Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The sleeping situation at night - or rather, the NOT sleeping situation at night - is getting a little ridiculous in our house. We have gone from a baby some impressively long stretches, to one who can barely make it four hours.

I'm practically positive that he is not waking up to eat. The Little Guy is not so little. He could live for weeks in the wild off the fat on his thigh (hmm, must get that from me..). Not only that, but I can usually soothe him back to sleep in about 10 minutes or so. But then, of course, I'M up. And it takes far longer than 10 minutes for ME to get back to sleep.

I generally feed him cereal around 6pm or so, and then breastfeed somewhere between 7:30 and 8pm, after I've finally convinced the Boy to stay in his bed. The Little Guy is waking up at around 11:30pm. I don't think that he's all that hungry, but since I'm often awake, I will feed him in the hopes that he will sleep "through the night". Ha.

On a "good" night, he then won't wake up until about 4:30am. I get up and soothe him back to sleep. I fall asleep shortly after 5am, and then he wakes up at about 5:30am. I take him into bed with us, eventhough I'd prefer not to because it means that I can't sleep. He might then not wake up till 6 or 6:30am. I finally get up to feed him, although frankly, he doesn't seem all that hungry. He eats, of course. He would eat each time he awoke, if I let him. My getting up at 6am usually wakes up the Boy, and then we are all awake. Fun. Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person?

On a "bad" night, he wakes up at 2:30am, 4:30am, 5:30am and 6:30am. Sometimes I almost wish that he would wake up at 2:30am, because occasionally he will sleep until 5:30am and I have a chance to get back to sleep after getting up with him. If he goes through until 4:30am, then I'm awake for the day from that point on.

I'm afraid to go to sleep too early because it really messes with your sleep patterns to go to sleep for the night, only to wake up an hour later. I also treasure the child-free time at night. I look forward to it all day. It's also really stressful to live your life on tenterhooks, waiting for him to wake up. I could better deal with his erratic nap patterns in the day if I knew that he would at least sleep at night. So to recap, the general pattern is to get to bed somewhere around 12:30am, and up for the day around 4:30am.

It's getting to the point where I'm willing to try just about anything, even the dreaded "cry it out". I have mixed feelings about it. The Boy was a great sleeper. He went through his wakeful periods of course, but we did a miniature version of the cry-it-out with him and it worked. We only did this because we noticed that any time we tried to pick him up, it only made him cry worse than before. So instead, we let him cry and after about ten minutes, he stopped on his own. If he ever cried more than 10 minutes, we would go in and get him.

The Little Guy, though, gets himself worked up to a frenzy. He rarely falls asleep in the stroller or carseat. I've spent many an hour long car ride in the past few weeks listening to him scream louder and longer until I thought he might choke. Somehow, I don't think this bodes well for the cry-it-out approach. I'm at my wit's end, though. Anyone had any luck with it? Anybody really against it? I've overheard women swear up and down that it's the only thing that worked, but maybe their baby's temperament is just fundamentally different than the Little Guy's.

I just know I need to sleep. I don't like myself very much when I'm tired and cranky. I'm not pleasant to be around. And I can't get away from myself. Every time I turn around, there I am.


kgirl said...

I can be a bitch about this issue, so forgive me.

I cannot abide by CIO. I have little respect for that method of 'sleep training.' I hate the term 'sleep training.'

Even Ferber decided that he had been wrong. I swear, that is the truth. He admitted that it was really harsh to let infants cry, alone.

It's not good. Babies cry for a reason, and yes, the need for comfort IS A REASON.

I don't want to be harsh, because I really like you, but I can feel my blood pressure going up. Because you are frustrated is not a good reason to let him cry, especially when you say he can cry for over an hour.

If he's not hungry, TELL YOUR HUSBAND TO GET UP.

You'll be ok. It will pass. We're all tired. You're working yourself into your own frenzy. Just make peace with the fact that he's ONLY 6 months old, and simply not a great sleeper. It will pass.

FWIW, Dove is still up at least 3 times a night. Oh well.

(take it or leave it, there's my opinon. I still really like you.)

daysgoby said...


Son (baby #1) awesome sleeper. Slept through the night the day after he came home from the hospital. (Seriously. Husband and I used to wake up in the night,all new-parent stricken and sure he was dead. And I had MONTHS of Darth Vader dreams from the EXTRA LOUD monitor next to the bed.) Then I looooved having him fall asleep on me. Then he wouldn't fall asleep ANYWHERE ELSE. His naps went to hell and I was fagged out from rocking, rocking, rocking and finally we agreed (trembling!) to try CIO. We agreed to fifteen minutes the first night.

It was horrible. HORRIBLE. But just as I was about to break free from my husband's arms (we were hugging each other on the floor, sure we were breaking the baby) at nine minutes...he stopped. And hiccuped. And cried a little more, but it was a different cry, not the I'm-winding-myself-up-to-scream-louder cry.

And then he slept.
It took three days. And then I could tuck him in at night and leave and he'd just....go to sleep.

Daughter (Baby#2) shit sleeper, has been since birth. (It's the diva in her. :) )CIO didn't work on her to the extent that we could put her down and she'd go to sleep by herself, but continued to wake up at night. But she's 3.5 and still wakes up at night, so I think she's just programmed that way...

Also (sorry - perhaps I should have emailed you instead of making a post-length comment??) why is his day time napping so erratic?

Might be part of the problem.

Good luck, whatever you do - CIO or not is one of the touchiest decisions a parent can make - you'll ALWAYS find someone who LOUDLY disagrees with you.

Mouse said...

We made a conscious decision not to do CIO, but even the rare occasion when we let Scooter cry more than a minute or two, it quickly became apparent that he would only get more worked up. It sounds like you're dealing with something similar.

I don't know that I can be any real help. We co-slept, in part because it meant more sleep for everyone--I could sleep with him in bed, so it really was a solution for us.

One thing that did seem to distract him was the light show and night sounds on our baby monitor. The parent side of the monitor even had a button so that we could set it off from wherever we were.

daysgoby said...

And umm...I didn't see kgirls post until after I wrote mine, so I wasn't picking on her with the LOUDLY comment...

Alpha DogMa said...

Kgirl, I appreciate your candour. But do you see the irony in being anti-CIO AND then admitting your child doesn't sleep through the night? ;)

Here's a question: when you get up with him do you hold him until he is asleep? Or do you put him down in his crib while he is awake? Doing the latter is the 'baby step' toward getting a child to self soothe themselves into dream land.

Personally, I'm all for CIO. I did it with my boys and they are awesome sleepers. I advocate for CIO because I have a very low tolerance for women martyring themselves to motherhood. And because I love my sleep.

If you (being 'you and your husband,' because as Kgirl noted he should be getting up too) are going to try it give yourself a firm time limit (ie two weeks) if you haven't seen an improvement than you'll need to rethink your expectations.

Good luck.

kgirl said...

Alpha - I don't think it's ironic at all - I absolutely do not expect my 5 (or 6 or even 10) month old to sleep through the night. I will happily and freely admit to it, because I see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

What i do expect is that there will be some bad nights. That's motherhood, not martyrdom.

kgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cinnamon gurl said...

The only solution I've found is time, so I have LOTS of sympathy! We didn't do CIO but I don't think it's wrong... just depends on each family. Whatever gets you through the night. I have one friend for whom CIO took 7 weeks with lots of crying every hour all night long and I always figured she EARNED her restful nights after that. My gut was always that it wouldn't work for Swee'pea anyways and I didn't have my friend's commitment.

Plus, I was lucky that I could sleep with him in the bed (though never as well as pre-motherhood), so that's how we got through the night.

I think some kids are just bad sleepers... Swee'pea just slept through the night in his own bed last night for the first time in at least a few weeks. It does get better though as they get older. And your little man is doing way better than Swee'pea was at that age.

Maybe try getting the husband more involved in night wakings? If you're going to nurse, he could at least bring the baby to you and settle him back after?

Good luck! I KNOW how much this sucks!

SciFi Dad said...

I think to a certain extent, at some point all children need to learn how to self-soothe. Whether it is via CIO or some other method, ultimately we as parents need them to develop the skill of falling back asleep when they awaken in the middle of the night.

Our experience was that for the first six months, our daughter was waking every 3 hours all night long, and eventually we concluded that she was not hungry but just in a "bad" habit (I don't mean bad as in misbehaving... I mean it as in it's not good for her - or us - in the long run).

So, uncomfortable with Ferber, we tried our own version of CIO at around 6 months. When my daughter would cry, we let her try to self-soothe in one minute. If she didn't, one of us (usually my wife because she was the greater source of comfort then) would go in and calmly tell her it was time for sleep. Then we'd leave, not having picked her up, but possibly having rubbed her head or her back for a moment. If she continued to cry, we increased the wait by a minute, and then repeated. Eventually, we'd give in if she didn't settle, but most times she did.

It took a few nights, and I actually made a little timer program in Excel for my wife so she could watch it count down and know how much longer the crying would continue. I can email it to you if you're interested.

the dragonfly said...

The first two weeks of the Little Mister's life he cried and cried and cried at night...but we found out it was because I didn't make enough milk, and even though he ate he was hungry.

After that it was easier, but there were rough patches. When he was...I don't know, four months old or so, we decided to let him cry for five minutes after we put him to bed - he didn't abide with being rocked to sleep and then put to bed, he had to be awake. He cried for a minute or two and was asleep. We did this for several nights, and eventually he just went to sleep, no crying. Now he's eleven months old and when it's bed/naptime I just put him to bed. Sometimes he talks for a bit, sometimes he even whines a bit, but he goes to sleep on his own. He hardly ever cries!

That said...I think if we'd had more trouble we would have let him cry it out longer. Ten or fifteen minutes a night for awhile. If you're going to let a baby scream for three hours without doing something that seems a bit harsh to me. But fifteen minutes? My non-professional opinion is there won't be long-term psychological damage. :)

I hope you can find something that works for you and your little one...

womaninawindow said...

My two kids were totally different from each other however, neither slept well. But my son used to fall asleep in a bouncy seat. I remember many nights up with a novel and him at my foot as I gently thumped him with my foot. After a while of thumping (which is what got us another child in the first place) he fell asleep (just like his father...)

Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

So many strong opinions on this one!

I will say that I am completely against CIO. My first was not an issue, as he started sleeping through at 3 months (stopped later, but that's another story).

My second, however, was much different. I will preface this by saying that now, at 19 months he is an AMAZING sleeper. Goes into his bed tired, wakes up happy 11 or 12 hours later, plays in his bed for a bit before calling to come out.

But it took work.

10 months. Every Three Hours. EVERY THREE HOURS. Day and night. He would sleep nowhere but ON ME for the first 3 months of his life. Slept beside me for the next 7. Took until he was 8 or 9 months before he would so much as take a nap in his own bed.

That being said, yes, he did sometimes cry. I learned that there are several types of babies. Some will continue to cry, but some need to cry for a bit to release tension. (Ask Moxie has some great posts on this).

Yes, he probably doesn't NEED to eat. But he didn't get that memo, and thinks he does. I would suggest having daddy tend to him in the night (or any time you don't want to feed him) for a while.

Hang in there. It will get better. (You know that. You know you do, you're just sleep deprived.)

Bea said...

Bub was not the kind of child who was easy to CIO. It wasn't one night of crying for ten minutes and then blissful sleep for ever after. He cried for up to an hour on more than one occasion, and the whole process took a few weeks of three steps forward and two steps back. I am absolutely the bad CIO mom. But here's the thing - I couldn't believe the difference in him once he stopped waking up every hour for his soother. (And yes, it was usually every hour, and all he wanted was the soother popped into his mouth.) He was so much calmer and happier - he was a new baby. It turned out that waking up shrieking four or five times a night wasn't any better for him than it was for me.

The key to making CIO work is to be committed to it, and I think that probably only happens when you've exhausted all the alternatives. If you've been feeding him when he wakes up, try scaling that down one step at a time: from feeding to rocking, from rocking to rubbing his back, etc. In some cases, the waking will stop if he's not getting as much out of it. (That didn't work for Bub, but who knows?) Then you can try coming in at widening intervals if that seems to work better than going cold turkey (coming in just makes some babies madder, but for Pie it was helpful). Sometimes you can work primarily on getting the baby to put himself to sleep in the evening, and once he has that skill down, he'll just naturally start applying it during the night. That didn't work for Bub - I was putting him to bed awake at night and he was falling asleep on his own, but he wasn't able to return to sleep without assistance. I get the impression that's your situation as well, but if it's not you can always try limiting the CIO to the beginning of the night until you see some success there.

I found it helpful to keep a log so I could see the progress. For some babies it really is only one bad night, followed by one not-so-bad night, and then it's done. For Bub it took longer, but if I checked my log I could see that things were steadily getting better.

The bottom line is that sleep is not negotiable. That's not to say that everyone has an inalienable right to 8 unbroken hours per night (ha ha ha ha!), but what you're describing is not a tenable situation. If cosleeping works for you I'm all for it, but I personally could not sleep well with a child in the bed with me. If getting your hubby to do some of the night visits solves your problem all the power to you - but it doesn't sound to me like the situation as it stands right now is in the best interest of anyone in your family. Making a change is the right thing to do.

Beck said...

There is a no-cry sleep method, and I'm a strong believer in that - but at 11 to 12 months, when there's a big cognitive leap forward in the ability to understand object permanence.
You DO need some sleep - have your husband get up with the baby at least once a night, if you don't think he actually needs to nurse. And if you're so exhausted that you think you might die, express some milk during the day and ask your husband to take over all of the nighttime wakings for at least one night while you sleep downstairs and out of earshot. I well remember that fragile, about-to-snap sensation.

Kyla said...

Ooooh, HOT topic, Nomo.

I personally believe that this is one of those issues we should all be cool-headed about because EVERYONE has different experiences. In the blogosphere, we all talk about understanding the plight of other mothers and respecting their choices, but when a topic like this comes up sometimes we forget to do that.

The bottom line is, I don't think there is a right or wrong way to approach it, CIO, co-sleeping, no-cry, whatever. I don't think there is an ALWAYS right and ALWAYS wrong choice. There is a right and wrong choice for your child and your family, and no one can judge that from the outside.

If you are like me, even if your husband gets up with Little Guy, once you hear him, you are awake for a while, still not sleeping. That's the tough part. I'm not sure what to suggest, really. He doesn't sound like much of a self-soother, but maybe you can help teach him that? The first night go in and hold him for a while, then lay him down still awake and pat his back lightly. Then a couple nights later, just pat his back. And slowly reduce the level of interaction to help him learn to quiet and soothe himself?

Not sleeping is hard. And I hope you get some good sleep very soon.

painted maypole said...

oy. no advice, other than lots of caffeine. except I think you're breastfeeding, so that's probably a bad idea. ;) then he REALLY won't sleep.

i tagged you for a meme, since you mentioned you like being tagged (see! I was paying attention!) do it or don't, whatever (but all the cool kids are doing it, and I know you're a cool kid...)

Lindsay said...

I should preface this by saying I'm not officially a mom yet (due in 2 weeks!) so this is mostly theoretical. I read that 'experts' take 'sleeping through the night' for an infant to mean sleeping for 5 hours straight. So according to the 'experts' it sounds like the Little Guy is sleeping through the night, sometimes, not that that's any comfort to you! I just thought it was interesting.

My husband and I are planning to do a modified version of co-sleeping with our little one - he's worried about crushing the baby, so doesn't want him fully in the bed with us. We've got a crib that we've taken one side off of, and placed it right up beside the bed on my side (wedged between the wall and the bed, so it can't move). This way, I can just roll over in the night to comfort or breastfeed and I don't have to get out of bed. We're hoping this solution works for us - we'll see how it goes in practice! My cousin used this arrangement for her two boys and said it worked really well.

I'm not a big fan of the CIO method, especially with little babies. I just think that babies cry for a reason and it's our job (moms AND dads) to figure out the reason and do our best to address it.

I do agree that once kids get old enough to cognitively understand more of what's going on things change - they can express their need more easily, and moms and dads can explain what they need too.

I love my sleep and I'm a little worried about how I'm going to deal with it once the baby comes! It sucks that the car seat/stroller method doesn't work for you - I've heard so often that that's the magic solution! It looks like you're getting a good variety of suggestions in the comments, so hopefully something there makes sense for your situation. I hope you find a solution that works for you.

anymommy said...

Bummer. I'm with you. Mine is nine months old. Up at two an four. Not fun. I love that quiet evening time too.

It's individual - but for kicks, I'm with scifi dad. I decided not to pick up til 6:00, but we took turns with the magic butt pat. It worked for us, but involved a miserable week of butt-patting!

bren j. said...

I think that phrase 'no rest for the weary' originally came from a mom, no? I can't really complain about sleep since the LG has a great schedule...we did the CIO thing at around 4 mos when we transitioned her from our bed to her own room/crib. It only took three nights and we were so frustrated/tired, it was surprisingly easy. I started putting a couple toys (usually rattles) in her crib after the last 'night' feeding so when she woke up again in the morning, she would find a 'surprise' to play with and amuse herself for a while.

Hm. Do you think a CD of white noise would help at all?

Regardless of whether or not this is useful babbling at all, I hope that you and Mr. Earth can figure out a few things to try and eventually find one that works. It has to get better! You can do it!

crazymumma said...

Never did the cry it out. We never were comfortable with it.

I guess basically yeah. I am against it.

But you need to do what is right for you and your family.

cinnamon gurl said...

I want to add that we by necessity tried to get Swee'pea to fall asleep on his own, sometimes when I was at the end of my tether, I'd let him cry for a minute or 5 but none of it ever worked and we were never committed enough to try for longer. I don't consider crying for a minute or two or five really CIO. I felt like we had tried everything before I accepted that it wasn't going to change and settled on the sling for naps and cosleeping at night. If I hadn't been able to cosleep, I totally would have CIO because an exhausted mom is no good.

MY friend who spent 7 weeks training her son was at the end of her rope. She couldn't cosleep either, and he was waking every half-hour to an hour all night long. She did all her research in advance (she's a scientist by profession), articulated her time limits and comfort boundaries, and committed. They're all so much better off now.

Alpha DogMa said...

WHOA! You didn't mention your child's age. Sorry. I was aiming for lighthearted banter there. I don't read your blog and when I visited the only mention of a child was the older girl whose photo is in your sidebar. Sorry. Didn't mean to offend you.

Just to recap then, NOMO: CIO. Give it a shot. It worked for us.

kittenpie said...

I think this depends on the kid, and I think parents know if it's okay or not. My mom did it with my sister, and it was okay. With Pumpkinpie, I copuld tell from her cries that it wasn't just fussing, and it wasn't okay with me, so I didn't do it. That said, she wasn't a great sleeper until about ten months, so I tried that time because I was nearly psycho from lack of sleep.

I did start going to bed earlier in the evenings and having Misterpie do the first waking or two until about 12:30, so I could get a couple of hours uninterrupted, but that's easier when you can give milk in a bottle, and I'm not sure if your little guy will take it that way or not?

One thing I'm planning for the new nursery that I hope will help is a bed in there for me, so that if he's willing, I can do what sometimes worked with Pumpkinpie - sleeping near to but not WITH him. For her, I had a futon on the floor, which was less comfy, hence the bed!

So my answer? I might try it, but be willing not to if it doesn't seem right to you. Barring all else, it will pass some day... in a couple more months, anyhow.

motherbumper said...

Oh my, I feel for you - Bumper sounds like The Little Guy. She worked herself up into such a frenzy that the few times we tried CIO it was painful for all involved (we were desperate and even though CIO went against what we felt was right, we gave it a try hoping for a miracle - ummmm we didn't get it). One thing that has kept me sane (take THAT for what it's worth) is reminding myself that SB is one of those freaks that doesn't need more than 6 hours sleep - me? I like 10 if I can get it. So reminding myself that she probably has her dad's genes has kept me from... I dunno, leaving her at the police station. She now sleeps a full 11-12 hours a night (has for about a year now) so long of short: there is light at the end of the tunnel. Oh yes, and we coslept at the hardest point (@6mths) and that helped a LOT.

Anonymous said...

We tried the cio method when Samantha was 9 mths, I couldn't do it. So we carried on with the rocking and cuddling until she fell asleep. And she did fall asleep for long stretches eventually. She's almost 3 now and I still read to her at night until she falls asleep, sure I'm tired at times, and it drives me crazy but I do it, albeit complaining sometimes, because she's only little once.

Long comment I know, helpful don't know but do what you feel is right in your heart. This time will pass eventually. Hang in there.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

cio only makes everybody crazy. I have a stupid question. Is this baby sleeping too much during the day? Maybe it is time for a naptime change?

Haley-O said...

We pretty much have the same life right now!!! I'm tired and cranky all the time now due to the lack of sleep. And, I can barely have an evening anymore because my almost-3-yr-old won't go to bed like she used to.

The baby's up just like yours is with the same explosive, grating cry. I'm at the end of my rope, too....

I guess there's only one thing to do? Be there for each other! :) HUGS!!!

Phyl said...

My heart aches for you. These are such trying times. I, too, ended up exhausted with two of my four. My youngest needed white noise...I noticed that when his bassinet was in the kitchen and I did laundry, he slept like an angel.

Praying for you...Hugs...

blah, blah, blog said...

For some practical advice, you may want to turn to Elizabeth Pantley's 'No Cry Sleep Solution'. Pantley developed her approach in response to the two extreme models regarding baby slumber--cry it out or suck it up. It's comprehensive and time consuming (there really are no quick fixes here) but even just adopting a couple of her strategies have improved things for us.

Ferberizing can be successful, but unfortunately only for a minority of babies (hence Ferber's own admission that the approach is not for every baby). And often parents find that any disruption in the daily routine (teething, illness, missed nap, etc.) means having to start from scratch again.

Some parents have even found it made the situation even worse as their child then developed anxieties around sleeping.

I think many parents can intuit ahead of time whether their child is going to respond well or not.

It's interesting to note that, depending on the study you read, North American parents report that anywhere from 60 - 72 % of their children under 5 have chronic sleep 'problems' (the foremost being waking in the night). Clearly in the majority, at what point should this 'problem' be seen as a norm?

blah, blah, blog said...

For some practical advice, you may want to turn to Elizabeth Pantley's 'No Cry Sleep Solution'. Pantley developed her approach in response to the two extreme models regarding baby slumber--cry it out or suck it up. It's comprehensive and time consuming (there really are no quick fixes here) but even just adopting a couple of her strategies have improved things for us.

Ferberizing can be successful, but unfortunately only for a minority of babies (hence Ferber's own admission that the approach is not for every baby). And often parents find that any disruption in the daily routine (teething, illness, missed nap, etc.) means having to start from scratch again.

Some parents have even found it made the situation even worse as their child then developed anxieties around sleeping.

I think many parents can intuit ahead of time whether their child is going to respond well or not.

It's interesting to note that, depending on the study you read, North American parents report that anywhere from 60 - 72 % of their children under 5 have chronic sleep 'problems' (the foremost being waking in the night). Clearly in the majority, at what point should this 'problem' be seen as a norm?

Mud Mama said...

Baby #1 freaky autistic sleeper - no sleeper - deep sleeper - night terrors ... you get the picture. Family bed except during the year he was afraid of windows and slept in the hallway in a nest of blankets.

Baby #2 Could not sleep without physically touching me for 2 years but I was good with the nursing I barely woke up for it.

Baby #3 awesome sleeper - through the night by 6 months and liked his own bed - go figure!

Baby #4 almost 8 months and he is the worst sleeper! O. M. G. I`ve tried keeping him in the family bed tried keeping him in the crib by the bed. Tried leaving, but CIO is just wrong, it is, there`s a reason I feel like vomitting when he cries. It is instinctive. I have no problem wiping bloody noses, dealing with dislocated elbows and broken collar bones in infants, but that nighttime cry is there for a reason. Primal monkey boy thinks a lion is going to eat him...who knows! But for some reason of personality he just needs a lot of nighttime parenting. It is past my bedtime now - and thats how I cope I go to bed when he does at 9pm (please God!) or 11pm, whenever it happens.