How to Cry it Out: The Bedtime Edition

How to Cry it Out: The Bedtime Edition

Well little baby, here we are. Mommy and Daddy have read every book, tried every technique, bought every sleep aid they could find. The months have slogged by and nobody is sleeping. Daddy is staring stoically out the window. Mommy is curled up on the couch wearing coffee-stained yoga pants and feeling like a giant failure. Everybody feels cranky and sad. And defeated. And the only way out of this pitt of sleep deprivation is to let you cry. They adore you beyond words, but baby, this is happening. It’s going to suck for a few days. But it really is for the best.

If you’ve come to the conclusion that cry it out is the answer(

1) To break out of the desperate pattern of bedtime battles and frequent night wakings and get everybody sleeping a civilized amount during the night.
2) To achieve goal #1 with the minimal amount of crying.

The best way to meet your CIO goals is to embrace the 14 point CIO plan I’ve put together here.

How to do Cry it Out?

1) Buy a night vision monitor.

They’re expensive and not particularly reliable (you may have to buy a new one for each new baby). But I think it’s a worthy investment for piece of mind and would recommend purchasing one prior to CIO. It will give you a safe window onto your baby all night long.

2) Make naps happen

You want your baby well rested going into bedtime because tired babies sleep poorly. So you’re investing in day sleep to help minimize the amount of bedtime crying. Does your baby take great naps in the car? In your lap? While co-sleeping? Great! For the next few days do what you need to to get those naps to happen. By any means necessary.

3) Avoid cat naps.

Your goal is longer naps. So don’t drive to the grocery store at naptime because that 5-minute car nap is working against step #2 (above). For the next few days you are going to be the Nap Master, to the exclusion of all else.

4) Use a solid bedtime routine.

What is a SOLID bedtime routine?

  • Takes 20-30 minutes to complete.
  • Involves decreasing levels of activity and light. (No TV time, no dance parties, activities should be moving towards the bedroom).
  • Everybody should enjoy the activities.
  • Final activities take place in the location your child will be sleeping.
  • Ends BEFORE baby is asleep!

What are you trying to wean your baby off of? Rocking to sleep, co-sleeping, nursing to sleep, pacifier, etc? Whatever it is DO NOT include this as part of your bedtime routine! If it must be part of the routine (ex. food) then make sure there is at least a 20 minute gap between baby’s last meal and bedtime.

Sample Bedtime Routine – Bottle/Boob, Bath (no soap), Massage, Jammies, Book, Song, Bed.

5) Ensure that baby’s sleep location is ABSOLUTELY safe.

Dangling cords within reach of the crib? Unprotected outlets? The crib should be clear of any possible entrapment hazards (no stuffed animals, blankets or pillows!). The only thing in there, other than your baby, is potentially a small lovey. If your child is old enough enough to be out of a crib, put on your anal retentive hat and look at your child’s room. Does the furniture present tipover hazards? Are there toys which could break into sharp pieces? Choking hazards?

Special Case: What about Co-Sleeping?

Yes you can use CIO for a co-sleeping baby if you intend to continue co-sleeping. Most often this is used in the case where Mom wants to stop being used as a human pacifier but is happy to continue co-sleeping. This can be done but it’s challenging. You can’t leave an angry crying baby alone in an adult bed. Even if that “bed” is nothing more than a mattress on the floor. It is simply not safe and shouldn’t be done under ANY circumstance. So, where does that leave you?

If this is your goal, it leaves you IN the room with your angry crying baby. I realize this may sound like I’m joking but I assure you, I’m not. You put your child on your bed, preferably between you and the wall. Then you lie down on the bed facing away from your child. Then you bite your knuckles hard enough to keep from flipping over and nursing your crying child to sleep.


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6) Use your words.

Your baby’s receptive language develops far earlier than their expressive language. This means they understand what you are saying long before they can speak themselves. “It’s time for you to sleep buddy. Mommy and Daddy love you. We’re right next door. We’ll see you with big hugs and kisses in the morning. But for now we’re going to leave so your body can get the sleep it needs to be strong and healthy. I love you little baby!” Use the same words every night as part of your bedtime routine.

7) Give baby as much soothing as possible!

For older babies (6+ months) your options are generally limited to loud white noise, block out blinds, and a small lovey. It’s sometimes helpful to have Mom stuff the lovey in her bra and wear it there all day so that it smells like Mom. If your baby is still swaddled that is also really helpful. DON’T use any sleep aids which will feed into your object permanence problem. So pacifiers, timed music, etc. are all forboden.

8) Leave the room.

There are some books that suggest that it is more gentle to stay in the room so that your loving presence can help provide helpful soothing. In my experience staying in the room has the opposite effect, making your baby more upset, “WHY AREN’T YOU PICKING ME UP! HELLO?!? I can SEE you sitting RIGHT THERE!” It also has the unintended consequence of potentially creating a new object permanence problem for you in that they will expect to see you sitting there when they wake up throughout the night. For these two reasons I suggest that once you put your baby down, you get out.

9) Mom or primary care giver should leave the house.

Decide which parent (if there are 2) is the most likely to turn into emotional jelly at the sound of their baby crying (generally this is Mom). The emotional jelly parent should get out of the house and leave things to their more stalwart counterpart. Lots of parents feel that they need to sit in the hallway, curled into a fetal position, crying tear-for-tear with their baby as some sort of penance for their failure to teach baby to fall asleep. Crying in the hallway serves no purpose other than to make you miserable. Worse, it creates the opportunity for the dark strains of guilt to muddle your thinking. “I feel horrible! Maybe I’ll just nurse him to sleep one last time?” Backsliding won’t solve any problems and even worse, guarantees you even more crying in the future. A good way to avoid backsliding is to simply leave it to your partner and get out.

10) Commit to Check and Console or Full Extinction.

Personally I recommend the Full Extinction or Weissbluth method. However as I was unable to find any research that backed up my theory that this method results in less crying, you’re welcome to consider both and determine which works best for you.

If you start the CIO process planning to Ferberize or check and console and THEN determine that your visits are making things worse, you CAN switch methods to the Weissbluth full extension method. However DO NOT switch from the Weissbluth full extension method TO Ferber or check and console as this generally leads to LOTS OF CRYING!

11) Cry it out does not mean night weaning.

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

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

12) Put baby back down awake. Or don’t.

In my experience the key with sleep training is to put baby down awake at BEDTIME. If you feed your baby during the night AFTER that point, it is generally OK if they fall asleep in your arms and then go back into their bed. I have not found that it is critical to wake baby up enough to “put baby down awake” at 2:00 AM. However if they do not organically fall asleep during the feeding I would not encourage you to rock them to sleep in your arms intentionally and THEN put them down asleep.

13) When baby wakes up early?

CIO is very effective at bedtime because there are a number of biological factors that make it very difficult for your child to stay awake at that time. However if your baby wakes up very early in the morning (4:00 AM or 5:00 AM) letting them cry will almost never result in them falling back to sleep. If your baby wakes up very early and doesn’t seem to be falling back to sleep (it’s been longer than ~20 minutes) then it’s morning time for you. This is horrible but generally temporary. You may want to consider offering baby a quick snack, putting baby in the swing, or bringing baby back into your bed. Sometimes these options will buy everybody a few more hours or sleep. But crying is unlikely to do anything productive.


If you’ve started down this path then in almost all cases the worst thing you can do is to cave in halfway through. Night #1 will be stressful for everybody. But what happens if you go to your baby to rock/nurse them after 45 minutes of crying? You’ve failed to let them figure out how to fall asleep without rocking or nursing. But you have taught them that if they cry for 45 minutes, you will come and rock or nurse the to sleep. Which means that the next time you have a go at cry it out (and trust me, there is ALMOST ALWAYS a next time) it will be longer and rougher than it is right now.

The truth is that there are a thousand frequently asked questions about CIO but I’ve narrowed it down to a few hot button questions which I’ve answered below:

Cry it Out FAQ


How long will the crying last?

I suppose “it depends” is not a particularly useful answer. If you follow all my advice then you’ll generally find that kids will cry ~1 hour at bedtime on night #1, ~20 minutes on night #2, and 10 minutes on night #3. They may continue to grumble at bedtime going forward but it will generally be only for a few minutes. Some babies will only cry at bedtime. Some will wake up periodically and cry for 20-30 minutes throughout the night. As long as you aren’t trying to night wean via CIO, the middle-of-the-night crying generally stops after night #1.


When will I be able to put my smiling baby down for sleep at bedtime?

When do you smile when scrubbing toilets? Never? Well there’s your answer. Most kids will not enjoy bedtime until they are old enough to have their OWN kids at which point it will quickly become the favorite part of their day.


Am I a bad parent?

I don’t know, are you? I don’t believe that CIO makes you a bad parent. I do believe that you have tried everything you can to avoid letting your baby cry. And that nothing worked. And nobody is sleeping. I also believe that your whole family will be happier and healthier when you are all able to get the sleep you need at night. Cry it out is a bummer and nobody likes to do it. But 3 nights of unhappy baby are a worthy tradeoff.


Can I use CIO for naps too?

That is a whole separate topic which I’ll write about in the future. I don’t recommend tackling naps until AFTER night sleep is well established. So for now, focus on getting night sleep sorted out and let things settle into a positive and predictable sleep routine before you start mucking about with naps.


Won’t they get confused if I keep (rocking, nursing, pacifier) for naps but not bedtime?

Different parts of the brain regulate day vs. night sleep so you aren’t mucking things up by rocking to sleep at naptime then using CIO at bedtime. Many people feel they need to tackle the whole day at once but I don’t recommend it. Sorting out naps tends to take a while and involve quite a bit of crying and not napping. Babies who don’t nap become overtired. Overtired babies cry at bedtime. A lot. So with the goal of minimizing crying you would work on having GREAT naps (by any means necessary) so your baby is well-rested coming into CIO bedtime. Once night sleep is well established sorting out naps becomes easier (because well-rested babies sleep better), which is why I recommend focusing on night sleep FIRST before moving on to nap battles.


If I can’t use CIO to night wean, how DO I get out of night feedings?

Once you are done with crying at bedtime and things have become a bit more predictable, you can use these gentle night weaning techniques to gradually get out of night feedings. The bad news is that depending on the age of your child and the # of feedings this may take 1-3 weeks. The good news is that it’s surprisingly effective and tear-free.


What if my baby throws up?

Some kids can get themselves so worked up they throw up. It sucks when this happens. You’ll need to quietly go to them, clean them up and get them fresh jammies/bedding, ideally with as little light and fuss as is possible. Put them back in their bed, use your words, and leave.

Anybody have any experience they would like to share? Words of wisdom, kind advice, and lessons learned are very welcome!

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  1. Yeah for CIO! Although I did nap time AND bed time CIO at the same time. It worked for us. My 11 month old sleeps great (for the most part) but is still getting up a night for a bottle. I think it’s time for night weaning…

    • Yes on the night weaning! I night nursed my first kid for 14 months, slogging my zombie-like self in there at 2:00 AM because I thought he would simply stop on his own. Finally one night I decided that my zombie-like self would prefer to stay in bed so we did. He grumbled for 10 minutes and went back to sleep. That’s it.

      And I couldn’t believe I had been shuffling in there for so long to avoid 10 minutes of grumbling. Good luck!

  2. My baby used to sleep great through the night,had great naps and then BAM,shortly after he turned 3 months everything changed.In the begining it was only his naps that sucked,30 mins max( down from 2-3 hours,so it was a huge shock),then couse he got so overtired his night time sleep started to change as well. We tried everything,paci,rocking,resetteling,everything to get him to sleep.Paci was working for few days and then one night he was awake every hour and a half so we had to go in a put it back in.By 11 I had him in our bed,couse I was miserable and just needed some sleep.I kept thinking it is temporary but when after a more than a month nothing changed i knew we had to change something.Now, we are in Australia and we have places here (like family centers) where overtired,miserable parents can go with their babies and stay for a week max and work with nurses on the issues.Sometimes it’s feeding,but most of the parents there were with babies that slept crapy or didn’t sleep at all. So I bit the bullet and went ( the fee is minimal,babies don’t pay,so I literaly had around 100 bucks to lose if it didn’t work)We did the same thing for naps and for night time sleep.Put him down awake and leave the room.Now they don’t do CIO per se,rather they teach parents to listen to their baby cries.If it’s just fuss or protest cry not to react,if the baby reaches the peak and is not calming down to go in and sooth him/her in the cot,even cuddle them.The first day I did that few times with the nurse,btw they are lovely,give all the support and reasurance that I’m not a monster parent,but we ended up always giving him a paci.I saw no point in that,and was very dissapointed,but they explained that we gave him a chance,he was too upset to do it on his own,and to keep trying with every nap and sleep.If the baby wakes after 30 min nap to do the same thing and to try resettle,if after 30 mins or so it’s not working,to stop,get him up,and try again when he’s tired again.Night time do the same thing.First 2-3 days were the worst for me,I have never heard my baby boy cry so much and so loud,but I always had the reasurance and support from the nurses.Then it started working!! He would go to sleep on his own with no or minimal fuss. He would wake up after the first sleep cycle for his naps but I would just leave him fuss and in most cases he would drift back to sleep on his own.Sometimes i had to help him.Sometimes I had to give up and get him up.The point is not to panic and not to feel that it failed.Just keep trying and be consistent. Parents also have counseling available if they want to go,I did, and it helped me understand that babies don’t always expect you to fix things for them,if you can,great,but if you can’t that’s ok too,they know that you are there when they need you,and sometimes that’s enough.Even if they cry,that doesn’t mean that you have to step in straight away,they need to be given a chance to work things out on their own.Also,happy and healthy babies CRY,neglected and abused babies don’t because they know that 1) no one will answer their cries,2)even if someone does it’s only to abuse them,so they don’t bother anymore. So if your baby cries it’s not only couse they are in pain,or miserable,they are communicating to you,but you as a parent need to take control of when to step in and when to step out.If your baby is crying in his car seat while you are driving you’re not going to get him out just to make him stop, if your baby is fighting his sleep and crying you’re not gonna say “oh,ok then you don’t have to sleep”,you are responsible as a parent to teach him how to do it.If that involves sharing a tear or two it’s ok.It’s been few weeks since we’ve been back.Is everything peachy,of course not,we still have crapy naps here and there,but I don’t panic,do “my thing”,try to resettle,and then move on if it doesn’t work.But I always give him a chance.Btw,my baby was just turning 5 months when we went.Sorry to go into such a great detail,I just wanted to share my experience of “sleep training”. We worked on other things as well,early wakeings,what to do when baby gets sick or is teething,so feel free to ask if you need help.Alexis,hope you don’t feel like I’m trying to hijack your post ;)Cheers from Oz

    • As I was reading this I thought maybe you had been inside my house for the past week and was writing about what we were going through :) I wish we had a place like that where I live. It would be great to have someone right there with you coaching you and giving support when you start to feel like the worst mom in the world. Dh has been supportive of whatever I want to try but it’s not the same as having another woman therer reassuring you. We haven’t had to do CIO yet but I think it may be coming in the next few weeks.

      • It’s so hard when you had a good sleeper and then over night -no more!! We are lucky to have a place like that here (they have a site and a live chat on Fb that can be helpful,I can post it here if it’s ok with Alexis) but in the end of the day it’s always going to be just you and your baby so you just do whatever you think will work.Call me crazy but I didn’t mind rocking my little man to sleep,but it just stopped working,so I had to change something.As for the short naps,from what the pediatrician at the centre explained to me,it’s common for some babies to start taking short naps around 3rd or 4th month and it can go on for some time.You can just wait it out and hope that your little bub will consolidate them,or you can try to resettle and encourage him/her to sleep some more.You will have to be very consistent and do it with every nap.Good luck!
        P.S if you have a sleep deprived, miserable baby and do nothing about it,you are a bad mom.You are here,looking for a solution,so you’re ok 😉

      • They aren’t cheap but if you’re really feeling stuck it might be worth finding a good postpartum doula to come work on these issues with you. My friend Kellie is one and she’s AMAZING. And basically she does, in home, what the family centers in Australia do. Only she lives in VT and can’t help you unless you happen to live in Burlington 😉

        You aren’t the worst Mom in the world. We all blunder about doing the best we can, making mistakes, making adjustments, and forging onward. Helping your kids sleep really creates the foundation for everything else (if sleep isn’t happening NOTHING ELSE IS GOING TO WORK WELL EITHER) so if it takes a rough few nights to make a positive change, it’s well worth it!

    • Those family centers sound AMAZING. I wish we had half of that level of support for new moms. Basically you pop out a baby at the hospitals, they give you some brochures from 1985 about the importance of using car seats and how to get a social security card, and then home you go.

      Excellent story – thanks for sharing!

  3. I was and still am all for attachment parenting. My daughter lived on me for the first two months.. i frowned at people who let their babies cry.. until.. my daughter at 5 months started waking up every 45 minutes, requiring me to help her fall back to sleep. I understood that there is a limit for everything and that i am not helping her learn the biggest lesson in her life (Falling asleep by herself). So we bought a puzzle to keep us busy, we didn’t go for a night monitor because i knew that looking at her all miserable will break me, and we went for CIO.

    I will say though, I read Happy baby healthy sleeping habits first and for a month i adapted healthy naps and night sleep schedule. The book is great even for those who don’t want to try CIO. I also gradually stopped rocking her to sleep before bed time and nap time. I think this also helped to a degree.

    First day she played in her crib for 2 hours (ya in the dark with no one around her!!!), then cried for 20 minutes and woke up every 1.5 hours crying. I committed myself to feeding her only twice at night (coz i knew this is when she’s hungry). The crying slowly decreased to two minutes the first night. And thats all it took!!! we were so surprised when we put her down the next night and she fussed for two minutes then went straight to sleep. Yesterday was day number four and she woke up a multiple times at night, either played in her crib for 5 minutes or fussed but went straight back to sleep.

    We both feel like we have a new baby on our hands.. bed time routine is a pleasure now.. we put her to bed and we don’t have to worry about her waking up after an hour because of object permanence. We can actually plan a nice dinner or a movie while she sleeps. We give her lots of kisses and hugs when she wakes up in the morning and NO IT DID NOT DAMAGE HER!!

    Sorry for this very long comment.
    Alex your great for writing this post.

    • That’s such a great story! And now bedtime is a pleasure. And you and your partner can have staydates. And everybody is happy.

      Yeah for you guys!

      • Hi Alex, an update with some questions for you.
        Night training was super easy and she is still doing very well.

        My question is, she wakes up at 5:30 am and because i live in the dessert (no joke) the sun is super bright and she just won’t go back to sleep on her own. she will only sleep if i take her in our bed and cuddle with her.
        is there harm in what am doing, should i stop this and start our day at 5:30.. she goes to bed at 7:30, gives me a 6 hour stretch (feeds at 1:30), then another 2 or 3hrs (feeds at 3:30 or 4:30), and then is up at 5:30.

        my other question is regarding nap training, sleep training was so easy but we are on day 5 of daytime training and its only getting worst, she cries up to 30-50 minutes and naps for 40 minutes. her two front teeth started showing at day two and are still not out.. should i stop training and try again in two weeks?


        • Hey Rim,
          I would try taping aluminum foil to her windows. It will make that room BLACK. Use masking tape and aluminum foil. It’s a little ghetto but it works wonders.

          Also lots of babies have a hard time resettling at 5:30 and in my experience, a little AM co-sleeping doesn’t hurt (and is preferable to waking up at 5:30 AM). Assuming that it’s a) OK with you and b) buys you a reasonable amount of sleep.

          In the long run however you might need to modify a bit because that sort of thing is habit forming. You can wean off night feeds, but weaning off a night waking/co-sleeping habit is hard. When she’s 2 there are lots of techniques to do that but in between 1 and 2 you’re in a bit of no man’s land. What if you fed her at 5:30 and put her in the swing – would that be a functionable weanable compromise?

          Nap Training – I’ve had mixed results with daytime nap training. Lots of babies will just cry through the window getting progressively more tired throughout the day. For EVERYBODY the first few days are a bit of a mess. If you are on day 5 and seeing no improvement then it may be time to give it a pass.

          HOWEVER – I don’t believe it’s the teeth. And if it was, you could medicate your way around it. I think she’s just struggling to get naps sorted out.

          So if you stop, then what? She’s a bit old but the swing might work (lots of babies are napping in their swings even when night sleeping in cribs). In a way you “waste” those 5 days so if you don’t have a plan b (such as the swing) to work on, you’ll be back to crying in a few weeks.

          I might be inclined to stick with it. Frankly it’s a rough call, I could actually argue either way. But yeah, I’m leaning towards sticking with it.

          Sorry :(

          • We stopped the day training and resumed after two weeks. This time we were successful after 4 days only. I now get three great naps, 1.5 hr, 1 Hour and 45 min. However we did three things differently, we made sure the room is pitch black. I introduced a blanky and … I allowed the pacifier during naps ONLY. We dont give it to her at night and she seems to be ok to have it only during naps, she doesn’t ask for it during the day nor night. We are now all the way in Croatia and I just pit her down for her first nap in an unfamiliar surrounding and bed and she went straight to sleep.

            • Rim, when your daughter woke every 1.5 hrs the first night of CIO did you go in to sooth her?
              I’m thinking we are at the point if CIO for my 6 month old but feel I need more details before I’m ready.

    • Rim, your story sounds a lot like mine. I felt SO guilty when we resorted to CIO since we are an attachment parenting family, but now that my little guy is sleeping better it’s easier and more rewarding to attachment parent. And I feel better knowing I’m helping him acheive the sleep he needs. I still dream about the day he’ll sleep through the entire night without nursing, but I know that in time it will come :)

      • Don’t feel guilty! This is not the first nor the last time he’ll cry. Wait till he’s a little older and throws a major fit because he can’t have any more Teddy Grahams. He’ll cry then too. And you won’t give him any because it’s not good for him. And that will be OK and in keeping with attachment parenting (yes?). I know CIO doesn’t always feel like the same parenting decision as not buying your child candy they want or letting them run into the road (both of which will leave them crying and angry with you), but it really is. You did good :)

    • Thank you for this post! I have my daughter of 8 months still in bed because I was afraid because of other articles that letting her cry would damage her. I will def. try this as well and also only feed her 2 – 3 times at night (she is now glued to my breast every night, which causes very little sleep for me)

      Question, the 2 times that you did nurse her at night, did you do that in her own room or somewhere else?

  4. I just want to say, re the night vision monitors, we got a Foscam wireless IP camera (I’m sure there are other brands, this one looked good to us) which was about half the price of the baby video monitors. It has night vision as well. You set it up to connect to your internet connection at home and then you can watch the baby over the internet (it’s password protected). You can also download a free app for iPhone/Android which lets you watch the video feed. The resolution is so good you can see every tiny little breath, even on your phone. And like I said, it was half the price of the video monitors you see in Babies R Us, etc. There’s the added bonus that because you can watch it over the internet, grandma back in the States can login and see the little one – you create different kinds of accounts, so for instance an admin account logs in and can make the camera pan but the account I setup for my mother just lets her watch. Something to consider!


      Actually they seem to be roughly the same pricepoint as the night vision monitor. But the ability to watch on a handlheld is a pretty big bonus. Imagine being able to keep tabs on your sleeping baby while out on a date? Or maybe that’s a negative? ;P

      Thanks for the tip, I’ve never used one of these but it definitely seems like a cool option!

    • I can’t find you’re nap letter! My son is sleeping through the night now, but now will not nap for either of his 2 times (inside his crib). It’s so hard to know with CIO how long etc. I want him to nap but don’t want to ruin our nighttimes by using another way for him to sleep (stroller, carrier). He’s 9 months and used to be a great napper but of course that was with me.

  5. I love everything you wrote on here-so true! I haven’t had to do CIO yet with my 5 month old, but will turn to it if I need to. I did have a question about pacifiers? My little guy likes to have it in his mouth when I put him down in his crib, but he almost immediately rolls over, and spits it out. When I put him down in the crib without it, he will get a bit fussy. Is it ok to use the pacifier for this purpose, or should I start getting rid of it?

    Also, I’m trying to get his night sleep on set hours. He goes to bed around 630pm, and usually wakes up about 615am, but sometimes he wakes up around 5, and won’t go back to sleep until he gets some food. But then he’s back asleep, and will sleep until almost 8. When this happens, should I be waking him up at his normal wake time to get him on that schedule, or is ok to roll with this when it happens occasionally?

    • Generally the pacifier at bedtime starts to cause problems. But if you think he’s spitting it out before he falls asleep then maybe it’s just part of his wind-down routine. So maybe it’s OK to stick with it? If he starts waking up at night looking for it then you’re DONE but maybe that won’t happen.

      Also hard to say about the wakeup. Generally speaking I like to let sleeping babies sleep. Some nights he needs a little extra sleep (14 hour night?!?!) so OK, that’s what he needs on those nights. As long as the late morning isn’t throwing bedtime off too much then what’s the harm? Plus what a nice bonus for you to sleep in too :)

  6. OK, I want your thoughts. My DD is 13.5 weeks and generally sleeps 11-12 hours at night w/o a feed (don’t hate me!) and takes 1.5-2 hour naps 4x a day. I know, begin the hate!

    It has taken me a long time to get here, perfecting her wake time, soothing with white noise, dark room, swaddling, etc, but 90% of the time, she goes down for naps completely awake without fussing. Sometimes if she fusses, I will put her in the swing. But now that she is 3 mo, I think it is time to cut that soothing. The few times that she has CIO, she will fall asleep after 20 mins and WILL NOT cry at all the other naps, she ‘gets’ it.

    But, bedtime is hard. We have a great routine, wake time isn’t too long or short, it involves the same routine as naps, but with a feed. She doesn’t fall asleep ever, I put her down awake. check.. check..

    The problem is, sometimes she will lay there and fuss, for over an hour. Both of my kids had nasty witching hours- they don’t cry much they just don’t settle.

    So, on those nights she fusses- we put her in the swing until 9-10pm and then transfer her to the crib. But some nights she doesn’t have a problem (probably 2-3x a week, the other nights needs a swing).

    SO, my question is, do I still treat this as a witching hour and put her in the swing? OR, do I CIO? For all other naps she is completely capable of putting herself down WIDE awake. And, I like that she sleeps through the night (sometimes wakes at 5 or 6, but bedtime is 6.45, so not that unusual- she is pretty hangry (hungry-angry) at this point. :)


    • I think she’s…
      1) Sleeping like a champ
      2) Weeks away from the dreaded 4 month sleep regression
      3) Is still young

      So I vote for swing over CIO. Big deal, some nights she needs a little extra soothing? OK, she’s a baby! Give her a little extra soothing. Some days I need a little extra soothing too so I can relate 😉

      There is no harm in adding on more soothing when needed. I don’t think 3 months is so old that it’s time to rush away from the soothing. Lots of kids are in swings till 6 months so the “occasional use” of the swing at 3 months doesn’t concern me at all.

      Hope that helps!

    • I absolutely love your site!! I do have a question about CIO though (sorry if you already answered it in a post I tried reading them all) my daughter is eight months and had been getting up anywhere from 4 to 8 times at night since about 6 months. A couple weeks ago we finally decided to test out CIO and it worked after day 3… Well day 4 my daughter learned how to pull up on the crib and now her new favorite thing is to stand up and cry for what seems like forever. Not only does she do this when we put her to sleep but she will do this at all hours of the night. What should we do? Lay her back down and leave the room? Let her continue to cry?

      • Hi Vanessa, did you get an answer to your question about your little 8 month old (at the time of your post) learning to stand up and just stands there and cries. My 10 month old does the same, so would be very grateful to know if you found a solution?

  7. Ps I have a 2 YO and didn’t do CIO until 5 months, so I know how bad it can be!

  8. “glued to your boob,” lol! that was us! we just did CIO with our 12 mo. [formerly sleep deprived] DS and it’s been working fabulously. love your blog!

    • The human pacifier syndrome is one of those things nobody likes to talk about at the baby playgroup but I’m guessing that maybe 15% of all babies sleep on Moms boob all night. Then Mom has a sore back, sleeps poorly, and sometimes has sore boobs. Seriously – it’s a grind!

      So glad to hear that you’re little guy is sleeping like a champ now!

  9. Wow, that was really helpful. As I was reading the first part of your post I was thinking that you were in my house writing about everything that was happening to me. I wish we had places like that where I live. I have not yet tried CIO but I think we are coming close to the day when I will have to try it.

    • Think about it like your safety net – you’re going to try everything you can think of to get things moving in a positive direction. And if nothing works, you have a solid backup plan (albeit one you would hope to avoid) if you need it.

  10. Thanks for the blog. I love your website, it has very insightful information. This post was timely perfectly for me as we’ve been in the middle of CIO via ferber method, my 6 month old baby had an sleep association with the pacifier and she has never learned how to fall asleep on her owned, we use the swing for naps during the day and we used to feed her until she fell asleep and put her on her crib asleep with the pacifier, she was waking up up to 6 times at night, we realized we hadn’t thought her how to fall asleep on her own and she couldn’t fall asleep without the pacifier, so our last resort was the CIO method. We are in the 5th night of the ferber method and i could say that we have had success with the night wakenings, now she knows how to put herself asleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night. However, we have not been very successful with the initial cry out portion every night. First night she CIO for 45 minutes until she fell asleep, the following nights the crying got reduced to about 30minutes, but it hasn’t gotten any better, she keeps getting madder and cries even harder than the first night. we are about to the point to give up since we can’t stand to let our baby cry that long every night, plus it seems like she has gotten very clingy during the day, we thought it was supposed to get easy after the first couple of nights. we have made her cry for 5 nights already, so it is hard to give up after we’ve come this far, but we don’t know what else to do…we have a night routine that involves bottle, bath, book and bed. she starts crying the minute she gets put on her crib…help please!

    • Are you doing Ferber a la you go in every X minutes to soothe? If so it may be time for the full extinction (you don’t go in after bedtime) method. While I wasn’t able to find any research to back me up (see post below) my own experience has been that check and console leads to more crying by rewarding the crying with further visits. I’m thinking that maybe your 5 days of crying is really related to the visits and might stop rather quickly if you simply stopped going in after bedtime.

      Also the day cling may not be related to bedtime battles. I’m sure you’re feeling guilty and figure, “She thinks we don’t love her anymore which is why she is clinging to me all day my poor poor beautiful baby!!!” When the reality is probably linked to the idea that she now remembers that you exist when you leave the room (~2 weeks ago you were forgotten the second you went to the bathroom). This developmental milestone leads to a big of clinginess in all babies. So don’t beat yourself up about it. But seriously – try my suggestion above and see if that doesn’t wrap things up for you!

      • Alexis thanks for the reply! So yesterday was my 6th night of the Ferber method, I was checking on her about every 15min at that point and guess what? It worked! He went to sleep with just 3 minutes of whimpering, not even crying! I couldn’t believe it, and I was so close to given up. She doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore and if she does she falls asleep on her own. Tonight she felt asleep with zero minutes of crying, she just turned her head as I stepped away from the crib and fell asleep. one thing that I did was add a lovely for her to sleep with and I spend more time with her once I placed her in the crib singing a couple lullabies. I’m just really glad it worked and we feel a lot more rested. Hopefully, this will last for a while. She still uses the swing for naps during the day, when should I wean her out of that?

        • Why don’t you take a few minutes to enjoy your victory lap before sweating the swing 😛

          6 nights is rough and this is going to strengthen my belief that Ferber is less preferable to “full extinction” (even though most everybody goes with the Ferber method). I’m sorry you had to go through that. And I’m SO glad you stuck with it so that you could have your lovely happy baby and sleep-filled nights to look forward to!

          At 6 months you might want to try to wean her out of the swing. See what happens! As she’s sleeping better at night her naps might go more easily for you (well rested babies sleep better). But I wouldn’t stress it too much – if it’s not going smoothly, wait a few weeks and try again. Its also OK just to enjoy your recent victory and not change ANYTHING for a while too :)

          • I just wanted to send an update on the CIO and request some additional advice. So the CIO method has been working on and off and we can’t figure out why, after the initial long week, it was working great, she was falling asleep within a minute after we left her room, but after that at least two nights a week our baby starts crying as soon as we leave the room and she cries for about 30 min-40min before she falls asleep,most nights is somewhere between 5-10min of crying and we are just getting tired of letting her cry so much…does it ever get easier? We also had a couple of episodes where she has waken up in the middle of the night and she can’t put herself asleep. She just cries desperately until we had to go to the room and check on her. My husband really wants to give her the pacifier, but I’ve begged him not to, I don’t want to start the whole sleep association again and be up 5 times at night. I need some advice on what could we be doing wrong, is hard to hear your LO cry so much. Thank you!

            • Jessi,

              DO NOT GIVE HER A PACI. You are done with that. That road is closed. You don’t go back on that road later. That road leads to madness. There are options you can consider but that is not one of them.

              Perhaps that was not stressed enough in my post but when you go the CIO route, whatever you are trying to break free of (nursing to sleep, paci, unwilling co-sleeping) is FINISHED. Fini.

              Here’s what I think:
              1) The Ferber method is not helping you. I know I’ve said this so I won’t continue to blab on about it. But it really IS intermittent reinforcement and the best way to keep the crying going on much longer.
              2) 5-10 minutes doesn’t count as crying. For many babies this is just “I don’t really want to go to bed” complaining. I know you want to put her in bed, have her smile and coo at you and nod off to sleep. And that would be awesome. But most babies don’t do that.
              3) I think what you are experiencing (on the 30-40 minute nights) is what is known as an extinction burst. I actually mean to write a post about it but in the meantime feel free to google. It’s REALLY common. And frustrating. And temporary.
              4) In the middle of the night you are welcome to go check on her and attempt to console. At 6 months this could be a growth spurt – perhaps she is legitimately hungry? I would offer her food before I would give her a paci because the paci ship has sailed!

              (Seriously – if you ignore all my advice that’s totally OK. But don’t ignore the part about the paci.)

  11. Hi Alexis – I thought I would give an update here as it applies to many points you make in this post. Quick background for your readers: our son was post colic who required some combination of rocking/bouncing (never took to the swing) and a pacifier to fall asleep. We first tried CIO at 16 weeks (following the advice of Weissbluth who says you can try at 16 weeks with a post colicky baby) but didn’t make it past the first night as it was just too awful. Our boy cried for an hour then fell asleep, but only to wake up 45 minutes later and continue to cry off and on the entire night. He didn’t sleep for more than a 45 minute stretch at a time so I ended up rocking him to sleep at 4am and did not attempt it again the next night. Over the next weeks we tried additional soothing efforts but nothing seemed to work. Eventually the rocking sessions started to grow longer and his wake ups were increasing (5-6 times a night) because just like you have stated on this site, the pacifier quickly started to back fire as he would wake up and need it to fall back asleep. Nobody in our house was getting restful sleep.

    So this past Wednesday, at 24 weeks, we decided to try CIO again. This time we felt more prepared and in my gut I just knew our son was too. We decided on Weissbluth’s full extinction method as we knew going to him would only rile him up further. The first night he cried for 55 minutes, just like he did during our first attempt. However, he then slept 6 hours! He woke up and fussed off and on (with some hard crying) for 2 hours, fell back asleep for an hour and then was up for the day. The second night he cried for 10 minutes and then slept the entire night. On the third night my husband laid him down, he smiled and got comfy, and then we didn’t hear from him again until the morning!

    Right now our son is asleep in his crib, without his pacifier, and my husband and I are settling in to watch a movie. We feel like we have our evenings back since we aren’t rushing off to get a few hours sleep before the first wake-up. But the best feeling is knowing that our son now has the ability to put himself to sleep and he is getting much more quality sleep because of it.

    • Yay! Excellent story – thanks so much for sharing!

      One yicky night followed by 10 minutes. TEN! Excellent outcome for everybody :)

      • Thanks! We really are excited about the amazing night progress. Now if we could just get naps tackled…anxiously awaiting your CIO for naps post :-)

        • Will probably take me a few weeks (summer=no free time or childcare for me!) but I will put a small warning out there – CIO for naps can be a rough path. Not for every baby but it can take longer and be rougher than night time which is generally fairly straightforward. There is a whole bunch of brain chemistry working FOR you at night making it close to impossible for baby to stay awake for a long time. That is not necessarily the case for naps.

          So I’m not saying NOT do to CIO for naps, I just want people to be forewarned that it’s not always as brief and obvious. It can take longer, more crying, and any lack of consistency (even a little bit) can throw you off.

          Hope that doesn’t sound too scary (it’s not!) but there it is 😛

    • I have a question, did you take pacifier away all day? Or just at night? This is where my confusion lays and I don’t want to start until I know exactly how to get rid of paci, weather all day and night or just night.

      • Start with loosing the paci at night. Once things have settled down you can work on naps too. I have no issue with continuing to use the paci as an awake-soothing tool if that helps (some babies hate car rides and the paci helps with that). But once you hit the “wakes up constantly so we reincert paci all night long” phase, it’s time for the paci to go when it’s time to sleep.

  12. I wanted to address something that you brought up — that if the kiddo wakes up at 5 then it’s wakeup time for everyone. We operated under that assumption for several weeks. And then 5 turned into 4:30, and 4:30 turned into 3:30 and then 3 and then 2:30, and our daughter just stopped going back to sleep. And then she started waking up ever 60 minutes or so. All night long.

    So we did a couple of things: 1) We moved her to the crib. This went more smoothly than expected I think because we had a decent bedtime routine (and luck?). She only cried 7 minutes the night we moved her. We decided to move her because I think we were waking her up. And 2) She will sometimes wake up and start fussing at 5 even now. However as long as she doesn’t escalate and launch into full blown crying, she will go back to sleep until (wait for it) 6:30 or 6:45 in the morning.

    Which is to say that I think waking up to play at 5 was a “bad sleep habit” and when we rewarded her by doing that, it reinforced the behavior, causing the progressively earlier wake ups.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to throw that into the ring also, since I am SURE we are not the only ones with a baby who does that. BTW she was 4.5 months when this started. She’s 5.5 months now and currently in the middle of a good sleep streak. Hopefully it will last for a while still!

    • Just how old ARE you? Whenever I see your screen name I picture somebody grandmotherly with adopted babies bouncing on her knee 😉

      Yes – you definitely want to PUSH to see if they’ll fall back asleep. You don’t want to go running into baby’s room at first peep at 5:00 AM. Also there is a line in the sand (which for me is just about 5:00 AM) where I’m willing to accept that it’s an early wakeup. Anything PRIOR to that line is still night-time and I damn well am not getting up regardless of how upset you get about it (at which point I would probably try a feeding, swing, etc. to convince baby that it’s simply NOT OK to be up yet).

      Babies do generally sleep better when you’re not there. IT’s like you’re a toy that they can see but can’t quite reach and it’s really frustrating for them. But if you aren’t around they sort of relax about it and fall back asleep more easily. Also I think most parents sleep better too – when babies were in my room I woke for every grunt and sniffle.

      • Haha… the “Old” part is meant mostly tongue in cheek, based on when people really did tell me I was too old for med school back when I was 27. I’m 35 now.

        I’m a member of this breastfeeding support group listserv, and any time anyone writes in asking for what to do to fix the sleep problem du jour, the answer is always, “YOU MUST CO-SLEEP!” I always have to restrain myself from saying, “That’s probably just going to make the problem worse….” since I don’t want to get pilloried.

        Amen to babies sleeping better when they are in their own room.

        • That’s pretty much why I stay away from those sort of groups. I wish there was a nursing support group for people with a more flexible parenting philosophy. If for nothing more than to give people more options than, “co-sleep” and “nurse more often.”

          I used to be on this postpartum support group until one member saw this site and accused me of being a “baby hater.” I am many things (slovenly, mediocre cook, shameful reader of romance novels) but baby hater? Um…no.

          Congratulations on med school old lady! My husband has a PhD (non medical) and our 5 YO likes to point out to people, “He’s a doctor, but not the kind that HELPS people.” Heee 😉

  13. Okay, Alexis, I’m truly going for it this time and going to do the CIO. My little guy turned 5 months on 7.4.2012 and we are planning beginning CIO on 7.20.2012 (because this coming weekend we have lots of “stuff” going on and I want to be able to focus completely on this, and he does have a pretty bad cough currently, so I want him to be rid of that).

    Anyway, I’ve read almost your entire website, have read the Ferber book and I’ve gotten the “go-ahead” from my pediatrician MORE THAN ONCE and she’s just like “you gotta do it.”

    I don’t know how I’m NOT going to cave (my husband’s suggestion is for me to leave the house, i don’t know if I can)…

    So, I have a few things that I’m not sure about. Currently we start bedtime at 6pm. It has been: bath (or just lotion, clean diaper and pjs for the non-bath days), then story while rocking in his room, then bottle, then food (just recently started veggies). Should I completely change his bedtime routine the night we start CIO?? I do know he has a food sleep association (which we’ve more or less taken care of at bedtime, but it’s worse at frequent night wakings). Also, should I move his bedtime back?? When we start at 6pm, he’s usually sleeping (by me rocking him) by around 6:30. So, should I shoot for beginning bedtime at 6:30 with bottle then food, then bath, then story??

    I guess my main questions are surrounding bedtime routine change and actual bed time change (b/c I think he should be going to sleep at the earliest at 7pm, right???)

    Would appreciate any responses. My little ones BIGGEST problem is frequent night waking (and by frequent, I mean all the time). Napping has actual gotten MUCH better – daycare napping (3 days a week) is still hit or miss (b/c of the noisy atmosphere), but the other 4 days, he’s doing at least one nap of 1.5-2.5 hours and the others are anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.

    • If the 6:30 bedtime is working for you then why change it? 7:00 PM is a “general” goal but some babies go to bed as early as 6:00. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

      Also I’m a little fuzzy on his routine – you do bath, jammies, stories, THEN bottle and solids? Are you taking him back out in to the kitchen and plopping him in a high chair to feed him pears or are you feeding the pears in his bedroom?

      At this age, solids are really more about practicing eating then calories (he’s not really getting any from mushed up carrots, but it is fun to watch him try to eat it no?). And if you think he has a bottle association then yes I would switch things up a bit.

      Personally I would ditch the bedtime solids just because it seems like a messy thing to do with your clean fresh PJ baby? Solids are a great fun thing to play with during the day however, so definitely have at it at other times!

      I would put the bottle before bath – bottle, bath, jammies, books. That separates food from sleep AND gives him a good chance to work out bubbles and such that might arise. You don’t want a baby with painful tummy bubbles crying at bedtime but if he has a good 30 minutes to burp them out, you’ll have confidence that he’s all set for sleep when the time comes.

      Let me know how things go!

      • Firstly, I did change bedtime routine. Bottle, then bath (if it’s bath night), jammies, story, song, bed.

        We chose the extinction method. And his main problem was frequent wakings, so I knew that was going to be the worst part.

        Night 1: Put him down at 6pm exactly. He cried on and off for less than 15 minutes.

        Woke up at 7pm. Cried on and off for less than 15 minutes.

        Woke up at 8:30. Cried for 30 minutes.

        Woke up at 11:35pm. I fed him a bottle. Put him down awake. He cried for about 10 minutes.

        Woke up at 1:12am. Cried for 7 minutes.

        Woke up at 3:09am. Cried for 8 minutes. Started crying again at 3:24. I fed him a bottle. Put him down awake. He did not cry.

        He woke for the day at 6:50am. NOT TOO BAD FOR NIGHT 1!!!

        Night 2: Put him down awake at 6:15pm. He fussed for a minute or 2 and stopped. Was just moving around. Then 10 minutes later he fussed for a minute or 2 again, then asleep.

        Did not wake until 10:08. Cried for 10 minutes.

        Woke at 11:20. I fed him a bottle. Put him down awake. He did not cry.

        Woke at 1:23. Cried for about a minute.

        Woke at 2 something. Cried/fussed for less than a minute.

        Woke for the day at 6:10am

        I did usual naps yesterday – rocked him to sleep and then put him in the swing. He napped great all day.

        I was wondering about naps today since he did so good overnight and didn’t miss much sleep. I put him in his crib. He fussed for a minute. I went to brush my teeth figuring i’d do that and come back to see if he was crying, etc and if he was I would rock him and do naps like usual. He wasn’t crying. He was just settling in – moving his arms around. He fell asleep. He woke about 20 minutes later coughing a little. I’m watching him on the monitor now, hoping he will go back to sleep on his own.

        Here’s my BIG question. Do I cut out the 3am bottle??? I’m an exclusive pumper so he’s breastmilk only and is used to getting 2 bottles a night (10-11pm and 2-3am). Since he’s proved he can do it???

        Thanks for everything. I’m really thinking and hoping it can only get better from here on out!! My husband and I can’t believe it. Our son was clearly ready before we were.

        • Excellent! Its hardest when they wake up and cry here and there because each time you’re stuck wondering, “Do I go to him? Do I not?” You guys were smart to give him a few minutes to see what would happen. And lo and behold – most times he cried for 5-10 minutes and fell back to sleep! Yes it’s a stressful night but he figured out how to do it all on his own. Yay baby!

          Is he generally eating 2 bottles a night? Or 1? If MOST of the time he takes 2 bottles a night then I would be inclined to gently wean him off them (by watering down the BM or lowering the volume offered) . Just because he skipped a feeding 1 night doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s done.

          But if you’re GUT says he’s done than maybe he is. Maybe you set a time limit on the crying. If he cries and cries and cries then he’s probably well and truly hungry and I would go with a more graduated approach to weaning him off the 3 am bottle. If he wakes up, cries for 5 minutes, and falls back to sleep then you’re are good to go.

          • Ugh, Alexis, I need your help. We are 2 weeks from the time we started sleep training via CIO. Things are definitely better than they were a month ago (i.e., he’s not sleeping on me all night long, he’s not using me as a pacifier all night long, he’s actually sleeping in his crib).

            For the most part he’s been going down at bedtime without a hitch. We do bottle (of breastmilk), then bath, jammies, story, song, bed. I’ve been putting him in his crib awake around 6pm (or 15 minutes on either side of 6pm). Most of the past 2 weeks he’s been fussing for a few minutes or just rolling to his side and going straight to sleep. But the past 2 nights he has done 30-45 minutes of crying before going to sleep. This is fricking torture. And I’m hoping it is a bump in the road sleep training regression.

            Issue #2: we’ve been feeding bottles twice a night for a LONG time now – ever since I stopped actually nursing altogether. His first night feeding used to be around 9:30-10pm, but since sleep training we’ve tried to push it to 10:30 at the earliest. Since his bedtime bottle is at 5:30, he SHOULD be able to do 5 hours?!?! Well, he wakes around 10pm almost every night. He will cry for the 30 minutes, then at 10:30 (if he’s still crying), my husband goes in, feeds him his 4 oz, puts him back in his crib (he’s not sound asleep by any means) and he rolls to his side and goes back to sleep or sometimes it takes him a few minutes, but he goes back to sleep, no crying. Sometimes he will wake around 9:45, cry for 30 minutes, stop for a while, then start crying again (after the 10:30 mark) and only then would we go in and feed him. He wakes again at 2am, I go in pretty much right away, feed him, put him back down and he rolls to his side and goes right back to sleep. He’s been waking sometime in the 4am hour, fusses for a minute or 2, then goes back to sleep on his own. I feel like these night feedings are not about the food. (well, they ARE and they AREN’T). I think it’s more habit and he’s used to waking at these times to EAT, when he should be perfectly capable of moving these calories to daytime. He will be 6 months on August 4th.

            So, before Saturday, he WAS eating 6-7 oz of breastmilk at bedtime, then 4 oz at 10pm-ish and 2am-ish. Then 3 daytime feedings of 4 oz each (of which we’d have to coax him to finish). Meaning, he was eating more over night than he was during the day. So, on Saturday night, I reduced both of his nighttime feeds to 3 oz. We did 3 oz again on Sunday. He is obviously still waking to eat, and he sucks down the bottle, but he wasn’t crying for more milk. And I was able to get him to make up those lost calories during the day yesterday. So, tonight (Monday) and tomorrow night we are reducing his 2 nighttime feeds to 2 oz. Then Wednesday and Thursday will be 1 oz. With the intent for no nighttime feeds starting Friday night. I’ve researched and read so much about baby sleep and I know that babies are “capable” of doing the 12 hours without eating. I guess I just need a little encouragement that my son is programmed to wake at these times out of habit, and that we can change this habit. I know there’s plenty of babies who continue to eat once or twice a night until 9, 10, 11 months (and I would NOT have an issue with this if my son simply woke ONLY at these times and went back to sleep fine), but I feel like my child is just NOT as easy sleeper, never has been and it is just an all or nothing issue. My pediatrician did tell me at his 4 month appt that she thinks the only way to get him to sleep thru the night is to get him off night feedings completely, I guess I just didn’t take it seriously then….

            • Melissa,
              Look – I just answered your question in a post! (See below).

              It’s not just YOUR question, it’s actually pretty common (about 30% of babies).

              As for the feedings YES it’s habit and you are doing AWESOME by gradually weaning off the feedings! You’re pediatrician is right. He’ll happily eat all night if you let him and your strategy of decreasing volume is right on the money. I would advocate the same (in fact I DO so right here:

              It’ll take a while to get him eating more during the day and he may grumble about it at the end. But you’re right – he CAN do it!

          • Hi Alexis,

            Thanks so much for all of your great information. Bedtime is going very well. We are on night three of CIO and she hardly makes a fuss at all when we put her down. This is for naps as well. We have been laying her down still awake and this has worked wonders.

            Night one she went from 8:15 until 4:30 am without any waking

            Last night however, she woke at 1:00 and again at 2:00. At 1, I went in to calm her. At 2, I let her cry and she did so for about 30 minutes.

            My question is, should I calm her or should I let her cry. Is 30 minutes too long? I just want to be on the right track. The night wakings seems to be out biggest issue.

            Thank you!

            • I guess I should add, our baby is 6.5 months old. She slept through the night great (up to ten hours) up until 6 months. Before we started CIO, during night wakings, she would immediately fall back asleep by being held or by getting in our bed, so I don’t think she’s hungry. She’s bottle fed.

  14. Also, I would love to share a great the name of a great product to wean off the swaddle, but I won’t share the info without your permission, Alexis – I don’t want to use your website for advertisement (of which I have NO affiliation to this product). I would just love to share it b/c it helped us wean our son off the swaddle (though he still doesn’t sleep well, he is at least SLEEPING while not swaddled). :)

    • Share away! I’m always on the lookout for cool things that work great. Just like I’m on the look for crappy products that people should avoid 😉

  15. For anyone trying to (or needing to) wean off of swaddling, try the zipadee-zip. It really is an amazing product, this lady needs to be advertising all over the place; I know that if this was my invention, I’d be marketing at baby stores, websites, blogs, like crazy!

    • Well she’s going to send me a few to give away so hopefully this will be a win-win. Some nice parents will get a cool free swaddle weaning thingie, we’ll get some impartial feedback about it, and the nice lady who agreed to send me some will get some free PR here :)

      • I would like to say thank you to Melissa! We use the Zipadee, as well (we’re in the midst of swaddle weaning, and it’s fantastic!!), and discovered THIS site through her post on the ZipadeeZip FB site. :) My husband and I are starting CIO today with our 5mo old. Like most, we’ve tried other methods and I read all the books. We decided to follow Dr. Weisbluth, too, as I feel comfortable with his ways. We’re going with Extinction and will see how it goes. It’s hard to let go of feeling guilty to let your baby cry, so a huge thank you to Alexis for this site! I feel a million times better about/more prepared for our decision. Please wish us luck and thank you SO MUCH!

        • I DO wish you lots of luck and I second your decision to go full extinction. It IS hard and nobody WANTS to do this. But with any luck this will be a brief forgettable 1-2 day event that will really help everybody feel so much better. You’ll see that theme repeated in some of the comments on my site, “We had hoped not to have to do it but BOY are we glad we did!”

          I hope that is your experience too :)

          • Hi Alexis! Thank you, again, for your site! I’ve been meaning to give an update, but as you know, time flies with a baby. We had a great experience with our baby! The 1st nap (we did both Naps and Night at one time), she didn’t go to sleep at all. She just played and some fussing and then we had to feed her. The next nap, though, she was out within 15 min. That night, (Night 1) she woke up for an hour and 15 min in the middle of the night, which is very unusual for her.. but we didn’t go in. She did the same thing of playing and a little fussing, and all-in-out cried for a few minutes at a time only. Since then, though, she’s been great! Putting herself to sleep in less than 20min, sometimes as soon she’s laid down. On those wonderful ones, she looks up at us, turns on her side, and goes to sleep. In the same night, we also transitioned her to her crib and completely weaned from the Swaddle. We jumped some big hurtles in one night and are so happy! I do have a question for you, but I believe it belongs in the “Bedtime what time” section, and so will post there. Thanks again!

            • That is excellent news! Sometimes it’s like pulling off the bandaid or jumping into a cold lake – best just to do it all at once. So glad to hear things are going so well for you!

          • Help!!!! I have been on the CIO train for a long time. I have failed a few times but this last time my girl had got a cold, so I did not let her CIO because she would get so snotty, and now she is teething and I am always wondering is she crying because of the pain in her mouth? I really just don’t know what to do anymore, she was soooo good for a while put herself to sleep easily most nights (woke up 1 a night) now she is up almost everynight 3-4 times. If I just leave her she cries for what seems like forever… And now I’m so tired I’ve been bringing her to bed with me which is a routine I do NOT want to stick around. So I know I need to go back to the full out CIO… I’ve read lots here so I will only do night time ( I’ve been doing naps too ) and see how it goes. But my girl is almost a year old and is always standing or sitting while she’s crying so she never falls asleep.. I need help with that and also the night time feedings… I dnt think she should be up that often?! I know she’s not hungry. Stressed need some answers!!! Thank you so much.

    • That’s adorable.
      It’s like a starfish.

  16. Our 6 month old has a good solid bedtime routine that involved a using a pacifer to sleep. As she was waking up constantly in the night we decided to get rid of the pacifer. We had to use cry it out to get her to sleep at bedtime without the pacifer but she really only cries briefly and it is mostly a mantra tired cry to help her fall asleep. Anyways my question is more about when she wakes in the middle of the night. Most nights now she will wake once to feed then go back to sleep but there are nights that she will wake, this is usually somewhere between 3.30-4.30, that doesn’t work. I have then tried various other things to try get to her sleep, I check her diaper give her some pain meds as she is teething, burp her, sing to her etc to try and get her back but nothing seems to work. We used to be able to give her a pacifer and she would go back to sleep even for a bit but now she just doesn’t seem to settle. We end up then with an overtired baby who has her first nap of the day when most babies are getting up and this can cause havoc with her sleep for the day. Any words of advice?

    • Hi
      I am wondering if it is a bit overtired thats why she couldn’t go back to sleep. I am trying to get her naps to be good during the day but she seems to be sleeping worse during the day now and so then is overtired at night. I have pushed her bedtime up a bit and she still goes to sleep by herself but than wakes up more in the night and can’t get herslef back to sleep. Ive tried to leave her at night to cry & let herslef go back to sleep but that usually results in her being more awake. Which do I work on first? And if it is overtired how do I deal with the naps? CIO doesn’t seem to work at all during naps. Thanks so much!! I really was hoping the CIO would help us finally all get some sleep.

    • Eve,
      How severe is the teething? If it’s the teeth than it could be the case that by the time the 3:00 AM medicine kicks in she’s SO awake that she can’t go back to sleep. If you fear the teething is tripping you up you might try to medicate this way:

      Also she IS 6 months old so the 6 month sleep regression could be working against you.

      Basically I wouldn’t get up at 3:30 in the AM so I would be REALLY keen to get her to fall back to sleep. What about the swing? Has she ever slept in the swing & do you have one? Are you using other sleep aids? Loud white noise?

      I never ever want to be up at 3:30 in the morning so I would either go full CIO (it may take a few days and she may cry quite a while) or MEGA soothing (put her in the swing, loud white noise, etc.). Some people would pull baby back into bed with them to get sleep which is fine if YOU want to do that, but you could be creating a co-sleeping habit which may or may not work for you. So technically there are 3 options, but really only 2 that I would personally recommend.

      Personally I would lean towards the swing. This may just be a blip with teething and the 6 month sleep regression where she needs a bit more soothing. If she’s still waking up at 3:00 AM in 2 weeks the it’s just a habit and I would probably try CIO at that point.

      CIO for naps CAN be rough. I would do what you need to for naps to happen for now and really work on NOT getting up at 3:00 AM. I’m sure you must be feeling really frustrated but if her naps aren’t great, at least you want her to have a reasonable 11-12 hour night of good sleep. Plus for your own personal sanity YOU don’t want to get up at 3:00 AM. It’s just uncivilized….

      • Thanks Alexis
        Her object permanence is the pacifer. For her naps we have been giving her the pacifer and keeping one arm swaddled (she used to be swaddled and now is in a sleep sac where you can tuck in the arms and the arm holes snap shut, she can rollover so at night we don’t put her arms in at night) so to make the naps work we have been doing this and somedays it does work and she will have a good nap. But do you think having the pacifer for daytime naps makes things worse for night time?

        She no longer has a swing. We did use one with her when she was younger but then she got too big for it and we went away on holidays for a month and when we came back she was so used to a crib we never used it again and now it is gone. She has always slept with a fan at night and there is music that plays all night. She has a lovey with her that has been with her since she started sleeping in a crib. Her bedtime routine is bath bottle walking around singing songs then bed. Sleep is between 6.30 & 7.15 depending on daytime naps.

        It seems that each night her CIO sessions for bed become much bigger. Last night was the hardest and longest that she cried. When we first started (7 days ago) we would put her to bed and there would be just a few minutes of crying before sleep and now she gets quite upset. Last night after her big cry she woke about 11.30 cried for a couple of mins then went back to sleep she woke again at 1.30 I left her for a few minutes to see if she would fall asleep but she didn’t so I fed her then she went straight back to sleep but she woke again at 2.30 we let her cry which was quite a big session and she finally fell asleep at 3.15 she was up again at 4 which again I fed her then she slept til 6. I am happy that she is going back to sleep but do these frequent waking usually last this long using CIO? The night wakings have been similar to how she was when she slept with a pacifer. I guess that is not completely true we did have 3 nights that she went to bed and only woke once to feed then straight back to sleep. Its the other nights have been exactly the same just now we are letting her cry more instead of going in to give her a pacifer. I am wondering if we are doing things correctly or using the best method? if it is maybe the sleep regression and the teething (she doesn’t have any teeth yet but they do seem to bother her as she will chew anything in sight and is a drooling machine). I really appreciate your comments and thoughts. Maybe we just need to give it more time. thanks again!!

        • Well the 6 month sleep regression could definitely be exacerbating everything. It’s really hard to say as obviously, I’m not in your house at 3:00 AM so I’m just imagining what is probably going on.

          And my best guess is this – the nursing 1X a night thing is tripping you up. In a way it’s intermittently reinforcing the night waking-crying thing. Sometimes she wakes up and gets fed, sometimes she wakes up and doesn’t get fed. Look at this another way – sometimes she wakes up and Mom comes to visit. Sometimes Mom doesn’t come visit.

          Famous experiment – when a rat presses a lever a pellet of food comes out. After a while no more food comes out. Which rats will keep pressing the lever the longest: a) the rats that got a pellet EVERY time they pressed the lever or b) the rats that got a pellet only SOMETIMES when they pressed the lever?

          The answer is b. (PS I’m not calling your baby a rat but you knew that right?). So while generally I’m a fan of gradually weaning off the night feedings in a more gentle fashion, I’m wondering if maybe the occasional night feed/visit isn’t intermittently reinforcing the night waking/crying habit?

          Again I’m not there. It could also be a simple blip of the sleep regression (AKA growth spurt where they generally DO eat/nurse more). It could also be teething.

          But think about what I’ve said, and listen to your gut. What does it tell you?

          • Ok thanks Alexis. I guess I am not very intuitive when it comes to her sleep and I just thought because Ive always fed her in the night that dropping it altogether was not the way to go. I never been able to get her to sleep very well in the night so I just wasn’t sure what might be going on. There always seemed like something that could explain why she wasn’t sleeping, she was colic then it was teething then growth spurts then wonder weeks etc and after she she was about 6 months and it was getting worse we found your blog and it seemed to make sense about the pacifer and everything else that we had been doing and why it just wasn’t working. I don’t want her to be sleep deprived any longer and to be much happier during the days so I will have to give that a shot.
            Thank you for your help and your blog. It really is greatly appreciated.

  17. Hello,

    We decided to go hard core CIO after our 5 month old daughter was awake every hour during the night last weekend, because we are so sleep deprived, and because the binky game is no longer fun for us. It’s worth noting that we live in a one bedroom with the crib in the bedroom and my wife is exclusively breastfeeding.

    The first night was a 65 minute CIO session after which she slept reasonable well with some mild fussing before going back to sleep after a couple of feedings. The second night we were hopeful that she wouldn’t CIO for as long, but our hopes were dashed as she went for 60 minutes this time. During the night after three feedings, she would stay up cry until she fell asleep. It was awful.

    We thought that maybe her difficulties were due to sleeping in the same room with her. So, we pulled out the sofa and settled in for night three. The third night, she cried for 55 minutes before falling asleep. Even though she still cried for a long time before falling asleep, she went down without a fuss after both of her night feedings. She was also much more rested during the day, had good naps, and her temperament was much improved. So, after three long bouts of CIO, but much improvement during the night and day, we were hopeful about night four. Fourth night: another excruciating 60 minutes. Again, she went back to sleep right away after each of her two feedings but what in tarnation is going on here? We’re seeing the improvement of more and better sleep and a better temperament, but the fact that it’s been an hour of CIO for four nights in a row is very disconcerting, to say the least.

    Each night, my wife focused on a bedtime routine of feeding, walking around while holding her and singing a lullaby, bath and/or massage, reading, and etc. However, as soon as her little body hits the mattress, it’s game on for crying and gnashing of gums. On night four, we even tried to give her a little monkey with mommy’s scent on it, but she threw it out of the crib.

    Any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    Jonathan and Deborah

    • Ah the binky game. I usually call this the paci shuffle but I like binky game too. In fact I might use that in my pacifier post that I’m working on.

      So 5 nights is rough. Here’s my best guess…
      1) How tired is she at bedtime? If she’s been awake for ages (big gap between last nap and bedtime) her hormone levels will be high and this can literally prevent her from falling asleep.
      2) Is she not tired enough? A late afternoon cat nap (maybe due to a car ride or whatever) can mess you up even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
      3) Are you in the room while she is CIO at bedtime? If so then YES that could be contributing. If so STAY in the living room for a while I’m sure that blows but for a week or two it’s manageable right?
      4) Are you doing check and console? I don’t like to bash this method as nobody has done any studies to compare the two so I can only go on what I’ve observed. And my observation is that babies will cry MUCH longer (both in duration and # of days) with anything that is a variation of check and console.
      5) Using white noise? It will definitely help.

      Do any of those ring a bell?

      This is a rough time no doubt but I would also point out that the overall crying has decreased substantially. It sounds like she went from multiple hours a night at the onset to 1 hour. Which yes is still a lot (maybe you just have a really persistent baby)? But I would at least keep an eye on the trend line of gradually DECREASING cry time throughout the night.

      It’s been a few days now. Do you have an update to share?

  18. Hi Alexis – long time no post for me — hope all’s well. So my son is now 15 months and we think he’s getting to the point where he goes from two naps a day to one. This is probably the subject of a different blog post… but you did mention that when kids start waking up earlier and not falling back asleep after 20-30 minutes then they’re basically awake.
    In connection with switching to one nap later in the morning, would it be at all common that he goes from 11 hours at night down to 9 or 10? Or are we just screwing something else up? When my son wakes up at 6 he sounds pretty upset and he still seems tired, rubbing his eyes, kinda bobbing his head (yay nighttime monitors, which I agree with you, rock, even though they’re $200+. Summer Infant – I’m a big fan.) So we are always inclined to let him whine for a bit in the hopes that he goes back to sleep. Alas, that is happening less and less… or, after an hour of being upset, he falls back asleep but then stays asleep until way later than we’d normally like and then his morning nap is blown and soon the whole day is shot to hell.
    Oh yeah, he goes to bed at 8pm (sometimes 8:30ish) and I know that it’s supposedly the case that early to bed means LATE to rise, but he really doesn’t seem overtired at 8pm. But maybe that’s still too late…?
    Btw, if you’ve posted about this already, I apologize.

    Thanks, Matt

    • Most kids go from 2->1 nap somewhere around 1.5 years so he could definitely be consolidating naps. What generally happens is the morning nap goes and the afternoon nap shifts up a bit earlier. So if second nap happened at ~2 it may now need to happen at 12:30/1:00. Bedtime also generally shifts up a bit as well so my gut reaction is that bedtime is too late.

      Dropping 20% of his night sleep is not something that should happen, he should track at around 11 hours. ESPECIALLY as his day sleep is decreasing (so his 24-hour sleep is probably down 30% at this point). Which again just makes me think that bedtime is too late.

      If he’s napping from 1:00 – 2:30 then I would think he would be on target for a 7:00 PM bedtime. Want to try it out for a few nights and see what happens?

      With the earlier bedtime he may STILL get up at 6:00. But 7:00 PM – 6:00 AM would be an 11 hour night and I would consider that success. Most kids get up around 6:00 – 6:30 (personally I would prefer to be a 9:00 AM sort of gal but c’est la vies) while it may be a bummer from what he USED to do, it’s pretty typical.

  19. I am in need of some reassurance. I let my 3 month old cry in her swing for 9 minutes. I was going to go in to her at 10 minutes but she stopped and went to sleep at 9. I don’t want to do CIO (yet) due to her age, just hoping for her to learn to self soothe. She is used to falling asleep at the breast and I have been trying for the past 2 nights to not let her. I changed our routine to boob, bath, book, bed. She isn’t a big fan, although is sleeping like a champ! I just want to make sure I’m not scarring her for life. Is 10 minutes too long for a 3 month old? My hope is that her learning to self soothe will prevent us from having to do CIO in the future. Any thoughts or comments or just some reassurance?

    • Julie – do YOU think that 9 minutes is scarring her for life? You know that statistically most newborns will cry for 3 hours a day. Not all at once obviously (it’s broken up in little chunks). And this is what they do with all of the soothing love at your disposal. Given that 3 hours a day is normal 10 minutes doesn’t even register.

      Seriously give yourself a break. If she cries for 10 minutes and then falls asleep on her own – GREAT! I would call that a huge success. Lot of babies cry for 5-10 minutes at bedtime just because that’s what they do. Yours is probably just settling into the new routine and complaining about it a bit. So don’t think about it as crying, think about it as her way of expressing displeasure at the change. But it’s a GOOD change to make :)

      • So on the 2nd day she fell asleep with 10 seconds of fussing and has not made a peep since at bedtime! And I feel like I have much more time to get things done in the evening. However, I do have a new problem. She will not sleep for long periods in her swing anymore. She goes down about 7:30, wakes around 11, then 3 and then 6. This is all new. I tried putting her in her crib after she falls asleep and she does the same thing. Any thoughts or advice? I have the white noise going, which helped this morning when she woke up at 4 (randomly). Should I go back to the swaddle? I stopped swaddling her because I noticed she would wake herself up trying to free her arms. She did okay and slept all night with the exception of 1 nightime wake to feed at 3:30 (I’m okay with that she is only 15 weeks). Now she is back to waking often. Any thoughts or advice?

        Oh and thanks for the reassurance. I am loving our new routine and I think she is too!

        • I would definitely go back to the swaddle because I’m pretty pro-swaddle in general. And she’s still young, so why not?

          Sadly I don’t know why your 3 month old is waking up 2X a night. All I can say is that it’s actually pretty normal for 3 month olds to wake up 2X a night. Maybe it’s a growth spurt and she needs extra food? Maybe she’s just ramping UP her growth and needs extra food? Maybe it’s the phase of the moon? Who knows!

          You’re only options at 3 months is to give her as much soothing as possible (swing, swaddle, white noise) and go to her when she wakes.

          Sorry I can’t fix it for you :(

          • No worries! She slept really well last night. I think I may have been adding to her waking up by going to get her when I hear her fussing. Last night I let her fuss a little before immediately jumping up and she went back to sleep. I did get up to feed her at 1 and at 5:30 but she went right back to sleep both times. She really only seemed to snack and I think was just using me to go back to sleep. But with her young age I don’t want to make her go all night without nursing. She has never went all night without eating. So for now I will at least let her nurse once a night or twice, but no more than that. Thanks so much for your replies and your help! I’ll be checking back!

            One more thing… can you clue me in on the 4 month sleep regression? I was under the understanding that it took place because of object permanance but then I read that op doesn’t develop until 6 months? She will be 16 weeks on Saturday and I’m trying to prepare myself!!

            • The 4 month sleep regression (aka growth spurt) is associated with many developments but most babies don’t seem to show signs of hard core object permanence until a bit later. I suspect it’s a skill they need to practice with?

              You can test your baby – get her attention with a toy and then clearly hide the toy under a blanket. Does she hunt for it under there? If so she remembers that it existed even though she can’t currently see it. Voila! Object permanence!

              That skill (hunts for toys) seems to show up before babies start waking up all night long (which can happen anytime between 4-8 months). So I don’t think anybody can say for sure WHAT is happening at the 4 month sleep regression. But in my experience, you still have some runway afterwords before the object permanence thing blows up on the sleep front.

  20. My 3 month old sleeps 11 hours at night. However, he is struggling with naps. He will sleep between 20 minutes to 45 minutes 5 times a day. He goes down fine but then awakens and can’t go back to sleep. I feel like I have tried everything, shorter wake time, longer wake time, go in with a pacifier, pick up/ pat on the back to rule out gas. A friend told me to try the cry it out method full blown but I have been inconsistent because I couldn’t stand to let him cry. Now I think he is confused. What should do now?

    • Hi Ella,

      I know Alexis will have an answer for you. However, I just wanted to share my experience, as my son was the exact same way. When other moms had babies down to 3 long naps a day by that age, I felt like a failure. I also couldn’t understand why those babies could stay awake 1.5-2 hours, yet my baby could only handle 45 min before needing to go down again, and then only for another crappy short nap.

      Well, at 5 months that went down to 4 naps and he stayed awake 1.5 hours. At 6.5 months that went down to 3 naps, and lo and behold, what I thought would never happen happened – he started napping over an hour. Today he did a 2-hr nap and you have no idea what a major milestone that is for him.

      I really feel that, for my short-napping baby, this is just his natural developmental path. When he was younger he needed to catnap often to make it through the day, because he simply wasn’t able to stay awake too long. But the problem solved itself as he started staying awake longer. I was as frustrated as you and I read 5 different books and tried everything, until I decided to just see where my baby takes me.

      Don’t worry, your baby sleeps 11 hours at night, so he’s already a super baby, and he will get there for naps before you know it. Keep up the good work!

      p.s. What I did to save my sanity was to embrace napping on the go (carrier, stroller, car seat) so I could get out of the house a few times a week, instead of being stranded at home on “crib stand-by”.

      • Thanks Tina for sharing your experience. I needed that because I have been feeling frustrated and like a failure. He is able to stay awake about an hour and 15 minutes in the morning (when he first gets up) and then about an hour throughout the day. The funny thing is he was a great napper the first month and then he hit 5 weeks and it changed. But he became a better night time sleeper then too. I am going to take your advice and see if its his natural developmental path.

      • Tina,
        I would like to buy you a drink for your awesome response. Seriously if you are ever in Burlington VT the first round is on me :)


        Babies develop the ability to consolidate day sleep at different times. So you’re neighbor’s baby will be taking these HUGE naps while yours can only sleep for 30 minutes. And all the books tell you that yours should be too and thus you must be a huge failure for being unable to make the 3 hour nap happen.

        This is all a load of bunk. Consolidated day sleep is a developmental milestone just like teething. Care to try to make your baby’s teeth come in earlier? Of course not!

        Check this post out hopefully it’ll help answer your questions about the short nap dilemma:

        I wouldn’t do CIO for naps. For starters he’s young. Secondly “self soothing” is not yet a problem (it will be when he’s older so it’s something to work towards but you don’t need to do that today).

        He’ll get there. Promise!

      • Thank you so much for this response. My daughter is 6 months and sleeps great at night (usually 11.5 hours — we are very lucky). But the naps. Oh the naps. We usually get 3-4 and they’re usually 30-45 min each. *Sometimes* we get a 75 minute one, but those are rare. Since she has such a sunny disposition and sleeps well at night, I had decided to just go with the flow on the nap front, and your response makes me that much more confident in my decision. Thank you!

    • Btw, I never did CIO for naps. He did all that on his own in good time.

  21. Thanks for all this wonderful information and advice!

    We have an 8 month old who is waking every 1-2 hours throughout the night. When he was 6mths, we used our own mutt version of CIO with visits and patting for naps and bedtime and it worked really well. He now, with some exceptions, goes down happily for 2 naps and at bedtime. But we are really struggling with the wakings through the night.

    I do think consistency has been an issue there, and we are fully committing to devoting ourselves to getting a healthier nighttime pattern established now. But I’m a bit torn about how to get from ~10 night feedings to 2. I read your post about reducing one feed by a minute each night until it’s gone, but if I don’t feed him until he is completely satisfied he cries as hard as if I never fed him at all. And he can’t really be that hungry when I only fed him an hour earlier.

    So we thought we might start with a schedule like:

    7.30pm bed
    ~10.30pm feed
    ~2.30am feed
    ~5.30am feed / wake up for the day if necessary

    With CIO at the times he wakes in between. But then I worry that we are being inconsistent (in his eyes) by sometimes feeding him and sometimes leaving him to cry. Is there any way around that? Is it less confusing for him if I wake him for a feed twice or three times, but never feed him when he wakes himself? HELP!!

    • Gaby,
      Are you telling me you feed your baby TEN TIMES A NIGHT?!?! I’m getting sympathy exhaustion just thinking about that. Holy Cow.

      It sounds like he is using you as a human pacifier. Clearly he’s not eating a turkey dinner 10X a night. Is he nursing to sleep at these times? I wonder if THAT is what he complains about – not that this tummy isn’t full but that he is using your body to soothe himself to sleep and thus isn’t accepting removing your body until he has accomplished his goal.

      What is your bedtime routine? My sense is that he has a REALLY strong nurse/sleep association. I would start by separating nursing from bedtime by ~30 minutes. Maybe even have your partner take over bedtime so you (the food supply) are fully removed from the process for now.

      Is he soaking through multiple diapers at night or can he go all night in one diaper? The diapers are probably a good clue as to how much he’s actually eating. If it’s one diaper then I think I’m right – you are a human pacifier.

      (I need to start a support group for all the human pacifiers out there.)

      IF consistency has been an issue (you said it has) then I think you’re right, going in 2X a night is going to be a rough road. Because from his point of view, that’s more inconsistency.

      I think the plan you’re suggesting – 10:30, 2:30 is a solid one. Give it a try. What happens?

      I also think that full blown extinction is worth considering. I KNOW I say in this post not to do that. But most babies aren’t self soothing like yours is. In fact I can guarantee you that if you co-slept and parked him on your boob he would happily sleep all night long. But don’t do that. Seriously that is a road to nowhere.

      He would probably cry a lot for the first few nights. Each night waking might be 20-30 minutes long. But it would be done. And there is a chance that the 2X feeding a night will lead to lots and lots of ongoing crying/protests. So keep the full extinction method in your back pocket just in case, OK?

      And yes I mean you put him in bed and you don’t go in until maybe even 5:30 AM. No check and console. Nothing.

      Anyhoo I hope that helps. Please let me know what happens, OK?

  22. Wow, thanks for such a quick reply! You are completely right on the human pacifier front. His diapers are totally full but not leaking after 12-13 hours overnight, so he can’t be drinking THAT much.

    The nap and bedtime routine involves a feed, then nappy change, then book(s), then goodnights, then song and into the crib. So there’s about a 7-15 minute separation of boob and bed, which is maybe not enough.

    Last night we gave the 2x feed a go and it worked surprisingly well. My husband did everything except the two feeds, and here’s how it looked:

    7.30: went to bed without protest
    9.30: woke. husband checked at 3, 5, 7, 10, 15 minutes and he pretty much screamed bloody murder for an hour.
    10.30: back to sleep
    1am: woke, had a feed, was pretty much asleep when my husband took him back to the crib.
    4am: ditto.
    8am: woke for the day.

    Let me repeat that last line. HE WOKE FOR THE DAY AT 8 FRICKIN AM!!! Hub and I had lots of middle-of-the-night angst that by feeding him each time he woke after 10.30 we were undoing the hard work of letting him cry prior to that. BUT, since he slept good 3 and 4 hour chunks, I think (hopefully!) he must be self-soothing over that time. So I’m inclined to stick with this routine for a week and–provided the 9.30 (or whenever) screaming session decreases over time–all is well. A 13 hour stretch with just two feeds is just FINE by me.

    But if he starts screaming more or waking for more feeds, I agree that full extinction might be worth a try. And hopefully after a week of this schedule, his tummy will be less dependent on night milk than if we went straight to full extinction now. What do you think?

    Thanks again for both the blog and the personalized advice. We are so completely delirious with tiredness it’s hard to trust or even hear our own instincts on this. It makes a huge difference getting a sage outside perspective! (You should set up a donation button…)

    • That is AWESOME! I know 1 hour of “screaming bloody murder” may not feel like a triumph but trust me it was. (It could have been a long drawn out night of screaming hourly so in my worldview what happened was a HUGE SUCCESS!).

      Well good luck with the continued weaning. At 8 months I think full night weaning would be a great goal. Obviously goal #1 is to break out of human pacifier mode. But once that is established (hopefully in the next week or so) then I would be hell bent on wrapping up the night feeding. He’s a big healthy almost toddler now. And reclaiming your nights is REALLY FREEING. It gives you some physical and emotional space which is such an awesome feeling once it happens.

      I might set up a donation button – it’s been suggested. I don’t want to feel like an Internet panhandler though 😉 Frankly what I would really love would be donations to my own personal Amazon fund. I spend WAAAAY too much there. Someday when my kids want to go to Harvard and I’m forced to tell them that we can’t afford it I’ll have to come clean, “Sorry guys – I squandered all your college savings on Amazon. So welcome to Toledo State!”

      • QUICK UPDATE: So, nights 2 and 3 weren’t so great. He went down okay, but then kept waking, screaming, falling asleep, screaming, falling asleep both before and between feeds. And he also stopped napping so well, with the scream-snooze-scream-snooze pattern re-emerging there too. But as he progressively started screaming for shorter and shorter periods before the snoozes, we took this as a positive. And it sure gave him plenty of practice self-soothing!

        Then last night he went down without a fuss and that was the last we heard of him until 3am! I fed him then and again at 6am, then he woke for the day at 7.15 and didn’t even ask for a feed. Fussed for about 10 minutes going down for a nap this morning, then slept the full 1.5 hours. I’m feeling really really pleased with how it’s going, and know we’ll make it through any steps backwards in the next little while.

        I really think the key was moving feeds away from the naps and bedtime, you were totally right about that. A big part of the new regime is being strict about the eat-play-sleep order. It means he acts really hungry as nap/bed time approaches, but we’ve just been giving him extra solids and water about 1/2 an hour out. I thought feeds and sleep were separated enough before, but I see I was totally wrong about that.

        I am already feeling like a much happier woman and a MUCH nicer / more patient mom to both kids now that I have had a bit of sleep. I hope all the other human pacifiers out there take action sooner than I did!

        Thanks again.

        • Yes on separation! For younger babies “tanking them up” at bedtime is awesome. For older babies it leads to a night nursing habit. (Babies are confusing like that).

          Also for the extra crying that happened – I’m pretty sure it was an extinction burst (see the link below).

          YES you are a much happier, more emotionally available Mom now that you aren’t nursing ever 37 minutes all night long! Congrats on the great work :)

          • Hi Alexis,

            So I know it’s been over six months since you posted this, but I’m hoping you still check the comments. It’s New Year’s Day and my husband and I are about to tackle our “get baby to sleep” resolution. Gaby’s post above could easily be me— except for the fact that I normally give up around 11 pm and bring my (8 month) son to bed with me.

            Our current routine is 2 solid drama-free naps 1.5 hour a day (in my lap, on my boob for at least the first 10 minues), then bedtime at 8. We’ve just started moving the last feeding away from sleep by about 10 minutes. I feed him, then my husband rocks him to sleep. But now we are rocking him again at 9:15, then again at 10:30, then throwing in the towel sometime around 11. In bed with us, he eats roughly at 11, 2ish, 4-5ish, and 6ish and wakes between 7 and 8:15. Added to this, he is a very little guy (just got back up to the second percentile after a brief dip off the charts). The pediatrics has assured us that he is fine to go without food all night long and I know he can (from about 8 weeks to 16 weeks he slept for 12 hours a night with no wake ups before hitting a regression, during which we introduced a myriad a bad habits. Whoops!). But he is so busy during the day that he barely eats– really only when going to naps. Also, we are just beginning to see the start of seperation anxiety and are hoping to get the sleep training done before it gets worse. Oh yeah, and he mastered standing about a month ago so now crying in the crib = standing looking toward the door looking utterly pitiful. He can sit back down if he wants to, but we’ve never left him in there (yet) long enough to see if he will sit back down and go to sleep.

            It feels like the human pacifier issue is a biggie here, as well as the seperation and the standing, and I’m worried that the inconsistency if I do night feedings and boob naps (as we call them) will make this harder for him. Then again, I’m pretty aware of his weight/eating habits and I don’t want to cut off the night/nap food entirely. Right now we are planning to keep the boob naps and do ferber with three night feedings (11ish, 2ish, in bed with us anytime after 4:45). Im also offering food e ery teo hours during the day, although he often refures if he is having too much fun playing. Does that make sense to you? We are planning to start tonight and are open to adjustments if you have any.

            • Hey Elise,
              I’m going to tell you what I’ve told lots of other people whose beloved peanuts are a little on the small side.

              At a certain point you need to let go of the fear. I know they’re small and there is this loud voice screaming that your JOB AS MOM IS TO FEED AND NURTURE YOUR CHILD! But he doesn’t need to eat all night long anymore (I’m not saying that – just repeating what your pediatrician said). So consider which voice you are listening too when you make decisions about night feedings and try, if you can, not to let the voice of fear overwhelm you, OK?

              My only other advice is to consider fulle extinction. I know everybody on the planet things that Ferber is kinder, but I’m not convinced that it is. I’m pretty sure it leads to longer bouts of crying although I can’t back up that opinion with any research so it’s just my opinion.

              Feeding a crying baby sometimes can be a tricky wicket so try your plan of feeding 3X a night and see what happens. What SOMETIMES happens is that from baby’s perspective – sometimes they cry and you don’t come, sometimes they cry and you DO. So you are effectively teaching them to cry (intermittent reinforcement is VERY powerful). They don’t know what time it is. So while you’re waiting for the clock to say 11:00, they just cry.

              The two ways to get around this are to night wean as soon as you can (seriously – try to kick the 2:00 AM feeding ASAP because you will feel like a human being again after you do).

              And secondly, think about offering a dream feed BEFORE he wakes up at those times. So you sneak in and feed your sleeping baby at 10:45, 1:45, and 4:30. Try putting him back in his crib at 4:30 – see what happens. Hey may surprise you!

              Good luck.
              (PS. I do try to keep up on old posts but I’m waaay behind but I consider CIO to be a “must do” because people are generally in a bad spot so….I try.)

            • Hi Alexis!
              I am in the human pacifier club with Gaby and Elise and have been scouring your site trying to make a plan, gain the courage, to CIO. A friend of mine asked why Im so afraid to just do it and i honestly couldn’t give an answer but just the thought fills me with such anxiety! I’ve put it off again and again for numerous reasons but now I feel I’m at my breaking point and SOMETHING has to change. My little man is now almost 13 months old and has never slept through the night. He wakes up every hour or, if we’re lucky, sometimes 2. I know he’s got a major suck=sleep association because the only way to get him back to sleep is to nurse him (which I do each time before eventually just bringing him to our bed for the night) I’ve been very consistent in that at least haha! The problem is: I don’t really want to co sleep and I’m SO ready to be done with nursing all night long. I find myself getting hung up over what to do about night wakings. He snacks all night (he fills one diaper but rarely do I need to change him in the MOTN) so I understand that he may legitimately be hungry at night but he’s mostly just using me for comfort. Do you think I should try a sippy of pumped milk instead of nursing? Or even just water? What if he won’t take it? Put him back to bed to CIO? Should I, like these ladies, determine certain times to feed him and just let him cry if he wakes up at times other than that? (I’m thinking twice a night at most!) I mean, he’s 1 year old now, he can’t possibly still need night nourishment. Right?
              Some quick background info: he takes two boob naps (that’s what we call them too :)!) 2 hrs and 1-1.5 hrs. Eats well through the day and has dinner generally 1.5-2 hrs before bed. We have a pretty solid routine of bath, books, boob, songs (I DO plan on moving boob to the beginning once we embark on the CIO journey) and he’s generally in bed around 8-8:30. ANY advice would be so appreciated.

  23. hello, i live in Florida, USA. My baby girl used to sleep wonderfully from 7weeks-4months of age for 12-13 hrs straight. (no waking,no feeds,no pacifier). right from 4 months she started waking once on some nights. then i had a two month trip to India (12hrs time difference from US).for the first month she continued her once or no waking at night during the 12 hrs at night there.i tried giving her pacifier or a feed( i know booo boo). her wakings started increasing to 3-4 times a night for a feed.(she was also struggling from stomach upset in those days so i thought that might be it.)but she used to go right back to sleep after feeding.then i came back to USA in michigan. She lived in MI for a month and continued waking thrice at night for feeds. We then used Ferbers approach on my pediatrician’s advice and her night feeding was weaned in a week time. she again started sleeping wonderfully for 12 hrs waking may be once for pacifier. then we moved to Florida in a month.(a week back) now she is 8 months. we put her in her crib in her own room.first we thought its the new house,new room, new crib so we shud give her some time.but its a week of her waking 4-5 times for pacifier at night. she cries and holds the bars of the crib and tries to stand if we dont attend her.(the mattress is low enough, so shez safe ofcourse). but now what can i do. i m so exhausted and ferber technique is no longer working it seems or may be mine and my husband’s patience is so lowered that we just give in and give her the pacifier. Her naps are terrible too.may be a couple naps a day no longer than 45 min. she is cranky most of the day.please help. i need some support (And also sleep).

    • Hey Mansi,
      I’ve emailed you about this but in case anybody is reading and suffering the same struggles I’m going to answer here too.

      The root issue is the pacifier. She’s falling asleep with the pacifier which leads to an object permanence issue and thus she’s waking up all night long. The tumultuous life changes don’t help matters any but the real issue is the pacifier.

      When babies are little they fall asleep happily with a paci in their mouth. Paci falls out. They wake up and the paci is no longer IN their mouths. But it’s not an issue because frankly they don’t remember that it was there in the first place. Older babies DO remember and they start FREAKING OUT. Something mysterious has happened. Where is the paci? Where did it go? Did monsters come steal it while I was sleeping?!? Also she can’t put herself BACK to sleep without the paci so you need to run in all night long and replace the paci. However even that isn’t enough because now she is freaked out because of the Mystery of the Disappearing Paci.

      This explains in more detail:

  24. Thanks for the very helpful information. My 7 month old is a wonderful sleeper at night and falls asleep on his own after bottle, play, bath, book, bed. He sleeps from 8 pm – 6:30/7 am but we are having trouble with daytime naps.

    He was taking about (3) 1.5hr naps during the day (8:30, 12, 4) but the past week has been screaming when I try to put him down. I don’t know if his nap schedule is changing and I should try to stretch his wake time up and only offer 2 naps or what. You mention CIO is not ideal for naps, so I am wondering what you suggest for getting him back on a nice nap schedule. I have tried letting him cry, with turned into him screaming and me crying through the entire nap time. Oy. He is calm as soon as I pick him up.

    Thanks again for your great blog and helpful advice!

    • Hey Kim,

      No he still probably needs 3 naps (although the 3rd nap might get shorter or not happen every day). And that shouldn’t impact nap #1&#2.

      It IS possible that he can stay awake longer. 2.5 hours might be a bit more on target. It’s also possible that this is the 6 month sleep regression (just a tad late).

      How does he go to sleep for naps? Same thing as night time – falls asleep on his own?

  25. Hello, I have a six month old daughter. We are on night 10 of crying it out. She still cries 15-35 minutes every night when we put her down to go to sleep. What are we doing wrong? We are doing full extension. Just don’t want to tourture my child. I was hoping it would be better by night ten! I have studied your website and feel like we do everything…put her down awake, full, and clean…white noise. Any advice? Is it normal for her to still cry like this after so long?

    • I’m wondering the same Crystal. My son wasn’t crying or fussing hardly at all at bedtime for the first 10 nights or so. If he was, it was less than 10 minutes. Now, suddenly he is crying and crying and CRYING at bedtime. I know he’s tired. And we are following all the same things too. Bottle is at the first part of bedtime routine, putting him down awake (and definitely tired). Putting him down around 6pm. With white noise. I don’t know, but I’m really thinking the only thing that could be the issue with my son is that we are still feeding him twice a night. He goes back to sleep great after his night feedings. We have been reducing his bottles by 1 ounce every other night (he was at 4 oz of breast milk). Last night was 2 ounces. He definitely did not seem starving, but still went back to sleep great after his feeding. Friday night would be night 1 with no night feedings. So, full extinction. I know it’s going to be bad, but I don’t know what else to do…..

      Good luck.

      Am interested in Alexis’s response.

      • Melissa,
        I think that sounds like a classic extinction burst (see Why CIO isn’t working) – more so than Crystal. Seriously.

        • I’m thinking extinction burst as well as putting down to bed too late (even though we typically put down 6-6:20pm). So, i figured last night I would give the ridiculously early bedtime a try. And, by ridiculously early I mean, we get home, mommy gets changed into her pjs (b/c THAT is important :) ), we warm up bedtime bottle and start feeding him at 5:15. I put him in his crib a few minutes past 5:30 – and guess what?? He fussed for a few minutes (not crying), then slept……FOR JUST OVER 7 HOURS!!! This is a total milestone for us. So, i was thinking “omg, this is his best night ever…he didn’t wake up around 10pm, like he does every other night to eat, WE DID IT!!! WE DID IT!! Screw all those other parents who CONSTANTLY question me ‘are you sure his bedtime isn’t TOO early'”….and here comes the but…he woke at 12:50am. i fed him his 2 oz bottle (since we are night weaning), I put him back down, he rolls over, I check on him on the video monitor and he seemed like he was drifting back off to dream land. Fast forward 10 minutes and the crying started. And he cried, and cried. And cried. Finally after about 40 minutes, I HAD to go in (i know, i know, BIG MISTAKE, but I couldn’t take it anymore). I calmed him down (he did not fall asleep), I put him back down. He cried and cried and CRIED. After about another 25 minutes, I picked him up again and fed him his OTHER 2 oz, then rocked him to sleep, which he fought with eyes wide open, then I transferred him to his swing. By this time it was damn near 3am. he slept til almost 6:30am…..

          I tell ya….1 step forward, 2 steps back…

          • Hey Melissa,
            I’m sure that you weren’t keen to have a baby who was awake and crying for ages during the night. And I don’t have an obvious answer for WHY that happened. But I don’t think that you were so far off the mark with the early bedtime.

            If bedtime was TOO early he would have woken up later and treated the whole thing like a nap (slept 30 minutes, woken up and refused to go back to sleep for 2 hours). The fact that he slept for 7 hours tells me he was READY.

            So….why did he have such a hard time at 1:00am? Well I’m not sure. I’m wondering if he was really hungry (this WAS a larger window of no food than he was used to). Maybe he had gas. I don’t know.

            But I wouldn’t consider the early bedtime experiment a failure. It’s not clear what happened but there is some evidence that the early bedtime was a winner (long chunk of sleep, no crying). Something to think about?

    • Crystal,
      You don’t give me enough to go on and 10 days IS a long time, but my best guess is that it’s an extinction burst (see link directly below).

      My only other guess is that bedtime is too late – she’s awake too long between her last nap and bedtime. Tired babies have a harder time falling asleep.

      Or she could just be strong willed. 35 minutes is a big long but 15 minutes falls into the “complaining about being put to bed” category for me. Lots of kids will complain for 5-10 minutes EVERY night because they don’t want to leave the party.

      (My own 3 YO is kicking the wall from his crib upstairs to let me know how he feels about his bedtime).

      Hope that helps…

      • Ok here is my update. We are on night 16 and she still cries for 10-30 minutes when we put her down at night. Her bedtime is 8. She wakes up from her last nap anywhere from 4 to 5 o’clock. I can usually only get her to take two naps. Here is my next question. After she finally cries herself to sleep she wakes up an hour later and cries for another 5-10 minutes. She has always done this. Then she wakes up at either 12 or 1. I feed her and put her back down. Sometimes she cries, sometimes not. Then she wakes up again around 3 or 4 and I feed her again. Should I be feeding her that much at night at 6 months? I feel like when she starts crying at 12 and 3 and I go get her that it is putting us back at square one because it is showing her that if she cries then I will come get her. Then on the otherhand I don’t want her to be hungry. We are sticking it out with the CIO at bedtime. Hopeing this is just an extinction burst, but 16 days is a LOOONG time. I just want to know if by getting up with her and feeding her (which she loves…I am one of those human pacifiers that you talk about)every few hours that she is getting confused and thinking all she has to do is cry and I will come in and get her rather than trying to self soothe. I’m reallly wanting to get this night time thing figured out where we can start working on naps! She will only nap in her swing and she is 6 months! Thank you so much for your help, and I agree with others that you should make it where we can donate money to you for your amazing advice. You should get something for helping all of us crazy parents out!!

        • Crystal,
          Here’s what I think:
          1) Bedtime is a bit too late. At 6 months, having her be awake 4 hours is probably a tad too long. I would try moving bedtime up closer to 7:00/7:30 – see if that doesn’t diminish the crying.
          2) 30 minutes is “crying”, 10 minutes is “complaining.” If she cries every night for 10 minutes I would consider that being DONE with CIO. I know you may not feel that way but some babies always cry for 10 minutes at bedtime. She does not yet have the words to tell you, “But I don’t WANNA go to bed!” She will soon. Then the crying will stop and she’ll yell at you instead :)
          3) Is it normal for a 6 month old baby to eat 2X a night? Yes. Could you work on weaning off those? Sure you could. Do I think it’s causing confusion? No. Lots of babies fall asleep on their own and then nurse at night.

          You could try shortening those night feeds a la

          4) She’ll only nap in her swing at 6 months? Welcome to the club! Lots of babies are swing napping far past the point they have settled comfortably into the crib at night. If your goal is to minimize her night crying then you want naps to go as smoothly as possible so I wouldn’t loose the swing just yet.

          Maybe work on it in 3 weeks, see what happens?

  26. Hi Alexis,

    First, thank you so much for your website. I would be the first to donate if you set up a system. Your advice is invaluable!

    I hope I can accurately describe our problem and hope you have some advice even though I think I already know where we are headed (sigh…CIO).

    Our daughter turned 6 months on July 18th and decided the next day to stop sleeping through the night. How nice of her, right? Here is our story:

    She had reflux as a infant and once she was on meds and elevated in her crib she began to sleep 8 hours a night starting at 1 month(zero wakeups except on rare occasions). She gradually outgrew her reflux (I think it was more a allergy that we identified) and continued to STTN working her way up to 11-12 hours with zero wakeups (except for rare occasions)up until she turned 6 months. Yes, for months we considered ourselves amazing parents and patted ourselves on the back for such a sweet sleeping baby who clearly had mastered sleeping, yes we were just plain stupid :)

    Now we are going on almost 2 weeks of waking up twice during the night 1x around 1:30-2:30 and again at 4:30-5:30. Sometimes my husband is able to get her back to sleep by just rocking her and sometimes we resort to me feeding her just so we can get some sleep.

    Here is what you need to know:
    1) 100% breastfed and no formula. We “tank her up” by feeding twice before bed.
    2) She has never used a pacifier.
    3) We are adamant she gets at least 12 hours of sleep each day and are very aware of her being overtired. She needs sleep or she gets cranky.
    4) She goes to bed around 9pm and generally wakes up around 8:30am but will sleep longer until around 9:30am if we have to feed her at the second wakeup. She just doesn’t get tired earlier and is generally her happiest from 6pm to bedtime so I hate to try to force her to have a earlier bedtime and prefer to just wait for her to move up the time on her own.
    5) She takes 2 naps that last around 1-2 hours and a shorter nap around 5pm that lasts about 40 mins.
    6) She already has her two bottom teeth and it didn’t really seem to alter her sleep except for when one of the teeth first popped up.

    So here is what we do wrong but for so long kept her STTN so I never thought it was really a problem:
    1) We still swaddle her and use loud white noise. She won’t sleep long at all without the swaddle, we have tried!
    2) We rock her to sleep. She usually falls asleep after eating then we wake up her to change her diaper, then swaddle her and rock her to sleep putting her down asleep.

    Is CIO our only option? I know she should fall asleep on her own. I’m so scared she is going to start relying on these night feedings and never STTN again. Strange thing is that if we get to her quickly she will go back to sleep quickly with minimal rocking but if we let her stir for too long she wakes up fully and it turns into a full blown cry session and the only way to calm her down is to feed her.

    Can you please help us or just make me realize that I need to just give in and try CIO and hope it teaches her to fall asleep and cut out these night wakings?


    • Lauren,
      First I have to say that I KNOW you have an easy baby. How do I know this you wonder? Well babies who have reflux -or- food allergies do not STTN easily. And 1 month old babies almost NEVER STTN. So the fact that she was able to do so WITH a possible tummy issue tells me that she is fundamentally a pretty happy/mellow kid.

      (You may or may not know this – if it’s your first you may not have a comparison point which is why I’m telling you.)

      Second, I don’t consider the swaddle a “problem.” She’s 6 month old, not fighting it, not popping out, sleeps like a champ. GREAT! Who cares if she’s swaddled? Some babies need the extra soothing. Good for you for giving it to her!

      So clearly the whole rocking thing isn’t working. She’s waking up 2X a night demanding to be rocked. But you know that this will likely just get worse/more frequent. So you aren’t keen to continue on this road.

      If you can’t gradually wean off the rocking (can you try putting her down just 98% asleep? 96%? – rocking is the easiest of the soothing behaviors to wean off. Not to say easy but easIEST.)

      If not then CIO is an option. Which brings me back to my first point – I don’t foresee a nightmare scenario for you guys. Sure I could be wrong and there is no money back guarantee if I AM.

      But your kid is an amazing sleeper. I’m guessing that if you changed her diaper and put her in her crib awake she would complain for 20 minutes and then fall asleep.

      I’m not saying you HAVE to do this, but I’m saying that if you do, my sage prediction is that it’s not a huge deal.

      (Let me know what happens if you do, OK?)

      • Thanks so much for your quick reply. We will try to gradually wean off the rocking as soon as my husband comes home from a business trip this weekend until then I will pray that I can get her back to sleep on my own. I never knew how much I loved my husband until I realized that tonight I am going at this alone :)

        She is a easy baby as long as she is well rested but she MUST have her sleep or the screaming and crying is epic. I think that is why we are lucky that she will sleep later if she wakes up in the middle of this night.

        Hope to see that donate button up soon. Seriously, you might be surprised how many people would be willing especially if we all start having peaceful, sleeping babies because of your advice!

        • Baby soothing is where your spouse really shines :) My husband was good at this but my MIL set the gold standard of baby soothing in our house. She was so awesome when things were SOOO rough that for ever and ever she will have a sparkling star next to her name and can do no wrong with me!

          Ok Ok I will start Internet panhandling. Ugh…it’s too bad Amazon doesn’t have a book fund. Then if people were feeling really generous they could just help pay for my seriously debilitating Amazon addiction 😉

  27. Hi Alexis,

    I know you have a million emails and comments and probably struggle to respond to all of them, and I am yet another frazzled first time mom with a sleep question.

    Our situation is that my daughter (5 months) is still falling asleep while nursing. Which isn’t a huge problem (at this time) because she will stay asleep until around 3am to be for a middle of the night feeding and will fall back asleep (with occasional fussing, but not too bad). She typically sleeps a total of 12 hours sometimes that last 45 minutes-1 hour is in our bed,but for now we accept that.

    So what’s the problem right? Well our problem is that she Will. Not. Nap. Like zero. She is in daycare and everyday I ask if she naps (at this point a 30 minute catnap would be a victory)and everyday the answer is no. I can get her to nap at home… but I literally have to lay there and re insert the paci every time it falls out.

    I know she needs naps. She is super happy when she first wakes up (i.e. after a good night’s sleep) but then falls in and out of bouts of fussiness because it is like she is fighting sleep all day long. I can get her to sleep in the swing on the weekends, but they don’t have them at her daycare, only a crib.

    I just don’t know what to do about it and I feel so discouraged because yes, I have read, Ferber and Weissbluth and Karp and I just don’t know where else to turn. Plus, having her in daycare throws a wrench in the whole thing because I never know if they can reinforce what we do at home there and it also makes for a much more stimulating environment which decreases the likelihood of her sleeping even more! I just want her to get two decent naps a day here, nothing miraculous.

    Any help is GREATLY appreciated.

    Thank you,


    • Oh, by the way. She passes out by 6:15 after her bath while breastfeeding. She can barely function by this time :( Poor little overtired baby!

    • Well Ashley you have two problems and neither are easy fixes :(

      The first is the paci but you already know that. It’s time to loose it. Take the short-term hit to work on healthier sleep associations for the long run. I know – it’s no fun. But there it is.

      The second problem is daycare. I’m a pretty vocal and opinionated person (if you haven’t guessed) so my gut would be to storm in there with the mantle of vengeance and demand they bend to my will! Note: this rarely goes well.

      I figure if you’re paying for a service you are a semi-boss and should get some say in the service you’re getting. At the same time these people have X kids to care for and they can’t spend hours soothing YOUR baby to sleep, popping in the paci, etc.

      I would offer to buy them a swing and insist on a dark space and white noise. They should be willing to work on that (dark space would probably benefit lots of kids there so if they don’t have it, maybe it’s a group discussion). Yes you eat the $$ for the swing and it may not fix everything. But it’s probably the best you can do and it MAY help.

      If it helps, you aren’t alone in bringing an exhausted baby home from daycare. And it blows because now you’re precious baby time is spent soothing a fussy tired baby instead of cuddling with a happy well-rested one. And bedtime is stupid early because she’s so miserable which just further cuts into your baby time. Lots and lots of Moms know your pain :(

      • Thank you so much for your quick reply and feedback. I agree the paci and the nursing to sleep are my two big problems. I just don’t know if I should hold of tackling them until the six month mark? I hate to remove the paci entirely… can you still give it to them for soothing just not naps/sleep? As I type this I realize that there are no steadfast rules and I can do that if I choose to do so. :) But I do value your opinion.

        I have actually made an offer to the daycare regarding the swing, but their hang up is space related. Their space won’t accommodate a swing ergo no swing. Not cool.

        I would like to reiterate the praise and thanks found in most of your comments. I appreciate that you take time to help fellow frazzled moms with their baby sleep woes. You kind of rock :)

        • You can still use the paci whenever you want as long as it’s not sleep related. Why wait till the 6 month mark?

          It may be a painful transition but it could actually help her napping. Daycare isn’t holding that thing in her mouth for an hour so perhaps once you get over the hump of her learning to sleep without it, the daycare sleep situation could actually improve?

          Thanks for the nice feedback. You kind of rock too :)

  28. Hello from Croatia :) We ‘ve tried CIO with our 6-month baby and she starts to choke with her salivate after hard crying. Any advice?

    • Goga,
      Well I guess it depends on what you mean by choking. Lots of babies get so upset that they throwup. And when you throw up (babies, adults, etc.) your body closes off your lungs so that your vomit doesn’t flow into your lungs (as you would drown). However when this happens babies feel strange and they don’t like it so they get even more upset and it can sound like they’re choking even though it’s the body protecting the lungs.

      If she’s doing that then there isn’t much you can do about it. If she is drooling so much that it’s literally her saliva I suspect that it’s the same issue only coming from her mouth rather than her stomach.

      As long as she is still able to breathe (you would know if she wasn’t as the crying would stop abruptly) her body is working as it should and hopefully this will pass quickly. If it’s alarming to you, or the choking is followed by long windows of silence, then it may be time to talk to your doctor about it.

  29. Help me please :(
    After many many months of sleep deprivation & trying everything under the sun, my 8&1/2mo old has landed himself in CIO-city. Last night was night 3. First night cried 50 min. 2nd night cried 25 min. Last night cried 60ish min. (Yesterday I tried CIO for a nap- USER ERROR! I know! I feel awful about it & think that’s why I ended up with a 60min CIO situation at bedtime)
    I am making naps happen today by nursing to sleep (his association) But worry I am confusing him more by nursing him down during the day & then leaving him to cry at bedtime??
    The UPside is that in these three nights, he’s almost slept thru till the morning (gets up at 5) The night he cried only 25 min he was up twice to eat, but that’s a vast improvement over him waking 6, 7, 8, or 9 times a night!
    When should I tackle the nap situation? Should I consider last night as night one all over again because I pulled a parenting fail & screwed up a nap? Or is that already an extinciton burst?
    I committed to full extinction, becuase walking in to “soothe” him made him cry harder/louder/longer.
    I really need help! Thank you for having this website

    • So last night, 40 min crying/screaming & one wakeup at 4am, feed- then slept till 6:15ish… woke up cooing.
      I know this is major improvement over his old nighttime behvaiors- I was just hoping the crying & screaming wouldn’t last so long still at bed time.
      Is nursing to sleep at nap time causing this?
      He also nurses after his bath- I tried nursing before & he just won’t do it :( He won’t latch, or he takes like 2 sips & looks around & plays with his feet or my hair, etc. I am frustrated!
      (so our routine is dinner, bath, jammies, nurse, book, song, bed) I added book & song so he’s not nursing & going straight down, but it’s certainly not 20 min.
      Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

      • last night he cried about 30 minutes, woke up at 2 am for a feed- then got up for the day around 6:30. Stellar, right? Well… tonight we are at the 30 minute mark for screaming & he’s still wailing! :( I even moved his bedtime back tonight by 30 minutes to accomodate the time he spends screaming.
        I REALLY hope I’m not messing him up/confusing him by nursing for naps. Could that be the problem? I just think screaming for 30+ minutes every night is excessive, no? When will this improve? PLEASE, PLEASE someone help!!

        • Hi CC-

          I think you should tackle the naps now. Especially if you feel your baby is sleeping better and better rested.
          I can related– I been putting off the CIO for the night wakings…. debating, when should i start? 1st birthday? And I kept pushing it back and making excuses. we did his first night of CIO last night… it was tough.

          I would focus on his 1st nap… and a start– and if you have to nurse him down for the 2nd (if you you’re not up for more crying in the afternoon) then you can. The morning nap is the easier to establish. Try 2 hours from his wake time– start your soothing routine– and put him down drowsy but awake. keep your nap routine consistant.

          Continue your early bedtime too– it helps to keep them rested, happy and easier to train..

        • CC,
          I think I answered your questions via email but I’m going to throw out a few thoughts here in case somebody else is struggling with the same thing…

          No you aren’t messing things up by nursing for naps and NOT nursing for bedtime. The good news is that different parts of the brain control night vs. day sleep which enables you to have completely different sleep associations for naps and night. The BAD news about this is that doing CIO for night doesn’t automatically solve the nap thing.

          Yes it would be AWESOME to have naps sorted out simultaneously however what I have found is that tired babies cry. A LOT. So that it’s better to do what you need to, to make naps happen well so that you don’t have an overtired baby going into night CIO .

          Most babies give up the goat at 3 days but Yes I do believe this is an extinction burst. Nursing close to bedtime is probably not helping things so I would try to orient his feedings so that he is hungry ~20-30 minutes prior to bedtime.

          Something that is often helpful is to look at the trend line: 50, 60, 40, 30+

          OK not great, I’ll grant you. But it TRENDS in a good direction.

          If you get a chance, check back in and let us know how things are going?

          • Thanks Alexis-
            yes, you are correct the crying times are “trending” downward. Two nights ago it got to only 10 min, I was SO thrilled. Then he hopped it back up to nearly 45 last night. Tonight we’re at 25 already… tick tock… I think he’s definately having an extinction burst. Plus tonight I am going with EXACTLY your sample routine for the first time. There was almost exactly 30 minutes between his last nursing & going into his crib. SO I can see why he’s mad, I am changing the game on him once more. Fingers are crossed that this makes dramatic improvement for him quick. We’ve been using some type of “tears” method for bed for almost a month now :(
            (Started with sit in his room for a week, then did check & console for a week, then I found your website & committed to FULL EXTINCTION which we’ve been doing for over a week now, but I only changed the last feed tonight) SIGH. Hopefully I will have better news to add to this soon…

  30. Thank you for writing this article – sums everything up nicely!

    Like many others I decided shortly after he was born that CIO was not for us. Fast forward 6 months and the longest stretch of sleep I’ve had since he was born is 3 hours – and that’s only been a few times. It started to have a REALLY negative impact on my relationship with my baby so after reading this article AND trying the No Cry Sleep Solution (which fixed our naps at least :) ) I decided that only solution left was CIO.

    Its been almost 2 weeks of CIO and some nights he still SCREAMS for 10 – 15 minutes before passing out. If he misses his afternoon nap he goes down in under 2 minutes. He has also started to fuss during his last nursing session (last thing before bed) to the point where he doesn’t even seem to finish nursing. It feels like he is anticipating being put in his crib and getting upset. He also will no longer play in his crib during the day, even if I stay with him. The moment I put him in the crib he starts wailing :(

    Changing to this method instead of going in every 45 minutes has helped our relationship so much – I am much less impatient with him during the day now that I get a few hours to myself at night – but I’m starting to feel like I’m causing him a lot of anxiety and am worrying that I may be doing some damage :( Any suggestions/insight/etc would be appreciated.

    • He’s now getting up every 2 hours on the dot through out the night?! I am starting to feel like I have truly tried everything and nothing is working.

    • So I am not Alexis, but I feel your pain AM!
      I think a couple things might be going on. (I also have to fix some stuff as well) BUT… here’s what I gather from your post- he’s nursing DIRECTLY before going down? That needs to change according to Alexis’s post. ( I am working on this myself) You need to add somethings (book, song, etc) inbetween nursing & going into the crib according to the above list she gives.
      Also, Alexis states in her post that some babies will ALWAYS fuss/cry for 5-10 minutes everynight at bedtime. I know, it sux. My son is still crying 30+ minutes and we are one week into this….
      I hope you are able to get some answers and sleep soon! It’s so hard, I know!

    • CC is right – 10 minutes of screaming is him yelling at you, “I DON’T LIKE THIS!” Sure you were hoping he would coo and smile at you as you tell him you love him and turn out the lights. We would ALL like that. But few kids are wired like that.

      The fact that he doesn’t scream if he misses the pm nap makes me a bit curious. What time is his pm nap and what time is bedtime? There may be a small timing tweak that might help things.

      Also there are lots of reasons why babies fuss during the last nursing session before bed. Maybe he’s not hungry? Maybe his “dinner” is throwing things off. Lots of people do “solid dinner” before bed which is really filling to calorically empty. This can throw off bedtime nursing and lead to night hunger.

      And also? CC is right on the money – you MUST stop nursing prior to bed! Unless by prior you mean like 30 minutes prior in which case that is awesome. But if it’s “last thing before bed” then I would really encourage you to put some space there.

      Most babies do not enjoy crib playtime and frankly I’m not a big fan. I get the whole “baby learns to hang out in there” concept but it never seems to work that way. Also it sends a bit of a mixed message – is this where he plays or where he sleeps? You put him in there to play and he’s confused – he’s not tired and wants to play so he cries when he’s put in there. Makes sense from his perspective, no?

      The crib should be a safe, dull place where babies go to sleep. Playtime is every OTHER place in the house.

      Why is he waking up every 2 hours? I suspect that nursing at bedtime isn’t helping you. And I bet it’s a bit of an extinction burst (see below). My gut says that there is a timing issue working against you and probably some consistency challenges (nursing at bedtime, how you respond when he wakes up).

      Nobody said having a baby was easy right? Going in every 45 minutes simply can. Not. Continue. I don’t know how you’re responding to the every 2 hour thing at night but my advice is to not respond. I know that sounds harsh but that’s probably what I would do.

      • Thank you for your responses ladies…

        He is still getting up a few times but I have started waiting longer in between or pretending to be asleep (we share a room) and he will usually just fuss for a bit and then go back to sleep. It’s getting much better! I googled extinction burst and that may well have been what was going on.

        He usually goes down for his afternoon nap between 2 – 3 and gets up between 3:30 – 5, typically 1.5 – 2 hours. Bedtime is between 7:30 and 8:30 depending on when he gets up from his nap. I usually get him ready for bed as soon as he starts showing signs of getting sleepy. Eye rubbing is a pretty good indicator with him.

        I think I must’ve misread part of the post on how to CIO because I thought nursing was only an issue if they fell asleep on the breast (he doesn’t) I didn’t realize that if they weren’t falling asleep then they still needed separation – will try that. He has stopped fussing about the nursing so I am wondering if it was another extinction burst type behavior? He was definitely hungry (not eating any solids at night, and barely taking any during the day)

        Also just as a side note I’m glad to hear you say that you don’t think they need to play in their cribs and beds are for sleeping. That was my gut reaction when reading the No Cry Sleep Solution but I brushed it off figuring others knew better.

        Thanks again, this blog has been INCREDIBLY helpful.

        • No dice. Now he’s crying after his midnight feeding. I know that he’s hungry because he fusses and goes back to sleep other times, but around the same time every night he needs to eat. We nurse, I put him sleepy or asleep back in his bed and within 3 minutes he is back up screaming his head off. I don’t know what to do. We share a room so this means I can’t go in to go to bed. I am exhausted and at the end of my rope. I don’t think I can listen to him scream anymore. :(

          • AM,
            OK I’m a bit fuzzy on the details about what is happening here so let me throw out some things and you (who have a much clearer picture) can pick and choose what seems most reasonable to you.

            – At 6 month (ish) I would target a more consistent bedtime. If that means shortening the last nap of the day so be it. His body is starting to produce chemicals that help regulate sleep and having him sleep at a somewhat consistent time each day will help this regulatory system do it’s job.

            – Why do you think he is screaming? Is he a) not full enough for b) gassy? If so I would go to him and help him fill up, burp, or whatever. I’m a bit confused as to why he would scream if you put him down DEAD asleep unless he has a legitimate source of discomfort. Thoughts?

            – Is there a difference in the screaming if you put him down totally asleep vs. happy but awake? Does he do this for other night feeds or is the midnight one the last one? (I hope it’s the last one because at 6 months you don’t want to be up all night anymore).

            – If you go to him how do you help him get calm and fall asleep?

            – If you have absolutely no idea why he is screaming AND he’s 6+ months maybe the answer is just to quickly but definitely wean off night feeding altogether. We can’t always suss out what is going on with babies and nobody has invented a good gauge. If night feedings = screaming and you have NO idea why, then perhaps the answer is to moderate the screaming by getting rid of night feeding.

  31. Hi Alexis: I love your website, and find many of your articles extremely helpful.

    I have a 12.75 month old boy. He’s been self soothing for naps since 3 months, after sleep training using the Weissbluth Method. We saw great success with this… and trained him to self soothe at 6 months for Bedtime. Bedtime took a while– He’d cry for 1 hour sometimes 1 hour and a half. I was all, stressed but knew it’s what is best for him and our family. So now, at 12.75 months he has very little trouble at bedtime– a few challenges with naps.

    We just transitioned him to 1 nap- because he has refused his 2nd nap on and off- for many weeks… and then for 1.5 weeks consistantly– crying though his whole afternoon nap. He’s is doing ok with the 1 nap a day- seeming to be able to hang on in the AM and in the afternoon for a bedtime of 6.

    I guess I am just writing for some support. He has a night waking habit. He’s been breast fed, and would wake for 2 feeds. As he’s gotten older , he usually just wakes 1 time (if he is well rested)… and Last week he slept throught the WHOLE night– and we were so happy. He’s back to his usually ways now– waking 1 – 2 times to eat, and then get back down to sleep. I’m back to work in a few days and after consulting my pediatrician, and the Maternal-Child Nurse… have confirmation that he no longer requires to eat at night.
    Last night was our 1st night of CIO. =( It was hard, but I don’t think I am helping him by encouraging a fragmented sleep by feeding him in the night. He cried for 1. 5 hours …. It’s so hard… but from reading other posts from parents, it is hard a first but effective. How do I keep from pulling out my hair or going crazy when he cries in the evening?

    I used to frequent a blog online– and it was my support group– only to find that it was taken down by the owners, without any warning or reasoning. =( Sorry about the long post , but— I felt I had to vent.. and have no where else to do so online… I hope some of the parent’s that I’ve talked to frequent your Site as well– so that I can maintain some of the connections I’ve made….
    I am dreading Night 2… *sigh*

    • Marie,
      Your blog got taken down? That’s crazy! If you miss it (and it sounds like you do) you might want to consider self-hosting. It’s what I do. Yeah it costs $$ but a) nobody can take it down and b) you can do fancy themes. Admittedly mine isn’t super fancy but I like it :) Anyhoo…something to think about. I’m sure the connections you made back then would be happy to reconnect with you!

      Of COURSE your toddler doesn’t need to eat at night anymore! ANd of COURSE you are ready to be done with this! Going back to work is super hard. Being all things to all people – wife, mother, employee, friend, sister, etc. It’s a near impossible task which will be far easier when you’re not waking up all night long.

      This is a habit. He’s used to it. He won’t like the change in routine. To be honest 1.5 hours is longer than I would have expected. But I’m also really hopefully that night #2 and #3 went a LOT more smoothly.

      How do you keep from pulling your hair out?
      – leave (seriously, don’t feel like you need to stay, let your husband deal) – go for a walk, get groceries, whatever. It’s not like you’re sleeping, right?
      – do something else – don’t sit in bed staring at the ceiling feeling like it’s an eternity. Take a long shower, watch TV, ANYTHING that will form something of a distraction.

      I think people feel like it’s their penance to sit and suffer with their baby. But what does that accomplish?

      Let me know how things are going – generally there is a MARKED improvement on night #2!

      • Hi Alexis… Thanks so much for your response. I wrote up and update under “why CIO isn’t working”…. And yes Night #2 was a good one.

        We’ve had a few great nights, and a few not so great…

        I appreciate your thoughts and advice… It helps a TON. Believe me.

  32. I have a follow up question, and I apologize if you’ve addressed this already. We started CIO a week and a half ago. My son is six months old and we were co-sleeping, until my son was glued to my boob and no one was sleeping. It’s gone well and he’s sleeping fairly well at night (though he’s a big boy and sure likes eating at night).

    While doing this I didn’t change our nap routine, and now I need some advice in this area. Our nap routine is us laying down, nursing, sleep, then I sneak out. However, now he will only fall asleep with a boob in his mouth. He seems worse than ever, and I’m not sure what to do.

    What can you do for nap times after ‘figuring out’ night time sleep?

    • Emily,

      I do need to write a post on CIO for naps. and really that is what you are looking at. He is using you as a human pacifier and has a strong boob=sleep association. You could try the Patley Put down which some people swear by. Personally I’m a bit – meh – about it. Essentially you use your boob to soothe to sleep. Then when he’s really close to sleep you pop him off. If he get’s upset you boob him back up until he’s almost asleep then pop him off again. You basically repeat the cycle until he doesn’t get upset.

      I think it’s potentially a solution IF you are patient enough and IF he doesn’t just demand the boob without sleeping for hours on end. Hypothetically he could pop off the boob, get up set, repeat for an entire hour. How long do you keep at it? In theory when naptime is over you would get up and try again at the NEXT naptime.

      In theory you gradually wean babies off the boob this way. Or you just keep popping them off until they are too tired to complain and simply fall asleep out of desperation.

      Anyhoo I’m a bit mixed on that method but it’s worth thinking about. The CIO nap post is going to take a while – sadly – and it’s not always an easy fix.

      Sorry I don’t have something better for you :(

      • Bummer. That’s kind of what I thought. I’ve tried to pull him off, but he gets so upset. Hopefully we will find something that works. My boobs need a break!

        Out of curiosity, what is the theory behind night CIO and naps? Before trying CIO I researched your blog and others, read Weissbluth, and what was recommended was to get your baby to sleep for naps during the day no matter how you do it. So after you go through CIO at night and they are sleeping better, are naps supposed to naturally occur, without the help of whatever you were doing before (for me: lay down, boob, etc.)?

        PS- Thank you for your response and blog. I definitely needed the advice and reassurance.

        • It’s just that different parts of the brain manage day vs. night sleep. So rocking/nursing to sleep for naps doesn’t “confuse” things at night time.

          Also tired babies cry more so trying to do CIO for naps generally leads to short or non-existent naps which then gives you an exhausted baby at bedtime who will cry WAY more than a well-rested one. Thus I don’t advocate doing both.

          Good quality night sleep won’t automatically fix your day problems but once baby is sleeping well at night then everything get’s easier. Yes you still need to get baby off your boob or whatever, but they’re more amenable to change when they aren’t chronically sleep deprived.

  33. Hi Alexis! Thank you, again, for this wonderful site! You really are very awesome! My baby is almost 6 months old (though she was born almost a month early and so is about 5 months, developmentally). We’ve done the Cry-It-Out and it worked wonders for us! (I posted about it in a reply to my post from around July 16th.) Currently, our baby sleeps from 9/9:30-5:30am. (She’s moved back from what used to be a normal 6am wake up.) She eats then, and goes back to sleep for another 2-3 hours before beginning her day, (continued night sleep, I think). She can then only tolerate about 1 hr 30min of wake time before needing about an hour to an hour and a half nap. That pattern is pretty much daily. From there on out, she usually is awake about 2 hours, but the next nap ranges from 45min-2hours (we wake her if she sleeps past 2 hours). She has an evening nap that used to be 30min to the dot, but now is turning into an hour+ and we often have to wake her at the hour mark, because we don’t want it too close to bedtime. (It usually starts 5-5:30pm.) I’m guessing that she needs an earlier bedtime, especially because lately it’s taken her an hour to put herself to sleep. She goes down seemingly sleepy, then gets all wired and kicks her legs up, squeals, screams, plays,etc. for a full hour (some tears, but not more than a few min. here or there) before she gives out. I’m guessing this is from being over-tired/too late a bedtime for her at this point?? Last night, we moved everything up to put her down at 8pm and she fell asleep at 9, waking at 5:30am (her new norm). Tonight, we put her down at 8 and she fell right to sleep. We’ll see how long she goes. I guess I’d like to 1. Validate that we’re going in the right direction. 2. Ask you if we should remove the evening nap, altogether, or if we keep it, what the latest time is that she should be sleeping till given an 8pm bedtime? and 3. If we continue to put her down earlier and earlier (I believe from what I’ve read, 7pm is the ‘goal’ bedtime for 6mo. old babies and older), I’m guessing she’ll need to eat again? If she wakes in the night with an early bedtime, should I nurse her and put her right back or wait and see if she can settle herself? (She currently doesn’t wake from once she goes down until 5:30am – very blessed!):) I apologize for the lengthy post – I’m just one of those with a lot of words! :/
    Thank you so much for your time, wit, and wisdom. It’s greatly appreciated in this house!

    • I would say she IS eating 1X a night. Her “night” is from 9-8 am. The 5:30 “wakeup” is really just a feed. So if you shift her bedtime earlier (I’m on board with that plan BTW) then she’ll still need to eat 1X a night only that will likely shift earlier too. So maybe she’ll eat at 3:00 am or something.

      You can move bedtime up like you have been or you could start waking her up a little earlier in the morning. This has the effect of shifting everything else up too.

      Does she need the 3rd nap? Probably. Most babies loose it sometime between 9-12 months. It may be variable (happen some days but not others, be short, long, 10 minutes, etc.).

      But you’re right, you want to maintain a consistent (and in your case earlier) bedtime so you’ll cut the 3rd nap short if need be.

      Also you may want to make the shift a little more gradual – try 15 minutes a day or so.

      Hope that helps!

  34. Hi Alexis! Thanks for a great site with great tips. I admit that I haven’t had a chance to read it all especially being as sleep deprived as I am. I am hoping you could help me. I have a 4.5 month old baby who never has been a good sleeper. However she did sleep from 7-12 and then woke up every 2-3 hours till 8 in the morning when she was 3 months. That I could live with. For the last 1 month she wakes up every 1-3 hours all night. She usually only sleeps a 1 x 3 hour stretch too.

    Now my problem is we have done the cry it out to put her to bed and it works! I give her a bath, feed and then swaddle her and put her to bed awake. She cries for 2-5 minutes and falls asleep. When she wakes at night I feed her and she falls back to sleep quickly. But the problem is she keeps waking up! What am I doing wrong??

  35. Hi Alexis,

    I’m bumping this message to this page as the page I posted it on does seem to be getting much action! I hope that’s ok.

    My God. This website is brilliant. I can’t believe you reply to every post. Incredible.

    I have a 6 month old baby who has been a terrible sleeper from the word go. Well not when he was tiny of course (he was just a newborn!) but as we got more used to having a baby we made a lot of decisions that caused us major problems later on. It all came to a head about a month ago when we had been getting up for hours every night and rocking him back to sleep as even the boob wasn’t working anymore. He was waking every 45 mins blah blah blah. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. Anyway we had major success with our version of controlled crying (going in and soothing when we felt the need and gradually going in less and less until we pretty much left him to it) where our little boy basically went from waking every 45mins – 1 hour to only waking once on the first night!! He woke twice on the second but we just stroked his hair for 5 mins and he went back to sleep, then he gradually stretched out his night waking from 2 to 3 to 4 and one night only woke at 5am, then went back down. Excellent…. then it all went belly up. He learnt to roll over from front to back. He’s a tummy sleeper but he can’t get back by himself so he’s waking every couple of hours in the night again looking a bit like a woodlouse that’s been flipped. Plus he just cut a tooth. We keep flipping him back over (he can’t fall asleep on his back, I’ve tried he just screams his head off)I just don’t know what to do as the more I go in the more reliant he is becoming on me again but he just cannot fall asleep on his back. He wants to be on his tummy. I’ve tried ‘practicing’ rolling with him in the day and given him plety of opps to do so but he refuses to practice his rolling skills and saves them for when he’s supposed to be sleeping. CIO worked for about a week and now we’re heading into a living hell again and I don’t know what to do. HELP!

    • I know I answered this elsewhere (yes?) but in case somebody is reading and has the same issue….

      Flipping is a challenge! And it’s one I don’t have much help for :( You’re doing all the right things – giving him tons of practice time during the day. The only option (which doesn’t help your tummy sleeper) is to temporarily put babies in swings because they are strapped in and can’t flip. Otherwise you give them tons of practice time and hope they are fast learners 😛

  36. And another thing… sorry, just thought you could do with more info. We decided to tackle naps at the same time and it worked brilliantly. He went from being a 30 min catnapper to now sleeping about 1 1/2 for 2 of his naps and then a couple of 30mins ones later in the day. His bedtime is 6pm (we would love it to be later but that is all he can manage) He sometimes even has a short nap at 5pm to get him through his bath as he’s knackered by 5.30 and really wants to be in bed then but that means a 5am wake up! Eek. He can only stay awake 1 1/2 to 2 hours max between naps which I know is not very long but he just gets soooo grumpy if I don’t put him down when he wants. It’s just not worth it. Hope that paints a better picture. Thanks. x

    • I’m noodling on how to do a survey about CIO and naps. Because it does work brilliantly for some and not for others and I’m wondering – how many fall in each category?

      Good for you for listening to what he is telling you. So many people try to force some preconceived schedule on their baby or shoehorn them into what is most convenient. You and your baby have good communication going on and you’re adapting to where he’s at. Excellently done!

      He’ll be staying awake later soon. When that happens his morning should shift to a slightly more civilized 6:00/6:30 am.

  37. Alexis – my husband and I just want to thank you for your wonderful site. It’s a source of inspiration & hope to us. We currently have a 5 month old daughter who has never slept well, she has reflux (controlled) and is a stubborn gal (like her mom)! I read and re-read your posts and replies…this is so hard! We are holding our breaths waiting for your NAP post! :)

    Thank you again!

    • I like baby swings for regular babies and LOVE them for refluxing babies (even when controlled!). The angle and soothing motion is really helpful for refluxing kids. And refluxers are notoriously crappy nappers so it might be a great solution to your nap dilemma. She can happily sleep in her crib at bedtime and in the swing for naps. Also? Refluxing kids are often in the swing for naps far longer than their non-refluxing counterparts.

      Something to consider?

  38. Thank you so much! I’m the one crying it out as I write this, I am so glad my husband found your site. We were definitely at the stoic grumpy stage with our 7 month old, who had been getting us up every hour. We’re doing a betterbtime routine now and you gave me the courage to let him CIO tonight! It only took half an hour! It was awful, and who knows how he’ll do tonight, but at least I’m no longer the world’s biggest chew toy.

    • Hey Laura,
      30 minutes is FANTASTIC! I can’t promise that you’re done and that it’ll all be fairies and roses from here on out. But really that is a great start (even though it may not feel like it to you). Congrats on not being the worlds biggest chew toy!

      • We have to travel a lot because of my husband’s work…any advice for keeping the streak (two nights of 9-5 then 5-8:30!!) going on the road?

  39. Any chance you’ll do a CIO naptime edition any time soon? We’re really struggling with a pacifier issue with our 6 month old. I think we’re about at the CIO point for bedtime, but I’m scared of doing it at naptime. He always, always wakes up at the 40 minute mark during his naps. If I stick the paci back in, he’ll go right back to sleep. I used to be able to get two 2 hour naps pretty easily. Now I’m constantly sticking that pacifier back in. Any ideas? I love the long nap thing we’ve got going, but I’m not sure when it does more harm than good… For example, I had to go in 8x in two hours a few days ago. That’s a bit extreme, but usually it’s about 4x. Help?

    • I would keep stuffing the pacifier at naptime (for now) and loose the paci at bedtime fullstop. And let me just say (cuz this comes up a ton) that when you loose the paci at bedtime then it is DONE.

      If he gets sick or has a bad bout of teething or something, of course you can provide loving soothing, cuddling, medication, etc. But when you’re done with the paci they’re GONE. Burn them. Recycle them. Whatever, but no backsliding on the paci.

      Yes CIO for naps is a hot topic and I’m working on it. But it may be a few weeks (unless somebody can offer to come over and play legos with my 3 YO for a few hours ;).

      But while you’re loosing the paci at night (which will probably involve crying) I would keep the nap/paci/shuffle thing going because it’s better to maintain the shuffle for now than have him take short naps and go into a CIO night while super overtired. Good luck with breaking out of paci hell!

  40. Hi Alexis,
    I have to thank you for the wonderful articles on your site. i think I’ve gone over dozens of books and websites, and have never found anything as useful as this site.
    I kind of need your help at the moment. I have the most beautiful and wonderful 11 month old baby girl. During the day she is such a happy well behaved baby I am generally in awe….. However, come 8 pm and she turns into a little crybomb. We have tried everything, and now she just won’t sleep unless she is being held by me or my husband. She’ll sleep if she is being rocked, held, swayed, nursed, whatever…. But as soon as she feels like she is getting out in the crib, she starts wailing. We finally decided its time for CIO. Tonight we did her routine, which she has had since forever I feel, which is
    7.30 bath, jammies, book, nurse and then bed. From what I have read I should move her last feeding. To before her bath, so I’ll try that change tomorrow. Anyways, Even though she fell asleep nursing, as soon as I lifted her to put her in her crib she started wailing, so I kissed her goodnight, told her I loved her and out her in….. An hour later and she was still crying, so my husband went in, rocked her, until she calmed down, and placed her back in her crib. She just fell asleep after another 50 mins. So, in total she has been crying for almost 2 hours…..

    My questions, how long is too long to let her cry? Should we go in at the hour mark, and calm her to start all over again, or should we just let her wail? What else can we do to improve the situation.

    some background info. She naps pretty well during the day, eats quite a bit of solids, will not drink anything except water from a straw cup or breastmilk straight from me. Has never taken a paci, nor showed any desire for a lovey. She coslept until she was 6 month and we easily transitioned to her crib. Since then, she sometimes sleeps, sometimes doesn’t, sometimes wakes up 5 times per night, and sometimes sleeps through….. i used to rock her or nurse her to bed when she woke up in the middle of the night. She has been going through this crying if not held phase for about a month….

    We could really use your help,

    Thank you soooooooo much,


    • Carol,

      Well it’s been a few days so I’m hoping that you don’t need my advice because things have remarkably improved. But here’s what my spidey sense is telling me.

      With older babies (close to or older than 1) what happens is that they are aware that you are trying put them down, sneak out, pop them off the breast (whatever it is that they want you to continue to do that you don’t WANT to continue to do) so they become hypervigillant. They fight sleep and are finely attuned to any motion/movement because they don’t like the surprise of falling asleep WITH you and waking up WITHOUT you.

      Parents see this as “baby fighting sleep” or “baby hates the crib” or what have you. But if you spin it from baby’s perspective – they don’t like the unpleasant jolt of falling asleep WITH you and waking up WITHOUT you, so they need to keep a firm eye on you to ensure it doesn’t happen anymore.

      (This is the root cause of her “crying if not held” phase – other things factor in too, but that’s definitely a big component.)

      Parents get locked into this power struggle and start, what I call, dabbling with CIO. Let her cry a few minutes then pick up, see what happens if we put her down semi-asleep then sneak out, etc. From our perspective this dabbling is totally reasonable – you are testing the waters and seeing what happens. Unfortunately from baby’s perspective we’re teaching her that if we are not there and she cries we will immediately come back in.

      Now you try full CIO (where you AREN’T coming back in because the coming back in hasn’t been working for anybody) and baby figures, “Hey they’ve taught me that if I cry they’ll come back in. Only now they’re not coming back in so I guess I should just keep crying until they do!”

      So I’m not at all surprised that she cried for 2 hours. This is also why I’m a strong proponent of the full extinction method because going in leads to more crying because it reinforces the teaching that has already happened.


      I’m really sorry you had a shitty first night (and yes 2 hours is shitty). But if I could go into my Wayback machine I would have suggested you not have gone in at the 1 hour mark. You never know with babies but I suspect she might have fallen asleep at about the 1:15 mark if left to her own devices. (Since the Wayback machine does not yet exist we’ll never know if I’m right so don’t beat yourself up about this).

      Generally night #2 is MUCH better. As you had a rough night #1, this might have meant 45 minutes for you. Still shitty but a vast improvement over night #1. And night #3 would have probably been 20 minutes. And so on.

      I hope you didn’t get freaked – discouraged although I totally understand if you did. CIO is something nobody hopes for and makes every effort to avoid. But when you get to the point where it’s time for the family to get more/better sleep, the best bet is to commit and follow through.

      • Thank you so much for your reply! This CIOexprience has been terrible! I wish we did have that Wayback machine so that we could go back 6 months or so and do CIO back then, to some it up, the second night we changed the routhine and breastfed her before the bathn and en jammies and a book… Here is what happened…

        night 2, 2 hours 40 min
        Night 3, 1 hour 30 min
        Night 4, 15 min…. And we danced a happy dance, but….. She woke up an hour later and wailed on and off for about another hour
        night 5, same as 4……….

        Currently we are on night 6…. Andthe verdictis still out.

        So, I am actually not sure if this is working, if i should quit for a few weeks and then try again, or what…… Any suggestions would be super appreciated…..

        Thank you sooooo much, this is total nightmare situation!

        • Yep that is pretty terrible. That being said, things are NOW going much better. Let me throw out a little context that may or may not help you feel better about this…

          – Your baby would only sleep while being held, rocked, and nursed. That was NOT SUSTAINABLE. Simply continuing on this path was not an option for any number of reasons. So this wasn’t necessarily a choice, this was something that was fundamentally broken.

          So super yucky but really, what other options were left to you?

          – Three super crap nights, no doubt. I’ve heard MANY CIO stories and I’ll say that is definitely up there on the “worst” list. BUT….

          – The trend line is very positive! MUCH shorter every night. Which may not feel so great when you’re in it but as an outside I can look at that and see huge improvement on a nightly basis.

          – AND the 1 hour “on and off thing” is stressful and obviously you would love to avoid. But I can tell you that this is total extinction burst complaining. She falls asleep after 15 which is great – YAY! Then she goes through 1 sleep cycle and wakes herself up fully because she’s a smart peanut and realizes, “Hey, I was supposed to be complaining about this! I don’t like the change of format here!” But she’s also really tired (there are multiple chemical processes that really make it hard to not sleep at this point). So she COMPLAINS and then drifts off, then wakes herself back up to COMPLAIN the drifts off (rinse repeat).

          This is her last gasp at trying to get things to go back to the way they were. Again – this blows from your perspective but from my side of the world, you are in the home stretch and this is a good sign.

          Will she always cry for 15 minutes at bedtime? Maybe. Lots of babies do. My 3 YO yells at me at bedtime. “MOOOOM I don’t WANT TO GO TO SLEEP!” We ignore him for 10-20 minutes and blammo – he’s asleep.

          He has never once smiled, told me he loved me, and quietly fallen to sleep.

          Anyhoo….I’m sorry this has been so rough. But my suggestion is this – do NOT give up and try again in a few weeks. Whatever you do, this is the worst case scenario. Unless you are hoping to rock and nurse her all night long until she is 3. Not joking. Honest :(

          • HAHAHAHAHA,

            Thank you so much for responding.

            Well then we’ll keep at it and hope you are right! Thank you for the kind words, solidarity, good advice and comical relief! I find myself laughing aloud as I read your website…. which is by far the best I have found on sleep training…

  41. Anxiously awaiting the nap edition. My husband does the naps with our 10 month old and for a few months he had a very easy time getting him down. Asleep with bottle and rocking, in the crib, he’d sleep at least an hour, often 2. Not anymore. Lately poor daddy has been getting him deeply asleep in the rocking chair and then CAREFULLY transferring him, with totally unacceptable success rates. It ruins their days.

    I have bedtime down pat. He goes in the crib happy and awake at the end of our routine, wiggles himself into his favorite spot and goes right to sleep without a whimper. But nap time is a disaster. Is it possible to recreate the bedtime success? We want to try but are at a loss. When I’ve let him cry at nap time a few times (and at night wakings too) he simply does not go to sleep. No need to answer this comment, just adding my plea for the nap edition. Thank you so much!

  42. Hi Alexis,

    My husband and I tried CIO with our 4 month old last night a la Weissbluth. We typically put her down between 5-6pm after a bath/nursing/jammies/swaddle/lullaby/rock routine. We’ve been trying to put her down drowsy but awake for weeks now (after only a little soothing rocking) and she’s just not having it. We tried CIO with the intent of teaching her to fall asleep on her own, not to sleep 12 hours/eliminate night feedings which typically happen between 12-1am and 4-5am and with which I’m totally fine continuing.

    We put her down at the usual time after the usual routine but only in a sleep sack, not swaddled, which I think may have been our first mistake. She played for a full hour, kicking and cooing. Then the fussing and crying began. She would cry on and off, suck on her hands, flail about etc. (which we watched on our video monitor). She fell asleep for about 10 minutes and then woke herself up. This went on for 2 hours straight. So she was in her crib for 3 hours total without us intervening. I gave in after the 2 hours of intermittent fussing and crying (after the first our of play) and swaddled her, shushed her and rocked her for about 3 minutes before she passed out cold and slept until her usual first feeding. Ugh. I feel pretty guilty for letting her fuss and cry for that long with nothing to show for it.

    What are your thoughts? 4 months is too early? Should I have swaddled her? Can I try this again soon or should I wait another month or two? I just can’t figure out how to put her down drowsy but awake and for her to actually fall asleep!!



    • When in doubt – swaddle. This is pretty much a truth for all babies.

      Look nobody is hoping for a 2 hour play/fuss/cry cycle but it was an experiment and you learned something. You learned that if her arms are free she’ll bat herself about the head which makes it hard to sleep. Great – that is great information! Awesome. So she still needs some help with swaddling. TONS of babies are still swaddled at 4 months (mine were for TEN). Use the swaddle, loud white noise, your awesome bedtime routine. What happens then?

      Babies are mysterious. Crying is not ideal but if the whole ordeal gave you good information that helps you be more successful in the future, then take the learning you got and use it. And let us know what happens next :)

  43. Hi, We have a bedtime routine but I’m wondering if I need to change the bottle feeding to BEFORE the bath? As of now it’s playtime, bath, bottle, bed. Our son, 8 months old, is usually asleep by the time he finishes his bottle and I put him in his crib asleep. He has lately, been waking up crying 2-3 hrs after, stressed and upset. I give him his bink and he rolls back over and goes to sleep. He will do this anywhere from 1-4 times a night! Some nights he’ll sleep all night, waking only once to eat (he only ever eats once usually)and then back to bed until 7 or 8am. Other times, I have to constantly console him and offer him his bink. I know he has just gotten his top two teeth so he did have a rough week last week while they were cutting through. But last night, he went down great, then woke up crying 4 hrs later. Should we change it and offer him a bottle before his bath? I’ve been doing this routine since he was 2 weeks old. I’m afraid to change it up now but if that is what we have to do I will. Thank you,

    • I hear that it can be scary to change things. But if you look at what is happening – he’s waking up many times a night stressed and upset – the option of NOT changing things doesn’t seem like a good one.

      I think that you definitely need to put him to sleep AWAKE. Check this out:

      This is you. It’s the “putting him asleep” problem which is probably exacerbated by the paci. The paci soothes him BACK to sleep but then just continues to wake him up later in the night.

      The fact that he wakes 1-4X a night is actually “good” in that most babies in this situation wake up far more frequently. Um….congrats?

      So yeah – it’s time to not give him a bottle until he’s asleep. Ideally what you would do is shift the bottle earlier so that he is awake when you put him down. If that is super duper scary a short-term compromise would be to keep the bottle right AT bedtime but wake him up after he falls asleep. This is less ideal but if it works more smoothly for you it’s a compromise.

      He may protest a lot. He’s going to want to suck to sleep (which is what he’s doing with the bottle and paci) and you’re changing the way he needs to fall asleep. May not but I share that just so you’re not shocked.

      But yeah – that is going to have to happen sooner or later. Good luck!

  44. I have a 9.5 month old who has NEVER EVER had one single night with a sleep issue….until tonight….I am led to believe the care giver forgot to give appropriate naps today….I tried CIO for the very first time….thank you for this article…by the time i was done reading it…I had silence….night 1! 20Min THANKS FOR THE DISTRACTION…that was I am going to bed

  45. Hi Alexis! THANK YOU! A week in to sleep training and we have a 8 month old that sleeps through the night, and cries for about ten minutes at bedtime. We followed your steps very carefully, and feel great that we were able to stick to it. (We’d tried once before and chickened out :) )Best tip: Mom leaves the house. Such a good way to get through the first couple of nights. Before when we had tried I would literally sit on the floor by her door and cry and fret until I would cave and go in to cuddle her way past the time she had gone back to sleep. Reading about the correlation between sleep issues and object permanence really clicked and helped us to decided to stick it out. One question: Baby is now only napping for 30 minute intervals once or twice a day. We are rocking/breastfeeding to sleep, and she goes down very easily, but is fully awake and ready to play within 30 mins. Before we started sleep training, she would take 2 1.5-2 hour naps. Is this just a temporary shift while she gets used to sleeping through the night, or should we be doing something different?

    Thanks again! You are amazing!!

    • Well thank you for the kind feedback!

      So rocking/nursing to sleep leads to short naps. My guess is that what was happening is that she was so tired from iffy-night sleep that she was able to nap longer even though fundamentally the nursing/rocking would throw a monkey wrench in there. Now that she’s actually well rested from the night sleep that monkey wrench is doing what you would expect normally – result in short naps.

      Which blows from hour perspective because you could look at this and feel that you solved one problem to create another.

      But honestly a DIFFERENT perspective was that you had a good napper who was napping well because she was sooo tired. Now she is less tired which is GREAT! The downside is that the object permanence nursing/rocking thing is blowing up on you. But it’s only doing so because she’s not as tired as she was. So on net I’m going to call it a win.

      Good luck tackling the nurse/rock to sleep at nap time. She’s a bit old but because she loves rocking you may have some success using a swing as a transitionary tact. If you already have one anyway (I wouldn’t go buy one at 8 months). If it helps, weaning off rocking to sleep is the easiest thing to wean off of gently (not easy but easIEST).

      Good luck!

  46. My daughter is almost 6 months old. Up until two weeks ago, she slept 9 hour stretches. I would put her to bed around 8 and she’d sleep until 5, which is right around the time I have to get up to go to work. Now she’s up at 10:30, 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00. She usually goes right back down at 10:30 if someone goes in and puts her pacifier back in, at 1:00, I try to let her cry it out, but that lasts 30 minutes and then I need to go in and keep my hand on her chest for her to finally fall back asleep. I feed her at the 3:00 time because I figure she may be hungry by then, and at 5:00, I bring her into bed with me for 45 minutes.

    I’m starting to lose my mind because I’m so tired! I was wondering if you had any advice to offer to help her to sleep through the night.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that when she initially is put down to sleep, it’s never an issue. I try to wake her up a bit after feeding her so she’s put down awake.

    Thanks for your help! :)

    • The issue is that you are nursing right AT bedtime so that she has a strong nurse=sleep association. Even though you are waking her up afterwords the association (in her mind anyway) is there and is strong. This is also – BTW – why the paci at night helps her fall back asleep. Of course the paci is also feeding into the problem.

      So basically your daughter has learned to suck to sleep (nurse or paci) and if you kept her on your boob all night she wouldn’t ever wake up. Of course YOU would probably be pretty unhappy about that scene so I’m not really advocating for that as a solution 😉

      The key is to separate nursing from bedtime by a solid 20-30 minutes. You’re putting her to sleep awake which is awesome but there needs to be more of a gap between her nursing and her going to sleep.

      Also? No more paci. Putting the paci in at night is strengthening the nurse/suck=sleep association which is tripping you up.

      So those two things – nursing right AT bedtime and paci use during the night, are going to have to stop.

      I don’t mean to suggest that any of these things are easy! But that is what will have to change if you want to get out of this pattern of her waking up all night long. Yep.

      • Thanks so much for your help. I think we’re now in the extinction burst phase because she screams now when we try to let her CIO. Looking back, I’m sure we haven’t been consistent enough because a lot of times I cave in and feed her because I’m completely exhausted. I guess at this point, the only thing we do is just let her scream and cry and hope that works – in addition to not nursing her right before bed.

        Wish us luck! This really stinks!!! :(

  47. Hi there – it’s the former Nightly Swingers here again. I thought I’d share an update on our experience teaching our 8 month old to fall asleep in his crib at night and ask a couple questions.

    We are on day 12 of our son falling asleep in his crib! He previously was sleeping in his swing, but required extreme jiggling to actually fall asleep, both at bedtime and throughout the night (yeah, I’m the George Eliot girl). He was waking up anywhere from 3-5 times to either nurse or be jiggled. We said, “No more jiggling!” We did normal bedtime routine, bedtime at 7pm and into his crib. Decided to nurse him after 11pm if he woke up because he was used to eating at night. He cried for 30 mins at bedtime and off an on (<10mins) the first night and now cries around 15-20 mins at bedtime. Hopefully it will keep going down; it's definitely turned into mainly grumbling/protesting, not hard crying.

    But, we still have several questions:
    1) Several nights he will go from 7pm to 4am – which is AWESOME! I've been feeding him at 4am and then he goes back to sleep in the crib
    2 )But, more often he's been waking up at 1am and 4am. I really don't think he needs to eat both times, but he won't settle at 1am unless he's fed. He nurses for only a few minutes so not sure how to do gentle weaning.
    3) Several night he's woken up and cried from 10pm-12am. I didn't want to nurse him since it hadn't been that long since bedtime and I didn't want to reinforce that early night waking, but 2 hours is a long time! We don't feel comfortable with full extinction so we did do brief visits every 20 minutes during those episodes and he finally fell back asleep, but we're not sure if we're responding the best way.
    4) After his 4am feed, he often wakes up again around 5:30am. I refuse to consider 5:30am morning, so we've been bringing him to bed, which we are totally fine with; I just wonder about sending mixed messages – sometimes he gets nursed, sometimes comes to bed, sometimes cries alone. But, we let him cry at 5:00am the other day and he cried for over an hour and everyone was miserable. So, is it ok to consistently bring him to bed if he wakes up ~5am?

    I think overall, we're just wondering how to handle the night wakings. Are we confusing him too much that if it's after 11pm he gets fed but before he's left alone? And that we bring him to bed if he wakes around 5am?

    Finally, we're not sure what to do about naps. During sleep training, I've been trying to get long naps however possible: jiggling in the swing, nursing while lying down with him. But, now we'd like to get him into his cribs for naps. He's always been one to rouse after 40-45mins; I could usually get him to go back to sleep if I jiggled the swing or lay down with him and nursed. So, how do we teach him to fall asleep and stay asleep in his crib for naps? I put him in his crib drowsy but awake for his three naps today. He cried for 20 mins then fell asleep but woke up after ~40mins. I know he's not rested after 40 mins. After the second nap, I picked him up and nursed him and he went back to sleep for another 45 mins. So, what to do? Or don't mess with naps yet?

    Any suggestions are so helpful! Thanks for the encouragement to get him in his crib at night! Evenings are so much better! It's freeing to start to teach him that he's ok on his own! I'm thinking about even taking a yoga class in the evenings!

    • Of course I remember Miss Jiggler but when you say “nightly swingers” my first thought was, “Wow – they have a newborn and are still up to crazy sexcapades?”

      10-15 minutes of complaining at bedtime is OK. Not ideal, but OK. Is he maybe a tiny bit over/under tired? Sometimes a small tweak of timing can fix that stuff. Or he’s just a grumbler.

      Crying for 2 hours is not fun. Nor is having him use you as a human pacifier (which is what happens when he suckles for 3 minutes and conks out). It’s hard because he was getting a TON of soothing motion and now he’s unswaddled in a crib where the only soothing available to him is white noise (which is awesome) and your boobs. But you don’t want to go from one soothing thing (swing/jiggling) to devolving into the human pacifier scene.

      I guess there are a few approaches to consider. At 8 months, a very reasonable goal would be to be DONE night eating (except for the 5:30 thing which we’ll discuss later). So you could do a few compromises:

      1) If he wakes before 1:00 AM you send in daddy/partner. This person doesn’t smell like food and will have better luck soothing to sleep. Daddy does whatever is needed but the goal is to keep it a) minimal and b) less than what happened the night before. Not picking up baby is ideal.

      So for instance if Daddy went in for <10 minutes and used soothing sleep words and gently patted baby's back like a tom tom AND left before he was fully asleep, I would consider that a passable alternative to 2 hours of crying. Does that make sense?

      Any wakings after 1:00 AM are YOUR problem.

      2) You go in whenever he wakes up but he gets no more than X minutes on the boob. Tomorrow whenever he wakes up he gets X-1 minutes. Even if he's just suckling for 5 minutes, tomorrow he gets only 4, 3, 2, 1. If he's still calling for you at this point you're done.

      Which means you let him cry (preferable) or you try the Daddy 10 minute alternative.

      Note: If Daddy going in is NOT working in 10 minutes and is turning into a huge production then Daddy soothing=fail and it's time to consider NOT going in.

      3) I have no problem with you pulling him into bed at 5:30 for some extra ZZZZs. Many MANY people have done this without it turning into a big issue so even though "technically" it's a mixed message, it seems to be one that works for most people.

      I would sort out the night stuff before tackling naps. Unless you're already doing so which I think you are? I which case stick with it. YEs he will cry a bunch and take short naps for a while. This is the path you probably need to take however so if you're already ON it, I would STAY on it.

      Not sure if that helps. You know what will help? Evening Yoga. DEFINITELY do the evening yoga.

  48. So we started doing this about a week ago, after much resistance to the idea of letting him cry. On the positive side, he went into a deep sleep after 45 min… Only a little longer than all my rocking and singing and fast walking routines (which usually involved several failed efforts to put him down, picking him back up, etc). Also, he tended to wake up after an hour from that method, but he stayed down almost 4 on night one

    Only question we have now is, why isn’t the crying time getting any shorter?

    The pattern looks like this

    Day 1 (intermittent visits a la Ferber) 45 min
    Day 2 as above, about 35 min
    Day 3, as above, about 35 min
    Day 4 accidentally nursed him to sleep, he woke an hour later then cried about 25 min
    Day 5, still Ferber, 45 min
    Day 6 full extinction, about 30 min
    Day 7 full extinction, about 30 min

    Other good news is that he’s still a smiley happy go lucky guy in the morning, doesn’t seem to hate us for letting him cry

    We’re not doing a serious effort at night weaning yet, either, so he’s still up about 3 times most nights, nursed back to sleep… Sometimes rocked instead, which keeps him from full awakening ( don’t want 40min of crying at 3am, so we’re hoping he’ll get the hang of this stuff before we go full on into. Night weaning).

    Any ideas about why we’re not getting that nice extinction arc would be most appreciated!

    • Forgot to mention he’s just turned five months old, never managed more than 6 hours of sleep (first time for that was last night when I rocked him back to sleep instead of letting him nurse only one hour after the last time), most often he gets 3 or 4 hours at a time.

    • Ok, so we just answered our own question. Here it is for anybody else who finds themselves in our shoes:

      Day 8: full extinction + eliminated the brief late afternoon nap we’d been forcing on him under the idea we didn’t want him to be overtired. CIO time: 7 minutes

      Day 9: same deal, about 10 minutes

      Day 10: about 3 minutes ( and also managed to do a nap with only five or ten minutes of fuss )

      Sleeping pretty solidly for first 3-5 hours, less so afterwards. We’re taking the night weaning slowly, despite the pressure to keep up with all those Joneses who talk about how well their babies have been sleeping for ten or twelve hours every night!

      • Hey Phil,

        So glad you got your answer! And I’m going to throw out the possible theory that there were TWO things tripping you up.

        1) He wasn’t quite tired enough (late sleep messing up bedtime).
        2) Check and console.

        Again there are no studies that I can find to back me up on this but anecdotally it does seem that check and console does lead to longer/more crying because you’re effectively teaching them that crying will get you to come back in thus rewarding the crying. And this sort of intermittent reinforcement (even though it comes from a place of kindness) its HARDER to break out of then being consistent from the get-go.

        Again I have no science to back me up on that. Just throwing it out there in case anybody is reading this and considering their own CIO strategy.

        • Hi Alexis,

          Thanks for the reply.. And for all your writings in general, which are so much clearer than anything else we’ve read about baby sleep!

          I can see how the consoling thing was more for us than him. He barely registered the first few efforts, and by the end he was pretty much worn out so it probably only seemed like the consoling helped him.

          We were so excited after those two nights that it seemed to work, but the last two nights he’s back to the thirty minutes.

          He didn’t sleep after 1:00pm and was going super over tired crazy by around 4ish, so each day we had a micro nap (about 30 min) in the 4pm to 5pm zone. So we pushed the usual 7pm bedtime back half an hour last night and an hour tonight… But we’re back to that agonizing half hour stretch of horrible shrieking that makes us feel like we’ve left our infant down by the watering hole for the hyenas to eat.

          Any suggestions (from anybody!) on how to deal with this kind of dilemma?

          I get the impression most babies get the hang of this after three or four nights and then they’re good. Not so for our poor little guy. Maybe he’s just very strong willed?

          Our baby is really big for his age (90th percentile for both height and weight), a little ahead of developmental milestones, and very energetic ( jumps up and down at every opportunity), so we’re wondering if that’s why he has such a hard time with sleep and feels the need to eat every two or three hours most nights lately.


  49. Hi there! I love this blog – we’re going to be trying CIO with our six month old. From six weeks she slept great on her own, for 10-12 hrs every night. I just assumed that she would always sleep great. Boy, was I wrong! She never learned to fall asleep on her own, and now, with the object permanence thing, falling asleep and staying asleep is a nightmare…we are up every hour or so. My question is, we are currently living with my parents and all three of us have to share a bedroom. Do you have any tips for rejoining our little one once she’s asleep without messing up the whole thing? I plan on starting bedtime routine at 8:30, with her in bed by 9. I’d like to stay up for another couple of hours and wait for my husband to get home at 10:30, going to bed (both of us) around 11. Suggestions?!

    • If you have room something like a soji screen (sp?) is a great investment. Basically she can’t see if you’re there or not so it won’t be an issue.

      Most babies are actually OK with Mom and Dad coming and going in the night but if you’re worried it’s worth buying one. Also some babies cry MORE if they can see you, “HEEEEY! You’re right THERE! I can SEE YOU!” so sometimes being invisible helps.

      Of course some people feel that baby knowing you are there is actually gentler. And maybe it is, each baby is different. But in my experience having a visual wall to hide behind just makes things easier all around.

  50. Hi I’ve been reading your site and all it’s information as well as everyone’s comments for a week now getting up the courage to do the CIO method with my almost 8 month old. He was a pretty good sleeper before we went on an extended vacation (like 2 vacations back to back) anyways since he’s been back he was waking up every 2 hrs alllll night long. We were (daddy and I switching) rocking him back to sleep. Except around 4am he would fall in our arms but as soon as we tried to lay him down he’d start crying again and this would be over and over for like an hr and a half or 2 hours. Nobody was getting any sleep in the house. (I’d like to mention he is breastfed.) we have an established bedtime routine that starts at 7 with dinner (gerbers) then bathtime,lotion and massage, pjs, story time sing a song then nurse (steps are taken out if he’s more tired) I nurse him in a rocker glider and I try to pop him out before he’s totally asleep and then put him in the crib but he owes right out usually without a fight so I was thinkin maybe he was too “drowsy”. I bought the no cry sleep solution bc after reading some things on the Internet that said crying it out can lead to psychological problems and its cruel and how do babies know the difference between when they cry in the daytime and you come to them and nighttime when you ignore them and make them feel abandoned. So I want to preface my story with I was against CIO. Lol however after I tried the “gentle” way and it dragging out for 2 hours I thought this is probably worse than just letting him cry and then he can sleep! He would cry harder and get madder when I just rubbe his back and didn’t pick him up. So last night after 6 days of not much sleep I put him to Ed like I normally do fell asleep at 8. Well he woke up at 845 (like he was taking snap or something) so I went to him picked him to calm him down. But when I put him back down he started the crying again so I thought its now or never (after reading your articles and posting on fb and getting some thought from friends with kids who surprised me the the fact that they did CIO) so I kissed him shushed him and said night night and left the room went downstairs next to the Monitor to time how long he was goin to cry really trying to prepare myself for at least an hour of it. Let me tell you get support. Bc my sis in law did it (her son is 6 mos older than mine) so I leaned on her. If she was there telling me what I needed to hear I would have maybe given up bc it was heart wrenching to me. I cried too. But he only cried (screamed) for 20 minutes!!!! I was shocked. I even had to go in and check on him and there he was knocked out. Couldn’t believe it was that easy. I was still skeptical lets see how long he’ll sleep for. But he didn’t wake up again until 4am!! Neither my husband nor I slept very well lol I even went and checked on him at 3am just to be sure! When he did wake up I nursed him and put him back in crib awake and he started to cry again but it only lasted 5 mins!! Next time he woke up it was 7:48am!! Another thing I started last night was white noise (I turned on the radio to static loudly. So it’s def working! We have the sleep sheep but yeah. So tonight same thing except to go to bed I left him crying. After reading sleeping through the night by Jodi Mindell it said expect the second night to be worse but he only cried for 4 mins before fell asleep! (I checked on him) he just woke up at 11pm so I’m nursing him now only bc I’m going to go to bed soon and hopefully this will last him all night. Question though if he wakes up again before say 4am do I just ignore him and leave him crying? Do I go to him but don’t pick him up? I’m unsure of this. Also do I nurse him to sleep or put him back awake and let him CIO in the night? I did read not to CIO in the am or you’ll be getting up at that time is that 4am or later that this refers to? Thanks so much for the help!

    • Also I’m aware you say the routine should be boob then 20 minutes of whatever before getting in the bed. How should I transition him from doing the routine the way I’ve been doing it for te past 7.5 months to this new one? I’ve been nursing then laying down in crib “drowsy” (which I’m not sure where the line is there between too drowsy) and how do I get him drowsy enough without the boob?? Every nap every night I use nursing to get drowsy enough or asleep then put in crib. Please advise! Thanks so much!!

      • Just wanted to say last night was a bust. He woke up again 2am, 5am and 7 and then 8:30 for the day. I nursed him at all times. 2 is only one he protested for 4 mins before falling. The other times maybe he fell asleep nursing? I know I did at 7am lol didn’t get back in the bed until 7:48. He’s 7.5 months old an I know he’s teething and maybe separation anxiety also but I don’t know if I should ignore him when he wakes up in the night every time or just sometimes? Will he get confused? Bc I am right now as to what I should be doing here. I don’t want to do the check and console thing bc I know for him just makes it worse. But I don want him to feel abandoned either. Please help! After reason some more of your comments I know it’s the stron nurse sleep association. So should I nurse him with the lights on (how do i keep him awake?) and then play quietly (should he play in his crib w toys and then half hr later take them away and turn off lights and say goodnight or play on floor then half an hr later just put him in the crib turn off light (it’s dim) and say night? Or should I rock him until drowsy (with the lights on) and then put in crib and turn loghts off? Bc right now I been turning off lights and nursing in dark and then puttin him crib. What do you think I should do to disassociate the nurse sleep association in the gentlest way possible! Thank you!!! ~ Smoki

        • Just want you to know you are so not alone! I did cry it out at about the same age you did and I had just a difficult a time deciding to go for it. And I really believe it was the right thing to do.
          Just wanted to say separating nursing from bedtime is an absolute MUST and it was the hardest part for us. My advice: timing is key. Start your bedtime routine a little on the early side, and nurse with the lights ON. You want him relaxed enough to nurse well but NOT getting overtired in the least. We do this step with the lamp on, then after nursing I put him in his jammies, we read some books and play in his room for a while. Then when I see or just feel that it’s time, I pick him up, sing a little, turn off the lamp, and put him in bed. At this point he really knows the routine. He basically dives for the crib when the light goes out, gets comfy, and goes to sleep. It’s a miracle.

          Sadly we are still really struggling with a lot of night wakings despite the magical bedtime success, but my reading here tells me that is unusual. We have not had success with letting him cry for night wakings. I either feed him or his daddy rocks him back down, depending on a million factors that hopefully you won’t have to deal with because hopefully your little guy will just stop waking up so much.

          Good luck to you! You’re doing great!

          • Thank you Kate for your reply! How old is your little one? How long did it take for your little guy to get to the point of diving for the crib? I wonder how come some nights he can sleep from 8am to 4am but others are every 2 hours? This is a tricky science to get pinned down. Lol I’m hopeful though. Thanks a lot for the encouragement it really does help! I’m going to start the new routine tomorrow with boob first then bath an pjs and storytime and then lights out in the crib. I’m going to prepare myself for a lot of crying as he’s never been laid down without being “drunk on breast milk” LOL. Oh man how I wish I found this website sooner!! I will let you know how it goes. Ill consider it day 1 of CIO since I’ve been doing it wrong these past three days. Tonight he was very sleepy at 730 so I could tell he was falling fast so I popped him out and laid him down he started crying really mad (like the breathless cry) but literally a minute and a half later just abruptly stopped. Checked on him 10 mins later and passed out. But I’m anticipating waking up in the night bc he didn’t eat much boob. Thanks again! ~Smoki

            • His first birthday is in 2 weeks. We started CIO at about 7.5 months, had some backsliding a few times which I think was because I was nursing too close to bedtime and he would end up accidentally nursing to sleep. Once I got that part right he went to “dive into the crib” very quickly. We still have some bad nights where he cries a little at bedtime, but never more than a couple of minutes anymore.
              Good luck! If your baby is already capable of sleeping 8 hours straight at least some of the time, I predict you will have great results quickly.

            • Hey MAY wake up again in the night but you just put your baby down awake and he barely cried AT ALL.


          • Kate,

            You are so kind to share your experiences with Smoki and TOTALLY right about the separation. People think that the only thing they have to do is “put down awake” and that really trips them up because baby still associates nursing with sleep and things go MUCH better once you’ve put a solid gap in there.


            • Just wanted to update on the progress thus far. We are now into a really nice routine. Wakes up for the day around 8am naps are at 10am and 2pm both 45 mins to an hour (occasionally 1.5-2) sometimes a short nap around 4ish or later if we’re out and about he falls asleep in the car for a few mins. I have noticed if he doesn’t nap well he wakes up more in the night an doesn’t want to go back to sleep. Vs. now since we started the cry it out at bedtime he goes in the crib avg is 9 mins (except last night not even a peep –I was in shock!) he’s never cried longer than the initial 20 mins on the first day. Anyways, my guy still wakes up 3 times a night. I dont know if this is normal? He goes to bed between 730-830 wakes up between 1130-2 then again at 4am and 7am then up at 8am to face the day. Ive been nursing him each time. (Bc i dont know when/when not to) However I will say I’m still not doing it 100% correctly. I still have to break the nurse to sleep association bc I’m still feeding him so close to bedtime. I just haven’t had the heart to do it yet. But I will tell you it’s helped tremendously with him going back to sleep on his own in the night (I mean we get up and comfort/nurse him) but now when we put him back in the crib he either goes back to sleep or fusses for only a few mins where we use to be rocking him for an hour then try to put him down he’d wake up again so we’d rock him for another hour. It was too much. Now his night wakings are pretty predictable. But I feel like maybe it’s bc of the 8 month regression thing with so many things going on with him (teething, separation anxiety, learning to crawl-everytime he wakes up he jumps on his knees and rocks back and forth like practicing! Lol) so I’m just riding it out for now but still working on bedtime (breaking the nursing association) otherwise everything is going good with it and now I highly recommend it to all parents who are desperate for sleep! I also read supporting the cry it out method or “controlled crying” bc she supports all the arguments with facts to help someone teeter tottering like me and not sure if its the best thing. Thanks for having this site up I love reading about everyone’s owns experiences!!

        • Great news! Sounds extremely similar to the progression we had. A mistake I made: do not start trying to wean off those night feedings UNTIL you have decided to go for it on fully separating nursing and bedtime. Which is definitely your next step when you’re ready for it. You could try making the shift slowly, like start the bedtime feeding when he’s slightly more awake than usual? Leave a lamp on the room and don’t turn it off until you’re ready to put him in bed? Then start adding short book on your lap between nursing and going into the crib? Etc. until you’ve got a good 20 minutes in there.

          My other piece of advice to help you make more progress (since your nights really sound EXACTLY like ours): do everything you can to get food into that kid during the day. Nurse nurse nurse. I am still stuck with 2-3 night feedings for my almost-1-year-old, and we’ve figured out it’s because he really doesn’t eat enough during the day. Too busy climbing things, eating dirt, etc. In his mind day is for play and night is for milk. Sigh.

          Good luck! :)

          • Yes and yes. Also make sure you are gradually shortening the night feeds a la.


            The mistake people make often is they try to gently night wean BEFORE separating the nurse=sleep association. Since you’re well on your way, you could probably start the night weaning. Offering more food during the day is great. Removing it from the night is also great (it helps ensure they’re hungry during the day too).

            Get the night nursing sessions gradually down to a few minutes. If baby still wakes up and they’re only nursing for a few minutes then it’s no longer about food, it’s comfort suckling human pacifier stuff. Most babies will stop waking up at that point but if they DON’T it may be time to send Dad in for some brief soothing and simply keep the kitchen closed in the evening.

            • We did 4 minutes last night on the 2 am feed of doom, and he went back to sleep until 5. Then about 10 minutes of guzzling and back in the crib until 7:15. (Oh and P.S. he did guzzling at 11 as well, of course.)

              Sounds terrible depending on your perspective, but for us it was great! Fingers crossed that I can get rid of 2 am! This kid seriously does not want a sibling ever. :-)

  51. Hi Alexis. I’m almost at wits end. I’m on day 6 of full CIO training and I’m confused if its working or not. Previously my almost 6 month (adjusted age 5mo) son was sleeping in bed with me an I was the human pacifier. He was eating all night evey 45 mins or so but during the day hardly eating anything. One night he rolled off the bed (luckily onto a pillow) which made me decide he has to sleep in his crib. He used to cry whenever I put him in there as he wanted to sleep with me. His crib is in our room. Day on he cried for 45min then slept. But awoke every 2 hrs. He does nap well day 2 was a 20 min cry then again evey 2-3 hrs. I did df him and nurse him once for 3 min only at 430am. Day 3 was similar. He got up at 4 and was chatting away and crying here and there for about an hour. since then not much has changed. He sail awakes at about 1 ish then 3-4 Ish. The 4 am is hard. I let him CIO but he crys then plays then cries then goes to sleep and gets up around 630-7. What am I doing wrong? I do leave the room every time he gets up. But once he is asleep I go in and catch some sleep myself. Help pls ! Am I making him cry for no benefit?

    • Michelle,
      I’m a little confused by what is happening but I’ll try my best to help.

      If he was on your boob all night it’s REALLY hard to know how much he was eating (could have been nothing, could have been 20 oz, who knows!). This does make figuring out when to feed him at night really tough. Given that he’s young (adjusted age is what counts in my book) I’m inclined to go with the “when in doubt, feed” school of thought.

      Unless it’s been a few days and you HAVEN’T been nursing him (I can’t quite figure out which is the case) in which case I would stick with that because you’re already well down that road.

      Sorry if that’s confusing.

      Anyhoo….when babies wake up at 4:00 AM they’re not going to cry themselves back to sleep so really anything after 4:00 is going to require your help to get him to fall back to sleep. Many people nurse and bring baby to bed at 4:00 AM in order to have everybody sleeping the extra 2-3 hours in the AM. I know you are trying to be DONE with co-sleeping/human pacifier stuff but that’s what I would consider your best bet at this age.

      If you’re really opposed you could try nursing him to sleep at 4:00 AM and putting him back in his crib. If you’re giving him lots of soothing (swaddle, white noise) this may work. Putting him in a 4:00 AM swing for the remainder of the morning would be another possibility.

      But I wouldn’t let him cry at 4:00 AM because a) he’s young and b) he’s unlikely to fall back to sleep.

      Hope that helps!

  52. Hi Alexis. I am so glad I found your blog! Thanks for the clarity of information and humorous tone! it’s made me reconsider doing the CIO method because my son is almost 7months old and still not sleeping well.
    I do have a couple questions though and hope you can help me.

    I understand how important the bedtime routine is, however i cannot find something that seems to suit us: I am reluctant to give my son a bath every night because he already has a bit of eczema on the legs and i think a daily bath might make it worse.. also a bath tends to get him excited, as opposed to mellowing him down.
    Reading a story to him? sure, that sounds great but all he wants to do is put the book in his mouth and if i keep it away from his little hands, he get super frustrated. Not a good way to get him to mellow down either
    Lullabies? he honestly doesn’t seem to care for my singing and is totally oblivious to the whole thing…
    So for now I continue rocking him (and singing) while holding him in the carrier but I try to get to the point where he is just sleepy but not actually sleeping yet so I can put him down in his crib awake as you recommend. Would that be enough of a routine at bedtime?

    The other thing is that I kinda do the same for his naps… (minus the singing). Is that going to confusing him?

    Lastly, I know that CIO doesn’t equal to night weaning but I’ve slowly been trying to give him only one feeding per night, generally early in the night. So I wonder if the fact that I pick him up at least once a night when he wakes up but let him cry the other times is confusing to him as well… (he will generally wake up at least 1 or 2 more times per night although he seems to be getting a little better lately — I hope i didn’t just jinx myself here!!)

    What do you think? tks so much!!

    • Your bedtime routine can be whatever is soothing for YOUR baby. It also can be pretty minimal. For example a minimal bedtime routine could be as simple as change diapers, put on jammies, get goodnight kisses from family, sing and rock with Mom. It’s soothing, it’s consistent, you all enjoy it. That’s the only REAL requirement.

      And yes you can do a modified version for naps that’s even more minimal.

      Put him down sleepy but awake. Just make sure he’s actually awake (people get tripped up because they think baby is sleepy but baby is mentally already checked out). Yep that’s the plan.

      Sometimes it can be confusing to get fed sometimes and not others but many babies sort of get it. Plus you already know generally when he’s used to getting fed so that is what you stick with. You don’t mention how you are handling the other 1-2X wakeups but if it’s not too involved you could also continue to go to him the way you were.

      Meaning if you were just going in and rubbing his back for a few minutes and he fell back asleep, you could do that now too. But if you were doing some big involved 20 minute soothing thing then maybe it’s rewarding the wakeups.

      Make sense?

  53. Hi Alexis,

    I’m happy to report we’ve used your site and our 7 month old successfully goes to bed awake with less than 1 min of crying. It took just under 2 weeks, the longest she cried was 24 mins during the training. Thank you so much for this site! I was very prepared and it worked just as expected.

    However, we are facing a different problem. I don’t think it’s directly related to CIO but I had hoped it would go away after we did CIO.

    Here is the timeline:
    – up to 5.5 months she slept great, nurse to sleep then move to crib from 9 pm to 4:30 am, feed and cosleep until 7
    – at 5.5 months she started several things: later bedtime due to not nursing to sleep (would instead fall asleep in our bed later on her own), waking up many times in the night, so we started pulling her into bed with us. Around this time, we had a crazy 2 weeks of events (weddings, meeting family from abroad) so her normal routine was shaken.
    – She caught a cold at this time and was coughing a lot which is what I thought was causing the wakeups
    – Once the cold healed we noticed she was still coughing and it turned out she had bronchitis, which we cleared up with antibiotics
    – Now she’s done antibiotics and she is still waking up several times in the night. Sometimes I wonder if it’s teething, or if it’s just poor habits. She also doesn’t do a great feeding (wriggles around) before bedtime anymore so maybe she’s legitimately hungry (oh, she also started solids in the form of purees at 6 months). But I desperately want my full night sleep back, I can’t take care of her as well as I used to!!

    So here’s where we’re at. We do bedtime as follows: bath, jammies, nurse, stories, sing, crib, asleep by 8 without fuss. Tonight I bottled instead of nursed to see how much she drank and it was 4 oz. usual feeding for her is closer to 8, although I haven’t bottlefed her much since starting solids so that number may have changed. She wakes up around 11, 2ish, and then constantly and cluster feeds from 4-7. The actual times vary and are unknown because I have been bringing her into bed at her first wakeup and letting her cosleep so I can get sleep. I have tried nursing her and puttimg her back in her crib and I’m too tired to stay up listening to her cry when I know she’ll sleep in our bed.

    Any advice for getting her back to the full night’s sleep? I didn’t need to do any training to get her going through the night when she was younger, thankfully. I was hoping to at least understand what the issue is, since she had been able to go through the night for so long. It’s been 6 weeks of 3+ wakeups and I’m getting very drained!

    • I think two things are probably going on: solids and habit.

      Solids are great because when you’ve been BF for months its AWESOME to have an option that doesn’t involve you. However solid food is very low calorie very filling food. So often people feeding their baby solids actually reduces their caloric intake during the day. Does that make sense?

      Also a solid dinner could be the reason your daughter isn’t so hungry at bedtime and only eats 4 oz. And yes 4 oz would be considered a snack at 7 months and that totally explains why she’s hungry again at 11, a scant 3 hours after bedtime.

      As for the cluster feeding from 4-7 I think this is largely habit. It’s fun, soothing, etc. Why would she choose to sleep in her crib when co-sleeping and human pacifier mommy are available?

      I think it’s awesome that she’s going to bed in her crib without protest. And I have no issue with you guys cuddling from 4:00 am – 7:00 am as long as it’s cool with you. But I would definitely rethink her eating to get rid of that 11:00 PM feeding because she ABSOLUTELY is capable of going more than 3 hours without food. Rethink her eating during the day. Gently wean off the 11:00 PM feeding and be done with it. If she slept from 8:00 PM – 4:00 AM that would be reasonable yes?

      • Wow. I never thought about solids giving empty calories that don’t keep the baby full. I always thought of it as the opposite, but you’re so right! These purees just don’t fill her up! I’ve taken your advice and avoided solids after 4 pm, and the 11 pm feeding is gone! I didn’t need to wean her off it, I just needed to fill her up exclusively with breastmilk t her 7:30 feeding. Thank you so much!

        And after 3 weeks of solid CIO training, she now consistently goes to bed awake and doesn’t ever fuss. It’s amazing and very liberating… A no-stress bedtime routine!

        She does wake up between 1 am and 4 am for a feed, but I don’t mind. I believe that will go away over time, and if not then I’ll wean her off it.

        Any recommendations for how to establish stress-free, successful naps? I’ll scour your site now as well, but currently am struggling. She’s 8 months and needs to be nursed, driven or walked to nap. I’d like to get her napping in her crib, self settling and sleeping for longer periods at a time!

  54. Hi, so our lo now 28 wks has always gone to sleep great by himself but then woken-attempting CIO with him! He was getting paci when he woke-never any other time in day tho-at 10:30pm he mantra cried/cried/shouted for 40. He is now shouting-has been for an hour since 2am-is this working? Do we just wait it out?

    • Hey Sarah,

      It’s hard to say because I don’t have much to go on. Did you give him the paci and/or nurse to sleep at bedtime? What you do at bedtime is REALLY setting you up for the rest of the evening so it’s key that you set the stage there. Is he used to eating at night? If he’s genuinely hungry & used to eating he’ll definitely cry a lot and I would be inclined to feed him. If he’s simply seeking the paci then no, I wouldn’t go in.

      Anyhoo – hope that helps.

      • Thank you for your response! I think this is why I’m confused-he goes to bed wide awake on his own no paci, not feed to sleep rocked etc-he falls asleep independently for naps too. We just seem to have random night wakings-sometimes we don’t at all tho. He seems to do 4-5nights all thru then will wake at different times-last night it was 2:30-he fussed for 40mins then got v upset and I gave him his paci and wrapped his arms (he was v reluctant to give up the swaddle!) I just want to help him (and us) get better sleep! I thought as he settles to sleep originally he should be able to resettle at night-but sometimes he just can’t :-(

  55. Twice now, I have said to my husband, “Alexis says…” and I love him for know who this Alexis is. Yes, at least 90% of my brain power is devoted to getting my family to sleep. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not totally nuts! haha

    We’ve followed your instructions on CIO and have had much success. It took 7 nights of 30 mins of crying and then suddenly night 8 and 9 were 1 minute or less. woohoo! Thank you so much for your information. We couldn’t have done it without the confidence this site has given us that we’re doing the right things.

    He does wake up at 5 am — the early wake time you mention. I nurse him and then put him back down. But- how do I best do this? He isn’t tired enough to CIO at 5am (bedtime is 8pm) but needs lots of comforting. The swing alone isn’t working. Can we use the paci at this time or is that a big no-no? We’re still using it at nap times and hoping that one of these days we’ll figure out the 45 minute nap mystery too.

    Also, once we have some sort of normal expectations for night time sleep. What’s the protocol? If he wakes crying, let him go for a few minutes. But, if it’s out of the ordinary, do we check on him and or comfort him at all? Going forward, what’s a good game plan?


    • I’m still staggering at the idea that somewhere in the world somebody actually says, “Alexis says….”

      I can’t even get anybody in my own HOUSE to say that!

      30 minutes is actually pretty good. It lasted for many days but is a low number of minutes so YAY!

      The 5:00 AM thing is a bummer. Are you sure he still needs to sleep? Is bedtime too late? The first “go to” piece of advice for a too early wake-up is to push bedtime earlier. If he were already going to bed at 7:00 I would blow that off but depending on when the last nap is, 8:00 might be a tad late. Something to think about anyway?

      If it’s about soothing (you don’t mention his age) but swing, white noise and swaddle would be my first choice. If you’re not getting anywhere then I don’t see any problem using the paci JUST at 5:00 AM.

      The 45 minute nap mystery is actually the paci right? He’s waking because the paci falls out no? So the key to break free would be to ditch the paci. Easier said than done, I know. The post below may (?) be helpful?

  56. Oh, baby boy is 6 months old next week.

  57. Thank you for this article it is fantastic. Last night was the first night I let my little boy cry it out (prior to this he used to only co-sleep which was really lovely but resulted in neither of us getting much sleep.) it was probably one the hardest things I’ve had to do I felt like my heart was being torn out and with so many articles on the interet slating cry it out I felt like such a failure but after 1 hour exact of crying my little boy fell to sleep for 8 hours straight I’m glad the first night is over I’m hoping tonight the crying will be half the time or less! And this morning I have one happy and alert little baby who has managed to sleep better than he has ever before I really can’t see where people are coming from by calling people bad parents for trying this the method has been used for years and has not caused any lasting damage to millions of people. It is difficult enough for parents to hear their babies crying like it is the end of the world without people being judgemental. Thank u again for your article it spurred me on when prior to reading this I probably would have given up after 30 mins xxx

  58. I appreciate being able to laugh while dealing with this zombie crappy hate my husband for breathing sleep situation. Thanks for that! Our just 7 month old daughter could not self soothe in anyway- struggle at bedtime frequently up in early evening from crib till we gave in and nursed/rocked/ then coslept. I just love choosing what boob to use based on which shoulder was in less pain. When she started waking up 2 weeks ago at 4:30 AM and despite boob, bed etc. and couldn’t get back to sleep I knew it wasn’t the million other things my mom likes to worry me with- she just simply can’t self soothe. I was definitely conflating nightweaning and CIO- so I was reluctant to try until reading your site. I understood to not nurse her until her “normal” time- though she didn’t really have such a schedule but it was typical 2-3 times after 12:00 PM until 7:30 while cosleeping…

    1) So we started CIO on Saturday it seemed to go very well at first. First night 30 min crying with Dad checking on her. Then only a few wake ups a few times before 11:30 and fell back alseep after a few minutes of crying. Slept until 3:50! So I nursed her sitting up in her room and she of course woke up crying after being put down in the crib. I let her cry for 10 minutes or so but we were venturing into the early morning wake up so I just let her come into bed- where she then slept untill 7ish again!

    2) Last night we did the same routine (nurse, book, song, LOUD white noise) and she cried for slightly more- but then had way more wakeups. She woke up right at my “deadline” 12 so I wasn’t sure but nursed her and let her cry for 10 minutes or so till she fell asleep. Again feeling like a champ… Then… she was then up at 2:30 so I nursed her but she wouldn’t fall back alseep cried off and on – till 4:00 ish… this was torture …so I eventually got her to cosleep and slept till 7 after a little nursing.

    So my questions are:

    – I wish we had done the swing a while ago- is 7 months too late to try the swing for after night nursing? Will it mess up going to bed in the crib? I don’t have a swing but willing to do to solve this as she loves rocking and sleeping in her car seat

    – Nursing? No time seems like a good time too early/ too late. Not really sure what to do to get her back to sleep with it. Should I not be giving in at 4 am to co sleep?

    – Am I just stressing out too early and we need a few more nights? Getting worse always feels worse though…


    • I’m having a similar problem one the first night baby slept (after crying for an hour) 8pm-4am I then took him in to co-sleep and he slept till 8am. 2nd night (half an hour of crying) he woke up at 12am and then again at 3am again took baby back in to co-sleep. third night (5mins of crying) 4am this time I got up with him. fourth night (30 mins of crying) woke up at 2.30am let him cry it out but cried on and off till 4am so again got up. So my question really when will he sleep through and stop waking up at an ungodly hour? Am I doing more damage by getting him in to co-sleep as this is the habit I’m trying to break? And what am I doing wrong why can’t he drop back off once he wakes up in the night? Starting to feel like a bit of a failure :( (Baby is 6 1/2 months old and doesn’t have any feeds through the night)

      • Ha! 2:30-4 is TORTURE. We are feeling good about the going to bed part- crying has decreased steadily and anything before 12 Am/ 1 ish wake ups get self soothed in a few minutes of crying. Wish there were no early evening wakeups but its not horrible. I just can’t get her back to sleep after nursing now- even with cosleeping… the crying seems to wake her up a lot. I resorted to the carseat at 3:30 AM (1:15 ish nursing which stupid me hadn’t gone to sleep BEFORE I need sleep training too)!

        The Ped. had put her on Zantac- I am not really sure she REALLY has reflux I think they were grasping at straws when I described what i now realize is common going to bed bad behavior…Who knows.

    • Here’s the deal….

      Co-sleeping is the HARDEST sleep association to break out of. I think sometimes I sound really anti-co-sleeping when I’m not. If you’re happy, I’m happy. As long as….
      a) It’s safe (often it’s not)
      b) Everybody is happy (Dad on couch for a year is not cool)
      c) You have an exit strategy

      And c) is where things break down because there often ISN’T an elegant exist strategy. So getting out of co-sleeping without tears can be a near impossible task.

      Figuring out when to nurse a baby who has been glued to your boob is a real challenge and you muddle through. Which, it sounds, you’ve been doing masterfully. Kudos!

      Here’s the deal with the early AM thing….

      Babies will often wake up in the early AM. They’ve had enough sleep to protest. A. LOT. But it’s not reasonable to get up. So what do you do?

      1) When they’re little (< 6 months) you can often get through the early AM with extra soothing (swaddle, swing, etc.). 2) Some older babies will wake up at 4:00 AM, nurse, and happily co-sleep till 7:30. In which case all is wonderful. IF however, the 4:00 AM co-sleep/wakeup starts to creep earlier (and it sounds like that is happening to BOTH of you), then you have a problem. Because this road leads back to.... full-time co-sleeping. I don't have a great answer for you. I DO know that an early bedtime often helps and I strongly encourage you to experiment with that. LOUD white noise should always be used. If the creeping continues you may need to CIO at 2:00 AM. Will this be ugly? Yes. It's an ugly few days. Baby has enough sleep to really fight sleep at this hour. Also? You've rewarded the crying by co-sleeping which, although not your intention, is what has happened. Ideally my recommendation is that whatever you are weaning off of with CIO (nurse to sleep, co-sleep, rock to sleep, pacifier, etc.) you are DONE with. Because this sort of, sometimes you get X sometimes you don't, can become an intermittent reinforcement of the crying :(

      I wish I had a better, quicker, easier fix to share. But....I don't :(

  59. I need some help figuring out where I’m going wrong here. I DO put my 8-month-old baby down awake at naps and nights and she falls asleep on her own sometimes with a good bit of crying and sometimes with minimal crying. But she STILL wakes up from naps 30 minutes in from every nap and when left to cry it escalates to a point I am not comfortable with. You know, the screaming bloody murder. She does this at her first night waking too. So after the short nap I just go get her and she’s a grumpy little overtired girl. Then afternoon nap comes, rinse and repeat. Bedtime comes and she goes down fairly easy after rocking, nursing, singing but STILL AWAKE when she goes down. She wakes up anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes in and at that point I will nurse her to sleep and either put her in the crib or bring her to bed with me if she is not entirely asleep when I’m ready for bed. She ends up cosleeping with me ulitmately either way. Which I am comfortable with and have done with my older 2. However, I wouldn’t mind having her stay in her crib all night. The only thing I can think of is I should separate the nursing and rocking a little further from the actually laying down in the crib. The night nursing really isn’t a problem for me. I can handle the nights….it’s the short naps I can’t. I think she’s getting fine night time sleep. So if she’s going down awake as it is, why won’t she do it again?? Do I need to let her scream bloody murder indefinitely? PLEEAAAAASE ADVISE!

    • Hey Meghan,

      I guess there are two separate things going on here (I think).

      1) Your baby takes short naps. So you put her down awake at naptime (yes?) and she falls asleep for 30 minutes with some (?) amount of crying. Then when she WAKES up she cries some more, yes?

      OK Letting a baby cry when they wake up almost NEVER results in more sleep. I’m not saying you can’t try this out now and then but rarely does it result in actual sleep.

      If you are:
      a) putting baby down awake
      b) providing age appropriate soothing (8 months= white noise)
      c) not letting her stay awake too long

      AND you get short naps, then you’ve done all you can do. Yes separating nursing FROM naptime a bit will likely help. As will consistency (at 8 months it’ll help to have her napping at the same time every day with the same bedtime routine).

      2) You ARE nursing to sleep and co-sleeping. I think you know that but it wasn’t clear? Because you talk about putting baby down awake but that ISN’T what is happening at night.

      At night she’s taking a 30 minute nap in her bed after which you bring her into bed with you and nurse her down to sleep for the night. You also say you’re totally OK co-sleeping and if so, there is no problem, right?

      However I will say that if you are nursing her to sleep, EVEN if you’re cool co-sleeping, you’re going to have a really hard time getting out of night nursing. Which, given that you have 2 older children, becomes an exhausting slog at some point. Again – not judging, just throwing out a friendly warning.

      Because fundamentally you AREN’T putting her down awake at night. Do you follow me?

  60. I am on 2nd night of the extinction method now. My baby boy is still screaming as I type this. He has been at it for the past one hour. It is heartbreaking and I feel like I’m going to rush in anytime now.

  61. He is a week short of being 5 months. Is he too young to be learning to sleep using the extinction method? Last night he cried 25 minutes before he settled to sleep. Then woke up 45 minutes and cried for 1.5 hours. Is this too much? He went on to wake up 3 times throughout the night of which I nursed him back to sleep. I guess I wanted reassurance that I am not harming my baby but can someone tell me if I’m doing anything wrong here!

    • Hey Nemisara,
      I can’t tell you it’s a mistake or not. I don’t know the circumstances that led you to this decision. If you determined that this was what was needed to make a significant improvement in everybody’s sleep then is it right now to stop? 1.5 hours of crying is what it is. It’s done and behind you now. Tonight should be less. Not -zero- but less than that. If you feel in your heart that this was the wrong decision or the wrong time then go with that. Personally I’m not concerned but I’m not the one who will have to face more crying tonight.

      If you feel that it WAS a mistake, I support that too. But WHY was it a mistake? Did you misdiagnose the fundamental issue? Is there some external factor (ear infection, teething, etc.) that makes now a “mistake”? Or is the issue that you feel guilty and want to quit now only to revisit the same situation a few weeks from now.

      Because THAT would be a mistake.

      Hope that makes sense,

  62. Hi Alexis

    My boy finally stopped crying after 1 hour and 50 minutes followed by 1 hour 40 mins of sleep. He cried when he got up and it was time to feed so I nursed him back to sleep. He sleeps in my room in his crib. So I’m not sure if tonight is going to be better, yet.

    My baby used to be colicky. Being a first time mum, i did not realise this until he was 3 months old. Afterall, he did not cry for 3 hours everyday but we sure tried soothing him for more than 3 hours every single day to minimise crying. So we tried everything, walking, bouncing, rocking, nursing. Whatever it took to minimise crying. As a result, he basically lived on me and so we co-slept in our bed at night so i get to sleep too. When he was 2.5 months old, it became too much for me. I was very tired, mentally and physically, more so in the day than at night. I then realised that he wasn’t getting enough sleep in the day. So I enforced naps, still bouncing, and kept his awake time to 1 hour 15 mins. That went on for some time and the bouncing was breaking my back. So after some reading, I went with the baby whispherer easy routine and shush pat method. I needed help and so i waited for my husband to be home to do this. He goes away for work routinely for a couple of weeks each time. Shushing, patting, swaddling and dummy worked great for naps. My baby now at almost 5 months, naps beautifully at 9am, 1pm and 3pm between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours on the average.

    Back to the present, after reading the book by Dr Weissbluth, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, I came to realise that consolidated sleep is more important than chalking up number of hours. My baby is now waking up every 2 hours after his 4 months sleep regression which, he was getting up every hour to hour and half at night for 3 weeks. He never slept longer than 4 hours normally anyways but I feel that he should be able to do that now. At least I thought I ought to try teaching him how to! I have the Weissbluth app and looking at the sleep charts upsets me as it was then very clear that his sleep has been very fragmented.

    Thank you for your reply. It gave me confidence that what I am doing now can’t be a mistake. He isn’t teething nor ill and you are right about me feeling guilty letting him cry in the room alone. As I sat longer and waited for his cries to stop, I started to doubt my decision. Now after writing all the above, I am now reminded of the reason why I decided to teach him to sleep all over again, in hopes of him learning how to self soothe and to achieve consolidated sleep, 4 hours for now and I will be the happiest mum.

  63. Hi Alexis,

    We tried CIO ( extinction method) with our 5 month old but had to abort when 20 mins into crying, our baby rolled over from back to tummy and started getting really upset as she doesn’t yet know to roll herself from tummy to back. My husband and i were both worried about the risk of SIDS and decided to stop right away. What do you suggest to do in such a case? Try again later? Thanks!

    • Mariam,

      Why are you concerned about SIDS? Was your baby swaddled when she flipped over? Because yes that IS a concern. Or was it simply because she flipped over at all?

      It’s really hard for me to comment on these sorts of questions because I don’t really have the full picture. I would give your baby plenty of floor time, tummy time, etc during the day to practice flipping in both directions. Typically when a baby has mastered flipping on their own then you leave well enough alone. If they flip over, they flip over. You still ALWAYS put them down on their backs but what happens after that is up to them.

      If YOU’RE concerned I would definitely talk to your pediatrician about it – that’s what they’re there for!

      Am I concerned about her flipping? Not really. If however she’s getting so amped up feeling stuck that YOU feel it’s not going to lead to sleep then yeah, maybe wait a few weeks, give her lots of practice time during the day, and try again.

      • Thanks for your response Alexis. To answer your question, no, she was not swaddled when she flipped over. We were worried that she didnt know how to roll over to lie on her back (instead of her tummy) and thought if we let her continue to cry it out she might fall asleep but with her face down in her mattress sobbing away, and were worried about the risk of suffocation and/or SIDS. Since then her tummy time has increased during the day, as we try to give her practice to flip over both ways. She’s still not there yet though…and we’re trying to figure out the way forward from here. We would like to give CIO another go perhaps in a few weeks, once we’re confident she knows how to flip both sides.

  64. What am I doing wrong? My baby has never been a great sleeper, but she’s been getting progressively worse over the last two months – she’s now 7 1/2 months old. She wakes up at least every three hours – it’s been more like every 1 1/2 hour for some parts of the night. She used to coo herself to sleep at the beginning of the night, but then we went on vacation and she hated her pack n play, so the vicious cycle of co-sleeping and nursing to sleep every night began. Then nursing to sleep stopped working – I’d spend an hour trying to get her down and she’d wake up on her crib transfer or 20 minutes later.

    Two weeks ago, I reached my breaking point and re-trained her to fall asleep on her own at the beginning of the night (using your advice). Bedtime routine is bath (sometimes), pajamas, nurse, book, song, bed. Bedtime is 7 pm and i start the routine at 6:30. She mostly falls asleep on her own now within 10 minutes of me leaving the room, or at least calms down. If she screams for 10 minutes, my husband will check on her as he’s able to pat her to sleep (I can’t, generally – if she sees me, she wants nursing). BUT she’s still waking up all the time at night. First waking used to be at 1 AM, then midnight, then 10:30, now frequently 9 or 9:30. If she wakes up before I’m in bed, my husband will go in and pat her back to sleep, but she still tends to wake up again an hour later. At this point I break and end up co-sleeping and nursing all night. I’ve tried nursing her in her room and putting her back in her crib, but she resists. I have a long commute and don’t have the energy to deal with a screaming baby all night. I tried last night to let her CIO a bit from 10 to 11 (with checks), but just ended up with an angry, exhausted baby.

    Help? We need more sleep.

    • I know why the nursing to sleep stopped working but that’s not really your question so I’ll skip it.

      Basically she’s eating a ton at night. She’s crying because hungry babies don’t easily fall asleep. I suspect you’ve got 2 things working against you:
      1) She got USED to eating a ton because of the co-sleeping constant nursing. Who knows how much she was eating? I don’t. But I’m going to guess it’s, “a lot.”

      2) Also if you’re working she may simply be not getting enough calories in during the day. Lots of babies this age are distracted nursers/feeders (who can eat when there is so much to do!). Also most prefer Mom to a bottle (BM or formula) so she may be eating “just enough to get by” and then tanking up at night when you’re home.

      How much does she eat during the day? I can almost bet the answer is “not much.” Say 10-12 oz?

      So you’re working against habit and hunger. Habit you can wean off of. Hunger needs to be addressed by getting more food into her during the day. Back off on solids because that is a low-cal option and you want her getting LOTS of calories during the day.

      How you handle making night nursing less appealing is up to you. One option is to pump at night too and give her a bottle so that it’s not really preferable to the day. I know this isn’t awesome for you but it CAN work.

      If you want it may be worth finding a good local IBCLC to talk strategies with. Because I think you have a food problem moreso than a sleep/CIO problem.

      • Sigh. Yeah, this sounds about right. She doesn’t eat a whole lot during the day. It was nightmarish getting her to take a bottle to begin with, so I know she’s not going to be a fan of taking one at night. And she won’t take one from me. My husband is not going to like this plan.

        • We went through a bad phase like this a few months back with our 1 year old. Seems like there is a whole club of us working moms here whose babies want to get all of their calories at night, and it’s really hard. Personally I refuse to pump at night after pumping all day, although if that seems feasible to you it could definitely help. If not, I just wanted to share that for us, step 1 to reducing this problem was setting a firm 3 hour limit on when the first feeding would be. If he woke earlier than that, I would sternly inform my husband that he was up to bat. Sometimes it took him a LONG time to get the hungry kid back to sleep, but I inisisted and he did it. After a few days of this, kiddo would stop waking up before the 3 hour mark. We went through this routine probably 3 different times before those 1-to-2 hours after bedtime wakings were really and truly over.

          However, when he stopped waking for the first time before at least 10-11:00, he settled into a 3 waking pattern, like 11, 2, and 5. Once that was more predictable I was able to wean that middle feeding and now we are down to just 2 feedings and starting to work on dropping to 1. A long slow process for sure. Maybe there’s an easier way, but it might involve more midnight screaming than I can handle.

          Crucial to all of this is convincing your daytime caregiver to make it his or her mission in life to feed baby as much as possible during the day. Good luck!

          • Excellent advice/support Kate – thanks so much for chiming in!

          • Thanks for all the advice! We started doing that a little bit when I began to refuse to go in before 10 and made my husband do it.

            Somehow, miraculously, my baby slept almost all the way through last night! A couple things changed. A) After many attempts to get her attached to one stuffed animal or small blanket or another, I gave her the one I’ve been using as a nursing cover. She got a nice two hour nap using it (which is way longer than normal, at least if I’m the one insisting on a nap and not her nanny). B) When she cried at 9:30 last night, I set a timer and told my husband to wait before checking. He wasn’t happy about it (he’s the jelly parent), but she fell back asleep in 7 minutes. And then she didn’t wake up again until 4 AM. I feel almost human this morning. And I have today off, so I can spend all day nursing.

        • P.S. Another thing I noticed in your comment: if bath is at 6:30 and THEN nursing, with lights out at 7:00, you might not have quite enough time between nursing and bed? Maybe try getting some or all of the nursing in BEFORE bath, or adding a bunch more stories and songs in between? Her refusal to go down after eating in the night if she’s not fully asleep suggests that there might still be nurse-to-sleep association going on.

  65. Hi Alexis,

    My husband and I stumbled on your blog a few nights ago when we hit rock bottom with our son and his frequent night wakings and short naps. He was using me as a human pacifier and didn’t want to sleep anywhere but glued to my boob or in my arms. We started your method and am happy to report that he has slept through the night two nights in a row (for 9 hour stretches). He cried the first night for 1.5 hours and the second night for 1 hour – hoping tonight he continues to cry for less time. We did have a question. We read your post about keeping baby awake too long and for the last month have been trying to put our son down for naps at 1.5 or 3 hour intervals. We are unsure whether or not to put our son down for a nap in the evening as he doesn’t seem to go to bed for good until 9 or 10 PM and his latest afternoon nap usually ends at around 4:30. There is some debate on this as our family seems to think we should keep the baby up for a long stretch before bedtime but I am concerned about making bedtime that much harder if he is overtired. We have tested out both approaches (putting him down for a nap in the evening at around 6:30 or 7 and keeping him up but it isn’t clear to us what works better for him since he has had such a troubled sleep pattern up until the last couple of nights of CIO. Would you have advice for us about whether we should put him down for an evening nap (1.5 or 3 hours after his last afternoon nap) or whether we should just keep him up until bedtime at 9 (he doesn’t seem to go any earlier regardless if he has had a nap or not). I should mention that he does exhibit signs of tiredness in the evening. Sorry for such a long post but wanted to give you as much background as possible. Your blog is excellent and has really helped us!

    • CK,
      How old is your baby? It’s really hard to say without that piece of information.

      But I will say this:
      – It’s pretty unusual to have a baby who is up for either 1.5 hours OR 3 hours between sleep. The exception to this is generally the last period of being awake in the day. Meaning that babies are generally awake LONGER for the stretch of time just prior to bedtime.

      But unless he’s a newborn you should have a more consistent(ish) period of time he’s awake between naps.

      So I’m wondering if there isn’t some element of “overtired” from his flexible nap schedule that isn’t messing you up a little bit?

      – Artificially keeping babies up for long stretches doesn’t help them sleep better, it makes them tired and cranky and sleep LESS well.

      I don’t know where this “keep them awake longer” myth got started but we all need to end it. Please – spread the word, OK?

      Also having a very late bedtime (9 or 10 at night) isn’t so great unless he’s a newborn as newborns DO tend to have very late bedtime. If he’s 7-8 months old my vote is that bedtime is TOO late and I would gradually start to work on an earlier bedtime.

      Check out the post below (bedtime what time) as this may be helpful to you?

      • Hi Alexis,

        Apologies – our son is 5.5 months.

        What would you suggest is the ideal interval to be up between naps (1.5 hours)?

        Also, have you posted anything on naps? Now that we have bedtime under control he seems to be regressing on his naps. He is sleeping more during the day but what used to work to get him down is no longer working. He wants to be nursed to sleep and in my arms. Any suggestions?

        Thank you so much for your advice! It has been a game changer for us and restored my sanity. Now we can fully enjoy our bedtime routine!


  66. Hi Alex,
    I came across your blog tonight while starting the CIO method (3 month old) recommended by our Pediatrician. She suggested CIO going in at 30 minute intervals. We are suppose to dream feed her at 10ish and continue the 30 minute reassurance during night wakings. We tried last week, it was awful. I only lasted one night because I was so exhausted I could not bring myself to listen to the crying the next night. She woke at 11:30 and cried, fussed, quiet off and on until 3:30 then slept an hour woke for 45 and cried and slept another hour and I practically ran in at 6 am.
    So here we are again, committed to finishing this time. Put her down at 6:30 she fussed, was quiet and cried a little for 30-45 minutes and was asleep within minutes of my first check. Last time I only had my husband go in but he wasn’t home at her bedtime tonight so I went in. We did the dream feed at 10 and here we are again, her waking at 11:30, it’s 12:40 now and she has been crying off and on. I went in after the first 30 minutes hoping for a miracle like bedtime…to no avail! :(
    My biggest question for you is my daughter will only sleep (for significant periods) in an Ergo during the day. Pediatrician told us to tackle naps at the same time, though I am seriously wondering if that is wise since she is likely to be soooo tired tomorrow and during the training. What is best? I am so sick of second guessing and questioning everything I am doing. Also, not a huge fan of the dream feed because it seems she wakes sooner than she would normally. Usually, between 12-1 then 2 then 4 and up at 6. The Dr. says the dream feed at 10ish is to get her metabolism right and have her peeing less during the night? I questioned just going in and feeding her ONE time when she wakes on her own, but she advised against that. She is/has been a baby attached to my boob as well and immediately wakes upon removal.

    HELP, I want this to be over!

    • DC,
      So what are you trying to change with CIO? Is it the fact that she’s nursing a ton at night? I ask because hungry babies will cry a LOT. And what I’m guessing is that your 11:30 – 3:30 crying session was really due to the fact that she was hungry.

      Listen – I’m not judging nor am I a pediatrician. In fact I have no medical training whatsoever. So take whatever I have to say with the knowledge that your pediatrician is a trained experienced medical professional and I am not. But here’s what I’m thinking:

      1) Your baby sleeps from 6:30 – 12:00 at night, a decent 5.5 hour stretch. This is great for a 3 month old baby! Then he eats 3X a night, every 2 hours, until morning.

      That is a lot of feedings but not what I would consider “excessive.” Lots of 3 month old babies eat 3X a night.

      But I’m not totally insensitive – it’s a GRIND. And there are ways to gently wean off at least one of those. But I’m not sure that the dream feed is the answer? Nor, potentially, the CIO.

      2) If she IS hungry, your 30 minute checks aren’t really going to accomplish anything. As you’re observing, hungry babies aren’t easily soothed. Although…

      3) You don’t mention it but at 3 months you CAN offer a lot of soothing. Are you minimally using the swaddle and loud white noise? That would be my FIRST suggestion for spacing out night feedings. Instead of not CIO I would be more of an advocate for giving her LOTS of soothing when she’s asleep, doing whatever you can to tank her up with food during the day, and gently weaning off at least 1 of the night feeds.

      If you feel that she has a huge need for sucking, a pacifier might help too.

      And if you’re feeling desperately exhausted it might be time to let Dad give baby a bottle at 2:00 AM or whatever. I know some nursing Moms are anti-bottle but I think a little bit of formula here and there is a wonderful sanity-saver.

      So to sum up what I would do is:
      – skip the dream feed
      – keep putting baby down awake as this seems to be making progress for you
      – give TONS of soothing to your sleeping baby a la swaddle, white noise, and maybe a pacifier
      – feed baby at midnight-1
      – wean off the 2 am feeding by gradually reducing the time of nursing
      – use a bottle of formula here and there to maintain your own sanity
      – tank her up with food during the day
      – find a good local IBCLC for more strategies to get things moving in the wrong direction

      Not the answer you were looking for but there it is. Let me know what you think, OK?

  67. PS Should just one person be doing the 30 minute checks, can we switch off? What is best? I do ALL the soothing and have a much stronger bond…which is why I thought dad would be best initially but now I am wondering if it is better for me to go in…or if it matters?

    • Hi Alexis,

      My husband and I are so happy to have stumbled upon your blog. We are on day 6 (yes, 6) of CIO and we thought we were having some success, but tonight has been the worst night of all, save night 1. Our week has gone as follows:

      Night 1 : 1 hr, 22 minutes of crying, minimal fussing throughout the night
      Night 2 : 53 minutes of crying, minimal fussing throughout the night
      Night 3 : 32 minutes of crying, minimal fussing
      Night 4 : 46 minutes of crying, minimal fussing
      Night 5 : 27 minutes of crying, minimal fussing
      Night 6 (tonight) : 34 minutes of crying, slept for 12 minutes, 54 more solid minutes of crying – I’m terrified at what the rest of the night is going to look like!

      I’d assumed by this point we’d have better/more consistent results :( Though the overall progression seems to trend downward, tonight has been extremely disheartening. Our daughter can wail, and I mean wail. People have commented on the it it’s so powerfully gut wrenching. I’m not sure that I can deal with another week of training. It’s heartbreaking! I’m wondering if we’ve made a mistake. Have you heard of training taking so long or set backs such as these almost a week into the process? Should we press forward or re-evaluate?

      For a bit of background : We’ve been using Ferber’s progressively increasing interval checks – his timing recommendations exactly. Our daughter is almost 6.5 months old. She’s exclusively bf and we’ve still been doing 1-2 feedings when she wakes (after being asleep for at least 4 hours) as she basically used me as a pacifier before and we didn’t want to abruptly wean. She’s never been a good sleeper – we’ve used swaddles, pacifiers, white noise, dark room, rocking, wearing, etc. from the get go in order to get her to sleep for any extended periods of time. At the point we started sleep training, she was waking hourly snacking and needing the boob/swaddle to sleep. She would start in the crib but would always end up in our bed by midnight or so out of sheer exhaustion on my part from my hourly+ trips to get her.

      Anyway, guess I’m looking for some guidance/reassurance we’re doing the right thing. Thanks so much, your blog has been such a helpful resource through this trying time!

      • I can’t say exactly what is going on because, well, I don’t have Baby Telepathy. But what I THINK is going on is a combination of the following:

        a) Extinction burst stuff…

        b) Ferber is reinforcing the crying. Read the link below (Ferber vs. Weissbluth smackdown).

        I have no scientific evidence to back me up but PLENTY of anecdotal evidence. The Ferber “gentle” method rewards the crying because you keep coming back in thus it leads to far more crying. Read the post below. Think about it. Maybe it’s time to switch methods?

        • Thanks for your response…I apologize for responding to another’s post. I’m glad you found it! We’ve taken your advice and haven’t checked on her the past 2 nights. We’re still having INTENSE crying beginning about 5 minutes prior to us laying her down and then for ~30 minutes after. It never let’s up until she passes out – Level 10 on a 1-10 scale. I feel like she knows what’s about to happen and is resisting it with all of her might. Have you heard of these outbursts before sleep? Like between feeding and bath and book and bed? Our routine is very consistent, has been for months, and is very soothing in my opinion. But it’s impossible to lay her down drowsy but awake when the screaming has begun. The only thing I can think of is she knows she’s about to be left OR she’s overtired. Her naps are a mess. She’s never been a good sleeper on any level – daytime sleep included – despite our efforts to remain consistent. She usually takes 3-4 30ish minute naps per day. If I lay with her or allow her to continue nursing throughout she’ll sometimes take an odd 1 – 1.5 hour nap. Would you attribute our lack of success to this possibly? I wanted to wait to tackle naps until night time sleep was sorted. But maybe in our situation it would be best to just overhaul everything? I’ve read EVERYTHING on sleep and I just feel like I must be missing something.

          • What time is bedtime and just how crappy is the nap scene?

            I’m inclined to go with – she’s too tired. That rings more true to me than anticipatory crying. Again, no baby telepathy so that’s just a guess. Fill in some deets and I’ll try to make a suggestion on bedtime?

            • Ideally we would like to have a 730 bedtime. For now, 7 is the norm. Sometimes 645 on days where her daytime sleep is terrible. She just can’t make it beyond that. And we’ve been consistent with this prior to sleep training as well.

              Since her wake up time is all over the place, we really don’t have an exact time line. She generally is put down about 2 hours after her last nap since she wakes 20-30 minutes after falling asleep (my theory is she has trouble connecting sleep cycles). She just never seems super rested. If I had to try and provide a sample schedule, it’d be something like this:

              630 : wake
              830 : nap
              900 : wake
              11 : nap
              1120 : wake
              130 : nap
              145 : wake
              400 : nap
              420 : wake
              7 : bed

              These times are flexible, of course! With of course play times and walks and all sorts of stuff in between. The last nap is iffy…sometimes the third nap is just pushed a little later and the last nap proves impossible. We’ve tried everything to extend her naps. We’ve tried lengthening her wake time a bit to try and get her to nap less frequently but in greater time increments. No luck so far :)

              We broke the swaddle/pacifier at night but are still swaddling during the day as it’s the only way I can get her to sleep at all and you said naps are vital. We use white noise at all sleep times. And prior to training we rocked and nursed and bounced and did anything in our power to get that precious sleep! I know baby telepathy is not your thing, just trying to get an outside perspective :)

  68. Alexis,
    Thanks for your response.

    I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear, but I AM putting her down to awake at bedtime. It is at night wakings that I will allow her to nurse BACK to sleep.and she has gotten so used to it that sometimes she can’t go sleep nursing…and doesn’t settle until i put her in her crib. As far as the night nursing/cosleeping is concerned there is really no problem. i mean, sure, I look forward to a full night’s rest one of these days but I can manage this temporary phase as I did with her older brothers who now sleep (mainly) in their own beds till a reasonable hour (most days).

    It’s the short naps i can’t get a handle on. Any other advice?By the way, they have improved. I can sometimes get an hour on the first one. The 2nd is almost never more than 30ish minutes.

    • If you’re putting her down awake AND not keeping her up too long (or too short although that is rare so I doubt that is happening) and providing age appropriate soothing (which at 8 months is largely just loud white noise and possibly a lovey) then you’ve done all you can do.

      Stay the course. Don’t let her cry for more than a few minutes AFTER she wakes up (occasionally babies will rumble a little and then fall back to sleep but it sounds like this isn’t happening for you). Keep an eye on how much sleep she’s getting each day to make sure she’s not overtired.

      And think positive thoughts 😉

  69. Dear Alexis,
    I really don´t know what to do and would be very grateful for your opinion on my´way of handling CIO on my baby of 7,5 months.
    Tonight I started doing CIO for the 3rd time!
    The first time it worked after 3 nights (but it involved a lot of crying, sometimes 1,5 or 2 hours!). After the first time there was a regression. When she woke up at app. 5 AM I would feed her. After a few nights she woke up at 4 AM and gradually she woke up several times a night and in the end she wouldn´t fall asleep at bedtime anymore. I tried CIO a 2nd time (a few weeks after the first time) (again, lot´s and lot´s of crying) but fortunately 3 nights of suffering and I got her back in a routine. I she woke up at night (only 1 or 2 times… it felt like a luxury), I didn´t let her cry, soothed her immediately and she fell back to sleep. But again…gradually she woke up more often, last nights every hour, sometimes half an hour and didn´t want to sleep again. She is definitely teething (the first teeth), so I thought I should comfort her, hold her, give her some milk, sing songs,… but I have the feeling she gets used to it so fast! As she wouldn´t go to sleep at bedtime again (sigh…) I started CIO again tonight. 1,5 hours of crying and now she´s finally asleep. Sorry if my story is a confusing but my big question is: what if she will be sick or is in pain… I will have the urge to soothe her again but I´m so afraid she will get used to it again and I will have to start all over with CIO (again).
    Thank you so much in advance for your answer and your thoughts!

    • Nele,
      I hear in your voice/post (yes your voice does come through) that you are feeling sad, guilty, worried, and tired. And you are not alone. Nobody feels good when they do this. Everybody worries, “Is this the answer? Am I doing it right? What if my baby needs me?”

      And the answer is, “I don’t know.”

      But I can tell you are a gentle soul. And so you are getting stuck back into all night wakeups because your gentle soul is telling you to go to your baby whenever she wakes up. Now normally I would say OK – that’s who you are and that’s OK.

      Except that from what you’re telling me, that pattern of behavior is leading to more and more crying. So we need to change something. We can’t change the baby – babies are babies. They do what they do. The only thing we CAN do is change what WE do.


      You give her loud white noise. If you can get your hands on a night vision monitor, it may help bring some relief to your gentle soul.

      If she’s teething, medicate. If she’s hungry, gently wean. But the key for you is to be consistent about putting her down awake. Because it sounds like things quickly get out of hand so the gentle soothing you genuinely want to provide is blowing up on you.

      These may offer some help for the teeth and weaning.

      But I think it’s time to come up with a plan you can be consistent with so that you DON’T have to do CIO 2 weeks from now. If she’s teething, give her some medicine. Babies get teeth all the time. It sucks. But don’t let that draw you back into the cycle of night waking, OK?

      Not sure if this answers anything. Hope it helps.

      • Dear Alexis,
        Thank you so much for your reply and your kind words! You describe perfectly how I´m feeling… I read the links you mentioned and indeed, they are very helpful! Tonight my daughter was awake every hour but without crying she went back to sleep immediately! Progress! :-) I´m planning to be consistent from now on and take your advise into account for the teething problem! I really hope things will get better! My daughter means everything to me! I´m a single mom (my husband suddenly died when I was 6 months pregnant) and it´s just hard sometimes, not being able to share all those happy moments (my daughter is a very happy, easy and sweet baby during the day :-)) and also, not being able to share the hard nights…
        Thanks again for your blog and your advise! I will read it again and again! :-)

        • Nele, I’m just another reader and another tired mom but I wanted to tell you that I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband. You are obviously a wonderful mother. My heart really goes out to you parenting alone after such a heartbreaking loss! I wish you and your daughter the best.

  70. Oh wow, am I thankful that I came across your fabulous site tonight! I just read every comment above. Our 5 month old guy has been a terrible sleeper his whole life (used to get only 8-10 hours total per day even as a newborn), and at 4 months was still waking up 3-4 times per night before basically waking for good and being inconsolable at 4am. I nursed him at every wakeup but he barely ate except after 4/5am, so I don’t think he was really waking up out of hunger. We did CIO just after 4 months at the advice of our pediatrician, and the first night he cried, on and off, for SIX HOURS. My husband and I were both crying, the on-call pediatrician told us to not go in, but I was losing it so I just gave up and fed him. The next night, mercifully, he cried for 45 minutes before sleeping straight until 4am; the third night was 20 minutes, and from then on, no crying at all at bedtime. Success!
    However, we have two new problems. First, he still wakes up every day at 4am, and letting him cry/fuss doesn’t work–he will just keep going until I get him at 6, and I hated doing this. So I started just getting him when he woke at 4, feeding him, and putting him right back down. Some days he’ll go back to sleep until 7, but some days he’ll fuss on and off until I cave in at 6, and that feels awful. I was just dealing with that, but with the time change, now that 4am wakeup is 3am, which I can’t handle. What do I do? Second issue, is he’s always slept swaddled; since doing sleep training we’ve left his left arm out so he can suck his thumb, and this works well. But last night he learned how to flip onto his tummy, so I can’t let him stay swaddled anymore. He flipped over tonight then fell asleep on his tummy, so I just went in and took off his swaddle, but I’m worried he won’t sleep well tonight–it’s not really weaning from the swaddle, just stopping it. Any help in weaning off his swaddle? He really needs it, especially for naps. Any feedback on the zipadee thing?

    • Serena,
      1) When babies flip you’re done. It sucks, but there it is. The good news is that when babies organically flip onto their tummies they generally sleep better. So this may actually work in your favor?

      I have -0- information about these so-called swaddle weaning products (Zipadee, the merlin magic sleep suit, etc.). Some people swear they are amazing so if you have the money it may be worth a shot? No promises though :(

      2) I think CIO was a rough slog for you guys because he was genuinely hungry. I also would have stuck with the pediatrician’s advice but in hindsight, I would have focused on “put down awake” at bedtime and gentle weaning for the feedings. Just sharing in case anybody is reading this and/or it comes up again?

      3) The early AM wakeup is generally a mess for everybody. CIO in the AM almost NEVER works. I mean you are welcome to test the waters now and then but if every single morning he’s just crying for 2 hours then it’s not working. So where does that leave you?

      At 4 months I would go with “more soothing.” If he goes back to sleep in his crib at 4:00 am – GREAT! If not, I would swaddle him and strap him into a swing. Use LOUD white noise when EVER he sleeps. The loud white noise may be enough to help him sleep at 4:00 am but on days when it’s not cutting it? Try the swing. Or co-sleeping. But I would work with the swing.

      Because nobody, and I mean NOBODY, wants to get up at 3:00 AM right?

  71. Hi!

    So first the VERY good:

    My son is 6.5 months old and we have been following your CIO instructions for 6 days. He used to wake 2-5 times a night to eat, for the paci, rocked back to sleep, etc and he was nursed to sleep every night.

    Now he goes down fully awake (about 7pm) and only wakes once to eat. He might fuss a little at various points but it only lasts a minute or two and I do’t go in. He usually wakes to eat around 2:30 and then goes right back to sleep…until 5:30.

    If I feed him then, he will usually fall right back to sleep and sleep another hour or hour and a half. One morning I tried to let him cry when he woke at 5:10, but went and got him after 40 minutes and fed him. He stayed awake after eating that time.

    Last night he slept 7-4! Hooray! I thought for sure he would sleep in more, but he woke up at 5:30 on the dot. Even though I knew it really shouldn’t be hungers, I nursed and brought him to bed and we had to wake him up at 7.

    My question is: should I count my blessings and not worry about 5:30 wakeups and continue feeding him and bringing him back to bed to get the extra hour or should I try to let him cry so he learns to sleep in? And thanks for all of your tips, our lives are so much better now!

    • Yes.

      Yes you should feed him at 5:30 and do what you can to encourage him to sleep till 7:00. He is unlikely to fall back asleep at 5:30. As long as this doesn’t start to inch earlier on you, and you’re cool with co-sleeping for a little extra morning sleep then it’s all good yes?

  72. Hi Alexis, I love your site and want to thank you for breaking it all down in one easy place.

    I have almost 7 month old twins and we have had some sleep troubles mostly with my son. I am still not breathing easy, but in the last two weeks, we have broken swaddles and put babies down awake with minimal crying. We had some sickness early this week, but for the past 3 nights we have had no wake ups! But…they both seem to want to wake up between 4am and 5am for the day, and are both wanting to be held constantly, so there is a lot of crying. This is not ideal because Mom and Dad need to get ready for the day starting at 5am. We put them in their cribs at 7pm. They have slept beyond 6 before, so I know they can do it. Is there anything we can do to get them to sleep an extra hour? I know above you say it’s temporary. Any experience or advice?

    • Bree,
      Nobody wants to cuddle cranky babies at 5:00 AM. I really don’t want anything to do with cranky babies AT ALL but definitely not at 5:00 AM.

      There is no easy answer. 5:00 AM is a 10 hour night which could be their norm. I suspect however that you are right & they would do better having an 11 hour night and sleeping till 6:00. How can you get that extra hour of sleep?

      People seem to have the best luck with one of two ways:
      1) Bring them into bed with you at 5:00 AM to co-sleep for the hour. Not an option as YOU are up. But it is an option.
      2) Try the swing. Maybe swaddle too (OK to use then but not the rest of the time so you aren’t going BACK to the swaddle the rest of the day). Swing, swaddle, white noise at 5:00 AM might very well buy you that extra hour.

      Good luck with your running goals!

  73. Hello Alexis:
    I’ve been reading some of your posts, there is just two questions: 1.- when is a good age to start CIO???. 2.- My mother in law told me that I never let my child cry because he makes him insecure in the future, so is that true????
    Thanks for your help and for all those posts with so much and great information for thise never ending work (Being a parent).

    • Hey Elisa,
      You can find everything I’ve written on CIO here:

      Which includes what age I think is OK and what I think about the CIO research (hint: it does not support what your MIL thinks).

      I think the bigger question than age is a) what is going on with your baby and b) what are your expectations? For example I don’t support CIO for younger babies because they NEED your help falling asleep and staying asleep and they legitimately NEED to eat at night. So somebody who tells me they’re using CIO to get out of night feeding their 4 month old is usually making a mistake. However when your 9 month old is waking up constantly then you probably have an issue that would respond well to CIO.

      Check out the stuff there, I think it’ll help!

  74. I love your sight, and you have made me 95% confident than CIO is the route for my 6 month old little dude. (The other 5% will just never be ready, so don’t think you’re missing anything information-wise) My final question before we begin (tonight!) is do we break his swaddle? While he does NOT love the act of being swaddled, he REALLY doesn’t sleep well without it. We could kill 2 birds with one stone here, unless you think that will just make it even harder for him, and therefor, us. We have one of those crazy Merlin sleep suits that we could transition to tonight, but I am concerned about him overheating with crying. Any help is welcome, needed, loved!

    • Well generally I’m very PRO swaddle so I tend to lean towards keeping it. OR going with the Merlin suit (people swear by those). If overheating is a concern you could open the window or something? But more soothing = less crying so I would lean that way.

      For most babies who are sleeping well and falling asleep solo, getting out of the swaddle is a pretty mellow deal. There are a few who will really struggle to get rid of the swaddle. But some babies simply NEED to be swaddled longer. So if he is one of those babies stick with it. In another month or two he’ll probably be done. But he’s likely to cry anyway and you would hate to have “I wonder if he would be asleep by now were he swaddled” doubts, no?

      If he’s unswaddled and things are going great then ignore everything I just said!

  75. I am looking for some advice. Our 10 month old baby used to go to sleep fine – 5 minutes of crying and he slept until he was hungry maybe around 4. His bedtime was 730ish. We have recently moved and now he does not want to go to sleep AT ALL. He stands up in his cot and screams and screams. He gets so hot and sweaty and looks so sad. The only way to get him to go to sleep is either sleep on my husband or me being a human pacifier all night long. His naps have also dwindled to maybe 2 naps in the buggy. Never longer than 40 mins. What do we do???! Thanks for any advice.

    • There is no quick fix here. Moving is a HUUUUGE stress event for you guys. It probably disrupted her schedule a bit. But my guess is that the big change was that your stress level went through the roof. Babies are like dogs, they sense that sort of thing (not a joke, am totally serious about that). So the combination of all those things compounded into a scene where you fell back to habits (like being a human pacifier) that are short-term fixes but long-term nightmare-makers.

      I totally understand how this could happen. But there is no easy way to break out of this pattern without biting the bullet and breaking out of this pattern.

      You can do this. Honest.

  76. I absolutely love your site!! I do have a question about CIO though (sorry if you already answered it in a post I tried reading them all) my daughter is eight months and had been getting up anywhere from 4 to 8 times at night since about 6 months. A couple weeks ago we finally decided to test out CIO and it worked after day 3… Well day 4 my daughter learned how to pull up on the crib and now her new favorite thing is to stand up and cry for what seems like forever. Not only does she do this when we put her to sleep but she will do this at all hours of the night. What should we do? Lay her back down and leave the room? Let her continue to cry?

    • Yep babies get stuck that way. And frustrated. And they can’t get back down.

      The only real solution is to help her practice as much as possible during the day. Floor time is your friend. Stand her up at the coffee table and let her practice getting back down. Your goal is to help her learn how to get back down from a standing position so she’s NOT stuck.

      In the meantime when she gets stuck standing one option would be to put her back down and leave the room. However you need to be mindful that this doesn’t become a big game where you are in and out all night (babies are amazingly good at figuring out what works). So it’s a tricky balance.

      Hopefully she’s a fast learner and figures out how to get back down soon!

  77. …..I absolutely love your site!! I do have a question about CIO though (sorry if you already answered it in a post I tried reading them all) my daughter is eight months and had been getting up anywhere from 4 to 8 times at night since about 6 months. A couple weeks ago we finally decided to test out CIO and it worked after day 3… Well day 4 my daughter learned how to pull up on the crib and now her new favorite thing is to stand up and cry for what seems like forever. Not only does she do this when we put her to sleep but she will do this at all hours of the night. What should we do? Lay her back down and leave the room? Let her continue to cry?

    • She gets upset and stands up and gets suck standing up and may not be able to physically GET herself back down. Of course you running in to help her get back down oddly reinforces the standing up so it’s a big of a catch-22 situation.

      Ideally you practice the standing/sitting/etc. as much as possible during the day so that as quickly as possible, she learns HOW to get back down without your assistance. Tons of floor time. Stand her up at the coffee table and see if she can figure out how to get safely back onto her bum.

      In the meantime (while she’s practicing) I would go in and help her back down and see if you can’t calm her with as little soothing as possible (a few minutes of patting her back like a tom tom or what have you). And as soon as she is capable of getting back down WITHOUT you, you’re done. Basically you don’t want to get sucked into an all night soothing thing because you’ve broken an old habit just to jump right into a new one. Does that make sense?

  78. Alexis, fantastic site and a wonderful service to the community of sleep-deprived parents everywhere. I’m mom to a 3-year-old who’s a fantastic night sleeper and struggling really hard to give up his daytime naps (and yes, I agree with you, he doesn’t have a choice — I can’t make him fall asleep but I can make him lie in bed for two hours in the dark, with music playing) and to an almost-6-month-old who’s the opposite of fantastic at all sleep. My 3-year-old used to be the opposite-of-fantastic, too, and somehow we got him to fantastic very slowly, through an iterative combination of CIO and extended breastfeeding and attachment parenting.

    Anyway, I’ve known for months that the baby has serious problems with not knowing how to fall asleep, and it appears that things are just getting worse and worse, beginning maybe with the 4-month sleep regression. Now the kid is close to sleeping with the boob permanently in his mouth. His longest sleep period at night is maybe two hours, and often shorter, and we cosleep. During the days he takes most of his naps walking around in the carrier, often with my mom (who’s retired and staying with us), and the rest he takes at the breast. Here’s the thing: he’s actually getting normal numbers of hours of sleep, and I’m NOT a zombie parent. Somehow I have natural reserves of energy and the ability to handle sleep deprivation amazingly well. Most of the time I feel fine. I DO want things to change — I don’t want my mom to have to walk with him for 3/4 of his naps, I would like to stop cosleeping sometime soon, and I would like to get a period of sleep longer than an hour and a half to 2 hours. But things aren’t totally intolerable, I guess because my family has more personal resources (energy, time) than many others.

    What do you say? Of course I’m dreading doing CIO, and your admonitions about what constitutes an intolerable situation make me feel guilty again….

    • BTW, if it’s not clear, the 3-year-old was weaned shortly before his second birthday, so I’m not into REALLY extended breastfeeding, and I’m definitely not into extended cosleeping.

    • So….is there a question?

      My policy is always, if YOU don’t have a problem with whatever it is then I don’t have a problem with it either! So when you say you feel fine and Grandma is helpful and stuff, I guess I’m not really sure where the problem is.

      Look some people sleep just fine being the human pacifier, and they sleep that way for YEARS. Personally the thought of my kids attached to my boobs every night for 3 years is simply unacceptable. Just. Not. OK. For. Me.

      But for lots of people it IS OK and THAT is OK. For them.

      I will say this, having him only sleep while being carried around is a bit of a mess because it means somebody is wandering around with a baby sling all the time. And as the baby gets older this gets to be less and less fun/feasible. The bad news is that CIO for naps is a bit of a mixed bag. the GOOD news is that you’ve taught him to sleep on the move. So there is a fair to better chance that he could start napping in a swing and swing+swaddle+white noise may solve your napping problem. Without tears or major drama. In a few months you gently wean him off the swing and voila – baby naps in a crib!

      What you want to do at night is really up to you. If co-sleeping + human pacifier is fine with you then feel free to roll with it. If it’s not working for you and your husband than this may be a good time to make a change?

      • Yeah…So, from a practical perspective, co-sleeping and human pacifier is fine from me — I mean, I can sleep that way, so can my husband, so can baby. I’m sort of grossed out by the thought of keeping that going long-term (say, DEFINITELY not past a year, no 12-year-old morning wood for me), and I’d like to get a moment alone in bed with my husband at some point in the next several months, if you know what I mean. Like, I think I want to start working on ending the co-sleeping nowish, but am not desperate to have it end next week.

        The bigger issue is actually naps. We’ll try out the swing thing, thanks. I had actually thought that (a) he was too old, and (b) he doesn’t like the swing, but reading all your swing posts has now convinced me we should give it a try. Too bad we gave away the swing when we moved over the summer….

  79. We’ve tried CIO for almost a week now. At first we are a bit confused about when to use (only for bedtime) and end up having an aweful beginning coz we applied CIO to the rest of the night (except feeding of course). After digging more into the comments, I think we got it. Dun you think?? (see below)

    1st nite: cried 1h, then randomly woke up 3 times and cried 30-60 min each.
    2nd nite: cried 45 min, random woke up 3 times and cried 30 min each.
    3rd nite: cried 20 min, random woke up twice and cried 20-30 min.

    (FYI: all those mid-night waking up excluded two feeding session, we were two living zombies for those night)

    Now, day 6, he fell asleep around 10-15 min soft crying. I think that’s it, it works (at bed time only >.<) BUT OUR BIG PROBLEM is waking up at nite (not feeding time). The random waking seems to decreasing over time but he wakes up around 45-60 min before his feeding time. We tried to do full extinction but it's hard coz at first he just do the soft cry, on and off, then later turns into more consistent crying, on and off screaming a little bit. It's hard to know whether is it hunger or just waking up at an inappropriate time.

    We tried feeding 30 min after initiate cry but then of course the next meal got push up earlier. Our son is almost 6 month old, he doesn't seems to be super hungry during the day, so i rule out it's the growth spurt issue for now. And during the day, he can sure eat every 4-5 hours (6 oz), we wonder how come at night time it turned into 2.5 -3 hours (on average he eat less than day time), so i think he is not as hungry (on average 4 oz) or maybe just waking up and have nothing to do, so why not have a meal?. Right now he is on the clock, feeding at 11-12am, 2-3am, then of course wake up at 5am. I wonder it is time to wean the night feeding? or at least just do one feeding??

    I've read your page about weaning night feeding, from your experience which method work best if I want to combine the two feedings into just one? the decreasing volume method or the diluting formula? I'm afraid either one (at 11pm) will result in even earlier waking for the next meal at 2am.

    thanks so much.

    • Hey Emily,
      The sense I’m getting is that generally things are going great. What you want to see is a distinct pattern of DECREASING tears, which is what you have.

      But where you’re getting hung up on is TIME. And DAY EATING.

      So if I’m understanding correctly he’s only eating every 4-5 hours during the day yes? So here’s the deal.

      That’s not much at all. I mean sure he’s doing GREAT. But would you rather have him eat more during the day or more at night? I would see if you can’t encourage him to eat more often/more volume during the day. Nobody is saying to force-feed your baby! But that’s a pretty huge gap during the day and what you want is MORE food during daylight hours and LESS food at night.

      Then at night, you’re going by the clock and saying, “Well he should eat at X time and it’s 40 minutes till X so he needs to wait.” But see babies don’t have clocks so he doesn’t know when it’s X or not X or what have you. Thus he cries for 30 minutes, sleeps for 15, then wakes up to be fed. ANd none of you are getting any sleep while this is going on.

      Personally I would do this:
      1) Offer him a dream feed when you go to bed (say 10:00 PM).
      2) If he wakes up at 11:00, don’t feed him because you just did. But if he wakes up a few hours later (regardless of his schedule) I would go feed him. So he’s still getting 2X feeds a night but hopefully one isn’t waking you up as you’re up already right?
      3) Gently wean off the 2nd feed first and see if you can’t get him to go from his dream feed at YOUR bedtime till morning.
      4) All of this is predicated on the idea that he’s eating plenty during the day!

      Also most 6 month old kids CAN go 11 hours without food. But not ALL. So if you get down to 1 feeding that may be where he’s at for a while, he may not be ready for 0. Try and see what happens. If 0 isn’t working, wait a month or so then try again. What didn’t work last week WILL work next week.

      Good luck!

  80. Alex I need your help!!! I know I already posted a comment a few days ago (sorry about the double post my computer froze on me) but I am so desperate for some advice…

    My daughter just turned 8 months on the 19th and for the past two months I’ve been having the hardest time getting her to sleep through the night. She used to sleep for four hour chunks but a little after six months that changed. She gets up every 1-2 hours at night (last night she woke up every 45 minutes) and I feel as if i’m going insane!! I do breastfeed and I’m pretty sure she uses me as a human pacifier. The only way she will go to sleep at night is by nursing. Also the only way she will fall asleep for a nap is by nursing. I’ve tried convincing dad to try the CIO method but he’s been relucant to do it (probably since I’M the one getting up at night not him, and my pediatrition said “NO NOT A GOOD IDEA!!) We’ve tried to do CIO but dad goes into the bedroom after 10 minutes of her crying and I follow behind him because I want to stop him and then I see my little baby covered in snot and tears, standing up in her crib screaming. Dad wants it to work instantly but I know it takes a few days/week. Dad also doesn’t want to try it out since she’s standing up in the crib now. I was hoping your advice would convince him to give CIO a shot….

    Oh yeah let me tell you my daughter, Chloe’s, schedule. I’m a server so I usually don’t get home until 10 or 11 at night. That’s when I feed Chloe until she goes to sleep (sometimes it takes an hour+ because if I lay her down and she isn’t in a deep sleep she’ll wake up and cry) Whenever Dad and I attempted CIO I would feed her, let her crawl and play for about 20 minutes in her room, dad and I would read a story, tuck her in, then leave the room. One more thing… How can I get her to nap without nursing? Should I first conquer CIO then deal with the nap situation? Can’t wait to hear back from you, sorry this post was so long.

    • Hey Court,
      Since my advice is free I can honestly say, “I don’t get paid enough to get in the middle of marital squabbles.” For real yo.

      I assume you get this already but have Dad read this:

      This is the fundamental problem and it’s not going to get better unless something changes. I’m not trying to sell anybody on CIO but let’s just acknowledge that we have a problem and that something needs to change because nobody is sleeping now, right?

      The second thing we need to agree on is that dabbling with CIO (letting her cry but sometimes coming to get her) is a recipe for disaster. Do or do not do. No dabbling. This way leads to madness. So get on the same page with a plan or forget it until you CAN get on the same page.

      Your baby shouldn’t be covered in snot unless she has a cold, which babies get constantly. So I might wait until she doesn’t have a cold if you can. Also give baby tons of floor/practice time during the day. It IS true that if she’s getting stuck standing she may not be able to get herself back down. Practice a ton during the day and she’ll master “getting back down” pretty quick. Then if she stands in her crib, that’s her choice. But you’ll know she’s capable of sitting back down when she chooses to.

      Final thought which is 11 PM bedtime is SUPER late. If she’s sleeping till 11:00 AM I guess it’s OK? But most babies won’t sleep that late which makes me think her night is too short. If that’s the case I would argue that the issue isn’t CIO vs. no CIO. The issue is that her bedtime is way too late, she needs to go to bed earlier WITHOUT YOUR BOOBS THERE (cuz you’re at work). So how can we help her fall asleep earlier, so she can get the sleep she needs to grow & thrive, given the constraint that you (Mom/boobs) will not be available at a more age-appropriate for your baby?

      This is honestly my advice. Earlier bedtime, more night sleep for baby is a good thing. So how can you help her fall asleep earlier without your boobs being present? If you guys have a good solution to that – AWESOME! If not, maybe it IS CIO time?

      Hope that helps,

  81. Hiya,

    I just wanted to leave a comment to say a HUGE thankyou this website has been so much help to us!! Our baby is 8 months and hasn’t been a good sleeper since around 4 months with it getting worse waking every hour for cuddles/rocked/ name it..nightmare we’ve been praying for our sleep back! Followed your cry it out advice started Friday night and he cried for 20mins slept til 430 which I can deal with if he sleeps all night. It’s now Monday just put him down he made a whimper for a second and just fell asleep :-)! Yay!!! You’ve made a mummy and daddy very VERY happy!!!

    Thankyou SO much!!

  82. Hi Alexis,
    I came across this article and it certainly has taught us some great steps to follow with CIO. I do have one (or two) questions. Our 5 month old totally relies on her pacifier for sleep, which means we are popping it in up to 6-8 times a night and during naps. It is terrible. We would like throw the “binky” out and do CIO. I read, however, in your post to get rid of the binky at bedtime and tackle nap time later. So I don’t give her the paci at night time, but then give it to her for the time being for naps? Will this confuse her? Would love your advice before we take the plunge to do CIO. Thank you very much!

    • If the pacifier helps to make naps happen, I think you have to keep it during the day time. Alexis says different parts of the brain regulate day and night sleep so different sleep associations for naps won’t mess up your nighttime efforts. (See Alexis, we are totally the “Alexis says . . .” army of parents around here!)

      Anyway make those naps happen and CIO will go much better. Worry about paci free naps later. Good luck!

  83. Hi Alexis,

    Thank you so much for having this blog. Having issues with CIO with our 8mth old daughter. 1st night cried 90mins, 2nd 90mins, 3rd 80mins, 4th 80mins, today is our 5th night and she wailed for 60mins. Doing CIO without intermittent checking. We are persevering and watching her on the monitor, I can see she is mainly calling now and no longer trashing about the cot in great distress. The main issue is that every time, she will wake after 30-45mins sleep. I tried leaving her a few minutes to see if she will settle but the crying gets more distressed. So I give her a feed, which puts her back to sleep again and put her back in the cot. She was doing this often from age 4mths, before we started CIO , waking after being nursed to sleep after 30-45mins and waking between 3-5x/night.

    She is now waking about 2-3x a night, when i feed her and she falls asleep while feeding. Her bedtime is usually about 7.30. Her naps are generally good, 2hr am nap and 1hr pm nap, sometimes a quick catnap in late pm. She self settles with little crying for both naps. I also can’t understand why she can self settle with naps but not at bedtime.

    Thanks Alexis for any wisdom you can impart on the mysteries of babies.


    • Wisdom on the mysteries of babies eh? Hmm….not sure how wise I am but I’m happy to take a guess :)

      I don’t know why exactly she is crying SO much at bedtime but I suspect it’s this – you haven’t really broken the nurse to sleep habit. She cries a lot – this sucks. Absolutely. You have a strong willed little girl there. Then she nods off for a tiny bit. Then she wakes herself BACK up after 30 minutes and cries again.

      At which point you GO IN AND NURSE HER TO SLEEP.

      So effectively she is just crying LONG enough to get you to nurse her to sleep. Thus you aren’t really breaking the “nurse to sleep” association at all. Does this make sense?

      If anything you’ve inadvertently taught her that crying for 80 minutes will work because if she keeps it up LONG enough, you go in to nurse her to sleep. Which is also, I suspect, why you’ve not seen any improvement in the crying at bedtime.

      At this point you’re probably feeling pretty badly about what I’m sharing here. So let me be clear – TONS OF WELL MEANING PEEPS DO THIS! This is a really REALLY common thing. You are not alone in making this mistake in that what you feel is providing love and sustenance to your beloved child actually is feeding into more crying.

      It’s going to be rough for 2-3 days, but the way to break this pattern is to NOT go in to feed her 30 minutes after she falls asleep. Seriously. Done. No more nursing AT bedtime. No more nursing TILL she is asleep.

      Does that make sense?

      As for naps – the issue is different parts of the brain manage day vs. night sleep so the fact that she can do it during the day is not necessarily “transferrable knowledge” to night time.

      Good luck – and let me know how things go, OK?

  84. Hi,

    I have an almost 7 month old who used to sleep great. He would sleep either all through the night (bedtime is at 7:30 and then he would sleep until 7am), or he would wake up once in the night for a feeding. Randomly around 5 and a half months he started sleeping awful, with the exception of one week while he was sick (during this time he went back to sleeping through the night). Now he is back to waking up sometimes every 2 or 3 hours and at times he will take forever to fall back asleep! I’m thinking about trying CIO but have one problem. He has always been a stomach sleeper and will not sleep on his back for long. If I do try CIO I’d prefer to do it with him sleeping on his back, especially since now that he’s figured out how to roll over, if he’s upset in his crib or wakes up he rolls to his back anyway. This just usually results in him crying until we go get him. Plus I don’t want him crying with his face in the mattress if it takes him awhile to fall asleep. But would it be too hard on him if I train him to sleep on his back at the same time as trying out CIO? Any advice would be appreciated!!


    • The only real answer is to practice as much as possible during the day (floor time, tummy time, etc.) so that he masters the ability to roll back and forth. Thus he wouldn’t get “stuck” in one position (back or tummy) in his bed. Because you going in every 5 minutes to flip him like a pancake is generally going to make a mess of CIO :(

      So maybe you wait a few weeks, give him tons and tons of floor time, and see if he can master that skill?

  85. Okay, tried CIO for the first time in several months with my 9-month old daughter. She cried for 20 minutes, slept for five, then cried another 20 minutes, while yelling, calling for mama, crawling and standing in her crib! ALMOST caved in but as we were debating it, she calmed herself down and is now humming herself to sleep as I type. Thank you, Alexis for doing the research and summarizing it, your website helped immensely!

    • It IS rough (trust me it’s rough for me to write about it and these aren’t MY babies we’re talking about!). But I’m glad you stuck with your plan, I hope things are on a much more positive path for you all now :)

      • Okay, we FAILED at CIO :( Our little 9 month old is more stubborn that we are I guess. She crawls around in her crib in the dark, crying, yelling, calling “mama” and stands up, only to fall asleep while sitting down and slouching forward. She did that for three nights. This resulted in us laying her down well after she was in deep sleep only to have her scared out of her mind crying. Now, anytime we set her in her crib, even just “for fun” to get her more used to the crib, she cries full of fear and panic. Any advice from anyone?

        • I have never tried CIO so I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m talking about, BUT I would suggest, based on the daytime fear- wait for maybe a week until she calms down and you can get her confident in her crib again… I think that as long as she is panicking and genuinely afraid to go to sleep or even to play in there, you won’t have any luck at night time… try to stay as light-hearted as possible and really get enthusiastic while she’s in the cot during the day. Don’t even give her time to get upset, just distract her with lots of toys and fun….. maybe that will help a bit?

          Again, I haven’t tried it, so I have no direct experience, but it would be my gut response…

        • Hey Nancy,
          For starters, I’m not a big advocate of putting kids in the crib just for fun. I understand the thought behind it – get them used to it. But if this is a place for sleeping then I would suggest you use it only for sleeping.

          I can’t tell you to press on. Maybe it’s not right to. I also don’t know exactly where things are getting tripped up for you. But I sometimes feel that when you START it’s better to stick with it rather than wait a week and then start OVER. I’m not sure I’ve seen many instances where starting OVER really has a positive impact.

          At the same point you need to listen to your gut and make a decision that feels right for you. YOU are there and I am not.

          I will say that when you say she is scared out of her mind crying what I hear is that you felt really guilty and horrible for abandoning her. But what I’m assuming is actually happening is that her circumstances changed (she fell asleep in one place and woke up in another) and freaked out about it. So I’m not sure that waiting a week or two solves the problem.

          All I can say for advice is to make sure that you aren’t rewarding the crying. Often our well-intentioned interventions actually teach babies to cry MORE. Obviously nobody wants that but at 2:00 AM it’s hard to make rational decisions. As long as you are mindful of that and you listen to your gut, things generally work out.

  86. Thanks for all your tips on sleep training here. I’ve been able to move my daughter from the swing to the crib, where she falls asleep by herself.

    Here are my issues:
    (1) Last week, she played herself to sleep for naps and bedtime. Now, she fusses or more regularly, cries hard, for 10 minutes before sleeping. I have a routine for naps and bedtime. She’s fine all the way through, but the moment I turn off the lights, she starts crying. And she’s still in my arms! So, inevitably, I have to lay her down in the crib bawling. Any tips for what I can do differently to get her to cry less? (She has a blankie, if that makes a difference.)

    (2) She wakes up mid-naps crying. If I feed her (after 15 minutes of crying) and lay her down awake in the crib, she goes to sleep fine. If she falls asleep by herself initially, why isn’t transferring to mid-naps? Do I just have to let her cry 15 minutes or so and then just let her skip the rest of the nap till she learns to transition through sleep cycles during naps?

    (3) At night time, she goes to sleep around 7:00 (having fed her 45 minutes prior), wakes at 10, 1, and 5:30 for feeds, and is up around 7 am. I’ve been using your gentle night weaning techniques for the 10pm and 1am feeds. She’s down to 9 minutes for each. Or should I be feeding her at 10 and wean her at the 1 am and 5:30 feeds?

    I just started a blog and mention you quite a bit in my sleep posts. I pretty much outline everything I did to sleep train her. When I wrote the articles (a few days ago!) she really was playing herself to sleep. But gosh-darnit, she’s proven me wrong these last few days!

    • Sorry – forgot to mention that she’s 7 months old.

    • Hey Sweta,
      I don’t think you can necessarily fix the crying. It may be that a small schedule adjustment (too early, too late) will sort things out. But I suspect this is more of a separation anxiety issue. She’s protesting your departure. And if 10 minutes is how long it goes on, I would suggest you let it go and accept it for now.

      Also I’m suspecting that baby has a big suck=sleep thing going on. So she’s rousing herself mid-nap (this is also probably linked to separation anxiety – she fights sleep to be with you). If you nurse her back to sleep she’ll take a longer nap. Should you?

      That’s a toughie. By nursing her mid-nap you’re feeding the nurse=sleep association and in a way, rewarding her waking herself up with your company. However if you don’t she’ll take 45 minute naps all day. Which is better? I’m inclined to go with the “short naps” option and have faith that this is temporary.

      However you’re there and I’m not. If she’s devolving into an exhausted mess than maybe for now, the nursing mid-nap is the right call. I wouldn’t let her cry though as clearly the 15 minutes isn’t getting you anywhere, yes?

      Personally I would focus on the 1:00 AM feed. At 10:00 PM you’re probably up right? So this is the easiest feed for you. SO I would fully wean the 1:00 AM feed THEN move on to the 10:00 PM feed. The 5:30 feed is probably a tricky one – definitely try. But if you find that without that feed she’s starting the day at 5:30 you may choose to stick with it in order to get the last 2 hours of sleep.

      Don’t worry – you aren’t alone. Babies make liars of us all :)


    We had a good thing going. Since six months we were on two naps a day, good wake times, long naps, no night feeding, put himself to sleep at bedtime and throughout the night, etc etc etc. It was such hard work but I was really proud of myself. I started trying to get him to fall asleep on his own for naps around 4 months old, and it didn’t go well but I figured it would get better with time and persistence.

    He is 10 months old now. Naps are an everloving nightmare.

    He cries A LOT. I have been trying to get him to go to sleep on his own for naps for six months. I only let up and hold him if he is sick – which has only happened twice in the last 5 months. Is he just going to cry before naps until he goes to Kindergarten and we can finally be done with all of this?!

    • Can I get a few more details? How long is he awake between naps? How long does he cry and then after, how long does he sleep?

      Nap training can be a rough slog. I’ve been quietly ignoring about a thousand requests for posts on this. Because generally I like to share ideas that I’m reasonably confident will work well. Still even by the worst standards, 6 months is, as you say, an everloving nightmare.

      Is he crying for 45 minutes or 10? I’m going to cross my fingers and hope the answer is “10.” In which case you don’t have a problem. Lots of people thing they have babies who cry all the time. But in my worldview, 10 minutes is just baby complaining about having to do an unpleasant chore (no babies never ever want to take naps – nor will your toddler or later your kid). If it’s 45 minutes then something else is going on.

  88. I need your help please, I’m so desperate! I’ve been reading your website and its given me some hope! Basically I am a first time mum and from day one I’ve rocked my baby to sleep, she has suffered with reflux and colic issues, she is now 5 months and 11 days old. Her reflux is under control but because she had such bad tummy ache and wind problems the paediatrician thought she had CMPA, however about a month ago she was tested and she has not got a CMPA however she has got intolerances,
    She to cut a long story short she is not back on normal milk (aptamil anti reflux) she used to be on Neocate. She is tolerating the normal milk but she will not tolerate any solids yet, she just gets really bad diarrhoea. We are seeing a specialist at the hospital in a few weeks time about this. Anyway I have always rocked her to sleep because I’ve been worried she’s had tummy ache or wind pain, however although she still suffers with bad wind I think she has learnt that if she cried we will come running and rock her or pick her up! I am so desperate for sleep, I’m starting to hate being a mum and I feel like no one understands. I’m so tired all the time. At the moment she has three naps a day in her cot, I rock her to sleep, these naps last anything from 10 mins to 1.5 hrs. Then at night we bath her, give her a bottle and then sing and rock her to sleep and place her in her cot, she’s asleep by 8pm most nights. She then wakes anything from every 20 mins to 2 hrs through the night but never sleeps longer than 2-3 hrs at a time, she then needs rocking back off again! She has a bottle at about 12-1am and the usually sleeps until about 3.30am -4am and then we have to actually bring her in bed with us if we want any more sleep, she will then go to 6am if we are lucky! I’m actually now at the point where I sometimes just feel like running away:( I love my daughter so much but I just want to get some more sleep so I can enjoy her more! During in the day she is usually a very happy content baby! She likes attention though and I do spend all day every day with her! I’m anxious about starting the cry it out method because of her tummy issues but I’m just at my wits end now and I also think she’s learnt to get her own way with us and actually it’s not always tummy ache with her! Shou I start the cry it out method? Also I did try it one night about a month ago and she cried for 1.5 hrs and I gave in, would you continue to leave her even if she cries for 2 hrs or more? And if she wakes at 4 am do we just leave her to cry then as well? Thanks for any advice, hope you don’t think I’m a bad mummy

    • Laura,
      Have you read this?

      Here’s what I’m hearing:
      1) She has tummy issues. Some may be resolved, but clearly not all.
      2) You are all exhausted. You’re so exhausted that you aren’t enjoying being a parent. So it’s not OK to keep doing what you are doing because it’s just not working, right?
      3) She loves being rocked. She is giving you good information here – she likes motion.

      So here is my advice:
      reflux+not sleeping+like motion=baby that would probably do GREAT in a swing

      Seriously. I know she’s almost 6 months old and you’re probably thinking that swing, swaddle, and white noise are things for newborns. But they’re not. They’re for babies who need it. And yours does.

      I’m not saying that CIO isn’t a possibility for you but if her tummy is unhappy (and it is) you’re not going to get a good result. I think the answer isn’t CIO (or at least not right now). I think the answer is MORE soothing.

      PS. Nobody is judging you. We’re all here to find ways to make it work for everybody, right?

  89. I know you say to stop if your playing timed music, but I play white noise all all night. Granted I turn it down real low before I go to bed,. Question us, I have two crazy loud boys, and they always seem to wake her up after we pt them to bed, even with write noise, but I do think it helps. Should I stop the white nose too? And I first tried cio a few Weeks ago and she cried for 3 hours finally feel sleep then woke up 30 minutes later crying again. I checked on her through out the 2 hours to make she had a clean diaper no had ect. But after she woke up again I couldn’t handle it and went I in and feed her to sleep. I’m so nervous to try again. My boys I did cio ten minutes of crying and I never had a problem with naps or bedtime again. What should I do?

  90. Hi Alexis, thank you so much for this website. All the information is great and it is so helpful to see other mom’s posts. My six month old had horrible colic and still has reflux. After months of sleepless nights we found swaddle, paci, swing, and white noise would give us a few hours. At 4.5 months after bedtime routine she would fuss off and on for one hour fall asleep by 10pm and sleep until 4am I was so happy! At five months she got a cold and now teething. She currently is very sweet and happy all day despite her exhaustion, naps are hit or miss. About a week ago we started bedtime routine at 6 to get things moving in the right direction and she is very happy during bedtime routine then when we try to put her to sleep she screams off and on until about midnight when she crashes always nursing to sleep. We tried playing with bedtime thinking the closer to midnight maybe the better but since we do solids, bath, book, nurse 6-7pm I dont know what to do with a tired cranky baby after this. Also she has started waking every 1-2 hours for paci all night long (I thought she was hungry but discovered with paci she could last until at least 4am). After once up to eat (somewhere between 4am & 8am) she usually sleeps until 10. I’m exhausted from the 7-midnight horrible time and frequent waking for paci. I’m ready to try CIO but I have two questions. First is should I do this in her swing only to go through it again when she transitions to her crib soon (I’m concerened about her reflux but cannot buckle her in with swaddle). Also, she eats six times a day and even if she first eats at 4am the 6th one is at 9ish and she needs this still. How can I put her down at 7 to CIO if I know she will need to be up and eat within two hours and if I moved nursing to 6 as step one of bedtime routine she would be ready for her last meal anywhere from 8 on. I’m expecting her to cry for an hour. I attempted CIO recently and after 30 minutes she was esclating and soaked with sweat so I gave in and nursed her. It was horrible for my husband and I and we felt it was a waste since I got her up. However, she didnt wake for her paci that night. I love her dearly and this is ripping my heart out but I know we as her parents need to do this for her. Thank you a million times over!!!

    • Hey Susie,
      Sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate there 😛

      Well I can’t quite figure out what time her bedtime is. It sounds like it’s really late, like 10:00 PM, but you would like to move it earlier? It also sounds like your baby has a HUGE suck=sleep association. So the key is to really break out of that.

      When you wrote this: “we try to put her to sleep she screams off and on until about midnight when she crashes always nursing to sleep” I’m a little confused.

      Is her usual bedtime late and you’re trying to move it up WHILE putting her down awake? Because that would definitely explain things not going well. My sense is that her bedtime IS too late. But you don’t want to shift bedtime up by 2 hours at the same time you’re trying to put down awake. Yes it’s too late. Yes she’s over tired. But her body is currently wired to sleep then so you want to start there for put down awake. Once you’ve gotten over the hump and she’s falling asleep without tears, then you gradually start moving bedtime up.

      Almost always gradual changes work better than a big shift at bedtime.

      I’m also not sure why you think that getting out of the swing is going to result in tears. If your baby has reflux and is used to sleeping in the swing AND you’ve already had some pretty horrendous CIO experiences, I can’t see that ditching the swing is a great move.

      If there is a way to buckle her in AND swaddle her arms (you can leave the legs out which should be leave plenty of slack for the buckle) I think that might be the way to go. If there is NO way for that to work, then maybe swaddled in the crib is a backup plan?

      So I would separate her last feeding from bedtime (we’re breaking the suck=sleep thing yes?) and go with whatever her “normal” bedtime is. Keep the swaddle for sure. Possibly keep the swing. Once you decide to do this then NO NURSING TO SLEEP. This is your commitment. OK? THat will undermine what you are trying to do.

      Otherwise we all wish you the best of luck with everything. It can get better!

      • Thanks Alexis! Well we started this before your post because things were so bad. We have taken paci away, I cut holes in the swaddle so she’s buckled. At first when she would wake after 30 minutes sleeping I would nurse her and she would fall back to sleep but as you said this eventually backfired and the first night she didn’t fall back to sleep nursing I made the change. She gets to nurse first then we do bed time routine (bath, jammies, book) so we have had about 3 nights now where she crys goes to sleep and 30 minutes later cries again. It is dreadful, tonight is day 9 since we started CIO and she has been crying (not fussing crying or screaming solid) already for 30 minutes, every night it is 30-45 minutes of this. The first night was over an hour so it is better but honestly by day 9 I thought it would be better, this is SOOO difficult I hate every minute )0: I continue on because the improvement in her sleep is really amazing, usually 9 solid hours! But every night for 9 days 30-45 minutes of crying and then she wakes after 30 minutes and cries another 20-30 minutes since I’ve eliminated nursing, please tell me this will get better because I’m so distressed by it. I’m a SAHM so Ive never had a schedule for her and the day is driven off when she wakes (7-9 am) so this varies bedtime quite a bit and she seems so overtired at night, could this be part of the problem you think? So yes we are sleeping YAY but Mom and Dad are VERY stressed everynight as she cries, it is really hell!

        • p.s. I read your post several times but reading it out loud to my hubby I finally got your bedtime advice -a lot of good info to absorb- and well I picked 8pm which fluctuates slightly (8-9:30) so now we are in day 9 I think I ahould stick with it rather then go back later? She is atarting to show sleepy signs early at even 5pm now! Sooooo I took away paci, nursing, rocking, and first time ever established an early bed time, I think I’ve put a lot on her little plate! She slept 9 hours last night and the last 2 days has had a 2 hour morning nap (on her own without even a fuss)!!!!! I just really wish the crying at night would lessen. Sorry I’m so wordy, I appreciate your advice opinion so much!!!!!!

          • Hi Alexis, here is my sad update. Things have gotten worse. Baby continues to cry the same but since I’ve dropped that last feed she wakes in the 12-3 range to eat punching a 1-1.5 hour hole in our sleep. Last night day 16 and baby cried for 30 minutes, slept 30, cried for an hour. She was very OT and off yesterday so I knew she was hungry so at least waited until she was in a crying pause and went to get her. Also naps have regressed, now she doesnt want paci or me to rock her so my baby that went to sleep easily in 3 minutes for naps cries 20 minutes and sometimes wont nap at all. Naps are now all 30 minutes even in the car. I knew this would be tough but this is beyond that. My house is a cryfest all day long with little sleep. Now I’m back to being tired and my husband dreads coming home from work to a screaming baby. I’m lost, devestated, so unhappy.

            • Hey Suzie,
              I’m sorry you are having a hard time. And I have two thoughts, OK three, to share.

              1) Reflux kids are WAAAAY harder than happy tummy kids. You are constantly fighting an uphill battle to help their tummies feel better. They outgrow their meds or sometimes develop a tolerance to meds so they no longer work. If things are mysteriously miserable my FIRST thought is to look there – maybe the reflux isn’t being managed anymore. Talk to your pediatrician. Explore options.

              2) I’m sure your husband DOES dread coming home to a screaming baby. I would to. But do you know what’s worse than coming home to a screaming baby? Being home all DAY with a screaming baby.

              3) Separating the suck=sleep association that I talked about didn’t mean that you were guaranteed a 12 hour stretch without food. At 6 months many kids go through a growth spurt so it may be the case that he still needs to eat 1X a night. If he’s genuinely hungry you will see long ugly crying at night so I’m wondering if feeding him once a night might be a workable compromise?

              PS. The 6 month sleep regression would also account for crappy naps.

              If you’re feeling devastated and unhappy I would strongly suggest you get some help. There is NOOO shame in this. Your baby is 300% harder than your neighbors baby. Is there any way you could find somebody to watch your baby a few hours 2X a week while you get out of the house? This would be a great investment in your mental health. I know you’ll pay $$$ to find somebody who can handle a refluxing newborn but it’s well worth it.

            • Alexis, so here it is several weeks later and things are going great. Naps are easy with a little crying only if she is overtired and bedtime is getting better. We had her 6 month appointment a few weeks ago and told the Dr. (As I was crying) she cries every night 30-40 minutes. He said we were doing an excellent job and this was just her way of winding down. I asked if she would ever stop and he smiled and said when she’s 15. So, we have more work ahead (swaddle/swing/earlier bedtime) but for now enjoying it. Wow, things are sooooo much better. Thank you for all the information and support – I couldn’t have done it without you!

  91. So, we are on night 10 of CIO. Some nights she only cries for 15-20 min, other nights (like tonight) she still cries for 60-90 minutes. Is this normal? I am gaurding her nap schedule like it is my job (being a SAHM, it really is my job), we have had a night time routine for several months now, and we have never gone to her to interrupt the CIO. Is it normal to be on night 10 and still have over an hour of crying? It is just breaking my heart, and I want to make sure I am doing this right.

    • Forgot to add that she is almost 6 months. Her bedtime is between 6:45 and 7:20 depending on the day.

    • Hey Adrien,
      Is it normal? Yes-ish.

      If most nights she’s crying for 15 minutes then that may just be her way of expressing her displeasure about bedtime. Some babies just need to let off a little steam, cry about not wanting to go to sleep, etc. So while you’re goal would be -0- crying, it may just not work out that way. Play around with bedtime a little (sometimes bedtime too early/late can lead to some crying) to see if it helps. If it doesn’t, well then, it may just be what it is.

      If a few nights here and there she bursts out with 60 minute sessions it’s probably an extinction burst (see link below). Which sucks, but is temporary. So hopefully you are all but done with that by now.


  92. Forgot to mention she is almost 6 months old. Her bedtime is between 6:45 and 7:20.

  93. HI,
    I have a question – is it okay to nurse to sleep for naps and do cry it out at night? I have been trying to do cry it out at night and for naps at the same time and it just isn’t going well – 11 days in. I love your advice of doing bedtime first, then night weaning and then naps. I am trying not to nurse him to sleep for naps but this morning I spent 1.5 hours trying to get him to sleep without nursing to no avail – this included trying to take him for a walk and use the swing (which he has never liked.) I finally nursed him at about 11 and he promptly fell asleep so I put him in the crib.

    Another question, even though we let him cry it out to sleep several nights in a row he is still waking at night randomly. Its not very predictable. I know he can go as little as two feedings a night, so should I just feed at 10 or 11 when he wakes and then wait until 4 or 5 and then let him cry in between. He has done this before on his own so I know he is capable he just isnt consistent.

    Thanks so much for your help! I LOVE your website. The best I have found for infant sleep!!!


    • Well, I just nursed him to sleep and he only slept for 10 minutes so that plan didnt work either. Now he is crying it out in the crib. Not sure what else to do.

    • I would keep nursing to sleep for naps, for now, so that he’s not an exhausted mess at bedtime. Nursing for naps won’t mess up your goal of breaking the nurse=sleep association at bedtime.

      As for when to feed at night, that is a tricky wicket and probably needs it’s own post (or at least I’m getting asked about it enough that I think so?). You don’t want to get sucked into hours and hours of crying at night in trying to force the issue that “X and Y” are feeding times. But you also don’t want to create a night eating habit by running in there all the time. So it’s a fine balance.

      My only REAL advice is to try to feed him BEFORE he wakes up (which is hard if he’s inconsistent – I get it). If he’s generally waking up to eat at 10-11, what about trying a dream feed at 9:45? Same thing at 3:45? That way you’re feeding him BEFORE he wakes up and cries and thus you aren’t “rewarding” the crying by running in and feeding him (which results in more crying).

      Anyhoo I would probably start there and see how things develop. Good luck!

  94. Hi Alexis

    Great website!! Another follower from Australia !
    I just have a couple of queries. My 9 month old has changed!!
    She has always been a great sleeper. (Don’t know how??!)
    We haven’t given a night feed since she was 4-5months, and she had been great going down to sleep awake. We do use a dummy and glow worm ( 10min music toy).
    The last few weeks, she has been screaming (not really crying) when we put her down at night. During the day she doesn’t seem to mind. Sleeps 1-2 hrs twice a day, with a late nap if need be.
    We have taken to sitting in her room, & even bringing her into our bed. I know even as I type this that we aren’t dealing with it well. I realise she is missing me. I definately don’t want this to be our new sleep pattern!! It’s time to CIO I think.
    Do I get rid of everything -music, dummy for night sleeps and keep them for day sleeps?
    Is the extinction method where I don’t go in at all? Or do we go in at intervals.
    Wish me luck. I may have to wait till after Christmas as we will be staying away from home.

    • Greetings from Australia! Did you know I’m like Oprah in Australia? Well it’s true. Now I just need to have some fabulous Australian celebrity fly me to their ocean-front mansion for an in-home sleep consult. If you have any Australian celebrity friends can you please pass the word that I’m available for this sort of thing?

      Thanks :)

      Well I think that separation anxiety may be playing a role. But what I REALLY think is going on is more of an object permanence thing related to the glow worm and paci.

      Have you read this?

      THIS is your problem (I think).

      I hate those timed devices that make cute little sparkle stars on the ceiling and then turn off for exactly this reason. Also the paci can really throw you for a loop because they fall asleep WITH it, it pops out, and they freak out. Because to a baby, having the paci gone is like voodoo magic. So of COURSE they’re a bit chuffed when this happens.

      So yes – you need to loose the dastardly glow worm (nothing timed!) and paci at bedtime. There may be some tears (check post below for tips). But I think that it’s going to be far more effective than you sitting in the room, etc. which is more likely to feed into the problem, yes?

      Good luck!

  95. Hello all,

    My baby is 4 mos old and she has been sleeping through the night since she was 7 weeks old. She typically sleeps for 7-8 hours, wakes up to eat, an usually goes back to sleep for 1-2 hours. So husband and I definitely aren’t sleep deprived. BUT, she absolutely will not go to bed before midnight. My husband is self employed and his work schedule is always changing. He’s getting busier and has to be up earlier so the 12am bedtime is killing him. He can’t hang out in bed until 10am anymore (like I find myself doing all too often with the baby.) I should mention here, baby is still in a bassinet in our room. Her crib is upstairs and there is no heat in her room (super old house, we renovated but haven’t solved the heater dilemma yet.) We don’t co-sleep in the bed at night, but I often pull her in in the morning to feed her; we usually fall asleep for a couple hours after that. In addition to my husband starting to want a little more sleep, it would be nice to have some time to ourselves at night…she’s typically nursing or sleeping on me from 8-12 each night. If we put her down a minute earlier than 12am, she wakes up. 12:01 comes along and she’s out for the night. So with a little coaxing from my mom, I decided to try CIO. I’ve heard such great things from so many people about the method, and even our pediatrician put the heat on me about it last week. I started a solid bedtime routine (nurse, bath, pjs, books, prayers, songs, bed.) And each night I start a little earlier, but only when she’s giving off tired cues. Well last night was night 5 and it’s not getting better…it seems to be getting worse. Each night we do 3-3 min intervals (checking in and talking to her each time) then 3-5 min intervals. She seems to fall asleep after the 2nd or 3rd 5 min interval each night but the screaming has gotten progressively worse. And the past 2 nights she’s woken up 2-3 times to eat. She hasn’t done that in weeks!!!

    My question is this: how do I know she’s READY for sleep training? Am I starting too early at 4 mos?? And, am I crazy for doing this when she’s been sleeping so well (as far as hours go) for so long? Am I doing something wrong? I know it’s only been 5 nights but I’m ready to quit for now and pick it back up in a month or so. Maybe when she starts solid foods? Is she waking at night because she misses the closeness she used to have at bedtime?

    • Hey Michelle,

      I think you’re using the wrong tool to solve the problem. Your problem is that bedtime is too late. This is not really a CIO problem, it’s a scheduling problem.

      If her “night” is from midnight – 10:00 AM, she’s getting ~10 hours of sleep at night. While 11 would be great, 10 hours is totally in the normal zone at 4 months. The only real issue is that it’s shifted TOO late. The 8-12 pm nursing/cuddle thing is also totally normal. Usually this is called the witching hour, which for most people is more like 4:00 – 8:00 PM. So again, nothing here is ABnormal. Except the time at which it is happening.

      Check the post below (Bedtime What Time?). I think it answers your question. And the answer is to start gradually waking her up earlier in the morning. 9:45, 9:30, 9:15….which will help you gradually move up bedtime to 11:45, 11:30, 11:15, etc.

      I think that’s going to be WAY more effective than CIO. Try it out and let me know – OK?

      • Thanks Alexis! Great advice. I actually stuck with CIO tonight and my daughter finally fell asleep. It took a long time but she’s been sleeping soundly for a couple hours now. I will definitely start waking her up earlier to try to shift bedtime. I know I can’t start putting her to bed 5 hours earlier than she’s used to, just like that. She reminded me of that tonight when she didn’t fall asleep until almost 11! I think CIO is necessary though, only because she cries and cries and stops immediately when I pick her up. I can’t console her with being in the room, talking to her, rubbing her belly…nothing works except for picking her up. She absolutely will not fall asleep on her own in any circumstance, other than maybe when we’re in the car. Hopefully tomorrow will be better than tonight was. I’ve already set my alarm to wake her up a bit earlier in the morning to work on the bedtime shift too. Thanks again!

  96. Great post! Very informative. I just want to point out that Weissbluth recommends the Extinction method, not “extension”. It is a psychology term used to refer to removing a conditioned response. I certainly wouldn’t want to “extend” the crying but I would want it to be “extinct”!

  97. Alexis, first of all, thank you for this awesome website! My husband was about to leave me (j/k) if I read one more book or website about baby sleep.. but even HE likes this one! Can you help us with something?

    We’re doing CIO at bedtime and for night wakings this week (with blessing from pediatrician) after having AWFUL sleep for so long, with great success. In fact the longest my almost-5-month-old has cried at night is 10 minutes (!) But we are having the issue of him waking a little too early though. I had decided 6 am would be my time when I will get up and feed him (even though ideally I’d love for him to make it to 7). But he keeps waking at 5:30. I would just suck it up and say “oh well i guess I’m up for the day” if he was actually wanting to be up, but after I do feed him, he goes back to sleep for another 2 – 2.5 hours! We’re doing a 6:30 bedtime and he takes at least 2 good naps (1+ hour) each day. (Apparently my little guy needs lots of sleep) And he is really not ready to be up at 5:30 but just cries and cries to eat. If I go feed him and put him back down will that confuse him? Should I let him cry until 6 and then go feed him or will that confuse him? I don’t want to un-do any of our progress by “giving in” and feeding him after a half-hour crying fit.. but I also don’t know if I have a choice. What I’ve been doing the past 2 mornings is just going in there to console him (pick him up and hold him) but not actually feed him until 6. This morning I consoled him until 6, then laid him back down, left the room, waited 2 minutes, and then came back in while turning the lights on and saying “Good morning!” and then feeding him. I got that idea out of one of the sleep books I read..

    What do you think? I’d really LOVE for him to make it to 7 AM ultimately, especially since clearly he is still wanting to sleep. But I don’t want him to just lay there CIO at 5:30 if he’s just too awake to go back to sleep. Thanks for any advice! I hate 5 AM! :)

    • Hey Kristin,
      So your champion sleeper (yes I said champion because he TOTALLY IS) can go 11 hours without food at 5 months. This is FANTASTIC! 6:30 pm – 5:30 AM is awesome. So he’s hungry at 5:30? Then go feed him! Having him cry 30 minutes to make it to the predetermined 6:00 AM mark isn’t going to accomplish much except potentially teach him that crying for 30+ minutes will get him what he wants (this is not a good lesson BTW).

      An 11 hour fast at 5 months is fantastic. That he sleeps 12-13 hours at night is also fantastic (most babies are closer to 11 so YAY for you!). Would it be great for him to be able to make it 12-13 hours without eating? It sure would! Is it reasonable for him to be hungry after just 11 hours? It sure is!

      Personally I would feed him. No crying, no delayed response, just feed him. If you really hate the 5:00 AM thing maybe you give him a bottle so you and your partner can take turns?

  98. Hey kristin…just wanted to share my dd up until this month (she will be 11 months on christmas) would wake up btw 530 and 630 eat and then go back to sleep in the swing until 8-830. Now she sleeps til 6-630 and i can keep her up until naptime at 10. But if she wakes at 530 which still happens on occasion ill feed her and pop her in the swing til 7-715…Not sure what alexis thinks but if that 530 feed buys u another 2-2.5 hours, i would do it!

  99. Thanks for your reply Sara, and while I would be fine with just feeding and going back to bed for 2 more hours myself, I forgot to mention in my original post, I’m a working Mama, and my alarm goes off for me to get up and get ready for my day at 6:20. Every MINUTE of precious sleep I can get before I’m up for the day is a TREASURE, so while the 5:30 feeding-and-back-to-bed thing is fine for weekends and days off, on a normal basis, I’d love to somehow train it away because being up an hour before I need to be up just to feed baby for like 20 minutes is torture when I know it’s not worth it to go back to bed just to get up again in a few minutes.. :/

  100. My baby is 6 months old and since 4 months old has been waking up at least every 1.5 hours throughout the night (sometimes every 45 min when daytime sleep is poor). The only way to get any sleep was to bring him to bed with me so for the past two months we have been co-sleeping and basically eating (nursing) all thoughout the night since he is up every 1.5 hours. It has always been very clear to me that he has sleep issues and 5 days ago we decided to let him cry it out. As you mentioned in your CIO bedtime edition we are providing a good bedtime routine and then off to my bed we go…we lay down together because I am happy to continue co-sleeping as long as it doesnt mean waking as often. Over the last 5 bedtimes he has cried progressivley less 20 min, 10 min, fussing for 8, fussing for 5…but tonight he cried again for 20 min. In the middle of the night I have been trying to at least wait 2-2.5 hours to feed him and often times I stay awake to stop the feeding before he falls completely asleep and encourage him setteling on his own (sometimes I do fall asleep before he has finished eating).
    I guess my question is, do you think this method will work? I did read in the CIO bedtime edition the part pointed toward co-sleeping moms, I am just really hoping that the fact that he does sometimes fall asleep eating in the middle of the night doesnt keep this whole thing from working. I also am a little confused as to what to do about night weaning (as I am sure he doesnt need to eat every 2 hours at night)…Do I do cry it out and night wean all at once or cry it out then wean? How exactly does it go when you have a baby who has been eating that often previously? Do I need to get out of bed to feed him for this to work?
    I really like sleeping with my little guy and actually like to be there for him when he is falling asleep just to let him know I am still there, it seems to be of some comfort to him, but I dont know if I am going about it all wrong?
    So desperate for help or advice of any kind, I am feeling so depressed from all of this and already brought a lot of stress into the household for myself and husband

    • Hey Sarah,
      I can tell you’re feeling pretty down about things. Although I see lots of positive things going on here. Honest!

      So you broke the nurse=sleep association at bedtime with minimal crying which is a great first step.

      The next step is to get out of eating all night long (him I mean, not you). And frankly it’s not easy to get out of this pattern under any circumstances and slightly harder when you co-sleep. But I think you are up to the task.

      You are mostly putting him back down awake when he eats which is great! Keep it up (it’s OK if here and there you fall asleep). Pay special attention to how much he’s eating (look for jaw movement and swallowing sounds vs. comfort suckling). I would stick with the 2.5 hour window. Next start reducing the amount of time he gets on the breast. Start with 1 feed then move on to the next.

      If he goes to bed ~7:30 then you’re feeding him at 10:00 PM (when presumably you are also going to bed). Then I’m guessing he’s up again around 12-1 AM. I would probably start with this feeding. If you could drop this feeding you could sleep from 10:00 – 3:00 AM. That 5 hour stretch will feel amazing after not sleeping for 6 months so why not make that your goal for this week?

      Then you have a baby you dream feed when YOU go to bed, who nurses again at ~3:00 AM and (fingers crossed) then sleeps till 6:00 AM. Not a horrible second step, no?

      I would strong caution you to NOT get him used to falling asleep with you there. If you can make the bed safe (mattress on the floor?) so he can sleep there without you it would be ideal. You don’t want your kid to ONLY sleep with you there because it means you MUST be there at bedtime.

      I know this seems like an impossible goal but someday soon (I hope!) you will be leaving the house to meet friends for a drink, go to a book club meeting, or even (gasp!) a date with your husband. Don’t make your presence a required part of bedtime because you want other loving caring people to be able to put your child to bed. Maybe not today, but soon, this will be a very good thing for all of you.

      Let me know how things go, OK?

      • Thank you so much for your encouragement, it is amazing to have a resource that is acutally reliable and versatile not to mention without having to worry about the scams you subject yourself to when researching this topic! haha
        Since you cautioned against having baby get used to falling asleep with me there, can I get out of this by putting myself further and further away from him at bedtime until I am actually out of the room? Or have I started something difficult here?
        Its actually intersting you bring that up because he wakes up usually 45 min to 1 hour after falling asleep and I have to go back in for another 10-20 min for him to fall asleep again and I am wondering if you think its because I am gone or if he just hasnt mastered this whole thing yet?
        You hit his usual wake times spot on. Since last time I wrote he has moved to more 3.5-4 hours between feedings (and CIO inbetween), so I will definatley work on phasing out the 12-1 feeding. He is (and always has) woken up every hour in the early morning hours usually anywhere from 2-6…is it appropriate to handle those with the 3.5-4 hour feedings and CIO between or would you do anything different there?
        Thank you so much for all of your advice, your site is so helpfull!

  101. Hi Alexis,

    I love your site! Love it! With my older son (who is almost 3 now) we had read every sleep book out there, and your site is by far the best. We ended up sleep-training him at around 5 months of age because we had gotten into a lot of bad habits. I now have a 6 month old daughter and we recently did Ferber with her, and it worked wonderfully, only 3 nights of CIO and for the past few weeks she is now putting herself to sleep at bedtime with almost no crying, and sleeping for 12 hours straight at night!
    My question is this: we now want to move on to helping her put herself to sleep at nap-time… do you have any suggestions? Currently at bedtime the routine is: bath, bottle, book and into crib at around 7:30 pm. Very easy. At naptime she is requiring lots of soothing, rocking, etc and then the naps are still quite short in her crib (sometimes only 10 minutes, more often 30 minutes, multiple times per day). We have a very dark room, white-noise machine and she sleeps in a sleep sac. She is no longer swaddled at bedtime or during naps. If we go for a walk or car ride, etc she can sleep for hours. I am trying to nudge her towards a 3-nap-a-day routine in her crib (at 9:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 4 or 5 pm), but because the naps are so short she is not able to stay awake for very long in between, so we are ending up with 5 or sometimes 6 cat-naps per day (more like 9:30 – 11- 1- 3-5 pm). I wondered if you could offer any advice on how to approach CIO at naptime, or if this is even appropriate at this age. If the naps will just consolidate on their own with time, then I won’t stress it right now – just wondered if you had any insights.
    Thanks so much!

    • Hey Ally,
      CIO for naps is a bigger topic than I can address here in a comment. It may or may not solve your short nap problem but based on what you’ve shared here I’m inclined to believe the answer is “may not.” Although I could be wrong?

      It sounds like she needs more soothing. I feel like I say this a lot but whenever somebody tells me that their kid sleeps like gangbusters in the car but takes crappy crib naps my advice is to work with the swing for naps. There is no problem with having her nap in the swing and sleep (champion!) in the crib at night. Yes she’s 6 months old so this may only be something you need for 1-2 months. But if that $99 investment gets you smooth days for 2 months it may be a worthy investment?

      If you have one or know of somebody who has one I would definitely try it out. Give it a few days before you give up. See if 3 days of swing naps doesn’t make things markedly better?

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply. I will give the swing a try, she has never actually fallen asleep in it (but that may have more to do with its location in our busy main floor, toddler running around, etc), so I will move it into her room and see how it goes. With my son he was actually a champion napper but a poor night sleeper, so we didn’t really have this problem- just when you think you have it figured out, you get a different kid! Hehe. Thanks.

  102. Hello there,

    My daughter is 14 months old and started sleeping through the night at 5 weeks. This continued until she was about 9 months old and started teething. She has also. Suffered with coughs and colds since 9months and these things resulted in her waking during the night. We would try and settle her with cuddles and this progressed to bottles through the night. We now get up every night to her around 2-3 am and end up giving her a bottle.

    I am now back at work full time and also have a 4 year old son. It’s all getting a bit too much now.

    I think I know where I am going wrong from reading this site but would like some clarification.

    She goes to bed around 630. Bath, changed, bottle and bed. We have got into the habit of handing her the bottle and leaving the room. (Probably issue one ) I assume she falls asleep while drinking, hence why she probably needs a bottle to go back to sleep at 3am.

    Should I try the crying to get her to sleep or the bottle weaning. I take it we should now start feeding her downstairs and then bath, change and bed so she doesn’t associate sleep time with bottle.

    Also, do you have any advise with regards to what we should do if she wakes from teething. Any good remedies that might work. I feel like I am always giving her calpol.

    Anŷ help would be greatly appreciated as I am now at breaking point!

    Thank you

    • Hey Sarah,

      You must be quite tired – work, 2 kids, no sleep, that’s no picnic.

      I’m not entirely sure what you are asking but yes – she is falling asleep while drinking and this is why she demands a bottle all night long. If she’s eating an 8 oz bottle 3-4 times a night she’s also going to need some time to gradually move that consumption into the daylight hours.

      So your plan to move the bottle away from sleep time is right on the money. When you put her down without a bottle will she cry? Probably. But hopefully not much (fingers crossed). You have a nice consistent bedtime and a familiar routine and an OLDER BABY who understands your words! Use them. She may complain a little but hopefully it’s not a huge mess.

      Then gradually start weaning off the night bottles a la:

      Don’t let her keep them in there however – you’ll need to feed her and (probably) put her down in her crib awake. So no more giving her the bottle and walking out. In the short term this will suck but the long term goal is to be DONE so it’s a worthy effort for a few weeks, yes?

      My advice on teething is basically that medicine IS the answer. All other remedies require babies to be awake (and that is the opposite of what you are hoping for at night so….).

      Good luck with everything!

      • Hi Alexis,

        Update so far. Izzy is completely weaned from her bottle in the nights now but is still waking.
        I think it’s her teeth so when she wakes, we will give her calpol and teething gel, check her nappy and give her a cuddle and then put her down again.
        Then she cries and cries and cries. She is 15months now and I have never met such a stubborn baby!!!!
        If I leave her for an hour she will scream for an hour and so on.

        Do you have any suggestions?? As I said previously, I have 2 children and I work full time as does my other half and we are at breaking point now.
        My 4year old son has bags under his eyes as she is now waking him too.

        She is teething and currently has two back teeth halfway through, so we have to go into her room to give her medicine but then she just doesn’t stop crying. It goes from a moaning to a full on paddy and then goes on and on. When you go back in and pick her up she will either put her head on your shoulder and immediately stop or have a proper hissy fit and try to get out of your arms.

        We just do not know what to do. I wake in the night and want to cry now and it’s effecting my very few days that I get with the children as I am so tired I don’t have the patience to do nice things which is also really upsetting me.

        Any advice you could give me would be very much appreciated as we are completely out of answers.

        Kind regards


        • Hey Sarah,
          Your daughter is a beautiful 15 month old girl. Remember – she doesn’t have a lot of words but she understands YOURS. So make sure you’re using them. “Mommy loves you. Mommy is always here for you. It’s time for sleep and Mommy will see you in the morning.”

          Fundamentally I think you have a separation anxiety thing going on. Usually that’s what 3:00 AM wakings are all about. To be honest I don’t think the teething is a factor. Usually it’s worst when they are just breaking through. If you are really convinced it’s the teeth I would sneak in and give her some medicine BEFORE she wakes up (maybe set your alarm for midnight or 2:00 AM or something?).

          That way you rule OUT major tooth discomfort as an underlying cause.

          When she wakes up at at 3:00 am you’ll know it’s not the teeth. I would go to her, use your kind words, check her diaper, and leave. This sounds mean I know. But she WANTS you there. So the more you stay the more you’re rewarding the behavior.

          And what I’m hearing is that the whole family is an exhausted mess. If she’s happy to cuddle with you that tells me nothing is really wrong, she just wanted to be WITH you. Which is totally cool. Except for the fact that it’s 3:00 AM and the family unit is suffering for it.

          Will it be rough for a few days? Sure will. Make sure you’re using LOUD white noise. Think about giving your 4 YO a white noise device to help him get over the next week.

          But that’s what I would do given what you’re telling me.

          Let me know – OK?

  103. Hey Alexis, in some need of some advice!!!
    My baby girl has just turned 1. I did the CIO and it
    Had worked wonderful, until she got a cold in
    October, I started settling her down by rocking
    Or nursing soshe would go to sleep. Than she started
    Teething so u kept rocking and nursing. Now she
    Is terrible to put down to sleep and every night at 10
    She comes into bed with me, she sleeps better
    And I sleep. I’ve tried just trying to put her to sleep
    But it never works… She is badly teething right now
    As well but I need to do something about her
    Sleeping but where do I start?!? Getting her used
    To sleeping all night in her crib? Night weaning?
    CIO? And if I do CIO should I just leave her in the
    Middle of the night?! She cries for over an hour
    When I’ve tried lately than is up 20 mins later nadir
    Takes another hour of cryi g again. Help please!!!!

    • Hey Natalie,

      I don’t really know what is happening (hard to read your comment) but I can tell that you’re having a rough go of it. If you are feeding your 1 YO (not a baby anymore welcome to toddlerhood!) all night long and she’s USED to eating all night long she’ll be legitimately hungry and cry and cry and cry. So I suspect there are a few different thing going on here….

      1) Bedtime is waaay too late. If your 1 YO can comfortably stay awake 3-3.5 hours between sleep she should likely be going to be no later than 7:00 – 7:30 pm (assuming she is taking her afternoon nap around 1:00ish). If she’s overtired AT bedtime it’ll be far harder for her to fall asleep and that will work against you in a big way. I would start by gradually moving her bedtime up BEFORE starting with CIO. Try 15 minutes a day for a week or two until her bedtime is more in the range I’m suggesting.

      2) You are nursing to sleep which creates a huge nurse=sleep habit. This works against your efforts to night wean. BEFORE you can night wean you need to put her down awake without nursing. Yes this will involve crying. If you’re headed that way (and I think you are right?) then you might as well put her in the crib and do it all at once. So yes you put her awake, in her crib, and you don’t nurse AT bedtime anymore. See the post I link to below for more deets on that.

      3) When she wakes up in the night say 3+ hours after bedtime and is crying you DO go to her. She’s used to eating at night and is probably pretty hungry. Sure she’s old enough for you to wean her off these feeds and I encourage you to do so! But going cold turkey will lead to her crying a ton.

      Anyhoo….it will be a rough few days. But I think it’s time to make a change because it sounds like the current scene isn’t really working for either of you. What do you think?

      • Thanks Alexis! So many things are going on that I know
        I need to do I guess I just didn’t know when to start!!
        I never thought about putting her to bed earlier
        But will defiantly give it a shot! I just re-read what I said and
        She goes to bed at 8 and comes into bed with me at 10, is 8 still
        Too late?
        Just let me make sure I got it. When I start the CIO again I should still do her night feeds? And than work on weaning
        Her after she learns to put herself to sleep again?
        Thanks so much for your reply, really do appreciate it!

  104. Hi all,

    Tonight we gritted our teeth and prepared to let our 6.5 month old daughter CIO. It had come to a point where none of our soothing was helping anymore. We had her sleeping in the swing, and in bed with us because she was waking up every 1-2 hours, sometimes more frequently).
    In the swing she needed to be jiggled, SH’d and stroked, and recently it stopped being effective. So too did the temple-tapping, butt-patting and nursing… even her beloved sling has been discarded.
    Since we have been mucking everything up as far as sleep and sleep associations are concerned, we agreed the time had come for her to sleep in her cot without the soothing methods that clearly don’t work, and nursing would have to be done at the beginning of the bedtime routine (so tonight it was boob-bath-massage-jammies-book (white noise on)-swaddle). She is an avid night nurser and she has a HUGE temper, so I anticipated at least two hours of screaming, vomiting and hyperventilation.

    She cried for 4 minutes, talked to herself for 2 and then….. silence…. I’m now sweating on the couch, wondering if she is still alive and if I should prod her just to make sure….

    Could it be that she was just really starting to hate the movement or shape of the swing?! Was I crouched in the darkness jiggling like a mad woman for nothing all these months?!

    I am nearly giddy with relief but already wondering when it will blow up in my face…. surely this can’t be it?!

  105. :( Spoke too soon, she woke after an hour, obviously expected there to be a boob on hand to help her through the cycle, and has been crying for 40 minutes so far :(

    • Don’t give up, Kirsten! Your bedtime routine sounds great and it will work if you stick with it. My little guy is 6 months old and this EXACT routine (minus swaddle) and CIO worked in a few mights. Just a thought…might want to go cold turkey on the swaddle as well, as long as it’s gonna be a little rough for a few days and it’s not helping her sleep through cycling anyway?? Not to step on Alexis’s toes… Good luck!

  106. Thanks, Lisa!! We only swaddle as a cue, mostly for naps, so it sort of continued on into bedtime…. we could probably lose it for night cues since we have enough of those already, but we don’t have much of a nap time routine so it’s pretty much the only thing that signals to her that it’s time to sleep. Luckily she can’t roll over (or chooses not to…) so that’s not an issue yet!
    She did go back to sleep after those 40 minutes and then when she woke a few times during the night, there wasn’t much drama at all- I’m so relieved!!!! Apparently she CAN put herself to sleep without my boob in her mouth, she just doesn’t want to 😉

    • I LUV it when people share happy news! It’s really common for babies to wake up a little later and go, “Hey wait – what just happened?!!? I WANT MY HUMAN PACIFIER BACK!”

      But the GOOD news is that she went back to sleep sans-boob and has shown you that it IS POSSIBLE. YAY!

  107. I think we’re doing well. My baby is a 4.5 month old reflux. We’ve transitioned from the swing to the crib. I have her on a slight incline with a tightly rolled blanket in the shape of a ‘U’ under the sheet to give her a sense of security. She goes down for bed very easily now – only cries a little or not at all (bedtime 7-7:30). Naps are a little tougher but we do alright. She sleeps 3-4 hours during the day over the course of 3 naps. She sleeps both day and night with white noise and in a sleep sack with the sleeves sewn shut. Seems to work fine.

    She definitely gets the sleep cues mean sleep time. Because she’s a reflux baby, she’s used to eating many small meals. I’ve been trying to stretch out her feedings a bit and because of lack of weight gain, her doctor told me to start adding rice cereal to breast milk a couple of times a day. She still nurses just as much so we’ve increased her overall daytime calorie intake (she LOVES eating from a spoon). 3-4 hrs is where we are at right now.

    My question is what do I do for the night wakings I know she’s not hungry but wants to nurse for comfort? Do I let her cry? Do I pick her up and sooth her and then put her back down? We did CIO for bedtime but it didn’t really even end up being that as it was night 1: 15 min, night 2: 35 min, nights 3+: less than 5 min. Last night was a hard waking night. Bed at 8 (thanks to an unscheduled cat nap), awake at 9, 10, 11, 2, 4, 6:30 and up at 8:15AM. I let her cry at 9, 10 and 2. She fell back asleep after 5-10 minutes or so. Is this what I should be doing? I was thinking I need her to stop waking when she’s not hungry before I can start trying to phase out the wakings when she is actually hungry. Thoughts?

    • I think if she cries for 5 minutes and falls back asleep that’s a win. She didn’t REALLY need you. She grumbled a little and nestled back into sleep. YAY!

      But she is still eating at night right? I only ask because I wasn’t entirely sure from your question. It’s totally normal and reasonable for 4 month old to need to eat at night. Maybe not hourly but definitely 2X a night?

      So I think if she cries for 5 minutes she wasn’t really hungry. But if it’s been 4+ hours and she doesn’t re-settle after ~5 minutes then maybe she’s legitimately hungry. Also keep an eye out – lots of babies go through a huge growth spurt around 4 months so your previously “didn’t need food” baby turns into a starving food hound :)

      • Hi Alexis. Oh yes, she is still eating at night. For example, this was last night:
        6:30PM: Boob, bath, book, song,
        7P: Bed
        11P: Wake hungry and eat
        2A: Wake hungry and eat
        3A-4:30A: Wake and cry/yell off and on (but if I go in to feed her, she sucks for a minute and falls asleep)
        4:45A: Eat and hope she’ll sleep for a bit longer
        6:30A: Wake up. Feel like I haven’t slept at all so feed her again so she’ll sleep for just a little while longer.
        7:15A: Up for the day

        So truly, I don’t mind getting up at 11P and 2A. She eats quickly and efficiently and goes back to bed without a peep. It’s the constant wakes and desperate nursing between 3-7AM. I get that an early morning feed will net me a bit more sleep but it feels like I don’t sleep at all after 2AM.

        • She’s young and has reflux – I think she’s just asking for more soothing. Maybe you put her in the swing after the 2:00 AM swing? What else would you feel comfortable doing? Maybe 2:00 AM feed then swaddle + swing?

          I think figuring out how to give her more soothing is the key. Also refluxing kids often sleep poorly on her back. Even if it’s MOSTLY managed, even mild heartburn will keep her seeking you/soothing frequently. So unless you want to keep the title of human soothing provider (you don’t want this title right?) how would you feel about changing things up at night?

          • I feel ok about pretty much anything that gets me more sleep. We used the swing for about three weeks last month to teach how to fall asleep on her own. And that went really well – I put her down in her crib awake for naps and bedtime and she goes to sleep relatively easy. The reason we went to the crib in the first place is because she can get out of a swaddle (SwaddleMe – brand new so the Velcro is still good) if her feet aren’t in it. The Velcro part of the foot sack to the arms part are what holds it all together. Without it, she gets her hands down underneath where the arm flaps come across and lifts and wiggles until it comes up over her face! Even while strapped into the swing. I tried everything I could think of and she still managed it.

            So at first we tried white noise + swing and no swaddle for a few days and it was awful. Then we tried the white noise + swaddle + crib (tilted at an angle with a tightly rolled blanket in the shape of a ‘U’ under the sheet to hold her and cradle her) and it went much better. Then she figured out how to get out of the swaddle entirely with the extra freedom of the crib so I took an old sleep sack and sewed the arms closed. Which has worked pretty well except she gets a hand up the neck and stretched it out so I have add a diaper pin to keep it closed.

            She’s quite a stinker. I just don’t know what to do. I cannot figure out a solution to keep her swaddled and in the swing. Suggestions?

            • Have you tried double swaddling? That can work GANGBUSTERS. Or the expensive but often effective miracle blanket? Also I’m wondering if she might enjoy one arm out? She’s old enough that it might be worth an experiment. Often with only one arm IN the swaddle they fight less and have less strength to do it (one arm vs. two).

  108. Hi Alexis! I’ve spent the last couple months reading through your blog and all the comments, and I finally got up the courage to do CIO with our 5 month old daughter because the nights were getting progressively worse till I was up every hour and a half nursing her!

    Now, she goes down for bedtime, morning nap, and afternoon nap with less than 5 minutes of fussing! However, during the night she wakes up every 3 hours almost to the minute. I usually pick her up after only a minute or so of crying and nurse her, but it doesn’t seem like she’s that hungry. At bedtime (7:30ish), we have at least 20 minutes between nursing and putting her down so I would think the nurse to sleep association would be gone by now. Should I let her cry a little longer before nursing her? I’m just afraid that will wake her up even more and then it’ll take forever to get her back to sleep.

    Also, she usually has to take a 3rd nap in the late afternoon, and she DOES NOT go down easily, lol. Is it ok to rock her to sleep for this nap and then put her in the crib or will this start affecting how she goes down for other naps?

    Thanks for any advice!

    • The goal of CIO is to help baby fall asleep without you. And it sounds like it worked – YAY! But it doesn’t solve your night weaning struggles.

      Have you read the post below on night weaning? I’m thinking your issue is probably one of the ones listed there…

  109. Help! I’m on night five of trying to cry it out and I don’t feel like things are getting better. Tonight she’s been cried pretty much the whole time for 40 minutes before falling asleep.

    We started cry it out on Friday because she wanted to sleep attached to me or my boob for 12 hours a night and I don’t. I tried slowly weaning her off that, but it didn’t work, so here we are. My issue is that I’m not sure how to handle night feedings. She did eat a lot at night, her diapers are WET, so I expect to feed her and I don’t mind, but she just cries so much at night now. Last night she fell asleep in about 30 (I think) minutes, then woke at 8:30, cried for 15, woke at 9:40, cried for 10, woke at 11 when I fed her. Then she woke up one and cried for about 20 minutes, woke again at 2:45-nursed, then at 3:45 I started cosleeping because I forgot to check the clock and thought it was closer to morning that it was.

    My plan to handle night feeding was to wait at lest 3 hours between them and then feed her when she wakes up. If she woke up after 4 or 5, I would just let her sleep with me until morning. Since we’ve started she hasn’t been her normal self during the day, and whenever she wakes up at night she cries for 10-45 minutes with one exception last night. It’s depriving us both of sleep and I’m having trouble staying strong since she’s still screaming like crazy at night.

    Basically I’m worried that I’m not fixing the problem because she’s waking up and I’m nursing her almost every other time she wakes up, and then she gets to nurse, which is what she wants. Then in order for good naps to happen I’m letting her use me as a human pacifier if needed. Do you have any advice or encouragement to keep us on track?

    • Well, even though she cried for 40 minutes, my 7 month old figured it out yesterday. I only fed her at 1 AM and she didn’t cry hard from 1 for a few minutes to 7AM! I was able to go back to bed and there was no cosleeping last night.

      Unfortunately she cried for 45 minutes tonight, and at first it was I’m a little pissed alternating with woah I can make cool noises, but then it turned crazy. Do you have any suggestions as to how to decrease this, or do I just have to ride it out and hope?

      In case you were wondering our nightly routine is
      6-Dinner (We’re doing baby led weaning, so she does more play than eating)
      6:30-Bath with Daddy
      Dry off and get dressed in the living room
      Say good night to the world and close the blinds
      Read books and nurse
      Rock with a lullaby
      Down in the crib and I say good night and walk out.
      Screaming commences before I leave the room
      Usually I’m out withing 10 minutes of 7. Tonight we were a little late because she had a late-ish nap. I’m trying to put books in between nursing and rocking, but that might take a little time. Tonight she wanted to nurse before she got dressed after bathtime and din’t want to nurse after that, so I guess that’s a good sign.

      Thank you for your website, it has made me feel a lot better about this, and kept me from caving last night. It’s great to feel like I can have time to myself again, and this morning I think she was pretty happy since she woke up all smiles.

      • Hey Rachel,
        Weaning off the “baby has been attached to my boob all night” is the HARDEST. You have no idea how much she’s been consuming at night. It’s hard to suss out if she’s hungry, seeking comfort, or it’s just habit waking. So yes this whole thing is a slog and I’m not surprised you’ve had a rough go.

        But the good news is that it sounds like you’re coming out the other side – yay!

        I think she’s getting hung up because your nursing right AT bedtime. She wants to nurse to sleep and thus is getting increasingly angry at you because from her perspective it’s JUST RIGHT THERE! I think you’ll see some improvement if you move nursing out of the bedroom and change it’s place in the routine. Maybe just after bath when you’re in the living room? Then let Dad do the books and rocking and such. Create some space there.

        Check the post below (on weaning) – might be helpful?

        • Thanks for the response, for the most part things have improved overall. She was sick this weekend, so we used the swing for a little at night and then I co-slept-or didn’t since she had the cold. Luckily we’re back on track tonight. She cried for 20-30 minutes one. Since she is still a little sick and we backslid this weekend, I’m considering that successful.

          Surprisingly, almost a week ago she decided she wouldn’t nurse right before bed. She’ll make motions like she wants to and then just get a little frantic. In order to fill her up before bed, I now feed sometime while getting her dressed after bath. She still cried for 10 to 30 minutes, but I think that will improve once I figure out when the optimal wake up time from her second nap is. Sometimes she’s overtired and other times she’s not quite tired enough.

          Now I have another question. She has started sleeping (more or less) until 3 or 4AM. At that point she wakes up and kind of shouts. She is not crying and seems content enough but she doesn’t go back to sleep. Even after 45 minutes! Once I go in, she eats and wants to go back to sleep, but it takes me 45 minutes or more to get her back to sleep. I tried to let her cry once, but I figured she was too well rested to cry it out, since she seemed especially angry. I do think she’s hunrgy, and I know she’s still tired, but it’s taking forever to get her back to sleep. Do you have any suggestions? At 7 months, I’m not sure that she’s quite ready for night weaning-especially this late in the night’s sleep, but I’m not a fan of us both being up for so long.

  110. Sounds like we’re all in the same big, sleepless boat here. My husband and I have a 9 month old happy little whirlwind of a baby girl who would really love for us to walk her from the hours of 8pm to 8am. She slept like a champ from 4 weeks to 5 months so, stupidly, we (…okay, I) didn’t really pay much attention to all the hype about bedtime routines and not walking/nursing/turning cartwheels if necessary to get her to sleep. She got a nasty, multi-day stomach virus at 5 months and ended up kicking the sleeping habit along with the virus. It got worse, then it got better, then worse.

    For four months we’ve tried everything other than CIO. She doesn’t use a paci and doesn’t suck a finger or thumb. She has a soft little lovey that she loves to cuddle and rub on her face. We have a great bedtime ritual. She loves it and winds down beautifully. This is where it ends. As soon we put her down, she screams, gasps for air and shudders uncontrollably. Talk about a guilt trip. She’s waking up all night long – every 30 minutes to 2 hours lately and somewhere in the night I always end up caving and bringing her into bed with us. Even then though I have to nurse her or get up and walk her to get her back to sleep throughout the night. No one is sleeping and everyone, except her, is really grumpy. According to my husband, one of us is very emotional as well. If I remember correctly, I didn’t used to start my mornings with 2 cups of coffee and a good weep. I think we’re ready for CIO.

    However, we’re heading out of town for 3 nights starting tomorrow. And then gone again the following weekend. I’m thinking we should wait until we get back home from the first trip as least to dig into this. Or am I conveniently avoiding starting the process that I’ve bucked for months now? Thoughts on how much location consistency is needed to do this thing well?

    • Courtney, I am by no means an expert, but I thought I’d let you know I was pretty much at the same point except I was crying every night with a sleeping baby in my arms. I decided to wait a few days until after the holidays so my daughter could get back on track. If I were you I would probably wait until after your trips, but maybe do a little something now. I chose to stay in her room as much as possible for a few day before CIO. Good luck, it is hard. I must admit, the first hour is torture, and then the next four are bliss.

    • Thought I’d also chip in- I would wait until after the traveling, without any changes of scenery confusing your LO. We traveled for the holidays and did try CIO while away- it was really a nightmare. Baby was so distracted and over excited by the new faces and experiences that sleep was just a big mess. We waited for a week or so after we got home to reorganize her sleep habits before beginning with sleep training. It worked really well.

      As far as waking all night needing to nurse etc goes- ours was just the same up until three nights ago… she will get the message, she just needs to be reminded that she can do it without you. Soon she will have forgotten ALL about this! If you find the screaming unbearable (I think most of us do) you could leave the house, or, failing that, use earplugs? They don’t drown it out completely, but they do take the edge off……

      Just an idea! Good luck, it will all be fine!! :)

    • I almost don’t feel I need to chime in here because Rachel and Kirsten have done it so beautifully.

      If you step back and look at the big picture, she’s sleeping terribly, you’re all exhausted, and it’s escalated to the point where you’re literally crying in your coffee. Continuing on this way is simply NOT an option. It’s not functional, healthy, or going to get any better.

      If you don’t mind – I’m sure we would all love to hear how things go when you get back from your trip :)

      • It is not going well. There have been hours (nightsssssss) of crying. Does CIO ever simply not work? If not, we have some major user error. I sent you an email and then I realized you probably get a million of those.

        • Courtney,
          Did you read the post below? One of the lessons learned for me is that if things are going horribly wrong, it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture because probably something isn’t right. Small things CAN trip you up.

          Got your email and responded. Maybe we can figure out what your small thing is together?

  111. Just a wee update on how things are going with CIO here- cannot BELIEVE it is working!!!! This is night three of doing extinction method properly (because she developed a mysteriously short 1-day cold halfway through last attempt)….

    For reference, 6.5 month old used to wake every hour needing boob to get through cycles, no amount of soothing was working, swing wasn’t helping, even cosleeping started to fail us…

    Night 1 (in cot)- cried 40 minutes initially (which included a puking episode…), then fell asleep. half hour later cried 30 minutes. after first feed of night, woke only twice more for more feeds.

    Night 2- cried 25 minutes (included a smaller spitting up episode), fell asleep. 90 minutes later cried for 15 minutes. Only need two feeds in total. No other wakings.

    Night 3 (tonight)- complained loudly for 6 minutes. 1 hour later called three times, then back to sleep…

    and that’s it so far!!! We have been doing attachment parenting and really didn’t want to leave her to cry, but the cosleeping was holding her back, the constant nursing for comfort was causing us both to lose sleep and was definitely not helping her reflux, and most importantly, she didn’t know she could do it on her own.

    She is not withdrawn during the day. She still complains loudly when she needs us. She still trusts us. She still laughs and plays, smiles and blows raspberries…. so I don’t think we have damaged her at all, and have instead taught her a very wonderful life lesson before things got out of hand!

    Thank you for setting the record straight on CIO. If I hadn’t found your site, I wouldn’t have known what on earth to do next.

    • Wooo! [Sound of champagne cork popping]

      Especially with refluxing kids I’m a big fan of getting out of night feeds because food + lying on back = tummy issues. So it’s doubly great that you were able to break free of that.

      Thank you SOOO much for sharing your story. Most importantly it was almost to the minute what I suggest will happen in this post. See people? I’m not just making this up!

      And secondly, hopefully it will give somebody else the little boost of faith that they too can make some positive changes for their family :)

  112. So my husband and I read all your articles, spent days mentally preparing ourselves, picked a start day, and… Failed to put baby down awake. Our usual bedtime routine for our 7 month old is bath, baby lotion/massage, Pjs, nurse, bed. Of course the problem is nursing to sleep, and then repeated night wakings (on bad nights 4 or 5 times) when I feel like anything more than two mid-night nursings are reasonable. So on the fated night we bumped nursing up to step 1 in the routine. She wouldn’t eat! Just fussed and played around. I tried for a half hour and gave up to proceed with the rest of the routine. I didn’t want to attempt all this while putting her to bed hungry, so nursed again at the usual time. She ate well and though I did by best to keep her alert, she basically turns into a little milk zombie and goes right to sleep. What now???

    • Two options:
      1) How much do you think she’s really eating AT bedtime? Is she gulping down gallons or is it 5 minutes of comfort sucking and she’s asleep? If it’s the latter then I would put her down hungry (well not really hungry because she’s not eating much).

      But I suspect this won’t work for you because you’ll feel guilty about the fact that she’s starving so….

      2) Force the earlier feed a little. Maybe you swaddle (even if she’s not for sleep) and nurse her in a dark room. Or drape a blanket over you/her so she can’t see anything. Also make sure whatever other food she’s getting isn’t too close to the new early feed so she’s a little more interested.

      Basically do whatever works for you when you’re having a typical “distracted nurser” moment.

      If you REALLY REALLY can’t get her to nurse the other option would be to really wake her up post nurse. Change her diaper or whatever you need to do to frustrate her awake. Not ideal but a compromise. The issue with this scenario is that you still have nursing NEAR bedtime so it doesn’t set you up for huge success in night weaning. But it IS a step in the right direction!

  113. Hi Alexis,

    I posted a comment almost two weeks ago and started CIO using your advice. Generally, it worked great. Over three nights, my 8 month old son went from crying 37 minutes (dad handled it while I went shopping) to 1 minute. Now, nearly a week and a half in, we still have a few small challenges that I’d like your advice on.

    – Bedtime. Like I said, this is generally pretty great. We wind down with nursing, bath, jammies, book, song, bed (with lovey and sound machine). However, as soon as we start singing, his anxiety amps right up. He goes back and forth between clinging on me and reaching for his dad, as if trying to figure out which one of us won’t make him go in the crib. As we set him in, the look on his face is just pure anguish. We say good night and we love you and walk out. He cries for 30 secs, then is asleep. So, not terrible, but I.HATE.LEAVING him like that each night. Does this ever get better? Anything we can do to ramp down the anxiety? He is not particularly bonded to the lovey, despite my best efforts and has never been a fan of the paci (yay!) or much of a thumb sucker. Ideas?

    – middle of the night. Most nights now, he is down at 7:30 or 8, sleeping till 3 or 4ish for his first wake up, then waking at 6:30 at which time I pull him in to bed with me, nurse again and sleep till 8:20 (yay!!!!). I had been going in to nurse him at 3-4 (putting him back down awake) then but one night, decided to let him fuss (not cry) for 10 minutes as an experiment. Well, he fussed for about 8 and went back to sleep. We took that as a cue that he doesn’t really need that feeding. Now, some nights he wakes at 3, fusses for 5 minutes and goes back to sleep–or plays quietly in his crib for an hour before going back to sleep. But other nights, he will fuss (again, not really scream, just complain like he is frustrated that he cant get back to sleep) for up to an hour. We have tried not to go in at all because we don’t want to send mixed signals. However, some nights we break down because he seems to be hanging on the side of his crib waiting for us. This morning, for example, he woke at 4 and quickly put himself back down, then woke again at 5:30. we tried to let him fuss it out, but it didnt seem to be working, so we ended up pulling him to bed with us, where it took almost an hour for him to go back to sleep. So, I know consistency is key here, but I’m not quite sure how to be consistent because I can’t quite figure out what he needs. Do I just leave him to fuss it out? Nurse him every time? Stop the morning cosleeping? Wake him an hour earlier each day to discourage the hour of wakefulness in the middle of the night?

    – naps. We’ve recently had a breakthrough with naps, although an unconventional one. Until two weeks ago, all naps were on me, boob in mouth for the whole naps. We’ve now moved to carseat naps. Basically, at the start of nap time, he goes in the carseat for a 10 minute drive. Once he is asleep, which is generally very quickly, we bring the carseat inside and set it in his nursery with the sound machine on. He’s now sleeping in the carseat for 1-2 hours twice a day, and nursing after the nap (which has incidentally, made his eating much better). So, all in all, I’m happy with the naps but would love to move to crib naps soon before he outgrows his infant carseat. Any tips? I know you say CIO doesn’t always work for naps. Is there any intermediate option we can try first that doesn’t involve boobs, rocking, all those things we’ve been trying to wean off of?

    Ok, that’s lots of questions but mainly THANK YOU. Things are so much better already! Really looking forward to ironing out these last few kinks!

    • Hey Elise,

      Bedtime – this stuff is classic separation anxiety that peaks at 8 months. Here’s the deal – you’re doing everything RIGHT. HE’s out in 5 minutes. This will come and go over the next year or so. It is what it is.

      3:00 AM – I think this is habit + separation anxiety. You see this a TON at 8 months. It needs a post. Kids wake up at 3:00 AM and they just want to hang with you and can’t easily go back to sleep. IT sounds like you’ve established that it’s not about hunger. If you’re pretty confident you’ve weaned off this feeding, he’s not sitting in a huge pile of poop or something, I would leave him. Because you’re going to him is rewarding the behavior because separation anxiety means he wants you ALL the time.

      Naps – Brillant! Car naps are way better than glued to boob naps. I know he’s a bit old but I would use the swing for a brief transition tool. If the car works I think the swing would too. Then in 1 month you transition him to the car using the steps in the post below.

      Which is way more fun than nap CIO. Can you get your hands on a nice Graco swing?

      • Hi Alexis,
        I’ve been reading your blog since my son was 4 months old and he hit the 4 month sleep regression and I thought I was going to die if I had to bounce him any more! Luckily, thanks to your advice, we have a happy 11 month old who puts himself to sleep for naps and bedtime (unless he is at someone else’s house and then all bets are off!). His last meal is around 6:30-6:45, and he usually sleeps 8-9 hours before waking.
        I’ve been reading through your posts and have a quick question based on your reply to Elise. My LO has been waking sometime between 3 and 4:30 forever! We let him fuss but he never stops. I know he “should” sleep through until morning, but how do I know he isn’t hungry? You mentioned that the 3 am wake up might be habit and anxiety. I would love to not get up then. My alarm for the day goes off at 5:30 so it is so hard to get up and then go back to sleep for an hour. Usually I feed him-he eats (and he does really eat) and then he goes back to sleep until 6:30 or 7. About once a week, he won’t go back down easily and wants to be held. This usually coincides with teething. Any advice for figuring out that really crappy wake-up time? Thanks!

        • I’m confused – are you feeding him at 3:00AM? If you’re feeding him and he really eats then he’s probably actually hungry. I would work on night weaning and check the post below for things that might be tripping you up. Or am I misunderstanding?

          • Thanks for your quick reply. Yes, I am feeding him at 3:00 and I am okay with that because I am worried he is hungry. The past few nights, he’s been up between 1 and 2 am demanding to eat. He is teething majorly, and that could be the issue. We let him fuss a bit but he just flips out, which is unusual. However, when Daddy goes in for soothing, the little guy freaks out even more. At 11 months, I don’t want to start any bad habits. I will work on the night weaning and see if that helps.
            Thank you!

  114. hi I have a 7 month old who wakes up every hour at night, and has been for last 2 weeks. I am currently breastfeeding her. before that she used to get up every 3 . hours. she doesn’t sleep until she has a feed, if I leave her she crys so much then is awake for 2-3 hours. what can I do? I’ve tried everything and am so upset by the situation that I cry every night..what am I doing wrong? how can I solve this? could someone please help me.??

  115. My baby is 19 weeks and we want to start sleep training. The odd thing is for a while she was going to bed at 8:30pm, and either falling asleep while eating, or falling asleep on her own swaddled and in her crib within 10 minutes. She’d also only awake once during the night (she’s already 18 lbs, so she can be weaned of night feedings). I always feared the 4 month sleep regression hoping it was just a myth, but as soon as our daughter turned 4 months she has been impossible to be put down in her crib at night. My husband and I try to let her CIO the past 2nights, and checked on her throughout (5, then 10 minutes, etc), but we always cave because she starts hyperventilating. Last night after 90 min I rocked her, and she fell asleep instantly. The night before last she was so upset she finally turned over, and cried even more so my husband quickly moved her to the car seat where she slept all night. I’m not sure if this behavior change is from no longer being swaddled, learning a new skill like turning over, or just because more needy at night because I’m back to work, but something has to change. What used to be accomplished in 10 minutes now takes 90. I guess my question is by ‘rescuing’ her after 90 minutes are we ruining future efforts of letting her CIO? Should we wait until she masters turning back over? I don’t feel comfortable swaddling her now that she can turn over. Any expert advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hey Rona,

      My expert advice is to use a swing to teach her to fall asleep without you. She’s sort of young to have no soothing at bedtime (no swaddle or anything) but I hear your concerns about her flipping. The swing solves 2 problems for you:
      1) You can keep her swaddled and she can’t flip.
      2) She can’t flip and get stuck/freakout
      3) She apparently likes rocking as you’re rocking her to sleep
      4) The swing is fairly easy to gently wean off of probably relatively quickly for her. (see post below)

      So if it were me, I would use the swing as a temporary stopgap. She’ll probably be out of it within the month (guessing) but there you go. Hopefully you have one or can inexpensively get your hands on one!

  116. Hello,
    I want to share this in case some parents are afraid their baby will throw up during CIO.
    My baby threw up 3 nights in a row. I’m kind of used to it because he has been having reflux since day 1 and have been throwing up on average every other day. We had weeks when he threw up twice a day.
    Anyway, the first night of CIO he threw up 10 min after I put him down, the second day 5 min after I put him down, the third day 2 min after I put him down. All three times he was asleep while I was changing him or putting him into his crib. Honestly, for me it is easier than if I had to listen to him crying for an hour.

    • Yep. And refluxy kids often throw up in their sleep. My little guy used to be covered in spitup in the morning. Somehow this didn’t bother him? So often these things are far more stressful for us than they are for them 😛

  117. OK Alexis,

    I have been “studying” this blog for weeks now, in preparation for what I never thought I’d do… Sleep train. I bought and tried the Pantley NCSS method, using teeeny tiiiiny gradual steps to remove myself from my dd’s falling asleep process. We were going nowhere. Well, there was marginal improvement, but for the amount of time and effort I was putting into it, it wasn’t making me happy. I found your website at 3am and read it all night long. And have been re-reading it nightly. So I should know my stuff by now. But WTF just happened last night?

    My daughter will be 8 months old this week. And her nights aren’t really bad; she gets up once or twice. But her naps SUCK. 30 minutes, like a clock, BING! She’s up and ready to play. I am exhausted because I literally get no breaks. For 2 months now, we have been doing the “drowsy but awake” thing. It worked for while, but like you said about hypervigilance, she eventually started to flip out every time I began to tilt her toward the crib. I decided I had enough of the Pantley’s way of picking her right back up over, and over and OVER again until they go down without a peep. Last night I decided I would do what we normally do: book, bath, nurse, song/rock, bed, and if she fussed as I was putting her down I was gonna do it anyway. And I did. And before I even got to my bedroom to turn the baby monitor on, she was done crying. So CIO lasted ~2 minutes. ELATION! I am the champ.

    NOPE. She was up even more! Went to bed at 7:16pm. Then was up at 10:30 (cried for 15 minutes), 12:00 (when i normally feed her so i went in and fed her), 1:00 (cried for 5 minutes), 3:00 (went in and fed her again), and then was up for REAL at 6am (a whole hour and a half earlier than she normally gets up.) Nooooooo! I am more exhausted than ever. What did I do wrong? If she figured out how to fall asleep on her own, whyyyy all the crying last night?

    I do believe you are the wiz. Please HALP!

    • An addendum to my above cry for help! I thought perhaps the more frequent night waking would stop after the first few nights of our new sleep plan. LO is still falling asleep on her own with less than a minute of fussing. However, she is STILL waking up every 2-4 hours (last night was night #5 and she was up every 2 hours beginning at 10pm.) I went in to feed her when she woke up at midnight and at 4am (i let her cry at the 10pm and 2am.) The she was fuly awake about an hour before her normal time. Is this normal? I am completely clueless as to what to do in this situation. I thought once she knew how to fall asleep on her own, her night wakings would become less frequent… Not more! She is teething, but she acts perfectly normal during the day, so I am not sure that is really the issue. She is 8 months old, and I also have not heard of any big 8 month sleep regressions. What am I supposed to do here?!!?

    • Janelle,

      You are feeling frustrated and defeated. Meanwhile I’m reading this thinking – FANTASTIC!

      Seriously – this is really great. I know you don’t feel great so let me try to reorient your perspective.

      For starters 8 months is the PEAK SEPARATION ANXIETY time so you see lots of night waking stuff at this time. Teething, growth spurts, separation anxiety, the first year with a baby is like playing whack-a-mole with night waking.

      So let’s look at this:
      NO crying. You wanted the no cry sleep solution. And guess what – YOU GOT IT.

      There was some intermittent night complaining. But honest, 15 minutes is NOTHING. This is her waking up, realizing what happened and saying, “Hey! What?!?! I don’t want to be here I want to play! Oh…find I’ll go back to sleep. grumblegrumblegrumble.”

      I’m sure it stressed you out but honest, is normal and not a huge deal. And temporary.

      Gently weaning off the other feedings will help because there is a touch of “inconsistent reinforcement” with the whole – feed sometimes, not others. She doesn’t magically know it’s midnight so that’s probably feeding into this a little.

      Also teething IS an issue. Sure she’s fine during the day. She’s too busy to bother. But at night in a dark boring room, there is no distraction. When it comes to teeth – when in doubt, medicate. Basically my whole position on teething.

      As for waking up 1 hour early it’s hard to say. Lots of things could be driving that. Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes it’s teething. Sometimes it’s the position of the stars in the sky.

      I think if you gently wean off the midnight feed in the next 2 weeks so you’re only going with the early AM feed, you’ll see a marked decrease in the night crying.

      I hope this helps you feel better about things. Because honest – from this side of the computer, I’m thinking things went GREAT.

  118. I’m here… Meaning I’m despereate for help! I’ve read through a lot on your sight and lots of comments but haven’t found someone yet in my particular situation. I think mainly because I have waited to long. Anyway, I have a 10 1/2 month old whose sleep continually gets worse. I am a working mom whose husband works a week on/week off. So every other week its just me and baby! My problem is our baby slept great until he was 4 months old. I continue to try to put him back in his crib to sleep sometimes and now after reading about the object permanance I can understand how I’ve been going at this all wrong! My son co-sleeps with us right now. I started this because it helped him to sleep better through the night. I was going back to work and was desperate for sleep! I’ve made so many mistakes I’m wondering how I’m going to fix them all. With out going through everything here is where we are at now: 10 1/2 mo old co-sleeps and wakes every 1-2 hours and on a bad night evert 30 minutes. We end up giving him a bottle thats next to the bed thats mainly water with a little bit of juice and he takes a few drinks and then rolls over and goes back to sleep. I do however get up at least once and give him a bottle of formula. Usually this is around 1-2am. There are nights that I have to hold him and let him scream in my arms for a few minutse at bed time to get him to go to sleep for the night. He really fights sleep sometimes. I tried the CIO method once about 5-6 months ago and was completely devastated at that point from it. I let him cry for about 10 minutes and then he threw up so I had to go in and get him out of the crib to clean him up. I couldn’t get him to quit crying and shaking for about another 15-20 minutes after that holding him and rocking him and loving on him! I haven’t tried it since… Well now I’m wondering if I should do it again… What do I do if he does throw up again? I know you said clean him up with as little light as possible, I guess my fear is that he continues to be so upset that he keeps throwing up after he is changed and back in his crib. Or will this stop and he will eventually go to sleep? So should I go back in the room only if he throws up and only if he wakes for the one bottle in the middle of the night? He usually will fall asleep drinking his bottle or he will spit the bottle out and turn his head and go to sleep while I’m holding him. He is capable of holding his own bottle so should I just give his bottle to him in his crib and let him drink it and go to sleep? I’m really not sure where to even start here…. Any advise will be much appreciated!!

    • Stacey,
      The key here is to ditch the bottle at bedtime. Don’t let him eat to sleep even if it’s just water. Because clearly you have a suck=sleep thing going on which is why when he wakes up he takes a few drinks rolls over and falls back to sleep. So all your efforts to break out of the hourly “bottle reinsertion” thing are going to fail if you’re letting him have a bottle at or near bedtime.

      Does that make sense?

      If he throws up again, you’ll clean it up. Will it continue? Unlikely. Also now you’re going to move his last bottle of the day about 20 minutes up in the routine so he won’t have a huge milk belly to throw up on you.

      But really what I’m hearing is that the bottle is the root of the issue. I would totally ditch the bottle AT bedtime. No more “few sips of juice” here and there. If there is a time that he’s used to really eating a full bottle then you should go give him that bottle. He’s used to eating, he’ll be hungry. But the bottle is what is killing you. It’s time for a change.

      Hope that helps?

  119. Hello ANYONE with suggestions….

    After much fighting & trying everything under the sun to get my 7 month old to SLEEP longer than 20 minutes at a time, I am doing CIO, full extinction. We are on night 18 and he’s STILL crying 30-45 minutes. The fastest he’s went down (once only), was 18 minutes. He’s sleeping 12-14 hours a night and puts himself back to sleep after our one nightly feeding, but the crying at bedtime IS ABSOLUTELY KILLING ME!!! I cry every single night and my heart physically aches.

    Bedtime is 5:30-6:00, hour and a half to two hours after his last nap, so he shouldn’t be overtired, we use white noise, bedtime routine has been solid for months.

    I guess my question is-is this working??? How much flipping longer will he cry this long? Should I start doing checks?

    • No checks. (In my head I sound like Edna saying, “No capes.” in The Incredibles)

      I almost never say this so if anybody else reads this, this does NOT apply to you (probably). But I think bedtime is too early.

      Most kids are awake slightly longer between their last nap and bedtime. So if her normal daily “window between sleep” is 1.5-2 hours, she can probably go 2.5-3 at bedtime. You with me?

      So I’m thinking that 5:30 is TOO early. If she wakes up from her last nap at say 4:00 PM, I would shoot for a bedtime closer to 7:00 PM (~3 hours).

      Try that for 3 days and let me know what happens OK? I’m betting you’ll see a huge improvement in crying times.

  120. Hello Alexis,

    My 9 month old is doing quite well with the CIO at night time now. I don’t have to feed her in the middle of the night and she can usually sleep through the night without having to CIO. We started the CIO last Wednesday.

    Our routine is story, bath, jammies and nurse. Now I know you say to put them down awake so after she’s finished nursing I wake her up to burp and say goodnight and give her a kiss and put her in her crib.

    My question is does she need to be fully wide awake for the CIO to truly work or can she be sleepy? She is usually awake, rubbing her eyes and making noises when I put her down for the night she’s not fully wide awake though. The first couple nights she let our a few cries and then went to sleep. I just want to know if this will back fire for me later on down the road by putting her to bed sleepy?

    I still nurse her to sleep for naps during the day because you wrote on your site to make sure night sleeping is well established before you mess around with naps. When can you start nap training? What do you do for naps? Is it the same as night training?

    For naps we have a routine read a book, change her diaper and nurse. Then she usually goes down around 10 or 10:30 am and then again at 2 or 2:30 pm for around 1 to 2 hours each time. But sometimes she wakes up early and cries. Sometimes she has a soother for naps (not a bedtime though) and sometimes she doesn’t need one. Any suggestions for how to sleep train for nap time?

    Alexis thank you so much for all your wonderful information. I feel so much better now about bedtime. I don’t feel guilty about letting her cry and we all sleep better because of your advice and guidance. Thank you!!!!


    • Hey Shannon,

      If she’s not waking up constantly then she’s awake enough. That is pretty much the litmus test :)

      And why bother with nap CIO if she’s taking great naps! 1-2 hours is pretty much as good as you’re going to get. Why rock the boat?

      Congrats on all your great progress!

      • Thanks for replying Alexis!

        I appreciate your clarification on the awake vs. asleep idea, that helps a lot!

        Thank you for your encouraging words about her nap.

        Though I still would like to know what to do on the days (like this afternoon) when she is sleeping for 20 minutes and wakes up and I try and let her CIO for 30 minutes and she still won’t go back down on her own. Though if she did that at night she would be able to CIO and eventually fall asleep. Do I need to change up her nap routine? Feed her first then do diaper and story? Can I let her CIO for naps?
        Some advice in this area would be appreciated a lot!!

        Thank you for responding Alexis and taking the time to answer my questions!



        P.S. Thank you Sara for “adding your 2 cents” you can do that anytime, unfortunately Claire just wouldn’t CIO for her nap today. Maybe next time though. Thanks again!

        • Sometimes crappy naps happen. This is life with babies. If she’s slept 20 minutes, post “crap nap” CIO is unlikely to do anything positive for either of you :(

    • Shannon…just wanted to throw in my 2 dd (who turned 1 today…omg) still wakes up in the middle of a nap sits up and cries for a few minutes and goes back to sleep…just leave her for 5 even 10 min to uss it out and get a video monitor if u dont have…ull see shell go back down…in my experience, totally normal…

  121. Hi All,

    I thought I would try and leave a positive comment. I too was in the position that I had to do CIO. Our now 11 month old was a great sleeper up until he was about 4 months old. Then, it started to go downhill quickly. We would get back into a good routine and then something would interrupt it (vacation at 6 months), having to move out of our house after the hurricane left us without power for 8 days, and then numerous illnessess. We finally did CIO 2 weeks before Christmas — he was almost 10 months old. Things went ok…but then on the 3rd night he got an ear infection and not even four days later, a stomach bug that took out the entire house. He was so sick that the only way he could sleep was upright on one of us and because he was so sick, could only eat about an ounce or two at a time. Fast forward a month and things were even worse than before. He would cry the minute we tried to put him down and had to be held for naps and everything–and he was up every 1-2 hours wanting to feed. Finally at my wits end we decided to try CIO yet again. We started on a Sunday night….for 2.5 hours he just hung out in his crib. There was some fussing and grumbling, but not a lot of crying…but no sleeping either. He fell asleep sitting up. Night 2 dropped down to about 1.5 hours…a little crying this time, but mainly just hanging out in the crib. He fell asleep again sitting up. On the third night, he dropped down to 45 minutes — there was a little more crying this night since he knew we weren’t going to be coming back in…and finally fell asleep laying down. Night 4 got better and so on. We are now almost 2 weeks into it…and bedtime is once again a joy. We have our routine of bottle, books, quiet play with one toy, then songs and bedtime. The entire process takes about 30 minutes. Most nights he goes down without a problem, but if he does cry, it is usually for only about a minute. I found that instead of trying to force him to lay down in the crib, I actually put him in sitting up. He usually grabs for his stuffed dog and moves it around until he and the dog are comfortable. My husband and I finally have our nights back to ourselves and according to my four year old, I actually don’t look “mean” in the mornings anymore. Anyways, just wanted to give some positive encouragement to anyone else at the end of their rope…. (PS – Alexis – thank you so much for emailing me back and telling me not to give up after night one!! You were/are a lifesaver!!!)

    • ” I actually don’t look “mean” in the mornings anymore. ”

      I’m a human gargoyle after a long bout of non-sleeping so I totally get why your 4 YO is saying this. Also it made me laugh 😉

      Thanks so much for checking in to share your story! Ironically I had a hard time hunting down our email exchange because I’ve heard from MULTIPLE hurricane peeps. Apparently having your home destroyed by a storm when you are parenting a newborn really upsets the whole sleep thing. WHO KNEW! ;P

      Anyway I’m so glad that you were able to persevere and that things are going well for you. Thanks for sharing! :)

  122. Hi Alexis,

    I love your website and the work that you do, thank you!

    We have a 9 month old baby and our situation is a little unusual (but then again, I think that’s what everyone believes…).

    Our baby sleeps really well at night. He has his ups and downs, but he mostly always slept from 7pm to 6am. We rarely ever have to get up during the night. So no issues there. We have a super specific routine which is bath, diner, story, sleep sack, pacifier, blanky, no rocking, say goodnight, turn off the light and leave the room. He fusses for a few minutes and then goes to sleep. He might wake up an hour later, in which case we go in, shush him (we don’t pick him up) and leave 2 minutes later. And that’s usually it.

    The issue is with his naps and we’d love your opinion on what to do.
    He needs 2 naps, one in the am from 9am to 10am and one in the afternoon from 2pm to 4pm. And that’s exactly how much he naps if he’s being held or if my wife or I nap with him.

    But if we try to make him have his naps in his bed, he will fall asleep after 15 minutes or so but he will only sleep for 30 minutes or so. Same thing happens in the morning and in the afternoon nap (he has a harder time falling asleep also in the afternoon). To us, this is not good because he would only nap for 1 hour during the entire day, which is way too little and you can see it on his face (he looks exhausted when that happens).

    Our gut feel is that we need to let him CIO, but you see, falling asleep isn’t the problem, it’s staying asleep that is. We make sure his routine is always the same for the naps as well (mostly the same as for the night except for the bath), the room is dark (not pitch black, but pretty dark) and we try to put him to bed when he’s tired but not exhausted.

    Do you have any thoughts about this?

    Thanks Alexis

    • I DO!

      Actually this is really common. Sadly it’s not easily fixable :(

      Basically if you cuddle with him he gets lots of soothing. If you put him in his crib he has almost no soothing. And sadly at 9 months your options to GIVE him soothing are really limited – white noise, MAYBE swaddle (I know I know – he’s old). Swing is another option but there again – he’s quite old for that.

      If we rewind to when he was say 4 months – somewhere in this vicinity people start gradually weaning off soothing things so baby gradually learns to sleep well without. You sort of skipped that step so your baby has learned to sleep WITH his great soothing cuddle buddy. And while cuddling to nap with babies is AWESOME it’s also a bit of a dead end road because eventually you want to do other stuff with your free time only now your baby has never gradually learned to sleep without all that cuddly goodness so the result is he takes really short naps when he doesn’t get it.

      You really have 2 options at this point:
      1) Suck it up. Keep him in his crib, stick with short naps, and hope he figures out how to navigate a sleep cycle fairly quickly so the window where he is tired is relatively short. It may take a week or two. But there you are.

      Another mini-option of this would be to have him sleep in his crib for his AM nap but cuddle for the PM nap. The AM nap often is the “best” nap of the day so if hes going to figure out how to sleep longer solo, you’ll likely see this happen in the AM. Then you cuddle in the PM so he’s not super exhausted. The downside of this is that it’s a LONG process and you’re also being inconsistent with how he sleeps. Generally inconsistency is a bad thing but for a week or two it’s probably OK.

      2) Super gradually make changes. This is pretty painful and if you have the No Cry Sleep Solution you could check there for more hints. But basically you would cuddle with him in his crib – drop the side all the way (if possible) and over the course of weeks, very gently start moving OUT of the crib. Does that make sense?

      CIO is unlikely to do anything for you. Having babies cry after they wake up from short crappy naps rarely does anything positive. Sorry :(

      • Wow, I could have written Georges’ post myself, as that is our exact situation and everything you say is equally applicable to my daughter. We have an 8.5 month old 30-minute crib napper who will sleep for much longer if my husband or I nap with her – unless, that is we made brunch plans or something and then she will sleep on her own long enough that we’re late. Ahem. I have a follow up question for the first option you mention – do you mean that they may just figure out how to link longer sleep cycles on their own if you eliminate the inconsistency, but it could take a couple of weeks? I should add that my husband and I both work full time, so all naps during the week are happening in our daughter’s crib (she has a nanny). It’s only the weekends that anyone naps with her. Thanks Alexis for your insight, humor and patience with all us baby-sleep obsessives!

        • Yes exactly that. Basically when you give TONS of soothing you’re able to get baby to navigate sleep cycles successfully (say that 5 times fast). When you take away the cuddle stuff they are partially roused in a sleep cycle and go, “Hmm….not enough soothing – I’m UP!” and you have a 35 minute nap.

          At 8.5 months you’re only real soothing options are a lovey, swaddle (possibly), loud white noise (definitely), dark room, and consistency. You offer those things and as she gets used to THAT, hopefully soonish, she’ll start successfully managing the sleep cycles to achieve longer naps.

          If she’s napping in the crib during the week I would keep the same program for the weekend. Worst case scenario she takes a short crappy nap and you guys make your brunch date 😉

  123. Hi Alexis:
    I have a 6 month old baby boy. I used all your advice to get him sleep trained (CIO method) and it worked like a dream.
    With regard to nap time – this little boy hates being put down for a nap. I have to bounce the heck out of him until he falls asleep and I also have to use a swaddle (I don’t use a swaddle or soother at night) or he wakes up after only 20 minutes or so. The staying-asleep part is good – he can nap for upwards of 2 hours. It’s the getting-him-to-sleep part that is so much work. Is this normal/ok to rock him to sleep for EVERY nap? Do kids eventually get the idea that they need to sleep and ever fall asleep on their own for naptime?
    Thanks so much!

    • Keep swaddling. Sounds like it’s going GREAT so definitely – swaddle for naps.

      It’s time to gradually wean off the rocking. YOu can do this manually or use a swing (if you have one or can borrow one for ~1 month it would be AWESOME). Check post on weaning off the swing as this basically pertains to you too. But you could automate some of that swinging in the meantime 😉

  124. I started trying CIO before reading your blog (which i just found last night). Today is Sunday and my Day1 below was this past Wednesday, Jan 23). I’ve made some mistake as I have some question which I haven’t seen adressed yet in any of the articles I’ve read so far…

    My baby boy is 5.5 months old and the first night I tried CIO he fell asleep after 25 min of off and on crying and slept the whole night! He ate at 9:50pm, fell asleep after crying at around 11, woke up after an hour, cried for 2 min and went back to sleep on his own. When I woke up for work at 6:45 I was amazed that he wasn’t hungry yet an I took a shower, and got dressed all while he continued to sleep. He awoke slightly when I took him out of his crib to change him and he slept while I fed him and even when I put him in his carseat. My nanny met me at my job at 8:45 and we transferred him from car to car without a peep. Then she texted me at work saying he continued to sleep (in the carseat) till 11am! I thought, if this is how CIO works, then I am a convert! (Before I couldn’t stand to hear him cry!)

    On the second night he fell asleep after 5 min of crying, but woke up after 1hr 45 min and in my drowsy state I went to his crib, picked him up, brought him back to bed with me and nursed him. He then slept with me for 3.5 hrs, woke again, nursed, and slept another 2 hrs 10min (in which I didn’t sleep because I had to go to work).

    The third night he fell asleep nursing and didn’t wake up when I put him in his crib (that was usually the problem for my husband and I… He falls asleep in our arms, but wakes up and fusses when we set him in his crib). He slept all night again 6hrs 15min, woke up to nurse at 5:40 and slept for another 2 hrs while I slept a little longer and got ready for work.

    Last night h had a really long late nap from 4pm to 7pm at grandma’s house and fell asleep again before I drove home at 10pm. I nurse him at 10:45, but he was still acting hungry, so I tried to “top him off before going to bed for the night at 11:20 and he slept for only 20 minutes before waking again. I thought maybe he had reflux or gas, so I picked him up and he let out a big burp, but them continued rooting around like he was still hungry! So I fed him for 10min at 11:55 and he fell asleep for 2hrs 40min. We he woke up, he was crying in a frustrated way so I went to check on him and he’d rolled over to his tummy, but can’t yet turn back. I was unsure whethe I should just turn him over and let him cry himself back to sleep or feed him and that’s when I could your site. I read that CIO is not for night weaning, so I fed him and he slept another 3hrs 15min before waking up again, on his tummy. Fed him again and he slept another 3hrs. (All in his crib)

    Today is Sunday, so I try to sleep in, so when he woke up at almost 10am, I took him to bed with me, fed him and read your site some more while he just lay there content, watching the kitty. (Ideally, I would have liked to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t with him awake next to me.) PS: his dad and I have always been night owls, preferring to go to bed late and sleep in, an Alex (my baby) seems to be the same. I have tried doing a night routine with him starting at 7:30 to get him in bed by 8, but I ended up getting dragged out because he wouldn’t fall asleep for the night before midnight. I’ve been slowly moving earlier, but 10:30 is still about the earliest I can get him to sleep for a good, long stretch.

    Well anyway (sorry I’m so long-winded) my question is: what do I do about the fact that he can now turn onto his tummy, but can’t yet roll back on his back? He doesn’t like to sleep on his belly, so I think that’s why he’s waking up every 3 hrs. I’d like to cut down nighttime nursing to just once a night, but I don’t know if when he wakes up on his tummy I should just turn him over and let him cry or feed him. He usually eats every 2.5 to 3 hrs when he’s awake with me on the weekends. I’ll have to ask how often my nanny feeds him when she’s got him. But it seems that every 3 hrs is his regular feeding schedule, yet I know he can go longer at night… In that case is it ok to let him cry it out at 3am? I’m also afraid that while he’s crying he’ll writhe about and end up on his tummy again. Oh yeah, and btw, he’s got 2 teeth that have already broken through.

    • Carol,

      Phew…OK here’s my thoughts on stuff you didn’t ask about but such is life.

      I’m also a night owl. I HATE getting up early but will happily get sucked into a good book till midnight or later. That being said his bedtime is WAAAY late. And it is true that some babies are pretty flexible with this and will sleep ~11 hours from whenever bedtime is so they can float with a late bedtime and have late naps so their whole day is just 3-4 hours shifted off what is typical for babies.

      But this has 3 distinct drawbacks:
      1) They’re sleep doesn’t align with the light/dark cycle of the day which can sometimes interfere with their ability to produce melatonin.
      2) Most start waking up increasingly early so if that happens, the late bedtime needs to go (they’re loosing precious night sleep hours).
      3) You never get any baby free time. This is a biggie for lots of people and something to consider.

      Anyhoo I’m not trying to nag you about that but just keep you aware. I AM going to nag you about the inconsistent bedtime. At 6 months it’s time to be consistent about when it is and this may mean “defending” that consistency by not letting him nap or waking him up if he falls asleep in the car.

      Consistency of WHEN and WHERE are both key. At this point if you’re sleep training then make the decision on where you want him to sleep. If it’s in your bed – great! But if you’re working on the crib then don’t bring him into your bed to nurse. You get why I’m suggesting this right?

      You can check the post I link to below for more tips on night weaning but I think you need to nail down the consistency part of the equation first. Also make sure you aren’t nursing him to sleep anymore. If he falls asleep then wake him slightly OK?

      As for flipping I would lean towards flipping him back and leaving well enough alone. You’re goal is to move AWAY from nurse to sleep so nursing him whenever he flips is counterproductive.

  125. Hi, i have an almost 15 month old boy who has severe food allergies and eczema, which becomes worst if he doesn’t sleep well. But it’s a crazy cycle, itchiness from the allergies/eczema makes him wake up itching day and night. since 4 months, we had tried CIO, cosleeping, sleeping in his own crib with me putting my hand in there, sleeping right next to me on my bed, none of these help him sleep longer than 1.5-2 hours, or sometimes 3 hours. Now after 5x CIO because we just can’t handle the nosleep, we are trying CIO again, this time with him in his crib alone in his room. It’s been 1.5 weeks and he still wakes up in the middle of the night several times crying. at first he had lots of diaper leaks, and i ignored him several times not knowing he had, later i went in to check to make sure it wasn’t diaper leaks and i leave the room. so now he cries for diaper change every time he wakes up because he knows i would stay there next to him. since i cannot just ignore him every time he cries, due to diaper leakage problems, do i still go in and check him out and then leave the room? he’s been very frustrated every time i go in and then leave that he throws stuff out of his crib. When he first learned to sleep from CIO i gave him a cup of water and pillows and he first slept on the pillow as he cries. so i still leave them in the crib for him, but now he throws them out to get my attention. Since this is the 5th time we are doing CIO, i do not know if this time will work or not as his temperament tells me he’s tough to be trained and i read a lot of articles that some babies just can’t been trained. i’m running out of ideas how to help him sleep longer. nothing seemed to work, we’ve tried everything! my temper is getting worst and worst from no sleep and stopping him itch in the day time. please help!

    • Hey Esther,
      If you’re getting frustrated (and we’ve all been there) is there anyway you can get some help? Catch a break? Is there some family who could take a night for you while you sleep elsewhere? Because if YOU are that drained it’s going to be all but impossible for you to really help him sleep. So my first thought is that you need to get some care/support for YOU.

      Secondly – it sounds like his itching and such is pretty horrendous. Is it possible that he simply CAN’T sleep due to discomfort? I’m sure you’ve already peppered your doctor for ideas but I’m wondering if there isn’t a specialist you could go to for a second opinion? Is there nothing else that can be done about his poor itchy skin?

      As for the diaper change – my advice is to double bag him. LIterally put TWO diapers on him. Also if you aren’t already using them, invest in the overnight diapers. They are WORTH EVERY PENNY. He should be able to make it 8-12 hours without leaking in those. If not, double bag the overnights.

      I don’t know if he can’t be trained or has a strong temperament. You say he has all these medical issues so I wonder if he is just too uncomfortable to sleep easily.

      I know not what you wanted to hear :(

      Ask a favor. Call some family. Get some help. There are times in life to be proud. This is not one of those times.

  126. I am trying CIO for the first time tonight. I feel like a horrible mom. :( my daughter isn’t a horrible sleeper but wakes every 3 hours at night. I typically would lay with her for 15 minutes until she fell asleep then put her in her crib but when she wakes up any time after that she just would not settle back to sleep unless I put her in bed with me. I was fine with that, I like co-sleeping with her. However, her father is terrified I will roll on her or suffocate her and he also thinks that she’ll end up 7 years old and still in our bed. The latter is a fear of mine also. So I figured I’d give CIO a try. She fell asleep after 40 mins of crying but then woke up crying just 25 minutes later and now she is crying for 10-15 minutes, falling asleep for 5, crying for 10-15, asleep for 5 and repeat. Do I just let this continue? I’m at a loss, I feel defeated and like a horrible mom :,(

  127. I just did my first night of CIO and it actually went really well, I think my 4.5 month old son has been waiting for this independence should I say to put himself to sleep. Your site Abd tips were the most helpful I found! I hope that this continues the second night and so on, but I’m taking your advice and not letting him CIO on naps yet. I let him do it a couple of times and it seemed like the naps were getting longer by 10 min, but I agree great naps lead to great sleep. Please post the CIO for naps!! But my question is, I will soon be transitioning my son out of a swaddle (going to a peke moe Bevause he still scratches) and into a crib. I was going to do it all at once or within the same week….would you recommend spacing it out? Do you think it will affect his ability to fall asleep on his own? Should I wait until he falls asleep on his for a few weeks to introduce?

    • Why are you transitioning your son out of the swaddle?

      Don’t do it all at once and don’t do it until he’s ready! If it affects his ability to fall asleep he’s not ready. He’s still little – some babies are swaddled for sleep till 10 months! Yes the sleep bag thingie looks cute but wait till you KNOW he’s ready. Gradually wean off the swaddle. If it’s not going well he’s not ready which is totally fine.

      Seriously. Swaddling is awesome. When he’s 2 you can tell me there’s a big push to get him out but at 4 months? Naaah.

      • Thanks for the tip. I’ll prob transition into the crib first and then try to tackle the swaddle issue. But I’m wanting to transition out of swaddling for 3 reasons 1) he always breaks out 2) he is a big boy for his age 18 lbs and 27in so I’m afraid he is going to grow out of swaddling soon and 3) im not sure how right I am with this but I think the limited mobility is hindering him from rolling over. He is swaddled during all naps as well as all night so during tummy time he almost never brings his arms forward. I would love to keep him swaddled But I’m afraid hurting him in the long run. What do you think?

  128. Hi Alexis. HELP! I found your site last week and have been pouring over all of the posts – specifically “Weaning off the swing” and “How to CIO”. I’ve also spent countless dollars on all kinds of sleep training books and have found your site to be the most helpful!

    We have a routine, she’s going to bed at 6:45, she’s not a good napper (thanks daycare), no paci, dark room, white noise…

    Here’s my big question – we’re in the midst of weaning our 7 month old daughter off the swing and ready to CIO (she’s been waking up about 3-4 times between 7pm-7am and nursing her is the only way to put her back to sleep. She’s not really eating, just likes to nurse). She can sleep in a non moving swing some nights but we’ve only been able to put her down awake once. Can we wean off the swing and CIO at the same time? She totally flips out when she’s in the crib – hence sleeping in the swing. When she cries in the swing she kicks and straightens but she’s strapped in. The swing hasn’t come crashing down on her but it does freak us out.

    How do we do both?

    Thank you!!!!

    • No crying babies in a swing unless you can see them (hello night vision monitor!). Also keep in mind that CIO is a tool to help babies fall asleep solo. It’s not the same as night weaning. So if she’s used to eating (or even snacking) at night then you might want to consider how to gentle wean your way out of the night waking. Which will start with not nursing to sleep AT bedtime (see post below for more deets).

      If she’s totally flipping out in the crib and you feel the swing is a happier place AND YOU CAN WATCH (night vision monitor) then you could start working on putting down awake there then transition to the crib later. It MAY help things go more smoothly. Typically once babies are happily falling asleep in the swing the transition to the crib isn’t such a big deal. Check this out for more details:

  129. HELP! Please!
    We are on night 3 of cry it out for our 7 month old. She slept in her swing most of the time because motion was the only way to keep her sleeping but when she grew out of it I had to start using the crib but she wouldn’t stay asleep. Ive always either rocked or cuddle her to sleep but realized if i continued i would have to do it forever. by the way, she would not let her father put her to sleep only me including the middle of the night so i was alone in her sleep needs.
    fast forward to 6.5 months and we had a combination of crib sleeping and co sleeping because she would not rock to sleep after she woke up in the night for a feeding so i would just bring her in bed with me and we would snuggle until we fell asleep playing a lullaby on repeat on my iphone. horrible habits i set in place, i know BUT to my defense, i love cuddling with her and i thought allowing her to cry was like child abuse or something. ultimately i finally agreed with her father to give cio a try.
    Night one was horrible for me but she finally went to sleep after 40 minutes, I actually cried longer than her. Night two, same as night one. Night 3, I thought a choir of angels would drop down from my ceiling because FINALLY she fell asleep after only 20 minutes of crying when she realized I wasn’t coming back and it was time for bed.
    HERE’S THE PROBLEM. she still wakes up for two feedings at night which for now I’m fine with because she had a heart defect (surgically repaired at 4 months) so not only were we not able to let her cry but she also ate more like a newborn as she would tire and fall asleep. At 7 months old she only takes a 4 oz bottle at a time. So the problem, like I said tonight is night 3, I’m exhausted and haven’t slept yet, it’s 1am, she woke up at 11:30 for food an went to sleep at 8:20, she’s been crying since I put her back down after feeding her at 11:45. Is this an extinction burst? I’m so close to caving in but I know if I do I will be stuck doing what I have been doing prior to starting CIO and she’ll probably hate her crib forever.
    Please, I’m so desperate, any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

    • Dawn,
      Please stop self-flagillating about this because honestly 45 minutes followed by 20 minutes is pretty awesome!

      So it sounds like there’s a second issue which is that when you feed her at night she’s not falling back to sleep post-feed? So you feed her and THEN she cries for hours? That’s a little unusual.

      Typically putting babies down awake AT bedtime is the key. I’ve often found that having babies eat to sleep during the night doesn’t really muck things up as much as you fear they will. So if you want to feed her to sleep at 11:30 it’s unlikely to be a huge problem (provided you’re being consistent AT bedtime).

      Is that a compromise we could try out & see what happens?

      Or is she crying because she wants you to come back in and rock her to sleep. If THATs the case I’m inclined to agree with you – don’t cave.

      At any rate it’s been a few days so – what happened next?

      • Yes. Her bedtime is between 7 and 8, we follow the same bedtime routine every night. Food an hour before bed, like 20 mins of hang out time, bath, lotion, diaper, Jammie’s, cuddling while singing a lullaby, then she is put down in her crib.
        No matter what time she goes to bed 7 or 8 she wakes up between 11:30 and 12:30 at the latest for food (last bottle always is at 6) and that’s when she won’t go back to sleep, she cries until 1am.
        Last night was the night she woke up at 11:30 for food, I fed her 6oz and she fell asleep but so I put her down. As soon as I put her down I saw her eyes glistening so I said “goodnight baby mommy loves you I will see you when you wake up” and that is when she cried until about 1:10am. So from 11:45-1:10am she cried : / she did sleep until 7am after that which was awesome because she usually wakes up again at 5am for another feeding but the middle of the night crying is killing me.
        So is this typical?
        Prior to cry it out that is the time I would take her from the crib to my bed for co sleeping because she would wake up as soon as I put her down and begin to cry so rather than letting her cry I’d just bring her in our bed. Is it possible she’s just so used to that she’s resisting being in her crib at that time of night still?
        Thank you so much! I think without your website and advice I def would have given up night one!
        PS: nap time I still lay down with her I don’t let her CIO in the crib but she falls asleep with no crying in 15 mins or less and I don’t talk to her or touch her in any way so I know CIO is helping a lot but it just seems to be the middle of the night glitch I’m not quite sure what’s going on with that!

        • Am guessing that its the “why aren’t you bringing me to bed with you” issue. As a general rule I’m not a fan of kids moving beds during the night. Like it’s OK to co-sleep, it’s OK to crib sleep, just hopping beds tends to complicate matters. For older kids (1+) bed hopping leads to, on average, 1 hour less sleep a night then non bed hoppers. Anyhoo…

          What do you think would happen if you went in BEFORE she wakes up (say 11:00 PM) and offered a dream feed. I would try that. It may help (I’m 65% sure it will help). If it doesn’t I would keep doing what you’re doing which is feed then back down. Yes 1+ hour at midnight doesn’t feel great but hopefully this is temporary. Don’t accidentally prolong it by reinforcing the crying yes?

          Let me know if you try the dreamfeed & if so what happens, OK?

          • You know I have tried to dream feed before we started cry it out hoping she would stay in her crib longer before bringing her into my bed, she still woke up at her normal time : / probably out of habit because there’s no way she was hungry.
            That was weeks ago though, so I will try it for a few days again to see if it makes a difference.
            I will let you know! Thanks so much!

            • Ok so I never ever got the chance to try to dream feed her because after this she didn’t wake up (so neither did I) until 3:30am for a feeding! Felt so amazing! And she played quietly for ten minutes and was out like a light.
              We’re still having a problem with bedtime though : / she is still crying upwards of 30 minutes before falling asleep. I thought it was supposed to get better after a few days? Am I doing something wrong? It’s like night 8 and tonight she cried for 40 mins (the same as night one). She took a crappy second nap today, it’s usually two hours from 2-4 but she got up at 3 so she naturally got sleepy early so I let her cat nap from 5:30-6 to get her to last until 8pm bedtime. Is that my mistake? Should I have maybe just let her tough it out and had bedtime at 6:30 or 7 tonight? Your input would be appreciated! Thank you!

  130. In addition to my post above. I should say, there’s nothing else bothering her that I can think of. She got motin before bed for some teething discomfort, she pooped in the evening (poop is so important these days haha) and obviously she’s not hungry because she just ate 4oz at 11:30. I was giving her the pacifier prior to CIO but only for naps and bed, she was spitting it out herself once she was just about asleep. So maybe losing mommy and pacifier at the same time is causing this middle of the night screaming? I just don’t know :(
    Night 1 and 2 she fussed for maybe 10 minutes after the 11:30/12 o’clock feeding :( I didn’t do anything different than those nights. The only difference I noticed was during her bedtime routine, food, bath, lullaby during massage and jammie time, then a cuddle and final lullaby… When i put her down in her room to start with the lotion massage I give her every night she looked around her room and started whining. She’s never done that before, ever, in response to knowing its time for bed. In fact prior to CIO she smiled and laughed knowing it was time for bed :( maybe I made a mistake doing CIO for her?
    Sorry for the rambling I’m severely sleep deprived because of the last 2 nights and I am just really upset right now

  131. Hi Alexis!
    Your site has been such a life saver for us. We have an 8 month old little boy who is a terrible sleeper. He has never slept through the night and we’ve finally decided its time for CIO. Our situation has gone from bad to worse. We used to give him a bottle and rock to sleep and then set him down in his pack n play (asleep) at 7 and he’d sleep until his next feeding at 10:30. Then he started waking every 30 minutes, and now he’s not even wanting to be put down at all. He went from sleeping in his pack n play to now taking up full residence in our bed all night. We feed and rock him and then one of us gets in bed with him and goes to sleep at 7pm. And he STILL wakes up every hour or two. It’s gotten absolutely ridiculous! He sleeps curled up on or near my chest all night and I get no sleep. So I guess my question is this – now that we’re ready for CIO, do we just break him of all these bad habits at once? Go from sleeping in our arms/bed all night to moving him into his own room and crib (which he’s never slept in) and letting him CIO til he falls asleep? Or do we take some kind of more gradual approach? Thank you so much for your help! I feel like we are starting to lose our minds here.

    • Hey Paul,

      If you’re really keen on co-sleeping it CAN be done (put down awake but still sleep with him) but it’s a little tricky. However I’m guessing that you actually hope for him to be in his OWN bed and in that case I would strongly lean towards biting the bullet on everything.

      Keep in mind sleep training doesn’t equal night weaning so if he’s used to eating a ton at night you’ll have to gradually reduce the food overtime. You probably already understood that I just wanted to make sure?

      On that note, if it were me, I would separate the last bottle from bedtime by a good 20 minutes in preparation for your post-CIO night weaning plan. So I would do a great consistent soothing wind-down that looks like whatever you normally do STARTING with the bottle (so maybe bottle, bath, book, song, kisses, down in HIS crib, loud white noise).

      Also even though he’s 8 months old you might consider swaddling. He’s used to being cuddled so this may be helpful. No swaddle if he flips over so make sure you can see if this is happening. But it may be helpful? Let us know how it goes OK?

  132. If anyone has any confusion or concerns about naps and CIO, my experience MAY help….

    We had good success doing bedtime CIO with our 7 month old, and for weeks since we started she has been going to sleep at night without any problems at all, no crying, asleep within minutes.

    The next problem was to tackle naps. She is EXTREMELY active, alert, hyper even, and does not surrender easily to sleep. The fact that she has been teething for months and is learning to walk and crawl, has not helped matters. For the past week she has been fighting sleep during the day (more than usual) despite her intense exhaustion and it has been breaking my heart to see her so unable to just go to sleep. Soothing methods (nursing, lying down with her, swing, swaddling with one arm in) don’t work for her, and she has never been one to fall asleep in the car or stroller (too much to look at!). I’ve followed a nap routine consisting of swaddle (both arms out), nursing and book, then into the swing, but it hasn’t been working. AT ALL.

    At night she sleeps in her cot and has a VERY solid routine which I’ve been following for months so it is familiar to her. I decided yesterday that we had to force the naps for her own good, and thought that perhaps simply shortening the bedtime routine just MIGHT help. I wasn’t sure she would even remember the routine during the day or if it would be effective.

    Bedtime routine: (with dim lighting, aromatherapy oils in a diffuser, soothing vocal music) Nurse-Undress-Bath-Massage-Jammies-Swaddle (arms out)- Teetha (homeopathic teething chamomile powder)- Book- Switch on white noise- Turn out lights-Sing song-Cot.

    So, for naptime I decided on the following routine: (same lighting, oils and music) Diaper change-Massage-Swaddle (arms out)- Teetha- Book- Switch on white noise- Sing song- Cot.

    Keep in mind that she has ALWAYS fought naps and is generally a very poor sleeper. I tried doing CIO in the cot with her around a week ago and she went ballistic- spent an hour rolling around in there, screaming her head off, and it only resulted in 20 mins max of sleep. Needless to say we aborted that mission.

    This morning I tried the new (shortened) routine. I put her down at 08:45, where she played for a bit, then cried (though nothing dramatic), shouted several angry “MAMA!!!!” ‘s and was asleep by 09:00! I am in a state of utter shock as naptime has been a battle since day 1.

    So, perhaps if you have a strong bedtime routine but are struggling with naps, shortening an already familiar routine might be effective for you too!!!

    Thanks Alexis for the brilliant CIO Bedtime edition guidelines. Baby went from waking every 90 minutes (because of nursing association during the 4 month regression) to waking once or twice a night for feeds… I don’t doubt she can go the whole night without nursing, but considering where we were only recently… we are so proud of her for accepting the new arrangements and SO grateful for your site :)

    • Great story! To be honest I’m surprised it worked so well. So lesson learned – if you’ve established a great routine at night use it to your advantage. Thanks for sharing!

  133. Hi Ladies, my husband and I are at our whits end. We did CIO at 4 months and it worked wonderfully. Then at 6 months, he went back to waking up. It’s getting worst and worst. He’s been sick a couple of times including an ear infection, but he’s in good health right now. He wakes up 2 or 3 times a night. He’s goes down at 7-7:30 and wakes up at 11, 3 and 5 in general. I try the CIO but I feel he would cry forever. He isn’t cutting teeth but I’m afraid his gums maybe irritated. I wonder why CIO worked great the first time, and now he just doesn’t seem to adjust?


    • Hey Brandi,
      CIO is a way to help baby learn to fall asleep without sleep associations that aren’t working for you. They don’t guarantee that he won’t ever need your help during the night. I’m guessing that he’s waking up because he’s hungry – babies often go through growth spurts where they eat A TON. These often fall at fairly(ish) predictable windows around 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc. So I’m wondering if this night waking wasn’t his body going through a growth spurt/sleep regression.

  134. Hi Alexis, I’ve read your sleep training rituals and am certainly going to put them in place and re-reference them once my bun in the oven is done cooking the next few weeks.

    I don’t know how to explain our problem without the details but in a nutshell we have an older baby 2 year old, that won’t sleep through the night and insists on being picked up to go back to sleep and won’t let us put her in her crib sometimes when she does. She also wakes up due to gas and we are trying to fix that dietarily, if it doesn’t work we’ll do allergy testing.

    So the long story, I have a 26 month old who won’t sleep on her own OR sleep through the night. She’s only done that twice in her life for a full month and I can say that along with colds, fevers etc January 2013 was quite harrowing and sleep deprived for the whole family.

    We had let her cry it out in October 2012, put her to bed with the bottle, she’d drink it ask for us, we didn’t go in, she whined and fell asleep. The first time it took an hour but eventually she got to 20 mins and then silence. I went away on a trip end October and since then she won’t even take her milk by herself. We have to hold her to sleep and she’ll talk to us, or request a song or do anything but sleep straight away. This can take 10 mins or an hour.

    We tried to have her CIO but she made herself throw up from all the crying. She now asks for me to put her to bed but since I’m pregnant in my last trimester we stopped that as she wiggles and there is not much room for both in my lap.

    We’re at a loss as to how to get her to sleep on her own let alone her crib. She was sick back to back weeks, so was I and in our tiredness we put her to bed with us. It was tough but we weened her out of the co-sleeping, we had not co-sleptbefore. But she has to fall asleep in our armchair before we move her to her crib even our bed, else she will wake up and insist on going back to the armchair with us in tow.

    She will refuse to take the bottle to her cot to sleep but is happy to take it on the couch. We do’nt mind, but we want her to sleep. We aim for an 8pm betime most nights. and pray for no night wakings. Occasionally her cot is used as a threat or if she doesn’t settle we drop her in there and say she needs to sleep by herself. My hubby wants to let her CIO but I can’t hear the screaming for more than 15-20 mins. I find screaming and complaining two different things and being pregnant makes me more sensitive to screaming.

    Any advice on how to break this cycle? Her typical waking time is 2-3am or an hour after we have gone to bed – I swear she smells us. We unfortunately sleep in the same room and cannot change that situation right now. WE do have overnight nappies but I feel that that or the gas still wake her up at night AND most of the time she won’t go back to sleep on her own.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

    Thank you,

    • Sorry I forgot to mention we hold, rock, cradle her to bed. I’ve tried to get the hubby to stop the rocking/bouncing and just let her lay there in our arms as we sing or don’t sing, as I can’t do it the way he does and she asks for it and I just can’t.

      The only advice I don’t think will work is a toddler bed transition, I like her crib cos it is contained and she can’t climb out of bed to get me. :)


    • Hey Esta,

      DO NOT PUT HER IN A TODDLER BED. Pleeese do not. You are right – this would be a huge mistake :(

      Well I can’t comment on her tummy issues and it could be that there is some mild discomfort that is presenting unusual challenges for you there. Hopefully if so you guys are able to figure that out (although I know food sensitivity can be a real challenge).

      I need to write this post because you aren’t alone in this. And I do have lots to say about it 😉 But here’s my short version.

      – This is a boundary issue. Sure there may be some tummy stuff in there working against you but it’s still primarily a boundary issue.
      – She’s 2. The bad news is that 2 year olds are super smart. I would even go so far as to suggest that she’s figured out how to establish the bedtime rules and she’s not going to easily turn things back over to you guys. And that’s really what we’re talking about happening here.
      – The good news is that she’s 2. She’s not a baby. You can use your words. Talk about it when it’s NOT bedtime. Talk about how important it is for the whole family to sleep. Explain that this is her bed, this is your bed, this is the cat’s bed (or whatever). Maybe even take pictures and make this book part of your bedtime routine – where do birds sleep? where do squirrels sleep? where do you sleep?

      – It doesn’t have to be all negative – offer some “rewards” – is there anything special that she could pick out to make her bed special? A special sleep buddy? a special night light? Don’t choose this – take her to the store and let HER pick it out. Make a big deal about it, yes?

      – It’s absolutely time for CIO. Honestly other than not putting her in a toddler bed this is my best advice for you. This baby is coming and when that happens this no-sleeping thing is going to blow up on everybody. I could go on and on about how unsustainable this current scene is. How it’s not healthy for her. It’s not healthy for you. About how helping your children get a healthy age-appropriate amount of sleep is a foundation for so much else. Cuz it’s all true.

      Yes she’ll scream. Why? She’s learned that it’s really really effective. It works. If it didn’t work she wouldn’t do it.

      You might think I’m being harsh but you ask so there it is – that’s my honest advice. I hope you take it soon.

      ps. Since I’m giving you advice you don’t want to hear I wanted to mention this too – no more bottles at bedtime. She’s 2. She has teeth. This isn’t a good thing to do anymore, OK?

  135. HELLO.






    • Hey Stephanie,



      OK so I’m confused – do you WANT him to sleep in your bed? I think you don’t. Or maybe you do?

      Have you read this:

      If you don’t want him in your bed then don’t put him to sleep by cuddling with him IN your bed. I’m guessing this is the root issue.

      Unless you WANT him in your bed in which case – carry on!

      Also you say this yourself: I AM JUMPING UP TO CONSOLE HIM QUICKLY.

      I suspect you are jumping up TOO quickly. Give him 5-10-15 minutes. See what happens! You say he’s a happy baby who doesn’t cry much. So why are you afraid to give him a few minutes to self-settle at night? Sounds like he can handle it if you give him a little room to practice.

      Think about the post I linked to. I think it’s something you want to start working on OK?

  136. First, I wanted to say thanks for having this website! It has been a great wealth of information when my husband and I are up late at night trying to figure out why our little guy won’t sleep.

    Our baby has had food allergy issues and eczema and was a very colicky baby during the first 3 months of life. He is now 9 months and after a rather radical transformation of my diet (I am still breastfeeding), his eczema, reflux, and allergy issues have significantly improved. For the past few months, he has been a terrible sleeper. He would wake up every 2 hours or so, sometimes even an hour after we put him down. During the 1 am or 2 am feedings, I resorted to bringing him to our bed and feeding/sleeping/being a human pacifier just so I could get sleep in addition to trying to get him some sleep. Although his night sleep was fragmented, he generally took 2 good naps during the day, each lasting about 1 hour to 1.5 hours.

    Three days ago, after being beyond exhausted, we decided to CIO with the little guy. Tonight is the 4th night and he has slept for longer stretches (5 to 6 hours) in the last 3 nights than he has since he was 6 weeks (for 2 weeks he would sleep 6-7 hours). My concern is that his disposition is different. For a baby that wasn’t sleeping all that well, he was such a cheerful baby, always smiling, especially when he woke up from his naps or his night-sleep. Now that he is getting more sleep, it seems like he is not as happy when he wakes up and is quieter in the mornings than he used to be. It’s concerning to us to see him go through this change and we are hoping it’s not something permanent. It is great to see him sleep so much. Is this type of change normal until he gets used to this new sleep regimen? Just wanted to hear some feedback.

    • Dina,

      You don’t mention how long he cried so I’m hoping it wasn’t an unusually rough slog for you all (especially given the challenges you’ve had with diet, etc.).

      Are you asking me if you’ve damaged your happy baby? No. Fragmented night sleep has another term – poor sleep hygiene. If he was barely sleeping in 1-2 hour chunks he probably wasn’t cycling through sleep the way he would if he had longer uninterrupted windows. So the quality of his sleep was different. Now the quality AND quantity of his sleep is better. And he’s probably cycling through sleep cycles in a different/better way too.

      What I’m guessing has happened is that he’s waking up from a deeper sleep and thus is a little fuzzy in the morning. This didn’t use to happen because he never hit those deep stages of sleep because he wasn’t asleep long enough to do so.

      I also wonder if what you’re seeing is him being less active because he’s actually better rested.

      If you’re really concerned you should talk to your pediatrician as I am not one and thus not qualified to give medical advice. But you haven’t written anything here that makes me think you should be concerned.

      • Hi Alexis,

        So the first night, we put him down around 7 and he cried for 45 minutes before he passed out. Then, he awoke at 1:30am and I fed him because I figured he was hungry. He downed his milk and then when I put him down, he cried standing at the rails to the crib and was crying and sleeping standing up for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Then he slept until about 6:30 the next morning.

        The second night he cried for 12 minutes before he passed out and slept until about 3:30 am. I went in and fed him and put him down. He cried for about 5 minutes and then went to sleep and woke up around 6.

        The third night he cried for 2 minutes before sleeping and then had a few night wakings and woke up at 11:30. I fed him and put him back down and he was out until about 5:30 the next morning. The issue that we had after about day 5 was the night wakings. He would wake up every couple of hours and cry for a few minutes and then go back to sleep. A couple of nights ago, a week and a half after we started sleep training, he actually slept through the night. We put him down at 6:30 (he was exhausted) and slept until 5:30 am! This actually got me thinking that maybe he doesn’t need that night feeding like I initially thought? Last night, after being put down around 7 pm, he woke up around 2ish and I know you have said that night weaning does not equal CIO, but I just felt like he was not waking up to eat but to get our attention. I let him cry for about 12 minutes and he slept until 6:30 this morning. After last night, I decided that it is probably better for me to let him try and sleep through the night instead of trying to go in there and feed him. I don’t want to contribute to night wakings. What do you think?

        Aside from the increased sleep, his disposition is back!!! He is happy and playful and very active during the day. He doesn’t always nap like he used to but that’s another battle for another day. As weird as it sounds, he still likes to be swaddled and we do that for his naps (he’s 9 1/2 months!). Some days, he will take 2 great naps. Other days, he will sleep in spurts of 40 minutes. On those days, he has an earlier bed time (around 6ish or 6:30) because he is just so exhausted. He still gets anxious before bed time and we are hoping that over time, it will become a calmer experience for him. All in all, we are taking it in stride and both of us have to confess that sleep training helped us regain our sanity.

        Thanks for all the work you do in supporting, encouraging, and inspiring people to push forward. It is truly refreshing.

  137. Hi Alexis!

    I’ve been reading your site the last few nights after our 5 month old has seemed to regress after we did the Sleepeasy Solution method. For about a week and a half, she was putting herself to sleep and sleeping through the night. However, 4-5 nights ago, she started waking (religiously) only 30-45 minutes after putting herself to sleep. She’ll then cry pretty hysterically for 45 mins to an hour (while we do the 5-10-15 minute check-ins) and then she’ll continue to wake up 2-3 more times during the night. I have been nursing her when she wakes up in the middle of the night because we live in an apartment building with lots of neighbors and I’m sure they’re ready to murder us. When I nurse her during these times, she’s legitimately hungry (not just wanting to suck) and will then put herself back to sleep afterward. I don’t mind doing the middle of the night feeds at all and plan to take your advice of gradually weaning these, but my question is – what do I do about the waking up 30-45 minutes after she falls asleep? I know she’s not hungry because I make sure she’s well-fed before bedtime and I know this can’t be healthy to let her cry for 45 minutes every single night – she’s obviously not learning to put herself back to sleep if she cries that long. I’ve made sure that I feed her before the bedtime routine and then put her in her crib fully awake. She’ll usually babble to herself or whine a little bit, but it doesn’t take her long to fall asleep. But these wake-ups right after falling asleep are killer! Any thoughts/advice?

    • Hey Allison,
      She’s taking a nap, waking up, and realizing, “Hey! I don’t want to be in bed! I want to play! Nurse! Whatever!” And because she’s gotten a bit of sleep she has enough energy to keep it up.

      If you’ve been doing the check-ins and not getting anywhere then I would suggest maybe the check-ins are doing more harm than good? Check this out:

      Fundamentally you’re on the right track, I just think that the check-ins may be extending the (no fun) party.

  138. Hi Alexis!

    We’ve been CIO for over 3 weeks now and our 5 month old daughter is still crying every night! What are we doing wrong?!

    The first week we were using the Ferber method but it seemed to rile her up more when we went in (and we were not being consistent in the timing) so we switched to Weissbluth’s extinction method the second week. The crying decreased from two hours to one hour to 45 minutes until eventually by the end of the second week she fell asleep without crying for two nights straight. We were ecstatic!! But then at the start of the third week she cried again for two hours for two nights! Throughout the third week she still cried for about an hour each night. We’re now into the fourth week of CIO. Tonight she cried for an hour again!

    We have a consistent bedtime routine of nurse, bottle, bath, pjs, book, 5-10 mins of rocking/shushing then goodnight kiss. We start the routine at 6pm and put her down by 7pm. She sleeps in her crib in her dark nursery at night in a sleep sack and once asleep she sleeps pretty well.

    I dreamfeed her btwn 10-11pm and she usually wakes once a night to nurse around 3-4am. Most of the time she falls back asleep while nursing but sometimes I’ll rock/shush her back to sleep. Sometimes if she wakes at 5 or 6am and keeps crying and I can’t rock/shush her to sleep I’ll bring her back to bed with me.

    Her naps aren’t awesome but they’re not terrible either. I usually rock/shush her to sleep for naps, occasionally nursing her to sleep. She tends to only nap in 20 min increments in her crib so I nap with in our bed her once a day (usually the afternoon nap) so that she’ll get at least one long (1.5-2.5 hour) nap in addition to her two or three short crib naps so that she’s not overtired by bedtime.

    We hate letting him cry but have done it for several weeks now. But we can’t continue to let him cry much longer! Is it possible she’s too young for CIO? Or maybe she just doesn’t have the right temperament? Should we stop and try again in a month? A few months?


    • Ouch – yes that sounds pretty miserable!

      I don’t know what is going on but that’s a ton of crying. I don’t know why but here are some guesses that may help:

      – Bedtime too early/late. Check the post I link to below for more on that.
      – Small medical issue tripping you up. Maybe it’s time to see the pediatrician to rule out an ear infection or something?
      – Not enough soothing. Is it too late to swaddle? Are you using loud white noise? Any baby under 6 months and I’m going to think strongly about swaddling (as long as he’s not flipping over while swaddled).
      – Maybe the LONG late afternoon nap is throwing things off? Usually the last nap is the SHORT nap which helps babies accrue a bit of a sleep debt for bedtime. What if you shuffle the “cuddle nap” to the morning so that she’s not taking a ~2 hour nap just prior to bedtime?

      I hate to stay to stop but I would definitely see if there isn’t some small change that helps things enormously :( Let me know what happens OK?

  139. Have you posted about CIO specifically for naps yet? I’ve searched your site but can’t find it.

    • No I’ve been dreading it but need to do it. It’s like cleaning out my fridge – every time I look in there I’m like, “Shoot – I need to take everything out of here and really scrub this thing down.” Then I grab the milk, close the door, and forget about it till next time 😉

      • No problem. (-: I totally get it. I just subscribed to your website so I’ll be watching for it sometime in the future. No hurry though because the nights are going SO MUCH BETTER that spending a lot of time and energy trying to get her to nap doesn’t feel like that big of a deal anymore.

  140. Alexis, you are saving the sanity of mothers everywhere! I’m a first time mum and have found the swathes of advice on child rearing overwhelming. I’m exclusively breastfeeding, on demand, but seem to have taken that quite literally to the point where since the little man was born his night feedings and wakings have gotten more and more frequent. Over the last 4 weeks I’ve been getting up between 8 – 11 times a night to nurse for a minute or two or to rock him back to sleep and slowly but surely have been turning into a humourless and quite miserable lady!

    I spoke with my health visitor before embarking on CIO, using your tips above, we were given the all clear as at 4 months old he’s good weight, healthy and happy. We started on Wednesday, thanks to your site we’d already been putting him down awake following a routine at 730 so that was the easy part. He woke again an hour later and screamed, screamed, screamed, but only for 6 minutes and went back to sleep, he woke again around 10, cried briefly for about 4 minutes and he woke again at 1130 when I went to feed him. He then slept through till 3, when I fed him again and then woke up at 6am when we got him up.

    Not only did I feel like being close to the old me again yesterday morning, but the nights activities seem to have helped with the constant grazing/snacking through the day. He still eats quite frequently but he is properly chowing down.

    Last night we braced ourselves for what might be a more difficult night. But no, he went to bed at 730, slept right through till 11 when I fed him. Woke once briefly between 11 and 3, when I got up to feed him and then slept through till 7am. I am pretty much back to being me again, for which my partner is truly grateful! I also feel that a good night sleep can only be good for him, he’s napping now, having fallen asleep all on his own, can’t thank you enough for such clear advice. It was never his fault but my own that he got into these habits but thankfully he’s getting the sleep he needs now.

    • Hazzah! Six minutes? SIX?!?! Seriously that is FANTASTIC. And how great that you made some changes instead of letting things continue for months and months. Especially when all it took was 6 minutes – YAAAY!

  141. Thank you so much for all of your valuable information…it has been a godsend! also whenever you decide to start your consults for a fee I’d love to be first on your list! you are amazing!
    we are going to start the CIO tonight because it seems to be the only weekend that we have completely free to dedicate the time and we know it is coming…
    our daughter is almost 5 months and has been sleeping in the swing. lately about a week she has been crying for long periods of time (only at bedtime not naps) in the swing. we feel like if she is crying there we might as well move her to the crib and be done with swinging at night ( i also go back to work soon). we have tried experimenting with different times but still get at least 30 min of crying and sometimes over an hour!
    my question is do i wake up her up at normal time the next morning or let her sleep in if she doesn’t get a good nights sleep?
    she usually gets up 1 or 2 times a night but not really a set time each night…how do i know when to go feed her or let her go? thinking of maybe feeding her while she is actually sleeping instead of responding to her cries…does that make sense?? i read that it can be confusing to respond to cries sometimes but not always??
    alexis or any other parents have insights to these questions?? help needed asap:)

    • Malissa,

      Well generally I’m not a fan of waking babies up. If they’re sleeping they need to sleep right? Now if her morning is going to be ridiculously late (like she normally is up at 6:00 AM and is still sleeping at 9:00 AM) I guess you could argue that it’s best to maintain some consistency. But if she’s sleeping an extra 30-45 minutes to make up for lost time I think I would leave well enough alone.

      Dream feeds are definitely a good thing to try especially as it allows you to feed her when YOU go to bed, vs going to bed and barely falling asleep before she’s calling for you. So yeah definitely work with that and see how it goes. Some babies are too tired to eat but most respond really well to food when offered.

      Good luck this weekend!

      • Thank you so much for the quick response Alexis! So last night was pretty rough…although it started out great!
        We put her down around 7 and she hung out in her crib for a good 45 min-1 hr just moving, kicking etc. Then the real crying began 20 min and out. Hubs and I thought well that wasn’t so bad. Woke up 30 min later and screamed for 1 hr and 20 min. We almost caved and thought she just isn’t ready:( so so hard to hear that for that long! Finally around 10:15 she fell asleeep. she woke more than in the swing but not too terrible feed at 2 am and then at 5:30 am and up for the day at 7:30 am.

        is there a limit we should allow it to go on?

        should we try to move her bedtime later?

        she flipped over to her tummy and fell asleep that way eventually. we turned her once but then she was right back. is that ok for a 5 month old? should i still lay her down on her back?

        • So what I gather is she hung out for a while, cried 20 minutes, took a nap. Woke up, cried 1.20 and then slept. OK not great but not horrendous. I would file that under, “CIO took 1 hour 20 minutes.” Slightly longer than average but not beyond the pale.

          Hopefully tonight is closer to 45 minutes. No promises but that’s a common pattern.

          I wouldn’t move bedtime – if you’ve been consistent in the past then stick with it. If you’ve been INconsistent with bedtime then maybe you might want to play around with bedtime but generally if her body is used to sleep at X time then you want to work at X time right?

          When babies flip over on their own you can leave well enough alone. Always put babies down on their back. What they do from then is their business.

          • Thanks so so much Alexis!!

            So you were totally right about the 45 min on the next night and it seemed to be getting progressively better the next 2 nights (15-20 min) BUT last night was terrible again:( She cried for like 1.5 hrs. it sucked esp because she seemed to be doing so well. Is that normal? We are hoping it was just a blip and tonight will be better! i also want to say that when she has been going on for a while we sneak in and turn up the white noise which seems to do the trick! great tip btw!

            also our bedtime is anywhere from 7-8 depending on her 3rd nap…we usually go 2 hrs after she wakes up. so sometimes that is 7 sometimes it is closer to 8. is that consistent enough?? i would say the norm is around 7:30.

            how do we know when to start working on naps in crib? is it ok to work on 1 nap at a time?
            THANK YOU AGAIN!!

            • oh I almost forgot to ask…should there be a limit to daytime nap lengths? a few days i’ve woken her up after 2 hrs but wasn’t sure if i should…

  142. Hello. I found this site frequently while googling ‘short naps’ ‘baby suddenly waking’ etc and it made me feel a bit sick, mainly because I just knew at some point we would have to resort to CIO and we really (really!) don’t want to. But here we are and now suddenly I love the site and have read as much as I possibly can in one sitting.

    Anyway, I have a question/concern/hang up before we’ve even gotten started. Our little man is a short napper. It doesn’t matter if we’re in the car, holding, swinging, co sleeping, it’s very rare a nap lasts more than 40 minutes. It does happen but maybe once every three weeks (utter exhaustion I assume). So how do we make sure the little fella is well rested??? He isn’t a ‘doesn’t need the sleep’ baby. He’s so fractious all day and by bed time he’s so strung out I worry he’ll never stop crying! We’re committed and ready to go, i just don’t know how to solve this problem!

    • I forgot to mention, he has eczema and rubs his head, face and eyes something rotten, so much so we have to hold his arms down most of the time. He’s never been swaddled and I’m worried he’ll rub so hard he’ll do himself an injury. Any way we can stop that?

    • Wait – why NOT swaddle! It seems a far preferable solution to him rubbing himself sore. And it removes YOU from having to brace his body down. I would TIGHTLY swaddle his arms to his side whenever he sleeps.

      Also 40 minute naps are not horrendous (ask any Mom of a baby who takes 20 minute naps). So while it’s not great it could be worse. But I’m hearing you say he’s a bit of an exhausted mess all day and by bedtime he’s falling to pieces. Would it help to move bedtime up gradually FIRST? Like what would happen if you shifted bedtime up by 15 minutes a day until he’s going to bed BEFORE he’s totally strung out? If he’s really overtired he may need to go to bed as early as 6:30 or even 6:00. Something to think about maybe?

      But I would definitely swaddle that kid. And also (you’re probably already doing this) look at food allergies. I know it can be a pisser to nail things down and I have more than a few readers who only eat rabbit food (like carrots and rice) so there are no possible allergens in their diet. But it may be the way to go :(

      Good luck with everything – poor little itchy guy :(