Crying it Out

When it comes to babies and how they sleep, everyone has a different method and tempers run hot when this gets debated. But basically you fall into one of two camps: Cry it out or don’t cry it out.

There is no shortage of theories on how to get your child to sleep through the night. Some people practice “attachment parenting.” This means parents wear their babies in those slings, they usually breastfeed exclusively and the kids sleep in the same bed as the parents. Then there’s the flip side of the coin. Parents who not only put their baby to sleep in a crib in a separate room, they let their baby cry until they put themselves to sleep.

At first, we’re all attachment parents. Because until recently, Will would only cry when he needed something so we’d always go in to check on him. But at this point, babies have the ability to manipulate us. Namely, they’ve learned that their crying almost always brings mommy or daddy into the room. Even though Will doesn’t need anything in particular, he just wants to play when he should be sleeping and so he cries to get our attention.

Prior to about a week ago, this was our daily routine:

Will goes to bed around 7:30 pm. Then he’d wake up anytime from 9 to 11 pm and we’d give him a bottle. Then he’d wake up again at 1 am and MJ would grab him from the nursery, make him another bottle and take him into our bed where he’d fall asleep with us until he woke up at 4 am. However, I grew uncomfortable with this practice for several reasons. First of all, I’m a heavy sleeper and I didn’t even realize he was in the bed sometimes, which makes me nervous about rolling over and smothering him. Second, I don’t like the idea of co-sleeping at this age. I personally think it’s a road to future trouble that I just don’t want to travel down. And lastly, I want to have the bed for me and MJ. Will has his own bed.

So last week I put my foot down and told MJ there’d be no more co-sleeping and I wanted to eliminate his 11 pm bottle, because at this point he doesn’t need it. She agreed and off we went.

The first two nights actually worked great. Will still woke up around 11-11:30 pm and when he did, I walked in and picked him up. I’d comfort him for a few minutes, cuddle him and sing to him until he stopped crying. Then I placed him back in the crib and left the room. He would scream bloody murder but it only lasted about 10-15 minutes and he went back to sleep until about 4 am.

But now it’s getting worse. He continues to wake up at 11:30 pm and I continue to go in and comfort him and then leave again. But now he cries and screams for longer. Last night he went almost 45 minutes. I was fine with it and I refused to go back in the room because I knew it would undo all the progress we had made. But MJ couldn’t deal with it. She was getting physically ill and approaching an anxiety attack after he screamed for half an hour. Finally she just lost it. She went and made up a bottle and took him into our bed.

I was so pissed. It’s all about developing a routine and now she’s set us back in that department. I’m prepared to let him cry for as long as it takes. And no, that’s not mean at this age. It’s what necessary to get him to the goal of sleeping through the night. And it’s funny because I always thought I’d be the softie and MJ would be the discipinarian. But instead, my wife continues to become a total creampuff and I’m the one taking a hard line.

I know Will can sleep through the night. He’s done it before. I know he doesn’t need that 11 pm bottle because most of the time he only takes an ounce or two and goes right back to sleep. It’s for comfort, not necessity. So if we can eliminate that bottle, he’ll sleep from 7:30 to 4 am. That would be great. But it’s never going to happen if my wife keeps sabotaging our efforts.

I guess that’s why it’s important for parents to be on the same page.

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25 thoughts on “Crying it Out

  1. LOL I am glad I have my DH. Neither of us can stand to CIO. I can’t stand 5 minutes of it, much less 30 minutes. Not judging you at all. 😉 I have no problem with other parents choices to raise thier children.

    But I love co sleeping with my babies. My DS 2 1/2 still wakes up in the night to get a drink of water from his sippy cup. His father and I still wake to walk to the kitchen to get a drink. So I see nothing wrong with my 9 month old wanting to nurse in the middle of the night.

    I just want to sympathize with MJ !!!

    Mom to 5 who all co slept and never CIO. Everyone one of them transitioned to thier own rooms be puberty hehehehe.

  2. HAHA Jana, same here-we tried CIO too-hours and hours for weeks at a time we tried it at all ages and stages and for us there was no point. It was pure torture for all of us. We all sleep better after a good nights sleep. I cherish these moments they are only babies for so long…I’ll never look back and say=I wish I cuddled with them more:)

    Still nursing baby # 2…

  3. I am all about the crying it out. Cosleeping became a nightmare. V3 beat me up all night long. He slept like the hour hand on a clock continuously turning in a clockwise direction. If I got in the way, which was all the time, it was a punch or kick to the face. After 9mos of no real sleep, I had enough. But I wanted to mention that you might be causing more disruption by going to comfort him at 11pm wakeup. It can reinforce the idea that if he cries you will come. When I stopped going to comfort V3 at the first wake up time things went smoother for us.

  4. Civilized debate and differences of opinion are welcome guys. Chime in if you’d like, nothing wrong with differing points of view.

    And I should add, it’s difficult for me to hear Will cry but only when I know something is wrong with him. But when I know he’s been cuddled, cleaned, changed and fed I’m fine with letting him cry it out. Bedtime is bedtime.

    Also, I second Alicia’s thoughts about getting kicked and punched in my sleep. Will sleeps at bizarre angles and I’ve been punched in the eye and headbutted a lot. It’s just not something I want to put up with anymore. I play with him and cuddle him anytime I’m home, so there’s no shortage of intimacy with my son. I have no regrets about letting him be by himself at bedtime because I know I’ve played with him and been close to him all day.

    It’s all just personal preference, no right or wrong. There’s just what you feel is right or wrong for your own situation.

  5. I love sleeping with Gabriel, as I posted this week. I also let him cry it out initially when he was around Will’s age. So I’m on both sides of the fence, if that’s possible.


  6. Here’s another controversial subject, but does Will take a pacifier? Some babies use it as a comfort object to sleep. Just a thought…

  7. Hi Lisa,

    He used to but he wanted nothing to do with it after about 4 months. I actually tried to give it back to him a couple of months ago when he was having a hard time sleeping but he has no use for it anymore. Instead he cuddles up with a stuffed monkey which we really only give to him when it’s time for bed. That’s serves as his cue that’s its bedtime.

  8. Hi
    We have a little guy who is 9 months too…He was doing a lot of what is seems Will is doing (especially the eating everytime he woke, and he wasn’t hungry) We have bunked up with the CIO people and life has been good (knock knock knock). He cries something awful for about 10 minutes and then sleeps about 12 hours. I don’t go in at all during the night if he cries (we have a video monitor so I can see if he is in any trouble). I think you need to let he cry through that 11p.m. time. Just a suggestion! I know exactly how you feel. It would be great if they came with a manual. Mine must have gotten lost in the mail =)

  9. If it is that traumatic for MJ, next weekend, why don’t you have MJ sleep at a friends or something while you stay home and let him CIO.

    Just curious but do your neighbors complain about the crying at night?

  10. Nyla,

    Luckily our two next door neighbors are seasonal residents and aren’t here right now. But if they were here, I think they could definitely hear him screaming.

  11. when my 5 year old was a baby, i was single, so i used to cuddle up with her on the couch and we would sleep together every night. bad i know. but she slept thru the whole night, 8 to 7 every night from day 6! she was bottle fed (i have bad reflux) so she was full. But once i started putting her in her own bed at about 2 months old (getting to heavy for me to hold. lol) then my routine was bed at 8 whether tired or not. but right before she went to bed i would give her a bottle and a thing of that oatmeal with the applesause. gerber makes it. like a step 2 size one. She would sleep sometimes till 8 instead of 7 because she was in like a food coma. lol. she is 5 now and still gets a yogurt or pudding right before bed and sleep still from 9 (she wont go to bed at 8 cause she says that since shes a big girl she can stay up later haha) and sleeps till like 730. my son is EXACT same way. try it for a week, i guarantee results.

  12. Any chance you could try to put him down a bit later…maybe around 8ish? If you manipulate his schedule it might work….

    I’m pulling this outta my ass….you should know this. I’m just trying to think logically which doesn’t always work when it comes to kids.

  13. I too, would give the later bed time a try. But it all depends on your schedule. We preferred Matt to sleep later in the morning so we would put him to bed later….like 10 …then he would wake up for the first time at 4 and then sleep until 8 or 9 giving us time to get up and get ready for work or whatever before he did. Worked well for us. Now that he is in daycare we do the opposite and put him to bed early so he’ll get up early. Have you tried switching that 11 pm bottle for straight water? The theory is they will stop waking up for it when they realize all they are going to get it water…..I never tried it but I know a lot of people who have…..

  14. Just an FYI giving a baby water before 10 months can be dangerous. I learned this from a friend who is a doctor with CDC.

    I forget how old Will is now but jsut a warning. I know it sounds silly but it’s true. 🙂

  15. Meri, you are right..there are limits on how much water they can have. But in this case I believe Aaron said Will is having an ounce or two of the bottle before going back to sleep so that would be ok- but I should have mentioned that too.

  16. I second putting him to bed an hour later and don’t go in at the 11 pm waking. My daughter is 11 months old and I’ve found that we are constantly have to tweek nap time and bed time just a little as she grows and requires less sleep.

  17. Isn’t that crazy? My mom used to give us water when it was hot and we were sweaty…said it helped us sleep better…now they warn us about “water intoxification”!

  18. Quick Update:

    It seems to be working. He’s going to bed a little later, around 8:30 to 9 pm and is either sleeping until 3:30-4 am or waking up once around 11:30 pm but going back to sleep on his own. But I have found that I don’t think it’s a matter of putting him to bed later. That does nothing in terms of him sleeping longer. I think it’s all about following his cues because if he’s really tired I’ll put him to bed at 6:30 and he’s slept through the night before.

    And we do give him some water from time to time in the circumstances you guys mentioned. I’m not worried about any ill effects from it.

  19. Maybe when he starts walking more he’ll be more physically tired and sleep better???

    It’s so tricky, sometimes too tired makes them sleep poorly…ugh parenting!

  20. I think a report that most recently was distributed through the CDC was ten months-either way it’s not recomended as Sarah said in large doses. Some doctor’s say 6 months some say 1 year…10 months was just hte most recent recomendation I’ve heard.
    Water intoxication can happen at any age, but small people such a babies who don’t consume that many calories from non water foods are at the highest risk.
    Babycenter is a good source too for this information though usually updates pretty frequently.

  21. Oh my goodness… I hate this topic, but I think it’s an important one to keep talking about. Kudos to you for having the courage to talk about it – you’re the first male perspective I’ve heard on this outside of my husband’s.

    I think it’s an extremely pointless debate, because what works for one family will never work for another. Every child is different. I’ve generally been against cry-it-out in theory, but it’s been easy for me to be that way because we’ve been blessed with a mostly-easy sleeper.

    Now that she’s 11 months old, she sometimes fusses a bit when we put her down, simply because she wants to play. But it’s never more than 5-10 minutes of just grouching/fussing, not crying. And yet, I’ve been slammed by the anti-CIO people for that. Honestly, I need a few minutes to shift and settle when I get into bed; why shouldn’t my child?

    Anyway… thanks for adding your voice to this ongoing debate. And for hosting it in an open, non-judgemental fashion.

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