39 answers

Should I Let My 1 Year Old Cry It Out?

OK, I can't believe I am even asking this question as I swore I would never let my baby girl cry it out, but I am WAY past my wits end.

I have read through some other posts about sleep, and I am trying to get my mind around this.

My 1 year old girl consistently wakes in the mornings anywhere from 4:30-5:30am. Believe me there is not one thing I have not tried to prevent this from happening. I have even tried co-sleeping, and this made it WORSE, not better.
She has no problem taking her nap, and going down at bedtime.

I brought her to my pediatrician to rule anything out.
He sent us to a sleep specialist who said to put her to bed later and limit her nap. Did that, didn't work.

She is not waking up due to a leaky diaper or because she is hungry.

This has been going on for nearly SEVEN months. At first I just thought she is an early riser, I have to suck it up. But you know what, she is NOT done sleeping at that hour. She is still tired, cranky and CLEARLY needs more sleep.

Why she cannot sleep past the wee hours of the morning is beyond me. Her room is dark, and there is white noise to block out any street noise and the morning birds chirping.
It is obviously just a habit, and one I can't seem to break.

My hubby and I go to bed at 8:30pm (which is her bedtime too) which is ridiculous. We have no night time together, and our mornings are shot. All we do it fight because we are so tired, and have NO time for each other.

I am so aggravated with my little girl, and I don't want to be like that around her. I mean she is the baby after all - I'm the adult!

I guess I am looking for some support from anyone who has gone through this.

Starting tomorrow am something HAS to change. I can try cold turkey, the Ferber method, Walk In/Walk out - but something I guess other than comforting her, taking her into our bed, rocking her, etc, etc. None of those things are working anyways!

Yes - I have read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, but all I got out of that book was to ignore your baby til it was time to get up - did I miss something? Just asking because so many people recommend it.


What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for their responses.
My DH and I talked about this at great length.
Everyone needs more sleep - including our baby.
I cannot stand to listen to her cry, let alone get hysterical, but I cannot go on like this either.
So, we have decided to try the Walk In/Walk Out method. Give her her blankie, a kiss, say it's still sleepy time, and leave the room. I like the music idea too, and she will catch onto that after time.
If WI/WO aggravates her too much, I will stay in her room and sleep on the floor - talking to her to soothe her, but no eye contact, no getting up until it is time. DH and I will take turns.

The early bedtime suggestion was great too. We used to do this, and it stopped working. I guess for some babies their bedtime needs to be pushed later and later to tire them out and drive them to sleep through the wee hours of the morning, and then you can start to push the bedtime earlier again. We got this advice from the sleep specialist and are also on that route right now. Last night she went to bed about 30 min later and she woke an hour later!
Hopefully after a week or so it will work. We are prepared to work through this. I also know MY tempermanet so some crying and fussing for her to figure things out on her own is ok, hysterical crying is not ok with me.

Featured Answers

Hi, I went through the same thing with my son, we did the ferber method at 4 moths, my ped. told me that was a good time to start, worked like charm. Then a few months later he started waking up at 5am so I would go in, give him his pacifier and his lovey blanket and tell him it was still sleepy time, go back to sleep. After about a week he would wake a bit at that time but then find his pacifier in the crib and go back to sleep. Good Luck!!

I just started that book, so I don't know what it has to offer, but the part I just read is to put them to bed earlier to get them to sleep longer - like 7:00.

Hi L.,

Try Elizabeth Pantley's book, the 'No-Cry Sleep solution' book. IT was great and it is very anti-Ferber in the CIO method. Which he now realizes created a lot of trauma for those children...hindsight, eh?

Good Luck!

E. P.

More Answers

Hello L.. You wrote such a heartfelt letter for help. I am certain you will get lots of wonderful support and ideas from young Moms. I'm an an older mom (of twins and a third daughter) who are grown and pretty well adjusted, I believe. My suggestion is more for the 'you' in the situation than the situation itself I believe. I'm sensing at this point, its possible your little one year old is picking up (literally) on your emotional vibes...long before you even enter the room to attend to her. As you so well stated...its become a habit for her to wake up and expect Mom to behave in a certain way. A pattern is being created here. I happen to believe that if you continue to 'meet resistance with more resistance' you will end up with more resistance. Try a little Zen thinking, and try moving around the resistance a bit. Okay...before you think me crazy, hear me out. The next time your little one wakes, instead of immediately coiling up and moving to that place in your head of (and I'm just listing possibilities here...I'm not saying this is what you're feeling)with resentment, frustration, anger, despair,...try meeting the moment (upon wakening) with gratitude and acceptance. Be present in the moment. I know I sound like Oprah and Eckhart Tolle, but a new perspective may work for you. Lay there. Be present. B r e a t h e and say 'my one year old daughter is crying'. She is safe. I am safe. Try as best you can not to react in any other way other than acceptance, knowing that 'this too will pass'. Throw expectation of what you believe 'should be' happening out of your mind, and continue to lay there in gratitude for a healthy baby girl, for your husband, for your bed, for your home...whatever you wish to meditate on...just experiment and have fun with this. See if by shifting your paradigm of thought, you shift the vibes you send out to yourself, your husband and to your daughter. You may never have to leave the bed!!! You may just discover that she will begin to calm herself down as you begin to calm yourself down...the mother daughter bond is so strong L....well...I'll stop here at that, and just say "thats' my story, and I'm sticking to it:)" Best of luck L.. I can sense from your letter you are a devoted Mom and I trust it will all work out in the end...my little idea is just one more possibility for you to explore. Be Peace, N.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi L.,
I'm sorry you are sleep deprived. I'm also sorry to tell you I am one of "those" mom's who let her baby Cry it out. I started early( Babywise book). But my son ( now 21 months) has slept threw the night since 3 months( sorry to brag). I personally think the best thing for a kid is to learn to self sooth. Logan sleeps from 7:30 pm- 7:30 am. & when he does wake up most days he will play in his crib till we go get him. You will be able to be the best mom you can if you both are rested. It may take a good week- & it is hard to hear them cry but it will be for the better in the end( my opinion). Also the best thing I ever bought was a security camera that goes to our TV in the bedroom so if he does cry I can see right on the tv that he is ok- so it eliminates me sneaking in to check. Hope this helps. So I don't have a magic solution. M.

In my opinion I would never let a one year old 'cry it out"
You coud try putting bottle of juice or milk, and some toys in the crib.
I just took mine back to bed with me and hubby for an hour or so. Never bothered us to do so. And we had seven. Obviously we found adequate "private time"
Hubby was a boat builder so his days started pretty early. Baby got up with us, during the day , I slept when the baby did so I could be fresh for husband.
You could try a later bedtime for you and child. Eight thirty is very early for adults to retire...does your day start early too?
A lot of parenting is to go with the flo. Every child is different, sleeping, eating, napping ect.
There is hope, they outgrow these phases eventually.
If doc says she is fine, then she likely is fine.
My three year old grandson has had the most peculiar sleeping patterns since birth. We now ( I live in same house) keep him up til between nine and ten and he sleeps thru night til seven usuall. He naps, one to two hours usually.
Its all good honey, relax and try to work around her stages.
Seems to me the stress comes from trying to change the child instead of adapting.
Best wishes and God bless
Grandmother Lowell

Sounds like you're on the right track with your update. Good luck!

Our son is 12 but I remember being sorely sleep-deprived when he was younger. I may not have any answers but you are not alone! And, sad to say, bedtime is still a source of argument with my husband. I continue to think earlier to bed leads to a happier and more functional child; my husband believes in "why create a fight, he'll go to bed when he's tired".

My husband and I both rarely go to bed before midnight and I can't imagine going to bed at 8:30. At least I have some "me time", or even some "us time", after our son goes to bed. (Maybe if you stay up till when you want to go to bed, you'd be so exhausted you wouldn't hear your daughter at 4:30AM. It may be lame but it's a thought!)

Some babies/kids need more or less sleep than the norm. Mine dropped naps by two, and usually maxed out at 11 hours for a night. I always envied the parents who had kids who slept 12-14 hours each day! And if we got him to bed later, he still woke up at the same time, but was crankier than all get out!

Truth be told, we had a hard time letting our child cry it out. In general, I believe in that method. I think it helps the child to self-soothe. But some kids are also more high-spirited and not as good at that. Mine tends towards ADD which is another whole discussion not to be started here. Self-soothing is not his strength but we work on it.

One thing I know...your child will not remember this crying in later years. (My earliest memories are around 3, my husband's and son's earliest memories are around 2.)

If your child is fed and dry, that is the majority of the battle. How do you know she is not hungry at that early hour? Is your child going through a growth spurt? Growth spurts require more fuel (food and sleep). Maybe it's time to step up the food intake during the day to hold her over through the night. Who knows?

My husband and I used to share the night and early morning wake-ups and/or feedings (I pumped religiously to have a supply for my husband). My husband wakes up better than me and needs less sleep. He used to get up in the middle of the night and stand by "Mr. Clock", our old-fashioned wind-up clock in the living room. The tick of the clock would soothe our son in the darkness and he would fall asleep again.

To this day, our son likes us to stay with him for a while when he's falling asleep. Some would warn against that practice, but that's when some of our best conversations happen.

Going in and soothing your daughter, saying go back to sleep, without picking her up may go a long way for you. If you're grumpy at that hour, it is hard. But it sounds like she really needs more sleep.

We always left soft stuffed animals in the crib to provide comfort and/or entertainment for our son. And, we would give him a bottle of water that he could access at any time. He would usually fall asleep again. If not, we'd hear him playing in the crib.

To this day, our son loves his stuffed animals. They are his comfort, his siblings (he's an only child), his confidants. We are his comfort and confidants as well, but you don't need to do it all. From experience, sometimes I think we didn't teach our son enough about self-soothing.

Back to your needs. Personally, I need my sleep or I'm a bear. If Mommy's not happy, no one's happy! But finding time for you and your husband is critical. Are there other things going on between all of you other than just the sleep issue? Is one of you jealous of the time spent with the baby? Are you mourning the loss of your free time and your expectations of what parenthood would be like? Been there, done that!

Do what you believe in your soul to be the answer. You can drive yourself nuts looking for answers everywhere. To be sure, consulting with books and others can be helpful. But what does your gut say is the answer that works for you after all of the input? Remember to look within for some answers, too. Maybe even sit down and write those thoughts down, taking the time to do this, if that's your style. The time will be well-spent, I suspect.

Like I said, I may not have answers but I feel for you! I hope you find the balance to be there for your daughter while doing what works for you and your husband, too.

Good luck and hang in there!

I just started that book, so I don't know what it has to offer, but the part I just read is to put them to bed earlier to get them to sleep longer - like 7:00.

My daughter just turned 4 and we went through it for almost 2 years. We adjusted our schedule to accomodate her sleep cycle, we took turns on who would get up (It was me most of the time) but for the last 3 months she goes to bed at 6:45PM and she sleeps to 6:30AM. I did not let her cry it out. Everyone has their own opinions on that, but my daughter is secure, happy and trusts that if she cries that I will come to her. She is not spoiled due to the not letting her cry it out system.
Good luck to you and your family......

We went through the same thing when my son was 9 months old (he's now 2.5) and are now facing the same quandary with my 7 month old. The only thing that worked for us was letting my son cry it outing.....the Ferber Method. I encourage you to check out Ferber's book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems". After 4 nights of hell (no sugar-coating here), he began sleeping through the night, going to bed around 7:30 and waking between 6:00 and 7:00 am. The first night he slept through the night was awesome. We're now debating if we do this with my 7 month old daughter, who only wakes once at night between 3:30 & 4:30 eats & goes back to sleep until 7ish (used Ferber to get her to sleep from 7:30pm until this early morning feeding). Not sure if she still needs that feeding or not. Best of luck of to you! I know how frustrating this is!!!!

I am an older mom; my daughter was born in 1977 and I wish I had the support of a broad-based community like this one, and had to learn things the hard way.
When I was a baby, my mother was taught that you "spoil" a baby responding to every cry, and that crying was "good for them" and so forth. Well, there's crying, and there's crying.
Some crying is for needs - hunger, discomfort, tiredness. . .at first, ALL crying is to get needs met.
Then, our children learn to demand what they WANT, don't need, and good mothers have convinced them that they will get attention they need. This is your first opportunity to say "No" and mean it! Why are we so afraid of the "cry it out method"? You have to tell her "no" sometimes, and you ARE the adult. Don't get exasperated, that's worse. Stay friendly, tell her she's okay, but that it is not time to get up. And stick to it. Boundaries and firm gentle rules are civilized, and a form of security that I see many young parents afraid to provide.
The first night my daughter cried for (the longest of my life) 45 minutes. Yes, it's hard to do, but it's the right thing. She was just about 9 months, too, and self-weaning.
Next night, 10 minutes. Next night, a whimper or two. I said, "Go back to sleep, Callie", loving and gentle, and she did. I want to say this to all the moms. Give your child the security of knowing what is best (after making sure there isn't a dirty diaper or whatever) and let her express herself! Don't react, love her through it, but let her hear "no" and stick to it. It is the best security blanket, knowing your mom is consistent and true.
Good luck and sleep well. N. P.

Well, what I got from Marc Weissbluth's book was that you put the kid to bed EARLIER if they are having sleep problems, and that more sleep leads to more sleep. I have actually found it to be true, if a baby has a good nap, she is more likely to sleep well and longer.
The other thing you can do about your reservations to let her "cry it out," is to think of it this way: do you want to give her the tools to comfort herself? Should she depend upon an adult to soothe her back to sleep every time she wakes up in the middle of the night (which in my book, 4:30-5:30 IS!), or will she spend a couple of miserable days learning how to relax again and/or play in her crib until it's really time to get up? If this is putting pressure on your health, happiness and marriage, it is important, as exasperating as it is to hear your baby cry. Get a white noise generator for yourself, and try it for three days. Set your own alarm for a reasonable time and get her when it rings, and before that just let her develop the skills she needs to calm herself down.

Congrats L. for willing to give it a try!! I can't believe you waited so long, poor thing. Here is what I just told another mom yesterday about our experience and my suggestions. I hope it helps, please feel free to write back. It is a cycle you CAN break!!!!

The first time I tried it with my daughter, I had to walk outside and close the door to keep myself from breaking. I had to remind myself that she was not injured, hungry, wet, and would not be emotionally scarred from crying. Crying is good for all of us to do sometimes, so don't feel bad if you cry a little, too!! I did however do the method that allowed me to check on her after 30, then 40, etc. If that only makes it worse, allow her to cry herself back to sleep. Seriously, she will not remember it and it will only take a few times for years of easiness! I was so sad the night my daughter finally cried herself back to sleep. She woke up smiling and cuddling the next morning because she slept in!!
Seriously, letting her cry was the best thing we ever did. She has always slept through the night 8-12 hours and now she just transitioned to her "big girl bed" and is sleeping 12-13 hrs. a night with no problems. If she ever does wake up, she finds her blanket and falls back asleep.
Suggestions: Does she have anything in his crib that plays music or has a little light? We bought the fisher price aquarium that plays music, has water/fish swimming and a small light. I think it soothed her to not be 'alone' at the push of a button. She would stare at it and it would soothe her back to sleep. Also, put some books/favorite toys in her crib to play with when she wakes up. She may be bored and just wants to be entertained. This also can soothe them back to sleep. Also, we bought our daughter a blanket that she always had in her crib for comfort. She'll need some comfort items to replace the only comforts she knows righ now--you!

YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU CAN! Remember this is not just for your benefit, but you are teaching her how to cope on her own, be independent and get a great night's rest. YOU CAN DO IT!!

Please write if you need any other suggestions! (Please ignore suggestions that your child will be hurt by this. As long as she is safe, she will benefit.) D.

Hi L.,

I hate to say this but you're daughter just sounds like an early riser!!! lol I have a son VERY MUCH like that. Always was & probably always will be. I'd say get used to getting up at 5am. Go to bed a bit earlier yourself & even try putting her to bed an hour or so later and see if that changes anything.

I don't like letting kids cry it out anymore than 15-20 mins MAX. Kids cant talk & crying is the only way they can communicate .... be patient & try putting her to bed later & see if that changes anything. If not, then you'll become an early riser too! Thank goodness for PBSKids & Playhouse Disney!!!!

Good luck & God bless,

I put my son to bed with a NUK transition cup of water every night. He usually wakes up around 5:30 am, and will usually drink from it without waking the entire house. It comforts him. SOMETIMES, he won't go back to bed. I cant let him cry it out, because i still live with my parents ( and god forbid my mother hears him cry, she must come see what is wrong!! Time to love out..anyway...) I get him before it turns into him not being able to stop and calm himself. I usually will give him some watered-down milk. DONT WORRY PEOPLE! He has never fallen asleep with it in his mouth, he finishes, and then goes back to bed until about 8:30. I had a video monitor to see what he does in the morning, and he just stands there getting upset. I'm not sure why, but the cup thing seems to help.


So sorry for the lack of sleep. I had a similar issue with my daughter. She decided that she needed to nurse 3x a night again at 7 months. Needless to say I didn't think she needed this but did it for a week and then thought if it was a growth spurt it should be over so I had to stop it. She was waking but at 11pm, 2am and 4am then up for the day at 6:30am after going down at 6:30pm.
So what I did was not nurse her to go back to sleep. I don't think this is the same but I will tell you our story so you can commisserate with us as well. I picked the night and when she got up at 11pm I offered her water -didn't want it. I rocked, patted, etc. anything to get her back to sleep. It took 2 hours and eventually I got her back to sleep but I have to admit I was working with her the whole time trying to get her back to sleep. After that night she changed to sleeping til 4am or later every night.
I can't say it was easy but I was able to get her back to sleep but when I say she cried, she cried. I felt bad for her but I just felt like things needed to change.

Good luck,

For leaky diapers, I put my 18 month old in size 6 diapers at night and he just moved up to a size 5 (from a 4) for the daytime. Even the size 5 is a little big for him but the size 6 at night worked wonders. No more messes in the morning. If my son wakes up at 6 in the morning I ignore him and he goes back to sleep until 8:30 or 9 am (unless we are visiting his cousins). His bedtime is 9 pm. He never screams in the morning, just calls out mama or dada and cries a little. Sometimes he talks to his animals toys in his crib. But he knows it isn't wake up time and he knows I'm not going in to get him. He has been sleeping through the night since 11 months old. Before that we co-slept until 10 and half months because of breastfeeding etc. He would wake up every 3 to 4 hours during that time and every two hours when he was teething. He used to wake up around 5 for a bottle in the morning, then it turned to 6, then 7 (he would then go back to sleep) and then we starting skipping the early morning bottle all together. I don't think you should at first ignore your baby since she is so used to you getting her in the morning. I would go to her at first and then tell her to go back to sleep. Put her back in her crib or rock her and put her back. say shush, rub her back, whatever, but don't take her out of the room. This didn't exactly work for my son, I had to just let him cry himself back to sleep, which he did and pretty much after that he knew how to put himself back to sleep. It is okay for babies to cry, it hurts you more than your baby. I don't mean an all out scream fest, but crying is a baby's normal way to get what he or she wants. Good luck. It will happen.

My 2 suggestions are:
1. Put her to bed EARLIER, not later. 8:30 is a quite late bedtime for a 1 year old. 7:00 is more reasonable. I know this sounds counter intuitive but its true. Often if a baby gets too little sleep, they sleep less because they are OVERTIRED, and it snowballs. That would explain her crankiness, shes overtired. Also, dont limit naps, try more time napping. More sleep= even more sleep and better quality of sleep.
2. Do try nursing or giving her a bottle when she wakes at 4 or 5. My son wakes at that time, I nurse him, and he sleeps for another 2 or 3 hours. She may indeed be hungry by that time.

My son did the same thing and I, like you, for a while decided that's just the way it was.... "Early to bed, early to rise." Only thing was my husband wasn't going to bed with me at 8:30 and wanted to sleep past 4:30. How dare he want to be NORMAL!! :-} So we did it... the dreadful Cry It Out (I hate even admitting it). Deciding to do it was just as hard as doing it, believe me I know. By now you know her different crys, and if she's really crying and getting to hysterical, then go to her. But you may notice she crys and stops, crys and stops. Now this is hard too because you know they are looking for you and you're not there (breaking your heart). But that is showing you they are controling the situation. She is learning at this point what works and what doesn't work and I don't think you want her crying to be the tool of choice to get what she wants. Ok, so we did it. It really stunk, but it worked. And I had the 20 minute rule too, and at 20 minutes I though, "It's been so hard and if I go in now it'll be like wasted effort." So I waited maybe 2 more minutes and he was done and back to sleep. Try it, just try it. There was a point when I realized my being in his room trying to soothe him for 45 minutes was serving him less good with the on/off crying than if I just left him alone.

I respect and understand all the other advice given and especially take notice when Grandma Lowell joins in, so do what you have to, either way. If you're at the end of your rope, try it. Some children are too strong willed for the in-&-out method, it just agrivates them. Also, prepare you hubby as you will need him to be supportive and loving toward you at that early time, not irritated and scolding every minute when you say, "I'm going in....". He needs to hold you and tell you she'll be ok and that she really needs her sleep maybe more than she needs you rushing to her side. Remember, this is a learning time for ALL of us. Good luck, please let me know if you have any other questions, and sorry for the long post.

Since she goes to sleep well, I think this is not about crying it out. I'm wondering if she has a light comforter or blanket? Some children sleep better, longer, if they have a heavier blanket. It calms their system longer. I'm also wondering if she snores? If so, she may wake for air.
Best of luck.

I agree with what Wendy wrote about putting your baby to bed earlier--have you tried that? My son was also an early riser, which I understand is very common with children that age. We found that when we made his bedtime earlier, he slept later! At that age, I think we had him actually in bed at around 6:30, and that was the magic hour. It took a while to find the right time. 7:00PM was the latest--any later and he was up too early.

Another thing that helped a lot was a sippy cup. Our son started using them at about 1 year old and so every night (we still do this and he's almost 3), we put him to bed with a sippy cup with water. Wow, how that worked! The first few wakeups, I went in to show it to him but then he got the hang of it and soothed himself with it.

At 1 year old, some degree of crying it out, while painful to you, is not painful to them in the long term. Prolonged hysterical crying needs to be addressed, but even that could follow a 20 minute rule as others have suggested. You do need to change the sleep cycle, though, and so I would try the earlier bedtime first.

I am sorry to hear of your frustration. I have two boys who were horrible sleepers. I tried a number of things but never really let them cry it out much. Unfortunately, they took a long time to ge tot the point of sleeping enough that I could get a solid five or six hours of sleep at night. My four year old sleeps fine now, but it took a long time and my 21 month-old still has trouble. I wanted to encourage you - even if you do not get this answered, time will work it out. Also, this is probably the hardest part of parenting, but it will get better with time one way or another.

Good luck!

Oh my gosh L., I feel your pain! Have you tried "wearing her out" during the day by putting her in a sling and doing all your activities with her?? This is also best for her development and social skills, and this is how they begin to distinguish day from night. This is absolutely the best option I have found so far. If you do not already have a sling, invest in one now!(any ring sling will do, I like Over the Shoulder Baby Holder) It takes some time to adjust but it is totally worth the time and effort! Co-sleeping is also the best for this. How long did she sleep in your bed? Do yo still nurse or bottle feed? Believe it or not, she also may need to go to sleep earlier! my niece(six months) goes to sleep around 6:30 and wakes up around 5-5:30, this is what she has always done. My three month old goes to sleep around 8-8:30 and wakes up around 6-6:30 My other niece (yes I have two sisters with babies right now) goes to sleep around 9pm and wakes up between 9-11am the next morning! All the babies co-sleep and nurse and all of us moms get a full night sleep with the babies nursing a couple of times during the night. We all wear our babies during the day and none of us are sleep deprived. Every baby has different sleep patterns. I do not believe in crying it out, that is a truly sadistic way to handle babies! They are crying because that is the way they communicate, not listening breaks the trust(and bond) of mom and baby. I hear you that sleep is crucial for all involved. The more you can wear her out during the day, the better your nights will be. Also, read the Baby Book by Dr Sears, he has a whole section on sleeping (he also has a book devoted entirely to nighttime parenting and sleeping, it is excellent!) also askdrsears.com is a good resource. Good luck and remember that your baby is trying to tell you something, listen to her AND your instincts.

when my kids started sleeping less at night, I had to cut out the afternoon nap. I hated doing that because then they were SO cranky by the end of the afternoon, but it was the ticet to them returning to a full night's sleep. I had to take them out in the afternoon and keep them entertained to get through the usual nap time. Just a thought. Good luck!


Although I don't have much advice on sleeping/sleeping habits... I just wanted to reach out because I can hear the frustration coming out of you and I feel terribly for you. I wish I could say it's just a phase, but it's been going on for quite some time now so that is not the case. With our girls we would do the walk out method, go back in 3, 5, 10 minutes, whatever you want for a time freame, not say a word, but just tuck them back in and walk out, the non-communication seemed to work really well with them. We were not neglecting them by not going in at all, but we were not giving them the attention they were craving. I hope you find a method that works for you. Also, I hope that you and your husband can start taking time for yourselves, that is SO important. Best of luck :)

Dear L.,

a late response, but anyway -- maybe this still helps also:

that's sounds very hard for everyone involved, and everyone's relationships to each other.

If you have not looked at it already, i recommend Sears & Sears advice about sleeping in their "Babybook", or i think there is even a lot online, on their "Askdoctorsears.com".

Have you tried letting your husband parent her back to sleep? I have two kids and never let them cry anything out if i can help it at all. That is, i do not let them cry things out alone. But, e.g. to get my 3 year old night-weaned at age 16 months or so, we did let him cry in his papa's arms. That was hard enough, but we stick by the rule: crying hard is ok, if there is a loving parent there to soothe. So, i clutched my knees and shed some tears listening to my son crying for me, but i knew he was not alone, but with his super-dad, who became an even more super dad by having to develop nighttime-parenting skills. After 3-4 nights that were pretty tough he slept through the night! My, that was delicious beyond believe.

So: I'd say, don't let her cry it out alone, but you may have to have her cry a bit, while she is learning a new skill (falling asleep with somebody else).

Hope this helps! Hope you'll have more time, less sleepy, for and with and from your loved-ones!


I still go through this- but I have a slightly different situation. My daughter is 16 months now. Goes to bed at 7:30pm at night, and she wakes anywhere from 4:00-5 am every morning. I discovered over the summer that, instead of getting up every morning at that time for good, I just pick her up and nurse her with the lights still off, and then plop her right back down in her crib without a word. She goes back to sleep until 7 or 7:30am every morning! It takes the place of her morning nap, and we just do one other in the late morning or noonish. My daughter always woke up in the night to nurse (sometimes a lot), even past a year, so we are thrilled that we figured out this schedule! Maybe your baby is just hungry/thirsty- and could use the extra nursing or a bottle of milk.

I did not read your whole post because I can answer your question & give you my experience after just reading your first sentence.
My now 24 month old was a terrible sleeper from day 1! He wanted to be held to sleep day/night until about 2 months old then he would either only sleep if held, in the swing with it moving or in the bouncy seat with it vibrating. I was so sleep deprived and miserable & did not want to let him CIO I was totally against it. I read up on the Ferber method & tried it when he was about 3 months old but that only lasted a few hours. I felt horrible. But by the time he was 5 1/2 months old and all the books I read I finally gave in & let him CIO. He actually did very well with it and he didn't really cry too much more or less whined. It took about 3 days/nights (I started with naps). Now he is the BEST sleeper ever. But keep in mind you will have occasional times when sleep is interrupted due to teething, separation anxiety, etc. But for the most part he sleeps awesome.
I was probably one of those people who recommended Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child too! I used that method but kind of tweaked it to work better for my child. Every child is different and not all suggestions will work for your kid!!
You need to re-read the book you missed a lot!
Feel free to email me I can tell you step by step how I did it!

did your ped tell you to put your child to bed 15 mins earlier? Sounds crazy, but it's all about sleep cycles.. something is happening at that time, maybe a neighbor leaving for work or even the birds waking up.. that is waking her during whatever sleepcycle she is in at the moment.. put her to bed earlier, and change her cycle.. try it.. it may work.. if you do the cry it out thing.. modify it.. I think it's too cruel the way it's supposed to be done, so I modified it and it worked for me..

hey L.,

My rule of thumb is if your going to let them cry dont go any longer then 20 minutes. If you do go into the room to try in comfort her you should try hugging her while she is in the crib dont take her out and maybe after a week of doing that she might get the idea that its not worth it to wake up so early and actually sleep. Maybe this might help you.

Wow does this sound familiar. Up until 3 weeks ago my 12.5 month old little girl would not drop that 4am wake up. The thing that snapped her out of it was the first overnight my husband and I went on. We had her aunt babysit and she did not go into her room when she heard her wake at 4am. She fell back to sleep, something she typically would not do with us there. So the next night when we got home she slept all the way through until 6:30am. We thought it was a fluke but she has done it every single night for the past 3 weeks. It appears to be her pattern now. When she realized nobody was going to come in there, there was no point in her waking up so early. We put her to bed at 7. I don't think you mentioned a bedtime in your message? She seems to really need 11-12 hours of sleep. How is the room temp? We have a space heater set at 70 in her room. We also put this in there around the time she began to sleep all the way through. Could it be your daughter wakes up and realizes she is cold? I also stopped breastfeeding my daughter three weeks ago. So several things happened around that time that could have triggered her to drop that 4am wake up. I know it is hard. Very hard. Keep trying different things. Something will work. She wants to sleep.

My heart goes out to you! I think this is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting a baby. I too swore I would never let them cry it out. When my oldest was about a year (I think!) we had friends over for new year's and their baby went in the pack and play, her dad rubbed her back for a minute and she went to sleep. Our baby nursed, wouldn't go down, etc. I had had it, like you. I too had read all the books and was still struggling with what to do. Letting her cry forever just didn't feel right, but all of us being miserable wasn't working either. So the next night we did our bedtime routine and I put her in the crib awake and sat on the floor of her room. She could see me but I didn't interact with her at all or look at her. (I was sideways so I could see her without looking directly.) She stood up in the crib and cried, but not out of fear. She was confused with what was going on. (I had told her it was sleep time or something before I put her in.) She cried/protested for 55 minutes then literally fell over and went to sleep and slept through the night. The next night we did the same thing and it took 15 minutes. The third night was about 5 I believe. Gradually I sat further away from the crib, closer to the door, and after a short time (a week maybe?) I didn't stay in the room at all. After the second night my husband and I both said, "Why didn't we do this sooner?!" I guess I just needed to get to that end point.

With daughter #2 I did this again, but a bit earlier because she was waking to nurse every 45 minutes to an hour and wasn't a great co-sleeper. She was more stubborn in the process but is a better sleeper all around than her sister. She was in a crib in our room so I put on a night light so she could see me and pretended to be asleep. That first night she didn't cry very long but called me for almost 2 hours. She refused to sit down but got so tired she started falling down. Then when she was sitting she refused to lie down so she kept falling - I was afraid she was going to hit her head so I helped her lie down, but that set her off again for another hour. I believe after 3 hours or so she finally crashed. The next night was way better and I think it only took her 2 or 3 nights to adjust. She is a great sleeper now.

Maybe you could try this in the wee hours when she wakes. Just tell her it's still sleepy time and pretend to sleep on her floor. That way you have peace of mind that she is okay even if she is crying but she'll get the idea it's not time to get up. If that doesn't work after a few days I might just ignore her (for awhile at least with the monitor on) so that she has time to go back to sleep. - L.

This might sound crazy to you, but a lot of my friends found that putting their kids to bed *earlier* helped them to sleep longer. Try 8pm tonight & maybe even bump it up to 7:30. Try it for a few nights in a row at least & give it a shot! You & your husband *need* time together. It's a non-negotiable!

I think that you know your personal answer to this question and are looking for moral support, which is absolutely fine. But as the other posts on this question have shown, people are pretty equally divided about this, with people on both sides thinking that their way is the right way. If you are at your wits end, I say try it, with the only caveat being that you really have to commit for at least a week.

Since you're dealing with AM waking and not PM sleeping, I suggest you add this in. Set a musical alarm (very quietly) for whatever hour you deem is reasonable (6, is my suggestion). If she wakes up at 4.30, go in, tell her that she can't get up until the music comes on, and proceed to do Ferber that way. At five minutes, "sorry honey, the music isn't on." Same at 10, 15 etc. Then at least she knows what she's waiting for, since babies can't read a clock.

Whatever you decide, she'll be fine. She knows you love her (even if she's crying) and that's really all that matters.

Just saw your post and you obviously have tons of suggestions. I just thought of one extra thing you could try - what if you put a lamp on a timer to turn on at an acceptable wake up time? If she wakes up when the light is off, it's sleepy time. If the light's on, it's morning. Obviously she will wind up waking up with the light and not sleep beyond it, but maybe that's okay for right now?

I hate to see you sleep on the floor - part of this is about you and your husband getting some sleep too.

Good luck with everything!

Hi L.,
My son was/is the same way! He is and always has been a fantastic sleeper. Since he was 7 weeks old (he's 3 now) he was sleeping through the night, but waking very early in the morning (between 4:30-5). As he got older, he started sleeping a bit later (til around 7) but once we moved him into a big boy bed last spring, he's back to getting up around 5:00a. Like you, I had exhausted all methods to change this habit but nothing worked. He goes to bed at 8 and has no problem falling asleep on his own (I have never stayed in the room with him til he fell asleep, not even as an infant). So I eventually just accepted that he is an early riser. It sucks because there is not 1 day where I can ever sleep in even one hour but the way I see it, I can sleep when he's grown and out of the house : ) Perhaps you can have your baby girl have a "sleepover" at Grandma or Grandpa's house so you and your hubby can at least get some alone time in and catch up on some zzzz's! I do that sometimes and it does help to rejuvinate you. A night out with the girls (and a few glasses of wine) works, too : )

Good luck!

A. B.

Hi, I went through the same thing with my son, we did the ferber method at 4 moths, my ped. told me that was a good time to start, worked like charm. Then a few months later he started waking up at 5am so I would go in, give him his pacifier and his lovey blanket and tell him it was still sleepy time, go back to sleep. After about a week he would wake a bit at that time but then find his pacifier in the crib and go back to sleep. Good Luck!!

Hi L.,

Try Elizabeth Pantley's book, the 'No-Cry Sleep solution' book. IT was great and it is very anti-Ferber in the CIO method. Which he now realizes created a lot of trauma for those children...hindsight, eh?

Good Luck!

E. P.

I feel your pain. My youngest is an early riser. Atleast your daughter sleeps all night my son wakes at 2 am every day for no reason. I can't let him cry it out because he shares a room with his brother. I hope you find something that works. I go lay on the couch w/ my little guy at 5am sometimes he goes back to sleep other times he is ready to be up for the day he has also given up naps lately and he used to be a wonderful napper. At this point I would settle for anything that allows you and her more sleep. Good luck.

I first let my dd cry it out at about 6 months.....she was pretty much sleeping through the night at that point, but she had a 10:30 bedtime. She slept until about 8. She was still taking 2 naps....at about 1 she was down to 1 nap and went to bed around 9:30. Then around 3 she was down to no naps and bed around 8:30. She has all of sudden decided that she rather be up at 5:30 - 6:00....but she is almost 4 and so I leave her door open and she goes in the livingroom and watches tv until I get up around 8. I have tried to get her to sleep later in the morning, but even if I keep her up later (now she falls asleep around 7:00, because of the early wake up), she still gets up early and is cranky. Putting her to bed earlier to makes her wake up earlier...I have figured out she is a 10 hour sleeper...after 10 hours (which includes naps) she wakes up.

Both those methods/books are awful IMO.

Try Elizabeth's Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution".

I have gotten all three kids to sleep thru the night (one of them VERY VERY VERY high needs) using her methods without ever resorting to so called 'crying it out'.

I know what you mean, L..been there done that. My six year old son has been sleeping all night since he was 3 and my brother when he was a baby 22 years ago always slept thru the night since the day he was born. No baby is the same so just breathe and take your time with this one. When your daughter is older, you'll have the rest of your life to sleep! And she'll have the rest of her life to lock herself in the her room, listen to loud music and talk on the phone for hours on end lol. Enjoy it, that's all I mean. They grow up way too fast.

Good luck :)

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