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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854 Comments


  1. Blecchhh – bummed to see that CIO will not be productive to “cure” waking up early. My dude is a chronic 4 – 5am riser. WHY is it unproductive?

    I’ve tried to put him to bed later at night (eg. 8pm rather than his current 7pm) to see if it helps, but a) he’s exhausted by 6:30pm there’s no way I can keep him up til 8pm, and b) it hasn’t always worked and I just end up losing him 1hr of sleep.

  2. Alexis,

    My baby is 6 months old and a strong willed little girl. I am facing literal desperation, and am so tired that I am questioning whether I even put on deodorant this morning.

    She can go to sleep well if being rocked, and will sleep from around 8:30-2, then its touch and go after that. I’ve tried to put her down awake and sometimes she will go down and others not. Every night we have put down awake she is up about every 30-40 minutes crying for about 30-40 minutes.

    My pediatrician suggested CIO starting at 4 months. We have tried CIO several times and she will cry for nearly two hours before I give up. I have had her checked and there are no medical issues. How long is normal to cry? Can I let her go for several hours? Is this a life sentence? I’m considering moving out and letting my husband deal with her since he can handle the crying much better than I can.

    Your help is much appreciated.

  3. Alexis, thank you for this site. We are on day 4 of CIO with my 15 month old and it’s going well — only about 10 minutes of off & on calling out, fussing, or crying before he falls asleep.

    But the bedtime routine leading up to sleep time is now full of anxiety for my little guy. He seems hypervigilant & tense, clinging to me and with a wide-awake alertness in his eyes that makes me think he’s dreading the moment he knows is now coming — that moment we say good night and walk away.

    Our routine consists of soothing, enjoyable things in a consistent order. The further we get through our routine and the closer we get to actually getting into the crib, the greater his anxiety seems to grow.

    Is this apparent anxiety really an extinction burst? It seems more like an overall negative association with bedtime (pleasant routine and all).

    And I know you say kids don’t always want to go to bed — that’s just how it is and they will probably protest. If that’s the case, I might as well whittle the routine down from 30 minutes to 5 minutes so everyone suffers a little less?

    I would love to find ways to reinforce some positive emotions during those last few moments before bed — it would be so nice if my little guy could at least be at ease.

    Would love to hear your thoughts and any advice is warmly appreciated.

  4. Alexis, thank you for this site. We are on day 4 of CIO with my 15 month old and it’s going well — only about 10 minutes of off & on calling out, fussing, or crying before he falls asleep.

    But the bedtime routine leading up to sleep time is now full of anxiety for my little guy. He seems hypervigilant & tense, clinging to me and with a wide-awake alertness in his eyes that makes me think he’s dreading the moment he knows is now coming — that moment we say good night and walk away.

    Our routine consists of soothing, enjoyable things in a consistent order. The further we get through our routine and the closer we get to actually getting into the crib, the greater his anxiety seems to grow.

    Is this apparent anxiety really an extinction burst? It seems more like an overall negative association with bedtime (pleasant routine and all).

    And I know you say kids don’t always want to go to bed — that’s just how it is and they will probably protest. If that’s the case, I might as well whittle the routine down from 30 minutes to 5 minutes so everyone suffers a little less?

    I would love to find ways to reinforce some positive emotions during those last few moments before bed — it would be so nice if my little guy could at least be at ease.

    Would love to hear your thoughts and any advice is warmly appreciated.

    • Hi again! Just wanted to pop in and say that as of Day 18 there has been no more crying. No fussing, no yelling out, no calling out, no whining, no crying, no nothing. And now on Day 23, I can see that he looks forward to the bedtime routine we’ve established. And the anxiety noted early on associated with the bedtime routine is now completely gone. I believe it was around Day 15 that he was noticeably at ease & happy during the bedtime routine. So THANK YOU! (and knock on wood, so as not to jinx myself with this post about our success…)

      • Thanks for coming back for an update, Anna! It’s good to know that a “negative association” is just temporary.

      • Great news! Did you do full extinction? Or go back and check? I’m up to my third round of cio. Things always seem to be going well then fall by the wayside. Sigh.

        • Hi Hannah :)

          We did full extinction (our focus was getting rid of bedtime drama which used to drag on for a couple hours). Our LO was 15 mo old when we started, and I’m not sure that he would have been ready for this earlier. (As a side note, we are still working on weaning him off his TWO nighttime bottles, ugh. But they are peaceful, quick feeds that seem to be phasing out, so that part is getting better).

          I jotted down notes in my phone so I could see how it was going. Here are notes from the first several days in case you’re curious! (longest post ever, ha ha)

          Day 1
          12/28Bedtime routine: snack, diaper & jams in room, play in room, white noise, low light, book in crib, bottle & sippy in crib, toy to occupy, goodnight words.
          Cry: fuss to crying, about 30 min

          Woke at 12:50, was in & out of sleep & play for an hour but no crying, then sat up to fuss-cry so I gave a bottle at 2:15, left room while still awake, barely fuss-cried in protest. Appears to be fully asleep at 2:30.

          2
          12/29
          Bedtime routine: diaper & jams downstairs, play in room, white noise, low light, book before crib, bottle before crib, sippy in crib, forgot toy to occupy, goodnight words.
          Cry: yell cry for one minute, fuss sob for 10 min.

          Woke at 2:20 for a bottle. Gave bottle, tried to leave while awake but crying escalated quickly. Stayed to pat to sleep. Decided to leave before asleep, cried out & quiet sobs for 3 minutes before quieting.

          3
          12/30
          Bedtime routine: food (dinner), diaper & jams downstairs, low lights & book in rocker w bottle, goodnight words, white noise & hum with bottle in bed, leave while awake. Cried for five min. Awoke 45 min later for a one minute fuss cry.

          4
          12/31
          Nap time: Walked away while tired but not wanting to lay down, pretending not tired. Laid him down, said time for nap goodnight, left him with bottle & sippy. Cried for under 3 min.

          Bedtime: dinner 7:30, diaper & jams downstairs, book on rocker, white noise, sippy in crib, bottle & hum, goodnight words, left while awake. Cry off and on for 15-20. STTN.

          5
          1/1/14
          Bedtime routine: dinner at 7:30, d&j downstairs, nightlight, book on rocker, white noise, into crib with bottle & sippy in bed, one song, goodnight words, left while awake. Cried out once but not until I got to the btm of the stairs, no crying after that, didn’t stand up in crib.
          Woke at 12:30 for bottle, left while awake with no crying (almost asleep). Woke at 4:30, gave bottle & left while taking bottle. Awake at 7:45.

          6
          1/2
          Nap time: quiet play in room, bottle in crib, left while awake, off & on crying out for less than 10 min.

          Bedtime routine. E left room at 7:42, hard loud sobs until 8:08.
          Woke for bottle at 11:45.

          7
          1/3/14
          Bedtime: a little later than normal. dinner, play, d&j downstairs. Book, white noise, singing, full bottle bedside, goodnight words, left room at 8:50. Cried out a couple times but quiet after one or two minutes.

          8
          1/4
          normal routine but turned off lamp, left room at 8:25, cried out once. Woke 12:30, offered some bottle, cried less one min. Woke 3:30, gave bottle, left after asleep.

          • Anna,

            For starters I wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing all these great details. If I’ve learned nothing else about sleep training it’s that everybody is desperately curious to know what happens when other people try it so this will be a huge comfort to literally thousands and thousands of people. Thanks for sharing!

            And although you didn’t ask for my opinion I’m going to share it anyway (I do this – it’s a terrible habbit). You will have far far better luck getting out of 2X a bottles a night if you change up your bedtime routine. Because this:

            “bottle & sippy in crib”

            Is working against you. See the post I link to below. A small tweak at bedtime will totally pay dividends in getting out of those night bottles. Promise!

            Cheers and thanks again :)
            Alexis
            Alexis Dubief recently posted..Why Sleep Training Didn’t WorkMy Profile

            • Well, I love your opinion, so thank you, Alexis! Eliminating the bedtime bottle is my next move. I’m really looking forward to STTN (crossing fingers).

              Thanks again for everything!

  5. Hi, my son is 11 months and a terrible sleeper ! He always has been up n down n not a good mapper unless I lay w him , not at night he wakes up n wants in bed (we share a room) well I started cry it out n first night he did good 25 min n slept on til morning but second night he cried for a min n threw up everywhere , .. Do I continue CIO w him , I’ve literally tried everything ! We stopped for few days to make sure he just wasn’t sick , but he does get bottle right before he goes In bc it’s what he’s been use to , should I change that?

  6. We have been attempting the CIO method with our 10 month old. Both my husband and I read your method and thought we followed it. Our son had reflux the first 8 months and has slept in his swing since birth. We tried moving him over to the crib from the swing, but he wasn’t having it. We finally ended up in CIO-ville and are hoping he will sleep in his crib, as he is a big boy and almost too heavy for the swing (we have already burned out two motors). His sleeping habits have progressively become worse. He use to sleep 5-6 hour stretches in the swing, and is now down to 2 hours in the swing. We have been doing CIO but he wont lay flat… he falls asleep sitting up and kind of sways back and forth catching himself in his sleep. He falls to the side or forward on his knees and wakes up crying. It was 2.5 hours of that and I finally went in and nursed him to sleep. We are beyond exhausted and feeling like complete failures… Any advice would be great!!

    • I’m wondering if you have a reflux issue? Meaning his tummy still hearts and the “wake every 2 hours” is about discomfort. Thoughts?

      Because if his tummy hurts NOTHING will work. Sadly…

      For starters a baby who is sleeping like crap in the swing is unlikely to do any better in the crib. I’m also open to him sleeping in the swing (even if it’s not moving) just to help keep him upright (assuming his tummy is bothering him).

      What can you do to help with tummy issues and/or rule out tummy pain as a contributing factor? Could he have outgrown the dose of his medication? Does he have a contributing food allergy? Thoughts?
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      • We wanted to try the crib because he keeps twisting in the swing to sleep sideways and wakes up crying all twisted in the swing belt. So we thought maybe not being able to move to get comfortable was part of the night time waking.

        I don’t think it is a tummy issue. I have cut out all dairy when he was a couple months old (that stopped most of his spitting up) and he is doing well on solid foods. During naps and day wake time he is not fussy or have crying fits like he did before I cut out the dairy. He seems to wake up mostly just to use me as a human binky. Falling back to sleep almost instantly when he has the nipple. He has refused bottles & binks from day one. No known food allergies, but sensitive to dairy in my breast milk, so have delayed introducing too much dairy into his diet. He has had very small amounts of cheese and yogurt and no issues.

        He is not on medication. Cutting dairy out of the diet seemed to solve most issues for him and the doctor didn’t feel that he needed it.

        He did stay asleep last night for 4.5 hours straight in the crib. He woke up twice to nurse throughout the night and went right back to sleep and stayed asleep in crib. It was one of the best nights for him in months (unfortunately I didn’t sleep because I was anxious through out this whole process). So, maybe we are starting to get somewhere?? Tried the bedtime routine, nursing, quite time and then putting him in crib. He is still sleeping sitting up… but he is sleeping. How long do you think before he will learn to lay down? I tried to show him how to go from sitting to laying down… sounds silly, but figured it couldn’t hurt.

        Thank you so much for taking the time to communicate with me, I really appreciate it.

        • I would try using a crib wedge. Symptoms are gone during the day because he is old enough to be upright during the day now. Laying down probably still bothers him. Crying also increases the pain of reflux.

  7. I have 3 kids – 7, 3, and nearly 9 months. I could never let my kids cry for more than 10 seconds before running immediately to them. I have breast fed all 3 to sleep, my older 2 were over 2 when I stopped. I let my 7 year old CIO for literally 7 minutes when she threw up and I could never do it again. I have been a human pacifier for my kids for 7 years. In the past month or so, my baby has been waking every hour on the hour. I have to sit in the room with my older 2 until they are completely asleep, and when they wake up in the middle of the night, they come and jump in between my husband and I. My baby’s cot is right next to my bed and on first waking (normally within half hour) I just put him in my bed and feed him. It’s a really crowded bed and the baby wakes EVERYONE up when he wakes each time. The whole family is exhausted. As I read this website through bloodshot eyes, I think it’s time for something drastic. So for anyone on their first baby is thinking “is this a good idea?”, do you really want a 7 year old that freaks out if she isn’t 110% asleep before you leave the room, then jumps into your bed in a couple hours anyway? I don’t think I’ll feel guilty for letting my baby CIO this time, but I do feel guilty for never teaching my 3 year old and 7 year old to sleep on their own.

    • Thank you Julie- your comment just helped ease some of the guilt I’m having on day 1 of this method. You are right, I will feel more guilty later if I don’t start this now. Thank you.

  8. So happy I stumbled upon this article!! I’ve been working on CIO with my now 5 month old (turned 5 months today), for the past 5 days. On the first night, she cried on and off for 45 mins, then fell asleep. Every night since then the crying spells have decreased greatly in length before her falling asleep.
    I’m also happy that you believe that CIO isn’t a good method for extinguishing night feedings. I’m using it because I really want her to learn to fall asleep without me, and so far it’s working!!
    I was unsure as to how to deal with putting her back to bed throughout the night, thanks for clearing that up!
    I think it’s safe to say that no loving/caring mother wants to hear her child cry, but we do want to give them good sleeping habits while they are young, don’t feel guilty!!

  9. Thank you for not making me feel like I am going to damage my son for letting him CIO! We had successfully trained out 13 month old, but over the holidays we got all out of whack. My husband is active duty and leaves for an 8 month+ deployment in a few weeks and his naps are terrible. Night time is CIO, and we are kind of doing it again which is going well, but during the day he basically naps however he wants- rocked to sleep, paci, napping with me etc. which obviously we need to break him of. Do you have tips for nap time CIO? I know you mentioned to hong this subject later, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it! I’m trying to do anything I can to get his sleep under control before my husband leaves as that will definitely shake things up for our son. Thank you!

    • Hi Julie-There are at least two similar comments from me somewhere on this website from like a year and a half ago pleading for the promised nap CIO post! I don’t know whether she is still thinking this through or has given up because there’s not good “formula” on this one. Either way, maybe I can reassure you a little? In our case it was good enough to get night sleep under control and just do whatever worked for naps. My son FINALLY ditched his pre-nap bottle at 14 months (bye bye breast pump finally), and started a slow transition from two naps to 1 around 15-16 months. By 18 months with no particular effort from us he was going down easily without help for a solid 2 hour daily nap and he’s still doing that now, 9 months later.

      Hang in there and do what you need to do for day naps and fingers crossed it will sort itself out!

  10. Hi! We did cio a month ago successfully. We had our little one falling asleep on his own at night and while he was up to eat about every 3-4 hrs he would fall back asleep quickly afterwards. He is 6 months old now and the past week has been so tough. I feel like I have a newborn again! He no longer seems to be able to self soothe at night or naps. After putting him down at night he will be up every 15-30 minutes screaming. The only way he will fall asleep is with help now and even then it takes up to two hours to get him down. After his first night feeding, he is usually up every hour until 5am at which point he is awake for the day. Three nights of fours hours of sleep and I am exhausted! I am at a complete loss on what to do! Any tips? We need some serious help.
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  11. Clarification for Cry it Out

    Hi Alexis,

    Thanks so much for your website and making Mommies not feel guilty for resorting to CIO as a last resort. I have a couple of questions I thought you may be able to clarify:

    1. The first night my little babe awoke for her night feed at 2:00. Usually she was up at 12:00 and 4:00 but this was awesome. It didn’t last! :( Last night she started to wake at 9:00, 11:30 and finally 12:15. So I let her CIO at 9:00 and 11:30 but gave her the feed for 12:15. Then she was up at 3:00, 3:30 and 5:00. I then fed her at 5:00. Do you think this is appropriate? I’m just not sure how to judge the times – as I was hoping to keep consistent so she was able to understand the pattern. Or should I just adjust for every 3.5 hours for 2 feeds after her first wake as that is what she is doing during the day?

    2. What temperature do you think is the best for a baby to sleep? I have been trying to keep it at 68 degrees. THoughts.

    THanks in advance.
    Jill
    :)

  12. Thank you so much for your advice! Your blog really helped me sleep train my twin girls! Cry it out is awesome! I blogged about the experience on my website and included a link to this page on my site to thank you! I’m hoping my friends with kids will come to your site and it will help them, too! Some of them could really use it! Keep it up! You are awesome!

    Check out my account if you like. Thanks again! :) http://jeanninegeise.wordpress.com/
    Jeannine Geise recently posted..Twin Mom in Praise of Cry it OutMy Profile

  13. Does anyone out there notice that you have to keep Crying-It-Out? Like, you succeeded in creating a bedtime routine, and your child adjusted and did well, and then every so often, it takes a full hour of crying to get them to fall asleep, when you had it so they could put themselves to sleep in around 10 mins before.
    My son is almost 7 months old, and we have worked up to CIO, beginning slowly at 4 months by establishing a bedtime routine and eliminating the nurse-sleep association (at least for bedtime)by about 5 months. It totally works. But does anyone else notice that you have to just “reintroduce” it sometimes?
    There was also a glorious period where I had him weaned from his 2 am ish nursing, and I had about 4 golden days of sleep. BAM! Teething. BAM! Ear infection. I just didn’t have the heart to make him CIO that one again during the sick times. And I had him CIO again after he was well for a couple nights, but I found it more painful than the first time,and he put up a real good fight!
    I’ll admit it, I’ve been weak. I remember this from my first child (now 3). CIO works, but it seems to be an ever evolving process, and not the quick band aid that many sleep books seem to suggest.

    Am I doing something wrong, or is that just the way it is, baby?

    • No. My son has never cried longer than 10 minutes and that was when we first started CIO. If he cries now it’s usually somewhere between 1 minute and 5 minutes.

    • I’m with you Jeanhallie.
      We often seem to have to do little sessions of CIO in the middle of the night, or sometimes (less commonly) at bedtime. I find it particularly hard if we’re travelling and staying with other people and I don’t want to let her cry too long in the middle of the night and wake everyone up. So I feed her, and that stuffs us up for about another week!

      That said, I’ve just figured out that I think I’m making one of the big mistakes Alexis mentions in her ‘Why isn’t sleep training working?’ article – I’m giving her a breastfeed right before I put her to bed at night, so I’m reinforcing the feed=sleep association, which is probably why she is still up a number of times during the night! At least I’m hoping that’s the reason!

      So yeah, I guess it’s not always as neat a solution as they say in the books!

  14. Ok, using swing method…still. Baby is 6 months, started three months ago. Pretty god at bedtime routine, putting down awake in swing. Can’t get past this stage, also baby wakes up consistent toy around 10-11 cries a lot, has to be picked up until calm, back to swing. Have gone to still swing a few times, even made it to crib for a week, but always back to swng, sometimes moving swing. Also, baby has been waking up every two to three hours and needs some extra swing jiggling. Just want to put my baby in a crib and have him fall asleep and stay asleep. Now what do I do. Scared shitless of trying CIO. Help!

  15. So, I was one of those parents that was against CIO for all the usual reasons. Well, my 8.5 month old is a darling, perfect, happy, genius little girl. However, she is one of those babies that has never put herself to sleep. That of course meant that her dad and I are zombies most days, especially recently because her night wakings have increased dramatically and bedtime takes forever. We were finally done. Tonight was the first CIO night. I wasn’t planning on it, but finally got fed up. I did her bedtime routine (being sure that I waited at least 20 minutes between bottle and crib). She played and babbled in her crib for the first 8 minutes and then the crying began. Her and I both cried. I thought for sure she’d get sick or start coughing or something else, but no. Just got mad and screamed, cried, and finally started taking breaks in between crying. Longer and longer breaks in between cries and then…silence. This was 28 minutes after the crying began. 28 MINUTES! I read that it normally takes around an hour so I was prepared for at least an hour, if not more. 28 minutes and I was making her dad check to be sure she was all right and asleep. She was fast asleep in her crib by herself. Without me. Without her dad. Without her bottle. I am stunned. And delighted. I will update over the next few days, but with this first CIO session under our belts, I feel ready to see this through. Thank you SO much!

    • Replying to my own post to give an update. Tonight was CIO night number 2. Did our bedtime routine the same as last night. Laid her in her crib with a lovey tonight. I walked out of the room, made it down the hall and heard two whimpers. Then she hit her crib a few times and I thought she was either going to start playing like last night, or start wailing. Silence. That’s all. I laid her in her crib at 6:48pm. She did not make a peep after 6:59. 10 minutes. No crying – just a couple of whimpers. I checked on her at 7:15 to be sure she was all right. She was (and is) sleeping soundly laying on her side with her lovey. I know this might not be the norm for us, but two nights in a row and I am elated!

      • Oh Elise that is fantastic news!

        Things don’t always go smoothly. And things aren’t always planned out in detail (I actually adore the fact that you weren’t planning on it but just hit the wall and there you were). But things couldn’t have gone better!

        Great work – congratulations :)
        Cheers,
        Alexis
        Alexis Dubief recently posted..When Babies Drop Naps and What to Do About itMy Profile

        • I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but she slept the entire night (11 hours straight!) on her second night of cry it out. Her naps have also been better yesterday and today. I really think it’s because she was getting sleep deprived and everything was getting off track. Now that she’s well rested, she’s much easier to put down for naps. I can’t thank you enough! I’ll update again tonight after night #3! I’ll stop updating after that, though. :)

          • Okay, last and final update. Night 3 of cry it out was last night. Again she didn’t really cry, she just protested for 90 seconds. Yep. 90 seconds. Not 90 minutes….seconds. Her dad said she woke up twice during the night and sort of whimpered, but went back to sleep. I didn’t hear her, so it must have not been bad at all. Again she slept 11 hours. I actually slept 7 hours last night. I literally can’t remember when I had 7 hours of sleep in a row last. I felt amazing this morning, even though I wake up at 4am for work. I can not thank you enough for creating this website.

            • Hi Elise,

              your story gives me hope. Even though my baby girl is only 3 months old, we are desperate for her to sleep even just 5/6 hours in a row. I made the mistake to never really put her down awake and rock her to sleep often..so now my husband and I are her prop, but I’d love to do Controlled crying at 4 months..I am only worried about sleep regression..No idea when it’s a perfect time but will not wait until she READY as I think that that time might never come! Will keep you posted.

  16. Hi there. I am wanting to start your CIO method as my son will be 6 months next week. He has demanded vigorous rocking to sleep which takes up to 1 hour for each nap and bed time. On my side is that bedtime is 7pm, always has been. Routine is good EXCEPT the bottle to bed for every nap and nitey nitey time. I have read alot of your stuff here and agree and am ready. Here is the kicker though. My son is the world’s worst bottle drinker. He doesn’t drink nice and as a result needs tons of burping, will sometimes hold onto burps and thus won’t settle, and in holding burps will not finish a bottle everytime. In writing this, I have partly answered my own query which is What about the burping thing? What if your child is a fussy eater?. I guess by moving the bottle ahead to not be included in bedtime routine is partly the answer. But there are times when even after burping for 30-60 minutes, he is still holding on to some burp in the depth’s. I will do the change to the routine and put the bottle in first before it starts. Any advice for me would be helpful. I am soooo sick of rocking and bumping him to sleep that this has to be the answer. Is it too early to do this? Thanks in advance,

    Rocking away to crazyiness in Canada,

    Holly

    • I just wanted to say thank you!!!!! I am on day 4 of the cio method and am so happy! My little guy sometimes cries for 10 minutes, once for an hour, or just talks to himself and goes to sleep. I took away the bottle as part of any nap or bedtime routine like you said, added more to our bedtime routine, and made sure 20 minutes bottle was done before bed. I am so glad I did this. I enjoy him so much more now that I don’t have to rock him for an hour 5 times a day and nite. Others should really take heed to your advice and understand that cio is not the end of the world. I am a second time around mom so it was easier. I understand a first time mom being leery and thinking that they are torturing their child but from an experienced Mom, you are NOT! Start at 5.5 months like I did, it makes it way easier, they sort of just flow with it. Grumpy? Yes, at times, but he already knows its bedtime when the swaddle goes on, the white noise starts and he gets a kiss.

      Holly in BC Canada
      Holly recently posted..When Babies Drop Naps and What to Do About itMy Profile

  17. Thank you for this wonderful website. In January, my son turned 10 months old. We decided it was time to start sleep training. He was EBF and waking up 4-5 times a night.

    I tried the full extinction method and the other suggestions from this site. He now sleeps wonderfully. He usually goes to bed at 7:30 and sleeps until 5:30, which is when I get up for work. He rarely wakes up in the middle of the night now.

  18. Hi there.
    I just wanted to share my experience since I’ve been reading all these posts for advice. I am the mother of a 6 month old who is addicted to nursing himself to sleep. I was VERY hesitant about using the CIO method. The last thing I wanted to do was mess with my little guys brain development. However, after night 6 of me sitting in his room patting him and shhhhshing to help him sleep, I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any good. He was awake for hours crying and he never slept longer than an hour.

    We decided to try CIO (full extinction) and after hugs, kisses and I love you, I put him in his crib and walked out. He cried and I cried BUT after only 15 minutes he fell asleep!!!! AND he slept ALL night!!! I haven’t slept like that since before my pregnancy. He even naps better now.
    I know now that I am not ‘damaging’ him as some people would suggest. In fact, I am helping him by encouraging him to develop self soothing strategies as well as providing him with the proper amount of sleep required for a baby’s developing brain.

  19. Help! My 8 month old falls asleep nursing during her night feedings, but then when I try to put her down in her crib, she wakes up again! It doesn’t seem to matter if I’ve held her for 15-20 mins or more, as soon as she hits the mattress, she wakes up. What should I do? Is CIO an OK option to get her back to sleep afterwards? She won’t go back to nursing again when I offer the breast and rocking back to sleep doesn’t work either. The worst is if she wakes around 5:30-5:45, nurses for 12-15 mins, then stays on me 15 mins or more. If it’s after 6 or 6:30 when this happens, should I just let her stay up? I’m trying to get her to sleep later, like maybe 7am and eventually 7:30.

    • Sounds just like my almost 8 month old! This is night four of CIO and it really sucks! Each night he cries for between 40 and 70 minutes of heartwrenching, hysterical cries before falling asleep. The past two nights he has slept from 7 until just past midnight. Then he nurses, falls asleep nursing and wakes up the instant I lay him down. I tried swaddling before nursing but this did not work. The very first night he woke up more often, nursed a few times and fell asleep more easily once back in the crib (max 13 minutes of crying on and off). But the past two nights, after his first feeding, he cries on and off for two hours!! I cannot figure out why! He then has woken up just after 4am, nursed and settled with a minimal amount of crying.

      Part of the reason we started CIO was because his naps were getting bad. This is a baby who has been held in arms in a dark bathroom with the fan on, songs sung, and swaying or bouncing to induce sleep since he was about two months old. Also, I ended up holding him for naps because he would wake up when I tried to put him in the crib. He slept with me all night and was latched on for a good portion of it, especially when teething. To say he has strong sleep associations is putting it mildly.

      I knew it would be bad, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Any insights or advice or commiserating would be very much appreciated.

      PS – I wish I had started making changes months ago! I was so caught up in getting him the right amount of sleep in preparation for sleep training that I actually sabotaged any sleep training I could have been doing along the way.

      Please help!
      From a desperate mom

      • UPDATE:
        For anyone who read the above, thought you might like to hear about some improvements. Firstly, what we changed:
        1. no more solids at supper because I was worried that he was having trouble digesting in the middle of the night
        2. REALLY worked on day naps and held him for two two hour naps during the day
        3. Put him down an hour later than usual at 7pm due to a really late second nap

        Which leads us to night 5 and some improvements.
        It still took him 40 minutes to fall asleep but that is the least amount of time it has ever taken him.

        First wake up around 8:30; cried about 10 minutes to fall back asleep.

        Second wake up at 10:30pm. Time to nurse since he last ate at 5:30pm. Wrapped him up, nursed as mech as I could (compression used to keep him feeding). Put him in crib asleep but he woke up and cried hard then on and off but not for more than 15 minutes.

        Another two wake ups with minimal crying ona nd off for less than 10 minutes each. Made it past the dreaded midnight hour.

        Third major wake up at 3:30am for another nursing. Did not organically fall asleep. Cried when laid down, again on and off for about 15 minutes? Not sure because I tried to fall asleep.

        Awake again at 5:30am which is a normal time for him to be up for the day. Did not nurse with me sitting up or laying down in bed so changed his diaper and put him in the swing. Cried so I jiggled him ffrom behind, shushed loudly, and laid my hand on his chest. He settled so I laid down in my bed in same room. HE WAS QUIET UNTIL 8:30AM. Total miracle in my opinion. Have been trying the swing for day naps but has not been working.

        I think his nights improved because of the massive day naps. I am hoping that he starts napping in the swing but if not will hold him to ensure good sleep until he is falling asleep better at night.

        Alexis: I would LOVE to hear your opinion on what I have been doing. I think I have read every article on this website and refer to it constantly. Thank you for providing so many details – this is what Weisbluth and others are totally lacking.

  20. Hi!
    I am looking for some advise- My 19 month old still gets rocked to sleep and was sleeping throughout the night but was sick and now things she should be sleeping in my bed. she is up twice a night and wants bottles. I did CIO when she was younger and it worked however Im worried she is hungry during the night. She also has a habit of throwing up because she knows we will come into her room. I am feeling stuck as to what I should do first- eliminate the bottles than the rocking or everything?
    Thanks

    • Hi Chelsea, I think you need to stop rocking her to sleep. And definitely not let her sleep in your bed all night. Unless you are happy with the situation, of course. I have 24 month old twins and I learnt the hard way not to let bad habits continue on. I think she would be old enough to understand there are some rules around bed time. Yes, there would be a few tough nights of tears, but she will soon settle down once she knows what to expect. You need to be consistent with whatever you enforce so that she doesn’t get confused. At about 20 months my twins insisted on having three bottles a night. I hoped and hoped that they would grow out of it but that didn’t happen. Once they got to 22 months old, I had enough. I set a date and kept telling them that they would be no more milk at night and they could have milk in the morning. The first week was tough, lots of tantrums and tears. But I would cuddle and talk lovingly to them, so they knew I wasn’t abandoning them. After a week, they settled down and now sleep from 8.30pm to 5.30am, have a bottle of milk, then go back to sleep for another 2 hours. No more wake ups at night, except for one drink of water around 2am and straight back to sleep without messing around.
      I hope it helps you in your decision making.

      • Oh sorry, and yes, one of my twins used to vomit too if she cried lots. I just cleaned her up and continued to show her love during her crying. But I just wouldn’t perpetuate the undesirable habit.

  21. Hi. Its been 9 months, 2 weeks and 3 days since I’ve had any sleep. I thought I was going insane, I’ve cried every day in the shower when ever I’ve had a chance to shower. I stumbled on this website after much research and nothing had worked up to now. You explain in detail everything and I am extremely grateful. I have no one to turn to, no parents, sisters, friends or neighbors to assist me with my 9 month old son. I was so frustrated, angry, tired, sooooo tired until today. I tried CIO last night, it was hard but I read your page and re-read it especially when you wrote in capital letters DON’T GIVE UP! and you were right, he cried 43 min the 1st night and tonight 19 minutes. Just like you said he would. I wasn’t sure what to think about CIO but my son and I had for the first time a really good day today. He was happy, rested and above all I realized I really love him. He is not just trouble. All this time it was me, not him. I was always doing what I thought was right, running to him every time he cried, feeding him constantly, sleeping next to him, trying to comfort him and all I got was crying every hour on the hour. Until NOW. I realized that all I needed to do is let him cry at night and eventually he would fall asleep and get a good night rest. (of course, following your other recommendations for CIO) If it wasn’t for this website I don’t think I could have began to enjoy motherhood but even though its just the 2nd night I now have faith and I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
    Fingers crossed!.
    Thanks again, you saved my life and sanity.

  22. I’m wondering if any of you have some insight/experience with my situation.

    I work in retail full time so my schedule varies and I have to close my store 2-3 nights a week. My husband does bedtime when I’m not there at night. My husband works four 10 hour shifts Monday-Thursday,home at 6 each day. I take my two days a week off on days my husband works so we only need daycare two days a week.

    My 8 month old has all the textbook issues described throughout this site. He has a set bedtime of 6:30 and wakes up at 6 a.m. each morning. He wakes up to nurse typically at 10:30, 1, and 4. I thought I’d tackle getting him to put himself to sleep first, night weaning next.

    Here’s my problem:
    My husband has had a good grip on putting baby down awake for a couple of months now and baby easily falls asleep on his own. But I have always nursed him to sleep. Baby is smart enough to know what’s what.

    So I decided it was time for CIO for me. I started Friday and he cried for 16 minutes, fell asleep, then woke as normal. I closed the store Saturday, so hubby put baby to bed. Last night I was home so I tried again. 75 minutes in, I caved and knocked him out with about 9 seconds of boob time.

    I’m wondering how my schedule comes into play here? How do I conquer this?

    Having hubby put him down every night isn’t an option. He knows when I’m home and won’t let hubby near him, so that would be a CIO no matter what. Plus I need him to go to sleep equally well for me.

    Ideas?

    Thanks for reading :)

  23. My 6 mo old is on day 16 of CIO, full extinction, and she is still crying for up to 1 hour before she falls asleep. It has been difficult and I don’t know how to get her to fall asleep faster.

    I attempted the no-cry method at first. I bed shared with her as a newborn until about 8 weeks, then moved her to co-sleeper beside the bed. Next, she was in her crib in our room at 4 months, and was planning to move the crib into the nursery next but then the 4 month sleep regression happened. I ended up on a mattress in the nursery bed sharing and nursing her to sleep. I was still bed sharing and nursing her to sleep up until she was 6 months. Then I found this website, and introduced the swing for naps (success, btw) but was already full into the object permanence (night wakings every 30 minutes, immediately waking up and freaking out if I snuck away), so opted to go the CIO method at bedtime to end the bed sharing/nursing to sleep.

    Sample bedtime routine:
    Boob, bath, pyjamas, book and quiet play, sleep sac, white noise on, good night kisses, in crib. Takes 20-30 minutes.

    We just dropped our evening nap a few days ago and she just started napping for 1+ hours per nap as a result. Her last nap of the day is from 2-4pm or so. She was a 30 min cat napper previously.

    She is a VERY distracted girl and does not always get a good feed in before bath time. I usually offer a few times up to just before her book/quiet play, but she does not always go to bed on a full tummy. It makes me feel bad, but we are trying hard to stop the suck=sleep association.

    And of course, a week into CIO, we hit the 6 mo growth spurt and regressed. I bed shared one of the nights as it was rough (20 minute crap naps). Then the daylight savings time change occurred, AND I think she may have had a bout of teething in the last week as well. Ugh, horrible timing.

    The one and only “successful” night was when we accidentally kept her up late and we did bath at 8:15, and bed at 8:45. She was out cold after 15 minutes of crying. She had a cat nap of 10 minutes at about 6:30 that day. But this was a few days after the growth spurt and it may have been because the growth spurt ended.

    Now, I may be back sleeping in my own bed, but she is crying up to 1 hour before she falls asleep, then she is up for feedings every few hours all night. Usually 10:30pm, 1:30am, 3am, 5am, awake at 7:45. Admittedly, I usually rush right in and scoop her up and nurse/rock her back to sleep, but she is usually wide awake when I come into her room after she calls out.

    I think I’m going to try keeping her up late again and see if I can reproduce that one 15 minute result.

    I need advice on:
    - how to lessen the crying at bedtime, or will she cry for 30 min + forever?
    - how to keep her asleep longer (not ready to night wean yet, but 1-2 times is better then 4)

    LOVE this blog… Thank you, Alexis!
    Cara Empey recently posted..Pediatrics Study on White Noise: Sounding Off on Sound MachinesMy Profile

  24. Hi Alexis!
    My son has been doing great with the CIO method. He still goes to sleep after only 10 minutes of tears.
    My question is: What do I do in the middle of the night when he wakes up crying? Sometimes I just leave him cry-because i am confident that he is not hungry or wet. But how long is too long to let a 7 month old cry?

    Thank you for all your advice,
    Jess
    Jess recently posted..Pediatrics Study on White Noise: Sounding Off on Sound MachinesMy Profile

  25. Mike & Christina

    Hi Alexis (And readers),

    We have had a colicky, GERD baby who has never been a good sleeper. Now that she is almost 8 months old and the medical issues are getting better, we have decided to sleep train her using CIO. So far she has done pretty well. In a few weeks we will be traveling for a long weekend (3 nights) and staying at a hotel. We’d love any advice you have on how to preserve her good sleep training habits without disturbing all our hotel neighbors. Or undoing all the training we just did!

  26. We’re on about night 5 or 6 of CIO and my 8.5 month old is still crying 30-60 minutes every night…I don’t know what to do….we are following your instructions but it’s not getting better….is there anything I can do to help her? Will it ever get better??

  27. Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been struggling with whether or not to night wean and cry it out at Naptime during the beginning phases if the cry it out process. Three nights of 1-2 20 minute crying sessions and our little girl has slept 11 hours for the past two nights! This is amazing, given she was cosleeping and nursing (literally) 5-6 hours/night – yes, hours… I was a human pacifier. It’s so hard to hear her cry, but when I switched my thinking from believing I was cruel to believing I was having confidence in my child’s abilities, it changed everything.

  28. Hello fellow sleep deprived mommies!

    I have a 5 month old who has been a challenge in the sleeping department since birth (that’s an understatement – he’s a terrible sleeper but surprisingly a generally happy little boy. Lately I’m rocking him to bed for at least 40 minutes before he falls asleep and then usually he’s up in 10 minutes and I have to start the process over again. Then his longest sleep is maybe 2.5 hours. Hence, I’m exhausted. I started CIO on Monday night. He wailed for over 2 hours. I went in rubbed his chest and would leave again within a minute or 2. It was brutal. I won’t lie. He became more upset when I came in and then left again. Anyway, he finally gave in and fell asleep. Night #2 about 20 minutes of crying. Was up at midnight (fed him), then 2 (let him CIO for 20 minutes) then up at 6. Night #3 – Was asleep by 8:30 and slept until 5 am when I heard him vigorously sucking on his fist and then eventually crying. I went and got him, fed him and put him back down. Slept for another 1.5 hours.

    Now here’s he kicker. Last night was night #4. Cried for about 25 minutes. I went in and rubbed his chest and gave him his sucky (which in general he doesn’t particularly care for) and didn’t hear from him again (this was at 8:30). However. I woke up to him howling at 11. After 10 minutes of it I went in and rubbed his chest and did that a few more times for the next 2 hours – yes, 2 HOURS!!! I finally picked him up and fed him and put him back down and he cried for another hour. :( woke up at 5 again and I fed him and then he slept for another 1.5 hours. The one thing I noticed last night (I think, I’m so tired that I’m not even sure I believe myself sometimes) is that he wasn’t sucking his hand/fist. The other nights I could tell he was really sucking them to soothe. I guess my question is – is this a normal part of the whole CIO sleep training or am I doing something really wrong?!?! Any advice etc would be appreciated. Any other moms go through this???

    • I would love to know if anyone has some insight here, because your baby sounds like my 4.5 month old! We haven’t started CIO yet, but we most likely will within the next month or so and though we’re desperate for a full night’s sleep, I’m terrified of scenarios like this! Good luck and keep us posted!

      • Hi Carrie!!

        I come with hope for you too! Day 5 was a few minutes of grumbling and fell asleep within 10 minutes. Didn’t hear from him until 6 am (and I put him to bed at 8). The last 2 days he’s awoken at night 2 times but falls asleep within 10-15 minutes again. I don’t go in. I just lay in bed and wait until I hear him stick his fist in his mouth. I’m hoping within a few more days he’ll break the habit and jut stick the hand in the mouth immediately. But hey, it’s WAY better than getting up 4-5 times a night to feed. Good luck! Keep us posted on how it goes. Night 1 of CIO is sh$:@y for sure. But it’s only 1 night towards some much needed sleep! Take care!!

  29. Reading all these 3 day success stories has me stressed. We are on Day 19 of CIO after trying everything else. The first day my 9 month old cried for 25 minutes before falling asleep, the next day was 20 minutes, the next was 10-15, and every night since has been about 10 minutes of crying- 7 or so of screaming and then 3-5 of wimpering to sleep. She screams the minute I lay her down (awake) after a long bedtime routine of bath, breast feed, book, then lights out rocking and singing. I lay her down when her eyes are droopy but she is awake. There was some night waking in the first few days (she hasn’t had milk at night since 3 months or so), but after that she’s been sleeping until 5:30 am or so, and then coming to our bed to eat and usually go back to sleep for a bit, and is up for the day around 6:30-7 (bedtime is 7-7:30 pm). We lay with her in our bed for naps, and she sleeps about 2-3 hours a day.

    My question is, will the nighttime crying ever stop? Is 10 minutes a normal length of crying? I just sit and stare at the monitor every night depressed until she finally gives up.

    Is her bedtime too early? Is she confused because we stay with her for naptime but not at night? Do I just need to deal with the 10 minutes of crying and enjoy the nighttime sleep?

    Thank you!

    • Totally normal and it will stop one day! i promise! My DD did the same thing and now asks me to go to bed :) shes 26 months…i’m going through a similiar situation with my 6 month ds…but in the last week that 10 minutes has gone down to like 1 minute, i promise there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you’re doing a great job!

      • I just wanted to say that…

        1) Sara, it is LOVELY of you to offer such kind support Kim. Thank you so much :)

        and

        2) Kim this is TOTALLY normal. This is not weeks of CIO. This is baby learning to sleep and complaining at bedtime because she – like every other child that has ever existed – doesn’t WANT to go to bed. She WANTS to hangout with you all the time. But she NEEDS sleep.

        10 minutes is nothing. She’s just letting you know she isn’t keen on separating and sleeping. She’s not verbal enough to complain so she cries. In a year or so she’ll say “No sleep mommy!” My 4 yo still maintains he doesn’t feel like sleeping and then 10 minutes later is out like a light. This is what kids do!
        Alexis recently posted..Pediatrics Study on White Noise: Sounding Off on Sound MachinesMy Profile

  30. Hi Alexis,
    We started ‘your’ method and I would appreciate your opinion on how it’s going and what I plan to do next.
    First, this is our special situation:
    Two girls, almost 3 and 1.5 years, sleep in same room, on same floor. Older one has always had separation anxiety from us at night, but more so from her mom since I am the stay at home dad. She wants to go to sleep in our bed, but we manage to snuggle her to sleep in her own bed and sneak out. She would wake up around the time we go to bed and comes over. I tried forever to put her back in her own bed, but that just kept me running around the house all night. Her sister sleeps fine. Always went to bed with a bottle and stayed asleep for 12 hours. Of course, she needed to find her bottle again in the night when she woke up to fall asleep again.
    I didn’t convince my wife to follow your approach, but she let me start it 2 nights ago.
    We did the routine (daytime naps, food and bottles before bath, and stories etc. in bedroom) and left them alone awake and without bottles, white noise only (as always). They both do not sleep in cribs but in toddler beds so I first locked the door. They banged on the door for a while (I was watching on the monitor) and I went in the first time as the older one (Johanna) started pushing the younger one (Annalise). For the given reasons, full extinction is not an option for us. Johanna was quite upset for locking the door on them (She demanded a sincere apology :) and I said I would leave it unlocked but she would have to stay in bed. Annalise is too young to open the door alone. They were asleep (in the same bed) after 35 minutes. Johanna came into our room again about 4 hours later and stayed with us.
    Same procedure on night #2 took almost one hour. Johanna was shivering and wanted to see her mom, which I painfully denied. They opened the door about 4 times and I put them back into their beds. My wife, of course, argued she would have had them asleep, peacefully, much faster the old way. I managed to keep her from going back in, though. Especially Johanna though sees and understands exactly that I am ‘the mean one’ in this as she can tell my wife isn’t 100% on board. That makes the process more difficult and drags it out, I am afraid.
    My wife has a very busy job and needs a good sleep at night. I am convinced that if we can keep the kids out of our room our overall ‘happiness’ will improve.
    Here are my questions:
    1. Was locking the door mean? Should I do it again?
    2. Should I install a latch at that door so it opens only an inch or two for their peace of mind? It would also prevent Johanna from leaving the room at night and coming into our bed.
    3. Johanna is fully potty trained and is used to getting up in the night to go to the toilet. Should we go back to letting her pee in the pull-up in the night?
    4. If I install that latch Johanna will wake up Annalise screaming for us (at least in the first days or weeks) and CIO will begin all over. Is that going to be working for us? Just let it happen for 20 minutes and watch the monitor?
    I appreciate your input very much!
    Hendrik

  31. Alexis and others,

    I need some guidance, please.

    My 6 mo needs to be sleep trained. He can put himself asleep from awake most nights with less than ten minutes of crying.

    But he wakes all night (4-5 times) and cannot put himself back to sleep without bring rocked. He’s down to one night feeding – nursing about five minutes.

    We used to be able to rock him to sleep and put him in the crib, but the past few nights, every time we put him down, he screams. So now we are holding him for hours at a time overnight.

    This has to stop.

    Problem is, we are going out of town in two weeks. We will be sharing a condo with H’s family. One of which is vehemently opposed to any crying.

    Should I try to ST him for these awful night wakings in two weeks? Or muddle through somehow until we are back?

    We tried sleep training at five months, and it was a disaster. So I’m not very optimistic about it.

    What would you do?

  32. I have a quick question. My daughter is 16 months and we have been bed sharing. We are all ready to get some good sleep. I have changed her crib into a toddler bed. I’m concered about CIO in her bed that she will get out of bed during this and end up sleeping not in her crib. Should I put her back in her crib for this process?

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