K.W. asks from Lenexa, KS on November 20, 2008
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
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!
N.H. answers from Kansas City on November 24, 2008
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.
M.E. answers from St. Louis on November 21, 2008
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.
E.W. answers from St. Louis on November 21, 2008
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.
T.Z. answers from Topeka on November 21, 2008
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
E.D. answers from St. Louis on November 21, 2008
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
K.K. answers from St. Louis on November 21, 2008
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
J.Q. answers from Kansas City on November 21, 2008
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
J.M. answers from Topeka on November 21, 2008
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
D.L. answers from Topeka on November 21, 2008
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.
A.A. answers from St. Louis on November 22, 2008
I am the mother of a 3 1/2 year old and a 2 year old. My son, the older child, was breastfed for 3-4 four months and he was a great sleeper. We really lucked out with him somehow. So, to answer your first question, no it is not unrealistic to expect a breastfed baby to sleep for long amounts of time over night. He slept for 6-7 hour stretches. We never woke him up to feed. We did a pretty consistent nighttime routine and I had a CD that played sounds of the ocean that seemed to soothe him. I also swaddled for months. Both my children eventually let me know they were tired of being swaddled because they would break out of the blanket. Also, we pretty well lived by the rule that if the baby has been awake for two hours it is time for a nap (this was from the book "healthy sleep habits, happy child"-that book was helpful). Good luck, and I hope this helps.
M.B. answers from Kansas City on November 21, 2008
First of all, doctors are for medical advice, parents are for parenting. You have a lot of advice here, you came to the right place, but ultimately this decision rests only with you and your family.
I have a two year old and a ten month old and no one has ever cried it out at our house. I believe a breastfed four month old who is gaining weight like your boy probably needs that night feeding. You said in you number 1, "even though he is breastfed," it's formula babies that sleep longer.... breastfed babies are more likely to get up at night.
From my personal research, and some of the support I've gotten on this community, my husband and I have decided to let our babies be babies. The notion of crying it out is uniquely American and relatively new. A four month old is only a four month old - heck, he spent more time in your tummy than he has outside of it! It makes sense he wants some snuggles and to be held close in the middle of the night. However, as I said, you need to decide what you and your family feel is the right decision and you came to the right place to get all kinds of answers from mommies and they are the real experts!