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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 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 ;).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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???? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 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.

  9. 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. ๐Ÿ™

    • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

        • 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

          • 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?

  12. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 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 ๐Ÿ™

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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 ๐Ÿ™

      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 ๐Ÿ™‚

        • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
            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 ๐Ÿ™

            • 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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 ๐Ÿ™

      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…!

  18. 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…

  19. 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)

  20. 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 ๐Ÿ™

        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!!!!

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

  23. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. 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?


  25. 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.

  26. 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 ๐Ÿ™

  27. 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?


  28. 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. ๐Ÿ™

        • 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….

  29. 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?

  30. 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

  31. 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!

  32. 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!!

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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…..

  36. 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!

  37. 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!


  38. 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!

  39. 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.

  40. 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).

  41. 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?

  42. 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!


  43. 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!

  44. 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 ๐Ÿ™

      • 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”. ๐Ÿ™‚

      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.

  45. 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!

  46. 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!

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

  48. 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?

  49. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ I am loving your site!

  50. 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….

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