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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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1,086 Comments


  1. Great article summarizing the CIO theory. A few questions. My daughter is almost 8 months old. We tried Ferber once before but the intervals were making her more upset as we left and she would continue to poop herself from crying so hard.

    We’re trying again now using full extinction but the same thing happened. I don’t want to wake her when she’s finally fallen asleep but I can’t let her sleep in a dirty diaper. Please help. We are on night one and she only cried 20 minutes the first time. The next time she woke she was due to eat so I fed her and now this third time she cried for an hour. I’m ready to quit if it makes her so upset she’s pooping herself but I need to help her learn to sleep without nursing and/or rocking. :/

    • Hi Gail – my two cents on the poopy diaper is this: when your daughter is sleeping through the night (yay!!) how will you know if she’s pooped her diaper? Short answer: you won’t. And I assume you wouldn’t wake her to check. If she’s genuinely pooping herself because of how worked up she gets, remember that this is a temporary thing. If you want to help your daughter through this, get some really good diaper rash cream and slather it on. Good luck!

  2. Hello! I love reading your posts and the sense of humor you bring to this whole agonizing process; I re-read them every time I start to second-guess whether this is a good idea or not (which happens every night). We are on night five of CIO and still going strong at an 1-1.5 hours of crying. I am doing full extinction (though I have to admit I went in tonight and tried to pat her back (just ticked her off more), so maybe I should think of it as starting over?) and I really thought it would be better by now. My daughter is almost six months old, is it possible she is just too young? Each night after she cries herself to sleep she will sleep until 2 or 4am, which is MUCH longer than she was sleeping before I tried this, so I do feel like it’s doing something, I just don’t know how much longer I can listen to her cry for this long.

    • I’m in the same boat with our six month old. We are on night 10 and he’s down to 30 mins of crying. So much for this being bearable within a few nights. My poor little guy.

      • Hi Erin! It took until night 18, but we are down to maybe 10 minutes (occasionally ~20 minutes, occasionally none(!) at all) of crying and she is out- and it is just fussing a bit, not the flat-out screaming she was doing before. I went in to check on her one night shortly after she stopped fussing and she was obviously awake but just laying there putting herself to sleep, so something is working right! I wanted to call it quits SO many times but I am so glad I stuck it out. I know it is miserable to listen to them cry, but I kept reminding myself of all of the reasons it is good for her to put herself to sleep- and that she was definitely using me as a human pacifier and I couldn’t do that for another year+. Good luck and hang in there!

      • Also, I should note- I read the post below partway through our CIO journey and realized I was still nursing her right before bed. I switched to nursing after bath, then doing a book/quiet time for ~15 minutes and then putting her in her crib. Not sure if that was what tipped the scales in our favor, or if she was just finally ready or over her extinction burst (http://www.troublesometots.com/extinction-burst/) or whatever, but it’s worth a shot if you’re still doing any of these things:

        http://www.troublesometots.com/when-baby-sleep-training-doesnt-work/

        • Are you nursing overnight? I nurse for the first waking after 10 and the first waking after 2, but I’m thinking of dropping to one feeding. My son is still waking four times a night and I’m sure he doesn’t understand why he gets fed two of those times and has to self-soothe the other two. I think when he wakes he figures he might as well cry, just to see if he’ll get picked up and nursed!

          • I do nurse overnight, I have only ever let her CIO at bedtime. She is still up 3-4 times/night, and while I think that’s probably too much I also worry about whether she’s truly hungry, or maybe it’s not a physical need but an emotional one and that’s why she wants me to go in there.. I am on the fence about how to handle it, because she is SO stubborn and listening to her cry for an hour at 6:30pm is a lot different than listening to her cry for an hour at 2:30am, but at the same time I am pretty exhausted since it’s been 7+ months since I’ve had more than 3-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time. Does your LO cry much in the middle of the night if you don’t go in?

            • Other than the two times I nurse him overnight I let him CIO. The first two weeks of sleep training he really cried, sometimes up to 2 hours. It was absolute torture. Now, if he cries, it’s only for a few minutes. Like you, I was a human pacifier for the first 6 months of his life. I spent probably a dozen nights with him glued to me all night long because he’d cry as soon as I put him down. Sleep training, while necessary, hasn’t come naturally to me and I struggle with it on an almost daily basis, especially because he’s not one of those babies who “gets it” after a week and starts sleeping through the night. It seems to be going on forever.

              Right now I feed him twice a night and I’m hoping to drop to one feeding at some point soon. I just know that will involve more crying and I’m not ready for that yet.

              I actually think the feeding overnight is probably part of the reason this is taking so long, but I’m not ready to give it up yet. For one thing, he has reflux so he tends to eat less at a time than other babies his age, so he might really be hungry. The other reason is that, despite the sleep deprivation, I think of it as a special time for the two of us and I know once I night wean it will be for keeps.

          • Hi there
            In regards to night feeding….my 4mth old puts himself to sleep most nights with only 5-10min of fussing but he started waking every 2hrs…..I knew he wasnt hungry so I set myself (and him) a time limit of midnight. If he wakes before then I dont feed him – he will cry or fuss for 5-30min but then goes back to sleep until 1-3am then I feed him and he sleeps again till 6/630am. He probably wakes probably 3 out of 7 night a week before midnight – it’s hard to listen to the crying but I know he’s not hungry – as he’s only 4mths I’m not sure he’s ready for full night weaning yet – I would suggest you set a night time limit (if you know they can go 4 hrs during the day without feeding them don’t feed them at night less than 4hrs). Hope it helps ( we are off for needles today so hoping it doesn’t unsettle my little one too much 😞)
            Vani recently posted..Daylight Savings Time Sleep Survival StrategiesMy Profile

    • My daughter is a year old and still uses this method. And has since she was about 5 months old. She just hates going to bed she always wants to be a my side

      • True. Although (and here I’m nitpicking vocabulary) I would say that CIO is about fostering independent sleep. Your child has mastered the ability for independent sleep – hazzah! What she doesn’t have however, is a love of bedtime. And truthfully most kids don’t. So they grump, grumble, cry, fuss, etc. This doesn’t change – my 6 year old STILL maintains he doesn’t need to go to bed but konks out moments after the lights go out. He’s just old enough to use words now. So I would say that’s just a normal degree of complaining about “I don’t want to do this.”

        And I MAKE this distinction because sometimes people read stuff like this and think, “OMG CIO is an eternal thing and no waaay am I doing that!” but really it isn’t. It just can segue into “I don’t wanna go to bed” stuff πŸ˜›

  3. my 10 month old can’t sleep for longer than 2 hours at a time. We did all the things that I’ve (loved doing, but) read are no-no’s as far as good sleep goes (co-sleeping, rocking to sleep, and nursing to sleep).
    It got to the point where we were rocking her to sleep for 20mins+, at night she is permanently attached to my boob while still waking up every 1.5/2 hours.
    We recently started crib/sleep training and are not having much success. Its day 5. Last night was prob the worst night yet and todays naps haven’t been going as smoothly.

    We have been doing a form of the no cry method – where we leave our hand on her belly till she falls to sleep. Things have gotten better in the since that she at least lets us put her in the crib without crying but we have to stay there till she falls to sleep and she is still not sleeping for all that long.
    We tried a form of CIO the first night (with 5, 15, 20 min check ins) BUT she just yells and stomps back and forth along the crib. It seemed like we were getting further with the no cry method but have now hit a wall.
    Any suggestions on what we need to do?? Mamma needs some sleep!

    • My baby is 10 monthold too she has reflux and she choks from thin liquids ..when i tried CIO when she was 6 months old she kept on crying untill she couldn’t breath from her heavy secretion n chocked.. im afraid from trying again.. she’s co sleeping and only falls asleep while nursing.. im really suffering n dunno what 2 do

      • I co sleeping my LO for 6 months, moved him to crib when he’s 7 months. I used to nurse him to sleep since it’s the easiest thing to do, but he will wake up 2-4 times every night looking to nurse back to sleep. My husband and I didn’t like the CIO method,but we know he needs to learn to soothe himself so he can sleep through the night. What we did was before we move him to crib I need to break the habit of nursing to sleep. I will lay down with him cuddle him til he fall asleep. Sometimes he will fall asleep without a fight,but some night he will cry for 10-30mins. I found out that when he’s calm in my arm before I put down on the bed he will fall of sleep peacefully. But it doesn’t always happen. If he wake up middle of night I will try to cuddle and padding him back to sleep before I nurse him. Now he’s in the crib, he cried 20mins or less before he fall sleep, and I scheduled night feed after 2am. His bedtime is 9pm, he will sleeps til 2-3am until his feed. If he wake up before that I let him cry eventually he will fall back to sleep. After reading the article I feel more comfortable with the CIO. Because my LO always wake up 5:30-6am and I keep asking why he wakes up so early he’s suppose able to sleep 12hrs. But if we bring him to our bed he will fall back to sleep peacefully then he will be awake by 715am. One thing i notice is that he become more attach to me, at daytime he keeps reaching out for me

  4. Hi.
    I started sleep training my baby on Friday night, it is now Tuesday night. He has been sleeping through the night since Saturday night. He cried for 55 mins the first night and every night since he has cried for 45 minutes. I thought the xrying was suppose to go down each night. We do the same bedtime routine at the same time every night. He is not awake for more than 3 hours and he is in bed by 7. Also, he is 6.5 months. Is this normal?

  5. First of all, let me just say that I am in love with your site! I have read all the sleep books (literally like 10+) and have struggled with trying and failing at various strategies for 5 months. You completely speak to the frustration and chaos that my household has experienced over sleep since our little one came to town.

    Here is my question:

    Our in-laws are planning a trip to Italy and have bought plane tickets for my husband, myself and our baby in April (when he will be 11 mos). While a 7-day most-expenses-paid trip seems to good to pass up, I am actually really on the fence about accepting. Our little guy has never slept more than 4 hours in a row in his life and after taking a 5-day trip (to see grandparents) each month of his life so far, every time we have gotten his night wakings down to 3-4 per night at home, we have gone on another trip and gone back to nursing at every waking (and sometimes even co-sleeping) in order to maximize everyone’s sleep in the short term.

    We are currently really sleep training your way and it is going well. I expect by the end of the week, we will be down to 2 wakings/night and then I hope to gradually wean by decreasing time nursing from there.

    What do you know about active 11 month-old babies’ sleep/ability to adapt to time changes? If we do go, any tips on making the transition smooth and/or keeping to a more disciplined system? Does anyone else have experience traveling internationally with their little ones?

    Thanks so much for your time!

  6. I have been up for most of the night reading various sleep training methods I’m on the second night phew and I have to say that you have offered the best advice so far. I can see I have made a few mistakes 1) I still nurse my 9 mth old to sleep and 2) I was trying to take out the night feeding and now I know it should gradually happen. The good thing is she doesn’t cry that much but it breaks my heart because she just sits there forever and I have noticed that she is pooping as we’ll and I change her diaper. I read previous comment and plan to slather her bum. Sigh! Onwards and upwards thanks for all the great advice

  7. Wow. We are on night 1 and baby is currently asleep in the crib. She is 6.5 months old and was a great sleeper (1 night-feeding @3am) until 4.5 months, then 2 months of up to 5+ wake-ups with at least 1 lasting an hour or so. We nursed/bottle/rocked for all of these.

    So we did the bedtime routine last night and then I nursed at 6:30 until she was content but not asleep. Then we put her in the crib awake & closed the door. For the first minute, she watched the mobile… Then rolling & crying for 10 MINUTES ONLY!! Then she woke at 11:30 (we’ve started feeding her then for the last month) & again at 5:00! Both times she ate & went back in after 30 sec of crying. Amazing!

    I swear her cumulative crying, stress, and restlessness each night prior to this was DOUBLE what it was with CIO.

    Thank you!

  8. So my husband and I have been doing the CIO method for about five nights now doing the same routine each night but it seems that my 7 month old is getting worse every night. Tonight when I started doing the routine he started crying. Now he has been crying and screaming for an hour now. Have you heard of children getting worse at night before they get better?

    • Amanda, You should read Alexis’ post on the extinction burst. You may have that going on. Hope it gets better. We start tonight.

  9. Hi Alexis,

    I’m so happy I found your site and the plethora of helpful information!

    We began CIO tonight. 45 minutes in, our girl went to sleep. I’m feeling ill-prepared for not thinking of this before we committed, but night feedings! Shoot, we forgot to factor those in!

    I’ve heard many say she’s fine to go all night without them (she’s nearly 20 weeks). For the first 3 months of her life she would wake up between 2-3am to eat, and again around 5 or 6. After eating she was right back to sleep. She approached the 4 month mark and went rouge. No predictably around when she was waking just to eat and when she was just waking; she was up every hour or two hours. Often, I would breastfeed just to get everyone back to sleep peacefully.

    So…how do we factor those in? I’m sitting here likely jinxing myself since I don’t know when/if she will wake up next. I certainly don’t want to deny her food but since the last month has been 100% randomized eating at night I’m not sure when/if to let her nurse at night with CIO.

    Thank you :)

    • Hi Erin,

      What did you end up doing about the night feedings and how did the CIO go in general? My baby is the same age, and I am in exactly the same boat as you.

      • Hi Anna !

        We went ahead an kept a night feeding in at 3/3:30. However, there are some night when that lands around 2/2:30 and I do it then too. I wouldn’t necissarily recommended that though bc she tends to wake up earlier when we do that 😳 I’m sure we are getting close to not needing it but our lady is pretty tiny for her age so Im feeling guilty for taking any sustenance away at this point
        CIO went really “great” (as great as listening to you baby cry can go)! She is 6 months now and still fusses for a few minutes when we put her down but it has changed our sleep incredibly! AND we take naps now – real ones! It was pretty textbook – day 1 was ugly, day 2 much less crying and day 3 was just a little sloppy but much sleep was had by all after that!

        We still have nights here and there where she wakes up an extra time or she refuses a nap but overall I’d have to say it was a great success! I wish you luck and much sleep!!!

        • Thanks Erin! Last night was day one and the night feedings were really tricky as he woke up every hour and it was difficult to figure out which was hunger and which wasn’t. He fell asleep pretty much within 10 minutes each time except one time where he cried for 1.5 hours at which point we decided to feed him. I guess we will see tonight if that screwed things up. But he didn’t seem bothered this Morning and was all smiles :) hope the rest goes well. Thanks again!

          • Hi Anna!

            How are things going??

            • Well I am not sure lol. Bedtime is great! The crying went from 45 min the first night to 2 minutes of fussing tonight. But the night wakings have not improved much. He still wakes up often and cries a lot. I kept his regular feedings and keep them around the same time. Other times we don’t go to him. Often he stops crying for a few minutes as if he is settling only to start wailing again. I feel terrible as if I’m doing something wrong but don’t know what it is. I hope it gets better

            • It’s so hard right? You’re doing great. It took us a bit to sort out night feedings but eventually we got there. Hang in there mama, you’re doing awesome!

            • Thanks so much for your encouragement! I am happy to report that things have stabilized! We moved him from bassinet to his crib and adjusted his daytime schedule a bit, and now he now only wakes up to nurse.

    • Hi there
      In regards to night feeding – I set myself (and my 4mth old) a time limit…..I don’t feed him at night if he wakes before midnight. I know he can go at least 4hrs during the day without a feed so he goes to bed at 7(ish) and 3 or 4 nights out of 7 he will wake before midnight (between 10-11.30) he cries for between 5-30min then goes back to sleep till 1/2/3am, I feed him then and he sleeps till 6/630. It’s hard to listen to the crying at night but I know he’s not hungry (or he wouldn’t eventually go back to sleep). So try setting a time limit and see how that goes – as he’s only 4mths I’m not sure he’s ready for full night weaning – will give that a go once he’s been established on solids for a month or so. Good luck!! πŸ˜ƒ
      Vani recently posted..Daylight Savings Time Sleep Survival StrategiesMy Profile

    • Hi Erin, I’m also about to try CIO with my almost 4 mth old. Could you please tell me if your baby ended up sucking her fingers for her self soothing method? And how did you tackle her naps, at the same time as night sleep or after you settled the night sleeps; with CIO also? Thanks!!

      • Hi Ming!

        My girl sucked her fingers or her fist.
        As far as naps go, we waited until night sleep was handled. But – I know people who did it all at once and it worked for them! When we did start cio with naps it was actually less painful then I expected. She was still fussy but I think it was way less because she was already accustomed to self soothing.
        She’s 9 months now, 2 naps a day and she almost always goes down really easily. Length varies but it’s never less than 1 1/2 hours per nap. Good luck mama!

        • Hi Erin,

          My LO is 4.5 months and I am in the exact same boatbasbyou were, nursing to sleep, co sleeping something so we can all get some rest, every hr wake ups.literally from the time she goes go bed. I am formulating my CIO plan. Just can’t decide if I should do Ferber or extinction. And how to deal with the hourly wakes. If I do Ferber check and console would I treat those hourly wake ups the same way? I.e go in at set time intervals or just let her be and fall asleep. Also I am thinking of not feeding her before 11-12 and then again at 3-4am. But I am not sure if that’s a good idea cuz now she is so used to waking up at night and eating I would feel bad if she was actually hungry the other times. How did you handle it?

          Thanks,
          Natasha

          • Hey!

            So for the night time wake ups – we did Ferber check and console. Say she goes to bed at 7 and you do check and console until she’s down. Then she wakes up again at 9:30pm. We started over w the check and consoles at the intervals (starting w the 3 min, 5 etc or whatever you have set as your intervals). Then she goes down and wakes up at 10p – started again 3, 5 min etc.
            we did a “rule” of not nursing until after 2am. It took us awhile to wean off night nursing and every now and then she still wakes up (last night. Hi. Ugh). But it eventually shifted to going down on her own and her waking up once a night around 2-3am for her night feeding. And then awake for the day at 6.

            I hope that helps. Thinking sleepy thoughts for you!

            • Thank you so much for getting back to me!! Your story is so much like mine it give me encouragement to go ahead with our plan. I forgot to ask in my previous post. Right now we do nurse to sleep and I have tried nursing her before bathtime but I find she half eats and gets distracted easily as she is not calm enough to get a full feed. Did you nurse then put down fully awake (so she was aware?) And then gradually move the nursing to earlier in the bedtime routine? Or did you do.it all at once?

            • Hey Natasha!

              No worries :) it takes a village right?

              Put to bed fully awake. We did/do her last nursing before we start the bedtime routine. I do it in another room to really establish the idea that were not going to bed via the boob anymore. But I nurse a lot right before bed so she is stocked up. after we finished nursing I went into her room and did the rest (Jammies, sound machine, book etc etc) placed her in the crib and we say the same thing every night as a cue ( no idea if this has made any damn bit of difference but can’t hurt ). Maybe do bath then nurse then do the rest of your bedtime stuff? Our girl cluster fed like a boss so between 6-7 she was all about chowing down
              She was a littl confused at first when she watched me leave the room and she was wide awake. But by night 3 it was pretty dialed in!
              You got this!

            • Erin,

              You are awesomesauce to share so generously with Natasha and everybody else who will read this. Cheers and thanks :)

              Alexis

  10. Hi Alexis (and other parents!) – I’ve noticed that the comments on this page don’t always get responses directly from Alexis, so I’d like to be open to what other parents have to say on the topic.

    Like MANY others here, we have begun sleep-training our baby.

    LAST MONTH, She was 6 months old. After she healed from her 6-month shots, we tried Pick Up/Put Down, and it was a disaster – her crying only got worse throughout the night – she was a wailing, wet, frothy, screaming mess, and ended up IN OUR BED (previously she had just slept in our room near the bed, but not with us), where she stayed put for a month – we decided just to stick with it until we had a plan we could commit to. That was awful – one month of four-hour-long soothing sessions and multiple crying and waking up, jerking awake and wailing at night, only to begin the soothing all over. We were both wrecked, and she wasn’t sleeping at all.

    Ten days ago, we got geared up (after finding your site) and went to full extinction with a nightly bedtime routine. The first night she cried for 45 minutes and then slept for almost 12 hours! She woke up once, we gave her a bottle, she went back into her crib and cried for 35 for mins, then fell asleep again.

    Since then we’ve stuck with it, despite MANY mishaps (sensor pad which kept setting off alarm, making us go in and move her, waking her up on nights #2 and #3; friend forgetting his jacket in her room, and going in and getting it, and waking her up, etc, etc). It really took us about 7 nights before we finally got it to where we simply loved on her, read stories, and sang, closed the door, and walked out.

    However, her intervals of crying have not gotten consistently shorter, and she still cries HARD when we are in the middle of the routine – she doesn’t have a love object and I don’t know if she knows how to self-soothe yet – she still thrashes and screams and bounces.

    Is there anything we can do to make it easier for her?

    Here are her crying times:
    Night 1: 45 mins
    Night 2: 24 mins
    Night 3: 1 hour
    Night 4: 24 minutes
    Night 5: 30 minutes
    Night 6: 35 minutes
    Nights 7,and 8 – missing data
    Night 9: 11 minutes
    Night 10: 30 minutes

    I can’t see any patterns from this. Any ideas? Anyone?

  11. Hi, I have tried CIO for 4 nights now and bub is just over 12 months. Before this she needed me to be in the room sitting next to her to help her sleep at bedtime and when she woke up multiple times over night and even to bring her to our bed. I tried CIO when she was around nine months but she cried so hard that she vomited over 2 nights so I gave in and thought this method wasn’t for us. Sleeping has gotten worse so I decided to give this another go. The first night she screamed as soon as I left the room and vomited within 2 minutes. I came in, cleaned up and changed her and put her back down and left. She cried only for another 10 minutes before sleeping but in a sitting position (whole other issue! haha). Woke up a few times crying during the night but i left her and she resettled.
    Second night she vomited before I could even leave the room. I cleaned up and changed her and left. Cried for less than 10 minutes and slept sitting again. Woke up a few times crying during the night but i left her and she resettled.
    Third night cried then vomited after 2 minutes. I cleaned up and she cried another 5 minutes then slept and slept through the night without crying. Seems like it is working but for the vomiting…
    Fourth night pretty much same as third night except woke up crying a couple of times over night.
    I have read that some babies learn to vomit at bedtime to get your attention or so you come back. I know it sounds far fetched for a baby of 12 months but she is happy normal and as soon as I leave her she screams and does this cough which makes her throw up so seems like she is either doing it on purpose or cries so hard in 1 minute that she throws up :(
    I just want to know what I should do… should I keep doing this and cleaning up the vomit so she gets the idea that it’s not going to get her any more attention and hope she stops? how long do I wait before I stop doing CIO if she continues to vomit? can’t be good for her… :(

    • I doubt this is learned vomiting (although that can happen). Babies have a valve at the top of their stomach that doesn’t close fully like yours does. As a result it’s really easy for stomach contents to get pushed out when they contract their stomach muscles (which they do when upset). So I doubt this is protest vomit, it’s just that she gets upset, squeezes her tummy muscles and it pushes milk out. The fact that she’s vomiting after only 2 minutes is pretty unusual but maybe her valve is “more open” than the average kiddo.

      Truthfully there are alternatives but she’s barely crying for 2 minutes so I hate to muck with that as 2 minutes is nothing. I wouldn’t say “stop doing CIO” because that suggests she’s crying when she isn’t – I mean 2 minutes is truly NOTHING. I would just clean up the vomit.

      • Thanks for responding Alexis. Sounds like you’re probably right, I do think her valve is “more open” as she often gets the hiccups.
        In any case the last 2 nights I have put her down and she protest cried for about a minute and then stopped and self settled to sleep without vomiting.
        I was always concerned about the prolonged crying with CIO but seems that wasn’t an issue, it was more the vomiting i’m worried about now! It just can’t be good you know, vomiting up her dinner and all.. oh well I hope it has stopped now so I’ll see how the following nights go.

  12. So we did the extinction method when my little man was 13 months and oh thank heaven it worked and we all were finally a happy healthy family! Cut to 16 months and a long virus molars then sinus infection and we had let him sleep on us for a bit because of his congestion and we are back to square 1 I mean negative 1 because now way worse then it ever was. We went right back to extinction and holy cow it’s been over a week and he will stand yes just stand for 3 hours crying off and on till he falls asleep standing up till he falls in a heap.
    He then wakes up screaming every morning even if he’s slept through the night. His dr said he can sleep standing up and that’s fine but how do we get the screaming when he wakes to stop?? This morning it went from 4:30-5:30am we are all super tired and of course he won’t sleep during nap time. I only let him cry for an hour and then wait for a time he’s not crying to go in. Please help it’s horrible to wake up to a screaming tantrum child every morning he used to play so contently in his crib( he has a lovey blackout shades and a sound machine )

    • Hi,
      We had a similar experience when our son turned 18m. CIO had worked perfectly at 6m and every sleep blip since then. But when they are older they have more staying power! I couldn’t believe how long he cried for.
      Firstly, we found that he would sleep if he could see us, so we stood outside his door but just visible. Once he calmed down about bedtime (this took a week), we stared leaving when he was awake.
      We also had to revisit our bedtime routine and now take longer to put him down, including a final 5min cuddle in the dark. We also potter about near his room so he can hear us as he goes to sleep. I think that as they get older they don’t want to miss out on time with you, so a slightly softer approach than CIO works.
      Hope that helps

    • The same thing is happening with us. CIO was the hardest thing I have done as a parent, but it got us 2 months of really good sleep for everyone. It was amazing. Then baby got a very bad virus and needed to sleep next to me for 2 weeks. Now we are also at square -1 with him being able to stand & scream for what appears to be forever. This stubborn baby will not respond to soothing if he is in the crib already–never has. Either he decides he is okay and will sleep or he isn’t and no amount of pats or lying back down will do a damn thing (he has always been like this–it’s just even harder now). It is taking hours to get him down tired enough to not protest with a huge fit indefinitely once placed in the crib, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier or take any less time. Le Sigh.

  13. Hi. We’re on night 2 of CIO with our 6.5 month daughter. Everything goes great initially–bedtime routine, white noise, clean diaper, full tummy, early enough in the evening, etc–and she’s out within five minutes or so. It’s fantastic….until 45-60 minutes later when she wakes up. What do we do at this point? Just let her resettle? It took over an hour last night and she was waaaay more upset than the initial putting down for bedtime. When we sleep trained our son he just slept right on through so this is new. I just want to make sure we’re not doing something incorrectly.

    Thanks.

    • Sorry I have no helpful advice but we have the same problem! My son settles himself to sleep at all naps and at bedtime around 7-7.30pm. However he then wakes around 30-45mins later (only at bedtime, the rest of the time has chunky naps) and will just cry until he’s picked up. If I only leave him a short time once he has woken up, he will then go back to sleep cuddled quite quickly, but then need to hold him the rest of the evening, if I leave him for 15-20 mins to see if he will resettle he is then unsettled and doesn’t sleep well even on me for the rest of the evening until the 10pm feed. I do not understand it and it’s so frustrating when they go to sleep by themselves less than an hour earlier! Mine is 6months but was 7 weeks prem so more like a 4 month old. We’ve had this problem since he was about 2 weeks before he’s due date (5weeks old)! I cannot find anywhere in the internet where other people have this problem and has been driving me insane!
      Let’s hope someone has some useful information of what to do! I’m not sure CIO is the answer to after they wake up, it might be but i don’t want to do it if it’s not! Hope you get advice soon!

    • Trust me I’m still figuring it out… but I tried waiting until it was dark. Once it is dark it is a lot easier to get my son to sleep and he will go down like a dream. But until then I’m still trying to figure out how to stop him screaming himself to sleep. This is particularly a problem during daylight saving, which it is currently, because it doesn’t get dark until much later than “bedtime”.
      Katie recently posted..Is Sleep Training Child Abuse?My Profile

    • After a week of trial and error, here’s what I figured out: she still needs a third nap. I thought we were trying to drop it and that was what was causing the issues so we were doing two naps and an early bedtime. Then we were out grocery shopping a little later than usual one night and she caught a short nap in her car seat before bed, which I figured was going to make a mess, but we came home, went through our routine, and put her in bed only slightly late…and no wake up. Slept right on through until she woke up to be fed five hours later. Now we just build a third nap into our day and put her in bed half an hour later. Haven’t had a wake up since. It’s been so much better. Hope this might help somebody else, too!

  14. My baby is 11 months old and screams so loud I am convinced the neighbours will think there is something dreadful going on. He just wants me to pick him up. But the volume! So I am trying CIO but the trouble is whenever he cries he heats up so he feels like he has a temperature to touch (which he didn’t before he went to bed). I have heard it is possible to have a child go into stroke from this kind of stress. Is it harmful?
    Katie recently posted..Is Sleep Training Child Abuse?My Profile

    • Katie,

      I have never seen any scientific research that in any way suggests that crying can lead to a child having a stroke. If you’re struggling with getting him to sleep without being held, perhaps there is an intermediate plan that may work? What about putting him in his bed and rubbing his back/patting his belly so that you’re present and touching but not holding him. He’ll likely get pretty upset with you but this is a compromise and a step towards him falling asleep in his bed. If you choose to try this strategy you’re committing to NOT picking him up to sleep – if he wakes up unhappy no picking up but you go back to patting/rubbing and soothing words until he falls back to sleep. Will this work? Yes, if you commit fully. Just an option to consider. Good luck!
      Alexis
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Is Sleep Training Child Abuse?My Profile

  15. We have been doing CIO for 4 weeks now. And I mean really, truly, 100%, following-all-the-rules, doing it. Full extinction and never looked back. Really was hoping by learning to self settle that she would sleep better. But it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I watch for over/under tiredness, I make naps happen (which have always been a crap shoot) etc etc etc. My little girl is 7 months old this week and has not ever slept well. Up every 2 hours, never sleeping more than 4 hour stretches. Beginning to think it’s me, what the *#@! Am I doing wrong??

    • So she falls asleep OK at bedtime but then wakes up 2 hours later? I’m assuming that you’re really doing everything perfect because if so, the answer is how you handle the early night wakings.

      For most babies, you fall to sleep independently then BOOM – problem solved. You’re free to nurse, rock, cuddle at later night wakings without issue. However for some babies, if they wake up soon-ish after bedtime (generally within ~3 hours) how you handle THAT waking can reset the sleep association that you’re working so hard to break free of AT bedtime. So the key is to change how your handling EARLY night wakings (generally anything after midnight is fine) because the nursing/feeding/rocking/cuddling you’re doing soon after bedtime are resetting your sleep association issue.

      Good luck!
      Alexis recently posted..Is Sleep Training Child Abuse?My Profile

      • First of all, I appreciate you getting back to me so quickly.
        Bedtime is not a cake walk. 2 nights of the week she might go down with very little fuss (hey, I’ll take that compared to what it used to be like. So yes, CIO is working better for bedtime). At most bedtimes she will sit in her crib crying for at least 20 minutes, settle down, then start back up within a few minutes.
        Now typically, if she goes down easily, she wakes up 45 minutes after she first goes down (maybe a sleep cycle thing? Not sure. I’m clueless about babies) from there she could wake 3-5 times before midnight, repeating the crying/stopping thing.
        With hopes of better sleep, I don’t nurse before midnight because her last feed was 7:30-8pm. I do, however, nurse her 2 times in the evening when she wakes around 2am and 5am. All wakings I try to comfort with a hug or a pat and shhh. Feeding is my last resort.
        Is this where I’m going wrong? What would you suggest to do during wakings sooner than 3 hrs of bedtime? And the wakings during the middle of the night?
        Thanks a ton.

  16. Hi Alexis,

    Help!! My 8-month-old baby is screaming at the moment – it is 2:45pm (I live in France) and she has not yet taken a nap today. We successfully did night sleep training, and though it took a good week, we are now down to 5 minutes crying at bedtime and very little during the night. So I thought I’d move on to naps, right? Well, it’s been hellish – she simply will not fall asleep. I tried the morning nap for two days but wimped out for the afternoon one – after an hour of screaming in the morning she would not sleep, and I was worried that it would affect her nights. (It has, I think – she wakes up more). So I rocked her to sleep with her pacifier as usual in the afternoons. But you gotta do what you gotta do, so I thought today I’d try all the naps. I left her screaming for an hour this morning (with white noise, curtains drawn, no paci, and a small Mommy-smelling lovey), then when she didn’t fall asleep, I picked her up and continued with our day. (We had a fantastically fussy morning, as you can imagine). Then I put her back down a little before her normal naptime this afternoon, and she proceeded to cry for an hour. Then I picked her up, walked around the house, changed her poo-filled diaper, read a book, sang a song, and put her back down. She’s been crying for 10 minutes now, and soon it’ll be beyond her normal naptime. What should I do? If she doesn’t fall asleep, do I just keep her up until her 5pm nap? If she does fall asleep (pleeeease!!), should I wake her up when her normal naptime should end?

    A humongous enormous thank you for your site, by the way – you are awesome.

    • Olivia- you just described my current situation to a T. Would you please share how you resolved this (I’m hoping you have?!) my 7 month old is going on day 4 of no naps unless they are on me yet he falls asleep on his own at night time. Losing my mind!!! Thanks in advance.

      • Janell, I *so* know where you are! As I recall, she finally did fall asleep that day. We had a couple of weeks where it was touch and go – I had to leave her crying for an hour several times (soooooo awful) and there were several skipped naps and lots of fussy, fussy days. I don’t think there’s really any easy way of doing it, unfortunately. I read somewhere to make sure they’re falling asleep at the same time more or less every day (even if it’s on you) before attempting CIO, and to do a similar routine to nighttime – I read her the same book or two, then draw the blackout curtains, then sing the same two songs, then tell her it’s sleepytime etc., and put her down with her lovey. But you will have to get strict about it at some point, as hard as it will be – same place, same time, same routine, and leave him for up to an hour whether or not he falls asleep. He will get it eventually. It took my baby about two weeks to get used to falling asleep for naps alone, but she was still only taking 30 min naps and waking up crying. So then it took her a few more weeks to figure out how to stay asleep for an hour / an hour and a half (using more or less the “boredom” method that Alexis talks about in another post – before she wrote that post :)). But for the past 3 months or so (since she was about 9 months old) it’s been fairly smooth sailing – she takes two 1-2 hr naps a day, sleeps fairly decently at night, and stopped nursing at night a week ago, too! All in time for her first birthday, which is today :)

        So hang in there – you can do it, and so can your son :)

  17. Hiya Alexis, Just a quick question pre trying CIO for real. My son is 6 months old and we do a routine, but he always falls asleep on the bottle, after which I burp him for a long time and put him down asleep. If i try to put him down not asleep he will cry and cry. Hence i know i will need to do CIO. Bedtime is 7:30 and he wakes at 12:30, 4:30, 8:30 for feeds, which are uneventful. However between the bedtime and 12:30 feeds he wakes up at least every hour wimpering. If i get to him quick enough, all i need to do is bounce him until he burps or farts (wind is almost always the reason for him waking up at this time). If i dont get to him quick he wakes up and stays awake. Just wondering how I should deal with those early wakenings….? I have tried moving the bottle to before bathtime so he has more time to get rid of his wind, but he won’t drink it all in one go if i do this, so am imagining he will just wake up earlier/more often for feeds….
    Thanks in advance for your support!

    • 1) There is no try, only do or not do πŸ˜‰

      2) Feed him before bath to help get rid of the burps. If he wakes up sooner (I doubt he will be it could happen) you can gently wean off those feedings ONCE you’ve broken the food=sleep association by changing bedtime. Also I think he’ll sleep better once you get the burping thing out of the way at bedtime.

      Personally if this was me I might even consider a dreamfeed when YOU go to bed (say 10 PM) so that there is the potential for YOU to sleep 10 – 4:30, which would be pretty awesome.

      Good luck!
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Daylight Savings Time Sleep Survival StrategiesMy Profile

  18. Oh Alexis, why are

    • Trying that again. Though the effect is somewhat gone!

      Oh Alexis, why are you not for hire. The stuff on here is pure gold.

      Just wanted to share my story. I was at my wits end with my 5mo. I had tried CIO just before she turned 3 months and it was an unmitigated disaster. I was desperate (hubby working overseas till baby is 6mo hrmph) and wasn’t thinking clearly. If anyone is reading this.. DO NOT TRY CIO AT THAT AGE!!! Stopped after 36 brutal hours and decided to live with it.

      Fast forward to recently. Her naps were 30 mins on the dot (more accurate than my kitchen timer), she was sleeping 6-10pm and then awake every 1.5 hrs rest of night. Couldn’t swaddle as she sucks both her thumbs (sometimes at the same time), and hates white noise. The only thing that soothed her was covering her eyes. It worked magic.. For 45 mins tops.

      I’m a bit of an insomniac so once I got over the initial shock phase, I was ok.. But my baby was a wreck. She is by nature a very smily chattering baby but that all dried up. She was constantly grumpy, rubbing her eyes, pulling her hair, scratching her face, the whole lot. She still smiled but basically stopped talking or doing much else.

      I’m committed to breastfeeding for 2 years at least and the LLL as well as my breastfeeding doc (whom I love to bits.. she’s the only reason I can actually nurse my baby) were perfectly useless.. Why do most breastfeeding proponents hate sleep??

      I knew I was heading to CIOville again and I hired a sleep consultant to keep me on track so I wouldn’t cheat.. I knew it would be tough. We decided to tackle naps and night at the same time. I have to confess that EVERYTHING she suggested, I cross checked with your site. In retrospect I didn’t need her, but you know what they say about hindsight.

      I’ll spare you the (surprisingly not gory) details but by day 3, her naps were between 1 to 1.5 hrs and her waking was down to 3-4 times a night. A week later 1.5 hr naps most of the time and 2-3 waking a might (2 feeds and 1 where she’d put herself back to sleep in 5 mins). It’s only been a short time but OMG I have a totally new baby on my hands. She has gone from smiling from time to time to full out laughing, she’s had the energy to learn to turn over, and she’s babbling non stop. I cannot put into words how glad I am I went down this route.

      My biggest sleep related worries now are : how do I check for a dirty diaper without disrupting her sleep and how do to slowly move her bedtime back a bit. I’m so incredibly grateful that THESE are my worries!!!

      Where do you come in? You were the only voice of reason on sleep training and CIO that I could find online. It was such a stigma in my mind and I had resigned myself to minimal sleep for both of us until she heads off to college (and no sleep after that!!).. But coming across your site gave me a totally different perspective on everything. I know that she can and will regress at many points but I am no longer afraid of trying to fix it!

      I also know we had it easier than most as we taught her from 3 months (without CIO) to put herself to sleep. But I just wanted to say to anyone struggling.. Stay strong! As long as you are making the change for your bubs betterment, it’s the way to go! And use the information on this site.. It is truly priceless!

      This is probably the longest and most uninformative post ever on your site, but I had to say thank you Alexis from sleep deprived babies and parents everywhere!

  19. Hi Alexis,

    We followed your advice and did CIO for 2 nights, and the 1st night she cried for 25 mins, fell asleep at 10pm, woke up at 1am, 4:40am, and 6:30am and slept until 9am (it was daylight savings). I fed her at all wakings and she fell back asleep everytime.

    Last night, we put her to bed at 8:45, and she cried and fell asleep at 9pm, woke at 2am, and again at 6:30am, slept till 8am. I nursed her at all wakings.

    My question is, when can, or when should I start nap time fixing? We followed your advice and is a nap master. I returned to work so my husband carries her in the ergo for all 3 naps. My husband will also return to work soon, and we want to train her to nap by herself as well. Shall we wait till bedtime is more consistent before tackling nap? and how should we approach nap training?

    Thank you!

  20. Hi,

    Doing our research… going to start CIO tomorrow night. Our little one is 11 months old and our biggest question that we cannot find the answer to is – she will inevitably stand up in her crib and then – how does she fall asleep if she’s standing? We are thinking of doing extinction, but wondering if we should go in intermittently to lie her back down?

    Thanks!

  21. hi Alexis, or all the helpful, sleep deprived mummies,

    My 9.5 mo is on day 5 of CIO and it seems to be working great. Crying went down from 1 hr to 5 minutes in the last 2 days but still wakes up at 5 am for a feed.
    My question is, on day 7 I will have to stay out longer after work, so his nanny who takes care of him all day will be putting him to bed. He is happy with her and she is great BUT there will be no boobs as part of the bed time ritual. Will the fact that I am not around for bedtime mess up the sleep training? How long do I need to consider this ‘sleep training’ rather than Business as Usual ?

    Thanks for your help!

  22. Hi!

    My question is short and sweet: my LO is 14 weeks (16 adjusted as she was late). Is this too young to start CIO??

    We have a steady bedtime routine, bed by 7pm (using shh pat and a bit of rocking) but she wakes continuously until her 10.30pm feed, will sleep a few hours until her 2.30am feed but then will not resettle!! She cat naps until 7am when we get up. Her day naps are ok (9-10,12-2,4-5, using shh pat) but nights are killing me!! Thanks

  23. Hey guys.. just want your opinions cuz im not really sure if im doing things right with the CIO.. i’m on my 3rd night.. Im still not quite sure what to do after nightwakings..

    so bedtime routine as usual.. but i do nurse and fill him up burp him and then put him down at 6:45..

    1st night:
    13 mins crying then check and pick up.. consoled and put down
    11 mins crying then finally fell asleep
    8:10 woke up.. i fed him but he fell right back to sleep after so i put him down..
    9:03 woke and cried.. checked after 10 mins of crying
    9:40 nursed and put him down he cried for 3 mins before falling asleep
    10:30 woke up.. i changed diaper (usually the time he gets uncomfy with his diapers before CIO) rub his back then left he fell asleep without much protest and stayed asleep til 3:45am to nurse then back to sleep waking at 5:45am

    2nd night:
    15 mins of crying then checked put down
    cried for a minute then fell asleep
    8:16 nurse down sleep
    11:45 nurse diaper put down
    13 mins of crying then fell asleep12:21
    12:39 woke cried for 3 mins
    12:44 cried 3 mins checked put down
    12:50 sleep
    3:40 nurse and sleep
    5:45 waking time
    ..

    Right now on day 3 he only cried 3 mins at bedtime..

    Im quite unsure if it’s alright if he fell asleep during night feeding.. i cant really remove those feedings all of a sudden because he was so used to feeding every 2hrs when co-sleeping before cio.. and i want to clarify how to console so that you wouldnt end up letting him fall asleep with you and at the same time maintain the consistency..

    I really need an asurance on how to proceed….

    • Full disclaimer that I have no expertise in sleep training, only experience with my 6mo. Assuming your baby is 6m+, two things jump out immediately:
      – nursing too close to bed time. Nurse 20 mins at least before putting baby in the crib. So nurse before the bath/book/song etc.
      – nursing too soon after bedtime. Any nursing soon after bedtime reinforces the sleep crutch.. So even if you are putting down awake and separating nursing from bedtime by at least 20 mins, the 8.45 nursing session is undoing all the bedtime benefits. I think any nursing before midnight is trouble.

      Alexis explains it so much better.

      Once that is under control and you have a better situation in terms of wakings, use Alexis’ night weaning approach. Typically a 6m baby doesn’t need more than 1-2 feeds a night max assuming they switch to getting the calories during the day.

      Hope this helps and doesn’t hinder too severely!!

      • Thank you i think i will try that.. one other thing.. when i check and console after some minutes of crying at bedtime i try to rub his back until he’s not crying anymore then i leave.. im not sure if im doing something wrong there.. he’s moving and making mumbling sounds before i leave.. but im not really sure if im doing the “consoling” part right..

  24. We are on day 3 of CIO. And although I know it is early, we are unable to calm him down before getting him into bed.
    As soon as we start changing him into his jammies he starts screaming and won’t calm down through a bottle, story time, songs, and goodnights.

    Day 1 he cried for 30 min, day 2 was 10 minutes, but he seems to be more upset tonight then ever before.

    He’s having really good naps during the day so he’s not over tired when he’s going into bed.

    He’s just about 10 months old , and I know I should have started this months ago.

    I’m just making sure I’m doing everything right to get the best out of this.

    Any suggestions to calming him down before bed time?

  25. So we have a cutie pie that just turned 7 months, we have been doing CIO the extinction method and have followed all the suggestions, however, we are almost a month in and he still cries for 15-30, 45 minutes. I want to give up so badly bc its just breaking my heart to hear him cry every. single. night. BUT I just cant go back to bouncing him to sleep on the yoga ball, it was killing my back bc he is getting so big. We have a pretty solid bedtime routine, solids, baby massage, jammies, bottle, book, lullaby, bed. He takes legit lengthy naps of about 90 minutes each and his awake times are pretty short for his ae, 90 minutes too, anything longer and hes grumpy pants! ANY suggestions as to what we may be doing wrong? Anything we can do to stop the tears at bedtime?

    • There is a huge chance I won’t have any helpful input, but on the off chance that I may, can you share more details? Off the top of my head, 1.5 hrs maybe too short am awake time.. But perhaps that is during the day.. don’t think you mean that that is his last awake period before bed?

      • Yes, all of his wake times are 1.5 hrs. And yes I get “extend his wake times” as advice often. But we have tried many many times only to get a fussier, grumpy, all around unhappy and overtired baby that only cries more!

        • So assuming wake up time of 7.. Nap 8.30-10… Nap 11.30-1.. And then?

          • Today, wake up @6, down @7:30. Wake up @8:30, down @10:15.. Still sleeping, prolly wake up soon then down @1:30ish, sleep until 3, last nap 4:30- only 30 min or so then down @6:30ish for bed. Today he woke up earlier than usual so everything’s shifted a bit from the norm. Usually wakes at 6:45, making bedtime around 6.

            • Is he getting too much day sleep? I know you know this (so sorry for repeating).. But ideally he should be getting three naps instead of four As per:
              http://www.troublesometots.com/baby-sleep-what-is-normal/

              If he is getting the right amount or too much of day sleep, he may be tired at 6 but not enough to sleep for the night, so his 45 min crying is him getting to where his actual sleep time should be (close to 7)

              Did you commit for at least five days to trying to adjust his awake times? Because it takes at least that long to see any actual changes.

              Again, sorry if this is all known territory!

  26. Are we really out of luck with the early morning wakings? :( My 9mo son is an *awesome* night sleeper and self soother, crummy napper but that is improving too. He wakes up ready to face the day at 4:45 every. single. morning. We have black out curtains and a noise machine in his nursery. On the rare occasion he wakes up closer to 2am or 3am (maybe once a month?,) he’ll drain 8-9oz formula and knock right back out, usually until at least 5:30 or even later.

    I wouldn’t mind if it was 5:30 or 5:45 as that’s wake up time for mom and dad all week long, but 4:45!? Help!

    • To add, we’ve tried the following: earlier bedtime (5:30pm,) later bedtime (6:30-7pm,) cluster feeding at bedtime, bringing him back in with us after 4:45 bottle (buys us another 30 minutes once or twice a week, MAYBE,) and check-sleep-training.

      We have not yet tried extinction sleep training in the morning because check worked so great when we first night sleep trained, two checks and two days, now sleeps through the night.

      He averages 2-3 naps a day, at longest his naps are an hour, usually closer to 45 minutes, but as I said, this is greatly improved from when he was younger. His “good” naps used to be 25 minutes! He is also in daycare 4 days a week.

      Any help or suggestions? Thank you!!!

  27. Hi Alexis,
    I want to first of all thank you for having such a wonderful website with so much useful information on sleep training.

    I wanted to share my story with you and let you know that I followed your regiment to the t and my son is successfully sleeping through the night and soothes and falls asleep by himself within 5 min of me putting him in the crib – all within 4 days!
    My son is a little bit older, he is 21 months and we tried to do cio when he was about 10 months old but we we’re unsuccessful. At the time, we were living with my parents (the grandparents) in between houses. It was just way too difficult to try this sleep training method around parents who are pretty old school and dont really believe in cry it out.

    Jumping to present day, we recently moved to a new house and needed to badly cut out all of my sons bad habits which were 1) drinking milk and falling asleep 2) falling asleep on the bed and having to be transferred to crib in deep sleep 3) waking up at 2-3 am and 4) getting picked up and put into our bed!

    So last week, I worked on changing his routine and cutting the milk bottle out. He now drinks milk from the sippy cup and during his meals. I found that hiding the bottle and basically presenting the milk in the sippy cup to my son was what made him realize that the bottle is not coming back. As far as his routine, I played with him in his room and brought him back to his room for pjs and night activities and would try to put him in the crib groggy but still awake. After I established this routine for about a week, this past Tuesday I thought I have nothing to lose I am going to go with cry it out. I had debated between Ferber or Weissbluth but I realized that checking in was making things worse and reset the whole crying process.

    So Night 1 – he cried for 1 hr and fell asleep on his own. He did wake up a couple times throughout the night but put him back to sleep within 20 min.
    Night 2 – he cries for 27 min and fell asleep on his own. He also woke up a few times throughout the night but was able to put himself back to sleep within 10 min. On night 3 – he fell asleep within 10 min and slept the whole night through!! Tonight was even better, he slept within 5 min of me putting him in the crib. Today we also tried to do cio for his nap and he fell asleep within 5 min and slept a good 3 hrs.
    Everything that you said on your site basically happened with my son. I was concerned because he was older and I had no idea how he’d react, but he responded so well and this is now life changing for us.

    I would suggest for anyone out there who is contemplating between Ferber and Weisbluth method, if you can build up the courage and confidence to let your little ones cry without you going in there, you do see the results surprisingly fast. It’s literally just one night of torture!

    Thank you so much Alexis!!
    -Geetha
    geetha recently posted..How to Cry it Out: The Bedtime EditionMy Profile

    • Geetha,

      What a great outcome! Thank you so much for taking the time to come share your success with other readers here. Sleep training is so scary for so many parents, and I’m sure your tale will help many others come to a decision that is right for them.

      Cheers!
      Alexis

  28. My 10mo started sleeping all night (10-5ish) at 5 weeks. That continued until around 7 months when he had a terrible cold and started teething. He still goes to bed perfectly. We do our routine and he goes right to sleep without any tears. However, our problem is waking up throughout the night. He wakes and wants to be held to go back to sleep. As soon as he is picked up he relaxes and puts his head down. We’ve been rocking him back to sleep for around 20 min 2-3 times each night. We’re exhausted. We can’t just console him in the crib; if we’re in the room, he has to be picked up. Will this CIO method work? Any suggestions?

  29. I just had a quick question. Previously my baby would sleep from 7.30 pm to at least 12 pm and then every 2 hours after that till 6.30 am.
    Now she goes down at 7.30 and wakes up every 2 hours… 9.30, 11.30 etc. She goes down awake after we did the CIO (still cries and fusses for 5 min on most days). Should I let her CIO for the 9.30 pm awakening also or give in and feed her every 2 hours again. She’s 7 months old and I’m so exhausted! ! :( She’s not a great day napper either.
    Could she be crying out of hunger or is it just a habit ? She’s breastfed and on blw solids twice a day.
    If I let her CIO the 9.30 wake-up, how many days should I wait to see if it is working or not?

  30. Hi I’m Heidi:)

    I’m on night three with my ten month old and it’s going great!! My only question is…
    We normally start our day at 7am and bed 7:30pm but since I’ve started CIO he’s wanting to get up at 6am which is fine with me but going to sleep at 6pm just doesn’t work for us!! So he gets up at 6. And I let him come to bed with me until 7am! Is this ok or not ok????

    Thanks:) love this site

  31. So thankful I found this site!!!!!!! Before I tried this method I read this site several times and read all the comments. So I wanted to share my experience if it would help any other moms.

    I tried the CIO method right before my son turned 12months. I did not follow all of the advise on the site and only chose to do what I thought might work for us….Wrong!!! It was an awful night for both of us and I thought, this just won’t work for us!
    Several months later (and still no sleep for me…exhaustion was becoming the normal) I came back and vowed to try again. My son was now almost 18months old.
    I got the video monitor and was determined to follow through! The first night he cried for about 40min. I was surprised and thought, ok..lets see tomorrow. By night 4 he did NOT cry at all!!! I kept looking thru the monitor waiting to hear him scream. My husband and I could not believe it!
    That was 5 months ago. So thankful we can all sleep now :) most night have no crying, and the nights that do are less than 5min. He still needs to nap with mom or dad, but we are fine with that!

    Thank you! ! !

  32. We have a 1 bedroom apt and our 9 month old’s crib is in our room. When he awakes in the middle of the night how should we handle this ?

  33. Hello please help!
    Our boy is almost 4 months old, exclusively breastfed, and has always been a terrible sleeper. He is very spirited and curious and has never been one to fall asleep on his own (sleepy but awake does not exist for him – he’s either asleep or awake) and has shown himself to be quite stubborn. Our bedtime routine has been bath, stories, feeding, rock to sleep, put in crib. Although sometimes he would sleep 4-5 hours between feedings, he recently started waking every 90 minutes or so.
    After about a week of this, my husband and I decided to try to let our babe cry it it out, with checks every 10 minutes (we were following ferber). Last night was the first night and it was HORRIBLE. Other than his midnight nursing after which he fell asleep in his crib for 2 hours, he did not sleep at all. Not at all. He cried for 80% of the night, or laid there and looked miserable but awake. In short, my son cried all night and I have nothing to show for it. He was otherwise ostensibly comfortable, not too cold or hot, and diaper was clean.
    Please help me. What do I do? I don’t know if I can go another night where my poor baby cries the entire night – if he cried for only an hour or two or three, that would be a victory! How sad is that? Tonight I am considering just letting him cry without checking on him (we do have a video monitor), but what do I do if he cries all night again? I don’t know if I can take it.
    Any suggestions would be so helpful. Thank you!

    • Ooofa. Well something is up. I don’t know WHAT is up, but something is definitely up. I have 2 thoughts on what it might be (best guess).

      1) This is the 4 month sleep regression (have you noticed things to be rocky all around as of late?). You say “recently started waking every 90 minutes” and I’m assuming it’s been about ~1 week. This could definitely be a sleep regression (see http://www.troublesometots.com/the-thing-about-sleep-regressions/)
      Trying to sleep train during a regression is going to be a rough slog.

      That being said you’re already one night in so if pressing on is the right answer then:
      a) Don’t let him nap more than normal and
      b) Stop with the checks (seriously checks aren’t your friend)

      An alternate consideration would be to use the swing to help teach him to sleep. He’s young enough and loves rocking right? If you have one it’s definitely a strong consideration!

      Good luck!
      Alexis
      Alexis recently posted..The Monumental Guide to Short Naps AKA Everything You Need to Know to Vanquish Crap NapsMy Profile

      • Sounds just like our little boy! We were bouncing on the yoga ball non-stop. Well as unsustainable as that was, he at least slept mostly through the night. Four months came along and boom – we were up all night – cue Talking Heads. He loves motion, so enter the swing. We had a really old one (circa 2006) for when he was a newborn , but had stopped using it around 2 months. Back out it came for a few days and worked so well that we went to the store and got a new one. We are a few days in now, teaching him to fall asleep on his own. It hasn’t been without a little fussing and crying, but we’re for sure getting somewhere. Like bedtime asleep within 10-15 mins and 3 at-least 45 min naps per day. Hooray for the swing!!!! Just thought I’d share for some encouragement and positive vibes for the swing idea!

  34. Hi Alexis. Our now 7+ month old was sleeping through the night like a champ until about 6.5 months (except for that 4 mo regression). She had been nursed fully to sleep every day of her life, successfully. Then, suddenly, she was up all night. We were on vacation, and thought that was the issue. When we got back, sleep still sucked and we were zombies. We found your site (after 3 weeks of no sleep) and you convinced us that we were headed to cryitoutsville.
    On day #1, after reading many posts and most of the Weissbluth book, we committed. On night #1 we did our well-established bedtime routine at 7pm except with nursing at the beginning (20 minutes before crib-time), gave our kisses, and waited. 10 minutes in I thought she hit her head on the crib (from rocking on her hands and knees), so I went in (fail). I picked her up, she stopped crying, so I put her right back down and ran out. 31 minutes later she was asleep. She slept LIKE A CHAMP. Only up twice (11pm and 5am). Night #2, same deal except I did not go in and she was asleep in 12 minutes. Awesome. She only woke once in the night. Night #3, we did the same routine at 6:50pm and it took 34 minutes of crying. Extinction burst? Who knows. But then, she was up at 10:15pm. I nursed her (was I wrong?) and we put her back awake. She cried 15 mins and was out. She was awake again at midnight, nursed, cried for 20+ minutes before getting to sleep again. Then, she was awake AGAIN at 3am. We were tired from listening to her cry earlier in the night, so I brought her in bed at that point and we co-slept until morning. Tonight is night #4. She started crying towards the end of our bedtime routine, before we even put her down, and continued to cry for 40 more minutes. Why is it getting worse??? I feel like we must have failed last night. She might have been overtired today, even though she had good naps (3.5 hours total) and we put her to bed at the same time as always. She took a catnap at 5pm and woke up crying, so maybe she was ready for bed then?? She’s never been down earlier than 6:30, and before we started CIO it was usually closer to 7:30pm. Please, help us understand what we’re doing wrong!

  35. So I have a 6 month old who was sleeping through the night at 4.5 months. He started crawling at 5 months and pulling himself up at 5.5 months. His night time sleep has taken a down turn and he is a pain to put down. He has been waking 10-30 minutes after sleeping. We have a routine (clean diaper, white noise, feeding…i was nursing to sleep but have since stopped). Now when he wakes, he pulls himself up to standing in the crib. I want to do the extinction method, but what do I do about him standing? FYI: I tried CIO today for naps before I read that you should deal with night time first. He cried for 45 minutes the first time and 55 minutes the second. He did not fall asleep with either attempt. He is now sleeping in my lap, fully exhausted :(

  36. My daughter is almost 5 months old
    And we have been CIO for 3 days. I realize that this is a little early– but she has been a crappy napper since 2 months (20-40 min max) and bedtime (even super early) had become a 2.5 hour ORDEAL and we were both exhausted by the end of the day. Right now our strategy is 6:15 nurse while reading books/diaper and pjs/ songs and prayers in the rocker bed awake but sleepy around 6:45/7. Last night she only cried for 40 minutes ( down from ~1 hr the first night, but up from ~25 min the second) and she usually sleeps until 3:30-4am and then nurses and back to sleep until 6:30-7. She is no longer swaddled because she wakes up at 2 am for a half hour and rocks from side to side as if she will flip over at any minute. I am trying my best to give her good daytime sleep —
    But really the only way is in my arms or
    In the car/ stroller. Any advice on when to start nap training– I know it’s early–
    But we have been on the verge of rolling over for WEEKS– and I think she could do it if she wasn’t a sleepy zombie by 10 am. She is a total grump too. She used to smile and laugh all the time– but she
    Just lays on the floor and rubs her eyes. We don’t have a swing and she hasn’t slept in the rock n play since she was a month old. I hate
    To introduce something new at
    This point. I know sleep begets sleep but how do we get more sleep?!

  37. Thank you so much for this article!!!!! I think this saved my sanity! So far after 2 nights this seems to be going really well! We were up almost 4 hours a night with our little one and now it is already down to her crying less than an hour total between going to bed and nighttime wakings. Thank you for helping this hopeless and weary mom become hopeful and rested!

  38. HELP!! I’ve been poring over your website for mioths in anticipation of finally biting the bullet and following through. So, started CIO with my 11 month old two nights ago who has a tooth popping but I figured She’ll be teething for months so I can’t keep waiting. Horrible parent? Perhaps. But she was waking up every 2 hours and that was making me a really miserable parent. So, this am she woke up stuffed up and sneezing. I don’t have to give up on the CIO, do I?!? After just two nights she went from waking up 5 times to 3 and also an initial cry of one he to ten mins. We’ve tried twice before so are determined to stick with it this time. Advice? Thank you for your website!!

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