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Monday, October 01, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: Sleep training (it's tough!)

By the time Toby was six months old, we were all pretty stressed...

Like most young babies, Toby woke up several times a night. But since he didn't know how to fall back asleep, whenever he stirred, he'd cry out for us to rock him back to sleep. Of course, we adored our sweet baby, but waking up many times a night was SO tough. Sleep deprivation makes you feel like a walking zombie, and waking up multiple times a night is an actual form of torture, no joke! During the day, I also wasn't able to be the energetic mother I hoped to be, since I was basically cross-eyed with exhaustion. (I felt like this guy:)

The sad thing was, Toby was tired, too. He would wake up really cranky and spend the morning yawning and rubbing his eyes. At even the smallest annoyance, he would burst out crying; he was just always exhausted. After all, he wasn't sleeping deeply, but instead was just dozing, stirring and waking up all night.

Desperate to find a solution for all of us, I would try reading sleep books while breastfeeding and half-falling asleep myself; they were confusing and talked a lot about the philosophy of sleep, versus just telling me what to do.

Finally, I was chatting on the phone with my friend Allison one morning, and she recommended the book The Sleepeasy Solution. Figuring out how to encourage your child to sleep can be very emotional. Everyone seems to handle it differently, and of course, every child is unique. But after a lot of agonizing, we bit the bullet and decided to give it a try...
HOW IT WORKS

Sleep training is not easy, and we were really nervous to get started.

First, Alex and I created a bedtime routine for Toby to help him wind down. We put him in pajamas, changed his diaper, turned on the white noise machine, read a couple stories, sang his three favorite lullabies, put him in his crib with his beloved pillow pet, said "Night night, we love you," patted his belly twice, and then walked out of the room and shut his door.

But then Toby started crying.

And crying.

That first night, my heart was in my throat. As Toby cried in his nursery, I sobbed in the living room. I called my own mom for reassurance that we were doing the right thing. Alex basically spoon-fed me ice cream. (He didn't find it as hard as I did, thankfully! Otherwise we would have both lost it.)

The Sleepeasy Solution made a few great points, which I repeated to myself as a pep talk:
* "You're helping your child get the sleep they desperately need." I must have repeated that line a million times to myself.
* Consistency was KEY. Although I desperately wanted to go into Toby's room and rock him to sleep, I knew that it would make it harder for him if I kept interrupting him.
* Toby was not crying because he was hungry or wet. He was just saying, "I don't want to go to sleep! I want to hang out with you guys! I don't know how to fall asleep, and I'm frustrated!" That dialogue helped me remember that he wasn't crying for a need other than wanting help falling asleep, yet he needed to learn that on his own.
* It's ok for a child to feel frustrated sometimes. Sometimes I still catch myself thinking that Toby should feel giggly and giddy all day long, but that's not really true, right? After all, if a child cries because he doesn't want to get into the car chair, you'd still buckle him in; or if a baby wants to eat a giant brownie, you'd say no, even if that upset him. It can be empowering for a person to conquer frustrations; that's part of life. Learning to sleep felt similarly important to me, even if Toby didn't enjoy the whole process.
* Picture your child sleeping peacefully and soundly. Picture them waking up happy the next morning. That was a REALLY helpful visual and reminded me why we were doing this!

The first night, Toby cried for more than twenty minutes, which was excruciating. The longest twenty minutes of my life! He seemed so small and helpless, and I really doubted our choice. If hearing Toby cry went against my maternal instincts so strongly, was this all a big mistake?

But then he fell fast asleep. The next night, he cried for eleven minutes. The next night, three minutes. The next night, one minute. And after that, barely at all! We couldn't believe how quickly it happened. (Naps were another story, but that's a whole different post:)

HOW SLEEP TRAINING CHANGED OUR LIVES

Sleep training truly changed all of our lives.

Now that Toby knows how to sleep, he loves loves loves his crib. He even reaches for his crib when he's tired at bedtime. And he adores his bedtime routine. Experts say that toddlers thrive on predictable routines and rituals because it makes the wild world feel safe. Toby actually scolds us if we miss a step ("Fan!" "Blanket!" "Song!"). He's much happier and more rested during the day.

Sleep routines also make traveling easier. When we visit California or England, Toby adapts quickly to time changes because he knows his bedtime rituals so well, so we're actually able to travel more often. And it's easy to have an evening babysitter because we can rely on him going to bed easily and sleeping the whole time we're out.

Alex and I are well rested, too. During the day, we have lots of energy to play with Toby, as well as work, hang out, whatever. We also have grown-up time in the evening once Toby is asleep, which we really cherish (even if we're just making pasta and watching Mad Men reruns:). It's great to know that every evening at 7:30pm, we will be able to relax together on the sofa, while Toby's cuddled up in bed.

So, not only did sleep training turn out to be a good choice for Toby, it also was good for us. And I really think it's ok to look after yourself as well as your baby. You know how on an airplane, they'll tell you that if there's a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will fall down from the ceiling, and you should put yours on before you help your child? I think that's true of parenthood overall. When you want to be a great and energetic parent, it helps to take care of and nourish yourself, as well as your children, don't you think?

Sleep training was one of the hardest parts of parenting, but it was the right method for our family. Although I know it isn't for everyone, I'd highly recommend The Sleepeasy Solution. If we have a second baby (fingers crossed), we'll definitely try it again when the time is right. One book said that it's not just about having a well-rested child, but a well-rested family. After all, you're all in it together, right?

So, I'm really curious: What do you think? Do you think it's valuable to teach your child to sleep on their own? Or do you think kids will figure it out in time anyway? Would you feel okay letting your baby cry—or not at all? Of course, everyone needs to figure out what works best for them and their sweet babies. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts...

P.S. Update: Another mom's sleep-training experience; The funniest book.

(Photo by Meaghan Curry Photography)

306 comments:

1 – 200 of 306   Newer›   Newest»
Amy P said...

We definitely sleep-trained our first, and will again with the one on the way. I used 'Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child' by Marc Weissbluth - I loved that it broke down your child's development by month so you knew why your child was having certain issues. We still have to re-train her occasionally after a sickness or traveling, but overall she's a great sleeper now!

Lindsay Meyer-Harley said...

Sleep is tough no matter what you choose, and it doesn't end, we have a 3 year old and are dealing with a whole new set of hiccups (a million things before bed, high fives, kisses, books, hugs, potty trips, this animal friend, that one... and the list goes on)

Oh gosh, next up for us is potty training through the night! I'll pretend that doesn't exist for a little while and enjoy the sleeping through the night stuff!

Xx

Lindsay @ Darling Clementine
www.darlingclementineshop.com

Charli Chatters said...

when did you start getting bad messages? I cant imagine who would send any and why! This sounds great, storing the info for future!x

Sarah Tucker said...

We do not have kids yet, but when my husband and I babysit...I must say it is quite nice when the precious munchkin has a bedtime routine. It is a no-stress process that leaves everyone happy :)

-Sarah

AliceHarold said...

Sleep training was vital for us - and now as soon as she's tired Elfie asks to go to bed! We haven't had any issues with her sleep whatsoever (bar the occasional early morning) and will be training our second the same way.

Erin said...

Oh, sleep training is hard. Brutal. And while it isn't for everyone, it absolutely saved my life, my marriage, my ability to parent. I have a great little sleeper now. And all the research shows that it doesn't do kids a lick of harm, and makes parents less anxious and depressed! I have to restrain myself from telling all my new mom friends they must do it... so hard to watch the ones who don't go through months of (what seems to me now to be unnecessary and unhelpful) misery!

Amy said...

I am not an expert on babies (pregnant with my first!) However, I have friends who swear by the book "The Happiest Baby on the Block"

The author is a huge promoter of swaddling the first 4 months. That along with some other hints (holding a baby on his side, swinging and bouncing the baby, using white noise or saying shhhhhhh, providing a pacifier for sucking) are all things that can help a baby self-soothe in the first months.

Also I have a friend who started a "bedtime routine" early on - like 2 months. She said her kids thrive on it and now as toddlers still look forward to bedtime. Basically - at the same time everyday, her babies have their bottle, they have bathtime, storytime, and night time - similar to what you do.

Lucy said...

My 5 month old will sleep in his crib for about an hour before, out of frustration and tiredness, i bring him into bed with me. But like clockwork, he wakes up at 4! Every night! No matter what time he falls asleep! I feel crazy and sometimes I think I"m dreaming, or I dream that I feed him or something else crazy. Anyways, going to start sleep routine in the next few nights...fingers crossed!

Meant for a Moment Designs said...

Great Post, Thank you! So helpful

Lael said...

Good job! You sound like the best mommy. I will try this when I have a little one. I'm a nanny and my family did this for their baby, and it was great. She would also do this for naps, and only cry for a minute, if anything.

officiallyobsessed.net said...

We did Sleepeasy Solution too, a bit earlier, at 4.5 months. Our girl is 15 months now, and I cannot IMAGINE the last 10 months if she wasn't sleeping 11 hours every night now.

We love spending time with her, but I won't lie: there are plenty of challenging afternoon/evenings where we get through by muttering to each other, "7:30. We just have to make it to 7:30."!

cp said...

I got this book per your recommendation in an earlier post and I love it. My son, Wiley, is almost 9 months... we got on a sleep schedule and were doing well, then he caught a wicked cold about a month ago. I sat up with him a couple of nights, and he was back to not being able to go to sleep without nursing. He's getting back into it, but it can be so frustrating, especially when you see that your evening might throw things off. Hopefully in the next month we will be back on a schedule.

My name is Caroline said...

It is so important. I used to joke that Julip was a professional sleeper because, after sleep training, she learned to love her sleep (just like her daddy and I do). Julip was born in a hospital and would wake during the night to nurse when we brought her home. Our second daughter, Eloise, was born at home... she never woke up to nurse during the night more than once a night the first week and then very seldomly even now (she's five months old). I have a theory. It could be totally wrong, but the only difference between Julip and Eloise was the setting the were born into... Sometimes I think because Eloise was never woken or bothered for vitals and checkups throughout the night in the hospital, she learned very quickly what was night time and what was day time... just an interesting observation. :)

Amy Powell said...

my parents did this to me. my dad had to physically hold down my mom the first night. but it worked :)

twistofdynamite said...

Aaah! We've been going through this with Hobbes recently. He's only four months old, but getting up to nurse him every 2-3 hours throughout the night is sooo old. I read The Sleepeasy Solution and we tried letting him cry ONE night and it went on for over an hour. I knew then that I couldn't do it again. It was so awful. Plus, I talked to our pediatrician and told her that I couldn't tell the difference between when he was waking because he was hungry and when he was just awake and needed to settle back down. She said that she thinks babies can make it through the night without eating at six months. So, I'm prepared to deal with the multiple wakings and feedings until then, at which point we'll have to revisit and decide what to do to help our guy sleep. I imagine it will be a combination of Sleepeasy and Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution.

The Matusheks said...

Thank you so much for this. I took a child development class once that discouraged "crying it out" so I always assumed it was bad. THis makes total sense then. I'm sure your baby still knows you love them when you are there to greet them in the morning after a restful night. We are thinking of having a baby in the next year or two, and my biggest (selfish) fear is losing sleep since I am one of those people who needs a lot to function!

www.jesslavieblog.com

Angela Minicuci said...

Joanna, I can't tell you how happy I am to read this post.

I don't have any children (yet) but I do work for a state health department and we work yearround to educate parents about 'safe sleep practices'. At times, when babies can't fall asleep, parents resort to practices that are oftentimes very unsafe for a baby to sleep in. It could be anything from sleeping in bed with the baby, to sleeping with the baby in their arms, and so on, but this is a great story about how to properly and safely help your baby sleep. And reading this on one of my favorite blogs makes me swoon! Thank you, thank you, thank you! And congratulations!

Lisa said...

Oof. Infants sleep differently than adults. It's so important to learn about the way they sleep and to have realistic expectations of how much they will sleep. Also, babies need nutrition during the night which is one of the reasons they wake up. I understand wanting to sleep. I want to sleep too and am not getting long stretches because I have a four month old. But I signed up to be a parent at night as well as during the day. If you want to sleep train, there are many other options than cry it out that are gentle. Studies show its not the best option for babies and their developing brains.

Nicole said...

Man, my I remember my sister going through this with her son, and although that first night was devastating (for ALL of us!!) it was SO worth it. And you're absolutely right, to be a good parent, you have to be well-rested! Imagine what could happen if you were so sleep-deprived you actually did something that put your child in danger (shudder). I'm due on October 12 (yikes!) and plan on doing it for our baby girl, too. It's going to be tough, but from what I hear, parenting in general isn't exactly a cake-walk. :)

melissa said...

Sleep training changed my life. I was adamantly against it before I had Kalen (my now year old). Swore I would never do it! It's torture! I proclaimed! Silly, silly girl. What's torture is a baby who is sleep deprived because he can't self soothe. What's torture is going on 2-3 hours of sleep ALL NIGHT and then having to work full time the next day. After several attempts at putting ourselves on a sleep training program a la the Sleepeasy Solution, Ferber, etc, we decided to hire an infant sleep consultant who came to our house and changed out lives forever. I worship this woman. Kalen now sleeps like a champ in his own bed, all night long (unless he's getting new toofers or is sick). It is by far the BEST parenting decision I have made.

PS: If any of you SF Bay area mamas want my Sleep Guru's info, let me know! She's magical!

Nicole said...

We used that book, too! It worked very well and best of all - the book was so easy to read! Who wants a book that is going to put you to sleep when it's really the baby who needs to sleep (I'm looking at you "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child")!

Lucy said...

I think sleep training is very important, but you also need to pay attention to your child. My 11-month-old son has sleep apnea, which means he stops breathing at night. This wakes him up and scares him, so he cries. If I just left him to cry and hadn't brought him in with us, I would never have realized that he had a pretty severe problem. I know this is probably pretty unusual, but I would see if there seems to be a reason for the crying if the baby is waking up a lot at night and crying. He's ended up needing a BPAP machine, and I'm hopeful we'll all be getting more sleep now!!!

Audry said...

Thank you for this post and the book recommendation. Our kiddo is 7.5 months old and most nights he is unable to soothe himself back to sleep. My husband and I both work full-time outside of the home and we're utterly exhausted. I can count on one hand the times our baby has slept longer than 6 hours! I've dreaded sleep training but am thinking we will try it.

melissa said...

Also, our sleep consultant did a modified CIO method, just like the Sleep Easy Solution. It doesn't work for every child, but it is a beautiful option.

Jina said...

We did it with both of ours... and while it is tough those first few nights - we vacillated between who was about to cave in - our kids sleep great. Everyone comments about it. I try not to be a bossy "know-it-all" mom, but if anyone asks what lesson I would impart, it's this one!

Tyckled Tales said...

I like your honesty about this because parents can read all the books out there but it's important to get real mom feedback. I also had never heard of that book so I will include it in my research for my pregnant friend. I also super appreciate everyone's feedback in the comments section - super valuable!

Karen Travels said...

I did something similar, and it worked wonders. I let him cry 5 min, and then reassured him by patting his tummy or back. Then I would come back in ten, but he was usually asleep by then. I NEVER picked him up once he was in crib. It was worse when he woke up in the middle of the night, but that was rare. I can't remember the last time he even whimpered at bedtime. He is 9 months now, and he just rolls over and goes immediately to sleep!!

Brandilyn said...

i flat-out refused to let my son cry it out (although i know it works for lots of families!). i'm using the no-cry sleep solution right now and love it so far! we've already seen great improvement in the week or two we've been using her suggestions.

mrs. f said...

i have an almost 11-week old and started a "bedtime routine" w/ her at 8 weeks ... I feel that she's too young to understand the routine, but I'm sure it'll pay off after a few more months! ... I have gotten SO many different suggestions + recommendations + tips on how to sleep train my baby, and it seems like the "cry-it-out" method is the most effective and quickest. either way, I'm not looking forward to hearing my child cry!! i can't even imagine how hard it'll be. :(

Jimmy said...

20 minutes?! That's it?

I could see this working with our second baby (who actually cools down over time), but our first - no way. He could and did go for hours. Hours. My mother, who had five kids, a big proponent of crying it out, tried once with my son and gave up after it was clear that it wouldnt work for him.

He's almost two now, and has slept great for the last year (12-13 hours a night). Setting up the bedtime routine and sticking to it until it stuck was key for us. We fought the schedule-restrictive (and early) routine for a while. But we started realizing he ran out of steam at about the same time every night and built our routine around that time. Now we can break it from time to time without major backlash, which means we can have our "life" back here and there.

But yes, routines are awesome.

Mia Stizzo said...

my parenting philosophy is that our baby needs to learn how we roll. while he is the center of my world in every sense, i don't let him dictate how our household functions. in his first couple days of life i guess i could have hung out with him all night long like he wanted, but i didn't. he needed to adjust to day time being active time and night time being sleeping time. this meant we went through a couple weeks swaddling a wide awake baby and placing him in his bassinet along side us in our dark bedroom.

today he is 9 months and we are working on eating schedules. he may not be that into eating everything he's offered all the time, but every evening at 7 he is strapped into his chair, eating dinner with us. because that's how we roll.

you need to do right by your baby and your family in the long run, and sometimes that means "forcing" a routine.

Sarah said...

I am not yet a mother, but was a nanny for a little boy all through college (I was there 7 days a week by the end). He was in a crib when I started watching him and going to sleep was an all out battle. His parents told me that he liked to have his back rubbed and that is all that worked to get him to fall asleep. This meant that there was a chair next to his bed and I had to stick my arm through the crib slats and rub his back until he was dead asleep. If I moved before he was asleep, he would starting screaming. This continued through the years until he was in a toddler bed. I was then instructed to sit next to him in the bed and wait until he fell asleep. Now three years out of college (the boy is 8), I recently went to watch him overnight. His parents had moved a cot into their bedroom and he sleeps next to their bed. I was floored. I can't believe that it has gotten so out of control. Not to mention that it is still an all out battle to even get him to lay down. If you so much as go downstairs for a glass of water, he will follow you because he doesn't want to go to sleep alone. So, I think it's fair to say that I have seen how it can be when there is no sleep training. Lesson learned that I will take the steps to train my children. I think it's so true that the focus should be on a happy and rested family!

Keri said...

I have to echo Lisa above. Babies just sleep differently than adults. Super frustrating, and exhausting I know. But they need extra reassurance that their parents are around when they need them. We didn't sleep train either of our girls (7 and 4), and they eventually learn to sleep on their own, when they are old enough to understand that we are always nearby. My four-year old still wakes a lot at night, and cries because she is scared of the dark. But that will end too. (I just wish I knew when. ;)

Christa said...

I love hearing other people talk about sleep training. I knew very early on when we had our daughter (now almost 2) that we'd have to get her to sleep early on or we'd be a misreable family. She was four months old when we did it and it was the most awful two-three nights of our lives. I hated the crying so much those first nights that I'd sit on the front porch while my husband stayed inside just in case she really did need us. She also only cried for 20 minutes the first night. And then, she could sleep through the night. And unless she had an ear infection or was sick, we never looked back.

IT WAS/IS INCREDIBLE.

I know it is a hot topic with some and I'd never shove it down anyone's throat but if and when people ask I definitely give a little "you can do it" pep talk.

Ashlae said...

I think it's extremely important to teach children to fall asleep on their own. I work as a nanny, and I've required every family I've ever worked with to sleep train their children. And when the babies sleep through their first night, they always call and thank me for pushing them to sleep train the kiddos. Sleep is extremely valuable - for both growing babies and sane parents :)

Danny said...

Sounds like this really worked for you and that is awesome.
Sleep training was so emotionally exhausting for me and my husband and my second child that we stopped. I had such a sense of failure. And guilt.
We stopped, I continued to bring my youngest into bed with us and we did the bed switch up for many nights (years?). It was not always the easiest thing for us, nor did we get great night's sleep, but my daughter was happy and my oldest girl also managed to get some sleep.
My oldest is 9 and my youngest is almost 7. They sleep in their own beds---fall in, crawl in, dive in exhausted and sleep soundly. They are happy, we are happy AND we managed to make it through with our marriage and sex life intact...;)
Our way was right for us and I only am sharing for those few who cannot sleep train and are feeling so guilty about it-as I did-when everyone was telling us to sleep train our girl-including our doctor-and we just couldn't make it happen.
Thanks!

Clare Priest said...

There are NO other options to sleep train than this, if you are serious about wanting your child to go to sleep by itself, at the same time every night and get the hours it needs to develop. If your focus is not that, then it's not for you, obviously, and every parent has different ideas. Babies need a lot of sleep to grow and make sense of the world they are inhabiting and thus, helping them to sleep better is only beneficial to their developing brain. My daughter is just a few months younger than Toby and we did the same sleep training at about 3 months old - never had another problem going down at night since. She is happy & well-adjusted and suffers no "side effects" from being left to cry a few times over 2 years ago. I am a firm believer in this method as it can be used again when they go through their several sleep phases as they get older i.e, waking at 5am every morning, or at 12.30am and wanting to play! They then know the deal and it doesn't take long for them to slot back into their routine. Spread the sleep training love!

Heather said...

I'm so glad you wrote this post! We did the same thing with our sweet boy when he was about 9 months old. I was soooo exhausted. I would sometimes wake up in the morning and just cry because I had been up several times nursing and rocking him back to sleep during the night. We used the book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, which is mostly the same ideas. It took about 3 nights and then he was sleeping through the night. It felt amazing to be able to sleep through the night again after 9 long months! I had the energy to exercise again and started feeling more like myself. I'm so glad we did it and will definitely do it again if we have another child.

Alyssa said...

I agree that every family has to do what they have to do to keep sanity intact. We couldn't bring ourselves to sleep train, but I never judge. Healthy families come in all forms!

Colleen / Inspired to Share said...

Great post, Joanna! I really respect your perspective about having a happy family, not just a happy child. I'm not yet a parent, but I'm curious, did creating a bedtime routine in turn prevent Toby from waking up throughout the night? Does the book advise you to let them cry when they wake up during the night?

Nina Leung said...

Sleep training is absolutely necessary. Yes, it's excruciating the first few nights, but then it's wonderful for everyone. I have friends that are afraid to do it and are still waking in the middle of the night with their 18 month old!! That's so unfair for both the child and the parents. They are miserable still! Every parent must find the courage to sleep train. Their children will be good sleepers forever.

Alexa said...

Hi Joanna! I completely agree with your assessment. It was SO hard, but Mila was so much happier when she got her routine down. We do milk, then bath, then change and read, then bedtime. Because of this, it has made it super easy for her to adapt in new places. Sometimes it can be restricting if we want to go out (she's so used to her 7PM bedtime). But on the other hand, if we do go to dinner or to a party, we just want it to be us to, so it's worth it to just get a sitter and have her stay home. She's 1 and half for goodness sake. :) Thanks for posting!

Marion Green said...

The husband and I will be 1st time parents come January...and I have to say that this topic is at the forefront of our minds. THANK YOU for such an honest review. I just placed my Amazon order!

marion said...

I did this with both my daughters (before anyone wrote about it.....) My eldest was 9 months old, wakening multiple times during the night, breastfeeding and taking HOURS to go back to sleep. It was pure and utter torture. By 9 months it was clear she wanted comfort not nutrition, but day and night parenting brought me to my knees. She took a lot longer than Toby the first night though....nearly 2 hours of enraged screeching, 45 mins the next (harder than the first night) and a couple of minutes the third. Phew.
My next daughter I did exactly the same, started a bit earlier - she was 8 months and she did not cry once.
Just 2 different girls with completely different attitudes to sleeping. At the time it felt like the worse nights of my life.....now they are two teens and oh, I would LOVE to be holding those wee babies again xx

Manoushkaj said...

My son has been "doing his nights" (as we say in French), ie. sleeping through the night, since he was 2 months old (he's now almost 2) (yes, we've been lucky ! Please don't hate us ;) I totally agree with your airplane theory !)
Before that, he would wake up crying, I would feed him and put him back to sleep in a crib near our bed - until one morning when my husband and I woke up completely psyched and asking one another : did we really sleep through the WHOLE night ? ;-)
We did not really have any sleep-training issues, but there were a couple of times when he would not fall asleep as easily as the night before. I haven't read any book on that matter but we had some haptonomy sessions before the birth and I learned several precious things. The most important one is that you have to trust your child in learning how to fall asleep, even if it means agonizing minutes of hearing him/her cry. Our haptonomy therapist told us to let him cry for 5 minutes, go to his room to reassure him, then leave and come back after 7 minutes if necessary to do the same routine, then 9 minutes, then 11, etc. My son never made it to 10 minutes ;-) so it worked !
She also told us to put him in his onw bedroom, now that he was 'successsfully' sleep-trained ; we were worried to let him sleep in his own room because he was so tiny and fresh and new, that it was reassuring to have him near us, and she said the parents were not the ones who needed reassuring - again, that we had to trust him. Making your child autonomous and therefore self-confident - sometimes it's hard for us parents but it's the greatest gift to them...
(three cheers for your blog - I'm an avid reader from Paris !)


Jocelyn Pascall said...

I don't have kids, but I thought this was a great post and definitely something to keep in mind for when I do!

Nancy Cavillones said...

I didn't sleep-train, formally (as in, I didn't read any books or follow any methods) but somewhere along the line during my pregnancy, I read something about putting the baby down drowsy but awake, and doing Calm&Console, which is when you go in and rub their backs but you don't pick them up. Both worked pretty well, but I also was breastfeeding and co-sleeping so it wasn't a big issue in the beginning. It's more of an issue now that they are older (2 and 4). They usually end up in our bed at least a few times a week. I don't really mind though... half the time, I don't even know that they've gotten into bed with us!

the traveling cupcake said...

Great post - thank you for being so honest about crying it out! We just started this with my four month old. She has always put up a huge fight to sleep (the nurses in the hospital had never seen such an alert newborn) and she has a loud/powerful cry so I was always terrified of letting her CIO. She (ie, we) had gotten in a bad routine at bedtime where every time she would cry I would bolt up the stairs to stick the pacifier in. It started off innocent enough and then turned into a several-hour 5-10 wake ups every time before she finally dozed off for the night. Last week she woke up only a couple of hours after falling asleep and I knew she wasn't hungry and I couldnt bring myself to go in there again, I knew it was going to create more trouble. So we let her cry it out at 10pm. And she only cried for 16 minutes.

I had read Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child and brushed up on his tips the next day. That night we started from the first time we put her down to sleep and she cried for 19 minutes. The next night 11 minutes and hardly any crying by the 4th night. It was amazing. She still wakes up 1-2 times a night to eat (she is breastfed) but she has now learned how to sooth herself to sleep after those feedings as well.

It was all going great until this weekend when she rolled over in bed in her swaddle. The next day we tried going swaddle free for naps and at bed time and everything went pear shaped. She screamed for an hour at bedtime before I gave in and swaddled her, and then she slept soundly for 11 hours. So now we are trying to break the swaddle slowly. Once we do we will definitely let her CIO again since we have seen such great results before.

C said...

We didn't sleep train. I just couldn't. So, I sat next to the crib until they fell asleep. With our older one, we walked with him at night when he was fussy. Eventually, we were exhausted. But, he learned to sleep through the night when he was weaned at 15 months. With our toddler, he was a good sleeper and wanted to be in his bed. He is still awake a couple times a night but he is happy to be escorted back to his bed and tucked in. We're still tired but it is manageable.

I admire anyone who can sleep train. I just wasn't strong enough.

Les is more said...

I had a similar experience with my son, Ender. At 6 months I was exhausted! i wrote a blip on it, on my personal (no body reads but my family :) blog --> http://thebungalowpost.blogspot.com/2011/04/size-of-my-miracle-was-so-small-so.html

i hadn't read the book you recommended (but will for my next) and yet, my husband found me lying on my babies floor crying because I was simply lost and tired. he said, "hey, lets just see what happens if we let him cry. he is fed, changed, and is old enough to know we love him (said such and such expert)". So we went out on the back porch. While Zander drank a beer, I wept and prayed and questioned my love for my baby. But like magic, Ender had the same results as your Toby! For our family and for ender's ornery sleep personality, it was the right method. I will be curious to see if the second one eases into the sleep routine easier.
You are a precious mom.

bellebyrd said...

My daughter cries throughout the night. After 19 months she has her own room and now I'm not as compelled to check on her 3 plus times a night when she cries. She usually goes back to sleep but I don't know why she does this so ofen. Try 19 months of no sleep! Women are in tune to crying differnt from men FOR SURE! It's torture to hear it!

Alli Parlin said...

We do the same bedtime routine every night. No exceptions. And it works! There are many nights when we are tired too and just want to give her a bottle and put her to bed. But consistency is important. Here is what we do: http://alliparlin.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleep-training.html

Jen said...

There's an awesome episode of Mad About You (remember that? Paul Rudd and Helen Hunt?) where they sleep train Mabel (this would be the last season? penultimate?). If I remember correctly, the entire episode is a single shot of the two parents sitting in front of the child's closed bedroom door, and it aired without commercials! I think it'd be great to have on hand to watch the first few nights of sleep training your own child.

holtkamp said...

thanks for the recommendation! the only sleep training book i read was dr. weissbluth's 'healthy sleep habits, happy baby' and once our baby learned to nap and sleep the whole family was so much more happy and i loved waking up to a smiling baby every morning. like weissbluth says, sleep begets sleep. once our baby started napping, he started sleeping through the night and that magical 12 hours you hear some parents talk about. the first few days of sleep training are frustrating, but very worth it in my opinion.

Amy Lauree said...

Yep totally agree with you! Sleep training blows (we also used Dr Weissbluth like some of the other commenters) for our first daughter. We thought that it was okay, but her sleeping kept getting worse and worse and up longer and longer trying to feed and rock through the night. I wanted to have another baby but I wasn't going to have it unless this one year old was sleeping through the night. We let her cry and it was the hardest. But it was surprising how quickly she adapted and she did sleep better and started to nap better (we eventually did crying it out for naps too, also, crappy.) But now we have a second and I would definitely do it again. I am more relaxed about the crying this time around though, I don't have time like I did with the first to rock the second forever with a toddler running around now!

Ali said...

We were in the minority amongst our friends - I couldn't stomach the whole cry-it-out method. And I got a lot of flak from friends and family for refusing to "sleep train" (we tried it once and it felt so, so wrong). Did I sleep for two years? Nope. But I'm totally happy that I did what I did. It worked for us in that it felt more natural and normal. And then I felt wonderfully vindicated when this came out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8636950.stm
That being said - there will always be detractors and proponents for many, many different methods when it comes to sleep and child-rearing in general. I've learned to try to keep pretty neutral around others because what works for one kid absolutely may not work for another kid - and what's right for one family may not be right for another family. -- Paloma

Julia said...

I didn't sleep train my kids until after their first year, since they were very distracted nursers and got a lot of their calories at night. But after I weaned them I used the ferber method-a sort of progressive waiting. Mostly because I'm a softy and hate to hear baby's cry :)

Talki said...

This has nothing to do with anything, but on my computer, your tab,banner thingy is all jumbled at the end (i.e. 'MOTHERHOOD' is half covered by the line at the bottom, and is sitting underneath 'WEDDINGS & RELATIONSHIPS.'). I don't know if it's just my computer, or the coding, but thought I'd let you know in case it's the latter! Love the new look in any case :) x

Elena Claire said...

hmm, Ok, I understand a little bit of crying it out when you put babe down initially, but what about with each waking? Same story? Our 5 month old son, Jonah, is pretty chill and doesn't have a problem soothing himself to sleep when we put him down for the first time, but he does still wake several times a night - usually to bed at 7:30, up again around 12:30, and then again around 4. He may wake up again at 6am, before we finally get him up at 7 or 7:30. He goes down easily again each time with feeding (usually!), but I'd love to get him down to maybe one waking, to feed. Is this covered in the book?

Elena Claire said...

hmm, Ok, I understand a little bit of crying it out when you put babe down initially, but what about with each waking? Same story? Our 5 month old son, Jonah, is pretty chill and doesn't have a problem soothing himself to sleep when we put him down for the first time, but he does still wake several times a night - usually to bed at 7:30, up again around 12:30, and then again around 4. He may wake up again at 6am, before we finally get him up at 7 or 7:30. He goes down easily again each time with feeding (usually!), but I'd love to get him down to maybe one waking, to feed. Is this covered in the book?

Notes from Holly St. said...

I loved this book and used it when sleep training my daughter! I thought it was a much gentler approach than the Ferber method and felt really comfortable implementing "the plan" when we started training. Of course, the first night was complete torture but it only got better from there. The alone time my husband and I now have in the evenings is priceless and it feels so good to know our daughter is sleeping peacefully in the next room.

Susan/Mommy said...

I guess I'm in the minority here, but I think in America we put too much importance on "sleeping through the night" and making babies independent. When my son was about 18 months old, my husband and I were at our wits' end. I was getting up every couple of hours to nurse, and then had to function the next day as a work-at-home mom. It was brutal and I felt like a zombie. He slept right next to me in a co-sleeper until he outgrew it, but I think we were afraid of becoming "those people" who let their kid sleep IN their bed.

Once he started sleeping in his room in a crib, at my husband's urging we did what we called a "gentle sleep bootcamp" for a couple of days that did involve some tears and honestly I have always regretted it. Just like in the Mad About You episode mentioned above, I couldn't help but wonder if he was learning that we weren't going to respond to his needs. It sort of worked - we were able to put him in his crib while he was awake and he would fall asleep - but it didn't last forever. My son has just never been a sound sleeper (and trust me we've tried all the tricks and gear). Now at almost 4 years old, he starts off in his room and eventually comes into our bed in the middle of the night. This is how all of us get the most sleep and we're fine with it. I actually cherish our snuggly time because I know it's not going to last forever.

So I do understand why people go down the sleep training path and I'm not judging b/c dang I sorta did it, too. Nighttime parenting is hard! For me, it's more important to respond to my child's cries than to get extra sleep. I wasn't going to mention the BBC article, but since someone referenced it above, it's an interesting read: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8636950.stm
~Susan

Lisa N said...

We bought this book based on an earlier post of yours. We started SleepEasy when our daughter was 5 months old. You are so lucky your first night was only 20 minutes! Ours was 58! Then 39, 15, and finally 5 with no crying. It was very hard on my husband, but he did not see the happy, well-rested baby that woke up the next day since he has to work.

I thought the most important point of the book was consistency. I realized the mixed messages we were sending to our daughter. Sometimes you get picked up, sometimes you have to cry and sometimes you get a pacifier. How confusing for a small baby!

Thank you for the recommendation awhile back. This book changed our lives! Our daughter is so happy and ready to play now that she gets the proper amount of sleep.

Katherine Boothe said...

I loved this book, too - sleep training was definitely a longer road with our daughter, but ultimately having her go to sleep reliably on her own made all our lives so much better! She is now a happy, busy toddler and while she still has sleep problems sometimes - we recently went through a spate of nightmares and the new thing is waking up at 5am (!), having her go down happily at 7.30pm lets my partner and I work in the evenings and still enjoy a bit of time together. Crucial.

me said...

I have two children, my first son didn´t sleep though one whole night until he was 4 years old, my second son is two years old now, and he´s a much better sleeper, but I usually have to take him into my bed during the night. I never tried sleep training and even though my children don´t sleep 12 hours straight, they were never cranky during the day. My way to deal with it was to understand that it is not normal for most little children to sleep though - it is normal for them to sleep for some hours, wake up again, and sleep for some hours. I could adjust to it. With my second son I stopped checking at what time he woke up or to count how many times he woke up. Knowing that doesn´t help AT ALL - it´s just frustrating. I decided to take it easy and accept it the way it was. That worked fine for me. Yes, I wake up a couple of times per night. But it´s not the end of the world if you don´t let it become the end of the world. Really. Things change when you have children - if you try to make them work in a way so they fit into the life routine you had before having children, there will be many many moments when you feel frustrated. That´s my opinion. But those sleeptraining books are great moneymakers for the people who write them.

kt said...

Yes, to a routine (especially white noise)! My 23 month old daughter is so happy to go to bed at night. I also do an similar routine for her nap time.

Also, "Bringing up Bebe" mentioned "The Pause" and I think it's important not to rush to comfort your child every time they whimper or fuss a little... it's an important skill to learn how to soothe yourself and the earlier learned, the better.

wmbg. said...

i'm going to have to start reading some books. 19 weeks to go and 0 books read.

am i the only one out there who's having a difficult time picking up baby books and actually reading them? (please don't say yes.)

Courtney said...

I used Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby from day one. I didn't use a very rigorous method, because I'm more laid back, but it definitely helped give me direction. I went with that cry-it-out method at 7 months, and it was GLORIOUS (I mean, after we put in the work). She had only been waking up once a night to eat, but then she went solid from 7-7-- amazing! It was like getting my life back. (And she still sleeps from 7-7 and she is now 4 1/2!)
My sister can't stand her babies crying, so she has never sleep trained. I think she figured they would grow out of it? But she still has to sit with her 6 1/2 year old son every night until he falls asleep, and her 4 year old wakes up still every night. Not great! Being able to self-soothe is a definite life skill.

Marie-Eve said...

I did this too and this was the most painful thing I had to do ! But I was so glad once it actually paid off !

My Blog - A Pretty Nest

Maria Matiopoulou said...

This is such a wonderful post. I was baby sitting my little cousin and his was always looking forward to his sleeping routine. I really believe what you said somewhere in your post that routines make them feel safe. I'm definitely gonna recommend this book to friends who are currently having babies :)

Maria

Elisa Shere said...

We had to sleep train at about 11 months. Things had gotten out of hand, we were bouncing our 23 lb baby to sleep and it was literally breaking our backs. Then he'd wake during the night and we'd have to start all over again. We tried CIO, but couldn't stand to hear our little guy cry. So, we ended up doing the Sleep Lady method. You basically sit right by your baby's crib in a chair and ignore them until they lay down and put themselves to sleep. The first night it took 1.5 hours! But, he put himself down without crying. It takes about a month, but you are there in the room with them and you move the chair further and further away from the crib until you are in the hallway. We loved it, because we didn't feel like we had abandoned our baby alone in a room crying. It really works, it just takes time. Lots of time! But, now our guy is 2 and an amazing sleeper. He is an expert at putting himself to sleep.

Briana said...

I agree! Thank you for making me NOT feel like a bad mommy for NOT letting my baby cry it out.

(she is 6 months and sleeps approx 10 hour stretches at night and we've never 'cried it out.')

Joanna! Love your blog. This isn't a criticism! Glad 'sleep training' worked for you guys! :-)

emily said...

I fully agree with your 'happy parents happy baby' notion. Since my little boy now sleeps (relatively) well, I feel like such a better, more energetic and constructive parent. I too felt totally tortured after 8months of sleepless nights and was starting to hate all that came with being a mum.

I wasn't strong enough to do sleep training on my own as I felt I wasn't 100% sure if I was doing it right - so we hired a night nanny to come for 2 nights to help us. She gave me the confidence to be consistent and strong and to know that letting him cry for a couple of minutes at a time wasn't hurting him. It cost $600 which seemed insane at the time but in hindsight would have paid 10 times that for the happiness and confidence it has brought my husband and I. Highly recommend it if you too can't face it on your own!!

Sandhya said...

I am appalled at people who expect their 11 week old babies to sleep through the night. They won't do it and they are too young to be "sleep-trained". Honestly, if you're exhausted, please talk to your pediatrician or a child behavioralist first. These books, especially the ever-popular Babywise, are written by evangelical ministers who have ZERO background on child development and raising kids. Let's be real-- if you're having a kid, you should expect to not get much sleep for the first year. Having a 6 year old who doesn't sleep through the night is a completely different issue than having a 6 month-old who doesn't sleep through the night, so let's not say that one causes the other.

kelli richard said...

My parents told me that they had to do this exact thing, but instead of a white noise machine (this was the 80's!) they intentionally didn't keep themselves quiet at night. No "Shh, baby's sleeping!" or banging pots and pans, either, but they did have a regular TV volume, regular moving around sounds, etc. This way I got used to sleeping with sounds on, so no matter where they took me at bedtime (like the movie theater for R-rated movies!), I was immediately out like a light. :) although, these days, I fall asleep a little *too* easily at my bedtime! ;-)

Sandhya said...

NO. Babies are born with the instinct to self-soothe (an undisturbed just-born baby will soothe himself by sucking on his hands, which taste like the amniotic fluid he has grown accustomed to). But very young children are at a point in development when they NEED to know that their parents will soothe and comfort them. There is such thing as trying this stuff too early!

Scout and Rice said...

I was nodding along when you said that it felt wrong to go against your maternal instinct, I told myself the same thing!

My little one was a great sleeper up until six months and then suddenly turned a corner and would wake every hour at night. We left it too long to train her because I kept saying 'it's just a phase, she'll grow out of it'. The piece of advice (I don't remember where I got it from now) that kicked me into gear was this: 'It's your responsibility as a parent to teach them to sleep if they don't know how'. The same way you have to teach them healthy eating habits, or how to be gentle and kind.

In the end we found our own way to help sleep train her - she already had a routine, so we followed that and instead of rocking to sleep she'd have a quick cuddle and down to bed. We let her cry for a time and then went back in, gave her a quick cuddle and waited until she had calmed down and was sleepy, and put her down again. Eventually she got the hang of it and we all slept easier. :)

Now if we are lucky enough to have #2, I know I will start that training a little earlier, but I think a lot of things will naturally be different with your second - you are a more confident parent and they will pick up on that.

Nicole said...

I'm not a mother but just reading about how hard getting babies to sleep can be, I can't help but think about those mothers/fathers who don't have a cooperative partner/spouse to share responsibilities with and/or cannot get paid maternity leave or afford nannies, etc. They must seriously never sleep.

Margaret said...

I am SO into sleep training. We have a 2 year old who has been sleeping for 12 hours a night since he was about 3 months because of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. Sometimes after a vacation we have to do a few nights of retraining and I hate hate hate it while it's happening, but it's the only thing that gets him happy and back on track. I understand it's not for every family, but it is a huge part of ours!

Leah Rife said...

I love this post! Thank you for writing about such a hot topic. We have a ten month old son who sleeps 10 to 12 hours a night plus two 2 hour naps during the day thanks to sleep training. It was right for our family, and we are all happier because of the decision to let him cry it out....which only took three consecutive nights. We love the bedtime routine, and we can happily leave him with a sitter since we are confident he will go to sleep easily for her.

cateoh said...

This is such a difficult topic since it does go against maternal instincts, but in the end I agree with everything you've said. We 'got by' with our first child and did what it took to help her sleep, it was never extreme so we all managed. Our 2nd would stay awake for hours in the middle of every night. She just couldn't sleep! I can't remember much of her baby/ toddler years because I was just too tired, and know I dropped the ball parenting my older daughter at this time also. By the time I had my 3rd I'd read "the no-cry sleep solution" and watch the baby whisperer dvd and was well armed to implement good sleep habits from birth so no sleep training was ever needed. By the time the 4th arrived our lives were going through a period of chaos and we slipped back into some "bad" habits and she too would stay awake for hours in the middle of every night. We ended up resorting to sleep training and though it never felt like the right thing to do, the resulting happy and well rested baby (plus rested, happy parents) have made the struggle all worth it. In the end, we all just need to get some sleep.

Rachael Mulder said...

I was exhausted, helpless, and desperate when a friend casually recommended "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." I basically stole it from her and read it as fast as I could! It changed. my. life. No exaggeration there! It was sooo hard to listen to my sweet baby cry, but so worth it...for everyone! Now he goes to bed happily (mostly) at 6:30 and I have all night to catch up on everything, and I am a much happier mama in the morning! It's a beautiful thing.

http://rachaelmulder.blogspot.com/search/label/Jude?updated-max=2012-08-15T09:35:00-07:00&max-results=20&start=18&by-date=false

becca said...

Thank you for posting about this! I feel like it's very brave since there is so much hysteria out there on the internet about letting babies cry to sleep. I did it with my daughter and it turned out to be the healthiest thing for both of us - but while we were going through it I felt so scared and alone! Thank you for sharing your experience.

Rachael Mulder said...

I agree!

laura said...

I was nodding my head at every line I read. (hey, that rhymes).

My daughter is 11 months and around 6 months we started sleep training. We had tried EVERYTHING but she was up all through the night. At one stretch (7 weeks, I counted) she was up every 1 to 2 hours during the night. She was sleeping in a crib in our room so we were both zombies and just beyond exhausted. I had a relative tell me " i could never let my child cry" and that really discouraged me but after long conversations with other relatives (whose opinions i valued far more) we decided to keep going. And it works! Amazing how babies crave routine. Same with us - first night was the worst - and we dealt with it by doing shots and eating cupcakes : )

I believe in this 100%. I do think that a baby isn't capable of learning (or needing to learn) this skill until a certain age. Certainly wouldn't be beneficial to let a 2 month old cry it out.

Thank you for sharing, this is an excellent post. Love motherhood mondays!

Alice said...

This is my situation exactly! I was told by my pediatrician that it's not until 6 months or so that breastfeed babies can go for 10-12 hours without a feeding.

anniecardi.com said...

I don't have kids yet, so all of this is from an outsider's perspective, but I think sleep training like this makes so much sense. When you learn how to do most things, there's a level of frustration in the beginning. And learning how to sleep on your own sounds essential. I'm sure it's REALLY hard to listen to your baby cry and no do anything to help, but it's his first lesson in overcoming a challenge.

valerie said...

Wow, I agree that you're brave to tackle this topic and share your sleep training story on your blog.

We did not sleep train our son for several reasons, the main being that we co-slept and I breastfed him, so it wasn't too hard to just nurse him to sleep and then sneak out of the room or nurse him back down when he woke at night. There did come a point when we transitioned him to his own toddler bed in our room that I wished we had figured out the night waking issue earlier on, but now I'm comfortable with how we dealt with it (and our own sleepiness) in those early days. He's three now and loves sleeping in his big boy bed, in his own room. Occasionally he'll come get us in the middle of the night, but it's usually for a glass of water or a trip to the potty. We're planning on doing the same for our daughter (hurry, February!) but I also have high hopes that maybe she'll enjoy sleeping just a little more as a baby :)

Though it definitely isn't for me, I don't see the point in arguing against mindful sleep training. The last time I checked, all of those studies usually cited by anti-sleep-trainers were done on seriously neglected children, not children whose loving, mindful parents just couldn't function on too little sleep. If you find yourself losing patience as a parent or becoming resentful of your child, by all means figure out how to make sure you're being taken care of too.

Katie said...

We didn't feel sleep training was right for our family or our child. I have a degree in child development and it went against my understanding of and beliefs about what is best for babies that said, I Agee that sleep is paramount. We've found that safe co-sleeping leaves us all rested and happy.

Liesel said...

There are also studies that show it doesn't harm their brains, when done correctly. You can find research to support any viewpoint. It is very, very important to be a critical consumer and read the actual study, not just the news article reporting about it. There are so many factors that can effect the outcome of research.

elise said...

i had the HARDEST time with sleep training. i put it off until my son was almost eighteen months, and then decided i just had to buckle down and do it. it was the hardest part of parenting for me (that, and weaning). but in the end it was best for the whole family. i love your oxygen mask analogy...my husband uses the same analogy! he reminds me that jude (our son) is helpless if i'm not breathing. it helps to keep that in mind :)

SloanewilliamsBartsoff said...

I definitely think it is so important to teach children to sleep on their own! Now I don't have any babies yet, but this is something I've had set in my mind for a while that I would teach my children that some things they NEED to do on their own. And for me that includes going to bed and STAYING in bed. I think it would teach them independence. :)

Kathleen McKnight said...

our daughter would cry for more than an hour so much so that she made herself throw up. You really don't want to clean that up from the side of a crib more than once a night. Sleep training did not work for us. Maybe we're weak and should have pushed through, but at some point you just hold the kid until she goes to sleep so you can go to sleep (and not create multiple loads of laundry per night).

Meagan@Meagan Tells All said...

I am a huge believer in sleep training and just feel so bad when parents wait too long to do it. We started a routine bedtime around 3-4 months and by 5-6 months I dropped my night feeding and she figured it out pretty quickly when it came to bedtime. We also had a halo sack, not the swaddle, and I am positive the second she heard the zipper, she knew it as bed or nap time. She is now nearing 3 and we haven't had a problem since we sleep trained her. I nannied for 2 little girls, one I got at 12 weeks and the other came at 8 weeks old. The 12 week old parents told me I changed their life for taking charge with her sleep training. The 8 week old parents couldn't deal with someone else training their baby and we had to part ways because when I wanted to start sleep training, they doubted me every step of the way and it made my 12 hr days with their child torture. Having to rock a 4-5 month old to nap every few hours was ridiculous. But I think the mom just wasn't totally settled on the fact that someone else was taking care of her baby during the day. Huge control freak. Hope they figured something else out that worked!!! All I know is that there is a small window of time where sleep training can happen within one week. And if you miss that chance, it is paiiiiiiiin!!!!!! My friends have an almost 1 yr old she is STILL rocking to sleep. That poor mama!!!

Liesel said...

Honestly, my little guy slept through the night at three months. And, he was born six weeks early so technically, he was only 6 weeks old. I did not do CIO as Joanna talks about but rather a bit more of a relaxed version. (Not that there is anything wrong with what you did, Joanna.) I also had a scale at home for weighing our son before and after feeds. Guess what? He slept through the night after four nights of nearly no tears. He was already down to one feeding a night and I slept in his room with him but he was always in his crib. Because of his scale, I knew he started eating 24 ounces during the day and often more. I used Bringing Up Bebe, as someone else mentioned. When he woke up for that feeding, I changed him and swaddled him and then put him back to bed. The first night, he cried for a bit so I fed him and he was instantly back to sleep. The second night, he fussed a little less and went back, and also the third. The fourth, right back to sleep. That was two months ago. In that time, he has woken up three times in the middle of the night and he sleeps for twelve hours. Once, he got fed and the other two he just needed a little soothing. Sleep training does not mean you are neglecting your child for most and small children most certainly can do it. Since doing it, our son rejects his pacifier and prefers his hands and fingers for soothing. We all have to do what works for our families. No one here is attacking co-sleeping or not sleep training. Why must the pro no CIO attack sleep trainers?

Liesel said...

I should say, the second, third, and fourth night, he went to sleep without eating.

Sabrina and Taylor said...

I don't think that you can say your baby is the center of your world if you are forcing him to fit exactly into your previous pre-baby life. babies have different schedule needs than adults and just because they have no say in the matter doesn't mean we shouldn't honor their needs.

Lauren Knight said...

Wow! I've so enjoyed reading all the comments about this obviously controversial subject!

I have three boys aged 5, 3, and 13 months. They were all different. My first we tried the CIO method and he did alright with it, but it definitely took some time.

My second boy we tried this with, he cried for literally HOURS and I couldn't deal with it. I felt like I was abusing my child. I was crying, my husband was stressed, and we ended up just going in and comforting him. I know consistency is key, but I could not justify hours upon hours of crying. We tried this again with him when he was a few months older with the same results. CIO did not work for him. In fact, at 3 years old, he still wakes up once a night just needing reassurance. I'm okay with this. I know it will pass.

My 13-month-old still nurses at night and wakes up every couple of hours. Honestly, I know that he is my last baby and I know he will start sleeping longer when I wean him. But for now, I am okay with going to him when he wakes up. I would love to get more rest, but I strongly feel that will come with time.

For those of you who had success with CIO, congrats! I am a little envious! Just be aware that each child is different. You know, it is really nice that there are so many different methods of sleep training from which to choose!

Lizzie Polish said...

I think having a sleep schedule is one thing when your son is that little and he is basically in the way in the evenings and you want to be doing things either at home or going out and leaving him with a sitter. When they are a little older (3 or 4) it is nice to be much more flexible so you can do things as a family in the evenings. We skip naps to force earlier bedtimes when we were going out and my kids took naps until much later than most kids because as soon as they are eating solid food we all eat dinner as a family at 8pm so the kids usually head to bed around 9:30 at the earliest. We also don't have a regulated wake up time.

Ashley said...

It's so nice to read this! I feel like so many people are afraid to say it! we started our son on a "routine" at 3 weeks old.. mind you we were very aware that he was only 3 weeks and we would have to accept the fact that he may not completely comply. He is 2 months old today and has a very regular schedule that we can adjust as needed for our day. It's so nice to be able to know how our day will go (most of the time). THere are exceptions....but we've been able to tell what is wrong when by having this schedule. He is 2 months and sleeps 7 hours a night. That can vary by about 30 minutes either way....but it's amazing! My husband and I realize that our child was brought in to the world to enhance our wonderful family but that he is also not the only one in the family! Our days are brighter and happier when we all have our rest.....but dont take that to mean if he has a rough night and we dont sleep as much we aren't happy. Thanks again for putting this out there!

Nicole said...

Paul Reiser, not Paul Rudd. Paul Rudd is the guy from I Love You, Man and Wanderlust.

BookishPenguin said...

If your baby is 6 mths old and sleeps 10 hours, you're very fortunate. All babies are different and sleeping tendencies seem to be luck of the draw. The studies on this aren't conclusive either way and it's really up to every parent to determine what they are willing to do. I didn't sleep train my son until he was 11 mths old, but that's because he went from sleeping well to waking up every 90 minutes all night long. You have to do what works for your situation.

Kris said...

I have friends that had a toddler that wasn't able to fall asleep on his own. He would wake up in the night and holler out, "I need people in here." Makes me giggle even today.

Mia Stizzo said...

he absolutely is. he's obviously been a huge life changer and we are different people now that he's here. i guess i might be thinking differently had he not adjusted to our schedules as easily as he did? he's never fought the routine we set for him. i just know that in order to be the best and most present mother for him i need to take care of myself and maintain a semblance of structure and routine.

glimmersnaps said...

No Cry-It-Out for us! We have co-slept since day 1 and continue to do so at almost 20 months. Honestly, I feel like it's the best way to start the day-- everyone cozy in bed together! Sure, I wake up a few times a night to nurse, but I'd much rather do that than let my child cry without any comfort. I'm much more concerned about how I'll wake him up for school when he's a teenager!

I just don't believe that "training" a baby to sleep has any long-term impact on the way he sleeps. Would you start training your baby to walk before they showed readiness? Back in the day all babies co-slept and had the comfort of their mothers throughout the night. Apparently, they managed to grow into self-sufficient adults who could sleep without their mommies. I trust that my baby will do the same when he's ready. :)

realnchicmom said...

Your story is exactly like an episode of Mad About You (sitcom from the 90s)...it was hilarious and heart wrenching. My husband and I were lucky enough to have two kids who had no problem getting to bed. Thanks for sharing.

thebeautyphilosopher.com said...

Joanna, I would love you to do a similar post on daytime naps! My seven month old sleeps mostly well at night but during the day getting her down peacefully is a nightmare.

I think the six month mark is hard for many mothers. On the one hand the baby is often becoming more mobile and alert, and their little personality comes through. This makes it fun and a little easier as the baby can amuse herself a little bit and does not get frustrated and not being able to do stuff (as mine did). But on the other hand they are still true babies and six months of sleep issues or other issues is very draining and for me by the six month mark I felt utterly exhausted.

Annie said...

I think sleep training is hard, and I am sure it works. I actually tried sleep training at six months and it seemed to work (in the sense that my little girl would cry less and less). But it was also inconsistent, and not as quick as it was for you. At the time I was just a stay at home Mom, so I didn't worry about sleep training her too much. I stopped sleep training and decided to let her tell me when she was ready, and the strange part was at 8 months she suddenly decided she was okay with being put in her crib when it came to bedtime. And her bedtime-I watched to see the consistent time she was tired, which was 830pm.

I guess my method is less convenient for those who want to stick to a strict sleeping and napping schedule. (which is hard since I have crazy school schedule) I just found it more convenient for my schedule. Hopefully I didn't ruin her development in the future with my method!

Ros said...

There was no question that we would help 'teach' our boy to sleep. We used similar methods for him, predictable bedtime routine, in bed by 7 every night. He also learnt to love his bed & bedtime like Toby. Teaching a child to be able to sleep independently on their own is the best gift you can give them and yourself as parents. My boy slept through the night from 8 weeks, all by choice of his own, he is now almost 2. The only nights he wakes is if he is sick or something is wrong, on those nights we gladly let him snuggle in our bed for comfort :-)

autumn said...

It breaks my heart to read that there are people who are "So into sleep training!" ...why would you emphatically love something that forces you to tune out all of your maternal instinct? Having kids means choosing to put someone else's needs in front of your own. If my spouse was crying out of "a need for attention" I would never ignore this, if I was crying just because I was "frustrated and wanted help" it would be horrendous to everyone if my husband were to ignore me. I feel the same way about my daughters. Their needs and wants are just as important as my own, they deserve respect because they are people (often times if feels like we forget that, because they are kids). My oldest is three and was a "bad sleeper" for ages, eventually she started sleeping longer and longer and now she sleeps through the night in her own bed in her own room. My youngest is 5months and sleeps with me, cuddled up and nursing most of the night. . . because, duh, she is tiny baby and she needs to know that comfort is available to her whenever she needs it, not just when I feel it is "needed" or condoned. Sometimes that means I am up with her hourly and other times it means she rolls away and sleeps all night. Babies are babies for such a short, short time and while I may be more tired than I would like, I know that I will never look back and think "I should have nursed her less. I should have rocked and bounced her less. What a spoiled baby."

dear olive said...

I've got to say, this kind of thing goes against all my instincts as a parent. I find it hard to believe that you're training them to "sleep" - surely you're just teaching them that you won't respond if they cry at bedtime? Which is not really the same thing.
Kellie

domonique matthews said...

absolutely. you have to. also, swaddle and double swaddle til they can walk! (almost)

haleysuzanne said...

I think helping your child learn to sleep is important, but I can't get behind any form of crying it out. The difference when she cries because she wants something or doesn't want something is that I am right there to talk her through it. If I put her to bed and let her cry, she isn't getting that reassurance from me.

My daughter is now 16 months old. She wouldn't even sleep in a crib or bassinet until she was 4 months old. Then, she would sleep for short spurts, and I would co-sleep with her for the rest of the night. Whenever she woke, I let her nurse back to sleep. We still do this **if** she wakes up. Now, she sleeps through most nights, and tends only to wake if she is really hungry or if she is teething and in pain. I can put her down before her naps and before bed while she is still awake, and she will drift off on her own. We do have a bedtime routine that we follow (bath, massage, jammies, book, nurse, crib with lovey). I was patient with the process, and she is a great sleeper now.

I will say that I am a SAHM, and if I were a WOHM I would have probably had to resort to CIO in order to function at work. I know that patiently waiting for a child to learn how to sleep when they are ready for it won't work for everyone. But, children will eventually sort it out, particularly if they associate sleep and bed with safety and comfort. It's worth helping them get there without distress if you can.

Liesel said...

I would also love a nap post. My little guy sleeps 12 hours/night so it feels a bit selfish and indulgent to say this but he's a terrible napper. He catnaps for 40-45 minutes a nap, several times a day. Maybe that's all he needs? I don't worry too much..after all, 12 hours! But I am terribly interested in what others experience with the napping. Most of my friends say you get one or the other. Nights or naps. Those of you who sleep train...do you nap train too? Is it successful? What does it look like?

Claire @ My Devising said...

We did/do Babywise with our son and he started sleeping 8 hours at night around 8 weeks. We've only added on hours since then and now, at 11 months, he's doing a lovely 12 hours at night. Good for you for doing what you need to do in order to have a happy, rested baby and be a happy, rested mom. We have to teach our kids how to do everything else so teaching them how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own is a logical idea to me. :)

www.mydevising.com

Claire @ My Devising said...

I think sleep and nap training can go hand in hand. My boy sleeps 12 hours at night but is still taking 2 naps during the day (usually around 1.5-2 hours each). He's a rested boy, that's for sure! And he really does love his naps! I think you can have both good naps and good night sleep. I don't know if I necessarily address "nap training" on my blog, but I do talk about naps and how we do things if you want to check it out. Glad you're at least getting some good night sleep! :)

www.mydevising.com

delia tomoiaga said...

Thanks for sharing. We tried sleep training at 6 months. But, our son had developed this incredible "superpower" to throw up everything, and I mean the projectile kind, every time he cries for longer than 2 minutes (he gets mad and goes into screaming mode and pow!). He does it at the doc's office sometimes, and of course he did it the few times we tried sleep training. But funnily, he is not a walking vomitorium at all, he never had any issues at all, and we felt he magically developed this "gift" to punish us for when we let him get mad. I'm only half-joking. ;)

On our first night of training we did everything "by the book" - bedtime routine, and so on - but when it came time to leave him in the crib and leave the room, oops. Few minutes later, I was cleaning the crib and walls while my husband was calming him down and bathing him. Second night, repeat. Buh-bye sleep training.
Thus we decided on an alternate method. After putting him in the crib just enough for him "to get it" (30 sec - 1 min), he starts crying and we quickly move him to our bed. He is grateful that he is not alone I guess and so he learned to fall asleep within 2-3 min in our bed. 5 min later, we move him in the crib, where he peacefully sleeps 11 hours.
You are lucky it worked easily with Toby! I too feel lucky that we found a middle way that works great for us under the circumstances. It's not always easy and yes, kids are very different.

erin said...

i do think it's important to realize that every child/parent combo will be different, so things that work for one may not work for the other. with that said, i can't get behind CIO or whatever prettier names it may be called. as other posters have said, babies are babies and we sign up to be their parents day and night. it doesn't feel right for me to shut the door on a screaming baby. yes, i think those maternal signals going off actually are doing so for a reason.

while most other mamas and their babies in the animal kingdom sleep within close proximity to each other, we expect our little babies to fall asleep on their own, in the "comfort" of their own rooms set apart from what is really their most comforting object--their parents. just because we have evolved to live in big, many roomed homes doesn't mean that a 2 or 3 or 6 or 10 month old baby is ready to be in solitude for 10-12 hours per night.

does CIO work? yes, for most, eventually. does that mean that baby has learned to self soothe? perhaps. or perhaps it means that baby has learned that mama's not coming--and to lower his or her expectations. to me that is quite sad. it's not something i want for my child at such a young age.

i have 2 children (2 and 4) who eventually learned to put themselves to sleep and do so in the room that they share with each other. i have a 3 month old, cosleeping baby who will eventually gain the same skills as his brother or sister without extended crying. he won't likely do it by 6 months, or perhaps not even a year, but we will get there and i won't have the memory of standing at the other side of a door with my stomach in knots.

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Joy said...

Such a great post, Joanna! I remember you telling me about this when we were preparing to sleep train Ruby. We did a very similar set of techniques. I fully believe in sleep-training too and setting your baby up for success with the routine and familiarity and getting them used to not having to eat in the middle of the night all before getting to the crying it out part. It took us about a week before she slept through the night. And Ruby is such a great sleeper now. I wouldn't change a thing, and if anything, I'd start the routine and schedule earlier with our next baby. It was really hard at the time, but so well worth it!

Jessi said...

Oh I'm all about sleep training...

When my little lady was about 2 months old (and we were BEYOND exhausted..) it hit me. I"M keeping her awake. I ran in there at every squeak and squeal... and would excite her.

I KNOW the books were telling me she was too young... but I just knew it was the right thing for all of us. She was tired. We were tired. She was fed, dry, rocked, kissed and nurtured all day long. The only reason she was crying so much was because she was so tired...

So we did a modified sleep training (because she was so young) and now my little 6 month old sleeps through the night... and has since 2 months.

YEAH for sleep training!

P.S. It was absolutely heart wrenching... BUT necessary.















Jessi said...

Man, I'm a SAHM too and I HAD to sleep train. I admire your patience... but I was at my whits end.

Thats when I realized... even SAHM's need to clock out from time to time.

And I think a lot of it too depends on the child. I knew my little lady was ready and let me tell ya... she LOVES her chill out alone time now.

Jessi said...

I'm glad its working for your family... but if someone sleep trains its not always because they think they're spoiling their baby.

In all honesty... I'm a better mom because I put my need of sleep as a top priority.

Now i can actually feel connected and awake with my little girl instead of praying for a few hours of rest.

Mel said...

My mom used this technique on me twenty years ago, and I've heard her and other adults talk about it so many times ever since.

I don't see it as telling your baby that you won't be there for them. It's telling your baby that he/she needs to learn what bedtime means. It means sleeping through the night without stirring unless there is a genuine emergency.

I will definitely use this technique when I have my own babies because parenting while sleep-deprived is not going to do anybody any good.

Elena said...

We tried CIO when our daughter was around 5 months and it almost ruined our marriage. After hours of crying i snapped and picked her up and my husband snapped at me for that. We were both so exhausted at that point (our daughter had colic and would cry for hours every night from 9pm till 1-3am non-stop). So after this failed CIO attempt I decided to ignore everything and everyone and put our baby in bed with us. That way we all finally started to get some sleep. Our daughter is 16 months old now and we are still cosleeping and nursing several times at night. Of course some nights are fussier than others and sometimes I wake up tired but to me hearing her cry feels much much worse.

Jill Palmer said...

He stopped crying ecause he now knows you won't meet his needs. Leaving a baby in a dark room alone is a bad idea. People always want their single life back when they have kids. When deciding to be a parent you are committing to a life change. Accept the changes! Even if it means a sacrifice .

MotherEarth said...

"Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Chid" saved our lives. Seriously. Our first baby was born crying and just about never stopped. So no sleep, and constant screaming. Not Fun. It turned out he was "over-tired" for the first 10 months of his life. I wish I had read that book instead of the 10 others I read early on. Our second baby: slept through the night from the start, and is still going strong.

The Cyclists Wife said...

I think it depends on what your definition of "cry it out" is. For some mom's it's 30 seconds, or not at all. Maybe cry it out is just a bad definition. You should do what is best for your baby (which may not always feel like what is best for you). Trust your instincts, you will be able to tell the difference between crying because your baby not ready for bed and crying because your baby is under stress. Any transition is difficult and no parent should expect that sleep training will be easy. And just like anything else, the longer you put it off, the more difficult it is going to be.

Unknown said...

Here here Erin. Thank you for your post

Unknown said...

Here here Erin. Thank you for your post

Beki said...

In our community, none of our friends, including us, did sleep training. We are six different families and we live in Los Angeles. We all have different parenting styles but none of us did the cry it out method. We all established bed time routines and nursed our babies. I get up twice a night. We all felt as parents that "sleep training" taught our babies that we weren't around for them. All of our children sleep--some earlier and longer than others--but all sleep and we, the parents, all function. We are all working moms.

I think what bothers me about many of these comments is the judgment and the self righteousness. "Sleep training" may work for other parents but to turn around and say that it is the only way or is so vitally important just sounds like self justification and close mindedness. Parents make lots of different choices. It is possible to contribute personal experiences without proclaiming to know the right way to do "x."

thelittleredhorse.co said...

I am going to talk about this on my blog tomorrow - I have a 15 month old that has been sleeping through the night since about 6 weeks, but it is because we followed the book BabyWise, which I can imagine is a very similar principals.

Thank you for sharing - This is a very controversial subject, but if you are willing to put in the work, the reward is SO worth it! {as I write this, my daughter is sleeping and SNORING so loudly.... makes me laugh!}

miss sarah said...

As with all things baby-related, sleep habits for the little one + family is very personal! And as with my usual advice to myself and all parents: If it's working for you? Go for it! With the obvious proviso that baby is safe, etc.

We did a combo of things. Co-slept (worked well for us since I didn't get up to nurse) for 4ish months. Then when infant got too squirmy and it was ruining my sleep, into a crib. Then at around 6 months we let him wail a little instead of nursing him to sleep. It wasn't all roses all the time, but unless you're actually hungry or have a diaper that needs attention? Mama has to get some shut eye! No guilt here. The household is like a business. Things need to get done, and I can't be my best when I'M over tired.

An aside, I was wondering if you would ever consider doing a Motherhood Monday on child care. You had those great interviews with women who are freelancers, stay-at-home, etc, but for those moms who do work in addition to mom-work, I'm curious to know how they went about finding and choosing child care. I am self-employed as well and have found it very challenging to find the right nanny. Is it just me? Please say it's not just me...

Meghan said...

I think that each family has to do what is best for them, and this was a really brave post for you to write Joanna. Thank you for sharing your experience. That said, we are not a cry it out family...I feel like I needed to comment because I'm shocked that the majority of people who have commented above say that there is no other way to go than 'sleep training' or letting your child 'cry it out.' I want other mamas, or mamas-to-be out there, to know that there ARE other options. You do not have to ignore your maternal instincts for you or your baby to get sleep. If crying it out or sleep training methods don't quite sit with you or make sense to you, there are are other gentle approaches other than letting your infant cry in a room behind a closed door by him or herself. Honestly, it breaks my heart to think about it. Everyone has to do what they have to do, but the thought has never even crossed my mind to use this method. Being a parent is tough. There's no way around that. It's wonderful and amazing and I feel so lucky every single day to have my almost 22 month old daughter. But raising her is also the most exhausting and challenging experience of my life, day in and day out...and I think that that is completely normal. In her short life I feel like I've already made many parenting mistakes, but choosing not to use cry it out has not been one of them. I've kept the faith that this little baby of ours, who is now a rambunctious and independent toddler, would/will figure out sleep on her own terms, not mine. And like everything else growth and developmental wise, she has changed so much since she was born and is figuring it all out a little more every day. Honestly, I don't think that there is an issue with babies waking up and crying at night or having a hard time getting to sleep. Is it inconvenient? Yes. Is it frustrating and exhausting? Absolutely. But they figure it out eventually. Heck, I'm a grown woman and I don't sleep through the night many times, even before my daughter was born. I guess I'm saddened by the unrealistic expectations that parents have about infant sleep. The only advice I feel absolutely confident giving any parent regarding sleep is to follow *your* instincts and what you know to be true, in your heart, mind and bones. Listen to yourself. No one knows your baby better than you do. No one. If you have confidence in yourself, do the research, think and talk things through, you can't go wrong for your baby or family, however you decide to approach sleep. Heck, this applies to every other major decision or strategy when it comes to parenting for that matter. I can say personally that I've never regretted bed-sharing, co-sleeping or nursing my daughter to sleep, like I did tonight. This little person is growing up so fast and I've cherished every moment we've had together. In a blink of an eye it will be over, so I try not to sweat what in the big picture is small stuff. This has been my perspective anyhow, and I have to always remind myself of this.

astrid said...

Thanks for the post Joanna, such an interesting and emotional topic! Please, write about the nap routine soon!
I'm mothering in Finland with a long mother's leave for everyone (9monts + the option to take care of your toddler at home until she is 3 with small government monetary support). Maybe it is because there is no rush to combine a small baby and a full-time work life that I feel no pressure at this point to have a baby that sleeps through the night. In fact my baby has been a great sleeper (next to me) pretty much from the start, but he still nurses multiple times a night. He falls right back to sleep after (or never fully wakes up). I'm aware that at this point he is nursing for comfort rather than hunger, but I'm glad to offer him this closeness. I would feel very badly about letting this one cry himself to sleep. I have been studying trauma and the importance of a peaceful attachement period (1st year) and have made my choice to adapt to my baby's needs for this early part of his life. I'm also feeling that in the bigger scale this is a very short period of time. I don't wish to judge anyone who uses any sleep solutions – we are bound by where we are doing our mothering, what support we get from the surroundings and what personalities we are (and our kids are). Getting a good night's sleep is very important for me too. The couple of nights that our son has been sick and not sleeping well, I've felt ill and depressed the next day, so all my sympathy to families with sleeping problems.

Rachel said...

I feel I have to comment to balance out suggestions that this is the only way to parent at night. I would urge parents to research outside of mainstream heavily publicised books and read some of the research and theories around why leaving your baby to cry is not a good idea. Have a look at the evidence around raised cortisol levels & aside from academic research, put yourself in that babies place. Parenting is a round the clock job, be there to reassure your baby, take lessons from other cultures outside of our westernised way of doing things. I am a mother of 3, aged 13, 10 & 9 months & I can assure you that being a responsive night time parent leads to babies who do sleep well in their own time, mine have varied greatly, and become confident & secure young people. It doesn't 'spoil' them or mean you won't ever sleep. And I've always worked so don't have the luxury of going back to bed! I think parents should start with realistic expectations, knowledge of sleep cycles, babies wake on regular sleep cycles for various reasons, protection against SIDS & nutritional needs in the first 12 months being the main ones. Let's have an open debate, this is about letting parents know there are other ways than just leaving a baby to cry till they shut down due to cortisol levels & a realisation that nobody will respond x

{ Nina Designs } said...

I am sorry, but this time I do not agree with you at all.
A child that age does not need to "learn" how to sleep. His nature is to wake up during the night. Especially if you're nursing him.
I do not like a baby crying to fall asleep. The message that kid is getting is...well, you can cry all you want, but I'm not going to come and comfort you. Which for me is very sad and could not do it.
In Spain we have a pediatrician that created a similar method, and now is retracting. Saying you can not apply this method to a child under the age of 3.
I can understand that having a baby go to sleep early every night is very comfortable for the parents, but don't think that's the best for the baby.
This is only my opinion.
As I say, it's the first time I don't agree with something in your blog, which is also normal and understandable.

Lisa said...

I'm 6 days from my due date, and like you, I will be a working mother, and our families are spread out over the world so we will be traveling to different timezones a lot -- so it's pretty much imperative that we have to get our boy on a good sleep routine. So these are great tips - thanks!

Alioco said...

I'm one of those 'poor mamas' still rocking my almost 1 year old back to sleep. I'm not surprised those poor parents took their baby elsewhere if you were about to ignore their babies cries! Poor child!
Oh and 'having to rock a 4-5 month old to nap' is NORMAL. I'm sorry but you are the one who sounds like a control freak. Scary!

Iris said...

i have two children, 3 and 8, who are very good sleepers since they are about 1 - 1,5 years old, and we didnt do any "sleep training".

i personally think after my experiences as a mother that you should a) ALWAYS listen to your feelings & intuition.
b) in the first year you cant spoil a baby. you should give him all the love you possibly can.

it is natural that a baby cries for his parents and it is natural that you want to respond to that. there is a reason nature did it this way, dont you think?
this phase of waking up at night will go away. its just a relatively short period of time where your baby needs you.

with patience you can get your baby used to a good sleep routine WITHOUT letting them cry alone in the room, which i think is sooo frightening for a baby. if this crying-method works after some time, it is only because of resignation, and we should ask ourselves if we really want that for our children?

JF said...

two words for you: Gina Ford (an English nurse). She has a great book called "the contented little baby" (I think) with advice on how to get your baby on a routine from newborn. I used it and sure enough my daughter started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks. It takes patience and discipline but it definitely pays off. My baby cried a bit when I started (at about 5 days old) but then very little. I'm a fan!

Marie said...

Great post! We have a 3 year old boy and a 9 months old little lady. Inthe minority here as we believe that our baby will learn to sleep on her own and 'thru the night' as she grows up. Our son actually has been a champion sleeper since around 4 months old, and we did not do anything, he just gradually increased his sleeping time on his own. Our 9 months old still wakes up once or twice a night, but she's slowly getting there. I also nurse to sleep and I have to say, I wouldn't want it any other way, as I really cherish this time with her. She does cry for a minute or so sometimes, but I would never ignore her as it really would go against my maternal instinct.
I think this is a very interesting topic and every family should chose what works for them. That is true with pretty much every parenting decisions we are going to make for our kids. But in the end we all try to do our best for our families.

wonderjet said...

Melissa I would love to find out what the Sleep Guru actually does!

I have never heard of such services and I am really interested. How long did it take? How much did it cost? What did she actually DO?

Thanks in advance!

Kiana said...

Hi Joanna! I'm a first time mama of a 3 month old living in Spain and my baby has slept through the night since he was born. Like Astrid mentioned above, he sleeps next to me in our bed and wakes up at four in the morning like a clock to eat and then doesn't wake again until 9am. When he wakes, he doesn't scream or cry, he just fidgets and fusses a little and I immediately pull him closer to me so he can eat then we both fall right back to sleep (sometimes while nursing!). I read this book you recommend when I was pregnant but in the end, I sleep with my baby the way my mother slept with me when I was a baby. I can assure your other readers that I'm not a spoiled, coddled, 30 year old woman for being comforted by my mother every night as a baby. I am not saying that your method is wrong. Of course not! Toby is a beautiful baby boy and he obviously knows how loved he is by his mami and papi. I'm just saying that as mothers, we need to realize that we can't advertise our experiences as the right choice to others because, as many have said above, not only is every baby different, but also culture, environment and family very much dictate what we will do with our own children and that's natural!

Rachel said...

Just to add, in reference to the Gina Ford book mentioned above. Yes she is English & has been very discredited here in the UK, not least because her methods are deeply flawed but also because she has never had a child & has written further about how women shod be prioritising return of a sexual relationship with their husband or partner within weeks of the birth EVEN IF THEY DON'T WANT TO!!!!! Please don't buy this woman's books, they are very controversial in the UK.

Melissa van Herksen said...

Our first son was so easy. He would sleep ALL night, but he was adopted at 8 months so I think, as sad as it sounds, he was used to crying and no one coming...so we actually had to wake him up to eat (he was malnourished). But then came our second one....OMG he never slept through the night until 14 months. It was a complete nightmare. Finally at 14 months we said enough was enough and just let him cry...BLESSSING. We always had a bedtime routine with him, but since he was breastfeeding I always thought he needed more food (not true)...then at 9 months when I decided to stop breastfeeding I sort of forced him to take a pacifier (wrong thing to do also). Then he would wake up because the pacifier would fall out. But I think what finally put him to "sleep" was that we took that middle of the night bottle out. It was a tough week but after that it was okay. Now he is two years old and has been sleeping 12 hours a night since 15 months. I agree routines are KEY. We travel ALOT (the little one has lived in three continents since he was born) and sleeping is never a problem for my boys because they know they have their routine.

anna said...

First antenatal appointment the midwife suggested 'Save Our Sleep' by Tizzie Hall. Worked like a charm with our little girl who is now 2 and an excellent sleeper. It's working even better with our new little man. He's 4 months old and has been sleeping through since he was about 2.5 months.

It was hard with our first because I was a little uncertain and my mum undermined me a bit. She was a demand feeder who couldn't stand to hear us cry as babies. She still finds it hard, but now concedes that it's probably a better way to go. From her stories it sounds like we were all pretty cranky and sleep deprived most of our infanthoods! I'm certain that its been easier this time because I'm totally convinced we're doing the right thing and it means I'm so much more consistent about it all. I'm sure the little man is getting the vibe :)

I found the book so helpful because it has really detailed routines from birth to 2 years and covers a heap of other useful stuff, like how to dress them for bed, expressing to help with milk supply, how many blankets to use and how to start solids.

Judy said...

I'm glad you loked into sleep training! It's definitely not for everyone, but I feel so bad for parents AND babies that don't sleep well at night.

I do have one caveat though. There is another reason your baby can be crying, they could be wondering where you are and be scared. Because of that if you follow the ferber method, usually referred to as "crying it out" (which is not really what you let them do) it can be easier on the mom and the baby. The method is very similair to what you did (routine, pat them ont he back and leave regardless of their reaction), but the difference is you go back after 2 minutes if they are crying, pat them on the back, sing a song or tell them you love them, and then leave regardless of their reaction again. You continue to do this for longer intervals (2 minutes, then 4 minutes, then 7 minutes, etc).

This way the baby has no abandonment/attachment fears (as a lot of babies do). Also helps the mom simply not feel like they are letting their child scream, but that they are actually reassuring their child they are there for them.

Every baby is different though! Some babies might not like the interuption, so to each their own. I'm really glad you guys found something that worked so well for you all.

I did the ferber method with my son and by 10 weeks he was sleeping 9 hours straight and to this day sleeps 12 hours without getting up a single time. Can I tell you how much I count my blessings that my son has only woken up in the middle of the night ONCE in the last 1.5 years?! He is almost two now, and I feel very grateful that I could help teach him the skills to sleep well at night. Sleep is so easily affected by behavior modification so all moms should feel proud if they take any steps to help their child learn how to sleep.

carly said...

When do they suggest starting the sleep training method?

Mariele said...

i'm a terrible sleeper and i sleep trained myself a few years ago and it was a game changer. i sleep more and better. it works.

AnneHD said...

We're currently trying to teach our 5 mo daughter to fall asleep alone the no-cry way. We've seen a lot of progress in the last weeks, but if my 6 months we are not there, I think we'll try SleepEasy. Her naps are a nightmare, though, so I *can't wait* to read your naps post!

Emily said...

We started doing this about 2 weeks after my daughter was born. We didn't read a book about it or anything, we were just at our wits end. She would wake up to nurse, and then would only want to be held. The minute we would put her in her basinnette by the bed she would cry, so we kept holding her until we were sure she was asleep then put her down. After 2 weeks of exhaustion, we finally let her cry it out one night. It took her 45 excruciating minutes for her to fall asleep, but the next night it was only 20 and it continued to decrease until at 7 weeks she started sleeping through the night. We will definitely start doing this from birth for baby #2 who is due in April.

Erin said...

I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this, Joanna. I'm glad this method worked for you guys! When my son was 4 and a half months old, we decided to start sleep training based on the recommendation of my pediatrician. Instead of me going into his nursery in the middle of the night to try and soothe him (which inevitably led to nursing), my husband started going (read: no food here!). So after several nights of this, my son quickly realized that he wasn't going to be fed in the middle of the night and started sleeping through. I realize this method requires a committed partner who is also willing to go without sleep, but it worked wonders for us. He's been sleeping through since then...until teething began :)

Jam-packed Life said...

Our son would wriggle out of the saddle but loves being cozy. So we got a baby Merlin magic sleep suit, which has been great. We use it for naps and for the night. He has since learned to sleep in sleepers and in armless blankets.

Nicole said...

I totally agree Kellie :) It goes against all my instincts too.

Emily said...

My daughter started sleeping 8 hours straight a night at 7 weeks. We started the CIO method at about 2 weeks. She would go down initially fine, but after waking to nurse she would cry everytime we set her back down. Exhausted from rocking her to sleep every night, we let her cry it out one night. After a few days she would go down just fine after nursing, and not cry at all. On her own, she started waking up later and later to nurse, until at 7 weeks she made it through the night without needing to nurse. I remember it distinctly because it was Christmas night that it occurred. She slept from 8pm to 8am that night, and settled into 9pm to 5am thereafter for a long while. Now at 23 months she sleeps from 7pm to 7am consistently. I don't know if it was just her or the CIO method, but it is very possible for a child to be sleeping through the night by 2 months. In fact, other than America, it is the quite the norm. I'm not judging anyone here, just saying it worked for me. I think having my husband and I both getting 8 hours of sleep a night since my daughter was 7 weeks old was worth the three nights she had to cry it out.

sophie powell said...

Don't do it don't do it! Its cruel.listen to your instincts , all the posts above talk about how you had to fight them. It isn't natural.
Every child gets to sleep through the night in a different way, listen to their pattern. Anyway things change when they teeth, are out of nappies , are sick etc etc. etc.

My eldest daughter didn't really sleep through until she was 3 years old, my youngest slept through from about 6 months. Physical contact is a need and a requirement as much as food and water. When your baby is crying for it you are depriving them - its simple. they won't want to be with you all the time when they are teenagers - make the most of it!

Look at the excellent book 'what Mothers do especially when it looks like nothing' for really interesting research into the importance of not sleep training your child.

I am and always have been a working mother. you just need patience and the support of your partner.

co-sleeping has been a much better option for us.

Sarah D said...

Sleep deprivation is definitely one of the most challenging parts of parenting a young child. It is torture! But, that said, I am just not a believer in sleep training that involves "crying it out", at least not for young babies. For toddlers/preschoolers who are just throwing a fit about bedtime, that's a different story. But, young babies don't have the cognitive capacity to understand what you are trying to do or even the capacity to understand that you still exist after you walk out of the room! Object permanence (the understanding that something exists when you can not see/hear it) does not begin to develop until around 8 months of age and is not fully developed until as late as 18 months. Now that is not to say that babies need to be picked up at every little whimper and crying for a couple minutes is not going to harm them. But, to leave a baby alone and crying for an extended period of time just is not in line with my beliefs.

I have two children, who are now 4 and 7 yrs. Neither one of them consistently slept through the night until after 1 year of age. (They both sleep very well now. Sleep deprivation may be torture, but it doesn't last forever! Although it certainly can feel like it will!) I coslept with both of my children for the majority of the night and by doing that, was able to comfort and nurse them as needed without getting up out of bed and fully disrupting my sleep. Sure, I was tired many days, but it was manageable b'c I didn't have to fully wake every time they woke up. I quickly learned how to roll over, rub backs, sing a lullaby or nurse while half asleep! And, my kids were always very well rested and full of energy during the day. They were getting all the sleep their bodies needed.

Cosleeping is not for everyone, but is a wonderful option for many families. Just as sleep training is not for everyone, but works for many. Many babies are able to sleep longer and will respond to modifications in the parent's nighttime responses easily. I just have an issue with hard-core cry-it-out alone approaches, particularly for very young infants. Some of the commenters have mentioned forcing even newborns to sleep through the night. Newborns naturally need to eat every 2 hours or so. And waking at night has a protective function as well. There have been studies that have found that waking at night can be protective against SIDS, b'c the body naturally wakes as needed, rather than going into such a deep sleep that the body doesn't recognize when its oxygen level is in danger. As much as we may try to fight it, we are animals and much of our early behavior has a biological purpose!

Bedtime routines are definitely fabulous and important though! I agree fully with that. We have always had a bedtime routine and it makes bedtime predictable and consistent. And, yes, it helps with travel as well.

kimsukie said...

Had to do this with my daughter at 9 months to drop her night feed (she was good at going to bed, but woke out of habit to feed - she's nearly 3 now) and it was a tough 2 nights. I quickly learned any habit they fall into themselves can be undone with 2 bad nights of effort. Many jetlags later solved! But my new baby boy (now 4 months) is a disaster! You'd think you'd be wiser second time around. But I was so worried about waking up my daughter and her being sleep deprived that I ended up last week realising I was boobing my son about 9 times a night! Now sleep training, down to 5 wakings and only 3 feeds last night. I soldier on, bleary eyed!

Emily said...

I found this topic so interesting, I read through all the comments (never done that before). After reading through everything I wanted to amend my above comment slightly:

1. I don't feel I went against any maternal instincts in letting my daughter cry. My instinct to sleep was stronger, so I had to go with that one. I knew she was fed and dry, and was only crying because she didn't want to sleep.
2. I never shut the door and let her cry it out alone in a dark room. We did the CIO method when she was in a bassinet right next to me in the bed.
3. Since we were able to get her to sleep through the night so well so early, the rare occurrences that she does wake up and start crying in the middle of the night, we know that she really needs us, and it's not just that she doesn't want to sleep. Usually teething, bad dream, or feeling sick. We obviously go to her then. These instances occur maybe once month to every couple of months.
4. I fully believe that my husband and I getting 8 hours a sleep a night for the last 21 of the 23 months she has been with us was totally worth the 3 days she cried it out.
5. I kind of agree that all the books out there are not worth the money. I read BabyWise and The Happiest Baby on the Block, and it didn't take long to realize that this stuff is all just common sense.

My advise, just do what feels right for you. CIO worked for us, so I support it. If your child is older than 6 months and still not sleeping 8 hours a night, if you want to get up with them or bring them in bed with your all the power to you. However, if you're at your wits end, you might want to consider CIO even if you think it will be too hard.

chic81.com said...

Mia - I don't have kids but if I do someday, this is how I plan to parent as well. I am currently the breadwinner and the schedule-maker and my fiance is in grad school. I need to be awake and aware and happy in order to be the best wife and mother that I can be.

Katie said...

Sleep training (and sleeping through the night) is incredibly damaging to breastfeeding. Nipple stimulation at night (when your milk production is higher) is, for most moms, critical if they want to keep breastfeeding in line with the World Health Organization's guidelines (until at least 2 years of age). My son is 13 months and I work 10+ hours away from him in the day (and do not pump during the day), BUT we co-sleep and nurse at night and he's happy and strong, and I'm decently well rested. I probably wouldn't be able to continue to breastfeed my son (which is incredibly important to me) if he didn't nurse in the middle of the night. If you co-sleep baby doesn't even need to wake up to nurse, so the concerns about baby being cranky in the day don't apply. No one ever said being a parent was easy, and I am committed to parenting 24/7.

Ann said...

Love HSHHC! We read it before our first and it really prepared us for what to expect in terms of sleep -- in other words, forget about it for the first 6 weeks -- and to identify sleepy signs. My oldest was a great sleeper and I credit HSHHC with facilitating this. We read HSHHC for our second baby who is also a good sleeper and will be reviewing it once more before our third arrives.

Stephanie Lee said...

I agree that sleep training is often the best thing for babies. However, I think each baby is ready at different times. We tried to train our son when he was about 4 months old; he cried for hours (literally) every night for about 3 weeks. He usually gave in at about 2 hours, but that time never improved over 3 weeks time. Obviously, we felt horrible and didn't feel like we should continue since there was no sign of improvement. I think it was just too early for him? We tried again at about 9 months, and he did the more traditional path--the first night he cried for 45 min., the next night 30, etc. Worked like a charm! He falls asleep perfectly ever since!

One other thing: I feel like trying to get babies to sleep through the night is a different issue than babies learning to fall asleep unassisted. I have a lot of friends who, in my opinion, try to get their babies to sleep through the night far too early. If a baby sleeps through the night on their own at 2 months old, great. But if they're waking up, they're probably hungry! I've talked to a few doctors and they say it's entirely possible a baby may need to eat during the night all the way until they're 9 months old. Just something to think about. :)

Chelsea said...

Great tips! I'll use these someday.

Anna Culp said...

I think some babies are just better/easier sleepers than others, but I was glad that my efforts to teach my baby to sleep worked well. Since her first night, I sang her the same lullaby at "bedtime", and only then. I forced myself not to cuddle her long after she drifted to sleep. As she got older, her bedtime routine grew with her (similar to yours), and I always laid her down awake. She was able to fall asleep on her own from the very beginning, so she didn't have an adjustment later. Uninterrupted sleep is extremely crucial to me being an effective parent...I'm nervous to give it up if I have a #2. (I'm trying!)

Ann said...

I wouldn't equate "Babywise" with some of these other books such as "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child" by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, who is a pediatrician. I share your same misgivings about the "Babywise" author and his premises for child-rearing. That said, there is legitimate research about baby sleep patterns and sleep needs that many of these other books are based on and many people find useful.

It seems to me that there are two camps when it comes to sleep and babies: one that says any extended crying is bad for baby's development and outweighs the sleep needs of baby and parent and one that says sleep for baby is paramount to his development and outweighs any harm, if any, from a few nights of crying.

I can see how people might choose one or the other and I certainly won't criticize, but for our family, some amount of sleep training has worked best for us. In all honesty, we haven't really had to do it, since following our children's sleepy signs and noting anticipated sleep times of sleep as outlined by some of these books has really worked.

kellyweed said...

My three month old started sleeping for 7-10 hour stretches when she was about a month old. With absolutely no sleep training, her little body determined it needed sleep and she was fine without feeding during the night. I do think newborns need to eat more frequently at night, but my point is babies can make it through longer stretches earlier than we think. I agree that as a parent you sign up to be your child's parent at night as well as during the day, and as a parent you have to be prepared for some hard nights. I just didn't want any new parent to read your comment and feel like a bad parent if they weren't feeding their baby 3+ times a night, because people tried to make me feel that way. If your baby is growing, wetting diapers, and seems happy, then your baby is getting enough food.

Liesel said...

Ugh..can I just say, I HATE the mommy wars. Never in my life have I done anything where I felt more judged than when I became a mom. Co-sleeping, cry it out, do whatever works for you. We happen to be a sleep training family because it works for us. Not just for us as parents but for our child too. I am a parent 24/7, just like everyone else. I attend to my child should he need something. I take no issue with those who choose a different path and make no assumptions about the outcome of their child's disposition or development based on how they sleep. It is ridiculous to pass so much judgment on only one aspect of parenting. There is an incredible amount of things that goes in to a child's development and attachment to their parents.

I had to use IVF to get pregnant, endured a horrendous pregnancy, delivered my son six weeks early far from home, spent two weeks glued to his side in that same NICU (often by myself as daddy had to go home and work), and then another week glued to him at six weeks old when he contracted viral meningitis and was again hospitalized. Shame on anyone who would dare attempt to scare me in to believing I don't love my child as much as they do or I do not parent 24/7 because I choose sleep training. I know exactly what I signed up for as a parent and I happily (mostly) do it, sacrifices and all. I just happen to not equate parenthood with sleep deprivation and do not wear little hours of rested sleep as a badge of honor. If you do, congratulations. I am stoked and supportive of you doing what works for you. Please extend me the same courtesy.

Sorry, but this is a hot topic for me. Let's support each other as parents. There is NO manual. None. It's hard, we've established that. Attacking each other for something as ridiculous as how we get our children to sleep has no productive value whatsoever. There are actually people who do neglect and abuse their children. Attack them. They deserve it.

Rant over. (breathe.....)

Liesel said...

This is in no way directed at you, Joanna. Your piece is very well written and I appreciate your presentation of it. You attacked no other method and only presented what works for your family. I commend your bravery to write about something so touchy. It is directed at some of the commentators who attack others. I hope that was clear.

Mindy said...

I'm curious, how hard did Toby cry? I have tried this with my son once but now I am gunshy because he cried so hard, it wasn't a fussy cry, it was screaming red-faced awfulness. If he was just fussy or whiny crying I think I could do it. How would you describe it?

Lindsay Himmer said...

From day one I would put my daughter in her crib still awake. I believe that has made all the difference.

Angie said...

Every parenting decision comes with tradeoffs. If I choose not to sleep train, I choose to live with the tradeoff that neither I nor my child will get long stretches of uninterrupted sleep (and all of the side effects that brings) for an undetermined amount of time. If I choose to sleep train, I choose to live with the guilt and awfulness of letting my baby cry for a short amount of time. Personally, I believe that the discomfort (on all parts) of sleep training is well worth the benefit to both baby and parents. When my baby gets 12 hours of continuous, restful, restorative, brain developing sleep at night, I'm doing a BANGUP job of parenting. 24/7.

kellyweed said...

You're not alone! I HATE reading baby books. Mostly I get summaries from people who have read and used the methods from different books, and then I take the pieces that I like and try them out.

autumn said...

Even the "harshest" sleep training methods don't advise starting till 6 months.

Fiyel Levent said...

My goodness, what a coincidence! My husband and I were just discussing this in great depth this past weekend. During my pregnancy, I never really gave a thought to the sleep issue, but now with our 7 week old boy, I'm realizing it's completely wild waters for us. I had managed to encourage him to sleep for 5-6 hours on his own last week, for 4 days in a row, but then we went on a weekend trip, his whole schedule was thrown off and now we are back to 2-3 hour stints. Quite frustrating! Anyway, it was a relief to read about your experience; I felt like the universe heard me and that I'm not alone in this - hahaha!

margaux said...

when she was about 4 months old, i was shushing and rocking my daughter, trying to put her to sleep, and she was wailing. miserable. i looked at her, and i thought to myself "this isn't working for her anymore!" all the shushing and the rocking really just seemed to be pissing her off, so i put her down the next night without any of the usual bedtime acrobatics, she cried for 20", and bedtimes have been (mostly) smooth sailing since. i think some degree of CIO is necessary at some point unless you're blessed with a miracle sleep baby, but it is such a personal choice. sleep training worked very well for us, and our girl is far happier and well-rested (and so are we) now than she was when i was trying to NOT let her cry, and she adapts quite beautifully to trips and sleeping in "strange" places. and maybe what my 93-year old grandma says is true: "crying is good for their lungs." ( :

kellyweed said...

Being a loving parent takes strength. Don't beat yourself up if sleep-training didn't work for you :)

isabel said...

i think you did a great job! our son slept in his own crib in his own room from day one and we never had any sleepproblems. (of course he woke up to eat the first three months but once he was three months he slept the night through) only when he is sick he wakes up for some TLC. he is a good sleeper that boy and we feel lucky because we are good sleepers too! haha

www.mamajulesbrussels.blogspot.com


www.mamajulesbrussels.blogspot.com

Melissa said...

Sleep is important for everyone. It is a basic human function. Babies especially need copious amounts of sleep as they grow and develop at such a rapid rate. Babies and toddlers can suffer from sleep deprivation, right along with their parents/caregivers. As a mom of six children, I can say with confidence that every baby / toddler is different in regards to sleep patterns and habits. You have to follow a plan that works for your family.

melissa said...

Wonderjet--she came to our house, spent time with our son, read a disertation we wrote on him, his habits, routine, sleeping (or lack of at that point) and then formulated a plan. The method she chose for us was a modified CIO, with interval check-ins at 5-10-15-15-15 until asleep or an hour, whichever came first. She taught us the method, and then sat with us the first night until he was asleep (it only look 18 minutes!) She then supported us for a month afteward with phone calls and emails whenever we needed support or had a question. She was incredible. It took Kalen 4 nights to start sleeping through the night and each night the crying was less and less. At that point he was 7 months old. I was nursing full time (and pumping while at work) and it did not affect my milk supply in the least. Kalen is a happy, spirited boy with tons of light and love and personality. Sleep training helped him learn to transition between those sleep cycles and not be shocked and afraid when he woke up during them.

A month of her services cost $550 (I live in Santa Rosa, CA which is about 60 miles north of San Francisco).

autumn said...

I am deeply connected with both my girls and not "praying for a few hours of rest" . I feel rested and attached with my daughters because I take their needs seriously. Anytime someone starts touting that they are a "better mom because _____" I pretty much tune out. Not a great way to try and have a conversation or debate.

Sarah Conner said...

There are as many ways to be a great mom as there are moms, no? We shouldn't all be making the same choices, because we are not the same. Joanna, I have always respected the way you present what worked at your house in a way that doesn't condemn anyone else's choices. Parenting is very personal, but I don't think that means we can't support each other and help each other be better parents, even when we don't agree. What mom doesn't need more support for her choices? I think sharing our experiences is the best way we can help each other make thoughtful decisions as moms, and it's one of the big reasons I started my own blog. Cheers to you, Joanna, for being pro-mom, and thank you for being so open with us.

dearyoungmother.blogspot.com

melissa said...

Thank YOU so much for this Liesel. Reading the comments made my stomach hurt. I, too, am so tired of the Mommy Wars and also have never felt more judged that I do now that I'm a mama. I tend to think that people attack other's choices when they do not have confidence in their own. Sleep training was the right choice for my son and my family and to insinuate (or even outright proclaim) that because I sleep trained him, I'm not a 24/7 parent or we are somehow less bonded, or I'm serving up cruel and unusual punishment is absurd and incredibly hurtful. I don't EVER judge someone for not sleep training, not nursing, not buying all organic food even though I do all of those things. Anyway, my point is, thanks.

Murmels mamma said...

I would recommend the "No Cry Sleep Solution" instead...
http://www.amazon.com/The-No-Cry-Sleep-Solution-Through/dp/0071381392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349192432&sr=8-1&keywords=the+no+cry+sleep+solution

I think the reason we as mothers find it so hard listening to our babies cry is because we're not supposed to just sit and do nothing when our children call out to us....
When my baby cried even though she had a new diaper and I just fed her, I never thought she was crying "for nothing". If she was crying because she was lonely or just wanted to cuddle or be rocked to sleep was just as important to me. My daughter is now 2 and I still to this day NEVER let her cry herself to sleep. I want her to learn that sleeping/nighttime is safe and calm, so I always stay with her till she's sound asleep. That way I'm 100 % certain that she falls asleep in a calm and happy mood.

When sleep trained babies stop crying after a few nights, I honestly believe that they stop crying because they give up hope that mommy or daddy will come.... not because they "learned how to sleep".

I myself don't like falling asleep around so I really don't expect my baby to like it either.

Murmels mamma said...

Couldn't agree more....

AnnaK said...

We used Babywise with our twins starting around 8 weeks old. We adapted their routine. At 13 weeks we were in full-force. It took two nights with my daughter crying for a few minutes and we've never looked back. They're about to turn 1 next week and naps and bedtime are SO EASY thanks to this!

posse said...

I used the book Baby Wise and started a sleep routine when my boy was 2 weeks old. It worked really well for us. He started sleeping through the night at 7 weeks. Now at 4 months, he's still sleeping strong.

Gabrielle said...

This describes our parenting philosophy too.

It just did not fit with what we believe, that our adult expectations and metabolic capabilities for uninterrupted sleep were more important than our babies need for emotional comfort, and as a total helpless/dependent individual, to know that that person they relied on to keep them safe, were still there.

Very young babies don't have the metabolic capability to sleep for long periods at night, and even when they are older and do, sometimes they just need emotional comfort and reassurance and we were happy to provide that. It always struck me that I get to go and snuggle up in bed next to my husband, knowing I am safe next and comforted next to another human, why does my child have to be deprived of that?

Our daughter slept in a cot with the side down, directly beside our bed until she was 18 months old. We always had a bedtime routine, that often included rocking/cuddling her to sleep when she was a baby and transitioned away from this when she was older. We always attended to her if she woke during the night, with minimal interruption to our sleep as my husband never woke and I could stay half asleep. Her sleep patterns were much easier to accept when we just thought "hey, this is just what babies do and what they need". She has been in a 'big girl' bed since then and is a great sleeper.

Its important to remember that when studies talk about babies 'sleeping through the night' they have a much shorter definition in terms of hours (I think its midnight to 5 am but correct me if I am wrong) than what the typical adult would consider 'sleeping through the night'.

Ali said...

i think using the word excruciating to describe hearing your baby fussing is a bit of an exaggeration. it's not as though your child is sick or hungry.

melissa said...

Such a hot topic for so many parents. I have literally seen hate blogs that rally against this method...like, they will kill you (not you specifically). I on the other hand LOVE it! I think it's so healthy for everyone. It not only helps with sleeping, I think it helps give parents and kids a taste of independence. I know a woman that refuses to let her child "suffer" and the end result is that she suffers every night and her now 3 year old has never (no seriously, never) slept longer than 3 hours.

As Americans, we have totally let our children take over our entire lives and it doesn't have to be that way. So thank you for bravely sharing!

Tina Lovely said...

This is a great post and really encouraging. My little one Olivia is about to be 1 in a month and since a few weeks ago was sleeping very well and had a regular bedtime. We went on vacation and now her schedule is all messed up. Ive been trying to get us back into a normal sleep schedule, but it seems that she just keeps going to bed later and later and it is driving my husband and myself nuts. It has been great to read all the relies so that we can try this and hope it works.

Mia Stizzo said...

i'd definitely say that it's worth a try. i guess it's not for everyone but it's worked for our family. having the three of us well rested, nourished and on a general schedule has allowed us better quality time for sure. we're able to be really present with our son - not frazzled, exhausted or trying to fit in too much into our days.

Sarah D said...

Yep. Medically speaking, "sleeping through the night" is 5 hours!
And, I agree with you, its all about expectations! I second guessed myself with my first and coslept out of sheer exhaustion at first. I read lots of books that really just ended up pissing me off, b'c I disagreed with so much of what they said and felt judged. But, once I calmed down about it and realized that this is what he needs and what works for us, it was so much easier to deal with wakings. And, with my second, since I went into it expecting to cosleep and wake throughout the night to offer comfort, it was so much easier!
Now, my favorite baby sleep book is by Dr. Sears. He clearly explains what is normal for baby sleep- which really helps to stop thinking that there is a problem when babies don't sleep like older children/adults.

SaraSherrell.com said...

Listening to your baby cry is hard. Bedtime can be so hard. I agree with sleep training because the parents do need sleep too. I remember at one point we had to adjust my little girl's bed time. She was about a year and a half old at that point. After 2 weeks of her waking up at 4 and being almost impossible to get back to sleep, I was exhausted and convinced something was wrong. The doc said she probably needed less sleep. We started putting her to bed an hour later, and she slept much later. Every child is different, so learning different techniques to try until you find what works for your family is so very beneficial.

Gretchen said...

This is such an emotional issue, and like most things parenting related, people tend to get really defensive about their choices. I think every kid is different and you can't expect all babies to respond to the same sleeping patterns or techniques. My son is a really tough sleeper. He's never fallen asleep without some assistance, and at times has even cried for up to an hour while be held. Cry it out was just never an option for us. I couldn't put my son or my family through it. We live in a 1 bedroom apartment, so there is no way to shut the door and ignore him, since we sleep in the same room. And he has never slept in a crib, he always hated it. We ended up co-sleeping and found that it was the best situation for all of us, as it maximizes everyone's sleep. My son is 17 months old and still wakes up once or twice a night, but just rolls over and cuddles with my husband or nurses with me and everyone falls right back to sleep. We certainly don't sleep as well as we did pre-baby, but we all sleep enough. And I've come to love co-sleeping. I work full time and am away from my son all day, so I really enjoy the all night cuddle session.

copiseats said...

I would also love to know what worked for you in terms of napping as my 4 month old daughter has been a champion evening sleeper for two months but her naps are a different story. If she doesn't get a quality 45-60 minute nap in the morning, she's a mess for the rest of the day, particularly between 4-7pm. She was 6 weeks early so I've been hesitant to let her CIO since she's still so small (12 lbs).

woolly said...

oh my ... :-)
i think everybody have to go their own way.

my little boy is 17month - i rock him to sleep and by now he mostly sleeps through the night.
He has got his own crib and I take him in our bed if he is ill or sleeps very poorly.

funny thing - if he is in child day care - they put him down together with all the other kids and he falls asleep without any problems. after this happened i was totally relaxed because i know he could fall asleep alone if neccesairy...


i think that baby needs are the most important thing, i don't care if i only sleep for some little hours during the night because he has got any problems.
i feel to sacrifice and to devote to my boys needs are naturally within me.

i wanted the child for the child and not to have my sleep/power/time/whatever back.

eastcoastbird said...

Like an earlier readers commented, I am surprised I am the minority here. And I am shocked that others seem to applaude those who could stick with Sleep Training even if they couldn't.
I know that I am going to step on toes here ( and Joanna, I appreciate your honesty and love that you brought this touchy subject to the forefront), but I am very much against sleep training and have not/ will not ever ask my son to cry himself to sleep. My son is 5 months old, he is a good sleeper, he naps 3 times a day, he goes to bed at 9, wakes up 1-3 times to nurse during the night and wakes up around 7:30 each morning...with a grin from ear to ear.

I hold/sing to/rock/ my son every night as he falls asleep, usually as he nurses. He is completely at peace, happy and calm as he drifts off into dreamland. Also, my son rarely ever cries....I have to believe it's because he knows that when he is hungry, he will be fed, when he needs comforting he will be held and that he can depend on us to be there for him.

K. Greuter said...

I'm expecting my first child in December and came across Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman (which several others have mentioned). It had the very same discussion about "doing their nights" at 2 months, teaching autonomy, and trusting your child as a person (among many other realistic french parenting techniques), so your comment caught my eye, Manoushkaj!

Anyway, I found solace in Ms. Druckerman's sensible approach to parenting; likewise from reading through these experiences on sleep training and CIO, which will be very helpful when the time comes for our little girl, Nina Lauren.

Thanks, Joanna, for another reassuring and pragmatic post! I am grateful to have discovered your lovely and honest blog.

Cheers!
Kensley
The Shaded Acorn (www.greuterfamily.blogspot.com)

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