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.

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!


  1. Hi I’d love some help! We are on day 5 or 6 of full extinction CIO with our 9 month old daughter and we’re seeing no results 🙁 we got rid of her dummy and music thingy and have given her a lovey instead but shes still crying for at least 30 minutes each night and is now starting to wake at about 10pm too which is waking my 3yo up! I never had the guts to do CIO with my eldest and i’m starting to get upset now as she just isn’t getting it’ but i’m pregnant with #3 so desparate for some sleep and i don’t want to be co sleeping with a toddler and a newborn! Please help!

  2. Ok so I’m at a loss. What do you do when, during night 2 the extinction method, your 19 month old screams (and I mean the kind of noise you ordinarily associate with horror films) for up to 3 hours? And bangs his head on the cot? And then wakes up every 20 minutes (if he even went to sleep in the first place, it’s debatable) and starts the screaming all over again? I can do CIO, it’s been successful for him before at a much earlier age, but how much screaming is TOO MUCH screaming?

    My nerves (and my husband’s) are raw. I’m worried I’ve overlooked some game changing element like a developmental delay or even autism and that CIO is making him worse. Help!

    • I need more history honestly. Did he previously sleep well and fall asleep easily? What happened to muck that up? What time is bedtime? When is he napping?

      • Wow! My 17month old does the exact same thing! SCREAMS!! I’ve been to GP and they say he’s normal and health visitors also say the same. He doesn’t appear to have any allergies and developmentally he’s on target if not advanced. He’s recently had 2 ear infections one after the other and been on antibiotics so maybe that’s what has messed our boys sleeping as he was ST at 8 months which worked a treat at first.

  3. Hello,

    I just discovered your site, and boy am I wishing I’d seen it before. My son is 8 months old, and as per a couple of your articles, he is waking frequently through the night and FIGHTING going to bed. No amount of rocking can convince him to sleep and finally, at our wits end, my husband and I have decided to try CIO (which admittedly, kills me a little inside).

    I have a couple questions:
    1) Mr man has a tendency to hyperventilate and start choking when he gets worked up, do I leave him that way?

    2) He’s rolling all over his crib, flipping onto his belly, pushing himself up on his toes with his head on the mattress (like he’s trying to do a headstand) and slowly inching out of view of the camera (there’s no where else to put it so we can see better), I’m worried about him hurting himself, he gets his arms through the slats of the crib too. Do I interfere or just leave him?

    3) We do room share, and I’m not sure if protocol is different there. You mentioned co sleeping and baby’s own room. We recently switched him from a playpen next to our bed, to his own crib next to our bed (we thought it would be too big which is why it started off as the playpen). If he wakes in the middle of the night are we going to have issues because we’re in there and he knows it?

    We got into the habit of topping him off in order to help him sleep longer at night, so now he has an 8 oz bottle when we go to bed around 10/10:30, so he’s not had middle of the night feedings since he was less than 4 months old, in that sense we’re lucky.

    SO… any additional comments, advice, tweaks? Need more info?

    • Also, sometimes my son wakes up crying around the time we go to bed and feed him. Will that ruin our progress?

    • I can totally relate to you. My 9 month old is just like that. I have to rock him to sleep whenever he wakes up. Sometimes when he wakes up it will take me 5minutes of rocking to put him back to sleep and sometimes up to 2hrs!!! He wakes up about 5 times a night! I want to try CIO but this kid screams bloody murder and starts banging his head on the crib from anger. His tears could flood the room. Also we share a room with him. His crib is right next to my bed I could literally stretch my arm and bump into his crib. How do I let him CIO if I’m in bed and he sees me. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t slept in 9 months.

      • What advice were you given because my 13 month old is same situation and sleeps in crib next to my bed … thanks I haven’t slept either

    • Hello, I wonder if you ever got any feedback or reply on your questions, since they seem to be rather alarming signs. And also I wonder why Alexis doesn’t respond to a chain of questions such a this one. I do find this website way more helpful than most and I like so much the tone in which is written but so often there are serious questions like this, in the sense that you think your child my hurt him or herself, and maybe this people get send replies to their emails but I’d like to know if that was your case.

  4. I’m sorry if this was already asked and I missed it, however.. I started the CIO process on my 1 year old son this week. He goes down after about 30 min of fussing/crying and then stays down until about 2 am. When he gets up at 2.. am I suppose to let him just fuss/cry it out until he goes back down again on his own with no soothing what-so-ever? Or should I go in, rub his back and attempt to calm him (assuming picking him up is a no-no) and then leave again.. I worry that he could be waking up because something is wrong (he’s cold/hot, pooped, etc.) Am I being counterproductive by going in and checking on him?

  5. My 8-month old goes to bed no problem. Sometimes he’s awake, sometimes practically asleep. He wakes up 2-4 times night and I usually nurse him back to sleep. I want to start working towards night-weaning by cutting feedings down first. We had made some great progress to feeding just once per night (by letting him cry) but then he got sick and we’re back to square one. My question is, will he get confused if I let him cry at some waking so and feed him at others? My thinking was that feeding him at a certain time (and not others) will create a habit, so he will stop waking up at the other times. But I also wonder if he’ll just get confused…Thoughts?

  6. We made great progress with check and console cry it out. We thought it would be a nightmare, as our classic Sears’ “High Needs” 7.5 month old was going to sleep every night with a pacifier, swaddled, rocked to sleep. He would sleep for 1.5-2 hours in his rock and play, then need to cosleep (we were taking turns sleep on a mattress pad on the floor of his bedroom) but would still be up every hour or so throughout the night, with one remaining feed which we gradually weaned down to 2 ounces prior to sleep training, which was anywhere from 3-4 am. Every time he woke up required picking him up and rocking him back to sleep. We knew it was time to end the madness!
    We cut everything cold turkey. One night, after his routine of bath, bottle, two books, and prayers, we zipped him into a sleep sack, said “night night” and plopped him in his crib, for the first time in his entire life! He cried hard until the 5 minute check, I went in, patted him quickly and told him to “go night night” and he cried hard for a few more minutes before starting to settle down, crying on and off for a few more minutes before falling asleep. The entire episode lasted only 14 minutes! He woke one more time the rest of the night around 3 am, and only needed one more check.
    Every night since then, bedtime has been extremely easy. He never cries for more than a few minutes. He usually sleeps through until about 3 am, will make enough noise for us to hear him on the monitor, but puts himself back to sleep within 15 minutes. The problem is that after about 5 nights of falling back asleep and sleeping until 5:30-6:00, after about night 6 this morning waking moved up to 4-4:30 am!!! We have been treating it as a night waking and letting him cry-it-out, initially with checks but now with no checks. We have been doing this for the past 3 mornings…. the first 2 mornings we let him go an hour before rocking him back to sleep and bringing him to bed with us, this morning we let him cry with no checks from 4:20 until 5:45! He will show a few attempts at self-soothing during these scream fests, but really shows no signs that he is going to fall back to sleep.
    What, if anything, can we do to fix this issue??? I don’t believe he is hungry, because we are holding out on the morning feeding until 6:30ish regardless of what time he gets up to keep him on his schedule, and he is only fussing before that because he is tired, not hungry. In my opinion, he is just a persistent, strong-willed “High Needs” baby who is “set” to wake up at this time of the morning, and he has gotten enough sleep to have enough fight in him to cry for hours at that point. He is definitely still tired, because he falls right asleep as soon as he gets what he wants (comfort). I think there is nothing we can do right now besides accept it, we have tried for 3 days with no improvement letting him cry after what I would call an honest effort of 1-1.5 hours plus. If you have any ideas let me know!

    • Also as far as naps, we have not nap trained yet, we tried the first two days of sleep training morning naps and they were both miserable failures. But he gets 3 to 3.5 hours total of naptime during the day, generally split between two 45 minute naps in the morning (one of the naps is in the stroller while walking the dog and the other in the car before or after running errands). The afternoon nap is 1:30ish until 3:30ish, usually lasting 1.5-2 hrs. Bedtime is 7:30 at the latest.
      Also, is taking him into our bed at that 4 am waking going to screw up all of our efforts if you don’t think letting him cry it out at that time is going to work??? Do you think this is something he will learn to work through???

    • Hi! Don’t worry, I think most babies are unlikely to easily fall back asleep at 4/5am without some kind of soothing. check out what alexis says about early wake ups:
      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.

      also, the podcast:

      I know you mentioned you don’t want to offer a feed at that early wake up, but perhaps the benefits of offering the feed (getting a few more hours of sleep) would outweigh the schedule tweak? My baby was the same, would wake up early anywhere between 4-6 and having the bottle was a quick and easy way to get a few more hours of sleep. Good luck!

      • Thanks Sam, my fear is that reintroducing the feed at that time will set us back as far as progress. I truly don’t think he is hungry, because he can go to 6:30 without getting really upset, the fussing and crying he does when we get him out of his crib is definitely because he is still tired and wants to go back to sleep. I am also afraid, however, that bringing him into bed with us is going to set another bad trend, and that’s what he will be looking for for a loooong time if we reintroduce it.

        • Have you got block our curtains? Which season are you in? I found my 9 month old started waking at this time, for a week and then realised the sun was rising earlier due to it now being summer! As soon as we installed black our curtains within 3 days he was back to sleeping till 6:30am/7am

  7. What age can you start using CIO?

  8. Hi,

    I have a 3.5 month old and am trying to be proactive. She sleeps great through the night, typically a 8 hour stretch followed by a 2 hour. I am nursing to sleep. My issue is naps. She will not nap longer than 20 minutes and is so tired all day. Would you recommend CIO for naps? If I CIO for naps do I have to stop nursing her to sleep at night too? I don’t want to mess with her night sleeping. Is it too early for all of this?

    • I wouldn’t recommend sleep training for naps but I would keep an eye on:
      – Are we giving her enough soothing at naps? Chances are she needs MORE.
      – Are we trying for naps at the right TIME (too early/late can muck things up).

      Eventually yes she needs to stop nursing for night and you want to help her learn to fall asleep at night without sleep training, NOW would be a great time to start chipping away at making gradual changes (nursing till drowsy, put down, rub belly till asleep, that sort of thing).

  9. Thank you thank you thank you. we are on day 6 and seeing improvement like crazy!!!! love this website and podcast!!!

  10. Hello,
    I really appreciate your approach to CIO and labeling it as a last ditch attempt for most parents. This went a long way to easing my guilt. We’re on night 2 I’m halfway through a giant bag of M&Ms rote reading this post. Thank you x

    • Curious how your past few nights have been? Getting ready to start…

      • Hi,
        So I’m not sure if it’s gone great or if we failed… We decide to use the Ferber-ish: night routine of bath, boob, book, song, and bed; then check in at 5mins, then 10. We go in and pat on her bum (she sleeps on her tummy) for 1-3 minutes. So the first two nights we only had to check in three times before she fell asleep but both time she fell asleep while we were patting her bum. She slept through the night both nights. She cried about 15 minutes total but by day two she completely lost her voice! It was brutal listening to her broken cry on the third night so we didn’t let her cry but only had to pat her bum for her to sleep (a huge improvement from hour long breastfeeding, rocking etc). Now we’re bk to CIO-ish where we let her cry but she always falls asleep when we go back in after crying and pat her bk. it’s probably still a sleep association but she’s been sleeping great, waking once a night for a feed and bk asleep.
        I’m glad we haven’t had two hour crying sessions and I hope it goes well for you too.

  11. Hi,
    Thank you for such useful and realistic information! My baby is 5 months old and has been awake every hour from 7pm to 7am this has gone on for 2 weeks now. Her day time naps all last between 30-60mins.
    I feed her at 12am and 5am and just try to rock and shush her to sleep with a dummy on the other night wakings.
    Is it too early to try CIO ? I really don’t know what else I could try as we don’t have a swing and can’t afford to buy one now. She never self soothes and always falls asleep with a feed. Her routine and sleep patterns used to be excellent in both the day and night.
    She is combination fed formula and expressed breast milk. On some occasions I have nursed her myself in the night just to feed her quickly to sleep.
    Thank you for any help

    • 5 months old is not too young, but is probably the youngest age at which you should start. Sounds like the “4 month sleep regression” which can happen anytime a from 3-5 months and last a few days or up to a month. Looks like this comment is a few months old so I hope things have gotten better for you!

  12. My 4 month old has been waking every 1.5 hours at night for comfort. She will only go back to sleep if we give her a pacifier or I nurse her ( which most times means she suckes herself to sleep and eats very little). We are starting sleep training not to get her to sleep through the night, but mainly to get her to sleep between feedings and also stop relying on a pacifier to fall back asleep. My question is naps… I tried dropping the pacifier for her naps as well and it was a train wreck. She cried for 45 minutes until I put it back in. Can I let her keep a pacifier for naps but take it away at night?

  13. Hi there,

    Our 7 month old has never been a good sleeper but is at the worse now. He has occasionally slept through but now needs constant resettling that can take anywhere from 2-4 hours (no exaggeration) in the middle of the night. We resorted to co sleeping and husband in the lounge but Im still getting no sleep as he wakes every few hours and wakes me and then goes back to sleep. We have dabbled in CIO a couple of times unfortunately. Once a month ago and he cried for 1 hour with us going in every 5 then 19 then 15 then 20 mins so we gave up. Then last week tried once again but he went on for 1.5 hours.
    We are desperate to change the situation but fear we have ruined our chance to do CIO with co sleeping and dabbling in CIO?
    How long should you keep doing CIO before you stop at night? 2 hours? Less?
    What can we do?
    Thank you

  14. Hi there,

    Looking for some insight.

    We used the full extinction method at 9 months and after 3 awful nights my son was beautifully putting himself to sleep for 8 hours at a time. We ended up moving houses when he was 11 months and he has been sleeping awful ever since. My husband works away and I started bringing my son to bed with me.. need less to say this was a horrible idea!!! He is now 14 months and pretty well sleeps attached to my breast all night. He also nurses to get to sleep. Horrible.. I know. I went back to trying the extinction method about a month ago and just couldn’t handle it – he cried for an hour which resulted in bringing him to my bed. Tonight I tried the ferber method, letting him cry for 5 minutes – comforting him for 1-2 and then adding 5 more minutes each time I left the room. We won’t be doing this again as I believe he got more worked up every time he saw me. I am planning on trying the extincting method again but wondering how long I should leave him crying before I go to him? I feel like over an hour is a really, really long time to leave him cry. I am feeling so down about this and I know if we can get back on track everyone will be so much happier and better rested. I also want to night wean but was planning on giving him up to 2 feedings as needed to start until he has settled into his crib and gradually weaning from there.

    I would greatly appreciate any advice!! ❤️❤️❤️

    • He is used to co-sleeping and using you as a human pacifier. THIS IS THE HARDEST THING TO GET OUT OF. Also now he’s a toddler, so throw “has very distinct opinions on the matter” in the mix.

      Honestly there is no easy path out of being a human pacifier. It has been done but it’s hard. CIO is the most direct route but it’s not going to work if you go to him. No checks. No rescuing. YES HE WILL CRY LONGER THAN AN HOUR. I can almost guarantee he will. 1-2 hours is not unusual for a toddler who is used to using mom as a human pacifier. Sorry – not going to sugar coat it. This is the reality of where things are at.

      So that’s my advice – NO VISITS. No checks. No rescuing. 3 nights. Hard stuff no doubt. But nothing you and he can’t do.

  15. My sweet baby girl is nearly 8 months (Jan 1) and sleeps 4 hours at a time MAX! I currently nurse/rock her to sleep and put her down sleeping in her crib around 730-830pm. She typicallys wakes around 1130-1230 and my spouse gives her a bottle (expressed milk) which I think is way too soon! She goes back down in her crib (most nights). The next time she wakes it’s in bed with me and I’m used as a human pacifier. Many times she’s in bed with me after the first time waking. I’m aware that we have made a habit of feeding her too soon after doing down for the night. I’m confident she will cry it out for hours! So if she cries let’s say 4+ hours and I’ve determined is she actually hungry should i nurse or have him give her a bottle? Based on experience, when is it no longer too soon to feed the baby?

    • Hi! If you are going to do CIO, you have to separate nursing/rocking to sleep (or any other negative sleep prop) from bedtime. So depending on your current bedtime routine, you could do nurse, bath, book, and then put in bed awake. If she is used to feeding a lot overnight, you should continue doing the night feeds until she has learned to fall asleep on her own at bedtime. Once she’s falling asleep on her own, you can start nightweaning. She may surprise you and cry less at bedtime than you are expecting. However, she will probably cry a lot if she wakes up overnight hungry and you don’t feed her. Good luck!

  16. Your site has been such a help! We are doing extinction with my 7 month old breastfed baby. Weissbluth says that you should continue night feedings (as do you) but he also says not to go to baby immediately and let them cry for a few minutes to see if they’ll self soothe back to sleep. What do you think about this? If I let her cry for 5 minutes and then nurse her in the middle of the night and then pick up a screaming baby and nurse her, am I reinforcing the screaming at bedtime? I’m struggling and need your wisdom. Thank you so much for the amazing resource your site is!

    • Hi! Based on Alexis’ recommendations, I believe that how the baby falls asleep AT bedtime is the most important. so if she’s falling asleep independently at bedtime, it is ok to feed her when hungry at night. Waiting a few minutes before you go in to feed her is a good idea, bc she may fall back asleep on her own! Is she used to nursing a lot overnight tho? If so, you may have to gently wean instead of just ignoring the wake ups completely bc she is used to eating a lot overnight and will cry a lot then. Good luck!

  17. Hey Alexis –
    A huge THANK You for this article, which finally empowered me to choose CIO after months of my own inconsistency, resulting in many night wakings and fitful co-sleeping. (It suited her just fine, but her writhing, rooting, hot little body disturbed me just as much as getting up to rock!)

    Night 1: (Christmas night!) 32 min crying, 5am wake
    Night 2: 9 min crying, 6:30am wake
    No extra night wakings, at all!! Wow

    I am so grateful to have decided and plowed ahead!!

    The only caveat: She is 4 months old this next Sunday. Very young for CIO. I am not second-guessing, since I trusted my gut, decided, and it seems to be working well, but please clarify what I might want to anticipate in the next months. I think she had already begun the 4-mo regression. When 6-mo Object Permanence sets in, will we likely have to re-train?

    In your sage experience, are there common pitfalls later on for those who successfully train this early?

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts! I’m grateful for any response you can give.

    • We are going to be starting this tomorrow when my husband is off. How did it work for you! I also have those same questions!’ Did your little one need rocking or bouncing before bed time to sleep?

      • Yes, we formerly rocked her to sleep at bedtime and night wakings.
        CIO worked well for us and nights were ‘ok’ for a month.
        THEN, when she learned how to roll, everything changed. We would put her down in the crib (she’s a tummy sleeper, I am OK with that!), she would roll onto her back and then cry like crazy, because she wouldn’t roll back onto her tummy. Even though she totally CAN.
        So now, I put her down on her tummy, and pat her butt while ‘shushhh’ing her. I do this till she is very drowsy and not interesting in ‘playing’ or rolling over. I also put a rolled up blanket under the opposite side of the mattress, so it’s a slight incline that discourages her from rolling over. 😉
        She fusses just a little bit, then falls asleep. It works, for now, and no new sleep associations, since she is ultimately falling asleep by herself.
        I’m kinda afraid of the next developmental hurdle, since now she is sleeping 11-12 hrs at night with only 1 feed!! Best nights EVER. I don’t expect it to last. :\

        That’s our story…. how did it go for you??

        • I forgot my main point… When she was rolling onto her back, she cried WAY longer than our first round of CIO. 75 horrible minutes. My husband was NOT comfortable with this amount. He thinks she’s still too young to be tossed into her crib wide awake and expected to figure it all out. So, we compromised. I shhh and butt-pat to help her wind down, and she does the rest herself. For now 🙂

  18. Hi,
    We started sleep training 3 weeks ago ( controlled crying with check ins)with awesome results. Our bub now sleeps 7.15ish-5/6ish ( early but we can deal). Our problem is she still fusses, grizzles and cries on and off for up to 30mins before she falls asleep. The crying varies in intensity but we don’t see hard crying for longer than 1-2 mins before she calms for a bit then starts up again. Is this just her winding down?
    She was going down for a while and falling asleep with only a little fussing but in the last week it has increased again. We haven’t changed anything in her routine etc. She is 6 months so could it possibly be separation anxiety.
    We don’t want to stop sleep training as the sleeping through is amazing- it is just getting hard to listen to her cry and grizzle for 20 or so mins each night.
    Any advice would be most appreciated!


  19. I just found this article as I’m listening to my 18 month old daughter screaming it out. I am an attachment parent and had a perfect experience wth my son who is now 3 years old. I’ve co-slept with both children and nursed on demand. I weened my son in one night. Simply didn’t let him nurse as he cried for 15 minutes and fell asleep in our bed.

  20. Thank you so much for the great instructions. My wife and I had been trying everything with our 8-month-old son, but due to a combination of a kid who’s been a bad sleeper from day one and the bad habits we developed to survive, he’d just gotten worse. For the last few weeks, he went from waking once or twice a night, to waking every couple hours, to waking pretty much every hour. None of us were getting enough sleep. So I did some Googling, stumbled on your website, read your 3-part “what you need to know” series, read this article, and we decided it was time to put on our big boy/girl pants and commit to a full extinction CIO plan. I think deep down we knew we should have done it months ago, but I guess we were just scared that it was cruel or that it would blow up in our face and he’d be up all night or something.

    So we decided to do it last night. We followed the instructions as best we could: my wife let him nap in her lap during the day to ensure he was well rested, she nursed him 20 minutes before bedtime, we did some reading and low stimuli play in the nursery, kissed him and said goodnight, put him in the crib, my wife went shopping, and I sat down with the video monitor. He stood at the rails and screamed for 20 minutes, crawled around crying and fussing for another 20, and then spent about 5 minutes with his head in the corner trying not to fall asleep. He ended up passing out on his hands and knees with his head against the rails. Once I was sure he was asleep I re-positioned him and he slept for 6 straight hours! He woke up for a 2:00 feeding, fell asleep on his own once again after a few minutes of fussing, my wife smelled poop and changed him, he fell asleep on his own AGAIN (I emphasize this because we’ve never gotten him to do this before) and then he slept for another 4 hours with just a brief 5-minute fuss (followed by putting himself to sleep AGAIN!).

    So all in all, it was such a huge success in just the first night. I’m sure there will be setbacks here and there (we only have 2 teeth so far), but this is a huge step in the right direction. And if any parents are considering this option but are afraid their child will hate them, let me assure you that he woke up this morning all smiles and showing just as much affection for us as ever. Thanks Alexis!

    • Update for night 2: More progress! After a crappy 45 minute CIO on night 1, he was much calmer going down night 2. He crawled around fussing for a few minutes, and fell asleep with his head resting against his security stuffed monkey after about 5 minutes. Just like the night before, he slept for 6 hours, woke up to nurse, and slept another 4 hours, waking up briefly a couple times and falling right back asleep. He must be a fast learner. This is seriously a God-send. The lack of sleep was starting to affect our health and general disposition. We’ve felt better rested the past couple days than we have in months, and the little guy is happier and doesn’t fuss as much around nap times and bed time, so he’s definitely feeling better rested too. Thanks again!

      • “We’ve felt better rested the past couple days than we have in months, and the little guy is happier and doesn’t fuss as much around nap times and bed time, so he’s definitely feeling better rested too. ”


        GOLD STAR for you all. Well done!

  21. Help! Everything we’ve read says don’t let your child cry for more than an hour. And testimonies from parents who say, “after 48 minutes they stopped!” What happens if they just keep crying? We’re doing CIO with our second (5mo old) and it’s not going well. She’ll keep crying to the point where her voice is raspy and after 4 days we’ve basically thrown in the towel because it feels like we’re being inhumane. After all our research and reading, we’ve never found a suggestion for what to do if they keep crying over and hour. We we’re doing interval soothings, 5 min, 10, 15 etc. But what happens after the hour?

    (Sorry for any grammar or spelling. Writing this at 4am after being up for the last two hours)

    We also have been using this method for both naps and bedtime and that was a mistake. Moving forward we are going to nix this method for naps (at this point) and try and get her to take 3 good naps throughout the day. So our other question is, should we continue with cry it out at night? Nights have always been the most difficult, we would need to rock her every 20 min and she would wake up after laying her down. We created some pretty bad sleep associations and are paying for them now!

    Thanks in advance! We are so grateful we came across this info!!

    • Hi! I would definitely suggest that you go thru extinction CIO. No more checks. The checks can encourage more crying from the baby instead of less. I believe Alexis recommends extinction over checks for this reason. Good luck!

  22. My almost 2 year old hates bedtime. We are currently trying the full extinction method after trying everything else we could find to try. We are on day 16 and she is still screaming for a minimum of 30 minutes, some nights well over 2 hours. Most nights she is waking 1-4 times and screaming herself back to sleep.

    HISTORY: She was a great little sleeper (day and night) until we moved her from a cot/crib to a bed at age 15 months after she climbed and fell out. She has never fallen out of the bed but we can’t get her to stay in bed since we moved house and she went from having her bed in the lounge (small apartment) to having her own bedroom.

    NOW: She climbs out every night (before I even leave the room) and sleeps on the floor (carpet) at her bedroom door (which is baby gated so she can’t get out as she sleepwalks occasionally). I could probably deal with that if it looked like CIO was helping. We have a bedtime routine but she knows that it is her bedtime routine and once that starts the crying starts and fighting starts. She is very aware of the time and will often say about half an hour before her routine starts “I’m not going to bed” without anyone mentioning it. She used to nap in the bed but will now only nap in the pram or car. I’m not overly worried about that as she naps 1 1/2 – 2 hours but bedtime is a problem.
    Is it supposed to take this long? It’s emotionally draining for all of us and I feel awful doing this to her but she is two weeks off her second birthday and still not sleeping well.

    How long should this method take with a toddler? Is there anything else I could be doing to help along the process?

  23. Hi,
    We tried full extinction CIO last night for the 1st time with our 10 month old daughter. She cried for 30 minutes straight, all while standing up in her crib, and then fell asleep standing up! She would cry/sleep/cry/sleep for another 35 minutes before my husband went in and laid her down but she stood right back up and started crying all over again. She’s still learning to sit down on her own so I think she’s getting stuck standing and can’t lay down. Within a few minutes, she fell down, screamed for a few seconds and then fell asleep and stayed asleep all night! Any advice on what to do with a standing baby who won’t lay down??
    Thank you!!!

  24. We completed cry it out while I was on a two week break from work. It went well; getting significantly longer stretches of sleep. Probably is now that I am back to work now and she’s waking up 3 hours after going down. Currently, she’s been crying for nearly two hours. I’ve fed her twice tonight (we broke cosleep when we introduced deep training). Of course, I think she’s up and screaming bc she wants to be near me. We all need sleep. But I’m feeling really bad right now. So, is this common? Tonight is worse than the first night we introduced it!

  25. Hi everyone,
    So glad I found this site, we are struggling BAD with getting our almost 11 month old sleep trained in his crib. He has coslept with us since he was born, with occasional nights of him in his bassinet next to our bed. We continued cosleeping because he had heart surgery in July, and we felt better with him right next to us afterwards to make sure he was okay. He is fully healed and in perfect health, and for the past month we have attempted the CIO method and still have not got any results! The second he lays eyes on his crib he screams and flails around, and screams and cries for hardcore for about ten minutes. There have been nights where he goes down in ten minutes, and nights where after an hour I give up and lay down with him. Can anyone tell me when this phase will be over and when he will love his crib? I feel like a horrible mom sitting and listening to him cry, and I keep telling myself it’s for the best for all of us, but I’m starting to feel defeated :/ anyone have any tips or advice??


    We’ve started sleep training (with 10 minute checks) with our 6.5 month old who was previously a poor sleeper and used me as a human pacifier for the last month. It’s now night 6 and she’s still crying for 45-60 minutes each night. She’s fed, she’s changed, she’s had decent naps through the day. After she finally sleeps, she does sleep through for about 5 hours then wakes to feed. However, putting her back to bed again sometimes results in an hour of crying. Everyone says while sleep training that their babies are happier in the mornings. My babe seems like she’s angry with us. My husband and I feel awful for putting her through all this. How much longer before we change tactics? Is it ok that she’s still crying as much (and sometimes more) than night one?

    Thanks so much for your time and any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!


    • Checks can make things worse. If you are coming back in to check on her every 10 minutes, she is expecting that now and will keep crying knowing that you will be coming back in. I would definitely recommend that you consider stopping checks completely and go the extinction route. Do the same after her feed- feed, put her back down, and then don’t go back for a check.
      Also, how long is she awake between her last nap and bedtime? It may be possible that she needs a little bit more awake time between the two in order to be tired enough for bedtime. Good luck!

      • Thanks so much Sam. We’re trying no checks tonight. Usually she has about 2-3 hours since last nap til bedtime. Is that enough? Usually I make sure she shows signs of tiredness before I put her down. But I’m not sure if that’s too early or too late. She’s not really drowsy yet when I put her down.

        • 3 hours of awake time before bed sounds appropriate for a 6 month old. How did last night go without checks? I hope it was better!

          • Thanks again Sam! So first night with no checks went better (I think) she slept after 20 minutes of crying (better than 45). But for another 40 minutes she intermittently woke and cried and we just let her settle herself. However, usually she sleeps for about 5 hours but last night she woke up after only 2 hours and then cried for 20 minutes after feeding. She then woke up 5 hours later and by then it was 430am so I just laid with her in bed like I usually do when she wakes up around 5 or 6am.
            Thanks again!

  27. I love this site and all the other parents and comments! Great information!
    I have a question. We are beginning to sleep train our 4 month old, for 2-3 weeks now he has slept through the night for 8-10 hours. With an occasionally “bad” up all night and with the help of us putting him to sleep of course. This week we began putting him to bed awake. During the day he goes down super easy for naps. No bouncing, rocking, etc to fall asleep. I put him in his swing (he’s slept in almost since birth and will wean later), and he fusses for less than 5 minutes sometimes not at all. Bedtime is a totally different story. On day four he still cries up to an hour. I admit I need to wait longer to check on him from the start. I’ve been going in before 10 minutes. But why does he fight bedtime so much more than naps? Will waiting longer to check on him help this? And before sleep training if he woke up after 3-4 hours from feeding I would nurse him again, but he is capable of sleeping all night. So now if he wakes up crying when it’s been longer than 4 hours since his last feeding do I nurse him or how long do I let him cry? I’ve looked for the answers to these questions but can’t seem to find the answer in any of the articles. Any other readers have any suggestions for me?
    Thank you!

    • Hi! Is he in his swing for bedtime?
      If he’s still crying for an hour at bedtime, perhaps the checks are working against you.
      If he’s used to feeding at night, then I would continue feeding him at night (if it’s been 3-4 hours) and once he’s mastered the bedtime falling asleep independently, then you could work on night weaning if you like. 4 months is young tho, he could still genuinely be hungry at night and may need at least one feed so night weaning may need to be delayed. Good luck!

      • Thank you Sam! Yes he is in his swing for bed time, my husband and I got addicted to the sleep we got when he slept in the swing! Last night I planned to wait longer to check on him and he fell asleep after 15 minutes of fussing/crying! He slept until 3 so I nursed him. I agree, I will keep nursing him if he wakes up in the middle of the night. I kept the nursing session very boring and dark. When I put him back down, he was sleepy and only cried for 9 minutes then slept until 8:30 this morning! I think the only reason he woke up is his noise machine died. We have a new one ordered that will be plugged in and not need to be charged. Unfortunately his swing is on a timer as well (4 hours). It used to not be a problem if it stopped swinging but now that it is an actual tool to help him fall asleep it is sometimes. That’s ok though if either of us gets up in the night we reset it and I’m hoping to be weaning him off of it over the next couple weeks! Thank you for your reply!

  28. Hi my 22 month old boy is giving me a nightmare and I’m at my wits end
    For months now he wakes every night at 12 and 3 am ish how do I break this as it’s middle of the night
    He goes to bed ok ish usually 8-9 pm however last night I did the cry it out and he was fast asleep in 15 mins and I’d took him to bed awake rather then asleep which he usually does
    He does has a dummy which I doubt he’s ready to drop yet ?
    So good news in bed at 8pm which I’m going to be strict about and asleep after15 mind which I can cope with …… but the night waking s still happened at 4am and I don’t know how to break these as if I do cry it out middle of the night I’m guessing he will then be wide awake instead of me just going in and giving him his dummy !!!
    Any help pleassssse x x x

  29. Thanks so much for this post. I have a baby turning 6 months in a few days who still wakes every two hours. Prior to a couple weeks ago he use to eat every time up to 6+ times a night. We’ve been working on night weaning down to 2 times a night since it clearly wasn’t all hunger as he generally refused to eat within 1-2 hours from waking since he was still stuffed from mommy’s all night buffet. Even though we’re gradually weaning him down I’m not ready to stop feeding him since there is some aspect of hunger (but not 6 times!). It’s remarkably unclear how to sleep train when you still have night feeds (I bought a few books).

  30. I find these threads do not address the common question of “How long to you let the little ones fuss/cry, while doing the checks, until enough is enough? Our little guy goes on and on and on with no sign of slowing down. Each time getting more sweaty and worked up. Both if we check and don’t check. Maybe this is a sign that the CIO method isn’t for him? I don’t buy the true believers saying that it’ll happen if you “just wait it out”. It seems to be such a controversial topic. The more you read into it, the more “advice” you find either way. Truly maddening. At the end of our rope with this CIO stuff…

    • 1) Checks never help. So if you’re experiencing long mysterious crying the answer is – stop checking.
      2) You hear that it will work and it will. if done correctly. And that’s a big IF.

      In my experience (and my experience with this topic is pretty large) if it’s not working, it’s not because “he can’t” or “it’s not for him” it’s because there’s something preventing it from working. It could be checks, schedule, inconsistency, or some other problem that is mucking things up. Sleep training is not “failproof” – there are loads of things that can result in it seeming like it’s not working. So you’re welcome to get frustrated and say “well I guess this doesn’t work for our kid” if that feels right to you. But I would encourage you to look at things that could make it SEEM like it’s not working and troubleshoot.

  31. Hi, I have a 9 month old that doesn’t sleep well at night and never really has. She is exclusively breastfed. I start her bed time routine at apx 8pm by giving a bath and rocking her to sleep while breastfeeding. I then lay her down in her crib that is in our room and she is up within the hour. I rock her again to sleep and this is pretty much what she will do all night. Most nights I am so tired I just put her in bed with me so I can get some sleep. (I also have a 2 year old so taking a nap is pretty much out of the question for me) My daughter eats solids like a champ and naps pretty well (morning nap and later afternoon nap that ends by 4:30) She doesn’t know how to self soothe at all and will not take a pacifier or bottle. With her being 9 months old I know what I need to do but the thought of letting her cry for hours breaks my heart. My husband works away from home 20 days at a time so I am pretty much solo. I am nervous to let her CIO because she is so used to nursing all night and also because I am scared I am not strong enough to get through all the crying. My question is how long do I let her cry before going in to soothe her? How long do I soothe her? And is she truly okay with not nursing all night? My doctor thinks she doesn’t need to nurse at night and I should try the CIO method. I have read parts 1,2,&3 but I guess I am just looking for positive tips and reassurance that I am doing what’s best. I don’t mind feeding her at night but want more than ever for her to sleep in her crib at night and eventually all night. I just want to do this right the first time so it is a quick and successful process that I’ll only need to do once. Thanks for you time and any suggestionsyou may have..

  32. Sorry you’re feeling so exhausted! I was there too when my son was 9 months old. One big takeaway from this site is that learning to go to sleep independently is not the same as night weaning (going all night without feeding). You should focus just on bedtime first, and keep the night feedings (and helping her back to sleep with nursing/rocking or whatever you do) until you’ve got bedtime mastered. Then work on gradual night weaning (there’s a post somewhere on here about that.). Pick a time when your husband is home to start for the first few days, if you can. It helps to have support. Hope this helps!

  33. Hi, I have a 4.5 month old we’ve started Ferberizing. He was sleeping 5-6 hours at 2 months. At 3 months he started waking every 1-3 hours and needing to nurse to go back to sleep. At our 4 month wellness visit the doctor said to try CIO, he’s heavy enough (almost 15 pounds) and his liver is strong enough. So we’ve moved him out of our room and into his crib. I put him down after nursing (around 7:30) when he’s still awake and he does good. He coos and plays and eventually falls asleep. My question is do I wake him up to feed after a couple hours, before our bedtime? Or let him keep sleeping and if he gets up 5/6 hours later, feed him? Or don’t allow him to feed at all? At this age getting up once with him seems reasonable. But am I confusing him allowing him to nurse at one point, but not the other? We’ve just begun and I’d like to be consistent, just don’t know what to do or what is reasonable. Thanks!

    • Hi! That’s great that he is able to play and fall asleep by himself. It would be a good idea to also separate nursing a little further from when you put him down- so perhaps nurse, bath/pjs, read a book/lullaby and then put down. Nursing right before you put him down can still lead him to a suck = sleep association.
      If I were you, I would wait till he wakes up on his own to feed him overnight instead of waking him up. It’s fine to feed him overnight when he wakes, esp if it’s been 5-6 hours. the most important thing is that he’s not being nursed to sleep AT bedtime. good luck!

  34. Regarding item #13 (CIO doesn’t work for early wakings), at what age does this typically self resolve? My 13 month old goes to sleep independently and is night weaned, but the wake up hour is creeping earlier and earlier. I’ve convinced myself that 4am is a reasonable time to get up – yikes. Indeed CIO doesn’t work here – tried it.

    Also, is there any research into whether CIO can actually cause ear infections to children who are prone to fluid buildup? CIO opponents say yes and use this as an argument against, doc says “hmm probably not.” Has this been actually studied?

    • Hi! Will your LO go back to sleep if you give a bottle/cup/nurse (feed/snack) when waking up at 4am?

      • Hi Sam! Usually he will, but only if I nurse him and then keep him in bed with me. The closer it is to 5am, the more likely that he won’t go back to sleep! You think this is a snooze feed thing? I just never know what to do when it’s in the 3-4am timeframe…

    • CIO proponents say tears lead to all sorts of maladies but no there is zero evidence of this. Pacifier use can lead to ear infections in some cases. Cold. Biology. But otherwise no, that’s just CIO shaming nonsense.

  35. Hi there
    i tried the method with my 9 month old last week. First night he cried for 45 minutes and slept (bedtime was about 9 pm). He woke up ~3 am for a feeding and slept. second night- non stop crying for 1.5 hours- when i went to check on him- he had thrown up and there was blood on the crib sheet. he apparently bit his lip so hard – he bled! when i picked him up- he threw up more. Do i just have a too strong willed baby for this method to work? no differences between the 2 nights (same time, same process and checks).

  36. Hello there,
    Love the site! We’ve done CIO with all three of our boys and have referenced this site often! SO helpful! Currently in the process of sleep training our third, who is 10 months. We’ve come across an issue that completely has me stumped, so I wanted to reach out. We’ve followed all of your instructions and overall I think it would be going well. We’ve done full extinction, as we did with our other kids. He was previously in bed with us and would nurse throughout the night, so we anticipated that he would fight the process a bit. The problem? Our son refuses to lay down! He sits in the middle of his crib and cries off and on. Eventually he will nod off (while still sitting up), fall over, and then that wakes him up. Repeat the process all over again…for hours. Sometimes up to 3 hours! We are a full week into the process now and it’s still the same thing every night. He is sleeping absolutely horribly (understandable, since he isn’t laying down) and this is affecting his personality (super cranky all the time and has gotten much more needy) and it’s affecting his naps as well. 75% of his night is spent sitting up (whether he is awake or sleeping that way). If I go in to nurse him (after 3-4 hours of off and on crying, when it becomes apparent he is hungry because his crying intensifies), he will instantly fall asleep. However, I go to set him in his crib, and he wakes up before I even lower him into it and sits up again. Going in there to adjust his sleeping position, even if I was positive that he was asleep (which, it’s hard to tell half the time because he is upright), would never work because he would sense the change and wake right up. Ugh. After a full week, he is still crying so many hours each night. I’m convinced he’s only getting a couple of hours of sleep at night. I feel like this would totally be working if he would just lie down! Any thoughts?

    • I am going through the same issue now. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions. Could really use some recommendation on this issue.

      • CAN he lie down by himself? Practice during the day. Make sure he’s capable of getting down unassisted. Most kids figure this out pretty quickly. If he CAN lie down and doesn’t that’s up to him.

        But here’s where I suspect you’re getting stuck. If he sits up dozing (not really asleep) for 3-4 hours and then gets fed THAT can re-establish the food=sleep association you’re trying to break out of. Essentially he’s just hanging out for a few hours waiting to nurse to sleep and that leads you to this perpetual sleep struggle.

        Also depending on the age sometimes swaddling helps as it’s very hard to sit up while swaddled. THe issue is that if your child is at risk of flipping onto their stomach you can’t swaddle EVEN if it prevents sitting up. So likely this is off the table at this age.

        Hope that helps – good luck!

        • Thank you Alexis for your reply back! I plan on teaching him to lie down by himself today. Thank you so much on the help you provide. You bring guidance and most important hope for many parents. Thank God I stumbled upon your website. I will keep you post on his progress in case you are interested.

  37. hi! I have been reading your site for comfort for a while and finally sucked it up for CIO with 5-10-15 min checks. Dad does the checks and putting the LO one to bed while I hid in the kitchen. We started when our boy was 5.5m and he was waking up every 1-2 hours once starting from 4.5m. Day 1 he cried for 1h15m and woke up 3 times and we fed him at his 12, 3pm waking (he goes to bed between 7-730pm) and he cries 20 min before going to bed. D 2 he cried for 20 min, one waking and 1 he cry after feed.D 3 13 min cry, one waking and 1 h crying again after feed.. D4 no crying but he woke up 2x I fed and he cried again 1 hour each time but really hysterical and I stayed with him with and did he PUPD method, he slept by himself after 1 he cry both time. DH is angry at me saying this inconsistency will back slide the training but his wails were hysterical I plead!! I know you said in your article that if he sleeps on when nursing just to let him be and put him to bed asleep- did I read that right or that’a just me projecting my own ideas?? Tonight he slep after 30min cry.. put awake back after his feed, he was starting to doze off and has been crying since the last 30 min hysterically again.. high pitch screams.. he is fully breast fed and I think he still needs one night feeding.. his sleep association is nursing as he was always nurse to sleep (can also be bounced) but
    Mostly nursed – so after night feed it feels like a second round of night training.. what should we do? And if I did cause a back slide, should we continue or take a break and start again? I am in the kitchen at 1am at the brink of crying again myself.. I am a wuss.. and this is so hard..

    • Post-feed crying in the middle of the night is unusual at this age and I’m less concerned with being inconsistent and MORE concerned with why he’s struggling to sleep. Especially at the 12 AM feed because sleep drive is relatively strong at that point – he should be able to fall asleep relatively easily.

      Things I would look at:
      – Is he falling asleep with a paci or any other device that is ON at bedtime but OFF later?
      – Is he 100% awake at bedtime or does Dad do checks and rock till drowsy when he’s in there?
      – Is this a schedule issue? What happens if you put him to bed at 8:00 PM? Is he not tired ENOUGH?

      And yes you can nurse to sleep at 12 – no problem.

      • Thanks for the reply Alexis.

        1. He sleeps with no soothers, he doesn’t take the pacifier or the bottle.. somehow one day he just stopped rejected both of them.. the flaps his hands and purses his lips- coming for a 4 month old baby it’s hard to believe.. but despite all the cooing.. no go.. and now we are at 5.5 m . this perhaps made the breast to everything association even worse.. he seems to be he’ll bend of sucking only the breast.

        2. He is 100% awake. We do bath, pj, feed (he starts to get very sleepy) pass to daddy to rock/cuddle with a song and put down awake.. daddy was never very successfully at rocking him to sleep but it does calm him down up to the moment he is put down on the crib.. should he be perhaps more drowsy?

        3. Depending on his last nap.. he can’t last very long.. he starts to fuss when he is tired..730 is usually the breaking point when he starts to get difficult..

        Am I feeding him wrong? What we did before was that after I fed him, he starts to doze off, I hand him to daddy and daddy lays him down.. we did this to make sure he is awake.. no matter how gentle daddy is.. the little one wakes up.. last night, I just fed him and let him doze off and I lay him down.. no there was no crying.. I left the house after the ritual and daddy said that he cried only for 5 min, I came back 2 hours later – after I came in the door he started crying so I fed him and put him down after he dozes of.. he woke up 3 hours later.. I did the same thing and this time he slept 5 hours and woke up at about 6am I think..

        We are not sure if we are doing this right.. daddy is wondering if it’s confusing for him that I am coming and picking him up middle of the night but not at bed time.. and if I am nursing him to sleep is it effecting the whole thing..

        It has already been one week.. tonight D8 he cried for 20 min before going to zz today..

        so far, some days are good with a 5 min cry and some days are bad with 20 min cry but we haven’t reach the no cry level yet- most people tell us it’s day 3/4.

        I am wondering if I am being punished by the goddess of consistency or I am simply doing it wrong or we just have a strong willed kid. 🙁

        Maybe I should just co-slept and breastfeed him until he kick me out of the room? Like in 10 years?

  38. First I want to echo many other posters by saying that I am so glad to have found this site – relatable, helpful information that has been so reassuring in desperate moments.

    We just did our first night of full CIO on our four month old (younger than I ever thought we’d do it but bedtime has been a disaster and I knew she was ready). She was asleep after half an hour! However, we are not following the bedtime recommendations yet – I let her nurse until being mostly asleep and then put her in the crib. My plan is to do a few more nights of CIO as is, and then start changing the bedtime order. She is fully associating nursing with sleeping and I know that, but if we do CIO AND change bedtime routines all at once, isn’t that a lot?? Appreciate any thoughts and opinions 🙂

  39. My 5mo old sleeps at night swaddled and in his rock n play. He takes naps in his crib and unswaddled. He will normally fall asleep on his own, but has a pacifier. We also use a pacifier to soothe when he wakes up crying – he then goes back to sleep.

    I am now in the predicament of needing to transition from a swaddle (he can roll over but still has a strong startle reflex), a rock n play (he’s too big & the doc said he needs the crib), and the pacifier for nighttime.

    Do I do a swaddle transition in the crib and CIO, saving the pacifier hurdle for a different day? Do I do one at a time? I’m so lost and slightly panicking that I waited too long to transition any and all of these =/

  40. Thank you so much!

    We are on night 2 and experiencing great progress. Our son is 1 year old and, up until this point, he co-slept with us in a crib attached to our bed. He woke frequently throughout the night was basically attached to a boob for a majority.

    First night of CIO was easier than expected. Cried for about 20 mins initially; woke up frequently, but fell asleep almost exactly after 5 mins of fussing each time.

    Question: when it’s time to wake up, should we wake him when he is asleep as opposed to crying in the morning? Does it hurt the process either way?

    Thanks! 🙂

  41. Our 5 month old has slept through the night and done 12 hour stretches for most of her little life. But the past few weeks have been tough. She keeps waking up 7 to 8 times per night and wanting her bottle. She only takes a few sips and then falls back asleep so I don’t think it’s a growth spurt. We have decided rather than waiting until she gets in to some tough to break habits we are going straight to the cry it out. We will still be going in to give a bottle on her previous schedule of 1 and 5 am if she cries around those times. We’ve decided on extinction because we feel there is too much room for error with Ferber. My question is this; we don’t struggle with bed time and going down for the night. It’s throughout the night. So do we go in and reassure her when she wakes and cries in the night and then leave and don’t go back in. Or do we just not enter the room at all after we’ve put her down for the night? Thank you!

    • Hi! what does your bedtime routine look like? If she’s waking up so much at night for her bottle, is she getting her bedtime bottle right before she goes to sleep? You want to make sure her bottle is the first part of her routine, not last, so bottle, bath/pjs, book, song, put into crib wide awake. Also, she could be going thru the 4 month sleep regression. If you are going the extinction route, don’t go in to reassure her overnight. That’s sending mixed signals. Good luck!

      • Thanks for the answer, Sam! Our bedtime routine looks a lot like you listed minus the bath. Not a bath fan over here! So that’s reassuring. We did our first night of extinction last night and we didn’t go in after we put her down until i heard the hey mom I’m starving cry about 5 hours after she was in bed. Total crying time across those 5 was about a half hour though so it went really well. Then after her bottle she slept right through. I think she needed a kick in the pants to get back to being a good sleeper! We are pretty sure she had her regression, a growth spurt, and some teething over the past month and it got her all off her normal pattern.Thank you for answering me! It definitely helps to have someone reassuring us that we are making the right moves! Let’s hope she continues to take well to it. 🙂

  42. Hello,

    What age is the earliest for CIO? is 3.5 months too young?
    Also, my baby tends to fall asleep well on his own at times to my surprise (typically in the morning I put him down right after a feeding while I get ready for work)… but at night he usually tends to fuss…

    Thank you~

    • Hi, I have 3 mons + twins. Did you start at 3.5 mons or later? Thanks in advance

      • I wanted to offer my experience in case it is helpful to you because I trolled the comments for reassurance looking for people who did CIO at this age. Our daughter is 3+ months old (14 weeks). We started CIO 4 days ago (bedtime ONLY). Our pediatrician had previously offered, unprompted, that she was old enough. My experience is whether it makes sense for your baby at this age is personal to your baby. We did all the soothing — bedtime routine, swaddle, darkness, loud white noise — but she has never been about going down “drowsy but awake.” As an aside, despite loving Dr. Karp’s book, I admit to having extremely uncharitable thoughts when I read the casual aside to “always put baby down drowsy but awake” with no explanation on how to do it. Anyway, she grumble protested for 10-15 minutes the first two nights, hard cried (DEFCOMM 5) for 30 minutes the third night, and medium cried for 11 minutes the fourth night before passing out cold. To me, this equals total success so far. Compare this to some other disaster nights where we tried putting her down drowsy but awake, were met with white hot furious screams, which led to endless rounds of picking up putting down, she ends up overtired and therefore even more unable to fall asleep, and up for two hours of pure hell before finally falling asleep. This was way more painful for everyone than the CIO nights and also severely tested my resolve not to nurse to sleep which a) would not help the cause and b) didn’t even work reliably which I know because I did cave several times. My thinking was why put us all through 3 months of agony (e.g. bouncing for an hour to get her asleep as she becomes increasingly resistant) until she is 6 months before cutting to the chase. Why not help her learn to fall asleep now? For other people that may not make sense because their baby works wells with working on “drowsy but awake” but for our falling asleep resistant babe it did.

  43. Help!
    I’m on day 7 of bedtime cio. My 14 month old has been sleeping through the middle of the night with minimal fussing for a few months (we did cio for this a long while ago) but I can NOT get him to go to sleep in the first place on his own. This wouldn’t be so bad except that he was taking 2-3 hours to go to sleep.
    We are on day 7 of 45 minutes plus of screaming at bed time and he seems exhausted during the day now even with naps. I am at an absolute loss.

    • Hi! How many naps is he taking? How late are they? Is bedtime too early? Are you doing extinction or interval checks at bedtime?

  44. 7 Months old and we are planning to try CIO. The past few nights we let him cry a little before going in and rocking to sleep. We only lasted through 12 minutes of crying. I’m worried about letting him cry too long but also feel like I’m teaching him to just cry and Mom will come to the rescue. He cannot fall asleep on his own but I’ve seem him fall back to sleep on the monitor. He is use to being nursed or rocked to sleep. He will only sleep 3 hrs max in the crib and it’s hard to get him to go back down in the crib in the middle of the night. That’s when he just comes to bed with us. Routine is nurse, bath, books, bed , then sometimes I nurse again to make sure he is full (Sounds like I shouldn’t). I guess I’m looking for reassurance on how to proceed with CIO. Are we just suppose to let him cry for hours, how long is too long?

  45. Hi,

    Hoping someone has advice for me. I have a 10 month old. He was a great sleeper until he got sick for two months and since then we’ve had major nighttime sleep issues. He’s got a great routine, naps well and now we just need him to sleep through the night. He’s a crier so, what’s the longest I can let him cry it out? I’m serious – ex. 4 hours sounds excessive but will that be ok? He’s definitely a tension increaser so trying to figure it out.

    Thanks to anyone that can offer advice or support!

  46. Hi! I had a question on the sleep training…my baby is now 4 months, 8 days old. By the time he was two months, he was sleeping through the nights (10 hours). We never had to feed him after that in the middle of the night. He is a BIG baby-62% in weight, 95% in height. As of two weeks ago, he started waking up multiple times a night. I knew that sleep regression happened. He normally eats 6 ounces every 3 hours during the day, but he starting waking up every 2-3 hours at night so I thought he was going throught he was growing so I started feeding him. This is my first night on sleep training him…if he wakes up in three hours, should I sleep train him or feed him? Thanks for your help!

  47. My 9 month old takes two consistent naps (1 to 1.5 hours each) and goes to sleep by 730. I do my normal bedtime routine, lay her down AWAKE, and then usually she will fuss herself to sleep after just about 5 to 10 minutes (10 is the max). BUT she is still waking up at least 2 to 4 (yes FOUR) time to nurse in the middle of the night. What do you suggest I do to help ease her into not nursing at night? She shouldnt need any extra calories at night, especially because she eats plenty of solids and breast milk during the day.

    Thanks so much,
    One Tired Mama

  48. thank you! this article is exactly what i’ve been looking for! you turned weissbluth’s million page book into quick, clear and concise instructions.


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