Her Story, Your Story, A Study in Sleep Training Part I

sleep training challenges
This could have been you. Or me. I got this email a few days ago. This isn’t a success story (yet) but it really spoke to me. It so beautifully captures the highs (I AM EARTH MOTHER, HEAR ME ROAR!) and lows (I snapped and it all went horribly wrong and I’m soooo lost) of the first months of parenting. It’s also a great case study of how we diagnose our own sleep issues. And how small mistakes can turn into big problems. This is where she started and what happened. This is a story of cry it out.

I am so so sleep deprived and at the end of my tether, I feel like crying. It’s 4pm and I have been reading all the pages on your blog since 11am since morning, over and over trying to make a plan for tonight but my sleep deprived brain is making it so hard to concentrate, process information and formulate a plan. I am so scared about tonight and feel like I can’t do this without someone holding my hand and just telling me what to do.

Last night we attempted CIO and it was a disaster and I am so so dreading tonight I could cry.

How We Got Here

Abby is 7 months old today. She is utterly gorgeous and a much hoped for baby. I thought I would be a natural earth mother (Ha!) but I’m starting to hate it and feel like a zombie. I started off swallowing the whole attachment parenting thing wholesale – no pain relief birth, exclusive and on demand breastfeeding, co-sleeping, using sling rather than stroller etc. and I did all these things happily, they felt like second nature to me. I’m ashamed to say I judged other ‘lesser’ mothers who weren’t as ‘loving’ as me and thought CIO was beyond barbaric. I totally felt like she would naturally grow more independent like all the Dr. Sears crap says. I guess she will but not until she is 5 and I won’t last that long.

The most ‘damaging’ thing I’ve done is feeding to sleep every night and rocking for every nap. And the second (or equally worst thing?!) is having no routine whatsoever. She ate when she ate, she slept when she slept. I honestly wouldn’t change it for the newborn months but now I can see that I have made a rod for my own back and she will not grow out of this without me making changes.

The Problem(s)

So you know where this is headed – she doesn’t have consistent nap routines/times and I rock her to sleep whenever I notice she is eyerubbing/yawning etc. This means she has regularly gone 5-6 hours without a nap since birth. I truly thought babies just went to sleep when they were tired so she didn’t need a nap routine. I recently read the ’90 minute baby sleep solution’ and I noticed that every 90 minutes she does have a lull that I can rock her to sleep more easily than other times.

She has no bedtime routine, just fed to sleep when I went up to bed (about 9ish) it took about an hour sometimes but I loved that closeness and it was easy. She co-slept with me and my husband slept in spare room. I MISS HIM!

And now she takes hours to get to bed at night. I try from 9pm onwards and she never ‘gives in’ until 11pm-12am. And then she wakes every 45/60/90 minutes in the night and until now I just unquestionably roll over and feed her endlessly.

Things I Tried to Fix This

  • Last week I started getting her to sleep every 90 minutes/180 minutes by rocking in stroller (I just went and bought one. I gave up this weekend when it didn’t magically translate into her sleeping through the night (what did I expect?!)
  • Installing a bedtime routine – but I got bored, didn’t stick with it, changed it up, used timed music etc… it was useless.
  • I started to realize that apart from just tackling the a) overtiredness, b) routine I had to really work hard to remove the feed to sleep thing. I knew I had to use CIO and spent ages researching but ultimately putting it off because I was sure she’d just scream and scream and it would never work.

Yesterday afternoon I just lost it and decided to use CIO for an afternoon nap. I intended to check every 10 minutes but after 9 minutes she was fast asleep! I WAS ELATED!

Last night we did bedtime routine (bath, massage, all with music playing, cuddle and sway then down in cot) at 7, she was in cot by 7.30. She cried obviously but was asleep with 7 minutes!! Unbridled joy!!! My husband and I opened a beer and had our first adult 1:1 time since last June when Abby was born. We were so excited, CIO is SOOOO easy! She CAN fall asleep WITHOUT THE BOOB!!!!

BUT.. half hour later she woke up crying, we left her to murmur and she was asleep again within a few minutes.. but then half an hour after that she started again…

We started checking every 10 minutes but it didn’t seem to help so we stopped. After all, when she fell asleep before we hadn’t checked. Now, I am thoroughly ashamed to say that we just left her thinking it would stop. It didn’t. I left my baby crying alone from 9pm – 12.00am! What an evil bitch I am! I was so beside myself. I gave in.. took her into bed with me, fed her but then put her down in the bed next to me and she fell asleep by herself, ten minutes after the feed.. so maybe there was some progress? Until yesterday she had NEVER fallen asleep by herself since she was born, now she has done it 3 times in one day?!! She woke at 4am and 6am (which is good for her) and i fed her again because i was so beyond tired i just wanted to feed her and fall back asleep.

Gah. I said I would keep this short and sweet and it is anything but. Basically, thank you so much for your blog, it is amazing and has helped me to come to these conclusions:

  • She completely associates boob with sleep.
  • I need to let her cry it out. But not until i have 1) naps and bedtime routine 2) made sure she has adequate naps.

My question I guess is how does this all sound to you?

Another question — should I have gone to her at 9pm? Only today after reading your blog do I realize CIO is for the first getting to sleep at bedtime period.. after that it’s night weaning you’re doing and CIO is no good for that process with a hungry baby who is used to boob on tap.

I am so sorry for waffling, I am at the end of my tether and my brain is not working properly. I am not usually so rambly and incoherent. It may make you laugh to learn that in my day job (which I am starting back at in 4 months, something that fills me with utter dread) I am training to be a psychologist and I had wanted to specialize in child psychology. Now I’m not so sure! All I’m sure of is that I’m so completely tired I just can’t go on like this!

Feels achingly familiar doesn’t it? Did anything in her story resonate with you? Any guesses why things went awry when she tried to sleep train? Curious to know how things turned out for this family?


  1. Sounds sooo familiar! lol..
    We did CIO at 6 months..but till this day did not night wean (and she is turning one in two days 🙂 )… I still feed her once a night.. she sleeps from 7 till 3 then again till 6:30.
    My daughter did the same thing ..woke up every half an hour the first two nights crying andand then going back asleep. Hang in there it gets better.
    then going back asleep. Hang in there it gets better.

    As you said most important thing is a good nap routine. A well rested baby is a happy baby that sleeps good at night.

    Dont feel the need to stop feeding her at night, when we first did CIO we were feeding her twice at night. Dr. W says in his book that its ok to feed at night when your sleep training. I highly recommend his book Healthy sleep habits, happy baby. I am a working mom and simply not ready to night wean.. i love having her in my arms at night for the brief 5 minutes.

    FYI.. CIO does not mean that ur not an attachment parent.. you can do both… you can respond to all her needs all the time, but have structure and teach her the most important lesson of her life.

    Good luck.. it only gets better..really it does..

    • First off – I want to applaud you for trying attachment parenting! You have solidified a very special bond with your baby. I have never done well without sleep, so I am amazed by mothers like you.

      My baby was 4 weeks premature when she was born, so she slept in bed with us for the first 2 weeks. This enabled me to nurse her the required every 2 hours without having to get up and out of bed. Hubby would change her diaper and hand her over to me and I would nurse her, and I usually fell back asleep while she nursed. After she turned 3 weeks old, she transitioned to a pack and play in our room. We swaddled her, and between 1 and 5, I started slowly night weaning her. I would try changing her diaper and patting her back to sleep first, and if she was still fussy, I would nurse her and lay her back down. She started sleeping longer stretches at night, but had to be swaddled and fully asleep when we laid her down.

      Enter 5 week sleep regression that lasted for 2 weeks and resulted in her starting to roll on her side. We had to ditch the swaddle, and baby girl stopped sleeping. So we went with the No Cry Sleep method to teach her to go to sleep on her own. In three weeks I would be returning to work, and I knew that she would need to be able to put herself to sleep for naps at daycare. We only sleep trained with bedtime at first. Then with naps. And finally with night wakings.

      Something that worked really well for us in those early days was to lay her down and pat/soothe/shush her to sleep while in the crib. That way she got used to falling asleep in the crib, and when she woke up in the crib, she would put herself back to sleep.

      By 10 weeks we had a baby sleeping from 9:30pm until 5:30am on good nights. Until recently, she was sleeping from 9:30 until at least 6:30, and would nurse and go back to bed for another couple of hours. On weekdays, this allowed me to get up at 5:30 and get myself all ready to go, then wake her up, nurse her, dress her, and head to work.

      Now, something has gone completely wrong. Or she’s just having a sleep regression. Four nights ago she was up at 3, and has been up each night since between 4 and 5. She goes back to bed, so if I didn’t have to go to work and run my company’s marketing department it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But as it is, I want to throw myself off of a cliff. She will wake up in the middle of the night and go to sleep, she’s done that for a while, but between those hours of 4 and 5 she must have the boob. It doesn’t matter how much baby food and milk she’s had before bed. I’m terrified that this is a bad habit forming and am praying ardently that we are just having a developmental spurt and she will start sleeping normally again. I don’t want to have to cry out that night waking, but if this persists for another week or so I might have to.

      Thank goodness it is Friday.

      • Sounds really growthspurty to me. This is just one of many things babies seem to have radar to do at the ABSOLUTE WORST TIME.

        – up all night growth spurts
        – poop blowouts
        – tummy bugs
        – teething
        – a whole slew of other equally horrible things I’m just forgetting right now because I just took Nyquil

        Her bedtime is a tad late. I would think about gradually shifting it earlier if you can. That would at least create the potential for you to go to bed really REALLY early. Like Grandma early. But then if you’re “up for the day” at 3/4 AM you still create potential to get a “don’t drive off the cliff” decent night sleep.

        • Thank you for responding, Alexis! By the way, your blog has saved my sanity. I started reading up on how often DD needed to nap from very early on. She became a lot less fussy when I let her sleep! Now every time we have a sleep regression I re-read your “The Thing With Sleep Regressions” post to bolster myself.

          It’s funny that you mentioned the earlier bedtime thing. Friday night, DD was (of course) sleep deprived and fussy. DH and I looked at the clock and saw that it was half an hour until the bedtime routine started. We decided to start it early. Now DD is going to bed much easier. In fact, her bedtime routine takes 15 minutes less than it did before, so she’s going to sleep 45 minutes earlier! And I’m also going to sleep 45 minutes earlier.

          Bless my DH who does the bedtime routine so I can pump, shower, pop in to read a quick story to DD and kiss her goodnight, then pass out. He enjoys the bonding.

        • Alexis,
          My 9 month old has always been a terrible sleeper. I have done all the attachment parenting thing ever since he was born.
          He’s never liked to nurse to sleep but he does like to nurse, being held and then the pacifier ( I never thought it was so much of a problem, until… it is a problem) I found myself waking every 3 hours to put the pacifier back in and until 2 months ago to nurse him so he can go back to sleep.
          We moved him to his room at 7 months, and this is just even worst for me, because I really need to wake up in order to walk to his room.
          My husban now, wakes up and helps as much as he can, so now we are 2 zombies in this house trying to take care of our baby.
          I stay at home with him all day, and I am starting to feel so lost and desperate for sleep and some alone time.
          2 weeks ago we went from 1-2 feedings a night to: waking up at 11:30 and not going back to sleep until 1:30 am, then again up at 5, then 7. We are miserable.
          I know it is soooo my fault for nor trying to teach him earlier how to fall asleep on his own, without mommy, 🙁 . He has no idea on how to do that and every time he wakes up he wants us to put him back to sleep. He is a big eater and an almost 24 lbs baby boy.
          He is 9 months old today and relies on pacifier to go to sleep.
          We started our attempt yesterday to teach him to at least fall asleep in his crib , instead of us holding him and then moving him to his crib. Last night he cried for 2 hours, and we were there with him singing, shushing, etc. He was really upset, but finally went to sleep.
          Today I did the same for his 1st nap and it went well, with me just singing and he went to sleep. The second nap was hoooooorrible! It took him 2 hours again:( Inwas there with him… until he went to sleep on his own.
          This is how his schedule looks like:
          – usually wakes up at 4:30-5 am (my husband puts him back to sleep until 7 )
          Then he takes a nap at 8:30 am (45-1 hour)
          Then again another nap at 11:30 am ( 45 min- 1 hour) then a third nap at 3:00 pm
          Then we start bedtime routine (bath, songs, at 6:20 and he is asleep at 7 pm) he sleeps for 4 1/2 hours and after that usually wakes up at 11:30 pm and then again at 1:30 or he never goes back to sleep without us rocking him.
          My question is: what id while trying to have him fall asleep on his own , we end up overlaping the next nap and also missing his lunch time for example? What should I do? Wait and then feed him, or stop feed him and continue with “going to sleep thing”? My concern is while I am teaching him hiw to fall asleep we are messing up his whole routine?
          Also, should we keep him awake from the time he first wakes up? 5 am- 6 am?
          Thanks so much, I hope I made sense, I am so exhausted.

      • Did you just say you started night weaning her between 1-5 WEEKS OLD??!

        • Liz – I never forced night weaning. I just tried offering other forms of comfort first, and would nurse if she wouldn’t settle. After DD was 3 weeks old, between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00AM only, if DD stirred, I would try patting to sleep before offering the breast. She had started sleeping for 4-hour stretches some on her own and was still gaining weight. If DD settled back to sleep, I let her sleep. If she didn’t, I nursed her. Some nights it worked, some nights it didn’t. As she got bigger, it worked more and more, and she would nurse more frequently during the day and slept more at night.

  2. I am so sorry and so empathetic of how you are feeling. Although our paths to that place are a little different, I have TOTALLY been there, and know your pain. I won’t go into too much detail, but I had a baby (now 11.5 months) that was a difficult, difficult sleeper. I, too, started motherhood with all these ideas of what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and my stubbornness meant that I held on to them for way too long, and didn’t course correct, which all ended up leaving me utterly exhausted and defeated, to the point when I had no other choice but to CIO when he was 6 months old.

    And our experience with CIO was not textbook. As difficult as people say it is, they generally say the bad phase lasts up to a week and then you are set. NOT the case for us. It was fine for a few days (progressively less and less crying every night), and then it wasn’t. Once we thought we had figured it out, he flared up again (and screamed endlessly), or began teething or we had to travel. It felt like it was 2 steps forward, 1 step back; just when we thought we were doing good, something would happen to set us back, and all the while it would hurt me so much to hear him cry, to the point where I would dread bed/naptimes. So here are my thoughts and advice. Please take it with a grain of salt, clearly our techniques didn’t prove to be 100% successful or I wouldn’t have had the experience I did (!), but in retrospect, these are my thoughts on the whole thing:

    *Try to change only one major thing at a time. Getting her off the boob (to fall asleep) and off nighttime feeds etc etc, all at once is a lot for her, and it’s a lot for you. Start with what matters most – which to you seems like the sleep/boob association. We started with getting the nighttime falling asleep first, and then once that felt stable, then we moved to naps. I think it would have been too much for us all to do it all at the same time.

    *Focus on nights first, and then eventually correct the nap issue. A lot of what I have read, and what our pediatrician says, is that naps are a weird animal, so definitely focus on the nighttime falling asleep thing first and foremost. If you sleep better at night, you will be able to handle the daytime drama better.

    *Its true: it gets better, but I won’t lie, there are still lots of ups and downs. Even after 2-3 months of him sleeping well, through the night, solid naptimes, etc etc, there are still days where he throws us for a loop. Sometimes its related to teething/sickness but other times NOTHING else is seemingly wrong and he will fight bed/naptime with all his might and scream bloodcurdling cries every time we put him down. It can last for just one day, a few days, or a whole week. We never know. Then suddenly it passes and he is back to sleeping/going down well. I can only assume its that they are going through so much in their learning and growing process, and change so much, that its just them releasing weird energy that they don’t know how to channel (remember the witching hour?). As a result, I still never truly feel like we are out of the woods. I only claim victory one nap/night at a time and never assume we’re all clear. Just easier to manage my own expectations/emotions that way.

    *Somehow develop the confidence to know what to change/tweak and what to keep the same. We have kept our bedtime/naptime routine pretty consistent, but have changed up the timing, and other small nuances a million times to figure out the best route. This could be the white noise machine (we got one that has a projection and it has worked really well), to the temp in his room (he gets really hot when he cries for a long time), his bedtime changing even 20 mins makes a difference, etc etc. If something isn’t working, don’t throw the entire routine away, tweak the smaller things.

    *Learn to rely on things that are sometimes seen as “evil”. White noise, pacifier, a lovey, formula as her last feed (or a big meal before bed to make her need the boob less at night) can ALL help make this easier.

    Hope this helps! You are being a good mother because you care for her and are doing the best you can possibly do. Hang in there!

    • Valerie, did it really work to focusbon just working on the boob to sleep issue AT bedtime? Before we started working on training, nights werent bad. My 5 month old would nurse to sleep, sleep 4-5 hours, quick dreamfeed, sleep 2-3 hours, another quick DF and then 2 mire hours. We started working on the drowsy but awake because naps were killing me. DD could only stay awake an hour, then would sleep 45 min. This cycled all day long and with her requiring nurse to sleep, i couldnt do anything inside or outside the home.
      Now that we are trying putting her down drowsy but awake, she takes 1.5 hours to go down fir bed and thus lises sleep here, gets up earlier for first feed (3-4 ho urs) and then wakes up again with gas an hour ir so later. Maybe the fussing at bedtime is causing the gas? We tried pre-empting with drops, doesnt help.
      Anyway, if we try to put her down awake at that second waking after the gas is finally resolved, she just cant do it and we arevup 2 hours and she is losing sleep and we eventually feed or rock to sleep or both because i am worried about her being over tired and messing up the naps the next day.
      I wasnt sure whether you tackle naps first (6 times a day, meaning you will miss naps for sure), bedtime, night wakings, or everythibg at once??

      • Lori

        I am by no means an expert (!!), but based on my experience with my little one, the approach of dealing with one thing at a time worked in so far as it helped figure out what/why things were or were not working.

        I should clarify 2 things about our experience: by the time we were sleep training, I was no longer nursing, he was taking formula; and also, at that point, we had already stopped feeding him in the middle of the night.

        He was always big eater during the day, and because of reflux, we thickened his formula with Gelmix which helped quite a bit, so we felt comfortable at 4-5 months to stop middle of the night feeds. To ease that transition, we would give him his bedtime bottle (~7pm) and then would do a dream-feed at around 10-10:30pm before we went to bed. With that, he was able to go through the night with no feeds.

        It was once we did that, that we began to train him to be put down awake – and only tackled that portion of the sleep training. Once we got that more or less sorted (after lots of ups and downs, I will add), we tackled naps.

        So since I wasnt nursing through all of this, and we were no longer night feeding, my situation was quite different from yours. From what I read on this site, I think (again, not an expert), that she might need the boob for soothing in addition to the food. If she is taking so long to go down as you are trying to separate the feed from the sleep, its likely because she is not soothed without the breast. Again, just my guess, but is she using a pacifier? Being swaddled? Loud white noise? All the soothing elements other than breast will likely help her transition off that breast = soothe = food association.

        Hope this helps! Good luck!

        • Thanks for the reply. Yes, she is being swaddled and we have been using white noise for quite some time and it’s right beside her bassinet. She was easy to put down before we started training, now it’s just taking so long. When she woke up at 3:30 AM with gas pain it took more than two hours to get her back down. We tried putting her down awake at first and after more than an hour, we gave in but by that time She was so upset it took even longer holding and rocking her to get her to sleep. And even after letting her fall asleep in our arms, we could not put her down until after 7 AM this morning. So I am trying to decide whether we just work on it at bedtime and not during the night to see if that helps. She does have reflux, in addition to motility issues and nerve pain in her G.I. tract. She’s so freaked out today by last nights experience, that I can’t even lay her down to change her without her getting upset because she thinks I’m going to leave her. So now I think I will have to nurse her through maps today to help her sleep. But isn’t that doing more damage by strengthening the association?

  3. It hurts my heart to see how attachment parenting essentially means you don’t teach your child to sleep. One of the greatest things you can do for your child is help them learn to sleep. No one should ever feel guilty for going back on something they once thought they’d never do. I cloth diaper, AND I use disposables. I make my own baby food, AND buy it from the store. You can do BOTH things. You can love and nurture your baby 24 hours a day, but sometimes that means there will be some crying. Once we did CIO with my older daughter (it was a hard few months until we did it right!) our whole family was rested and happy, and bedtime was the easiest part of the day!
    After bedtime gets easier, your relationship with your partner is restored and once you feel like a good team again, you can both parent to the best of your abilities. I am looking forward to the rest of the story, and I hope that family is getting some rest!

  4. I am right there with you all. My daughter is 14 months and thanks to this site we can now do our bed time routine, kiss her good night and tuck her in and she is off to dream land. I never thought we would get there! She use to nurse to sleep and then wake up constantly throughout the night. We finally did CIO to get her to fall a sleep on her own at bedtime around 9 months. It was a long process with many up and downs, but I am so relieved to be free of the bedtime drama. My husband and I have our evenings together and the anxiety and dread I had about bedtime is gone. She still wakes up once for a feeding, but I am ok with that considering how far we have come. Naps are getting better too, but I am not quite ready to conquer that beast. Know you are not along and you need to do what you feel is best and what works for your family.

  5. Oh boy, does this sound achingly familiar. When you’re that sleep deprived, it’s SO impossible to even formulate a plan and execute it, because you’re completely and utterly exhausted. Ugh.

    A schedule does make a huge difference. And I learned the hard way that a bedtime/sleep routine does not have to be fancy. We ditched the bath, the book, the play time, and now our routine is brass tacks: change diaper, put on PJS, turn on the baby classical music, bottle, and bed. It’s something easy to explain to a baby sitter (or husband…) and simple to take on the road with you as well.

    Hoping that she is able to sleep soon! Poor Mama!!!

  6. I am having a hard time swallowing this post. As one of the “lesser” moms, I am frustrated that there is so much judgement going on in parenthood. Maybe this woman’s sleep issue is karma for all the negative thoughts she’s had about other moms who use strollers and let their babies CIO. I know she feels ashamed about it NOW, but rest assured if things had gone to plan she would continue to snub her nose at other mom’s who don’t use attachment parenting.

    Had that paragraph been left out of the post, I would have gladly provided some advice.

    • Yikes, that was harsh. Sorry.

    • Lindsay,
      Yeah it’s a little harsh. But I also think there is some real truth in there too. There is this sense that there is a group of better-than-you Moms and if things worked according to plan they would still think they’re better than you. But when things fall off the rails THEN it’s all acceptance and understanding.

      Which would naturally make you feel resentful about offering support and acceptance to somebody who was judging you just a little while ago. You aren’t the only one who is caught in the conflict between wanting to be a cool Mom who reaches out to others and bristling a bit at getting judged. I can TOTALLY relate 🙂

      If it helps I already GAVE her advice and KNOW what happened (will post ASAP in Part 2).

      • Alexis,
        Thanks for understanding. I wanted to delete my post the moment I submitted it. This post was the proverbially “straw that broke the camel’s back”. I feel terrible that this mom is struggling. We all go into parenthood with a glorious plan and it’s frustrating when it doesn’t go that way.

        Side note: I love this site. You have single-handedly guided me through my baby’s sleep issues and my 7 month old is sleeping very well. There is just too much information out there (as well as judgement) and your advice and knowledge resonated the most with me. Thank you!! Plus, you are damn funny girl!

        • I feel like all moms seem to have super low self esteem and then go on the defensive when someone doesn’t adhere to their beliefs. I don’t think she was attacking moms that do CIO, I think she (like myself) fears judgement from both AP moms and CIO moms. There seems to be no pleasing anyone (not that parenting should revolve around pleasing other parents). I really relate to the author because as a first time mom, I have no idea what the $&%# I am doing, especially with sleep! And seeing advice online one way or the other makes things so much more confusing/ guilt ridden. Because even NOT doing CIO makes me feel guilty for “doing it wrong” and not adhering to AP strictly does too. Not to sound like a sleep-deprived, overly sensitive mama, but why can’t we all just support each other and stop assuming that when someone says they feel guilty for giving in to something they didn’t agree with before, that they mean the other parenting scheme sucks or is bad???
          And don’t even get me started on SAHM vs. Working moms… so sick of all moms attacking each other, because that is why most of us turn to the inter webs instead of making valid personal connections, because it’s liking being in high school again. Suddenly all the moms have become 15 year olds from Mean Girls.
          Everyone here is doing he best they can.

          • Jess you have articulated exactly how I feel…

            Judgement of parenting styles that are different from our own is so unnecessary…. so long as people are doing the best they can for their children, what does it matter if it is different?

  7. My story is a different one but a few things really resonated with me.
    I too, have swallowed some of the AP/natural birth/lactation-consultants-know-best theories (I am not criticizing them, just saying I didn’t realize that many of these things were ultimately out of your control, like childbirth or baby’s temperament for example).
    I wanted a natural birth and had one and it was nothing to be happy about. It wasn’t the experience I wanted; there were complications that could have been avoided if I hadn’t insisted on a natural birth so much; my baby had to spend a couple of hours in an incubator hooked on oxygen and my natural tears healed for weeks (unlike the quick episiotomies of all my friends :))
    You read and you study becasue you want the best for your baby and then find out it doesn’t work the way you expected and that’s fine. I fought the pacifier so much because lactation consultants say it might kill breastfeeding but by 3 weeks I was in pieces (baby was on boob all.the.time, like for hours, when not sleeping or on boob he was screaming). Pacifier saved my life. I have to deal with it now but he is not a tiny newborn anynore and he has the skills to learn it.
    So don’t beat yourself too much. You did what you thought was best. You realized it wasn’t working for your family so you decided to readjust.
    Now, I think you are probably trying to do too much at the same time. Start with the easier things like a routine and see what happens. Will she take a pacifier? Life got so much better for me when baby learned to fall asleep with a paci instead of my boob. I didn’t have to be attached to baby for hours anymore!
    See if she is willing to accept a routine for feeds for example. Maybe if you can get her on a 3-hour feeding routine she will accept it for nights too? My son wakes up a lot now (hello 4-month sleep regression) but I do not feed him before the 3 hours are up because I know he can go that long during the day.
    Good luck and let us know how it went!

  8. I feel you! My daughter is now 12 months and has been up most nights anywhere from every hour to recently only once (which is heaven!). I have to say though that I’m pregnant and my milk has been gone for a bit and so I know she’s not hungry just really wants to the boob to get to sleep and back to sleep, although lately will let me rock her back to sleep with no boob some times (hooray!).

    We’ve tried CIO for like a second and just could – not- stand- to hear her scream like that. I don’t know if it’s normal for them to get hysterical so quick but she def wants what she wants and gets herself so worked up it doesn’t seem worth it and takes hours to calm her down. Just the other night I decided to try yet another technique of taking the boob away when she was drowsy and she got so worked up we were up all night literally with her. Then I give in and she gives us a great night (only up once). The frustrating part is I can use what I once thought was a great analytical mind (ha!) but there is no pattern to nail down. And we are SO sleep deprived it’s taking everything we have to hang on to our sanity and our relationship 🙂

    • OK you’re going to think I’m crazy mean but seriously – let somebody else do it. Do you have a best friend? Family in the area? Have THEM put her to bed. You and your husband get out. Why am I so horrible to suggest such a thing?

      – You’re pregnant. I don’t know how pregnant you are but you’re going to get increasingly more tired just being pregnant. YOU’RE BUILDING A HUMAN BEING. It’s a lot, just that.
      – You’re up hourly. This isn’t good for anybody.
      – You’re both struggling to maintain sanity. I know people say this as a joke but it’s not really a joke. It DOES get that bad. Plus, as mentioned, YOU’RE PREGNANT.

      She’s not starving. She does want to be with you all the time. But she’s also really tired. It’s not good for her to be up hourly. And honestly? Super secret truth here?

      (Babies don’t cry that much for other people.)

      It’s true – I’ve done it. For other people I mean. And it’s nothing. We’ll never know what would have happened if it had been THEIR Mom, but I know that when it’s been me it’s been “meh” – 5 minutes of FREAKOUT CRY, 20 minutes of “I don’t like this” cry, then asleep.

      So if you can’t do it, outsource it.

      My advice anyhoo…

      • Omgosh THANK YOU!!!

        Thanks for putting my mind at a bit of ease. We will have my sister with her when I’m giving birth (who she’s comfortable with) and I’ve been SO worried to not have her going to sleep habits changed by then but your advice makes me feel like not so horrible a mom and also gives me hope which as I’m sure you know, is priceless. Thanks for taking the time to offer this advice. It makes a world of a difference in my mind and sooner or later we’ll be testing it out 🙂

  9. There’s so much I could say… My problem when I started off was that I wanted to accomplish too much all at one time. I started with CIO at five months because the swing absolutely did not work. It took three Weeks for him to get the hang of it. And boy, it was CIO for me too, not just for him. Sometimes it seemed it got only worse with time. He had a huge boob/sleep association that I’m still working on. (he’s almost seven months now.) I realized at one point that using timed music worked very well to get his mind off wanting to nurse to sleep. So I used it until things smoothed out a little and he had a more defined nap and bedtime routine. This last week has been the best so far, and that is still with him waking up at least for times a night. He falls asleep by himself for all his naps and at bedtime now, so I feel very fortunate!

    Moms shouldn’t feel like failures nearly as much we do. It’s a learning experience, right? Our babies aren’t nearly as fragile as we’ve often been told. They’re pretty resilient. Crying won’t kill them. One particular night after my baby cried for over 2 hours, I about died. I was sure I was the most horrible mom in the world. Guess what. My baby woke up as normal as could be, not one bit frazzled by the experience. He talked and smiled and ate like normal. Somehow that opened my eyes. So I plowed on. I made mistakes, but babIes are very forgiving. I breastfeed and babywear. I believe that you can have the good stuff of attachment parenting without three negative

  10. ..continued… Without the negative sides! patience will always pay off in the end. So I’m learning, one baby step at a time. 😉 that’s what it takes: baby steps. Rome want built in a day.

  11. Just to provide hope for this woman, we had a 3 hr cry in the middle of the night the first night and I gave in and went to him. But tried again the next night and he cried 1 hour, which was rough but much improved. So even when you think you have botched it up, keep moving forward. I felt horrible about it too, but he learned quickly and we are all getting some sleep now.

  12. A 7 month old who only fell asleep while nursing – that was my life as well until last week. Naps for us were her nursing while asleep for 30-45 minutes. Not great. Then we starting CIO. I feel your pain as it is mine as well, but things are working relatively well for us now, so I’m hoping that you’re situation is going the same way.

    One difference between our stories is that my daughter WAS able to put herself asleep for a short amount of time around 5 months. Since about 3 months I had been extremely worried that she wouldn’t be able to put herself to sleep, especially as she had stomach issues (probably mild reflux), and I was always ‘encouraging’ her to do so, but not to the point of letting her cry. I was so happy when she went to sleep on her own (at night – naps have always been a mess). Anyway, her 6 month growth spurt changed that as she wanted to nurse at bedtime and I was being sensitive to the growth spurt and didn’t want to let her cry – and then she kept on wanting to nurse at bedtime. And then she was nursing for up to 1.5 hours before I could put her in her crib, not to mention night wakings…and that led to CIO.

    I mention this because, while it has been hard on you, and it unfortunately led to bad sleep habits for your daughter (as it did with mine), if you had taken a different approach earlier, your baby may have just reverted later on (as mine did). NOT that I am saying we shouldn’t try to teach our babies healthy sleep habits early on or when we see bad ones forming – we definitely should! But I hope that through your tiredness, you can still feel that the closeness you were able to share with your baby was very special, and not get consumed by the situation you are in now.

    Watching my baby nurse is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. Despite my worry and my lack of sleep, and even in spite of the heart wrenching CIO nights, I loved that time with my daughter. Again, whatever baby raising ethics you come from, I am not saying that we should all just ignore the wise sleep advice and do as we and our babies please for the first 6 months – on the contrary I wish my ‘encouragements’ had worked out better. But don’t beat yourself up, especially when you’ve been giving your baby so much. (I physically couldn’t do a lot of the attachment parenting things – back pain got in the way! So I admire your perseverance in that.) I cherish the marathon nursing sessions (even the ones where I was half asleep and quite grumpy, which was a lot of them), but am relieved that my baby can now sleep on her own and is sleeping better. At night at least…we’re still working on her naps…

    Tonight was a good night – just babbling and then off to sleep. I hope yours was too.

  13. Sounds exactly like me N’s my 8mo baby girl. Except I’m totally happy (as is she) with how we’re going! I didn’t start to co-sleep until at 5 months when she stopped sleeping through and started waking numerous times a night and sometimes being awake for 2 hours in the middle of the night. So at that point out of sheer exhaustion I started putting her into our bed to sleep. And you know what? It worked! Now I get a lovely amount of sleep because she doesn’t wake fully during the night so I don’t really even notice if she wakes up and hops on the boob! When someone asks me ‘does she sleep through?’ I sheepishly answer ‘ummm well I’m not really sure…’ Because sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t, but usually I have no idea!
    I’m actually so glad now that she stopped sleeping though and I started coalescing because I so cherish waking up to see her sleeping little face throughout the night. I feel like I’d be missing out if she was in her own bed.

    I also rock, feed or bounce her to sleep. She also uses a dummy. Basically I do everything anyone would say I shouldn’t, but it’s totally working for me! Sure I’d love if I could just stick her in her cot and she’d fall asleep herself, but I’m not willing to let her CIO even for a few minutes, and we’re going ok so I’m sticking with what’s working for us 🙂

    • Liz, that is awesome 🙂 I love that you have been able to go against all the conventional advice and its working for your family! I also tried but unfortunately my cheeky munchkin had other plans and would wake every 2 hours 🙁 but I must say, I do miss sleeping with him, seeing his little sleeping face up close to my chest and his sweet smell…he sleeps so much better on his own, but when he’s older and has a little more understanding, I can’t wait to have little afternoon naps with him as a treat 🙂

  14. Ah damn auto correct!

  15. Yikes! I feel for this poor Mom! But, selfishly this post makes me scared for my future.

    My son, Jackson will be 4 months old next week. My husband and I are trying to teach him to fall asleep on his own. It is super hard! He has a hard time eating more than a couple ounces at a time before bed so he will be fussing and crying because he is hungry but will not eat. We are trying to teach him to self soothe but I can barely last 5 minutes of his crying.

    I was an emotional person before I became pregnant and now when he was born I became worse. The thought of maybe having to have my baby CIO someday scares me to death.

    Anywhoo, enough about ME! Sending positive thoughts to this poor Mommy!

    • I feel like the best thing I’ve ever done as a new mama was to stop worrying and just do what I felt was right, not what everyone else said I should be doing. Now my advise is always to just relax and enjoy your baby without worrying about what might happen in 2,3 or 4 months etc. they’re only babies for such a short amount of time, it would be such a shame to spend all that time freaking out and doubting yourself 🙂

      • Liz,
        Your post is exactly what I needed to read just now! I’ve been trying to follow a sleep doula’s guidelines (which don’t always jive with what Alexis writes) and then I feel all crumby and like I’m doing it all wrong, when in reality my little girl sleeps quite well! I pick and choose tips from various places, including Alexis’ wonderful and funny site, and do what works for me, so why do I beat myself up so much?? Is it really the end of the world that I feed my baby just before naps and bed? How is that “sleep association” any worse than white noise, black-out curtains, a swing, or a pacifier??
        Anyway, thanks Liz, and thanks Alexis!

    • Well then lets just assume that you won’t have to! Plenty of people figure out a way to navigate without it. I talk about it so much not to “sell you on the idea” but more to give people who are well and truly stuck some way to consider getting UNstuck.

      4 months is a rough time as it’s generally the time the dreaded 4 month sleep regression hits so you may be having an unusually hard time just now. Wait 2 weeks and try again – your baby may surprise you 😉

  16. I won’t add too much to this conversation, since everyone else has said it all (with such honesty and humility). I just want to wish the best of luck to this mama… She may be struggling right now, but she’s getting the most important thing right as a parent: she’s trying. Her hardest. And that’s what counts. Keep on, keep on – mama. You got this.

  17. Oh my goodness this was me 3 months ago (our son is 9 months)…. we went to sleep school and he responded so well, I didn’t have the heart to let him cry it out he got so hysterical, sweaty and emotional, but at sleep school we learned different techniques (not necessarily just letting him cry) and now he is a champion sleeper two 2 hour naps and sleeps from 8pm to 7:30am with one feed (sometimes not even) it has taken a few more months to get him here!

    Sending my prayers to this poor mum, it gets better (I know everyone says so, but it does) mean while sleep when your baby sleeps ;p

    • Im so curious, what was the method of the sleep schooling? Please share more 🙂

      • Luvlux, given that he was 6 months and I had removed the swaddle he went into an angel wrap (where the arms are tucked in but feet are free) as he would wave his arms everywhere, I had to make sure he was eating 4-5 times in 24 hours rather than 6-8 I was doing (breast feeds + solids) so our routine was dinner at 5 bath by 6:30, milk feed by 7 and in straight to bed.

        If he grizzled I would not go in, nor if he cries for 30 seconds and stops, a cry is when he was going non-stop for 3-5 minutes at this point I would go in turn him on his side and roll him (like you would a rolling pin) gently back and forth till he was quiet, when he settled I would walk out, no more than 10 minutes in there. If he was distraught and wouldn’t calm down I was allowed to pick him up give him a cuddle and when settled, place him back down again. Sometimes he would start up again but I had to let him go for another 3-5 minutes before repeating the rolling pin.

        Repetitiveness and consistency is key at first you think its not going to work, but it does, eventually baby understands that he’s not going to get picked up and this is sleep time!

        We also did a cot rock when he was finding it hard to fall asleep, however my cot at home is not rock-able so I had to just use the rolling pin method at home.

        Within 2 weeks of being home I took one arm out of the wrap and then the other the next 2 weeks as he was rolling too much and it wasn’t safe anymore…

        But after 1 month of being home he was still crying for an hour at bed time and no one could figure why he was putting himself to sleep (no tears) during the day and sleeping well during the night….and then I started putting him to bed at 8-8:30 and whhhalllla no tears. I believe he has a very strong internal clock and his bed time isn’t till 8 hence I would put him down at 7 and he would cry till 8!

        Sorry for all the detail, but this was our experience some babies prefer pats on the bottom, patting their hair/back etc you have to figure what is good for you and your baby!

        Good luck.

  18. This is me right now! My boy is 7 months old, too, and has been fed to sleep until last week (I formula feed though). I didn’t even know that babies had to be taught to fall asleep until I did some online research because I was at my wits end. All the moms I knew just said he would get there eventually. Now I am trying to night wean down to just 2 feeds a night and last night was awful! I put him down at 6:45 and he was asleep on his own by 7. He had napped well that day. I fed him at 9:50, then determined I would not feed him again until 4 am. He woke every half hour from 12pm to 4 am. I allowed a little water or a pacifier to help him sleep, but he was still up every half hour. In desperation I was back to the internet this morning looking for night weaning tips and I found this post. I canèt wait to read part II and see how things turn out.

  19. I felt exactly like this mom when I discovered Troublesome Tots. I read and re-read and read some more just trying to retain the knowledge and formulate a plan. But my brain was so addled from lack of sleep I just couldn’t form a coherent thought. Fortunately, my husband and I were able to formulate a plan using bits we learned from hear and bits we figured out on our own that seemed to suit our daughter. It took time and consistency but she is sleeping through the night. Of course, cold season is derailing us for a bit but it will get better. In the process of raising two children I see now that good sleeping is a skill, and any skill has to be learned and reinforced. Some babies have easier temperaments and will figure out sleep on their own. Some will fight you every step of the way. But good sleep hygiene is so important for overall health. To any parent out there feeling guilty and sad about CIO (I am a big advocate of it but during the process I always want to curl up and die because it hurts so much), just know that you are setting your kids up for good health and you will be so much happier and more present when you are rested.

  20. My daughter is also seven months old, and I have also co-slept, nursed to sleep and nursed on demand from the beginning. The only thing that is keeping me from being this poster is having discovered this blog when my daughter was two months old. I immediately went out and got a swing, and swung the baby to sleep every 90 minutes to two hours. She has now transitioned to napping on a floor bed, but only good naps are keeping me from being this poster!

  21. I should add that my daughter sleeps from 10pm to 8am most nights, and I do wake up to feed her multiple times but she doesn’t cry or play during that time. I do think the good naps are what keeps the balance at night.

  22. Wow-this sounds so familiar! We didn’t have to do CIO, but used gentler methods to get her to learn to sleep on her own, but we started early-at 4 months or so. But the whole AP thing was me too! I read all the Sears books and wanted to be one of those moms who could carry my baby in a carrier and breastfeed everywhere. Well, my baby hated the carrier and was such a fussy eater I could not breastfeed in public. And she only slept well in her swing for naps so I was stuck home for a while until her short naps started to consolidate at 5.5 months. But you know what, just because I don’t cosleep, nurse my baby to sleep, or carry by baby in a sling doesn’t mean I am not an AP. I respond to her needs and even though we had so many problems with breastfeeding for the first few months, we are still going strong at 8 months. And she is so happy! And I get some sleep which makes me happy!

  23. I started reading this story and began tearing up!Although my story is a little different, I feel the exact same way. My son is 8 months old and has had difficulty with sleep since birth…I feel like I haven’t slept in 8 months!I have read books and blogs and posts from other mommies but I am entirely too sleep deprived to even begin impementing any kind of sleep strategy at this point…and I can’t let him CIO for too long…I am not strong enough and my heart totally breaks! I just do whatever I can to get him (and me!) to sleep. Some days are good..some days are bad..and nothing seems to work all the time. I think it is finally getting a little better..not due to anything I have done..just time, prayers, not giving up and reading stories like this that make me feel like I am not alone!! I am so thankful for this post and this website. I swear it is the first real thing I have read since he was born.I truly, truly feel for this mommy…I understand her and I am in it with her. Thank you so very much for hit home more than you know!

  24. Reading this, I feel as if I am looking at words that came directly from myself! My beautiful daughter is almost four months and SLEEP has been our number one issue. After weeks and weeks of not sleeping myself, you become someone else…my appetite went away, my marriage suffered, I became a zombie just going through the motions of what is supposed to be a glorious time in my life. I loathe the mothers that talk about their babies that sleep for any more than 20 minutes at a given time during the day (not their fault, I know, but I mumble swear words under my breath when they talk, no lie!). I have been working hard to help my baby develop healthy sleep habits. This has included a routine and sometimes just letting her cry. I never in a million years thought I would ever deter from attachment parenting or impose any “schedule” upon my baby. Who have I become? I am ashamed that I once judged mothers for this. Becoming a mom is a whole new world and I have realized that by helping guide my baby girl to develop healthy sleep habits, is one of the best things that I can do for her…regardless of how I once thought, this is where I am now. I love her beyond words with every being of my body, and I only want nothing but the best for her. I found this blog one night while googling (like I did every night, all night, searching, hoping, wishing) with tears of defeat and frustration in my eyes, thinking that I am the ONLY one who is going through these challenges. Not so, I found out! It feels so good to know I am not alone. The isolation I have felt on this journey is daunting, but I am not alone and as my sister tells me “this is just a season”. I am determined to continue to work with my daughter by helping her find the sleep she needs. We have our work cut out, but we will get there. Thank you for this website and blog, what a source of support you can find when you search for it!

  25. The part that really resonated with me was finally getting the baby to go to sleep on her own, only to have her wake up again before long. This has been our problem, and I’m having trouble figuring out what to do about it.

    Celia is almost 6 months, and she goes to bed just fine. We have a simple bedtime routine – PJ’s, nurse, book, song – and we put her in the crib awake. She usually goes to sleep without any problem. But then she wakes up about 4 to 6 times during the night, needing to be comforted. Sometimes this just means putting her lovey in her hands and shooshing a bit. Other times it’s a marathon of patting and shooshing. And once or twice each night I feed her.

    This website has been a huge help, and we’ve added white noise and worked on getting the daytime routine more consistent. But, Alexis, you’re not the only one who says that the most important thing is putting them to bed awake, and we’re doing that. If she can sooth herself to sleep at bedtime, why can’t she do it during the night? And I don’t think ours is primarily a night-weaning issue, because most of the time, we sooth her back to sleep without feeding her.

    Does anybody else have experience with babies who go to bed fine but wake up during the night and can’t get themselves back to sleep? If she goes down at 8, has a dream feed at 10, and wakes up crying at midnight, does it make sense to try CIO at that point, or is it really just for bedtime? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Carrie,

      Yep! I was having the EXACT same issue until recently. I wrote a more lengthy description of what happened under the 6-9 month sleep guide comments and might be doing a success story thing but in short read the Nightwaking section here:

      I was also completely confused about what to do about this issue because my baby was totally able to put himself to sleep at bedtime since he was a few weeks old. This is supposed to be THE issue to fix but it wasn’t our issue so why the 4-8 wakings a night? I read the above linked information and finally started giving him 5-15 minutes to settle himself in the night. I’d heard that CIO does not really work in the middle of the night but this isn’t really CIO, it’s just making sure they are actually even awake (because they can totally scream while still pretty much asleep) so you don’t end up really waking them up and making the problem worse. I have to literally time this on my iPhone because 5 minutes of screaming in the middle of the night feels like an hour! Especially when you still have the baby in your room! Anyway, by night 3 it totally worked and we are now down to 1-2 feedings a night with almost no extra wakings and if there are any he always settles within the 5-15 minute window. Even through his first big cold. Please try this. I wish I had months ago.

      Good luck!


      • Jenny,

        Thank you so much for your help (and both of yours, Alexis and Ashley)! We’re getting there. We started letting her fuss for 10-15 minutes, and then, if it wasn’t time to eat yet, Daddy went in for comforting. (Often, that just meant turning on her singing mobile, which seems to distract her enough to calm her down, and then she can get back to sleep.) And, slowly, things have been getting better.

        I feel like a lot of the success stories include something like, “…and the very next night, he slept for 9 hours, and we haven’t had any problems since.” For us, it’s been more gradual, but no less a success. She sometimes fusses around midnight, but puts herself back to sleep. Then she typically eats at 2am and 5:30am. If we could just push that second feeding back to 6, which is when my alarm is typically set for, and drop the occasional midnight fussies (which wake me up), we’d be all set. I know we’ll get there.

        Anyway, thank you so much for your help and support. Alexis, thank you for this site! I feel like so many of the moms I know in real life say things like, “Really? Little Johnny has slept through the night since he was six weeks old.” And the subtext always seems to be that I must be doing something wrong. It’s so comforting to know that other people are facing the same challenges that I am.

        Hugs to all the moms and babies!

        • Hi Carrie,

          Very exciting to see your update! I hope that things are continuing to get better. I will say that my own update includes a big regression which was totally my fault and then a big, huge improvement as of late! After writing the above update I started to get more and more lax about letting the baby work it out for 10-15 minutes and sure enough we were quickly back to 5, 6 (and counting) wake-ups again. The main issue is that he was STILL in our room (small NY apartment) which made not responding very disruptive and just feeding him back to sleep so darn tempting! But of course the same terrible cycle returned.

          So, earlier this months we moved to a bigger place and gave him a week to adjust to that and his own room for a and THEN IT WAS TIME! Sleep training for real-reals. I realized that I had spent so much time reading about baby sleep that they should give me an honorary masters in it but that my kid still wasn’t sleeping and that this was mostly due to my being really inconsistent with him. So many mixed messages – totally understandable that he didn’t know what the heck he was supposed to do. I was so tired and muddled with too much conflicting sleep knowledge that I decided I had to find a plan I could agree with it and follow it like a cult leader for at least a week. I went with the Sleepeasy Solution book because it had a serious plan for night wakings which was our big issue. Basically, it is CIO with checks (which works really well for us). Instead of ever responding to cries with feedings, you dreamfeed the baby an hour before each usual wakeup time so you know they are not hungry when they wake and don’t confuse them by sometimes feeding when they cry and sometimes not. You then wean those feedings pretty quickly. Naps (if that is an issue for you) are also CIO with checks and on a regular schedule. Rinse, repeat for a few days and… holy mother.. my baby is almost night weaned and needed just one wakeup check last night. He took an hour and a half nap today which is one of about 5 naps over 45 minutes since he was 6 weeks old. Honestly, I wasn’t even planning to work on night weaning or naps now but they said do it and I did! My plan to drink the kool-aid of this plan totally worked!

          Honestly, I’m pretty sure our success has been combination of following a good plan (although it is very similar to Ferber and others.. no big revolution in sleep training plans) and doing so with an obsessive consistency. I did things like pushing back bedtime a little and putting the baby to sleep in only warm footy PJs (no sleep sack or blanket) that kind of seemed questionable to me but the book said to so ok!

          Anyway, should you still be struggling out there, I’d look up this plan (you can probably find enough details googling to avoid buying another sleep book if you want). I can’t promise that you will have one of those speedy happily-ever-after endings but you might be surprised yet. 🙂

          Finally, and I am sorry that this has become a novel, I want to say that I’ve found when you scratch the surface of those miracle Little Johnny sleeper stories that a lot of people count their baby to be “sleeping through the night” when you wouldn’t. Sometimes they say that when the baby no longer eats but they still re-insert the paci a bunch of times. Sometimes they say that but the baby goes to bed at 11pm and gets up at 6. Or sometimes they follow the books that say 5 hours “counts” as sleeping through the night at X age. The last one is a huge pet peeve of mine. I mean, through the night should mean THROUGH the night for however long a baby is supposed to be sleeping at night! Call it “a signifiant accomplishment in sleep” or something but stop trying to trick us with changing the definition!


    • Carrie,
      I agree that if a baby has just bed fed and wakes up (say at midnight) I would definitely give them 15-20 minutes. See what happens? They may just grumble for 12 and fall back asleep without the marathon patting and such.

      Another reason why babies who “go down alone” (and I don’t THINK this applies to you) often wake up all night is that they go down alone at bedtime and then wake BACK up ~45 minutes later. Mom/Dad rush in and do whatever (patting, rocking, nursing) and baby falls asleep.

      What has effectively happened is that baby took a ~45 minute nap and then DIDN’T go down alone so that now you DON’T have a baby who “falls asleep solo.” Does that make sense?

      I don’t think this is your issue, but am throwing it out as it’s so common. I think YOUR issue is more of the “you’re rushing in too quickly” thing – give baby some breathing room and see what he manages all on his own 😉

      • We had the same problem and with Alexis’ help solved it 2 ways:
        1. We moved my son out of our room to his room. I couldn’t let him fuss for even a minute when he was right next to me. We started waiting 10 minutes before going in and he started putting himself back to sleep really quickly and now without any crying at all.
        2. My husband responded to his first night waking if it had been less than 3 hours. He comforted him instead of me nursing him. Soon this night waking disappeared.
        He is still in his swing swaddled but instead of waking up every 1-2 hours, I dreamfeed him before bed and then once in the middle of the night and that’s it!

  26. Hi Alexis,

    I’m having an incredibly hard time with cry it out with my five month old little boy. I know it’s all my fault and I don’t know how to fix this.

    Day 1

    Bedtime routine
    1,3,5,10 subsequent 10 minute checks for 45 minutes. realize it’s making it worse, wait 20, then 30. no change either way. call doctor. she suggests flipping him on his back and patting him. it’s now 15 minutes since last check, 1.45 total. we do it. it works in 10 seconds.

    11pm dreamfeed. put him back on belly

    125 wakes up. try to console him by back patting again. nothing. flip him onto his back.
    1,3,5,10 check and console.
    145 flip him on belly, pat, right to sleep

    230 wakes not crying, feed him put him back to bed on belly. puts himself to sleep

    sleeps until 715!

    Day 2

    Bedtime routine
    1,3,5,10 subsequent ten minute checks until 30 minutes passes. put him on belly. falls right to sleep.

    11pm dreamfeed. put him back on belly. stays asleep

    sleeps until 330! wakes without crying
    feed him put him back down on belly at 4. starts crying
    1 minute check then flip him onto back.
    3,5,10 then put him on belly. falls right to sleep.

    wakes ten minutes later.
    1 minute check then flip him onto back.
    3,5 flip him onto belly goes to sleep

    sleeps until 615

    He doesn’t go to sleep on his belly–he cries just as much. But if he starts on his back and let him cry a little first, and then put him on his belly, it seems to do the trick. I think? The idea is to make it less and less time before flipping him onto his belly so that eventually we put him down that way and he falls asleep that way. But I feel like we messed everything up, and we can’t turn back now.

    It is Day 3 now.

    try to put him on belly to go to sleep and he’s crying. flip him over immediately.
    wait 1,3,5 and flip him over. doesn’t work. it’s too early and now he’s crying harder.

    i swore we were going to be consistent, but I overthought it. I kept changing things along the way, and I don’t know how to get out of this.

    what do i do? stop and start all over again later? then let him cry for hours on his back? i feel like i’m trying so hard to do everything right, and i keep messing everything up. i feel so horrible for my little boy for doing this to him. not letting him cry, but not doing it right. i feel like i prepared and prepared and still messed up. i don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to proceed.

    • okay, so this is a nutty-sounding message i sent. sorry. you’re so great at responding to us parents when we’re at the end our ropes. seriously, i don’t know how you see through the panic-stricken emails in order to address the actual problems.

      let me try again, with an update.

      we obviously started him on his back. the doctor told us to flip him on his belly. we started him on his back for the first three nights and flipped him over at some point, but on the third night we just let him stay on his belly and let him fall asleep like that. It took about 20 minutes. And then he slept through the night with two dream feeds.

      Day 4, put him on his belly, and it took him 6 minutes to fall asleep! He slept through the entire night! Success!

      Day 5, we put him on his belly. It took 12 minutes. Half hour later he woke up and it took him 26 minutes to go back to sleep. He woke up at 3:30 and it took him 14 minutes to go back to sleep. He slept until 715, but I feel like we messed up somewhere to cause all of this crying again.

      Is it normal to regress? Does this regression means it isn’t working? I’m guessing we’re doing something wrong? I’m being as consistent as I can be. His bedtime routine is exactly the same, and starts at the exact same time every night. Here’s where I think there may be some inconsistencies: the naps. I’m worried naps are interfering with this consistency. I’m either nursing or rocking him to sleep for naps. Also, he’s not quite settled on the naps, so while I give him a nap routine (shortened version of bedtime routine), I just follow his cues for when to put him down. Often this means naps happens at different times, including his last nap of the day. Here’s the issue. His bedtime is at 8. I try to make his last 30 minute nap happen at 530, so that he wakes at 6 and has two hours of wakefulness before his bedtime. He can’t go more than two hours max. It doesn’t always work so neatly though. On Day 4 the naps worked out so he was exhausted by 730 and we just put him to bed at 730 (with the same bedtime routine). The next night, Day 5, we put him to bed at 750. Are these minor differences in bedtime causing the problem? I want to give him a consistent bedtime, but I don’t want to let him get overtired. What’s more important? Have I messed things up irrevocably?

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the work you do for us parents. It’s incredibly generous of you.


      • Hey Yael,

        I think you got caught in the classic parent trap of trying to suss out a pattern where none existed. It’s tough because you had this baby flipping/patting pattern going on and I could tell you were trying to figure out the exact flip/pat scenario that would lead to no crying. My guess (and it’s just a guess) is that he just needed some time to work himself out.

        AND HE DID! Fantastic. Yeah he had a little extinction burst. This happens. You handled it beautifully. And yay – here you are!

        You’re doing all the right things at bedtime – try to defend bedtime as much as you can BUT you need to be flexible and if bedtime moves about +/- 30 minutes, that’s far better then let baby become a miserable overtired mess. Over the next few months naps will become a bit more predictable and your job as “bedtime defender” will get a lot easier too 😉

        • aaah, alexis, you are so awesome. thank you, thank you, thank you for this and all you do for us sleep-deprived nutso parents. 🙂

  27. Golly gosh, this could be describing what I was going through up to 1 month ago! I practically had a continuous nervous breakdown for months, was utterly confused and conflicted about what to do and delirious and depressed with fatigue. Only just beginning to recover!

    Shall I bore everyone with what worked for us? Oh, please let me!!

    The situation as it was:
    We’d also swallowed the attachment parenting thing hook line and sinker, naively, until I understood why the other parents (whom I called the Gina Ford brigade) (and my stepmother) were advising / doing things very differently. It seems that the AP methods don’t take reality into account – ie the mother is not superhuman. So we were co-sleeping, breastfeeding to sleep, etc. We luckily had established some good naps in the day but only by being rocked in the pushchair outside – when it got cold I realised the ridiculousness of this!

    WHat we did:
    We broke things into stages.
    STAGE 1: get him sleeping all night in the COT (CRIB). HOURS AND HOURS of crying on Night 1, but surprisingly after that he seemed to accept it, but was still waking up wanting boob every half hour looking for Boobyjuice. I gave it to him, and got even more exhausted because I was having to get out of bed. All (most) of the crying took place while I sat beside him, picking him when I was heartbroken and putting him back when he calmed down. ENDLESSLY!

    STAGE 2: Got much stricter with the bedtime routine we already had in place. I realised that being CONSISTENT and CLEAR was much better for Billy. So, 5.30 eat supper, 6 – 6.40 bathtime play, 6.45, pijamas, close curtains together, have one boob. 7pm play with daddy for 5 minutes, put lullabies on, dull lights even more. 7.05 Sit with mummy in special chair next to cot and have other boob; then read book – SAME BOOK every night. Very important to have separation between boob and laying to sleep. Then lay him in cot and say goodnight to cuddly toys. After 1 or 2 nights he began to accept and like this bit. Then he would automatically calm down and be asleep within minutes while I potter round room. However, he was still waking a lot in the night.
    STAGE 3 : Go cold turkey with feeding in the night. Not even water. Only shush or pat him if waking. This took 1 night then he just started sleeping all the way from 7.30 to 5.30 am!

    – consistency every time he wakes in the night.
    – Treat each waking before 6am as a night waking. At 6am or when he wakes after that, treat as morning, open curtains, say good morning, turn lights on etc, only then do you offer him milk.
    – Don’t bring him back into bed with you before the first morning feed!

    Now we just have to tackle wakings before 6am (HOW??) and naps only in the pushchair. But at least I’m human again, just!!

    Good luck to all out there trying it…

  28. PS when I said night wakings before 6am there i just meant the early ones when he wakes for the day at 5.30am and its obvious he isn’t going back to sleep again. Apparently you must do the morning thing, but keep him up for an hour and then after that if he wants let him sleep but this will count as first nap of day. and never breastfeed him back to sleep again! (this sounds sad and i miss it but need sleep more!)

  29. PPS : sorry, forgot to mention my baby is now 9 months old so we started this process at 8 months old.

  30. Wow! Thank you for sharing, this is so close to what we are going through right now with our almost 13 month old daughter!! We are trying to make a plan and decide if we can CIO. Helps to read these stories and see that we are not alone! 🙂

  31. Thanks for sharing! I’m currently on the fence about trying CIO with our 8 month old. We started him in the swing around 3 months, but the motor died on us around 5 months, before he was able to master the art of putting himself to sleep. By the time the new motor arrived (it took almost a month!), he was too big for the swing, so we moved him to the crib. Long story short, he is successful at putting himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night ( I’m attributing this to the swing), with the exception of one night feeding anytime between 1-3am. However, we still have to put him down fully asleep at bedtime (I usually nurse him to sleep). This has been working for us, and as he just turned 8 months old, I’m assuming we’ve made it through the realization of object permanence. With regard to naps, sometimes they are great (an hour, hour and a half) and other times terrible (~5mn), and of course we have to rock/nurse him to sleep for those as well. So, while I am not at the end of my rope, I know he will need to learn to put himself to sleep at some point, and as he is already crawling, and trying to pull himself up to a standing position in his crib, I don’t want to wait any longer. Do we try the gradual changes approach at bedtime, since he is sleeping well throughout the night, or should we just bite the bullet and do CIO?

    • I’m not sure that CIO would fix anything.

      Look – here’s the secret (but don’t tell anybody as I’m just telling YOU) – not ALL kids get hung up on going to sleep alone. The vast majority DO – maybe 93%. So that leaves 7% of babies who can be nursed/rocked to sleep and not have an issue. You don’t have an issue right now. You might in a month or so but right now, CIO at bedtime wouldn’t change anything.

      You have an 8 month old baby who is sleeping great and eating 1X a night. GREAT! When he starts waking up hourly you’ll know you’re part of the 93%.

      Why don’t I talk about this more? Well I plan to post about it eventually. But I don’t want to encourage people to continue not putting baby down awake in the assumption that all will be fine. Because overwhelmingly it won’t be – but a few lucky babies DO coast through. Maybe you’ve got one of them?

      • Thanks Alexis! Btw, I was the crazy lady who was panicked about transitioning her baby from the swing to the crib. With my little man, I think it was less about motion, more about the snug feeling of the swing. The first night was a little rough, he woke every 2 hours, but from then on, it was all good. So basically I freaked out for months about nothing 🙂

        Your website is a wonderful place for common sense info, so glad I stumbled across it!

  32. Hi Alexis,
    I was directed here by a friend and I am very grateful for all the information you provide in the face of lots of fear mongering and judgement when it comes to parents making the decision to CIO. My daughter is 6 months old and my partner and I decided it was time for a new strategy after months of worsening ‘sleep surgery’ (what was needed to get her to sleep was so complex/time consuming/precise/delicate that we thought it was a good name to describe it). She appeared as desperate as we were for a change as she wasn’t getting much more sleep than we did after accounting for the never ending bedtime/several wake ups and then 1-3h long baby parties in the middle of the night.

    After getting ready, we started about 8 days ago. The first night, it took her 2h30min to fall asleep. She cried/angrily babbled but didn’t wail so it was bearable. Then was awake from 2-5, babbling for 2h then crying for one. It was tough. But that was it for the night wakings. The next day, she slept through the night and it has been 7 nights in a row since then (alleluah!). In one week, we went from 2h30min to 7min tonight. I’m not saying it has been easy, it has not and some nights, my sadness lingered for a long time (despite spending my days with a cheery and rested girl who just suddenly sat up and did a bunch of new tricks that keep us entertained all day)

    So for me, this was a great success and I’m happy for all of my little family. That said, I definitely still have questions in terms of continuing to implement this new routine. I have two more specific ones that boil down to one theme really:

    1. Naps. The first few days, I didn’t mess with her naps because they are relatively easy and also because I wanted her rested for bedtime since she’s dealing with a big change in her routine. That said, three days in, I started experimenting and I put her down after nursing but still awake (I usually nurse her down for all of her naps). And it has been working for some of them! It’s actually going smoother than for bedtime (as she seems more relaxed. Bedtime is still not her favorite time so she doesn’t get super relaxed while we go through the motions (nurse (relax)-bath (gets riled up)-book (starts to get agitated)-bed).

    So I’d say that maybe half the naps are a success but the other half, she ramps up and I go back in to nurse her down so she doesn’t miss a nap (and honestly because I don’t always feel like going through lots of crying twice in a day).

    Basically, my question will be the same for both scenarios so I’ll type up the second one)

    2. So things are going really well for nights (and relatively well for bedtime although there is still some crying that last longer on some nights). Again, we are just a week in. We are going to a cottage this coming weekend and then the weekend after. So she won’t be sleeping at home twice in two weeks.

    Question: How much can I mess with our routine without confusing her and regressing? For naps, does the fact that I still nurse her down for some of her naps (at times, going back in after she has cried for a few minutes) and then not for others will backfire? If we are at a (very small and open concept) cottage with lots of people and I opt to nurse her down for those two nights (i haven’t decided what to do yet) to avoid a dramatic bedtime with me sitting at her door if she ends up crying with lots of witnesses that I’ll be snappy with, will it screw everything up at home?

    Thank you for your help and this great resource

    • I totally get that hanging out with a bunch of people in an open architecture cabin so everybody can see/judge you is not ideal. But I think that nursing her to sleep does have a high potential to blow up on you when you go home so I would really vote for putting her down awake. It may be she grumbles for 15 minutes and it’s no big deal.

      And remember – her crying freaks YOU out but is no big deal to anybody else. Honest! We had company over the holidays and their baby cried at midnight for about 30 minutes. They were horrified – we BARELY NOTICED. If she goes down and everybody is chatting and enjoying a nice after-dinner cocktail, they probably won’t even register that it’s happening.

      As for nursing her naps – it’s better to be consistent but it sounds like generally things are going really well so maybe you continue to work through it gradually, yes?

      • Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question! Reading your response firmed up my decision to bite the bullet and take our show on the road instead of reverting to our old ways while away.

        I’m glad we didn’t change our (still fairly new) routine. It took a bit longer for her to settle but she totally did and way faster than I expected. Bonus: since we’ve been back home, she is even a tad calmer at bedtime as if practicing putting herself to sleep in a different environment made it even easier at home (totally instilling meaning where there probably isn’t one but I am quite pleased!). The first night back, she was happily slumbering in less than 3 minutes and only after grumbling.

        And you were right, I am the one who was ‘hearing’ her cry the most. Everyone was generous and calm (and they all got to play with a well rested, fun, smiley baby the next day)

        Thank you again for sharing your thoughts on this.

  33. Have been obsessively looking up CIO on the Internet after we decided to go down that route for our almost 9 month old (I say we, it was really me who made the decision as my husband goes along with whatever when it comes to this sort of thing as he isn’t the one who has to get up in the night and deal with her waking up for no good reason) and I love your site! Just makes me laugh every time I read your posts, which is just what I need in my sleep deprived, slightly low state.

    For me it really has been the last thing I ever would have considered as I always thought it was mean to spend the first however many months of a child’s life jumping at their every noise and then one day turning around and saying ” tough, you’re just going to have to cry it out now” but I think it is making a difference. Knowing that I’m not the only person who has wrestled with these thoughts and who is too tired not to go down this route is also reassuring. Fingers crossed our beautiful, perfect in every way daughter keeps up with the good work as the last two nights have been much better.

    • I’m so happy that your husband is following your lead. One of my pet peeves is husbands who don’t get up with baby because they can’t lactate (technically I think they CAN only it involves taking creepy hormones and growing breasts and thus isn’t a safe or popular option) but then REFUSE to consider CIO because it’s unkind so thus Mom needs to carry on. In an ideal world, I think only those who are actively getting up at night should be weighing in on how to handle the night-waking.

      Someday when I’m president, I’ll talk to Congress about that.

      • I spoke too soon about the getting better bit-she was up 3 times last night although there was less crying each time than the first night and I didn’t have to get up the third time. Is this common and can I stop banging my head against the proverbial brick wall?? Or am I in for the long haul on this one? Am hoping for reassurance on point one as I go back to work on Monday and am going to be an overemotional zombie at this rate……

  34. Hi Alexis,

    I posted about my baby’s sleep issues on your other post, but haven’t gotten a reply from you. I’m gonna post here and hope you and/or others can respond to me.

    My baby is 5.5 mos and I’ve decide to sleep train her cuz she wakes up frequently at night. She sleeps in the crib at night and naps in the swing. I always nurse her back to sleep and I believe she’s associating falling asleep with nursing. The problem with my baby is she doesn’t cry after I put her down in the crib, but it takes her a very long time to fall asleep (like 3 hrs or more). She is still swaddled with one arm out for self-soothing purpose. I have white noise and lullabye playing. So I cant really attempt CIO or something of that as she doesn’t cry!

    Last night I nursed her and put her down awake by 8:30pm. I keep checking every 30 mins or so (and she was not crying) but she was still awake. Finally I think she fell asleep around 11pm. She woke at 3am to nurse then was up for the day at 7:30am despite my efforts to try to get her back to sleep some more. I put her down for nap at 9am in the crib (she was napping in swing previously so this is something new to her). She fell asleep within 15 mins and woke around 11am. I put her down in crib for another nap around 1pm and she slept till 2:30pm. I put her down for nap around 4pm cuz she fell asleep on my boob while nursing and I thought she’s sleepy. But she did not go to sleep at all. I finally took her out at 5:30pm and attempted the night time routine then. Gave her a bath, nursed her, sang a song, rock a little and put her down at 7pm. She did not cry but was still up at 8:30pm. I have no idea why. Shouldn’t she be tired already?? I decide to nurse her then and put her back down. Check at 9:30pm and she was asleep THANK GOD!!

    So unlike other babies, my daughter doesn’t cry so I have to constantly check on her to see if she’s sleeping. She seems to be able to fall asleep on her own but why is it taking such a long time as in a few hrs?? Is she OT? If she’s not cryng but not sleeping, what can i do to help get her to sleep? Should I still have her nap in the swing once a day and not wean her cold turkey? Should I change my nursing routine before bed? How do I treat night wakings? Should I still have her swaddled? Sorry for all the questions but this is all new to me and I REALLY, REALLY NEED SOME ADVICE…

    • I get that you’re a little freaked out by her not sleeping. But listen – isn’t that far better then her not sleeping and CRYING?

      Personally I would stick with it. Three hours of her just hanging out is a pretty impressively long time. But if she’s not freaking, why should you? If it were me I would probably stick with it.
      – Separate nursing from bedtime.
      – Stick with a consistent TIME for bedtime.
      – Keep swaddling (maybe 2 arms in?)
      – Maybe borrow/get a night vision monitor so you can peak without going in (it’s quite possible that your gentle visits are disturbing her ability to fall asleep more quickly).

      I don’t know why it’s taking a long time. But I think that if you commit to 3 days you’ll see a dramatic improvement in how long it takes for her to fall asleep. And if she’s not crying then GREAT!

  35. A few things: I wish we as mommas would be more supportive of one another. Why should it matter to me if you (hypothetical you) nurse your baby to sleep or he sleeps in your bed until he’s 5. I say as long as parents and baby are happy and well-adjusted then who cares? My husband tried to tell me I was ruining our daughter by letting her sleep in our bed. My thought was hey YOU’RE not getting up with her I am. So I can spend all night fighting with her to sleep – and want to kill myself the next day – or I say “little girl your mother is not engaging in this battle” and everyone sleeps and I’m able to make it through another day. I also recently got harassed for feeding my daughter every two hours all night long. This girl kept telling me how I should just pat the baby on the back and leave her alone. I said um I think this is more a growth spurt thing than a comfort thing. Know what? My little hoglette has gained two and a half pounds in 4 weeks so obviously she needed to eat.
    About the sleep problems: I’m beginning to think my child’s sleep issues are directly related to my anxiety around them. I say this bc at the babysitter’s there is no nursing to sleep. The sitter doesn’t bounce, pat, incessantly rock. Honest to God the sitter pats the baby’s bottom for half a second then lays her in the pack and play and my child PUTS HERSELF to sleep! The little traitor 🙂 I’ve also noticed that when my husband keeps the baby she does the same things. She only screams bloody murder for my benefit. So I’m thinking I might need to come up with a way to alleviate my anxiety (a way not involving prescription meds and/or wine – my old tried and true)
    Also, can’t we be CIO parents and attachment parents? I feel like people want to pick one or the other. I say you pick whatever works for you. If it means your baby is swaddled until she’s 9 mths old – maybe that’s what she needs. Again I’m speaking of a hypothetical baby. Mine currently wants to be swaddled with one arm free so she can play with whatever is near her.
    I wish there was a way for us as mothers to help build one another up – not lord over each other our superiority. Good lunch with the sleeping. I’m sure we’ll all figure it out!

    • Hear hear!
      Did you see the 30 Rock Finale last night? (so sad it’s over). There was a brilliant moment in the beginning where Liz goes to some online forum ( to get support and immediately gets flamed. “Go back to Saudi Arabia, Hitler” This would have only been funny if it hasn’t been so frighteningly true.

      As to your analysis you are TOTALLY RIGHT. I have no science to back this up but I think most moms live in a cloud of anxiety for the first year. Babies are like dogs, they pick up on this stuff. So they sleep great for everybody else.

      My advice? Use this to your advantage. If she goes down great for Dad – make him do bedtime! Unless you’re cool with the co-sleeping night nursing because I’M NOT JUDGING! (Don’t want to be lumped in with those mean gothammoms moms ;). But absolutely a fair sleep tactic is to use other people to help teach skills. Why?


      Sad but true. Or you can stick with the wine therapy, see if that works for you 😉

  36. Hey mamas!
    What a lovely site for all us sleep deprived mamas! My situation is a bit different and I’m wondering if anyone else has these issues and can offer advice. I have twins, they are 10 months old and we have a tiny place so only one bedroom. We’ve solidified good nap routines at this point and are putting them down awake which becomes easier. However they still wake up about 3-4?times a night to nurse and since there are two of them that means I am up constantly. I struggle with CIO for many reasons but I also have the added issue of the original waker waking the other baby and the worst thing ever is two hysterical infants when I am alone because it’s not possible to soothe them simultaneously. I have tandem nursed in the past and really don’t like it my babes have totally different styles and it’s not for us.
    They eat solids 4 times a day and nurse 4-5 times in the day and about 3-4 times at night.
    I’m exhausted. I don’t know what to do. I want them to be able to self soothe and I need to sleep but one is way tiny for her age and I also want her to get as much milk as possible. If I had one baby I’d cosleep but with two its impossible for me to get any sleep.
    Any advice on sleep training twins in the same room would be heaven sent!!!
    I love them so much but am becoming a shadow of my former self. I haven’t slept more than three hours since they were born….

    • Maile,

      Are you putting them down awake? I think you are. If so you don’t have a sleep training issue you have a night weaning issue. Meaning that they’re getting too much calories at night.

      Check the post below – my gut tells me that one or more of the things listed there is tripping you up. Even a tiny baby should be able to fast longer than 3 hours at night so even if you WANT to keep feeding at night (maybe once?) they shouldn’t need to eat 3-4 times at night.

      Also even if you can’t tandem nurse, if you’re up for one I would feed the other (maybe one after the other?) if that works for you. Far better to spend 20 minutes nursing 2 babies then to go back to bed for 45 minutes right?

      Take a look at the night weaning post and let me know if any of that rings true.

  37. This is so familiar. I planned to co sleep, nurse, wear my baby and be one with him. He is happy and great during the day, even though he barely naps but the nights are brutal. I wake in the morning in tears becausebitvfeels like it will never change. All he wants is boob, even if he emptied both breast and fell asleep 10 min before. He wakes sometimes an hour, sometimes just a few min after he last fed and if he doesn’t nurse again he screams for hours I think. No one can help, it’s just me and him, my husband cannot calm him because all he wants is to nurse. When he does try to help, the baby wants to play with him or he just will cry, either way…he can’t get him to sleep. I don’t know what to do anymore, he is 6 months and almost 20 pounds, he doesn’t need to eat t night! Please, any ideas welcome….
    Every day I swear I can’t manage another night of it

    • Liz,

      You are a human pacifier. Don’t feel bad about it – you aren’t alone. Lots of Moms have become human pacifiers and they feel just as ground down about it as you do.

      The KEY is to separate nursing from falling asleep. Everything else flows from what is happening at bedtime. So do what you need to so that you can put a ~20 minute gap between bedtime and his last nursing session. Maybe you have a solid nursing session then you pass him to Dad to do bath, massage, books, swaddle, bed. This is key.

      Another key is to get him napping during the day. If he’s barely napping it’s setting him up for a bad night. Have you tried the swing? Yes he’s big but if you have one I would really encourage you to work with it for naps.

      Once you have separated nursing from falling asleep I think you’ll have much better luck prying him from your boob throughout the night. Make sure you are giving him as much soothing as possible – at 6 months maybe swaddle and white noise?

      See post below on the swing. Also check out this one on pacifier use (really the same applies to what you are dealing with). Good luck!

    • Hey Liz,

      I’m guessing “stop nursing to sleep” is one of those things that are easier said than done! At least for us it was….but then it does happen and its so freeing! (Not just for sleeping more at night, but also for having a life again – says the Mom who is leaving baby with Dad when she goes to book club tonight – because Dad does bedtime routine now, yay!!)

      In addition to what Alexis said, here are some thoughts on making the transition away from the boob/bed combo.
      – Clearly he’s not hungry ALL the time, so the purpose of all this nursing is mostly soothing. So, the goal is replace the nursing with OTHER soothing. Luckily you can have some overlap here, things you introduce while you’re still nursing to sleep, that you can later transition to Dad as you try and get some space between boob and bed. Like Alexis said, swaddle (double swaddle!!) and while noise are great!! You can also try bottom patting or singing quiet songs or similar tactics. I’m guessing thats part of the cries for Dad situation right now, but what if YOU do those things, then hopefully they will be more successful for Dad at some point.
      – You mentioned the babe wanting to play with Dad during the night if he tries to soothe. Maybe try working in some quiet or mellow Dad/Baby time during the day, even if it’s not related to sleep – quiet books together, singing, massage – all things that could be incorporated into bedtime routine later.
      – Also, one of Alexis’s most valuable piece of advice for us was to KEEP TRYING THINGS! Babies change quickly (perhaps not as quickly after 6 months, but still!) – so things that didn’t work last week might work this week. Dad can’t soothe to sleep this week? Maybe after a week of singing songs together in the bath or whatever, you can try again and it will work.
      – Do you have a bedtime routine? Even if you keep nursing right before bed now, start putting the other pieces of the routine in place, that way you have something to work with. You can always start moving the nursing just ONE step of the routine farther away or having Dad take over one piece of the routine at a time. But if you wait until there’s no boob/bed association to start your routine, you’ll be in trouble. (Also – I found having the routine to be just as helpful for me as him – I knew what was coming after each step and generally enjoyed myself and this helped immensely, as the dread of the night is SOOO exhausting and draining, just as much as the lack of sleep itself).

      Hope some of these things help (and Alexis please correct me if I’ve said something totally off base!!). Keep reading on this site – its SO helpful and full of ideas – the comments are wonderful and you’ll find plenty of other folks who have similar situations to you (even as your situation changes, which it will!).

      • Thanks for all the suggestions. I think the thing to remember is to keep trying things because they might work in a week or so, right? He won’t take a pacifier or a bottle, we have used the white noise and lovey for a while, the swing is a no go, but the vibrating bouncer seat sometimes works. If I push the seat up against the crib, the crib vibrates a bit. It didn’t help yesterday ( I was in the crib with him!) but maybe next week.
        So a new plan. To help get him out of my bed, I am going to start to put him to bed in his room in the bouncer seat. When he wakes ill nurse him and co sleep part of the night with him on a futon on the floor of his room. Eventually transition to his crib and not me, moving nursing back astep in his night time routine, although it seems impossible. A bath is way to stimulating for him, so I’m taking it out of the routine. I thought about wearing him for 15 min before I do the diaper, pj change, nurse, book, bouncer seat, just because it calms him. Any thoughts or input? Thanks again, liz

  38. Does that mean putting down for a nap without nursing too? Tried the swing, doesn’t work. Bounces seat works sometimes but mostly he just cries.

  39. =[ I can’t stop crying after reading this and the comments.
    MY son will be 6 months old 2 days. Everything started out fine with him sleeping through the night after we got the all clear from our pediatrician telling us that we didn’t have to wake him to feed every 2 hrs. She would tell us how lucky we are that he got days and nights figured out and slept 8hrs strait. It didn’t last. He had refulx really bad so when things got bad- we chalked it up to his tummy. Now we have no spit ups and a baby that wakes up every 1-2hrs.
    He has a routine to be admired. same 3 naps- same time… every day! His bedtime is 6pm. Not by my choice, but his. If i try to keep him up even 30min past 6 he screams and cries a “momma!!!!!” sounding shriek which cuts my heart into bits=[ I cluster feed him in the late evening times to get him nice and full. Still he wakes… He will take down 8oz of formula and 3hrs later cry out for a bottle. Of course this is making him a cute little chuberoo that cannot be swaddled by hardly anything. There are nights when he will sleep from 6-2 (very rare) and he will go back to sleep, waking every few hours. All of this I can handle… BUT tonight he started a whole new terror that made me feel so helpless I just cried. Usually I sing to him while rocking him to sleep — yes every nap– and every bed time. I’ve been okay with it as has my husband. We really enjoy our cuddles=] As I was singing and rocking he started crying and stretching his entire body out. I tried holding him tighter- but his resistance became ever stronger. I was worried I was holding him too tight and he was going to get hurt with all of the stretching shenanigans.
    HE WAS IMPOSSIBLE! For the first time (since I read an article saying that CIO makes babies feel unlovable) I tried CIO. The only problem (besides the “mamaaaaaa!!” cries) was the fact that he kept rolling himself over onto his face and not getting out of that position. I got worried and caved in. By this time it was 8pm and he cried when I wouldn’t try to put him down and even worse when I would. Finally he went to sleep. Why is he doing this stretching thing? Is there any way to push his bedtime back a little later –say 8? Oh and forgot to mention he is teething. We play ocean sounds super loud, bath about 5:30, rock & cuddle, and usually great success. HELP!! ='[

    • I’m sorry if the comments are making you cry – that’s not the goal obviously 🙁

      What is this stretching thing you are talking about? How do you know he’s done with reflux? Listen- reflux does not equal spitting up. Reflux – baby heartburn. Refluxing babies may spit up often and with great enthusiasm. Or not at all.

      So you say he had terrible reflux but it’s not at all clear to me what the current state of that reflux is?

      Which brings me back to the stretching. What do you mean by that? Was he trying to arch his back? Did he seem unhappy? Sometimes babies with reflux will arch their backs to alleviate some of the refluxing discomfort. Is THAT what was happening?

      You are not the first nor the last parent do do CIO in a moment of desperation. Sadly you are neither the first nor the last parent to find that “desperately dumping baby in crib” rarely ends well. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. But you and baby will both be fine.

      But eventually the rocking to sleep will likely blow up on you, so while it’s a separate issue from the “stretching” it’s time to take a serious look at your bedtime routine and consider some gentle changes, yes?

  40. Hi,
    My baby is now 3 months old (and 10 days). And he cannot and will not go into his cot or bassinet awake. He must be bounced to deep sleep before we can place him into his cot – at times this can take more than 1 hour as each time we put him in he will kick and scream almost immediately.
    Bubs also has reflex so we were advised to elevate his cot with a wedge. A week ago we removed the wedge as he kept kicking and falling into the blankets. On that same night we thought we would start self settling techniques. Boy did this backfire on us. Since 8 days ago now he has decided to wake every 25 to 45 minutes (day and night)? (he used to be able to do 6 to 7 hour stints at night – but since the incident – we are lucky to get 1 hour).
    My questions are:
    1. How do we begin placing bubs awake in the cot? Every time we have done this, he has screamed until he turns purple and is out of breath (this happens almost immediately).
    2. Should we begin this for the bedtime sleep first or the daytime sleep?
    3. Ever since the wedge has been removed, bubs keeps waking himself up by moving around the cot? Is there a way to stop this? Bubs is still swaddled.

    We have tried patting and ssshiing…but with no luck?

    Our current bedtime routine is as follows:
    Bath, feed, bounce to zzzz. But during the day we do feed, play, sleep. Should we be swapping the feed and bath around at bedtime?

    Your help would be so much appreciated.

    • Hey Oysta,

      What I think you should do is this:

      I would seriously consider everything there, ESPECIALLY a swing! Reflux + motion junkie = a baby that would do great in a swing.

      I am not advocating for CIO with your refluxing 3 month old. This is unlikely to be a positive experience for either of you. But I DO think you have options. Swaddle, white noise, swing. I would start there.

      Check the article – I hope it helps!

  41. Hi Alexis … idk where to start
    it wont be wrong if i say we havent slept in months (surprisingly we got 2 weeks or so with 4-6 stretches of night sleep since i started to ST (PUPD)my lil bundle of joy -(5.5 months then and now 6 months)

    We started initially with a completely OT baby getting up every hour or two and then till last week we came down to 6hrs of straight sleep with 1-2NW – 1 for 5min and the other for feeding ..He would go down in an hour or to the max 2hrs. We were really enjoying this new routine where we all were sleeping and happy, but suddenly i have no idea what happened … since last 4 days its getting worse and worse …last night he was getting up every hour and tonight i put em down at 6:30pm and since then hes getting up crying every 5-10-15 minutes.

    Today i thought may be i should start nap training and so i did …naps have been going crazzy lately, wondered if thats leading to NW+ OT … hes been taking two 30 min naps and one 40-50 min nap since a week now, Today took two 30min naps and i was so disheartened and felt exhausted and lost .. no matter i started an Early BT my lil angel took an hour and a half to finally sleep (felt like he forgot ST which ive been doing more than 15 days now)

    i feel like quitting all nap/sleep training and just taking things how they are (either ways its not helping me or my baby)

    Please please please help me… i just dont know what more to do ..

    • To start with – I have to apologize because I can barely follow the shorthand you’re using here so I’m actually kind of confused about what you’re trying to tell me. You’ve been sleep training (ST) using the pick up put down method (PUPD) and it’s been working.

      But something (?) changed and now he’s up crying every 5-10-15 minutes. At which point you do what – go back to the PUPD?

      I wouldn’t start nap training if night sleep is falling apart on you. Sadly I don’t know what NW+ OT means (is this some sort of Mom code? I don’t think I got the codebook!).

      I would focus on bedtime. Keep bed TIME the same (meaning don’t make grand shifts in his bedtime when you’re doing training – read part 2 of this series for more on that). Don’t futz with naps while you’re futzing with night sleep. Focus near term on figuring out the night problem and get things settled into a happy routine THEN worry about day. OK?

      • I think I cracked the code.

        NW= Night Waking
        OT=Over Tired

      • Thanks Alexis for your prompt reply 🙂
        Im sorry about the jargons, got so used to them posting my problems here and there :p

        I really am not sure what happened since last sunday because his naps and night sleep all were in our faces!!
        (naps were 30 minutes and it took me forever to even make em nap- lots of yelling, crying, fighting sleep)
        (And Night sleep was like my baby doesnt even know what/how we are getting him to sleep all these days)

        Not sure but may be it was a growth spurt which i read would come at 5.5m and some babies might get at 6months+

        That made sense to me today because he napped for 40 minutes for 2 naps and the third one was 1 hour – literally after 5days of horrible sleep routine and that also without me changing anything today..
        but wait a min …. for the second thought the only difference which i can think of is i didnt try that hard to make em sleep this morning at 6:40am, nursed and he was cooing and babbling in my arms , then in my bed all active, finally i got up and made his breakfast oatmeal, he just had few spoons and wanted to sleep off after 1.5hrs so took em in my arms and rocked a lil and without a fuss he went to sleep (he usually sleep 30min- 1hr after getting up at 6 or 6:30 am)

        Im still very scared of nap training because i dont want to spoil his night sleep plus because of stressing so much at naps i nurse n rock him to sleep, so he expects that at bedtime as well (so thats how my PUPD- Pickup put down method is kind of failing )

        Im not in favor of Crying it out (im not saying its wrong but just that i wont chose it for my baby)

        Can you please advise/suggest something i should be doing differently … Im not seeing any progress with my method of Sleep training these days but i wont lie, i did see a huge change in my baby because of it, he goes into crib easily doesnt hate the crib, doesnt cry as much as he used to .. i just feel it has come to halt or may be we are in plateau phase.

        I’ll be desperately waiting for your reply/suggestion/advise Alexis.
        Thanks in advance (TIA)

  42. Hi Alexis,

    This is the first time I have ever wrote on a blog. I’m desperate and at my wits end! My daughter is 8 months old. I’m looking for advice on her night time sleeping and naps. We have a bedtime routine of a bottle around 6 or 6:30….sometimes she eats 6-7oz sometimes only a few ounces. Then it’s a bath and offer another bottle. She usually doses off while eating bottle but then wakes and we read a few books and turn off the light. I sing her a song and put her in crib awake. She fusses for a little while and then falls asleep. She wakes up at different times throughout the night. Sometimes it is 9pm or 10 or 12 or 1 or 2. She usually wakes up about twice in the night. We give her a bottle whenever she wakes and she goes back asleep. Then is awake anywhere between 4-5:15am. Should we be doing cry it out in the middle of the night? We have tried picking one night feeding and giving her less in the bottle. She takes about 2 naps a day that are currently only half hour or so. They seem to happen at different times. We keep thinking her sleep issue are due to teething or constipation but maybe that is just to make us feel better. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing with her. I feel like she should be on a better schedule. Any advice/help would be so GREATLY appreciated! Please help me!

    Thank you so much,

  43. Hi everyone. Here is my story. I am a mother of a beautiful 10 months old daughter. She used to be a great sleeper. She started sleeping 8-9 hours straight at night when she was 8 weeks old. I always nursed her to sleep, never put her down awake. When she turned 4 months, she stopped sleeping through the night and would wake up 2 or 3 times for quick feedings, which was OK. Until she turned 8 months. Since then, she is waking up EVERY hour, sometimes 45minutes and would not go to sleep without nursing. I am so sleep deprived that I cannot actually sleep, my brain just won’t shut down:( Anyway, I was and still am not convinced to do CIO. Here is what I did for the last 2 weeks. Since she had a strong nurse-to-sleep association, I started nursing her before the bath time. Then, I walked with her in my arms until she fell asleep. For the first 3 nights, she was waking up every hour or so, and I would pick her up and walk again and again. On night 4 she woke up only twice. I was so proud of my little girl! Then I decided that she is ready for drowzy but awake thing. So I did Sleep Lady Shuffle. I was so afraid of doing it, because it still involves some tears. It was not so bad, I expected histerical crying for hours, but she settled in 30 min, with some patting and reassurance from me. I picked her up only once. That night she still was waking up every hour, I sit by her crib and pat her an sh-sh her. Second night of Shuffle she cried for an hour and a half. I thought I would loose my sanity. She fell asleep in my arms. Third night was not too bad. She would still wake up 7 and 8 times a night for those nights though. Long story short, yesterday she fell asleep within 7 min, without crying at all, and slept till 4 AM, woke up, I reassured her with some patting and shushing, and she slept till 6:30 AM. I was so so excited!!!! And yet again tonight she cried and cried histerically for 40 min, I had to pick her up because I was afraid she would suffocate or something. She did not calm down in my arms, and was searching for the breast and was getting upset because I would not give it to her. Finally, I broke all rules of the shuffle, put her in to the crib and walked away. Sh cried additional 10 min and fell asleep on her own. I sort of feel guilty that I left her alone. I just could not be there any longer. Will see what tomorrow will bring us. We have a very good bed time routine, her naps are very good sometimes and sometimes are awuful. She did have some reflux before, but was not on any meds. Both nights when she cried, she did arch her back. Thus, thinking that she had a heartburn tonight and I walked on her absolutely breaks my heart.

    • Jane,

      You are doing a great job. I think what your doing is working, without cio, so keep it up.
      I have a 10 month old too, your going to need to keep going for 2 weeks to really see the difference. And you might still need to get up for one feed. But think about how much better things are.
      Good luck.

      • Hi Julie, thank so much for your support. My LO slept pretty good last night. She woke up around 11 pm, it took me 3 min to get her back to sleep. Then she slept soundly till 4 amish and before I was in her room she soothed herself back to sleep and slept till 6 am. The thing is she is not hungry when she wakes up for the breast. She suckles for 2 min and falls asleep. That’s why I decided to wean her at night all at once. She started eating better during the day because of that. I was very close to giving in and bf her last night when she was crying so desperately. I am glad I did not.

  44. Please HELP…

    You can not see me but I am crying as I write this, because my 6+month old has passed the 1hr mark of crying at nap time (he is in a swing (on) and music). I have read all the articles and blogs on this wonderful website, some of them several times. Let me first say we have had a bedtime routine since 6 weeks, around 6 dinner, slowly dim lights over the next 1.5hrs, 7:15 up to room to play with quiet music on, bath, lotion and baby massage, say goodnight to animals and room, bottle (which we now have cut out) and in the canoe. It was changed just a little bit at 5 1/2 months when I first was recommended this website.

    A week or so before 5 months it was so bad, he was awake every 30 min. and nothing would get him back to sleep. Enter CIO, my husband and I were desperate. We used the Ferber method first (for a little over 2 weeks) and it got worse and worse each night. We would have to pick him up around the 1.5hr mark to change his sleeper, he thrashed and screamed so much he was soaked in sweat. At this point we realized this was not going to work. We tried something recommended to us, no go. Then I someone recommended this website.
    Our process was close to what Alexis recommended except we fed right before bed time. So I slowly cut down the amount until no more. We had a touch of success using CIO (Weissbluth) he fell asleep after 45 min. of screaming, slept 40 min., awake cry 20 min, slept 40 min. etc. until around midnight when I got up to feed him (he is not night weened yet). This pattern repeated for 3 days then he got really sick and could barely breath sitting up……

    So now we are back to sleep training, I am using the swing, music/whitenoise, etc. for nap time unsuccessfully. We have been at it for 1.5hrs currently. I keep his nap times like his bed time consistent every day.

    I have no idea what to do……any suggestion is welcome.

    Please help…

    • Amanda,

      Phew. OK. Well I don’t know if I CAN help but here’s what’s jumping out at me.

      1) If you want a child to sleep in the swing you need to first help them fall asleep in whatever way you normally do (nursing, rocking, etc.) and then you sneak them INTO the swing. Ideally swaddling and white noise are in there too. Start there and then move towards putting them AWAKE into the swing later.

      You son is a bit out of the range where the swing is likely to work but if you want to commit to it, start with putting him asleep IN the swing and see where that gets you in terms of nap lengh.

      2) You had a pretty unusual CIO experience. Scream 40, sleep 20, repeat till midnight? Three days?

      Admittedly there are many things that can make CIO go south on you – small tweaks that even the most diligent parents run into. But without knowing ANYTHING about your story my first thought when I saw this was – is there something that is making him unhappy? What is bothering him? Why weeks of Ferber?

      Yes the Ferber method (or any check in model) leads to longer # of days and more crying but even so your experience is unusual. So what do you think – is something bothering him?

      Reflux and dairy allergies would be my top guesses as they are most common (and even so they are rare). Does that sound like something you would want to talk to your pediatrician about? What about cutting all the milk protein out of your diet for 2 weeks – would you feel OK trying that?

      Waking every 30 minutes all night and “nothing gets him to go back to sleep” doesn’t sound like an average sleep issue. It sounds like there is something that makes him uncomfortable. Potentially. What do YOU think?

      PS. More on these things here:

      • Thank you for replying!! I will try to make this short and sweet.

        I went back to the swing because it worked before and he still had the remnants of a head cold. I think it is not the best option so we r moving on.

        We chose the Ferber method and stuck with it because I thought I was doing something wrong. Then someone recommended your website and by reading so many posts I realized Ferber was not going to work for us. So we switched to Weissbluth and had a little success.

        We are up at 6:15/6:30
        9-11 attempt 1st nap
        1:45-4:30 attempt 2nd nap
        5:30 15 min snooze sometimes

        6:00-6:30 dinner
        6:30 dim lights alittle
        6:30-7:10 play time (no toys with flashing lights or loud music)
        7:00 offer last feeding before bed
        7:10-7:30 bath time
        7:30-7:40 baby massage, bed clothes, say good night to toys (lights dimmer still)
        7:40-7:50 bedtime story
        7:50 goes in canoe (baby bed/hammock that suspends from ceiling) We have tried white noise, music, fan, hair dryer…we are going back to white noise and try again.

        He thrashes and rolls so much do not feel comfortable putting him in the crib, he wind up on his belly with his legs up the side of the crib (have no idea how he managed it).

        I have spoken with our Pediatrician and they do not feel it is medical. They gave me a pamphlet with suggestions….I have tried them all.

        I did go 2 weeks without dairy(charted it) and noticed no difference in him. I tried a couple other foods too (soy, eggs, etc.)

        Last night he cried for 25min (7:50-8:15) then started sucking his thumb, he drifted off. Woke up 30 min later, fussed a little, sucked his thumb and went back to sleep. He work up the next time at 10:50, I nursed him and brought him to bed, I had no fight left in me. Is this progress…or am I so sleep deprived I am reaching??

        I have no idea, I feel like I have a reasonable schedule for him. I have had a bedtime schedule for him since he was 2 1/2 months to try and establish it (though I was not as regimented until about 4 months) Should I try moving bedtime up to 7:30??

        • Amanda, I think your bedtime routine is taking too long. If you get up at 6ish, your baby is most likely ready for bed by between 6 and 7. At my house, we usualy have dinner around 5:30 – 6:00, and then I take my 6 mo. old up to bed. I change him, we read a story, i nurse him, and then put him down for the night. If he isn’t in his crib by 7 pm at the latest, he is hell to get to sleep.

          So, could you take out the evening playtime? Try getting him down earlier and see if that helps. It made a world of difference for us!

          Now, if I could just night wean him we’d be golden… lol.

          • We can try it again. His bedtime was 7 around the 4 month mark. He would sleep for 30 min (power nap) then wake-up and cry. We would spend the next 2+ hrs rocking him trying to get him back asleep. But it’s worth a shot. I will take his bedtime back at a slow increment until we reach 7 pm…….it can’t hurt :))))

        • One last thought – you have to be REALLY consistent. Even small inconsistency will throw things off and lead to LOTS of crying. Also as a general rule it’s best to avoid nap training and bedtime training simultaneously so maybe back off for naps and focus on nights for now?

          But the big issue is this – if you’re pulling him into bed at 10:50 you’re being inconsistent. I KNOW you’re EXHAUSTED! I totally get how hard this is! But if your goal is for him to sleep in his bed than that’s where he sleeps all night. Pulling him into your bed at 11 PM is going to confuse matters and lead to more crying. So honestly pick “where he sleeps” and stick to it until at least the wee hours of the morning.

          Also you know far better than I but if you’re headed down this path anyway I might tend to lean towards the crib vs. canoe. If he’s old enough to flip over on his tummy then he can sleep on his tummy if he chooses. Again you are there and I’m not so if you don’t agree that’s totally cool. But something to ruminate on?

          Good luck!

          • Okay, not worrying about naps just yet! I am hoping it will be easier bc his first tooth erupted sometime late in the night/early morning 🙂
            Last night he went down at 7:45, cried 15 min, started sucking his thumb (you can hear it) and fell asleep. Didn’t wake until 10pm YEAH. I let him cry for 20 min, then picked him up, feed him, then put him back down, he cried for 15-20 min but fell back asleep until midnight. Then repeat. I finally brought him to bed around 3am. I felt at this point he probably had slept enough that CIO would not work?? I hope I got that right. Tonight he went down at 7:40 and was asleep in 5 min. He is now crying as I wright this but it’s about the same as the night before. This is still an improvement and I wanted to Thank you!! I’m an hoping it will get a little better each time but am prepared to be strong if it’s not. Thank you again!!!!

            • Is it possible that DLS can mess things up really bad?? Last night I had him in bed by 7:35 but he cried till 8:50. Then back up 10-10:45, 1-1:30,3:30-4:15, 4:50 and I brought him to bed then. He slept till 7:40. He has never slept that late. He is at it again tonight, he cried till 8:50, back awake at 9:50 (and still awake at 10:30. Is anyone else having trouble since the clock change?? Any ideas to help??

            • Just wanted to send out my thanks again. Our second tooth broke through Wednesday and that seemed to be the last hold up. With Alexis’s help we have had a lot of improvement the last 3 nights and he is going down with minimal crying, staying asleep for 3+ hrs at a time. I am starting to feel human again :)))

  45. Hello everyone,
    I could really use some advice about where we are in our sleep training “journey” right now.

    My son is 5.5 months old. Sleep has been terrible from the get-go, even though I was/am very diligent about not keeping him awake too long.

    Five nights ago we started CIO with checks. first night was torture – up and down all night, lots of crying.

    Then things got great, fast. 4-5 hour stretches, a little fussing/crying here and there.

    Last night was awful. He went down without a peep, slept for four hours. I am using a 6 hour cut off time from the last feed to feed him again. It was working fine, but not last night!

    He was about an hour early for the feed, so I let him fuss, which turned to hard crying quickly. It would look like he would be about to stop, but then her start again. This went in for an hour, then I fed him.

    Then he slept for an hour and started wailing again. I let him go, and he went for TWO HOURS. I felt terrible, but didn’t want to go in and reinforce the crying. Eventually I did, because it was time for his next feed and he was waking up my older daughter.

    He are a little bit. I put him down and he cried for 20 mins, slept for 20, then started screaming again. I let it go for half an hour, then just went and held him from 5:30am-7.

    He got about 6 hours of sleep last night, I got 1.

    I feel like I reinforced his crying by going to feed him, but I didn’t know what else to do – I felt he needed to eat and sleep.

    I fear tonight is going to be worse because of what I did last night.

    Does anyone have any idea how I should handle a repeat of this? I’m so tired, and so confused.

    Please help!

    • Hmm. What are his normal feed times? From everything I read here, it seems that CIO is there to fix excessive night wakings brought on by the object permanence problem, not night weaning? Before sleep training, how many times was he eating a night? Because I’m thinking, if it was like 10, that’s an object permanence problem, and I can’t imagine a five month old needs to eat more than say, 3 times a night. I might try, figure out approx which times you’ll feed him so that you’re not trying to cut out feeds with CIO?

      Also I’m wondering about that last bit, where you held him from 530-7. This must mean he woke after 4, no? I am wondering if that was too “late” for CIO. I know Alexis has said the biological imperative to go back to sleep is weaker then, so CIO probably wouldn’t be effective. I have also read where Alexis recommends, at that hour, to either start your day (with only 1 hour of sleep, UGH), or go with some desperation co-sleeping (temporary, but you need more than 1 hour of sleep!)

      I also wonder if you are encountering some “extinction bursts.” (Search this sight for that phrase for an explanation.)

      • Ashby-
        Thanks for the reply.

        Before starting sleep training, he was waking 5-7 times a night. He couldn’t get back to sleep without being rocked. He was also swaddled, but we had to stop because he started rolling over.

        During the day, he eats every three hours.

        I don’t want to nurse him every time he wakes now, because that will just be a new crutch.

        The pediatrician said he should be able to go overnight with one feed, but he seems to need two, which I am fine with.

        I just don’t know how to keep it at two if he wakes more than that. I’m not trying to night wean.

        The holding was probably a mistake – but I just thought he HAD to get some sleep.

        He went to sleep after crying for 15 minutes tonight. Not bad, but I still don’t know what to do about night wakings.

        • I think that’s the tough part, figuring out when to feed while doing CIO (ok, one of the tough parts!). I wonder how it went last night? I think if he woke only one hour before a usual feed I might feed him, because if he cries for an hour, it would be time anyway, and he may have been hungry. But yeah, 5-7 times does seem like an object permanence problem. How did it go last night?

          I don’t think you made a mistake holding him for those last few hours, if he accumulates too much of a sleep debt it makes things harder. Are you home during the day and able to aggressively make naps “happen?”

          • Last night he woke about 45 minutes before his feeding cut off, but I fed him because I was really scared we’d end up in an all night screamfest like the night before.

            So, I put him to bed at 6:35, he cried for 15 minutes, pretty hard. Then fall asleep at 6:50.

            Up at 11:40, back to sleep easy.

            Up at 4:20 – I fed him and then he took a while to fall back asleep, but no crying.

            He slept 4:50-6. Up for the day at 6.

            So he got 10 hours and change of overnight sleep. Not great, but not awful.

            I hope tonight is more down this path.

            I’m holding for all naps while we are doing this, otherwise he only sleeps 25-30 minutes.

            If he’s going to get up at 6 every morning, does that mean I should put him down by 6 in the evening?

            Is DST going to screw all this up?

  46. First, thank you so much for your website! So much wonderful and reassuring information as we prepare and count down to crying it out.

    A number of articles on the site have made this point: “Only today after reading your blog do I realize CIO is for the first getting to sleep at bedtime period.. after that it’s night weaning you’re doing and CIO is no good for that process with a hungry baby who is used to boob on tap.”

    Pretty sure my 7 month old has a nursing & rocking sleep association mixed with the beginnings of object permanence. He almost always has to burp after eating, so he doesn’t fall asleep nursing, but it’s been getting harder and harder to get him to go back to sleep after eating in the middle of the night. I understand that you can’t CIO with a hungry baby, but while working on night weaning, should we CIO after baby has been fed?

    Thank you!

  47. .We moved our 28 month old son out of the crib and into a corvette bed 3.5 weeks ago. He has been taking daily naps in the corvette for 3 months now, so we thought he was ready to transition.He used to sleep 8pm to 6am with door closed.Now he only wants the door open. He wakes up 10-15 times a night and gets out of bed and screams. Initially, he came to my room and I walked him back without saying anything, but he would wake up again in 30 min and come back.Initially we tried to le thim cry in his room but he went on and on and i did not want him to fall asleep on the floor. I finally taught him to fall asleep without mommy in the room, but he will only do it if door is open. Some nights he falls asleep within 10 min where other times it takes 1 hour of back and forth…But my problem is that he sleeps until 12 -1 am and then he keeps waking up… it is so hard for me because I am 22 weeks pregnant and I am still fighting nausea day and night..and the lack of sleep an physical effort makes it worse.He never asked for his crib back but he keeps coming out of the room. If I close the door, he wil freak out more..He screams if he finds door closed to his room..I did not teach him to come sleep in bed with me….

    I put a gate up a few days ago and he initially responded well to it. He would come out of the bed 2-3 times a night but I would walk him to his bed and he would just stay in bed. A few days ago I prchased the Kids Sleep alarm that gives hkm a visual of a bunny sleeping in his bed and is supposed to teach him when yo wake up. Even on the lowest setting, that alarm was bright and she he kept asking me to turn off the lights…Since then, he started to wake up and come to the gate screaming..and he does not wanna go back to cleep..he just stays up, even ifthe bunny is not plugged in.

    I am not sure what to do next, so that I do not lose the progress that we already made with him falling asleep on his own.I work full time and sleep in my car durig my lunch but its not enough..If I would just stay in the room until he falls asleep (I tried that too) he will be up all night..Please help. Any suggestion is appreciated.Thanks

  48. Sleep deprivation is a serious issue that should be taken into account. Imagine a day without adequate sleep? I had undergone with this situation a lot and it’s dropping my health condition. At first I had ignored it, but since it affects my daily routine especially my work I was advised by a friend to consult a psychologist and I was glad it worked for me.

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