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I am the Official CIO Spokesperson. Apparently.

cry it out makes me want to drink

Almost every day I get an email just like this:
[box type=”blank” class=”border-dashed2″]I have a beautiful (insert: 9, 10, 11, 12 16, 18, 24) month old baby who just won’t sleep. She wakes up every 2 hours all night long to (insert: nurse, rock, bounce, shush pat) back to sleep. She fights naps and we’re lucky if she sleeps for 30 minutes. She often wakes up miserable but nothing I do works to help her fall back asleep. Helping her fall asleep just seems to be getting harder. My husband/partner has better luck than I do but bedtime is often a long stressful process that can take up to an hour or more. We’ve tried everything, read every book, and we’re all just so tired. Just writing this message makes me want to cry. I’m so tired and frustrated and I worry that things will never get better. Please help!

PS. I’m not comfortable with cry it out.[/box]

These make me want to cry too. Or have a drink. Maybe drink and cry.

There are a few things I know from reading these even though it may not be explicitly stated in the email:
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  1. Their baby is not falling asleep on their own.

    It’s implied but the “wakes up all night” and “short nap” lets you know that they are dealing with an object permanence problem.

  2. At least one parent (often both) is a total zombie.

    I’ve literally worked with families who were so frustrated and tired that when I ask the how things are going they start weeping. These are people who are well and truly beat down.

  3. Their baby is chronically sleep deprived.

    I can almost guarantee that this baby is not getting enough sleep. The baby is probably fairly tired and fussy all day long. So really, nobody is really happy with the current scene.

  4. They’ve dabbled with CIO

    This is almost always the case. People don’t always admit it because they’re ashamed. Like admitting it implies that they’ve failed some crucial parenting challenge. When really all it says is that they’re struggling and aren’t sure what the right answer really is.

  5. They’ve tried various methods to teach baby to fall asleep.

    And it didn’t go smoothly. Which is how the CIO dabbling happened.


So back to the drinking and crying. Only that doesn’t get me anywhere productive so I’m back to having to figure out how to help them.

Too Big for the Swing

Generally these babies are getting too big for the swing to be an effective tool. The Graco swing does have a weight limit of 30 lbs and a 5-pt harness that can keep strong mobile babies safely locked in. For babies in the ~6 month range it might be worth a try, especially if you can borrow one for a free trial run. But at this age it’s unlikely to solve the problem.

It’s Time for CIO

My honest opinion is that the answer, even if they don’t like it, is cry it out. They can continue to all be exhausted for the next few years until their child is old enough to sit down and have a family meeting about it. Or its time to face the ugly truth that it may be time to let the baby cry.

Which is what I tell them. Putting me in the uncomfortable position of being the spokesperson for the “Pro CIO” movement. (Seriously, how did that happen? Gheesh.) I know that NOBODY WANTS to do CIO. EVERYBODY wants a better alternative. This is not a party anybody wants to go to. And frankly I don’t want to be the person who is “selling” them on the idea (honestly, I REALLY don’t). But here are the facts.

[list type=”checklist”]

  • They’ve tried everything else and it didn’t work.
  • What they’re currently doing isn’t working.
  • This isn’t a problem that is going to magically disappear.
  • The whole family is suffering from chronic sleep deprivation.
  • It’s not OK to let that continue indefinitely.
  • It’s time for CIO


I’ve putt off writing in-depth about CIO because I don’t now nor have I ever wanted to be the Official CIO Ambassador. But given how often it comes up in email, it’s a topic that needs to be addressed. Posts on when, how, and what to expect with CIO are all in progress.

PS. No judging allowed. If you managed to find a path that didn’t involve CIO great! We all rejoice in your triumph. But CIO mudslinging is not allowed.