How to Cry it Out: The Bedtime Edition

How to Cry it Out: The Bedtime Edition

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

If you’ve come to the conclusion that cry it out is the answer(<- PLEASE read this first!) then you're going to need a CIO plan that is best suited to meet your CIO goals. And what are your CIO goals?

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

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

How to do Cry it Out?

1) Buy a night vision monitor.

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

2) Make naps happen

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

3) Avoid cat naps.

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

4) Use a solid bedtime routine.

What is a SOLID bedtime routine?

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


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

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

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

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

Special Case: What about Co-Sleeping?

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

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

6) Use your words.

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

7) Give baby as much soothing as possible!

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

8) Leave the room.

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

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

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

10) Commit to Check and Console or Full Extinction.

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

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

11) Cry it out does not mean night weaning.

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

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

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

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

13) When baby wakes up early?

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

14)

cry it out ferberizing weissbluth

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


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

Cry it Out FAQ

1

How long will the crying last?

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

2

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

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

3

Am I a bad parent?

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

4

Can I use CIO for naps too?

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

5

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

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

6

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

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

7

What if my baby throws up?

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

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

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917 Comments


  1. So, I have been following this to the letter (Weissbluth style), but she’s been crying LONGER each night instead of shorter.
    Night one: 22 min
    Night two: 25 min
    Night three: 30 min
    Night four: 35 min
    Night five: 34 min

    Ack! Why is it not working? I am still nursing when she wakes up as long as it has been long enough, so I’m nursing about twice a night… Some nights she only wakes up for her nursing sessions, a couple of nights, she woke up early and cried herself back to sleep (about 10-15 min each).

    Is this common for the crying to get worse each night? She definitely has object permanence even though she is only 5.5 months… I’ve seen it in a variety of contexts with her. Is that the problem? How can I fix this, since we are already doing the full and consistent bedtime routine, put down awake, etc. etc.

    • I don’t look at this and see “it’s getting worse” but I agree it’s definitely not getting better, you’re pegged at about ~30 minutes.

      My first guess is that this is a bedTIME issue. Possibly too early. Sometimes when kids are sleeping better they can actually stay awake a tad longer prior to bed. If you’re asking her to fall asleep before her body is ready to sleep she won’t be able to fall asleep. I would experiment with pushing bedtime BACK 15-20 for a few nights and see if that makes an improvement. Or you could be bold and even try 30 minutes later. Meaning she’s actually FALLING asleep at bedtime +30 minutes so that should probably be her ACTUAL bedtime.

      Commit to trying this out for a few nights and let us know how things go. Good luck!
      Alexis recently posted..7 Sleep Lessons from a Stanford Pediatric Sleep SpecialistMy Profile

      • Thanks Alexis!! I will try this tonight!

        • Hi Amanda,
          Could you please update on how much your child cried post Alexis comment.
          Thanks in advance!

          • Hi Preethi,

            Well, the good news is that she cried MUCH less going to sleep- 7 minutes! And the next night even less! Buttt… Her night wakings are hit and miss all over the place. Last night, she woke up at 10:30 pm and took 20 min to cry back to sleep. Then she woke at 11:55 which is a little bit earlier than I usually do her first night feeding but close enough so I fed her. Then she slept until 3:44 and I nursed her for her second night feeding. I was hoping she’d sleep until her normal wake time of 6-6:30 but she woke at 5:00 am. I let her cry until 5:20, then got her and fed her. I tried to put her back down but she wouldn’t go. :/

  2. Hi, my son is coming upto 14 months, if he’s not in the pram or car or on your body his naps can be poor (1hour or 39mins) throughout the day. He wakes at 6am (I’m so tired) his room is blacked out, I try to put him for a nap (rocking him) about 9am then the rutine is out the window. I could scream!! I bath him about 7 7:30 give him a bottle then rock him as he doesn’t go to sleep any other way. I’m tired fed up and lost?? Most times he wakes up crying at the bottom of his cot. Can you help. I don’t even know how many naps for how long he should have a day. I do the rutine in his bedroom but he sees it as a play zone even in the dark. He’s crawling and walking aided but not fully walking yet.
    Thanx in advance

  3. Hi Lauren, my daughter moved to one nap at 13 months. Anywhere between 12 to 18 months is the average for most kids. You may want to try that for a week and see how that goes. In the beginning she would nap around 11 for 2 to 3 hours and then go to bed around 7. Now at 23 months it is usually around 12 to 12:30 for 2 hours. Bedtime has now moved back to closer to 8.

  4. You suggest CIO being separate from night weaning. If my tot wakes, crying, at a non mealtime and cries until the next scheduled meal am I undoing all our CIO success if I go in and feed? Nights 1 and 2 the wake/settle time was nowhere near a feeding.

  5. Thank you zara I will try that today :)

  6. Hi Alexis,
    I am on day 6 of cry it out method. And I desperately need your help to make this a success. I have been very consistent with my schedule. 7pm feed+bath+lullaby+bedtime at 7:30pm. 11pm one feeding session and between 3and 3:30 am another feeding session.
    Here is the story so far:
    Day 1: cried for 16 mins. Woke up 2-3 times but fell back to sleep on her own after fussing. On One waking session at 12:45am she cried for 1.5 hrs and fell back to sleep.
    Day 2: Cried for 7 mins. Woke up 4-5 times but fell back asleep on her own after crying/fussing for some time.
    Day 3: Cried for 7-8 mins. Woke up 3 times but fell back asleep on her own 2 times. On one waking session at around 1am and cried for 1 hr before falling asleep.
    Day 4: cried for around 15 mins. Woke up 2-3 times but fell back asleep on her own after fussing for a bit. One waking session she cried for 7 mins at around 10pm.
    Day 5: cried for 22 mins. When I went in the 2nd time I Shshed her for 30 seconds without patting her and she fell asleep. Did not wake up till 3:15am. But after feed she was completely awake at 3:45am. Unfortunately, had to rock her to sleep for 45 mins after 10 mins of crying.
    Day 6: Cried for 30 mins. When I went in the 3rd time I again Shshed her for 30-45 seconds without patting her and she fell asleep.

    Her crying during bedtime has NOT reduced but increasing each passing day and we are on the verge of giving up. My husband is not getting convinced about increasing the intervals. Not sure how to proceed. Please help.

    • To add to my above comments, she is very sleepy at bedtime and I put her down awake.

    • Preethi,

      I think a few things and one of which is NOT to go back to whatever you were doing before. But back to your sleep stuff.

      Crying for <10-15 minutes is nothing. I feel I say this a lot because people get hung up on 5-10 minutes like "there is a problem." There isn't. Babies and older kids don't want to separate from you and they definitely don't want to fall asleep. So when you ask them to do this, they complain about it. When she's 3 it'll be verbal: MOOOM I DON'T WANT TO GO TO BED!So essentially your CIO experience was literally amazing and barely even registers as crying. Yay!

      On Day 5 you had what was probably an extinction burst and instead of complaining at bedtime for 7-8 minutes it went on for 22. Check it out:http://www.troublesometots.com/extinction-burst/

      But here’s the tricky thing – you went in and patted her to sleep. Such a hard thing because it comes from a generous and loving place. But I suspect that well-meant act reset your sleep training clock because basically she didn’t fall asleep alone – you were there. Thus she woke up at 3:45 and couldn’t fall back asleep (hypervigillance, when you don’t fall asleep solo at bedtime you’re unlikely to do it later) which required you to rock her for 45 minutes.

      So in many ways you’re back to the starting line of patting and shuushing her to sleep both AT bedtime AND at night. I know this is hard stuff but this is why “consistency to baby falling asleep solo” is so key. If you deviate from the plan (even with kind intent) you mess up the sleep training and almost immediately teach her that the way she falls asleep is with mom there patting (and that she should cry until you come do that).

      At this juncture you either fully commit to baby falling asleep without you, or you go back to her needing your help to sleep at bedtime and during the night until you’re ready to do it later. Personally I would suggest the former but it’s really up to you.

      Hope this helps!
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..7 Sleep Lessons from a Stanford Pediatric Sleep SpecialistMy Profile

      • Thanks for the quick revert, Alexis!
        I have one more question…. If I usually feed her around 3:30am and she wakes up at 2:40am and does not go back to sleep till 3:15am, should I have had breast fed her when she cried initially? Or should I wait it out till 3:30am? Please suggest.

        • Hi Amanda/Alexis,
          Thanks for your response, it is Day 7 today and it seems worse. Although she slept within 10 mins at bedtime. She got up at 9:20pm and cried for almost 1.5 hrs!!!! And then again she got up at 1:25 am and cried for almost 10 mins. And then again at 2:30am and cried for 5 mins. And then again at 3:40am, but then it was her feed time, so, I fed her. And now she is up at 5:07am and has been crying non stop!! Not sure how this is working…I really don’t want to give up on this after so many days of crying. Someone please tell me it is going yo be alright. I am unable to see any pattern here.

          • Preethi,

            First, check out the post that I link to below (*wink*)

            Few things:
            - Don’t worry about the 10 minutes here or there.
            - When she wakes up “near” her feeding I would feed her. Essentially you only ever want to a) feed her right when she wakes up or b) fully ignore.

            Ideally you never let her cry until your established “feeding” time and then go in and feed her. Babies don’t know what time it is so this doesn’t accomplish anything except have her cry a lot and you feel bad :( So your target feeding time is a general goal but not set in stone. If she wakes up near that time and is awake for 5+ minutes, go feed.

            The question for me is that you have long awake crying jags (1-1.5) hours that seem to happen at random times at night. Frankly I’m not sure why but here’s some things to consider:
            - Too much time asleep. If she’s in bed TOO long (is she a fabulous napper? Too much day sleep? Bedtime too early?) you’ll see kiddos who can FALL asleep but then are awake for long stretches at night.
            - Something that happens AT bedtime is throwing you off. Pacifiers or timed devices are usually the culprits.
            - Something environmental (sound, smells that are unfamiliar?)
            - Inconsistency in how you respond to her wakings. I know you had a small blip before but small blips can blow up in BIG ways unfortunately.

            Anyhoo that would be the things I would start looking at to figure out why you’re still getting those big stretches. Good luck!
            Alexis Dubief recently posted..Why Consistency in Cry it Out is Critical: A Case StudyMy Profile

            • Dear Alexis,
              Thanks! Read your blog. However , I would like to point out that on Day 5 and Day 6 I Did not pat her to sleep. I just Shshed her softly without touching her.
              And to answer your questions:
              1) My daughter is 6.5 months old and she used wake up 6-7 times during the night. And would take around 45 minutes to sleep either by swinging or rocking her in my arms. That was the reason we resorted to CIO.
              2) She is not a great napper. She sleeps only for 30-40 mins at a time Unless I intervene and put her in my arms so that her naps get longer. She sleeps 2.5 hrs to 3 hrs between 9am and 4:30pm ( 2-3 naps).
              3) During bedtime we are not using any sleeping aids. I just give her a lovey which she doesn’t care about.
              4) she sleeps in the same room, in the same crib, with night light on everyday. No change in smell nor sound.
              5) we go in at timed intervals for 1-2 minutes, comfort her either by shushing or talking softly.
              6) per your suggestion, I am trying my best to make her naps happen at any cost, swinging her and then putting her in my arms for longer naps…so that she is well rested for the night.

              And here is an update on Day 8.
              Slept at 7:35pm as usual with 5-7 minutes of fussing. Slept till 8:45pm. Cried for 10-12 minutes with 1 intervention. Again got up at 9:55pm. Cried for 10-12 minutes with 1 intervention. Again got up at 11pm. Breast fed her. Woke up at around 2am. Fussed for a bit and slept on her own. Woke up at 2:40am. Fussed for a bit and slept on her own. Tossed and turned for almost an hour after that. Woke up at 3:40am. Nursed her again and put her to bed at 4am. After that everything went downhill.. She cried for an hour till 5 am!!!! Nothing could put her back to sleep. Had to eventually carry her in my arms and rock her. She slept till 6:15am and again crying. Can’t put her back to sleep.

              I am not sure how to go about this now.
              Please help. We are following your guidelines to the T.

          • Hey Preethi,

            I know you didn’t patt but TONS of people do so I made that change to make the case study more relate-able to a larger audience :)

            Few thoughts for you:
            - I’m not an advocate of checks. I know people love them because it feels gentler, but it also sets up a system of intermittent reinforcement.

            Look at it from her perspective. Sometimes Mom doesn’t come. Sometimes Mom comes and is with me for a bit. Sometimes Mom comes and nurses. From her perspective it’s all a bit random. And we know that any sort of intermittent reinforcement rewards the behavior (in this case crying) so I definitely think that it’s part of why you’ve gotten a bit stuck. Ideally you either fully ignore a waking or you come nurse leave.

            - Secondly she loves motion. What about using a swing for her to sleep in? Unless she’s 25+ lbs she would still fit and I’m wondering if she may just need a bit more soothing to get you over this hump?

            - “She used wake up 6-7 times during the night. And would take around 45 minutes to sleep either by swinging or rocking her in my arms.”

            Her sleep used to be HUGELY disjointed. She’s USED to being awake for long stretches of time at night. Essentially what you’re saying here is that previously her night sleep was naturally interspersed with multiple ~45 minute sessions of being AWAKE. Am I correct in this understanding? I hope so because it explains SO much (especially combined with the intermittent reinforcement thing I mentioned earlier).

            You’re not just trying to get her to fall asleep by herself, you’re trying to get her to sleep in long uninterrupted stretches when she was USED to being awake for huge stretches on long intervals during the night. In fact take whatever her “old” night looked like and remove 3.5 hours and that’s now much sleep she was actually getting.

            From that perspective 7:30 – 4/5 AM might be her norm.

            Thoughts?
            ps. Stop the checks. Full on. Cool?

            • Dear Alexis,
              Thanks for your response.
              Unfortunately, the swing also doesn’t work for her. I use it to put her to sleep in it. But she doesn’t sleep for long in it either. Her night wakings are the same.

              Here is Day 9 update:
              Although her bedtime drama has improved (slept with a little fussing/crying for around 10 mins) She woke around 6 times during the night. Got up around 8:45pm. Cried for a bit and slept on her own. Got up around 11pm. Went in and nursed her and put her to bed. Again she got up around 11:40pm. Cried for around 20mins. Got up around 2am. Fussed a bit and went back to sleep. Got up around 3:40am. Nursed her and put he back to sleep. Got up at around 5am. Did not allow her to CIO. She slep for an hour and again got up at 6:05am crying. Again did not allow her to CIO and rocked her to sleep till she finally got up at around 6:45am.

              Should I allow her to CIO even at 5am or 6am?
              We are still not convinced about complete extinction method. Would you have a blog exclusively for that? Till what time during the night should I implement CIO (extinction or Ferber)??

            • *Update
              We are still not convinced about complete extinction = We still do not have the heart for it. :(

          • Hey Preethi,

            I don’t really know that I have that much more to add. There is no research to support full extinction = better. I know I looked:
            http://www.troublesometots.com/ferber-weissbluth-cry-it-out-smackdown/

            All I can do is tell you what my experience has been over tons and tons of babies: intermittent reinforcement leads to more crying. If you aren’t convinced, that’s cool. But I can’t really convince you.

            Also if she wakes up for 10-15 minutes here or there, I wouldn’t sweat it. That’s a pretty benign and temporary thing. Sure you wake up in a bit of a panic, “WHAT IS HAPPENING! DOES SHE NEED US?” But if she cries for 10 minutes and falls back to sleep the answer is definitely, “No.”

            Whatever you choose to do I wish you the best of luck with it!
            Alexis recently posted..Why Consistency in Cry it Out is Critical: A Case StudyMy Profile

            • Dear Alexis,
              Thanks for all your responses. I understand that you believe in extinction method. Right now I am inclining towards it. But it would be great if you could help me with the following questions:
              1) what is the maximum duration you would recommend I could let my 6.5 month old cry for each waking?
              2) what about 5am and 6am wakings? CIO or comfort her so that she could sleep till 7 which is her usual waking hour?

          • Full extinction means you fully ignore crying unless you’re going in to nurse. If it’s time to nurse you go in whenever she wakes up NEAR that time. Don’t let her cry for 20 minutes and then go in. So be flexible on when you’re going on – ex. 3 AM is not a hard line. IF she wakes up at 2:40 it’s feeding time. Either you fully ignore or you go in right when she wakes up. If you want to co-sleep from 5 AM + it’s probably not an issue.

            Also to reiterate – she used to be awake A LOT during the night. The 7 AM wakeup was probably the result of the fact that she was essentially awake 3+ hours during the night. As her sleep becomes less disjointed (it already has) it’s probably not a realistic goal. 5:30/6 is likely more on target. You’re working hard to force additional sleep which is cool. But if it’s not happening I don’t consider that “a failure” – it’s simply the result of her sleeping better at night.
            Alexis recently posted..Why Consistency in Cry it Out is Critical: A Case StudyMy Profile

            • Dear Alexis,
              A BIG THANK YOU for all your advise. I eventually went in for the full extinction method. It has been a week now and my daughter has learnt to fall back asleep on her own. I have stopped intervention during her night wakings but for nursing.
              However, here are a few observations and it would be great if you could throw some light on these.
              1) Although the number of times she used to wake up middle of the night has come down from 6-7 to 2-4. I assumed that it would go away by 1 week and she would get a longer stretch of uninterrupted sleep. But that’s not the case here. Is this normal?
              2) Most times she falls back a sleep with 1-2 minutes of crying/fussing, but sometimes she takes at least 15-30 minutes to settle down during her night wakings. And she most often cries intermittently. Should I intervene? Should I be concerned?
              3) She goes to bed between 7:50pm and 8pm. And she gets up crying everyday between 5am and 5:30am, when I do not let her cry or fuss. I pick her up and put her on our bed till almost 7am. Is this ok? Or should I encourage her to continue sleeping in her crib till her wake up time?
              4) Her naps are still bad. She has around 3 naps and gets up after 30-40 mins. I intervene for 2 of her naps and hold her in my arms for an hour. She does anywhere between 2.5 hrs to 3 hrs total nap during the day.

              Your thoughts on this will be truly appreciated.

          • Hey Preethi,

            I was just thinking about you – I’m so glad to hear things have gotten so much better. YAAAAY!

            - “1-2 minutes of crying/fussing” – this is simply the way she navigates the awake part of her sleep cycle. It’s normal and not a problem. Babies wake up constantly and it’s totally normal for them to grumble a few minutes before falling back to sleep.

            - totally OK to co-sleep from 5:30 + as long as it works for you and doesn’t start creeping up on you. Many parents do this and enjoy this!

            As for naps – that’s a whole different conversation. Eventually you’ll need to stop intervening to break out of this pattern. There’s no rush – it’s just when you’re ready to remove yourself from the process. She’s sleeping far better at night so honestly 3X naps of 45 minutes a day isn’t a terrible starting place.

            Congratulations!
            Alexis recently posted..Why Consistency in Cry it Out is Critical: A Case StudyMy Profile

  7. We are on night 15 of sleep training our almost 6 month old. We started with attended CIO but it felt like that was making us feel better about the process not helping him, so for the last week we have been doing full extinction. The night waking improved right from day 1 and he now only wakes once to eat and goes right back to sleep (yay!). But he’s still crying for 40+ minutes every night. We had one night where he went to sleep after 20 minutes, but then last night it was closer to an hour. I don’t know what to do. Everything I’ve read says it should have gotten better by now. Do I need to accept this amount of crying for now? I don’t think I can go back to rocking him to sleep as it was taking over an hour of super energetic rocking, and at least half the time he’d wake up when I put him down and I’d have to start all over again. Any thoughts? Every night I think about giving up, the crying is so horrible to listen to.

  8. Hi,
    My problem is not with getting my 9 month old to sleep it’s how to get her back to sleep at 2:30am (ish)!!! I’ve tried CIO but she still constantly seems to be crying/screaming for over an hour each night. It’s really starting to affect everyone in the family (even our 5 year old who can usually sleep through anything!). Could it have anything to do with the fact she’s only having two half hour naps during the day? – any suggestions for how to make these longer if this is the case?
    Thanks

  9. Hi Alexis,

    Thanks so much for your blog…these steps/tips have been a life saver. We were experiencing the dreaded 4 month sleep regression in June and it was a tough time to ride through. I was beginning to daydream of my previous childless life more and more. Our son woke up every 30-45 mins and took forever to put back down. Once he started to consistently wake up less and less, we decided to try out these 14 steps. We started this weekend and we couldn’t have been happier. The first two nights he cried for 30 mins (but still woke up every 2 hours) but by the 3rd and 4th night, he cried for 8 mins and only woke up 3x. The last couple of nights, only fussing but same number of wake ups. Another thing we’ve noticed is that his naps are a little more consistent this week… does that mean we should start sleep training for those? These are huge improvements. Let me know where to send the thank you chocolates and wine.

    Then, last night, we noticed he was rolling over in his Merlin Magic Sleepsuit. Well no more fat suit for him! Without it, he continued to roll over easily in his sleep, waking himself up screaming. What would you suggest? Do we let him try to figure it out or do we help him flip over? Poor guy, once he figured something out, something else changes.

    • Hi there

      I’m no expert, but thought I’d give you my two cents. :) We too use the Magic Merlin sleep suits, used it with my daughter (now 2 and 4mo) and son (5.5mo). My daughter actually used it until she was about 1!! It’s completely ok if they roll over in it, it won’t prevent them from rolling back or anything. Towards the end, my daughter was rolling, sitting, standing, etc in her sleep suit. It became more of a “comfort blanket” than a true swaddle transition, but this was OK with us.
      Just thought I would mention this…

  10. We have been trying CIO with checks for three nights with our 9 month old. She is having an easier time falling asleep each night, however, she falls asleep sitting up. She starts to slump over and startles then goes right back to sleep about every 10 minutes. Last night she added standing into the mix just to keep things interesting. I am worried that she is not getting restful sleep but when I try to lay her down she wakes up and it starts all over again. We would appreciate any suggestions.

  11. Hi Alexis,
    I have a 12 month old who is NOT breastfed.
    He has a bath and bottle between 6-7pm and is ready for bed, we put him into his crib awake and he cries himself to sleep (10 – 15 minutes).
    He is consistently waking up at 11:15pm, crying until we go to him, we have let him cry for up to an hour.
    We usually just bring him into our bed at that point, give him a bottle, change his diaper because we dont have any other success.
    His naps also are terrible.
    HELP!
    1. How can i get his naps to last longer than 20 minutes
    2. How can i get a full nights sleep? I need help getting his constant night waking to stop!
    Thank you!

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