Parental Guidance Recommended

Pregnancy and parenting for the perplexed

Sleep training/teaching to sleep/cry it out

Well, I never wanted to be in this position, but last week we did it. I was mainlining caffeine, basically a shambling zombie mother, up 4-5-6 times in the night feeding the baby to sleep because Nothing. Else. Worked. Misery.

I’ve read a lot on other blogs and in books and stuff about sleep training, teaching to sleep, no-cry (or PickUpPutDown, which sounds like a lame kids’ dance), and of course the dreaded cry it out or CIO to those in the know. I knew about strong sleep cues for bed, I knew about the pitfalls of relying on pacifiers, timed mobiles, rocking, nursing, patting, shushing, and all that jazz. And yet, still, here we were at 7 months old with a child that had changed from sleeping through the night to waking like a maniac, totally dependent on boob for bed.

We strategized thusly:

  1. stronger sleep-time cues. This included switching back from oh-so-convenient having a shower with a parent before bed, to baby-in-the-baby-bath before bed. She can shower with us during the day if she gets in a right state, but not before bed.
  2. saying night night to the cats, the highchair, the plants, mama, dada, and turning off the lights in the house. We call this “doing little jobs” and she really focuses on them. They’re low-energy, low-impact, and pretty much the same every day.
  3. once she’s in the cot, leave within 30 seconds. So, any songs, and stories, any cuddles are Before Bed. Bed is bed, is pretty much the message we want here.
  4. don’t go back in. This was, of course, the hardest. Our bub tends to amp up when she sees us. She thinks it’s time to play or cuddle or eat or whatever. So going in was going to make it worse, we thought (we were right).

I was speaking just now to another first time mum in SG, whose daughter is just a little older than mine, and this is the message I sent. By no means am I trying to say this will work for everyone, but it’s so important not to feel alone. I noticed that the mister and I endured the crying in our own little tight bubbles of misery that first night. The Wirst Night. So my advice is do it together. Or one of you go to the pub and come back when the coast is clear. It’s hard, but it got better for us real quick.


I am in such such sympathy with you on this by the way. Things were getting worse not better for us. I’m not sure what your situation is, but just to give you our background.
We do bedtime around 7-7.30, preceded by boob, dinner, bath, story (all starting around 5.45). I had been in the habit of dreamfeeding Bea since she was tiny at around 10.30 or 11pm, and up until about 4 or so months old that was working a treat. Some morning wakings, but not all the time, and rarely more than 2.
Well things started going downhill during her 4 month sleep regression. I began nursing her to sleep because it worked, and over time she was waking more and more often, needing nursing each time, until about 2 weeks ago which was the worst of all – 8.30, 9.30, 10.30, then around 2, 4am as well. Awful.
Anyway that’s just so you have the background, like I say I don’t know what you guys do but for us this was simply killer, especially because Bea doesn’t really take a bottle.
So. Night one we resolved to leave her to cry (which I know I should say is self-settling). She cried for about 10 mins after being put to bed – pretty normal. Woke around 8.15, left her, she fell asleep herself within about 20 mins. Woke again at around 9, cried SOLIDLY until about 10.45 or 11. It was The Worst Ever. Really screaming, bellowing, crying. I started going in every 20 or 30 mins to try to reassure her and it made it worse, she was crying and looking at me like “why won’t you pick me up, mama!?”
I nearly gave up. I was so close to just going in and feeding her, I couldn’t stand the hoarse voice from the crying and I felt so awful. She fell asleep just as I was going to. Woke again around 3am, cried for about an hour (equally awful but I was so groggy I sort of didn’t care?). Slept until 8am after that.
Night 2, she went down and stayed down until morning (except for normal 10 mins fussing after being put down). I dreamfed her at 10.30 (she slept through it).
Night 3, she woke at 10pm and I waited and waited for her to fall asleep so I could dreamfeed. I knew feeding her when she was awake would undo this work. I did it anyway because by 11.30 I was dead on my feet. She screamed for about 2 hours at around 2am. Awful. I resolved not to ever dreamfeed her unless she was actually sleeping! Otherwise (I think) it’s reinforcing exactly what we’re trying to stop.
Night 4, she slept through. Woke maybe 2 times with less than 10 mins fussing, put herself back to sleep. Night 5, she slept through. Night 6, she slept through.
I’m not going to presume to say this will work for everyone! But it might work for you. If it does, then great. I’d recommend not being in the house if Bonnie screaming and screaming makes you really upset and cry (it was horrible for me, I should’ve just gone to the pub). You have to both be on the same page as to what you’re doing. For us, that meant no checks. No nappy changes. No feeding. No anything. Just let her cry. For some other people it’s check with reassuring words (less than 15 second visits) at increasing intervals. For us that made Bea crazy, but for some babies I know it works.
That’s our story. So far so good.
Please let me know how you go and if I can do anything — it’s so lonely and fucking awful at 2am when you’re both trying to concentrate on something else, listening to heartbreaking crying. I always want to pick a fight with Adam, but I’ve realised the best thing to do is ask for a hug and admit it’s hard.
Anyway! Sorry for the length!
Much love and solidarity xxx


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This entry was posted on January 14, 2014 by in Routines, Sleeping and tagged , , , , , .
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