I am the Official CIO Spokesperson. Apparently.

I am the Official CIO Spokesperson. Apparently.

Almost every day I get an email just like this:

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

PS. I’m not comfortable with cry it out.

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

There are a few things I know from reading these even though it may not be explicitly stated in the email:

1

Their baby is not falling asleep on their own.

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

2

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

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

3

Their baby is chronically sleep deprived.

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

4

They’ve dabbled with CIO

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

5

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

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

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

Too Big for the Swing

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

It’s Time for CIO

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

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

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

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

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


85 Comments


  1. I stand beside you in support of CIO. It was a very difficult decision to come to with both our girls but wow – it was necessary. As parents, It is so hard to hear our little love bugs crying but sometimes it is what is needed to help the babe teach themselves how to go to sleep and how to go BACK to sleep.

    Well said, Madam CIO Spokesperson.

    • You and I might be a bit lonely then. Was doing some research on CIO this morning and I searched for “when is the right time for CIO” – I had to go through HUNDREDS of search results (Google) that were all of the “CIO is evil!” variety before I found anything that even remotely came close to providing guidance on the topic.

      *sigh*
      Alexis recently posted..I am the Official CIO Spokesperson. Apparently.My Profile

      • Hi Alexis! Thank you for your website! How long should Ferberizing take? I am on day 12 and my 8 month old still cries 30 minutes HARD before falling asleep. She also cries some in the middle of night. I do dream feeds at 9 and 3. Prior to today was nursing before putting down to bed. naps have been bad (30 min of crying, 20-40 min of napping). I know CIO is bad for naps but Ferber says let them cry for 30 min. oh….and I am an attatchment parent (a failed one in the sleep area :-()From 3.5-7.5 we coslept. I am feeling discouraged…I hate for her to cry but I had to get some sleep myself and also time with my husband.
        Elizabeth

        • 30 minutes is a little unusual but not totally out of bounds. This could be simply the best you can do. But I’m wondering if bedtime isn’t slightly too early/late. If you’re having a hard time getting a 3rd nap in (often a challenge at 8 months) but she is taking short naps all day it could be that she’s heading into bedtime OVER tired and that would make it hard for her to fall sleep.

          So I would look at “how tired is she at bedtime” and if the answer is “too much” or “not enough” maybe you need to make some adjustments.

          Good luck!
          Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

          • Thank you for your reply Alexis! I appreciate your time so very much. Bc of short naps, my baby is over-tired. That very well may be the cause of crying. When I coslept with her for naps, she took 2-3 solid naps each day. Now only 2-3 short naps (30 min). Bedtime is 530-550 and she is TIRED. I wonder if maybe I will try bedtime at 515 for a while. also, to help with exhaustion, I am considering driving her for her naps for the next few days. I worry cosleeping/nursing naps will worsen crying at night. She is tenacious (refuses bottle even when very hungry!!), but I do hope her crying will decrease at night. Thank you again for your website and your support…and your humor:-). Elizabeth

            • 5:00 PM bedtime is WAY early. Is she sleeping till 6+? I have to believe a bedtime that early is leading to a really early morning no? And if she goes to bed at 5:00 PM and starts the day super early (4:30 AM?) then everything is shifted off course.

              What about forcing a 3rd nap with a stroller ride or car ride? Doesn’t have to be long – even 15 minutes is often enough to “take the edge” off. If you can make this happen I would gradually push bedtime back to something post-6:30. See if that doesn’t solve the crying issue. Good luck!
              Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

            • Ok thanks– Will NOT make bedtime earlier and will do the car ride for third nap. Do you agree that nursing/cosleeping for naps may increase the crying at night? It would definitely get her a nap (and me a nap!) but I worry she would cry more at night. And no worries if you are not able to respond to this– I know you are busy and have already given me some great points to go on! ~Elizabeth

            • PS she usually sleeps in the morning until 545-645 range. She falls asleep about 6-615 at night (after 30 min of crying). Sometimes she does wake up at 520…but usually only if there is a big poo poo in her diaper…I would wake up too!

  2. Here’s an easy question, then, but only marginally related to CIO… in that it has to do with sleeping…

    So while we were doing things like letting our baby cry it out, we also had him in a pitch-black room with a sound machine generating the sound of steady rain all night. I watch him obsessively on the monitor and it bugs me to see him when he wakes up floundering around trying to find his lovey, or floundering around looking for the crib walls, or just whining and then staring blindly into the darkness hoping for a sign, reaching his arms into the darkness, etc.

    My question is, when can we start using a night light and do you have any sense for how much that could (initially) be disruptive to his whole sleep routine? It sounds really trivial but, for the most part, our sleep routines are working and I’m afraid to screw anything up.

    Thanks, MA

    • Oh Matt, do NOT get a nightlight! Seriously, they should be renamed UpAllNightLights. If you put a small light in his room you might as well drink some vampire blood as neither of you will be sleeping again.

      Or you could put in a nightlight. Because nightlights are fine and aren’t going to make a difference to anybody ;)
      Alexis recently posted..Your Nemesis, The Short NapMy Profile

      • Wow I feel stupid posting this because I have read enough of your posts/replies to thoroughly get your sense of funny…but I’m sleep deprived so I don’t get it. As I sit in our room pumping after a marathon “getting baby back to sleep” sesh, I’m looking over at the nightlight streaming out from our bathroom and the projected rotating night sky on our ceiling above our slowly swinging baby and am wondering if this is where we’ve gone wrong. Are these nightlights a big no-no? I did go to a hell of a lot of expense putting in the most bad ass blackout curtains ever into our room, so I guess having these two light sources does kind of defeat the purpose…but honestly it never occurred to me that these two artdficial lights could be part of the problem (as well as the glow of the iPad I’m typing on right now). Again, I blame the sleep deprivation. Should I kill the lights and hide under my covers the way I used to do with my trusty flashlight and Babysitters Club book? Please advise… I’d like a serious non-contradictory answer before I attempt moving this little beast into his own room that is already equipped with a Darth Vader night light…Yeah, I know…DV might not have been the best choice. Thank you!

        • Sorry if my lame attempt at humor just comes off as confusing :P OK so no joke…

          Almost EVERYBODY has a night light in baby’s room. This is how we are able to peek in on them :)And it’s totally fine to have a night light.

          What you want to AVOID however is two things:
          1) Anything on a timer. So if your rotating night sky runs ALL night long that’s probably just fine. If it turns off after 30 minutes you could run into object permanence problems. Make sense?

          2) BRIGHT light. Because light actually disrupts our body’s ability to produce melatonin (a sleep hormone). So being in the dark actually helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Some people, for example, try to “treat” their older children’s night fears by keeping the bedroom brightly lit all night. Which hopefully scares off the goblins but also makes it really really hard to sleep.

          So if your baby’s bedroom is lit up so brightly you could easily read a novel in there, that’s probably working against you. If it’s just enough so that you can comfortably navigate without bumping into things, it’s just fine.

          I doubt highly that your sleep problems are related to “too much light.” So the Darth Vadar night light is probably AOK :)
          Alexis recently posted..Weaning Baby Off the SwingMy Profile

          • Thanks, Alexis. After a long conversation with our faithful and amazing nurse/lactation consultant, we’re thinking Holden just might be the poster child for silent reflux. If that’s the case than HOPEFULLY there is a semi easy fix. Well be calling our pediatrician ASAP.

  3. Hello! I am very thankful for finding this blog. It is very helpful! (I am from Croatia – sorry for bad english). Our little baby has big problems with daily sleeping. One nap lasts for about half an hour and after that, when she is awake, she cries the whole time because she is sleepy. She falls asleep by herself with white noise and little crying, but she can’t make that turn into a deeper sleep. So we’ve decided for her good to start CIO after that half an hour. She is only 2 months, but I think she can handle it.

    • Alexis is the expert on this site but, in case she doesn’t get back to you soon, you should really do some more research into whether 2 months is old enough. I am a reluctant CIO supporter (we used CIO for our 6.5-month-old) but I think a lot of doctors that suggest CIO would say that your baby might be too young. In a nutshell, it’s not clear that babies that young are able to learn to sleep that way – in general, babies younger than 4 months are not neurologically mature enough to settle and console themselves — please be careful!!!

      • Thanks on replying. I have friends who have practiced CIO with their babies from the day they were born. They did it after reading “Baby Wise”. They had no sleeping problems after that and their babies are now 8 and 10 years old. One other lady I know practiced CIO with her 1 month old baby and now has no sleeping problems. She did it afer reading “Contented little baby book”. What I don’t understand is how my little baby can sleep 8 hours during the night widouth waking up, but can’t sleep longer than 45min during the day. :/

        • I didn’t realize from your earlier post that your baby sleeps so well at night — As I said, I think Alexis will have many good suggestions on the napping (a lot of them are already in her earlier blog posts).

          Funny the two books you mention – I’ll be curious to see what Alexis thinks. Babywise is probably one of the more controversial books and I think you’ll find a lot of pediatricians that take issue with the book’s feeding schedule, in particular (not to mention the Ezzo’s qualifications… or lack thereof). The Contented Little Baby also contains some dubious suggestions. Of course, both books also have some helpful info — it’s a little bit hard to distinguish.

          “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth is a significantly more reliable guidebook. There are enough good resources available that it seems unnecessary to spend time on the controversial stuff.

        • Forgot to mention — lots of babies respond well to schedules and routines — I also know people who used Contented Little Baby and their kids slept very well from a young age. However, that could be a correlation and not causation, and I’m not sure you should conclude that crying it out was the way those babies learned to sleep. At 2 months old, that would be very unusual.

          • I didn’t know that those books were so controversial.
            It seems that we found out why our baby isn’t sleeping enough during the day – she is hungry! After nursing I gave her some extra milk that I have expressed the day before and she ate it all. After that she slept for an hour and a half. After that I expressed some more milk and gave it to her after next nursing. Then she took a nap that lasted for 3 and a half hours! I just put her into her crib and she slept, without crying.

            • Congratulations for solving the root issue for your baby being unhappy! (and also for doing so without crying ;).

              I don’t know what sort of resources there are in Croatia but NOW it would be great to get somebody who could help you with nursing. Babies should get what they need from you directly. You shouldn’t need to nurse, express extra milk and then feed her THAT milk. She may just need a little help learning how to get it all directly from your body so you don’t have to maintain this nurse/pump/bottle schedule. Anyway good luck with everything!
              Alexis recently posted..Healthy Mom Happy MomMy Profile

        • Goga (and anybody else who is reading this) – I fully support everything and anything Matt has to share. (I’ve known Matt for 20 years so he’s not just some random dude).

          1) The American Academy of Pediatrics (very prestigious group of US doctors)advises against following BabyWise. So I would suggest not reading or “scheduling” your baby based on anything in BabyWise.

          2) Don’t let your newborn cry. It may result in slightly longer naps but not for the reason you think (or want). There are other options to help your baby sleep without crying. And also?

          3) 45 minute naps are TOTALLY NORMAL for a newborn. Taking longer naps is a developmental milestone that will develop when her body is ready to do it. She may be fussy and/or crying for a variety of reasons (being awake too long between naps is probably the most common). But 45 minutes is unlikely the reason she is “overtired.”

          If you haven’t already – check out the information here. http://www.troublesometots.com/newborn-baby-sleep-survival-guide/

          Think about layering on lots of soothing – swaddle, white noise, swing. AND don’t let her be awake too long. At 2 months she probably needs to go down for another nap after being up for 1.5 hours or so. People are often surprised at how short this “window of being awake” really is for newborns.

          I hope that helps?
          Alexis recently posted..I am the Official CIO Spokesperson. Apparently.My Profile

          • So frustrating! I’m reading Babywise on someone’s recommendation and it has all sorts of AAP quotes and things in there so I thought it was a good plan to be layered along with Dr. Karp’s soothing methods. Does AAP specifically come out against BabyWise or just sleep scheduling generally? Everything is controversial! Thanks for your help.

            • I don’t like Babywise for a number of reasons but I believe the official AAP stance AGAINST it comes from the fact that it pushes for scheduling feedings (vs. feeding on demand or when hungry) and this was leading to a high number of Babywise babies who were becoming dehydrated or not growing as they should.

              It IS really hard to stay up on which products are OK, which have been recalled, etc. so don’t feel bad about it. And it’s not a crisis if you like Babywise. I just think there are far better carts to hitch your horse to ;)

  4. Don’t feel like you are the minority! I am a member of a LARGE family and we all started having babies about 5 years ago. Between the 5 of us girls having babies we have 9 (5 and under) and 2 more on the way. All of us LOVE our babies (just like everyone else) and all of us practice CIO. My now 21 month old sleeps like a CHAMP and if my 5 week old decides to have sleep problems, you better believe CIO will happen again. I cannot stand to hear my baby cry… Just ask my husband!! But I knew this was best for him. Thankfully for us, it didn’t take long but we were committed to making it work.

    • I’m just trying to imagine what Christmas must look like with your family. Or how you fit all the presents under the tree. Or how you FEED everybody. Gheesh!

      There is more truth in what you said then you probably even realize. Committed to making it work -> doesn’t take long. Dabbling -> long miserable process.

      Thanks for speaking up :)
      Alexis recently posted..Are You Keeping Baby Awake Too Long?My Profile

      • haha! The most fun is when Granny and Old Pa decide they want a picture with all the kids (no parents) and us trying to get a good one! And the presents DO NOT fit under the tree. They take up more than half of the living room and it is pure, delicious chaos when we go to open them. The only disappointing thing is that we don’t get to relish watching everyone open and enjoy what they got. There is just too much action, and keeping up with your own kids is hard enough. I’ll email you a picture!

  5. I’m all for CIO. My first daughter was a sleep expert on her own as she was a self soother from just about the get go. My second daughter was not so much! We used a swing for her daytime naps until the naps became short and mutliple and the bassinet at night until she started waking 10 times during the night looking for her soother. I had bruises on my arm from where I was resting it on the edge while holding the soother in her mouth all night. Finally I decided she needed to learn to self soothe herself. It was 1 day/night of fairly hard crying and 2 more days of some crying then no more! My husband was convinced I was giving her brain damage after he went on the internet and read all about the evils of CIO. Now he has seen the light as our daughter is a happier well rested child and I am a happier well rested wife!

    • It’s really hard to find anything on CIO other than “you are terrible parents to do this.” But what you describe (3 days and done) has been my experience too, if you approach it the right way.

      Well I’m going to try to put out some pro-CIO information. We’ll see how it goes :P
      Alexis recently posted..Your Nemesis, The Short NapMy Profile

      • Alexis, I look forward to reading a blog about how to do CIO properly, thank you!

      • I just wanted to post this in case there are other mom’s like I was… Too tired to do SO much reading and just stumbled upon this website.

        Note 1: older babies may take slightly longer.
        3 day CIO is more common for 9 mo and under. I have several friends who put it off till their little ones where a year or more. I found that the longer you put it off the more days it may take. My experience and theirs (after promoting to at least give it a fair try) was 1 day of long, hard crying (no checking in) -about 1 to 1.5 hours, then progressively shorter by 10-15 minutes less each day. So the older babies (1.5 hour first night ones) took about a week to be falling asleep well. So don’t give up on day 4, you may just need a few days more – as long as you are seeing progress.

        Note 2: 10 minutes of crying is okay
        Not all crying is bad. Lots of babies use short amounts of crying to sooth themselves. My second has always cried 5-10 minutes before sleeping, even when full, happy, and sleepy.

  6. I am one of those “dabblers” in CIO. With a 6-month-old who has proven he can put himself to sleep, but just doesn’t want to most nights, I am starting to question everything I’ve done to get to this point. There’s nothing worse than feeling like a s****y mother when you know deep down you’ve done your best and it just didn’t work. But when I research CIO I always see the same posts: It works, but as soon as something changes (moving, teething, colds, developmental leaps, etc.) you have to start all over with CIO. Can some of you in the CIO camp enlighten me? Was this the case for you?

    Also I’ve read that CIO just doesn’t work for some personality types, and they will cry for hours/weeks until you stop CIO. Any thoughts?

    • Hey Minnie,
      You may want to email me with more details. I have an absurd amount of experience with families and CIO. Like, maybe 50 different families? (Don’t ask me how this happened, I honestly don’t understand it myself). And I’ve never met a kid who “had the wrong personality type” or saw CIO as something that had to be done over and over. I did see people who approached it (with all the best of intentions) the wrong way and ended up creating a mess for themselves.

      So 50 babies does not represent the whole world so I can’t say that there is no possibility of a baby who could just be “different.” But in my experience there are broader issues mucking things up and I prefer to start from a big picture (what is going on all day long with this kid?) perspective and almost always there is a reason why things aren’t really working out. I’m not saying it’s easy to figure out what that reason is. Just that in my experience, there is always a reason.
      Alexis recently posted..I am the Official CIO Spokesperson. Apparently.My Profile

    • I’m replying to your comment from a year ago, but just wanted to say that with my daughter we’ve had to go back to CIO for every sleep regression that seems to happen around significant milestones. It usually only takes 3 days, and the first of those days she almost always cries for only 15mn, the second 10mn, the third 5mn, then 0 (even though its HARD crying), so I think of it as kind of testing the waters rather than not knowing how to fall asleep on her own. When she does this, she usually does it at naps as well as at bedtime, but she doesn’t wake-up again after falling asleep – which is why it feels like she’s protesting more than anything else but to us listening to her it still feels like we’re doing CIO again, so its always a little discouraging. I just keep telling myself, of course she would rather play/cuddle/chatter with us than sleep, its normal, so whenever she hits a milestone and gets a little clingier its normal she would express wanting to stay with us at bedtime until she hits her stride again.

      • Hey JPK,

        I totally get that for you this feels like “we have to do CIO after every sleep regression” and that doesn’t feel good.

        But honestly (and I’m saying this to you and everybody else out there who has asked me if CIO goes on forever) – 5-15 minutes of crying is no big deal. I know it feels lousy and you want your baby to suck on her toes and fall happily asleep. I want that FOR you.

        But in the grand scheme of things, 15 minutes honestly is NOTHING. It’s probably a combination of testing the waters although I think it’s more sleep deprivation (even mild sleep upsets can make it HARDER to fall asleep).

        I promise you that 2 years from now your child will cry longer/louder than 15 minutes when you refuse to give her a second ice cream cone.

        Not a joke.

        In my worldview, CIO = 45 min – 2 hours of crying at bedtime, often followed by a number of 20+ minute jags later in the night. So from that perspective, 10 minutes at bedtime for a night or two is nothing.
        Alexis recently posted..Is Your Crib as Safe as You Think?My Profile

        • That’s fair and I hear you. I also agree its a testing the waters thing (I am pretty confident its not being overtired since she gets the same amount of sleep at these times as at other times when she goes to sleep without a peep – unless, do kids typically need more sleep than usual at these moments?). To clarify, I was sold on CIO as a permanent solution, so that the first time we implemented sleep training and it worked, I was thrilled, and then when 6 weeks later, she started protesting bed-time, it felt like a set back. Intellectually, I don’t think it was, but emotionally it felt like one. And its tempting, in that moment, to tell yourself “well that didn’t work” and try something else as a temporary band-aid (in our case, trying to stay with her, pat her, hold her, go for a walk – anything to go back to happily falling asleep). As that totally back-fired and made things worse, leading to a second, actual CIO (not short protests) we learned our lesson for the next time she tested the waters (just around 8.5 months). So I think my point is there is no magical solution that will turn your kid into someone that always and forever more coo happily at you when its time to fall asleep, and if you go into CIO with that expectation, it may feel like a set-back if your kid tests the waters later (like, why didn’t this work?) when actually it did work. So that’s what I wanted to share for any parents who had similar experiences to us – namely, don’t give up. Its not that it didn’t work! Also, totally didn’t know that when you talk about CIO you mean 45 mn or more of crying – that’s really helpful to have spelled out. By the way, I recommend you to everybody – love the tone of this blog, the pragmatic advice and the can-do motivation I get whenever I read it (and the comments!). And a second by the way, would love to hear your thoughts on helping PARENTS sleep better once their children’s sleep improves. My daughter has been sleeping through the night beautifully for almost 4 months now (even during the protest phases its only at bedtime), and neither my husband nor I have quite got the hang of it again yet! Sleep training for grown-ups?

          • Hey, back bc I saw some responses to my old comment. Happy to say we never went the CIO route and my now 22-month-old son was sleeping through the night consistently by 14 months (started doing it more and more around 12 months though). He definitely has moments every once in a great while where he cries for me a few mins after I put him down, but when I ask what he wants it’s usually just a sip of water and then he’s happy again. He just grew into it. Yes, it was rough there for a while, but much better than listening to him cry. The times I did try it when he was younger it was awful. And let me just say, 15 mins is a LONG TIME when you have a baby screaming bloody murder to the point of almost throwing up. NEVER AGAIN.

            • Can I ask what you did to achieve sleep without crying?

            • Hi Jamie, hopefully you will get this reply since it won’t let me reply to your msg directly, only mine has the little button underneath for some reason. Anyway, we have definitely had our ups and downs with sleep. Even since that post my guy has gone through a few phases where sleep was a challenge. We hit the worst one when his bottom molars started to cut. Usually just when I feel comfortable and start sleeping well he will decide to fight it. But I have found it almost always coincides with teething or developmental leaps, and there is nothing to do but ride it out. We even went through a short phase where I would bring him to bed when he woke up a lot, which we have never done. Desperate times, right? I am happy to say that he now sleeps nearly 12 hours a night straight through, which is more than he has ever done in his whole life, plus 1.5-2.5 hour naps in the day. Going to bed is a breeze, but it wasn’t always. Something that worked for me was asking him if he wanted to do it the hard way or the easy way. The hard way was the idea of me leaving him to work it out himself. The easy way was letting me rub his back for a bit before I left. For some reason, he just understood that the easy way was better. But he was around 2 when he grasped that concept. For a while I was rubbing his back, then holding his hand, then sitting by the crib for a while. Eventually I was able to cut down to just rubbing his back for a few minutes and then saying goodnight. I also tell him that I will return once he’s asleep to give him extra kisses (a white lie that I believe is totally harmless). He seems comforted by this. And one more thing that helps is that he finally likes a blanket on him, which adds more security to the whole concept of sleeping by himself.

              All in all, what made sleep easier was his ability to communicate his needs, and his ability to understand mine. That comes with age. We are trying for baby #2 and if this one turns out to be as hard as the first, I will still do what I always did with my son, nurse when he wants, and wait for him to grow into it. It’s a short, though sometimes agonizing time in their lives in the grand scheme of things. Good luck!

  7. Hey there.. Love your blog ( yup I bookmarked it) .. My LO is definitely unpredictable.. She just turned 8 weeks .. At 4 weeks she refused to nap in her crib during the day time.. So am constantly holding her.. I bought a graco swing and tried ur advise.. Swaddle pacifier white noise etc and she still hates it.. She gets this I’m petrified pick me up look the minute she’s in it.. She doesn’t mind playing in her crib or on her play mat so I know she’s ok with me putting her down .. Any advice
    ???

    Also her naps and nighttime sleep are changing everyday..This week she gave me 5 hour straight then 3-2 at night only to change the next day n give me 3-2-1-2-1. Her naps are also 45 min some days and 1.5 to 2 the next day… Is that normal.. Should I read into it or would it gradually become more consistent as she grows up.

    • Oh I Forgot to mention that I feed on demand so no consistent schedule … She’s a very fussy eater so I take every opportunity I can feed her but make sure she’s actually hungry first.. Could this be the reason for inconsistent sleeping? Should I try and force a schedule on her ?

    • What? Honey, why are you talking about forcing a schedule and putting her down awake. She’s a newborn!

      Newborns don’t do schedules. And almost NO newborns are going to fall asleep on their own. If I were you I would definitely nurse to sleep (while swaddled) and THEN put her in the swing. Trying to ask an 8 week old to go down awake is like asking my 3 year old to pee on the potty (read: just. not. happening.).

      And the night thing is often rough with an 8 week old. Although it looks like you’re nursing 5-6 times at night which is EXTRA rough. Although if she’s not nursing well during the day (is she? I get the impression she isn’t) then exhaustion from being awake too much during the day can definitely lead to ugly nights.

      I’m not sure what you mean when you say she’s a fussy eater but just in case, I’m linking to an article on reflux (she probably doesn’t have reflux but it IS a symptom so there you have it).
      Alexis recently posted..Reflux 101 – When Baby Cries Too MuchMy Profile

      • Thanks Alexis

        I meant a feeding schedule .. To make sure she eats enough during the day and not make up for it during the night. She actually naps a lot during the day .. I make sure she’s down every hour ( that’s her window) and her naps can be anywhere from 45 min to 1-2 hours. She is a very happy baby after each nap. Also she’s up a lot during the night but I usually pat and shush untill she falls asleep if I’m confident it’s not Hunger.

        I was just wondering how can I make the good nights (which she gives me at least twice a week) more consistent. But I’m getting the feeling from you that at her age I shouldn’t be expecting it yet.??

        • Oh and her feedings were extremely difficult but now r slowly improving … My breasts were spraying her and she started crying and fussing everytime she nurses.. My milk supply adjusted ( somewhat) now .. So it’s a bit better。but she still nurses for a maximum of 5 minutes a time.

          • Probably can’t make the “good nights” happen more consistently if you’re doing everything you can (lots of soothing, consistency, not keeping her awake too long) already :(

            Firehose breastmilk (good for you BTW!) and short nursing sessions can sometimes be a sign of OVER supply and/or fast letdown. I’m NOT a nursing expert BUT it may be worth talking to somebody who is (find a good IBCLC). It could be that she’s not sticking around long enough to get the fattier breastmilk (due to the rapid 5 minute nursing) and thus needs to nurse more often to make up for it.

            Again am NOT an expert by any means but it may be worth a conversation with somebody who is just to rule it out?

            Best of luck!

            • Thanks.. Your great!! My husband and I just moved from Canada to the gulf .. Ive been trying to find a breastfeeding consultant for a while now.. It sucks that I have no support system .. Thank god for the Internet and for ppl like you!!!

  8. Oy. Like many other parents (many, right? I couldn’t possibly be alone here…), I’m at my wits end, and thusly, at your website. My daughter is almost 11 months old. She has not slept even 1 hour in her crib since the day she was born. I have read countless books, tried countless methods (including various CIO methods, no-cry sleep solution, etc) and yet here we are. We cosleep because otherwise our sleep pattern would be called “nosleep”. My daughter is still breastfed (along with some daytime solids) and wakes up 2-4 times at night for feeds. She has a pacifier. The last time I tried CIO, I lasted 4 hours of her screaming BLOODY MURDER (while I “checked in” every 5-7-10 minutes). She did not calm down, she did not sleep. I gave up. She slept draped over my neck in our bed. Tell me this is doable… because 4 hours of screaming seemed excessive. Please.

    • Elly,
      2-4 times a night smells like an object permanence problem (have you read this series?)
      http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-i/

      So my guess is that you’re still nursing to sleep. Am I right?

      Because by 11 months she definitely doesn’t need to eat at all much less that much. So unless you’re digging it (and it sounds like you’re not, and really why would you?) you have two options. One – keep going like you currently are until merciful death comes to take you into it’s sweet embrace. Or you can fundamentally change how you’re approaching things.

      Now I know you had this horrendous CIO experience and I’m SOOO sorry. I also have a pretty good handle on WHY things went to sour for you. But I need more deets to help you come up with a “let’s fix this plan.” Still if it helps you CAN fix this and when you do I think you’ll say, “That was rough for a day or two but DAMN I’m so glad things are going better now!”

      email me (see the contact link) and we’ll chat in more details. Fair warning I am WAY behind on sleep email so it may take a while. But I’ll try to push you to the top of the queue (just remind me that I promised if you write ;)
      Alexis recently posted..30 Practical Parenting Tips You Will Never Learn from the MoviesMy Profile

      • Hello, I know this post was almost a year ago, but I am wondering how this turned out? This situation sounds exactly like the one that we are in currently with my 11 mth old son. This blog has given me the courage to do CIO (or should I say re-do after a few failed, traumatizing attempts). We are on night one and at one hour and 35 mins of crying…his little head is bobbing while he sits upright fighting sleep.
        One question I have is…..I am supposed to be out of town for work for 4 days 3 nights this week…I am hoping that my not being around will not adversely affect the CIO trial? His dad and nanny will be here (the 3 of us are his consistent caregivers).
        Thank you for this site. I was really about to lose it. I have read the healthy sleep habits happy child book over and over but it does not account for all situations and is not as clear as your guidance.

  9. I have done the Cry it out. (the no checking kind) and it worked for us.
    It took 3 days. day 1 was 30 ? min, day 2 was 15? min, say 3 was 5? min and we were done. I cant recall how old he was when we had to do that. (he was generally a good sleeper anyway)
    there were a few other fussy days but he can put himself to sleep now at 2.5 years old.

    someone posted about going off schedule and having to restart CIO. For us we did notice that traveling would throw us off our normal routine and often babe would not get enough sleep so he was over tired and sometimes just needed to be left alone to fall asleep. When we got home it would only take 1 maybe 2 days of letting him cry 10? min and we would be back on track again.
    Debbie DeBaeremaeker recently posted..copyrighting quiltingMy Profile

    • YES THANK YOU!

      This is how it’s done people. Is everybody reading Debbie’s comment? I hope so.

      Admittedly 30 minutes is on the shorter side but your experience (be direct and brief) is TOTALLY on the mark.

      And like you I know all these people who claim CIO is an ongoing experience that must be redone all the time. But no…no it isn’t. Really in my world 5-10 minutes of crying a handful of times a year doesn’t even signify.

      Good for you!
      Alexis recently posted..30 Practical Parenting Tips You Will Never Learn from the MoviesMy Profile

  10. I have a 8mo who has been a terrible sleeper from day 1. We rock/nurse him to sleep and have decided to go the cio route when he recovers from his slight cold. Its been painful waking up every 2 and sometimes 1 hour to let him nibble on the breast. He used to go into the crib but now he doesn’t even do that. Ive been having him fall asleep attached to my breast the past week in our bed :(

    I’m not sure if ill survive letting him cio so my husband has been giving me the courage to give it a go.

    But how long is long enough? I don’t think I’ve let my son cry for longer than a minute. *guilty* and if he vomits while crying can I pick him up? How long should the “training ” go on? Ive heard of some parents training their babies for 4 months…?!

    Currently his crib is in our room. Should I train him in his own room? If we train him in our room will we need to retrain if we move him later? So many questions – just need some cheering from those whohad success with older babies!

    • Rebecca,
      How is your son a terrible sleeper? From your question I assume he sleeps just fine if attached to your boob all night long. If it makes you feel any better you are neither the first nor the last human pacifier who has come to the conclusion that this simply isn’t working anymore.

      The challenge for you is figuring out when he needs to eat and when he just wants to nurse because he’s USED to doing it. If he’s been snacking all night long you’ll still need to feed him at some point (trying to go cold turkey will make you and him very unhappy all night long).

      So I would work out a plan that involves doing WHATEVER you need to to have him sleep decently during the day. Then you do a long wonderful bedtime routine (which you’ll do nightly for years to come). Whatever your routine is – separate nursing from bedtime. I like boob-bath-book-bed but whatever works for you is great.

      Put him in his crib (which you’ve made entirely safe) and then leave the room. Ideally you leave the house for about an hour (leave Dad at home – Dad’s are infinitely better at these things). Go to Starbucks. Whatever.

      Then you and your partner figure out how often you’ll be nursing at night. THIS is the tricky part. Because it can’t be hourly. And it can’t be “not at all” so you’ll fumble for a few nights. My advice is no more than 2X but you’ll have a better idea of what to do.

      Once you start down this path – No. More. Nursing. To. Sleep. At. Bedtime. Fini.

      Anyway – that’s where I would start….
      Alexis recently posted..The Ferber vs. Weissbluth CIO SmackdownMy Profile

  11. I read a book called “Bed Timing”. It was excellent as it talks about the best TIME to sleep train in terms of the child’s development and there are several windows. CIO is not leaving your baby crying indefinitely- going in at intervals really helps you as the parent feel better and the baby is re-assured that you are there for them. We did it with my son when he was 6 months. First night we went in every 3 minutes (patted him, talked to him but didn’t pick him up, about 20 seconds), 2nd night every 5, third night every 7 and that was it…he didn’t need the 4th night as he slept 7 hours straight after that.
    You have to decide how long you are going for too. My son had already spontaneously slept 7 hours straoght on his own so that’s what we trained for. That still meant a 4am feed but he went right back to sleep after until around 8am. And eventually he slept from 7pm-8am on his own.
    Don’t believe the bunk you read about CIO being damaging. Those studies about chronic crying and how they’re damaging were mostly related to children who were in abusive houselholds and hey, if crying is damaging (it’s not!), then think about the amount they cry for sleep training (relatively a short time) and if you don’t train- if you don’t, the amount of crying they’ll b doing continuing to wake in the night is faaaaaaar more. Sleep deprivation is a dangerous thing- especially for parents who are driving around said precious bundle.

  12. Thank you so much for your website.
    I was one of those zombie mothers. I have 2 boys, 3 years and 9 months. My 3 year old still goes to bed with a fuss. I feed him to sleep for his first year and then would sit in his room till he fell asleep. I swore I would not make the same mistakes with my second. I let him self settle when he was a baby but then somehow I ended up feeding him to sleep just like the last.
    I was getting up to my 9 month old every 2 hours. That was until I found your website and it gave me the confidence to let him cry. Took 145 the 1st night, 1 hr the 2nd, 30mins next then 15, now only a minute or so.
    He sleeps for longer stretches waking twice for feed. He plays catch up at night due to a brother that distracts him during day. CIO has been the best thing for me. He will now go to sleep at other places whereas b4 he would want to stay attached to me.
    In short thank you for you website, sometimes it’s just what you have to do. As hard as it was listening ( lots of housework got done to keep me busy) it was worth it.

  13. First of all, Alexis, thank you for this site. I wish I had found it 3 years ago when my daughter was born. She had ‘colic’ for lack of a better word and we followed the advice from ‘happiest baby on the block’ which was great at first as we managed to stop her from screaming by swaddling, soother, shushing, boob… By the time she was 5 months we still did all of these things and had to repeat them every 2 to 3 hrs. My husband and I read a lot of information of the Internet and at this point I was willing to pay almost anything to get my child to sleep through the night. Thankfully my husband stopped me from pulling out the visa and we decided that the only way was the CIO method and removing all of her sleeping aids. What really helped me was my husband stayed in the room the first night with her. He sat in a chair, wore his ear plugs, and would just say ‘shhhh, it’s sleepy time every 5 min or so. He would pat her on the back as well. She screamed and cried for about 50 minutes the first night while I cried in the kitchen. The second night she cried for 15 minutes. The third hardly at all and then slept through the night. My 7 month old son has always been able to put himself asleep, however, he likes to snack twice a night. So, thank you for your third chapter on weaning a child from night time feedings. I will give it a shot!

  14. Hi Alexis,

    I’m trying out CIO right now. I want to make sure I’m doing this correctly. I put my 9 month old down at 7:30pm without his paci (he normally takes one to sleep). After 30 minutes of crying he fell asleep. He has woken up twice crying and at midnight (the second time waking)I fed him a bottle and changed his diaper. He typically takes a bottle around midnight. I sang my usual song said “night,night”. He now has been crying for 40 minutes. OH Wow! Now I don’t here him. How many times does a baby wake when doing CIO? From what I’ve written am I doing this right? How long is too long for him to cry? Should it be better on second night? Should I be feeding him at his usual time when he wakes or should I have cut this out before CIO? I don’t want to go backwards. My entire house is sleep deprived. I already have one child who is a terrible sleeper I can’t afford two. I will try anything at this point to get it done correctly. It’s typical of my 9 month old to be awake and fuss from 4am to 5:30 am. I don’t plan on going in the room, but what do you think? He is also a terrible napper, but I’m trying to tackle the night sleeping first from what I read on your site. I love your site and I’m glad I found it a few months ago. Thanks in advance for any advice. I won’t give up this time.:)

  15. Hi Again,

    First night of CIO extinction was rough. My 9 month old boy woke 4 times after I put him down. Cried up to 40 minutes one time so he really didn’t get much sleep.

    If I get rid of the paci at night (CIO) do I also do this at nap time even though the nap is not cio? He is taking 30 minute naps which is horrible.

    His 5th awakening was roughly 5:30 am and I went in got him up at 6:05am because I could see he was not going back to sleep. He drank a 4 oz bottle and he went back down for a nap 3 hours after his final wake up 5:30am. He woke up after 30 minutes terrible sleeper/nap. I know your site says do whatever it takes to get a good nap, but what if your baby is all around a bad napper/sleeper? What am I suppose to do about the naps to make the night CIO work? Give the paci,rock?

  16. Here’s my checklist before CIO:
    1. Is he fed? If not, feed him. If so, great….next!
    2. Burp him if fed. If not fed, move on to #3
    3. Change the diaper.
    4. Teething? Peppermint oil helps. It also helps with gas. Make sure to apply in mouth on the tongue. Supervise at least 10 minutes afterwards add the fragrance can relax the lunges.
    5. Burp him again. The peppermint helps them to burp.

    Then, place baby in sleeping area and walk away. He is cared for, and will survive. All will be okay.

  17. Alexis,
    We just started CIO with our 4 month old boy and Night 1 he cried for almost 2 hours but only 10 minutes after we put him back down after his 2aM feeding. Night 2 he didn’t cry too hard and fell asleep playing in crib after 30 minutes. Went down without fussing after his 2AM feeding. We put him in our bed to snuggle when he wakes at 5:30 or 6, and he may fall back asleep for 45 mins. Question is, his naps have always been short, like 30-45 mins 3-4 times a day, but before we began CIO I could put him in crib drowsy and he would sleep there for naps. Since CIO at night, however, he will not go in his crib drowsy he wakes immediately like he was anticipating the drop into his crib. Is this unusual? So I’ve been having to hold him for all daytime naps. It’s like nighttime is good/better but daytime has gotten worse. He is also fussier during the day now. Will any of this change?

    Thanks,
    Ashley

  18. Hi there,
    I’m mother to a 8.5 month old and we’re guilty of breastfeeding to sleep for naps :( My daughter used to settle herself to sleep at night however but over the last month refuses to settle for both naps and night time.

    As a result, all naps are 30-45 mins, she is waking multiple times during the night and we’re all wrecked. My daughter is getting crankier during the day and is way overtired at this stage. She really needs a longer afternoon nap.

    Which do we tackle first? Naps or nighttime? I think we’re going to have to resort to CIO. We have dabbled before but going into check on her usually riles her up even more.

    At what stage to you intervene when going down the CIO route? Is there ever a time limit? I’m nervous and guilty about trying it but something has to change!!

    Thanks in advance for your help,
    Annemarie

  19. Of course CIO works. If you were left in a bed from which you could not escape and were crying for someone to come get you, you would eventually give up and fall asleep, too. You would learn that no one will respond to your cries, so you’d give up communicating at night by crying.

    PLEASE read any books by Dr. Sears about attachment parenting. He talks about why CIO is NOT a good idea and how it can affect a child’s attachment to parents. I, too, have a 6-month-old child who is not sleeping well after being a great sleeper when younger. I will not be doing anything listed on this site, and I will continue what I have been doing. My now 3-yr-old sleeps just fine, and we went through this with him. It simply takes time! Find ways to take naps or get some extra sleep on the weekends, but don’t just let your kid cry because it’s too hard on you to wake up at night.

    • Hey Brit,

      I’ll be honest with you – I don’t think I have any readers who aren’t already familiar with/own Sears. I have three of his books sitting here as I write. And honestly I have a huge love/hate relationship with Sears. The Baby Book, as an example, is a treasure of useful information about health, baby care, nursing, etc. It also contains heaps of information that is based on his personal opinion vs. science. The Fussy Baby Book repeatedly says if your baby is super fussy/high needs that just means he needs more love – give MORE.

      This is tough advice to give to somebody who is feeling desperate and empty – your baby cries so much because you aren’t giving enough love. Ouch.

      I think taking the stance of “don’t let your kid cry because it’s too hard on you to wake up at night” goes pretty much against everything I stand for.

      It assumes that people are ignorant of options. It assumes that CIO comes from a selfish or unloving place. It assumes that people who end up in cryitoutsville are there because they didn’t try hard enough, they didn’t care enough, or love enough to wait until things sorted themselves out organically or what have you.

      Maybe this sleep site isn’t the one for you – I get that not everybody is going to dig what I have to say. Just like I don’t dig the assumption that people end up in cryitoutsville because they’re too lazy to deal with getting up at night.
      Alexis recently posted..Is Your Crib as Safe as You Think?My Profile

    • Well said Alexis.
      Brit, if Dr. Sears is working for you than great (although it sounds like it isn’t).
      But don’t judge others without knowing their full situation. If parents looking at this site didn’t care enough than they wouldn’t be trawling the internet at 3am looking into every available option.
      I’m glad that your 3 yr old sleeps just fine now but some babies with sleeping difficulties get worse as they get older which can affect their health, growth and development.
      CIO is not the easy option. Its HARD. so when most people try CIO they are doing it from a place of total love and not neglect!

    • HAHAHAHA

      I think I speak for pretty much every damn parent here when I say I love Dr. Sears, I never ever wanted to let my baby cry, and this website helped me finally find the right balance and do the right things to get everyone in the family sleeping. I didn’t do cry it out for me–I did it for my poor exhausted kid who would not sleep in bed with me, could no longer be reliably rocked or nursed to sleep, and was waking miserable every hour all night long. Now he’s two and happy and healthy and well rested.

      And I’m still an attachment parent.

      Now, I have a friend who never done anything but cosleeping and Dr. Sears to the max and she thinks that’s the best/only correct way to parent. Shhhhh don’t tell her she has the easiest baby on the planet and he’d sleep well no matter what she did. I hope for her sake her next one is the same and she never has to walk the tough-sleep road.

      • This is a really great post and I’m 100% in agreement with you here.

        Sleep training and AP are not at odds – they’re both saying fundamentally that we need to meet the needs of our children. If they’re sleeping a scant 8 hours a night or waking up hourly, that’s not meeting their needs. But I hate the idea that you are one or the other, because you can absolutely be both.

        And yes there are a lot of people out there who claim that you can nurse to sleep and co-sleep and babies can sleep great and will stop waking when they’re ready. Because as you’ve astutely observed, they have easy babies. And thus just about anything would work! I actually envy these easy baby parents (I believe my body is incapable of growing easy babies). But as you said, I think many of them are in for a rude awakening when baby #2 comes along and things don’t quite go as smoothly as they did the first go…

        Cheers!
        Alexis
        Alexis Dubief recently posted..The Best Christmas Book of 2013My Profile

  20. Hi, I have read a lot of books and info on the web for sleep training. Our son never slept as a newborn unless on me. He screamed constantly and for hours. Even though we kept getting the diagnosis for colic,I knew there was more to it. Turns out our son’s tongue tie was never properly released and he was hungry all the time. I also had low supply due to bad latch. Around 5 months our son started to be a happy baby and started sleeping better. We did move him to his room and did CIO after I was just exhausted and knew he was too.

    The problem we have is nap time. Around 7-8 months he would nap for 1-2 hours twice a day and he slept 12 hours at night. He is now 9 months and just screams and cries when I put him down. I read your article on getting babies this age to sleep and I know that he now understands that I am leaving, but I don’t do any of the things you mentioned that could be causing an issue. He doesn’t get rocked or nursed to sleep (I do nurse before he goes down but he doesn’t fall asleep and during the day I can hardly get him to nurse as he is so active and interested in everything), he doesn’t have anything that is on and then goes off, he has a air purifier that stays constant for white noise. He just screams and doesn’t nap, or naps for 30-60 mins.

    Should I do CIO for naps? How long would I let him cry? What if he cries for the whole nap for days?

    He has stated crying when I put him in for the night too, but he usually goes to sleep after 10 mins or so. He has also started waking at 4:30 to eat. He hasn’t done this for months. I don’t know that he is really hungry or just wants up or to be with me. I am trying to work his bedtime later (goes to be at 6 pm and until the past few days he woke at 6-7 am) but he gets so cranky around 5-5:30 even if he has a small nap. It seems his sleep is getting worse not better. I feel if we can get him napping good he will go to bed around 7 pm and not wake at 4:30.

    Thoughts?

  21. How long is it ok to leave my 3 month old crying when he wakes up early from a nap? I usually give him a few min but then end up going in to resettle/rock so that he doesn’t wake himself up further.
    I know it’s too early for CIO and we’re definitely not there yet and hope we don’t have to face that road.x

  22. I just want to thank you for having so much great information on your website. A I also want to thank you for your information and advice on CIO because, frankly it was our last option. You see, I have a confession to make. I’m a first time mom. My baby was a champ sleeper for the first couple of months of her life, but we made lots of mistakes during that time (holding baby to sleep anyone? Nursing to sleep? Rocking to sleep? Guilty.) As she became more awake and alert, the rocking and holding took longer and longer. Throw in a severe case of acid reflux and you have a recipe for disastrous sleep habits. So I took your advice *kind of*. We did use the swing a lot (the only way she would fall asleep without being held for a while).
    Then the “3 month regression ” happened. Only it happened a little before 3 months, which conveniently coincided with my return to work. I breastfeed and pump, but this little girl loves to nurse so I would work my 13 hour shift in the ER and come home to nurse my baby to sleep. And then wake up 2 hours later to do it again. And again. You get where this is going. The wake-ups were getting more frequent and because she was growing and developing, it was taking longer to rock her back to sleep. Enter cranky, irritable mom and dad who both work very high-intensity jobs requiring lots of brain power. Read: zombie-ville. Ugly stuff my friend.

    We resorted to co-sleeping, you guessed it, out of complete necessity. I did eventually get her to fall asleep on her own in our bed (no nursing, rocking, etc) which was an improvement but there aaas still a problem. I still wasn’t getting any sleep. I felt every deep breath. Ever finger wiggle. And even worse, so did she. She was reaching for me, and if I wasn’t facing her she would flail until I turned her way. Nobody was getting restful sleep and emotions were high.

    Enter CIO. I never wanted my baby to have to cry to sleep. I love this kid more than words can say. But at some point I had to do something for all of us. Fortunately I had taken *some* of your advice early on and had worked to get her falling asleep on her own, but even the 20 minutes of crying the first night was almost enough to rip my heart to shreds. But it was worth it. And thanks to your clarification on the difference between CIO and weaning night feedings, sleep is steadily improving. You are a lifesaver.

    Seriously, it’s kind of a bummer that you became the spokesperson for CIO when you didn’t really want to be, but honestly I’m glad you are. I felt awful about my decision, but you helped me to feel validated and then provided the advice and steps to make it a little less painful. So honestly, thank you for all that you do.

  23. My daughter is now 7 months old and we have a horrible time getting her to sleep at night. We don’t start the bedtime routine until 9-9:30pm (I know, it’s late) and then it takes two hours of her falling asleep in our arms, laying her down, her sleeping for 30 mins and then waking up again. Rinse and repeat for two hours. When she does fall asleep though, she doesn’t usually wake up until 10-11am. I realize that we should put her to bed earlier and we should lay her down awake. The problem is, she instantly starts crying when we lay her down awake and I would like her to still sleep 11-12 hours at night. Can you suggest a sleep plan? P.S. She has two half hour/hour long naps during the day.

  24. In need of desperate help! My almost 18 month old child has decided to protest her naps (screams, throws things, jumps etc) as soon as she is placed in her crib. The crying and clinging start as we enter the room. She used to go in so peacefully and take her 1 1/2-2 hr nap with NO problem. I’ve read about sleep regression but this feels like someone replaced my child with a crying, fit throwing one. The same goes for bedtime. Putting her down is easy but the night wakings are tough and I am tired!!! I’ve tried cry it out waiting 20 mins then 30 but things only seem to escalate and she just ends up screaming “mommy, mommy! Uppy uppy!” Yesterday she cried for 45 mins with me in and out before I gave up and threw her in stroller to nap, a place she refused to nap Til now. Please help! What am I doing wrong?!
    Thanks

  25. I have a almost 9 month old who has no problem napping during the day (takes an hour morning nap and a two hour afternoon nap) literally falls asleep with her 5 and 2 year old sisters playing around her but is up 3+ times during the night. I know I have been digging my own grave by nursing her back to sleep but after 5 mins I am happily crawling back into bed. The last few nights I have been letting her cry it out but after 45 mins of hard crying to whining to hard crying I finally give in, mostly bc I feel bad for my husband who has to get up for work in the morning. Should I just stick it out and continue to let her CIO or try something different? CIO worked for my other two daughters after only a few nights. Oh one more thing, she is also standing in her crib and having trouble getting herself back to a sitting position. Could this be the source of the problem?

    • Hey Floyd,
      What happens AT bedtime? If you nurse to sleep AT bedtime you’ll have the devil of a time gently weaning off at night. Although some babies are super efficient nursers the 5 minute nursing session makes me suspect that this is more about habit/sleep association than actual hunger. Have you checked out the article I link to below? Does that ring a bell?

      Alexis
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Why Sleep Training Didn’t WorkMy Profile

  26. Hi alexis

    I just read the article. At bedtime and at naptime i put her down awake and she falls asleep with out a peep. it is just in the middle of the night that is my problem. Also when she wakes up after naps and in the morning she does not cry she’ll play in her crib for about an hour! Overall she is a good baby it really just comes down to the middle middle of the night. Oh and as i say all of this she was only up once ladt night at 1:45am and didn’t wake up until 7:30 this am. With that being said she does go through cycles where she’ll only get up once but then a few days later she’ll get up three times. she is teething and had a cold over the last few weeks so maybe she is just off?!? Thoughts?

    • Are you nursing close to bedtime? Even if she’s going down awake nursing close to will cause issues.

      If you think she’s waking up because she’s teething I would medicate more (maybe proactively?). If you think she’s getting a full nursing session in 5 minutes (some babies are super efficient) I would start gentle weaning – ie. popping her off in 4, 3, 2 minutes. If you think it’s a snack (meaning a full nursing session for her is actually 15 minutes) then it might be better to send in dad (milkless boob) and/or ignore…
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..The Best Christmas Book of 2013My Profile

  27. I have successfully done CIO with my almost 5month old. It’s been 9 days and he goes to be in less than 5min of crying now. During the daytime he’s tired often and needs to nap, but I can’t seem to make him nap unless I wear him in the ergo. Is there some sort of “nap training”? I know consistency is important, but how else can I get my baby to nap more?

    Thanks.

  28. Hi Alexis,
    We are having trouble with our almost 8 month old daughter. Until 5 months, she was sleeping through the night from about 11pm until 10am. It was heaven! Then, she started to outgrown the incline bassinet we have (she was sitting up and trying to flip herself out!) so we had start putting her to bed sound sleep so she wouldn’t flip out. Then object permanence kicked in and she started waking up once or twice a night to nurse. Now, she is completely too big for the bassinet and she got sick (really sick- bronchitis, stomach flu, etc.) and slept with me in bed for about three weeks. Now, I am doomed! She refuses to sleep in her crib or in her pack and play in our room. She has recently started waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse. Naps are pretty good. She cries about 15 mins and then falls asleep without problem and sleeps for 45-1 hour. We started CIO a few days ago and she cried for over 2 hours. She has fallen asleep once in her crib for 45 mins and then cried and whinned and fussed for hours more. Finally I just gave up. When she was a month old, she had reflux which we gave her meds for and it seemed to get much better. I’m wondering if sleeping on her back is an issue or if I’m too much of a softie.
    Stacie recently posted..The Best Christmas Book of 2013My Profile

  29. Hi there, I am a big fan of CIO and did it withy
    Daughter. However, my now 6 month old son is a horrible sleeper. Spa radix naps, but typically three a day for a total of 3 – 4 hours. Input him to bed at 7:00 (he’s very ready by then) but he wakes up at 4:30 – 5:00 and has no interest in going back to sleep. I let him cry it out yesterday but eventually had to go to work so finally Picked him up at 6:30 (2 hours of crying). We are at an hour and a half this morning and he is not showing any signs
    Of winding down. I know it’s not Hunger, he doesn’t pound hid bottle once he’s up. Any suggestions would before than welcome. Keep with the CIO and is it Normal for him to cry more tha 2 hours? And yes, he gets a “fussy” report pretty much every day at daycare :)

    • 4:30 am is terrible for everyone (trust me I HAVE BEEN THERE), but I think the general consensus is CIO is not going to work for you at that hour. By that time he’s had enough sleep that he’s unlikely to give up and go back to sleep without help from you.

      Is there anything you can do at that time to get him back to sleep for another hour or two? Swaddle and put him in a swing? Feed him? Bring him to bed with you? Around that age, my son learned to fall asleep on his own at bedtime but I continued to nurse him (and sometimes bring him to bed with me) at 4 am for a VERY long time. Read more of this site–Alexis says that’s totally fine and will not create bad habits for bedtime. General rule for that hour of the day is “do whatever it takes so everybody can sleep more!”

  30. Googling to try to find help with my CIO problem, and came across this blog entry, and I’m hoping SO BADLY that you can help. My 23-month-old has always been a great sleeper, but last week we went to Disney World and she would NOT sleep in the pack-n-play. In order to avoid sleep deprivation and a terrible time for everyone (big siblings are 4 and 7), we cuddled her to sleep every night and let her sleep in the bed with us.

    And now apparently WE’VE CREATED A MONSTER! She will not go to sleep in her crib since we’ve been back 4 days. Two nights ago I tried CIO, and she stood up in her crib for 2 hours and 45 minutes (only crying hard the first hour, then not much after that) until she finally collapsed. Yesterday we set up a big girl bed, thinking that maybe it’s just time for that. But she won’t sleep their either, unless cuddled to sleep. Right now she’s back in her crib, going on 1 hour and 45 minutes of standing up (the whole time) and crying (off and on). What should I do????

  31. I have been doing CIO for 4 weeks now and it has been going great! He goes to sleep in about 10 minutes and isn’t crying anymore, just fussing and then he is OUT! So I want to start naptime CIO….any recommendations???

  32. I love this site! I too have a question. My 3.5 month old has been doing great putting herself down and does great at night. But her naps are literally 20/30 min and then she wakes up really grouchy! Should I let her CIO then? She slept in the swing for 2+ hours but I really want her in her crib now, especially since we cant really take the big swing on vacations. Any help would really be appreciated.

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