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.

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