone has advice for us!

  19. Thank you for your website. It has been very helpful as we try to help out baby learn to sleep on his own. I have some questions if you have time to help!

    Our little one just turned 6 months. We worked with a sleep specialist recommended by our pediatrician when he was 4.5 months old to get him on a nice nap and bedtime schedule and help break his sleep associations of being rocked and nursed to sleep. He is going to bed for all sleep on his own, awake, in his crib, which is a huge success!

    Our issues now are two things:
    1. Habitual wakings in the middle of the night
    2. Earlier and earlier wake up in the morning. (Which, in turn, throws off our nap schedule)

    He goes to bed around 6:30 pm and wakes up consistently between 8:30 and 10 pm. He also wakes up at 1/2 am and then is up around 5:30 am. We cut out a 4 am feeding/ waking in the last two weeks.

    Baby is breastfed and will not take a bottle. He is pretty distracted during the day while nursing.

    My goals are to get him on 0-1 waking during the night where I will nurse him, and to try to get him to sleep until 6 or 7 am. Your advice would be so appreciated!!!

    Thank you! Elisa

  20. Is 3 months old too young to try this or sleep train in your opinion! I would like to get her used to putting herself asleep BEFORE the 4 month sleep regression but wondering if she is too young?

  21. This is THE BEST BLOG OF LIFE and has taught me so much more than the 14 sleep training books I read. I also veen reading all the comments which are also very helpful. To make a long story short we are doing controlled CIO on our 10 mo old. We are trying some form of this for the 15th time. The last time we tried we had amazing results after 3 days (down to 1 wake up) and on the 4th day he got super sick with a virus that stayed around for most of January and left us both addicted to cosleeping.
    Now we are on night 7. It’s so much harder this time around since the bb has learned how to stand in the crib and does this as soon as he wakes up. On the second night he was screaming and sleep standing from 11:30pm-4:30 am. Every time we went in to try to gently put him down it would start all over again. Baby daddy and I turned on eahother and had a completely unrelated massive fight at 5 am.
    The progress is that he now goes to sleep in about 30 seconds with very little crying. I took your advice and moved the nursing away from the bedtime. Am working on gradually moving this further and further away. However he still wakes up 4times per night and is awake for a minimum of an hr every time, until I finally give up at 5 am and nurse him in bed after which I wake up with my boob out and the bb happily snuggled up to me at 7:30 am. The nights are not getting better and baby daddy sleeps exclusively on the couch. This kid sure wants to stay an only child….
    Additionally, naps are nonexistent unless I boob him to sleep and cosleep or stroller nap. This still only gets me 1 nap a day. And I have no idea what schedule he should be on since he has NO interest to nap anywhere between 9 am and 11 am. Advice anyone? I’m losing my mind a little. I haven’t had more than 3 hrs in a row since he’s been born and I’m starting to have cookies and beer for every dinner.

    • BEST BLOG OF LIFE eh? Can you make me a ribbon that says that so I can post it in my sidebar?

      “However he still wakes up 4times per night and is awake for a minimum of an hr every time, until I finally give up at 5 am”

      So something is wrong here. This is likely not a CIO issue but something else. I can’t say what for sure. It could be a schedule bedtime too early thing. It could be because you’re doing checks. It could be because she’s getting stuck standing up (CAN she sit down?).

      My best guess is that the intermittent reinforcement of checks isn’t helping and possibly bedtime is too early. Definitely something is off. I would practice sitting a TON during the day. And definitely skip trying to fix naps until the large gaps in his night sleep are reduced.

      Sorry – this is hard stuff. Nobody will judge you for having beer and cookies for dinner!

      • Thank you x 100000000000 for replying. I am making you a BEST BLOG OF LIFE ribbon and sending over asap. Probably tonight at 3 am.
        Sooooo, our amazing 30 second bedtimes lasted a week. And now we are CIO ing at bedtime again. Day 3 was 20 Min which was a huge improvement over 1.5 hrs…… The reason we are checking in is because our insane child will sleep standing up like a horse. So we go in to gently lay him down. He CAN lie down. He does it as soon as we come into the room. He just chooses not to. Our bedtime is between 6 and 7 depending on naps, and he typically shows extreme tired signs by 6. Should we try movng bedtime to 7? I have been trying to boob for shorter times at night but he just loses it or wakes up again 1.5 hrs later. Last night I just sat by his crib sbooshing until he finally fell asleep from 1am till 2 am. And then he woke up at 3:30./ 4:00/6:30. Whyyyyyyyyy

  22. So we fixed bedtime. And had an amazing week. Baby was going to sleep in 30 seconds with no tears, waking up for a quick boobing 2x a night after which he went right back into the crib. Then I wanted to nap train so we did extinction for naps. And BAM !!!!! Good bye any night sleep. Suddenly he was screaming at bedtime for an hour and a half (CIO with check ins and check ins only because he keeps standing up and falling asleep standing like a horse) and even when he does finally go down at bedtime he is up 4 hrs later and the ‘training’ continues for another 3 hours – TO GET US ONLY ONE HOUR OF SLEEP HEFORE HE’S UP AGAIN. everyone says be consistent. But really how can one be consistent when the night is made up of 70% crying and barely 30% sleeping? I can’t function anymore, things are NOT getting better and I feel like a complete failure. Can anyone offer any advice?

  23. Need advice about re-sleept training a 2 year old who is now in a toddler bed. We switched him about two weeks ago after climbing out of his crib. We sleep trained him as an infant and he was a champion sleeper until about 5 weeks ago. Now I feel like I have a newborn again. He suddenly wants us in his room until he falls asleep- wake and repeat. His bedtime is now so late too because of constant shenanigans- more books, more songs, and just general talking (which I don’t mind, I just don’t want to be held hostage in his room). Pediatrician says that he’s getting 3 teeth but we still need to re-sleep train. Any advice? When he was an infant we did CIO extinction- but now I don’t know if I could handle it. He runs to the door and cries “mommy open door, please.” It’s heartbreaking and I’ve only last 20 minutes so far. What method of sleep training works best for toddlers in toddler beds. Thank you!!!!!! We plan on starting tomorrow- but want a solid plan before this all goes down. We are also thinking about completely taking out the rocking chair (since it’s his crutch right now) and just reading books in his bed.

  24. Hi,
    We have tried sleep training before but I guess I wasn’t consistent. We saw a sleep medicine/neurologist and he said its all normal and he is fine. Recommended coo again and being consistent. I think I’ve already messed up by staying in there and just standing sometimes. I feel like going into to comfort after awhile just makes it worse maybe. At night I will feed it ifs after 12, it then right back down when he starts to close his eyes. We are on day 6. Got so much better then worse on the 3rd day which I was expecting but since then nighttime is ok and naps are so hard. He fights for anywhere between 30 minutes and today 2 hours and I finally gave up. Any advice? Have I been to inconsistent?

  25. I am facing some issues with my just-turned-4-month old and while I know I have a sleep-prop problem, I am not sure how to be consistent about dealing with it. Just after DS turned 3 months, he cut his first 2 teeth (early – I know, so early that it took me a few days to realize what the problem was), then he got sick with a chest cold and cough, then we hit 4 month sleep regression, then he got his 4 month shots. Whew! Well, now he seems back to himself during the day, but nighttime sleep took a real hit. He went from sleeping ~ 5 – 5.5. hours at the start of the night, followed by waking every 2-3 hours after that, to now waking 7-10 times per night. And I see what the problem is – he is treating my boob like a soother that needs to be re-inserted at almost every sleep transition (he has never taken an actual soother though). I know this because most of the time, he suckles for ~1-3 minutes, then goes back to sleep. He does occasionally take a full feed though. He has also become such light sleeper, that when I try to move him back to the crib (a whole 5 feet away) he rouses and roots for boob again. An if I don’t give it to him, he escalates quickly. Through this rough patch, I have resorted to leaning over the crib to nurse hime to sleep in-situ, and keeping him sleeping on my lap for while I doze leaning up against the headboard. But this is not sustainable. SO, I know I need to tackle the nurse-to-sleep issue. However, since I do not believe he is ready to go all night without a feeding, how do I be consistent about it? ie. not giving him the boob most of the time, but doing so sometimes so he can feed? Sounds like an inconsistent recipe for disaster, but I don’t see another way around it. Any suggestions? Additional info – DS does not usually nurse to sleep for naps (so he can do it) but so far these have been mostly in the swing, car or stroller. Need to transition these to the crib shortly, but want to tackle this other issue first. DS is still swaddled – Receiving blanket around the arms miracle-blanket style then inside a woombie. (he was breaking out of the miracle blanket multiple time per night at 2 months ). We have white noise and black-out curtains. Will NOT take a bottle (even of BM) or a soother. Succeeded a few times at put down drowsy-but-awake at bedtime (with minimal fussing) before the crap started a few weeks back. Attempts since have resulted in quickly-escalating fussing. I am not keen on full-on CIO unless there are no other options, and even so, he seems a bit young. I also a have another child asleep in the next room to think about. Any suggestions / insight would be welcome.

  26. I just posted on another post, but this brings up a point I dind’t mention before. So my 6 month old is on day 6 of sleep training, but it’s true there have been a few inconsistencies, like being put to bed 30 mins late because someone showed up at my house and wouldn’t leave even though my baby was so tired, and another day i asked my husband to put him to sleep so i could go to the gym and instead he drove to the store and back and baby fell asleep in the car! I really want to sleep train him now, but I know there are several inconsistencies ahead of us. In 2 weeks we are going on vacation and in 1.5 months we are moving states, and then a month after that moving into our permnent home in the new location. Should I just give up on sleep traiing and not do it till we are in our new home and solidly going to be in a steady place for a long time? Its just that if i wait until then he will be 9 months old and that seems so late for sleep training and so much longer to develop bad habits. Please help! He is really good about bedtime, he does cry about 30 mins almost everytime, but then sleeps 12 hrs with only one feeding in the middle. It’s naps that are terrible. He cries through usually 2 of the 3 naps a day and only sleeps the third because he’s so incredibly exhausted. I just done know what to do.

    • In the same boat! Moving in a month so didn’t know if we should start but decided to go for it since there’s always gonna be something! Bedtime going okay – an hour crying but sleeping a lot during night- but naps are awful! She cries the whole hour! Did anything work for you?

  27. LOVE your blog .. Need some advice please!!

    I tried the crib many times and my 11 month old always screamed at me..I resorted to cosleeping to get sleep myself. She falls asleep at the boob and then I have to gently slide her over or she wakes up screaming at me. She still wakes 3-5 times a night… No amount of rocking, shushing, or a paci would get her back to sleep until I put her on my boob again.. Naps I would hold her, sit in the car, or sneak her into her crib but she would wake 20 minutes later. That was how we did 11 months until my husband came home from deployment.
    There is no room in the bed for all of us and I cannot continue living this way! We let my daughter get used to my husband for 3 weeks before another big change for her.
    We are on day 6 of CIO. We started with Ferber the first 2 nights. She cried for 1 1/2 hours both nights and only went to sleep when mu hubby was still in the room. After doing some research we decided to no longer go in for checks. The next three nights she cried for an hour – 1 1/2 and only woke up 3/4 times for 30 seconds to 20 minutes so not bad. Dad has been doing the bedtime routine mostly because I cannot stand hearing her cry and need to go for a drive.

    My problem is with naps!
    She wakes up around 6 6:30 and we have been putting her down for naps around 8:30 9. She screams and after an hour we take her out and wait for her next nap.. But then 1 comes she’s exhausted and again won’t nap! A few times she has fallen asleep right before the hour mark but only for 20/30 minutes.

    She’s getting sick from the lack of sleep and today I resorted to a nap in the car. Bad I know but I’m desperate! I know this could work but with her not napping it is heartbreaking to me to see her so exhausted all day. I miss my little girl and her big personality! She’s just been super clingy. Any advice??!! Thanks!

  28. THis is the greatest blog ever, I am on day 4. We adopted her as a 8 week old and I would have sleep trained her much earlier, but I’m late to the party having just realized I HAVE to get her the life skill of going to sleep on her own. I co slept with her from the first day because I wanted her to bond, and she’s really well connected to both me and daddy. The hard part of sleep training is how mad she is at me! We became parents basically overnight which means we did no research on baby sleep etc before hand LOL. Otherwise would have been on top of this at 6 months rather than nearly 11 months old. Nothing like waiting until the last minute! I just wanted to encourage everyone, and say that reading these blogs and comments, along with a nice glass of champagne, is getting me thru the crying for the last couple days and no I’m not patting or checking, after the first night I realized how much it makes things worse. 🙂 My hubby works remote and will be back in 2 weeks, and little monkey MUST be past the worst by then, or daddy will cave. Oh, she just got quiet! xxo

    • Getting out of co-sleeping is the hardest so I’m not surprised you’re having a rough time. But you’re totally right, this IS the greatest blog ever.

      KIDDING!

      You’re right that the patting and visits just make things worse. And she’s super pissed. But you know what? She’s going to be fine. And she’ll be fine far before Daddy comes home in 2 weeks!

  29. Hi Alexis, I have a toddler and a 5 month old, and while I successfully sleep trained my older son, it’s proving to be way more difficult with the baby. I would provide an easy routine but we don’t have a routine, not for lack of trying. Every single day is worse than the day before. Ever since about 3mos, we have been having more nighttime wakings. He currently eats twice a night. He will not nap during the day.. I’ve tried more waketime. Less waketime. He is swaddled, dark room, white noise. No pacifier. No rocking. He did awesome at learning how to fall asleep on his own until recently. I put him down drowsy, or sometimes I look at waketime. Interestingly, when we have things to do in the morning, he may be up four hours and instead of waking at the 45m mark, he’ll sleep an hour or so. This makes me wonder, is he just a rare 5m old who can stay up an insane amount of time? If i try to put him down at the normal waketime for a 5m old, he screams and screams and screams. I did 2h15m waketime this am and he screamed for over an hr until I got him out and fed him, then tried again. He has taken a 30 nap all day and when he woke screaming from this nap (over tired ), I left him to go back to sleep and he screamed 2hours. No exaggeration. So I’m currently nursing him bc it’s time to eat and he’s obviously falling asleep while eating. My biggest question is regarding waketime. Is he already over tired by the 2h15m mark which is why he screams? Or can he do more? He was yawning and rubbing eyes so i thought u hit his waketime right. Obviously not. And I’ve tried cry it out to no avail. He literally screams nonstop. If i get him (hold him), no screams. I know it’s not a medical issue. I need help bc I’m at the literal end of my rope.

  30. Hi Alexis,
    Love the blog. First sleep training advice that I’ve read that feels realistically actionable for me, and alleviates the horrific internet guilt trips associated with CIO. Question-My children’s pediatrician said that CIO (extinction w/ no night weaning or other funny business) “takes as long as it takes, otherwise it isn’t CIO” (referring to the duration of an incident of crying), but that if it hasn’t worked after 4-5 days, it won’t work. She is also of the opinion that the older the child gets, the less chance of success a person will have with CIO. I’d be interested to hear your take on this, as well as at what point you feel things might warrant abandoning CIO efforts? I’ve seen references in the blog to a 70% success rate with CIO (so, my mind goes to the other 30%…), as well as some commentary about certain situations in which CIO is not recommended (I assumed it was referring to factors not specified, and other than the obvious reasons of the child being too young, etc.). I’m sure you’ve seen/heard it all, and I’d really love to hear your thoughts.

  31. Hi, this advice is simply priceless. I started cry it out on my 5 month old boy(with a dummy/paci…was that a mistake?). He’s now 6 months old. I realised I was doing the whole thing a bit wrong but we did make some progress – he went from co-sleeping and breastfeeding every 2 hours to being in his own cot and room. Bedtime routine began at 6.30 where he would have his last feed downstairs, bath, story, prayer, bed. He slept from 7.15 (with no fuss going to sleep)stirred a little between 10/10.30 so Id put his dummy back in and he would sleep until around 1-2. I would then feed him and he would sleep until around 5/5.30 and then I would feed again and he would go back to sleep for another hour/hour and a half. He did this for around 2 weeks. All sounds great right? Until he started waking up every couple of hours for his dummy to go back in … Although I did make the mistake of dream feeding at the 10/10.30 stir. That’s when the trouble started I think. So now he wakes up every 2/2 and a half hours and is in our bed at around 4.30am for co sleeping

    My question is (and I am going to start cry it out method again even though I’m completely shattered) is do I stick with the dummy/pack or go cold turkey? I have a feeling he will make it harder this time around for us though… Shriek!

  32. Desperately need advice!
    My 6 1/2 month old has always been a poor sleeper. She wakes every 3 hours to nurse and will only go back to sleep if she’s eaten. I am exhausted and have had enough. We tried the CIO method a month ago and after 3 days we gave up. We are trying again and tonight is night one. She has been up crying for 2 hours and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. She’s clearly exhausted but isn’t settling. Help!!!!

  33. I have an almost 8 month old he was getting up every 2-3 hrs not really hungry but would eat if I offered. Anyways I have started CIO 5 nights ago. 1st night cried a lot! 2nd night bed 730 woke at 1250am – fed him then back to sleep till 5am ate then slept with him till 8 or so. 3rd night kinda the same thing. Then 4th and 5th night up again every 2-3 hrs. I used to nurse him to sleep but stopped that when I started CIO. We have always had a routine since day one. Right now it’s feed at 645pm bath at 7pm read a book snuggle and off to bed. He actually falls asleep quite nicely on his own dosent fuss to much. I decided if he wakes up before midnight I won’t go to him but still feel like he needs a feed at night which I do if he wakes up after midnight. My question is when he goes back to sleep after eating after midnight then wakes up agin 2-3 hrs later should i feed him again or let him CIO? Last night I did feed him again after he woke up 3 hrs later but feel maybe I shouldnt feed him and let him CIO until it’s time to wake up for the day. Thoughts?

  34. Hey Alexis,
    I happened to simple upon this blog when it had been 6 weeks since me and my partner had got any sleep. It’s an amazing blog that has saved my life. I think! 🙂
    Anyway. We have a 9 month baby who has been fussy since he was born. We haven’t been great with the whole creating routines and being consistent either, and lessons learnt for next child – teach to sleep on your own at an earlier age !!! But anyway here we are. From when he was about 7.5 months h started waking up every 1.5-2 hrs throughout the night. He has been night fed up until now really, but he’s a big boy so doesn’t really need it. He’s always been difficult putting to sleep, we’ve been letting him fall asleep in our bed for ages and then either left him cosleeping or moved him to his cot. Then wakes up at night and we’ve had to rock him or put calm music on or given boob or whatever has worked… It’s been insane.
    We started with CIO last week (now on day 6) and I want to say it has worked! First night he cried 20 min then went to sleep, then woke up maybe twice for short times during night but went back to sleep himself. Second night cried 10 minutes before went to sleep, then woke up once at night and went back to sleep within 3 min. Third night cried 5 minutes, woke up briefly for a few seconds during night but nothing more. 4th night went almost straight to sleep (a minute or so of whining but really smoothly) and slept through (!!).

    Now the problem was last night; we had a babysitter. She doesn’t speak English (we live in China) and probably didn’t do our night routine (feed, pyjamas, book, kiss good night) and had put him to sleep in our bed… So when we came home we had to move him to his cot. The night then followed and was horrendous! He woke up several times and at 1 am he would not stop crying… After 45 minutes of Non stop crying despite us having gone in every 10 min (Ferber method) we surrendered as we thought the neighbours would call the police and put him in our bed… He then slept until 05 and had a quick feed then slept until 07.
    My question is; are we now back at square one? Do we start over with Ferber and begin with 3 min gaps etc? Or now move to the other method and hope for the best?
    I also wonder about going away for holidays (as we will be doing in 1 week) – where he won’t have a cot to sleep in… If the CIO method has worked is it then fine to let the baby sleep anywhere after that? Even In your bed again?
    Thanks again for this awesome blog!!

  35. You ARE so funny! I am grateful for this article, I needed the reassurance that the 15 minutes of crying is not going to mess up my baby and gee, I didn’t realize I was being so inconsistent. If even something that small is a crutch, I have been doing this wrong.

  36. We were just questioning our consistency, too! So we started CIO 8 nights ago. Actually, the 1st night we were going to do it, she fell asleep perfectly and only woke once for her 3am feeding! So, we were consistent for 5 nights in a row. The first 2 nights, it was 3 hours of crying. The next 2 nights, 2 hours. Then 1.5 hrs the next night. The 6th night, lots of crying again. What changed? Her caretakers told us she might be sick. Just a little vomit in the day, but no fever or major fussiness. Because of this new knowledge (her first time EVER being ill. She is 5 months.), we proceeded to pick her up and rock her to sleep once, then nursed her way too early in the night. Naps the next day were horrific again, but up until that point hadn’t been terrible. The last two nights there has been an hour or so of crying. I already was surprised CIO was taking so long for my baby, but now I think we’ve caused it to go even longer with this inconsistency!

  37. Hi! I stumbled on this site after yet another sleepless night with my 10.5 month old. She was doing great with sleeping, only waking once to have about a 4 oz bottle, then going right back to sleep. She’s also teething, top two teeth, clearn snotty nose, the works. We threw a wrench in her game by traveling to Asia for three weeks about a month ago, but she seemed to get on schedule for at least a few nights before this. She will have a final bottle (sometimes 6 oz) while we are reading and saying goodnight. I usually rock her for about 5 minutes, put her in her crib – somewhat awake – and she falls asleep. Then it’s around midnight / 1AM that she wakes up again – we usually will just feed her 4 oz because that was our routine before, put her back in her crib and she SCREAMS for hours. REALLY screams, like purple crying. I’ve been giving in, holding her, rocking her – maybe only about 10-20 minutes, but then she’ll fall asleep…. until about 3 or 4 or 5 AM – same thing. Just this morning at about 5:30, I was able to catch her before she got really mad, I fed her another 4 oz, held her for maybe 5 minutes, and she went back to sleep fairly easily. I don’t know how to get out of this cycle. I’ve read lots of your articles, including Parts I, II and III, and I have a few things to tweak about the routine. I’m thinking I will separate the feeding from bedtime and feed her that final bottle before bed in our family room rather than her bedroom, maybe a half hour before bed. I realize I’m dealing with sleep AND night feeding issues. I just can’t decide which to start with since they seem to be related. Any insight?

    • you’re not really dealing with night feeding issues, your issue is night SCREAMING issues and the reason she’s SCREAMING is that you’re rocking her till she’s MOSTLY asleep and thus she’s waking later and needs to be rocked to sleep again. The screaming is the clue here. If it were about food the bottle would fix it but it doesn’t. Her issue is the rocking. Stop rocking for 5 minutes and have her go into the crib 100% awake. She may protest this change but it’s essential AND will fix the middle of the night purple screaming.

      Let me know how things go!
      Alexis

  38. Thank you! That’s what I needed to hear. I will report back!

  39. I have a 4 month old who currently feeds to sleep and then sleeps from 30 min to 1 hour every night the whole night and needs to be breastfed to fall back asleep. I tried feeding him 30 min before bedtime but I’m he then needs to be rocked for sometimes up to an hour I. order to fall asleep and then through the night he starts stirring and if I don’t breastfeeding him he starts full blowname out crying until he’s wide awake and no longer wants to sleep for hours but if I breast feed him he goes to sleep within 5 min. his bed time is currently 8 only becouse I have tried 7 but then he wakes up even more frequently. I know I need to wean him off feeding him to sleep but how do I do that whithe CIO as well. how do I know if he needs to be fed actually vs just let him cry at night to sleel?

  40. I just wanted to pop in and let you know how much my husband and I appreciate your non-judgy approach. The internet/mom forums can sometimes be brutal! Just when I think I have something figured out, I decided to Google it (why I do this I am unsure) only to find that I am a terrible parent, who knew?

    Your site feels safe and your humor is appreciated. Thank you for the information you provide. We just started sleep training and it seems to be going well. We have been consistent so that must be the key!

    Thanks again!
    -M.

  41. I’m presently kicking myself, mentally, for listening to a friend.
    Our system was working, and we were def headed on the road to sleeping through the night.
    By six weeks, we had a bedtime routine, LO slept in her bed next to mine, and when she fussed in the night, I did NOT intervene until she had her eyes fully opened, staring at me and then cried. Then I’d get up, check her nappy, feed her, kiss her and back to bed she went.
    From six weeks till three months, we had dropped a feed, and our other two were inching in opposite directions, one closer to bed-time, one closer to breakfast. GREAT!
    The down-side, was sometimes she’d fuss for an hour plus before actually waking up needing something. It was annoying.
    So I spoke to a friend, who said “Why? I couldn’t stand it. Just do it while she’s asleep.” Oh! I didn’t know I could do that. I shouldn’t have.
    Now we’re at three feedings a night, at the exact same time every night. UGH! They’re four hours apart, and I am not happy about this.
    So I think we’re back to mommy stays awake for an hour plus each night waiting for her to wake-up-up before I do anything.
    So tonight is going to be… interesting.
    She’s three and a half months old. She WAS doing seven hour stretches, and now we’re not doing more than four. Unless she went through her regression the week before she turned three months (she had a pair of days where she was up every hour, then the next pair was every other hour and so on. We’ve been stuck at four hours ever since.) I’m not happy.

  42. Hi Alexis! Thank you for giving me the confidence to try CIO. My once rockstar sleeper three month old had now turned into a crappy napper who woke every two hours at night. When baby did nap, I was obsessed with reading about baby sleep online and was going a little nutty! Luckily I found your site. We’re on day three and things are going well, baby hasn’t cried more than ten minutes at any given time, and the guilt level is pretty low. The husband and I discuss the game plan a head of time to help us stick to it. Baby now has a cold and vacation starts next week but we’re going to try to stay consistent. Keep being awesome!

  43. Hi Alexis! Thank you for giving me the confidence to try CIO. At three months I had a rock star sleeper, now I have a five month old who turned into a crappy napper that wakes every two hours at night. When baby did nap, I was obsessed with reading about baby sleep online and was going a little nutty! Luckily I found your site. We’re on day three and things are going well, baby hasn’t cried more than ten minutes at any given time, and the guilt level is pretty low. The husband and I discuss the game plan a head of time to help us stick to it. Baby now has a cold and vacation starts next week but we’re going to try to stay consistent. Keep being awesome!

  44. Hi Alexis,

    As others have mentioned, your blog is really amazing! I have a 6 month old, and we are starting Night 9 of CIO. We put him down between 7:15pm-7:45pm (awake). I try to start nursing by no later than 6:30pm, but last night a friend came over so I didn’t start his last nursing session til 7pm. Last night (Night 8), he fell asleep after only 5 min of crying (amazing!), but he woke up a lot more than usual (good nights it’s been 3-4 times, only feeding 2x in the night (12-2am range) and (4am-6am) range. My husband and I take turns, he gives a bottle during the 12-2am shift, I do the 4am-6am shift. So he hasn’t been really consistent about when he’s waking up in the night, and last night was pretty terrible. Woke up at 11pm SCREAMING, I nursed him, then 1:30am – screamed for 30 min, my husband fed him but he wasn’t really hungry, only ate an ounce. Then he woke up at 4am, cried for 15 min, then at 5:00am – I nursed him for 10 min, he fell asleep, I set him down, he woke up again – thinking he was still hungry I nursed him a bit more put him down at 5:30am, woke up at 6:30am, cried for 10 min, then slept til 8am.

    I have two quick questions:
    1) I’m trying to follow your advice about feeding twice a night, is his inconsistency about waking because we’re not being as consistent as we could about the exact time we’re putting him down?

    2) We haven’t tackled naps or night weaning yet. Should we do nap training next then night weaning, or vice versa, or can we work on them simultaneously?

    Thanks so much!

  45. So that’s a lot of waking which could have been a blip, an extinction burst, or some other issue. Super not helpful I know.

    It could definitely have been the nursing too close to bedtime. But the only way to test that is to fix it tonight and see if it continues. I’m assuming you aren’t using a pacifier yes?

    The fact that after 9 days he’s waking 3-4X a night is…unusual. It makes me wonder if something else is off. Not sure WHAT exactly but something. Might be a good question to ask the FB group.

    Good luck!

  46. Hi Alexis!
    I am quite sure I’ve read through these blog posts several times- sometimes as reassurance that I’m doing the right thing!- and I have a question I need help with. Tonight will be night 5 of ST and it has gone better than expected. LO cried 1 hour the first night, then 40, then 8, and then 10 last night. The first 3 nights I have him twice laid him down and he fussed no more than 5 minutes and fell asleep. Then there was last night. He had his longest stretch- sleeping until 2 am. I went in and fed him. I checked his diaper first because he has a rash. He was clean so I proceeded to feed. Lo and behold the child decides to poop during the feed. Ugh. Changed him, laid him down. He then cried for more than an hour. Sent husband in. No help. Gave him 10 minutes. I went in. Tried shushing, nothing. Finally took him to my bed (close to 4 am) so everyone in the house would sleep and he still would not settle. Is this extinction or something else?? I’m worried he will do this again tonight and I’m not sure how to proceed. Thanks for your help- your blog is invaluable!

  47. We just completed night 4 of sleep training my 6 month old, and in some respects, it’s going well, but in others, I am getting super frustrated. Nights 1, 2, and 3, he took 1 hr, 30 min, and 15 min, respectively, to fall asleep..good! Night 4 it was back at 30 min–could be worse. On a positive note, he went from 4 wakes to only 1 or 2 quickly (5-8 hr stretch at most so far). The real problems are related to falling back asleep post-feed and early wakings.

    After the middle of the night feed (no consistent time) which he tends to mostly fall asleep during, he wakes back up when put down, and I let him alone to try to fall asleep. He is having a VERY hard time with this! On night 3, this feed took place when he woke at 4, and after 1.5 hrs, he still wasn’t showing any signs of falling asleep, at which point I went and got him because it was so close to morning. We spent an hour lying in bed, where he did sleep. On night 4, the feed was at 2:30 when he woke, and it took an hour to fall back asleep, and then he woke for the day at 6. This wake time seems excessive since he is falling asleep much quicker at bedtime and not waking at any other point during the night.

    So, by the time we go to him, feed him, and wait over an hour, everyone is up for close to 2 hours in the middle of the night and total sleep hours are nowhere near enough for his age (I get him to sleep around 8, so we were shooting for 8-7).

    And it seems that his mornings are getting earlier (used to be 7ish), but he won’t go back to sleep during these early morning wakes. The only thing I have been able to do to get him at least a little extra NECESSARY sleep is take him to bed for a bit in the morning. But of course my concern here is that I am negating all of the work I did on getting him to sleep independently. However, I can’t have him up for the day at 4 or 5am, so I have no idea what to do!

    What are your thoughts on the post-feed waketime and the early mornings? I am wondering if it would be better not to feed at all because he seems to go back to sleep more readily without it!

  48. How many of us write these posts while listening to baby cry?? We are on night three of extinction sleep training (I know, it’s early). We are basically doing it full on with occasional checks to make sure he hasn’t smushed his face against the side of the crib, but not pats, not pick ups. We were doing the whole Ferber thing which worked for like, 2 nights but then he got sick and also started to think he was hungry and because he has been extremely slow to gain weight (hasn’t even hit 14 lbs at 6 months), so when he had what was likely an extinction burst, I went in and rescued him. I would offer him a bottle a couple of nights but he never drank more than an ounce so he clearly wasn’t hungry. Then we started working with a very expensive sleep consultant who was suggesting we go in to “reassure” as often as every two minutes. She said it was fine to pick him up too, but after a few times of doing this, I felt like I was torturing the poor kid more than I was reassuring him. He was so beside himself, he cried right through and kind of “reassurance” and it escalated when I put him down of course. I felt like going in this often was way too stimilating. When I say “going in” I mean that I would pop up from the floor where I was lying down every other minute because leaving the room only to come back every minute just seemed ridiculous. He would cry for as long as two hours with no pause when I went in. Which brings us to extinction. Disclaimer- I am a psychologist and although I do not do behavioral therapy, I am (in theory) entirely on board with how this approach works for sleep training. After failed Ferber method, it just seems to me that going in to “reassure” is intermittent reinforcement with is just about the strongest type of reinforcement. So, as I said, I am in there on board with the extinction method, however, here have been our first two nights following three days of great naps (some on my chest but we are tackling one thing at a time) :
    Night 1: Put down for bed at 7:45: cried 2 hours, woke up at 12:45; cried 2 hours
    Night 2: Put down for bed at 7:45 cried for 5 minutes; woke up at 11:45, cried for 2.5 hours
    Night 3 (right now): Put down at 8:30 (he took a very late afternoon nap): Still crying after one hour

    Im sure that some parents will feel that I am a horrible mother for letting my baby cry for 2.5 hours but my gut says that this will work, despite the fact that it is really hard right now, but is this too long? Is my gut wrong? Is this a sign that he is “not ready”? How long is too long?? How many nights and how many hours?

  49. Our LO is now 6 months old and we now on night 4 which is a total disaster of CIO or whatever one wants to call it. This has been a long journey, our daughter has severe reflux and the first few months were hell. This is our first baby and we spent the first few months leaping out of bed to choking and gasping afraid our baby was dying. I don’t have enough in me to write this novel but between all of her medication zantac, Prevacid & mylanta, holding her up 40 minutes after each feeding where she inevitably fell asleep and I never had a chance to try to sleep train her. I spent up until now terrified and things have finally become manageable for our precious girl and she isn’t screaming every night in pain which had now led us to sleep training under our pediatricians advice of CIO, as she is an awful sleeper and hates her crib. We have gone from rock & play which she was outgrowing at 5 mo to cosleeper and I would love for her to be happily sleeping in her crib.
    With that said the first 2 nights were 40 minutes of crying and then she would fall asleep only to wake every 15-30 minutes for hours crying again for 10-20 minutes until I give in because I am mentally breaking and put her in her cosleeper. She loves a pacifier but she can’t put it back in herself yet so I am not going in to put in her mouth in the crib. Checking on her only makes the crying worse. We tried the Ferber way and I felt like we were torturing her.
    My question is after the intial fall asleep she just keep waking up and has yet to stay asleep longer than 30 minutes.
    In the cosleeper she was sleeping all night from 8/830 until 7am, only waking for a pacifier once or twice and would fall right back asleep. She night weaned on her own and stopped wanting the bottle at 4.5 months.
    I am so distressed and deep into this I don’t know where to begin

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