Advice on Sleeping - New York,NY

Updated on August 18, 2008
K.K. asks from New York, NY
12 answers

Hi, I've been reading sooo much on sleep issues but haven't found a good plan to address our particular problem. I thought maybe you Mamas can help.

Background: our daughter is 8 months old. She is cheerful and energetic and lovely but she isn't an easy sleeper. For her first 3 months, she slept next to us in a co-sleeper. At three months she started waking every hour needing to nurse and I ended up bringing her into our bed which actually worked great - at least we ALL were getting sufficient sleep. I considered moving her to her crib at 5 months when I went back to work, but I posted here and several Mamas brought up the good point that she would be losing me in the day and night. We put off the move till now. My husband usually works evenings but is off for a few weeks. I really don't think I can make the change without his help so this seems like the perfect time.

Also, she is an irregular napper. Since I've been back to work, DH has developed a pretty dependable system of music, rocking, bouncing to get her down (or jogging with her in the jogging stroller) and then transfers her to a swing (if the swing stops, she wakes). Most days she naps at least once for a couple of hours, but the timing varies.

At bedtime (between 7:30 and 9), we have a routine of bath, pjs, story, song, and then I nurse her to sleep. I usually lay down with her in our bed and she goes right out. She'll often wake/stir after about 20 minutes but I lay my hand on her and she is fine. If I leave the bed, however, she will be screaming within 5 minutes.

What we've tried: instead of laying down with her, I've rocked her and nursed her to sleep then put her in her crib (which is right next to our bed). One night she stayed asleep for 20 minutes and then screamed hysterically. I went to her. The screaming continued. I picked her up and she calmed down after a few minutes. I rocked her and nursed her back to sleep, put her down in the crib and she immediately started screaming. I tried to sooth her to no avail. Picked her up, etc. This continued for about 90 minutes. Then my husband put her to sleep, laid her down and she slept for about 30 minutes, woke up screaming and we gave up.

Last night, I again rocked her and nursed her to sleep. When I put her down she woke but didn't scream. She laid in her crib with me touching her and singing for about 15 minutes, then got up and started crawling around her crib, waving to me and to the camera on the baby monitor (I tried not to respond but holy cow it was cute!). I stayed by the crib for another 30 minutes or so, played some music, only picked her up to lay her down. She started crying which quickly moved to hysterical screaming which I couldn't sooth away even by picking her up. Hubby came in and also had a hard time. We finally gave up around 11:30 again. Laid down with her and she went right to sleep but was restless all night.

Even though the sleeping together is working right now, I'm a)afraid the longer we wait the harder it will be and she'll still be sleeping with us when she's 6 (or 16) and b)I would like to occasionally be able to stay up past 8PM and have some alone time with my husband. Most importantly, I don't know what's best for HER. Some say co-sleeping is best. Some say we're damaging her for life by not allowing her to learn to go to sleep by herself. I've read No Cry Sleep Solution; Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby; and the Dr. Sear's Baby Book, plus numerous online posts. I think, maybe she's not ready to leave our bed? This will be easier when she's old enough to understand when we tell her mama is in the other room and she needs to sleep by herself. The crying is so extreme and lasts even when we are in the room and sometimes even when we hold her - the techniques where you sooth just don't work because we can't sooth her without picking her up. I really feel straight up CIO (which is what her pediatrician suggested) would mean 3 hours of hysterical crying until she exhausts herself, and we are not ready to do that.

We need to either decide to put off the crib move for a few months (which is how we are leaning), or come up with a plan that I can write down and follow because after a couple of hours and the crying, I can't think straight at all. Please forward thoughts, advice, ideas to explore - I need help! (sorry for the very long post...)

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So What Happened?

OMG! Thank you all so much!! My husband and I read everything and were like "We think they are ALL right." What we decided last night was to put off the move for a little while. She is teething and miserable (it has gotten worse in the last 2 days)as well as having separation anxiety. We are going to read some more and make sure that we come up with a plan that we can really commit to. Our confusion is definitely doing our daughter more harm than good.

Good luck to all of you in the same boat - your responses were sooo welcome! Please let us know how things work out for you (and if you discover any magic words or deeds to make this easier) and we will do the same :)

More Answers



answers from New York on

Hi K.,
I know what you are going through as we have a 13 month old and have been in that same situation. we both work full time too. Our son was behaving similarly to your baby girl, and we decided to keep him in the bed with us, even though I have to go to bed with him early... It's a sacrifice but in my opinion it'll be over before we know it and we'll be missing those times, even though it's tough. My heart just couldn't deal with him crying and I didn't want him to lose trust in us if we left him to cry on his own.... And there are different opinions out there on this, but I believe it affects babies. Reading the Dr. SEars book called The Baby Sleep book really gave me support in this decision. I hope that this helped in some way. All the best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Darling K.;

First of all, you are FANTASTIC. what a devoted lady. you are doing a great job, you have your whole heart, and your whole brain, invested in this, and you're looking for compassionate answers, and that's all you doing everything right.

have you checked out the Dr. Jay Gordon website for "family bed"? he really supports co-sleeping and has a very humane plan for helping OLDER babies learn to sleep alone.

but, that said, he focuses on the older babies. your baby is still SO little. if you are finding that everyone is getting the most sleep keeping her in the bed, i would encourage you to stick with that. i know a bunch of moms of kids who are over 2 who moved the kids successfully from cosleeping into a toddler bed with no crib in between. many of them used the GOrdon method, the Pantley which you have read, others have had success w just thier own sense of responding to the baby, which sounds like you and your instinctive inclinations.

my kids are 3 and 18 months, and i did not co sleep them, but i did try! but my kids just were into thier cribs i was lucky; however, i did NURSE my son to sleep until he was almost 3, and he only just weaned a few weeks after he turned 3. and it was EASY because he was old enough to talk about it and lean on other ways of being close to me for comfort and for going to sleep. my point is, your baby will not sleep in your bed until she is 6. don't worry.

as for going to sleep at night after 8 yourself, sadly i do not have adivce other than to say, if you hang in there with her, going to sleep early, through the transition of you going back to work, i would bet big money that she will ultimately let you nurse her to sleep and leave her there; either in your bed with bed rails which you can find on line or even nurse to sleep and get put into her own crib.

the trick is HUGE amounts of patience by you. don't believe any of these BS systems that say you can make these changes in a week; it may happen like that for a couple of families once in a while but it's not the norm at all. changes here at our house tended to take months where sleep was concerned. in fact here is the link for my blog posting about sleep;

if this doens't make you feel better about YOUR life nothing will! LOL!

hang tough and good luck, it does get better; my daughter now nurses to sleep, gets put in her crib, and usually wakes up not more than 1x per night and my son cuddles to sleep and stays there all night. you will survive and it will all get better.

lotza luv



answers from New York on

Hi K..
Girlfriend, I understand your pain. We have a wonderful 2.5 y/o son, who never slept in his 3in1 crib in his own room. I nursed him and me, baby and daddy slept peacefully together -- well now I can't take it anymore! He is STILL nursing (only at night) and STLL co-sleeping. At first my husband thought it was all great, but now he can't take it either. I guess what I'm trying to say is let your baby girl cry it out. We are on vacation, but as soon as we get home Louis is going solo. We wished we would have listened to friends/family advice and let him cry ... well maybe not ... but there has to be a change. Don't wait until she's 2.5 like we did.
keep us posted.



answers from New York on


I was going to recommend that you read The No Cry Sleep Solution, but I see you already have. It seems to me that you need to make up your mind about where your baby will sleep first, then train her to sleep there alone. I've never co-slept with my baby, so I can't recommend if its better to sleep with the child or have her sleep in her crib. You have to decide what's right for your family. Be patient and consistant and your baby will learn that it is safe to sleep in her crib or in the bed without you. Reinforce her feeling safe by going to her when she cries and soothing her. Remember, babies cannot rationalize and they do not understand why you are not answering their cries.

I understand how frustrating it can be, and how tiring. We are going through this now ourselves. *YAWN*

Good luck.



answers from New York on

I have several suggestions - the first one is to put your baby on a stricter schedule - meals, naptimes and bedtimes. If your baby goes down for a nap and to sleep at the same time each day (not within a range of about an hour and a half) you will see how much more easily she is able to sleep once she know what the routine is.

As far as the need to pick her up and soother her goes - you need to let here learn to soothe herself. Getting her to fall asleep in a swing will not always be possible - she is eventually going to outgrow the swing and then what will you do? The whole crying it out thing sounds terrible but it does work. You have to be able to tough it out for a few nights in a row - perhaps even as long as a week - but commit to it and stick with it, it does work. I used to sit on the stairs outside my son's room in between attempts to soothe him without picking him up and I wanted to cry myself, but in about five nights he was going to sleep on his own at night.

Just stick the plan you make - it will eventually work out and you will all be much happier for it. Good luck!



answers from New York on

I am by no means a sleep expert, but having gotten all three of my kids (including twins) to sleep through the night at 10 weeks, I'll offer you some advice that I once saw in a sleep video given to me as a gift.

Everyone gets up in the middle of the night, but for us adults and "good sleepers," we just roll over and go back to bed. But, imagine if you went to sleep in your bed and you woke up 3 hours later sleeping on your kitchen floor. You would be so disoriented and alarmed, that of course, you'd wake up and be WIDE awake and scared.

Well, when you rock your baby to sleep or breast feed and hold your baby to get her to sleep, the last thing she remembers is being in your arms and eating. When she naturally wakes up later, she is going to freak out because she'll be like "where am I? Where is my Mom? How did I get out of her arms and into this crib/bed?" And then she will be wide awake screaming.

The best thing to do (in my opinion, so take it or leave it) is to put the baby to bed when she is sleepy/tired, but not asleep. She needs to know where she is when you put her in the crib so that when she naturally wakes up, she'll be in a place she knows she is supposed to be in and will just roll over and go to sleep. Also, no rocking, no music, nothing that she can't replicate for herself in the middle of the night.

Of course, this is easier said than done since she's kind of gotten into a routine of being rocked and sleeping in her bed. If you put her down sleepy and get her to teach herself to soothe herself to sleep, she'll be a great sleeper. But I caution, this MIGHT involve a night or two of crying. I know some of the Moms here don't want anythign to do with crying it out, but it really works. See if you can let her cry without picking her up. If you want, sit in the room and just say "Mommy's here," but don't pick her up... Because if you pick her up, she'll just cry again when you put her down.

Good luck and keep us posted....



answers from New York on

Hi K.,

When my son turned 1 year we decided he had to learn to go to sleep without nursing, rocking, etc, so I developed the A. Approach. I did the usual pre-bed routine but made sure he did not go to sleep post-bottle. I picked him up and hugged and cooed to him and then put him in to his crib with all his "friends," ie, stuffed animals. I stood next to the crib, no eye contact or facial expression, while he sat in the crib playing with the toys, throwing them out on to the floor and just kept going for about 10 minutes until he literally just conked out. I thought, gosh that was sooo easy!
Well, day 2 and 3 went well, too, and I was slowly moving away from the crib each nite. Finally, on day 4 he figured it out--Mom is getting too far away!!! That's when the crying started. I put him in the crib, he stood up and cried and I walked back to the crib kissed his head and walked out of the room. I stood outside the room for one minute while he cried, walked back in and kissed him and told him I love him and walked out again. I did this for about 10 minutes and he passed out.
Next nite, I had to go back and forth for 30 minutes and I thought, "oh sugar, this is getting worse not better." Next nite again 35 minutes and the next nite 10 minutes. Then on day 8, I put him into bed and he went to sleep quietly. I think I felt rejected for about 3 days.
The idea was not to have him cry for too long but not to give in and pick him up. I let him know I was there but meant business. You've established with her that if she cries you give in, so it will take longer I bet, but if you persist and NOT pick her up but keep walking out of the room, or start by staying in the room next to the crib but out of reach, she will know you mean business and are there to watch over her. It is NOT going to be easy. She knows that she's been the boss so you are going to have to re-educate her, but that doesn't mean you have to have her feel abandoned by leaving her to cry it out alone. If she cries but you are present, she knows she is not alone and just has to get it straight that it is time to go to sleep by herself.
BE strong--and get ear plugs.



answers from New York on


Your daughter needs to learn that her crib is a safe place for sleeping and unfortunately by 8 months changing a behavior that has already been learned is going to be a little difficult. Our pediatrician was of the mind that children needed to sleeep in there own beds at all times. Firstly, there was the issue of rolling over on the baby and usually our matresses are too soft for infant. By 3 months our son was sleeping independently in his own crib in his own room. Of course it took a few nights (4 to be exact) of letting him cry which I can tell you was much harder on my husband and myself then it turned out to be on my son (and later my daughter for that matter.) I was crying standing outside his room listening to him cry and my husband had to hold me back from going in the room early, but it was amazing how it worked.

The first night we tried this, I fed my son in a room other then his bedroom and did not let him fall asleep while feeding. Once he finished eating, I changed him and brought him to room and put him in his crib. He was sleepy, but not asleep yet. I then let him cry. We were told by the doctor to time it and not let him go for more than 10 minutes the first night. After 10 minutes we could go in and pat him and speak softly to him, but we couldn't pick him up. (Again much hard for me and DH). After staying the room for no more than 3 minutes, we had to leave again and let him cry for the 15 minutes and then if still crying go in an pat him and speak softly to him. Then 20 minutes and so on.

The first night was awful, but after 20 minutes he was asleep. The second night only took 5 minutes of crying, the third he cried for 1 minute and by night 4 he went in his bed and never cried. The good thing about this method for us, was that we used it in the middle of the night at about 1 when he started waking up for no reason after sleeping through the night for months. We let him cry the first night for a few minutes before we went to check on him and after about 3 minutes he had put himself back to sleep.

My son is 17 now and my daughter followed a similar path. The tihing was we molded them early, so at 8 months they have things somewhat set in there mind. It may take more time to change there behavior. We did separate eating from sleeping and never allowed bottle in bed. Eating went on in the kitchen or living room and sleeping was in bedroom.

It was a hard 4 days, but well worth it in the end. My kids are still great sleepers and it allowed my husband and I to be able to sleep better at night too. This isn't an easy solution and I'm sure in the short-term it would be easier to keep things as they are, but just rememebr, sleep is a learned behavior to some extent, so the longer your daughter learns to go to sleep in one way, the harder it will be to change her sleep patterns.

Hope this helps, but as a back-up you can always ask your pediatrician for suggestions too. Mine was invaluable for this and other issues we had with our kids.




answers from New York on

The right thing is whatever works for your family. If sleepng together works, then leave it alone. If it doesn't owrk, then drastic changes are needed and you should read dr. ferber's book. I work as well, and sometimes have to travel. So right from begining I knew we needed an independent sleeper for my son's sake mostly. I used ferber's method at 4.5 months and modified it to fit my son. You have to do what works for your family, and if that's sleeping together so be it.



answers from New York on

I feel your pain!! We've been pretty much in the same boat except for the co-sleeping didn't work. Also CIO didn't work which is so frustrating because it is so hard we tried it 4 or 5 times since April and always stopped because it didn't work. Probably because we stopped if he was teething or sick but we'd always end up back to square one which was me nursing him back to sleep every two to three hours all night long. Our son is 9 and a half months old and we've become desperate for sleep. He is also a bad napper. So this past week I borrowed the book the "Baby Whisperer solves all your problems" by Tracy Hogg...and its working!! Its a sort of pick up put down method (you should just get it) I read alot of it in a few days and then my husband read the section we needed to focus on (sleep!) and we started doing the technique (modified approaches in the book for age) and although its been hard! Its working. I can lay him down in his crib and he plays now and goes to sleep without screaming. We are still far from there but I feel like this method will work and can be done even when there are setbacks like colds, teething, and travel. My husband responds in the middle of the night and I do put down to bed and naptime. Hopefully we'll get there soon! Hope that helps! Good luck!!



answers from New York on

Dear K.,

I think everyone needs to do what is best for them. Stop reading books and make the decision that suits you your husband and your baby. I personally did not like my children to sleep with me. I was a stay at home mom and needed separation at night. I also felt that this was an important milestone that my children needed to conquer. I can tell you i did the ferberizing method with both of my children just because i needed to sleep and to have some time to myself. it worked although it was difficult to listen to but by the third night i had a sleeping baby. it was wonderful. i can tell you I never had a problem with babysitters people would always comment on how easy my kids were to watch. They would have bath, story, get their blanket, i would put music on say goodnight and we would all have a wonderful nights sleep. I think it builds independence and a much happier home. However, like i said i was a stay at home mom. Please do not parent out of guilt do the right thing for your family. Just make a decision and stick to it. if you and your husband are confused imagine how your child feels. one message she is getting is that if i cry hard enough someone will take me out of this crib. A little crying will not hurt her, eventually she will learn to rely on herself to soothe herself to sleep. Good luck



answers from New York on

Hi K., What you are describing about your daughter sounds a lot like what I am going through with my son, also 8 months old and a very happy sweet child, during the day anyway. At night he turns into a wailing, non-sleeping, miserable kid. The reaosn he is wakeful is because he is teething. He has no teeth yet but he is biting on everything. The reason I know for sure that this is what is waking him is because he stopped waking to eat several months ago. I gave him water for a few days and since then he no longer needs food until the am. He had no bm when he wakes up so I know that it is not a gas or bowel pain that is causing his crying. So, in conclusion I suggest considering trying a teething remedy of some sort, natural/herbal like Hylands (sold in CVS) or Tylenol to ease her when she wakes. Try it one tim to see if it works.

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