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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:

1

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.

2

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.


427 Comments


  1. I just started the CIO method and its alot harder than i thought. My husband does not support me on this at all. He says that its child abuse and wrong. I have zero support and i was just wondering if there was an easier way to do this method. Also, how long should i let the crying happen each night, because it seems like he could just scream all night if i let him. I talked to his pediatrician and she suggested this method, but again i have no other support. Thank you

  2. I need some guidance…

    How long should I let my son cry?

    We have been cosleeping for the last 11 months but I am going back to work and need more sleep so we started the ferber method. We have been consistant with his bedtime routine. Bath bottle book.

    Night 1 cried 45mins and woke 5 times crying a half an hour each time

    Night 2 cried 45 mins woke 7 times crying about half an hour each time

    Night 3 cried 1.5 hours and woke 9 times about 30 mins each time

    Night 4 cried 45 mins and woke 6 times for 15 mins each time

    Night 5 we are reaching the 45 min mark and he is still crying.

    I go in to sooth at the suggested intervals…

    I feel like giving up. What can I do?

  3. Hi Alexis,
    Your website is giving us a lot of insight for sleep training!
    One question I have is – how do we CIO with night feedings still in place? We are not yet ready to wean off night feedings. Right now, we feed him at 7:30pm (then bedtime routine, in bed by 8:15), then dream feed at 11pm, then 3am, then 7am (or earlier if baby is up).

    Would you go in and feed when he cries? Or should I stick to my own schedule and go in to feed, regardless or cry or not? What is the best way to deal with this without reinforcing his crying for attention?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Flora,
      I have this exact same question. My daughter is 7 1/2 months and I’m not sure if I should go in and wake her up to feed her, knowing she’ll eventually wake up hungry on her own, or wait for that to happen, but then run the risk of encouraging the crying by responding to it. I know at her age she can nutritionally go all night without eating, but we’re trying to tackle one thing at a time. Since you posted this last February, I’m hoping maybe you can give me some insight into how you handled the situation and how it worked out. Anything you’d be willing to share with me about your experience would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    • this is my question problem too!

      • from alexis’ post: https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/how-to-cry-it-out-bedtime-edition/
        11) Cry it out does not mean night weaning.

        IF your baby has been eating/nursing at night then you will need to feed/nurse your baby when they wake up. CIO is not a good way to cut out night feedings as hungry babies will cry A TON. If your baby had been eating at predictable times then feed your baby when they “regularly” would be eating. If your baby wakes up crying at a time other than when they would regularly eat, then I recommend you don’t go to them.

        If your baby was previously sleeping glued to your boob (don’t laugh, this is a REALLY common problem) then sorting out what is a cry for attention vs. a cry for food will be challenging. You’ll need to listen to your baby and your gut and make the best determination you can. I would suggest you try to space out the feedings as best as you can. For example if you nursed your baby at 6:30 PM then I would be reluctant to offer more food before, say, 11:00 PM. If you nursed again at 11:00 PM, then potentially the next feeding could reasonably be expected to happen at 3:00 AM. However these are not hard and fast rules, listen to your gut. It’s almost always giving you good advice.

  4. Alexis,

    My 6 month old sleeps great through the night. We nurse until she’s almost asleep and she sleeps 9 hours, wakes to feed, and sleeps another 3. Sometimes she won’t get super sleepy after nursing and will fall asleep on her own in her crib. Great, right? We have a big problem with naps. I’ve been trying for 2 weeks to let her CIO. Sometimes she’ll fall asleep after nursing and sleep for about 35 minutes. But then she will cry for up to 2 hours and not fall asleep. If I put her down wide awake she just cries for hours. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! I know she can put herself to sleep, so why won’t she? This worked so well for my son. How long should I let her cry for naps? I’m putting her down every 2.5 hours. Help!!

    • So few thoughts.

      – Bedtime is working now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it stops working soon. If her nights turn into 5X demands to nurse, you’ll know why right?

      – If you’re nursing to sleep at naptime then you’re nursing to sleep at naptime. If you’re NOT nursing to sleep at naptime then you’re done nursing to sleep at naptime. Cool? You can’t ping pong back and forth.

      – If she can’t fall asleep without being put down 100% asleep, nap is 1 hour then done. Then rest time is over and you go about your day. If she cries through each nap for the whole day, so be it. This often happens. It’s not easy. If that is unappealing…

      – You could start by intermediately getting her to sleep in the crib sans nursing. Meaning you do your pre-nap routine, put her in the crib, and rub her back/belly until she’s asleep. She’s not falling asleep solo but it’s a strong step in the right direction.

      – What I WOULDN’T do is nurse her to sleep and then let her cry after she wakes up. She’s falling asleep with you/nursing and then waking up solo – she’s not likely to fall asleep in this scenario 😛

      Hope that helps – good luck!

      • Alexis,

        So I started nursing her in the living room with the rest of the fam to try and keep her awake, and then changing her and doing the rest of our nap time/bedtime routine in her room. The first nap took 35 minutes, and she slept for 30. Bedtime took 20, and she slept until 530. Then for nap time this morning, she took 20 minutes to go down and has been out for 50 minutes!!!! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!! I guess I thought if she was kind of awake when I put her down, then it was the same thing. I did this 2 years ago with my toddler, and it’s funny how much you forget. Btw, your posts completely saved me with him. Can’t thank you enough!!

  5. I used extinction with my first and it worked like a charm. I’m on day 6 with my 2nd child and he is not getting any better. He’s 6 months old and cries for about 30-60 mins every time I put him down for sleep. I’m getting really discouraged and so stressed from the constant crying in my house.

  6. Alexis,

    I’ve been training my 6 month old daughter for 2 weeks now. For the first 5 nights the last part of the routine was feeding and she cried for a long time and it was not getting better. Then I came across your website and read that feeding should never be the last step so I changed the order like you suggested. The 1st night with the new routine she cried for 45 min then the 2nd night for 30 min and 15 min on the 3rd night. However she cried for 40 min on the 4th and 5th nights and it made me feel discourage. Does this mean cio is not working on her? I’ve been making sure that she has good naps everyday and have been consistent with her schedule. If I were to stop now I feel that the 2 weeks of trying to sleep train her would go to a waste. She wakes up once or twice at night but she doesn’t cry as much as during bedtime. Could you please help me? I am not sure what to do and starting to get discouraged =(

    • It’s likely either an extinction burst (as described) OR it’s a sign that bedtime is too early. I would assume extinction burst and see if things improve in the next ~2 days. If NOT, I would push bedtime back ~30 minutes and see what develops.

  7. Hi Alexis,

    My 10 month old son overall does pretty well with sleeping through the night. We put him down between 7:30-8pm and most nights he’ll sleep through the night with some bursts of crying here and there that last for a few minutes. However, there can be nights where he wakes up around 11pm and he won’t go back to sleep. In the past I would have him cry it out to close to an hour and then we go in and try giving him a bottle. He does take the bottle but the he’s awak and it take about 2 hours for him to go back down (he’s wide awak by the time he’s “done” with his bottle). When I’ve tried to have him cry it out it can go way beyond an hour. This sounds like the extinction burst you describe in this article. My question is how long do I let him cry it out? Is having him cry 2,3,4,5+ hours ok/safe? If I do have him cry that long do I stay up to make sure he doesn’t choke on his spit or is it ok for me to sleep (as horrible as that may sound)? Thank you for your helping this concerned and sleep deprived mom!

  8. Help!! I am so confused on how to get started and what to do…. It was going good but now he has regressed…. Should he always be put down before he is asleep? How long is too long for him to cry? He is flipping on his stomach and it wakes him up? Help

  9. Well ladies and gents I would like to bring you hope. We are FINALLY getting there with our little 5 month girl. Last week she improved slightly (actually going to sleep in cot sometimes and not feeding every time she woke) but we had one better-ish night then 3 more awful ones. Check Alexis’s words of wisdom – ah, extinction burst doom. We stuck it out, and tweaked things a bit. The things that made the difference were: night feeds in baby’s own room not Mummys, no breast at night, getting into bed with Mummy is not an option (helped by not coming into Mumm’s room so Mummy isn’t as tempted,) realising that when she’s whimpery crying a visit to calm works backwards – she’s more upset after it than before. Controlled crying with timed visits only works if she’s proper upset. Otherwise it’s counter productive. We have gone from waking every 45-90 minutes all night every night and crying for up to an hour each time to sleeping 7-6 with a brief cry at 9;30 not requiring a visit and a feed at 1am. That’s it. That was last night. Im still in shock. And the 2 precious were similar except feeds at 12 and 5 then falling asleep again till 7. It’s blissful. If we can do it you can. Honestly we were so low last week after we’d been working at this for weeks. Now im over the moon.

    • Let me just repeat this in case somebody scans by and misses them because these are KEY INSIGHTS:

      ” The things that made the difference were: night feeds in baby’s own room not Mummys, no breast at night, getting into bed with Mummy is not an option (helped by not coming into Mumm’s room so Mummy isn’t as tempted,) realising that when she’s whimpery crying a visit to calm works backwards – she’s more upset after it than before.”

      Well done – this is huge! You clued into some MAJOR themes there and things worked better because of it. Well done!

      • Thanks alexis. We honestly couldn’t have done it without you. Life is so much nicer – and we have a happy well rested munchkin. We’re going to rest on our laurels for a week or so then attempt to sort nap times. All in the pram up to now!

  10. Hi Alexis,

    We really want/need to do this for our son, and we attempted one night already which was a disaster. He cried for over an hour getting more and more upset. I want to push through and continue, but he’s figured out how to stand in his crib and when he gets really upset he lunges backward. I’m so worried that he’s going to hurt himself by falling and hitting his head hard on the crib when he’s left to cry alone in his room.. Any suggestions?

  11. Hi Alexis,
    Let me start by saying, we’ve been PLS devotees since our baby would not sleep during Month 1. Our baby is now just over 5 months. We’ve done everything you suggested. She wouldn’t sleep in a Rock N Play, bassinet, pack n play, etc.We used the swaddle and swing method and it worked wonders (I wonder if we hadn’t figured that out, would she be considered colicky because of lack of sleep like that first month, who knows?).

    My wife returned to work full time two weeks ago and I’m a teacher so am doing the stay at home dad thing all summer. We started the transition about a month ago. We followed all your steps, slowly reduced the swinging, put the swing in her room next to the crib, and the biggest thing we missed at first pass through was putting her down awake in the swing! Once we started doing this I knew this was going to work and we were headed to Cribby Sleepsville.

    We slowed down the swing until we were putting her in it awake and motionless! Two weeks ago, on my first day off for summer, I decided to try out the dreaded crib for her morning nap….and it worked she had four naps in the crib for 1 hr, 1 hr, and 2 30 min naps.

    She transitioned to the crib pretty well that week, but switched back to getting up 3-4 times at night to feed. Wednesday of last week we had a break through, we had the monitor on mute and both woke up feeling terrible and well rested at 6 am! I had soothed her at midnight, but we don’t know if it was a freak night and she just slept or we accidentally CIOed her and didn’t wake up (she’s in the next room and we share a wall, so we usually hear her).

    Low and behold the next two nights we put her down awake and she only woke up to feed once at about 1 and again at 5, then back down until 6:39! Thing is, I had been feeding her very regimentally all day and up until bed. My wife was busy in her first week back and she missed the 4 pm feed so would only nurse her forthe 6 pm feed, before we started our bath, book, sing routine.

    My wife went away for a bachelorette party on Friday night and of course the baby decided not to follow her newly found routine. Well, I rocked the Ferber method all through the night. Fed her once at 1:30 am and put her back down awake and battle for a 5 min, then 10, and she finally went down in the second 19 min chunk! Well, on Saturday she fussed for a minute, slept until 3 am (I changed and fed her and she instantly went back down) and slept until almost 7! She repeated this same thing on Sunday night when my wife got home and she was amazed!

    So to finally get to my questions, (I’m Irish and tend to be a bit verbose!) Mom has been home earlier this week and we’re back to the baby getting up three to four times. So my wife has been getting home earlier, so I can’t do my big feed at 4. She usually will take 6-7 oz when she usually averages 4. But she gets super distracted nursing now and never has a solid feed. My wife will basically just let her snack for the next two hours and of course baby isn’t interested at 6:00-6:15 right before out bedtime routine. I talked to my wife and she’s on board with being more diligent before bed.

    My big question is how do you know when your baby needs to eat or is just crying to nurse? She’s been pretty good about putting herself to sleep within 5 minutes or 10 at the longest when she’s not hungry. Every time we let it go until 25-30 we break down and she eats for a long while when nursing (about 5-7 oz with bottle). I read somewhere the you should do baby’s age plus 1 for hours needed between the bedtime feeding and the first feed. Is this true? Is 5 months still too early to start CIO/Ferber. How can we be sure she’s not hungry? Also she’s pretty terrible at naps still. She used to only take 4-30 min naps. She’s been better since sleep training and will get up to an hour on her two morning naps. In the afternoon, she wakes herself up after a half an hour screaming bloody murder. I can tell she’s still tired and will sometime give up and let her sleep on me for another 30-45 min. (She would only nap on us for the first 4 months of her life). Where do you stand on CIO for naps? Are the Ferber times he same? I’ve read on your site that naps will come, but what do I do in the mean time? Should I soothe her to sleep for naps? Do I let her cry through the whole thing and then just get her up? I dread the overtired baby (the first month of her life). If we feel, she’s not getting enough milk before bed, should we feed her when she wakes up screaming at 10 (Assuming she ‘ate, last at 6:30) or just let her cry it out? She’s very Dr. Jekyll and and Mr. Hyde. She’s had some great nights and it certainly working since I watch her soothe herself in the monitor and she finally doesn’t scream bloody murder in the car seat since we started training. So many questions. I’d love to hear from you. If you could address just one I’d like to know what to do about the naps. Anyway, thanks so much, your website has helped immensely!

  12. So I have been sleep training my boy for 12 days now with a strict day schedule of naps and food time- which is going well. He’s falling asleep on his own at nap time and when put to bed with very little crying. HOWEVER is still waking in the night crying around 2-4 times. I let him CIO as if I went to calm him he would just get even more upset but the nights are still really bad and I’m flagging. Please please someone advise. He has 2 naps a day a total of 2- 2.30 hours. No nap from 2.30pm till bedtime.

  13. I’ve been doing cio with my 14 month son for 5 nights. The crying is lessening at bedtime, but he’s still up for an hour or so in the middle of the night. I know it will take some time because he was used to eating in the middle of the night (pretty much 5-6 times) so we are making progress. Where we have seen no progress is for naps. He hasn’t napped since we started. At all. No naps in the car or anywhere, so it’s not like crappy cat naps are preventing him from napping. When can I expect him to transfer this skill to daytime? We aren’t doing any checks for naps and leaving him for 90 minutes. It’s rough to put it mildly. Thanks!

  14. This is my 4th baby (first one was a girl and didnt have any issues sleeping ever…last three were boys and put up a fight…not trying to say anything about my little loves but my boys are tough). You would think I have this thing down by now but NOPE..i just royally screwed number 3 up and didnt realize how badly until years 2-4….he’s finally in his own bed and sleeping like a normal child through the night…now for baby 4…the last and final. I will NOT screw him up (sleep habit wise)…he was in our room (never in our bed) in his own crib on the other side of the room until this month (9 months old). Not because Im attached to him, but because we got an Au Pair who took the 5th bedroom so number 3 and 4 were going to share this really great big room….until number 4 decided he wasnt going to be the great sleeper he used to be and we didnt want to mess up number 3’s sleep…so we went on vacation and number 4 totally didnt like being in his own room (but we made him anyway)…he did okay but his naps werent great….took a few of his over an hour naps but not consistently as he usually does…then we came home a week ago and thought this was the best time to put his crib in his new room with his brother since he was already sleeping in a different room at the lake…so that’s when it all started. Could be sleep regression that he was going to have had already, could be teething (but I keep saying that and the kid still doesnt have any teeth), now he doesnt want to nap AT ALL unless he is being held. You would think we put his crib on the front porch or in a back alley…he knows his brother’s room/his room very well because we always play in there, get dressed in there, change diapers, read books, just didnt sleep in there…so we started CIO…I admit we havent been consistent because there is way too much info out there and I keep trying the graduated but he goes for SO LONG and will not sleep…he has bags and red eyes…he sleeps all night pretty much but doesnt nap at all now…we just did an hour and 15 minutes of crying (I checked on him about 4 times) and he fell asleep for only 25 minutes, woke up crying…I got him out when he calmed down, tried to give him a bottle which he wouldnt take much of, then tried again…he just cried for about 35 minutes. He is not the same baby…not smiling much, not laughing…literally so tired he is falling asleep sitting up in his crib (last night)…yes I cried myself last night. I know its the best for him…I know it hurts me more than him and he wont remember. Im more concerned that he isnt napping at all…he will fall asleep in the car when we go out…i cant stay home with all the kids. I took off work today to help so my au pair could take my 4 year old out to play but how the heck do i do this for naps???

  15. Okay, I’m a single mom and I’ve tried the CIO method a couple times. I have not support other than my sons doctor tell now when my grandmother finally stopped supporting my grandfothers way of thinking. (I live with them) well I was wondering how long he should cry? This is my last stop on trying to get him to sleep through the night and to get him back on a good sleep schedule instead of staying up tell almost 2am, waking up at 11, and napping at 3-4.

    • Hi! if you are serious about doing CIO and doing it correctly, read through the WHOLE section on sleep training on this blog (sleep training tab on the top of the page). That section covers CIO in-depth so you have a very good understanding of what needs to be done, how, when and why. Good luck!

  16. Hi,
    First off, awesome website and extremely informative! It’s so helpful!
    I’ve been sleep training/CIO my 6 month for 11 days. It went like this:
    Day 1: cried for an hour and half, woke up once during the night and put himself back to sleep in an hour
    Day 2: cried for an hour and 15 minutes, woke up once during the night and put himself back to sleep in 30 minutes
    Days 3 and 4: cried for 15 minutes, woke up once during he night and put himself back to sleep in 10 minutes
    Days 5 and 6: hardly cried
    Day 7: hardly cried at bedtime but cried for an hour during middle of the night
    Days 8 and 9: back to crying 15 minutes at bedtime and minimal crying throughout the night
    Day 10: 10 minutes of crying at bedtime BUT after feeding at 2am, he was crying on/off between 3am (he was asleep from 2:30 am to 3am) and 6:30am and then I decided to start his day!
    Day 11: back to crying an hour at bedtime, fell asleep for 12 minutes, then cried another 30 minutes, woke up at 2am to eat, put down back in crib awake, he let out a few short cries and went back to sleep in 10 minutes, and slept till 6:30am
    His naps are:
    Nap #1: 1.5 hour nap after wake time of 2 hours
    Nap #2: 1.5 hour nap after wake time of 2 hours
    Nap #3: 1 hour nap after wake time of 2 hours
    Bedtime: 2 hours after nap #3 (usually around 7pm)
    We have a bedtime routine of: bath, feed, book, song, cuddle
    He naps in my arms as that’s the only way to get a long nap from him.

    Question 1) Does this sound like extinction to you? I keep hearing The crying should greatly decrease after 3/4 days which it did, but he’s been very inconsistent! I don’t know if is because I still hold/swaddle him for naps but he wears a sleep sack and sleeps in his crib at night that’s confusing him? But I read your blog and you mention that tired babies don’t sleep well at night so I’m waiting to hold off on nap training will his nights are tackled.
    Question 2) what else should i do differently in his routine?
    Question 3) if he had a bad night, should I extend his naps the following day to make up for the terrible sleep the previous night? I’ve been trying to keep his naps between 4 to 4.5 hour so that it doesn’t interfere with his night sleep.
    Question 4) if he had a bad night, should I put him to sleep at an earlier bedtime or try to keep bedtime consistent every night?
    Thanks for your help in advance!
    Amanda

  17. Hi Alexis: thanks for such great information. I have a young daughter – 8 weeks old and I know it’s very controversial to do CIO with a baby this young. However, the problem I have is that she is extremely alert and struggles to go to sleep if I put her down drowsy or awake at all. If I rock her to sleep and put her down, she wakes often and then is immediately wide eyed and won’t settle. We don’t have this problem at nights….just during the day. Usually I put her to bed around 8ish and then wake her at 10 to eat. She’ll sleep until 330/4 when she needs to eat and goes back until 630/7.

    My thoughts are to focus on naps when I’m having problems with her sleeping off of me. And I thought to ease her into it – focus on letting her self soothe one nap a day. But it’s hit or miss if it actually works. Yesterday she cried without stopping at all for 20 mins (the max I’m letting her cry because of her age) and when I pulled her out she’s sweating and shaking and hiccuping. I feel awful about it. Today however she just cried for 5 mins and settled down.

    My questions are: do you think it’s impossible to do this so early and if so, any suggestions on helping her sleep away from me for naps. If not, is it a bad idea for me to start with one nap a day? Is it confusing her? Any other thoughts on what I may be doing wrong?

  18. Hi Alex,

    We are on day 9 of cry it out with our 5 month old. The first 4 days went pretty much as anticipated with a 3 minute cry on that day before going to sleep. Since then my baby has cried between 15 and 35 minutes hard. He is sleeping through the night without waking but I don’t feel I can put him through such a distressing bed time any longer!!

    He wakes at around 7am, takes a nap at about 8.30 for approximately 30-45 mins then has a 1.30 min – 2 hr nap around midday. He will then have a final 30- 45 min nap at 4- 4.30pm and we usually have him back down for 7pm.

    As for naps I am not doing cry it out as suggested and he continues to have his soother, which is not happening at night.

    Before I give in, as I feel I can’t put my baby through this any longer, I wanted your input as to whether you think he is over- tired, under- tired or I need to do cio for naps.

    Any input would be brilliant!

    Thanks

  19. Hi Alexis! Thank you so much for your website 🙂 I have been doing the total extinction cio with my 8 month old baby girl for both nighttime and naps. We are on day 3 for naps and going into night 4 for nighttime sleep. My question is about nap #1. This used to be the easiest nap for her to accept when I was lying down and nursing her to sleep. Now, with CIO, she cries for half an hour before falling asleep and then only sleeps between 20-30 minutes before she wakes up crying again. For her second nap she might cry for two minutes and then goes to sleep and sleeps anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Why am I having trouble with morning naps? When she starts looking sleepy, usually just before 2 hours after waking up, I tell her it’s nap time, bring her upstairs, turn on the fan, sleepsack, book, song, prayer, crib, lovey and then I say sweet dreams and walk away. I do exactly the same thing for her afternoon nap and it’s no problem. What the heck?

  20. Hi,

    I’m on day 7 of cio with my 5-month old twin boys. We’re doing extinction because I already tried Ferber but caved on the second day. It seems not to be getting better. We have a strong bedtime routine that ends around 7/730p. One of the twins was down to 15 min crying, but tonight is going strong on 30 min. The other was down to 20 min by day 4, but has cried for an hour the last 3 nights. I would push their bedtime back to 8p (the time he usually falls asleep), but they are already so grumpy and fussy when they go to bed that I don’t know how I’d keep them up another hour. We aren’t doing nap training (they are in daycare, where of course they don’t sleep well), and are still feeding 1x at night (they go right back to bed after). After their long cry at bedtime, I usually don’t hear a peep, until they are hungry around 3a. Any advice? I don’t really have any other options, but I hate hearing them cry so much every single night…

  21. Hi Alexis

    I’m sort of in the same boat as a few other people here in the comments:

    6 month old baby
    day 12 of Extinction
    Cry times were progressively going down, then we had what I thought may have been an extinction burst (day 6-8) followed by 2 nights of amazingly short cry times ( 8 minutes and 4 minutes) at which point I thought we were on the home straight. However the last 3 nights have been worse again (18, 30, 30 mins).

    Can you have 2 extinction bursts?
    Could it be that I need to move bedtime later (currently 6pm)

    I just find it weird that things were on the improve and now they are worse again

    Here are the cry times:

    Day 1- 45min
    Day 2- 30min
    Day 3- 19min
    Day 4- 18 min
    Day 5- 10 min
    Day 6- 24 min
    Day 7- 25 min
    Day 8- 18 min
    Day 9- 8 min
    Day 10- 4 min
    Day 11- 18 min
    Day 12- 30 min
    Day 13- 30 min

    The only other thing I wondered is whether the fact that I have fed her to sleep for 2 of her 3 naps the last 2 days could have messed things up. Normally I rock her to sleep in the rocking chair with the vacuum cleaner on (I know- weird) but out of desperation the last couple of days I ended up caving and letting her feed because I didn’t want her to be overtired by the evening if she skipped naps. She used to feed to sleep at night (was one of those glued-to-the-boob co sleeping babies until we started extinction in order to move her to her cot in her own room.) I thought I had read in one of your other posts that you should just do whatever you need to do to “make naps happen” in order to make the cry it out process more successful (ie not going into it overtired). I have only fed her to sleep a handful of times when she has been really stubborn and wouldn’t nap any other way.

    There’s nothing else that has changed in terms of her bedtime routine that I can pinpoint.

    Thanks in advance

    Michelle

    • Nursing naps didn’t muck up bedtime. Truthfully she’s doing GREAT. But 30 minutes is a touch long and you’re right – a quick experiment would be to simply push bedtime back 30 minutes for 2-3 nights. That will quickly tell you if this is a “bedtime too early” issue. 6:00 PM is pretty early which is why I think it’s quite possible. Give it a try and report back!

  22. Hi all – am in similar boat as others here and so SORRY for the LONG POST!!!!

    Am sleep training my 5 month LO and we started with night training 7 nights ago with nap training starting the following day. She cried the first 2 nights but starting the 3rd night she just fussed and slept for almost 11 hours straight. Since then, the nights have been pretty good (with some fussing here and there but no real crying) until the 6th night where she woke up almost every hour and cried for a few mins. or fussed for a while (like she couldn’t fall asleep but was trying).

    Here is the issue:
    First 3 days: for naps I let her CIO for first nap and CIO for second nap but if didn’t sleep for second nap, I would nurse her to sleep so she got enough sleep for the day.

    Fourth day: I let her CIO for both naps and she did terribly but that night seemed ok.

    Fifth day: realized she might need 3 naps so started with a morning nap (just put her in the crib) and she just slept for 1.5 hrs!!!! Then for another 50 mins. and then her 3rd nap was total pits! I put her down a little early for the night but she slept terribly.

    Sixth day: (today) since she slept terrible last night (guessing cause of the naps) I woke her up an hour early in the morning to nurse (as she doesn’t nurse at night). Then she got an hour catnap with me in the bed (I move her a bit away from me after nursing so she doesn’t fall asleep nursing). I put her down for her morning nap and she cried for about 20 mins., slept 30 mins., and then just woke up and looked around for another 10 mins and I just picked her up as she didn’t seem sleepy. I just put her down for her second nap an hour and a half later since she only slept 30 mins in the morning and she seemed very sleepy – she cried 10 mins, slept 30 mins, and woke up and cried for another 10 mins. and then fell asleep.

    My questions are:
    – Was the poor night sleep on 6th night (she was extremely tired) an extinction burst or due to poor naps during the day given CIO for all 3 naps.
    – Should I continue the nap training or scrap it until nights become solid (or are they already good)?
    – Are the naps messing up the night time? If so, should I just CIO for 2 naps and give her a pacifier or nurse her for the 3rd one so she can sleep well at night?

    I don’t want to push her bedtime up too early if she doesn’t nap because she doesn’t drink at night and I try to keep her bedtime to around 7/7:30 latest.

    PLEASE HELP!!!

  23. My baby is 4 months old and at this week’s doctors appointment the pediatrian recommended or gave us the okay to start sleep training. We are on our second night of cio, with check ins and soothing at certain intervals.
    One concern I have is that the doctor also notes that my son is not sleeping nearly enough. So at the same time as sleep training I have been trying to make sure he is not awake for more than 1.5 hours at a time.
    What I need help with is:
    1) how do I leave him to cry it out at naps? If he gets in a 45-minute nap but wakes up crying should I leave him in there and let him cio until he sleeps for another cycle? Or do I take him out? I’ve been leaving him in and noticed that overall he’s not as playful or cheerful the past couple of days.
    2) at night, the first night he went to bed at 6pm just exhausted but woke up half an hour later and cried for 1.5 hours, we checked on him twice to give him the pacifier. He is still swaddled as recommended by the dr. After the last soothing (just patting, not picking up) he fussed and moved around his crib for another hour before falling asleep. He then woke up after 3 hours, and had several wake ups after that but none as intense. I’ve noticed he’s the most restless or wakes up the most between 3-6am.
    On our second night, he again fell asleep with little protest at 6 but woke up 40 min later, cried and fussed for about an hour and fell asleep until 10. He then woke up crying uncontrollably and wouldn’t settle until my husband did a check in after 30 min, he settled for 5-10min and started up again. We then picked him up, fed him a little and put him back down. Was that wrong to do?
    Can we do cio while he is still swaddled?
    He is an intense baby and he takes a long time to come down after these long cries. Should we keep going??
    He really needs to get over the 45 min sleep cycle transitions. I’m absolutely exhausted! Please help!

  24. Hi Alexis – we are on day 5 of CIO witv my 4.5 month old. My little one goes down fairly easy, only fusses for a few minutes. The problem is the middle of the night she will wake and will be up crying for hours. I go in to soothe and comfort her but she crys for about 1.5 hours. How do I stop the middle of the night issue. Should I go back to feeding her? She weigh 14lbs.

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