Exhausted and Confused?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.
Exhausted and Confused?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.
Exhausted and Confused?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.

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  1. I have six month old twins and was conflicted about letting them cry it out but we just couldn’t manage anymore and we were up every ten minutes at night, so we tried it for a week. I enjoyed my babies much more and they seemed happier immediately. They learned within a week that crying doesn’t work and they seem relieved not to have to do it anymore. They even had a sharp increase in their developmental capabilities that week. I like the feeling I have when I have had a good cry too.

    As for people who are judgmental about this, I just would like to urge caution. I don’t like having my parenting criticized and I am sure you don’t either. It seems even more threatening than disagreeable political conversations. The benefit is that high that comes from being self righteous but in the end we all lose because when we are self righteous, we lose the ability to communicate. People are less likely to listen to you when you start a conversation with “you are wrong” than if you start the conversation with “from my perspective…”

  2. A baby left to cry alone causes distress for the baby, and the REAL reason sleep training works, is that the baby gives up – the baby emotionally gives up on ‘depending’ on mom and dad to come comfort. Read “Helping Baby Sleep – The Science and Practice of Gentle Bedtime Parenting” by Gethin and Macgregor. You’ll never look at sleep training the same way again.

  3. Man I never even knew that that letting your baby cry it out to go to sleep and /or during the night was actually a named “technique”. Talk about renaming the elephant. So it is obvious that I did not read any books nor spoke with my pediatrician. When my oldest daughter got to be 9 months old I decided to let her cry to sleep as I was sick of rocking her to sleep for an hour each night, then falling asleep my self while the time I had to do all house chores and pay the bills slipped away. I just knew that she could handle it. So I would tuck her in the crib and then lay on my bed which was 1 foot away. She cried for 45 minutes every single night till one night I decided to leave the room. She was out in 10 minutes tops. Now she is 3 and after her bedtime routine she goes to sleep singing to herself. Crying actually stopped around 2.5 yrs old but was never more than 15 minutes. If it was more then my husband or I would be in the room checking what was going on. It wasn’t perfect every night but it worked 5 out of 7 nights and as she grew of course now it does not apply. My 2nd child, well she is another story. She will not sleep by herself period. And guess that I knew it too. I just knew that crying it out will never work for her. But still I did try it a few times when she was 10 months old. It did not last long because I could tell from the cry that this is not going to soothe anyone..not her, not I and especially not the neighbors. It was a panicked terrified shrill, not her usual high pitched crying. Then she would have a massive poop out of fear. And all this with me laying 2 feet away from her. That was the end of that. This kid needs touch. So now what works best is tucking her in bed under a heavy blanket (she is nearly 2 now) and just resting my hand on her back, patting is too stimulating, so is any noise unlike my first one who loved lullabies. She likes gentle shaking motion side to side on her back, and voila in 15-20 min she is out. Thought I’d share if it helped anyone. Good luck!

  4. I’m glad I stumbled upon this article. My wife is currently pregnant, 7 months, and she just recently read about The Ferber Method, and expressed her interest in trying it. Frankly, I’m not sure if I want to, despite the benefits it seems to bring.

    While weighing the pro’s and con’s of it, I never thought about whether it would change the personality of my soon-to-be son. I am going to send this to her to read over the comments. Thanks for the info!
    .-= Warren´s last blog ..Natural Remedies for Colic in Infants =-.

  5. Thank you so much for a down to earth site I can come to for help! My 12 month old dd will sleep from 6 to 12 in the afternoon and takes multiple naps each day…it’s basically draining my dh and I. We need to switch her schedule around and I am going to try this method to see what happens…I will keep you posted!

    • @LRM When a baby has a schedule problem, no amount of crying will really help. If she’s not sleepy at night, she’s not sleepy at night and no amount of crying will change that. The key is to change the schedule so she’s sleeping at the “right” times. Sometimes this requires waking baby but there are different strategies to do it. Obviously you can’t just keep her up because she’ll be cranky and tired, so a slower transition is best. Hope this helps and good luck!

  6. Hi Nicole,

    I am just drafting and email to you and got side tracked here… reading your article, you said you chose the cry it out method for your first son. How did you come about making this decision?

    I do recall you saying he had a spunky character. Our guy is definitely spirited and he WILL not stop crying if we allow him. Whether at bed time during the night, he is most unlikely to settle himself once the crying gets going. Hence, this guy being our first child, I do wonder how one comes about a decision to let their babies cry. Am just super curious… I wish it were easier for us!

    • @Chin My first is/was spirited, too, and my second is more spunky. For me, my decision came from the fact that my son was miserable and cranky without enough sleep. He needed sleep so desperately, but fought it a lot (and still does to a degree, but not as much). Once I knew he knew HOW to fall asleep, it became a decision between giving him what he “wanted” (i.e. allowing him to fight sleep) or giving him what he needed (more sleep). For us, it became a choice between some tears and less sleep, and the latter simply was a really bad option. My second has never fought sleep as much as my first. When he’s tired, he’s eager to go to sleep and waves bye-bye to go up for a nap. He hasn’t been a perfect sleeper, but definitely much easier. I’ve never regretted my decision, especially seeing the little boy in front of me now, still very sensitive to not getting enough sleep, and knowing he has become a very well-adjusted, loving little boy. He needs firm limits in many areas and sleep is still one of them. We simply had to start early with the limits, that’s all. I wish it were easier for all of us, Chin! (((HUGS)))

  7. Hello. Nicole, I admire your gentle, kind, gracious advise both on your blog and book. I have a 6.5 month VERY playful boy. For a month he was sleeping great. I would get up and reswaddle him once. People give me a hard time for still swaddling him, but he likes it. I started calling it “tucking him in” so I would be left alone about it. He’s on the bigger side, so I’ve had to come up with some crafty ideas. He then got sick twice and cut 4 teeth, which created a once happy boy a very fussy one. He is better now and handling teething much better. Your site helped with napping! Thank you. I thought I would like to stop getting up and rewrapping him as I believe he is very capable of learning. He has fallen asleep without being wrapped but prefers not to. The past 2 nights I’ve tried letting him cry. 1st night he cried 1 hour & 15 min, which was torture for me. Last night he cried 2 hours until 6:30, which is when he normally wakes. My husband stayed up listening to him and I slept with ear plugs. The decision was made with me sleep deprived. When I went in his room he was playing in his crib, which is what he does when really tired. SUPER playful, which doesn’t sound bad, but I know my son and know how miserable that feels. I am the same way. He has stayed awake entire days, when I tried carrying him all day. He does eventually fall asleep, but wakes himself up screaming.
    Today I feel guilty, I feel physically great! I had a full night sleep at the expensive of my soon & husband (both asleep right now). I wonder if I should can the whole thing and just get up to rewrap him. If it’s just once, I don’t mind. But it started becoming every 2 hours. Last night he woke up at 4, which I think he would have lasted until morning. I’m wondering since he’s napping better (I don’t wait until tired anymore, since he is so playful) he might naturally start sleeping better at night. Sincerely, guilty & well rested.

    • @Xochitl Many people continue swaddling past 6 months so there is no “rule” that says you had to stop swaddling, but they do start to get big for the swaddle, too. By now you are past this, most likely. I know it takes me awhile to respond to all the comments. 🙁 So many e-mail and helpdesk requests, which is great! But, comments do suffer. I hope you found a good solution as there are things to try before resorting to cry-it-out. Hope all is well! Good luck!

  8. It has been very interesting to read all the comments on here. I really want to offer this perspective. My son is now just over 2 years old and always had serious sleep issues. From a small baby, he would not sleep through the night. I did everything I could (including nursing him whenever needed) to try and help him sleep. He would not sleep more than 1.5 hours at a time. I have always been an advocate of ‘family sleeping’ and did this with my son. He slept in his co-sleeper next to me and would eventually end up in bed with me as I nursed him through the night.

    I am quite a private person but it is an all too common question for a mother with a baby, “Are they sleeping through the night?” My choice of parenting/sleep style was often met with strong (and sometimes hurtful) opposition. I can’t tell you how many people looked at me as if I were doing something terrible. They would tell me I was ‘creating a monster’ (no joke!) and that I was doing him a disservice for letting him co-sleep and nurse so often (I nursed until he was 20 months old). I was told on more than one occasion that I HAD to do the CIO method on my son. I am very sensitive to my children and I must admit that I was not in favor of that method. It made me feel very uncomfortable when other people would tell me how they were letting their babies cry it out all night long without even entering the room once. Needless to say, I was not comfortable with the CIO method and never did it. (My son and I are very close and some might say he is ‘clingy’ but I think it is healthy for a baby to want to be with their mother most of the time). He is very happy in the day time and was always a very calm and mellow baby. He didn’t like to be left with people if I was not there but as he has gotten older and understands that I ‘always return’ he is better.

    I will admit that I am very sleep deprived after 2 years of sleep issues with my son (and a new 3 month old baby girl). There have been many nights that I have rocked him in the rocker for 1-2 hours. My husband is also a great help and agrees that CIO does not fit our family.

    About a month ago, my son who has not been able to walk and has seen many specialists for a year now was diagnosed with a benign bone tumor in his hip (the same leg that was not functioning properly). This type of tumor “osteoid osteoma” is a very painful tumor that grows and caused most pain while SLEEPING! They believe he was born with this. We were told that it is like having a migraine in your bone at night. It is extremely painful. The doctors did double hip surgery on my son last month and now he is sleeping much better and waking only about 2-3 times a night (he is still in a spika cast so that makes him quite uncomfortable still).

    I am so grateful that I never listened to my critics. My baby was crying and waking many times a night (sometimes 15 times) but there was a reason. How would I feel now if I had made him do the CIO method for a week (it wouldn’t have worked anyway) and then found out that he had been in extreme pain and I wasn’t even there to comfort him. I do believe that socially we have moved away from our maternal, motherly duties and replaced them with some selfishness. When I asked my friend how she could let her baby just cry all night without even entering the room, her response was, “I just need my sleep so I do it.” I hear both sides of the argument but at the end of the day I believe that when our babies cry, we should be there for them. We always need to follow what our hearts tell us. If your child is screaming for an hour and you are in tears listening, then you should probably be in there comforting your child. I believe the mother in all of us will tell us what is right when we do not allow our own selfish needs interfere.

    • @CM I am very happy you did not listen to your critics either! I am always so sad when people aren’t supported of their decisions on how to raise THEIR baby! Let me tell you, we did do some cry-it-out and my son is still “clingy” as you say and looooves his mommy! Very attached to me and some might call him a “momma’s boy” so there is no telling that even if you hadn’t co-slept, anything would be different. They are who they are. My 2nd is more independent and it’s just how he is. It’s just part of his personality.

      ((HUGS)) on everything you have gone through, but I want others reading to know there is a LOT in between co-sleeping and the sleep-deprivation you have gone through and don’t-go-in-all-night-cry-it-out. I don’t typically ever recommend a method of not going in at all all night! And, when I define cry-it-out on this site, I don’t mean that (everyone has their own definition). Not many parents want to do that or can do it. There are other things to try that might work for your children, so you don’t have to sacrifice who you are as a family, but you also don’t have to be sleep-deprived, either. There are many methods out there and I hope you can find one for you and your family. After all, just as you are sleep-deprived, so are they and I think we ALL feel better on a good night’s rest! I’m glad your son is doing so well with his surgery and I hope he continues to improve every day. Good luck!

  9. Nicole,
    Thank you SO much for your blog. You are insightful and show much grace under fire. I am a mother of a 5 month old and swore I would never use CIO or “Ferberize” my child. Well, tonight will be my first official try. Why? Because using my motherly instincts, I truly believe this is what is best for my child. I am a stay at home mom, who is blessed with help, and spends plenty of time holding my happy son. FIRSTLY, why do naysayers ignore that this effort does not involve extended periods of not attending to a crying child? That it is not just about the parent? Sure after 6 months of not getting a full night’s sleep my thoughts are for…MY CHILD. Not only will he benefit physically from longer periods of sleep, but yes he will also benefit from me getting longer periods. Twice I just let him cry for a few minutes in the early a.m., he went back to sleep on his own and awoke even happier than usual, and more content in his crib. Everything I have experienced so far is that his personality is more POSITIVELY affected. He was also also more playful during the day. Am I nervous about tonight? A bit, because it will be tough on ME. It would be easier to keep letting his sleep be disrupted, but I want to raise a healthy sleeper. I ask those who espouse their tunnel vision, since I struggle with my son crying when he gets his shots, should I stop those? Of course not, because it is what is best for him. It greatly bothers me that myself, Nicole and others are talked about as though we are being selfish and not trying to do what is best for our children when we are not doing it their way. I am sorry for their children that they are being raised to be closed minded citizens. Nicole says it best when she talks about what may work for some… Nicole you are killing your critics with kindness and I admire you for that. Say a prayer for me and my son tonight, and again thank you!

    • @Kerry Thank you so much for your comments! I believe naysayers would say that when your baby is crying when he gets shots, you are there with him while he cries and comfort him and that’s why it’s different. This goes back to the different definition of cry-it-out that everyone has. Is 5-10 minutes of crying truly what people think of as “cry it out”? Some babies literally cry just that long. Some people feel visiting ever so often like “ferberizing” is “good enough” to be “with” your child and comfort periodically. This just goes back to all our different philosophies and our unique baby, too. What works for one baby or one family won’t work for everyone. I hope it went well and good luck! I’m very happy you have found my site so helpful! 🙂