Why CIO isn’t Working

July 24, 2012 |  by  |  1 YO, 2 YO, 9-12 Months, cry it out, parenting
Why CIO isn't Working

For most babies cry it out, if you take my sage advice, should last only a few days. After the first 2-3 days, some babies may complain 5-10 minutes at bedtime but that is not CIO. That is the baby expressing her disagreement with your decision that she needs to sleep.

However other babies will continue to cry progressively LONGER and LOUDER over subsequent nights. You will feel sure that CIO is just not working for your baby, that I am just another Internet idiot, and that the only solution is to go back to whatever “up all night” solution you had going before you attempted CIO in the first place because, horrendous as it was, it’s GOT to be better than THIS.

Or maybe you successfully navigated CIO and have been popping a nightly bottle of Champaigne to celebrate your success for weeks, only to find yourself with a previously happy baby who is now crying. Again. You and your partner have stopped your happy jig and are wondering what the hell just happened?

THIS is what is happening…

Extinction Burst

This is a great phrase to casually drop at the baby playgroup to establish yourself as someone who is capable of pronouncing multisyllabic phrases and is thus very smart (military industrial complex and LIBOR are also good). But these two words are not just helpful for their show-off appeal.

What is An Extinction Burst?

Sleep training via CIO is a method to break out of unhealthy sleep habits by forcing the issue because those habits are keeping everybody awake. It is essentially a form of “extinction therapy” where you are working to make the undesirable behavior (up all night) become extinct by no longer rewarding/reinforcing it. In this case the “reward” is you nursing, popping in the pacifier, rocking to sleep, etc. all night long. And for roughly 70% of you it will be amazingly effective.

However for the remaining 30% of you, your child will amp up the crying. Or take a break for a few days and then resume the crying. This is an extinction burst, which basically means that your child is doing even MORE of the behavior you are trying to extinguish now that you have removed the reinforcer.

Awesome right?

So what do you do about this? You have two choices:


Do nothing.

Let your child cry through the burst. Don’t go back to the rocking, nursing, pacifier use that prompted this. Put the cork back in the champaign bottle and wait it out. It’ll pass.


Accept chronic sleep deprivation as a way of life.

Go back to what you were doing. Nobody will sleep and it won’t get better for a long, long time. But you’ll avoid a night or two of extinction burst crying.

(Hint: I’m really hoping you choose option #1)

Also file the idea of extinction bursts away for future reference because this is not the last time you’re going to see it. Temper tantrums, whining, demands for (treats, toys, McDonalds), are all behaviors that are prone to extinction bursts.

For example, your child whines for a cookie every time you go to the grocery store. The first few times you give her a cookie because really, it’s just a cookie right? Then you realize you have your own personal Cookie Monster who is now demanding a cookie every time you pop in for a gallon of milk. So you calmly explain that cookies aren’t everyday food and you’re not going to buy them anymore.

Will your child quietly acquiesce? Give you a hug and thank you for being such a thoughtful parent? Or will they go from whining to SCREAMING. And if screaming doesn’t work, how about adding on some THROWING? Or (God save you) SPITTING and BITING? You power through the tantrum and get a few quiet weeks of grocery trips and think (phew!) that’s over with. Only to have the cookie fight start anew.

That’s the joyous experience of the extinction burst. And with every burst you face, you’ll have the same parenting choice that I outlined above. And in every instance I hope you choose #1.

Every single time.

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  1. I love your site! So succinct and coincides with my own philosophy regarding sleep. Just FYI, it’s “champagne”, not “champaign”.

    • Wow.

      Just an FYI: it’s not a spelling lesson. We all got the point.

      Unnecessary, and rude.

      • Or maybe just helpful? When Alexis is justifiably rich and famous for her work saving the sleep deprived babies and parents of the world, she will be able to hire her very own blog proofreader. Until then, there is Lauren.

    • Actually I hate looking stupid, which sadly happens often as I’m a) a poor speller and b) have not yet mastered the appropriate use of the apostrophe. Thus I appreciate things being pointed out!

      But Molly, if somebody does pick on me I appreciate knowing that you’ll back me up :) Seriously I keep waiting for some attachment parenting militant blogger to get angry with me and when that happens, it’s good to know that somebody will stand up for me :)

  2. Short but big question: How do you tell the difference between an extinction burst and a baby who really really needs you, i.e. a sick or hurting baby?

    Seems easy enough with cookies (0% of screaming children actually need them). Less easy with screaming 9 month old in bed at night.

    • The extinction burst generally happens RIGHT after CIO (within 2 weeks max?). So I guess the real question is what if you have a sick or hurting baby within the same window that you are doing CIO.

      You’ll have to go with your gut. If baby seemed perfectly fine/happy all day and then is miserable at bedtime you’re looking at an extinction burst. If baby was a bit off all day, has a mild fever, sniffles, large red swelling lumps in her gums, then perhaps you have a sick or hurting baby.

      • First, thank you Alexis for this amazing forum and your insightful advice. Thank you!

        Second: my situation. I completely understand the extinction burst, but am far far away from actualizing it, and these are the reasons why:

        1. my son who is now 14 months old, has been teething since 4 months of age. he went straight from screaming all night long every night because of colics to crying because of teething pain. he is still teething. two top molars are coming in, so nights and days are hard. i think that in part, that has been the reason for his difficult sleep habits. he has never slept through the night. never. the best it ever got was him waking up every 4 hours. we are now at him waking up every 2-3 hours.

        2. we tried to let him cry it out at 6 months, 9 months, and again and 13 months and failed each time. because he would cry for a week, each night for about 2 hours, without falling asleep. recently, he would fall asleep after 3-4 hours of crying it out, but then would fall asleep in a seated position, improperly slouched on the crib rails. if i slowly come in after he has fallen asleep and try to put him in a lying down position, he would wake up and start screaming again for another two hours. in the morning he would look miserable and wouldn’t sleep all day long at daycare. at night, the same scenario would repeat itself. after 5 days of this, i felt terrible and worried that so much lack of sleep might affect his development, so i reverted to co-sleeping.

        3. co-sleeping is not where i want to be. i love having him so close to me at night, but it comes with a price. he falls asleep at 9pm-ish. wakes up at 1am. i nurse him, he falls back asleep and wakes at 3. and from 3 to 5, he nurses almost nonstop. am so exhausted by then, i just let him and fall in and out of sleep. at 5 he finally lets go and sleeps til 7am.

        i don’t know what to do! ideally, i want my husband back in our bed (not in the living room) and our son falling asleep on his own in his crib or bed. (and by the way, for the past three weeks, he has completely refused to sleep in his crib. no matter what we try. nothing works.)

        so where do i begin? how do i cry it out when he has such endurance and can last up to a week with close to no sleep?

        i started thinking that i would just let him eventually sleep in his own bed when he is ready, but co-sleeping is having it’s toll on my back and my level of fatigue.

        i don’t know where to start or how to begin to correct this….


        • Omg we’re not alone! My son has relentless endurance as well when it comes to CIO. He’s almost 6 months. And CIO has failed us once. I fear it will fail us again. I’m hoping to learn any bit of info/tips before trying it again.

        • I’m curious if there was a response to this. My son sounds very similar. He is ten months old but has incredible endurance for CIO. He currently sleeps in crib until 11pm and then wakes n sleeps in our bed for the remainder of the night. Honestly though his multiple wakings doesn’t interrupt with my older daughter’s sleep or husband’s (we have a big bed and all fit) and i am getting plenty of sleep since we decided to let him sleep with us. I hardly wake when he wants to eat at night. We CIO with my daughter for sleep and pacifier and it worked well for her but our son is just a completely different baby. Am I missing something or can each kid be different and the choice you make for the individual kid be different as long as it is in fact working for you?

  3. Very true… I am eagerly waiting for CIO – Naps edition… Maybe before Saturday? I need to start training before going back to work… lol…

    • Oh by the way, yesterday we put our daughter (6 months) to sleep and she started crying 10 minutes later, of course we chose option one and let her cry because we went a long way to get to this point. However when the cry’s tone changed and it did not stop i went inside to check on her to find her sitting up. (she just learned how to sit up on her own) The poor girl couldn’t see in front of her and was scared to lay back down. So i put her down again and she went straight to sleep. Sometimes you just have to follow your guts am glad i did…

      • Yes! Absolutely. Unless your clever little girl learns that sitting up and crying will get Mommy’s attention and starts doing it all night long. Which happens. Kids are smarter than we are.

        This is why I’m a big fan of shelling out for the night vision monitor – it helps you see what is going on so you can make good decisions about going back in :)

  4. I’m not sure how it happened–maybe it was the month of colic or the swing that worked–but I’ve never had to CIO for bedtime. (Don’t hate me; see previous mention of colic.) But naps are a different story. My baby is only 4 months old so I’m not really up for CIO anyway, but I’d love to figure out his 45 minute intruder. (I’ve tried moving him to the swing, decreasing wake time, increasing wake time, feeding him, patting–shshshing…) but we’re in a pattern of 45 minutes down, up, move to swing, won’t go down, after 1.5 hours in the bedroom we get him up. He’s fussy. We feed then put him back down, repeat cycle. Eventually he’s so exhausted that he has one 2.5 hour nap a day (usually fully in the swing). He has NO problem getting himself to sleep initially but once he wakes at 45 he just can’t seem to get himself down. I’d love to see a napping CIO for later use!

    • @Stacie- we went through that short nap phase, and tried/read everything to fix them! In the end though, he just grew out of it. Sounds frustrating when you’re dealing with it day in and day out, but there isn’t a whole lot you can do beyond what you’re doing to make them sleep longer. Just hang in there and let it develop on its own. Good luck!

    • Stacie,
      I don’t quite understand what your pattern is (45 minutes sleeping, then you move him to the swing where he won’t fall back to sleep?) so I can’t really offer any ideas. But I will say that a 45 minute nap at 4 months is more common than you think. Also if he’s taking a 2.5 hour nap at some point maybe he should be napping in the swing all day? Or perhaps you’re already doing that and I’m not understanding 😛

      Anyway Dominica is right – some young babies just need time to develop the ability to consolidate day sleep into longer more restorative naps. It IS frustrating and they ARE tired. But it WILL happen!

    • Our daughter ( 7 months next week) just started taking long naps. We had to put up with 45 min naps for a long time. It happens, babies will eventually sleep longer when they are ready. I must say though, her long naps started occuring around t’he same time she learned how to fall asleep on her own. If she’s tired shell wake up after 45 min and put herself back to sleep.

      • Yes and yes.
        Yes babies will sleep longer when they’re ready. IF they are falling asleep on their own. Older babies who are still nursed/rocked/cuddled to sleep will continue taking 45 minute naps until they go to kindergarden 😛

        • Or they will sleep through the night at 5 weeks, set up a nap schedule on their own at 3 months and start taking 2-3 hour naps at 6 months, at least my baby did. I’ll have to get back to you in a few years about what she does when she’s in kindergarten.

          • It is true that some babies CAN be put down asleep and sleep just fine. But it’s a small %. 5%? It’s hard to say.

            So I really try to encourage people to master “put down baby awake” – ideally when baby is younger and more amenable to that. Because everybody is trying to avoid CIO (it’s the last ditch effort when all else has failed). So if you skip the “put down awake” part when your baby is 3-4 months old it’s a little like playing baby roulette.

            You put your chips on green and hope that yours will be one of the lucky few who can sleep like a champ even though they don’t put themselves down at bedtime. If the roulette wheel favors you – voila! You might get lucky. But most don’t get so lucky. They loose the baby roulette. And most often loosing baby sleep roulette = CIO.

  5. Love your site. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Oh goodness yes, please we need a napping edition! My 5 month old does NOT sleep longer than 20 minute periods during the day !! Thats in a swing, swaddled with white noise in a dark room. I’ve tried everything! He can go for 3-4 hour stretches at night (he goes down well and can self soothe) but this does not translate to his napping. The only way he will nap longer is if he co- sleeps WHILST nursing (constantly)! Is this something that will change with time, or do I need to take drastic action?!
    PS: I’ve just had him at the pediatrician , and there is nothing physically wrong with him.

    • This is our situation exactly! I’m so glad I’m not alone. Not that I’m glad you’re in the same situation because it sure isn’t fun! Very much looking forward to some handy napping advice. As soon as ever possible! Desperation set in a while ago…

      • Sorry to hear about desperation. The reason why CIO for naps hasn’t come out yet is that I’ve been traveling. Well to New Hampshire (I didn’t want you to picture me in Paris because it’s far less exotic than that). And also because it doesn’t always work well.

        So while I’m fairly confident in talking about night CIO because I know that it generally works like gangbusters, naps are not so smooth. Which is not to say that it CAN’T or WON’T work. But that it is not guaranteed to work for everybody. So…..I don’t have a great “insert tab A into slot B” solution for you when it comes to naps :(

        • A friend of mine had her pediatrician tell her to do CIO (more or less according to your foolproof method) at bedtime ONLY, and said “the rest generally works itself out over time,” i.e. just keep doing whatever you have to do for night waking and naps and eventually the fall-asleep skill starts to transfer.

          Is that your experience? So far it seems to be working for us, in a two steps forward one step back kind of way.

          • Yes and no. Wait – is that not a helpful response?

            It is possible that your sleep associations will continue to sabotage your efforts in the long haul. HOWEVER improving the sleep hygiene at night (a baby who is waking 6-7 times to eat has poor sleep hygiene and will be almost as tired as you are) will dramatically improve a baby’s ability to sleep during the day.

            So getting the night sleep sorted it out is a MAJOR step towards getting naps sorted out.

    • Well it’s a short term fix but would he take a paci for naps? I say “short term” because the paci will soon become a big problem for most babies. But it might help temporarily with the short naps? I say that because 20 minutes is REALLY short. In fact I suspect that it’s probably why his “long” night stretch is only 3-4 hours (which is pretty brutal for you no?).

      How does he fall asleep for naps? Does he nurse to sleep for naps or does he fall asleep on his own?

      • Hi Alexis
        Thank you so much for your reply! Since my desperate complaint a few weeks ago, I have been to see a baby expert to try and figure out how we can address the sleepless nap situation.
        She advised me to start feeding him on solids three times a day, and to seriously up the amounts given (easier said than done).

        I have also started weaning him from the breast to bottle (by default, he by far prefers the bottle and was very lazy on the breast).

        All this has made all the difference to his daytime naps! He wakes at 6:40, and I put him down at 9:00. He now sleeps for 1 and 1/2 hours till around 10:30. Down again 13:00 , where he will do 2 hours hit & miss.

        So in my case it seems that hunger was the problem.
        Thank you again for all your advise!

        • I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found the solution!

          But in case other people are reading this and thinking, “Hey that sounds just like me, maybe I should do what she did!” I want to throw out a few things….

          a) Hunger is almost NEVER the issue. I mean there are some nursing issues that pop up (lazy nursing, low supply, fast let down) that can trip you up. But these are relatively rare.

          b) Solid meals are almost NEVER the solution. Why? Solid food (cereal, mashed bananas, applesauce, etc.) are (compared to BM or formula) calorie deficient. Meaning that your baby will get far more calories from a good nursing session/bottle than from a meal. However solid foods are high in fiber so they’ll eat a bowl of pears or whatever and FEEL really full, even though they’ve only consumed 40 calories of food.

          So baby good is like chinese food – filling but leaving you hungry later.

          Lots of people try to pump baby full of solids at “dinner” only to find that baby is too full (fiber) to have a decent nursing session/bottle at bedtime. Then you end up with a baby who used to sleep in a a nice 6 hour chunk waking up 2 hours after bedtime feeling legitimately hungry. They think they’ve got a sleep regression or whatever when in fact it’s the solid dinner menu that is throwing things off.

          • Hi Alexis,
            In response to your comment about solid food at bedtime..we’ve been having this exact problem, but I’m not sure how to fix it. My daughter is 7 months and we were advised to give her 3 meals a day, so I’m not sure where to fit in that 3rd meal so that it does not disrupt the bigger liquid meal at bedtime (which when she has it, does keep her in bed all night) In your experiences, what’s a good way to space out solid meals. I can’t find the right schedule to make it so she’s hungry for a bottle around her bedtime (7pmish) Thank you!
            PS Your info has been amazing, have shared with many friends.

  7. Alexis,
    thanks so much for this blog, i felt like it was a godsend..we are still struggling with our little one’s extinction outbursts but we haven’t given in and given her a pacifier, some nights go well and some nights she just cries some but it has been manageable about 10-15min ..I showed your response to my husband and i really convinced him not to go back to the pacifier, so we agreed on that.
    She still wakes up every once in a while at night and can’t make herself go back to sleep, so we have to intervine and check on her..a couple of times her diaper has leaked and that’s why she has been up. my question is at that point what’s the best method to make her go back asleep, do i put her in bed still awake and leave the room (which doesn’t seem to work) and let her cry or do rock her to sleep or do whatever else works to make her fall asleep (no paci).
    Thanks so much for your expertise and willing to share, it is very helpful to be able to hear other people’s stories and relate.

    • Diaper changes are particularly rough because they’re pretty disruptive. Babies don’t like them, a cold wipe on your bum is a big wakeup call, and generally you have to change their clothes so it’s just a lot of stimulation.

      Personally I wouldn’t rock them fully to sleep but I DO think it’s fair to provide a mini-bedtime/soothing routine. Maybe read a book or two, rock calmly in the chair, wait till she is calm and soothed and THEN put her down. If you absolutely HAVE to rocking her to sleep, on occasion, in the middle of the night is probably OK. As long as it’s “on occasion” – if it becomes a nightly affair then I would back off.

      And yes – NO PACI! When you do CIO to get rid of something (paci, co-sleeping, etc.) then you are DONE with whatever it was. So good for you for sticking to your paci guns!

    • I’m sure you’re already doing this now, but what I do is use a size larger diaper (compared to his daytime diaper) for night time. It has cut down on leaks dramatically!

      • Thanks for the info. We actually switched to night diapers and it made a huge difference, and she now wakes up less often. I didn’t realized she started peeing more than usual and needed to use night diapers.

  8. Preemptive question here as we are a few weeks away from 6 months and I’m dreading the possibility of the 6 month sleep regression. In your sleep regression post, you said to do whatever works, “for now” (rock, nurse, etc.), but here it says to not give in and let them cry. So how do I know when I should just let her go, and when to go in and give her some help falling back asleep.We never had to do full on CIO because we tested the waters with FIO at 4 months and she feel asleep in 17 minutes, and now knows how to fall asleep on her own and put herself back sleep if she wakes up other than to eat. So theoretically, let’s say in a few weeks she starts waking up 5 times a night… How should we handle it? (I obviously hope we breeze past the 6 month mess, but my child has kindly decided to hit all of this predicted loveliness so far…) :)

    • If she’s already going to sleep on her own then I would put her down on her own at bedtime. If bedtime is a big crying mess I would probably go more of a check and console route. I mean sure you could pick her up and rock her to sleep fully, but that could cause problems for you down the line so I would look at that as a “pull in case of emergency” cord.

      Let’s say she goes down alone, like normal, but then wakes up 5 times a night. If she’s hungry I would feed her (she may be legitimately hungry). If you aren’t sure I would offer some mild soothing (use your words, rub her back, etc.) and see if you can make some headway without picking her up.

      Most often you see the behavior fall apart during the day so the night stuff may not be a problem – naps may get short and hard to come by though.

      Anyhoo….don’t sweat preemptive stress. Maybe it won’t happen! Then you’ll have spent this time worrying about things that didn’t come by. Right?

  9. Hi Alexis,

    Thank you so much for your funny and informative posts, I’m so glad I found this site! I have a question for you about pacifier use. Do you think it is fair to use a pacifier to help extend my 3 month old’s 45-minute naps but not use it at night?

    He has started struggling so much during the day that a nap in a vibrating swing (not just a regular swing for this chap!) with a pacifier is our only guarantee for a decent nap. He has already mastered the self-soothe to sleep at night without the pacifier, but I’m afraid continuing to use it during the day may start to cause problems at night.

    • Selma, this is just one data point, but my older son could fall asleep on his own at night without any problems. His daytime naps, however, were much tougher so we used a pacifier. He would take the pacifier and fall asleep within one minute! I was also worried that he would also require a pacifier at night but that never happened. My second fear was that he would develop a reliance on the pacifier and we would have a hard time taking it away from him, but miraculously, at 11 months, he decided one day that he didn’t want one anymore. Phew!

    • Pacifier use during the day will NOT ruin his night sleep. I would continue to use it….

      BUT be forewarned that the paci is great at 3 months and a NIGHTMARE at 6. So you have a 1-2 month window where you can happily use the paci but you’ll want to wean off paci use before it becomes a problem. The problem? He’ll wake up every 20 minutes demanding that you reinsert the paci.

      So YAY paci today. BOO paci at 6 months of age. Cool?

      • Thanks for the advice Lauren and Alexis! It looks like we have run out of options to extend the little man’s naps, as the swaddle/swing/paci combo stopped working last week. We have now fully moved into 40-Minute Napland, a place that is absolutely no fun for boys and girls of all ages. I’m hoping our visit here will be short, but am thankful that at least his nighttime sleeping is so fantastic (self-soothing, 12 hour nights). Also, the pacifier has gone the way of the dodo, so no more worries there either!

  10. We tried 20 minutes of fussing with our almost 5-month-old night before last because it was taking 45 minutes+ to get him to bed. I laid him down awake, and in 19 minutes he cried, played, cried some more, then was out for the night. I of course got really excited. We did the same thing last night and had about 30 minutes of crying, so I’m guessing we’re in that 30% you’re talking about. He was also up at 330 am and cried for an hour straight until I went and picked him up. (I know, I know, I’ve already been informed by the group I’m paying for support emails that that was the wrong thing to do.) My question is, do we stick with it since we did it for two nights, even if it continues to get worse, or do we stop since he isn’t 6 months yet? And, do the same rules apply in the middle of the night? He’s not up every night, so I’m not inclined to do a ton of crying unless it gets worse or goes against what we’re doing at bedtime. You should really be charging for your services!

    • Well it’s been a few days so…what did you do and how did it turn out?

      For what it’s worth I believe that once you start you stick with it. Also 20-30 minutes is really minimal (I barely count that as CIO). So I would have stuck with it on that basis alone.

      As for the night crying – was he used to eating at night? If he’s hungry and you don’t feed him you’ll see a few days of HARD crying. Generally. If he was used to not eating at night then I wouldn’t start now. But your support group is right – by waiting 1 hour and then picking him up you taught him that he has to cry 1 hour to get your attention. This often means that the next night will have MORE crying. And it will take LONGER to get the crying to stop.

      But it’s a common mistake. It’s also a reason I like the night vision monitor so you can peek and make sure he hasn’t leaked through his diaper, isn’t stuck in the crib slats, etc. Sometimes there IS a legitimate reason he needs you and the monitor helps you figure that out.

      So what happened?

      • We stuck it out at bedtime. Night 3 was about 10 minutes, night 4 none!, and night 5 burst my bubble with 45 minutes of crying. Tonight is night 6 and it was about 15-20 minutes. I had hoped things would be better by now, but we’re keeping with it because we really needed bedtime to be better.

        As far as middle of the night, he’s been up at 430 am, I tried to get him back to sleep several times but gave up at 515 and let him cry until 6. This morning he was up at 515 and cried from 530 until 6. My goal is to not start the day before 6 am. He’s only eaten in the night twice since he was 3 months and he’ll be 5 months tomorrow. We did CIO in the night with our daughter at this age but I just don’t remember her crying for so hard so long. I really got the impression the other night that he wasn’t going to stop. Video monitors are great, but I did watch just about the whole hour…Crying until wake up time is really making it difficult to get on that 9 and 1 napping schedule, getting out of the Rock and Play for naps, and to get away from 4 naps a day. Thanks so much for your help.

        • Hey Whitney,
          Sounds like an extinction burst! Also I can tell you feel that this has been a lot of crying over many days. But honestly the nights of 10 minutes don’t count. Honest. In my worldview you had one night of CIO with 45 minutes and that’s pretty much it.

          Really I would consider this all really mild and overall, pretty awesome.

          As for the morning crying, I don’t advocate it. Babies almost never will cry themselves to sleep in the morning because they’re not that tired after sleeping 10 hours. If you want to avoid the early morning wakeup crying is probably not the answer. Things that will work better would include nursing and/or putting baby back into a swing, nursing and back in crib, or nursing and cuddle in bed with you.

          Yes all of these involve you getting up too and it’s not ideal in the long run. But for younger babies, this is really your most effective option. Because the continued AM crying is unlikely to accomplish anything other than making you all sad and tired :(

  11. Hi Alexis:

    Thanks for your responses to my previous posts. Some background: My 12 month has been self soothing for sleep since 3 months. 3 months for naps and 6 months for bedtime.
    So we are on day 6 of extinction. The first night was the worst ( 1 night wake- with 1.5 hours of protest). Then the 2nd day- when my 12 month old woke at 10, he put himself back to sleep. — and slept though the night. The 3rd day, due to a later bedtime, he had an early morning wake up (4 am) I got up to feed him at 545 AM after him crying for us since 4 AM. AFter his feed was up for the day.
    4th day- he slept through the night. 5th day- due to a skipped nap- he was overtired- and he woke at midnight-cried for 45 minutes.. Since he was overtired, i decided to go in and help him settle. After changing him , feeding…and rocking- he still wouldn’t settle- so I lay him down to CIO (cried for at least 45 minutes). Tonight, another day with short nap, and probably at this point — an over tired child.
    I am confused about the extinction thing. Alexis , what are your thoughts on us helping him to settle when we know he is overtired? Picking up and rocking him- and feeding him, I learn is probably reinforcing his habit. Should we just go in and check him and leave him in his crib? or– is this also reinforcing his Night waking habit. My baby is so willful, even when we were sleep training– he could cry for over an hour, and this is when he was a wee little thing. He’s now 1.. .and can go for over an hour of crying and protesting. The extinction thing is hard enough as it is, and when your child is so willful and determined… crying for over an hour sometimes– it can get super tough. Am i just not cut out for this? I’m not new to sleep training, but when he protests for an hour–it’s like the first day all over again. I do believe CIO method is what will help him in the end.. but it’s been such a bumpy road.

    SORRY– I really have to vent. =.( wahh!

    • sorry- just to add… as I right this he’s been crying for an hour.

      He can soothe himself to sleep for nap and bedtime.. it’s the nightwaking where he seems to have trouble.

    • Marie,

      Well that IS rough. But it sounds like what you are telling me is that the night waking, amount of crying, etc. is all tied to him being overtired. So I’m wondering – what can we do to help the naps happen with more consistency so that he’s NOT overtired?

      You say he is willful but you’re also saying that if he has a day of good naps he’ll go back with nary a peep, yes? So is he willfull or overtired? I’m guessing the latter.

      So check the post below – I say make naps happen by ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Car rides, stroller rides, baby wearing, etc. Your baby is older so you have fewer options (no longer use the swing) but do you have something you can do to make sure he has good naps? Commit to good naps for 5-7 days. How does this help your night efforts? And it’s all cyclical so the better he sleeps at night the better his naps will be.

      Picking him up and rocking and nursing WILL just reinforce the habits you are trying to break. But yes it’s horrible to hear him cry for an hour. Which is why I would work on what seems to be the root cause – his day sleep.

      It’s hard – he’s tired. You sound very ground down. Maybe you have to drive him around for hours each day to get good naps in. I think it’s worth it to try for a week. You may see a huge improvement all around. Good luck!

  12. Hi Alexis:
    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.sometimes when u are in the thick of things,you just spin your wheels.For the most part, bedtime and naps he has been able to soothe down- although today- I think his being overtired is starting to manifest in the way he self soothes for bedtime.I soothed him down 2 times- before he had to CIO for a half hour.He fell asleep at 730. Woke up-almost every 1-2 hours since then. The 1000 wake up , he cried for an hour- and, I decided to feed change him, and dad is puTting him to sleep. To add, we are experiencing a heat wave – and the nursery is warm. Boy I wish we thought of investing in aircondition when we moved in.
    What u suggested really made sense. My challenge is that I am back to work and can’t spend the time with him to get him on track. I will talk to his grandma who probably would love to cuddle him to sleep. I will try my hardest to be home early enough to put him down for early (early) bedtime.also, I thought he was “willful” because of his ability to cry for over an hour. But– what u said is true- he must be just communicating to us that, he’s finding it really hard to soothe himself down.
    I can’t wait till we are back on track. I feel terrible for my son.. That he’s so tired. Well – all of us are tired at this point.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and advice on this !! :)

    • Marie,
      I don’t know what is happening exactly (have only a rough picture) but my spidey sense is tingling. I suspect that there is something going on that is tripping you up. However frustratingly I don’t really know what it is, frankly.

      When a baby is self-soothing at bedtime (you put down awake and leave the room) you don’t normally expect to see them wake up every hour and cry at night. And generally 1 year old toddlers have mastered some self-soothing skills. So why is he doing this I wonder? Well I don’t know but here are some possibilities to consider:
      1) Overtired (we’ve already talked about that and I know your cuddle Grandma is on it)
      2) Bedtime routine. If you’re cuddling, nursing, rocking until he is ALMOST asleep this will maintain an object permanence/sleep association night waking problem at night. -OR- you’re doing these things too CLOSE to bedtime. So nurse right before you plunk him in to bed can cause a sleep association problem that will manifest in multiple night wakings and lots of crying. So I wonder if there isn’t something in the bedtime routine that needs to be modified?
      3) Intermittent reinforcement – if you do things one way one night and another way the second night you send mixed messages and sadly this generally blows up on you in the form of lots of crying over many nights. So if one time you felt he needed you and you went in and nursed to sleep that can undue days of CIO :(

      Again I don’t know if ANY of these apply to your situation I’m just throwing them out as possibilities to ruminate on!

      • Thanks Alexis! We caught up on some rest ( the biggest factor being over tired i think) – so it’s been better this last little bit here.
        We also discovered the wonders of overnight diapers. We’re on cloth at day and Overnight disposables at night. Kicking myself why i didn’t think about that before =(

  13. Hello! How long can last this burst? We did CIO with our 6-month girl for naps and for bedtime. Naptime is now pretty ok, but bedtime not so much. First night she cried 1h, second 35min and third 20min. And then she started crying more. One night I came in and nursed her to sleep. 2 days after that we also came in because she cried a lot. Last night she cried for 40 min, today also 40min. Is she doing it because we came in those 2 times? Should we just stick to CIO and wait?

    It is weird that she doesn’t cry so much for naps. I put her down, she cries for few seconds and goes to sleep.


    • Well I’m really happy to hear that naps went so well (naps are often a bit of a mixed bag).

      So initially you had a great trendline (less crying each night). Then she cried more, which sounds like an extinction burst. Then you went in and nursed her to sleep which is not ideal. Why? Because now you’ve inadvertently trained her that crying will get her nursed to sleep. This is also known as intermittent reinforcement which is sadly not at all what you were hoping to do. But lots of people end up here because CIO is not always easy or straightforward.

      So the unintended consequence is that you’ve taught her that if she keeps crying, her crying will get rewarded with nursing to sleep. At least if she keeps it up long enough.

      So either you stick with nursing to sleep and thus getting up repeatedly at night. Or you do CIO again and really commit.

      The key to CIO is that whatever pattern you are trying to break out of (nursing, rocking, pacifier, etc.) – you commit to being DONE. If you are doing nurse to sleep CIO? No more nursing to sleep. Fini. If you do feel you need to go to her for some reason nursing to sleep is off the table.

      Good luck!

  14. Hello
    I started sleep training with my now 5 month old 4 weeks ago. We actually hired someone to do it b/c I couldn’t manage with her crying. She was doing great within 3 days. we were told about the extinction burst and it did of course happen on night 5 and then on night 6. we then had a few great nights again and then a night where she was bad. This is what we are doing. Feed, bath, book, bed@ 7, 10:30 dream feed and then nothing until 6am wake up. Put down always seems to go well minimal crying. on a good night she may wake periodically 40 min after going down or around 3 am but puts herself back down within 20min. On a bad night wakes around 1-2 hours after put down and yells on and off for hour or more, or until i go in for dream feed. sometimes she will wake around 3 and yell on and off for a couple hours. Naps are in swing and pretty good. I dont know why 4 weeks in she is still waking and “crying” for such a long time. I have went in and moved her incase she was laying in puke. could that lead her to wake more often and longer crying?

    • Well there are a few things here that could account for things and I don’t know which it is so I’ll throw them all out and hopefully one will resonate for you….
      1) You say that some nights she cries until you go in for a dream feed. If she’s really crying until you go in for your dream feed then presumably she is awake (thus not so much as a dream but a feed yes?). In this case your rewarding the crying by going in to feed her which is a great way to encourage more crying. I know that is not your intent – really I get it! But sadly that is the unintended consequence. Or….

      2) She really IS awake but was legitimately hungry. Hungry babies will cry a lot. It’s a hard call. But while you may think she is old enough to feed on a schedule and thus should not really be hungry until 10:30, it sounds like you’re telling me she really WAS hungry.

      3) You started CIO during the dreaded 4 month growth spurt/sleep regression. Somewhere in this window babies start to sleep poorly and EAT. A. TON. Which brings me back to the hunger thing. If she’s going through a sleep regression she could be eating more than normal which would send you conflicting messages.

      4) She’s laying in puke. What is going on with that? Most babies are not just puking like that. Does she have reflux? I would get a night vision monitor. If she’s throwing up I would clean her up (bedding and everything). Some babies will get really upset and throw up now and then but it shouldn’t be a “regular thing” which brings me back to reflux. Is there any other indication that there might be some tummy issues going on?

      Also make sure you are using loud white noise. This is incredibly soothing and highly recommended for ALL babies till 1.

      Anyhoo there are some ideas.

      • Thanks Alexis!
        So NO my LO does not have reflux in fact she rarely pukes.. but when she is on her belly and yelling for over an hour I think at some point she throws up. SO far the past few nights have went well.. waking up once or twice after falling asleep at put down (presumably btwn sleep cycles) but has gone back to sleep relatively easily. Alseep for dreamfeed and then waking at 3ish but going back to sleep within 30min. just wondering if I should do a feeding at 3am. I have not been and she sleeps until 6ish.. i wonder if I do feed her if she will sleep longer?

        • Oh also I do use white noise.. I love it!

        • How long do you expect her to sleep? If she goes to bed at 7:00 PM and wakes at 6:00 am then she’s getting a solid 11 hours of night sleep. Which is both awesome and typical. Feeding her at 3:00 am is unlikely to stretch this out any longer. Some babies will sleep 12 hours (occasionally even 13) but 11 is the norm. Also? 6:00 AM wakeup is pretty typical too. Welcome to parenthood!

  15. I’m back, for more advise… To review, my girl is 19 weeks, has slept the past 6 weeks in a swing sleeping with decreasing speeds each week, just as the sleep training advice you gave suggests. So… after 6 weeks, I put her in her crib to sleep, and with less than 5 minutes of fussing she falls asleep. And she sleeps all night long!! Yay! It worked beautifully… for a week. Now, after a week of falling and staying asleep in her crib all night long, she is back to crying for up to 40 minutes in her crib. When she does fall asleep in her crib, she is awake after her first sleep cycle, 45 min-1 hour later crying. And not just fussing, but crying hysterically! So, after 4 nights of this, I started her back in the swing to sleep. She woke once to nurse at 11:30 and slept until 7 this morning when I had to wake her up. So I decided to go back to do another week or so of swing sleep training before I try the crib again. Is this ok? I’m wondering if this is because of the 4 month sleep regression or is it something else? Could it be an extinction burst? I question that since she had a solid week of no problems. I’m at a loss, but anyway I thought I would share and let you know your sleep training in the swing worked like a dream, even if it was just temporary. Thanks again! And any insight would be wonderful!!

    • Oh and I wanted to add that I use white noise religiously! After reading some of the other posts (probably should have done that before I posted my comment) I think she may be over tired which is another problem in itself. She has not been napping good, is in fact fighting naps more so than usual. Even when we are driving her around, which usually works awesome! Any advice or tips on naps? I have to help her grandma’s who watch her for me during the day when I work. One grandma is better at getting her to nap in the afternoon than the other one. I have told her that naps are NOT optional but its like she doesn’t hear me… ugh! Sometimes she is awake from 1-6:30 when I pick her up, then she falls asleep on the way home for about 15 min. Then she doesn’t seem tired when its time for her to fall asleep after bedtime routine. This has led to lengthy crying at bedtime on the afternoons when that grandma watches her.
      On another note, how long is long when it comes to CIO? I feel like anything over 10 minutes is an eternity. Sorry, I guess my ADD got the best of me just now :-)

      • Hi Julie,
        Well there are a lot of possibilities here and the 4 month sleep regression is definitely a strong contender, as is “severely overtired.”

        But no – I don’t think this is an extinction burst. Generally a burst is something that happens when there is protest crying to start with. But you didn’t have any initially – she went gently into the crib (YAY!) and is having problems NOW.

        The sleep regression however would explain her struggling at bedtime and with naps. She’s a tad old but when we say “four month regression” what we mean is “within 3-4 weeks of 4 months”.

        However yes her being awake ALL afternoon is also going to lead to struggles at bedtime and frequent night wakings. And that 15 minute catnap in the car can mess up bedtime. Even a few minutes of sleep can make it hard for her to fall asleep at bedtime (even though she’s a quarter tank low on sleep overall). So that catnap is also going to set you up for protest crying at bedtime as it can be hard to fall asleep. The answer? Fix things with Grandma (easier said than done yes?), avoid the drive home car nap, or adjust bedtime when it happens.

        Sorry – no easy peasy advice to make things better :(

  16. Oh darn you Extinction Burst!! Last week I finally had our 5 1/2 month old SS for napping & sleeping through the night. I wrote to you a couple weeks ago about swaddling & terrible napping (reflux baby). She was napping 2-3 in the morning & 1-2 hours in the afternoon, then bed time at 7:30 and sleeping through until about 6-7.

    This weekend she started cat napping only, though still self soothed & on her own (I thought it was because she was constipated). I let her CIO for 15 min because usually she will go back to sleep in less then 5 min if it hasn’t been over 1.5 hours. No luck!!

    Yesterday afternoon & today she’s been just crying instead of sleeping!! *cross my fingers & hope I’m not jinxing us* luckily she’s still self soothing herself at night & sleeping at night!

    BTW – the Zipadee-Zip is a wonderful product to help wean from swaddling. I thought it was a gimmick as it doesn’t seem different from a sleeper with hands & feet covered but she loves it!! Stephanie (the owner) is a sweetheart and her customer service was great!

    • Warning Will Robinson (probably nobody gets this reference but me but anyhoo….)

      You are likely headed into the 6 month sleep regression, which is generally less horrendous than the dreaded 4 month sleep regression, but is probably tripping you up. Sleep regressions are ALSO called growth spurts so she may not be sleeping and also may be legitimately hungry. So….something to keep in mind 😛

  17. Can someone PLEASE advise when I can expect an “extinction burst” to stop? My 9 mo old son is ramping it up… sigh.
    I have accepted the fact that he will always cry at bed time. I have swallowed the fact that he is not in the 5-10 minute group, it’s more like 30 minutes of crying nightly. (Get me some good wine!)
    I have adjusted naps & made sure I am not keeping him awake too long. We have a solid bedtime routine. I spoke with his Dr, who said “it’s normal” & in her opinion CIO did in fact work beacuse he’s sleeping almost through the night (one feed, occasionally two & he goes right back down, no fuss) He sleeps until nearly 7am almost every day.
    Why I don’t sing from the rooftops? It’s seriously HARD to hear him have a mega, hair-raising, gasping for breath all out scream fest nightly :(
    We started CIO on July 24, full extinction. We had to tweak naps etc… but he’s STILL screaming 30ish minutes a night :(
    This is what the cry pattern has looked like in terms of minutes he’s spent crying since aug 7: 75, 60, 20, 55, 2, 10, 25, 11, 15, 10, 30, 37, 32, 27

    I don’t know if teething has anything to do with it- a new tooth just poked in today so perhaps the past few days have been due to that?? I gave tylenol before bed tonight (27 min)… I am just lost & pulling my hair out. My hubby said I am punishing myself un-necessarily by tracking how long he cries for & that it is what it is.

    (I nurse him to sleep for naps, becuase naps NEED to happen… his naps have been decent, usually 2 naps a day, moring & afternoon. Lasting about 1 to nearly 2 hrs ea. I tried CIO for naps twice & it was a bust, which led to longer cry times at night because he was so over tired)

    Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns? Someone please talk to me.

    • Well CC,
      It seems that everybody else who has struggled as you have is curled up in the fetal position and thus doesn’t have their hands free in order to write to you.

      I will say this in your defense in case anybody is reading this:
      1) CC and I have emailed quite a bit and as far as I can tell she is doing ALL the right things. This is almost never the case – when you see people on message forums telling stories like this there are big issues behind it (baby barely naps, awake too long, chronic fatigue, intermittent reinforcement, etc.). You can almost always find a root cause.

      That is not the case for CC.

      2) I DO believe that the 30 minute cry fest is better than the significant chronic sleep deprivation everybody was suffering from prior. It’s not ideal and I wish there were NO crying at bedtime. But things were really bad before so overall this is a better place to be (better but not perfect – obviously).

      3) I do have faith that things will get better. I just don’t know when :(

      • Thanks Alexis. We’ve all just (well, when I say we, I mean the hubs & I, not baby) have accepted crying as part of bedtime. Sucks. Yes. Most nights he’s down to about 10-20ish minutes depending on … the tide? who knows. Within the last week, he’s tried new games- waiting 20-30 minutes before wailing. He will “complain” about initially being in his crib, then wait a half hour & SCREAM. Not once have I gone in there, as to avoid reinforcing the crying. BUT he hasn’t stopped it.
        You are correct that the end result of sleeping most of the night or *gasp* sometimes thru the night is far better than the insanity of me being in there 8 or more times a night.
        Now, to tackle the nap situation…. and keep my fingers crossed that this crazy behavior of his crying later stops. Thanks for writing to me. I am pretty sure others in my shoes are as you said, or they went back to the insanity :( which I did contemplate for a second.

  18. This has nothing to do with CIO, but I just had to say this: in my job, I use behavior modification to teach kids with autism, and “extinction burst” has always been my FAVORITE term, haha! I love seeing people’s faces when I use it nonchalantly in meetings. :)

    • You know I could barely find ANY references to extinction burst that DIDN’T deal with autism. Which is strange because it TOTALLY happens with non-autistic people all the time. Like it’s not an “autistic thing” by any means.

      I try dropping Joss Whedon references (Firefly, Buffy, et al) nonchalantly in meetings. Mostly it gets me out of getting invited to future meetings 😉

  19. ps- Alexis does rock- shes helpful & nice :) thanks for this website! :)

  20. First – I LOVE your site!

    Second – My question… After months of inconsistent sleep (eliminating the nighttime feed, teething, an ear infection, a vacation, etc), we decided we could no longer continue battling bedtime and waking up in the middle of the night to plug in Oliver’s pacifier, and decided to let him CIO. First night was 15 mins, second night was about 10, and it got progressively better every night.

    Then about 10 days later, his top two started to make their final push down, and he was “actively teething” for about a week. We stuck with putting him down awake, following the same bedtime routine, giving him teething gel plus Motrin at bedtime (so we knew he wasnt crying due to pain). It was tough, but we stuck with our plan and got through it.

    Once the teeth poked through, and he was back in good form, we decided to tackle naps. First couple of naps were about 10 mins of crying and progressively got better over the course of a week…and we thought we reached a good place. It had been a loooong 3 weeks of ups and downs, but we figured we had gotten through the worst of it.

    Then this weekend happened. He was grumpy and cranky and wouldnt go down without a fight most of the time (although some naps/bedtimes were smooth and cry-free). Then this evening we hit our lowest point. He cried for 45 minutes. We went in at about 10 mins and then after another 15-20 mins to pat his butt and just calm him down (no picking up). Nothing helped. He just cried and cried and cried. Actually he screamed, screamed and screamed. It was such SCREAMING, that when we went in to check on him, we found him dripping in sweat (from crying), his face was almost purple, it was such a deep red, and he was almost choking/coughing on his own crying saliva/snot. We picked him up because we were scared and worried.

    In the end, I held him until he calmed down, changed him, rocked him and just sat there together to bring everything back to calm. He was so exhausted and tired, he was just staring into space. I put him down awake, and he fell asleep on his own approx 1 second later.

    So…..(SORRY for the loooong story), my question is: where do you draw the line and actually pick up (given that he isnt sick or teething)? We certainly dont want to undo all the progress we have made, but we just had to pick him up and calm him down. Is he going through some sort of extinction burst?

    Any insight you can give us would be helpful! We’re feeling a little confused about whats happening…

    Thank you!!

    Oh, and one last thing: Oliver is 7 months old

    • Just a few thoughts to share…

      1) Big fan of medicating teething teeth (if MY teeth hurt and you told me to suck on a cold wash cloth I would tell you to stuff that wash cloth somewhere rude). But you may need to try giving the medication ~30 minutes PRIOR to bedtime so it has time to kick in.

      2) I’m generally not a fan of going in after 10 minutes (or really any minutes) because almost all babies will get MORE upset/angry with you when you do this and then leave. While there has been no study on check and console vs. extinction my anecdotal experience is pretty unanimous – full extinction is the way to go.

      So I believe he was just super uber pissed at you. Would he have gotten that upset if you hadn’t gone in? Well until somebody invests a time machine we’ll never know. But I believe so.


      3) You are the parent and you need to trust your gut. If you feel your child is SO upset and SO horrified that he simply CAN’T calm himself down then you need to listen to that!

      In your circumstance you had clearly made wonderful progress on all sleep fronts. So this wasn’t expected behavior, this was a mysterious “one off” and we may never know why he was having such a bad time that night. Your gut said he needed you and your gut was right.

      That being said, you do also need to think critically about these things to ensure that the “one off” night doesn’t become a habit. So if this sort of thing started happening on a consistent basis I would say, “Hmmm….we’re teaching him that this HUGE FIT is actually a good thing and that’s a problem.”

      But if once in a while for whatever reason (virus, teething, phase of the moon, whatev) he needs extra help and giving him that extra help doesn’t erode any of the progress you have made then absolutely you need to listen to your parenting instincts.

      Not sure if that answers your question?

  21. Our 12 week old wakes up in the middle of the night still so we have been considering CIO method, but she manages to get herself 180 degrees from where we laid her down, so facing the complete opposite way in the crib. I don’t care which way she sleeps, but wonder if other people’s babies do this and just leaving them there crying still works to break the waking up habit?

    • Hey Candice,
      I am not Alexis, but wanted to say she’ll probably ask you for a bit more info. How many times is she waking up during the night? If your baby is 12 weeks and only getting up once to eat, CHEERS to you! That’s fantastic! :) OR are you saying that she was sleeping all night, and she’s only waking up because she’s rotating herself in the crib?
      12 weeks is young in general to do any CIO methods, but you must do what is best for your family & situation. Best of luck! Hope you get the answers you’re looking for :)

    • Ditto to what CC said.

      Don’t let your 12 week old cry. It’s not productive and will generally leave you both just feeling sad about it.

      If she’s waking up 1-2X here and there because she gets stuck in her crib then you need to go help her get unstuck. Most 12 week olds are waking up 3X a night so I don’t really consider 12 week old babies waking up a problem per se.

      However you may be able to help her from GETTING stuck in the first place. Is she tightly swaddled? If not then SWADDLE THAT BABY! Seriously – love love love swaddling babies. All babies under 4 months and many far past that.

      Also many of the swaddling blankets (SwaddleMe et al) have “sacks” that keep their feet semi-contained. I’m pretty confident that the swaddle+feet in sack would keep her in place in her crib. So that might be a gentle way to keep her from getting stuck in the crib without any tears.

      Good luck!

  22. “Every single night, the same arragement… I go out & fight the fight, still I always feel this strange estrangement, nothing here is real, nothing here is right. I’ve been making shows of trading blows just hoping noone knows that I’ve been going through the motions, walking through the part….”
    Alexis this is for me & for you (you should recognize being a Buffy/Joss Whedon fan 😉
    It pretty much sums up my nights here. STILL. CRYING. 10, 20, 30+, varies. Longest extinction burst in the history of extinction bursts? Perhaps. Crazy, overwhelming mommy guilt? Definately.
    BUT in all this, there is a shred of hope for others who are experiencing similar situations- he sleeps almost all night now, almost every night for the past week. He’ll be 10 months soon….. time to tackle naps!

  23. We started CIO over 2 weeks ago. The first night, he cried for 30 minutes. The next 20. Then 40. Then 20 again. Then back up to 50. And so on and so on. One night, he only cried for 3 minutes, but the next was 30. We stuck with it because at least he was sleeping through the night….until two nights ago. The last two mornings he has been up at 4am, and the sweet cooing has evolved into crying. At 5, unable to listen any more, we gave up, picked him up and nursed him.

    I know in my head that what we did may have been wrong, but my heart wouldn’t let it be any other way.

    Have the previous two weeks of hearing the little guy cry been for nothing? Have we regressed? Does this sound normal?

    • I don’t advocate for letting babies cry in the AM as it rarely works. They’ve gotten enough sleep to not easily fall back asleep even if it’s too early and they really NEED more sleep. Also starting the day at 4:00 AM throws everything off (nap schedules and such) so it’s not a grand idea for anybody.

      Lots of people have babies who wake up at 4:00 AM and will only be soothed by nursing, co-sleeping, or being put in a swing (even if they’re in the crib the rest of the night). I think these are all valid alternatives to starting the day at 4:00 AM.

      Also keep in mind that CIO does not mean night weaning so she could very well have been legitimately hungry. Or she could have just needed a little soothing help to get another hour or two of sleep. So I have no problem with you going to him at 5:00 AM and I don’t think you have regressed.

      The key with CIO is that you are breaking unhealthy sleep habits and helping baby figure out how to fall asleep on their own. Thus the emphasis is REALLY on what happens at bedtime. There is nothing in my CIO rulebook which says you can’t nurse baby at other times in the night.

      Anyhoo I hope that helps a little?

  24. CC– I feel your pain. We’re on night #12 and my son hasn’t cried for at least 35 minutes every night–most often for an hour.

    He’s 6 months old, but admittedly a certified crappy napper (and always has been). So that’s probably it–but it’s kind of the chicken and egg problem.He wakes up after 30 minutes and can’t fall back asleep on his own so has to be rocked back to sleep again. And then because of all the micro-naps is too tired when he goes to bed without crying for a long time and learn how to fall asleep on his own.

    I cheated once on night #7 and went in to check on him because I thought he might be hurt since his cry seemed different. But other than that I’ve been stalwart…The silver-lining is that he’s been sleeping much better at night after he does fall asleep.

    Ugh, this is the hardest part of being a parent hands down.

    • Just wanted to give hope to anyone that’s been having trouble CIO. My son just fell asleep after only 10 minutes of crying tonight!!!

    • Oooof! That is rough. Well I appreciate your chiming in and hopefully knowing “it’s not just you” gives CC a little relief. And I also hope that YOU’RE getting some relief. It’s been a few weeks, hopefully things are settling into a happier pattern? Are you using loud white noise (may help, won’t hurt)? Is bedtime maybe a little too late?

      Anyway we’re all hoping that things get better soon because NOBODY is happy to face that every evening :(

  25. Sorry make that “my son *has* cried for at least…”

  26. Hi there – love your blog & really think its wonderful how you take the time to answer everyone’s comments and questions!
    I’ve been trying my version of a CIO method for my nearly 5 month old it is helping her sleep through the night – usually after her bedtime routine, I put her in the crib and pat her while she fusses and cries and eventually falls asleep (which I know isn’t full cio!) She refuses to be rocked and the paci’s were thrown out with the trash! For any MOTN wakes I wait about 10 mins and see whether she is hungry or if she’ll fall back to sleep. I’m still working on this and need to figure out whether she really needs feeding or whether she’s waking due to force of habit.
    Tonight she was EXTRA tired as I made the mistake earlier of trying to Sleep Train for naps in her crib (instead of the swing)which she was not having, as a result she probably only napped for about 30 mins on her swing all day around 4pm. We went through her bedtime routine around 5.30 and then when I put her down (around 6.30) she screamed and cried and me standing over her was making it worse. So I went in for a quick shower (6 mins) – when I came out she was fast asleep but had vomited over the crib.
    I felt soooo terrible. I took her out, changed her PJ’s and sheet and put her back down. She was sound asleep. So I’m sat here wondering if I should continue with this – I feel rotten!

    • Why do you feel terrible? She cried for 6 minutes. That’s actually sort of great. Had you been there patting and shooshing it could have easily gone on MUCH longer. So she vomited. This is not the same as YOU vomiting. The valve at the top of her stomach is largely open (yours is closed) so it’s really easy for babies to get upset and vomit. Sure it’s a bummer but I wouldn’t focus on a little spitup, I would focus on the fact that she was able to fall asleep without you in NO TIME AT ALL. Check some of the other comments here where babies are crying for ages and ages. 6 minutes is awesome!

      Also good for you for realizing that you were just feeding into it and taking a few steps back. Too often we feel like we must FIX it and sometimes the fix is to simply remove ourselves for a few moments.

  27. Hi Alexis-
    We’ve been doing CIO with our 6.5 month old for a week and a half. I’m in pretty much the same boat as BW and CC. We have a good bedtime routine and put him down close to 6:30 every night. The first night he cried for about 50 minutes but then slept through the night (yeah!) for the first time (previously waking at 1:30 and 4:30, before waking between 6:30 and 7). Since the first night crying times have varied. They started going down and got down to 15 minutes but the last two nights he’s ramped up to over 40 minutes again. He is a good napper and with this early waking schedule usually has three 1.5-2 hour naps about 2 hours apart. His last nap usually finishes between 3 and 3:30.

    While he is not waking in the night, he is waking very early between 4:45 and 5:30. I have been feeding him as I think he is hungry since previously he had a 1:30 feed, but he won’t nurse back. I usually put him in the swing, where he will sit and chill quietly but not sleep. Then I put him back down after about 1.5 hrs. By this time my 4 yo has woken up and I’m up for the day! The baby’s early waking has affected her wake up time as well- she’s a light sleeper and hears us up and about- no matter how quiet I am.

    What can we do about this continued crying and early wake time?


    • Honestly? I think his bedtime is way too early. I would try closer to 7:30. The truth is (and I think I need to update things to make it a little more clear) is that the window between sleep is generally pretty small during the day. But the window between the last nap and bedtime is generally a bit longer. So I think if he’s napping like a champ (YAY!) he’s just not tired enough at 6:30, especially if he’s sleeping till 3:30. I would push back to 7:00 or even 7:30.

      If he’s completely exhausted and melting down then maybe I’m wrong. But I really think that the EARLY bedtime is the root issue in BOTH your questions. Let me know what happens if you try my advice, OK?

  28. I have a very easy going, happy6 month old daughter who naps like a champ (usually in swing, seat, with chaos of older sister all around her). We co slept at first and are ready to get her sleeping independently now at night. Have a pack and play in our room as a first step. She goes down easy at 7:30 after a little bedtime routine with white noise….BUT…wakes after an hour or two to protest. Last week she cried from 8pm-11pm, three straight hours of crying and I cracked. Note: weaning pacifier in this process. I gave up. Decided to try again last night. Went down no problem at first, only to wake at 9pm and cry straight through until 10:30…dozed off for a half hour then cried from 11pm -1:19am…again, I cracked. This is an insane amount of crying! She is such a happy baby otherwise, I just can’t abide this. Need support. Push on with CIO or give up? She doesn’t really want to nurse, just wants to snuggle and the minute I pull her into bed she sleeps peacefully all night long! It’s hard to argue with that after listening other cry for THREE HOURS!

    • For a minute there I thought Megan Fox had emailed me 😉

      OK this is a horror scene and I can’t just say “push on” without more details. Because I worry that this is a really unusual amount of crying and I would hate to miss something that is tripping you up and just say, “Yep, press on with this horrible crying thing you’ve got.”

      What are you doing for soothing? It sounds like you’re trying to drop the paci AND co-sleeping simultaneously. Also the 6 month sleep regression/growth spurt could be adding an extra wrinkle. Are you using loud white noise also? Still swaddle? What sleep associations does she have left to work with?

      Also is this her first exposure to the pack and play? Do you feel that your presence there is part of the issue? How would you feel about her sleeping in the swing at night temporarily? Note: I don’t advocate crying babies in swings UNLESS you have a night vision monitor so you can keep an eye on things.

      How do you know she’s not hungry? Has she been nursing a ton at night? Is it possible that she’s legitimately hungry? What if you feed her when she wakes up and THEN put her down awake. Does that change the amount of crying any?

      It’s been a few days – what’s going on now?

      • Thanks so much for your thoughtful response.
        I’ve got a tiger by the tail here with the CIO and my 6 month old. Once she’s been crying for an hour it’s like…”don’t do it! Don’t go in! You’ll just have trained her to cry that long and maybe she is on the verge of sleep.” But then another hour passes, then another. And enough! So I’ve trained her to hold out for three hrs now….I will eventually come get you. Weeping….

        Last night she went down, cooed to herself for ten mintues then cried for two hours. Then I read your post and felt okay putting this CIO on hold until we troubleshoot some more. Pulled her into bed. Not hungry, except for comfort. She roots pretty good when hungry, these tears have just been “pick me up dammit!” tears.

        Here’s my thinking….break the night binkie habit first. We broke the swaddle habit a month ago in preparation for this. Move naps from swing/carseat to crib so she is more familiar with it, then try again in a few weeks with the nighttime solo routine. Maybe do motionless swing for a bit, then crib…

        Question about binkie weaning, do we have to break the habit all together in order to break it at night?

        I have to admit, we’ve been very well rested here in the first 6 months of baby’s life. She falls asleep in the swing, I bring her into bed when we go and she wakes once to nurse typically, no biggie. But She can’t swing to sleep forever so I thought it was time to tackle the go-to-bed-solo thing sooner. Then if she wants to wake to nurse at 4am and snuggle in bed until we all get up, great! But my older daughter turned my boob into a pacifier and the bedtime routine took two hours every night and she still only makes it through the night with out some kind of reassurance 2 out of 3 nights…. Was hoping to not make some of the same mistakes the second time around.
        But in the end, god bless these strong-willed girls of mine. They will run the world someday!

        Thanks for your insights.

        • If I could go back in time I would have encouraged you to ditch the paci and keep the swaddle. I swear the world is filled with people racing to get their kids out of the swaddle and I’m all like, “The swaddle is your friend!”

          How are you using the binkie? Are you sleeping/cuddling with her AND using the paci? Is she eating all night/using you has a human pacifier? Or just happy to co-sleep and NOT nurse?

          I don’t think you NEED to move her to the crib during the day per se, but it won’t hurt. If it’s not going smoothly I would rather have her have good naps over naps in crib.

          Also if she likes sleeping in the car seat at 6 months that’s sort of unusual. I’m wondering about going BACK to the swaddle? I’m thinking maybe she just likes the sensation of being squished which is why car seat & co-sleeping work so well? The crib is a BIG EMPTY place relative to where she’s been. Some babies are swaddled for 8-10 months so I’m not worried about her sticking with the swaddle.

          In fact the more I ruminate, the more I think that’s my big suggestion. Ditch the paci, keep the swaddle.

          Anyhoo….let me know how things progress!

        • Which randomly reminds me of this line:

          Leave the gun, take the cannoli.

          (Bonus points if you can guess where that comes from without Sir. Google).

          • The godfather. But of course I know it from you’ve got mail, and have never even seen the godfather.

            I feel like I am going to the mattresses with this sleep thing! Day 7 of CIO and she is still crying.

            Thanks for your blog it’s very helpful.

  29. I think we’re having a sleep regression?! At 11 mons? Can it happen? I just can’t read ONE. MORE. THING. about sleep. At all. It makes me want to stab my eyes out. (and feel like the worst parent ever)
    He learned to sit up, BUT cannot seem to figure out how to lay back down, so he SCREAMS. A lot. This is becoming taxing at night time to say the least. He’s over tired & cranky and so am I. *sigh*
    I suppose I am just venting. I know that it’s never easy & there is always something… I actually miss the nights where he “only” cried 15-20 mintues before falling asleep. Now I feel like we’re back to the beginning- except I totally screwed up & went back in every 20 or 30 minutes to lay him back down :( Just becuase I don’t know what else to do?! :(

    • What about putting him down on his tummy and doing a little tom tom drum on his back to settle him in on this position?

      I know this breaks the “back to sleep” rule but he’s 11 months so I think it’s OK (when in doubt ask the pediatrician!).

      THat might solve the situp problem…..

      Also give him TONS of opportunities to practice sitting up and laying down during the day. On the floor all the time!

  30. Ohhh CC, I hear you and I’m right there with you. It has been two months of CIO with my…. drumroll please…. 13 month old! And she now goes to bd by herself with only a few minutes of crying, only to wake up 45 mins later to cry for atleast an hour…. then falls asleep again, and then gets up around 1 and 5 to eat… yes, that means it has been 13 months of no sleeping, night feedings, and spending way toooo much time reading about baby sleep without being able to solve our problems…

    The only upside, is that now I have a whole new body of information to look over, since I now get to research TODDLER sleep instead of INFANT sleep….

    Good luck!

    • Carol,

      For what it’s worth there really is no difference between toddler sleep and infant sleep. Except they get more mobile and verbal and the emphasis shifts from soothing/schedules to consistency/boundaries.

      You aren’t the only one with this strange, “sleep then wake up to cry” pattern and to be honest I don’t know how to fix it. I do wonder if this isn’t exacerbated by some small thing with the schedule (sleep too early/late?) or gas bubbles or something? Anyway I don’t have a magic answer to it but will definitely post if I come across anything.

      Good luck weaning off the 1:00 AM feeding! Baby can do it – I promise! You may be stuck with the 5:00 AM one for a while but sleeping from 10:00 PM – 5:00 AM will feel like a glorious fantasy after the 13 months you’ve just weathered :)

  31. Alexis I could kiss you! my baby changed his sleeping habits at 6 months old. Pervious to this he slept through the night from 2 months old. Then at 6 months was waking through the night. I stumbled on your website and I followed your CIO method. I saw the mistakes I was making which made total sense and he is back to sleeping 12 -13 hours EVERY night!. As for CIO being cruel and bad for your baby I say rubbish!! my little one is a very happy healthy little boy always smiling and bubbly. The fact that his mum gets a whole nights sleep makes all the difference. I am a nightmare without my sleep grumpy and no fun and that can not be good for baby if I’m tired too, so to all you mums who say CIO doesn’t work, is cruel and damages your baby I will leave you to getting up 3-4 times a night being tired all day and having to deal with a grumpy baby because they have not had a good nights sleep either. As for the mums who have not tried CIO keep to the rules it DOES work!!

  32. Hi Alexis,
    Reading your posts has been very interesting. But I was wondering if you could provide any advice to me b/c I am at the end of my CIO rope!
    After having done CIO with my son 2 years ago with great success and with minimal pain,I was excited to start it with my 6 month old daughter. However, it’s been nothing if not a nightmare. It’s been almost 2 weeks now, and she will still not sleep through the night. Her naps are good- roughly 1 – 1.5 hours twice a day. She cries only a few minutes before settling down for the night. But at around 1:30 or 3:00 she wakes and cries on and off for up to 3 hours. She will stop and we will think she is sleeping,but 3 mins later she is up and wailing again. We have tried not going in there at all, and we have tried going in there to pat her on the back to get back to sleep that way. That did not work. We even tried feeding her once. That didn’t work. Last night we decided CIO is just NOT working for her in the middle of the night, and we went and brought her into the bed at 5am b/c sleep did not seem like it was on the horizon for us and we’d been up since 1:30. Now I feel terrible having had her cry so long for 2 weeks just to give up now. I also don’t know what else to do. I think if I have another night of 3 hour whining/crying I will lose my mind. Help?

    • I don’t know for sure but CIO is generally most successful at bedtime. I’m wondering if she wasn’t hungry. Lots of babies go through a 6 month growth spurt where they legitimately need extra food, even if they were fine without it previously. I know you said you tried offering to feed her one time but am wondering if maybe she was so worked up at that point that she was TOO upset to eat?

      I wouldn’t beat yourself up about the past 2 weeks. I would continue to put her down awake with LOUD white noise. If she wakes up tonight at 1:30 I would offer her food, check diaper, etc. If (before she gets worked up) she refuses any food I would probably work to calm her with patting, etc. But do this BEFORE she is crying for a long period. Possibly consider going back to the use of the swaddle.

      I would see if I could FIRST get her falling back to sleep in the middle of the night with your help and THEN try to gently wean off whatever if is you do at 1:00 AM. does that make sense?

      Let us know how things go!

  33. Hi Alexis!

    Oh please oh please help! We did CIO with my daughter when she was about 12 weeks old. I know it was early for her but it was the best thing for the family as I was so sleep deprived. Well after the initial week things went really well but now at 18 weeks old she has recently started (2 weeks ago maybe?) waking up more often at night to cry and recently we can pretty much set our clock to midnight-ish for when she wakes to cry. I tried to not go to her until 2am for her feed but started second guessing myself and CIO so I ended up doing check and console at 15 minutes intervals until she went to sleep. This feels like it’s been going on for ages even though I’m sure it just feels like ages because I’m so tired. She definitely started eating more for a couple weeks so I believe that was her growth spurt so I don’t think that’s it. She’s almost 15.5 pounds at 4 months so she shouldn’t need to eat at night should she? We’re keeping the one feeding (anytime she wakes after 2am) though until our Dr gives us the go ahead to wean. At night when we let her cry she’ll actually go quiet for 10 minute intervals but then start up again (this has happened twice now since midnight and it’s 1:30am). Sorry for the rambling but I guess I have a couple questions. 1. How long do we give CIO at night awakenings for? I can’t keep doing this check and console thing but she can cry for ages and I don’t know what to do! And 2. Let’s say she cries/fusses from when she wakes up at midnight to 2am my arbitrary time I’ve set to feed her, do I then feed her or will that teach her if she cries long enough she’ll have me come in with a bottle? Please help, CIO with my first (actually check and console) went amazing and by 4 months he was sleeping 10 hours consistently before a feed and he definitely wasn’t as heavy as her.

    • Actually I think this sounds exactly like the 4 month growth spurt:

      And yes babies do get hungry and need more food when they’re having a growth spurt. So the fact that she could go X hours between feedings at 3 months doesn’t mean that she’s not legitimately hungry now, yes? And as you’re noticing hungry babies do cry a lot and don’t easily fall back to sleep.

      So what would I do? I would feed her! It’s not about how big or not big she is. It’s about the fact that her body is demanding extra calories now. And her tummy is tiny so it may not be possible to get all the calories she needs during daylight hours. It’s not out of bounds for a 4 month old to need 2 feedings a night during a growth spurt.

      In a few weeks if she doesn’t organically drop 1 feeding you can gently wean off that feeding again. If you don’t want her waking you up you could offer the first feeding as a dreamfeed when YOU go to bed so that it’s not resulting in loss of sleep for you, yes?

      But there is no weight/food rule that says big babies can go longer without food. In fact the opposite is often true – big babies need lots of food BECAUSE they’re big.

      So I would feed her. She’s hungry. You’re right in that you are teaching her to cry for 2 hours (although at 4 months she may not yet have the capacity to remember that lesson so I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it!). This will pass. You’ll get your 10 hours again.

      Good luck!

      • Ok thanks Alexis, I’ll give it a shot! The problem we have with feeding her early is then she doesn’t sleep long after and keeps waking every 1-2 hours and crying. Oh and last night she made it to 5am and only had 5oz when she woke and she didn’t seem very frantic for food at all when I fed her. Not that we want her frantic but I would have thought she’d show a bit more hunger signs. Seems like she’s sending mixed signals. Lol or it’s just me all sleep deprived and seeing things where there isn’t. :(

  34. Oh and my Mom says to just turn off the monitor and set an alarm for 2am then put the monitor on and feed her when she wakes after that time or if she’s crying at that point. I don’t know what to do and I need my sleep! :(

    • Oh and lastly (hah sorry I keep thinking of things to add after I hit “submit comment”!) we don’t swaddle anymore as she kept breaking out of it, we use white noise and we dropped the pacifier habit at least 3 weeks ago. She only uses the paci now for comfort during the day but nothing associated with sleep (unless she falls asleep in the car/carrier while sucking on it). Ok I’ll stop now!

  35. Ive hit rock bottom. Im really sick and my 9 month old went from sleeping 6hrs straight to 1hr. Im frustrated ive tried cio. 3 hrs later of screaming and double checking back rubbing he was still up. Ive cut his naps to max 3 hrs aday to see if it helped. Ya right nothing lol. I dont know what the problem is. We have routines. Hes not sick. I dont get it

    • I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling so. Few things to consider:
      1) Run it by the pediatrician. Maybe he snuck an ear infection by you? You never know so it always pays to check.

      2) Don’t cut naps down. Tired babies cry MORE.

      3) Use LOUD white noise and a GREAT wind-down routine at bedtime.

      4) Make sure he’s not hungry. Sometimes solid food actually messes you up because it’s filling but low-cal. He might genuinely be hungry?

      5) If you’re doing “check and console” it may be amping him up and making it worse. It may be better for HIM to have you not come in?

      6) Is bedtime happening at the RIGHT time? If he’s exhausted or not tired enough – BOTH will work against you. So if he wakes up from his last nap at 2:00 PM and bedtime isn’t until 8:00 PM – he’s going to be overtired and have a hard time settling. On the other hand if he’s napping at 4:30 and you put him down for bed at 7:00 he may not yet be tired enough to sleep.

      Hope one of those gives you something to work with,

      • Thanks! It turned out an ear infection that a doctor missed in all her smartness. His bedtime is 6pm since hes up by 3 pm at the latest. He still stands in his crib screaming at night. I go in change feed and check his temp and such. Based on the pitch of his cry if its just a mad cry cause I wont pick him up ive had to shut his door and let him go at it. Last night it lasted maybe 10 mins before he fell over asleep no joke. Its hard cause hes sick right now but getting better. He hates sleeping though lol. He generally sleeps maybe 8 hrs a night and if im lucky 2hr total naps during the day. I cant do cio at naps he actually harms himself in his crib cause hes had temper tantrum since 7 months old. Im talking real temper tantrums he pulls my hair bites intentionally hurts himself kicks and everything. Even throws himself on the floor like a toddler. Oh well no one has solutions to that lol. But thanks for your help your sites amazing!

  36. We newly committed to CIO (Ferber style) for our 6 month old daughter this week after we had to lose the swaddle a week and a half ago. We’d previously weaned her off night feedings per Ferber and done some CIO at about 5 months old to get rid of the pacifier, but we eventually ended up relenting in the early morning, since she just wouldn’t settle. In any case, CIO isn’t proving very effective for us, and I’m curious how unusual our situation is.

    We’ve never co-slept, we haven’t rocked her to sleep since she was tiny, we use a white noise machine. She goes to bed at around 7/7:30, wakes up consistently at 7, naps three times a day (8:30, noon/12:30, and sometime later in the afternoon, depending on how long her previous nap went). Since losing the swaddling, she’s settled a little harder (maybe a half hour of crying), but the real issue has been protracted night wakings that we probably exacerbated with various frustrated interventions (paci replacement, PU/PD, taking her in bed until she settled). We’re now 3 days into CIO, and, while she’s settled immediately at bedtime for the past two nights, she’s not learning how to settle during the night wakings AT ALL—she’s pretty clearly just exhausting herself.

    First night, she woke at 11, cried until 1:20, then woke again at 4 and cried for 20 minutes.
    Second night, she woke at 12:30, cried until 3:15.
    Tonight, she started at 2:25. It’s now after 4, and she’s still crying.

    We’re moving in two days, which means we’ll effectively have to start over at our new place, but it’s going to be hard to commit after these disappointing results. She seems happy with her bedtime (any later, and she’ll probably be a cranky mess and harder to settle), so I hate to monkey with it, but it doesn’t seem like we have many other options. Thoughts?

    • Oooof. That sounds pretty miserable. My best guess is that she’s hungry. Hungry babies are more than capable of crying A LOT. Also there is a really common growth spurt/sleep regression that generally occurs at 6 months. So it sounds like you have potentially multiple things stacked against you – a growth spurt and pending move/stress.

      What happens if you go in, offer her some food, and then put her back into the crib? I would play around with that as I wonder if that is the root problem.

      sorry you’re having such a rough time. Hopefully you don’t need to “restart” the process the process in your new home :(

      • Thanks! That sounds reasonable. We’d originally weaned her from night feedings after our first response to the 4 month regression, which was us going back up to two feedings a night (from one). Unfortunately, this led to her eating too little during the day, which disrupted her naps. So when we weaned, maybe we should have just gone after the extra night feeding rather than both (although our pediatrician seemed to think she’s capable of going 12 hours without food).

        Two follow-up questions:
        1. Do you think it would be better to feed her at her midnight-early morning waking, or could we preempt it entirely with a dream feed at, say, 10:30/11 before my wife and I go to bed? More convenient for us, obviously, but also I know sleep is shallower in the early morning, so it might be harder for her (and probably us) to settle at that point.

        2. If this is a spurt/regression, I assume we should then try weaning her from this feeding at some point? When do you think that would be safe?

        • Dave,
          If I had a way to know when spurt/regressions ended I would bottle it and sell it for ONE BILLION DOLLARS.

          You’re welcome to try the dream feed. Often it works GREAT. Sometimes however kids are too tired and just snack a little so if she freaks out a few hours post-dreamfeed I’m inclined to go in.

          Most 6 month olds ARE capable of a 12 hour fast but sometimes they need 1 feed to happily make it through the night for another month or two. When you’re 8 month old is still eating at night I’m far more inclined to take a hard line on saying no.

  37. Hi Alexis,
    First of all, thank you so much for your website and for your thoughtful and caring advice. I agree wholeheartedly with your advice. I sleep trained my first two children following healthy sleep habits, happy child. My problem is my third child. Aubrey is a happy healthy 6 month old. He is my most easygoing child and generally naps well and sleeps well. But we have a few areas that need tweaking and I am at m y absolute wits end.

    1. I just started putting him down awake as per your recommendation and it has been a 100% success rate in eliminating the mini wake up 30-60 minutes after we put him down that he has been doing since birth.

    2. New problem. After 3-4 hours after his 6pm bedtime he wakes up and cries for me to come and soothe him back to sleep. This is consistent. It is not due to hunger, it is a lack of self soothing. This is the one time of the day where he is NOT easygoing. He loses his mind screaming for me, for an hour and a half. I just can’t take it anymore. I’m second guessing everything I’m doing with this baby and wondering why his CIO is amping up rather than getting better. He used to only cry for 30-40 minutes. Now he really gives her. He is over 18 pounds. He has cut one tooth and is awaiting another, but I have been giving him Advil before bed and I can’t medicate him every night just in case he is teething. I don’t know where I have reinforced his behaviour. I don’t mind getting up with him in the night once or twice, and his nights are usually 14 hours. I wake him at 8am. Where, oh where am I going wrong? Should I just persevere and say I’m not going before a time I deem reasonable? Say midnight? Marc weissbluth says not to respond if you don’t think they are hungry, but how many months can you expect crying because of this. We are consistent. I have almost never gone in, except when we decided to try check and console for one night (that was a bust, he just got madder), or a couple of times when I lost my mind and went in sobbing. I just need some consistency. That first wake up might be at 9, or at 1, and it has even been as late as 3 many times in the past. It is driving me absolutely crazy, second guessing, shaking and crying when I hear my last baby cry, he hits me in all the mommy buttons.

    What do I do?

    • This all sounds so familiar—the age, the long screaming fits, the unpredictable wakeup times in the night, the teething complicating things. We haven’t had a chance to do the feeding-plus-CIO method that Alexis recommended to me above, since the move had us scrambling to keep everyone sane (including new upstairs neighbors we haven’t yet met) and reincorporating the pacifier and even taking our daughter into bed with us to calm her down.

      The past two nights, she’s been waking at 9:30/10, at least once in the middle of the night, and once in the early morning (and staying awake and screaming for at least an hour at each), so we’re newly committing tonight. We’ve fed her at the early waking to settle her, but it’s not doing the trick on its own, so we’re going to feed her at one waking and then go Ferber-style CIO. Some of the screaming is clearly not from hunger, but frustration about being awake or separation anxiety or something.

      No advice to give, since nothing’s worked for us yet (fingers crossed on the new plan), but just thought you’d like to hear you’re not alone with this particular brand of baby crazy.

      • Thanks man. Good luck with your move….you sure have your hands full. At this time we are just ignoring him until a reasonable time, say after 11:30 if he goes down at 6. Two night ago he woke after 3 hours and cried for an hour and a half and last night he woke and grumbled for a few minutes and put himself back to sleep until after 1. Tonight…well it is anyone’s guess!

      • Hey Dave – don’t worry about neighbors, do what is right for your family. If it makes you feel better get them some starbucks cards and a nice note of apology.

        Either they’ll understand and forgive you. Or they’re jerks.

        Also we had company here a few weeks ago who had a baby who cried for 45 minutes at night. For them this was a horrifying nightmare because it’s THEIR baby. For us? Not such a big deal. Oddly enough listening to somebody ELSE’S baby barely even registers. So it probably won’t be as disruptive as you are imagining it will be.

        Good luck with the move!

        • Three nights in, and the CIO plus feeding seems to be doing the trick (aside from some settling unpleasantness last night after a Thanksgiving trip home that ran too late—although we think the exhaustion also led to her sleeping straight through to 6:45). Thanks for the idea! And the neighbors turned out to be completely cool about it; their last downstairs neighbor had a much louder baby, it turns out.

    • My gut says he is waking up surprised. He’s freaking out because something (what?) has changed in his world from when he fell asleep.

      The most likely culprit is that he isn’t all the way AWAKE when you put him down. If you rock/nurse until he he is drowsy, it may be that you think he’s sort of awake but mentally he’s already checked out. Thus you feel you you are “putting down awake” he’s actually going down too asleep which is why he’s freaking out because in his memory you were there and then mysteriously disappeared.

      Other possibilities would be any timed devices (mobiles, music, etc.) that turn off after he falls asleep. But the “not awake enough” thing is the most likely/common issue.

      Any of that sound like possibilities?

      • Hi Alexis,
        Thanks for responding!
        There are no timed devices that change. Like I said, I’m so pleased with the 100% success rate of putting him down semi awake that has eliminated the wake-up after 30 minutes. Sometimes he is fully awake and sometimes semi-sleeping. Regardless, it doesn’t make a difference as to the wake-up 3-4 hours later. He still does it… Three nights ago he screamed for an hour and a half, then the last two nights woke up, grumbled, then soothed himself back to sleep until after midnight. The only thing that has changed is that 4 nights ago he figured out how to roll onto his tummy at night. He actually seems to prefer it, though he can’t roll back yet.

        So, as for your advice, my question is, should we just continue to ignore him if he wakes before midnightish to allow him to soothe himself?

  38. Hi Alexis,
    So we are on night seven of CIO. Our daughter is 26.5 weeks wnd before thus we had to rock her for 39 mins to get her to sleep and she was waking up 3-4 times a night. We are doing full extinction and have followed your awesome 14 step plan. It’s been going pretty damn awesome.
    Night 1: she cried for 45 mins before falling asleep. She then woke 2 hours later and cried on and off for an hour. I fed her when she woke at one and again at 5.
    Night 2: only 10 mins of crying before she fell asleep! Woke at 1 fed her. Woke at 6 fed her and she fell asleep till 7:30′
    Night 3: a brief mehhh before falling asleep. Up at 2 and 5 for feeds.
    Night 4: no crying when she fell asleep. Woke at 11 and cried for an hour before falling asleep. Up at 2 and 6.
    Night 5: no crying at bedtime. Same wake ups for feeds.
    Night 6: no crying at bedtime. Up at 11 cried for 20 mins.
    Which brings us to night 7: I had my husband do the bedtime routine instead of me. She cried really hard for half an hour after he put her down. He was so upset! I told him it was probably an extinction burst but he is convinced that the change in routine (him vs me) has set us back. What are your thoughts on this? Should I be worried about the random 11pm wakings?
    Thank you!

    • Could very well be some “you aren’t Mom!” crying at bedtime. Although I’m not super worried about that. For starters, this whole “fall asleep on my own” thing is pretty new. Also kids go through phases where only MOM or only DAD will do. Then it passes.

      As for the 11 PM crying I think it’s just, “Hey, I don’t like this!” crying. Personally I wouldn’t go go in. 1 hour is rough but 20 minutes sounds like things are going in the right direction. Hopefully it’s even shorter or all gone by now!

  39. Hi,

    We are on our 5th night of CIO with our 6 month old son. He has consistently been crying for 30 minutes each night before falling asleep.

    Has anybody else had this type of consistency and, if so, when did it get better?

    Thanks in advance.


    • That does happen sometimes. Some babies are really strong willed and will LET YOU KNOW THEY DON’T LIKE THIS.

      Another possibility is that bedtime is slightly off (too early or too late). If you push back bedtime by 20 minutes does that make things better/worse? Or has baby been up TOO long? For example if your 6 month old woke up at 1:00 PM and bedtime is 7:00 PM then he’s been awake 6 hours and is likely OVER tired.

      So both are pretty reasonable possibilities. Hope things improve soon!

      • Thanks Alexis.

        I think we got a strong willed one! The good news is that tonight was our 9th night and our son only cried for around ten minutes, so it finally feels like we are making some progress.

        That’s a really good point about his bedtime – he actually has a short nap from around 5:30pm-6pm, which feels very late in the day for a 7pm bedtime. That said, by 6:45pm he can hardly keep his eyes open. Hmmmmm, will have a good, long think about timings.

        • Hi I have a 6 month old and am dealing with this same issue. She can’t make it without a late nap (eye rubbing/crying etc).

          What did you end up doing? i cannot figure out the right bedtime. Tonight she…..

          5- woke up from nap
          6- rubbing eyes ready to sleep
          6:30 nurse
          6:41 put in crib
          6:42-7:19 crying mixed with quiet periods
          7:20-7:53 playing and making sweet noises
          7:53-7:55 giving up cry
          8 asleep

          My whole plan was to have an 8pm bedtime tonight, but when she started acting so sleepy I thought I had better get her in bed.


          • Hi,

            An update…..

            It took around two weeks of CIO for our son to “get it”. I think the issue was his being stubborn, rather than timings being wrong.

            We have always worked with a 7pm bedtime, and the late afternoon nap continues even now (he is 11 months). At around 6 months, the late afternoon nap was his third nap of the day and was typically around the 5/5:30pm mark. At 11 months, he has two naps a day, and the second one is around the 4pm mark. I find that it’s as if he needs this later nap to gear himself up for dinner, bath and bed. So, to answer your question, we did a few more days of CIO and it then all seemed to click into place.

            Good luck!

  40. Hi-
    My daughter is 5 months old. 9 days ago we started letting her CIO at night. Since the day we brought her home from the hospital she was swaddled and bounced to sleep (both on a yoga ball and in a bouncing hammock). It got to the point that she also needed to be bounced to stay asleep, which was more work than I could handle day and night. Also, when she hit 4 months her naps shortened to 20-30 minutes and she stopped eating during the day. She was constantly overtired and a cranky mess by 4pm. She began waking 2-3 additional times per night to eat.
    We decided on the extinction method for both naps and night sleep. We also moved her into her own room, switched her from sleeping in her hammock to sleeping in her crib, and stopped swaddling her. A lot at once, and we knew it was going to be a rough road. But we figured if we were breaking one habit, why not break them all.
    I quickly gave up on nap training because she was getting zero sleep during the day, just hours of crying, and decided to only focus on night sleep for the time being. I have been holding and nursing her during her naps now. I know, bad habits to break later, but for right now it is all I can do to ensure she isn’t overtired by bedtime.
    We aim for a 6pm bedtime, but most nights we put her down sooner because she starts showing signs of being overtired (rubbing eyes, very fussy, yawning). We have a pretty solid bedtime routine, although it does end in nursing and sometimes she gets really angry when I pull her off to put her in her crib. She wakes pretty consistently between 6 and 6:30 each morning.

    Her times for crying herself to sleep the past 8 nights include: 1 hour 8 minutes, 43 minutes, 1 hour 30 minutes, 33 minutes, 33 minutes, 34 minutes, 42 minutes, 1 hour 10 minutes.

    She wakes one or two times per night to nurse. Half the time I put her in her crib when she finishes nursing and she falls right to sleep. The other times she cries for 40 minutes to an hour and a half.

    When I go in to nurse her at night she always has a poopy diaper. I fear that she poops before fall asleep and this might be why she is having so much trouble getting to sleep.

    So, my questions :-)
    1. Did we try to break too many habits at once?
    2. Can I nurse as the final step to her bedtime routine, or is this just a recipe for disaster?
    3. Should I check her diaper if she is still crying after a certain amount of time, even though this goes against the extinction method?
    4. Is it normal that after 8 nights of CIO that she still cries over an hour?

    Thanks so much for the support!!!

    • You aren’t alone in wanting to “pull the bandaid off all at once” but personally I’m not such a fan. Because yes you’re taking away ALL the soothing all at once. How would you feel about going back to the swaddle? At 5 months swaddle + loud white noise are both really reasonable ways to provide age-appropriate soothing.

      The pooping thing is a challenge. Do you have a night vision monitor? I’m a big fan. They don’t guarantee you can see what’s happening but often if you’re watching you can “see” baby poop (they make the poop face). Or what I would do is to check to see if she has poop once she is asleep. If you find she’s always pooping when crying then yeah, maybe you need to go in to check on her doing. But there is also a good chance she’s sleep pooping at some other time and thus the poop isn’t a factor. If THAT’s the case then I would just put on some diaper cream and let her sleep till she wakes up from hunger. While sleeping in our own poop seems really uncivilized, baby poop isn’t nearly as toxic as our own 😉

      Try going back to swaddle + white noise for both bedtime and post-feed at night and see if that doesn’t make a significant improvement on the crying. Good luck!

  41. Hi Alexis, thank you SO much for your site! We did CIO with checkins (Sleep Easy/Ferber style) at 4.5 months to get our son sleeping in his crib and putting himself to sleep. Things were going well and he had gotten down to 2, sometimes 3 feedings/wakings a night.

    He is now 7.5 months and we put him down to sleep around 6 (lately as early as 5:20 because he’s been refusing the third nap). He puts himself to sleep usually within 10-15 minutes. Problem is, he still waking up numerous times each night. We’ve weaned him off of feeds before midnight (using your above method) but he still wakes at 9:30 and 11ish. Dad used to go comfort him, with PU/PD or bum, and he would usually falls back asleep after a couple of checkins. That stopped working, so now we just let him CIO and it takes anywhere from 10-45+ minutes. The wakings seem habitual. Then he wakes usually twice more (between 12:30 and 1:30 and 3 and 4) and is up for the day around 5:30 or 6. It all seems like such a crapshoot after midnight, like one night he went from an 11:45 feeding all the way until almost 4 a.m. and then woke for the day at 6:20! Another day he woke at 12:30, 2:30 and 4 and we only fed him at 12:30 and 4 and left him to cry at 2:30.

    He has reflux and takes Prilosec twice a day. Because we have to wait 30 minutes after Prilosec to nurse and because we have to hold him upright after eating, he often nurses as close to 10 minutes before bed. We then read stories, pray and sing songs before head to bed. We also gave him a little breathable blankee which he loves.

    He’s 18 pounds and gaining weight fine. We took him to the pedi last week and he said he’s great. He’s happy during the day and has recently gone from 3 to 2 naps, for a total of 1.5-2.5 hours in daytime sleep. He’s able to put himself back to sleep sometimes and extend his naps.

    We keep sleep logs and even with the night wakings he generally gets between 10-11+ hours of sleep a night. Recently it’s been as low as 9.5 hours on the bad nights, but when he was having better nights it was always at least 11 hours.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

    • Well my big thought is that refluxing kids always sleep like crap. So part of what is happening is that his tummy is uncomfortable (even when medicated) so when he cycles through sleep he cries because of the heartburn. The night wakings may have little or nothing to do with actual hunger but be entirely due to discomfort and seeking soothing via nursing.

      I’m not necessarily advocating this but my own refluxing kids were swaddled and sleeping upright in non-moving swings until well after 10 months. Because back sleep was such a nightmare. I know other people who’ve done similar things with the nap-nanny. So it may be that having some angle when he sleeps (wedges don’t work) will help.

      But yeah – I don’t think he’s struggling with food, I suspect it’s about discomfort. Sorry :(

      • Thanks for your response, Alexis. He sleeps on his tummy 90% of the time and the other 10% on his side. He’s crazy active all over his crib, so we made the crib flat (used to have one side elevated) because his feet would end up above his head half the time.

        I don’t think the swing or nap nanny would work because he’d be struggling all night to get out of either. Any other ideas? Or do we just have to wait it out? Reflux has to get better soon, right? He’s 8 months now…

        • Just a thought but do you have the right dose? If you go to and look in the forums you can find the dosing chart for MARCI-KIDS research (the program has been stopped due to funding). Basically, because kids have higher metabolisms they require higher doses to be effective. We ended up upping our daughters dose of Prevacid ourselves and it was night and day. I told my peditricion what I was doing and she didn’t have a problem with it. Also, google TummyCare Max….it allows you to administer the drug at anytime regardless of meals, plus it tastes good :-) We went from taking shifts holding her upright in a rocking chair, to co-sleeping, to her sleeping in her crib at night and swing for naps and she’s 5 months.

        • Excellent tips Sabrina! I was wondering what happened to Marci-Kids. Too bad about the funding. Especially as it costs all but nothing to keep the site they already had up. Bummer.

          As for the “reflux has to get better soon right?” idea. It may and I hope it does. MOST kids are “done” by 1. Like 90%? Seriously MOST.

          My 3.5 YO is still on 30 mg of Prevacid a day after numerous failed attempts to wean off. Now it’s a much different story when they’re older – they’ll TELL you their tummy hurts. When they’re 8 months and you think you’ve got it nailed with medication, at best it’s a guess. Are naps crappy because his tummy hurts? Because he’s 8 months old and has a raging case of separation anxiety? Or because he’s a baby and babies are crappy sleepers?

          My only advice is to listen to your inner voice. It’ll be right more often than not.

  42. Hi Alexis,

    I’m looking for some help decoding my daughter’s sleep (or lack there of) and you have helped us a few times when we’ve come to these crossroads and are looking for answers.

    BTW- I never knew there were so many “pay for advice” sleep websites until recently. I am happy to donate to you and hope others will consider doing the same!

    Some background info:
    – 10.5 month old girl
    – Breastfed but never to sleep and always a 15-20 min gap before our bedtime routine
    – Falls asleep on her own EVERY night between 7-7:30 mainly b/c at 7 mths we followed your CIO tutorial to the letter and it worked (yay!). Bedtime is great and has been for months. She even really enjoys the routine!
    – She takes two naps in the morn and afternoon. Most days they are 1.5 and a 1 but lately she’s been fighting them on and off.
    – She wakes up for the day around 7am.

    The bad:
    She still wakes up at least twice at night (sometimes once if we are lucky around 5am which is no big deal in my book because she will go back to sleep until 7am). Lately she has had at least a few nights a week where she wakes up before 1am and refuses to go back to sleep after I feed her and lay her down awake but drowsy. We let her cry sometimes and it can go on for a hour before we cave in and rock her. Yes, the “R” word. Sometimes we cave in and rock her because she just won’t self soothe or nurse. Sometimes I feel like she is having a bad dream because she will be crying and thrashing around then stand up on the side of the crib and cry but go to sleep immediatley upon being rocked but then we can’t get her back to sleep without rocking her for a very extended period of time. She whimpers and kicks her legs as if she is dreaming and unsettled. Also, I have tried night weaning the first feeding and I get down to 3 minutues but it still doesn’t change her waking.

    I know you aren’t a Dr but do you think she could have a legit sleep disorder? She clearly doesn’t want to be awake. Could it be extreme anxiety? She has become extra clingy during the day and she has always been very alert and active. The anxiety seems to be worse though after she doesn’t sleep well.

    I just can’t find any answers because everything I read suggests that once a baby falls asleep on their own they will sleep through the night.


    • Lauren,
      Thank you so much for helping to keep my little operation afloat! But I cringe at being lumped in with the “pay for sleep advice” group because I really don’t want to be a part of that club. In fact my whole dream (over time anyway) is to build up enough stuff ON the site that people can diagnose their own issues all on their own. Which is why I prefer to think of it as a “chip in to keep the ball moving” sort of deal vs. pay for advice. Of course that’s all my own weird hangup about it and has absolutely nothing to do with what you are writing about 😛

      I just wrote a brand spanky new post about why night weaning isn’t working (see below). But I don’t think it helps you (read it anyway because maybe I’m wrong?).

      Here’s what I think.
      1) I’m not a doctor but there is a local pediatric sleep Dr. who I hit up for questions and he says that it’s ENORMOUSLY unlikely for kids under 2 to have any clinical sleep disorder. Basically this NEVER happens. The only exception would be sleep apnea (generally diagnosed due to snoring or some sort of obstructed airway issue – I don’t believe this is your problem AT ALL). So anytime somebody asks if their baby has a sleep disorder my answer is – nope.
      2) This sounds like CLASSIC separation anxiety stuff. She’s refusing to go back to sleep because she wants to be WITH you. Which is why rocking works like gangbusters. I’m betting that if you brought her into bed WITH you she would sleep just fine.

      Really I’m 98% confident about this. The solution isn’t super great. Practice separating during the day. Put her down and say, “Mommy will be back in a minute!” then leave the room. Then wait increasingly long periods of time (not super long obviously – she can’t be left alone all afternoon!) so she gets used to the idea that you can leave but you always come back. And then come back with big smiles and kisses.

      I would consider NOT going in at night. Because the rocking rewards the crying. I know this will feel super crappy but honestly – right now you’re sort of feeding the beast. Does that make sense? Or come up with a plan where you go in one time for less than 1 minute. Use your words (she understands most of what you say). Mommy loves you, mommy is nearby, but it’s time to sleep so mommy is going back to her bed but will be here with hugs and kisses in the morning!

      This is also why she is fighting naps. She doesn’t want to separate from you.

      Sorry there is no easy answer/fix for this. Time, practice, and a little luck will get you through.

      • Hi Alexis,

        For the record I see it like this A) A bunch of stuff on the Internet about sleeping- some bogus and some helpful B) Your website

        So listen up all you tired parents- please consider “paying it forward”! :)

        Yes, I started to analyze our past few months and I agree that it is separation anxiety. My husband has been traveling and out of town ALOT which isn’t helping our situation. I’ve spent alot of time explaining to her what is going to happen at naps and bedtime and it seems to be helping. She is still waking up once or twice (mostly twice) but she is going back to sleep easily which is HUGE compared to where we were the past few weeks so hopefully our daily “talks” are helping.

        Thanks again for your advice!!

        BTW- I have never figured out how to co-sleep. Where do you put the baby? How do you keep the baby from crawling all over the bed and disrupting the co-sleeping dog? Some things will forever remain a mystery in our house.

        • Aw….thanks Lauren. Seriously – when I’m feeling frustrated (which happens 5X a week as I’m desperately behind on comments yet my kids are all “hey Mom get off the computer before I cut my brother’s hair!!!”) it’s friendly comments like this that make me smile :)

          I also never figured out how to co-sleep. I had horrible nightmares every 10 minutes, waking up to check that I HADN’T rolled on the baby. Plus I insisted on taking off all the blankets to really nobody was comfortable sleeping that way. Many people actually have SEX with a sleeping baby IN their bed and I have never managed to wrap my head around that one (not judging just perplexed!).

  43. I just can’t seem to get the bedtime thing. We have a consistent routine (feed for the second time in the awake cycle), bath, jammies, books/singing, bed. White noise, lovey, dark room.
    But the trouble I’m having is this:
    1. Her naps are still all over the place, so sometimes she wakes up from her last nap at 4:00 and is up till 7 (refuses to take a nap) other times she can only last for 1.5 hours after her last nap and needs to take another nap which pushes her bed time back. So her bed time, subsequently is kind of all over. Anywhere from 6:30 to 8:00. We put her down tonight at 8:00 and she’s still fussing, 30 minutes later. I just don’t know how long she needs to be up between the last nap and bedtime. We can’t wait for tired cues to start the routine, so I’ve been estimating about 2 hours after her wake up. But sometimes she is fussy before that and sometimes (like tonight) she clearly wasn’t ready to go to bed.
    2. We did CIO 2 weeks ago. Some nights she goes down easy, some nights with 5 minutes fussing, some nights (like tonight, its 30 minutes). It is totally different every single night.
    3. Without fail, she wakes up within 1 hour of us putting her down. We put her down fully awake, nurse her twice within the two hours that she is awake before bed. She wakes up and is only able to go back down after nursing. Then she wakes again around 12 and then between 3-4.
    She is 6 months, 13.1 lbs and I am at a complete and total loss. I thought doing CIO would help, but we still have the same issue of her waking within such a short time, and I am still 100% confused about lead time to bed time. Clearly tonight I was way off. But whenever she does go down, you can bet your bottom dollar she will be up again in an hour or less. What do I do? What am I doing wrong?

    • You sound like you live in my house!!!

    • Hey Stephanie,
      Consistency can be a challenging goal. Everybody WANTS to be consistent but when naps are still staggering around like a drunken sorority girl, what are you going to do?

      At 6 months I would do this:
      – Dial in bedtime. It can move about a tiny bit (maybe 30 minutes?) but consistency at bedtime is going to help her body chemistry regulate sleep which will result in a far smoother transition into her night sleep. Even if she’s getting tired and seems like she needs a cat nap that will blow bedtime – don’t blow bedtime. Find a time within your current range that you think you can most consistently commit to and COMMIT.

      Also I have some bad news for you. You haven’t really taught her to fall asleep without nursing. Basically she falls asleep at “bedtime” but really she’s taking a late nap. Then she wakes UP from her nap in 1 hour and demands to be nursed to sleep, which you do. Thus in her brain (I’m guessing – despite rumors I can’t actually read baby brains) she’s actually nursing to sleep at night.

      She’s only waking up at 12 and 3 which isn’t horrible for 6 months. But despite your best efforts you haven’t really tackled “falling asleep alone” because she’s not really doing it. It’s also sending a mixed message which, I’m guessing, is also why you have continued variable crying at bedtime.

      So when she wakes up 1 hour of you putting her down, no more nursing. Nada. If you want to check and console in OTHER ways, you’re welcome to experiment with that (vs. full extinction). But I would take nursing off the table at the 1 hour wakeup.

      I think those TWO things (consistency at bedtime and the 1 hour nurse to sleep thing) are where you’re getting tripped up :(

  44. Hi Alexis. We’ve been trying CIO but our 9 month old only really cries for 3min when I put her down. She cried ten minutes the first night then only this short complaining since. The problem is that she is down by 7, then wakes every 3-4 hours for the rest of the night. I let her cry for 10 min at the first wake until she’s asleep again then nurse her at 2 then 5 since we hasn’t night weaned before beginning this. Her bedtime routine is 6:15 bath, massage, books, nurse then bed awake. I’ve tried moving the nursing before the books or bath but she’s not hungry since she has dinner at 5. She will only nap for half an hour on her own after cryin for 10min.
    Is the nursing my problem? Do I have to stop nursing her after dinner to solve this association?
    Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Hey Jackie,
      So is the problem that she wakes up and cries for 10 minutes here and there at night? If that IS the problem then there isn’t a good answer. Babies wake up ALL night long and often fall back asleep quietly. But 9 months is close to the peak of separation anxiety so it’s totally normal for her to wake up, realize you aren’t there, and grouse about it for a few minutes. I know 10 minutes of crying is a bummer but it’s really not a huge deal in the broader scheme of things. If you aren’t already, use white noise (it often helps).

      As for the weaning, check the post I liked to below which talks about weaning challenges. Hope it helps!

  45. I need help!! My 5 month old has reflux and has recently started to try to roll back to front. He was previously swaddled with loud white noise. After he started not sleeping as well (read:up more at night then during the day to eat) I decided to CIO. The first week went fairy well! No more then 30 min of crying and sleeping 7-8 hrs!! Then he started waking up a lot!! (Every 2 hrs!) this happened at the same time as him rolling over so we had to stop swaddling. Fast fwrd a couple of days (and little sleep) and we had to go out of town for a funeral. So in an effort to keep the whole hotel from hearing my lo cry, we went back to the swaddle for a night or two. We are now back to night one of no swaddle. It took him 30 min to fall asleep and last night he woke up once after he was just fed an hour previously. I guess my question is, should I let him CIO in the middle of the night? How long should I wait before going in to nurse him??? Please help!!!!!

    • Hey Meagan,
      The answer is – your baby has reflux.

      You can’t model the plan on non-reflux babies, you have to ADAPT the plan to YOUR refluxing baby. And as you know when kids have reflux, sleeping flat on their backs is generally a bit of a mess. So at this point you have two options…

      1) Embrace the swaddle. Refluxing kids often need swaddling for EVER. If he’s flipping strap him into a reclined swing. This has the benefit of holding him somewhat upright and preventing him from rolling over. Even if the swing isn’t on, this is generally a preferable method of swing to flat on the back.

      2) Give him practice flipping during the day (read: TONS of floor time) so that he get’s used to flipping and thus sleeping on his tummy. Tummy sleeping is actually a great position for refluxing kids. But when they’re little they get stuck. Also he may be so lost without the swaddle (arms flapping about and such) that the benefit of tummy sleeping is lost on him.

      So maybe the answer is 1 month of swaddle, strapped in swing, and THEN move on to tummy sleeping?

      • Thanks for the fast reply!! I was about to go re-wrap his cute little butt back up in the woombie since he’s been crying on and off for over an hour. I guess I need to follow my gut and not my husband who SWEARS he doesn’t need the swaddle anymore!;)

        • So 3 min after woombie-ing him, he fell asleep. Suck it hubs!! 😉 Oh, and his crib is elevated. So I haven’t been putting him in the swing for bed.

          • Sometimes you get lucky (there are tons of people here who are like, “What the heck I asked her a question WEEKS ago!”).

            Yay on sleep! But wait….if baby is flipping you CAN’T SWADDLE! Seriously – it’s a big SIDS no no. That’s why I suggested the swing so you can strap them in. Swaddled babies on their tummies are unsafe so if he’s going to potentially flip, you can’t swaddle in bed anymore :(

  46. Hi Alexis, you are doing great work on behalf of parents everywhere. I hope you can help me out too.

    My baby is sleep trained for the night and generally sleeps pretty well at night (10-11 hours), but has been taking naps of 40 minutes or less since he’s been 4 months old. He is now 7 months old so I fear he is not going to outgrow it on his own.

    I’ve managed to get him to fall asleep in his crib by himself by using the shush method (hiding and shushing), but he still wakes up from his nap after 20-40 minutes. Most of the time, after he wakes up he proceeds to yawn because he is still tired, so I know the nap wasn’t long enough for him. What do I do? Do I let him cry it out afterwards? For how long? Since he has just had a nap, I fear he will be not tired enough to go back down on his own.

    • We’ve all been caught in the cycle of “nap is too short but baby won’t go back to sleep” and it blows. But generally crying isn’t the answer HOWEVER….

      You should test the waters a little bit. Give him 10-15 minutes – what happens? Sometimes babies cry out for 5 and then sleep for another 40 which is a nap win. Try it tomorrow morning – if it doesn’t work, OK, give him a few days and try again.

      Testing the waters is almost always a good thing to dabble with here and there. Huge CIO post-short-nap is generally not such a good thing because as you’ve already figured out, he’s had some sleep and won’t easily go back to sleep on his own. So if it’s been 10-15 minutes and he’s full-alarm crying then OK, better luck next time. Cool?

  47. I dig your work. Hoping you may be able to help us with our babe. Our daughter is 5 months old, and is now able to put herself to sleep after CIO sleep training but it has not stopped the frequent waking and crying, which still keeps everyone up. I nurse her 2x a night, and think that’s necessary since she is breastfed and I am back to work struggling to keep up with pumped milk supply for daytime feedings. Bedtime routine starts at 630, she’s asleep by 7 every night easily, and on her own- and I feed her at around 11PM and 4AM. Problem is she wakes up around 9P,1AM,4:50A,5:30A, 6A and cries and cries. Sick of it. I don’t do anything consistently with these wakings- it all depends on how tired I am whether I go in and feed her, or bring her to bed to feed, or go in and console. Is this random response to blame?
    Her naps suck too. We can depend on a 9am nap that may go for an hour but then she cat naps about every 2 hrs after that for about 30 mins.
    Any thoughts?

    • The cat napping could simply be where she’s at at 5 months. You give her all the consistency and soothing you can, don’t let her stay awake too long (2 hour is probably about right), and hope for the best.

      As for the night waking – it’s a tough call. She could be hungry – often babies prefer the boob and will “fast” during the day and tank up at night. Also while you are pumping (good for you, pumping is not easy) you probably aren’t getting as much out as is actually IN there. So the net is that it’s totally possible that she’s legitimately hungry at night. Check post I link to below for more deets on that.

      It also could be that you’re inconsistent and thus are intermittently rewarding the waking up.

      But my gut says she needs more soothing. She’s waking up 2 hours post bedtime so really she’s not going that long sans food. This is not hunger – so what does she need? At 5 months I would consider loud white noise and a swaddle (even if you thought she was done). Also I wouldn’t let her cry at the 4:30 – 6:00 AM zone. At that point babies have had enough sleep that they don’t easily go back to sleep. So early AM crying almost never has a positive outcome (much as you might wish it to).

      • Thanks so much for replying, Alexis. I wanted to post progress in case anyone else had similar problems. My baby never fit any model described in all the books I read (Babywise- forget about it.) This site was the first that used language that didn’t make me feel like a terrible new mom.

        We have made progress- and this is after trying SO MANY things.

        What started to work was bottle feeding almost exclusively. I am permanently attached to a pump but- she eats more and is less distracted during the day if bottle fed, which means she eats more period. At night the bottle serves a purpose: feeding-only, and the boob was sleepy comfort and feeding, but she didn’t eat as much thus was waking up every couple hours.

        I want to note that this is the first time in 5 months that I have been sleeping for 3 hours at a time (!) I haven’t had a break since birth on the feeding, or wakings every 1-2 hours. For the last month I also had to work under these conditions. Terrible. I say this because it was this unsustainable stuff that made be decide that letting her cry is ok, and supplementing with formula is ok.

        Since this change she goes to sleep with just babbles, and wakes dependably at 11, 2, and 5 to be fed. She is WAY less crabby, her naps have been hour long for a week now, and
        I sleep for 3 hour stretches. This is progress! And I think this puts us in a better spot for night weaning in the future.

        There are so many things I have had to let go of in being a new mama- the un-induced birth, the emergency c section, wanting to breast feed ONLY etc. With everything I remind myself that #1 I put SO MUCH effort into trying to accomplish these things or make them happen- things happen that are just out of our control. #2 she is healthy. I am so grateful for that.
        Thanks for not assuming the choices we make as parents are for convenience. Many for me have been last resort.

  48. Hi. I am so glad I found this website. It seems to be the only place to get good advice that actually works and doesn’t make you feel like you are being a crappy parent. Thank you.
    My situation is this – My 9 month old is a true challenge in every way. Does she like her buggy – nope, always hated it. What about a baby carrier? Nope, always hated it. Riding in the car must be fun, right? Nightmare. What about being carried? Loves it. Can she entertain herself for more than a couple minutes without someone being right there with her? Not really. Pacifier? Hates it. What about drinking from a bottle? HATES IT – only wants the breast. Oh, well maybe she likes yummy pureed baby foods. Nope – only wants finger food that she can feed herself with (she has 6 teeth). You see now what I mean when I say that she is a challenge.

    What does this have to do with CIO you ask? Well, about 1 1/2 months ago I finally got my daughter to break the eat=sleep association and I was really proud of myself for that cuz it was not easy. We do the good old dinner, quiet play, change into jammies and brush teeth, read books, and then bed routine. It mostly works great. The problem is that she still wakes up at least 3 times a night and wants MOM and wants BOOB. She falls asleep around 7:15, and then wakes again around 9:30/10:30, 12:30/1:30, and 3:30/4:30. She is then up for the day around 6:45ish. If I go in and feed her, she feeds for around 5 to 7 minutes and falls straight back asleep every time. If I don’t feed her, then it is DRAMA. Dad is not good enough. Mom is not good enough. Only boob is good enough. After 9 months of never really getting more than 4 straight hours of sleep, I am slowly losing my marbles.
    The catch to this situation is that she is not breastfeeding at all anymore during the day. She only gets boob in the middle of the night. (the waking for boob was always happening though, not only since I have stopped breastfeeding). She eats lots during the day ( not just baby food, but the same food that mom and dad eat, pretty much) , so I have no idea why she should be hungry ( or if she is really hungry at all). I think she just habitually wakes and wants the boob to comfort herself back to sleep. I feel like if she was hungry, she would wake less and it would be more random, but it is the total opposite. She has always been very needy, so maybe it is also separation anxiety. What do you think?
    oh, p.s. – naps are getting longer and more normal, but getting her to fall asleep for naptime is still a total nightmare :( I am considering CIO for naptime …

    • Hey Katie,
      Have you seen the post below (night weaning)? I’m thinking that one or many of those things is the issue. I think she is too distracted to nurse during the day (and really solid food has far less calories than BM) and is probably legitimately hungry. (Usually 5-7 minutes is a real feeding although feel free to ignore me if I’m wrong.)

      I think you need to gradually wean, try to get her to nurse more during the day, and all the other stuff the weaning post talks about. I would start working on the 12:30 feed and maybe consider a dream feed at 3:00 (before she wakes up). Maybe another dream feed at 10:00. Does that make sense?

  49. Alexis,

    Thank you so much for this post. Last night marked the start of the third week of trying CIO with our 9 month old. The first week was rough, the second week was not so bad but last night was like we were repeating the first night all over again. I know I shouldn’t have, but after an hour I went in and got him and brought him to bed with us.

    The habit we’re trying to break is co-sleeping and also night nursing. It used to be that when he would wake, I would nurse him in our bed and then my husband would bring him back to his own bed after he was drowsy and almost asleep. Abruptly, that stopped working around 8 months. I think it was a whole host of factors… we went on a trip for the holidays, he got a cold, that turned into an ear infection, he got four top teeth at once and separation anxiety went into high gear.

    I’m guessing that what we were experiencing last night was an extinction burst. My concern now is that tonight, it’s going to be even worse. The most he cried for was the first night of CIO – 2 hours. The next night was an hour and a half. Then 45 minutes, then 30, etc…the second week he averaged 20-30 minutes of crying about 4-4.5 hours after being laid down for the night. He *always* wakes up 4-4.5 hours after being laid down. That’s when I would normally nurse him, and even during the day we’re on a four hour schedule. I’m just afraid he’s hungry and that by making him cry I’m stressing him out.

    I guess my question is – do you think it’s just a habit he’s waking up every 4-4.5 hours? Should we keep doing CIO? I’m not very strong emotionally when it comes to this and I tend to want to immediately cave. If we go forward, I’m seriously considering not sleeping in my house until it gets ironed out. My parents live about 5 minutes away and I could stay there while my husband is at our house.


    • Hey Amanda,

      It IS super stressful and I can tell you’re really bummed about this. I’m a little fuzzy on what is going on here but hopefully this will help.

      Separating boob from bedtime and having him fall asleep sans-boob is really key for most babies. And it sounds like you’ve done that – YAY! However if he’s waking up hungry (and it sounds like he is) then CIO is not a really effective way to help him gently wean off the night feeding habit.

      So I look at things from this perspective,
      – You had to break the boob=sleep thing and CIO has worked because you’re no longer nursing him to sleep.
      – BUT he seems to be legitimately hungry at night SO he’s crying a lot because hungry babies do that. So I would assume that after 4 hours he is actually hungry and go feed him.

      But I would also read the post below (as well as others I link to in THAT post) to come up with a gentle night weaning plan.

      Hopefully that will keep you off your Mom’s futon 😉

      • Alexis,

        Thank you so much for the reply!!

        I was feeling so out of it when I wrote my original comment so kudos to you for making any sense of it haha.

        I was about ready to throw in the towel and accept chronic sleep deprivation on my part… but we had a night where he woke at 11:30pm and was screaming so I brought him to bed with us. We used to co-sleep intermittently and it worked out fine until it didn’t anymore. That night was the WORST… he was so restless but wanted to nurse, but then didn’t. It was really bad. The next night, he slept in his crib for the most part until 4:30am at which point I brought him back again and the same thing… just constant up and down, really restless.

        I read the post you’re referring to the next day, plus a few others and I realized that like you said – we were trying to use CIO to break night weaning. So then I didn’t feel so hopeless. I also realized I probably wasn’t truly putting him down awake. He was more sleepy than awake when I would lay him down.

        So, we implemented your suggested bedtime routine but I do still nurse before laying him down. However, I now keep the light on. When he’s finished, I unlatch him, hold him upright, we turn the lamp off, I lay him down and say the words we chose for bedtime, and leave the room. Monday he cried 49 minutes. Tuesday night he cried 0 minutes. Tonight he cried 0 minutes. I can’t believe the change.

        He has woken at 3:30am the last 2 nights (which is when he used to wake up when we still had our “good” sleeping baby a couple months ago) for a nursing session. So I nurse him and we’re working on your suggestion for night weaning. I messed up Monday night by nursing him in bed with us. That resulted in a 3.5 hour up-and-down in-and-out-of-the-crib intermittent-cry-fest. Tuesday night, I nursed him then laid him down, he cried… after 15 minutes, my husband went in. My husband had to go in 3 times but on the third time, Ezra (my son) gave up and decided sleep was better than seeing daddy over and over – haha!

        Tonight I’m sure he’ll wake again at 3:30 but I feel so much better knowing now that I can unlatch him and my husband can help take care of Ezra should he cry. This is the only nighttime feeding we have so I feel really confident that within in the next 2 weeks or so, he should be sleeping his full 12 hours at night.

        Thank you again for the response and for writing all of this out – you have helped us SO much. I can’t even express how much. I wish I could hug you!!!

  50. Do any of you have a clue at how detrimental it is for your babies to be left to cry?

    Yes I am that attachment parent.

    I do enjoy reading your blog, lots of great information. Crying it out is not necesary by any means. Elizabeth Pantley wrote a great book on it called the no cry sleep solution. The gentle way of helping your lo sleep through the night. It takes work though, instead of hardening your heart to a helpless babies crys.

    • Hey Danielle,

      I’m glad you find lots of good stuff here. And I’m going to assume from your comment, that you and your baby have found a way to get everybody sleeping without any tears. And trust me, that’s the goal for ALL of us and I’m really glad you were able to figure it out!

      But there are just so many assumptions in your comment that I feel the need to expand upon.

      – That the crying involved with sleep training is more stressful than the stress on chronically sleep deprived babies.
      – That short-term crying has been shown to have any long-term negative impact.
      – That I or ANYBODY has ever suggested that CIO is necessary or desirable.

      But the one that I’m sort of hung up on is the assumption that parents who have found themselves in cryitoutsville aren’t gentle or caring. That they haven’t tried every other possible solution. That they haven’t read all the books (Pantley isn’t the only one who offers some alternatives), made every effort, have left any possible stone unturned.

      That they are in some fundamental way, ignorant or too lazy to consider other options. Because that simply isn’t the case. NOBODY wants to be in cryitoutsville. EVERYBODY wishes they could have avoided it and you can trust me when I tell you that they all worked REALLY REALLY hard not to end up there.

      These parents got to a point (and I’m assuming you have never been at that point which is great because when you get to this point things are in a bad way all around) where the chronic sleep deprivation (which is truly felt by ALL members of the family in the form of PPD, inability to function, inability to fight off illness, anxiety, increased crying, etc.) was SO bad that to continue that way was WORSE than letting their baby cry at bedtime for a few nights.

      I’ve learned that it’s a little safer to not assume these things because many of them aren’t true. Everybody is happy you found a cry-free way. My GOAL is to help people find a cry-free way. Let’s just be wary about making too many assumptions about the people who didn’t.

      • Brilliant! Your proactive approach in explaining your methods while gently reminding us to negate from making assumptions is so classy. I am so happy I found this blog not only for your openess and assistance to parents in need but to also learn different responses to the “Danielle’s” in the world that are so ready to pounce on CIO supporters. It was a last resort effort in my household and has made all the difference in the world!

    • Are you a product of cry-it-out from your parents? I am. And I am a perfectly functional adult who has a loving relationship with her parents.

      Cry it out is not a death sentence to the parent-child relationship. It’s a last resort, but it is not the end of the world.

  51. Just wanted to offer some comfort to those who are at the end of thier rope as I surely was!!
    It does get better! PROMISE! Alexis has an amazing site here and quite honeslty if I never found it, I would have surely been committed! So grateful for this place.

    When it’s hard & it sucks, and you think ONE MORE MINTUE might kill you (or worse, if you think it might cause damage to your precious baby) I can assure you, as a mom whose really been there, you and baby will be ok! :)

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement CC – I’m sure this will help many MANY people in their darkest hour (cuz frankly that’s the only time they come read this post ;).

  52. Hi Alexis,

    First off I love your site! It’s made a tough time slightly more tolerable. But I do have a question for you, to see if I’m right or way off base.
    We started doing CIO, please don’t judge, but after a month of waking up every 45 minutes or less throughout the night, it was time. It was going smoothly, only one time of a long cry session. Then yesterday happened. Morning nap great, afternoon nap shorter, and evening nap normal, bedtime was AWFUL! It started ok, but after waking up 1 1/2 hours after being put to bed, went and checked on her and decided that maybe this is her doing the extinction burst? She cried/screamed on and off for 1 1/2 hours. After finally getting to sleep, she did sleep well. Now today, morning nap only slept for 45 minutes. And now we are doing the same for afternoon nap, slept for 45 minutes. She was doing 1 1/2-2 hour naps. Do I take the 45 minute nap and go get her or let her cry and go back to sleep? I’m confused and stressing! Please give me some of your sage advice.

    • For starters – why would I judge you for CIO?

      Secondly, it’s hard to make a guess as I don’t know how old baby is. Generally the extinction burst comes relatively close to CIO and I can’t tell how much time passed for you. So it may or may not be that. This could also be a growth spurt/sleep regression. Again – not enough info to say.

      I would say that generally letting babies cry after they’ve napped for 45 minutes doesn’t accomplish anything. This is NOT to say that you shouldn’t give her some time to see if she blows off some steam and falls back asleep. But if she’s napped for 45 minutes I wouldn’t let her in there to cry for another 45 minutes so that she’s in her bed for her “full nap time.” Sometimes naps are shorter – this is the way of babies.

  53. Hi Alexis,
    Thank you so much for this site, I have read every line and feel that it is helping me so much through this process. I have a problem though, my 6 1/2 month old never slept more than 2 hours in his life, we coslept at first and did the constant suckling every night which I didn’t mind, but none of us were sleeping well. After trying other methods we decided (based on our baby’s temperament) to do full extinction CIO. The first night was great, 15 minutes of crying, then slept for 11 hours (6-5)! Second night even better, 5 minutes of crying then another 11 hours. We thought we found the miracle cure. Third night he cried 20 minutes and we thought it was a fluke, he would go back to the easy times, but he has continued to cry for 20 minutes every night, his wake up times have been getting earlier and earlier, and this morning he woke at 2:45 and would not go back to sleep (even with nursing). I know after reading others posts that 20 minutes is not a long time to cry, but I am concerned about this continued trend. It feels like we have hit a brick wall. Naps have never been great, but he naps (in the carrier) for an average of 4 hours a day (sometimes 3 naps a day, sometimes 4). I am at a loss, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Melissa,

      I’m more concerned about waking up at 3:00 AM and staying up. This feels really sleep regressiony to me (and thus unrelated to the CIO bedtime stuff). So I think you have 2 separate issues – the 20 minutes at bedtime and the 3:00 AM start the day thing, yes?

      The bedtime stuff is hard. My gut says it’s probably a bedtime issue. He’s napping great and my guess is that at almost 7 months he needs a little MORE time between his last nap and bedtime (you don’t specify when these naps/bedtime are happening so this is just a guess mind you).

      The 3:00 AM thing sounds sleep regression to me. I would offer more soothing – swaddle, nurse, white noise, and maybe a swing. ANYTHING to not get up at 3:00 AM. Also be on the lookout for separation anxiety to start rearing up on you. He’ll fight sleep to get more time with you. So your efforts to help at 3:00 AM might be actually rewarding him staying awake (follow me there)? Something to be mindful of.

  54. First off your blog is great. My lil one has just turned 6 months old. Following the information on your site and other research we have done, our lil one is sleeping through the nite and has been since 2 months old. We trained for naps and eventually that came too. What we didn’t expect was 15 weeks later, our little guy would be STILL screaming at night. He can go from 5 minutes to an hour plus. We have white noise blaring in his room which helped for a week, then he just started crying again. He sleeps from approx 7 – 7am and has 3 naps during the day. He naps 1.5 – 2 hours from when he wakes up then has 2 one hour naps, never past 5pm.

    If I go in there he freaks out even worse than he did when we first put him in so I just leave him there. I do not know what is causing this or what I can do to fix this. He doesn’t do it for naps, just at bedtime. His routine is the same everynight.

    Please help.


    • Hey Shenaz,
      I can’t say exactly why this is happening but 2 months of 1+ hours at bedtime is not cool or usual. So why is this happening? I don’t know. If I had to guess I would throw out it’s this.

      He needs to be awake LONGER between his last nap and bedtime. If he’s waking up from a nap at 5:00 PM he may not have accrued enough of a sleep debt to go to bed at 7:00 PM. I’m guessing that you’re more often finding the ugly crying happening when he’s napped later in the day. I think at this age you may need to manage his naps so that he will be awake LONGER before his 7:00 PM bedtime (manage the naps, don’t monkey with bedtime).

      Try this out for 1 week. See what happens. Let me know – OK?

  55. Hi Alexis.. After 14 months off hell and having third of selling the baby to the neighbours (!) I finally booked a week of work to train my 14 month old, who never slept through the night, would scream even looking at the cot and was feeding ever three hours at night and being so over tired that she would actually fight sleep and act delirious… So I did the cio and tonight was the fourth night… She has amazingly surprised me. First night she cried 45 mins and went to sleep, second night 2 mins and third nyt only grumbled while I put her in the cot as soon as I shut the door she went quiet n just lied down… I have taken her dummies off her, I just leave a couple in the cot tht glow in the dark n she finds them n puts em in her mouth or even plays with them while she puts herself to sleep. Today however she woke up at 9am and fought the nap
    All the way through, so I brought bedtime earlier from 8pm to 7.15 pm… Last three nyts she slept thru with a whimper here n there but tonyt I’m not sure what happened… She slept in two 45 min stretches and then was up form45 mins playing and crying on and off in the cot… I watched her closely on the monitor n it looked like she was just fussing… Eventually she fell back asleep n I can’t figure out if I’m headed the right way. Also what really worries me is tht since last night as soon as I start the routine she starts whimpering like she realises she’s goin in the cot which breaks my heart… How can I make tht better?? Will she ever smile and say ny ny mama…? And in the
    Morning she stays in her cot but wen she sees me come for her she cries… I get no smiles till I pik her up and reassure her… Is she thinkin she gets abandoned every night….? I just simply don’t understand.. But last three nyts she has slept 11-13 hours every nyt and we both feel human agen!

  56. Hi, someone please help… It’s night 6 of cio but it’s not as much cryin in the cot as it is before bed during the routine. Intact she screams when she comes outa the bath n stops when I put her in the cot n goes to sleep… I am so confused what an I doin wrong? She cries even goin into the room coz she knows she will have to go sleep.. But then she sleeps through the night without a fuss.. Tonight’s screaming after the bath was the worst and its breaking my heart coz generally she never credit out much n started sleeping…. Nayab

    • Nayab,

      I’m sorry you’re having a rough time. It’s hard to make out what is really going on with the spelling and such but here’s my best guess.

      Yes she’s anticipatory crying at bathtime. She doesn’t WANT to go to bed. This is her way of telling you she doesn’t like this, doesn’t want this, wants to be WITH you. OK that’s her choice. When she’s 3 she won’t be screaming, she’ll use delay tactics, she’ll go to bed and then swear she needs to poop, etc. At this age those aren’t options for her so she’s screaming.

      I know you want her to look lovingly at you, smile, and toddle off to sleep. But this is rarely what you get with babies.

      The nap thing I’m guessing is a timing issue. She’s sleeping a TON. 13 hours is a huge night. 9:00 AM is a “late” morning for a baby. So then her naps are going to be late too.

      Also if she’s getting 13 uninterrupted hours of sleep at night she may NEED less day sleep. She also may be going down to 1 nap now that she’s getting so much sleep at night. So I’m guessing the nap issue is simply you needing to figure out where she’s at now that she’s sleeping so much at night.

      • Hi Alexis, thank you for your reply and sorry about all the autocorrect! U were right, she’s now settled into more of 7.30pm till 7.30 am pattern and I even managed to get a ‘kissy’ from her while she was in the cot yesterday at bedtime! So great, however the nap is still an issue. She has dropped down to one nap and even if she’s up at 6.30 or 7 in the
        Morning she will fight that nap tooth and nail and doesn’t fall asleep till 2pm… I then end up waking her up at 3.30 pm latest as I think if I do it will affect her night sleep… I just simply don’t know how to tackle the nap… This blog is seriously amazing by the way!

  57. I feel like we are headed towards…EPIC FAIL!! we are on night 5 of CIO and things are worse? (Before) we were rocking in rock n play to sleep. Then up twice for bottles.(every 4-5 hours) . CIO night 1..cried for 1 hour then slept 8 and a half hours!!!:-). Night 2…cried only 40 min.(we were Loving the progress). Then she woke up about 3am. Had less oz than normal. Slept til 7ish. Night 3…only cried for 20 min!!!!!:):). Then, was up about 6 times!!!!! A combo of feeding, walking around to sooth her. Night 5…back to crying for an hour. Then up for her previous 2 bottles. so…5 nights later I feel like we are back to square one, WITH an hour of crying and the waking take twice as long to get her back to sleep……

    Who’s got feedback???? :-)

    • Hi Stacy. I don’t have much advice just some words of encouragement. On day four we hit a wall which we thought would never end. Nights 1-3 were OK and got better each night just like you’ve said. Then nights 4-6 were terrible. I’d read about the extinction burst where baby throws everything they’ve got at you in an attempt to make things go back to normal so I hoped it would be that on night 4 and 5.

      On night 6 I decided he had to be teething, ill, dying! He cried for nearly two hours, woke at 11 and cried or another two hours so I fed him. Then he wouldn’t go back to sleep, it was the worst! Then on night 7 he went to bed chatty, played with his lovey for half an hour and dropped off. He slept until 5, we couldn’t believe it!

      I think we’re on night 9 now and bedtime is a dream. He sometimes drops right off, sometimes plays for up to 40 minutes but never makes a sound. He wakes in the night for a bottle at either 3am or 5am and he calls for us rather than crying. Admittedly we still struggle to get him back to sleep after that but we can leave him in his cot playing and he sleep when he’s ready.

      So in a nutshell I’m saying I think it’s normal. It will get better. Stick with it, it will get better!

      My only tip would be (just from our own experience mind, I’m no expert!!) perhaps leave your little one during the night unless you know she’s hungry. The middle of the night is absolutely the worst but if you continue to rock and feed she will expect it every time she wakes up. Our son cried harder on the nighttime wale uos than before bed but he now wakes up, finds hiis lovey and goes back to sleep. The nighttime wake ups will definitely improve if you stop rocking and responding.

      Maybe Alexis or someone else will have better, more experienced advice but that’s what we found. I hope it gets better soon!!

      • Thanks for the words if encouragement!! Last night she actually Fell asleep in her carseat, since Grammy had her, while we were at dinner, and she stayed asleep until 5 am. So tonight back to crying, but it only lasted 15-20 min. I think my husband will be the strong one to let her cry in the middle of the night. I leave for a business trip in the morning. Wish us luck. Thanks again!!

        • Hey Stacy,

          Joseph is totally right – I think you got tripped up by an extinction burst. And your well-meaning intent to go soothe her (by going back to carrying her, etc.) sort of blew up on you by reinforcing the crying. You taught her that crying works sadly.

          The other thing I’m wondering is how old is your baby? If you’re doing all this at 4 months (right?). It’s really hard to find the best time to sleep train. But 4 months is not a great time because almost ALL kids have a huge sleep regression/growth spurt at this time.

          Usually it’s HORRIBLE and makes everything much harder. So it’s hard to work out how much of what you’re dealing with is related to this vs. CIO.

          Hopefully you’re happy night last night is now the new trend.

  58. Can you say…ANXIETY. So..we are NOT going to QUIT cryitoutsville since we are here. (ps cryitoutsville is a town I never thought I would visit) However, my 4.5 month old has now started to cry when my husband and I leave the room, while she’s playing during the day. So is it just me “blaming” the cry it out or is this a side effect. She literally started this in the last 4 days. :(

    • Hello. Me again with my completely inexperienced advice! I don’t think it’s anything to do with CIO, just a coincidence. I was adamant our little fella knew bedtime was coming because he absolutely became inconsolable the minute we started the bedtime routine. I actually think now we were putting him to bed too late. And now if he cries during the routine, he stops when we put him in bed (never thought that would happen!) He also went through a very trying phase at about 5 months where he wouldn’t be left alone, and 6 months and 6-12 weeks ha ha. And he also gets that way if he’s over tired. So really it could be a multitude of things.

      I’m not sure about developmental milestones but its possible she has hit one this week and that’s why she’s a bit more clingy. I swear by the wonder weeks book and app. ‘The boy’ hits each fussy phase like clockwork and it helps me stay focused when he’s having a testy week. Take a look of you haven’t already.

      • Josephfc – have I told you lately that I love you?

        Great response. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with others :)

        • Well thank you very much, but I’m just an imposter regurgitating all of your fantastic advice! Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving our sleep!

  59. Hi Alexis or anyone else that may have advice!! my baby girl is about 5 months goes to bed at 7:30 and usually sleeps until 7:30 (not straight through) we have waketimes of 2 hrs between 3 naps.
    we started CIO about 3 weeks ago and i have to say it has improved greatly!! she still cries but usually only for a short time (like 10-15 min). every once in a while we still have a terrible night ie 45 min-1hr of crying…any ideas why? i know sometimes she is overtired but others i have no clue??? should i be soothing more if i know she is overtired or is that ruining all the hard work we have already done? i feel like i am over thinking it but i am just ot sure what to do?? please help!!

    • I would IGNORE 10-15 minutes. I know you would prefer she coo and smile and fall asleep. I would too. But 10 minutes is nothing. That’s her expressing her displeasure at the idea of bedtime. My 3 YO tells me, “I HATE SLEEP!” Sure buddy fine. Goodnight.

      45 minutes IS something so I would pay attention to what happens those nights. Because yeah you’ll have an extinction burst here and there but that shouldn’t be a regular thing.

  60. Help!

    Our LO is going to be 6 months this week and we started CIO about 3 weeks ago. I never thought I would go the CIO route but around 4 months, she started waking up every 1-1.5 hours. We were co-sleeping and I nursed her to sleep but she still kept waking up so frequently that I was really sleep deprived. I would love to get someone’s insight/advice on our LO as she has still been crying quite a bit when we put her in her crib (and it’s been 3 weeks!). But once she goes down, she will sleep 10-11 hours straight! Not sure if we are doing something wrong but it pains me to hear her cry every night. I still nurse her to nap as she will not nap any other way… but we will tackle naps once her night time crying is more manageable (I don’t think I can handle crying day AND night). Here’s sort of a breakdown on what’s been going on:

    Week 1 – we saw improvements (she cried just under an hour on night 1, but it went up and down and the shortest was 12 mins of crying)

    Week 2 – was terrible – she would cry for an hour or more… so we started moving up her bedtime

    Week 3 – bedtime is now 730 but she is still crying for 20-30 mins.

    Any ideas/suggestions?

    • Eva,
      I am in your same boat! We have been doing CIO for about a month now with my 6.5 month old!!! We have a very strict bed time schedule and it varies between 6:45-7:45 depending on when she wakes up from her last nap. I watch for signs of her being tired, pick her up from playing and we start our routine. Daddy reads 2 books, bath, 1/2 of bottle, mommy reads 2 books, lights outs lullaby and finish her bottle. Put her down half asleep…and then it starts….every single night (we might have 1 night where she is quiet)…but goodness how long should this go on? I am really considering trying another method…but do I stop now since we are so into it??? I love this blog and I am so envious of everyone’s LO who doesn’t cry after a week!!

      • Just in what I have read via this site, have you thought about moving bottle feeding to the first task in your routine with Dad giving it to her and having her take the whole thing then? It may be that your little one has a super strong association to feeding and sleeping because it is the last thing on her routine. In theory it makes sense, that is the final task she remembers before going to sleep so it’s the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up during the night, right? Best of luck.

        • Hi Joanne,
          That is actually what we started with….dad giving her bottle and books…and then the rest of the routine as mentioned earlier. She would NOT drink it at all! So therefore, waking up around 2 or 3 for a bottle b/c she was starving. So that is why we switched it around. I do take it out before she falls asleep….then sing a bit to her before. I just went out and bought the book Healthy sleep habits, happy baby. So I am hoping to figure out what to do and what we are doing wrong. She is overall a good sleeper…it’s just falling asleep at night is what we have problems with. Maybe she is a baby that needs to fuss a bit at night? I don’t know! I do know that my brain is so tired trying to figure it out :)

          • Hi Cara,
            I am in a similar boat so I feel your pain. My guy is 6.5 months old and fusses each night as well. Tonight was 7 minutes. I did notice that he fussed less when swaddled tight. I just started the whole swaddle thing hoping that would help. He hated it when he was younger OR at least I thought he did.
            It sounds like you have your stuff together and your plan is pretty solid.
            Regarding the book, I have it, it’s 400+ pages long. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from buying it.

            Here are some Key Points that I took from it:
            – Emphasizes “extinction” sleep strategy in the book. Specifically for post-colic babies or difficult temperaments. Soothe to sleep and then “close the door.”
            -Consistent Naps: Soothe to sleep. Leave alone for at least 10-20 minutes but up to an hour.

            Sometimes it feels there are mixed messages, example- he mentions not going in before 6 am to a crying baby, but then adds in the side notes “no more than 2 feedings a night”.

            Worth the read. Good Luck :}

            • Well last night wasn’t so bad…cried for 11 min. I don’t think we were entirely consistent before, looking back. There would be nights we’d pick her up b/c we thought she needed a burp or something else was wrong. Then she had her shots, so that night was up off. So I am thinking starting last night, we pretty much have to start from scratch again…and be 100% consistent! I did get the book and started to read it…it does make sense. I skipped around it a bit last night and it seems as if we are on track, just have to stay on track.
              I do know naps might be a cause to for the night time. Until she was 5.5 months old, she would only nap in our arms. It was exhausting! Finally I had enough…I tried to CIO during naps for a week and it was miserable. 30-45 naps each time, wake up screaming….grumpy all day…up all night. So now, I lay her in our bed and lay beside her and she sleep 1.5-2 hours each time (most of the time). I talk to our pediatrician and he said that it’s ok, naps take a bit longer to get a stucture on then and what I am doing is fine for now and take it step by step. I do get up and leave her after about 45 min sometime…if I don’t fall asleep. But I am fearful she will roll off the bed so usually I stay. He also mentioned to make sure our nights are good before we start cio with naps and try to get as much sleep during the day since they will be fussy at night. So I am following that for now.
              I feel so exhausted sometime b/c being a first time mom and my career used to be a corporate trainer, now to a stay at home mom, this is the hardest “client” I have had :)Do you think I am confusing her at night with the naps the way we are doing them? I am so anxious to get the part in the book about napping! Thanks for your advice!

            • I think you both have some really good thoughts. I just wanted to chime in to add a few small things:

              1) YES swaddle. YES. See new post on swaddling with Dr. Karp.

              2) At 6+ months you want to start to defend bedtime so that it can be consistent. So if a long late afternoon nap is going to force you to push bedtime back, it’s better to wake baby up and “defend” bedtime.

              3) Keep in mind that 10-15 minutes is really just a protest about bedtime. So “ignore” those as much as you can, look at “bad” nights and try to figure out what could be contributing to THOSE.

      • Hi Cara,

        It’s nice to know that we’re not the only ones having this problem! Well, my LO has been getting better this week…she doesn’t cry as much.. it’s more fussing now for about a few minutes and then she’s out. She still has frequent wakings but is able to soothe herself back to sleep. I’ve been tweaking a few things over the last week to see if it was making a difference and seems like it has. I let her take her last nap between 5-6pm (only about 20-30 mins) and after a 2 hour awake time, I put her in her crib awake (sometimes she doesn’t even look tired or show her tired cues but she manages to pass out after a few minutes of fussing). I’ve also let her sleep with a lovey so she has my scent with her and I downloaded an app that will play white noise. Maybe it’s a combination of things but this week has been a good week. I used to nurse at the end as part of the bedtime routine but since I wanted to break the association of feeding and sleeping, I do it earlier in my routine and do storytime before putting her in her crib. I don’t know if your LO is confused with the way she is napping vs sleeping at night but I still nurse my LO to nap. I think I read somewhere that if you are seeing the sleepy cues then your LO is already overtired?

  61. Alexis! This is a wonderful blog. My 11 month old goes down to sleep at bedtime (7-7:30) by himself but he gets up 2-4 times a night to feed. I’ve been trying to night wean but as I shorten the time of his nursing sessions he doesn’t fall asleep all the way and screams when I put him in his crib. Help? Last night was awful. He woke up at 10:30 and I nursed and he slept until 1:30. He woke up again and I nursed him 24 minutes and he cried for 2 and half hours before falling asleep for another half hour then he woke up screaming again. I nursed him again for another 24 minutes and the cycle repeated itself until my husband couldn’t take it anymore and he walked him around and he fell asleep. He sleeps in our room and that is pretty much our only option as we live in a one bedroom. He takes 2-3 naps a day and they are between 40-50 minutes long. If you have any tips as to what we can do or start doing to end these hellish nights I would be super grateful. Thanks :)

    • Any relief? Have things gotten better????

    • Hey Carolina,

      Have you seen the post below on night weaning?

      I think you have a huge nurse=sleep association. So it’s not about shortening the nursing sessions because it’s less about food and more about the fact that he feels he needs to nurse until he is COMPLETELY asleep (which is why it takes 24 minutes) and that is why he is screaming. Not because he’s hungry but because he needs to nurse TO SLEEP.

      I would start by separating nursing from sleep AT bedtime. Put a solid 30 minute gap in AT bedtime. Hopefully that is a strong first step. I wouldn’t worry about shortening the feeds at this point – I would focus on putting him down awake. I think that is the root issue you are struggling with unfortunately :(

  62. So glad I found this site. We are about to start sleep training our 4.5 month old daughter. Her problem is going to sleep, not staying asleep. I usually feed her for the last time around 8pm* then change and bath and cuddle for an hour or so. Then she gets swaddled and goes in her swing with a binky. She’ll fuss a bit then doze off and spit out her binky. She may wake up a few more times then go to sleep. The trick is transporting her from her swing to her crib without waking her up or we have to start over. It usually takes about 2 hours for the whole process. If we get her in her crib by 11, she’ll usually sleep til about 7.

    So, would you recommend CIO for her? Graduated or full extinction? Can I do the same thing for naps or just start with night time sleep? Are there any issues with CIO on a swaddled baby?

    *I’m slowly trying to move her bedtime earlier but we still can’t really get her down before 11.


    • I guess my question is why are you transporting her from swing to crib? Why not LEAVE her in the swing? If you are really uncomfortable with her swinging then turn off the motor but leave her IN there.

      Also 11:00 PM is a WAY late bedtime at ~5 months so I would check this out:

      The answer may be to start waking her up earlier in the morning.

      I don’t think you necessarily have a problem that will respond well to CIO. Although it’s been a few weeks so maybe you’ve already gone that path. If so let me know what happened – OK?

  63. Hi Alexis – It is 3:45am and I have a been awake for well over an hour with a screaming baby…I feel like throwing in the towel. My almost 5month old daughter has been a horrible sleeper since about 6 weeks. She does the 30 minute (or once in awhile 3 hour nap) and we are up many, many times every night to pop that pacifier back in her mouth after she wakes up without it and can’t go back to sleep. My partner and I had been discussing CIO as an option and as a way to lose the pacifier. I know it’s on the early side to consider this but we are both teachers and cannot afford to be zombies all day when dealing 25 other people’s children. And more importantly, my baby was miserable and always tired. Anyway, (enough justification) one night she just wouldn’t go down without me right there literally holding the pacifier in her mouth, so we just bit the bullet and did it. It was amazing! Well, not the first night. The first night essentially sucked and lots of tears were shed (me included). But night two there was only about 10 minutes of crying initially and then a few minutes once in the middle of the night. The third night was…perfect. We laughed at how silly we were to think it wouldn’t work and that we should have done this sooner for everyone’s benefit. Well, fast forward past a super night with absolutely no crying and a night that was a bit tougher but manageable and we land here. Our problem is not her going down. After her bedtime routine that still works like a dream. Maybe a fuss or two and she’s out. But when she woke up in the middle of the night or very, very early in the morning, she would not go back down. It was worse that night 1. She screamed and screamed and screamed. We patted and sushed and she calmed but then went back to screaming. Although she’s slept through the 3am feed many times, I still feed her if she wakes so I know that’s not the reason she is crying. So I fed her at 2:30am when she woke up, put her down. She cried for 5 minutes and fell asleep. Great. Wonderful. But 10 minutes later she was in a full rage and stayed that way until 4am when she is finally quiet. Where did we go wrong?? Is this actually an extinction burst if it’s not happening during the initial put down? Is this the new normal? Or is CIO just not working for her? ugh…. help.


    • No I don’t think this is the new normal nor do I think that CIO isn’t working. CIO is a very specific tool for a very specific problem. You’ve SOLVED the paci problem with CIO and it worked beautifully (OK well not beautifully but it did the job).

      Now something else is going. You go to her you nurse her and she screams regardless. I honestly am not sure why – I suspect there is some issue with discomfort (ear infection, tummy bug, gas bubble, etc.) It’s hard to say. I would consider a quick check in with the Dr. just to see.

  64. Hi Alexis,

    I also have a 7 month old girl who isn’t a great sleeper. She went through a colic stage (we questioned an allergy to dairy through breast milk). So she was held a lot and slept in a bassinet next to our bed for the first 4.5 months. We tried every method to get her into her crib but she hated it. We then reverted to CIO at 4.5 months. Up to that point she was sleeping in stretches of sometimes 6 hrs at night! It was awful. She cried for over 2 hours and it just continued to get hysterical! Then we reverted to co-sleeping (which I never thought I could do) to get some sleep. After that she woke every 2.5 hrs and would only go to sleep by nursing. Naps are another issue…I put her in the crib drowsy, but awake. She only naps for 45 minutes at the most. Same idea…she wakes up crying and it escalates until we go in and get her. She doesn’t self sooth. The thing is she is such a bright and happy baby during the day! (which I am thankful for). She does rub her eyes often, and I know she is so sleep deprived. We did try CIO again last week. No improvement. It ended the same as before. With her becoming hysterical, hyperventilating, and us going in to get her. So I just don’t know what to do…:(
    I really need some guidance and reassurance. Thanks for listening!


    • Hey Jenny,

      She sounds like she needs a TON of soothing and it also sounds like she always has. Whenever somebody talks about colic, possible milk protein intolerance, you have to wonder about reflux. Or some other niggling source of discomfort.

      Also? ~4 months is really the worst time to try CIO so I’m not surprised you had a horrible experience. I should probably blog about this because you aren’t the only one to try it out and have a bad time of it :(

      I’m not super concerned about her naps. You put her down awake she takes a shortish nap. OK it’s not a huge problem. Not uncommon.

      But I do know that co-sleeping and nursing constantly is not OK if you aren’t doing it because you WANT to. I would definitely strongly consider loud white noise and swaddling whenever she sleeps. I know you think she’s probably too old for swaddling but I don’t.

      She’s exhausted, I get it. I wouldn’t let her cry at naptime. If she wakes up she’s up. Go get her. But I would consider your bedtime plan – swaddle, white noise, CIO. But only if you’re committed. If you’re going to go get her then don’t. OK?

      • Thank you for your reply…I would LOVE to continue co-sleeping and nursing, however, I am back to work in the next few months and am a shift worker. So I wanted to start this transition sooner than later, incase it takes a while. So for swaddling, even though she sits up etc in her sleep?? And rolls on her tummy? Okay, I will give it a try. We do use white noise, and have since she was a newborn. Thanks so much :)

        • Also, she moves around sooo much in her sleep. Is this normal? And what can I do to help with reflux?? If that is a possible factor??

        • If she’s swaddled AND flipping over then you can’t swaddle – NO swaddling on tummy. But some babies will flip while unswaddled but happily sleep on their back WHILE swaddled in which case go for it!

          I’m not saying she HAS reflux. But I guess I’m throwing out the possibility of something making her uncomfortable to you – do YOU think there is some root issue? Or is she just a slightly higher needs baby? Because that could be what is happening too?

          Here’s some more stuff on reflux:

          • Hi again…Can I just say I appreciate your replies. I know you must be very busy replying to people :)
            I don’t really know how to go about exploring the possible causes. I have talked to her doctor about these issues and she simply passes them off. She said that an allergy to cow’s milk protein is impossible through breast milk. So, I don’t have any help in that area. I was thinking possibly a pediatric naturopath, and even a pediactric chiropractor. Just to eliminate all possible problems.
            She is only high needs in the area of sleep. So, I am not sure :(

            • Cow milk protein is ABSOLUTELY transmitted through breast milk and about 10% of babies have this issue. This is not my opinion this is medical fact – for real. Go Google it. So my advice would be to first consider a second pediatric opinion.

              Personally I’m a little nervous about naturopaths and chiropractor. Not because they might not help but the quality in these professions varies greatly. Much of the treatment has not been studied for pediatric use. So it’s not something I’m a big advocate for.

              Also I’m not sure if you need to pursue alternative medicines yet as there are some very common and easily managed potential causes for uber-fussiness that are explained, easily, by traditional medicine. Like the milk protein thing.

              Answer: Go off milk protein for 2 weeks see what happens. Read labels it’s in EVERYTHING.

  65. Started CIO 5 days ago and my little one STILL cries for at least an hour when we put her down to bed. I don’t know what to do, this doesn’t seem to be working…. I used the Sleepeasy method. It’s either this agony of listening to my baby cry every night with no improvement or going back to her waking up every hour. I’ve used all suggestions on this site and in the book. How long can this go on, I feel horrible and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

    • I hope you and your little one are doing okay. I felt just like you when I did CIO. I hit day 5, tired and miserable. I told my husband I was only going to day 7 and then going back to my old ways. Lo and behold, my little one started doing great by day 7. I hope you didn’t give up. HOWEVER, I did read it here somewhere that if after 7 days there is no improvement then, take a break from CIO and go back to your old ways for a bit so you can reevaluate what is going on. Maybe it’s the bedtime routine? Naps? Etc.
      I am in, what I think is regression, where he goes down beautifully and only wakes up once but now in the middle of the night, just wants mom. So, the journey to sleep continues. But, I know where this is going if I don’t do something now as I have a 4 year old whose night time routine is AWFUL. I take full responsibility as I would pick her up the minute she whimpered. Lesson learned!
      Hang in there!

    • Hey guys,

      I think there are lots of great things about the Sleepeasy book. But to be honest – any system of checkins almost ALWAYS works against you.

      It seems gentle and more loving. But you’re effectively rewarding the crying. And in my experience now with literally thousands of families, I’ve got to say that it almost ALWAYS works against you.

      I would seriously consider full extinction. For real.

  66. Hi
    We have a 7 month old girl and hoped someone could offer some advice. She’s been a terrible sleeper from the start and we decided to do sleep training when she turned six months and started with the gradual retreat method which didn’t really work and we realised we needed to try something a bit firmer.

    We tried CIO about two weeks ago. I have always done a dreamfeed so I continued with that and decided not to feed her then until morning (on the basis that, though feeding puts her to sleep, she actually doesn’t seem that hungry, has been uninterested in the first morning feed and has slept through from 11pm-6am a few times). I also didn’t want her to be confused when she woke not knowing whether she needed to go back to sleep or whether she was going to be fed.

    Anyhow – she learnt very quickly to go down awake and fall asleep without a fuss, but kept waking up at around 3am. The first two or three nights she cried for around 2 hours, but this then got better and then by night 5 she slept through from 7.30pm-6.30am (with dreamfeed at 11pm). This went on for about 4 nights and we were thrilled. BUT now she’s started waking at 3am again. The first night she cried for 2 hours before we gave up and gave her a pacifier (straight to sleep till 7am) and last night she cried for 30 mins and gave her pacifier (straight to sleep until 7am).

    Please advise! Does anyone have any ideas why she is waking at 3am (only 4 hours since dreamfeed and probably not hungry) and whether we should just let her CIO however long it takes …???

    Thanks, Claire

    • Hey Claire,

      That IS frustrating. But not that uncommon.

      I believe that what you have here is separation anxiety. I’m guessing. Regardless you often see babies at this age who are awake in the middle of the night for long periods of time. Usually going to them rewards the waking and just leads to MORE waking.

      However your baby seems a bit unusual in that if you just pop in and give her the pacifier she’ll sleep till morning. IF you can just pop in give her the paci and she sleeps like gangbusters then I say go for it. If however, this stops working then you have a “she wants to be WITH you” problem and then you might need to consider the CIO route :(

      What if you feed her? If you go in JUST as she wakes up will she nurse and go to sleep? THat’s another option to consider.

      • Thank you for taking the time to reply.

        After around 3-4 nights of the strange 3am wakenings she has settled on 5am-6am which is much better (and we get a nice long sleep). A pacifier gives us another 45-60 mins. As it’s REALLY cold here in the UK and her bedroom is the coldest in the house the last week we’ve cut her some slack and brought her into bed with us.

        This will give us a headache when the weather improves and I want her to sleep longer in her own bed, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it…!

  67. Hi Alexis, I hope you can help! Or at least tell us what we did wrong! We were reluctant co-sleepers because our child’s sleep had gotten so bad that we all needed some rest, this started around the 4-month sleep regression. Well over time she has started waking more and more frequently to nurse. Sometimes waking every 15 -30 minutes and basically attached to the boob. My husband and I reached our breaking point (he’s been on the couch half the time!) she is now 9months and last night we started CIO (Ferber). She has a very regular bed time and routine, I moved the nursing to before bath and put her down awake after stories. She cried 30 minutes then fell fast asleep, she was so deeply asleep that she didn’t wake for her normal nursing at 10:30 or 11:00, we waited till 12:30 and decided to try a dream feed because I was worried about supply and her being hungry. She sleepily fed and then when I put her back in her bed she cried from 12:50-2:15 then woke up again at 3:30, I nursed her again since it had been 3 hours since last nursing. She fell asleep and again she cried when I put we in the crib and continued to cry off and on till 5:00 am she was sitting up the whole time hunched over and falling asleep then would slump over and wake up and cry. By 5:00 am we had had enough (I hadn’t shut my eyes yet all night) so we brought her in bed to finish the night. So my questions are 1. Should I have woken her, or is it ok to just listen to her cues of hunger? 2. If she falls asleep slumped over, sitting up, should we adjust her to lie down or let her find her way to the mattress? 3. How many hours is ok for them to cry, is it confusing for them if we come get her after an hour and a half of crying? 4. Also, I think she might have a tooth coming through soon, is it best to continue on or take a break and try again when the tooth comes out?
    Thanks so much,

    • Medicate the tooth. But don’t plan around it because there is always something (teething, ear infections, wonder week, etc.).

      I definitely wouldn’t wake her up if she’s sleeping especially not the first week or so. Dreamfeeds are generally a good idea but for the first week of CIO I would say sleeping = good. If she wakes up go feed her WHEN she wakes up (don’t let her cry for 30 minutes THEN go).

      As for the slumping, if you can gently put her back down without waking her than go for it. If she wakes up and starts crying the minute you try then OK.

      I think you were right to get her at 5:00 AM. Also you might consider that the check ins (especially in the middle of the night) are working against you so I would suggest more of a full extinction approach.

      Hope things are going better now…

  68. Is there a place on your site where you list every post you have ever done? I have spent some time on this site (which I LOVE BTW) and I keep coming across posts that I have never read. For example this one and another one I found a couple days ago regarding naps. Anyway, my point is that it would be so helpful to have them all listed somewhere (and maybe they are, and I am just too tired to find them ;O))
    Thanks for all that you do!!

    • No I don’t – what did you find that was hidden away? Let me know so I can repost it since nobody has probably seen it!

      This post isn’t hidden away – its in a main menu item (sleep training) so I consider that “prime blog real estate.” But I’m sure there is some stuff that IS hidden away and is ripe for a bit of an update so please let me know what was hidden and I’ll try to fix it!

      • I love how you updated the Sleep Training link. I had not clicked on that for a few weeks – very helpful! I am glad you included this post, as I don’t think it was there before. The other post that I found useful was “Your nemisis, the Short Nap”. I just happened across it, and it is possible to find it if you search “nap”, but you have to click “older entries” several times to find it. And actually just going through that exercise to find it for this post, revealed several more posts that i haven’t read, but want to. I think it just takes some time and patience clicking back through the older entries to find some of these gems. ;o)

  69. I just came upon this site this morning and it couldn’t have come at a better time…I need help! My daughter is red headed 10 month old hot head. Se would fall asleep every night during her last bottle at 8:30am and sleep until 1am. I would give her another bottle and then she wouldn’t go back into the crib. She would only sleep if we took her into bed with us. It’s isn’t working anymore for anyone! We started CIO and this has been the progress… Night one: feel asleep in my arms and then woke at 2am cried for 45 minutes and I caved in and took her to bed with me. Night two, cried for about 30 minutes then slept from 9am- 7am. Night three: cried for about 15 minutes and then was up from 3-5:30am screaming. Night four: cried for 15 minutes and slept from 8:30-7am. Night five, she cried for about 15 minutes then woke at 4am and screamed until 5:45am. I have been going in to soothe her but I feel like it escalates the problem and prolongs it. I am watching her on the monitor so I know she isn’t hurt just upset. She also takes two 30-45 minute naps a day and only cries for about 5-10 minutes when we put her down for them. My questions are: is this working??? Will it get better?? Should I stop going in to soothe her if I see that it makes it worse?? Am I doing it right? Is there anything else I can be doing? How long does this usually last?
    She is such a happy active baby during the day but terrible at night….it breaks my heart but I know she needs to learn to sleep on her own. Any help/advice would be amazing!!!

    • Hi Kelly,

      I don’t know how many articles you had a chance to read – but this one:

      and this one:

      might be helpful

    • Hey Kelly,

      Lisa has basically answered your question (THANKS LISA!). Are you doing it wrong? Not necessarily but when you decide it’s time to go to cryitoutsville you MUST COMMIT.

      Thus having her fall asleep in your arms is no longer OK (you get why right?). Having her sleeping in your arms or bringing her to bed with you is sending mixed messages which leads to many many days of crying.

      Also it sounds like you are trying to sleep train and simultaneously night wean so I’m wondering if some of the 4:00 AM crying isn’t legitimate hunger?

      Check the links Lisa shares, reconsider your plan, modify that plan and see if things don’t get much better really quickly. Cool?

      • Yes I am reading those articles now and it seems like not going in to soothe might be best for her..although harder for me :-(

        The first night I caved in but have committed myself to this moving forward so I will do whatever it takes to help my daughter sleep. (I havent taken in back into bed with me and when she falls asleep no with her last bottle in my arms I wake her back up before putting her down for the night)

        Some people have told me that the 1am bottle was just out of habit..but if she is hungry and I give her the bottle, can I take her out of the crib to give it to her then put her back in? Or should I lean over and give it to her while she is still in the crib?

        Again…thank you all so much!!!!

  70. Hello! I have been reading your site for the longest time and finally decided to post a question since I feel so lost. My 6 month old sleeps ok at night (goes down between 8 and 9 after fussing for 30-45 minutes and wakes up to eat once or twice, she wakes up at 6 or 6:30 but she refuses to nap. I have swaddle and rock her to sleep for an hour to get 30 minutes out of her (does not nap in the crib but rather on my legs on a pillow).Is CIO ok for naps if she sleeps ok at night? Will it do more harm?what if she starts hating her crib because of it?

  71. Hi there, another shout out to your wonderful website which has helped us to come a long way! However we are dealing with an issue now that I don’t know how to resolve. We separated nursing, my 8 months pld’s sleep association from bedtime by putting it at the beginning of how bedtime routine. We pushed his bedtime up to 6:30 which seems better for him and he now goes down with either just a few fusses or at most 10 mins of crying on a bad night. (Yay!) I followed the gentle night weaning recommendations here, and his night waking reduced a ton, from sleeping practically on my boob to now waking 2-4 times a night (not ideal but better) and nursing about 10 mins each time. If i reduced the nursing tome below 10 mins he would amp up the waking ans crying again. I recently read Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child and Weissbluth says babies up to 9 months might still need 2 night feedings. So about 3 nights ago we started only going to him after it has been at least 4 hours since the last feed. My problem is that his wake up times seem so random- last night he woke up every 3 hours, the night before he woke up free 6, then 4 hours… But I don’t go to him if it isn’t a (newly) designated (by me) feeding time. My problem is that I wonder if he can catch on to the fact that I only come after 4 hours- especially since if he sleeps more than that, I come to h whenever he does wake up. Isn’t tht terribly inconsistent from his point of view? Sometimes mama comes in, and sometimes she lets me cry. This is stressing me out. And making me wonder if I should just go back to cosleeping, or just decide he can be done with night feedings and totally wean them out. I’m so confused an due to teething and colds this process is now at the 2 month point… Not like he cries for hours every night, but often for a brutal, standing in crib, flailing, waking up the neighbors 10 minutes twice a night now that I’m ignoring the non-feeding times. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Ugh I’m so sorry for all the typos! My sleep deprived brain is scattered. And my phone is autocorrect happy.

      • And due to the typos I feel I should better explain- what I meant to say is that I never wake him for night feeds since beginning my current plan a few nights ago (Weissbluth is anti-dream feed and his argument made sense to me). I come to him as long as it has been AT LEAST 4 hours since the last feed. If it has been less, I let him cry. If it has been more, I feed him. Thanks again for any help, I’m really struggling with this.

  72. Hi Alexis,

    My soon to be 6 month old has always been a decent sleeper. Would wake really one time a night around 3am but like Molly posted above each night seems to be different in terms of how many hrs she will go between feeds. she does have a dream feed before I go to bed, around 10pm. She actually wakes on her own, I never started the dream feed.

    Anyway, recently she has started to wake 45 minutes after going to bed. Bed time is usually around 6:15pm (depending on naps). Her naps are fairly consistent, she wakes around 6:30am, the first at 9am and the 2nd around 12:30/1:00 pm and depending on how long her afternoon nap she will take a cat nap around 4 for about 30min.

    If she naps in the afternoon till around 3pm I will usually keep her awake and get her in bed around 6, so awake time will be 3 hrs. Her naps usually last for 1.5-2 hrs. For instance her naps today were from 8:30-11:30am and 12:40-3:00pm so no cat nap, her naps were longer today for some reason (she is a bit congested). Last night and tonight she woke after 45 min and started whining then into a full blown crying fit. Each night I’ve left her to CIO and each night it’s lasted about an hr. she has always been able to put herself to sleep and Ive stopped nursing her before bed and she is put down either drowsy or awake and finds a comfortable position and falls asleep.

    Her night sleep is starting to become a bit more predictable and I’m not overly concerned with the middle of the night feeding but would like to stop this “dream feed” she insists on.

    Sorry for writing a novel. Would love some insight. I love your straight forward attitude and I check out your blog often for no BS advice. I seem to subscribe to the same thinking you do :)

    • I should also note that I’ve been implementing your plan of decreasing the time of each night feeding by 1 minute each night. I’m on night 4 currently and she is adapting well. Fingers crossed when I get to the last day she won’t wake in the night :)

  73. Help!

    I’ve been reading all over your site and am two nights into trying CIO with my 17 month old. The thing is, we thought everything was great until January, when we hit cold, new molars, ear infection, new canines, committing bug, new molars, another cold. Well, that took us to the end of February. Before then, I used to put my angel-baby to bed awake and he’d settle himself happily. Then it all went to hell in a hand basket. We used the gradual retreat method over the course of a month and bingo he was back to falling asleep alone again. But only for a few weeks. Now he screams and cries at the mention of bedtime or nap time and is inconsolable once in his cot.

    First night of CIO took an hour and a half before he fell asleep, second night just under an hour, and both nights he woke wailing in the night and came into bed with me for the rest of the night as he was so desperately sad.

    I just don’t know what changed or whether we’re doing the wrong thing and making him more insecure and unhappy.

    Incidentally he’s on one nap a day, about 12:30-1pm ish and it used to last 2 hours or so, but that’s now gone out the window in our new trauma-filled world. Bedtime routine is the same as ever – dinner at 5:30, bath at 6:30 ish, cuddles, upstairs, lullaby with cuddles in his room then into his cot between 7 and 7:30.

    What’s gone wrong and what should I do?


  74. Hi, I need some advice as am reaching the end of my patience. My 17 week old has never been a good sleeper. I have 2 others who are 4 and 2 and i followed the gina ford routine with them and breastfed, tgey both slept through from 3months . My first problem with Henry was that the midwife told me that they no longer advise swaddling anymore due to increased cot death risk. So he has never been swaddled(my other two loved it) also he never seemed to be able to fit into the gina routines. He was diagnosed with silent reflux at 8 weeks old but his meds have controlled this andbthrough the day he feeds happily 4 hourly EBF. But he will oonly nap 40 min at a time and wakes tired & hourly atbnight.

  75. I tried CIO as a last resort two nights ago and he cried on and off all night. I don’t know how to approach this and how long i can let him cry. A breastfeeding counsellor told me i was stressing him and i should never CIO which upset me. but i am exhausted and my other children need me too please help :(

  76. We started CIO two weeks ago, and our 7.5 month daughter is still crying 30 minutes a night before going to sleep. I hate to go back to the awful sleepless place we were before starting sleep training, but I hate having her cry so much before bed. After she goes to sleep she is generally pretty good–wakes one or two times to eat and goes right back to sleep (well, the last two nights she hasn’t, but I am blaming that on an unusual heat wave making her hot an uncomfortable)…what gives? Does she just need to decompress that long? Is she just more persistent than most babies? We have a consistent bedtime routine, putting her to bed between 6:00-6:30 (she has to be up to go to daycare at 6:30am), she gets decent naps (though not as consistent as they should be, but typically gets an hour in the a.m., hour in the early afternoon and 30 minutes around 4:00. I was hopeful that this was an extinction burst, but so far our extinction has yet to burst. Help?

    • Hey SLS,

      Just an idea but maybe her bedtime is a bit too early? 1.5 – 2 hours is not that long between last nap and bed at that age I don’t think, my son needs atleast 2.5 hours. Plus, Alexis says 11 hours is actually the gold standard for night time sleep, which would fit better with a 7pm bedtime. I guess if she isn’t going to sleep til 7ish anyway due to the crying then it is worth a try?


  77. Hi Alexis,

    CIO isn’t going so well. Daytime naps are well established, bedtime routine is happening… laying my almost 7 month old son down at 7:30 every night with a loud white noise in his room and nothing on PJs & socks with a lovey. This is what my last 3 nights have looked like:

    1st night- Laid down and screamed for 1 hour, slept for 3, nursed to sleep, laid down asleep, woke an hour later, screamed for 2 hours, slept for 1 hour, screamed until I fed him in bed with me because it was 3:30-4 and he woke every hour till 6 in bed with me to nurse. (We were exhausted)
    2nd night- Laid down and screamed for 8 mins! WOW! Success! Slept for 3 hours again, then he woke and screamed for another hour till exhaustion set in, slept for an hour, then up crying again. This went on all night, an hour of sleep, an hour of full blown flip outs. I fed him every 3 hours or so, but laid him down awake.
    3rd night- Laid down and screamed for 1 hour, slept for 3 again. I nursed him, laid him down asleep, and then he repeated the process of the screaming sessions every HOUR, till he’s whimpering in his sleep. He got his little legs caught in the crib and is ALL over the crib. I feel so bad for him. I noticed last night his nose is stuffy but during the day he’s fine. Should I keep going? I feel terrible and I’m sure he so angry with me. I feel as though I have a baby that this just doesn’t work for. The only consistent thing I have noticed is that once he is asleep for the first of the night he sleeps for 3 hours, but that’s the longest stretch, it’s all hell from there on. What shall I do? Thanks!

    • Hey Adria,

      I’m not sure what is going on exactly so here is my guess:
      – You’re breaking out of a nurse to sleep thing right? If so don’t nurse anywhere NEAR bedtime.
      – When he wakes up either nurse or don’t nurse. Don’t wait and THEN nurse. So if you’re going for “three hour windows” don’t let him cry for 1 hour and THEN nurse because he’s hit the target – yes?
      – When he wakes after 3 hours why not feed him? What was his feeding schedule like BEFORE you tried this?

      Fundamentally I’m wondering if he was used to eating way more and now is being asked to eat less. No? Yes?

      Also wondering if laying him down asleep isn’t also part of the problem. Yes most babies CAN do this but perhaps this is feeding into the waking/screaming problem.

      • Hi, I don’t ever wait and then nurse him when he wakes. It’s either right away because he’s gone a stretch of 2-3 hours or not at all if he’s only waking 1 hour after just being nursed. I get that would reward the crying. I definitely am not letting him go longer than 3 hours of not eating. His eating schedule prior to CIO was cosleeping on the boob literally every 1-2 hours which is how frequently he woke. (Wayyyy too much for 6.5 months, 20 pounds) He was comfort feeding himself back to sleep, however he did have and endless supply of milk. He is used to being fed more, but I am trying to cut them out slowly. I am laying him down asleep after some feedings because I read that I can do so if its a middle of the night feeding -right here on #12 He always goes down awake initially at bedtime, though. I’m torn on what to do. Consistency is the key right? But what if there is no progress, it just stays the same and he’s screaming half the night and I’m trying to keep my eyes open staring at him through the baby monitor saying, “Please God, let him just go to sleep.” I’m a wreck no doubt, every day I’m more and more tired, so something’s GOT to change. He’s just not getting better though and I’m no sure what to do. There’s literally around 3.5-4 hours of full blown crying spread apart in every night. :(

        • My dilemma is very similar to yours. We have been trying CIO for a week with our 7 month old daughter (who also co-slept attached to my boob until now). The first night 1 hour crying at bedtime, 2nd night 35 min, 3rd night 25 min (so we seemed to be making progress, albeit slowly), then back up to 30 min, 36 min, 15 min, 18 min… doesn’t seem to be the dramatic results that CIO is supposed to provide which is the only reason I am putting my daughter, husband and I through this hell. The worst part is that her daytime naps have completely deteriorated to where she won’t take a nap longer than 30 minutes anymore. She used to nap like a champ prior to CIO.

          I am getting desperate and need help! Hoping Alexis has some advice so I don’t just give up….

  78. Hello!

    Alexis, you have truly played a major role in me maintaining any degree of sanity through my experiences with sleep deprivation. Thank you. I embraced the swing and white noise. I’m happy to say that I navigated through the 4 month sleep regression as well as the 6 mo sleep regression/teething/flu. By 5 months we had a good bedtime routine and we were putting our son down awake with minimal fussing. His bedtime is between 7:30 and 8:00 pm. He is dream fed between 10 and 11 pm each night and would sleep through until 5 am at which time I nurse him and he sleeps again until 7:30 or 8:30 am. He naps 2-3 times a day depending on how late he wakes up, averaging 45 min each, keeping him awake 2-3 hrs between depending on his cues (no naps later than 4:30 pm). Naps have always been more challenging and he consistently fussed 5-10 min before he settled to sleep.

    Now my son is 8 mo old and nap time consists of up to 45 min of crying followed by a 30-45 min nap. At bedtime he starts to cry at the end of story time and screams for up to 30 min before he settles to sleep. And he is waking up consistently between 2 am and 3 am followed by an average of 45 min of screaming before he falls asleep (the other night it lasted 2 hrs likely because we were experimenting with different ways to get him to settle). I’m fairly positive this is related to object permanence/seperation anxiety because he settles quite quickly once I am at his crib side and he escalates again as soon as he senses that I am going to turn away from him. I have resigned myself to CIO because the screaming doesn’t stop unless either my husband or I are physically next to him, but was wondering if you have any other insight or suggestions to help us through this?

  79. Hi Alexis, starting to really struggle with CIO and wondering if anyone has any advice – I’m so tired and have no idea what else to try if this doesn’t work!! We have been doing CIO with our son 11months old, for two weeks and it is getting worse – I think I must be doing something wrong. He has bath, boob, teeth brush, story, cuddle before bed at about 7/7.39 it then takes him between 5 – 30 mins to fall asleep which is fine, but for the last 5 nights he then wakes between 1 and 2 hours later and cries for about 45 mins. He then wakes at 4.30 for a boob and I usually stay with him at that point – maybe that’s the prob. Last night he also woke at 2 am and seeing as he had already cried for over an hour that night I took him to bed with me, might be why tonight he has already woken twice. Coukd this be extinction burst? He is teething at the moment but dont really think we should suspend the process for that… Day sleeps are rubbish, always have been he has x2 half hour naps – I get nothing done…. Sometines can get more in the car or cosleeping but it is rare so I imagine he is over tired, but his mood is mostly happy. Should we keep persisting ? Do CIO for naps as well? or just face it that cosleeping is the only way to get him sleeping?

    Also wondering, I go in and do firm calm voice – it’s time to sleep – at the 10 and 11pm wake ups, is that ok or is best just to leave them altogether? I feel I need to check something hasn’t happened which caused the wake up.

    Hope to hear from you, but give how busy your site is I understand if you can’t. Thanks julia

  80. Hello!
    Your web page has been very helpful to me as a new mom. Thank you! I have a very sweet 5 1/2 month old we have been sleep training. She is starting to go to bed easier. My problem is she still has a few night weaklings. She will usually fuss a little around 10:30, and cry for a while at 1. I don’t go to her until around 3 if she’s crying. Lately, she wakes at 3, 4, and 6-7 for the day. I feed her at 3, and try to wait out the 4 crying, although, she cried for half an hour last night. I went to her because she sounded hysterical. She woke up at 6 for the day, but was really tired and fussy since she wasn’t ready to get up. I’m not sure what to do. Do I need to go to her when this happens? She also naps great on my lap, but only a half hour by herself. When she takes the short nap, she fusses until I put her on my lap and she sleeps for 1- 1 1/2 hours. Any advice?
    Thank you!

  81. Hi alexis,
    Your blog really hit home! I am not sure if you are still responding to questions but i will ask anyway!
    I am so glad you said to stick to CIO, even in days when the feeling of wanting to quit was hovering around.
    We have been sleep training my daughter for two weeks now. We started CIO when she was 5 months + 3 weeks old, so a week before she turned 6 months. We decided to CIO because she was waking up more then 10 times a night, needing me to soothe her back to sleep by either putting the paci back in her mouth or picking her up to rock her. It was taking a toll because neither her nor i got much quality sleep. She does many catnaps during the day, which is fine with me, as long as it all adds up to 3 hours.

    Anyway since the start of CIO, i have noticed a major improvement in her night sleep. She does not wake up 10+ times now and in fact, she usually only wakes once to whine or sometimes cry a bit, but i leave her to it because it never came to a point of hysterical screaming. I dreamfeed her once so she sleeps through. She goes about 11/12 hours, as opposed to a fragmented 9/10 hours prior to CIO.

    My issue (which was the main thing you talked about in this blog) is that, 2 weeks in, she still cries before going sleeping at night. It can be anywhere between 2-30 mins. I would say it is not intense crying, usually just a drony kinda cry. There were a couple of nights where it did get a bit more intense but they never last more than 20 mins and they were intermittent intense crying, not screaming for the whole 20 mins. It still bothers me, of course, and i hate to hear her cry, after 2 weeks. I always thought that she would get the idea by now.

    A small part of me wants to throw the towel in but i know i am doing this for her benefit as she is getting fantastic sleep at night.

    What do you think? How long is too long to let her cry? I guess it matters what sort of cry it is but at this rate, i dont go in to check on her because the one time i did it she got more angry. Do you think this is an extinction burst? But doesnt it go away soon?

    She usually goes down in bed around 7/7:30 and wakes 7/7:30 as well. She wakes once, usually around 4 am, to whine or cry a bit. Then she stirs around 6 am, and at that time i just put the paci in her mouth and she sleeps right up until 7/7:30.

    I do want to stick to CIO for as long as i can, hopefully until she is fully able to sleep without crying, and i hope so much for that day to come soon.

    By the way, she is my second, i tried CIO with my first, it didnt work out because i couldnt stand to hear him cry (first time mom then!), he was trained way too late in my opinion (11 months) and he was screaming hysterically for 45mins – 1 hour, we called it quits after. But with my daughter now, she is quite different in that she is not as stubborn as my son.

    Anyway i would love if you could let me know what you think about her crying before sleep? Are we heading the right direction?
    Thank you!!

  82. Hello! I’m hoping Alexis or someone has some advice for me! We are having a few issues. My son is 6 mos and we started CIO last week. The first night he screamed for 1.5 hours, 2nd night about 20 min and the 3rd night there was no crying. Now we’re getting 5-20 min, which I can handle. However, he is still waking up every 3 hours to nurse. His longest stretch of sleep is 4-5 hours…usually 4. His bedtime routine is bath, change/lotion, song, nurse. He usually falls asleep nursing but I wake him right before bed. He used to nurse to bed. Do you think I have created a nurse to sleep problem? If so, how do I fix it? Oh I forgot to mention his bedtime is 7:30-8.
    Our other problem is that he recently started rolling over. Whenever he flips to his tummy he starts screaming bc he doesn’t know how to get back. What do I do if we’re doing CIO? Leave him? Or flip him?
    I will be appreciative of any help you can give!! I so desperately want to sleep more than 2.5-3 hours.

  83. CIO is for parents who are scared and need to control. They
    can’t relax and wait. It’s for parents who don’t know about the fudamental of parenting, which is patience. Our babe STTN at 13 months, no pushing him whatsoever. Babies aren’t stupid and they’re not dogs. If you can’t wait this stage out, then good luck moving forward lol.

    • Wow Jane, really disappointing and judgmental response. From what I understand of this site it is for people to support and encourage each other. I’m not scared and don’t need to control. I do what is best for my son and a full night’s sleep had made him happy and healthy. I don’t know how this website selects avatar’s next to people names but Jane, you gotta look at yours and then look at what you wrote…

    • Ha! This is funny. I have a kid in elementary school and we sleep trained him at 6 months. For some reason despite my terrible parenting he’s happy, well-rested, and well-adjusted, loves his parents, and doesn’t think he’s a dog. And he slept great from 6 months on! It’s totally awesome for you that you were happy waking up all night for 13 months with your kid, but that’s not everyone’s choice. No one is bashing you for your choice, so maybe try to lay off a bit and not be such a sanctimonious bully.

    • Ladies, ladies – can’t we all get along?

      This has actually given me inspiration for a post because frankly I think this is a post-worthy discussion. I’m thinking of calling this the Small Pond Syndrome.

      We all live in small ponds. We have our group of friends, neighbors, Facebook peeps, playgroup buddies, etc. So we look at what is happening for us or those around us and we draw conclusions and figure out, “Well this must be true for for all people.”

      But it’s not.

      Two years ago I made my pond a big bigger and now, thousands and thousands of comments, emails, etc. later I can safely say that my baby sleep pond is probably about “medium”? Maybe it qualifies as a lake? And it’s given me a much broader perspective of what is true, what is normal, what can work, what will work, etc.

      And yes some babies will organically figure out how to STTN without any monkeying. Some babies can be nursed to sleep and not demand to nurse hourly from bedtime till dawn. And how great it is for the parents of THOSE babies? But for the remaining 97% of babies this is not a pattern that will organically resolve

      And judging or worse, laughing at parents who have babies who doesn’t behave as yours did isn’t helpful. You may want to consider the size of your pond before you make sweeping judgements about the ocean.

  84. ps. Jane, if you are a parenting expert and you say that you already know the fundamentals of parenting then why, may I ask, were you looking on a website called Troublesome Tots? Very curious…..

  85. Ivy, to answer your rolling question, I would just let him figure it out, even if he cries. do check ins as usual if you are doing them, but dont flip him unless he becomes wedged in the crib slats or something.

    My daughter started doing this right around the time we began sleep training. If I flipped her she would just flip right back over. It took her a few nights, but she now sleeps on her tummy and seems to sleep more soundly.

    Quick question for you Alexis:

    is there a magic point at which we will no longer have to worry about an extinction burst? Tonight was night 10 of CIO for our 8.5 month old, and she screamed her head off for 20 minutes. Not her normal bedtime protest cry, but the same intensity of crying as night 1. We stuck to the plan, but its hard to let go of the nagging feeling that something might be wrong, since most nights she goes down fairly easily. She did have a long nap that ended a bit later than usual, so I’m thinking that was to blame?

    Thanks for your fantastic website. It has been a lifesaver!

  86. Thank you for your helpful site and the many articles I’ve referenced time and again. I am here for some advice or encouragement as I am very confused and frustrated at/with the situation I am in with my 5 1/2 month old baby boy. We had begun practicing ‘put down awake’ around 4 months and he really started to get the hang of it. I could put him down for 3 naps a day awake and he would sleep 2 hours in the morning and about 1 hour for the other 2 naps. At 5 months, we had two days where every nap he began to scream and cry. I let him cry, checking on him every 10 minutes or so, for quite a long time (almost his full nap.) After those 2 days, we went on vacation to Colorado. I was scared to death thinking that this would certainly continue especially because of the time change and being in an unfamiliar place. However, every single nap (and we kept his schedule pretty consistent) he went down awake and slept for a ‘normal’ amount of time for him. We were shocked. The minute we got home, the crying at nap time started again. It has been over 2 weeks and hasn’t stopped. I have waited up to an hour with frequent checks and reassuring but haven’t picked him up and it is beginning to grow agonizing. I want him to get the sleep he needs but I am finding myself at a dead end.

    I appreciate your time and your help!


  87. As an addendum to my previous comment, we thankfully have no trouble at night. We have had a bed time routine since 2 weeks old and I have been able to put him down awake at bed time and he sleeps either through the night or wakes for one feeding since about 4 1/2 months. The struggles I mentioned above are strictly at nap time.

    Thank you!

  88. HELP! Confused and don’t know what to do….Here’s the story..sorry for the length…

    6 mth old DS, was 5 wks preemie. We’ve had sleep issues since day 1. First, he has acid reflux, but its now under control (knock on wood). It took a lot of figuring out but with diet and the right meds, we’re ok, for now.

    Around 9 wks, he started sttn. All I did was use white noise and swaddled him. AFTER FINDING THIS AWESOME SITE! THANK YOU! He increasingly started sleeping longer stretches. I sometimes put him down awake, but didn’t purposely do this. He would just sometimes be fussy, so I put him down, and that’s exactly what he wanted.

    He was sttn for about a month or more. His reflux hasn’t ever bothered him much overnight. We changed meds to Nexium and the sleep went bye bye. First, he stopped napping altogether. He was so OT, it was soo sad, because he just could not sleep, even while being held. The most he slept was about 30 mins , if held. After 2 wks of this, the Nexium started to affect his sttn. He had been ok even when the naps were crap. Now, he was waking several times overnight.

    His reflux was better controlled with the Nexium. But the sleep hasn’t improved much. After about 6 wks of this, I thought it would improve, as he got used to the meds. Then I thought it was a growth spurt. I decided to wean him off Nexium because it wasn’t worth it. His sleep improved slightly.

    Once completely off Nexium and back on Zantac, he seemed better all around. Was still waking up 1-2 x overnight. I started to do some sleep training. Put him down awake, bedtime routine, tried not to nurse him to sleep, and let him CIO with checks for max of 15 mins. It seemed to always take exactly 15 mins for him to settle. I was also putting him in his bassinet, rather than the swing like I used to do. Napping improved and he sttn again, not every night, but an improvement. That lasted for a week.

    Then he got his vacs. And forget it, we’re back to where we started. Now, he won’t nap at all. Maybe I’ll get 30 mins, but that’s it. Sometimes that’s all he gets all day long. And he wakes up sometimes 40 mins after putting him to bed, and thereafter every 3 hrs. BBut he will often nap in the car or in the stroller.

    his bedtime used to be 8 on the dot. That was before sleep training. I started putting him down around 7, that seems to be the best time for him. His wake up time is all over the place. It used to be 7, pretty much every morning, with a 8 bedtime. Now, he’s been up at 5 lately.

    He’s obviously OT and I try to put him down for a nap as soon as I see him yawning. But sometimes he’s yawning right after waking up. Usually 2 hrs after waking in the morning, he’s tired and ready for a nap. BUT, he’ll fuss and cry after being put down. I wait the 15 mins, and sometimes he’ll fall asleep but its only for 30-40 mins max. If we’re lucky.

    I nurse him a lot in the evenings so he’s full for overnight. Its been almost two weeks since the vaccinations, so maybe that’s still disturbing him.

    When he wakes overnight, I still do the CIO for max 15, sometimes 20. It seems this time around, it takes longer. I guess he’s learned. I HATE CIO, but I don’t know what else to do. He gets more aggitated if I check on him and ssshh and pat him. That doesn’t seem to work. And I’ve read a little about the Sleep Lady Shuffle, etc. but none of them seem like they would work for him. He doesn’t like to be rocked to sleep, he gets aggitated even when I read him a book. I try to put him down earlier, but he really cries then and won’t stop.

    I tried the EASY schedule too. I think with the reflux we both got so used to nursing for comfort, I hardly let him cry then becuase I was afraid of reflux. Well, he was crying all the time, but there wasn’t anything Ic ould do to comfort him except the boob. So, now that he’s improved with the reflux, we’re left with major sleep issues.

    So,…when I try the EASy schedule, it doens’t seem to work, because when we get to the sleep part, he wants to eat again. I can never get him drowsy without nursing. Unless I’m carrying him, he’s in the car, or in the stroller. He often falls asleep nursing, I try to rouse him before I put him down, but mostly he wakes on his own when I move him. I hate that part, its hard to wake a sleeping baby. I never used to wake him and he would stay asleep.

    Sorry for the novel. I’ get so anxious going to bed at night. I’m afraid to sleep. I’m a single mom without much help and I’m going out of my mind trying to figure this out and not knowing when to nurse him, let him CIO, how long, how to get him napping,… I’m a wreck.

    I should mention that he sleeps in a pack n play bassinet in my bedroom still. The white noise is loud and I don’t swaddle him anymore.

    Should I just ride this out and maybe its the vacs and they effects will wear off soon? And comfort him in the meantime? Or keep to the sleep training CIO 15 mins , which doesn’t seem to be working anyway. Extend the time? I don’t want to do that because the other night I let him CIO for almost an hour, and I feel sick about it. I dont know if I’m depriving him of food he needs. I know he can sttn, becaue he’s done it before, but I know babies change all the time.

    I also thought he could be teething since he drools a lot and puts everything in his mouth. But I don’t see any tooth signs. The other night I gave him Tylenol to see if maybe he was indeed teething and in pain. He slept a little better. None last night and he slept worse. Does that mean anything?? I’m soo confused.

    Ok, sorry again for being soo long. I’m desperate.

    Thank you for any suggestions.

  89. How long is too long to let a child cry it out? Our child is one year old and he will cry longer and louder until he gets sick. Each time we’ve tried cry it out, he’ll cry for 3+ hours….I am a full supporter of the CIO method but am starting to question it for my son given the length of time he’ll cry for. He puts himself to sleep, but wakes through the night. He uses a sound machine all night, darkened room, nothing but blanket in his crib and nothing on a timer to go off. He goes to bed around 7pm. I know we have conditioned him to wake because we’ve gone to him each time he cries, but how to do you let your child cry for that long??? We know that medically nothing is wrong (no ear infections,etc).

  90. Say you have a baby that has never slept through the night. At the 5 month mark, your wife and yourself, being completely drained, give in to everything that seems normal and let your baby cry it out. This “Extinction Burst” lasts for over a month. Baby sporadically falls asleep on their own but never sleeps for more than 3 hours at a time.

    Due to the extreme guilt and compounding depression that you feel from letting your baby scream out at night you finally cave and go back to the nursing and rocking to get baby to sleep and keep sleeping.

    Baby is now nearly 8 months old and has never slept more than 3 hours on their own. Everyone is exhausted but CIO is not an option because it makes you feel like you’re dying inside. You’ve tried basically every method of sleep training to no avail.

    Any suggestions?

  91. Thankyou for this site – it has been soo helpful in the past year!

    I have been trying to sleep train my daughter since she was 5 months old. She is over a year old now and we are still trying :(. We have tried CIO, no CIO, cosleeping, everything else under the sun but she still doesnt sleep through the night. We have had the best results with CIO when she was younger but teething, travel, developmental milestones, sleep regressions have made subsequent CIO training much harder. She now knows how to stand up in the crib and cry till we go and put her down. She vomits or bangs her head against the crib till we go in. She refuses to sit down on her own no matter how tired she is.

    This has been going on for the past couple of months and I am at a loss on how to go forward with the sleep training.

    Any piece of advise will help!


  92. Regarding the extinction burst: could you see this as far as 4 weeks after the initial sleep training? We used CIO a month ago – and it our 12-m-o responded very well. 2 nights of crying, then weeks of sleeping through the night. Earlier this week, she was going to bed without a peep. But, for the past 3 nights, she has been crying for increasingly longer periods at bedtime. Tonight, it was nearly an hour. It’s worse than the initial training was. It seems pretty delayed to be an extinction burst, though. What do you think? Thanks!

  93. What about babies who sit up, and can’t seem to get themselves back down?

    We just started trying to sleep train our baby at 11.5 mo old due to increasing sleep problems at 10-11 mo.

    Baby consistently gets 2 naps a day, at 1-2 hours per nap. One in the morning, and one in the afternoon, though sometimes we have days where one of those naps is a bust. We don’t typically have trouble getting baby down to sleep, though we’ve always rocked her, given her a bottle and put her down fully asleep. Up until about 10 mo. She was an ok sleeper, not great, but not horrible. We had the occasional full night of sleep with usual 1-2wakeps and we were fine with that.

    Baby started waking 2 x per night wanting to eat (seemed not too big deal, as had been 1x per night average before that). However, started having trouble getting her back to sleep. Would cry every time we put her down after bottle until picked her up again. Also started having occasional temper tantrums at bedtime.

    The 2xper night waking s then increased to 3-4 x per night, with same difficulties getting back to sleep. Baby seemed to always want to sleep on mom and dad’s laps. Baby also started wanting to play in the middle of the night.

    Started trying various sleep-training methods involving letting her cry and checking in later and later. Seemed only to cause her to scream and cause us anxiety, everyone still awake.

    We decided to try the extinction method and used Weissbluth’s book for guidance.

    Last night (6.7.13) we officially started the CIO/extinction training.

    Night 1: baby asleep by 8:00 pm.

    Baby woke up crying at 11:30pm and sat up. Baby cried for 50 minutes sitting up. Baby stopped crying, and silently sat in crib for 70 more minutes (baby started whimpering occasionally at 50 of the 70 minutes) weaving back and forth, grasping lovey and head bobbing as she nodded off and then woke herself up while still sitting up. Weissbluth does not have a chapter on the silent, sitting baby. From what i can tell, neither does this blog (which is excellent, by the way). We broke down and took her a bottle and sat with her/rocked her for 20 minutes and put her back in crib. She popped right up and sat silently for 20 minutes, and then laid down and went to sleep until about 6 am.

    Night 2: couldn’t get baby to sleep until 9:30 pm (which is very late for her). Probably due to late 2hr nap from 4-6 pm. We couldn’t get her to nap earlier.

    Baby woke up crying at 10:50 pm and sat up. Baby cried for 1.5 hours sitting up. Baby then quieted down with brief whimpering/crying for 40 minutes. We broke down and took her a bottle and sat w/her rocked her for 20 minutes and put her back in crib. She popped right up and sat there alternately crying / silent for 40 minutes. Again, weaving, bobbing and unable to put self down to sleep. At 40 minutes she really started crying hard. Now, 30 minutes later she is still sitting up and crying hard as I write this. We are about to break down again.

    I know we are beginners and we need to be patient, but right now I feel like we’re making this worse. She needs her sleep, yes? This method isn’t helping her sleep more. It’s actually helping us all sleep less, which is bad for baby and for parents. I am losing faith quickly in the extinction method.

    Any guidance would be much appreciated.

    • Hey Upset Mom,

      Babies get stuck. It sucks but there it is. Give her PLENTY of floor/cruising time during the day. Don’t help get get down. Park her standing at the couch and let her practice getting back down. She can do it, or will soon.

      Also be careful about two things:
      1) Defend bedtime. Don’t let her sleep close to bedtime. Better she be overtired and fussy at bedtime than to blow bedtime. If you’re going to be consistent about ONE THING it’s bedtime. I’m guessing for an almost 1 YO baby, if bedtime is 8:00 PM then you don’t want her sleeping past 5:00 ever. Maybe even 4:00?

      2) You going in to rock and give her a bottle is inconsistently rewarding the behavior much like the Ferber/check ins were at bedtime. Yes part of the problem is that she’s getting stuck but part of the problem is also that you’re waiting waiting waiting and THEN coming.

      Don’t worry – you aren’t alone in this. But think about things from her perspective. What are you teaching if you let her cry for 40 minutes then walk in with a bottle and a cuddle? I know I KNOW I SOUND HARSH (seriously I get how hard this is).

      If you really must go in send Dad in. Have him help her down. Use your words. And leave. Because in a horrible exhausting tearful way, I think you’re headed down a path of her sitting up and crying because doing so gets a bottle in a cuddle :(

      • Alexis – THANK YOU. We are still working at it. We did the 4 p.m. naptime cut-off yesterday and that seemed to help a bit witht he bedtime. I think we need to let try out the parking her somewhere standing so she can get herself down. We’re still knee-deep in things, but last night did seem better than the two nights before (less crying, but still sitting up swaying for long stretches until she just passes out).

    • Hi Upset Mom,

      I just want to give you some encouragement and hope. Your story was VERY similar to mine as we started sleep training our 11 month old about 2.5 weeks ago. The first 4 nights were loooong. It actually got a little worst before it got better. But, I tell you, the video monitor helped save our sanity and knew what was going on by watching her. We followed all the steps that Alexis listed on the “How to Cry It Out: The Bedtime Edition”. Weissbluth style was the way to go for our baby. Trust me, there were many times I wanted to go in to save, soothe and rock her, but I kept telling myself that we didn’t want to continue with constantly waking up in the middle of the night.

      The first night our baby cried for THREE HOURS (yes, we know that it was a LONG time) and actually fell asleep standing up. We ended up going in to lay her down (twice – first time she got mad and went right back up, second time she fussed but then fell right to sleep), not saying a word, and walking right back out. Heartbreaking, I know.

      Second night, she cried for two hours. Again, falling asleep standing up.

      Third night, cried 50 minutes. But, this time she fell asleep sitting down. Went in to lay her down.

      Fourth night, went right back to crying for 2 hours. But, then laid down and fell asleep without having to go in.

      Fifth night, she actually woke up in the middle of the night. I almost panicked and didn’t know what to do. I walked in, picked her up (no rocking – cuz that was our problem) held her for 10 minutes then put her back to and walked out). During those 10 minutes, I kept thinking to myself “oh crap. oh crap. Am I messing up what we’ve been working so hard on?!” I think that’s why I held her for only 10 minutes before I put her down.

      From the 6th night and on (we’re on Day 18), bedtime has been a dream. Well, sort of. She still whimpers, cries (no more than 15 minutes), stands up to test to see if we will come in. But, we have remained very consistent with bedtime so she has learned to lay there and fall asleep. And we are now to the point where she sleeps through the night 11-12 hours.

      So, stay with it Mama. You can do it. I never thought I would have to resort to CIO, but we had to. Remember, it’s all worth it in the end. My husband says that Weissbluth needs to rename the title of his book to “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (insert) AND Happy Parents”. :)

      Sending happy sleep vibes your way!

      • Janice –

        Thank you so much for your insights. I hope our little one learns to lay herself down from the seated position before she starts to stand! I don’t know how your little one falls asleep standing.?

        She’s still eating once in the middle of the night and we didn’t want to try weaning her while we’re trying the CIO, so we have yet to tackle sleeping all night long.

        Baby steps . . . I can’t wait until the day she only wimpers for 15 minutes before she goes to sleep, and sleeps for 11-12 straight hours. Sounds like nirvana.

  94. Upset Mom, your story breaks my heart. I was here looking for advice on how to handle pulling up in the crib and the sleepless nights that are accompanying it in my house, so I don’t have advice for you. But, I thought you might find it useful to check this out:

    This is a google group Alexis (this website’s leading lady) started where she gives advice, but mostly it’s where you can seek advice from others going through, or who have gone through, similar troubles.

    • Thank you Rebecca! I will check it out today. I appreciate your empathy – and I hope your baby is sleeping better, and you are too!

  95. Alexis please help! We have been doing CIO for 10 days now and the shortest amount of time he’s cried at bedtime is 39 mins! The first night was the worst where he cried for 97mins. But there isn’t any patteren to his crying. Last nite he cried for 55mins, the nite before that 45 mins, and the night before that 45 mins. He usually takes short naps too, only about 30-40 mins and they are in his swing. He’ll sometime take longer naps but only if I lay down with him in bed (where we used to cosleep all night). I go back to work in 6 days and will be working some midnights, that’s why we ended up here. When we co-slept, he would need my boob in his mouth all night, and I couldn’t sleep! How do I get him to take longer naps, and when will the crying stop?

    • Hey Rachel,

      I don’t have an answer for you but here are the two most likely issues:

      1) Bedtime is at the WRONG time. Too early or too late. If he’s 6 months old you don’t want him sleeping ~2-3 hours (depends on baby) prior to bedtime. If it’s vastly LONGER than 3 hours he may be TOO tired.

      2) Inconsistent reinforcement. If you’re doing Ferber/checkins, then stop. Full extinction is far better.

      Make sure you are giving him as much soothing as possible – white noise, maybe a swaddle? If you’re totally against the swaddle maybe a merlin magic sleep suit? Something to recreate the feeling of cuddling.

      Good luck!

  96. I forgot to mention my son is 6months old

  97. Thank you for such a prompt reply! He is swaddled during the day for his naps and we have white noise on for naps and nighttime. We try not to keep him up longer than 2 1/2 hours at a time during the day. Should I just try CIO in his pack n play for naps (since that is where I want him to nap when he is at the sitter’s?

  98. Alexis,

    My daughter is 6 months old and we have been doing CIO with check-ins for 5 days at bedtime and for naps. Our problem is that she has a nursing = sleep association and we are trying to break it. She naps twice per day for 1.5-2 hours at each nap. At night, she’s in the crib for CIO at 8 pm after her feed, bath, story, and song. She wakes up twice for night feedings. I feed her as soon as she wakes and put her back in her crib. She typically nurses to sleep at this time. She wakes up and is ready for the day around 5 am which is my normal up and at ’em/get ready for work time. I’m a teacher and am now on Summer break so recently I sometimes bring her to my bed, and nurse her to sleep so I can get another hour of rest. My questions are:

    1) Each time we put her down, she cries for 20 minutes and then sleeps. I know you said you don’t really consider this CIO and its more of a protest. Is there anything I can do to shorten this amount of time? Or is it something she will do on her own eventually?

    2) Since she has a nursing = sleep association, am I ruining her sleep training by nursing her to sleep in the middle of the night/at 5 am? I plan to wean the night feedings once she learns to fall asleep on her own. Should I be doing this all at once?

    Thank you for your feedback :) I am loving your site!

  99. Hi ya
    How long should one expect for CIO to have full success? The hardest thing is when our 13month wakes screaming in the middle of the right randomly, or when we put her down in her cot – it’s like she has a panic attack! We have found CIO is helping the time it takes to get her to sleep but these issues remain….

  100. I need some advice we just started cio with me 6.5 month old, she had preciously been sleeping swaddled in the swing. Now she is unswaddled in the crib. The first night she only slept three hours total from 9pm to 9am. She took a thirty minute nap at 11 with helping by nursing her most of the way to sleep. It is now 2 and she has not slept at all. She has been cranky and clingy all day rubbing her face on me and saying mama. I’m just not sure if this is the right method for her, how can shhe hold out so long? It seems like everystory i read the baby only last a few hours at most. Help, concerned mama.

  101. Hi.

    We are on day four of cio…. DS is 10months. Working great night times & first nap (night gone from 45m to 3!! And is sleeping through and am nap takes about 13m ) but afternoon nap he just goes mad and two days o the trot has cried 60m and then 40m today.

    Any idea why its so different? Or when it will be more like the others. Iv done nothing different.

    Advice would be great as I’m beside myself. Its so hard to listen to and he is loosing his voice.


    • Hi, did things work out? I haven’t tried for day naps yet. Hoping you nailed it and that everyone is keeping soundly

      • It’s worked out well. Still have the occasional 10m cry pre nap but now usually crys for 30secs then as soon as iv closed the door chatters to himself for about 15/20m then goes to sleep. Yesterday he even smiled as I put him in the cot!!!! :)

        • how many days did this take?
          i do have another question.. how did you pick the times of his nap? my daughter is so random that its never same time and i’m not sure how to extend it without her becoming overtired? please please help!?

          • Hi Claudia.

            It was like that till I realised that set nap times (like the sleep trainer I got advice from told me to do) were not working for my little one. I realised that when he wasn’t tired enough he was just crying and crying and getting so worked up he wasn’t going to sleep.

            The thing is are u tired at the same time every night?! He wakes at different times anytime between 5.20-7 so he is obviously going to be tired at different times. I now watch him carefully around the times he ‘should’ be/is usually tired. And when I see eye rubs and yawns I know we are close and then he starts making a ‘tired’ noise that’s when we do our v quick nap routine.

            Do u know what Lo’s wake time should be if not google 9 month wake times and that should give u a guide. But every day is different and some days my (11m) LO can do 2&3/4hrs and others 3.5hrs!

            Also I never got to the point where I had to go in as he went quieter and then to sleep but I was v v close I think if u get to 45/60m of full on crying then she prob isnt going to sleep. My sleep trainer told me to go in then and say ‘not good H’… Put him on the floor and then after a sec carry on with your normal day… That way lo should realise that you coming back without sleeping wasn’t part of the deal. I get this but doing it when you have listened to your baby cry for so long would be HARD!

            Hope it improves for you very soon.


    • my daughter is 9 months in a couple days and same thing is happening.. she is fighting afternoon nap and cried for hour and half today and still didn’t nap.. how long do you let them cry before you ‘give up’ and then what happens? i am at a loss and really don’t know what to do anymore..

      • This week my boy refused his afternoon nap for the first time, three days in a row but I perserved and he is now back on track but with a slight longer playtime. I only let him cry for 30 mins tops. AFter that I get him up and watch for tired/overtired signs then try again 15mins later. I don’t know what routine you use, but I use the 1hr up/2hrs down until 6 moinths, then 2hrs up/2hrs down, then 3hrs up/1.5ish down and now at 12 months he is kinda going for 3 hours up in the morning, a solid 2 hour nap, then 4 hours up in the afternoon before another solid 2 hour nap. This is a method suggested by australian paediatrics and it works well for me. It took me a while to clock I was fighting against his need to more awake time, but once I got it – it was a bit more smooth sailing (a bit, not alot lol). Dont worry – I have recently learnt from the French mothers her that the more you let go of the stressing and comparing what they should and shouldnt be doing, the easier it becomes to see the light. :) Just my 2c but hope it helps a little. Good luck – tell me how you get on.

        Maybe someone else has some advice too?

        ps – yes he sleeps a solid 2 hours at both nap times (unless there is massive noise distrubances like yesterday!!) and that is ONLY due to this CIO method. Prior to that he would nap no bother, but his nap times were variable 1hour – 2.5hours.

  102. How many extinctions bursts should baby have?! Baby is just over 7mths. We’ve done 21 nights of a progressive cry it out plan called Gift of Sleep. The plan is going in and making a knocking sound at intervals to get baby to snap out of a crying session, take a deep breath and self settle. First night knock after 5mins of continuous crying, 2nd night 10mins etc. baby took 6 nights to learn to self settle throughout the night and then did so for the next 9 nights, but woke up far too early. She then regressed for 3 nights waking for 1.5 hrs through the night. The extinction burst I guess!!. She then slept through for 12hrs without a peep for 2 nights in a row. we thought we’d turned a corner but then Last night was a shocker. As bad at night 1 of the sleep training!
    Another extinction burst or is this not working?

  103. Hi, My 9 month old is really struggling with crying it out. We’ve been at it for 3 weeks and she continues to wake and cry several times sometimes crying for an hour or more at a time. She is a very strong willed, mommy attached, kiddo in general and CIO feels like it is never going to work. Unfortunately she’s got almost 9 months worth of night nursings to pacify her and she would generally go right back down after feeding. She fought going to sleep hard as a baby, but generally doesn’t fight going down more than a hearty 5 minute protest. She is nursing and eating solids and goes down around 9. She generally “sleeps” (is in her crib sleeping or crying) from 9-7 and takes 2 naps most days usually only 40 minutes before she is up and usually goes back to sleep for a bit when I nurse her. Does anyone have any practical advice on building better sleep habits for our seemingly natural poor sleeper?

    • Did you ever get a response? This sounds like my LO. We’re on day 11 and he’s very, very strong willed. He was doing great for about 6 days and now it’s full on war. Any advice would be helpful.

      • Hi Marquita! No, I never got a response, but I hope I can be of some assistance to you. Our little one is 11.5 months old now and is officially sleeping through the night (thankfully)! It took a LONG time (I don’t remember exactly how long… More than 1 month but less than 2) but our pediatrician said it was just a battle of the wills and if we didn’t persevere we would just have to go through it all over again and she would fight even longer. So my advice would be to hold on tight and keep letting your LO cry it out… I know that is so much easier said than done. I ended up sleeping in another room where I couldn’t hear her crying (it didn’t bother hubby as much so he listened for anything concerning) and I could get some sleep. Something else that helped was establishing a more consistent schedule. She now naps from 10-12ish and 3-4ish pretty consistently. I also learned to let her cry herself back to sleep after she would wake up after her first sleep cycle (40 minutes) still sleepy. We also started putting her down earlier because we found that she would sleep until the same time in the morning even if we put her down earlier. She sleeps from 8-7 now. I think that’s all I can think of, but I hope it is helpful. If nothing else, I hope it is encouraging to know that we did get through it and you will too! I have a feeling our strong willed kiddos will be challenging us in many ways as they grow, but I hope their sleeping is not going to be one of them anymore! Best of luck… Let me know how it goes!

        • Meredith!
          Your response gave me life lol! But I do have a few questions. Even though lol sleeps through the night does she still cry when you put her in her crib for a bit? And on to naps. I’d put him down for a nap he’d fus for 5-10 mins then nap for 35-40. Wake up sleepy and grumpy. I’d let him cry it out for 45-1hr. Sometimes he’s go back to sleep sometimes he’d just scream. I feel like I’m leaving him in his crib all day. Any thoughts.

          • I’m so glad I could offer some encouragement! I truly know what it’s like to feel like you are torturing your baby and you are never going to sleep again and I SO feel your pain. First of all, follow your gut as a mom. There are going to be times when you truly feel like something may be wrong and you can and should go to your baby at those times. That said, most of the time there isn’t anything your baby needs, in which case, try to find a quiet place and take the monitor (if you have a video monitor, turn off the sound if the crying gets to you) and know that you are doing what is best for your LO and helping him learn to sleep. Unfortunately it doesn’t come naturally to all babies!

            At this point, she rarely cries at bedtime or nap time (I never thought I’d say that!). There are still a few times where she will have awakenings at night with a little crying and goes right back to sleep.

            A few questions for you… How old is your LO? What is he eating and when? Are you on any kind of schedule? Are you doing a nap time and bedtime routine? What is he like immediately prior to putting him down? How much sleep is he getting?

            A few things that were helpful for me were the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, particularly the idea that if you are putting baby down once he is OVERtired, he will fight sleep. Additionally, having a loud noise machine play all night helped a lot. I also really like this website for an idea of what is normal sleepwise by age (

            It sounds to me like your little guy is overtired, which is a super frustrating downward spiral. Once he gets caught up on sleep he shouldn’t fight it so badly.

            • Yes, he is very, very over tired but that’s so hard to combat. I put him down evey 2 hrs but he only sleeps for 30ish mins. He’s 6 mos eats one jar of baby food, one bottle of diluted juice, and bm. I ebf him until recently. He’s always been very high maitenance so this falls rt in line with him lol. We have a bedtime routine which consists of bottle, pjs, book and I sing to him. His nap routine is diaper change, close blinds and nap time.

          • (I couldn’t reply to your reply, so i replied to this thread instead). Honestly, it sounds like you are doing everything right, it’s just a matter of getting out of the overtired cycle. We were still where you are up until my LO was almost 9 months old, so it may just be a matter if time. Our situations sound pretty similar, and it was SO hard, so I definitely feel for you. If nothing else, I hope that knowing that you aren’t the only one that’s been through this is a relief. And it does get better, so try not to get caught up in a feeling of hopelessness! Keep me posted and let me know if I can help in any other way.

            • Hi meridith your post have given me hope I always give in but starting tonight I’m putting my foot down I NEED sleep. Can I ask what type of schedule like feeding wise u have I normally do a nap at 10 & 12 but I think I’ll push it to 3

            • Hi Brenda! I hope you get this… For some reason I can’t reply to your reply so I had to reply to this thread. How old is your LO? At this point my daughter is 13 months old so I am guessing it would be more helpful to know what our schedule was like at the stage you are in. I am glad the other posts were helpful and I’d be glad to try to encourage you further! If it would be easier, you can email me at

            • Hi ladies
              Thanks for these posts, we are on Day 18 of cio using the Ferber method. We have a few good nights and then a completely horrible night, last night crying 2h15 so I fed then after the feed he was wide awake and cried, I actually fell asleep before the next check and when I woke up again he was quiet. So it looks like hanging in there might work. I just am not sure when to feed and when not to feed? If he wakes at 1am I am pretty sure he’s not hungry but then if he cries until 3.15 he might be by then? I am so tired, teary and exhausted today. His naps were terrible yesterday, so yesterday and today he is Captain Grumpy and at sleep time he is really crying so much this week, I just got so angry and frustrated now I had to put him in the cot crying for his nap and walk away. He was quiet in 20 mins. I feel like such a bad mum, getting angry, I mean he’s just a baby….sniff!

            • Hi Helen! I hope you get this… I am unable to reply to your response so I had to reply to my own. How old is your little one? It’s hard to say whether or not he would be hungry without the age. Everyone has different thoughts on the matter, but my pediatrician says that babies aren’t waking out of hunger after 5-6 months, they are waking out of habit. I hope at the very least I can offer some encouragement in telling you all, my little girl is now 2 1/2 and sleeps without an issue at nap and bedtime and has pretty consistently for a little while now (minus the occasional bad dream or potty training incident). Consistency eventually pays off and you are not damaging them by letting them cry it out (assuming you are offering support and comfort during waking hours)! If it would be easier feel free to email me

  104. Hi Alexis

    Thanks for all of your time and energy invested in this site, it has been a huge assurance.. Do you have any advice for us?

    When rocking was no longer working for our bubs and nothing else seemed to work (at 5.5 months) we did the in and out of the room thing; 2 mins, 4 mins up to 14 minutes then a feed if necessary. After 6 nights our baby could nap during the day without tears (and still does) and fall asleep at nights with sometimes some crying between 5-30 min max. She has recently had her first cold (now 7.5 months) so when she couldn’t sleep with the usual routine I lay next to her (her cot is attached to our bed). Unfortunately now she is not falling asleep after the usual time.. It’s taking up to an hour and a half (at which point she’s over tired).. I had thought it was that she’d gotten used to me being there with her and I just needed to get bak on track but a couple of weeks later and it’s still not working. Could it be that she’s going through seperation anxiety? As soon as I’m in the room she relaxes and goes to sleep. At the moment being in the room is a small and short effort and if she needs me I’d like to be there for her (before we did the sleep training she never would have slept with me just lying next to her). Do you have any solutions to offer.. Like I wondered about sitting on a chair and slowly moving it out of the room? My two concerns are that I don’t want to affect the day sleep routine and I don’t want to end up doing what I’m doing now a month or two down the track when my baby can stand on the side of the cot etc. do you think if I lye with her now I’ll be lying with her til she’s two? And how will it affect her night sleep when she’s in her own room? (She still wakes for a feed a couple of times). Sorry this is so long! & Thanks! :)

  105. Hi again, After writing this post I thought about what your response might be… How had my baby eventually gone to sleep?.. The answer? Through feeding or me lying next to her.. So the crying was being reinforced? I may or may not be right but I decided the following night to get all things lined up (make sure bubs had had a decent afternoon nap, dad was quiet interacting with her before bedtime etc etc) and give our routine a decent shot before moving away from something that was working so well. I’m pleased to say that our daughter has gone to sleep on her own the last two nights with just a few grizzles just as before. Hooray! I’m now going to read up on night reading – thanks again :)

  106. *Night weaning!

  107. i seriously am going to jump off a cliff, baby was going out great, maybe a little crying just before sleeping in the crib. then 3 months ago he started daycare, and they rocked him to sleep, if he even slept. now fast forward to 9months, he is cio for more than a hour, doesn’t nap. I am lucky if he even naps for 1 hour. i’ve started to take him out with the stroller just so he can nap, because he wont even nap any which way. and nite times have gotten so bad. i do the same routine, tried to switch up the times, nothing works. he cries, actually screams in a sitting position for at least a hour and a half. i haven’t gone longer because usually I can’t take it. his 2 front teeth have popped out, but it’s not like he complains too much during the day so I cant imagine he just decided to be in pain at bedtime. im almost thinking he’s just one stubborn baby and I am having so much trouble choosing #!

  108. We tried to CIO last night, and our babe went 2.5 hours strong before I threw in the towel. At around the 2 h mark, we thought he was turning a corner as he would settle himself for a single 30 seconds…but would then fall into a desperate full fledged cry. I just thought it was not working, he wasn’t ready, or we were doing something terribly wrong. After an hour of crying, i did nurse him – he stayed awake for the feed, and when we continued to CIO, there was no end in sight.

    We started at 8:30pm, and at 11 pm I gave in and rocked and sang him to sleep. The babe woke after 2 h of sleeping only to be out of sorts and pissed off to be alive it seems.

    Our son is days awake from 5 months old, and starting solids this weekend. Our pedi swears that solids will fix our wakeful baby. And she tells us his sleep habits are our fault to begin with. If we start soles and things don’t improve…. I don’t know what we’ll do.

  109. I am on night 4 of CIO with my 7 month old. The amount of crying she does each night is not getting shorter. I used to have to nurse her to sleep, and we have kept the night time routine the same other than feeding her before the bedtime routine. We’ve also been very consistent on bed time, so I’m wondering why she still takes 40+ minutes to fall asleep each night? Is my baby just not ready to CIO?! Should I stop making her do this if it doesn’t get better after a certain amount of days????

  110. Help! I’m on day 10 of CIO. LO was doing great after day 1 but then at day 6 began regressing — longer and stronger cries — and waking nightly to CIO for as long as 1:45 mins. He’s a very strong willed child and I don’t want to give up but I’m losing faith. He only naps for 35 mins exactly as well and wakes up angry. Plus he fusses more with going down for naps. Please, please help! Signed one very, very tired mama.

    • You’re right, Marquita, our LOs sound pretty similar! Hang in there and maybe try an earlier bedtime and extending naps (see my reply to yours on my post for more details). I know how hard it is, believe me, but you will get there! Let me know if I can help any more :)

  111. Is this okay?! I feel like its super excessive and I’m about to cave:( help!!!

    Layer him down at 7:34 pm and he was done crying by 7:50

    Back up at 8:14 fell asleep sitting up

    Cried again till 8:32 he is bow bobbing sitting up

    8:38 fell asleep sitting up again

    Up at 11:37 crying
    Sleeping at 11:51

    Up at 12:32 am
    Asleep at 12:45

    Nurse at 1:24
    Put down at 1:33 crying :(
    Stopped crying at 1:35!
    Crying again at 1:37
    Asleep at 1:45
    Up at 1:48 crying
    1:53 sleeping
    Crying 1:57
    Stopped at 1:59
    Crying again at 2:02
    Sleeping at 2:04 jk up at 2:04
    Sleeping at 2:07 am

    • Brittany,

      I am going through sort of the same thing. My son is 8 months old, and we started trying CIO last week. He seems to fall asleep with minimal crying, but it’s what’s happening in the middle of the night that I don’t know how to handle.

      Almost every night since we’ve started, he wakes up around 2am. We do a quick diaper change and feeding, but then he screams for hours. Last night he was awake on and off from 1:30 till 4:00, and then he woke up for the day around 6:30. I feel so exhausted and don’t know what to do about these middle of the night wakings.

      • Brittany – it sounds like a lot of stutter crying – cry for a little bit, sleep for a little bit. I’m assuming you used to nurse a lot at night yes?

        Ashley – your situation sounds different. He’s sleeping OK from bedtime till 2 AM but can’t settle back to sleep after that feeding.

        For the stutter crying, if I’m right about the “baby used to nurse all the time” (I am right?) I’m guessing that you’re only recourse is to press on. He’s basically struggling to navigate into and out of deep sleep and hopefully within a few days (by now at least) things are much better.

        As for the 2 AM feeding, if he’s 8 months old and the 2 AM feeding (diaper change=BIG wake up and something to avoid if at all possible – have you tried overnight diapers?) is causing such huge upset (yes that’s huge) maybe it’s time to stop it all together. Obviously he’s gotten enough sleep that at 2 AM he’s not easily falling back to sleep. He’s old enough that he’s capable of not eating at 2 AM. So maybe the issue is to avoid the circumstance that’s resulting in him being “wide awake and unhappy” at 2 am. Thoughts?

        • I’ve tried not changing him or feeding him at this point in the night because he really isn’t that wet and he shouldn’t be hungry. Last night was especially bad and my husband thought that it was because he was wet (he really wasn’t that wet), so I changed him. We’ve tried just leaving him in bed, going to comfort him in intervals, but it seems like consistently every night he wakes up between 1 and 2 am and is awake for awhile.

          He also has had a lot of trouble napping. After not sleeping much last night, he took a 30 minute nap this morning and hasn’t napped since. I’m so exhausted, I don’t know how he isn’t! He’s perfectly content playing and doesn’t seem tired at all.

  112. I NEED some advice. My son (11 mos) had a double ear infection and is now 100% better. His doc said not to do cry it out while he had his ear infections. But now he will not NAP!! Goes down at night just fine! But he used to take a morning and afternoon nap. 9:30-11 and 3-4:30
    Is this cry-it-out starting all over like the first time?
    ………..he crys for like 4 hours……..put him down at 9:30 and he is sleepy, but crys and crys and crys….I don’t enter the room and he has music playing……Also, he always is full and has a clean diaper.

    • oh no – dont let him cry for 4 hours! poor wee soul. He must be in terrible pain – take your doctors advice .

      How is he now? Are you still struggling?

  113. Hello Alexis,
    My baby will be 6 months next week.
    Three weeks ago I started doing CIO with checks (Ferber) for nights. I started with nights and 2 weeks later i started doing naps as well.
    He still cries before sleeping. He hasn’t cried only 2 times for bedtime and 4 times for naps.
    For the first nap, I try to put him down after 2 hours of waking up. For the second nap, after 2.25 hours, for the third one after 2.25 hours again and from the last nap until bedtime he’s awake for 2.5 hours.
    I think I’m putting him down for naps and BT at the wrong times but I’ve tried just 2 hours in between naps and he still cries. Sometimes he skips naps and sometimes he cries for more than 30 minutes for bedtime.
    What am I doing wrong?

  114. So I feel like an idiot. I have a 5.5 month old (adjusted age- her real age is 8.5 months but read on) who I NEEDED to do CIO with. We mastered drowsy but awake, we had bedtime down, BUT we also had a paci problem. And guess what: it got WORSE. so bad, in fact, that I was up 15 times or more per night to re insert that stupid thing!
    Now, my baby is a former 27 weeker and there are THINGS, things that I worry about like breathing and crying and all matter of preemie parent worry. That paci has gotten her through a LOT. but 15 times a night is a LOT for a parent who has literally not slept an 8 hour night since FEBRUARY 13 2013!
    Well I thought I’d be so smart and put her down with the pacifier and then just not replace it. 35 min the first night of crying. 14 the second night ..GREAT!!!.. then a night of 45, then 0, then and hour and 20 minutes, then 56 minutes. I’m SO screwed. it’s been a week now and I’m feeling so guilty knowing I HAVE to take that thing away at bedtime and then do CIO properly.

    do you think this is an extinction burst or just me being an idiot and not doing CIO properly?

    luckily she is sleeping 7pm (pd at 6) until 3:45 am then back to sleep til 6 daily but I’d like to see 12 hours because she needs every minute. this is the kid who can still only go an hour to an hour and a half MAX between naps, even with her better night sleep these days.

    • Hey Lisa,

      I’m a little confused by what is happening. Is she crying AT bedtime or later when she wakes up sans paci.

      If it’s the later then yes the answer is most definitely – no paci AT bedtime. In fact was just talking about this on FB – you set the stage for the night AT bedtime. If she has the paci at bedtime and then you ignore the reinsertion then yes – you’ll get a lot of crying. Because you’re effectively setting expectations AT bedtime.

      Look at it this way – every time she falls asleep with the paci her brain goes “paci=sleep.” Then when she’s waking up and you don’t replace it you’re breaking the equation which leads to lots of crying.

      Look you’ve got lots of crying going on anyway but with the current setup it’s not getting you anywhere. Why NOT ditch the paci AT bedtime because yes, she’ll probably be upset about it but at least that will help create new/sustainable sleep associations.

      ps. 1.5 hours between naps isn’t totally off the mark for a 5 month old baby.

      Hope that helps!

      • Well. It’s that time again. Bedtime. I just put my kiddo down for THE first time ever with no paci. She’s up there carrying on like a rabid monkey, as is our usual. I actually got a little teary eyed explaining to her about going to sleep without paci tonight.

        To answer your question, I’ve been putting her down with paci but it normally falls out before she ever gets to sleep. She will grunt for about 5-15 minutes and the second it falls out if she is still awake all hell breaks loose. I don’t replace it anymore. If she wakes in the night, which has become blessedly rare, I don’t replace it either. If it’s after 1 I will feed her.

        I would have stopped this CIO madness days ago but after all that carrying on she sleeps with no wake ups for 8-9 hours. It’s the first time I’ve slept in 8 months (hospital bedrest and the Nicu were also not very restful places). I just can’t handle paying the piper with little shreds of my SOUL for a full hour without being sure this is going to be effective. I hoped so much for quick! Like ripping off a bandaid!
        I’m crossing my fingers and setting my phone timer and I’ll keep updating. And drinking my wine.

        • How many shreds of soul does it take to sleep train a baby? Interesting question. Do you have any soul left? Or did you spend it all last night. And if so, what does that mean for your future afterlife?

          All questions too large for my feeble brain.

          See the post below? It’s 100% why you’re having a hard time. Look I’m not trying to sell anybody on CIO (although you started so you’re in now so don’t give up!). But if you have lots of crying going on anyway (and you did) at least make it productive. This change is, I believe, critical to that step.

          Hope last night didn’t cost you every ounce of soul. And that tonight will be even better. Let me know what happens -OK?

          • Well last night, as I mentioned , she went to bed with no paci at all. She cried 46 minutes which was agonizing for day 7 of CIO, though still improved over the hour we saw the night before.
            Tonight I did the same thing, no paci at bedtime. Not even near bedtime. No paci within 45 minutes of bed! We are at 40 minutes of crying now and I’m not seeing her winding down. I’m guessing we will not “beat” our time from last night.
            I’m discouraged. We’ve got all the stars lined up for her: great naps, a solid evening routine, a super sleep environment (pitch black with white noise), a cozy swaddle, and 8 glorious ounces of breast milk in her tummy.. I just can’t fathom why this seems to be dragging on. I know she’s developmentally there and she’s not being reinforced. Part of me wonders what might happen if I I swaddled one hand so she could chew in it but I don’t have a video monitor and her default for hands is to rub and scratch at her eyes when tired.
            I’m forging ahead because I must. To be perfectly honest we had reached the doorstep of being willing to trade our souls for a night of sleep around these parts.
            Dammit. 57 minutes and finally quiet. We are going through way more wine than I thought we would need for this!

            • Tonight we put down early because the 3:30 nap was refused. Bedtime was 5:30 instead of 6. Fed downstairs, not in her room, no paci in the second half of the day. She was pretty worked up already when I put her down. Tired and whiny. She cried 22 minutes. Fluke? Maybe I’m putting down too early normally? I’ll keep updating!

  115. Ok. I’m ready to bow down and kiss your troublesome toes. Troubleshooting (god, I hope) has been completed! Along with the paci at night, I was doing one last bottle right in baby’s room right before I put her down. Really, what could be more blissful than a warm bottle and some rocking together? Who could resist melty milk drunk baby snuggles?
    Last night the last bottle was downstairs and I did a book upstairs (it was short lived since she was having a panic attack of fatigue). Tonight, bottle downstairs, book upstairs. We are getting onto this new groove.
    Her crying time was 15 minutes AND it was much less intense than it has been. I’m really hoping this is mecca and I’ll leave never have to lurk about commenting on blog posts ever again (because this is totally what I do while she cries to stop myself from going up there and reinforcing her).
    )))happy dance?(((((

  116. Alexis,

    My daughter is 25 months old, and a couple of months ago she started waking up at 4-5am every morning and refuses to go back to sleep. She has also developed horrible bedtime tantrums through this period and getting her to bed has become a nightly battle. Further, she pretty much always wakes up at 1-2am for a few minutes, but goes back to sleep fairly quickly if we go and sit on the floor in her room.

    We’ve tried a lot of things and I think that chronic inconsistency could be our biggest problem.

    She goes to daycare and generally naps for 80-90 minutes during the day and is up between 1-2pm. We aim for a 7pm bedtime but she really doesn’t seem interested in sleeping until closer to 9. So most nights she really only gets 7-8 hours of sleep with at least one interruption.

    I don’t like CIO (who does) but am certainly alright doing it if it will work. We have done this at times in the past and she’s always slept within 40-60 minutes, but we ultimately don’t stick with it long enough and feel bad and then regress.

    Anyways, do you suggest we stick with the 7pm bed time? And what do you propose we do about the night waking? Do we go into her room at all, or just let her cry?


  117. We are in nap hell….. our baby nursed to sleep for naps on and off for over a year. Though never a great sleeper, she could sleep maybe an hour-90 mins per day, one nap. (she is now 17 months old). We have tried time and time again to get her to sleep in her cot, but even if she goes to sleep, she wakes after 30 minutes and flat out refuses to sleep any longer, despite being an exhausted screaming mess. How do we increase the length of her naps?! It is such a stressful experience every single day for us as well as her :(

    • Hey Kirsten,

      Sorry to hear it’s a rough go :( At 1.5 years you’re tools are basically:
      – Putting her down awake (no nurse to sleep, rock to sleep, etc.)
      – Put her down at the same time every day
      – Make sure that time is the right time (not too early/late) – although older kids are pretty flexible on this front
      – Use a great wind-down routine that is consistent
      – Think positive thoughts

      If you’re doing those things then as hard as it is, there’s not much else to do. Good luck!

      • Thanks so much for the speedy reply- we’re doing all of this, she’s just a very very (x1000) strong-willed little girl and unfortunately since I’m still nursing her she waits until the designated nursing hour to fall asleep :/ So perhaps I just need to wean her…

        One question- is there a max time I can leave her screaming in her cot? What if she screams for 30 mins, then sleeps for 10 and then resumes screaming? I just never know what on earth to do :(

        • I don’t know that you need to wean her – that’s really up to you. But I would definitely try to not nurse her when she’s falling asleep. But if you’re putting her down awake, then why would you think nursing is an issue?

          Screaming for 30 minutes isn’t great as I’m assuming this has been going on a while. I would look at the schedule – is the naptime the RIGHT time? Too early? too late?

          Also be aware that even tiny little naps – cat naps in the car, dozing off while nursing, etc. can make it hard or impossible for her to take a “real” nap later. So you may not be able to go anywhere prior to naptime because 5 minutes of sleep in the car my kill your nap for the day.

          And yes if she sleeps for 10 minutes even though it’s not enough sleep, she’s unlikely to fall BACK to sleep. So as frustrating as it is, I would probably consider it a nap and go about your business. Post-sleep crying is only rarely going to lead to longer sleep :(

  118. You should at least go in initially to make sure nothing’s wrong- diaper, teething pain, stomach issues, etc.

  119. I have a 8 month old little guy and we are on day 6 of cio. Things were going well but the past threee nights he falls asleep fairly well (no longer than 30 minutes of crying) but within the hour he wakes up and is really upset . Do we just need to let him cry at that point or do we go in? Last night he cried for over an hour two different times. I can’t handle it much beyond that. I feel awful for him. I guess I just need reassurance that what we are doing is right and it will get better.

    • You are doing it right and it will get better! :)

      How are you getting on? Did he re-find his sleeping abilities or still crying? I think an hour is way too long! I am a 30 min girl. Max. Especially if its screaming, which I dont believe is healthy for them – physically. One thing I learnt really quickly with this method and I have a couple of goes at it is the difference between the ‘I’m tired but I am not having any of this get in here now’ cry and the ‘I am definately not tired/am still very hungry’ cry, in which case I deal with the issue at hand then restart the Nighty night time. Generally once he is fed or put back down after another book etc…or given baby meds for sneaky teeting…he goes to sleep with some grumpy protestation.

      I think I have read in one of the articles here, and see Alexis write that the point is to teach them to sleep, crying isnt the objective its just an added bonus. So on that basis I assume that to mean – yes some crying is necessary but there has to be a reasonable limit. 1 hour is a very very long time in baby world. At least I think so.

      I guess if you rule out that he isnt teething, hasnt got a temperature, you havent started a new food causing digestion problems or anthing else then consider it an extinction phase. ??

      Hope things are going ok? Don’t worry – you are not alone in your plight.

  120. We have hit a major sleep training bump in the road! We found mecca for about a month and were putting down awake with no paci and getting great sleep (all of us!).

    We have a now 6 month old who still uses a swaddle, however. this past week we have seen 2 hour crying jags ONLY at bedtime. naps I still give the pacifier but bedtime I WILL NOT do it (or we will be back waking up every hour to get it for her – that’s 12-25 times nightly’s bad!)

    this crying started up just out of the blue. of course I fell back on the pacifier at bedtime 2 nights in a row thinking she could be randomly sick and now bedtime is horrible. 2 hours one night I can live through but 2 hours every night is too much. something has to give. I’m told I need to get her out of the swaddle so she can self soothe but doing this at naps is a complete catastrophe. she will cry the entire hour and have red scratches all over her face when I go to get her. I’d put her in a zipadee zip but the thing she really needs is her thumb, which she will suck if she’s calm and organized- but when she’s frantic she rubs her eyes and scratches herself.

    we just ordered a merlin sleep suit to try that out and I’ll be taking her to the DR. tomorrow to have her ears checked just in case but I’m really dejected! we tried SO hard with CIO. her cry times were LONG (1hour 20 mins typically) and it took about 2-3 weeks. now we are back here with even longer cry times (2 hours+).

    I know Kids have off weeks and regressions and wonder weeks and all that but this is insane- I don’t even know how its physically possible for her to cry for that length of time…is it possible that I have given birth to the ONE child on this planet who is immune to sleep training?!

  121. So, how long do these bursts last? We have a 6.5 month old boy, we’ve been using CIO 2.5 weeks. After the 1st night of an hour he went down to crying about 15-20 minutes but the past week he’s been crying progressively longer (40 min to an hour). We tried going in and calming 2 nights in a row but it seemed to make no difference. Suggestions?? Advice? I feel like a bad mama! My daughter just “got it,” but not my son!

    • Andrea,
      your son sounds a lot like my girl (see above). it took about 2.5-3 weeks to fully have our routine down. she tested and tested! initially when we did cio, we were strict about it.
      During this past test, I broke ranks and went in and did some soothing and things are now back to normal (except we are trying to get her out of the swaddle so we are still up all night comforting her).

      Did you read the article on how to fine tune the bedtime routine on here? We found that feeding very close to putting her down, or even in the same room was troublesome because she wasn’t wide awake going into her bed. We also had to take a good hard look at our daytime routines and wake times and be sure we were not putting her down overtired. She is about 6.5 months now and maxes out at 4 hours of awake time. if she wakes from her afternoon nap at 1:30 then I get her in her bed by about 5:30 because that extra 30 minutes really can make us all crazy.
      I’m not a CIO expert, but I’ve been through the wringer with a difficult strong willed baby so I totally hear you! hang in there!

  122. Oh my goodness! I think my baby is doing exactly this…BUT FOR NAPS! We’ve been nap training for a week and a half, and the first week was great, but since we started the beginning of the second week, he regressed and is not falling asleep for naps AT ALL. We’re using Weissbluth’s extinction method for an hour per nap attempt, and he has been crying all the way through each attempt for four days now. Ugh.

  123. We have been doing Ferber’s method for 6 days now with my 2nd daughter (she is 6 months). The first night was rough but the 2nd night she cried only 20-30 mins, 3rd night was 15 mins and every night since has cried all of 30 seconds. She sleeps the entire night without a peep – 12 hours! This is crazy for her as she was previously co-sleeping and waking up every 1-3 hours to nurse herself back to sleep (bad habit I started, I know, I know…). Nights were our primary concern as she is a “mama’s girl” and clings to me all day – I just needed nights to re-group and have a few minutes with my husband without baby! Regardless, knock on wood, nights are really good now.

    My current concern is with naps. In the first six days she has taken only 1 (ONE!!!) nap. I put her down three times a day (90 mins. to 2 hours after wake-up) and then at 1 and 4 p.m. (ish). Her bedtime is 7:30 (to 7:30 a.m.). She cries through the entire 30 minutes of each “nap” every single time. I found if I go in to “calm” her, it upsets her more so the past two days I don’t go in at all. The first time I didn’t go in was when she finally took a one hour nap. I thought that was the solution but, no go – she continues to cry. My heart is breaking and I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing anymore. She has become even more clingy than ever before – I can’t put her down for even a second without her crying when she is awake. She is completely exhausted. Should I stop the nap time training and try again in a month or so? Or should I continue? Try just two naps? Has anyone’s child taken this long to take a nap?!?

    My first daughter took 4-5 days to take regular naps and a day here and there didn’t nap at all but nothing like this. Any thoughts? Would be very appreciated!

    • Hi Jill,

      I could copy paste your post just as is – I have the exact same dilemma and in fact the exact same questions, what now Alexis! Jill have things improved at all your end as I see your post is about a month old?

      Since starting sleep training 4 days ago, my LO refuses naps, I really struggle to get her to settle for one, and clings to me for dear life. Whines and cries all day and if I dare put her down, the flood gates open.She was never like this before.

      I can put her down in her crib after our bedtime routine witha about a minute of crying, and she will sleep for 8 hrs max before having to nurse, after which I can’t get her to go down again. So CIO has not yet given me my golden 12 hrs.

      She is fast asleep next to me whilst I type this only because I fetched her after hour and 45 min of crying this afternoon. As I picked her up she fell asleep from pure exhaustion, been sleeping for almost 2 hrs. But it’s the first time this week. Dare I get up, she will wake for sure!

      The naps are my nemesis, not winning! Any advice would be a lifesaver!

      • Hi Nicola!

        I am by no means the baby sleep expert over here (both my girls have been poor nappers) but I feel for you. I didn’t get a response for my question and I was completely panicked. Just knowing someone heard you can be reassuring, right?!?

        We are now almost 2 months down the road and it did get better although still not awesome. She cries herself down for each nap but usually only cries 10-15 minutes before sleeping. She still rarely sleeps more than 30 minutes for a nap which is the terrible part but she is a much happier baby once we pushed through the nap thing. We ended up just going to two naps a day because I couldn’t take the crying. Occasionally we will squeeze in a 3rd nap but usually if we are in the car or stroller. Otherwise she nearly always cries through a 3rd nap attempt. But, she is a fairly happy girl during the day now. As I sit here, she has crawled over and is looking up at me with the biggest smile. Melts my heart! :)

        After I posted this, I just kept trudging along putting her down for naps and letting her cry through them. I thought I would lose my mind but my mom came to town a few days later and assured me she would be fine. Sure enough, that day she took three naps. We finally reached the other side! She always takes two short (sometimes long though…a few days a week) naps and sleeps like an angel at night (7pm – 5 or 6 am, feeds, then back down immediately for another 2 hours or so).

        My biggest concern was the personality change I saw in her and that has gone away completely. She is a fussy baby (had colic the first 5 months) so she is never super content but she is no longer nearly as clingy as she was during the initial CIO process. Learning to crawl really helped as well.

        My first daughter was also a terrible napper (wouldn’t nap more than 45 minutes at a time) and simply grew out of it around 15-18 months. She now takes one 2-3 hour nap each day and sleeps about 10 hours a night, no problems. I think she just is on the lower end of the sleep needs spectrum.

        My advice for what it’s worth: stick to your guns and if it is emotionally killing you, see if you can have a friend or family member come over for a few days to take your mind off the crying. Just breaks a mommy’s heart!

        Good luck!! This too shall pass…

        • Hi there,

          I heard you! 😉
          Thank you for replying. You’re the first and it’s so good to have someone say ‘I know what you’re going through’

          It truly does break your heart listening to those little sobs doesn’t it ;( I’m so glad you mentioned the personality thing as it scared me thinking that I’ve caused a change…All those articles I’ve read saying that CIO alters your child’s brain came flooding back to haunt me. I’m so relieved your LO has returned to ‘normal’ so to say and is her happy smiling self. Those toothless or 2tooth silly grins make even the darkest day bright

          Thank you thank you, I am now filled with hope that things will improve …and this too shall pass… 😉 that’s my favorite phrase – bizarre thatyou used it – has been my mantra when things look like they are about to fall apart 😉

          Best of luck to you too and give your LO’s big cuddles, they too have come a long way ** N

      • Hey Nicola,

        Nap training is a complicated issue. I haven’t yet blogged about it for this reason and the nap chapter of the book I’m working on is ENORMOUS. It’s much easier to plot out what to do at bedtime.

        I will say this – naps = 60 minutes. If she hasn’t fallen asleep at that time naptime is officially over. Also the 3rd nap of the day is likely to happen so you might want to resort to a stroller walk or car ride at that time. Don’t let this last nap become longer than normal (she’ll be tired and you’ll be tempted).

        Naps are indeed hard and tricky to sort out but hopefully these two tips as well as Jill’s kind words will help!


  124. Hi!

    I could use some advice. My son is 9 1/2 months old and we started to cry it out method six days ago. Even after six days of only going in to pat on the back or do just a little bit of comforting never taking him out of the crib he is still crying 45 minutes to an hour every night. He will eventually fall asleep but only after sheer exhaustion. We’re getting a bit discouraged because I feel like we are following all of the instructions but the crying does not seem to be reducing in time. Any advice? Do we just keep going? Help!


  125. Thank you for the sage advice. I’ve been doing CIO this past week with my daughter and the past 3 nights have been beautiful, but she is back to crying with a vengeance. It could be this burst, or the fact my husband was at a work conference for a week and is back so its a lot of change to her….either way I’m reading this page literally as she’s crying. It’s helping me not give in and go in there. In fact to get me through this whole process I read a bunch of articles on your site as encouragement lol. Thanks again :)

  126. Using CIO with my 7 month old. White noise is magic. (How did I get to 7 months with child #3 without it?) However the past few nights he’s been waking up in the middle of the night and screaming bloody murder for an hour or more. After re-searching your site I decided extinction burst is what’s going on. I hope that’s right. And I hope it’s okay that I still let him CIO in the middle of the night. (He’s been night-weaned for just over a month.) Either way, this particular article is now bookmarked to be read every morning so I can stop feeling like an (albeit justified) jerk.

  127. Advice needed for a newly screaming-herself-to-sleep baby! We used CIO at about 5-6 months and it worked like a dream after only 3 nights. Ever since then we’ve kept the routine; putting baby down drowsy but awake after her predictable bedtime routine, and we separate the bottle from bedtime by about 30 mins. But the past month or so my now 12 month old starts screaming bloody murder about 15 minutes after laying her down in the crib. The first few nights this happened we went in thinking something was wrong (a poopy diaper, illness or injury of some kind) but there was absolutely nothing wrong. Now we just let her CIO which ends up lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to almost an hour, but it’s been a month of this and it’s not getting any better. If anyone out there has any experience w this I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

  128. I need advice! We started bouncing my baby on an exercise ball to get her to sleep when she was about 2 weeks old. Fast forward to 4 months and she will not fall asleep unless she is being bounced. We have started crying it out with checks at night but for naps it does not work. Any suggestions?

  129. Hi I started CIO 9 days ago with my 8 1/2 month old and took dummy away. The first night he cried for 45mins and then woke at 2 and put himself back over in 5 mins without me going in then slept until 6 this progress continued and he was sleeping 1hr 15mins for naps and wakening briefly at night. For the past 3 nights things have got worse he is actually crying before I put him into the cot and protesting badly in the middle of the night for over an hr :( he would not settle last night he was screaming not even crying and after all the hard work I took him into bed because he has no voice at all it is completely gone from crying and I feel terrible. Don’t know where to go from here.

  130. Hi There,

    Today, we are 3 weeks into CIO with our almost 7mth old twins. I want to believe we are in the heart of an extinction burst, but I keep hearing these wicked whispers in my head of “Maybe it just isn’t working for our kids…” (Oddly enough, it sounds like my mother’s voice…go figure). We have a consistent bedtime routine of Bath, Bottle, Books, “Good Night Room”, Bed. The kids are in bed by 6pm, at the very latest each night. On nights when they are particularly tired, they may be in bed as early as 5:45pm. We rely heavily on drowsy cues – in fact, I’m finding it hard to communicate with adults now because I am so obsessed with watching both the clock, and my kids for drowsy signs.

    My son will usually get up 1-2 times for a feeding (still BF). He is a power-eater, and within 10-15mins, I am putting him back in his crib (drowsy but awake) with no issues. He usually gets up for the day between 6:30am-7am. My daughter will sleep through the night most nights, and every so often will get up for 1 quick feed in the night. She also sleeps until 6:30-7am.

    Our problem is that they are STILL crying (and by crying, I mean screaming) for anywhere from 30mins (on a great night) to 2hrs at night. I am also navigating nap training at the same time, and they will cry anywhere from 15mins to the full hour each nap. AND, they only nap for 20-40mins tops. TOPS! Today, I had one blessed naptime where they each cried for less than 5 minutes and slept for 40 minutes each. During that nap, I was Julie Andrews twirling on a mountain top. Then, tonight they both screamed for close to two hours at bedtime.
    They are so drowsy at night (eye-rubbing, clingy, staring off into space, yawning, whining) that we sometimes speed through the book portion just so we don’t miss the drowsy window.

    What am I doing wrong?? We were culprits of walking/bouncing them to sleep, and me nursing them to sleep for their first six months, (plus they share a room) so I fully anticipated it would be a rough go…but shouldn’t we see improvement with them soothing themselves to sleep at this point? Does this sound like an extinction burst, or is there some tweaking required with our routine? Any advice is greatly welcome and appreciated!

    Also, thank you for this amazing blog! On most nights, reading…and rereading…the articles and comments are literally the only thing stopping me from running upstairs yelling “MOMMY’S COMING!!!”

    • Hey Alie,

      I can’t tell for sure but here’s what I’m guessing…

      For starters, what is jumping out at me is how early their bedtime is and how long they’re IN bed. Even for supremely crappy nappers, 13 hours in bed is an unusually long time. Sure some kids will sleep that long but it’s rare. To have 2 kids sleeping 13 hours a night seems…so rare I’m thinking that you may have a “too long in bed” problem.

      I get that they’re tired and unhappy and you’re terrified about Weissbluth’s “magic window” but keep in mind that kiddos (and your peanuts aren’t newborns anymore – they’re full fledged babies now!) need a longer stretch of awake time prior to bedtime. They NEED to accrue a sleep debt so they can easily FALL and STAY asleep. 2 hours at night is excessive crying and doesn’t feel extinction bursty to me. It feels like they’re bedtime is too early.

      If they’re sleeping in till 7 (which is AMAZING) maybe they can only really handle an 11.5 or even 12 hour night. Would you feel OK experimenting with that? What about pushing bedtime BACK a bit, nightly, for the next week? I’m sure you think I’m insane but it’s honestly what jumps out at me.

      The second thing you should also consider is separating them. I know this is a huge hassle and moving the crib to the office or what have you is a massive chore. But I would totally do it for a few weeks to see if they’re both struggling to fall asleep or if only one is (and is being kept awake by the other). No matter how inconvenient it is, I would try it out WHILE moving their bedtime back to sometime closer to 7-7:30.

      – Alexis

      • Hi Alexis,

        That makes perfect sense! My husband is setting up the spare room with a room darkening shade, and my daughters crib, as I type this. We will also move their bedtime back a bit nightly – I will let you know how it goes!

        Thank you so much for the speedy reply and great advice!!


      • Hi there,

        Just wanted to give a quick update on our progress here. Over the past three nights, we have gradually pushed bedtime out to 7pm, and each night the crying is down to less than 15 minutes, and the Mini’s are just doing a light, sleepy cry as opposed to their epic screaming of weeks past. I have noticed such a difference in their readiness for bed, compared to our too-early bedtime before, when we would jump into bedtime routine at the first yawn.

        Also, for the last two days, at nap time the crying is less than 5 MINUTES (!!!), and my son is actually sleeping for more than an hour each nap!!! I honestly never thought I would see the day. My daughter is still having shorter naps, but I am sure her naps will lengthen when she’s ready.

        Thank you so much for your fantastic advice!! We really can’t thank you enough. I was feeling like quite a failure at this whole parenting thing, and having panic attacks that I was doing absolutely everything wrong. Your speedy response, and great advice has turned everything around for the better in our household!

  131. Hi ive been trying this method and seemed to work. But after a few weeks it has all gorn suddenly down hill. Anouther thing that I havent been able to find info on is how long do you let them cry for before u go In lay them down try to calm them. How long do u stay in to calm them before u walk back out? Or do u not go in at all? My daughter who is a very advanced 7 month old who crawls sits up, stands walks along furniture and has done so since 5 months old. Will stand up on the side of the cot and scream there’s no way she can cry herself to sleep like that? And she can go on forever. For example last night she woke about 1 am made sure nappy was fine, she wasn’t thirsty. She hasnt had night bottles for a while now (her choice) so wasn’t hungry and took me over an hr to get her back to sleep then she a woke again at 3 then again at and 5 awake is normal thats morning bottle time. And she wentto bed at 7 pm. Please help. need sleep. Jess little.

  132. Anyone please help

  133. Help please!!! My daughter has been sleeping through the nights and having 2/3 naps in the day for the past 6/7months changing into an isomniacatic beast for the past week only sleeping after hours of crying it out she’s 11 months old and now decided naps are for wimps any clues as what to do would help a first time dad thanks

  134. Hi Alexis,

    I am desperate for some advice – I am a total wreck today, full of fear that I’m failing at sleepp training, failing my baby, and creating life-long emotional damage. I was crying most of last night and this morning…

    My baby will be 5 months in a week. I know that’s a bit early for CIO, but many of my frinds started at 4mos and my pediatrician recommended it as well.

    We are on night 12 and the crying has still not stopped. It was 50mins the first night, then 15mins, then 45mins, then 30, then 25, then a couple nights around 10-15mins, then 1min (!), and then BAM, last night is was 55mins again! Do I really just keep going??? Will he finally figure it out before he’s convinced that we’re permanently abandoning him!?

    About my little guy:
    He was a terrible sleeper since day 1. He would wake 4-6 times a night to comfort nurse. For awhile we were able to rock him to sleep pretty easily but since 3 1/2 months it was taking 1.5hrs of rocking, putting down, crying, picking back up, etc. So we turned to CIO when he was 4 1/2 months.

    He has been falling asleep around 8pm no matter when we put him down, and sleeps until 630/7. He’s gotten great at putting himself back to sleep overnight when he wakes, and night feedings are down to two – at 1am and 4am.

    He is a pretty good napper – naps every 2 hrs (we follow the east schedule) and those naps can range anywhere from 30mins-2.5hrs. Naps generally total about 5hrs per day.

    So why am i not seeing the slow decrease in the amount of crying? What in the world am I doing wrong???

    Thank you for any help you can provide. Im feeling like the worlds worst mother today and am ready to throw in the towel. Thank you soooo much.


    • It looks like things were really improving with the 10-15 mins and eventually the 1 min night. 55 min may be an extinction burst.

      Before throwing in the towel (because that would probably mean putting him down asleep, right? which would eventually lead to unsustainable sleep associations, night-waking, all over again), I’d consider tweaking some things. Do you use a swaddle, white noise, dark room? You could consider doing CIO in a swing–all that soothing would probably mean less crying. Also I would tweak bedtime according to when the last nap is (maybe, 2 hours after last nap). If he’s always falling asleep at 8pm, are you putting him down right at 8pm?

      Based on what you wrote, as an outsider I do see a decrease in crying, actually a big decrease. It looks like you had a bad night preceded by good nights with lots of progress. Bad nights will happen and it does seem like with CIO, there is no magical “no crying at all ever” solution, but if things stayed in the 0-15 min range, would that be acceptable?

      • Thanks. We dropped the swaddle and paci when we started CIO. He’s done pretty well. And now he loves to sleep on his side. Plus, he started rolling back to front this last week. Room is dark, white noise is on. We have a good routine. We put him down 1.75-2hrs after his last nap which is around 745 usually.

        I’d be really disappointed to know that he was going to continue to cry for 15mins every time! I really thought CIO would do the trick in teaching him to comfortably put himself to sleep. I dont know if I would or should interpret that as success??

        I decided that a couple days of crying wasnt going to cause him any damage which is why we decided to do this. But, im scared that if this continues for a month, that it might start to cause all that scary irreparable damage CIO opponents talk about!?

        Are you just a fellow parent or do you work with Alexis?

        • Hey Emily,

          I don’t know Ashby personally but she’s left tons of great thoughtful comments here and I’ve read them all. I can say that her advice is spot on and I fully back what she has to suggest :)

          Good luck with everything!

  135. This site has some of the most helpful advice I have seen – I’m hoping someone can help us out. We have a very stubborn baby, now almost 9 1/2 months old. She sleeps in 45 minute chunks in her crib at night before waking up and needing assistance to get back to sleep. She has a good bedtime routine and goes down in the crib ok when drowsy, though we do use a pacifier.

    We have tried many methods for her sleep and given each a week to work with no success. When we tried Cry It Out, she actually did ok the first night (30 min of crying), then got worse the next 6 nights (45-80 min of crying). We were exhausted and gave up. She would sometimes get so upset that she would throw up in the crib, which was heartbreaking.

    What approach can we try for our strong-willed little one? Do we just need to try CIO again and hope she doesn’t throw up? Do we ditch the pacifier first? We’re getting pretty desperate for sleep, so any advice is appreciated!

  136. My son is 9.5 months old and I’ve always nursed him to sleep. He is a good napper and consistently naps for 1.5-2 hr stretches at 9 am and 1 or 2 pm after being nursed to sleep.

    We have a consistent bedtime routine – bath, PJs, book, nurse and every night he is in bed by 7:30 or 8 pm. Since birth he has woken up around midnight and again around 3 or 4 am. He will then sleep until 7:30 am. Now that he’s teething he’s waking up even more often, sometimes 4 times per night.

    I know he doesn’t know how to put himself back to sleep and thinks he needs the breast to fall back asleep. I’m trying to put him to sleep “drowsy but awake” but every time I set him in his crib he cries. We have tried CIO at night and he has cried for over 90 minutes and we can’t handle it any longer so we rescue him and I’ll nurse him to sleep. He is sitting up in his crib now and cries out “mama” and it breaks my heart.

    Does anyone have any advice for babies that cry it out is not working for? We have tried both total extinction and also going in and patting him every 10 min, then 20 min, etc. and he seems to get even angrier when we go in there.

  137. Help! My little girl is 5 months old and we have been trying CIO for almost a couple weeks now. She goes down for naps great and stays asleep most of the night. The problem is getting her to sleep at bedtime! We put her to bed at 8pm after a little nighttime routine bu she still crys and crys. We do the interval soothing by rubbing her back, etc. but often it still takes 30 minutes to and hour or crying before she gets herself to sleep!! Is CIO just not working with her? Do we need to try to get her down earlier? later? How long should we keep this up? It is so hard to hear her upset!

  138. i need help, am a massive fan of CIO and I did it at 8 months and enjoyed full nights sleep and pleasent bed times. At 9.5 months baby has started crying again not a problem but is now being sick, which I then feel terrible about and cuddle to sleep which is leading to tons of night waking and no sleep!
    Any advice would be great, do I ignore the sickness ( it’s heartbreaking and I feel like a bad mum!) tia

  139. Hi,

    I’m really starting to wonder if I am doing something wrong or if I should possibly go back to including a nighttime feeding?

    A little about us…
    My almost 7-month old (6 months corrected) boy started going from doing occasional 5-6 hour stretches to nursing every 1-2 (sometimes 3 hours) at night at 3 months old. At first I assumed it was his growth spurt as it varied, but for the last 3-4 months its kept getting worse. After speaking with his paediatrician at his 6 month appointment, she confirmed that he was definitely gaining enough weight for me to try to night wean him. It was actually a lot easier than I expected, I kept a feeding when he wakes up during the evening around 9:30pm and 1 at night around 3am at first, but quickly gave up the 3am one. The problem is that in the past month he has replaced the feedings with new cruthes: rocking, which we rarely did before, and more and an increase in pacifier runs. We are often re-inserting the pacifier as often as every few minutes as he wakes as soon as it pops out, so spending a lot of time rocking him too.

    I tried slowly loosing the pacifier, but all he did was cry in my arms unable to calm down enough for me to put him down to bed. Crying it out didn’t seem to work either, so now I’ve started full extinction.

    Night #1
    Bedtime (cried 10-15 minutes)
    9:30 (fed him when he woke up)
    11:15 (cried 1h30… I actually checked on him once at midnight as his mattress was inclined and I suspected he had rolled down…)
    2am (cried 45 minutes)
    6am (wake-up)

    Night #2
    Bedtime (no crying – WIN!)
    7:45 (cried 15 minutes)
    9:10 (fed him when he woke up)
    2am (cried 45 minutes)
    5:30am (wake-up)

    Night #3
    Bedtime (no crying)
    9:45 (fed him when he woke up)
    10:20 (cried 10-15 minutes when I put him down after nursing)
    1am (cried 20 minutes
    He cried for a few minutes 2 other times during the night…
    4:30 (wake-up!)

    Night #4
    Bedtime (cried a few minutes)
    8:45 (fed him when he woke up, he cried a bit when I put him down after)
    2:00 (cried 45 minutes)
    3:45 (cried a few minutes)
    5:20 (wake-up)

    In regards to nap time and bed time its going pretty well. He’s been going to sleep on his own for months now, so it was just a matter of loosing the pacifier to settle down to sleep, my concern is in regards to the night wakings… He is still waking up at night and crying for quite awhile and always around 2am. You mention these normally stop after night one, but they don’t seem to be diminishing… And he seems to be waking up earlier and earlier in the morning.

    Is it possible I need to add back one night feeding?

    In the last few weeks after night weaning he would wake up, play a bit and eventually drink in the 30 minutes after waking up, so I was pretty confident this proved he didn’t need to nurse anymore at night, but since full extinction he wakes up screaming in the morning (and a lot earlier than his usual 6:30-7am!!) and acts like I’ve starved him all night long.

    I’m really starting to second guess myself and wonder if I should be doing something different even though we have made so much progress overall.

    Any advice would be great!

    • This isn’t about extinction bursty stuff, I’m pretty confident the issue is that 8:45 feeding. Essentially how you handle early night wakings (generally things prior to ~10) can re-establish the sleep association you are trying to break out of. In your case this is nursing. The nursing session at 8-9 PM re-establishes that sleep association which puts you on the the rough path for the rest of the night. A healthy 6 month old kiddo doesn’t need to eat 2 hours post bedtime so I would either fully ignore this waking or send Dad in for some brief soothing. No boobs.

      Then if you feel like you need to feed him at the 1-2 AM feeding go for it (you can wean off this feeding once things settle dow in 3-4 days).

      But I’m 99% confident that the early feeding is tripping you up. Give my idea a try and let me know how things develop :)


      • Thanks for the quick reply. I kinda wondered about that… I’ll definitely give it a try and let you know how it goes.

        Any chance the very early mornings are all related too?

        Last night I had a very awake, chatting/playing baby at 3am! (It keeps getting earlier). Of course I ignored him and it turned into on and off crying followed by full blown crying until 4:30am… He finally went back to sleep, but was still up by 5:30.

      • You were 100% right! It was the late evening feeding that was confusing him. Thanks for your input. Even the first night thing were a lot better.

        First night he actually woke up at 8:30 (even early for his evening feeding) so I ignored him and he stopped crying within a couple of minutes. He fussed hourly for a few minutes until 11pm and slept all night. Second night he fussed twice and it was so little that I wouldn’t even be able to tell you how long and when… I even got one 6:30am wake-up one morning, but he still seems to be waking up a lot earlier then before. It varies from 4am to 5:30am.

        When he has been waking up before 6am I’ve been going to get him and bringing him up in bed to nurse him in the hopes he will fall back asleep. I’d say that works 30% of the time. I’d let him cry but I have a 25 month-old that has always been an excellent sleeper that wakes up if he cries anytime after 4am, in which case we end up with a cranky toddler too. Hopefully the early wake-ups are a phase!

        Thanks again for your help!

  140. Hi,

    We have a 4.5 month that this past week we tried to start putting to sleep without paci. Once the 4 month sleep regression hit a month ago (a little early) we’ve been running into his room 5-7 times a night to reinsert paci. A few random nights might have been 3-4. We follow the same routine every night (bath, feeding, playing music, and then bedtime) to which we switch on white noise and put him in his crib. With paci, he could always fall asleep real fast.

    After reading the site some this morning, I already see a few things. One, I realize it’s earlier in age than you prefer to start training. But we’ve made some progress I don’t want to lose. Two, we will make sure to include a 20 minute gap before putting him in crib after feeding whereas it was pretty much right after burping.

    I feel we have had some good progress this week that we don’t want to lose though:
    Night 1: asleep without paci after only 5 mins sleeping. Slept 4 hours, wife then went and fed, put back in crib, and fell back asleep immediately without any noise for another 4 hours. Fed again, back asleep in rib with about 30 seconds of grumbling. Slept about 3 hours until morning wake time.
    Night 2: fell asleep within 7 minutes of light grumbling and slept 5 hours. Wife fed, back asleep in crib without any fussing. Slept another 4 hours. Wife fed, back in crib. Grumbled a minute or two, and slept 2.5 hours until wake time.
    Seemed like we were making great progress until night 3:
    Took about 23 minutes of grumbling/crying to fall asleep. Slept only 3 hours. Tried to soothe with checks every 20 minutes for about 50 minutes. Wife fed, then he went to sleep with lit.e grumbling for 3.5 hours. Wife fed again, and went back to sleep with more fussing but slept until wake time.
    Night 4: fell asleep with 10 mins of crying. Slept 4 hours. Wife fed, but then he wouldn’t fall back asleep. Would quiet down for 5-10 minutes, then cry again for 15 mins. This went off and on for 1.5hours and then I changed his diaper, and fed him a bottle while wife slept. Finally went back to sleep after being awake for 2 hours. Slept for 4 hours, wife fed and then took another 30 mins or so to fall asleep.
    Night 5 (last night) was sort of repeat of 4. Grumbled for 10 mins before falling asleep but slept only 3 hours. Wife fed, but then he wouldn’t go back asleep. After an 1.5 of crying, we gave in and brought him to our bed and gave him paci so we could at least sleep without marching to other side of house every hour.

    So, with realizing him being a little young, we are resistant to continually let him stay awake and cry for 1.5-2 hours in middle of night, but don’t want to lose the great progress of him going to sleep at bedtime so quickly without it. Does it sound reasonable to continue to put him to bed without if if he will fall asleep quickly, but then give him paci in middle of night if awake for more than 30 minutes with the hope that he might eventually catch on and not need it to fall back asleep?

    • Oops. I realize I had a few typos or autocorrects. On night 1, he only cried for 5 minutes before falling asleep at bedtime. And obviously the crib, not a rib :)

      I also thought of another to add: the week prior to starting this, he actually spat paci out at bedtime and fell asleep without it and no crying on his own for 2-3 nights, but then resorted back to wanting it.

    • Brian,

      I almost never hear from Dads so kudos for you for getting so involved :)

      So you’ve removed nursing and paci use from the bedtime-zone right? Thus the waking isn’t about a suck=sleep association. So why were nights 4/5 so rough?

      It’s hard to say because it could literally be a ton of things:
      1) Sleep regression – I know you say “been there done that” but you’re never done, you just move on to the next one.
      2) Extinction burst – I tend to think this is NOT the case, but wanted to throw it out there.
      3) Something related to napping – napping too much, napping not enough, too long before bedtime, not long enough before bedtime (I know it’s confusing) – something related to sleep and scheduling would explain why he is waking up and staying up for 1-2 hours in the middle of the night.

      My best guess is 1 or 3. If it were me I would not give him the paci in the middle of the night (of course I’m not dealing with a crying baby in the middle of the night so feel free to over-rule me). I WOULD however see what I could do to amp up the soothing. What about swaddling? Are you already using swaddling and white noise?

      I would also look at his day sleep schedule and consider if everything is cool there or if some tweaks are needed so he’s not over/undertired headed into bedtime.

      Good luck!

      • Hi, thanks so much for the quick reply.

        As for his usual day, we usually try and hope he sleeps until 7, but usually he will get up as early as 6. He now goes to daycare but I think has a pretty good routine. Generally, he isn’t awake longer than 1.5-2 hour periods and takes 3 naps.. Anywhere from 50 minutes to 2 hours in length. On average, I would say there’s one 2 hour nap and 2 1-hour naps throughout a day. Last nap usually ends no later than 5, when we would pick him up, and we try to start bath routine at 6:30, and have him fed and in crib by 7.

        One thing I forgot to mention is that we still allow for paci for naps during the day. I had read that babies differentiate between nighttime sleep and daytime naps, and it would be ok to leave paci for naps while attempting to remove from nighttime sleep. I hope this is ok.

        My wife generally nurses before bedtime, but he is always awake when we put him in the crib for bedtime. But then again, it’s nurse, burp, then directly into crib.

        • Oops. Accidentally hit submit before I was finished. So on average, he wakes between 6-7 for the day, first nap at daycare starting around 8-30, ending between 9:30-10:30. Then he eats and is awake, followed by a mid day nap from 11:30-1:30ish, then eats and awake, and a last nap around 3-4:30.

          We did swaddle for a time but put him into a merlins sleepsuit first and now a zipadeezip with the hopes of giving him a chance to self soothe by sucking his hands/fingers.

          So, I think the suck sleep association might remain cause he will try to suck his hand a little through the zipadeezip, but he doesn’t seem to try in the middle of the night wakings.

          • And I’m sorry to keep adding so many incremental posts, but to answer your question specifically, she will nurse in his bedroom right before putting him to bed.

            • Aaaah there you have it. Check out the post below (bedtime) but it’s the nursing just prior to bed I think. Try separating that from bedtime by 15-20 minutes (shuffle it to the front of your routine) for 2-3 days and see what develops. He also may need to be awake a bit longer prior to bedtime (he’s a champion napper and might need to be awake slightly longer than 2 hours prior to bedtime. But my top guess is that it’s the nursing AT bedtime so start there. Good luck!

            • Thank you so much. We will try that and see how it goes. :)

  141. I have a 4 month old that we are trying to sleep train with the Weissbluth method. She does great after she finally falls asleep, but it takes her on average 45min of crying every night before she falls asleep. I’m not sure if she just needs to wear herself out in order to sleep or what. Our bedtime routine is 30 minutes (nursing/reading/lullabye/little bird poem) followed by smiles and her reaching up for me, and hysterical crying when I tell her its time for bed. It is breaking my heart and Im not sure what to do. Please tell me what we are doing wrong?
    P.S. I typically work night shift so I put her to bed 4 nights a week and husband puts her to sleep the other 3. She does the same 45 minutes of crying with either of us.

    Thanks so much, would really appreciate any advice.

  142. Alexis – I am dying for some feedback here. We’ve been doing sleep sense (check in CIO) for the past 10 days. My LO is 5 months old and 16lbs. We do 2 hour wake time. Naps are usually 3-4 hours total. We dropped ALL sleep props when we started training. Tonight is night 11 & we haven’t had a night with less than 1.5 hours of crying (usually 2 hours)! :( He has a lovey. He’s not swaddled. He’s well fed all day. He goes to bed 2 hours after last nap waking. We have a set routine we follow. We feed, bath, book, sleep sack, white noise and lights off.

    What am I doing wrong?! PLEASE! :) I wish I could only have 30-45 minutes like some of these cases! We are ready to give up! :(

    Thank you in advance!!

    • PS We have been to the doctor. Nothing physically wrong with him.

      • Megan, we are in a similar boat, lots of crying after a week of CIO — Alexis, I’d love to hear your input! Your blog has been such an amazing resource for us on the sleep training journey.

        My baby is 5mo, ~16lb. We transitioned her to her crib at around 4months for naps, and 2 weeks ago for nights. She is in a merlin sleep suit as of a month ago (it is not so magical for us). Bedtime starts around 6:30 (nurse, then bath, PJs, book, goodnight, bed by 7pm). We started CIO 1 week ago – and I decided to not night wean yet, so I am still feeding her every night around midnight and 3:30am. So the great news is that our bedtime and naps have improved by leaps and bounds – she used to require at least 30 min of soothing to fall asleep, now she is falling asleep on her own with 0-3min of fussing. She takes 2-3 solid naps for a total of 3-4 hours per day now. That part is amazing. But here’s the hard part – every night for the past 7 nights, after I nurse her (either at midnight or at 3:30, it varies), she cries 30min-2.5hr. She usually eats efficiently for about 10 minutes, then either falls asleep or I catch her before she falls asleep but has obviously lost interest in nursing, and I put her down. I can’t tell if there is a difference if I put her down awake or asleep after the feed, it seems like she dissolves into tears in both situations. And it is not just fussing, it is full out crying (I think because she has plenty of energy after getting a bunch of hours of sleep, she can go on for a while). We’ve been doing the graduated extinction – so going in periodically to comfort for less than 30seconds. Nothing seems to be helping this middle of the night crying. It’s making me wonder if I should just jump to night weaning now? I was trying to separate self-soothing and night weaning, but given the middle of the night crying maybe we should just tackle night weaning now since she is crying anyway? I’d love to hear your thoughts!!! Thanks in advance.

  143. So I started CIO on my son when he was six months. Took about 3-4 nights and he was sleeping 12hrs straight. It worked wonders. But now my son is 15 months old and recently jus got circumcised, and now he fights me when I walk out of his room. His screams are louder now that he isn’t 6 months anymore. Do I just do what I did before to get him back to how he was? I seriously need help. Mommy in concentration courses needing sleep n time to study 😢😢😢😢😢😢😢

  144. I’m at a loss. We started cry it out (extinction method) two weeks ago. The first three nights our son (who was 4.5 months when we started cried a lot in the middle of the night upon waking up and again from 4:50ish often until 7. We did not intervene and eventually middle of the night cries reduced to make 5 minutes when waking up but he consistently woke up around 4:50 and would not go back to sleep. After a week we decided he must really need a nighttime feeding (we had cut it out since before sleep training he had stopped wanting to sleep after that late feeding). Three nights ago we started getting up at 3 to feed him before he woke up. First night he ate, hubby put him back down, he slept 30 minutes than cried. Last night was our third night of the new routine. He woke up at 2:40 and cried. We waited until he stopped, fed him he went back to sleep then woke up at 4:45 screaming. We went to h for the first time in this process because he was so upset. Now it’s the fourth night and he woke up at 12:50 and has been crying for nearly an hour. Extinction burst? How long can we expect things to be worse before they are better? We haven’t changed the bedtime routine, he goes down awake by 7 pm without his pacifier at night, when he wakes up we let him cry it out … we are just so tired and frustrated after he was sleeping 8-10 hours in a row so we know he can do it! My husband and I both work and this night time “routine” is killing us (and probably our neighbor…) Help!

  145. My dd 14.5 month old goes down super easy at night I’ve even stared taking away her bottle and giving her a cup of milk before putting her in her crib. She falls asleep on her own but she has never ever slept through the night !! I’m returning to wirk in one month and am determined to fix this as I’m sleep deprived , miserable and will need half a brain to work! She sleeps with pacifier and lovie . She wakes up at random hours abdvstays awake for 2 hours or more . I feed her a bottle and haven’t night weaned her yet. Is this my problem ? How do I eliminate night feeding and why is she awake for hours like that ? If I put her down during that time she’s screaming abd wakes up my three year old .help!!!

  146. THis CIO business is not for the weak! I never had to do any real sleep training with my 3 year old who slept through the night by 10 months on her own. SHe only became difficult when moving her to a toddler bed.

    But my 11 month old is a different story. We started CIO on Sunday. We are on day 3.
    Night 1 – She fell asleep standing up the first night after 1.5 hours of crying and finally laid down 30 min later.
    Night 2 – She cried 30 min, and then sat in a mid-sleep state for 2 hours. Not quite asleep not quite awake (like what you did in college physics). But no crying. SHe finally fell over but stayed asleep
    Night 3- Cried for 20 min and slept!

    All 3 night she has woken up at 5 – and against all the rules, I bring her to bed with me and she sleeps for another 2 hours.

    So the problem is she is not napping at all during the day. Not once. She cries for 1 hour – on and off, and not intensely. But she won’t sleep.

    While the night time seems to be getting better, the naps are horrible and she is defn not getting enough sleep. The only reason I’m doing this is for her to get more sleep. I’m fine with co-sleeping – but she just wasn’t getting enough.

    Is bringing her to bed at 5 causing the disruption for naps? Should we jsut start our day then. I feel guilty because I usually let the toddler climb into bed with us around that time as well – feels mean not to let the baby.

    Thoughts? Any help/advice on the naps is appreciated.

    • Actually my advice to is to make naps happen (don’t worry about training) while you’re working on night sleep. No nap leads to an overtired kid headed into bedtime – that’s not great for anybody 😛

      That being said, you’re 3 days down the road and may decide to press on. It’s tough – after 3 days I could argue either way (bail or press on) so really it’s up to you.

      But no the 5 AM thing isn’t that big a deal as long as it doesn’t become a 4, 3, 2, … thing. Good luck!

      • Alexis – So hoping you write back – because everything has gone off the rails since my last post.

        So – we stopped the nap “training” and rocked/stroller rides/etc to get her to try and sleep. And many times she still would fight it. And now her milk intake has also decreased (And she is TINY to begin with). Finally, the last 3 night – she has taken about 45 minutes to fall asleep. Lies down for a couple minutes, then stands back up, over and over. Not screaming but whimpering the whole time. Generally she sleeps until 5 or 6 once down. But last night – she was up for 3 hours. Same routine. What happened?! What do we do? I am ready to just give up – but after a week of all this crying, hate to do that with no results at all. And more worrisome, her decrease in appetite is most concerning. I think in general, she’s way overtired – but don’t know how to help that since she’s resisting the crib at nap time (and naps in general) and not getting enough sleep at night. Trying to move up bed time as best as we can.

        • Hey Kavitha,

          So something is wrong. Whimpering for 45 minutes is not terrible, but it’s not great. Why is that happening? Could be a couple of things – bedtime too early/late/inconsistent is my best bet (if you’re in the US, DST is not helping you here either). But something is off because this is taking too long.

          Last night, the 3 hour thing? Again more evidence that something is off. As for her milk intake decreasing, I would need far more information to comment on what is happening there, more than I can get into via a blog comment. It’s probably not cause for concern but it may be time to run it by your pediatrician, just in case.

          I can’t really tell you what to do because I’m only getting a snippet of information. In the short-run I would see if there is any way to help her sleep decently during the day (car ride? babywearing?) just to help her catch up on her sleep debt. I would check with the pediatrician to rule out any medical issue (ear infection, etc.). And I would reconsider possibly the schedule to see if she is awake too long/too short and that’s tripping you up. Again I don’t know what things were like 2 weeks ago or what you’re trying to wean off of so I can’t get more specific, but hopefully these are a few tips that might point you in the right direction!

  147. Please Alexis HELP

    Yesterday i started controlled crying with my 4 months old. within 12 hours she has slept some 2 hours (one 20 min, one 25, one 15, one 40, and from 1-5 min here and there.) and the rest of those 12 hours she has been either screaming, crying or whining ( screaming in total some 5 hours, crying and whining 5 hours)

    What should i do, stop cio?

    I think this is not a normal reaction, have never heard or read such thing.
    My dd is a very active baby, but is not rolling over regularly, a few times accidentally, so thats not the issue. Neither is she teething or have other issues. But she can stay awake quite long, which i do not allow, meaning she naps exclusively in my arms with a pacifier for 2 months already. At night she sleeps with me and wakes up some 10plus times, and the only way she can fall back asleep is when i take her in my arms. She sleeps swaddled.

    With cio we used neither swaddle nor pacifier.
    I was checking in on her every 5 then 10 min of screaming.

    Poor thing cannot sleep

    Thank you in advance for your advice

  148. Hi Alexis,

    Forgive me if this has already been answered, but I’m too tired to read through all the comments. My question is sort of simple: last night, day 3 of CIO, my baby went to bed easily but woke up three hours later PISSED. He screamed for so long and so dramatically that he ended up hyperventilating and gasping for air. It was like a baby panic attack. I can’t watch that, or hear that, so I went in and rocked him to sleep after I got him calmed down and he slept the rest of the night. I know what I did was ‘wrong’ by CIO standards, but I feel like everything I’m done up until this point in my parental career has been wrong, so what the hell. Long story short, my question is, what do I do at that point when he’s choking and gasping and frantic?

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