Why Super Nanny’s Method Is Wrong

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Recently, I had a client tell me that another sleep consultant was leading her towards cry it out by telling her something like “If you are in the room, that is like holding an aspirin in front of someone with a headache.” and how cruel that is. This was an interesting statement that made me pause to consider whether this other consultant was right. Let’s discuss!

Let’s go back to you teaching your child how to ride a bike without training wheels (and why crying is sometimes part of sleep training no matter what). Now, let’s assume your child falls off the bike, scrapes her leg and starts crying. You have the training wheels right there in your hand. You just took them off for goodness sakes! Do you put them back on? Do you give your child a hug? Do you wipe her tears? Or, do you leave her to herself to deal with it? Do you just stand there not doing anything? I can bet $100 that almost everyone would say that you’d give her a hug and wipe her tears!

I recently watched this video of Super Nanny’s method of transitioning a co-sleeping child to his own bed.

The biggest problem I have with this video/method is the mom couldn’t console her child even a little bit? That is outrageous to me! True, that it was better at least the mom was in the room, but I don’t understand what the harm would be to console her child. You are changing a long-term (3 years!) routine of sleeping together and even if you are standing firm that you are transitioning him to his own sleep space, it doesn’t make sense to me that you can’t reassure him, give him a hug, and try to help him settle there. Just because you are consoling him doesn’t mean you have to “give in” right? So, in this regard, I agree that this seems cruel, especially on the first night. In my toddler sleep book, I have a much different approach for long-time co-sleepers and I can bet that this mom would have a difficult (I might even say impossible) time sticking with this during any night-waking, after Jo is gone, and through any backsliding. Jo did not give this mom a routine to follow that everyone could feel comfortable with! As I say quite frequently, the best plan is the one you can stick to, not always the most “logical” (whatever that means to you, because this video is illogical to me :)).

This is an area that bothers me about traditional “sleep trainers” is that it’s either all or nothing. Why can’t there be an in between? I’m all about baby steps while sleep training.

Does this mean I never think there’s a time when maybe your persistent baby or toddler needs to have firmer limits? Absolutely not. There is a HUGE difference between a baby or toddler who CAN self-soothe and who is CHOOSING not to. There is a difference between you taking a few days to a month to teach your baby or toddler a new routine and then they are still resistant to it or simply exerting their strong will. Expectations are everything and every situation has unique aspects to it. You know your baby best, in that regard.

Does this mean that some babies or toddlers won’t be infinitely more frustrated you are there with the breast, bottle, pacifier, or bouncing ball, but not using it? No. Some will truly hate that and you may do more harm than good staying in the room. But, does it hurt to try? Does it hurt to first teach the new routine before you expect them to do it on their own or alone without your encouragement and reassurance? Everyone will have a different pace to sleep training (are you a tortoise or a hare?) and I certainly do not pass judgment on those who know their baby best and choose to “rip off the band aid” rather than drag it out, but for those of us who like “baby steps” I do think there is an in-between and I urge many parents to try it.

What do you think? Rip Off The Band-Aid or Baby Steps?

If you’re looking for ways to to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) 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.

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44 Responses to Why Super Nanny’s Method Is Wrong

  1. Aquasia says:

    This is the most stupid and ridiculous method of trying to train your child.. it broke my heart to see how the poor little fellow was crying and i had tears in my eyes when I saw how he just flonked on the floor on front of his mom …..poor thing must have been soo confused and tired… I am sorry but I felt like slapping the stupis STUPID nanny and that mom was just like a cattle following the sheperd i mean come on…. finally when the boys goes of to sleep … do you really think it was because the stupid nanny;s method worked???? NO … its coz the poor little boy was tired of getting in and out of his bed and exhausted with all the screaming…. of course he is bound to sleep…after all that crying and climbing in and out …. SAD REAL sad …if any mom thinks this is OK…… 3 years old is too young to understand the concept of displined bedtime and if my little boy was crying this way i would make sure…. i sit by his side and take slow till he learns to trust the fact that mommy will be there for him till he is awake and that way we can conquer sleep time difficulties with love.. this is soooo crazy that it is almost hovering on the line of emotional abuse…. leaving your child to cry and just ploking him on his bed again and again in his bed even though he is soo upset as he if your chucking oput garbage…. RUBBISH!!!!!!!

  2. Aquasia says:

    sorry for the above rant but i am not sorry for what I meant by the above post.. i am not a baby sleep guru but I am a MOTHER to a 11 month old and thats the reason why I felt the above video is abhoring….. if anybody feels offended i dont care coz… I think children this young need love and nurturing to built their trust and grow up as confident individuals….I mean what kind of a HEARTLESS moron would not comfort a crying child and soothe him and then taking him back to me… what did the stupid nanny mean by “no conversation”… u r n ot dealing with a teenager here…. i dont think anyone whould leave thier children with such a nanny… coz the child might need some comforting and this super stupid nanny would be busy military training!!1

  3. Emuna says:

    That video makes me literally sick to my stomach! Three years is a long time! Poor toddler!!! It makes me think about the various CIO methods and just leaving them to cry vs. the “Ferberizing” method or variations thereof, and would it make a difference if it was, say, a 5 month old as opposed to a 3 year old whose habits were less ingrained. It still feels cruel to just leave them there, especially since at that age they would think that you’d disappeared forever…

  4. Aquasia says:

    sorry for typos…it just made me soo angry to even be able to type correctly…oh god i need to stop now…

  5. Aquasia says:

    Thank You Enuma and I am so glad there are people like you in this world who have the brains to understand the difference between “training” and “torturing”…. GOD BLESS U….

  6. Em says:

    Seems a bit odd to treat a 3-year old this way. Maybe there’s something we’re missing? A 3-year old can understand incentives like rewarding ‘grown up’ behaviour of staying in your own bed with ‘grown up’ privileges or something else to celebrate their achievement. Much easier to involve a child and help them choose the right path rather than just force them? Supernanny is usually really creative with that kind of thing with fussy eating and other issues. Otherwise what’s in it for the child? They are losing all those night-time cuddles and gaining nothing in return.

  7. Meagan says:

    @Aquasia. Well I guess I’m one of the heartless morons… I have and do leave my baby to cry with all out extinction method. We did it the first time when he was a bit under 5 months and have done a (much quicker) version a few times since to recover from travel sleep disruption, or illness sleep disruption (once he’s better) teething, growth spurts etc. we have NOT tried gentler approaches, because judging by his personality, our particular situation, and how he sleeps (or not) I honestly didn’t think any of them would work, and I didn’t feel like (or feel capable of) prolonging the agony.

    But I agree that this video seems unnecessarily cruel. As Emuna says, there is a difference between a baby and a toddler, and CIO just doesn’t seem like it would be a very good way to teach a 3 year old to sleep. Some tears might be inevitable, but in this video I wonder what kind of message that little boy is getting from being ignored.

    What I really don’t understand though is why mom was the one doing the sleep training. Surely this would have been easier on everyone if Dad had been the one in the room while Mom went out for a coffee. I realize that’s a bit of gender stereotyping, but it seems to be the truth for most families, and I know it was true for ours.

  8. CK says:

    That video made me cry, it’s something I am dealing with right now. We weren’t cosleeping, however, just moved our 2-year old to a big bed as we are preparing for another one on the way. For 2 nights I tried to get him to stay in bed using the usual methods. At first he thought it was a game, when he got down and I would tuck him back in several times. So I tried to let him complain a bit longer using the gradual method, but it didn’t work and we were all tired at 11pm, so I just sat there and he was so sleepy that he went to bed. I think he was just so worked up that he got up several times that night.

    Last night I just sat at the foot of the bed and he went to sleep right away. He got up once at 2:30 am but it was easy to put him back, stay a few mibutes, and he went to sleep until wake up time. Now if he did that every night, I wouldn’t mind just sitting there, praying and meditating, but I know I won’t have this luxury always.

    Like the post above, I think that if I were to go out and have Dad do it, the training would go easier. (When dad tries while I’m home, he says “daddy go away” so it doesn’t quite work for him to do it when I’m there!).

  9. @Aquasia I can understand your strong reaction to this video. It is hard to watch. I have no problems with setting limits, but I don’t think this is the right way at all to go about it with a 3 year old co-sleeper at all.

    @Emuna As I said, I am a big believer in teaching the routine before expecting them to do it alone. Once you have confidence they know what to do, it is a very different situation, in my opinion. I have confidence that a 5 month old and a 5 year old can both learn new routines, expectations, and learn healthy sleep habits.

    @Em You could be right that there is more to the situation that the video shows, that’s true. It seemed like they could have done SO many things before this. I am not sure why she chose this method when the mother clearly was very uncomfortable with it, though. It can make a difference as far as what has been tried before and what hasn’t worked, but on the surface, it definitely seems like this was not the best way to go about this.

    @Meagan No, you’re not a moron. :) You know your baby best and what your situation is on a daily basis. You may be right that the gentler methods wouldn’t work, but I do have many parents very pleasantly surprised at how well they can work. Everyone is convinced their baby won’t make progress or will cry for hours. :) I am not saying it definitely would have worked and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have done extinction, but just sharing that sometimes what we think will work, won’t, and what we thought wouldn’t, does. Sometimes we just have to try it and see! As for the video, I can guess that Mom did it because she has been the one to put him to bed all this time and that her presence would be more comforting than Dad. The boy would have likely tried to run out the door to get Mom. Just guessing. Sometimes having Dad do it works and other times, it’s worse.

    @CK Thank you for sharing and I’m sorry the video made you cry. It sounds like you tried to comfort him and he knew the routine very well after two nights to make it a game. At least you know that he was not feeling traumatized, but that he was testing limits and pushing boundaries. Based on the video, it seemed very different than you describe, in my opinion. It sounds like you’ve made good progress and I hope it continues to improve every day! Good luck!!

  10. Mahua Mandal says:

    This was sad, and I have one of those kids that is very strong-willed, and (in the beginning of sleep training) if I stayed in the room too long it did more harm than good. But it doesn’t mean that when he has trouble falling asleep on the odd day, we don’t offer him water, comfort, etc. I think one thing the Nanny got entirely wrong is thinking that just because the child fell asleep in his own bed her technique was a success. Yes, the boy finally did fall asleep, but as his Mom said, she was “in pieces”. That’s not success to me. If it feels so wrong to do something like that, then don’t! I’m guessing the nanny is not a mother herself? Most moms I know would not be “excited” for another mom after going through that, but would rather be empathetic about how difficult it is to sit there and not comfort your child.

  11. Meagan says:

    @Nicole Yes, I get that. We had some specific reasons for thinking extinction would work best. No cry, from what I remember, is very dependent on persistence with “sleepy but awake” and when we put our son down in that state, he would just wake up. Not necessarily cry, often he would play in his bassinet for as long as 40 minutes before starting to object. And at that point it would be HOURS before getting back to sleepy. We went with extinction over graduated extinction because it seemed harsher to us to prolong it, though I realize I’m in the minority on that. Plus we were all a mess and might not have been able to handle anything more complicated. We talked to his doctor and all agreed that it was the best strategy for us. These days we can be much more flexible, because we know he knows how to go to sleep.

  12. JD says:

    At the risk of being called names, I’m going to say that I think people need to watch that whole episode to understand the context.

    The issue with this family is that the youngest boy, who you see in the video, acts like that continuously throughout the day, regardless of the situation.
    He is extremely clingy, will claw onto her, and throw himself at her-whenever he doesn’t get his way. It doesn’t help that his mom constantly caters to that behaviour.
    I’m assuming that is why she isn’t supposed to engage him at bedtime, b/c that’s seems to be what perpetuates the problem during the day.

    So, although that one clip looks very cruel, if you watch the whole episode, you will also see him acting that way when he doesn’t want to sit in his chair or if the TV is turned off, etc.

    I would also say-it’s a TV show-and with that comes the beauty of editing. What we see in a 3 minute clip, or even the whole episode, is rarely the whole story. There could be a chance this isn’t the first night ( Jo says the first step is for him to be comfortable in his crib and you don’t see them establishing that) as I’m not sure they specify that.

  13. @Mahua I know what you mean. Thank you for commenting!

    @JD Ah that’s interesting! I have not seen that whole episode. There is always more to the story, so if he was like that in other areas, perhaps he (and the mom) needed a firmer approach. Thank you for sharing! This is a good reminder that no one knows your situation better than you. :)

  14. Meagan says:

    @JD This doesn’t seem to be a big name-calling type forum.

  15. nerdular says:

    My kid acts like this whenever dad goes in to calm her at night. (She is 18 months old). I end up going in after 15-20 min because he hasn’t been able to get her to sleep yet, and by that point she is all wound up and harder to get down. We are trying to night wean because I’m so tired all the time and she’s been nursing like a newborn. So far nothing has really helped. We are at our wits end. I really felt for the mom (who, oddly, has the same name as my daughter!) in this video. She seemed devastated.

  16. Erin says:

    Parenting is so hard sometimes. It’s hard to watch that and not be appalled, but at the same time, it’s hard to go for 3 years without getting a reasonable amount of sleep. I think the unfortunate thing for that family is that they were probably given a solution that won’t work for them in the long run.

  17. JD says:

    @ Meagan

    You’re right, it doesn’t. :) I was just worried some ppl who had previously posted and felt very strongly about the video would mistake what I was trying to say. :)

  18. Aquasia says:

    Hello all,

    Just wanted to apologise for the strong reaction. I dint mean it to come out that way actually I must confess, before watching this video I had just finished reading about the “baby P” case and was heart broken and with that frame of mind I came on to watch this video. Though my feelings about the video are still the same I feel much calmer and well behaved today..lol!…I guess I “suffer” from the strong momma bear syndrome…. sorry if I have tripped on any toes..but i just dont understand how can anyone not comfort a child when he is this upset.. specially when this child had been co sleeping for three years..it wont be easy and as someone said this wont be a long term solution for this family..@JD- sorry if u felt the comments were strong this was just an instant reaction after watching the video and yes dear what u said is perfectly right sometimes we just donot see the whole story in the right perspective. Thank you ladies for respecting where I am coming for and bearing/ignoring my rant… god bless!

  19. Ninners7 says:

    “There is a HUGE difference between a baby or toddler who CAN self-soothe and who is CHOOSING not to.”…. How much of an enormous life changing experience is it for a child that has ALWAYS slept in mom & dad’s bed, and is suddenly (in their little minds, it’s suddenly…regardless of how long mom & dad have been considering it) moved to another bed in another room? The video broke my heart, but I also knew, as JD commented, that this is TV and they get oh so creative on the editing to make it keep your attention. I didn’t see the rest of the episode, but the way it was explained here in the blog was that he had a behavior problem during the day too. In my experience with my 3 yr old boy, whenever he starts acting out and really testing me, its usually because he NEEDS something. Most of the time it’s some loving one-on-one attention. I think compassion for the “little people” goes a LONG way with anything from sleep training to correcting behavior issues. I don’t agree with the method they tried on the show…I don’t care if this was night 10. The lack of compassion was awful to watch and there are better ways to train that can still get the job done, but help his little emotions cope with such a huge change.

  20. David says:

    Hi All,

    I watched the super nanny video, and I actually think supernannie’s technique was actually disastrous!!! I have never seen such ignorance. But nopt for the reasons that the people above are not happy with the method. I sleep trained my child when she was 9 months old the proper way using a method called baby love, and it worked amazingly.

    Here is my understanding of exactly what was wrongwith the supernany method and what I think the parent should have done instead:
    Making the mother sit in the room with the child at night was actually the worst thing you could do. As it just becomes another dreaded sleep prop, the poor child can see his mother and wants her to pick him up all time. This becomes traumatic! What the mother should have done is, to have a nice bed time routine, taking about 10 minutes whereby the parent and child can read a book together, This part is basically quiet time and preparing the child for sleep. then the mothert should put the child in his crib and then leave the room. Leaving the room is essential. Picking the child up and consoling the child etc, becomes simply another sleep prop, like rocking etc.

    So as mentioned, one leaves the child in the crib and leaves the room. I assume the child cannot get out of the crib, If he can, then the technique used would be different. Once out the room, the parents need to listen and assess the cries made by the child. If the parent just leaves the child to cry then ofcourse it would be cruel. This is weher proper sleep training comes in. The most essential thing is to assess the cry. Child can cry for a number of reasons. If it is sickness or teething or pain, then you absolutely cannot do sleep training until the child is well or not in pain. Period! If they are not sick, teething or in pain. Then assess the cry, is it hunger, diaper etc. if all those things are ruled out. Then the cry could be eiether overtired cry or angry cry. My guess in the above video, the cry was overtired cry and angry crying. if that is the case, the parents should not go back into the room at all. They should wait 15 minutes. The hardest part is for the mother to listen to the cry. Both parents need to assist each other to be strong and remind themselves the child is only crying because he is angry or overtired, there is nothing physically wrong with the child. After 15 minutes, a parent could quickly go in just to see the child is okay, ideally tthe child should not see the parent. If all is fine, parent should leave room again. If the child is sleeping, then good. If the child is still up and crying, one then leaves the room again. You do not go in the whole night. Even if the child continues to cry or even if the child wakes up and cries, you do not go into the room the whole night. Remember that the most importnat thing is: assess the cry, if the child wakes in the night and cries, is it a angry cry, it probably will be, so then leave the child, and do not go to the child. if you go to the child, then it is you as a the parent who is the reason why your child cannot sleep through out the night. Baby love means giving your child what they need, not what they want! If the child is teething, give pain medication, then apply same method after 15 minutes.

    Look deeply at yourself and your methods. My baby at 9 months was waking up every 2 hours and it took along time to get her back to sleep again in her room. After implememnting baby love, our baby is now 2 years old and goes to sleep at 7PM and wakes up at 6:30AM every night! Except when she is sick or teething!! It took a long time for her sleep to get so good as it is now, but after only 2 nights of baby love technique, she was already sleeping through the night and so were we!!!! The above is just a sample on how to apply these mtheods, There are other factors to it also. Method changes depending on the child’s age and other factors which I cannot go into here.

    The main points are: do not be in the room with the child at night, leave the room. It is so cruel to stay in the room or continue coming in to the room to soothe your child. It is like giving them mixed messages all the time. If you are consistent and stay out the room, Your child will very quickly learn and adapt, if you can be consistent! Finally, make sure your child gets age appropriate naps using teh same method. At 3 yrs old , this child will be probably starting to drop his one day nap. From the age of 2-3 years, a child needs one nap a day from about 12PM till 3PM. 3 hour nap.

    And finally, the main criteria to jusdge a method is whether it works or not, Are you as a parent gettinag great sleep every night? If not, then there is probably something wrong with your method. You are the problem, not your child.

  21. Michelle says:

    I couldn’t even finish watching this video as I had such a strong emotional reaction to the distress this little boy was feeling & his confusion over not even being allowed a cuddle or soothing words. So I don’t even know how it ends & I always try not to be judgmental of other parents as it can be SO challenging. However, my little boy (2yrs 8 months, also with a very intense & persistent & sensitive personality) has been waking once a night & coming into our bed for the last part of the night for a long time now & I just can’t imagine totally abandoning him emotionally like that when he knows no different. Little boys especially need lots of cuddles, closeness & reassurance & mine is also clingy & even though that is really testing at times, I wouldn’t swap that attachment & his cuddles for anything, especially when he tells me “you’re my special girl, mummy” after a tantrum. I support Nicole’s baby steps approach-they are legitimate & go a long way to protecting the emotional security of sensitive little ones. I hope i haven’t offended anyone but my heart was breaking for this little boy & his mum.

  22. Tammy says:

    I too was almost in tears watching this clip, as I could totally relate to what the mom was going through, although I haven’t tried that technique. My 2 1/2 year old daughter co-slept and nursed until she was 27 months old. At that time we moved and she got her own room, which she loves. But, she has NEVER slept through the night and now she won’t fall asleep on her own (she used to until she was 2). So, I end up in her room several times in the night- if my husband goes in she gets very upset- and end up sleeping in her room at some point. So, I guess we are really still co-sleeping.

    My daughter does not act clingy during the day, as said about the boy, but she would definitely react as the boy did in the video. I have tried so many things and read books, articles, etc., and now am back sleeping in there, as I can’t be sleep deprived anymore (and she sleeps better). I wish we could afford Nicole’s program, but can’t so I am constantly reading her blogs and everyone’s comments searching for a solution. One of my friend’s has suggested using the Super Nanny technique.

  23. @Nerdular You aren’t alone that having Dad go in sometimes doesn’t work. Hopefully you can find a way to night-wean, but you’re the one doing it. I find that it’s better than having Dad be “in the way” between mom and child. If she knows you are on board, too, she won’t see Dad as an obstacle. I can only imagine your exhaustion level as I would not have lasted 18 months in my sleep deprived stupor. :D

    @Erin You said that right! As I just said to Nerdular, I didn’t even make it one year, let alone 3. :) But, yeah, I just don’t see this Mom being able to stick with it for the long haul. :(

    @JD I try very hard to make this a “safe” place for free expression and non-judgment. I appreciate it very much that you commented, even though you were worried you’d get “blasted.” Thank you! :)

    @Aquasia Thank you for your follow-up! :)

    @Ninners7 I agree that co-sleeping for 3 years is a huge change and I find that even non co-sleepers begin to have 2 and 3 year olds want to sleep with them, even if they have never done it, so this was a really tough age to make such a big change, regardless! If this was one of our Personalized Sleep Plans, it would be at least 30 days long. I just recently worked with a family of a one year old co-sleeping and nursing (literally) all night, and we took 2-3 months (with limiting tears a lot). Not everyone would have that level of patience, but I do find that the longer they co-sleep, the bigger the change. Thank you for your comment!

    @David “Baby love” sounds very similar to Ferberizing. While I believe that there are some situations where this method is effective and even lessens crying for some babies, this would not be the method of choice for a 3 year old co-sleeping toddler using The Baby Sleep Site Philosophy. It goes from one extreme (sleeping cuddled up next to Mom all night) to another (alone in a different bed and bedroom). I believe this to not be good for the child nor the parent and very difficult to stick to with consistency. Of course, all situations are different and everyone knows their child best, but if a family came to me with this situation, I would first establish a new routine, get them accustomed to their new bed and room, and ease the child into it. If our goal is self-confident and secure children, sleep will follow. Sleep is more of a side effect, in my opinion, and our first priority should be the child’s self-confidence. A 9 month old may not have the knowledge or confidence that they CAN put themselves to sleep, but once they do it a few times, that will grow and sleep will follow. It doesn’t mean they have to learn to do it alone. Of course, I’m all about different temperaments needing different strategies, so it doesn’t mean firmer limits aren’t needed later. Parenting is complicated, for sure! :) Thank you for commenting!

    @Michelle Sometimes it’s the “small” problems that are the hardest to fix, so I feel your “pain” with the one final night-waking that just won’t go away! Have you looked into a toddler clock at all with positive reinforcement? It can be tricky at this age without instant gratification, but you can lay the foundation. Good luck and thank you for commenting! :)

  24. @Tammy You are not alone! I hear it a lot that 2 year olds “need” parental presence to fall asleep. Increasing self-confidence being alone in her room will go the furthest in helping with the sleep. There are things that can help her feel not so far away from you such as leaving her door open and leaving and coming back when she is settling to sleep, but I don’t mean in terms of letting her cry, but more aiding her separation anxiety by showing her that you will come back and then stay with her until she falls asleep just like always. In my toddler book, I call this the “re-tuck” that takes baby steps to help toddlers fall asleep on their own without you in the room. Add it to opening the door, leaving a hall light on, and adding in a “lovey” or other “protector” and you can hopefully increase her self-confidence and feeling of security that you aren’t really as far away as it feels today. It takes time, consistency, and patience, but it works well for many families! Good luck and thank you for being a loyal reader!

  25. JD says:

    @ Aquasia-no problem! :)

    I guess I just don’t feel as strongly opposed to this as some b/c I had already seen the whole episode before (ppl can see the rest on You Tube if they want).

    I see it through the lens of it being a more of a behaviour management issue in the daytime, that is continuing into the night, rather than a sleep training issue.

    The Dad also becomes involved later on too and once the boy starts going to bed on his own, but keeps coming out, Dad goes and puts him back, over and over.
    By that point, the boy is not crying like that, just sneaking out repeatedly.
    And, of course, everything turns out wonderfully (doesn’t it always in TV Land? ;) ) and when SuperNanny checks in on the family later on-everything is wonderful. :)

  26. Katie says:

    @nerdular I nursed DD until 19 months – up 3-4 times a night. We didn’t co-sleep because I traveled a lot for work. Finally I just was too exhausted to do it anymore and DH insisted that when I was traveling she slept through the night, so this was just behavior and not a need. So we did our own version of CIO. I still nursed at bedtime and wake-up, but I told her (obviously she couldn’t understand it all) that I wouldn’t nurse during the middle of the night. That first night she cried for hours, and I literally lay next to her holding her, comforting her, and repeating “No nurse at night” over and over. I have to admit that was the toughest thing I have ever done. I wasn’t sure I could do another night, but the following night she only woke up once and settled back to sleep in fifteen minutes when I came in, told her “No nurse at night” and cuddled her. The third night she slept straight through, and I got 8 hours of sleep for the first time in over a year and a half. I won’t kid you, this method was tough on me, but I was amazed at how fast it worked. It helped that I knew that she didn’t wake DH up at night when I was out of town, so this wasn’t something she really needed. We didn’t wean fully for another 6 months, so she still got the bedtime and wakeup nursing and cuddles she was used to. Every child and family is different and I wish you luck and a good night’s sleep, I know how exhausted you are!

  27. angela says:

    Nichole is exactly right! Gradual steps worked great for transitioning my co-sleeper to the crib – zero crying. The crying methods also run the risk of negative sleep associations, not to mention hammering down that beautiful bond that was no doubt built through co-sleeping. Sad.

  28. Lori says:

    I really try not to judge what other parents do because parenting is a hard job. However, something should have been done a lot sooner than 3 yrs! It was the parents’ fault this went on for 3 yrs, and now they want to let the poor boy scream for an hour! OMG! I about lost it!

    Now, I’m not opposed to CIO on some level. We’ve done it several times with our now 19-month-old. He knows what “Night, night” means but goes through phases every few months where he throws tantrums to try to get out of it. He’s never slept in our bed because he won’t sleep. We’ve tried bringing him to our bed when he was waking at night, but he considers it playtime when he’s not completely alone. Sometimes it’s best to let them cry. However, I never would let him scream to that degree and never for more than 20-30 minutes. Definitely not an hour!

    I would definitely agree that gradual steps should have been taken to change a 3-year-long routine. Poor child!!!

  29. Lori says:

    I guess I should have read the other comments before I posted! lol Like so many of the others, I did not watch the whole episode either. If he acts like that throughout the day, I’m sure SuperNanny and Mom knows best. I have seen the Super Nanny many times, and she is usually right on. I was surprised at this one. It is hard not to feel for a child that has been allowed to behave this way his entire life and is too young to understand why it must change.

  30. Shoshannah says:

    I’m one of the heartless ones when it comes to sleeping, but pretty much being a single mom (my husband works out of town for months at a time) doesn’t give me much free time except bedtime. My 11 month old had slept in bed with us pretty much every night since birth which left me squished and exhausted! By putting him in his crib and letting him scream it out ( an hour or more most nights) he ended up sleeping in his own bed all night long and not waking up every 1.5-2 hours through the night. I tried going in after 15 min to half an hour to comfort him and it just made things worse. I tried to just hold him and sing him to sleep and ended up with bite marks, hair pulled out, being kicked and covered in scratches. So now, bedtime routines mean bath, story, snuggles, go into crib, if its a “good night” I can lay in my bed and he lays down and closes his eyes, if its a “bad night” he screams no matter what, so he gets 30-45 min of screaming before i go lay beside him and listen to him cry for another 10-15 min before he gives in and goes to sleep. So I can feel for that mom sitting there listening to her baby scream, but sometimes it doesn’t matter how much comfort you give a child, they will just scream more cause change is hard, especially after three flippin years! There comes a time though when its nice to be husband and wife again and have your bed to yourselves!
    I’m a firm believer in tough love, call me heartless all you want, I love my son just as much as any mother, but its easier to always have a bit of firmness then to try and change it further down the road, that’s when you have to call in experts like Super Nanny and do things that seem so cruel cause your going from big softie to general over night unless you have the patience to do baby steps.

  31. Jessica M says:

    Ok so I have a 1yr old little girl w/ acid reflux, multiple food protein intolerance and excema. Long story short I started watching this site when she was about 6mo old and had never been able to sleep or nap in her bed. Only in my arms… exausted I was desperate! This site helped me soooo much and Nicole is a genius! WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE BLACK OR WHITE??? I blended all of the common methods to sleep train my child at 8mo! And yes from my arms to her bed alone from 7pm to 8am in two months. There were tears I will not lie… but not like this I stayed in the room with her and comforted her until she knew mommy wasn’t leaving her just helping her learn to do something new on her own! she still sleeps wonderfully and naps much much better than before! 2mo is a wonderful timeline to regain my sanity and not have my child suffering we were and still are very happy!

  32. David says:

    Re Shoshanah’s comments. Shoshanah, I want you to know that you are a brilliant mother and not heartless at all. We too have found that it is better not to go back into the room to comfort our child when we were doing the sleep training. It always just made it much worse. By letting the child cry, afetr 2 or 3 days, she was sleeping perfectly throughout the night. Then we could get a great nights sleep too, and that made us more patient and loving parents! Some of these other parents who contonually go and soothe or pcik up there children are actually training them to keep repeating that behaviour. Sometimes the best thing to do is leave the child, it does them a world of good! Well done! The proof is in the pudding! Both you and your child sleep well now. Mostly babies if they are healthy are not bad sleepers, they have just been conditioned by the behaviour of their parents. After we realised we could train our baby, we immediately did other things like, removing the dummy through the day. Sure she was unhappy for a day, but after that she was just fine!

  33. nerdular says:

    All of the differing opinions on this make my head spin. I just do what my instinct tells me. And my instinct has not, so far, told me to let my daughter cry it out.

  34. Anna says:

    @ Nerdular, I had similar problem – had to wean my boy at 16 months ‘cold turkey’ because everybody was exhausted and not getting enough sleep. It took about a week for him to realise he has to eat more solids during the day and so I was prepared to make the odd toast and cows milk in the middle of the night (2-3am), which he thought was fine and went to sleep after. Now he sleeps 11 hrs straight! The bed time routine is getting longer and longer and I have no idea why he can’t settle himself at night. His day naps are fine and he’s out in 5 min. In the evening it can take over an hr and he just lies there eyes open no noises or movements if I sit next to him – not sure what that’s all about. If I try to leave while his eyes are still open I think we might end up like the video – how horrific – I really feel for the mum and had a cry when I saw her braking down, but I also understand if boundaries are layed down early on kids tend to learn new rules much easier later on.

  35. Kathryn says:

    I’m definitely a fan of the baby steps method. My son slept on my chest til he was 3 months old – due to severe acid reflux – and once we got that diagnosed and under control I needed to start teaching him to sleep in his crib so I could get some sleep too (I’m a light sleeper and he’d move around a lot and wake me up each time).

    I started with his naps – I would put him in bed each time he fell asleep. Then, when he woke up and cried I would come into the room and try to soothe him back to sleep – or pick him up if he was ready to get up.

    After about a week of this he had gained confidence that I was always there if he really needed me – so he started taking his naps in his crib and also started sleeping through the night (or at least til 4am – which was his wake-up time til he was about a year old).

    I know my method wouldn’t work for every mom, but my son is a happy, self-secure, generally well-behaved, and independent little 17-month old toddler now – and I believe taking the time to teach him that I would always be there for him if he needed me contributed greatly to him developing thusly.

    I had a close friend who was a huge fan of the cry-it-out method for everything. She would literally leave her daughter to work it out for herself for EVERYTHING – and by the age of 2.5yrs old that poor girl was showing obvious signs of insecurity issues…and that’s just not right in my book. She would say that it was because her baby needed to learn to be independent (at a couple months old!!) – and instead of learning independence, it taught her to be insecure. I know that’s an extreme example, but it made a huge impression on me.

    I’ll let my son cry it out if I know he’s just throwing a fit – but if he might really need me I’m not going to just leave him and hope he’ll get over it. That’s just cruel – and lazy. I think that’s what it comes down to for me – it takes more effort in a lot of ways to be there and teach your child – and I’m not saying this is true of every parent who uses this method – be too many parents just let their kids cry it out because it’s too much effort to be more hands-on.

  36. Kathryn says:

    it’s not that I don’t think a child should ever be allowed to cry. but more that there should be a time limit for how long that’s reasonable – how long before that becomes neglect – or emotional torture…? Because at a young age, your child doesn’t understand “this is for my good” – all they know is that they’re upset and nobody is there for them.

  37. Rebecca says:

    My son also has that type of personality where it actually made it worse when I went back in the room to “comfort” him. He’s very emotional and strong willed (also a little too dramatic, LOL). We first let him CIO at 9 months old. That is, after trying gentler methods. First night, he only cried about 35 minutes and went to sleep. It also had the added benefit of simultaneously weaning him the pacifier he always used to sleep. After the first night, he cried a few minutes once in a while, but he always went to sleep on his own :) He is now turning 2 and still complains when going to bed (he’s still in a crib) once a week or so, but will go to sleep after a few minutes of whining. He is a creature of habit, so I am not looking forward to when he goes into a toddler bed.

    I now have a 6 week old, who does not sleep very well, so I have to start the process all over! He can’t seem to settle to sleep unless someone is holding him, which can be very exhausting. We have started a little bedtime routine already,but I am not sure what else I can do to help him sleep better.

  38. Debbye says:

    @ JD- Thank you for the follow up and for reminding us that because of editing and other variables, we do not always see the whole story!

    @ Katie- Thanks for sharing your story! It does sounds like a rough few nights, but that it really paid off for all of you! :)

    @ Angela and Lori- Thanks for writing! We at the Baby Sleep Site are big advocates of “baby steps,” no pun intended. ;)

    @ Shoshana- Please do not feel as though you are thought of as “heartless.” All families are different, and only you know your baby best, and know what his needs and your needs are too. :) Your firmness in tough situations is not necessarily be thought of as heartless, but that you found a solution that worked for you. :)

  39. Debbye says:

    @ Jessica M- Thank you for the reminders of all the “grey” areas, and we are happy that you found your way through those grey areas to better sleep. ;)

    @ David- Thank you for sharing what worked for you! :)

    @ Nerdular- Great! Never underestimate those wonderful parental instincts!

    @ Anna- You are right! With toddlers, it’s all about setting limits and being consistent. They may protest the change for a few days or a week, but eventually they start to get the message. Could your son just not be tired at bedtime? Is he still taking two naps a day? Here is a link to a sample schedule to use as a reference:
    http://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/toddler-schedule/
    And an article about transitioning to one nap: http://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-naps-2/12-month-olds-one-nap-transition/
    Good luck! :)

    @ Kathryn- Thank yo for sharing your journey. Unfortunately, not all babies or toddlers will respond like yours, like you said. It is a good idea to start out slowly and gently though! :)

    @ Rebecca- Congrats on your new baby! Hopefully, because of your toddler’s challenges, this time around will be easier! ;)
    Here are a couple of links to articles about newborn sleep that may help lay a solid foundation to good sleep too:
    http://www.babysleepsite.com/newborns/newborn-sleep-schedule-patterns/

    http://www.babysleepsite.com/newborns/newborn-sleep-baby-tips-10/
    Good luck!!

  40. Liz says:

    @Everyone and Nicole J.

    Well, I dont usually comment on posts…….BUT….

    I watched many supernanny episodes and I think her method is excellent. I used to come to your site constantly but after this post u got me thinking….. Not to talk too much about supernanny she has a 100% success rate and is also a Millionaire. I am guessing from the excellent job she does. But to me at least, your post came across as a selling point, selling point from your book and your personal sleeping help to parents… Cant think of how is called nw. But anyways I have a 6 mo and a 2.5 yo and supernanny methods have worked great for both of them.

    Every parent obviously have a unique way to educate their kids but I just felt like saying something,
    Nicole I hope this doesnt come across the wrong way, but is something to think about it in the future.

    I want to hear what other people have to say about this.

    Thank you

  41. @Liz I’m not exactly sure what you are saying, but I am thinking you are saying that I wrote the post strictly to sell my books and services, perhaps? I write articles that come to me from working with many parents on a daily basis and knowing what parents think about on a daily basis. I write articles because I love writing and I love to promote discussion and encourage parents to think about how they approach sleep in their house and not blindly follow all the “experts” (including me) and trust their own instincts, too. I have learned to tell people about our books and services in almost every article, because many parents are new to the site and need help. We have over 200 free articles on the site and we have a new one every week as well as a free newsletter. We have free eBooks, free white noise, free sample schedules. I did a free Skype presentation today, too. All free and take time to put together. Our #1 mission here at The Baby Sleep Site is to help parents struggling with sleep. I very much know that not everyone needs additional help, but those parents who do, need to know how to get it. Honestly, we can’t have everyone buy services, because we literally don’t have the capacity to help everyone! :( And, yes, this article helped parents learn more about my philosophy and seek help from us. Those who don’t need the help may see it as a sales pitch, but those parents suffering are thankful that we spell it out and are thankful there is a way to get to know our philosophy before purchasing our services. Remember, that some parents are sleep deprived and don’t know where to go for help. I’m sorry if it rubbed you the wrong way, but we promote products and services in almost every article and my passion is to help parents. If I don’t tell people how to find help, we can’t do that. :) Thank you for chiming in!

  42. @Liz Oh and I forgot to say that I would be surprised if Super Nanny actually has a 100% success rate! :D And, there are different definitions of “success” if you consider the emotional well-being of the child. I’m not saying this child would be emotionally scarred or anything, depending on the situation, but just because something “works” doesn’t mean it’s “right.” Don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree with all that is Super Nanny. I saw this clip and didn’t like what I saw. That is all. But, as someone else pointed out, there is always more to the story and it goes to show that you know your situation best. Perhaps this child did need a firmer approach…

  43. Mary says:

    I think a few things… you have to keep in mind this show is primarily for entertainment purposes and for whatever reason, sick America likes to see people on TV suffer on reality shows. Maybe it makes everyone feel their life is not so bad? It is for this reason that I choose to not watch shows like this. So with that said, you have no idea what else is going on in this family and what the dynamics are.

    Second, I disagree with the book reading in the parents room. We all know the first steps to sleep training is setting up a routine and environment conducive to sleep. They did none of that. They did not set up expectations. They did not even talk to the boy about what was expected.. at least we do not think since this is all we are seeing. This could have been an ongoing battle with this boy. They could have tried so many methods, etc. We have no idea.

    This leads lastly to why it is soooo important to not just post a clip of one part of a show like that. This is once again a TV show, not real life, and anyone that watches “Supper Nanny” and puts her practices into action without talking to their doctor or a trained sleep consultant is just dumb.

    Lastly, this is key… !!! …even if the bedtime routine was lack luster, the parent did give kisses and tell the boy he needed to go in his crib. As a psychologist that works with children, I know that many kids make transitions easily. This boy’s behavior is NOT NORMAL and shows signs of some other kind of attachment issue. A normal, healthy, non-behaviorally challenged child would NOT act this way. They would probably get out of the crib maybe or talk to mommy, but this behavior is NOT NORMAL and if the parent said it was time to go in the crib, this tantrum is just a reaction that is indicative of this child’s behavior issues. I would say that if a baby coslept for 3 years and was a developmentally normal child and the parent said, “tonight we are gonna try the crib’ and did all this, the child might cry or be upset, but they would not scream and freak out so violently. The normal child would cry or maybe be upset and the normal parent could maybe lie next to them or sing or hold their hand and the child would respect this and fall to sleep. But clearly this case is not normal hence the extreme actions. had the mother lied next to him and held his hand I would bet that the boy still would have cross boundaries, screamed, tantrumed, and made the mother’s life a living hell. Maybe this boy always gets what he wants and that is why cosleeping went on so long. The mother even “elludes” to that cosleeping was mainly for her benefit not necessarily the family’s. We have no idea why she kept with it. Did the boy have serious problems or was it a healthy cosleeping situation? That is why THIS CASE is on TV and not some “normal’ situation. Boring TV for sick America would not go over well so they put this garbage on TV….

  44. Debbye says:

    Hi Mary,
    Thank you for taking the time to write! Reality shows have become SO very popular in America and around the world, and with the popularity comes money, so I am sure we will see more and more of these reality shows in the coming days.
    Thank you for your input! :)