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Cry it Out When and Why?

June 1, 2012 |  by  |  1 YO, 6-9 Months, 9-12 Months, cry it out
nobody wants baby to cry

Cry it out is a touchy subject and it seems I’m the only person on the Internet willing to openly discuss it as a valid sleep strategy. Or at least that is my working assumption based on the volume of emails I get about it. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that people often have the misconception that CIO is the cure-all tactic to address a wide range of baby challenges. But it isn’t. So to clarify I’m sharing some questions that have come up a ton in email and comments followed by my “official” take on when and why CIO might (or might not) be the right tactic for your family.

1

I think I need to do CIO with my 10 week old because he needs way too much soothing.

What is too much exactly? I’ve never read that there is an “acceptable” level of soothing beyond which you are providing “too much” for a newborn. Your baby needs as much soothing as he needs. Some remarkable babies need very little (go ahead and be jealous of their parents, I certainly was!). Yours needs to be soothed 4 out of 5 hours a day. He cries unless he is swaddled, nursing, and being rocked simultaneously. Does this suck for you? Absolutely! Is cry it out the answer? No! What is the answer? More soothing. And possibly a swing.

2

I think I need to do CIO with my 10 week old because this soothing is killing me!

Newborns are a crapload of work. Did nobody tell you this? Was this not covered in your New Baby class? Well if you missed that lesson let me clue you in: NEWBORN BABIES ARE EXHAUSTING! This is because they are newborn babies and thus NEED tons of soothing. This is one of the many reasons I only have 2 children. Which is not to sound unsympathetic because I hear you – your back hurts, you have no time to do anything, you can’t leave the house, etc. But letting your newborn baby cry (effectively providing -zero- soothing to a baby who needs -tons- of soothing) is not OK. What is OK? Get help. Friends, Grandparents, housecleaners, mothers helpers, postpartum doulas. There are times in life where you need to throw money at a problem. This is one of those times.

3

My 3 month old is not learning to fall asleep alone so we’re going to wait another month or two and then do CIO.

I hear your frustration. You feel like nothing is getting better so you’re just going to grit your teeth an obligatory amount of time so you can go with CIO because you’re convinced that nothing else is going to work. And maybe you’re right. But maybe you’re not giving yourself or your baby enough credit. Wait a week. Try something new. See what happens.

4

I can’t do CIO with my 11 month old because she has an older sibling who needs to sleep.

Waking the whole family up for a few nights doesn’t generally seem like a great idea. But bear these things in mind. 1) It’s a short term situation. 2) You can talk to the older sibling about it ahead of time to help allay any concerns. 3) Your older child(ren) will very likely sleep through the whole ordeal anyway. If CIO is the right solution for your family then don’t let your fears about older kids hold you back from what you need to do.

5

Will CIO help me end my 2 month old night feeding habit?

Everybody knows a baby who slept 12 hours a night without eating at 6 weeks of age and thus thinks something must be wrong because their baby is still guzzling milk all night long. But it’s totally reasonable for a newborn baby to require food at night. Even if they’re at the 98% for growth, even if they skipped night feeding that one time, even if your friend’s baby doesn’t need to. Yes it’s EXHAUSTING (see point above) and of course you are EAGER to be done with this part of babyhood. Little babies are growing at an astounding rate and their bodies need a constant influx of calories to accomplish this. If your newborn baby is waking up hungry then feed him.

I want to be clear that when it comes to Cry it Out I am not judging you if you don’t take my advice and do things in a way I don’t agree with. I don’t like to judge people (except for reality show people on Bravo because I’m totally judging them). It takes up too much time which I can’t afford because the new season of True Blood is about to start and I’m busy catching up on last season. All I can do is share with you my perspective based on what I know and hope that it may help you to make good choices for your family. And my official perspective on CIO is this…

CIO When and Why

  • Cry it out is a useful strategy for older babies (6+ months) who have an object permanence problem that results in short naps and frequent night wakings.
  • Cry it out is a lousy way to get out of night feedings. It will work but will result in a lot of crying as hungry babies don’t easily fall asleep.
  • Newborns need more soothing, not less. Cry it out is useful for older babies because the soothing that was so helpful when they were young is now, literally, preventing them (and you) from sleeping.
  • Cry it out is the strategy of last resort. It means you have tried EVERYTHING and NOTHING worked. That is OK, some babies struggle to fall asleep on their own and cling to their (rocking, nursing, bottle, pacifier, etc.) so fiercely you are left without alternatives….
  • However don’t give up too soon. If your baby is a newborn there is plenty of time to sort things out. What didn’t work last week may work the next. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like baby sleep is an effort of futility, especially when you’re exhausted and not making any progress. But I would suggest that if you’re already planning on doing CIO 2 months from now, you don’t have enough faith in you or your baby to work things out.
  • If you CIO is the answer for your family you might want to use the are you ready for CIO checklist.

Next up? How to do CIO and common mistakes people make with CIO.


135 Comments


  1. My husband had our 3 month old at the pediatrician last week, and they got to talking about sleep in general. He brought up that we still sooth her to sleep completely and that we want to work towards her falling asleep on her own. The pediatrician said that if we wanted, we could try “fuss it out”. Let her fuss, but not all out cry, for 5 min., go in and sooth her without picking her up, let her fuss for 7 min., go in and sooth, repeat. Thoughts on this? Is this really just Ferber in disguise?

    • Hee hee πŸ˜‰
      It is sort of Ferber in disguise. Or not really. It depends on how you approach it. Ferber would say essentially that you will continue on this path as long as it takes for her to fall asleep. Presumably what your pediatrician is suggesting is that you give her some time to fuss a little and see what happens. If she starts to all-out scream then would you continue with the timed intervals or at that point would you be “done” with the “fuss it out” plan? So one of two things will happen – she’ll fuss to sleep. In which case do a victory lap and open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special day! Or she’ll fuss, fuss, fuss, cry, scream. Then you’re back to soothing her to sleep.

      Regardless it’s good advice to test the waters now and then. So I agree with your pediatrician (I like how when I say that it sounds like I am the knowledgeable expert in the equation;) that it’s a worthy trial run. See what happens. If it doesn’t work? OK no biggie. Wait a week, try again. See what happens then.

      Testing your kids now and then is awesome because they’re changing so rapidly that they often surprise you!

      PS. Please check in and let me know how your fuss it out experiment works out!

      • Well, our first attempt at fuss it out was unsuccessful tonight. We did our bedtime routine, I rocked her for a couple minutes to get her drowsy, and then put her in her crib. She did babble contently for about 13 minutes before starting to fuss. 5 min. fuss, sooth, 7 min. fuss, sooth, 5 min. fuss turned into crying angrily. At which point, we were about 35 min. past the point that I originally put her down, so I gave up and rocked her to sleep because I didn’t want her to get overtired and past the point of no return. (Was that a good decision??) Her naps were crappier than normal today, so we are going to try it again tomorrow night if she naps better tomorrow, in hopes that starting out more rested will help. If it doesn’t work then, we’ll try again in a week or so. πŸ™‚

        • Personally I would space out my “trials” a bit as generally what happened LAST night is a good predictor of what will happen TOMORROW night. Especially if pushing bedtime back leads you to a rough day to follow πŸ™

          So maybe try again in 1-2 weeks. And fuss it out may NOT work for her at this age and that’s OK! You still have plenty of runway to work with.

          ps. I think you made a good decision to call the game and rock her back to sleep πŸ™‚

          • This is such a relief! We’ve been doing gentle sleep training with our almost-4-month-old because bedtime was turning into a 3-4 hour affair that left everyone in tears and exhausted. We’ve been putting her down “drowsy but awake” and letting her fuss. She sometimes escalates to a bit of crying, but usually winds down quickly and is out within 15-20 minutes. If she cries hard for more than 5-7 minutes, we soothe her. I thought we were on the path to CIO and I was spending all day watching her for signs of anxiety, withdrawal, etc. But I’m so happy to hear that 5-15 minutes of fussing/crying does not equal CIO!

          • This is such a relief! We’ve been doing gentle sleep training with our almost-4-month-old because bedtime was turning into a 3-4 hour affair that left everyone in tears and exhausted. We’ve been putting her down “drowsy but awake” and letting her fuss. She sometimes escalates to a bit of crying, but usually winds down quickly and is out within 15-20 minutes. If she cries hard for more than 5 minutes, we soothe her. I thought we were on the path to CIO and I was spending all day watching her for signs of anxiety, withdrawal, etc. But I’m so happy to hear that 5-15 minutes of fussing/crying does not equal CIO!

  2. My now 4 month old, has been sleeping from 630pm-630am for about a month. We have a consistent routine, and would actually feed him his nighttime bottle until he fell asleep, then lay him down, where he would wake for a few minutes, and we would rub his belly, and he’d sleep for 12 hours. All of a sudden, two days ago, he doesn’t want to go down to sleep no matter what. Even if I feed him till he’s completely asleep and lay him down, he immediately wakes up and screams. When I pick him up to soothe him, he stops crying and settles, so I go to put him back down, and he starts up again. I finally gave in last night and let him CIO, and he went to sleep in 15 min. Tonight, he went to sleep in 13 min. Am I doing the right thing, or should I still be soothing him? I don’t want to encourage any bad habits, but I also don’t want to make him miserable. Tips?

    • http://www.troublesometots.com/the-thing-about-sleep-regressions/

      Welcome to the 4 month sleep regression! I wouldn’t typically suggest CIO for the sleep regression. But let me be clear – 15 minutes is NOT CIO.

      15 minutes is a blip, a tiny jelly bean of crying. Seriously. If all he needs to sleep for 12 hours is to blow off steam for 15 minutes then ABSOLUTELY go for it! He will probably just cry a tiny bit as he works through the regression the go back to quietly falling asleep in a week or so. But even if he doesn’t I wouldn’t sweat 10 minutes of complaining if that is all that stands between him being miserable for ages or sleeping for a solid 12 hours!

      • Thank you so much for the information and encouragement! I was getting a little bit anxious! Tonight I pushed his bedtime back about half an hour, and he fell asleep just fine, just about a minute of babbling. Hopefully, I made it through the worst (for now!) THANK YOU!!!

        • Just wanted to pop in and say thank you Allison for your comment and Alexis for your response here.

          Bedtime has been an absolute (3 hour, put down, scream, start over, etc.) nightmare for the last couple of weeks with our 4 month old.

          My husband had been suggesting we leave her to cry for a little bit (5-10 minutes), but I have kept saying no – feeling too uncomfortable with it.

          We read your comment here tonight, and I agreed that we would let her cry for 5 minutes max if she wouldn’t go down the usual way.

          Well, she fought going down for about 30 minutes, so hubby came in and said “it’s time to leave her for a bit”.
          And despite my anxiety, after about 3 minutes she was winding down and by 7 minutes, she was completely asleep!

          I feel much better about it now – after reading your comment, Alexis, that it’s not really CIO and knowing that it’s helping her get the sleep she needs.

          • 7 minutes isn’t CIO (not by a longshot!). So kudos to you for having the courage to give her a little breathing room. And look how great it worked out – YAY!

            • Thank you so, so much for this resource. I wish it had been around when my son was a baby. Now we have a 16 week old daughter. She is lovely and almost never cries, so long as she is held and, preferably, in motion.

              She sleeps in bed with us at night and will take champion naps if held. I have been trying your varsity swimg technique, but every time I put her in the swing, she wakes up (if she has already fallen asleep) and screams (she does this if put in there awake, too). My friends tell me to let her cry for 10 mins., but she seems to ramp up pretty quickly.

              I should note that she has terrible reflux, so I don’t know if she’s crying because she’s in pain or because she prefers the Cadillac treatment. Also, she is up to nurse every 2 hours (or less) at night. This week, she doesn’t want to be separated from the boob at all, which of course makes the reflux worse.

              Is 10 mins still only a jellybean of crying for a refluxer? Any suggestions? Thanks!

            • Kasey,
              I hope you get this (your comment is so nested I can’t reply to it directly!)…

              10 minutes of crying IS still a jellybean. I would definitely keep working with the swing. Swaddle, loud white noise, something that smells like you, and a paci if she’ll take it.

              Four months can be a rough time (hello sleep regression!) and I absolutely get that when you have a bad refluxer you need to do WHATEVER WORKS.

              At the same point – yes – you are probably on path to have a baby who only sleeps ON you or even uses you as a human pacifier. That can be REALLY hard to break out of later so if there is anyway of making the swing work now, it would be awesome.

              The swing is preferable on multiple fronts:
              1) It keeps her upright which helps the reflux far more than a cuddle.
              2) It gets her off your boob so that you can work on night weaning. With refluxing kids you want to feed as little as possible at night as food+lying on back = tummy pain.
              3) It gives you a path to help her learn how to fall asleep (without you and your boobs being in bed with her).

              (That being said if you give it your best shot and just can’t don’t beat yourself up about it – you do your best and accept what happens, OK?)

          • I really dont understand what would be uncomfortable about letting him cry. Assuming he is fed, changed and not in any pain then crying is not a bad thing. My little guy slept through the night after 2 weeks. Started at 5 hours and now at 3 months is up to 10 hours. I slowly pushed his feeding 5 minutes every night and it was simple. As far as getting to sleep, we do have a routine which started from day 1. He gets lots of cuddles and attention during the day but night time… no games… swaddle in bed and I rub his head for 30 seconds. After week 1 if he wanted to cry at bedtime i let him … first night was long and after 3 nights the crying stopped.. i put him in bed and sometimes he babbles to himself for a few minutes but he is out. I know alot disagree but bedtime is bedtime put him down a kiss or a quick 1 minute rocking if thats routine and thats all. And for those who say that the baby needs to trust you and cio caused emotional problems etc … I disagree… i took advice from my parnets as thats what they did .. and i totally trust my parnets and have always had an amazing relationship with them. If you are meeting thier needs for attention and cuddles during the day no reason for them to feel neglated at bedtime. Seriosuly cio works wonders and i think not only teaches them to self sooth but its aboyt control… im in charge of him… not thr other way around… and i think as a baby or child its more comforting and secure to know your parnets are in control vs the baby.

    • This is my problem, too! My now 15 week old has decided to stop sleeping and I am so confused (and tired and hungry and not as clean as I’d like to be… you get the idea). We’ve always soothed him to sleep (white noise, swaddle, rock) and it worked. He would sleep one long stretch (5-6 hours) and then a few shorter ones, but I could always put him down right after nursing no problem. Naps have always been short (30-50 min.) Last week he slept like a champ (7-8 hour long stretch)and 1-2 hour naps. I was in heaven (well fed, clean and I even blew dry my hair-twice!) The past few days have been awaful. If we can get him to sleep, he screams when we put him down. This repeats a few times before he sleeps. Then, he is up to eat every 2-2.5 hours. I know he is extremely overtired, but he is a very happy baby, and doesn’t fuss or cry (until you try to put him to sleep). Here is where I am really confused. I spoke with the pediatrician today and he said (and I quote), “It sounds like he has you wrapped around his finger.” He recommended dropping all soothing (swaddle, rocking), moving him to his own room, putting him in his crib and letting him CIO. And that I give him Tylenol after the last feeding /before bedtime in case he is teething.
      This seems extreme to me but I don’t know what to do. My LO has been awake all day (talk about keeping them up too long!), though I did leave him in his room for a bit during nap times.
      I am getting tired of sleeping sitting up and holding him all night
      My LO has never liked the swing (I keep trying but he just screams).

      I’m sorry for such a long, negative post. I absolutely love your website and was appalled that my pediatrician gave me conflicting advice! Anyone else experience anything similar?

      • I know Alexis will probably be commenting to you, but I thought I would just give my (not expert) opinion. I guess if that was the case my with my little one, I would start working with the sleep training at night. I would taper off of the soothing stuff little by little. With my 4mo old, I still use white noise. I don’t think he needs it, it’s more for us-we have a one floor apartment, so his room is right next to the family room, so we want to make sure he’s not disrupted by the rest of the family. Does your little one fight the swaddle? We used to ALWAYS do that until we started noticing that was soon as we put him down he would fuss and cry and fight, so we (nervously, I might add)put him down one night without the swaddle, and it took him a few minutes to settle down, and then he was good. So we dropped swaddling. It’s just recently that we dropped the feeding until he’s asleep. And we did that gradually too. We would feed him to sleep, rouse him a little bit and rock and sing to him, and then put him down when his lids were almost closed, but not quite, did that for a week, and then gradually starting putting him down awake. He still “talks” to himself a bit, and then sometimes he will fuss for a few minutes, but he’s getting better. Good luck-I know it’s SO frustrating when they’re doing well, and then regress. Why are babies so cute, but so difficult!?!?! lol!

        • Thanks for your reply! He does fight the swaddle and has been busting out of it regularly. We decided (for now) to go slow (I am such a wimp!). Tonight we decided to leave his arms out of the swaddle. He has already woken up twice and Dad rocked him to sleep. Maybe we will do the arms out for a few nights (we are really hoping he learns to suck his thumb or hand or something so he can soothe himself a little) and then take away another soothing thing. I think he might be ready for some of this, as I can’t seem to put him down after nursing anymore-he wakes up in 2 seconds and then we rock or bounce him.
          Again, I appreciate your advice and am thinking you are right to go it slow. Thanks!

          • You’re not a wimp! It’s incredibly frustrating listening to your baby crying!! I know I can’t stand it, so I put in headphones and listen to some music on my Iphone and set an alarm for every 10 min, and I take the headphones out and listen for him. My husband is deployed, so it’s just me, which makes it even harder! You know what else I did (thanks to Alexis)? We used the swing as well. Originally we didn’t buy a swing because we didn’t want all the baby junk around, but after having a hard time getting our little guy to sleep, we borrowed a swing from a friend, and he slept in that for about a month. We’d put him in there completely asleep, and it would keep him asleep for about 7-8 hours, then he’d wake, we’d feed him, and put him back down asleep. Did this for about 3 weeks, and then we could start putting him down awake because he knew he would get rocked to sleep. Then, one day we broke him of it because we were traveling back to America for a bit (we are stationed overseas) and knew we wouldn’t have a swing, so we decided it would be a perfect time to work on it, and plus he’d be so tired with the time change, it might help us out, and it did! We haven’t used the swing since. Do you have a swing? If not, maybe borrow one or invest in a nice used one and see if that works? Fisher Price (again, according to Alexis) has the best ones because their motors last the longest. Also, get one with a plug in (trust me-from experience) or else you will go through D batteries like water. Does he use a pacifier? I know ours likes one to sleep, and then right before he falls asleep, he spits it out somehow. We also have this little frog that plays music, and we started putting that on EVERY time we put him to sleep (even during naps), and I like to think that now when he hears that song (in addition to the white noise) he knows that he’s going to be going to sleep soon. Sorry to ramble and hijack this-just thought I would share my experience (advice based on Alexis)!

            • I don’t know how you do it alone! There are days I can’t wait for Daddy to get home!
              I think babies are incredibly smart and that foils some of our attempts to put them to sleep. When my little guy was 6-10 weeks old, he used to go in the swing awake but sleepy and fall asleep. He’d take great naps in there (not every time and we didn’t use it for every nap, but often). Then, one day, I turned on the music for the swing and he started screaming! It was like he knew what was coming! So then I tried no swing music. He would go in the swing happy and start to scream after a few minutes (maybe he was getting sleepy and fighting it?). Now he will go in the swing when it is awake time and he is happy. I will talk to him while I do stuff around the house. but he will not sleep in it! How did you get your LO in there sleeping? Did you tie him in?

            • Allison – you are RIGHT on the money. Gradually making small changes while giving LOTS of good clues that it’s time to sleep. It takes patience and can take weeks but that’s totally how to do it!

      • I’m pretty sure that what you are describing is the 4 month sleep regression which is generally the WORST: http://www.troublesometots.com/the-thing-about-sleep-regressions/

        Hmmm….I don’t like to disagree with pediatricians because I am not one and I know it’s a rough job (long hours, crappy pay, angry and anxious parents showing up every 20 minutes all day long).

        But if it were me I would weather the sleep regression to the best of my abilities. My kids always rocked the car nap so this was my sleep regression go-to solution. I’m not proud of wasting gas while I cruised around all day but it worked for us.

        You could go the CIO route and to a certain extent he is right – eventually this will work for you. However I also don’t think 4 months is an unreasonable age to provide some soothing to your baby. Swaddle, swing, and white noise is not “wrapped around your finger” – it’s simply age-appropriate soothing.

        I know people who have their baby camped on their boob 24/7 – they can’t sleep, their back is killing them, and they’re miserable but they feel that this is right for their baby so they’re going to suck it up. I think THEIR baby has them wrapped around their finger. Swing, swaddle, and white noise is just average baby stuff.

        You can try to wean off the swaddle (if he’s waking up a ton it may not be a great time to do so). But I think I’ve been pretty clear on my love of the swing. And definitely don’t loose the white noise!!!

        So if your nights are a swaddle free non-sleeping mess then I would go back to swaddling. Sure it would be great if he could figure out how to suck on his hands but that’s actually a pretty advanced skill – he may not get it for a while.

        Then if I were you I would work on a more gradual approach of weaning off the swinging, work towards a one-arm-out swaddle, and keep the white noise till he is 1.

        It’s been a while since you wrote so you may have already gone the CIO route (which is also OK). If I’m right about the sleep regression things might have already gotten better for you.

        So….what happened?

        • Thanks Alexis! I do think it was (and still is to some extent) the 4 month sleep regression. We didn’t do CIO. We did stop swaddling, which works okay at night. The past few nights he has slept from 9pm-3am and then from 4am to 6:30am.
          Naps are still pretty rough. Short (30 min. on the dot!) and the last one ends at 3 or 4. We have a video monitor and I can see that he startles himself awake during naps. Is it okay to swaddle for naps and not at night? Maybe we should take a step back and leave one arm in? My husband hates the swaddle and is so glad we are done with it. I’m not so sure we should be, though the baby was breaking out of it regularly. He has also decided not to go to sleep until 9pm. Is this too late? With short/crappy naps, I’m concerned that he isn’t sleeping enough. He looks exhausted all day.
          I tried the swing for naps today-no dice. Like I said he screams in there. Should I let him CIO (to some extent)in the swing? Today I let him fuss for 10 minutes, until it escalated to a full blown cry. When I bent down and talked to him, he stopped and smiled at me. Little bugger!

          • I would try the swaddle for naps. If he’s breaking out maybe it’s as simple as buying a new one. I’ve found the SwaddleMe’s to be awesome products BUT the velcro wears out quick (1-2 washings) so it may mean you need to buy a new one every 2-3 weeks. $12 for sleep is a worthy investment in my book πŸ˜‰

            Yes 9:00 PM is a late nap if he’s awake from 4:00 PM. Also his night is a bit on the short side so I would try gradually moving it up. He may not be entirely ready for an earlier bedtime (4 months is a strange age – not really a newborn but not really NOT a newborn yet) but it’s worth working on just to see what happens.

            If naps are REALLY rough what about soothing him until he’s fully asleep and THEN putting him in the swing. This is a temporary solution as obviously you’re in the zone where teaching him to fall asleep is a big goal. But if he’s sleep deprived coming out of the sleep regression, this might be a workable temporary solution to help him catch up a bit?

  3. Am I just one lucky mom or my 1 year old had a problem. Thank heavens, she never gave us any problem sleeping when she was just months old. She would sleep when she laid down after about a few hours of playing on her own. She’d make sounds when she was hungry, we would feed her and she would fall asleep after for about two hours. That’s just the thing, she woke up at least every two hours and cried very rarely. I hope my next kid would be the same. Is it healthy?

    Thanks!

    • No that’s WONDERFUL! About 30% of kids are “easy” kids – they fall into predictable patterns quickly and without much trouble, they give up night feedings early, they are generally easy to soothe. So that’s great and totally healthy!

      Unfortunately for the rest of us about 30% of kids are “troublesome” – they DON’T fall into predictable patterns, they DON’T sleep easy or long, and they are HARD to soothe. With each baby you roll the dice so there is a 30% chance that your next baby will be easy too!

  4. Nice post. I have a three going on four month old baby who is more behaved compared to wailing tots. She’s an angel and I hope that my next babies would be the same. Unless she has a CIO problem. Sometimes I am worried she just doesn’t make a sound unless hungry. Is that a sign that I should be worried about?

    • No – your angel baby is fine and she is content unless hungry and then she communicates that she needs you. Which is great!

      Will your next baby be the same? Dear God woman you have a 4 month old baby. Are you pregnant already?!?! ;P

  5. So what do you do when all the soothing doesn’t make a difference? We have a 4 month old, super happy during the day baby. But…He takes 20 minute naps and wakes up EVERY HOUR at night. We’ve co-slept, swaddled, tried the swing (he hates the swing) and none of it makes any difference. He is breastfed and I am intending on continuing the night-time feedings, but I don’t think these short bursts of sleep are good for him and I’m starting to fall apart a bit. Every once in a while he’ll sleep a 4 hour stretch but that’s happened all of 5 times his entire life. Any advice?

    • We ended up “testing the waters” last night. We did our bedtime routine and laid him down ‘sleepy, but awake’ (a few long blinks and I assumed he was sleepy). He fussed/cried for about 10 minutes and then slept for 3 hours! He woke, nursed, fussed a few minutes, and slept for another 3. We did that all night. I’m glad you encourage “testing the waters”. I would’ve never thought he would’ve gone to sleep so easily on his own. Granted, it was one night, so we’ll see how tonight goes. But I’m hopeful. And slightly more rested πŸ™‚

      • Are things staying on course since your “testing the waters” experiment? I hope so because nursing a 4 month old hourly is EXHAUSTING. And frankly unnecessary (obviously this is all about soothing right?). I don’t know how you even made it 4 months like that because I would have been a walking zombie ages ago. Hopefully things are still on course to the happy land of “much MUCH better.”

        • Yes! the first night, he fussed under 20 minutes, slept 4 hours. and we continued through the night. Second night, he fussed under 15 and last night he fussed for less than 5 minutes. His nap this morning was 2 1/2 HOURS! and he went to sleep without any fussing. I’m not sure how I made it for 4 months. Co-sleeping helped me (so I didn’t have to wake up fully to nurse him) and having friends/family come hold him so I could nap helped. He is, apparently, one of those babies who needs his space and sleeps better that way. I hate parenting my THIRD child and still feeling like I’m making it up as I go. Oh well…at least I’m a bit more rested to make it up πŸ™‚

  6. Another great article.

    I was about to give up on sleep advice all together, and throw in the towel. If he wants to be awake all the time, then let him! The fight felt like too much…

    But this gives me some hope that it will get better.

    Right now my four (almost 5) month old is definitely regressing. I’m just not sure if this is a “sleep regression” or something else.

    Two weeks ago he woke up every half hour, all night long, whether I put him to sleep with the pacifier or not (so I don’t think it was an object permanence problem). Then that stopped, mercifully, and the next day he started rolling over. So for about a week now I have become the human spatula, flipping him back over every time he would roll and startle himself awake (shrieking). Now two days ago, he has quit napping! He sleeps for 30 minutes, on the dot, and then wakes up. I’ve tried anticipating this and extending his naps through some shushing and patting. Sometimes this works, usually it doesn’t.

    I have bumped up bedtime (7) and shortened his wake time (1hr 45min). I even tried putting him back in the swing for naps… didn’t help.

    Please tell me, is this a sleep regression? Will it get better on its own? What more can I do?

    • Some babies are a bit freaked out by flipping over and getting “stuck.” Ironically most babies sleep much better on their tummies once they get more comfortable with the whole process. What would I do?

      1) TONS of tummy time. When he is awake let’s get him practicing flipping, getting used to it, etc.

      2) Possibly stick with the swing. Strapping him in at least removes the human spatula problem as he can’t flip over.

      3) 30 minute naps blow but there isn’t much you can do about it. Although what you describe does sound a bit like an object permanence problem. But you say you aren’t nursing to sleep or using the paci so I’ll assume that’s not the case?

      4) DARK room, LOUD white noise. Stick with the earlier bedtime, especially if he’s sleeping terribly during the day. Possibly even earlier if you think it might work.

      Ummmm…that’s all that rolls off right now. Let me know how things go!

      • Thanks for the reply!

        Took your advice. We are back in the swing for now, no swaddle or paci, dark room and loud white noise. He fussed for 10-15 minutes this morning and slept for 32.

        I let him cry for 6 minutes to see if he would just go back to sleep – no dice. I really miss the 1 hour and 20 minute naps he used to take!

        For fun my husband and I have started taking over/under bets on the 30 minute mark. He always takes under and wins most of the time!

  7. I’m not sure where to post my question so I’m just picking a place! First of all, thank you so much for your blog! You made a tired mama feel so much better about using the swing so much. I never used it that much with my first and it was the only way I could put this baby down to have my hands free for my toddler. It is also because of you that we started putting her to sleep in the swing at night and moved her out of my room. You are frequently cited when discussing my baby with my friends and family! I think they all think I am obsessed, which I may be!

    Okay, on to the real stuff! My daughter just turned five months old and she’s been sleeping in her swing, swaddled and with a paci and white noise. She wakes between 2-3 times at night to nurse and sometimes wakes and needs the paci replaced. Her naps are typically 40 -45 min, although she will periodically give 1.5 – 2 hours. My plan has been to follow your advice and wean off the swing gradually but everything is crapping out on us at once. We started with a battery powered Graco swing but bought a plugin Fisher Price to save on batteries. Long story short, even after a replacement motor, the thing just doesn’t swing. Back to the Graco…until its motor died as well! I just can’t buy another swing now that she is five months old…right?? So, we started having her sleep in the cradle and she has done fairly well. I put her down completely awake and she goes to sleep after some fussing and sometimes replacing the paci. Her naps have gotten a little shorter although I still get a periodic long one or can extend it with the pacifier. Nights are about the same but we do find ourselves needing to replace the paci more. The big problem is that she starting to break out of her double swaddle at night (thanks to another poster on here for introducing me to that!) and she is now rolling from back to belly while swaddled. I’ve heard that I need to stop the swaddle at this point. I know it might be an adjustment anyway but she also keeps pulling her paci out and then screaming more. Should I just take the paci now? And do I let her cry it out? I’ve never been a proponent of that method, and I had hoped to avoid it by using your techniques, but I feel like that’s what I’m facing. I’m not sure that the other no-cry methods will work as she seems to get more upset when she sees me and/or when I leave the room again. Any advice? (I write this as she finally fell asleep for her first nap ever in swaddle after much crying any many times replacing her pacifier.)

    Sorry for the incoherent rambling! I hope you can make some sense of this. Thanks again for your wonderful blog!

    • I am not Alexis obviously, but my thought about this is absolutely get another swing! We didn’t even START pushing the swing until finding this blog at 5 months. At 6 months our son already seemed way too big for his fisher price swing, so we sold it and bought a larger graco, with a wall plug, from Craigslist. It has been such a lifesaver. At 7.5 months he has finally started regularly taking nice loooooong 2 hour naps, still in the swing, and I will use it as long as he needs it! Personally I think even a month or two of easier sleep is worth the price of a swing, especially if you can find a decent one used.

    • I am also not Alexis, but I agree with Kate — get another swing. If you buy it and suddenly she no longer needs it, you can sell it on craigslist.

      Our baby also slept better swaddled, but eventually she started doing the same as yours — rolling over onto her tummy and getting stuck. So, we started swaddling her with 1 arm out, and then both arms out, and recently went to no swaddle blanket. This might end up being easier to accomplish in the swing though.

      I’ve got no advice on pacifiers though. Ours likes boob instead, and kind of self weaned off them. This (as you might imagine) has its own set of pros and cons.

      I also suggest routine routine routine when it comes to bedtime. You probably already know that, though.

      Hang in there! It’ll get better soon.

    • 1) I would call and make a huge fuss with customer support about your swings. Get a new one or a new motor from them. Don’t take no for an answer. Threaten to cry if they don’t help you. This is the only time in your life when you can play the hysterical mother card and actually GET something for it πŸ˜‰

      2) The paci is no longer your friend. I believe it’s causing you more problems than it’s solving. Unfortunately there is no graceful way to wean off the paci – it’s a binary thing. So maybe it’s time to not use it.

      3) Once you complain your way to a new swing I would stick to the swing and wean off the swaddle.

      So temporarily you would have no paci, but swaddle and swing.

      My feeling is that you’ve just gone from TONS of soothing to NO soothing (crib, no swaddle, paci falling out). So maybe there is a happy medium where she still get’s some soothing but you gradually work out of it as you’re hitting the point where the swing and swaddle, logistically, aren’t working for you anymore. So with an eye on her being in her crib within the month, you’re going to wean off those things (one arm out of swaddle, slow speed on swing, etc.) until she CAN sleep in the swing.

      Does that make sense?

      If you don’t want to cry I think that is your best strategy, otherwise I think you are close to tapping on the door to cryitoutsville….

      • Thanks to all of you for the responses! I definitely agree that it may be easier to wean off the swaddle and stop the paci use while in the swing so I will be making a big fuss to FP. For now, to solve the rolling in the swaddle issue, I have her swaddled and sleeping in a non-moving swing. She has fallen asleep for all naps and bedtime today like that without a peep. Major progress from my little motion junkie! Thanks again for your time!

  8. Alexis —

    I think it would be *incredibly* useful if you did a post on the distinction between “let fuss” and CIO. When my baby was about 9 weeks old, I used to place her in the swing awake-ish, and then WALK AWAY. She’d fuss for about 2 minutes max and then conk out for a nap for 1-3 hours. It was great.

    Then the MIL came to live with us for a month, and she accused me of doing CIO on my baby when I did this, and insisted on picking her up again the moment she let out a peep. No amount of persuasion would convince her that my daughter was just protesting, and she’d settle quickly if we just let her be. Fast forward a month and we had a baby who wouldn’t nap, and who had returned to waking up every 1-2 hours at night when she’d been going for 4-5 before. (Can you tell how irked this made me?)

    Anyway, finally the MIL left when my daughter was 14 weeks old, and the next night I put her down, and let her fuss / complain for 23 minutes. Then she fell asleep and slept for (wait for it) 10 HOURS IN A ROW. Then she nursed, and went back to sleep for another 2.5 hours. The next night there was no fussing, and she repeated the marathon sleep.

    I have to say though, that the 23 minutes of listening to her complain were pretty excruciating, and even though I knew in my head that it was ok to let her protest, in the back of my mind I kept thinking that maybe my MIL was right, and this was child abuse. I also know that the only reason it took 23 minutes was that she’d had crying reinforced by my MIL, who picked her up and let her sleep in her lap at the smallest peep for an entire month.

    I just wish someone had explained to me the difference between “let fuss” and CIO. It would have eased my mind greatly.

    In any case, thanks so much for your helpful posts. Really. SO HELPFUL. Thank you.

    • Actually I was just thinking the same thing.

      My MIL is French and doesn’t speak English. This is incredibly inconvenient most of the time but at least she can’t second guess my parenting decisions. Or if she IS, I don’t know it is happening πŸ˜‰

      Thank you for your thoughtful suggestion AND for helping out other commenters with your sage advice!

      • Ha! My MIL is Italian and doesn’t speak English (nor I Italian very well). I think it was the pacing outside the baby’s room and the hand wringing (literally!) that tipped me off to her disapproval.

        I agree that much of the time the language barrier can be quite convenient however.

        πŸ™‚

        • Doh, I meant “inconvenient.”

        • What do you do when your kids get older? Now the language issue is a HUGE problem for us! Grandma cries to my husband that her grandchildren will never know her (both true and very sad). And I can’t take advantage of free childcare because my 5 YO can’t communicate with her so even small things like making lunch become a big production.

          I bought one of those “learn French” computer programs that we’re working on. So far it’s not particularly useful unless the conversation is entirely about counting or days of the week πŸ™

          • This is a really big issue for us too. My family in the US is really small (it’s basically just me and my parents), and I would really like for my daughter to have a relationship with her Italian relatives, even if she can’t see them all the time. My husband tries to speak Italian to her, but he often doesn’t remember, and we speak English to each other, so I fear that we’re going to have the same problem you describe having with your kids when she gets a little older.

            Not sure what area of the country you live in, but a lot of major cities / surrounding suburbs have French immersion schools, where the entire curriculum (except English class, obviously) is taught in French, and students and teachers speak French to one another as their primary language while at school. A friend of mine in college went to a school like this and loved it. I unfortunately have not found an equivalent that teaches Italian.

            In any case, it might be worth looking into. I’m considering it for our daughter even though it’s the “wrong” language.

            • In VT we have no French immersion classes which is cool because we couldn’t afford private school anyway πŸ˜› I bought a cheap Rosetta stone knockoff language software at Costco which we’re going to work with this summer. If the kids take to it like gangbusters we might crack open the wallet for the $300 Rosettastone.

              If that doesn’t work I have no plan B at this time πŸ™

            • I should have specified, the one in Philly is a charter school. I.e. free!

  9. You’ve responded to an email from me once on the same issue (of me saying that I know I will “end up” at CIO in another few months b/c of how poorly my son sleeps now), and I’m trying to embrace your response – that he just needs more soothing. Well, he’s now over the 4 month mark and his sleep is still AWFUL. He HARDLY naps at daycare (anywhere from 20-40 minute naps all day [he’s there Tues. Wed. Thurs], and some days he’s awake there for hours and hours simply because they can’t get him to go to sleep. He naps a little better when he’s not at daycare [at Grandma’s house or at home on the weekends]). We have a good bedtime routine and he goes to sleep between 6-6:30 (usually b/c he’s SO tired from the lack of sleep all day). The ONLY way he will sleep is double swaddled and in his swing – and we always have on loud white noise all night. He wakes CONSTANTLY all night long. And, I don’t necessarily mean “wakes”, but he “cries” every 30-45-60 minutes ALL NIGHT LONG. Sometimes he will do a stretch of a few hours, but not every night. Sometimes my husband can put his paci in and he will go back down for a little while, but not all the time. He’s exclusively breast milk, but gets bottles mostly (b/c of a milk protein allergy he’s had trouble gaining weight [I’m off dairy completely], so I like to know how much he’s eating). I know that you say that object permanence doesn’t happen until about 6 months, but I feel like he’s now replaced “nursing to sleep” with “bottle to sleep”. When he starts crying 45 minutes after going to sleep, I now KNOW he’s not hungry as he just ate 5 ounces of breast milk less than an hour before.

    I’m seriously at a complete loss. If the rocking and feeding to sleep would actually get him to go to sleep and stay asleep for even a few hours every time, I would do that for another few months to see if things settle, but even with all the soothing I can possibly muster, he’s still not sleeping well. I’m worried for his development since he day sleeps so little and in such short spurts when he does along with his night wakings – and I’m NOT exaggerating when I say he wakes 10-20 times a night….though he usually ends up with me after about the 10th time when it’s 1-2am. And even when he’s with me, he still sleeps poorly!!! I’m going crazy and I don’t know what to do…

    Also, I do love your website and enjoy reading your articles. You’ve a talent with writing and I thoroughly appreciate your sense of humor. I’ve suggested your site to MANY of my friends. Thanks for all the time and energy you put into your articles and for responding to emails and comments.

    • I hope you don’t feel picked on, I get LOTS of emails saying that people are planning on doing CIO in a few months so it’s definitely not just you πŸ™‚

      Well you’ve possibly got two things working against you:
      1) Not napping at daycare is a real problem. If he’s exhausted from a nap-free day his night is going to be pretty miserable too.
      2) I’m wondering about other tummy issues. It’s not normal for him to cry so much at night. You mention a milk protein issue but you also mention he’s not been gaining well. These things are not generally related – kids who are off milk protein can grow big and fat just fine! So concerns about weight gain + excessive crying makes me wonder if there might be something else going on as well?

      What does your doctor think? Reflux? Other food intolerance issues? Just from what you wrote my gut says there is a complicating factor which is making sleep unusually hard for him.

      I don’t want to freak you out and I DON’T HAVE A MEDICAL DEGREE so please don’t panic. But I would definitely circle back around to the pediatrician or maybe even meet with a pediatric GI or allergist?

      • Just to add my experience:
        Our daughter had silent reflux (never knew such a thing existed). She wasn’t a major spitter, but she was up ALL THE TIME at night crying incessantly. We ended up putting her on Zantac and inclining her mattress. She went from up every hour to sleeping nicer stretches at night. She also ended up having a food allergy (eggs and dairy), so if I ate either, she’d be up crying. It’s definitely worth asking about.
        She ended up growing out of the reflux around 9 months and we’re managing the food allergy (she’s 18 months now).

      • I don’t feel picked on at all!! I know that’s why you addressed the issue – and even if it was just me, I wouldn’t feel offended in the least.

        He is on Zantac for reflux, has been for a while. I have his 4 month appt tomorrow.

        I actually just picked up the Ferber book again (as I initially read parts of it while I was on maternity leave and I think with the lack of sleep then, I didn’t retain much). Anyway, I started reading the part about night feedings. I have come to the conclusion (feel free to let me know if you disagree) that not only does he have a sleep association with breast/bottle/milk (any way he can get it), he is eating too much at night. He is soaked through his diaper almost every morning and though he wakes at 6am almost religiously, he refuses to eat at all until 9-9:30am. He should be wanting to eat first thing when he wakes up for the day, right??? Well, I couldn’t even force him to nurse or take a bottle before 9/9:30am. Ferber states that you can tackle the sleep association and the amount he’s eating at the same time or tackle the amount he’s eating FIRST, then the sleep association – and that’s the method I’m going for. However, Ferber outlines what to do if you are breastfeeding OR formula feeding, but not what to do if you are giving breast milk in a bottle (not sure if I should be extending time between feedings AS WELL AS decreasing the amount in his bottle???). I’m shooting for an initial 4 hours between feedings (his bottle/bedtime is at 6pm) – so bottle of breastmilk [4-5 oz] at 6pm, then not feeding him again until 10pm, then 2am, then 6am. Does this sound right??? I have no clue. My goal, I guess, by 5-6 months of age would be bottle, bath then bedtime at 7pm, then not eating again until 2am? Am I heading in the right direction??

        Also, when I say he cries a bunch of times, he just cries until I pick him up – and usually would stop crying immediately if I nursed him (which I got in the habit of doing about 5 weeks ago when he came down with his first cold). This is when I think he started eating more at night. Because before all of this started, he was STARTING to do better (3-4 hour stretches, with some longer ones in there), then he got sick and I nursed him ALL NIGHT – like, attached to my boob all night long….

        I don’t know, I’m lost. All I know for sure is, my son clearly wants to be an only child….. πŸ™‚

        I’m definitely going to talk to the pediatrician about it tomorrow at his 4 month appt. And would still like to hear your thoughts after I elaborated a little more after my Ferber-induced epiphany.

        THANK YOU!!!!

        • You’re probably right (re: Ferber). But the cycle you often get into (and given the milk protein/reflux thing you’ve got going on this is probably at least a contributor) is tummy hurts -> food is soothing -> food makes tummy hurts more -> seeks soothing food -> food makes tummy hurt more -> repeat.

          If THAT is happening than weaning off the food (and yes he SHOULD be STARVING for breakfast) is harder because the food is both a sleep association AND a way to soothe the discomfort. If you find that he’s fighting the not eating tooth and nail, it’s something to consider (underlying discomfort).

          Also? If he has serious reflux, keep in mind that kids are constantly outgrowing their Zantac (which is pretty mild drug to begin with) so you might find you need to constantly meddle with that to keep things working for you.

          Good luck with the Dr.!

  10. A few of you ladies have said your baby gets “stuck” on their tummy. As soon as my son could roll over, he started rolling onto his tummy to sleep and he has slept MUCH better because of that. If your baby is old enough and strong enough to get on the tummy, they may feel more comfortable that way. Why not let them stay on their tummy? Just a thought. But I’m no expert πŸ™‚

    • Most babies sleep like GANGBUSTERS on their tummies. But I think what these ladies are saying is that their baby flips on to their tummies and then FREAK OUT. So they’re flipping their babies back over, not due to some SIDS concerns or anything, but because they have a freaked out baby lying on their tummy and screaming about it.

      Most kids get over the “how did I get this way?!?!” freakout pretty quickly so hopefully this is just a 2 week bump in the road for them πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Alexis – We’ve corresponded about my now 4 month old’s sleeping issues πŸ™‚ I appreciate your advice so much! He’s back in his swing and is doing one 3-4 hr chunk early in the evening (8-12amish)and then he’s up every two hours. One key difference between him and some of the other cases I read here as that he’s a great napper (in his swing anyway) 3 solid naps a day and often one more short once in the early evening before his last feeding.

    On your advice we’re trying to soothe him more when he wakes at night and I’ve been feeding him when he seems hungry (which is ALWAYS).

    I talked to you before about my older daughter and how she was a rock-star sleeper – 8 weeks old STTN and pretty much never looked back. My issue with my son is that he has never demonstrated to me on his own that he can STTN. So my question is – do you think if all this extra soothing helps a baby STTN – that once you get them in the crib, trying to STTN on their own, it will be easier? Sort of like – the baby now knows what it’s like to STTN and will want to get back there?

    Does that makes sense?

    Also – I’d love to see a post on the Paci – I think we’re going to have to end our friendship with it soon! It’s such an easy way to get them to sleep and then so quickly becomes a curse. Hard to know when to stop.

    Thanks again – as always, this website is the BEST.

    • I’m not quite sure if I follow your STTN question really. But maybe this will help- once you have conquered the mountain of STTN then you are done night feeding. (Unless baby is hugely sick or needs you briefly for an unusual reason).

      It sounds like your little guy is eating a lot at night. 3-4X a night right? That’s a bit on the high side for 4 months (1-2 would be more of a target). My guess is that the fact that he’s a champion napper (which is great) is actually hindering his ability to consume all his calories during the day and he’s happily making up the difference at night.

      You don’t say how long his naps are but you might want to (JUST SLIGHTLY) dial back their length to see if you can’t coax some more feeding sessions in during the day. Basically you want him eating CONSTANTLY during the day so that he ISN’T eating quite so much at night. A good target night for 4 months would be sleeping 7-12. Nurse at midnight, nurse at ~3am then sleep till 6:30 am.

      Maybe you shorten naps just 15 minutes or so? Maybe you dial down the swing motion? Maybe you keep napping the same but just have him spend more time on the breast during the day?

      You might also try shortening his night feeds (maybe popping him off 1-2 minutes earlier than norm) to gently coax him to be hungrier during the day.

      General rule with paci is that it’s your best friend under 3 months and then it gradually becomes a huge frenemy. Definitely will put together a post but yeah – you’re probably sliding into the frenemy phase of pacidom….

      • Hi Alexis

        When you do the paci post could you talk about pros and cons of paci vs thumb sucking, and how to wean each? My parents are so worried that my son will suck his thumb til 3 cuz that’s how he self soothes. My parents are encouraging me to introduce the paci to my 5.5 mo old – “you can throw away the paci but you can’t cut off his thumb.”. What to do?!

        Thanks so much!!

        • Why shouldn’t he suck his thumb till 3?
          There are potential problems with teeth (and bullying) if he keeps on sucking it into school age (although it never did me any harm), but loads of toddlers suck their thumbs.

        • I would stick with the thumb. The big deal at almost 6 is that it’s not great for your teeth but the paci causes a whole bunch of additional problems like: object permanence/sleep issues, chapped lips, the need to constantly have a clean paci around, etc.

          Your 5 year old needs to self soothe and I think you’ll find that pretty quickly, he’ll pick up on the social cues that it’s not OK to suck your thumb (he may still do it at home but after a few comments from his peers I bet he’ll stop doing it at the park or school pretty quickly). Some kids rub their hair, or they still use a lovey, but most kids this age have a way to soothe themselves that involves a physical pattern of behavior.

          So I’m not really overly concerned about the thumb sucking.

        • I agree with Carrie — thumb sucking is your friend! It’s a great and easy way for them to self soothe, and unlike the pacifier you don’t have to worry about him losing his thumb in the middle of the night and calling for you to come find it so that he can go back to sleep.

          Disclosure: I sucked my own thumb until age 7 (in private — not at school), and while I did need braces eventually, with my family’s genes that was pretty much inevitable anyway.

          Anyway, I say let him suck his thumb to his heart’s content.

  12. I know, sorry for being unclear – sleep deprived!

    Everyone’s end goal – I would think – is to have your baby sleeping through the night, in the crib, right? So what I want to be sure to understand is that the purpose of all the extra soothing, the swing, white noise etc, is to get your baby to sleep through the night. And that once your baby is doing that in the swing, then it’s time to transition them to the crib, right? And your point is very helpful – so once the baby STTN, I’m done with night-feeding, and I know the baby can make it on his own, so if he starts waking up again, he’s most likely not hungry. Right?

    As for the napping – his first nap is usually 1.5 hours the second one is 1-1.5 hours and the third one is about an hour. And then he often does this little half nap at the end of the day for 30-45 min. I’ve tried getting him “down for the night” at that hour (usually around 6:30/7:00 but he almost always wakes up and he’ll have a really long feeding then.

    I’m hopeful we’ll have some progress in the next few days, he’s been sick recently and we’ve been traveling a lot so I think that might have set us back a bit. Thanks for the advice on shortening naps/feeds – I will give it a try!

    • So he’s napping like a CHAMPION because those are CHAMPION naps! Yes your goal is to gradually wean off the soothing (swinging primarily, I would stick with white noise till he’s 1). If you dial down the speed on the swing and he continues to sleep like a champion – GREAT! If not, then he’s not ready. Wait a week, try again. Eventually you’ll have a baby sleeping in a non-moving swing. Generally the transition to the crib at that point is pretty easy peasy.

      The purpose of the soothing is to give him the soothing he needs as a little baby. He needs it and sometimes holding and rocking manually is exhausting so swing, swaddle, etc. give you a break while still meeting his needs. As he grows older he needs it less and less so you can gradually remove it. This may or may not be related to sleeping through the night. Lots of babies are done with the swing but still feeding 1-2X a night. Why? Because they no longer need the motion but they still need to eat.

      I may be overly complicating matters here but technically soothing and STTN are related but separate issues.

      Anyhoo I think you get the idea of gradually weaning and it sounds like things are off to a great start with the champion naps!

  13. Thanks Alexis! A couple of other random questions for maybe future posts (I don’t expect a response, I know you must be so busy!). Any thoughts on feeding routines during the day affecting sleep at night? The baby whisperer book talks about 3 hr vs. 4 hr feeding routines. Also – any thoughts about baby’s outgrowing the swing before they are done needing it? I just started to notice my son kind of try and flip/rollover in it. Think he might be dunzo.

    • Feeding during the day is generally the way OUT of feeding at night. So there are warring priorities going on – you don’t want to be constantly feeding your baby during the day (especially if you are nursing because frankly it’s exhausting). However the more calories consumed during the day, the less will be needed at night. So spacing out feedings during the day generally lowers the calories in during the day. (PS. I don’t actually have the Baby Whisperer book – should I get it?)

      The big food thing that generally trips up night sleep is solids which are filling but low calorie. So people feed their baby a big bowl of pears right before bed thinking they are stuffing them full of food so they’ll sleep when – uh oh – baby wakes up hungry 2 hours later. It’s like eating Chinese food πŸ˜‰

      The swing weight limit is 25-30 lbs depending on the brand so technically most babies can stay there at least till their 1st birthday. If you have a strong active baby he may need to come out although most babies are pretty IN once they’re strapped in. Still if he’s pulling acrobatic stunts then maybe he DOES need to come out. The good news is that if he manages to flip himself over in the crib – most babies DO sleep better on their stomach. So it may be that he manages just fine now that he’s mastered the fine art of flipping.

      • Thanks Alexis! should you read the book? eh, I don’t know. I like it but it conflIcts with some other things ive read (much like does…why I like your website so much!)

        • Most baby sleep books are pretty “meh” which is why I’ve largely stopped buying new ones (I have a pretty significant library already). Although I DID just get the new Dr. Karp sleep book which I mean to review here. Eventually. And by eventually I mean “when I can get some reliable summer childcare.”

          *sigh* πŸ™‚

  14. Ok so I’m not looking into CIO but this was the last post I was reading in effort to find solutions to my problem.

    My daughter is 3.5 months old and STTN like a champ! No complaints there at all. She’s asleep no later than 8 but typically asleep somewhere between 7-7:30 and doesn’t wake up until 6:30/7 am. I can’t really take credit for it as she has always loved to sleep.

    The kicker here is napping. She was doing just fine until about 2.5 months of age. She would stay awake for about an hour and sleep for 1.5 hour naps 3 times/day like clock work with a shorter nap at the end of the day. She had slowly extended her awake time to 1.5 hours and would nap the remaining 1.5 hours between feedings. Then out of the blue she would only nap for 30 minutes, which I know you say can be considered a nap, but those 30 minute naps were (and are) leaving her grumpy the rest of the day. I even know she needs the sleep because I have occasionally given in and let her nap on me, to which I will get a lovely 1.5 to 2 hour nap out of her (and for myself!).

    Because she’s extended her feeding schedule to a flexible 3-4 hour routine, I’ve started trying putting her down for 2 – 30 minute naps between feedings (total of 6 of them/day). I’m just not sure that’s the best and many times it doesn’t work out well because the timing doesn’t work with when she gets hungry and/or sleepy.

    I’ve also read your posts on “How to Get Baby to Sleep Better”. And I’ve tried the swing. Many, many times. And for an unknown reason to me, she still wakes up 30 minutes into her nap.

    I do have a nap routine of placing her in her sleeper blanket (swaddling no longer works as no matter how tight it is [we even went up a size on the SwaddleMe] she would scream like a banshee until she broke it to which she would then contentedly settle), read or sing to her, rock her for a bit, and place her down settled. She falls asleep just fine. She just won’t stay asleep.

    Is this something I’m just going to have to live with for the time being and will eventually resolve itself? I can’t complain because she sleeps well at night, but this no napping is just as wearing as sleepless nights when it brings on a fussy baby for the rest of the day.

    • Well it could be the result of a 4 month sleep regression. Because it’s pretty unusual to have an almost 4 month old champion sleeper start taking 30 minute naps unless something is going on. And at her age, the 4 month sleep regression is my best bet about what that “something” might be.

      You mentioned the swing=30 minute naps too. What happens if you leave her in there for a few minutes after she wakes up? 5-10 minutes even? Are you also using loud white noise and block out blinds?

      One big transition as newborns become babies (your baby is a “baby” now) is that they’re really sensitive to distraction so having the swing in the living room doesn’t work well anymore. So dark rooms with loud white noise are key. Even if it IS the dreaded sleep regression, these should help.

      If you’re doing ALL these things AND not keeping her awake too long then I would suggest you’re doing everything you can. If you want to cuddle/co-sleep with her here and there to get a nap you are welcome to do so. But at 4 months of age you might want to keep that as an “occasional” thing just so it doesn’t become a “I’ll only sleep on Mom” thing.

      And if it IS the sleep regression, hopefully by now, things are getting better organically?

      • Alexis, Thank you so much! We actually had started her out with white noise from day 1 at home and we’ve always had black out curtains so both of those have been covered. And unfortunately, yes, even if I left her in the swing it didn’t change. However, your response made me feel really good about my “mom skills” since as a new mom (and I’ve been told it doesn’t go away) there can be that lingering “did I make the best choice?” always at the back of my mind.

        I’m unsure if her sleep problems were due to a sleep regression or not (though it could be likely it was resolving itself as I began to do what I’m about to mention) but after much debating with myself, her napping did start to get better after I started putting her down for naps on her tummy. After she started propping herself up on her elbows I decided to give it a whirl and figured it couldn’t be too bad considering I’m awake and have a monitor. I’m now happily getting 2 great naps – about 1h 15m in the AM and 1h 45m to 2h in the pm – and 2 – 30 to 45m naps a day! This all just started in the last couple days but it’s seeming to become the norm and this week has been free of fussy due to bad napping!

        Thank you so much!

  15. I have 2 questions about CIO concerning my almost 4-month-old.

    At 3 months, he began sleeping through the night (8/8:30 p.m.-6/6:30 a.m.) Every other night for the last week though, he’s up between 3:30 a.m. and 5. Once I was able to get him back to sleep with gripe water, but the other three times I had to give him 2 ounces. What should we do? I read somewhere on here that once you’re done with night feedings, you’re done. Should we begin CIO? He is swaddled, and I’m not sure if he’s waking because he’s out of the swaddle or if he’s waking first and squirming out.

    We have also started working on putting him down drowsy but awake, mainly because he really fights being rocked when he’s tired. He does this fine at nap time with swaddle and pacifier in Rock and Play Sleeper and sometimes in crib. At night he’s in the crib with no pacifier and it takes a little fussing. He had been doing well with just a little grumbling, and if it got too loud I would go back in. Instead of the amount of fussing getting shorter, it’s getting longer, up to 45 minutes to an hour the last 2 nights. This has coincided with a refill in his Prevacid which seems to have worsened his reflux. I’ll be looking into that, but again, do we fight him to rock/bounce him to sleep or let him cry?

    Sorry for the novel, and thanks so much!

    • Well….um…well. There is a lot of stuff going on there.

      You snuck the Reflux/Prevacid part at the end but I’m going to start there. I have a hard time believing that the Prevacid is making his reflux worse. Unless you’re suggesting that the pharmacy made a mistake in the compound (which is almost unheard of!). So my first question is – what is going on with his tummy and why do you think his medication is making him worse?

      It is entirely possible that as he’s getting older he’s outgrowing his dose. Prevacid is also sensitive to WHEN you give it to them. The ideal situation is to give baby Prevacid on an empty tummy ~30 minutes prior to a meal.

      But it’s really challenging to figure out sleep stuff if you’ve got unhappy tummy issues complicating things. So I would definitely start with sorting out the tummy stuff – to the best of your ability (I know it’s hard!) first!

      Then it seems there are 2 separate issues: night feeding and soothing at bedtime.

      For starters BOTH could be explained by the dreaded 4 month sleep regression:
      http://www.troublesometots.com/the-thing-about-sleep-regressions/

      Secondly, gripe water doesn’t help. Doesn’t hurt but doesn’t help (numerous studies will back me up on this).

      At 4 months it’s not entirely unreasonable to want to eat at night. I hear what you are saying – it feels UNreasonable because he used to do it. But it’s also entirely possible that he’s going throw a growth spurt (see link above) and is a little extra hungry. Personally I would rather feed a potentially hungry baby then let a potentially hungry baby cry, yes?

      If it IS a growth spurt, you could always feed him NOW and gently wean him off the night feedings in a week or two a la:
      http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-3/

      The fussing at bedtime could also be related to the growth spurt. So I’m not super inclined to lean towards CIO. Also he’s young and reflux babies don’t tend to do super great with crying (it irritates the reflux which can make things worse). SO I would temporarily give him a bit more soothing at bedtime, for up to 2 weeks, and then work back towards putting him down awake.

      I know it’s frustrating and feels like a step backwards. And it IS a step backwords. But sadly that is how babies are. Nobody said things would get progressively easier in a stepwise progression – it’s more like a tap dance πŸ˜›

      • Thanks so much for your reply. As for the Prevacid, it always seems to make his cough return when we start a new dose. The changes in sleep happened at the same time, so I was suspicious. We go in for his 4-month check next week, so I’ll definitely be checking on his dosage. I’ve been hoping its the sleep regression, if it even makes sense to hope for that.

        I don’t think gripe water helps either, but it does calm him down and encourage the pacifier, simply because he’s getting something in his mouth. If he’s really hungry it of course doesn’t satisfy him. I purchased the swaddling Sleep Sack yesterday, since we’ll transition from swaddle to sack. He got his arms out last night but continued sleeping, and it stayed fastened unlike the Miracle Blanket.

        We will increase the soothing from now through vacation starting next weekend, as needed. Our challenge is that he sometimes appears not to want the soothing. He sometimes cries if we hold him and cries when we put him down! I hope that we’re at least moving in the right direction with soothing in the crib. Our next hurdles will be losing the swaddle and getting into the crib for naps. Thanks again!

        • Whitney, when I saw your baby has reflux and is on Prevacid, I continued to read the comment because mine does too and is also on Prevacid. However, I’ve been wondering this and I guess now I’m going to get an answer considering I’m asking, but Prevacid can come in liquid form?

          My daughter is given half of a dissolvable tablet once a day. I was told the dosage will never need to be adjusted and eventually we’ll be able to take her off of it. I knew we would eventually work her off of it, though I know it’s not anywhere in the too near future. What I’m curious about is a dosage change considering I was told we would never have to.

          Alexis – I have a question for you here: you mentioned giving the medicine 30 minutes before a meal. However, because I have to give my daughter he dose in expressed milk, she’s immediately ready for “breakfast” after I’ve given it to her. The medicine seems to work but I have often wished I could give it to her a bit before to allow it time to settle and work its way into her system. I’ve also thought giving it early will prevent the times it seems she spits up almost the entire dose, at which point I’m frustrated because there is no way to give her more – I have no clue how much she absorbed and how much came up. How greatly does it affect the effects of the medicine by me not giving it to her 30 minutes prior?

          • My son is on a liquid form. I think they take the adult version and do a mix with sodium bicarbonate. The challenge is that not all pharmacists will do it. We have just a few in a 30 mile radius that will. I’ve also heard it’s not as effective after 2 weeks of mixing. My pediatrician wasn’t familiar with this, so I’m just trying to see how he does for several months before I ask her to write a 2-week prescription. I’ve read this on reflux boards from moms who have been to a g.i.

            As far as dosage and weight, I’m not sure. My pediatrician did check his weight once when I had my daughter in, saying she wanted to make sure his dose was correct. I do know that a friend’s son was put on a very high dose initially as a baby to get past his massive discomfort, then the dose was lowered. Again from reflux boards I’ve seen different dosages, but I plan to check with my pediatrician at our 4-month appointment this week. I know from our experience with our daughter that Zantac is very weight-sensitive as hers was adjusted often until she came off at 6 months. I’m hoping our little buddy can be off at 6 months too. Also, I was never told about giving it 30 minutes before a feeding. We do that at night now since I read it online, but it’s tough to do in the morning. Good luck to you!

            • Gotcha! Thanks for the info. I guess the reason we have to 1/2 the adult dissolvable tablet and put it in expressed milk is because our pediatrician isn’t comfortable with Rxing the compound and/or has found better results with this form of the medicine. I’m so used to how we give the medicine now I don’t think I would change it.

              I hope everything goes well at the 4 month appointment and you’re given some solid answers! And yes, I would hope he’s able to come off the medicine at 6 months as well. That’s what I’m hoping for my daughter, too.

            • I’ve never heard of a liquid form but I’m guessing that if you have a good compounding pharmacy they can mix it up for you.

              Zantac DEFINITELY fades over time so we used to get 14 day prescriptions to counter balance that. I have never heard of that happening to Prevacid but then I’ve never heard of liquid Prevacid before ;P

          • The solutabs (Prevacid) are pretty standard. They taste like cherries to babies/kids like them. But apparently the way they’re made involves these little balls of medicine that need time to dissolve in your tummy prior to the introduction of food to maximize absorption in your body.

            BTW – I have NO scientific evidence of this but this phenomenon seems to be well backed up by experience on the Reflux message boards. I’ve found that when you find 1,000 parents of serious reflux kids (GERD) saying the same thing, there is generally a good experiential basis for it.

            Most of you are probably giving your babies .5-1 tablet of 15 mg Prevacid 1X a day. Because it’s flavored like cherries you could do it in expressed milk or water. Usually a tiny bit of water will work – put it in a syringe and squirt it into the back corner of their mouth. IF you buy into the “30 minute prior” thing (and I do!) then you would just have to mix up the timing so that she’s not starving and can wait a few minutes after she gets it. And yes – this does reduce the risk that she just spits it all back up at you.

            How much does it impact you? Hard to say. The GERD Moms on message boards would probably say, “a lot.”

            However I’m a bit concerned by the idea that your daughter will never need MORE. My 3 YO is currently taking a 30 mg tablet 1X a day. This is actually a low dose for his age/size (45 mg would probably be more reasonable but he seems to be doing OK).

            MOST KIDS need a tiny bit of medicine for 6-9 months and then everything gets better. But plenty of kids will outgrow their dose and need increasing levels of meds. So the idea that the dosage will never need to be adjusted is just simply not true!

            • Alexis – Thank you! I’m going to try it because since I’ve commented, I’ve had two horrible days after she spit up, what appeared to be, a majority of her medicine. I had never heard the 30 minute thing and all my internet research never led me to any GERD boards. Not sure why, but it sounds like its definitely worth a try πŸ™‚

              As far as never increasing the dose, it was the nurse who told me that. I’m going to talk with my daughter’s Pediatrician at her 4 month next week. My guess is either 1) the nurse is wrong or 2) they’re going to try getting her off before they would need to increase. I’m really not sure but I did find that quite strange the nurse would tell me it wouldn’t ever need to be increased. The info you gave me confirmed my suspicions. Thanks for your help!

            • Following up with my above comment, the increased soothing is not working. We are having to put him down at night completely to sleep, but he fights us the entire way, crying and squirming as we hold him. This behavior has also started at nap time as well. Where as before I could spend a minute or two getting him drowsy and then put him in the Rock and Play, I’m now fighting him and having to get him completely asleep. Awake time is still about 1 hr 15 minutes, and we’ve been moving the bedtime up, and nothing is working. Do you have any advice for what to do when they seem to despise the rocking/holding? Can I let him cry a little while swaddled? We are kind of at a loss, and nap time and bed time are no longer joyous occasions.

        • When nothing is working…

          Yes I would test him out a la fuss it out. See what happens? Give him up to 20 minutes just to see. It’s not CIO. It’s a test.

          It sounds pretty refluxy to me. I don’t think of it as “he is fighting you all the way down.” I think there is something that is preventing him from being able to settle. It sounds like he’s not overtired. You’re giving him lots of soothing so it’s not a LACK of soothing. Which leaves – he’s not comfortable.

          So my best guess is that it’s his tummy. Or gas (reflux kids are REALLY sensitive about gas). The only advice I can give you is to continue to separate food from bedtime (gives digestion time to work) and continue to work with meds and lifestyle stuff.

          http://www.troublesometots.com/what-to-do-about-infant-reflux/

          Good luck πŸ™

  16. Could this be the start of the 4mth sleep regression? My lo is now 15 weeks and two weeks ago he started sleepin through the night from about 8pm to 5 or 6 am with no feeds. But the last week he’s started waking up for a feed anywhere from 2 to 4 am and then going back to sleep until about 5 or 6 am? Last night he slept right through from 7:30pm to 6am which threw us a bit because we were expecting him to wake up. If it is the sleep regression would this nightly waking last longer and wouldn’t he wake more frequently, like every hour or so?

    I’m also wanting to start teaching him to self settle because I am returning to work in 6 weeks and he’ll be going to nursery then. At the moment he has to be rocked to sleep standing upright ( he hates being cuddled sat down for some reason) but this can take up to an hour as he gets very worked up. Eventually he’ll drift off but as soon as we put him down in his crib he’ll wake up and we have to repeat the process, sometimes waiting until he’s in a deep sleep to put him down. I know the nursery won’t give him this amount of attention so if I thought if he could self sooth it would make it easier on him and them.

    His daytime naps ar pretty much the same. I wait for the first yawn and then start the wind down routine but then he starts throwing himself around in my arms, turning his head into my body and getting worked up again and I have to walk around rocking him. He usually has 3 naps of 50 minutes during the day. He wakes up after the first sleep cycle and doesn’t resettle.

    Have you got any tips for teaching him to self sooth?

    • Debbie,
      The 4 month sleep regression is generally more severe than 1 feeding a night so I’m guessing that he’s young enough that sometimes he eats enough during the day and STTN and sometimes he needs a little extra food. 1X feeding at 4 months is pretty standard so while I get that you aren’t keen to do it, I would probably just roll with the occasional night feeding (of it’s only once) here and there.

      Self settling is another matter entirely. I hear you saying that he LOVES motion. But bouncing him around for an hour every time he sleeps is a bit of a drag and you’re right, daycare won’t have the manpower to do that.

      What about a swing? I’m a huge fan and you’re telling me he’s a motion junkie. If he’s sleeping like a champ in his crib at night – GREAT! Putting him in the swing for naps won’t change that. That would automate the motion he loves AND give you a gentle way to work on his self-soothing skills. Also? Most daycares will let him nap in a swing (you may need to buy one for them) so it gives you a little wiggle room on getting the self soothing down prior to returning to work.

      Check out the post below. What do you think?

  17. Hi Alexis, thanks so much for this blog! I’ve read and reread your articles several times. I was secretly using the swing for naps even before I found you and I was SO glad to find out that that’s ok!

    I’m going to try to nail down my questions so I don’t ramble on…My son is 3.5 months and naps pretty well in the swing. 2-3 hours in the morning and then 2 one hour naps in the afternoon. He sleeps in his pack and play in our room and nurses 3-4 times at night(usually 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00, up for the day at 7:00, though sometimes he throws in an extra 10:00 feeding just for funsies). We use white noise for naps and night time.

    Question #1: We are working on putting him down awake. How long is ok to let him “fuss” before it turns into CIO? At bedtime he may cry/yell for 15 minutes, and I think that’s ok because he goes to sleep then. But at nap times, I’ve always given in and rocked him when he gets to 15 mins because he shows NO SIGN of letting go and falling asleep. So, should I let him cry longer at naps? Or go back to rocking to sleep fully and try again later?

    Question #2: He’s slept in his pack and play from day one mostly because I didn’t know any better at first, and he seemed to be doing ok in it. Or so I thought. It seems, however, that nursing 3-4 times a night at nearly 4 months old is too much (and I agree, Mama is TIRED). So, should I put him in the swing for now and then work back to the crib later when he can sleep through the night? Or leave him in the crib and just try to get him to eat more during the day? And how the heck do I do that?

    Thanks!!

    • Hey Anne,
      Your photo shoot pictures (link above) are GORGEOUS! I hope you get them all framed and hang them in every room in your house πŸ™‚

      Hmmm….I’m not 100% sure I know what you should do but here’s my thinking…

      – 15 minutes at bedtime is fine. Some kids are just like that, they need to let off a little steam before they go to sleep.

      – At naptime, how often are you going in at 15 minutes of crying? Is he GENERALLY falling asleep within 15 minutes and then you go get him? Or are you ALWAYS going in after 15 minutes of fussing?

      – You say you are rocking him to sleep. Why not use the swing to rock him to sleep? Or is he crying IN the swing unless you put him in there fully asleep?

      – He’s a champion napper but yes – 4X a night is a bit much at almost 4 months. There is a chance it’s just where he’s at (you’re also heading right into the 4 month growth spurt so things may change dramatically when that happens). If so, there isn’t much you can do. HOWEVER there are 2 other possibilities….

      1) He’s eating so much at night because he’s not eating enough during the day. 4-5 hours of day sleep is AWESOME. But it’s not leaving you as much time for food.
      2) He needs more soothing. Pack and play + white noise is not a ton of soothing. Swaddle, swing, white noise is. (Or even swing+white noise, although I do love the swaddle πŸ˜‰

      You could test either of these theories by:
      a) Temporarily shortening his naps a bit (at least the AM nap) to offer him more feeding opportunities during the day.
      -OR-
      b) Using the swing for night sleep as well.

      I would do one THEN the other and see how he responds to either. Although again, with the 4 month sleep regression right around the corner, that might mess up your mini-science experiment.

      Hope that helps!
      Alexis

  18. Hello. I posted a reply to your reply above and am thinking it got lost in the shuffle. Because I’m a bit desperate, I don’t mind looking desperate and posting again. My question was what do you do at 4.5 months when lots of extra soothing at bedtime isn’t working? When we put him down awake, and sometimes asleep, he rolls around for a bit and then fusses. Where do you draw the line between fussing a bit and then sleeping and CIO? I doubt I’ve ever left him 10 minutes crying. Since I wrote, bedtimes and naps have gotten some easier, but in general, it’s taking about 45 minutes to get him in his bed asleep each night. He still fights rocking and prefers to be bounced, which makes me sweaty and tired. Also since I wrote, he’s cut a tooth and probably is working on the second, and we’ve stopped swaddling at night because he was breaking out and still STTN. I’m sure this either started with a regression/wonder week phase or teething, and those things have either continued or just developed into bad habits. Are we just stuck until we reach 6 months and can CIO? Thanks so much.

    • There is no law that says you HAVE to wait till 6 months. If bedtime is an arduous nightmare then I would test him with a bit more crying (more than 10 anyway). Really the line between CIO and fuss it out is in commitment. With CIO you are COMMITTED – if it takes 1.5 hours then it takes 1.5 hours but you’re going to DO THIS.

      With fuss it out you’re dipping your toe in. What happens in 10 minutes? 15? 20? It’s a Shades of Grey thing (only without the Mommy porn part ;). Some of fuss it out is listening – is he just complaining? Amping up? Does he cry, pause, cry, pause? Push longer than 10 minutes and listen to your gut.

      PS. Your problem isn’t teething. The teeth may not help matters, but that’s not the root cause πŸ™

      • Thank you so much for your replies! Where we’re you in 2009 when I was pulling my hair out over my daughter’s short naps. Bed time is less crying lately, but still taking him awhile to get fully asleep. I feel like he’s going to be one that has to do it on his own. I too have been wondering about some type of feeding issue, so I’m going to talk with my ped about gas, etc.

        One last question: he uses a pacifier for naps while we rock him in the Rock and Play. At night we use it while we’re getting him to sleep but take it out before we put him down. Should we stop? I know whenever I put him down awake he won’t be going into the bed with it. Is it confusing to use it at nap but not at bed?

        • If it IS gas, sadly, there is no fix. Gas drops don’t work (there is a bit of placebo effect) so all you can do is burp, burp, and burp some more.

          Pacifiers are great but as he get’s older it will start tripping up your naps. So for THAT reason you may want to wean off. I’m not worried about confusion.

          There are however some babies who happily use pacifiers and still take long naps even after the paci falls out. If your baby is one of these rare gems then great! But for most babies they start waking up without the paci and then freak out about it, resulting in 20 minute naps which is frustrating for all. So paci+newborn=AWESOME. Paci+older baby=sleep mess πŸ™

  19. I’m like the many parents on here whose children take short cat naps during the day and sleep longer at night…but getting him to nap is like Hell on Earth. He’s 3.5 months old, and we’ve tried shortening how long he’s awake, an abbreviated version of the bedtime routine before naps, Play Eat Sleep instead of Eat Play Sleep, and nothing works. We need to wear him and coax him into a restless nap that lasts for 30 minutes max and he always wakes up screaming. We’re trying to be consistent about what time he wakes up every morning, but he seems to figure out when that is and start waking up 15 minutes before after five or six days of the newly-appointed wake-up time. He’s fine when we hold him but screams bloody murder when I put him down in his dark room with white noise. I can’t swaddle him anymore because he’s officially rolling over. Suggestions?

    • My suggestion is to throw away Babywise. Hate hate hate this book and it isn’t doing you any favors.

      I also wouldn’t worry about his wake up time. At 3.5 months let him sleep if he’s sleeping and adjust the day based on when he wakes. It sounds like he needs LOTS of soothing so I would go with that. I would also recommend a swing which has many soothing advantages. One of which is that he’s strapped in and thus CAN’T roll over so swing babies can use swaddles longer.

      I can tell you’re trying to work on “put down awake” which is awesome. But at the same time it sounds like his naps are a mess so I might work FIRST on better naps and THEN on “put down awake.” Loud white noise, dark room, swaddle, swing.

      Although you are correct – no swaddle in the crib.

      Also it’s TOTALLY OK for him to nap in the swing but sleep in the crib at night. This will not confuse anything. And better day sleep leads to better day sleep so it could be that if you use the swing to establish longer more restorative nap that in a few weeks he’ll be ready to transition to the crib for naps.

      But seriously, ditch Babywise πŸ˜›

      • Oh gosh, now I feel like a total idiot – that’s BABYWISE? I don’t have the book, I just had a few friends recommend that routine to me, so I figured I’d give it a try…

        Thanks for the response!

        Yesterday I was just so tired of him fighting the swing (still…*cries*) that I fed him one more time to calm him down and put him in the crib. He rolled onto his tummy and fell asleep for 1.5 hours! Hooray! The only problem is he did that last night, too, and when he wakes up on his tummy he freaks out, so he screams and we have to go in there and roll him over. So he napped fine by himself in his crib yesterday for longer stretches than he’s had in a month, but at the expense of a full night of sleep. Please tell me this gets easier?

  20. Hi! I just found your blog and I’m REALLY glad you’re addressing CIO. A lot of people do think negatively of this method, but after using CIO with my LO and watching my baby who woke up every 45 min to an hour, FINALLY sleep 12-13 hours straight at night, I became a proponent of it, AS LONG as it is used during the correct developmental windows. I was just wondering if you’ve read the book, “Bedtiming” by Marc Lewis PhD, Isabela Granic PhD.? This book was SUPER instrumental in helping me understand why so many parents FAIL when it comes to sleep training. There are certain developmental months that are IDEAL for sleep training and others that are simply disastrous. Because you seem like such a key leader in helping people with this important sleep training method, I just wanted to share this resource with you. I hope you continue to help many frustrated parents out there! I know I was one of them…until we sleep trained. And now we are experiencing a quality of life I thought would NEVER happen again! πŸ™‚ Parents out there, don’t be afraid to try CIO…BUT PLEASE target the right developmental windows for your child if you’re going to. We did and it was the BEST thing we could have done for our baby. I highly encourage reading the book, “Bedtiming” by by Marc Lewis PhD, Isabela Granic PhD! Good luck!

    • I’ve looked at it on Amazon but haven’t bought it. Frankly there are 4 sleep books sitting on my desk unread right now so I’m disinclined to buy anymore (plus I’m tired of reading sleep books as I have a ton and they’re all kind of boring).

      Maybe you could help me cheat – so what are the developmental months that are ideal for sleep training and which are disastrous?

      • Haha…I know what you mean about having too many sleep books to read. The great thing about the book, “Bedtiming” is it comes with an excellent and colorful cheat sheet in the back for quick, at-a-glance reference so you don’t HAVE TO read the book unless you wanted a little more information. πŸ™‚ The cheat sheet even comes with extra valuable information for each section that talks about: “Why not now?” “Why now?” “What you can do instead” and “What you should know.” I think the author knew that lots of moms wouldn’t have a lot of time for reading and would appreciate that cheat sheet! I know I did!

        But, I’d be HAPPY to jot down the basic months for you:

        0-2 1/2 months–BAD time: There is too much going on in your baby’s body and must learn to stabilize its own cycle.

        2 1/2-4 months–GOOD time: This is a period of relative stability and resilience. First window to try sleep training, although many parents feel that baby is too young.

        4-5 1/2 months–BAD time

        5 1/2-7 1/2 months–IDEAL time

        8-11 months–WORST time

        12-16 months–GOOD time and the last chance for an efficient and satisfactory sleep training experience.

        17-21 months–BAD time

        22-27 months–GOOD time

        28 months-3 years–BAD time

        3 to 3 1/2 years–Last window of opportunity to initiate or repair sleeping habits with ease.

        3 1/2-4 years–BAD time

  21. Hi Alexis,

    I have a 3.5 month old with pretty bad acid reflux. He is on zantac twice a day. He was born one week early at 10lbs and the first month of his life he was a great night sleeper–sleeping 4-5 hours at a time. At around 4-5 weeks he began fighting us when we tried to put him in his crib and he would be up every 45 minutes to an hour, never going into a deep sleep. Finally we bought the Fisher Price swing and it worked! Now we swaddle his arms, keep him in the moving swing, give him a paci and keep the white noise in the background.

    Right now his sleeping always starts at a roughly 7pm bedtime and on a good night he can sleep until 4am, wake up, eat, and go back to sleep for another 1.5-2.5 hours. He takes around 3 45 minute-1 hour naps during the day. On a rough night he wakes up 3-4 times a night, not to feed necessarily.

    The good news: There are times we have put him to sleep awake in his crib for naps and he has slept for 45 minutes or so. There are times we have put him to sleep awake in his swing without a paci and haven’t turned the swing on and he has fallen asleep. This makes me hopeful about a swing transition. However…

    The bad news:On a night like tonight he has woken up maybe 4 times since putting him to bed at 7pm. What I have started to do, is instead of take him out of the swing, I put his pacifier back in and he falls asleep immediately (if he doesn’t I take him out and feed him). Tonight he woke up every few hours and I gave him his pacifier and he fell right back asleep each time in the moving swing until about 3:45am when I finally picked him up and fed him, put him back to sleep and he is sleeping now in the moving swing with the paci. This worries me because I feel like if we try to make a crib transition now if he wakes up a lot he won’t be able to fall back asleep on his own without a pacifier and movement and we will be back to square one. I also have a suspicion the constant night wakings have a lot to do with the reflux when the zantac starts to wear off at the end of his prescription. Usually the week before the prescription is due to be refilled (it’s a liquid compound) he gets very fussy and cries all day.

    Anyway, my husband and I are clearly very reluctant to try to make the crib transition. I know it will involve some CIO which I’m not opposed to but I don’t know if now is the right time for that as I feel it’s still important to soothe him.

    Based on what I’ve told you, do you think my intuition is right to keep him in the swing until I’ve established a better sleeping pattern with him and less night wakings occur or do you think his night wakings will continue to occur unless we bite the bullet, change to crib and CIO? Do you think we can hold out until 4-5 months to try a crib transition? (he is 3.5 months, 17 lbs and 25.5″)

    Thanks so much! Love your blog and tell everyone about it…

    • Hey Lena,
      Yes your intuition is right. I think you’ve got to break the paci habit first because it sounds like he loves to suck. Which in theory is great except that now he needs your help all night long to manage the suck=sleep thing with either nursing or a paci.

      (Side note: for a 3.5 month old with reflux he’s sleeping like a CHAMPION!)

      So I would stick with the swing and work on sleeping without the paci reinsertion services. Once that is nailed down then you can think about getting out of the swing.

      Also 3.5 months is still pretty “early” for a refluxing kid so I wouldn’t sweat the swing quite yet.

      One last tip about the Zantac – it does seem to loose it’s effectiveness over time which is why our pediatrician would write the prescription so that we were getting refills every 2 weeks (vs. 1 month). Yes it means many trips to the pharmacy BUT it seems to take care of the “last week of the bottle doesn’t work well” issue. Also big babies are often outgrowing their dose so that might be a factor too?

      • Thanks Alexis, and good to know about the zantac. I will talk to our pediatrician about renewing it every 2 weeks.

        When and how would you recommend weaning off the paci at night? He will just cry until we put it back in so should we let him cry or just wait until he’s a bit older before trying that?

        Thanks again!

        • Check the article below for some ideas. When? Hard to say. If he’s swaddled, swinging, has loud noise, and his tummy is feeling OK (definitely don’t wait till the last week of the bottle!) you might want to experiment with letting him fuss a little. It may be that yes he’ll cry but it won’t last as long as you think because you ARE giving him a lot of soothing. I would definitely play around with that a little. If it doesn’t get you anywhere you could try the “pull out” method as a fallback plan?

  22. Hi Alexis and happy new year! I wrote a couple of weeks back on FB about my baby who has frequent wakeups. Well, it’s getting worse, she is getting so much worse that she’s pretty much spitting the dummy out as soon as we put it in and then REALLY crying straightaway. Eventually she falls asleep but I’m getting up 5 – 6 times a night to reinsert, though her feeding is only 1x a night. Well the swing arrived and we tried it, but she hates hates HATES it, night 1 went well with only 45 mins crying 2 hrs after bedtime but it got progressively worse until night 5 she didn’t stop crying for 2.5 hours as soon as we first put her in the swing, we even tried putting her in it in the day to play with some toys and she cries really quickly even if it’s on the lowest setting. I don’t feel like i’ve got the energy to get her to love the swing. Like I said I’ve been leaving BBC radio 4 (it’s a talk only radio station with very nice posh BBC softly spoken presenters) on during her daytime naps and she seems to like it. Since your advice we tried white noise for naps but it doesn’t seem to soothe. My other half refuses to have white noise in the room at night. I was hoping the naptime white noise would convince him but since it’s made no difference I haven’t got my way yet! My basic question is, she’s 15 weeks, but was 10 days late so really a bit older. Is it too soon for CIO? I don’t know what to do about her my gut says the dummy is the problem and why things are deteriorating, but we have tried ‘pull it out’ with no success, and also when we try FIO recently it doesn’t work plus there is no grizzling, it’s full on wailing, but putting the dummy back in after FIO seems self defeating and also she’s so worked up by then she randomly breaks out into emotional tears again, even with the dummy in. CAN we CIO with swaddle and strong night time routine now, since she feels comfortable in the crib? I convinced my other half to spend all that money on a swing which is now an expensive and large ornament/baby clothes and muslin holder and I have really lost my confidence with what to do for the best… Thank you

    • OK so we started CIO last night, with the swaddle (hands free), dark room, strong bedtime routine. I also had her lying on my pillowcase for the scent (Alexis, I also use a baby balm every nap and bedtime on her pulse points, it smells of lavender and other nice stuff, I’m hoping that this would be another indicator to her that it’s time to sleep as babies have a strong sense of smell – or is it only that they can smell milk and their parents? Have you read anything on this?) Anyway she cried for 1hr5mins at bedtime, then woke and I fed her just before 3am (this is earlier than normal but I was worried all the crying had made her hungry) and then cried for an hour just after 3am, and then woke and cried for another 55 mins around half 4. She woke up at her usual time of 8:30am really crying. But it seems it could be worse, could be better. She woke less than she was with the dummy and although the took a long time getting back to sleep, she did manage it herself eventually. I hope that tonight is even better for her.

  23. Hi Alexis,

    Happy New Year! Both hubby and I have read almost every article on your website. Thanks for all the information you provide!!

    We have a 15 week old baby boy who was swaddled with white noise since his birth for bedtime and naps. We also had him in the swing (had to rock him until he was either sleepy or asleep before putting him in the swing) and introduced pacifier as a sleep aid. He used to sleep for 11-12hrs every night with 2x feedings. His naps were anywhere between 45 m -1:30 hr. I read and try to implement Weissbluth- try to not let him get overtired etc. Around the time he turned 3 months old, he started rejecting the swaddle. He would cry when swaddled and would kick it constantly with his legs and break out of swaddle every night even when we double swaddled him. He started rejecting the pacifier too. Without the swaddle, he couldn’t fall asleep or stay asleep for more than 10 mins at a time, so we finally decided to do CIO ( full extinction). I know he might be young for that but since he wasn’t getting much sleep anyway, we decided to go that route.

    Today is Day 6, his crying is progressively reducing (about 20 mins today and first day was 2.5 hrs). The problem is
    1. when we put him down after a feed in the middle of the night, he often just lays awake for 40 mins to an hr before he falls back asleep. Will this awake time become shorter and shorter. or is this normal?
    2. He wakes up around 5am -6am for his 2 nd feed. After the feed, we swaddle him and put him in the swing so that he can catch a few more hrs of sleep. He usually falls asleep almost immediately. Will he ever just learn to fall back asleep on his own after the 5 am feed?
    3. His naps have now become erratic. His 1st and 2nd nap timings are completely random and he sleeps anywhere between 1:30-3 hrs. His last nap is usually 45 mins – 1hr. Should i be regulating his naps? is he not sleeping enough at night because he is sleeping so much during the day? should i wake him up from his naps if they are going on too long?

    Your reply is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Update : CIO worked great for my son. It took him about 10 days to get the hang of it. Now he goes down at bedtime with no crying or 2 mins of crying max and sleeps for 11-12 hrs every night. He wakes up for 2X feeds but he falls back asleep almost immediately. His naps have also become regular and predictable. We were really hesitant about trying CIO when he was so young. Never imagined we would be there but I am so thankful it turned out great. He wakes up all smiley and happy now. He started rolling over on the 3rd day after we stopped swaddling him. Now he rolls over and settles on his tummy and goes to sleep right away.

      • Hi Uma!
        How old was your son when you tried CIO? Our is 3.5 months next week and since my husband and I are both starting work, I know we will start needing the sleep.
        Thanks for your help!
        Christine

        • Hi Christine,

          My son was about 4 months old when we tried CIO. Although it was pretty hard to see him cry, at the end of it all, we had a well rested and a happy baby.It worked well for us. He got plenty of sleep and so did we:-). Good Luck! It will all work out.

  24. Hey Alexis- I’ve been reading articles on your site since my son was a newborn. We’ve struggled with sleep since day 3 but because he was colic and silent refluxer. He use to sleep with me, on my chest sitting up until he was 10/12 weeks old. After that we got him on his bassinet in our room and now have him in the crib. He is now 4 months. He generally sleeps 7-11 or 12 and then till 3, he will then wake up at 4:30 and not want to go back to sleep until 6 for 1 more hour. Do you think he has a hard time sleeping through because his medicine has worn off ( he’s on Zantac in the am and Prevacid in pm)? What would you recommend we do? Also we had grandparents here from South Africa and he was held for all of his naps( started because of the reflux and colic). I have been putting him down for 2 weeks now but his naps are anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hrs. He wakes up so fussy if only 30 minutes. If I rock him he will sleep for 2 hrs. We have tried the swing but it doesn’t seem to work and since we have started the crib I am afraid to back track. What’s your advice?

  25. Just an update for anyone reading this for their own little one. It’s been almost a month since we got rid of the dummy at night and things have got much better. It has been slow but sure, but unlike many of the posts I saw on here, it was never a case of ‘the first night she cried for 20 mins and then never again and i’ve had a full night’s sleep ever since’. No, she’s taken her time and it has been more like a gentle slope towards self soothing. She still wakes up for a feed but goes back to sleep without crying now and we don’t have many nights with other wakeups now. We still get about 20 mins of crying before bed too, but she does go to sleep!! I have stopped feeling so guilty and stressed about her crying too, although that is also a gentle slope of feeling more ok with it…without the dummy, it’s been a bit like we have had to relearn our baby at night, but we are getting there. It takes adults 6 weeks to learn new habits so babies should be given some time too…so don’t give up πŸ™‚

  26. Hi Alexis,

    I have been using your website as a useful tool and also encouragement for the past 6 months as we got to know our beautiful, yet challenging, determined, strong-willed, easily stimulated and active (adjectives used by the magnitude of health professionals we have seen during our time) baby boy.

    We have a wonderful bedtime routine which sees him go to bed without screaming (awake and sometimes chats to himself for 45 minutes before falling asleep). He was waking up ridiculously early (3am) so I did cry it out then and it has extended his wake up til 5:30-6am.

    Daytime is another story. From the beginning he wouldn’t nap at all, and scream up to 18 hours a day (I will take the blame for that as I didn’t understand babies and their sleep needs) but after going to sleep school he would now take 30 minute naps when he was showing tired signs. I would have to hold the dummy in his mouth while he scaremed around it until he fell asleep, sometimes taking upto an hour. Today I have decided to try the cry it out method for naps. He did wonderfully and only screamed for 10 minutes before falling asleep. My main question is, what do I do when he wakes up after his 30 minutes (which he did after putting himself to sleep), should I try and let him resettle himself…. Which I have been doing, but he is screaming through the monitor as I type.. How long should I let him go??

    Thank you so much. Xx

  27. I love this site:-) !! My eight month old was sleeping great until just recently.some nights she wakes up ar 2am. Other nights she wakes up at 4am and then again at 6am. I have tried cio for earlier waking. She cried for an hr and eventually fell back asleep after feeding her 1 oz of milk. What should i do about the 4 and 6 am wake ups???

  28. Hi Alexis

    I have been trying out CIO for some weeks (actually almost month. I am seeing progress and but my 7 months old is still inconsistent with initial bed time crying and middele of the night crying. Sometimes, he still cries for 20 minutes when going to bed. I am hopeful that this will work out eventually. thanks for the great info you have on your site. I have a question regarding travelling with the baby who are in the middle of CIO process. we will be out for 4 days at our friends place and will not have a crib or a separate bedroom for him.

    Thanks in advance!!

  29. We are in the process of transitioning our 5 month old from the rock n play to the crib. He’s been napping in the crib for weeks now, and they are always short naps, but when he naps in the car or ergo when we are out he only naps briefly too, so I don’t think it’s the crib itself… Night time in the crib these last few weeks has been brutal! He is up every 15-20 minutes, hates the swaddle so we pulled that. He goes back to sleep almost instantly when one of us picks him up, but it requires a lot of shushing, and a firm hand on his belly / chest rocking him to put him down in the crib. The last few nights he’s been only going back to sleep in our arms. However when we put him in the rock n play he sleeps 4-5 hours straight.

    Any advice?! We are getting desperate as he needs to be out of the rock n play (starting to sit up). I really really don’t want to do CIO.

    • Hey Anna,

      Prob not want you want to hear but I just wondered if it was worth exploring the swaddle issue? Sounds like your son really likes feeling enclosed like mine (rock n play, being held, firm hand on him)…I didn’t swaddle from 4-8months but I really wish I had as when I went back to it at 8 months it helped him enormously. Might be worth reading Alexis’ stuff on it anyway?

      If he can roll in the swaddle then that is no longer safe and you have to stop, but I have to say the Zipadee Zip (you can google) has been lifesaver for us. I don’t get AT ALL why it works but it
      does. It is £££ though, I got mine on ebay.

      And are you doing the loud white noise? We have done it from birth but that is a great sleep cue for my son and very soothing.

      Also, no one wants to CIO. Everyone really really doesn’t want to. But I imagine if your son is getting up every 20 mins at night then he is pretty sleep deprived, and probably crying a bunch too. Just a thought.

      Really hope you all get some more sleep soon!

      Lisa

      • Lisa, thank you for your kind reply! Maybe I should force the swaddle a bit more… He has not rolled in it, so it’s still an option, and you are like the 10th person to recommend the zipadeezip to me!
        We are doing white noise, and read the same bedtime book before bed and nap. Surprisingly he is not that fussy… Partially because we have been giving in around 2 am and putting him in the rock n play or our bed so we can get some sleep. Then he sleeps like a champ, so I know he can do it!

        I think we just need to resign ourselves to getting no sleep for a week or two and try letting him fuss it out a bit more, maybe he can soothe himself but we aren’t letting him try? I am thinking about tryin the swing idea as well, since he seems to need movement.

  30. Recently, my 8 months old son is fighting sleep! He only sleeps when nursing or in his car seat. We moved almost 2 months ago and he moved into his own room and new cotbed. Initially he woke up every 3-4 hours buy in the last 2 weeks, he has been waking every 1-2 hours. He also just learned to crawl and I find him on his knees crawling or Sat up screaming in the middle of the night. It has gotten so bad that for the past 3 nights he Is in bed with my husband and me. Is CIO the way to go?

    • I’m not saying it IS the way to go but it’s definitely A way to go. The question is really, is it the right way for YOU to go?

      Personally I would probably be feeling pretty stabby at this point so personally, I would probably lean that way. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have options however. So really I’m going to bounce this one back to you – what do YOU want to do?

      We’re clear in the root issue right? It’s this:
      http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-i/

      This is why she’s waking up hourly. It’s not the crawling or the sitting up.

      So what do you think is the right thing for you?

  31. We started sleep training at about 6 months, after much research we decided we would try the CIO and it worked great, it was’t easy specially the couple of times he cried over an hour, but going to comfort him every 10 to 15 min. Really helped, he was sleeping on his own with almost no crying after the 4 night… After that he would cry just a couple of minutes I would say for about a week, getting close to 8 months he finally slept through the night, from 7 pm to 7 am…. Wonderful!

  32. Hi Alexis! My baby is 19 weeks old and we have been doing CIO for 3 weeks now. She normally cries/screams for 20-25 minutes before falling asleep and had been sleeping from 9:30P-7:30A. All of a sudden she now wakes up at 4:30A. We have let her CIO for a couple nights, and she goes back to sleep within 30 minutes. I am suspecting a sleep regression given her age and previous habits. Should I be nursing her, or would you recommend continuing with CIO?

    The Kelly Mom article about regressions is why I ask. It basically said that because she isn’t eating as well during the day, (distracted) that she is hungry and I might harm my supply by CIO.

    Thoughts? Thanks again!

    • Only you can make this decision but it sounds to me based on her age and the change in behavior that this is indeed a growth spurt and hunger. “Sleep regression” after all usually goes along with “growing, wants food.” Maybe this has passed by now, but if not, you could choose to experiment with a 4:30 a.m. feed. If she guzzles milk and goes right back to sleep you would have your answer. Either she’ll quit that feed on her own when she doesn’t need it anymore, or you can stick with it for a week or two and then wean off of it gradually. Of course also do whatever you can to tank her up in the daytime, including nursing in a dark quiet room if distraction is a big problem.

      Good luck!

  33. Wow, you have no shortage of comments on this post (or any of your other posts, for that matter)!

    I am having trouble deciding if CIO is what my baby girl needs. She is 6 months and 3 weeks. We have been putting her to bed awake with a fan, white noise, a lovie and a paci since she was 3 months old. She has always done great and never cried more than 5-10 min before falling asleep. (We had some paci falling out trouble for a while, but we added 6 more to the crib and she has enough control to find one on her own now.) Since about 3 months she has also been on an “eat, awake, sleep” cycle with approx. 90 min for awake time as well as approx. 90 min for nap time. Since birth she has been eating every 3 hours including through the night. (She still wont ever go more than 5 hours (RARE) at night, but I can’t decide how I feel about night weaning at 6/7 months…)

    On to the problem/question… She still falls asleep on her own both at nap time and bed time no problem at all. About a month and a half ago, she started waking up between feedings. Some nights she’ll wake up as often as every 45 minutes. She wakes up screaming, almost as if she’s had a night terror (yes, I know she’s too young – but that 0 to 60 “out of no where” cry). She wont let us simply sing, pat, stroke, shake the crib, shhh, or any combination of the those to put her back to sleep. She wont latch to eat or take her paci either. The only thing that works is holding her and bouncing/pacing the room.

    We’ve been to the Dr. and nothing is wrong health wise. He recommended “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” (the library is getting it in for us and we’re just waiting). That’s when I found your blog. I have been scouring your posts and loving your info. So sorry if the answer to my question is in one that I happened to miss.

    Thank you so much for your time and insight!

    -I may need to mention that she and I were bed sharing for quote a while. However, I we transitioned her to her crib about 2 weeks AFTER this started happening.

    • I just realized I never actually asked a question…

      What do you think could be causing her to wake up between feedings, so worked up, and despite our routine?

      Because she has and continues to put her self down no problem at naps/bedtime/after bedtime feedings why would you think she isn’t putting her self to sleep at these times? (Her naps are still pretty consistent)

      Is there something I’m not thinking of that I should try before CIO?

      Thanks again!

  34. Hi,

    I’m desperate for some advice here. My daughter is almost 9 months old and was near a perfect napper/sleeper since an infant. Always fell asleep on her own with no rocking, nursing, patting, etc. just a short bedtime routine and then lay her down and she was good! We had transitioned her from our room to hers without any problems at about 6 months old. However, instead of putting her directly into her crib, we put her bassinet basket into the crib and she slept in it great. Well last week she began crawling out of the basket and it became a safety issue, plus she’s truly too big for it so we took it out and all hell has broken loose, seriously!! She will barely nap anymore, just screams for an hour (which at that point I snort the nap attempt) and wakes up multiple times at night; completely different baby. We’ve decided to use CIO to re-train her to sleep in her crib but last night was night 5 and things have barely improved. Mind you she was a baby who took 2 1-2 hour naps a day and slept 12 hours at night with only 1-2 nursing sessions. Please help us!!! Should we continue CIO? Is this the 9 month sleep regression coupled with the new sleeping environment?
    Thank you!

  35. Hi Alexis
    Soooooo I’ve had to resort to CIO (started 3 nights ago) as my little 10 month old steam engine does not take well to any other approach. Have tried all the softly softly stuff and honestly it did nada. I need sleep and so does he! He naps fine, and I’ve started doing as you suggested with spacing time for bottle before bed. He goes down fine, makes a lot of noise but no real crying. My question is wind-related. Last night he woke around 10.30, we were trying to let him get on with it himself and self-soothe back to sleep but his crying wasn’t quite right and going on for longer than usual, over an hour. My husband ended up picking him up and he did a massive fart (sharing is caring!) and then took ages to resettle. We then had a loving debate (arguement) about whether he should have gone in or not. If he has wind should we pick him up? Not trying to be mean and ignore him in any way, just don’t want him to get used to us coming in to him again but not sure what is a valid reason to soothe him other than sickness or teething…..any advice? Pretty please?

  36. By the way your site has been a life, well, sleep saviour for us! πŸ™‚

  37. I’m here listening to my son CIO for over an hour now and am talking myself off the ledge, which is to go in and nurse/snuggle him back to sleep! Poor baby! With my first son, I did the graduated check-ins, right around 4 months, and he was sleep trained within a couple of days. This time, he seemed legitimately hungry multiple times per night, so I have been nursing throughout the night. Recently, I noticed he’s falling back asleep immediately when I pick him up – instead of being hungry – so I decided it’s time to sleep train. Graduated check ins seem to upset him more, so after a few tries at that, I decided on full blown extinction method. Is over an hour of crying normal for night one?? Won’t he be a complete mess tomorrow and lead us down a terrible path of napping all day and awake all night? Thank you!!

    • No advice, but I’m here with you… slowly coming unglued, but we (and our babes) can do this!

    • No he won’t be a mess. Make sure he wakes up at the normal time (don’t let him sleep in) and stick to the norm as much as you can tomorrow. Then tomorrow night you do your wonderful bedtime routine and put him in his safe sleep space and give him room to practice his new skill. He CAN do this and he WILL do this. Tomorrow will be dramatically better. No more checks (checks never help, something your own experience backs up). Wait 2 more nights then come back and share what happens!

      • So right you are. Shortly after I pani-posted two nights ago, baby fell asleep until 6am (his normal wake up time). He took two very reasonable naps the following day. The next night (last night), bed at 7pm, he woke up at 11:30pm and cried for roughly 20 minutes before falling asleep until 6:00am. Today: two very decent naps at the same times as the previous day (historically he’s been a chronic cat napper so the consistency in napping, while not yet a trend, is definitely trending the right way). Tonight: bed at 7pm, he woke up at 8:30pm and cried for 20 minutes. He’s back asleep now and I’m hoping he does well the rest of the night! I find it strange that his wake ups are occurring earlier each night. Otherwise, he seems to be having an easier time of self-soothing from 2 nights ago.

        • Update: to anyone experiencing a terrible first night of CIO, it gets better. ‘My son has had many great nights in his first 8 nights of CIO. A few nights he didnt cry at all, twice he’s jabbered a bit and gone back to bed. However: Twice – tonight included – he wakes up and can not get back to sleep! The cycle is jabber for a bit, fuss for a bit, cry/scream for a bit, slow down, silent for a bit – repeat. For hours! First time this happened from 1:30am until I finally got him for the day alittle before 6:00am. Tonight it started around 3:30am and is still happening now approaching 4:30am. We are currently in a ‘silent’ phase but I am in no way convinced he’s asleep.

          I can’t pinpoint anything that’s changed day-to-day. We are pretty consistent throughout the day and his bedtime routine is fairly consistent too. I hope this isn’t something that we have to endure every few days.

  38. So, my question/complaint is probably going to seem quite obnoxious to others but I digress.

    My 6 month old has been a pretty good sleeper from the get go. I know I am lucky. She has always been great at napping and was sleeping a solid 6-7 hours overnight from 2 months on. Our challenge has always been the initial going down period. We have tried what I consider everything (everything I have read or found on the subject) and can describe the issue as nothing short of major FOMO. She gets sleepy at the appropriate hour of about 8-8:30. I nurse her and put her down drowsy and she looks up at me, closes her eyes and rolls over. I think I am in the clear and 5 minutes later crying and more crying. After speaking with the pediatrician he suggested trying to just let her cry since she wasn’t nursing overnight anymore anyway. So one night we bit the bullet and let her CIO. She did 40 minutes and went to sleep. Next night 10 and after that voila! A baby who is put down drowsy and goes right to sleep. I know, I now sound even more obnoxious. Well here we are again, about 2 months later and I feel like we have turned back time. My question is should we do the CIO again? Is this a sleep regression? She did have her first cold. I don’t want to let too much time pass and get into old habits/patterns. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi! What is she doing, is she crying when being put down, waking up overnight? I do believe there is a 6 month sleep regression, you could give it a week and see if things improve on their own. My baby had a bit of a regression around 6 months related to separation anxiety, he suddenly started crying when being put down. I just had to let him cry, he cried about 10 min and then went to sleep and after that he was back to normal. You can give it a week, see if things improve on their own. If not, you may want to consider some things- How drowsy is she when put down? Is she being nursed just prior to drowsy and being put down? If so, she could still have a nursing to sleep association, even if she’s not actually asleep when put down, but very close to sleep. Nursing (or any other sleep prop/association like a bottle, rocking, etc) should be separated by at least 20 minutes prior to being put down awake. So you can try nursing, then reading a book, sing a song, and then put down awake. You want to separate the nursing=sleep association, so try changing up your routine. It may involve some tears, but try it out. Good luck!

  39. I’m not sure what to do. My baby was sleeping through the night from 2-3.5 months. Then at 3.5 months he caught a virus and was going through the 4 month sleep regression at the same time, then we transitioned him back into his swing. He’s 4.5 months old now and sleeps in the swing really well. He goes to bed at 6:30pm. He wakes up to eat at 11pm and 3am and is up for the day at 5:30am. I know he should be sleeping in the crib again, but every time we try he cries for at least 10 minutes. I haven’t let it go beyond that. I know he’s too young for CIO, but I don’t want to create bad habits by having him exclusively sleep in the swing. Also, he’s quite big for his age, so I have safety concerns about him in the swing. My husband thinks it’s fine.

    Should we just enjoy this quality of sleep until he reaches the 6 month mark, then attempt CIO in the crib?

    • Hi! When you attempted the crib, were you lowering the swing speed prior to that? Alexis has a great post explaining how to transition baby from the swing to crib when you are ready.
      https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/weaning-baby-off-swing/
      Now that he’s 4.5months, this is a great time to start teaching him to fall asleep on his own. Most important thing is that he’s being put into the swing AWAKE and falling asleep on his own in the swing. If he’s being strapped into the swing correctly, I believe he should be safe. Good luck!

  40. My 7 month old has always had trouble sleeping but this past month he’s not napping well and often wakes 3-4 times a night until 5am (then he’s ready to party). Sometimes he eats and goes back to sleep and other times he stays awake for 1-2 hours. We often let him CIO but even that can take up to hours. He just won’t give up. I live by a fairly strict routine/schedule. I keep naps, feeds and bedtime consistent. My baby doesn’t usually have trouble falling asleep it’s just staying asleep that is the problem. I don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried and read everything. Please help!!!!

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