Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Help me put baby to sleep.
May 9, 2010 4:53 PM   Subscribe

My 15-month-old still won't sleep through the night. How can I change this?

I'll try to keep this economical. Our boy is happy and healthy but, with the exception of a few weeks back when he was a few months old, he never sleeps through the night without waking to be fed. I know, I know, my wife and I gave into his demand from the very beginning and haven't stopped as long as he's demanded it.

My wife breastfeeds, previously it was several times a day, but a few months ago he stopped feeding during the day entirely; he's now eating more or less what my wife and I eat (and a lot of it!)

We keep his crib next to our bed and we put him in it when he falls asleep at around 9 or so, but he will inevitably wake up once, twice, three times a night (or more) and the only thing that will make him go back to sleep is a feeding from mom. Often he'll just chew without actually drinking, so we've tried to substitute pacifiers but have met little success with that. My wife, after over a year of this nightly pattern, is exhausted.

We've tried the "cry it out" method a few times, which sucked hard--I had to listen to the little guy cry for 40 minutes at a time, and worse, it didn't work. We were hoping (and had heard anecdotal evidence to support that hope) that once a baby starts walking and eating food, that his metabolism will change dramatically and he'll fall into a normal sleep pattern. This hasn't happened, but we want to know how to force it.

My fear is that he's conditioned to be comforted by a feeding in the middle of the night and can't be changed by anything we do. I also worry about any long-term effects of only sleeping in maximum 3 or 4 hour chunks.

Is "crying it out" my only option? Should we try it for longer? Change his diet somehow?
posted by zardoz to Health & Fitness (63 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you keeping his crib in your room due to space limits? If there's any other place for him, I wonder if that might be a start. Does he amuse himself in his crib (talking to himself, etc.) at other times?
posted by Madamina at 4:55 PM on May 9, 2010


Don't leave him to cry. He's normal. Very normal. He will sleep through eventually without your 'forcing' it. But right now, this is a "normal sleep pattern."
posted by kmennie at 5:05 PM on May 9, 2010


my daughter didn't sleep through the night until she was two and a half or so, maybe three. i'm a single mom, i was exhausted, but that's the way that she is. there are a lot of help your baby get to sleep books. i think crying it out is a little harsh, and you found yourself that it didn't work.

my friends did this: they put their daughter in her own room. the husband slept with the little girl. when the girl woke up, there was no nursing from him! but there was comfort. it really worked. it's a thought.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 5:06 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually read Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems from beginning to end. I know people will immediately respond to this suggestion with hostility, but read the book for yourself and decide if you want to try it (he has a lot to say about feeding patterns, for example, which you might find useful). Before I was the parent of a baby who never slept more than a couple of hours in a row, I never thought I would do it. Read the book, followed the advice, and although the first few nights were difficult, the baby pretty quickly settled into a sleep pattern that lasts 10-11 hours a night with no wakings. He's WAY happier as a result, as are we; and although he cried a lot those first couple of nights, the whole thing has led to less crying overall (because he doesn't wake up multiple times per night crying anymore). Good luck, I know how exhausting it can be to never get more than a few hours of sleep.
posted by agent99 at 5:09 PM on May 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, seconding the idea of moving him out of your room, if possible. Maybe one of you are inadvertently waking him in the night by turning over, snoring or whatever.

If have no other advice to share, except to be patient. My niece didn't sleep through the night for her first two years, and she's a healthy happy normal teenager now.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:10 PM on May 9, 2010


I agree with Madamina. I suspect that putting him in his own room with a white noise machine would lessen his wake-ups substantially. I have friends that had a lot of success using a Sleep Doula, although I couldn't recommend a specific one since you're in Tokyo. Good luck!
posted by kate blank at 5:11 PM on May 9, 2010


Don't cry it out!

Has he ever used a bottle? If yes, try feeding only a bottle filled with water in the middle of the night. If he won't take that right away, you can transition by starting with a bottle filled with "mommy milk" for a week, then cow's milk for a week, then water only from then on. (That's what we did.) He will start to get the message that he doesn't get mom's milk at that hour. Mama may have to sleep on the sofa or elsewhere for a week or so. It will def. make it harder on you, daddy, but it will help reinforce the "no mommy milk in the middle of the night" rule.

Also, is he getting enough to eat at the end of the day? Maybe you need to add a before-bed feeding with something very calorie rich, like avocado? That might help him make it longer through the night.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:12 PM on May 9, 2010


We cosleep and breastfed. He was still breastfeeding at night about a dozen times when he had just turned 2. He had eating issues so I was very hesitant about stopping the night feedings. If he stirred at all he was looking to nurse. Not to eat really- to sooth himself back to sleep. I just said explained no and he cried while I held him. It took one night of sad crying and he (we) have slept SO much better ever since.
posted by beccaj at 5:13 PM on May 9, 2010


How does your wife feel about weaning? I ask this as a woman who is currently breastfeeding her poorly sleeping 10.5 month old. My son is usually up two or three times a night, and the only thing that will calm him down is nursing. He usually only nurses for about five minutes, but nothing else will do. He'll scream bloody murder at my husband for an hour. We once let him cry for an hour and a half. I truly believe that he will sleep better when he's no longer breastfeeding. Which of course doesn't mean you have to wean, but I think you're right on that he's just used to getting up to eat.

I think if you went cold turkey on the nighttime feeding you'd probably have a couple of bad nights, but I suspect he would sleep well after that. At least at this age he probably has enough receptive language for him to understand what's happening if you explain it to him ahead of time and during the night.

Oh, and you mention his metabolism - at this age, he's not hungry in the middle of the night. Or maybe he is, but only because he's eating less during the day in anticipation of his night feeds, but I think this is probably comfort nursing. Anyway, nutritionally speaking, he absolutely does not require food in the middle of the night.

I also second Madamina about moving the crib elsewhere if there's room, and if that's in line with your parenting philosophy. I do think that babies his age are clever and stubborn enough that moving the crib won't solve your problem, but it may decrease waking, and it will certainly help if you decide to wean.

Good luck.
posted by robinpME at 5:13 PM on May 9, 2010


agent99, when you did that, how old was the baby you're talking about? It seems like the cry it out method would work best on really young babies, but my son is already almost a year and a half.

And as for space, we actually do have another bedroom, but I don't see the point in putting him there unless we're doing the CIY method, and it would just make it harder on us (namely, my wife) to get up and go in the other room when he cries.
posted by zardoz at 5:15 PM on May 9, 2010


All my kids had sleeping issues that took some thinking to figure out, but when you said this, keep his crib next to our bed and we put him in it when he falls asleep at around 9 or so, it seems like he's falling asleep elsewhere, then you put him in his crib?

First thing I'd try is a regular bedtime routine (snack, bath, story, etc.) then I'd put him in his crib WHILE he's awake and let him go to sleep there.

It could be when he wakes up from the crib, he's a little disoriented, so starting the bedtime routine in his crib may help.
posted by dzaz at 5:22 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Read The No-Cry Sleep Solution and try out the methods. Pantley is very nursing and co-sleeping friendly. There is also a version for toddlers and preschoolers, but I think the original version might help you out. It might take longer than leaving your son to cry, but it's gentle and respectful of your child's needs while eventually getting you the sleep you need.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 5:24 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was about 6 months, and it's true that most people I have talked to who did it successfully (including a cousin with triplets) did it with kids around that age.

Regarding his own bedroom, our kid did start to sleep a bit better after we moved his crib into his own room, even before we sleep trained. When we had his crib in our room, he would wake every night just as soon as we lay down to sleep, even though we tiptoed, and then he'd wake every three hours after that. So, it might be that he's waking more because he's in your room. I think some kids just sleep better without anyone else in the room. I'd try that and see if it makes a difference.
posted by agent99 at 5:26 PM on May 9, 2010


And of course you know not to give babies 'apple juice' right? Nothing like massive sugar influxes to wreak havoc on a babies delicate blood sugar.
posted by Muirwylde at 5:27 PM on May 9, 2010


Well, we had the same problem, and it took until she was about 21 months before she started sleeping "through the night" (meaning that she would still stir, but not wake all the way up, if you know what I mean). She definitely was still waking all the way up at 15 months. So time... just time will do it.

At about your son's age, I was finally able to get my daughter to sleep by laying with her but turning my back (no breast access). This would get her to sleep initially, but she would still wake in the middle of the night. We were at pains to restrain ourselves from tending her when she woke, because she would often just go back to sleep. However, if she woke all the way up, we did not ignore her because she just is the kind of kid where that wouldn't work, she would become distressed. Anyway, that's "nighttime parenting" for you!

Also, this may be obvious, but have you checked his gums for new tooth eruption? This seems to hurt them worse at night.

Hang in there, sleeping in 3-4 hour blocks won't last forever, I promise!
posted by Knowyournuts at 5:28 PM on May 9, 2010


All my kids had sleeping issues that took some thinking to figure out, but when you said this, keep his crib next to our bed and we put him in it when he falls asleep at around 9 or so, it seems like he's falling asleep elsewhere, then you put him in his crib?

He'll get grumpy and cranky around 9, 9:30 or so. Sometimes he just pouts and cries for no apparent reason and that's when we know he's ready for bed. Sometimes he'll totter over to the bedroom himself and look over at us with puppy dog eyes to let us know. My wife will then breastfeed him with both of them laying on the bed, then once he falls asleep she'll transfer him to the crib. We would love to simply put him in his crib and have him go to sleep, but he never does this; if he's awake in his crib and I try to sing or whatever to get him to sleep, he either a) cries or b) laughs and wants to play.

I should add also that he generally takes two naps during the day--one just before lunch and one before dinner, each from as little as 30 minutes to up to two hours. Before he naps he doesn't need to feed, but he always needs one of us to hold him, walking around the apartment, singing. Takes about 10-15 minutes and we have to do it every time.
posted by zardoz at 5:32 PM on May 9, 2010


Seconding Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems-- we found it to be really helpful as we transitioned our baby to sleeping-through-the-night. He has a whole chapter on night feedings and sleep habits, but the basic bullet points as I remember them were:

--By 12 months, at least, kids need a solid night's sleep. If they're not getting that naturally, it's simply good parenting to take steps that'll help them develop healthier habits.
--Lots of eating at night actually promotes wakefulness, by keeping the body in a more active state of metabolism and producing discomfort when the kid inevitably has to go to the bathroom.
--Older kids shouldn't need to eat during the night at all, but they may be hungry (out of habit) at night if they've been accustomed to have food then.
--Rather than strict crying-it-out, it can be helpful to adopt an approach where you drop back in at increasing intervals (up to 10 minutes or so) to comfort the kid briefly, then leave. This way, the child knows he's not alone or abandoned, but still gets the chance to learn how to get to sleep on his own.
--If the child has been used to getting a lot of food at night, you probably don't want to stop night feedings cold-turkey; instead, make a chart of the child's usual feeding times and slowly slide the feedings forward/backward (by ~15min/night) until they merge with breakfast and the before-bed feeding.

Lots more details in the book itself, though-- definitely worth checking it out, regardless of which sleep-training method you ultimately choose.
posted by Bardolph at 5:33 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're in the same situation with our 18 month old. No Cry is a good book to start thinking about this.

Stuff that's helped us:
- wearing a shirt at night.
- no TV, light or noise in bedroom.
posted by k8t at 5:34 PM on May 9, 2010


If he's getting grumpy and cranky at 9, it could mean you're putting him to be too late and he's sleep deprived, leading to constant wake-ups. Try putting him to bed a half hour to an hour earlier. It sounds counter intuitive, but as all the baby sleep books say "sleep begets sleep." My son was a terrible sleeper until about 15 months. We finally found his bed time sweet spot was between 6:30-7:00 pm. Now, at 3 years old he still goes to bed at 7 and doesn't wake until 6:30.
posted by trigger at 5:45 PM on May 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


By 12 months, at least, kids need a solid night's sleep. If they're not getting that naturally, it's simply good parenting to take steps that'll help them develop healthier habits.

Actually humans, like other mammals, naturally wake up in the middle of the night for an hour or two. This is called a bimodal sleep pattern, and is the norm for humans who don't live in industrialized countries with cheap artificial light. We shouldn't be surprised to find that it's quite hard to get kids to stop doing this.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:57 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Zardoz, meet Moxie. You'll find a lot of discussion about sleep issues on her site. The most recent post in that category will probably be of particular interest.

Ferber's book has been recommended a few times...it has a lot of information about how children's sleep patterns change as they age, creating a good environment for sleep, and protecting naps. It's not (just?) a manual for crying it out. It's a useful book to read even if you decide that CIO isn't the solution for your family.

In your situation, I'd work first on implementing a consistent pre-bedtime and pre-naptime routine which will hopefully lead to the baby being okay with going down into the crib awake and falling asleep on his own, which will hopefully lead to him going back to sleep on his own (sometimes) when he wakes up in the middle of the night. I'd also work on eliminating anything that might be leading to wake ups (try moving crib, adjusting temperature, adding white noise, blah blah blah).

Finally, please don't think you've caused this situation by doing on demand nursing, and good on you and your wife for sticking with breastfeeding this long.

And on preview...what trigger says.
posted by toodles at 6:04 PM on May 9, 2010


Yes, absolutely have a bedtime routine, and try putting him to bed much earlier. We start a bath at 6:30 pm, then nursing, story, bed. Every night is the same, I think he knows exactly what to expect, and he's asleep by 7:30. Ferber talks about this in his book, but so does every other baby sleep book. 9:30 sounds really late.
posted by agent99 at 6:18 PM on May 9, 2010


as for space, we actually do have another bedroom, but I don't see the point in putting him there unless we're doing the CIY method, and it would just make it harder on us (namely, my wife) to get up and go in the other room when he cries.

Because he's more likely to go back to sleep if there aren't nearby people whom he can sense. My daughter's 17 months old, and if she sleeps in the same room as we do (at a hotel or someone else's house), she'll wake us four times a night, minimum. At our house in her own room, or at someone else's house where she has her own room, she may wake up once.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:29 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Definitely a set sleeping time.
After lunch naps are also important (sleep breeds sleep for some backwards reason).
We made the last feed of our kids be rice-porridge (very common in Asia) which takes care of hunger, about 1 hour before sleeping time.
When the kid would wake up at night, we would comfort him, and offer water (but no other food/liquid). First night was hardest, as he thought he would get a bottle. Second night was half the time, and third night I only needed to put the blanket on him. We would not leave him crying.
This worked for both kids, although the 2nd was definitely more partial to music to fall asleep.
posted by lundman at 6:45 PM on May 9, 2010


I think Ferber would be a good read for you, even if you decide not to let your baby cry. I think that, in his terms, you have "conditioned" your baby to certain sleep-inducing stimuli -- rocking and singing, or nursing -- that are, for him, the same as (say) being in a bed and it being dark are for you. Obviously, you could fall asleep sitting up, with bright lights on, if you were tired enough, but it wouldn't be an ideal situation for you, because you're conditioned to sleep under other circumstances.

About "Ferberizing" an older baby: we did it, with our second, at 13 months or so. The first night was fucking awful. Based on that experience, I can tell you that 40 minutes doesn't mean it "didn't work." Really, the only reason it was possible was that we had a first child, a year and a half older, who slept well, all night long, and was about 10 times more content all the time. That gave us fortitude, truly believing that it was best for the baby.

I know others have other opinions on that, and I would not suggest that they ought to let their babies cry, if it doesn't seem right to them. It is also true, though, that it took 2 nights, and by the 3rd night, she was sleeping all the way through and was a far more content, calm baby at all times. I know others think it's not natural or good for babies to sleep through the night, but for my children, it's had an immediate result of greater contentment and frustration tolerance. YMMV.

So, my two thoughts: read Ferber either way, and if you decide to follow his methods ... it may take more than 40 minutes. If you don't go in believing strongly that it's best for the baby, look for something else.
posted by palliser at 6:48 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, everyone, there's a lot of good advice here. Regarding a sleep schedule, we find it difficult to stick to, because the kid has his own ideas about when to sleep or when not to sleep. Sometimes he's out like a light after just 5 minutes of feeding, sometimes he'll sleep...then suddenly wake up, start babbling or singing, and is wide awake. Nothing on this earth will get him to sleep at those times.

In short, the kid sleeps and wakes whenever he wants. I guess that's the heart of the whole matter. I'll see about the getting him to bed earlier, and I hope that's not going to end up with him waking (in the morning) earlier, too. I seem to remember a night when he slept really early--say 7 or so--and was wide awake, babbling and singing in bed, at about 4:00 am. Not a good start to that day for us.
posted by zardoz at 6:50 PM on May 9, 2010


Weaning was what worked for me.

My son was similar in that he stopped nursing during the day around that age but it was the all you can eat milk bar all night (we co-slept). He'd never let go of the nipple and my back was killing me. I read a lot of books for advice (Pantley to Ferber and lots in between) and got nowhere. My partner wasn't able to console him at night, and we both needed sleep so we could function at work. Cry it out never worked for us because he would vomit easily. Finally I decided to wean him at around 22 months. His sleeping slowly and steadily improved after that point.

It kind of stunk because in my ideal world I would have breastfed longer. On the other hand - sleep! Oh beautiful, glorious, uninterrupted sleep!
posted by Cuke at 7:29 PM on May 9, 2010


Nthing that you should seriously consider Ferber-type methods. We were vehemently against CIO type approaches for a while, but finally gave it a shot out of desperation when our 9 month old suddenly became unable to sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a clip. The first night she cried for over an hour. It sucked, hard. The second night it was around 25 minutes. Tonight, she stopped crying in under 2 minutes. We've been doing it for about a week. She sleeps through the night or gets up once.

Sometime you just gotta draw the line in the sand. Your kid will hate it at first, but they adjust quick.
posted by gnutron at 7:37 PM on May 9, 2010


His own room! Cry it out! Three days!! He'll thank you for it!!!!

It worked for us - little Sebmojita has slept through since six weeks.

I feel a little fervent about this, TBH - you're the parents, and your wellbeing is what produces good parenting for him.

Other things that have helped are (1) a very peaceable little girl (2) a fairly ironclad routine (3) a minimum of props (4) putting her to bed awake, so she learns how to go to sleep.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:45 PM on May 9, 2010


Also - every single discussion of this kind of thing has a bunch of people saying 'I really hated the idea of controlled crying (or whatever you want to call it) but we did it and she/he was sleeping peacefully after three days'.

Every. Single. One.

Take from that what you will.

...

Less combatively, there's actually a lot you can learn by really listening to crying - not as a generalised YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PARENT siren sort of thing, but for tones and harmonics. More specifically - is it going up? staying level? going down?

You know you're clear when you hear the first little pause... then some more crying, ever so slightly lower... then another (slightly longer) pause... then some more crying, also a little lower... then another pause... then a bit more... then (quite possibly) glorious, deafening silence as your little lovely plummets off the cliff into the ocean of sleep.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:51 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


And even more usefully, try this for a nice set of sleeping sounds - more interesting than straight white noise.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:54 PM on May 9, 2010


Whoa, six weeks, that's pretty extreme. Seems a good place to note that Ferber's message is widely and wrongly interpreted as "just let your baby cry and your problems will be solved"; the information you'd find in Ferber about infant sleep patterns and capabilities would argue strongly against trying to get your baby to sleep through the night that early, by any method.
posted by palliser at 8:04 PM on May 9, 2010


My daughter didn't sleep through the night until she was almost two, and not consistently until she was about three – despite our repeated and careful attempts at following suggestions from across the advice spectrum. Ferber's method was eventually helpful for us, but not until she was ready for it.

This previous thread has some other shared experiences and advice.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:09 PM on May 9, 2010


Regarding a sleep schedule, we find it difficult to stick to, because the kid has his own ideas about when to sleep or when not to sleep.

Therein is your problem. Your role as a parent is to teach your child how to make his way in the world, to show him wrong from right, and to help him make healthy choices. You wouldn't let him eat a canister of sugar at one sitting because he "has his own ideas" about what to eat, would you? I read Ferber when my daughter was 4 months old and the biggest lesson from it for me was that my job as a parent was to help my daughter learn how to sleep. It's not easy but I don't expect potty training to be without its frustrations and tears (from both of us!), either. You're not doing your son any favors but letting him flail around all night. He's getting terrible sleep, exhausting both you and your wide, and I'm sure all this is impacting your day to day life as well. It's impossible to be at your best when you haven't had a decent night's sleep in over a year. Do your son a favor and help him sleep.

As others have suggested, Ferber's book has a ton of great information about sleep generally. Just having some knowledge about sleep cycles and developmental stages would be super helpful no matter what route you choose. The book also has information and techniques for dealing with toddlers and older children; it's not just for infants.

If your idea of "crying it out" (a term that Ferber never uses and totally misrepresents his advice) is putting your son in his crib and closing the door only to listen to him cry for 40 minutes, then you totally misunderstand the concept. Read the book, it will change your life.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:12 PM on May 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Also do more cow's milk in the evenings to reduce need for boobs at night.

And are there some boob-free nights#
posted by k8t at 8:16 PM on May 9, 2010


The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers is fantastic for helping you figure this all out. But, really, it's pretty normal for kids to wake up during the night for a long time.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:20 PM on May 9, 2010


Oh! Sidecar the crib... Less disruption for wakeups.

We never made it to the crib. Our plan is to transition to bed on the floor.
posted by k8t at 8:31 PM on May 9, 2010


OP: Sometimes he's out like a light after just 5 minutes of feeding, sometimes he'll sleep...then suddenly wake up, start babbling or singing, and is wide awake. Nothing on this earth will get him to sleep at those times.

Sooo....what happens when you just leave him alone in his crib to babble and sing?
posted by toodles at 8:59 PM on May 9, 2010


Your role as a parent is to teach your child how to make his way in the world, to show him wrong from right, and to help him make healthy choices.

otherworldlyglow, thanks for the response, but could you be more specific about how you make a child go to sleep at a certain time? When he's not sleepy, he's not sleepy. Anyway, I think you've tipped the scale and I'll get the Ferber book.
posted by zardoz at 9:13 PM on May 9, 2010


We sleep-trained our daughter sometime after she was a year old. She would sleep part of the night in her crib in another room, but she'd always end up in our bed, and we were all exhausted by morning.

Here's what worked for us:

Reading "The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight" (her website is here & has lots of good info). Ferber is also good.

Having my husband put her to bed and tend to any wakeups. This stopped the nursing in the middle of the night problem; once she realized she wouldn't be nursing, she'd go back to sleep.

Earplugs for both parents for the first few weeks or so. Yes, there will be crying, but the earplugs will keep you & your wife from getting frantic.

Nthing the suggestions to implement the bedtime routine and move his bedtime earlier.
posted by mogget at 9:19 PM on May 9, 2010


okay i have an 18 year old upstairs who still has sleep issues. i think i can offer a bit of advice:

1. move the kid to his own room.
2. establish a bedtime routine, and stick with it. mine started with bath time.
3. feed starches before bedtime, avoid high sugar.
4. let the kid know it's bedtime, and therefore he will be in bed.

on the cio method: it's behavior modification plain and simple. the reward the child is getting for crying is the comfort and food. cut it out. establish a pattern of reassurance for the cry times: first one, 5 minutes. second one, ten. third one, twenty minutes. keep the 20 minute sessions for more then 3.

did any of this work? well, look at the first sentence of my comment. i never really got him to sleep, but constant enforcement of these standards made things easier for all of us. by far the one that seemed most effective was the routine. a bedtime story really helped establish a firm boundary between awake and sleep ... but you have a while before that will help.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 9:54 PM on May 9, 2010


We keep his crib next to our bed and we put him in it when he falls asleep at around 9 or so, but he will inevitably wake up once, twice, three times a night (or more) and the only thing that will make him go back to sleep is a feeding from mom. . . .

We've tried the "cry it out" method a few times, which sucked hard--I had to listen to the little guy cry for 40 minutes at a time, and worse, it didn't work. . . .

And as for space, we actually do have another bedroom, but I don't see the point in putting him there unless we're doing the CIY method, and it would just make it harder on us (namely, my wife) to get up and go in the other room when he cries. . . .

My wife will then breastfeed him with both of them laying on the bed, then once he falls asleep she'll transfer him to the crib. We would love to simply put him in his crib and have him go to sleep, but he never does this; if he's awake in his crib and I try to sing or whatever to get him to sleep, he either a) cries or b) laughs and wants to play.

I should add also that he generally takes two naps during the day--one just before lunch and one before dinner, each from as little as 30 minutes to up to two hours. Before he naps he doesn't need to feed, but he always needs one of us to hold him, walking around the apartment, singing. Takes about 10-15 minutes and we have to do it every time.


Hi there. Parent of a 14 month old here. Our kiddo didn't start sleeping through the night until 11 months -- used to wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning every night for a feeding. Our problem was -- and it sounds to me like you might have something similar -- that because we helped her get to sleep every night or for every nap, she didn't know how to put herself to sleep and didn't know or have the confidence that she could do it herself without our help. We used to put her in her crib at night and for naps and keep our hand on her chest until she fell asleep, which usually took 5 to 15 minutes, and if we didn't do it or left too early or woke her up by making too much noise as we were leaving, she would cry until we came back. For you, it sounds like you are either putting your kiddo to bed already asleep or you are nursing/walking, singing to him for 15 minutes before naps to get him to sleep. This was just what our problem was, too, and I really think our daughter just didn't realize that she could do it herself.

I bought and read most of Pantley's no cry sleep solution but I was exhausted and was just not ready for months of logging schedules and observing her behavior when there was no guarantee it would work, as many of the amazon reviews said it had not worked for them. I bought and read another book, The Sleepeasy Solution, which contains some version of the Ferber method I think -- let them cry for 5 minutes, then go in and say you love them and it's time for sleep BUT don't touch them or take them out of the crib, go away and come back in 10 minutes next time, then 15, etc, until they are asleep. The book contains suggestions on when are the best ages to try this method, and 11 months was one of those times, so we tried it and our girl never cried for more than 5 minutes the first few nights and now it's very rare for her to cry for naps or bedtime. In short, I think she learned how to put herself to sleep without us. I really wished I had tried it sooner.

I understand that you have tried some version of crying it out. Did you have your son in the spare room for that, or still in your own room, because I don't think your own room would work. When your son cried, did anyone go in the room at all after some time, and if so would you touch him or take him out of the crib? Because that too, while comforting to the parent, it not necessarily helpful to the "learning" process the kid is getting of how to put himself to sleep. Instead, it might be telling the kid, yes, you DO need me, your parent, to help you fall asleep, you can't do it by yourself. As someone else said above, you can learn to tell from the crying pattern what is going on and start to take some comfort in that: there may be loud crying for a while, and then silences between some bouts of crying. Those silences are, I think, when the kiddo is doing some real learning about how to put himself to sleep. The silences may even be followed by more loud crying, but a quieter period will come back, and you know they are figuring it out.

I also saw that you are wary of trying to have some sort of routine because your child is deciding for himself when he is tired, etc. As I said, it soqunds to me like your child, like ours did, lacks the knowledge and confidence that he can make himself go to sleep each night without your help. I encourage you to implement a routine -- even a very short one (ours only takes about 20 minutes total and includes (1) a feeding (2) change diaper and get into jammies; (3) drink milk; (4) read short book; (5) hugs/kisses, put into crib, lights out) -- to send the signal that it's time for sleeping, and this plus crying it out (with your son in his own room) might get you where you need to go.

Your child isn't waking up at night to nurse/chew on mom because he's hungry, he's doing it for comfort. We all wake up several times at night, but we put ourselves back to sleep. I think your son will keep relying on you until he learns he can do it on his own.

One last thing -- the 9 or 9:30 bedtime. I know you are worried about putting your son to bed earlier because he may wake up at 4 in the morning as he did once before. I just suggest you check the guidelines on whether your son is getting the recommended amount of sleep per night, because at first glance it looks like a late bedtime. If it's not enough sleep, it could be creating a vicious cycle of sleep problems for you. I highly recommend The Sleepeasy Solution book I cited above; it includes this info as well as recommended ages for trying their version of the cry it out method. I'd look it up for you myself now but it's in our daughter's room and I don't want to wake her up!

Good luck and feel free to memail me if you have any questions! I really, really feel for you because I know what it's like to be chronically sleep deprived. If you were trying a cry it out method but were doing it even slightly wrong, I highly recommend trying it again, as it really changed my life so much for the better. Best of luck to you and your wife, and hang in there!
posted by onlyconnect at 10:16 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


When he's not sleepy, he's not sleepy.

Yes, this is true, and Ferber urges you to take a holistic view of the child's entire sleep schedule, starting by just charting what sleep he gets, and when, making sure to count everything (even catnaps in the stroller/car), and then comparing it to Ferber's table of typical sleep-time ranges. You may end up taking your son down to only one nap a day, along with moving his bedtime a little earlier.

But you are perfectly right that you can't put a wakeful baby to sleep without a struggle; the ideal is that he be awake but sleepy, and that he will respond best to sleep training if you're reasonable in your expectations of how much sleep he should be getting. (I.e., the mythical child who takes 2 2-hour naps per day and then sleeps from 7 to 7 at night is, well, mythical. They don't need that much sleep, and trying to force it is counterproductive.)
posted by palliser at 10:17 PM on May 9, 2010


I highly recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weisbluth. My son's pediatrician recommended it, and it helped me so much when figuring out my kid's sleep issues at about 8 months.

It sounds like 9:00 is a little late for your baby's bedtime. I found that the most helpful piece of advice from the book was setting a regular bedtime. I started putting my son to bed at 7:30 every night, and set up a routine. At 7:30, we go to his room, read a book, sing a song, and he nurses until he falls asleep. At first, the nursing would be about 30 minutes, and he'd be in bed by 8. Now (he's almost 14 months old), he nurses for maybe 15 minutes, if at all, and I put him in his crib. He's usually not asleep when I put him down, but he doesn't cry, and he goes to sleep on his own. He even crawls to his room at 7:29 when he knows it's time for bed. A good nap schedule helps too. Make sure your baby is getting a nap every day, or he could get overtired, which makes it harder for him to sleep at night.

From what you say, it sounds like your baby doesn't really need the night time feedings. If he's just chewing on mom's nipple or nursing for comfort, then he probably doesn't have any extra nutritional needs that aren't being met during the day. My advice would be to move his bedtime up to maybe 8:00, and get started on a regular routine. Within a couple nights, you will probably see an improvement. He might still wake once during the night. When my son did this, I went into his room to check on him and make sure he wasn't waking because of hunger or a dirty diaper. I would try to sooth him without picking him up, and sometimes give him a bottle of water (I know, you're not supposed to let baby sleep with a bottle, but if it's just water, it won't rot his teeth). Usually, he'd go back to sleep on his own, but there were still a few times when he needed to nurse a little bit. He still sometimes wakes at night, but usually he'll babble to himself, or maybe whine a little, then go back to sleep. I usually wait about 5 minutes to be sure he doesn't start crying.

Also, I think other commenters are right about moving him to his own room if you can. And, if you can provide any sort of white noise that can block out other noises in your house after bedtime, that helps too. My husband bought a cheap radio, and we tune it to static and leave it in his room. Now, I just leave his ceiling fan on, which creates a gentle whirring sound, and keeps him from getting too warm. You could be unintentionally waking him up with whatever noises you and your partner make when going to bed.
posted by lexicakes at 10:19 PM on May 9, 2010


Sorry, ignore the "(1) a feeding" up there in the bedtime -- it's repeated in the drinking milk at step (3).
posted by onlyconnect at 10:24 PM on May 9, 2010


but could you be more specific about how you make a child go to sleep at a certain time?
You've already gotten lots of great advice. Put your baby to bed earlier, establish a routine, put him in his own bed while still awake, white noise, give him his own room, be prepared for him to resist for a couple of nights...also have a set time to wake up in the morning. He doesn't get to sleep in just because he slept badly the night before. If he's sleep-deprived for a couple of days as a result, it might make going to be earlier more attractive. I haven't read as deeply into the techniques for older babies since the Ferber stuff worked like a charm for us when my daughter was 5 months old. I do know they're in there though and would happily send you my book if you promise to send it back!

Most of what Ferber recommends is a gradual and incremental approach. Be prepared for things to take a little while and to set up a multi-day campaign to get things going. Good luck!

Also, a nightlight is vital to our daughter's well-being. She needs to be able to look around and see where she is when she awakens at night. It really does help her settle herself.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:29 PM on May 9, 2010


I'm going to be repeating a lot of what other people have said here, but I wanted to chime in from my own perspective, because this was me. 15-month-old child, still breastfeeding, co-slept, I was very strongly against crying it out. I said "The day I let my child cry herself to sleep is the day I need to be taken to the hospital to be evaluated for mental illness."

Yeah, guess what. I got so sleep deprived from nursing every 2 hours around the clock that I needed to be taken to the hospital to be evaluated for mental illness. The ER staff was very, very good, evaluated me very professionally, and decided that I might have some underlying wossname going on but it would be pointless to try and diagnose me until I'd dealt with the horrible, terrible, military-grade sleep deprivation. The crisis shrink I saw had had to let his own 18-month-old cry it out in order to get him to sleep through the night, and he said it was hideous and painful, but that he saw zero psychiatric or emotional sequelae in his son from the experience. He basically said "Either let her cry it out, hire a night nanny, or check yourself into the hospital until you recover from this sleep debt, because this could seriously literally kill you." So we elected to let her cry it out.

We put her in her own room, and when she first woke up and asked for numnums, my husband went to her with cow's milk in a sippy cup and said "Mom's not available." Then began the screaming. That's when we figured out that she wasn't despondent, she was mad. That made my life a lot easier -- I was willing to let her be mad. (I've met children whose parents never let them be mad. It's not pretty.) I wish I could say it was three hellish days and then the problem was solved, but it wasn't -- it was six horrible weeks, and we dealt with 2+ hours of screaming every night for the first four of them.

However! At the end of that six weeks, she slept. And while she has a hard time GETTING to sleep, she sleeps 10-12 hours a night now (she's 3.5) unless she's sick or has a bad dream. We nursed until she was nearly three, we still did the whole attachment parenting thing, and she is a happy, healthy, independent, loving little girl. It was horrible, but it worked out.

tl;dr: CIO might be the only way. 40 minutes of screaming is nothing. Don't get attached to the three-day deadline, because it might be way longer. I wouldn't have done it any younger, and I likely wouldn't have done it at all if I hadn't been losing my mind, but the results were fine and she doesn't seem to be damaged.
posted by KathrynT at 11:45 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hi me from two years ago.

I will nth the own room. It turned out that what was disturbing our daughter so much in the night was being in a room with two adults coming in to bed after she was asleep and having other people (who were sleeping pretty poorly).

We did a gentle transition: we got her all excited about the prospect of having HER OWN BED! IN HER OWN ROOM! She came and helped pick a bed (colours and whatnot). One of use slept in the room on a matress for a while. And since then she's been a much, much sounder and happier sleeper. As have both her parents.
posted by rodgerd at 1:23 AM on May 10, 2010


We've had a reasonable amount of success with consistently having the other anachronism put baby anachronism down for her naps (rocking/patting/shushing/singing/whatever it is he does) and doing some of the night settling. We did it because I'm going back to work and the other anachronism is staying home so we do need baby anachronism to sleep sans boob. We're not pushing anything because she does still need the boob (under 12 months milk should still be the major source of calories and night feeds are part of that for us) but as she gets old we may try out Dr Jay Gordon (caution, he's an anti-vaccine douche but I've heard a lot of success stories with his 'method').

Sebmojo: Also - every single discussion of this kind of thing has a bunch of people saying 'I really hated the idea of controlled crying (or whatever you want to call it) but we did it and she/he was sleeping peacefully after three days'.

Every. Single. One.

Take from that what you will.


Because those of us who have let their children mature into their own sleeping pattern don't have a method to defend? And because there's a really really big push against those parents who say "I tried CIO but little Johnny cried for 40min/2hours/3hours/vomited/got dehydrated" are told "you didn't try hard enough" so they simply say nothing. Not to mention how impolite it can feel to say that I parent my child to sleep rather than stick them in a room to scream.

Then there's the multitude of people I know who get far more sleep cosleeping than any other way.

posted by geek anachronism at 4:22 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


otherworldlyglow, thanks for the response, but could you be more specific about how you make a child go to sleep at a certain time? When he's not sleepy, he's not sleepy.

Just to elaborate on what otherworldlyglow and a million other people have said upthread: it's not that you can make your child have regular sleep habits instantaneously, or on any one given occasion. It's just that children are not naturally irregular creatures, so when you begin introducing some external regularity into their lives, their internal drives tend to sync up as well.
posted by Bardolph at 4:33 AM on May 10, 2010


I love Ask MeFi but it does occasionally embarrass me by being full of people who've fallen for Dr "Just clean up the vomit" Weissbluth or Ferber stuff as reasonable. It is extreme. Pediatrics has a notorious history of terrible advice to parents and this is just the latest terrible advice; it isn't good parenting. I am not too 'polite' to say I parent my child to sleep rather than stick them in a room to scream. When you are old and alone, how are you going to feel about these shenanigans? How are you going to feel even two years from now?

Two ideas largely absent from this thread:

Mom needs to go to bed earlier. My life was made much more pleasant once I learned that a crazy-early bedtime was sometimes what was called for. Co-sleeping + 'sleep when the baby sleeps' fixes the maternal exhaustion issue.

Enjoy this. From age 1-2 my daughter occasionally not just woke, but woke for extended periods. Oh! I kicked and moaned. Nothing I did made a difference; she was simply up for two hours no matter what. So when it happened, I would fix myself a dram of Bailey's and take us outside to look at the stars or some such, or just sit at the window, and otherwise enjoy the quiet time that was just the two of us. Of course she grew out of waking like that, and of course I miss it.

Also. On "feed starch."
posted by kmennie at 5:21 AM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't want to derail this thread and I can tell it's a divisive topic but it seems like there are a lot of different interpretations of what the various methods even mean. I searched Wiki for "cry it out" and came up with this page on Ferber's method. Maybe I'm reading it wrong but that doesn't give me the impression that some here seem to have, of sticking a child to scream in a room indefinitely, even to the point of dehydration. I can't imagine the latter is an approach recommended by anyone, at least not any doctor. Maybe some clarifications from both sides would help to maintain a civil and useful discussion, without veering into "you're a horrible, awful parent" territory.

I will say that, even as a non-parent, 930 seems way late as a bedtime.
posted by 6550 at 6:32 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Ask MeFi but it does occasionally embarrass me by being full of people who've fallen for Dr "Just clean up the vomit" Weissbluth or Ferber stuff as reasonable. It is extreme. Pediatrics has a notorious history of terrible advice to parents and this is just the latest terrible advice; it isn't good parenting. I am not too 'polite' to say I parent my child to sleep rather than stick them in a room to scream. When you are old and alone, how are you going to feel about these shenanigans? How are you going to feel even two years from now?

I used a Ferber method to teach my child to put herself to sleep independently, and I feel wonderful about it. Up until this point I think I had actually done my child a disservice by unintentionally teaching her through conditioning that she needed me or her dad to hold her in order to fall asleep. She didn't know she could do it on her own. This meant that almost every time she woke up, she'd need us to do our thing (hold our hand on her chest) in order to fall asleep again. And if you read what zardoz has written, it sounds like they may have unintentionally created this conditioning in their son, too. Please don't tell me that it's bad parenting to help your child learn that they don't need you to fall asleep every single time they wake up. Please don't tell me it's bad parenting to help your child learn to sleep for 10-12 hours at a time without needing wake-ups that interrupt the sleep cycle and create sleep deprivation that could cause developmental delays. I am lucky because my daughter never cried for more than 5 minutes, but even if a child needs longer, I truly believe it is better for them to learn how to put themselves to sleep rather than rely on mom or dad each time.

Parenting is a very subjective experience, and every child is different, so if what you are doing works for you, more power to you. My experience with sleep training was liberating and empowering, and I know it made me a better parent.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love Ask MeFi but it does occasionally embarrass me by being full of people who've fallen for Dr "Just clean up the vomit" Weissbluth or Ferber stuff as reasonable. It is extreme. Pediatrics has a notorious history of terrible advice to parents and this is just the latest terrible advice; it isn't good parenting. I am not too 'polite' to say I parent my child to sleep rather than stick them in a room to scream.

I don't think you understand Ferber. He does not recommend any of that.

zardoz - I just wanted to add that I hope you find a solution that works for you and your family. There are clearly lots of opinions about the "right" thing to do with regards to sleep and children. It seems obvious that what you're doing now isn't working. At the very extreme end of my advice, there are sleep consultants that you can talk to in order to get some detailed and specific advice about your circumstances. Some will even do phone consults, if you can't find anyone locally.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:04 AM on May 10, 2010


I have a two-year old daughter, and she has slept through the night since she was 3.5 months old. There was no trick to this- we coslept for 8 weeks, then transitioned her to her own crib, in her own room, in a swaddle blanket. She woke less and less, and finally slept from about 8 until 7. We used to hold her until she fell asleep, but we stopped doing that at around 6 months, when we discovered she would just talk to herself until falling asleep. Her bedtime became earlier and earlier, and she would sleep from 7PM until 8 or 9 AM from about 9 months until 18 months, when her bedtime gradually became later (it's now around 8 or 8:30).
She now naps once a day, always at the same time, for two hours, and still sleeps from 8:30 until 8:30. Several things have been helpful to us:
Set nap and bedtime routines (and times)- two books, bath before bed time, dimming the lights.
Her "baby"- a soft blanket- as a transitional attachment object
Her own room- we are MUCH too distracting for her to sleep with us, a this point
It's very important for parents to be well-rested. Do not hesitate to help your child learn to sleep. I am a much better parent because I have patience and energy. It's very important for your child, too, to get the sleep they need- everyone is happier.
posted by mrstrotsky at 12:21 PM on May 10, 2010


I will avoid the Ferber/Pantly debate and suggest you see your pediatrician. The reason is that baby haqspan was a terrible sleeper for her first two years and we tried everything except Ferber because the wife thought it was cruel. Eventually our pediatrician noticed that baby haqspan had huge tonsils that were causing her to wake up every few hours because she wasn't getting enough oxygen. After getting them out, she now sleeps for 11-12 hours and only gets up when she's sick.
posted by haqspan at 1:02 PM on May 10, 2010


Thanks again, everyone. Just a few more things. I live in Japan, my wife is Japanese, and my explanation of CIO and sleeping in a separate room are pretty much unheard of by most Japanese, at least according to my wife. Here, the norm is very simple--co-sleeping for a long time, maybe up to 2 or 3 years old. I imagine part of the hesitance for CIO is practical; apartments are small and bunched up close together. A crying baby could be a sore point with your neighbors if you keep them up for hours on end. But the neighbors are the last thing we're worried about, it's just part of the culture here. (That plus a general reluctance to change tradition!)

Anyway, this weekend we're going to switch places and I'll sleep with the kid. Mom will be overjoyed to try the sofa for a few days. And I hope it just lasts a few days. If that doesn't work we'll try something else.
posted by zardoz at 4:31 PM on May 10, 2010


I second trying a doctor as well - The Child sleeps terribly when ill or recovering from an allergic reaction.

onlyconnect: I am lucky because my daughter never cried for more than 5 minutes, but even if a child needs longer, I truly believe it is better for them to learn how to put themselves to sleep rather than rely on mom or dad each time.

You don't need CIO for this - baby anachronism does this when she isn't hungry/cold/wet/scared. It just takes time and like everything else to do with babies, that varies from child to child. And as someone who didn't sleep through til they were 2 the gambit of 'developmental delays' has absolutely no proof.

posted by geek anachronism at 4:57 PM on May 10, 2010


You don't need CIO for this [having a year old baby sleep through the night] - baby anachronism does this when she isn't hungry/cold/wet/scared.

My 11 month old would not generally fall asleep without us helping her to sleep each time, including during her 2am wakeups. Like zardoz, we got into a habit of involving ourselves in her going-to-sleep process so that she relied on us for that instead of figuring out how to do it herself. She was perfectly capable of doing it herself, as we found out when we let her cry for a little while without rushing in to hold her. Letting her learn how to do it herself meant when she wakes up at 2am now she can put herself back to sleep without fully waking up herself or waking us up too. It also means when she wakes up after 30 minutes in a nap she can put herself back to sleep if she's still tired instead of crying out for us because she doesn't know how to go back to sleep. She gets so much more sleep than she used to -- at least 2 hours more, and her naps are longer, too.

I didn't usually co-sleep, but I slept in my child's room for months before we did sleep training, incorrectly thinking she needed me, and shunning the cry it out method because I didn't ever just let my baby cry without doing anything about it. I thought I was being a better parent by being there for her all the time and not letting her cry. I thought, however much sleep I need to sacrifice is worth it so that she won't wake up without me there to comfort her. Like zardoz, I waited for months for my child to "mature into her own sleeping pattern" and we all lost so much sleep. I really believe I was wrong and I really regret it now, though, because all she needed was the confidence to put herself to sleep. We are all so much better off. Our child is better rested and less prone to crankiness, even with her molars coming in. I am happier and more patient. And all that makes dad happier too.

What gets me is that I think of myself as a feminist, and yet there I was just assuming that the slightest cry from my kiddo should subsume my own needs for rest and mental health. Why should I let my baby cry when I still had seemingly unlimited reserves of inner strength? Why should I let my baby cry even if I had only had two full, uninterrupted nights of sleep over an eleven month period? Why indeed. It was as though I and my own needs had completely disappeared.

A child is a joy and a blessing, and although I would sacrifice anything for my daughter, I realize now that my sacrifices to make things easier for her do not always help her. Pushing a toy closer to her prevents her from extending her reach out farther. Mashing up food into a puree isn't necessary anymore when she's got plenty of teeth, even if chewing takes her longer. And me being there with her every moment at night was ultimately preventing her from learning how to soothe herself and creating a distraction that deprived her of sleep.

You are right that it is impolite to say that you "parent your child to sleep rather than stick them in a room to scream." Is it better parenting to co-sleep and let no cry go unanswered? Is that the sort of contest we women are putting ourselves through now? Sleep training worked for my family, and the only thing I've ever regretted about it is not doing it sooner.

Finally, since you seem skeptical that lack of sleep could have an effect on toddlers, here is what five minutes of googling turned up: let me know if you would like more. Sleep deprivation in infants appears to be a risk factor for SIDS. Sleep deprivation decreased academic performance in otherwise healthy 6-12 year olds and caused behavioral problems and task performance difficulties (PDF) in second, fourth, and sixth graders (particularly in the younger children).

zardoz, sorry for this long reply to geek anachronism, and best of luck to your and your family in your efforts!
posted by onlyconnect at 11:31 PM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


It can be distressing to hear your child cry sobs of tears at bedtime and it pulls at your heartstrings that they fight against this rest time. I know, I empathise with you; I’ve been there and I’ve found an easy proven technique that quickly reassures children also bringing parents and children closer together in a very loving bond.

All around us in literature and history, we find paintings, drawings and images of Angels that walk before us, behind us and above us, invisibly watching over and protecting us all from harm.
In the last few decades more and more stories have emerged of accident victims walking away from disaster citing they ‘felt’ guarded and we hear stories of danger being averted because someone ‘felt’ inspired to move in the opposite direction following their ‘gut’ feeling thus avoiding disaster.

Step 1. Angel books with pictures are the best way to show your child about the visual depictions of Angel’s and what they may look like. They are the easiest way for you to introduce the look of Angels. Visit your local library or search images on the web and create your own vision board that can stay in your child’s room as a visual reminder of their Guardian Angels presence. Print out pictures of all drawings and painting of Angel’s that you like and also collect words such as Love, Peace, Hope, Safe, and glue this onto cardboard to make your child a collage picture for their room.

Step.2 As you read Angel stories place emphasis through the tone of your voice becoming softer, lighter and more relaxed beginning with what is known as the ‘dripping’ effect because you’ll repeat this process night after night. Eventually your child will begin to associate the story of Angels as one of joy for both of you to share regularly until they go to sleep confidently.

Step 3. Now it’s time to introduce your child’s personal Guardian Angel. When you know your child doesn’t want the connection between both of you to end, begin to speak in the affirmative, using your imagination to suggest what your child’s very own Guardian Angel might look like. Examples are: “Does your Guardian Angel have long hair?” or “do you think your Guardian Angel can run fast?”
As you engage and smile at their responses they will gain a sense of approval and allow themselves to continue to build with their imagination and use of creation in this self reassurance exercise.



Now through the affirming tone of your ‘matter of fact’ voice you will depart from their bedroom, re-affirming what the two of you have shared and discussed. Stay confident in the knowledge that you are beginning the first step in the ‘dripping’ effect where night after night your tone and affirmations will create and increase comfort in your child’s mind, until your child replaces your words of reminder with their own thoughts of reassurance.

You may need help creating affirmations to help your child go to sleep easily so please visit this website http://www.bedtimeandtoilettrainingsolutions.com.au/PGuardianAngels. Remember your work is to remind your toddler that when they drift off to sleep they are taken care of, safe and sound. An e-book, mp3 recording and more is available to help you in this easy process of reassuring your child.


Hope this helped, it sure helped me when my kids were toddlers!

Light and Love............Margit
posted by Margit Robson at 5:06 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect: Finally, since you seem skeptical that lack of sleep could have an effect on toddlers, here is what five minutes of googling turned up: let me know if you would like more. Sleep deprivation in infants appears to be a risk factor for SIDS. Sleep deprivation decreased academic performance in otherwise healthy 6-12 year olds and caused behavioral problems and task performance difficulties (PDF) in second, fourth, and sixth graders (particularly in the younger children).

I don't think you read the first study particularly well - induced sleep deprivation in 8 week old infants led to LESS arousals and MORE instances of sleep apnea episodes. The baby who doesn't wake frequently is at higher risk. And infant needs are vastly different to child needs.

This isn't about competition, even though it seems like it. CIO just isn't always the answer.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:18 PM on May 25, 2010


induced sleep deprivation in 8 week old infants led to LESS arousals and MORE instances of sleep apnea episodes. The baby who doesn't wake frequently is at higher risk.

The study states that infants who are sleep deprived run a higher risk of sleep apnea instances as well as SIDS. If babies are losing sleep because every small wake up at night turns into a fully awake feeding or crying session, they are getting less sleep than babies who can go through a light wake up and calmly put themselves back to sleep. I mean, even with sleep training, my daughter still stirs and wakes up several times a night, but she just rolls over and falls asleep again. I'm sure this effect is also achievable with co-sleeping children, but it was not my experience when I slept in the same room with my daughter -- almost every wake up led to a longer period of alertness until I got her back to sleep again.

I never suggested that CIO was always the answer -- I understand that it doesn't work for many and also that there are periods when infants may be particularly resistant to it. I think the reason that people like me recommend it so highly, though, is because results can really be dramatic and my quality of life is so much higher with uninterrupted sleep at night.

And fwiw I agree with your comment that this discussion should not be a competition or a contest, but I think it's inconsistent with your position that you "parent" your children to sleep instead of "sticking them in a room to scream," which is pretty unfair and antagonistic to the sleep training crowd.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:21 PM on May 25, 2010


onlyconnect: If babies are losing sleep because every small wake up at night turns into a fully awake feeding or crying session, they are getting less sleep than babies who can go through a light wake up and calmly put themselves back to sleep. I mean, even with sleep training, my daughter still stirs and wakes up several times a night, but she just rolls over and falls asleep again. I'm sure this effect is also achievable with co-sleeping children, but it was not my experience when I slept in the same room with my daughter -- almost every wake up led to a longer period of alertness until I got her back to sleep again.

I think this is where the disconnect is - baby anachronism doesn't wake for night feeds (unless something is wrong, like one of us is sick, she's pooping etc). There's no crying (again, special circumstances excepted) and if it's simply stirring she usually puts herself back to sleep as well. And from what I've spoken to other mums about, those of us who cosleep and/or feed to sleep, this is the case. The crying and disrupted sleep for her is when we try and make her infant sleep pattern mimic our own (so when we've allowed the persistent 'advice' from CIO/sleep training family and friends to interfere with what is working for us). Also, I think there's a significant difference between how people handle the disruptions - some people can and some people can't. I'm back at work full time and it doesn't seem to have made any appreciable difference to my energy levels. For my partner it does have a drastic effect. And that's where it can be a real problem - and that's where sleep training can come in and effectively save the day. The thing is there's a whole lot of ways to do it and CIO doesn't have to happen the way it is often 'advertised' by parents (using it on a 6 week old for example).

The dire predictions about what will happen to children who aren't sleep trained isn't helpful either and is usually what gets me all fighty - people tend to forget that cosleeping/feeding to sleep isn't a recent invention, nor just a 'hippie' vice. Children can and do thrive without sleep training, same for parents. Accusations that those who do not do CIO/sleep training are dooming their children to a life without sleep/SIDS/developmental delays/coddling/attachment issues are also unfair and antagonistic. Not to mention there's a vast difference between controlled crying and '40 minutes is nothing, try harder'. If that isn't sticking a child in a room to scream, what is? My comment on 'parenting' to sleep is in direct contrast to the comments that unless you CIO/sleep train you are actively harming your child's ability to sleep and not parenting effectively.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:07 AM on May 28, 2010


« Older We love "A Boy and his Bl...   |  Ever heard of the Cargo Collec... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.