What Cry It Out And Sleep Training Have To Do With Birthday Parties

What Cry It Out and Sleep Training Have to Do With Birthday PartiesMy husband never had a birthday party until I threw him a surprise 40th birthday party last year. I can’t tell you how shocking that was when I met him. I still find it astounding, since my boys have had a birthday party almost every year since they were born! I’m sure my Mother-In-Law thinks it’s way over-the-top!

To this day, my husband couldn’t care less about his birthday. Yes, he loved his surprise party, but overall he just doesn’t care about his birthday. It doesn’t seem to bother him one way or the other and he has a great relationship with his mother.

I, on the other hand, have always LOVED my birthday and remember many birthday parties very fondly. Do I remember when I turned 1 or 5? No. I think the first one I remember was sometime around 12 or 13. I remember being at the kitchen table with my friends and little brother sitting around watching me open presents. I also remember going to Vegas when I turned 30, but what happens in Vegas stays there, so that’s all I have to say about that.

When I ask my son whether he remembers any of his parties, he always says “no” except for the one last year, when he turned 5. I’m sure he will forget that party one day, too.

My younger son also remembers his last year, when he turned 3, because Dora came to visit. Instead of paying for a “place” to have a party, we opted to have it at home and spend the money on Dora, instead. This year he wants Diego to come. :)

What do birthday parties have to do with cry it out and sleep training?

I considered whether we should stop throwing so many birthday parties, especially now that we have two kids and parties get pricey! They won’t remember them and my husband is no worse off NOT having parties. But, I just can’t stop giving my boys parties. I think we’ve decided on doing it every other year or for “big” birthdays, but I can’t imagine never having one for the boys, again. The reason I came up with is this:

Our relationships are complex and a combination of many small and big things that happen in our lives make us who we are today. Sure, a few ex’s were jerks, but without them I may not know or appreciate how special my husband is. No, my sons may not remember their birthday parties, but since this is one way that I, personally, show them they are special…that they have a special day…I want them to know that Mommy loves them and they are indeed as special as I think they are. My husband’s mother did it in different ways and I’m sure we all have our own ways. The men our boys end up to be will come from their experiences, even if they don’t remember all of them. It’s the journey, not really where you end up.

This brings me back to sleep training and cry it out. Depending on your baby’s temperament, sleep training or cry it out may be a big or small thing. Some babies cry 10 minutes and sometimes cry it out doesn’t even work! Some people don’t want to sleep train at all. Others will use a no-cry sleep training method and be very successful while others just can’t get that to work no matter how committed they are.

My point is that your relationship with your child is way bigger and way more complex than the sleep training method you choose and this one facet of parenting. There are many big and small things that you do every day, all day with your baby or toddler that will frame who they are in life in the future. It’s the combination of all of our experiences with our children that makes the journey.

A lot of weight is put on a (usually and relatively) short-term experience and others want you to believe that it will make or break your child. Yes, relationships can be fragile, but at the same time they are very robust just the same. If you find a way to help your baby sleep through the night, help your baby nap better, transition away from co-sleeping, or help your toddler sleep in a big bed…alone, while also fostering your relationship, there is no reason to think that your relationship will be damaged forever. There are a wide variety of strategies or combination of strategies that can help you do just that.

So, I ask you today to consider whether you are the Mom or Dad that you want to be while you are sleep-deprived? I, personally, feel like I’m a worse parent when I am sleep-deprived or stressed. If you do too, do something about it and don’t be afraid to help shape the child in front of you. For all you know, you can help him be a better sleeper, and person, for his future, and give him the parent you want him to have.

What do you think? How will sleep training help or hurt your child?

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.



  1. Andrea says

    I did CIO with my first child. Being inexperienced I thought it was the right thing to do. She had been sleeping great until 4 months when it all fell apart (naps AND night). So I did CIO. Little did I know, she was going through a very normal regression period. I can’t change the past – and my daughter is a happy, bright, healthy soon to be 4 year old….but if I had KNOWN that it was normal and temporary, I would have left it alone and let her come through it. Ah, but that is what the first child is for right?! So with my second child, turning 1 next month…..well, she was totally different. She never slept longer than 3-4 hours until well after 6 months. And at the 4 month mark….it got worse. But I knew better and so I dealt with it – it lasted a couple weeks and then she went back to her usual pattern. At her 6 month and 9 month checkup, the dr. suggested sleep training. I am not opposed to it…but there was something inside of me saying not to do it right now. It just didn’t feel like it was the right time for her. She is very tiny, so part of it was that I felt she did need the extra 2-3 feedings at night for her growth. But most of it was just a gut feeling that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I chose to follow my gut instinct, believing that as I weaned her closer to her 1st birthday that things would work themselves out. And, that is what happened. Around 10 months we were at 4 feedings a day. This is when she started only getting up once a night. I moved to 3 feedings a few weeks later and that was the first time she slept through the night. It wasn’t instant – it was 2 or 3 nights a week. She is now a couple weeks shy of her first birthday and we are down to 2 feedings a day. She has slept through the night (11-12 hours) for the last 7 nights. BUT – I had to let her cry it out last week….we went on vacation and she was up 3-4 times a night, every night. I was exhausted. I couldn’t let her cry there, as she’d wake everyone up. When we got home….guess what, she kept it up. So after 2 nights of that at home, I felt the right thing to do was let her cry it out. And she cried for an hour…..but then has slept through the night for 7 nights. SO….I just think you need to follow your gut. I just knew when the right time was for her…I truly believe it wouldn’t have worked any earlier. This was the right time. But, then again, it’s amazing how much more confident you are in yourself and trusting your instincts that second time around!!!!!

  2. Lainie says

    This post is funny to me for two reasons:

    I battle with that party issue all the time. I WANT to throw parties for them, because their birthday is insanely important to me. No, they won’t remember it. But I – the person who grew and gave birth to them – will. :)

    The other reason is that as you talk about sleep training, last night my 3 year old had a sleep training success, but not what you might think. She actually requested and then slept all night in my bed for the first time since infancy!

    Crazy, I know. But she’s been SO well sleep trained that she never needed to or wanted to sleep with me. But she was sick last night and wanted the comfort of Mommy and Daddy’s bed.

    So at over 3 years old, where some kids won’t get out of their parents’ bed, mine finally got in! :)

    Flexibility post-sleep training is important. I’m just now figuring that out. One night in Mommy’s bed will not undue all your hard work, once the good habits are solidly put into place.

  3. Mahua Mandal says

    This is a great post. I am quite bothered when some child development/sleep books make broad statements that you cannot be properly bonded with your baby/toddler if you sleep train or use any CIO during sleep training. In the same vain, it bothers me when folks on the other end of the spectrum warn that if you don’t sleep train by the time your baby is (fill in the blank) months old, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. I “half” sleep trained when my babe was 5 1/2 months – he started the 4 month sleep regression at 3 months, and it just wasn’t getting better (and I was a mess). Now at 13 months I am “finishing” sleep training, with nursing only once a night, and then working to not nurse at all through the night. I have friends who recommended using the Weissbluth method at 4 months (not for me/us), and other friends who continue to rock or nurse their 2 year-olds to sleep (also not for us). I agree with the above commenter – it’s important to use your gut. Unfortunately, it’s hard to hear what your gut is saying when you’re so sleep deprived. But for me, I wasn’t comfortable forgoing all night nursing sessions until I was absolutely sure my baby didn’t need it anymore – which was just a month or two ago. Before that he drank quite a bit of milk every time I nursed him at night (and he was definitely nursed enough during the day)…so that indicated to me that he needed the calories. And maybe the snuggling :) But another mother with a similar set of variables may have known that her child was not actually hungry at night, and was just waking out of habit. And that mother may have decided to fully night wean earlier. And she wouldn’t have been wrong either! I wish more parents would understand that every baby and every family is different. I really appreciate that you do, Nicole!

  4. JBess02 says

    Perfect timing for this article as I am both nap-training my 11 month old AND planning her first birthday party!

    It is just so encouraging to read as I battle through what has become a 2-week+ ordeal. I’ve got her going down with anywhere from 5-20 mins crying, but she consistently wakes up after 30 minutes and simply cannot go back down. I feel like trying to leave her in there afterwards makes her hate her crib and just makes the next time worse. I’m so confused as to whether she’s under-tired (from trying to get her down after about 2 or 2 1/2 hours) or overtired from this entire process, as described in the Mastering Naps and Schedules booklet. I was trying to stick to a strict schedule, but think maybe at this point I need to switch gears and just start getting her down right when she starts looking tired? That could mean 5 short naps a day! lol. Or I guess we could go back to the “nap lap” in the car that always guarantees nice long naps. SIGH.

    So in that respect, I think nap training has hurt her because it has made her so overtired, but I am SO hoping that is just a temporary thing. If it’s anything like nighttime sleep training, it will definitely help her in the end because it will make me less crazy, stressed, and resentful.

    For a birthday present, Mommy wants the birthday girl to take a good long nap IN HER CRIB!!! Thanks for the encouraging article!

  5. Andrea says

    @JBess – I nap-trained my first daughter. She was younger than yours at the time but I remember thinking those same things. I can’t remember much anymore about the process but I remember wondering if it were working, etc. The reason I’m commenting is in regards to the duration of time before you lay her down. Now, we all know every baby is different so I’m not saying this will help you or anything but just wanted to tell you what I’ve noticed in my 11 month old over the last month. She can go a LOT longer before a nap now, on most days. It used to be clockwork – 2 hours after waking, time to nap. Around 10 months….she started taking one huge, long nap (like you’d expect a 15 month old to do) and there was no time for a second nap. So I thought….she was one of those rare kids that consolidates both naps at 10 months. Cool. WRONG. Over the course of the last week, I’ve noticed her going back to a 2 nap thing….but the morning nap is about 3 hours from waking now, as opposed to 2. She’ll nap 1.5-2 hours. The second nap I notice she is ready about 2.5 hours after waking and that one lasts an hour. Then she usually goes 3.5-4 hours before bed. Not sure if that might be what’s going on with your 11 month old….maybe you could stretch it by 15 minute increments each day and see if that hits that sweet spot where she is ready to lay down and nap….? Good luck!!!!

  6. Andrea says

    oh, and one other thing, too…..@JBess….is she close to walking? I wonder if that is what is preventing her from being able to hunker down for a good nap right now? I noticed with my second that all the major milestones really affected sleep.

  7. says

    @Andrea Thank you for sharing your experience. I agree that the second time you definitely have more confidence, but at the same time the second (or third as some have it) is even more confusing and challenging for some families! :)

    @Lainie That’s hilarious! :D You are right that sometimes one time breaking the rule won’t lead to problems, but sometimes it does, actually! Of course, you can’t be perfect all the time and things happen, like vacation, for instance. I do have some families not co-sleeping before vacation and then co-sleeping when they get back. Usually, one night is okay but even with my own boys (sleep or otherwise), we can do one thing ONE time and then it’s what they always expect. It’s crazy! :D But, we can’t be rigid parents all the time and they learn. Thanks for commenting!

    @Mahua I agree 100% which is why when I “sleep trained” my sons, I kept nursing 1-2 times per night (depending on age) until they were a year old. They simply could not *comfortably* get through the night without it. Could they physically, if I made them? Maybe, but I didn’t think it was fair to make them, if they were hungry.

    @JBess02 I agree with Andrea that you likely need to spread out her naps a bit more. At 11 months, most babies can go 3+ hours between sleep periods. At the same time, you don’t really want to use sleepy cues at this age, usually, because they become unreliable. I would try naps after 3 hours awake and see if that helps. It does take some trial and error to find that right schedule for you, but refer to the sample schedules in the back of Mastering Naps and see if there is one that is better suited for her. Good luck and thanks for commenting! :)

  8. Lainie says

    @Nicole Yeah, she asked last night to sleep in my bed again. But she’s fairly laid back. I just said no, she needed to sleep in her bed again, and was cool with that. But, she’s 3. A little easier to deal with her now than when younger. :)

  9. says

    @Lainie So lucky! I can say no to the same thing 5 times and still hear whining about it. :D Age and maturity definitely play a factor and it does get easier! My persistent son is still “tougher” being told no than his younger brother, though, even though he’s more mature. Sigh. :D

  10. Lainie says

    @Nicole Don’t worry. She’s a whiny beast most of the time. Just for sleep for some reason, she’s very attached to her bed. She DID camp with me last weekend in a tent and did really well. That would not have been possible 6 months ago. As for persistence and toughness, my younger (18 months) is already scaring me. When she’s 3, I might move out of the house. :)

  11. Varda says

    I do remember my 4th birthday party and some of the rest. I more remember that my mom made them a priority because she loved me and wanted to celebrate my specialness. Which is to say that I agree with the point of the article. All children are individuals and all families are unique. You need to make the choices that are meaningful to your kids and your families. I also firmly believe that people don’t break apart because you do one thing once. It’s the things you do regularly that build or destroy a relationship.

  12. says

    Exceedingly informative many thanks, I do think your readers might want a whole lot more well written articles along these lines continue the great work.

  13. says

    You put into words what I was feeling but couldn’t express well enough on my own! Thank you! I completely agree that one experience like sleep training is not going to make or break your relationship with your child. Life IS so much more robust than that!!! We are all doing the best we can with what we’re given. I wish parents wouldn’t hate on each other’s choices so much.

  14. Lisa says

    Hi there Nicole. I’ve been having a hard time with my almost 11 month old son. He has been a really easy child – sleeping, teething ect – unlike my 5 year old. For the last 3 weeks all my sleep training has gone out the window. I did some sleep training to try see if he could go with out a 2am feed. First to nights he moaned and complainted when i put him down at 6;30pm for bed, still woke up for a night feed. After that he started talking himself to sleep quite happily and then started sleeping through. 2 weeks later he refused to have his late afternoon sleep and by 6:15 was so tired(but not grumpy) that he would fall asleep while having his bottle before bedtime. Now he is waking twice a night for a feed. I have tried changing his hours – morning nap at about 10 – 10:30 he will sleep for about 1.5 and then try getting him to go down at about 3pm again. But he just refuses the 3pm nap. Is the sleep regression? Should i try just on nap?

  15. Debbye says

    @ Lainie-
    I’m right there with you with my own tough and persistent (almost) 18 month old! Moving out at 3 may not be a bad idea! :) Good luck!

    @ Varda-
    Thanks for sharing! And what a great philosophy-“It’s the things you do regularly that build or destroy a relationship.” Thanks and best wishes!

    @ Thomas-
    Thanks for writing, and we hope our articles are helpful!

    @ Angela-
    Well said! Tolerance for others is a good thing! :)

    @ Lisa-
    I’m sorry you are having sleep troubles! It may very well be a sleep regression. In case you have not read it or would like to read it again, here is a link to our article about this sleep regression:http://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/8-9-10-month-old-baby-sleep-regression/
    I do think that your little one is too young to transition to one nap, and should keep offering the 2nd nap. :) Hopefully things will pass without too much more trouble. The key is to keep things consistent, and try not to introduce any new sleep associations or habits. Sleep problems are VERY common at this age, so do not despair!
    Here is a link to our sample 11 month schedule, to use as reference to be sure he is sleeping at generally good times. http://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/11-month-old-baby-schedule/
    Good luck!