baby won't go to bed. parents losing minds.
October 7, 2011 4:12 AM   Subscribe

How do we get our baby to sleep at night? In desperate need of parental advice.

Some background:

Ten month old baby girl. Only child. She has a happy temperament, is energetic, easy going, curious, social and generally loves life. Eats anything and everything enthusiastically. Weaned herself around 8.5 months (was mostly uninterested in breastfeeding by that time). My husband and I are, I feel, pretty good parents, don't get angry with her, have a good relationship, adore the shit out of her, etc etc blah blah blah.

So, she has no problem sleeping during the day - she has a morning nap and an afternoon nap, and when I put her in her cot for these she grumbles for maybe 30 seconds (or not at all) and then either lies down and puts herself to sleep, or plays in her cot for up to ten minutes and then puts herself to sleep. She sleeps for 1-1.5 hours during those naps.

We're now trying to enforce a routine in the hope that this will have an effect. We've only been trying for the last two days. Here's our routine: get up about 8am, breakfast, play etc. Morning nap around 9.30. Get up around 11, play, eat lunch, go out, whatever. Afternoon nap around 2. Get up around 3.30, more of the same. Have dinner.

At night when we put her to bed (around 7.30) when she is clearly tired (showing all the signs) we take her into the room, read her a little book, give her a kiss and cuddle and then put her in her cot and she SCREAMS.

At first we couldn't bear it and would get her out almost immediately. We did this for months because we couldn't bear the crying. So then she would be up, and we would either have to take her for a long walk in the baby carrier to get her to fall asleep, or just wait until we were ready to go to bed and put her in between us in our bed and all of us sleep together at around 11pm.

We can't keep doing this because we need some time to ourselves in the evenings.

So we don't know what else to do other than let her cry it out. When we do let her cry it out, which is agony, she will eventually fall asleep, but then she will wake up an hour or so later (maybe 9pm) and start screaming again. We go in, let her know we are there, check her nappy in case it's dirty, and then leave, and she just screams louder. Or if we pick her up and give her a cuddle and then put her back down, again she screams louder. So we again try to let her cry it out, but after 10, 15, maybe even 20 minutes of her howling we can't bear it anymore and go and get her.

(Sometimes we give her a bottle at bedtime which she may or may not be interested in, but it makes absolutely no difference to her going to sleep.)

What are we doing wrong??? She KNOWS how to put herself to sleep, as is evidenced by her daytime napping. For some reason night times are just a disaster. We are at a loss.

Important note - she USED to cry and scream when I would put her down for her daytime naps, and I'd have to hold her until she fell asleep on me and then put her down, but I got tired of doing that and just let her cry it out. But it only took her about 2 days until she didn't cry anymore, and she painlessly put herself to sleep, as she does all the time now. So she learnt in the daytime how to go down, but for some reason this understanding hasn't transferred to night time.

Anyway, we're going crazy, if you have any suggestions fellow parents -we'd love to hear them.
posted by saturn~jupiter to Health & Fitness (50 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Put her down earlier? Sometimes visibly tired = over-tired. Good luck, must be fraying your nerves.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:43 AM on October 7, 2011 [11 favorites]

Just a possibility. Does she have a night light? My daughter HATES sleeping at night without at least a dim light. World of difference. Occasional nights are still restless, and on those occasions music helps. Classical station, turned low.

Favorite blanket? Cuddly toy? Consistent saying goodnight ritual? Good luck. It will resolve in time - hope it's soon.
posted by wjm at 4:54 AM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ferber worked for us (similar issue, similar time).
posted by monkey closet at 4:59 AM on October 7, 2011

Anecdata alert! We have never managed to put our baby to bed directly in her cot. After dinner and bath she gets milk and a bedtime story in our bed, and as soon as she is asleep (usually <5 minutes) we transfer her to the cot. It may also be relevant that our daughter has a longer day, of more like 7:30-21:00, with similar daytime nap pattern.
posted by roofus at 5:35 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is the room completely dark at night? Sometimes low lighting helped us. Sometimes we needed it to be dark. We found lying with him helped get him to sleep pretty faster. He just liked the company.

I wonder if the stretch between the naps isn't affecting her at bed time. We found with our son if his naps didn't follow nearly the exact parameters below, then bed time would be more of a fight where otherwise it'd be pretty smooth.

And maybe 7:30 is too early or too late, depending on the naps.

At that age my son would be up around 6:30 or 7, down for a nap like clockwork between 10 and 10:30, down again around 2 or 3, in bed for the evening around 8 or 8:30.

10 months old is also really young --- she's still an infant, not even a toddler. She's a baby. I really wouldn't let her just cry it out on her own at that age. We let our two year old sometimes cry it out, but we didn't start that until recently and when he could really understand that bed time is bed time and that it was clear that his crying and fussing was more to try to get us to let him up.
posted by zizzle at 5:39 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ugh, I feel your pain, we've had very similar issues with our 14 month old. 7:30 may be a bit late, we aim to get our guy in bed between 6:30-7:00 (he takes one nap at daycare, noon-ish to either 2:00 or 3:00, though he wakes up much earlier in the morning, around 5:15-5:30). I agree with what the young rope-rider says above that visibly tired can mean over-tired and then they are just too on edge and primed for a meltdown.

What worked wonders for us, despite being a bit unpractical: we started putting him to sleep for the evening in our living room pack & play, with my husband taking a few minutes to pretend to sleep on the floor in front of the pack & play. Our son is a total copycat and would copy his dad's fake sleeping by actually lying down and eventually falling asleep (it takes a bunch of "night nights" and him lying down, getting back up, babbling to himself, etc for him to actually go to sleep). We sometimes ate dinner in the living room while he was still settling himself towards sleep, sometimes ate dinner in the kitchen to be out of his line of sight. He would stir and half-wake around 9-10-ish, at which point I would take him upstairs to sleep in bed with me or in the second pack & play we have in our bedroom (the lovely crib we have in our son's room just makes him scream endlessly so we have kind of given up on it for the time being). The absolute key is that I have to be out of the picture entirely for the initial lie-down, so I'll read him his stories, give him a kiss, then hand him off to dad for bedtime. If I'm in the room or in his line of sight he will start pitching a huge fit.

We did that for a couple of months, and are just now transitioning to putting him down for the evening in the upstairs pack & play to start, with dad still spending a few minutes with him pretending to sleep and generally just being there as a calming presence. It's working so far! Again, I have to be out of the picture, and unless he starts screaming a ton I have to not go to him when he's fussy, because something about seeing mommy just makes him lose it.

Good luck, it is crazy making. Our son still has not slept through the night ever, but at least not having meltdowns every night at bedtime saves some sanity.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:42 AM on October 7, 2011

It sounds like separation anxiety. They tend to go through this in phases over the first year or two.

This always worked for us:

1. Put child to bed quietly and calmly, with a minimum of interaction.

2. When crying starts, wait 5 minutes.

3. Go in, lie child back down. Offer reassurance if they're not calming down. Again, minimise interaction. Ideally don't say anything at all.

4. If crying starts up again, wait 10 minutes.

5. Repeat.

6. Wait 15 minutes. Etc.

It'll get better. You'll probably find that you'll have to drop one of the daytime naps at some point in the next few months (if your child is anything like ours were).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:50 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

So, I suspect that before this is over, you're going to get a bunch of people recommending cry-it-out/Ferber, and a bunch of other people saying OMGWTFFerberistehEEEVUL!!!1! (Although things appear to be pretty calm so far, so cheers.)

As the mother of an almost-8-month-old with pretty streaky sleep, I prefer Ask Moxie, who is very much of the "You need to do whatever is best for you and your particular child" mentality, and also has some really interesting insights on sleep regressions (there is one around 9 months, plus or minus -- maybe yours is a little bit late?). She also has a great post (which I can't find right this second) about the fact that some babies escalate/build tension as they cry (and thus crying it out is completely counterproductive) and some babies need to cry a little bit to release tension, and then can relax and go to sleep. Definitely spend a little quality time digging around her archives... I promise it will be time well spent.

Other than that, I'd say getting a solid bedtime routine (maybe add a nice warm bath?) and maybe backing the bedtime up a bit -- one thing I have definitely seen with my own little guy is that sleep really does beget sleep. We've moved bedtime from 9 to 8 to 7 and are thinking about 6:30, because every time we do it, he falls asleep quickly, sleeps more soundly, and wakes up later know, except when he, like, doesn't.

Best of luck and hang in there. She will sleep through the night at some point, really.
posted by somanyamys at 5:50 AM on October 7, 2011 [11 favorites]

As others have asked, is she in a completely dark and quiet room? I open the shades in my daughter's room. The moonlight is enough to brighten the room so that it isn't completely dark. When she was your daughter's age, I would play classical music really low...barely audible. She likes Buddhist chanting now so I have that on for her. Sometimes she is sleeping with the device under her face when I check on her.

My daughter usually went to sleep without incident, but around your daughter's age, she decided she didn't want to miss anything. So, she would fuss.

I put her in a twin bed by then and I would lay down with her, read her a book or two and turned off the light and stayed until she went to sleep. She would get up sometimes in the middle of the night and cry for me.

Eventually, they outgrow it. There is no one thing that would work, every baby is different. What took two days to change may take two weeks now. Stick to one thing for a while and give it time to work.

If you are going to try letting her cry it out again, try not to just leave her in the room for the entire time. Go in at intervals of three to five minutes and soothe her. Give her a little water and get her to lay down, rub her back and leave.

I still give my daughter a bottle at night before bed. Sometimes she drinks five ozs, sometimes the whole 10 oz, sometimes nothing, but give her an option of having it in case that helps. Sucking soothes them.

It is really a long time between the last nap and bedtime so she might be over tired. Maybe put her in bed earlier. Tell her mommy and daddy are going to bed too and maybe that will help.

Good luck, I hope you get some rest soon!
posted by Yellow at 6:14 AM on October 7, 2011

It will get better!!!! Keep reassuring yourself of this, because it's absolutely true. You are good parents and this will sort itself out. Kiddos just like to keep us on our toes with all their developmental changes and leaps and just when you think you've got one problem licked, they come up with a new one.

My son had a similar regression at a similar age, and lo and behold started walking very soon afterword. Sometimes their brains are working so hard on a new skill that they just really have a hard time sleeping.

We did similar to what La Morte de Bea Arthur recommended above, a graduated cry it out and that seemed to work for us. The other advice above is really solid too (try an earlier bedtime, splashing in a warm bath, a low light night light in the room, bedtime routine with cuddles, music box, etc.). I agree that Ask Moxie is a great resource, if just to get reassurance that others have faced similar things.

So I guess I don't have a lot more to add, but wanted to let you know that you will get through all of this. Hoping it's a quick rough patch for you all.
posted by goggie at 6:23 AM on October 7, 2011

It's all about routine.. and some conditioning. By picking her right up again, you're teaching her that she's doing the right thing by crying and she'll get an immediate response.

le morte de bea arthur has the right method.

Put her down, don't make a big deal out of it. Let her cry for 5 minutes.

Go in, give her some soothing words, don't pick her up, sit next to the crib for a few minutes, rub her back, "pet" her. Then leave.

Wait ten minutes next time.

Then 20 minutes, then 30.. keep extending out the time.

I know it's exhausting, and feels painful. But she's not in pain, not hungry, doesn't need to be changed. Nothing is wrong.

It's going to take awhile.. anywhere from a few days to weeks. But she'll eventually get the routine. I've been through 3 babies, all in their pre-teen years now and they're none the worse for it, and they all eventually began to go down with minimal fuss.

We eventually had to do the same thing when they got out of the crib and figured out they could just climb out of bed and come downstairs. You're the parent, you set the rules. As long as there isn't any real need for them to be crying, you have to endure the pain.
posted by rich at 6:24 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Sleep Lady Shuffle is the method that ended up working for us. (Site/Book).

(Just one side note: although the walking around in the carrier trick might seem like a good solution, it prevents your child from learning to fall asleep properly on their own. We found this out the hard way.)
posted by Otis at 6:25 AM on October 7, 2011

It's true that the Ferber method is divisive. Yet that's essentially what both le morte de bea arthur and rich are describing. And while it does result in some tears in the short term, in the long term you end up with a child who can go to sleep on his/her own, which makes everyone happy.

Get the book. As I recall, the important stuff is summed up in a couple of key pages and you can skim the rest.

Yes, it's brutal to hear your kids screaming and crying for those five or ten minutes. But if done correctly, most of the time all it takes is a few days. And that screaming and crying won't hurt your kid. Really. It's just a preverbal way of expressing serious annoyance.

One thing about crazy screaming bedtimes: Sleep begets sleep, and as noted about, often a bedtime meltdown is a sign of being overtired.

Finally: Routine is key.
posted by bassomatic at 6:55 AM on October 7, 2011

Nthing Ferber-izing (which to me is the same as le morte de bea arthur's routine.)

I doubt that there is a particular issue with nighttime vs. afternoon sleeping. She just doesn't know how to put herself to sleep at night, and it's a skill she needs to learn. Right now, she has a screaming routine that she follows, and she also needs to unlearn that. She will, after some time with a consistent approach.

It can be a stressful process, but keep in mind that you're teaching her a very important life skill!

(Oh, and be prepared to go through the whole thing again if the routine gets disrupted, such as after an illness. They get used to the extra attention very quickly!)
posted by CaseyB at 6:56 AM on October 7, 2011

At their bedtime lie down on your back on your bed, lie child face down on your chest, tap lightly on child's back with open hand in time with your heartbeat. Transfer to cot after Morpheus has claimed the wean.
posted by Dr.Pill at 7:01 AM on October 7, 2011

Also wanted to suggest white noise. We have an air filter that runs in my kid's room. FWIW, 10 months was about the age we had to sleep train our kiddo. It was really rough on everyone, but you'll get out of the woods eventually.
posted by gnutron at 7:11 AM on October 7, 2011

This comment in another Askme thread is good (sidebarred, in fact)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:17 AM on October 7, 2011

[folks, please answer the question being asked and not the one you want to answer. You can MeMail non-answers to the OP. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:37 AM on October 7, 2011

Follow le morte's advice upthread to the letter. I can't emphasize this enough.

Your mistake is that you've reacted to her screaming and carrying on, which is what she wants. To compound the mistake, you've reacted in a half-dozen different ways, which makes carrying on all the more interesting for her.

I don't judge! We made the exact same mistake in circumstances almost identical to yours. Our family physician gave us the advice le morte gives above. After the second night of following it, we saw dramatic improvement. After the third night -- no effing joke -- the problem was over.

And remember: it does her NO HARM to cry. And letting her cry now does not mean she's going to be needing therapy in 14 years. Relax. Take a deep breath. And resolve to get your evenings back. It will feel like a vacation once you do!
posted by Philemon at 7:39 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

Are 10 months old is when we lost it with our son not sleeping too. We used the Sleep lady book (recommend already by Otis above) as it was a bit more gradual/accepting of deviations than Ferber, and thus more to our liking. And it took a couple unpleasant nights, but it worked (in just a couple nights like Ferber).

Definitely try putting her down earlier, my son was much worse at going to sleep when over tired (and would cry for much much longer) than we just a bit sleepy (or even completely awake).

And you can try a night light as well, but oddly enough our son went to sleep better when we started shutting his door (instead of leaving it open), which made it completely dark in there (he has black out curtains and no night light. So you can try that as well/instead of the night light. I think the door helped also because it cut down the noise from us (our house is all one level), so he wasn't feeling like he was missing anything.

We also have played music for him (classical music radio station actually) because it gave him noise that wasn't us when he wanted it. Other friends have sworn by white noise (there are plenty of white noise apps/websites out there so you don't have to buy a special machine or anything). Try out some things and see what works for you.
posted by katers890 at 8:01 AM on October 7, 2011

Previously (recently).
posted by cocoagirl at 8:28 AM on October 7, 2011

Our doctor suggested the same thing, letting our 1-year old cry it out. Took all of 2-days before he was putting himself to sleep and sleeping through the night.

Also, routine is EVERYTHING. Our son learned that in the evenings we ate dinner, then took a bath, then played and read a few books, then brushed our teeth, and then went to bed. Whenever we break from that routine, the chances of him throwing a fit at bedtime increase dramatically.

Two things our doctor said that really helped US:

1. If letting him "cry it out" is too tough for you, hug each other. Don't hug the baby. He's not hurt, he just communicating the only way he knows how.
2. As hard as it is for us to understand, the brain of a toddler LOVES routine.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 9:53 AM on October 7, 2011

le morte de bea arthur: 1. Put child to bed quietly and calmly, with a minimum of interaction.


You may be meaning well with the coddling, but it's not helping your situation. The same thing occurs when some mom's are always holding their kid. Guess what? the kid suddenly has issues if you're not in physical contact.

Plus, nap-time does not need to always happen at scheduled times, or at all. If the kid is in a nap mood then put them down, if they're fine then let them stay up. There's no exact formula you need to follow, just let things flow easy :)
posted by zombieApoc at 10:43 AM on October 7, 2011

(Short answer because of end of lunch break.) There's a link here to someone who used an Android app to track baby's sleep patterns and then adjusted things to fit. Everyone's happier now.
posted by bentley at 11:00 AM on October 7, 2011

I liked the No Cry Sleep Solution for my 7 month old. For us it is all about the routine, a small fan for white noise, a dark room and most importantly an EARLY bedtime. We found that starting to get ready at 530 pm with the goal of being asleep in bed at 630 works the best. He generally sleeps 630pm to 630am with 2 or 3 quick nursing breaks but is usually down from 630pm to 1030pm without eating, giving me my evenings back.

Oh, and an excersise ball in the nursery made "rocking" a fussy over tired baby much easier on days where the routine was missed. On a bad day the baby will wake up after one sleep cycle (45 min) then dad would go up and do 250 bounces on the ball with the baby and he would settle right away. No talking, playing or eye contact. The no cry techniques all take time to work, weeks +, so don't expect results right away. The CIO can have much faster results (but much more upsetting for me) so you need to do what feels right for you.
posted by saradarlin at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ugh! I feel your pain, and I can tell you what worked for us. As others have mentioned, I would try an earlier bedtime. Like REALLY early. At that age, my daughter could barely stay up until 6, but her sleepy signs were very subtle. If we waited another hour or so when she was actively yawning and rubbing her eyes, all bets would be off and it would be impossible to get through the nighttime routine and to get her to bed. So for us, the key was to detect when the first neuron in her braining was signaling fatigue and then to seize the moment. A lot of parents worry that an earlier bedtime means an earlier wake-up time, but that often isn't the case. If you do decide to try it, aim for a consistent week of early bedtimes to let her catch up on sleep to decide whether or not it is working.

We also have a very consistent nighttime routine that has only changed subtly since she was born: dinner, 20 minutes or so of playtime, potty(now), bath, books, saying goodnight to a variety of objects in the house including the fuse box (strange husband), song (sung in her room), bed. We used to joke that we could put her to bed at noon as long as we went through the routine, and it has always worked even while traveling to Europe. Saying goodnight to household objects is relatively new, but it was introduced because the transition from reading books to jumping up and heading to bed was bothering her and the saying goodnight was a gentler way to let he know bedtime was coming. Having a routine is nice because the baby knows what to expect and parents can go on autopilot at the end of a long day.

Or maybe your daughter will only respond to interpretative dance and rare bird calls. Kids are tricky like that. Good luck and goodnight!
posted by defreckled at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

A friend got a copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block from the library (video), and she said it worked right away. Her baby is brand new, but hopefully it'll work for you.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:15 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

You said you spent months walking her around, so it will take some time to undo that habit. Whatever technique you try, give it at least 3-4 days before you decide it doesn't work. (I know that when you're not sleeping this seems like a long time.)

What about staying in her room with her, maybe holding her hand or keeping a hand on her for a while (maybe even until she falls asleep), and then when she cries go back in and do it again. If this works after a few nights, stop touching her but just be there where she can see you, and eventually just stay with her for a couple of minutes and then leave. Just one technique among many to try.
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:31 PM on October 7, 2011

I also used the No Cry Sleep Solution with good success when my daughter was around 7-8 months old. Then, when she was around 14 months old, we went through another bad patch and I accidentally let her cry it out one night (she wouldn't stop crying and I had to leave the room before I lost it; less than a minute later she was out like a light).

Whatever it is you try, bear in mind that even if it works, it might not last. I found everything with my daughter lasted about 6 weeks, which could be a bummer when things went from going great to sliding back into not-so-great, but was a small island of hope to cling to when things were hell.
posted by looli at 2:46 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, on re-read I see she falls asleep between you at around 11. Have you tried getting her to fall asleep between you at 7:30? Then you can either transfer her to her crib, or if your bed is set up in a way that is safe, keep her there until you are ready to turn in for the night.
posted by looli at 2:51 PM on October 7, 2011

So we again try to let her cry it out, but after 10, 15, maybe even 20 minutes of her howling we can't bear it anymore and go and get her.

This is what you are doing wrong. Letting her cry for twenty minutes and then picking her up is teaching her to cry for twenty minutes. I know it's really hard to hear them cry, but it's so important for you to be consistent with what you decide to do. If that is let her cry, no matter how long, then let her cry. If you know you won't be able to listen to her cry for an hour, then don't make that your plan. Make another plan.

I know it's hard. It's really, really hard. I never thought I'd be able to let my baby cry but when sleep deprivation started to really affect our quality of life, I knew something had to change for everyone's sake.
posted by bq at 2:57 PM on October 7, 2011

posted by kmennie at 3:14 PM on October 7, 2011

Very heavily covered topic (tag suggestion). I don't personally think one solution fits all. We referred to Weissbluth's book Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child and it was helpful to me (although I never did manage to be able to spot the magical "ready for sleep" moment he seems to suggest is the key to it all).

But the insight that trouble getting to sleep could be an issue of needing to go earlier was critical for us. I agree in our (single data point) experience if the baby was visibly tired and cranky it meant we had waited significantly too long. Complete darkness was another thing that helped a lot for us.
posted by nanojath at 3:40 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe carry her around all day? Strap her onto the front of you with one of those giant slings.

My friend Christina, who has two little ones, told me "A baby who is carried all day, sleeps all night." (She is first generation American, from Greece--a little old world in the new world?)

Sounded wise to me and it seems to have worked for her.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 4:01 PM on October 7, 2011

It seems like CIO hasn't worked for you at night, even though you did it during the day (suggesting it's not the technique that is the problem, but something else).

Are her pajamas uncomfortable? Some babies hate having things on their feet, if they're footies, or they hate the different material sometimes used for PJs.

Does the room get colder at night? Hotter and drier, when the heater kicks in? Is it darker? Is she more exhausted? What is different between naptime and bedtime? That will probably be your key. If you can figure that out you will probably have much better luck.

As for No Cry Sleep Solution, I've never read it but from what I've heard of it the author suggests what I generally do: essentially you use classical conditioning to get the baby to sleep. I have had great luck with using certain music while walking babies to sleep. Eventually they don't need to be walked, they just hear the music and conk out.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:14 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

One other suggestion that really seemed to make a difference for us was more outside walks during the day (with a bjorn or stroller). Observed anecdotal correlation is of course a dubious data source but there sure did seem to be a more fresh air/better sleep correlation.
posted by nanojath at 4:26 PM on October 7, 2011

OP, I'm so sorry! Sleep deprivation is rough. And couples need time together to recharge their batteries.

But! I'm seeing a lot of good suggestions in the thread, and I hope some work for you.

I absolutely agree that consistency in your bedtime routine is key.

Make sure your little girl gets plenty to eat before bedtime! Our son always ate extra at night.

We had a mobile and our son was fascinated by the music and the turning. Looks like others have found music or white noise to be helpful, too. A baby swing was another thing he liked before naptime.

If you think the darkness might be an issue, try a night-light or, even better, sticker stars on the ceiling that glow in the dark! My kids loved those.

Also, you mention naptimes are going fine but nightime is a different story. Are you and your husband both there during the day? If Dad is only home in the evenings, maybe your little girl associates going to sleep at night with Dad going away. Try having him take over a little more of the bedtime routine for some exclusive baby/Dad time. Maybe he could give her a bath?

We really never did the cry it out deal. But that's only because we started really early with a sleep routine that, luckily, worked for us. Both our kids slept through the night from 3 months on (I know you hate me for that right now, but we had a tough time with toilet training if it makes you feel any better!).

So the best advice I can give you is to try a few things, and when you find something works, stick to it like glue and do not change your routine! And it sounds like you are doing that.

Oh, and don't worry about what anyone else says if you find a different method than what their favorite parenting guru says you "should" do. I knew parents who swore the noise of the shower running was what worked for them. If it works for you and your baby, that's what counts, no matter what the books say!
posted by misha at 6:27 PM on October 7, 2011

We used the Sleep Lady Shuffle with our daughter when she was about a year old, and it worked really well for us.

I recommend earplugs for the first few days; you can hear the crying, but it doesn't make you quite as crazy.
posted by mogget at 9:10 PM on October 7, 2011

Have you tried moving the nap times? From a quick glance at your schedule, it looks like your baby is awake for 1 1/2 hours, then 3 hours, and then 4 hours. It seems like it might be easier to have those intervals closer to the same amount time.

I'm impressed that your baby goes right to sleep for naps by herself. Mine never did. (We gave up naps at age 3.) So already, I'm pretty sure you're doing something right.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:53 PM on October 7, 2011

So the best advice I can give you is to try a few things, and when you find something works, stick to it like glue and do not change your routine!

Boy, has that been our finding too. Our daughter has always been good at taking naps (like yours!) but went through a couple of stretches where going to sleep at night was a whole lot harder. I don't know why (in retrospect, maybe just some developmental weirdness), and I no longer remember how long either of those stretches was, though they felt very, very long at the time.

Here's what worked for us, just to help give you a sense of the range of experiences out there. It's not an actual recommendation (as you'll see, there are some highly idiosyncratic details!), just more info for you about the kinds of things people have done.

During the periods where bedtime was rough, one or both of us would take her to bed and lie down next to her right at the start, with one hand touching her. There was also a fan running for white noise. Then while we waited for her to finally settle, we would do all kinds of little quiet things to keep us and her from going completely nuts.

I remember at the height of this period I would go through an incredibly involved sequence of kissing her on the forehead. First I'd kiss her a hundred times pretty quickly. Then I'd do another hundred count, but kissing her only on the even numbers. Then another hundred on the multiples of four... Hi, I'm a lunatic! It was not exactly as restorative as talking with another adult or reading a novel would have been, and I felt like a crazy person, but mostly I was just lying there. It wasn't too bad. When after a zillion years she seemed to be asleep I had some other really elaborate mental scheme to guide my slowly slipping my hand away (and sometimes she would wake up and scream and I'd start the whole thing over again).

When I was doing all this I wondered what on earth my exit strategy was, but eventually it did naturally taper off. The wind-down for her got shorter and shorter, and eventually we were at the point where we could put her down at the end of the evening routine, say a routine "nighty night," and she would be as content at bedtime as she had been at naptime.

Was that helpful? Probably not. I guess the proposal in there is to try a scheme that lets you lie down and rest as much as possible while she's not yet asleep. We had a slightly later nap schedule than yours, too, so the thoughts some people had about trying an earlier bedtime (or whatever gets you a shorter up time between end of afternoon nap and bedtime) also sound plausible to me.
posted by redfoxtail at 12:30 AM on October 8, 2011

Thank you SO MUCH everyone, it is so great to read all of these accounts and bits of advice, I love it.

So we have tried a number of things here in the past...

- tried a completely dark room vs some light in the room - no difference.
- music or no music - no difference
- and for those of you who recommended lying with her in bed until she settles - YES, we have done this many times, it just tends to take FOREVER, and then sometimes when she falls asleep and we transfer her to the cot (which we must otherwise she will flip flop off the bed) she will wake up and scream and it's back to square one. augh. we are trying to find another way.

SO TONIGHT WE TRIED AN EARLIER BED TIME - I think people who suggested she was over-tired already by 7.30 may have been on the money, because we put her down at 6.30 tonight and with very little fuss she went to sleep!

HOWEVER, she woke up an hour later, screamed, and when we went to see her, it turned out she had done a huge pooh. AAAUGH! so then we had to change her, and after that it was just ridiculous trying to put her down again. we gave her a bottle, she passed out in the bed, but when I tried to transfer her - woke and screamed. We ended up taking her for an hour long walk and then putting her down, she eventually went to sleep around 10.

So earlier bed time seems to work but what to do about the pooping???
posted by saturn~jupiter at 5:21 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't know about the pooping but I had to discover on my own that (for us) there was a magical window of transferability from lap-to-bed after falling asleep. Trial and error to figure this out, but it was between 17 and 19 minutes after he fell asleep. Mentioning it to others, many people say that around 20 minutes is good for them too. Too soon, and the babies aren't asleep enough to move. Too late, and they are switching sleep cycles and again rousable.

This is a good strategy if you're already in the right room. If we had to move to another room, there are little breezes in the hallways and the light changes and it would never work.
posted by xo at 5:47 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow, thanks xo - that is very good to know. Her cot is next to our bed so yes, same room.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 5:55 AM on October 8, 2011

[Folks, if your suggestion is that this parent is being abusive, will you please consider going to the MetaTalk thread already in progress where you can talk about topics that are not at all okay for this thread? Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on October 8, 2011

Timing it is good! Another way to check is to see if their limbs are completely limp. Pick up an arm or leg. You should get no resistance or response. That means they are in a deep sleep.

When you move them, make sure you have their back completely supported. Babies hate the feeling of "falling" backwards and it will jerk them awake.

The crib/bed should be warm or the cold can shock them. I've had good luck with a thin blanket over their back while I hold them; the blanket also goes into the crib and provides a little insulation from BRR COLD crib.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2011

I see from the schedule you'd like (sleep from 7:30pm to 8 am, then take two 1.5-hr naps) that you're expecting that your child will get, at 10 months, 15.5 hours of sleep out of every 24.

Your daughter wants to go to sleep at 11pm, when she wakes at 8am and takes 3 hours of naps. That's 12 hours of sleep out of every 24.

I've got my copy of Ferber here and am looking at the Typical Sleep Requirements table. For 9 months' age, it says a child generally needs about 12.25 total hours of sleep, divided between 10 at night and 2.25 during the day, in two naps. The typical range he gives is 11.25-13.25. I'm sure there are exceptions, but as he's a pediatric neurologist and the director of a pediatric sleep center, he's seen a lot of babies and their sleep patterns.

I think you're actually expecting your daughter to sleep too much, and I'm looking at that late waking-time and 3 hours of naps in particular. If she got up at 6:30 a.m. and napped for 2 hours, you'd have no problem putting her to bed at 8 or 8:15. (Note that one of the answerers who argued for an earlier bedtime also mentioned that their baby gets up 3 hours before yours in the morning.)

Yes, Ferber is known for The Method, but he also makes it very clear that your expectations have to be reasonable before you begin, rather than just what you'd like to have happen. We all kind of want to have a nice long evening with just adults, and then sleep until 8 the next morning, but I think you have to choose. In our house, we have a late-ish wake time (7:00 or so) but then the kids don't go down until 8:30 or 9.

I've Ferberized 2 babies, but only after reading the book and checking my expectations against the research-based picture he gives of infant sleep.

Good luck!!
posted by palliser at 3:05 PM on October 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

We had the same situation you describe with pooping, though ours usually happened with the naps. Our strategy was to do some early potty training to try to preempt the situation as it were. It's often referred to as "elimination communication", but for us it basically boiled down to sitting her on the potty (with a seat reducer) after meals and praying to the gods of sleeping babies that she would poop. Mostly she didn't, until suddenly she did.

We try to make potty time fun by reading lots of books and singing songs. We even had a set of rubber finger puppets called the "pee-pee monsters" until my husband melted one of them in the dishwasher. At this point our daughter is 20 months old and is virtually accident-free, and has been reasonably potty trained since about 14 months. We didn't do a lot of diaper-free time like most EC advocate suggest; we just took an educated guess at when she was most likely to go and started from there.

It is a practice of patience and definitely isn't for everyone, but we couldn't figure out the poop thing any other way. And now every time she poops in the potty, an angel gets her wings. MeMail me if you can't wait to hear more.
posted by defreckled at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2011

I can't give you too much sage wisdom as mine is just nearing 10 months herself. However, I just wanted to point out that, for us, having a plan, ANY PLAN to try is a lifesaver. I'm about to dive into some sleep training books again and try a few things as I feel we've kind of reached a plateau of frustration ourselves. I'm too sleep deprived to come up with a new script so looking through other peoples scripts and trying one for a few nights or a week helps us figure out what is going to work for us and for her.

I also find it so hard to regroup after something has been working and then she moves on. I think that's due, in part, to the sleep deprivation. Heh. It took me three days of shitty sleep and bad naps to realized that she was seriously teething and uncomfortable. A little baby Advil and she got a full night's sleep -- one we all needed! I felt like such an idiot.

I hope you have a lot of support from your partner. I think it's good to regularly talk things through. It's easy to get into a pattern that you didn't intend and that isn't working - hard to get out of it. If you talk about it regularly, you have a better chance of heading it off. Anyway, if you have a local library, they should hopefully have these books. One I want to look at again is the Baby Whisperer which I talked about before. Not sure it will work for us a second time but I thought it was pretty good in general.

I also keep reminding myself that these are phases, I can only try my best and there is no one way for all babies. We try to nudge her in a direction but she has to get there herself. Good luck! I'll be thinking of y'all as we try to improve our sleep situation!
posted by amanda at 4:54 PM on October 9, 2011

This may not work with your style of cot, but can you adjust the height of the cot so that she's literally, right next to the bed?
Possibly with a side slid down?

I found I could lie in bed, with my arm over my nephew, which made him feel like he was lying next to me.
And yeah, with the sleep cycles! I didn't time it though. It's a bit foggy *how* I knew exactly, but there was a window of not-being woken up, versus 'I-look-asleep-but-will-cry-like-a-banshee-if-you-disturb-me'. I remember staring at his face for a long time sometimes, before being satisfied which it was, but I can't remember how I knew. Eyelid motion? No motion? Noises?

Next time I'm helping raise a baby, I'm gonna use one of the Android sleep cycle apps.
Better living through technology!
posted by Elysum at 6:00 PM on October 13, 2011

This thread coincided with our need to re-sleep-train our little guy after a cold that had him sleeping with us for a while. We started a week ago. It took about 4 nights of him waking up a couple times in the middle of the night and crying for 45 minutes to an hour and a half - with frequent reassuring visits from mama - before things improved. But improve they did and for three nights in a row he slept for ten hours straight, from 8 to 6. And this morning he went back to sleep until 8 am after a bottle of milk at 6.

One week ago he was waking up and insisting on being held and rocked back to sleep as often as every two hours. it was really hard camping out in the hallway and listening to him cry, but we are all happier for it now, and I know it's so much better for him to be getting the sleep he needs.
posted by bq at 10:12 PM on October 13, 2011

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