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How Long Is Too Long to Cry It Out at Night?

My 11 month old is STILL struggling at sleeping through the night (which I know is my fault for not cracking down earlier & more consistently!). She wakes up at least once in the night and still wants to nurse and mostly cuddle in bed with my husband and myself. :( Last week we decided to put an end to it and let her cry it out. After 5 nights, she is still crying 1-1/2 hours before finally falling back to sleep hoarse and sweaty in her crib. It is so sad, and I just want to make sure that this isn't an excessive amount of crying. I know that my older son "gave up the fight" way sooner when we have to let him cry it out this way. What do you think? and, will it just make it worse if we keep checking in on her during the fit? (we haven't been). My husband and I are sleeping downstairs so that we can sleep through the screaming while she goes through this. I feel like a terrible Mom that I have let it get to this point. Ugh..

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To add my thoughts to the Please don't let your baby cry it out! group: Besides being a mother and grandmother, I am a therapist and have extensively studied and experienced pre- and perinatal psychology. Babies' early experiences are what makes the connections in their brains and wire their brains for a lifetime of either feeling safe and secure in the world or feeling anxious and afraid. I myself have been through many years of therapy because of my upbringing, which included being left to cry it out. I coslept with both of my children, nursing them as often as they needed, until they were ready for their own beds (at about four years old). They are now in their 20s and 30s and are happy wonderful secure loving adults who cosleep with their very happy and secure children.

You obviously care about you children and want to do what is best for them - please trust yourself and ignore the "experts" and other well-meaning people who haven't read any of the latest research. You gave birth to these children - it is your responsibility to meet their needs to the very best of your ability, not only for their sakes but for the sake of your whole family and the entire world, as a happy secure person influences everyone they come in contact with for his or her whole lifetime.

As far as practical matters - it may be good to get a bigger bed. And if you or your husband aren't getting enough sleep, the two of you could go to bed earlier when the children do or sleep during their naps. Or if your husband isn't sleeping well in the family bed, he could sleep somewhere else for a while. And I agree, waking up one or two or three or even four times a night is perfectly normal at this age, so you could consider yourself fortunate that your baby only wakes up once or twice a night.

I think it is wonderful that your daughter is NOT giving up easily and is continuing to let you know what she needs, and that she likes to nurse and cuddle. That shows that she is well attached - so please don't destroy that wonderful attachment by ignoring her cries.

She will probably need some extra care and attention to help her recover from the cry-it-out nights, so that she can feel reassured that you will not abandon her again. I recommend also that you talk with her about it, apologize to her, tell her that you were doing what you thought was right but that you really wanted to come to her when she cried, and that you won't leave her alone again. Also make sure to tell her that it wasn't her fault, you were just doing what other people were telling you was best, but that now you will listen to her and to your own motherly instincts and will meet her needs to the best of your ability. She may need to release some of the trauma by crying - just hold her and listen to her and thank her for letting you know how she feels and let her know you understand and care.

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My son didn't truly begin making through the night until after his second birthday. He was routinely up 1-2 times a night until then. If you are a fan of CIO, then by all means, go that route. I prefer to think long term...they will never be this little again and both my husband and I have very sweet memories of going in to comfort our child and the snuggling and falling asleep together (he slept on a futon on the floor, never a crib) that went along with all of this. Were we tired? Of course. Did it pass? Yes, he now sleeps like a champ unless he is sick, needs the bathroom, etc. I am an elementary school teacher and still hear about children up at night due to nightmares, can't put the book away, etc. My point is that there is no holy grail of nighttime sleep...children are always in process and to expect them to be otherwise just sets parents up for disappointment. CIO is a short term solution, but you should ask what the trade off is? When you look back on this time 10-20 years from now, do you want to remember laying in bed listening to this new little person wailing through the night or rocking, singing and comforting this little soul back to sleep. I understand tired and how crazy in can make you, but that is when the long term perspective is most important. If you are feeling like a terrible mom, that is a strong sign that this approach is not working for you or your child.

Good luck.

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I have a similar answer on another thread, but on almost any *other* subject most moms will tell you A) to listen to your gut and B) all kids are different. On this one subject, however, many suddenly parrot the "experts" and promote all kinds of CIO, and usually they recommend a one-size-fits-all approach. The fact is that you describe your whole family as feeling really unhappy with this, so maybe it's time to stop. CIO does *not* work for some temperaments, and for many others it only works for a while before having to start all over again.

I think one of the major problems with "cry it out" is that people interpret that in a variety of ways, from shutting the door and walking away cold turkey to a gentler "extinction" method where you check in more often.
But in the name of full disclosure, I agree with those who feel that all it teaches the child is to give up trying to communicate your needs, 'cause mama ain't comin'. It's cruel and unnecessary.

We have not done CIO and you bet, we have paid the price for it--less sleep over the short run--but we sleep a lot better knowing we haven't done that to her. We figure it we can take it for a couple of years until her biorhythms kick in better and/or we can actually explain things to her a bit, instead of leaving a tiny creature alone in a dark room to wonder why that caring parent just won't/can't come. She'll get it down eventually and in the meantime, we have a cheerful, confident, well-adjusted child.

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I have to agree with Peg M.

My now 6 year old is a great sleeper, and has been in her own room since just before she turned 3. She is happy, confident, independent, and up to 3 years old, was a co-sleeper, who night nursed up to 2 years old.

I also have a baby boy the same age as your daughter, and it just saddens me to think of him being left alone in a dark room to cry for an hour and a half. If it feels agonizing to you, imagine how it feels to the baby.

With our children I have not found that responding to their needs has made them manipulative. It has made them secure, confident and independent. They *know* without a doubt that Mom and Dad are there when they need us, because we have shown them that from day one. And we do that by responding to their needs.

An 11 month old baby still needs to know you are there. My baby often has to come "touch base" when he is out exploring his world and learning new things. He just needs a quick 30 second nurse to feel comforted and confident and off he goes again. Nighttime parenting is no different I think.

I get that you are tired. I'm exhausted a lot of the time! But, that's what we signed on for when we had them. And, it doesn't last forever. I know he will eventually sleep on his own, eventually he won't nurse at night anymore, and eventually this tiny blip of time that I get with him to snuggle up to his warm little baby body at night will be over.

I can sleep then :) For now, we're going to work on night weaning from the nursing, but I wouldn't dream of booting him out of bed just yet. I can tell that he is not ready for his own bed. It sounds like your little one isn't either, and she is trying to tell you that.

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If she is still crying, she's probably going through a phase of separation anxiety or something anyway, and CIO will only aggravate the problem and make her really distressed about sleep. A good resource for understanding babies' brain development at this age is the book "The Science of Parenting," (which I will tell you, suggests that based on brain research we know now that prolonged distressed crying does bad things to babies' brains - not crying generally, but prolonged distressed crying, which it sounds like you've got.). If you want some other tools you might try "The Baby Whisperer" books. I found them really helpful, the methods really work, and I didn't have to endure CIO with my child at all. Good luck.

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I wasn't going to respond because I have been having the same issue with my almost 7 month old, but then something worked. Last night, after her crying for over an hour - with my going in and comforting her (rubbing her face, telling her that I love her and it's night-night time) - I took my shirt off and gave it to her. When I would go in to comfort her, she would grab my hair and pull it to her face, and almost go to sleep; so I figured that my shirt would smell like me and maybe comfort her. It worked last night. Within three minutes of my leaving the room after giving her my shirt, she was quiet and drifted off to sleep. I thought that maybe it was a fluke, but tonight she was getting tired again, so I put her in her crib with my shirt and within 10 minutes she was asleep. She didn't really even cry. Long-story short, try giving your son your shirt, or something else that smells like you. Maybe it will help.

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Hi S. - I had to respond.
I co-slept with my son and it was not good. I didn't sleep well, he was constantly on my breast, when we did put him in his own room it was NOT a smooth transition. Some children just have a more stubborn temperment than others. The mother before me obviously has a daughter who is a bit more relaxed than my son or your daughter.
That being said, you MUST stick to your guns now. Because if she is crying and after 1/2 hour you go in and get her or go to her, she has learned that if she cries a long time you will get her. So she will continue to cry. Does she take a sippy? Maybe put one in her bed with water (my son has one), that way she can have something to drink. Also, maybe a buddy or lovie. Something she can comfort herself with. She will NOT remember that she had to teach herself how to go back to sleep in the middle of the night. Do NOT worry that you are scarring her in any way, you are not. On the contrary, she is now learning that she ALONE can comfort herself and doesn't need mom or dad to ALWAYS be there to give her a hug. It is making her stronger. But it's hard. I hate to hear my son cry too (don't we all), but after he learned how to go to sleep (and STAY asleep) we both became happier people.
YOu are not a bad mom, you are helping your daughter. It will get better, L.

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Oh S.!! I was so relieved to read your e-mail and know that someone is going through the exact same thing as me! My daughter is also 11 months and was also having a hard time sleeping at night and at nap time. It kills me, I completly feel like a horrible parent when she cries for a long time. I tried different things...honestly...it really is different for every baby,and what may work for a little while may suddenly change. Don't feel bad at all if your baby has to cry for a while and your at the end of your rope trying to hold on to some sanity for yourself so you can tend to your baby without loosing it! I too think an hour is too long, I have done it actually and it just seemed to work her up even more and when I finally went in there and rocked her she was out, and I just wanted to hold her all night cuz I felt so bad, it's not worth the agony for you and her!! What I ended up doing and works MOST nights/naps and is getting better is more of a gradual thing... I always try to put her in her crib awake and sleepy, we do a night-time routine of a bath, brush teeth, massage and jamma's, then I sing her a lullabye while rocking her, then I gently put her in her crib, give her her lovey and leave. It has got to the point now where she knows what to expect and can put her self to sleep most of the time:) If she does end up crying I let her go for about 5 min, if she needs help I'll rock her again for a few minutes and always back in the crib awake but sleepy, you can't give in if she crys, stay right there and rub her back or sing to her while she's in her crib, telling her she can do it, she's ok and your right here. It was tuff for the first few nights and gradually I did let her cry a little longer before I went in there, just to give her some more time to work it out. Also if she's not screaming, she usually ends up putting herself to sleep but if she's outright screaming for longer than a few minutes the chances of her putting herself to sleep are slim. So I just repeat and repeat until she understands I'm not going to rock her to sleep, I'll be here if she needs me, I'll try to lay her down first and rub her tummy or head and sing to her with my cheek next to her cheek, sometimes thats all she needs to go to sleep other times I have to pick her up and rock her for a bit.

Also a good book I read on sleeping is the Lullababy Sleep Plan, I forgot who the author was, but her basic golden rule was always put your baby in your crib awake, be creative on how you make it work but stick to that 1 rule!! Check it out mabey It'll give you some more insight. I know this is really long and I'm sorry, I just know how it made me feel going through this and you wonder if your doing the right thing, it's horrible!! Also I wanted to say, some of these other advices really make it sound like your doing something wrong to your child that will scare her for life! You obviously sound like a caring mother and I'm sure you show your baby in many ways that you love her and tend to her needs in everyway, don't feel like you doing anything wrong or that your poor baby is going to have abondonment issues because of it! How ridiculous!! We are teachers to our children and I think a lot of it is just teaching her how to have good sleeping habits, so both of you sleep better, how you do that can be just as controversial as any other parenting style. Go with what you feel is the right thing for your family and feel confident it will be right.

Good Luck

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Hang in there mama. I know how tired you are feeling. It is so tough to function as a human being when you aren't getting a full night of sleep.

I personally wasn't comfortable leaving my son to cry more than 5 or 10 minutes at that age. My son finally started sleeping 6-8 hours at a stretch by 16 or 18 months, and he was a TERRIBLE sleeper at 11 months. There is relief in sight! They are only babies for so long. Remember, just because your first child slept through the night by now, that doesn't mean your daughter will. Not every child sleeps through the night by age one (or even two). Nearly every friend of mine still gets up at least once in the night with their 12-month-olds. This is totally normal -- you aren't the only person on the block w/ a nightwaking infant. Studies being done now seem to point to extensive crying as causing permanent changes in baby's brain. http://www.sleepnet.com/infant3/messages/534.html
Don't feel like you are a bad mom for not "training" your child to sleep by now. Not all babies will sleep "train." There are alternatives for the higher need baby -- try reading The No Cry Sleep Solution (by Elizabeth Pantley) or on Dr. Sears' website: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070100.asp They both have great ideas for getting the difficult sleepers to go to sleep and stay asleep.

Anyway, if YOU aren't comfortable hearing your child cry for that amount of time, then it is probably too long. Do what works for you. Don't do this if it isn't what YOU need, and if it isn't worth it for you.

[Also, keep in mind that crying babies often vomit -- my son did several times. I hate to ask, but can you hear her from downstairs? How safe is it to be out of earshot when she's in such a vulnerable state?]

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I didn't read all of the replies so someone may have mentioned this before. We did a modified CIO with our then 9m old because she was waking in the night AFTER having slept through the night for several weeks and she was having trouble falling asleep. What we did was this: have bedtime routine, bottle in her room w/ lights out (only night light), lullaby CD playing and her lovey bear. If she fell asleep on my lap I'd put her down and she would usually stay asleep. If she was not asleep after the bottle, I would kiss her good night, put her in her crib with her lovey and leave. I'd give it 10 minutes of crying until I went back in, then back on my lap with her lovey to fall asleep. If she fell asleep, good. If she wanted to play then back in her crib for another 10 minutes. Rinse, repeat. She would eventually fall asleep in my lap or by herself in her crib, usually after 1 hr. And it wasn't all crying, some of it was WIO (Whine it out). I ONLY went in if she was actually crying, not just whining. I do the same if she wakes in the middle of the night. It only took about a week of this before she finally started whining for maybe 15-20 minutes then falling asleep on her own. It's been over a month since I had to go back in after putting her in bed, and I only have to go in for middle of the night wakings about 2-3 times a month. Now if she wakes at 2am she usually whines for a few minutes, then goes back to sleep on her own. If she ramps up to crying at 2am I go in, give a drink of water from her sippy, change her diaper and sit with her. I use the same 10 minute method as with bedtime. Usually she is back asleep within 30 min, but like I said this is now a rare occurance at 11m old.

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A child might not "sleep through the night" (which means 5 consecutive hours) until the age of 3 and that is normal. No one actually sleeps through the night - we all wake at times, but put ourselves back to sleep. Instead of viewing it as needing to "crack down" on your baby maybe you could reframe it and remember that your girl is only very young still and needs your help. How would you feel if you were screaming and your family simply ignored you? Obviously I am with the absolutely no-crying-it-out crowd, but the point is that you could try a more sensitive approach. The No Cry Sleep Solution is a book with a lot of ideas and suggestions for all types of sleep situations. Also, I am certain that you are NOT a bad mom (in answer to your last sentence). It sounds like others may have pressured you into making your little ones cry...good luck. If something feels wrong to you as a mommy...it probably is.

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I know this won't make me popular amongst the CIO croed, so I'll try to make this brief.

Every child is different. That being the case, some of the children who "wake up smiling and happy" are those kinds of kids. Some are not.

We all have a mothering instinct we can choose to listen to or not. I believe that our intuition is not in the habit of leading us astray. If you choose to go in to your daughter, please do not think of this as "giving in" or weakness. You are responding to your daughter's very real need for your presence. From my experience, we adults are less in danger of "being manipulated" or "giving in" than we are of conditioning our children to give up hope that we will come to them when they are scared, sad or really needing our attention and love. The need for attention and love is very necessary and very real.

The other item I feel compelled to point out is that the chemistry of the developing child's brain is very sensitive and is quite affected by emotion. When a child is left to cry, unsoothed, for a long time, the child's brain releases a hormone called "cortisol". Cortisol, in large quantities, can have a negative impact on brain development and, over time, can leave a child's brain in a high state of stress, which has very detrimental effects for the child as they grow up. It affects them socially, because the cortisol can easily trigger rage, and makes natural moments in development like tantrums that much worse for the child. If you want more detail, there are a lot of studies you can find online. (type in "infant brain development cortisol") I also highly recommend reading "the Science of Parenting" by Margot Sunderland.

This is not written to make any mother or parent feel bad. I know every mother who faces a crisis in their child's sleep weighs the information they have access to heavily before making a decision on how to proceed. I know several great moms who decided to use cry it out because their cases were extreme, and no one was getting any sleep. This was primarily what Ferber meant CIO to be for. However, I am concerned that the information regarding cortisol is not made widely known, and frustrated that mothers have been trained to turn their backs on their children for fear of "spoiling" them.

Whichever decision you make, my best to you.

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I agree with some of the others mommas. Give her about 10 -15 mins then go in and tell her that you are there, but that it is time for her to go back to bed. It worked like a charm for my now three year old. He would immediately calm down once he saw us check on him. And though he would be upset after we left it was a lot less screaming. After awhile he got the idea that we were there but were not going to let him back in bed with us.

Good Luck!

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11 months still doesn't understand very much. Psychiatrists have found that letting a baby cry too long can cause her to have depression. This is a very difficult problem, because right now she trusts you. Leaving her too long can cause her to not trust anybody and can break the bond you have with her. 1.5 hours is a LONG time for a little child. I would not leave her more than 1/2 hour. You can pick her up, cuddle, put her down in 1/2 hour increments to let her know she is not alone.

I think my hatred for my mother when I was a child stemmed from the above problem. DON'T leave her that long. She will never be the same.

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I had two problems with my first son. He would fall asleep on the breast and wake up when I tried to lay him down, resulting in another 1/2 to an hour of getting him to fall asleep and try again. He also started to wake up in the middle of the night after a trip to visit relatives. He was 18 months.

I found help in the book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, MD.

To prepare for whatever form of regimen is decided to put in place, I prepared by following the books advice and only let him sleep for 10 minutes at a time throughout the day. He fell asleep in 10 minutes and did so from then on.

The night waking was harder. I finally did a version of the crying that was recommended, timing little visits to pat the bottom and reassure, then leaving.

I highly recommend the book. Just be prepared to follow through.

Good luck.

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I have to agree whole-heartedly with Peg. I also do not mean to pass judgment. I just want to pass on what my wife and I have experienced with our three children.

My wife and I chose not to let our children "cry-it-out" because of the feelings of abandonment and loneliness we felt this method would impart on our children. We now have three children 7, 5 and 18 months who have no problems going to sleep on their own in their own rooms, who do not have separation issues and feel assured that if they need us we will be there.

The first 12 -13 months of each of our children's lives were hard on us. We both lacked for sleep and had a number of days when we felt we could hardly function. However, now neither of us would change that time for the world. As a co-worker of mine once said when we were commiserating about our children's sleeping issues - "They are only young once and some day you will long for the days when they just wanted to be by you...".

As was said by others, not every method will work for everyone but that is what worked for us.

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I think this topic holds a never ending conversation. Personally, my 7 year old son and 2 year old daughter slept through the night, pretty well, from the very beginning. As the youngest of ten, I observed many different styles of nighttime parenting. When my son was born, I immedietaly had an idea of how I wanted to master this generational fight between parent and child.
From the first day home I would distinquish night from day by controlling the homes atmosphere. When it was nighttime, the house was kept quiet and dark. When the baby woke to feed, cuddle, get changed, or even interact with Mommy or Daddy, we would not turn on any lights or talk loudly, we quietly fed, changed and soothed the baby back to sleep; stimulation only wakes the baby.
Moreover, I would suggest not leaving the child to "cry it out", but rather stay in the room. Quietly holding her hand until she falls asleep, just reasures your baby that she can count on you for comfort. Experts suggest a consistant nighttime routine that includes brushing teeth and reading a book. This can ease children toward sleep, even as young as 3 months old. Good Luck Mommy.

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This may NOT be what you want to hear but........... I am a Mom of 3 kids and I cuddled/nursed all mine until they fell asleep and then put them in their own beds. Yes, there were times I put them in our bed when they woke up crying in the night. But over all they turned out healthy, secure and ALL 3 of them sleep through the night just fine now! (they are 9, 5 and 2 yrs old) I didn't end up with them all trying to "sleep in Mom and Dad's bed." Like I feared MAY happen:) I personally could not take letting them "cry it out" when it just took a few minutes of my time to hold them (or snuggle them)until they went to sleep. (we usually did a story time anyways) And they are only little for such a SHORT time! I wouldn't FORCE the "cry out" if it is not working well for that particular child. Anyways, that is just my personal experience. Good luck!

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I agree with all that was said by Peg and Kirstin and so won't repeat what they already articulated but I would like to share my own story. My husband and I co-slept with both of our daughters until they were well over three years old. My oldest nursed about 5 times a night until she was two and my youngest was a "burrower". This child would literally snuggle up against me and basically pet me all night. What I found was that over time, the sheer exhaustion lead me to a new way of sleeping. I barely woke up when I nursed and went right back to sleep but I had to let go of all expectations about what it meant to get a good night's sleep. Once I relaxed into it mentally, my body followed.. You say your daughter wakes up at least once - once is phenomenal! And to have your child wake up in another room hungry means that you have to get up and retrieve her, nurse her and somehow soothe her back to sleep. I would wager at that point you are fully awake and would have a hard time getting back to sleep.

Our babies are meant to sleep cuddled up next to us. This is why they cry when they are isolated. As Kirsten said, putting babies in a crib in a separate room is a unique product of modern Western society. Don't be fooled into thinking that this is good for your baby. My own mother's first memories are of herself standing up in a crib crying for her mother and no one coming. The abandonment she experienced shaped her entire life which I can attest to, being her daughter :-). Please, please, please don't make your baby cry it out. She may be hungry, she may be scared, who knows, but she is telling you quite clearly that she is in distress and needs to be with you. Enjoy that precious cuddling/nursing time in bed while you can. The day will come all too soon when our children are off and running and that opportunity will have passed for you and your daughter. Best to you and your family.

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It's true. That baby needs to know that you are around and didn't dissappear. I only let mine cry for maybe 30 min. and if they didn't exhaust themselves by then.... I wish, I would go in for the calming. You need to go in and pat them, sooth them, but don't pick them up. Once they calm down, leave again. Of course this takes time to train them that you are there, but not picking up, when they get tired enough, they will stop the fight.

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Hi S..

The choice to co-sleep in quite individual and everyone in the family has to want to do it for it to work successfully. Don't feel like you are a bad mom or abandoning your child if you don't choose to co-sleep until your child is 3 years old.
I started out co-sleeping and am certainly not against it in any way. If it works for you and your family, great, if not, you have the right to try and change things.

Personally, for me, I got to the point that I was so exhausted that I was having a hard time being the best mommy I could be during the day. The lack of sleep started making me depressed, easily frustrated and hypersensitive. I decided that my being able to sleep for even short periods of time at night was the most important thing if I wanted to fully give myself to my son during the day and enjoy our time together. Now, I still nursed during the night until he didn't need or want to anymore, but he was sleeping in another room which allowed me to fall alseep fully inbetween feedings. My husband also helped out by going to get our son when he woke up and putting him back in his bed after feedings.

Our son was one of those babies who needed to cry before going to sleep. That said, I was not comfortable with the cry-it-out method. We tried it a couple of times, but I just couldn't handle it and would go and get him after only 10 minutes or so.

A friend of ours lent us a book called 'The Baby Whisperer' and it had some great advice in it. The author, a midwife, suggests staying in the room with your baby, next to their bed (progressively moving further and further away from the bed) until they are fully asleep. Her advice is to soothe them in your normal way (rocking, nursing, massage, etc.) until they are drowsy and then put the baby in bed. If your baby starts to cry again, then you pick him or her up and soothe again until they are calm. As soon as they are calm, you put them back in bed again. You might have to repeat this many, many times in the beginning, but the theory is that, eventually (she says in 3-7 days), your baby will learn to self-soothe and fall asleep alone, all the while knowing that mom or dad are there when and if needed. She also mentioned that it is a good idea to not talk or look at your baby during this time, thus reinforcing the idea that it time to sleep and not play, nurse, etc.

This method worked fairly well for us and, while initially more tiring, it was less stressful than the screams and tears. I felt better knowing that my son wasn't all alone in his room, scared and upset, and he learned that we will never abandon him.

Whatever you decide, listen to your instincts. If crying it out doesn't feel right to you, don't do it. If co-sleeping doesn't quite work for you either, don't do that either. There are compromises and I hope you find a solution that works for you and your entire family. Good luck!

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If you have a good night time routine where you make sure your child is not hungry, feels loved and secure and has the right amount of clothes or blankets, you should then feel 100% comfortable putting your child in his or her crib and walking out...returning to give brief but reassuring comfort when they get hysterical.

Upon night time waking, go to your baby and pick her up, calm her down and then lay her back down and walk out of the room. This allows you to asses the temperature in the room, the wellness of the child, reassure the child you are still there and then transfer her back to her crib as quickly and confidently as possible. The consistency of her knowing you are there but that it isn't time to eat or snuggle, should work out the wakings...if there is no reward beyond a simple "check in", the performance should subside relatively quickly.

Right now going "cold turkey" is creating a fear of abandonment. This fear is a stressful condition physically as well as chemically where actual adrenaline is released into the brain creating a flight or fight scenario...thus the sweat, hoarseness and endurance of the crying. Every child is different and it sounds like the middle of the night food and snuggles was about reassurance and relationship (psychological needs) than about finite physical needs.

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My son is 2 and he still wakes up during the night and wants to come to our bed. Or we stay in his room until he falls back to sleep. At 11 months old i dont think its good to let them cry it out. She is obviously not ready for it.

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Before I had my son I thought that "crying it out" was the solution to all sleep problems. I have come to realize that ALL kids are different and that means that you have to customize each sleep problem with a special sleep solution to fit the individual needs of that child. We did not let my son cry it out, we tried it and the result was a scared child who was shaking so much that I would not ever do it again. We went with the "Good night,sleep tight" book, this book promotes NOT crying it out. We really liked it. It is by Kim West. My son is six months and he sleeps through the night. It takes a bit longer then the "Baby wise" method, but it is better on your nerves and your soul!

I would say STOP letting your child cry, Call me weak whatever you want, but I could not and will not justify letting my child cry it out because that is what other moms did.

Find a solution that works for your family, and stick with it. Enjoy your baby and know that it goes by all to fast.


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We had to let our son cry it out to get him in his crib at 7 months because the only place he would sleep was a swing and at 7 months he was so strong that sleeping in a swing was no longer safe. He would not sleep next to us, so even if co-sleeping was of interest to us it was not an option. Thus, we had to do the crying out. This was after reading numerous sleep books and paying for a consult with the "Sleep Lady" who wrote the book "The no-cry sleep solution" (she gave us our money back because her solution made our situation worse and even she finally told us that with our son we had to just let him cry and not sit in the room with him or go in and comfort him). It took us about 2 weeks of intense crying before he fell asleep on his own. It was horrifying since he could cry for well over an hour and then be asleep for just 30 minutes and start all over again. We sometimes had 4 hours total of crying a night. This was really hard on me since my son was nursed exclusively and I had a very strong attachment to him. Did this crying out result in attachment problems for him? No way! The first night he slept through the night and didn't cry being put down he woke up the next morning smiling and happier than he had ever been. He is now a very secure and happy toddler and the crying out did him no harm. It did, however, help him to get more sleep, which he really needed since he's a child that sleeps very little to begin with. Everyone comments how secure my son is, while at the same time very attached and loving with me (he's now 2.5 years old). Some kids just put up a bigger fight. He started preschool at 21 months and he put up a longer fight than all the other kids when I left him (2 weeks of crying when I left him). He had never been babysat before that and had very few opportunities to even be left with Dad since his dad is in the military and gone a lot. Thus, being left at preschool was really tough on him. But after 2 weeks, he spent the rest of the school year excited to be dropped off at his 2 hour preschool, while other kids were still crying and freaking out the entire academic year. His teachers were amazed at how well he adapted once he got through that 2 week stretch, especially since he was the youngest one in his class. Point is, my son is very attached to me and the crying out didn't harm him any more than dropping him off at preschool did. Yes, no one can really know what harm "crying out" does to children any more than they can know what harm any other technique does.

Every child is different. Some will benefit from you sitting in the room while they learn to put themselves to sleep. Some need to have you come in the room to comfort them. My child was worse off when we sat in the room with him and when we checked in on him and comforted him the situation always got considerably worse. You are not a terrible Mom for letting your child cry it out for so long. Only you know what's right for your child and some children take a lot longer to learn how to self-soothe. The crying out is honestly the most difficult thing a parent can do. The worst part about it is that once you've solved the sleep problems you will probably have to resort to the crying out again in the future since they will rebound to previous sleep problems after times when they are sick and you are having to comfort them during the night. But the do eventually learn that you are there for them when they need you and that they need to rely on their own self-soothing at other times. Both you and your child need sleep to form a good bond when you are both awake.

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My house is incredibly similar to yours. My son is 4 1/2 and slept like a champ when he was in his crib. My daughter is 16 months and can be a nightmare to get to sleep some nights.

My answer as for is 1-1.5 hours too long is this: it depends. Real definitive there, I know. :) But, every child is different and different things work for different kids.

We try to put my daughter to bed while she's still awake, but drowsy. This helps her a lot. She's one of these little ones that will have a conniption fit if she wakes up somewhere other than where she fell asleep. My son could have cared less most of the time.

We usually give her about 5-10 minutes to try and calm herself, then go in and either sway with her in our arms at her crib side, or sit and rock with her in the rocking chair next to her crib. This usually works, but there are some nights where she only wants to be held all night while she sleeps. These are the hard nights. She can be sound asleep, snoring in our arms but as soon as we go to put her in bed she'll let off this ear splitting scream that leaves my ears ringing. On these nights we let her cry herself to sleep.

If at any time during her 5-10 minute time frame the crying turns to anything other than a "I don't want to go to sleep even though I'm tired" cry we go in immediately.

To help her, I'd stop bringing her in bed with you unless it's the hour before you planned to get up anyway. If she's crying go in and comfort her until she calms down, then put her back in her crib. If she fusses, wait a minute or so then go back in. Gradually increase this length of time that you wait until you go back in to comfort her.

At this point I think her crying at night is her *needing* something. That something could be as simple as she needs a hug, or it could be that she's had a nightmare/night terror. You don't always have to pick her up, but just be in her room with comforting, soothing words and pats on the back. You could also try leaving a bottle or sippy cup of water in her crib with her to see if that helps as well.

Best of luck, I know how hard it is to hear your little one crying and stay on the couch. Feel free to send me a message if you need anything/have any other questions.

Hope this helps (sorry about the length),

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I feel for you because I know how hard that is. I personally think leaving a baby for an 1 1/2 to cry without any parent intervention is too long. I think if you are doing the true cry it out method and going in to reassure her you are still there that is ok. The leaving her alone is what is not good, she is crying for a reason, she needs you. Babies cry for a reason and it is our job as a parent to respond and help them. I think if it has been going on for 5 nights she is just not ready. It's hard for them to understand why they can't snuggle with their 2 favorite people and then are left alone all of a sudden.
I have gone through this with my daughter, co -sleeping, nursing and then trying to transition to crib. We tried at several different points and I had a certain time I would let her go at each stage/age and then I wouldn't keep it up. She just wasn't ready. I never let her cry for more than 10 mins without going into reassure her. Alot of times I would go in and hold her, standing by her crib and reassure her, she would calm down, then I could put her back down and she was ok.
Finally this last week she slept through the night on her own. I truly believe every child will do this, on their own when they are ready. But it was my constant reassurance and going in when she needed me that made her feel comfortable and safe about being in her crib. She knows if she cries I will be there for her.
It's such a short time in life, shouldn't we be there for them?
I know it's hard, but you aren't a terrible mom. We all have to make our own choices for our life with our kids. You are a fabulous mom because you care enough to ask other mom's opinions and you know we all have one.
Good luck:)

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I did my boys much younger (3 months), but I did not just let them cry. I would use a timer and wait 5 minutes, then go in and comfort them with out picking them up (rubbing back, singing, ect, but no feeding) and once they stopped crying I would leave and wait another 5 minutes. I never had to go in more then once, and since I calm them down after the first 5 they did not get as worked up as a child might being left to cry longer. I am not sure if this would work as well with an older child, but I would try it, it has to better then letter her cry for over an hour. I hope you find something that works soon, I know this must be hard for the entire family!

Blessed Be.

1 mom found this helpful

OOOOH that is so sad and hard. My daughter (now 11yrs) was the same way. When I look back - I realize that I should have followed my insinct and NOT let her cry it out. She still to this day struggles with sleeping and being alone. I wish we would have not listened to what the society say's and do what we felt we should do. Also just because it worked for you son....doesn't mean it will work for her. They are wired different from birth and no matter how hard you try - you are not going to be able to change it. My son (7yrs) goes to bed and gets up early. Our daughter is a night owl like her dad and wants to stay up late and sleep late. Not only will they be different for what works on disapline and many other things - but sleeping patterns too. Good luck, Rebecca

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It's your decision to make--only you can know how bad it is. But it sounds bad to me, like your baby isn't ready for this yet.

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When I ran into sleep issues with my children I asked my pediatrician for help. He loaned me a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. It's been a while but I was thinking it was 1 hour max cry it out time with options of checking in on them or not. If it's longer then there are other tips he has on sleep itself categorized by babies age that make a lot of sense. Cindy Crawford also used this book and loves it. If you can get a copy I highly recommend it. My son cried for 1 hour exactly the first night, the second night was 30 minutes, the rest of the week after that was only 5 minutes. After one week he was going to bed relaxed but awake and sleeping through the night for 11 hours.

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I agree with so many of the responses....I won't repeat what they have said. The best advice my mother gave me was for me to put the books down (I was reading over 10 to figure out my screaming/crying baby) and follow my heart. He cried a lot for 6 months...Obviously, he was uncomfortable. MY heart said to nurse him to sleep and follow attachment parenting. MY heart said to hold him as much as he wanted to be held..which was a lot. : ) MY heart said to co-sleep with him. At the age of 3, he decided he wanted to sleep in his bed and he stopped nursing (his choice!) at 2 years, 10 months. He's now 10 and is the kindest, most empathetic boy I've met. He's loving and sensitive and compassionate. He has grown (and is still growing) into a very secure, well adjusted boy. If I had let him cry it out (he would cry for hours) I believe he would be a different child. My son also had a "gurgly" tummy and I gave him Gripewater. It worked beautifully for him!! Calmed his bubbles right down immediately and the crying would lessen. You are a WONDERFUL mommy. Just keep loving your baby up because she will be 10 years old in the blink of an eye.

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Sleep issues can be SO frustrating...sleep deprivation is just brutal for everyone. It's also such a personal issue...there really isn't a solution that works for everyone. I know some moms who were frustrated that their baby was still needing them at night even when the baby was only a few months old and I know moms who are totally happy still nursing several times a night with a child over 2 years old!

It's all about balancing what you need to function and what your baby needs to stay happy and healthy. There are so many books and so many conflicting opinions (I know...we've ordered most of the best-sellers from amazon in an attempt to find "the answer"). I personally found that reading was helpful up to a point but then it just increased frustration and confusion as my husband and I struggled to agree on and then impose some kind of "ideal schedule" on our baby...after a while I realized that she has her own schedule and it's totally within the range of normal and as long as I'm functional then it's all ok. There is no point in beating yourself up or your baby up (emotionally) because you don't fit some text-book definition of "perfect sleeper".

Some people say babies under 1 year old should not be "sleep trained" at all and others say that if you haven't trained them before they turn 1 then you are in for a heap of misery. I think the truth is somewhere in between and totally subjective. Do what makes you feel best.

I personally have found that my baby (now 14 months), is happiest most nights with a wake-up/cuddle/nurse at around 4:30 AM (she goes to bed at 7:30 or 8:00 consistently every night...then she sleeps in until 7 or 7:30 AM). We let her "fuss it out" if she wakes up other times but if she cries for more than 20 minutes or she gets very worked up, I do go in because she is so willing to try and settle herself down most of the time. So that's where we are...the longest we've let our baby cry ever was about 1.5 hrs but that only happened one night and that was when we were trying to cut her night nursing sessions down from every 2.5 hrs!!

I have friends with babies around the same age who sleep as long as 10 or 11 hours straight but most seem to sleep between 6 and 8 hours straight...and that is technically considered sleeping through the night by the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as most baby sleep books. So if they go to bed before you and wake up before you, you can't really blame the baby or yourself for not doing something right...they are totally normal!

I wish you all the very best and I hope you find a happy medium for you and your baby. I would also say, don't miss the opportunity to snuggle with your sweet baby if you do find that you need to go to her in the night...those special times will soon be a thing of the past and she'll be locking you out of her room in just a few years anyway!

p.s. I guess you can tell that I'm one of those people who don't think you should "have to cry it out" unless you are so sleep deprived that you can't function...or your baby is exhausted and not able to settle down any other way...I would never do it out of guilt or other people's judgment or pressure (even my husbands)!

1 mom found this helpful

to A.S-
Their are so many people who were CIO babies who grew up very healthy, secure, confident adults. As a therapist your ignorance baffles me. I am a mother trying to find answers to the CIO or not method. I am for whatever works for that baby and parent as long as the baby is healthy. Their is no scientific proof that CIO causes any harm. I am a new mommy who is going INSANE b/c of sleep deprivation and THAT is unhealthy for my baby. If a mom is not well enough to care for her child then she has every right to try everything and anything that may help.

To anyone looking for ANSWERS to the CIO method... NOT lectures, good luck and don't let people like A.S. tell you it's wrong if you feel it may work for you.

When my daughter was almost 11 mos old, we started the Cry-it-out method as directed by our pediatrician. We gave ourselves a 45 minute limit...and then we would both go in, pat her back, giver her soothing words, and let her know it was bedtime. By the fourth night, she whimpered just a bit and that was it. As for "scarring", she is a very self-confident, independent, intelligent, and well-adjusted 19 month old now. She looks forward to the bedtime routine and we put her in her crib after bath, books, and kisses--she has slept all night, almost every night (save a bad dream or a teething episode) since doing cry-it-out.

My point is this, just like we're all individuals with different perspectives on the world, so are our children. Instead of letting her go as long as you have, maybe try going in for soothing a little bit sooner.

As for the history of why we have the "modernization" of how we place standards on childrearing. Our entire world is based on expectations and standards. Simple fact, I have to work full-time, I need rest, my child has to get up early to go to daycare (which she LOVES and has benefitted greatly from), and she needs rest. What my husband and I were willing to do to ensure that we were all well rested, is teach her to sleep on her own and to stay asleep on her own. (Oh what horrible people we must be to choose to torment her little unknowing mind to bend to our silly whims of working to pay our mortgage!) We lucked out in the time frame, but we would have given it as much time as we needed if it would get us to sleeping through the night!

Don't by any means let others guilt you into feeling that your choice to have your child sleep alone is selfish or "inconsiderate" of her developing individual personality. Some people say that 11 months is old enough to suffer some sort of long-term consequences...Well, is your teenager going to suffer long-term consequences when you set limits and expectations? Her protesting now is a form of manipulation, if she's well fed, tired, and ready for bed. She'll learn how to sleep.

As for the "they're only this little and snuggly for such a short time and soon they won't need all of this"...for me this is an excuse to prevent your child from growing up and not "needing" you so much. I am extremely affectionate with my daughter--during waking hours. When it's time to sleep, a hug and a kiss then I rub her hair on the side and tell her all about her wonderful day as she settles in bed. I say goodnight, tell her tomorrow will be wonderful too and I love her, then I leave. I love that time, and don't feel that because she's not wiggling all over me and my husband in the bed all night that I am missing anything!

Wow. You are not alone. I am in the same boat. Except, I have not tried to let her cry it out that long. I will wait 5 min., then go in and lay down with her, then we wait 10 minutes and my husband goes in, 15 min. etc. I haven't been super consistent either and in all the books I have read, that is the key. It is so difficult though. Argh. Does your child have a pacifier or something that soothes her? Have you read the "Sleepsense" book. There are tons of books on the sleep subject I know, so finding one plan that is best for you and your husband is what is going to work. If what you are doing doesn't work after 2 weeks, I would suggest doing something else. I am no sleep expert, but this is what is suggested in the 3 books I have read about it. Good luck!

I would suggest going in and speaking softly to your daughter every few minutes or rubbing her back to let her know that you are still there.

I think crying for over an hour is a long time, and your daughter may just need some assurance that you are still there for her. Being in her own room can definitley be scary.

My daughter is now 4, but she sometimes wakes up at night frightened by a noise or a dream and I always re-assure her that everything is ok.

My daughter has slept very well in her own room and I continously checked on her in the very beginning.

I don't think it makes you a bad mom at all!

It's really hard to listen to them cry! Whether it takes just a few days, or longer.

I think it's really doing your child a favor to let them learn to soothe themselves to sleep. It is harder for some, but they'll learn.

My son went through a period where he woke up a couple of hours after first going to sleep. That was where we eventually let him "cry it out". Now he has a very good bedtime routine, with us, and when he's on his own. (we listen to him on the monitor still....he talks about his day, words he learned, sings songs, it's fun for us to listen to)

I was the "no interference" type, and it was so hard to stick to, but it worked best for us.

My son did something similar. I think you are doing the right thing by letting her cry it out, but it is also important for her to know that you are there for her if she needs you. I don't know if it will make it worse or not, and I really think that will depend on the child, but I would go in every so often and just poke your head in...don't say anything or pick her up or give her any attention, but just poke your head in and look in her direction. That way she can see that you are checking on her without giving her the attention that she is craving. Babies need to feel safe also, and if she is having a lot of separation anxiety, knowing that you are there if she needs, will probably help her a lot. The other thing is I dont' know if you have been nursing her/giving her a bottle when she wakes at all, but she may actually be hungry, so you might try giving her at least some water. I dont' know when my son actually stopped being hungry when he woke up at night, but i nursed him until he was 17 months old and up until that time, he woke at least one, sometimes 2 times during the night to nurse. After I weened him, he instantly started sleeping through the night...so I know by the time I weened him, he was not actually hungry, but wanted to nurse for the comfort. I remember feeling exactly how you described...like a terrible mom. This does not last forever, and you will be so much happier when your daughter is 4 or 5 and not coming in to sleep with you halfway through the night. Good luck. Being a mom is a hard job.

This method worked for all three of my kids. I can't remember which book/doctor I learned from since it was 7 years ago that I'd learned this.

Let them cry for 15 minutes. Go to their room and pat and sooth them a little but DO NOT PICK them up. Go back to your room. Let them cry for 1o minutes the second time. Go back, pat and sooth them again...again, do NOT pick them up. Back to your room again and let baby cry for another 5 minutes. After this five minutes, they're so tired they're asleep after this. All my three kids were trained to sleep on their own this way. It took me 3 to 4 days of this and whaola...they no longer make a fuss after that when I put them to bed.

Good luck.

I think 1 1/2 hours is too long for an 11 month old. We did a modified CIO method when my son was about two. We had a good bedtime routine and would leave his room before he was asleep. Getting him down wasn't our problem--it was keeping him sleeping in his crib but this can work either way. When he woke up crying we let him cry for 10 minutes then one of us would go in and tell him softly it was time to sleep and we'd pat him for a few minutes and then leave (10 minutes of crying and repeat, repeat, repeat). I think it was about 2 hours total the first night and decreased from there. We've never let him cry longer than 10 minutes (for sleep issues--not tantrum stuff). That being said I've had friends who've done total CIO (no soothing) and it has worked for them. I just didn't feel comfortable doing that and was more attachment based. All kids (and parents!) are different so don't let anybody make you feel guilty either way. It sounds like the 1 1/2 isn't working though so might want to try to change tactics.

We did a sleep consult which might be worth it for you guys. It was nice to have someone outside of it all help us create a work plan w/out any emotion!

You are NOT a terrible mom. I think it's normal and natural for a parent to agonize when their baby cries!

All three of my children had different lengths of time to get through this. (And we did it at six months because I wanted to try to avoid the toddler stubborness and temper stage.) The oldest (my most stubborn and headstrong child) was a 90 minute crier, but each night after that first one the time decreased. My middle child was a five minute baby. (Very sweet and mellow child!) My youngest didn't take all that long - maybe 15 minutes? But he was the one who needed to cry for at least a couple of minutes every single night to wind himself down.

The way I look at it, it took you several months to train your daughter that Mama would come in and get her if she only stuck to her guns and kept screaming. Five days compared to several months isn't that long, but YES i do think that it will absolutely make it worse if you check on her while she's having a meltdown. I think you've made it through the worst of this stage. Things should start getting easier now that she's understanding that she CAN go to sleep all by herself.

Hang in there, S.. In next to no time, your daughter will be sleeping peacefully through the night!

Shelbhy, what are naps like - is she crying it out then too?

My son is 12 months and wakes numerous - like 6 times or more a night. He just doesn't know how to put himself back to sleep. It's driving me nuts and we met with a Pediatric Naturopath who also does sleep training. I was very excited and thought, finally, we'll get a plan! What she suggested really took the wind out of my sails - she suggests based on what she sees of him, that we let him cry it out. I thought I'd share what she is suggesting:

Start with naps. Morning nap, put down sleepy but not asleep, in crib. Allow to cry up to one hour only. If he doesn't sleep, get him up in order to protect the afternoon nap.

At noon nap, do the same thing again. (Theory is that he should be so exhausted with crying and missing the morning nap that he will sleep.)

Get him used to this before trying the night time change. My son co-sleeps so I'm not sure how this will work. I'd love to continue co-sleeping but he is just not sleeping!

She also recommends the "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" book.

I'm not sure what we will do, my husband and I have differing opinons.

I think you should trust your gut. If you feel like something isn't right about it, it is not.

This is all so frustrating, and I feel for you!

Your little girl wants you close by to cuddle with. You can easily say 'no' to night nursing if she is safe in your arms all night. Could you image yourself being scard, alone and crying for help for an hour? Your heart is in the right place. Find a way to co-sleep or keep your baby near you at night. When she's ready to move away to her own space, she'll let you know.

Does your baby get herself to sleep at bedtime and naps all by herself or do you nurse/rock her down? Nobody can start by sleep training in the middle of the night. She first has to learn to fall asleep on her own at bedtime and then naps, when the drive to sleep is strong, not in the middle of the night when she has had a 4-5 hour "nap". She will be fairly rested and the drive to sleep will not be strong. I'm only guessing that this may be why she is having so much trouble. An hour or more of crying every night is excessive. There is always a reason though. Only a very small percentage of children are unable to learn to soothe themselves at all. If your child is not one of these very few then there are many things that can be done to help her learn. Many times we get in the way without even realizing it. I also would never try sleep training if your child is ill or actively teething. Also make sure she is not going to bed over tired as this will lead to more night wakings and a bad nights sleep.
Best wishes,
K. Smith
Sleep Consultant and Parenting Coach

It can be very hard, but I agree with you that you are do the right thing and give you credit for doing it now. I did the same thing with my son around the same age....he is 13 months now. I tried all the no cry it out methods, read many books and I was in his room 9-13 times a night for over two months and decided I couldn't do it anymore and he needed to learn to fall asleep himself. When he was little he had a bottle, fall asleep in my arms and I laid him in bed....perfect, but he wasn't learning to fall asleep on his own and it was showing. It was very hard to listen to him cry and it did take two hours for him to cry it out which happened at least twice a night. He would get so upset he would puke sometimes and then the whole guilt would set in. It only took him a week and 1/2 to learn that we weren't coming in. For us going in there would make it worse sometimes, but I am sure with you there are times when you know you should go in and we did to calm him down. One thing I read what helps is you go in, say the same nighttime words that you have decided on and walk out, only stay a min or so and don't lay them down if they are standing up, they need to do his on their own. Which we thought was probably a good idea since I didn't think our son know how to lay down for he was falling asleep sitting up when we first started (I guess for we always laid him down). I know this is really hard, but hang it there it will get better. Many people will probably disagree with his method, but I felt I gave the no cry it out a shot. I don't think there is one method that works for every child and you need to find what works for you....good luck.

To let you know also I spoke to great lengths about letting our son cry it out and if there were any other things I could do with our dr before I did it. I addressed concerns with abondment issues and safety and she said it was okay and not to worry about it, she is the one who gave me the tips of how to do it that I wrote above.

A child will never cry themselves to death. It breaks your heart and they'll be gumpy at you but it won't kill them. If you can handle it and it doesn't get to you than let it be. One thing we tried with my daughter is getting up and giving her water. A few nights of only water, she got the point.

Why not just let her sleep with you when she wakes. She will only be small for a few short years so I would encourage you to let her nurse and cuddle and be a happy:)

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