crying it out: one week in

30 June 2011

disclaimer: this will probably bore everyone that ventures to read in it's entirety to tears and then death and will make any seasoned mother roll her eyes at how much thought, anxiety and anxiety and anxiety went into this whole shebangy ... be forewarned

I'm typing this out mainly so that when the next baby becomes a little night and nap tyrant I will remember how horrible it doesn't have to be...

short versh: she cried a lot, I almost cried a lot, it got a lot better, her sleep to awake hours ratio went from 1:1 to 2:1, happy bebe and happy ma regime now reign supreme

long versh: (grab your morning coffee, five hour energy and evening tea for the ride)

the why: It wasn't the bi-hourly wake up for the four comfort sips of bottle and replacement of pacifier that made me want to drink ugly amounts of something potent every night, it was the ridic nap and bedtime routine. It went a little something like this: I would pray that Julia was tired (at nap and bedtime), take her into her room, rock and feed her a bottle until her eyelids were heavy, replace the bottle with her pacifier and v-e-r-r-r-r-r-r--r-y gingerly try to lay her in her crib with her blanket just so against her cheek and pray she would stay asleep. Occasionally it would work but usually as I was walking out...she would wake up and cry and I would repeat the rock and feed over and over and over and over. Sometimes I would just give up and her naps would be postponed or canceled for that morning or afternoon OR if it was bedtime...she would just stay up until 10 or 11 with me and Simon. My days were completely unpredictable and scheduling anything was next to impossible because there was no way of knowing if Julia would be sleeping, too tired to function and refusing to sleep or happily awake. I was also starting to selfishly crave a littttle bit of quiet in the evenings to read or chat with Simon or you know...weave a basket and I began to bang my head against the wall at every failed attempt to put her peacefully down each and every night. During the day, I would try and tire her out with trips to the park, pool, grocery store or liquor store which worked sometimes but there was never a surefire way to get Julia to just go down and take a nap or go to bed for the night. She had been sleeping through the night before we moved but ever since she was moved from her portacrib to a normal baby crib she began waking up pretty consistently every two hours...sometimes every five minutes which was tolerable but not pleasant and made for a grumpy grace. I was super, super, duper, duper opposed to letting her cry it out...I just couldn't bear the thought of voluntarily letting her be so upset but something had to change.

the how: the final fat and ugly straws that broke all humps on the herd of camels' backs last week were on Tuesday and Wednesday nights when Julia refused to go to sleep after repeated efforts by myself and Simon. I actually did bang my head against her bedroom wall and our bathroom wall as I prayed for one more iota of patience with the little monster. As soon as she finally, finally, finally fell asleep both nights...I collapsed into bed, all but cried myself to sleep out of frustration only to be awakened a mere 45 minutes later by princess J beckoning for her comfort sips and pacifier. I was becoming a huge b during the day due to the series of little naps I was getting at night and at how little control I had over the situation. So...on Thursday I randomly decided to let her cry it out for a few minutes. I did the whole bath, bottle, rock, bed routine and she cried...and cried... and cried...and cried. I clutched my phone as I watched the minutes tick by, dabbed my anxiety ridden brow and eventually looked up the Ferber method online which said to go in and comfort her every 5 then 10 then 15 minutes which I did but it seemed to just give her false hope that I would be gallivanting in on my steed to save her.  I think she finally went to sleep after 30ish minutes. I still went in whenever she woke up throughout the night to give her bottle and pacifier because I felt so guilty about letting her cry herself to sleep initially. On Friday I did the same thing with the periodic comforting and it took a total of 25 minutes for her to fall asleep and I did go in again throughout the night when Julia requested. I enlisted the advice of some veteran moms who swore by the straight up cry it out routine with no checks at all...all night. I tried it over the weekend and this past week. The first night she cried for 20 minutes and then woke up every two hours and it was so hard not to go in and comfort her but she shocked me by falling back to sleep after fewer than 5 minutes each time she woke up. The next night she only cried for 15 minutes and then woke up twice and has since only woken up once a night for a total of three fussy minutes. She has been staying steady with 12-15 minutes of crying before falling asleep but last night she went to bed (weirdly) happily with zero crying. Her naptime cries have been whittled down to a mere three to seven minutes before she settles down to a solid two hour nap if she even bothers to cry at all. There were a couple of nights that we were out (getting c-r-a-z-z-z-y I'm sure) and she fell asleep in the car seat but made an easy transition into her crib. 

the good: (I'll admit that I will probably be singing the successes' praises a little too loudly and maybe this whole thing has just been a flukey farce)...My initial anxiety (which was miserable and almost worse than the marathon bedtime routines) over approaching nap and bedtimes knowing Julia would have to have a cry session has all but disappeared. Of course I don't like listening to her cry and maybe I am making this up in my head but her cry is more of a, "I need to calm down and go to sleep" cry rather than a, "I hate you mom I hate you dad I hate my life I hate hate hate everything" cry (which is exactly what it sounded like the first two nights...serio). She wakes up in a much better mood and doesn't want her bottle right away when she wakes up and is content to play a little bit in her crib before I come and get her (this has n-e-e-e-e-e-v-v-v-v-e--e-e-e-r happened before). She gets visibly fussy and tired exactly two hours after she wakes up in the morning and is clearly ready to nap and then again 2.5-3 hours after she wakes up from her morning nap she is ready for her afternoon nap and then about 3.5-4 hours after her afternoon nap she is ready for bed! Knowing when she will go down and stay down is so, so, so nice.  She also doesn't require a pacifier to fall asleep anymore which means that her pacifier no longer needs to be clipped to her person 24/7...which is nice and makes for less bullying on the playground from her peers.

the good 2.0: Julia hates her car seat and driving anywhere alone with her is usually avoided which has turned me into an unhealthy hermit. Whenever Simon and I drive anywhere together I always sit in back with her to entertain her whims and keep the tantrums to a minimum which drives me nuts and makes me carsick and cranky and caustic after especially long trips. Since she has been crying it out...she has magically fussed for a little bit in the car and then calms down and decides to entertain herself....even while I'm in the front seat with Simon like a normal adult. Pure coincidence? perhaps but I'll give the crying the blame and credit.

the bad: Let me say that I felt realllllly guilty while Julia cried and kicked and cried. I didn't want to go outside because then I felt guilty for not listening to her but the listening to her was torturous. Simon isn't bothered as much by the crying and was nice enough to stay inside and listen while she fell asleep if I needed to go sit outside for a little bit. She now flips over and prefers to sleep on her stomach which is fine but I made the mistake of Googling "SIDS" the other night and (only because I am a good mother and not a looooon)...

(playing possum)

I am now petrified that she is going to bury her face in her mattress and stop breathing. For the first few nights that she cried in the middle of the night I would wake up and listen...then go in and make sure she was still breathing. I am now enjoying my sleep so much that I haven't even been doing that after she has her one wake up....bad, heartless mother. 

in conclusion: totally worth it. My days are much more pleasant and regimented, my teeth are whiter, my hair is glossier and my smile is brighter. I only wish I had done it sooner to save Simon from my daily, nasty, exhausted and frustrated moods. Julia is sleeping a total of almost 12 hours at night whereas before she was sleeping about 8 or 9 on a really good night.

I can't believe I just typed a novella about the sleep habits of a nine month old. Next thing you know I'm going to be listing her favorite table foods for you as they are introduced (hot salsa and salty margaritas are the most recent and most favored) and giving you her growth stats (110% across the board).

 Cruella and her poor, spotless Dalmatian

Hopefully tomorrow brings a little more'll just have to wait and seeeee. 

Jace or Grulia


  1. awesome. i cant wait to try it on my future babies. you have sealed the deal for me.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I am a huuuuuuge believer in letting them CIO. I nannied this really difficult baby girl while I was pregnant with #2 and made her CIO at naptimes at my house and her parents thought I was a miracle worker because suddenly she slept at night and was pleasant to be around. It's a miracle worker, I say.

  4. I went through the same thing with my older daughter - she was in the habit of nursing to sleep, but woke up so much at night and her naps were about 20 minutes long. Its really about letting them learn how to soothe themselves to sleep - and boy, was it a life saver!! After a week, she was a changed baby, and I was a much, much happier mom!

  5. That is awesome! I bet that is a huuuge relief! :o) However, Ben and I don't think that it was the crying it out that worked. We think that it is Lucy and her one-eyed magic ;o)

  6. I read somewhere (I forget where, now, probably on a blog that linked to a blog that linked to a parenting site) that most children can be classified as "stress reducers" (i.e. crying helps calm them down, i.e. reduce their stress thus enabling them to fall asleep) or "stress increasers" (crying winds them up and generally CIO won't work). Two of my children are stress reducers, as am I, and it is tremendously helpful (as well as guilt-relieving) to know that letting them cry it out is actually *helpful* and *doing them a favour*!

    My other child, the stress increaser, could not cry it out, but he liked to be swaddled, so fortunately it wasn't too awful.

  7. Hi Grace,
    I am Maria Niewald's sister-on-law. We have six littles in our home and the only that has worked to get all of them to sleep is CIO. They just develop habits that really stink and need to be broken. Pesky little creatures :). Them needing to fuss a bit is our equivalent to flopping around the bed a couple times to get comfortable. My mom refers to as "going for a jog." She'd say to me, "Honey, they just need to jog a bit." So hard to let them CIO, but with each successive child, I always know when it is time. I remember listening to our second cry for 4 (yes FOUR) hours the first time. Screech on the chalkboard. God Bless.

  8. I am soooo glad to hear this worked for you! I am going to have to give it a whirl... I am one more 2.5 hours of sleep at night away from faking amnesia and wandering out of state, never to return.

  9. so this is me right now. Except for the part where I actually implement the crying it out. Although I am SOOOO ready to do it, part of my heart still vomits at the thought. But, we are literally doing the up every hour all night long thing; and it's not working for anyone. Especially with another baby on the way, something needs to change. You have given me great hope!

  10. aaaaaaaaaaahhhh. LOL. "trips to the liquor store". this is phenomenal. i am SO glad you told me to read this.

    cheers, cheers & some more cheers.

  11. Just found your blog and have to say that you are a WONDERFUL blogger! Regarding sleep and crying it out, have you read the book, "Babywise"? We have 4 kids, for the most part well behaved, happy people and baby-hood was BLISS! Yes, it was messy and tiring and required a lot of patience, but they all slept 12 hours/night starting anywhere from 8 weeks to 3 mo and are still good sleepers now at ages 13 down to 6. The routine worked PERFECTLY and allowed me to plan my day very effectively. Other friends raved about it and we all had great sleepers. There seems to be controversy about it, but we know many families who have used it effectively, with wonderful children as a result. FYI - from one person who loves being a mom to another.

  12. Older post, but I am losing my mind over the same situation. I dont want to do the CIO method, but holy crap, I am going insane. Was Julia a "high-needs" baby? My son is supppper high needs. I'm worried CIO won't work.

  13. Piggybacking on Kaitlin's comment from 2014. Little Zoe is the same and after your last post mentioning being able to talk about baby sleep for ages, I decided to do a little ol' blog search. We tried a Ferberish method of CIO a few weeks ago and it got her to sleep without us bouncing her which was a lifesaver for my husband...but she is still waking up every few hours (or more often!) at night and I'm going crazy. I've gone back and forth between bringing her back into bed with me, letting her cry, thinking maybe she's too young still (5 months) or maybe she's too high need and this would ruin her...I don't know. We don't know. As first time parents we are questioning everything we do but goodness I would love to sleep some longer stretches at night. Not even all the way through! Just longer than 1-2 hours. Anyways, thanks for writing this post back in the day!

  14. Hey Grace - appreciated reading this as we just sleep trained our first - but I can't wrap my mind around how to handle it with number two three and four, etc, assuming our family grows. And, given how much I hated CIO, am hoping to start better habits with the next one. Could you write a post on how you handle so many little ones with sleep? Have you had to sleep train all of them?



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