46 answers

Cry It Out Vs. "No-cry" Solutions

I have a little boy who just turned 4 months old and he is definitely not the best of sleepers. I need some advice about the different methods out there. My little guy has almost doubled his birth weight (he's 17 pounds) and he is breastfed. At first, I was totally against the cry it out method. We've tried the "no-cry" sleep solution, baby whisperer, and several of the Dr. Sears books with no success. We've had 3 nights in the four months of his life when he only woke up once to eat. Our doctor said it is okay to let him cry it out (cold turkey) but I'm not sure how I feel about this. However, I am feeling a little desperate. Here are my specific questions...
1. Is it unrealistic of me to expect him to sleep for a long amount of time over night even though he is breastfed?
2. Has anyone had success with "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child"?
3. We have had to swaddle him from day one but I'm afraid that because we still swaddle him, he will never learn to use his hands to self-soothe. If we do CIO, should we leave him unswaddled and just let him figure it out?

Any advice would be much appreciated!

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Now it's not a question of whether or not to let him cry it out. I am no longer breastfeeding him and I am getting pretty desperate. I am consistent to a fault with our bedtime routine. I feel like when people say they let their child cry it out it only took 3 nights but I need more specifics. I almost feel like we need a step by step guide for how to let him cry it out. What happens if he then wakes up again in the middle of the night? Do we let him cry all over again? How long does this go on? What if he needs to be changed? What if he's gassy? What if he's teething? What if what if... I really don't think he needs to eat in the middle of the night anymore. Help!

Featured Answers

I highly reccommend "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". I learned so much about sleep which helped greatly in teaching my daughter to sleep. You'll probably be amazed at all the misconceptions we have about sleep.

I had great success with Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I felt like it helped me get through this stage. I was at my wits end and the doctor told me to wait until 4 month to try sleep training. My daughter would not sleep well at all. We followed the cry it out at 4 months and it took 4 nights and she was sleeping! We also had to swaddle her until almost 5 months. I tried to unswaddle her, but anytime her hands would get near her face it would wake her up. Once she started breaking out of the swaddle on her own, she was ready to sleep without it and did pretty well. I was also breastfeeding. What I did to see if she was waking up from hunger or just waking up is that I would get up with her and try to rock her back to sleep. When she did this 3 nights in a row, I knew she wasn't hungry. Good luck! There are many of us out there in the same situation.

I love Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. He discusses both methods and gives pointers on both. He also lets you know that sleeping through the night is NOT a hunger issue, it's a developmental phase in the brain. Younger babies just physically can't sleep through the night yet. There are a lot of people who will tell you that cry it out is cruel and I think it is up to you what you want to do. There are plenty of people that are on both sides of the fence. I did use the cry it out, but really it was only for a couple of days and that was it. Read the book, I think he has a lot of great ideas and he explains the entire baby sleep process well. He also has a section on sleep problems when they get older and sleeping charts for babies to adult.

More Answers

Please don't let him cry, if he's crying at 4 months old, he needs something; whether it's food, a change or just comfort he needs something. All babies are different and some sleep better than others, but Dr. Sears' info on baby sleep patterns is very illuminating and tells us babies aren't really ready to sleep through the night so early. Somehow we as a parenting society have developed some expectations for our babies that just aren't really in line with their development and needs. Also their sleep patterns change frequently, just when you think you've got things sorted out they change again! It can be frustrating, but remember you can't spoil a baby, so if he's crying he needs you. If someone stops responding to his cries, he'll eventually realize no one is going to respond to his needs and this can really hurt his ability to form attachments to people, if he gives up after crying it out, it isn't a good thing at this age it's a realization that no one is going to help him. The important thing is don't do anything you aren't comfortable with instinctually as a mother, no matter who tell you otherwise. When your baby cries, he needs you and you as a mother you feel the need to comfort him, we're given these instincts for a reason, if we had no one to give us advice or help, we would still know we need to comfort and care for our babies. For thousands of years mothers have been parenting and nursing their children through the night and every child is different on how long and when and how often they sleep through the night. There is a lot of great information on nighttime parenting at Dr. Sears' website and maybe you can look up some specifics about what realistic expectations are for babies sleep habits. Honestly, enjoy and cherish your bonding time, day or night, so soon they get busy and you'll be wishing you had some of that wonderful snuggle time back!

1 mom found this helpful

My understanding from everything that I've read is that "sleeping through the night" for a baby is about 5 hours. I also know that babies need to eat at night and each baby is different. My daughter was genuinely hungry about 3 or 4 times a night (ie 7pm - 7am) for at least six months. The best thing you can do is feed your little guy when he's hungry. Remember babies have tiny stomachs so they eat more often. There's also no consensus on any weight milestone that says a baby should be able to sleep all night. I don't think that swaddling is a problem particularly at four months. It helps him feel secure and he will eventually learn to soothe himself. My daughter is almost three now and she sleeps pretty well almost every night...In the grand scheme of things a part of me misses the nights when she needed me so much and we spent dim hours snuggling together. They do grow up and grow out of it...Each child just has their own timeline for doing so.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,
Best advice a person can get: if it doesn't feel right, don't do it - stick with your intuition. You have to do what feels right to you.

The cry it out method was made famous by Dr. Ferber and the method is often referred to as Ferberize or Ferberizing. Interestingly enough, Dr. Ferber has changed his thoughts on his first landmark book and softened it a lot. http://www.childrenshospital.org/views/june06/sleep.html

Here's how I feel: A baby depends on you for everything. Their way of communicating is crying. If you ignore them, think how helpless they must feel. If you can't tell, I failed at CIO, I don't have the heart. I was desperate once too and I tried a little of the crying it out and suddenly realized that it was devastating to me to not respond to my child. That was my ephiphony.

Sleep schedules make a huge differance. Different babies just have different sleep patterns. I think if you have 5, they are all different.

Jane Pantley's No-Cry Sleep solution seems like a nicer touch.

Good luck to you, and at the end of the day, no matter what book says what, if it doesn't feel right to you - don't do it.

Hang in there! They grow quickly and once you get one phase figured out - poof - they are on to the next!

Oh, and when my daughter was 4, she asked a question that I still ponder: "I'm the littlest one here, how come I have to sleep by myself and you guys get to share your bed? It's not fair."

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.-
I would highly recommend reading these two books:

Sweet Dreams-A Pediatrician's Secrets for your Child's Good Night's Sleep by Paul M. Fleiss
Nighttime Parenting-How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep by William Sears, MD

I know you said you read some Dr. Sear's books, if you have read the ones I mentioned above you would understand what babies sleep patterns are really like and can be realistic about that (especially breastfeed babies). Too many people are not educated about babies true sleep patterns and how they differ from adults. I have three children and breastfeed them all and co-slept. I can say that none of mine ever really slept through the night until they stopped nursing. I did not have a problem with this as I knew they would up grow fast. I guess I don't understand why people are so willing to let their babies cry. The person who mentioned that the baby is in the womb longer than he has been alive is correct. They were comforted for nine months in the womb and still need to be comforted now.
Just enjoy your baby---they grow fast!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.. This is just my own opinion as a mother who breastfed her daughter, but if it's not dragging you down utterly, why not just continue to feed him in the night? He's still in the process of learning he can count on you to meet his needs, building up trust in you and in people in general. It's certainly not uncommon for a four month old to awaken at night. When you start solid foods, he should sleep more soundly.

1 mom found this helpful

I think it is unrealistic to expect him to sleep longer. My son was still waking up once a night at 5 years old. Consider yourself lucky, at 4 months old he was getting up 4 times a night. We discovered later that he has a high metabolism and gets hungry every couple of hours, still does. If you are trying different things then possibly the "unknown" might be making him cry.

Good luck,

Have you started feeding your son rice cereal? Give him a few teaspoons of that before your bedtime nursing and it should help keep his tummy full for longer periods of time. I swaddled my son from the beginning and he just outgrew it on his own and has been able to self-soothe himself back to sleep (no binky either) since he was about 3 months old. We still have relapses of him getting up at night (sometimes because he's sick or because he pulled his blanket off and got cold) and it turns into a habit. It usually only takes one night to let him cry it out and we're back in "good" habits of him going back to sleep on his own. You know your child best so whenever you think its time to go in and soothe him, do it, but if you really want to use CIO, you can't be afraid of hearing the crying for a night or two.

I am going through this same situation, although mine is alot older. I have this same conversation with my doctor every time I visit. One thing that he said, that I think of now and then, is that it is very confusing to a baby when you change things up. Mine wakes up many times to nurse back to sleep. If I were to not allow that, and just let him cry, I think it would be really hard on everyone - especially him. That's why I have stuck it out, co-sleeping and getting some rest during the day when I can (not always). This second baby has a very strong will, and fighting it in the middle of the night is not my idea of good timing.
My first baby, however, was a different story. At 3 or 4 months, he started spacing out feedings at night - from every 2, to every 3 and then 4 hours. Eventually it was just once/night at around 6 months... I think. If you are seeing that trend, and your baby is gaining weight well, I think you'll be fine if you are patient. Just remember to take care of yourself, pamper yourself a little bit extra since you are doing a little extra for your baby. That seems to help with my state of mind too...

Just my two (or more) cents.

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