How to Sleep Train Your Baby Responsibly. Tips for doing cry it out in a way that best helps your baby. Sleep training tips.
My friend, Maureen Monfore, recently emailed me with a concern. She is a member of pretty much all of the online Babywise support groups that I am, and she told me she was concerned over some of the CIO (cry it out) comments she had seen over time. She asked that I post this here.
- Sleep Train a Baby Responsibly
- My Added Thoughts:
- CIO Definition
- Monitoring Supply
- Great Sleep Training Books
- Optimal Waketime
- Sleep Routine
- Keep A Log
- Length of Time
- Reader Thanks/Comments:
- Reader Sleep Training Questions:
- Sleep Training Tips and Info
- Sleep Training According to Babywise (Baby Wise)
- Gentle Sleep Training: The Four S's
- The Big List of Sleep Training Resources
- 6 Rules for Using Cry it Out as a Baby Sleep Training Method
- The Ultimate Cry It Out Bootcamp
- Everything You Need to Know About Cry It Out
- The Best Baby Sleep Training Books to Get Baby Sleeping
- Cry It Out Sleep Training Tips
- 5 Important Sleep Training Tips for Baby Sleep
- What Are the Benefits of Sleep Training?
- How to Use the Extinction Method for Sleep Training
- 5 Reasons to Establish Good Sleep Habits
Sleep Train a Baby Responsibly
“I see many people doing and suggesting CIO and while CIO is often necessary and does work, I am sometimes concerned by what I read. Our babies are not trying to manipulate us. They are new to this world and are just learning how things work. Crying is their only way of communicating with us. While I do agree that we shouldn’t do CIO half-heartedly, we still can’t put all of the burden on the baby. I feel like to do CIO responsibly, the we need to do several things. Some of these are a given, but when you’re a first-time mom, they might not seem intuitive. And yes, the we should do ALL of these things, not some of them:
- Make sure baby is well fed. Monitor your supply closely if you are BF’ing. Make sure your pediatrician is monitoring your baby’s growth.
- Make sure baby is not sick in any way (reflux, ear infections, food sensitivities, etc.).
- Stick to the eat/awake/sleep routine.
- Stick to the schedule consistently.
- Be sure to put baby down at the optimal wake time (which includes feeding time).
- Have a routine before you put baby down to transition him to sleep, whether that’s rocking, singing, dancing, closing the curtains, whatever. But always put baby down awake (a little drowsy is OK).
- Have a reason for CIO. It should only be necessary for initial sleep training or when going through phases like rolling over, standing up, weaning from swaddle, etc. If crying happens out of the blue for a baby who has always slept well, CIO cannot be the first course of action. You need to consider the context and characterization of the child. You need to investigate all possible causes including a visit to the doctor. Offer Tylenol 20 minutes before the nap if you suspect teething. Evaluate the baby’s behavior during awake time. If you are still stumped, I would comfort the baby until you can figure out the reason.
- Don’t start CIO while other changes are going on. If you are weaning, changing formulas, visiting family or experiencing any other disruption to your routine, wait until that disruption is over before you start CIO.
- Keep track of how long the baby is crying. It’s best to distract yourself during CIO, but you need to monitor it. Write it down if that helps. When done effectively and responsibly, the CIO shouldn’t take more than 3-5 days and the crying should be less and less each nap/bed time. Initially, baby might cry for an hour. The next time it should be closer to 45 minutes, then 30 minutes and so on. When I have done CIO with Lucas, my youngest, it realistically never took more than 3-4 naps before we were over the problem. The first time was always the hardest but then it got better very fast. With a baby on a 3-hour routine with an awake time of one hour, the most the baby would cry is 2 hours. Even that is a little long in my book, so consider doing a 2.5-hour schedule (which BW condones), meaning the longest CIO would be 1.5 hours.
- Above all, be consistent. Being wishy washy about it will only drag it on, confuse the baby and make matters worse. If you can’t handle the CIO, don’t do it at all. Don’t set time limits. Don’t get them up some times and not others. Don’t rock/nurse the baby to sleep some times and not others. You need to decide what you want your baby to learn. Set the rules and stick to them. It’s OK if you can’t handle doing CIO consistently. It’s not for everyone. If it’s not for you, don’t do it at all. Read other books, like Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, and find another method.”
My Added Thoughts:
The definition of CIO is different for every one. For some people, when they think of CIO, they think that means you put baby in bed and leave him there until he goes to sleep, no matter what. That is not my definition of CIO.
First, I think it is important to remember the “why” behind doing CIO. While utilizing Babywise, the why of CIO is to teach your child to self-soothe so he can fall asleep on his own as well as eventually stay asleep through sleep transitions, which occur about every 45 minutes. That is why you are doing CIO.
To do CIO responsibly, I believe you need to take that “why” and apply it in context of what is going on. That is the reason if my baby is over stimulated, I do not do CIO for that nap. It just isn’t going to effectively teach what I am trying to teach. For a full run-down of steps I find important while doing CIO, see my Cry It Out Bootcamp.
Maureen mentioned the need to monitor milk supply and growth. You also need to monitor growth. I have known of one or two people who done CIO with baby and didn’t find it to be going well. They later discovered that there were breastfeeding supply problems and the baby wasn’t growing as expected.
If you use the charts found in the back of On Becoming Babywise, you can monitor growth much better. I realize it can seem tedious to mark down wet/dirty diapers and count number of feedings each day for weeks and weeks, but it is an excellent way to make sure things are on track. I did this with both of my children, and will do it for my third.
Sickness can interfere with the success of CIO. You want to make sure all of these issues are addressed before starting CIO. If your baby has reflux, for example, that doesn’t mean you are unable to do CIO. I did it with Kaitlyn with no problems. But there were times when I put her down and could tell something was wrong. I would then get her up and put her in her swing to sleep. There were naps when she woke early, and I could tell it was because of pain from her reflux. I moved her to her swing to finish her nap.
See these posts along this topic:
Maureen mentioned sticking to the eat/wake/sleep cycle. This consistency helps baby’s body get used to the predictability of when he will eat, when he will play, and when he will sleep.
See these posts for more on this topic:
- Eat/Wake/Sleep Cycle
- Getting a Consistent Schedule
- Consistent Schedule: Start Your Day Right
- Establishing Consistency–Make Sacrifices
She also cautions to avoid starting CIO while in the middle of a disruption. The reason for this is that disruptions obviously interfere with consistency. Also, babies are typically fussier while experiencing a disruption.
Great Sleep Training Books
Maureen said to put baby down at the optimal waketime. This is one of the most important aspects to successful CIO. I have several posts that deal with this topic:
- Waketime: Length, Extending, and Calculating
- Optimal Waketime Lengths
- Waketime When Baby Wakes Early
- Waketime When They Wake Early
This goes along with the idea of consistency. Having a sleep routine is a signal to baby that naptime is about to start. See this post:
Some moms are nervous to attend to baby later down the road after sleep training is completed. Say baby has been falling asleep without a peep for three months, then one day cries before going down for her nap. This would be uncharacteristic for her. This is a moment when you want to go in and attend to her needs. You want to be sure there is nothing wrong. If you have checked her over and are sure there is nothing wrong, you can have her CIO if needed.
There have been a few times in the 19 months of Kaitlyn’s life of absolutely no crying before a nap (she is 21 months old) that she has cried. I go in. There have been random problems. Most of the time with her, it is simply that she wants a hug from me. This is not something she uses as a “tactic” to get me back in the room. She rarely does it, but it happens. In fact, it happened a couple of weeks ago. I put her down; she cried. I went in, picked her up, hugged her, and about 30 seconds later she pointed to her bed and said, “Lay down.” I put her back down, told her I loved her and to sleep well, and she went right to sleep without a peep.
I remember when Brayden was one year old. He woke in the middle of the night crying. This was really uncharacteristic of him. I had the thought that maybe I shouldn’t go in, but I knew this was different and figured something had to be wrong. We were in the middle of moving and were in a different house than he was used to, but I didn’t assume that was the problem. I went in to find that he had diarrhea –the worst kind–the acid kind that burns the minute it touches the skin. I was very glad I had checked on him.
For more on the idea of context, see Adjusting for Context When Using Babywise.
Keep A Log
Maureen mentioned to keep track of what is happening. I agree with this and do this. I keep a log whenever I am trying to figure out or implement something new. I have an eBook of logs that I use with my babies. You can get your copy here.
Length of Time
Maureen says CIO will take 3-5 days if done right. I tend to disagree with this, though it is obviously what she has found. If the child is already sleep trained and you are returning from a vacation or your child is teething or something, it will likely take anywhere from a day to a week or two, with most being about 3-5 days, to return to where you were before the disruptions.
I have found that it does get better over time as she mentioned, but it isn’t so much a step by step process, but a spiral process. So it doesn’t go from crying 30 minutes one day, to 25 the next, to 20 the next, etc. It is more of cries 30 minutes one day, 15 the next, 10 the next, 35 the next, 5 the next, etc. While some of these days seem like you are backtracking or moving away from your goal, you are spiraling toward the goal (see progress is a spiral for more on that idea).
See this post for more on when it gets better: When Do Babies Get Easier?
Maureen suggested you set rules and stick to them. This is a good idea, while also applying the idea of context as discussed above. If you have found your baby cannot be interfered with, but it seems like something is wrong, by all means attend to him.
My thanks to Maureen for bringing this topic to my, and therefore your, attention. Let’s all remember to do CIO responsibly.
Here are further posts and blog labels to help you:
- Should You Do CIO?
- Waking Early From Naps/Won’t Fall Asleep For Naps
- Combating Babywise Myths #6: BW parents call their kids words like “manipulative”
- Easy Nap Fix
- 45 Minute Intruder
- Naps: Troubleshooting
- Growth spurt
- Rachel Stella said…
I think this is a great subject to bring up. Thanks Maureen.I have to also disagree with Maureen about CIO only taking 3-5 days. Though having the perfect timing and a good nap time routine will helps tons, some kids have a harder time than others. My son cried (though not usually more than 30 minutes) at nap time for months! It didn’t make a difference if I put him to bed earlier, later etc. And whenever he’s going through a phase like “early morning wakenings” the phase lasts a REALLY long time no matter what I do. That is just how he is.
January 21, 2009 10:31 AM
Thanks again Val for posting this!To provide some context behind the 3-5 day idea, in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, she says it takes about 3 days to form or break a habit. Using CIO is one method of doing so. In his book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, Dr. Richard Ferber, sort of a pioneer in the CIO method, says it takes a few days to a week. Here’s an excerpt from that book:”How long that takes depends on how many steps are involved….Children are very quick learners. A child who has always fallen asleep one way can learn to fall asleep a new way after just a few nights’ practice. (It’s their slower-learning parents who may take a month or more to master new sleep habits.) This is both good news and bad news: sleep problems can develop over just a few days, but they can be solved just as quickly.”So as with any sort of average such as this there will be some babies who take more time and some who take less. But on average, it seems that 3-5 days is typical.Maureen
January 21, 2009 12:42 PM
Rachel Stella said…
Yeah, I’ve read the 3-5 days in several places too but I rarely ever hear a parent say it only took that long. But then again, I really don’t know how consitent these parents are being. I just know that it took my son much longer with CIO, even being consistent and being very careful with his awake time.I guess the only problem I have with telling people it’ll take 3-5 days when it seems to take longer is that people get too high of expectations then either give up because only a few days didn’t work or get extremely stressed out and think they must be doing something wrong or something is wrong with their child if it takes more than a few days.
January 21, 2009 2:51 PM
True. I suppose a word of caution about these averages would be a good idea. It can always take longer. If you have done everything in your power to ensure that CIO is the right thing for that particular time (according to the bullets I listed), then it would be helpful to know that it can take longer. The unfortunate thing that I have noticed is that some moms will get frustrated and let their babies cry despite inconsistency, schedule disruptions, teething, etc. Some moms consider CIO as a first course of action when it shouldn’t be. I have made my own mistakes with CIO with my older son and only want to help spare other moms and babies those same mistakes. The silver lining for me is that my second child benefited from my mistakes. He has always been a good sleeper and has only had to CIO a handful of times. Maureen
January 21, 2009 3:23 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Rachel!
January 24, 2009 3:38 PM
Maureen, thanks for the context. But doesn’t Ferber recommend CIO at an older age? I have heard of CIO working in a few days for an older baby, but never in a newborn. BW suggests you don’t rock from the beginning, so if you are following BW strictly and starting CIO at a few weeks rather than 6 months, I doubt it would happen in a few days.As Rachel said, I hadn’t ever heard a parent (who has done CIO) say it takes 3-5 days until Maureen said it. I have seen that question asked many times in Parenting Advice groups, and all responses from parents who have done it have been, sorry, it takes longer than that. I also worry about parents going into CIO expecting 3-5 days and then freaking out when it doesn’t happen. I have had that question many times on this blog :)I have to also say that I would consider myself to be good at the CIO process. I know what I am doing and what not to do. It took Kaitlyn almost 8 weeks before she was 100% done crying before naps and bedtime (the same for Brayden). That isn’t to day for 8 weeks she was having rough CIO sessions. She had many naps that had no crying at all (including her first CIO session), and many with crying for less than a minute. But I consider the process to have taken 8 weeks because at that point, I was 100% confident that she would not cry before a nap and knew if she did, something was wrong.Maureen, could you share what age you started CIO with Lucas and how long it took before you were 100% sure he would not cry before a nap? It would be helpful since you have had fast success with it.
January 24, 2009 3:58 PM
Hi Val. I’m happy to share my experiences with CIO. Again they are just anecdotes, so I would trust what the books say, but this will give you some perspective. I plan on buying Ferber’s book tonight (I haven’t read the entire thing) and I’ll let you know what it says about the age thing. Here are my experiences:William:He had colic due to a dairy sensitivity, so I was an attachment parent for his first 6 weeks. We started BW and CIO at 7.5 weeks. The dairy was out of our systems and he had stopped the endless/painful crying. I went cold turkey on CIO. It was tough for both of us considering I had ALWAYS helped him get to sleep. That initial sleep training effort took 3 days. The first couple naps were bad, but they got progressively better with less and less crying each time. We had CIO issues later which I now know the reason for the problem (the mistakes I mentioned before). But that initial sleep training effort was 3 days. Nights were never much of an issue for either of my boys.Lucas:We had two CIO incidents with him. One was with a problem rolling over and the other was weaning from the swaddle. If I remember right, both were after 6 months. I knew we weaned from the swaddle at 6 months. I was thinking the rolling over was before that, but now that I think about it, he wasn’t rolling over while still swaddled. So yes, both of these were later. And both times, it didn’t take 3-4 days. It took 3-4 naps, so really just 1.5 days.As for Lucas’ initial sleep training as a newborn, we never had to do CIO. There were times here and there that he would cry, but on the whole, he went right to sleep without a fuss. I credit this to having started BW from day one and the swaddle. Here’s an anecdote: I had a friend over one day. He was about 3-4 weeks at the time. We were chatting on the couch and I swaddled him because I was going to take him upstairs and put him down. I set him on the couch next to me while I helped William with something. Then I turned back around to Lucas (30 seconds later) and he was almost asleep! The lights were on, people were talking and he was on the couch! But he was swaddled and ready to go to sleep, so he was just going to go to sleep. Part of this is also his temperament. He is a much sleepier baby than William ever was. I did also rock him (and still do). I never rocked him to sleep, but I saw the value in having that transition to sleep. So you can see how my experiences line up with what the books say. I think CIO should be done for specific purposes and that if it goes on too long there might be something wrong or the parent might not be as consistent as they could be.Maureen
January 24, 2009 6:25 PM
Thanks for sharing Maureen.
January 29, 2009 11:28 AM
- Jennifer said…
Great post! I think this brings up a lot of really good points! Thanks again for a wonderful resource!
January 21, 2009 11:21 AM
You are welcome Jennifer. Thanks for thanking!
January 24, 2009 3:39 PM
- Becca said…
My son took longer to CIO for naps (1.5 wks) than he did for nights (4 days), maybe because he learned naps first?? Another difference in my son was he didn’t slowly decrease the time he cried (for nights). It was 2 nights of 1.5 hrs, 1 night STTN, 1 night of 1.5 hours, and then he STTN consistently starting the 5th night. The only difference from night to night was me increasing the duration of time in between me going in, maybe that was why. Thanks for the post!
January 21, 2009 7:44 PM
Becca, thanks for sharing your experience. I think most do get better at night before day. Both of mine basically never had to CIO at night before bed, and neither ever cried after a feeding in the middle of the night.
January 24, 2009 4:01 PM
- UnOrdinary said…
Thanks for this post. I agree 100%. This is a very helpful clarification of how to use CIO for confused new moms!
January 22, 2009 7:58 AM
You are welcome UnOrdinary. Thanks for the thanks!
January 24, 2009 4:10 PM
- The Greenfields said…
thanks for this post. it was perfect timing as we have just done some major traveling and we are working on getting noah back on schedule again. i hate CIO every time, but i know it’s for the best and luckily noah (8 1/2 months) falls into the average 3-5 days until we are back in our groove again. today i was vigilant about watching his cues for naptime and we had GREAT naps, 2 hours, with no tears! i needed these reminders!Thanks again for your ministry through this blog. it’s such a blessing for me trying to figure this all out as a first time mom.
January 22, 2009 11:36 AM
You are welcome Greenfields! Good job on the vigilance. That makes a huge difference.
January 24, 2009 4:21 PM
- Cindy (and Brian) said…
This is a great post. thank you!
January 23, 2009 3:44 AM
Cindy, you are welcome!
January 24, 2009 4:29 PM
Reader Sleep Training Questions:
- Shanna said…
My 6 week old baby girl fights sleep during every daytime nap. I have to be very careful how long her wake time is, as she quickly gets cranky and is obviously tired. At 6 weeks old, is she really old enough to CIO? She is doing well on a 2.5/3 hour feeding schedule, but simply hates the process of falling asleep and I end up having to hold her every time. A few days ago I spent the day trying to let her CIO during her daytime naps, and it was a disaster. I think she slept only 2 or 3 hours the entire day. Is it normal to have such a rocky start? Do I just need to stick with it for a few more days? How long should I really let her cry at this age? I really appreciate any advice you can provide. I’m so glad that I found your blog. As a new mother, I find it incredibly informative and encouraging.
January 21, 2009 7:48 PM
Shanna, this is one of those cases where you are doing CIO for a purpose (for sleep training). Before you start, go through my checklist to be sure you have all of your bases covered. Also be sure you have the determination and resolve to stick it out. It will definitely be rocky and you can count on her getting less sleep for those few days. And on average, it should only be a few days. But if you cave and go in and rock her, worried that she’s not getting enough sleep, you have basically undone the work you had done to that point. You are telling her that if she cries long and hard enough, you will come to her. Believe me, this is harder on you than it is on her. Start with a plan. Give yourself maybe 2 weeks, in case it takes that long. Decide that you won’t reevalutate until those two weeks are over. Find ways to cope. Take a shower. Listen to your iPod. Call a friend. Go outside. Watch TV. Do whatever you need to do to distract yourself. You might also want to read Ferber’s book which offers suggestions for going in at different intervals. And 6 weeks is not too young to CIO. I started at 7 weeks with my older son (never really had to do it for sleep training with my younger son). He was never a good sleeper but he fit the 3-day mold perfectly, and we had some bad habits to overcome. The earlier you start, the easier it will be. The longer you wait, the more ingrained your habits will be. You might also want to consider doing a consistent 2.5-hour schedule until she is sleep trained. This would shorten the time between feedings which means the time she spends in her crib would be less. So if her awake time is an hour, the longest she’ll cry is 1.5 hours. That does seem like a lot, especially when you’re in the middle of it, but just remind yourself that you are giving her the gift of training her to sleep. And remember that it’s only temporary. I always say that a baby who isn’t sleep trained spends far more time crying overall (over weeks and months) than a baby who spends a few days to CIO to learn to sleep.One more thing: her awake time is probably shorter than you would think. With my youngest, I did one hour as a newborn, but he probably would have done better with just 45 minutes. Better to start with a shorter awake time than a longer one if you’re not completely sure.Good luck!Maureen
January 22, 2009 12:12 PM
Thanks very much for your advice. I’m going through lots of posts on this site to make sure I’m 100% prepared before I dive in. I think I’ll officially start on Monday, I’m just making minor adjustments for now. Can you direct me to the checklist you referred to? I’m not sure which one it is. Thanks again!
January 22, 2009 12:43 PM
That sounds like a great plan. I’m referring to the list of bullets near the top of this post. It starts with “Make sure baby is well fed” and ends with “Above all, be consistent.”Glad I could help! Maureen
January 22, 2009 12:55 PM
Shanna, yes, she is old enough, but as her mother, you have to decide if she is ready. As a blanket statement, 6 weeks is old enough, but you have to be sure she is ready before starting (and be sure you are ready before starting). It is normal to have a rough start for sure. Be sure to see the CIO bootcamp linked in this post. It should provide you with all of the information you need to do CIO. If you don’t want to do CIO, there is also the Baby Whisperer method. If you choose to do that, I would recommend you buy or borrow her book. See the blog label “Baby Whisperer” for more on that.
January 24, 2009 4:04 PM
- C-lee said…
Thank you so much for the post My 5 month old has a gas problem, (it is going a little better) . If I put her down for a nap she would cry 1. She is fighting her sleep or 2. There is a wind stuck somewhere. So I have been doing CIO very cautiously. Other days I would put her down and wait for her cry, and there would be nothing, then she is already asleep. SO by this I know she can fall asleep quick if I do put her down on time(not to early or to late). But when she do cry I listen for about a minute then I can tell if there is something out of place, I would go In pick her up and try to burp her, most of the time the wind comes right out. Then she would go asleep. Although some days I struggle to get the wind out and by the time I do get it out she is over stimulated and I need to help her, so I rock her until she is sleepy and the put her down half awake half asleep. Then if she wakes up in the middle of a nap it is because of gas or because the nap is over. SO I go in and if it was gas and I can see she can still take a nap I also help her to go back to sleep, ‘cause usually she struggles to go back down after I try to get the gas out. My question is. IS THIS OKAY TO DO: ROCK HER SOMETIMES AND SOMETIMES NOT – WHEN IF THERE IS NOT A PROBLEM SHE FALLS ASLEEP QUICK AND SLEEP THROUGH THE WHOLE NAP WITHOUT WAKING, EXCEPT IF THE NAP IS DONE???? Apologies for dragy question!!!!!!! C-lee
January 22, 2009 3:38 AM
C-lee, I think you are doing things perfectly. This is the perfect example where you are considering context (the gas) and the characterization of the child (she usually goes to sleep fine). One thing you might do is try to be a little more proactive with the gas by offering Mylecon before the nap or burping her better. Try to figure out if it happens more at one time of the day than another. But on the whole, you are doing a great job understanding her cues (figuring out the gas) and realizing that she is overtired. Rocking her to drowsy is fine. I would say be cautious if you are rocking her to sleep completely, but if she is still half awake when you put her down, that’s great. I know Val used her swing when her babies woke up early from a nap to let them finish out the nap. IMO, there is nothing wrong with rocking a baby, if that’s something you are comfortable with. I still rock my 15-month-old. I decided early on that I would be fine if it went on forever. Most days, I just rock him for 5 minutes and I always put him down awake. Maureen (Val, I hope you don’t mind me responding to these comments.)
January 22, 2009 11:53 AM
Maureen, I don’t mind you responding 🙂
January 24, 2009 4:22 PM
C-lee, I think what you are doing is perfectly fine. I would recommend Mylicone drops or gripe water if you are not already using that. I had to use it with Brayden after every feeding, and it made a huge difference.
January 24, 2009 4:10 PM
Thank you maureen for responding. Thank you Plowmanators. I am using drops. The gas is getting better then worse then better then worse. I am going to take her to the Pediatrecian for a check up just in case. Maureen i do rick her for about 2 min to drowsiness and then put her half awake in bed, usually when she does not go to sleep after that I know there is still something bothering. 🙂 Thank you again
February 2, 2009 11:27 PM
You are welcome C-lee 🙂
February 3, 2009 2:17 PM
- Ann said…
Thank you very much for posting this. I wonder, though, if CIO means actual cries? My 8 wk old son just started STTN, however, around 4:30 am, he wakes up and kind of spats and whimpers..but no real actual cries. He has been doing this now for 5 nights. Granted, the length of time is getting shorter, but it’s usually around the same time. Do you think I am letting him CIO, if he’s really not “crying?” And do you think this will eventually stop? I’m always tempted to go and soothe him back to sleep. Last night, he went on for about 30 minutes. Another night, it was almost 2 hrs! Like I said, though, no REAL cries. Just whimpers, and then stops..and then starts, etc… any advice?
January 22, 2009 8:52 AM
Ann, it really doesn’t matter what you call it, but if he’s just whimpering, I wouldn’t consider that CIO. If he starts and stops, he’s probably even going back to sleep. My younger son used to do that. I would hear him over the monitor and he would talk to himself and maybe whimper a little off and on while I drifted in and out of sleep. Before I knew it, it was a couple hours later. Clearly, he had fallen back to sleep. I wouldn’t worry about it at all. I wouldn’t go in and help him. If you are concerned he’s tangled in his blankets or whatever, you can go check on him (after you’ve given him a few minutes to go back to sleep), but my guess is he’ll do better if you just leave him alone. Maureen
January 22, 2009 12:16 PM
Maureen, your response to Ann is very interesting–you don’t consider that CIO and I do. That might be a big reason we have such a different perspective on how long it takes to complete sleep training.
January 24, 2009 4:24 PM
Ann, I would consider that CIO. For me, any sort of fussing/unhappiness is CIO. CIO doesn’t have to be screaming at the top of lungs. But I would imagine different people have different definitions of this. So long as there is no reason for his waking other than he needs to learn to soothe himself, it will stop, but it sounds like he is doing it for a long time.Does he cry in the day? Is this a normal display of unhappiness, or is this mild for him? If it is normal, I would try to figure out why he is waking. Two hours is a long time. If it is mild, he might just be working things out.Be sure it isn’t a growth spurt. Be sure it isn’t that he is too hot or too cold. Be sure it isn’t sickness. Be sure it isn’t a diaper issue. Be sure it isn’t some noise that is happening around the time he is waking. Once you are sure there is nothing wrong, let him be and he should get better. This post can help you think of possible reasons for waking: Nighttime Sleep Issues and this might have other ideas that can still apply at night:
January 24, 2009 4:20 PM
- The Traveling Turtle said…
Recently my husband and I went to my mom and dad’s for the weekend with our 11 month old daughter. She has been doing babywise since she was 5 weeks old and has been sleeping through the nights without any problems since then as well. With one exception of when she had her first cold and woke up crying. And then she went right back down. Another time she had a stomach bug and would not let me put her down at night in her crib. I ended up holding her as I sat in a chair all night long. the next night she was back to feeling better and back to sleeping on her own again. We have been to my parent’s many, many times and our daughter always sleeps in the same place. this time was the same thing. she slept like a log the first night we took her there and then the next day acted terrified of being in the room alone. she would not let us put her down. We made her go down for bed that night and she woke about 12:00 at night. my mom and dad both had to work the next day so CIO was not an option at that point. I was trying to be considerate. She did it again the next night and we left the following day. When we got home she started the same thing and I made her CIO for 20 minutes of very hard sobbing. I went in to comfort her and make sure she was OK. she was full, dry and not giving indications of being sick at all. I don’t know what the deal was with her 3 night fits though. I put her back down after I got her calm and she cried for maybe 3 more minutes and then went to sleep for the night. Not an issue since. I think some of it is seperation anxiety – she only wants me all the time. I am a working mom and only get to see her at night for an hour M-Thursday since I get to work at 7:00 AM. Could that have been a problem? Are there other issues that I should have looked for? was she just unaware of where she was this time? I just don’t know what to think. We had just been there 3 weeks before and she did great. And she was perfect the previous night there. Please help.
January 22, 2009 3:20 PM
Traveling Turtle, Whatever it is, it is safe to assume there is a reason for it. It sounds like she is doing well now, so that is good. It could have been a separation anxiety thing. It also might have been something in the room that upset her for whatever reason. Since it happened at your parent’s and not at home, my assumption would be more that something there upset her than separation anxiety. It she started to do it at home too, then it might be SA. Maybe she just wasn’t feeling good that night. She might have felt a little sick or something. She also might just have been nervous. So many possibilities 🙂
January 24, 2009 4:29 PM
- The Lunds said…
Thank you so much for your dedication to this blog – so helpful! I have an 8 week old daughter and we having been doing CIO since 1/17. I am still having trouble with crying at bedtime. She is growing great and I am monitoring wet/dirty diapers. We have the same routine at naps and bedtime – swaddle, pacifier, kiss and in bed. We have followed eat/wake/sleep pretty religiously since birth and she does great with a 3 hour routine (6a,9a,12p,3p,6p,9p). Her optimal waketime is about an hour. She goes down for all early naps without a peep and really has since the 1st or 2nd day of CIO. Her last nap after 6p feeding is dicey – sometimes great, sometimes she cries off and on throughout. The first night of CIO she cried off and on for an hour – we checked her every 10 minutes. She hasn’t cried that long since, but still averages 20-30 minutes every night at bedtime (after 9p feeding). I am baffled why she doesn’t cry for naps but cries every bedtime, even with the same routine?! Should we just push through for 8 weeks and hope for the best or am I missing something? I haven’t been treating the 9p feeding as a dreamfeeding; rather I get her up and feed her and put her back down. Perhaps that is the issue? Also, after she cries for the 30 min, she will sleep about 7 hours at night. Thank you!
January 29, 2009 7:11 AM
Lunds,There are couple of possibilities. One is that she is overly tired. At that time of day, she most likely needs to eat, possible diaper change (I personally would do a diaper change), then back down. I would have her in her PJs after the 6 PM feeding. So I would try for 9 being more of a dreamfeed.Another is that it is a hard time of day for her and she just needs to cry. I would try the shorter waketime at that time of day, though.
February 3, 2009 2:03 PM
- The Greenfields said…
Like Maureen, I had great success with CIO when I initially did sleep training. I did BW from day one, but didn’t start sleep training until 9 weeks. I went cold turkey and it took 3 days. The longest period of time he ever cried was 30 minutes (I’ve heard I am lucky for this :)) He was VERY obvious with his sleep cues at that point, and I immediately put him down- so I think that contributed to the success. We are now in the middle of CIO (as I posted earlier on this subject) and I THOUGHT it would be 3-5 days, but it is turning out to be longer. We had transcontinental jet-lag, 3 week sickness and learning to stand up in crib all at once (8 1/2 mo). I waited until his cold was over, now I am sure he is 100% better, so we are retraining him to fall asleep and stay asleepI am finding my biggest problem is him STAYING asleep. He might cry or fuss for maybe up to 5 or so minutes when we put him down, but he wakes up at 45 min. on the dot and is generally crying pretty hard at that point. I have read EVERYTHING on the 45 min. intruder. I know it’s not a hunger issue, I am thinking it must be a new skill issue as he is learning to walk. I am also having a VERY hard time picking up on tired cues now. He has dropped them all together and is a bundle of energy. I can’t really tell when he is tired until it’s too late.At almost 9 months old, I saw the poll and the average wake time is 2 to 2 1/4 hour. Should I just put him in bed after 2 hours, even if I don’t see signs of tiredness? He sleeps 11 hours at night (used to be 12 before all these changes in the last month). I am finding that it’s hard to get him to take two 2 hour naps. Does he not need that long of naps OR, do I just keep doing CIO when he wakes himself up? Right now I am getting him up after his morning nap, but making him CIO at the 2nd because I know he is more tired (From his first nap, he may wake up after 45- 1 hr, but is generally happy and chatty in his crib. He can sometimes chat for 10-15 min but then starts to cry because I think he feels he has waited long enough for someone to come get him)Is it typical as he is going through so many changes at once that his wake up disposition will change for a while? For as long as i can remember, he has woken up happy and been very patient for us to come get him- sometimes waiting up to 30 minutes happily. Now he usually wakes up crying or isn’t happy too long. As I continue sleep training, will that go back to “normal”?I feel like in baby whisperer terms he’s gone from angel baby to touchy baby… I’m missing my angel baby 🙂
January 30, 2009 5:11 AM
Greenfields,I would recommend keeping a log of waketime length and then the nap results (from CIO before to how long the nap lasted). That can give you more of an overview.Kaitlyn dropped her nap cues very early, sometime around 3 months old I believe (perhaps earlier). So I based waketime length on the clock rather than on her. I would do that (have a set waketime length) and monitor if that works for him based on the nap results. See Optimal Waketime Lengths. With all the changes you have had (including his physical milestones) I think that sounds totally normal for him to be so disrupted. Also, be sure he isn’t waking out of hunger. See this post for more ideas on his age-range and waking early: 5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions.
February 3, 2009 2:15 PM
- Elizabeth said…
I’m stuck. We have been unable to do cry it out with our daughter (5 months old on Saturday) because of reflux issues. With a very strict diet and trip to the chiropractor, we have rid her of her acid troubles and are now ready to start getting some sleep at night. For naps she puts herself to sleep without any crying. I lay her down with her pacifier in, she sucks on it until she falls asleep, spits it out, then sleeps for 1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes, depending on the nap (morning and late afternoon naps are long and her one in the middle of the day is short). She is up at least 3-5 times a night. She usually only nurses once of those times – around 3 or 4 a.m. We want her to put herself back to sleep the other times. We tried having her cry it out last night, but while crying she scoots herself to the corner of her crib and bangs her head on the crib bars over and over again! Ah! I tried just moving her way to the other end of the crib, but she slowly makes her way back to the corner while crying. I certainly don’t want her to injure herself! What do I do???
February 17, 2009 1:01 PM
Elizabeth, something to consider is getting rid of the pacifier. She is likely waking so often in the night because she needs the pacifier to fall asleep, so she cries for help. But that would mean you have to give it up in the day, also.If you really want to hang on to it, just know that it will continue to be a disruption until she can find it and put it back in herself. I think most can do this around 6-8 months (from what I have read).Also, I have read that banging the head can be a self-soothing tactic. I don’t know if that would make me happy about it, but I have read that. For further thoughts on the paci, see the blog label “pacifier” for a link to a great article.
February 20, 2009 9:55 AM
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