From Co-sleeping to CIO???

Updated on July 27, 2011
S.R. asks from Kearney, NE
27 answers

What works to gradually decrease co-sleeping? My son is one and does not sleep well on his own...when my sister calls and tells me her little guy is sleeping through the night with the occasional pat on the back if he wakes at night I just feel like a failure. My son still wakes to nurse at night and his naps during the day are all in half-hour increments. It is so bad that he actually wakes up if we try and lay him in his crib for a nap. I feel terrible! Like I have set my son up for poor sleeping habits. Any suggestions? Try not to be too harsh on this first time mother...I thought I was doing great with the attachment parenting thing, but somewhere I think it backfired because he will not sleep in his crib and he will not sleep for long when he is sleeping alone.

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answers from Dallas on

None of my first three slept through the night at that age. I definitely wouldn't do CIO from's not fair to the baby;-)

One tip that worked well for me was to wait 15 minutes after my baby went to sleep to move him/her to the bed I wanted them in. I wouldn't wait longer than 20 minutes as that specific part of the sleep cycle has passed and he'll wake up most likely. This has been a life saver for me.

My 4th is my only one who hasn't co-slept. I tried, but she wouldn't settle! It was bad enough she was keeping me awake almost constantly, so I started moving her into the co-sleeper, and she'd sleep great. She is 13 months and sleeps through the night most of the time. She has for about 2-3 months. It's been awesome, to be honest!

Each baby is DEFINITELY different. Just because it works for one doesn't mean it will work for another. What you're describing really sounds normal to me. Mine have been the same.

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answers from Chicago on


First - don't feel like a failure.

Second - tell your sis (politely, at least out loud) to shut it!!!!!!!!!! Comparing kids is what insecure moms do. Moms who are secure know that whether or not their kid does xyz is NOT a reflection on them as parents.

Third - pick a parenting philosophy and then stick with it (as long as it works for your family) regardless of what anyone else says.

For example - if your goal is attachment parenting then your measures for success are NOT that your kid can sleep through the night in their own bed with no involvement from a parent. Your measure for success would be that when your son wakes up he knows that you are there to comfort him. 2 different goals. Doesn't matter what someone else's kid does or how someone else parents their kid!!!!!!!

Fourth - some kids don't sleep through the night, regardless of how they learned. Does she nurse her kids? Kids who are BF wake up more - I know at least at first. I don't really know how old your son is, but that might have something to do with it.

However- the only advice I would give is that if he's not sleeping for more than 30 min for naps try keeping him awake longer (but not too much so that he gets over-tired). In order to get through all the REM cycles, I think naps should really be about an hour until kids are 2.

And - if he doesn't want to nap in his crib - let him nap somewhere else. Attachment parenting is about making your kid feel secure. If he's secure napping on the couch and can get good sleep... does it really matter than he's not in his crib? Goal... good sleep. Meet it however you can!!!!!!

Good Luck.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Co sleeping is not a failure - it is seeing what your child NEEDS and you doing the right thing about it instead of FORCING something your child isn't ready for. Some babies can be subdued quickly into being isolated and alone in a room where they often wake up scared, confused why they are alone, etc... in the dark - other children do not give up voicing their needs as easily.

Don't compare your child's needs and normal behaviors to another's child. It helps no one to do so. Co-sleeping sounds like the right path for better and safer sleep for both you and baby. I'd stick with it.

Sleeping through the night is NOT a normal milestone until after grade school... because honestly - do YOU sleep thru the night? Or do you wake up due to thirst, bathroom, noises, dreams, etc? Adults do not even sleep thru the night yet expect their infant, toddler or pre-schooler to? WHY?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

First of all you are not a failure, A baby sleeping in a separate room may seem easier but that does NOT make it "better".

There's nothing odd about a 1 year old who wants to sleep with mom and doesn't sleep soundly.

I would NOT recommend going from an attachment process to CIO. As a matter of fact i would NEVER recommend all. There are many other ways of accomplishing what you want that may take a little longer. Like "the no cry sleep solution" But please remember that sleep training is not a means to an end,,,the process and the journey DO matter.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Your baby is only 1, he still needs mama close. I would keep co-sleeping and don't worry about comparing your parenting to your sister's. Every child is different. She may have a completely different baby than yours--. Do what is right for you! If you enjoy co-sleeping and it works for your baby, do that until it doesn't work. I really would advise you NOT to go to CIO right now. That seems pretty harsh given he is sleeping with you right now---too much of a jump. Do baby steps if you want him to sleep in his crib.



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answers from Portland on

They have a book called the no cry sleep solution. Don't feel like a failure, every child is different and every parent is different. Even if you have used a method (an attachment parenting method) I would try following this book or re use the method and being consistent with it again. ONLY if you want him out of the bed. Co-sleeping is only a problem when it isn't comfortable for both of you. If he is waking up because he is hungry, feed him. My daughter wanted something in the middle of the night some nights at 1 and she slept in her own bed. Try not to compare yourself to other moms, I know it's easier said than done lol.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like a completely normal attached baby! My daughter woke as much or more when she was that age, she eventually started sleeping better until we got her a bed of her own and now she wakes up multiple times again... urgh. anyway, don't worry he needs you right now, don't abandon him by doing cio

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answers from Seattle on

I'll be a second voice for the "No Cry Sleep solution" books, by Elizabeth Pantley. Great ideas there.

Kids are different. They all have different sleep styles. No, you have not set up your son for poor sleep habits. You just have a different kid from your sister. Those two kids would most likely have different sleep styles even if they had the same parent.

We coslept and never used a crib. Our kids moved from our bed, to a blanket nest on the floor of our room, to their own beds for part of the night, to their own beds for the whole night. The timing was different for each of them, but they're all in their own beds now. We have six in the house, currently ranging in age from 4 to 14.

Make your own choices based on your own needs and your own child. Don't do too much comparing to others. Don't feel that every time someone is proud of their child's strengths, it's a criticism of you.

Your sister is proud of her child's sleeping habits. Good for her. Celebrate with her. Let her be proud without assuming it is a criticism of you. If she *is* criticising you, you can gently remind her of your own authority over your child. One possible script:
"I'm glad that what you are doing is working so well for you. Isn't it great that each of us gets to choose what works best for our own child?"

The urge to compare our kids is very strong. Learn to resist this urge. It will serve you well in the many years of parenting you have ahead of you.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I know how you feel. My kids didn't sleep through the night at that age, either, and they would never fall asleep without me at night. I think that's pretty normal for co-sleeping babies, and if it doesn't bother you, then you shouldn't pay any attention to what other babies are doing. It didn't really bother me because I just nursed them while I was sleeping, so I didn't lose that much sleep over it. We didn't even have cribs for either one of our children because I knew they wouldn't sleep in them, and I preferred having them right next to me in bed.

We didn't transition them to their own beds until they were two years old. They slept in their own beds next to ours for a few months before we transitioned them into their own rooms, and after a few weeks they were fine sleeping through the night. To me it was easier to wait until they were a little older, because they could understand a little more that Mommy and Daddy are in the next room. Now they are eight and six and have no problems sleeping in their own room and sleeping through the night (although they still use a night light, which is not a big deal to me). So don't worry, your kids will be fine. Just keep doing what feels right for you and your baby, and ignore everyone else. :-)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You are not a failure just because your sister's child is a better sleeper. She's lucky – if she tells you she 'trained' him to sleep, I doubt that that's true. Some children are born sleepers, and their sleep can be 'adjusted' to suit the parents' schedules. And some kids simply do not sleep very well. My grandson seldom slept through a whole night until he was about 2.5, no matter what his parents tried, including CIO on a few occasions. It was not his fault, and it was not their faults. (He's been a great sleeper since then.)

Many parents (I'm one of them) co-slept with their children and had no trouble moving them to their own beds later. It may be a matter of timing, with the child having entered a more independent stage or a different sleep pattern, but co-sleeping is not necessarily going to create later problems. Many parents find the reverse to be true. As with everything else, every child is an individual, with individual patterns and needs.

There are a few things you can try that may make a difference in your son's ability to sleep deeply and long. One is to be sure he gets a couple of hours of natural daylight – earlier in the day is better. Plenty of exercise to wear out those little muscles. No television or other screen time late in the day – the bluish light is known to interfere with the brain's ability to make melatonin, the natural sleep hormone. And the fast editing of modern programming messes with a child's natural brainwave patterns. The last hour or so before bed should be quieter and less stimulating, and a dependable bedtime routine often helps.

Keep his foods as natural as possible; artificial colors and preservatives are known to cause some children to become more hyperactive. And keep all chemical irritants out of his room, and ideally out of his life. Common household products contain some truly toxic ingredients that can stimulate the central nervous system and make sleep more elusive. The worst offenders are fabric softeners, scented detergents, and air fresheners. Try to keep all scented products out of his room and off his bedding.

Many, many kids are not finished night nursing until well into their second year. My daughter needed to nurse at night until about 1.5, as I recall. She gradually dropped the nighttime feeding by herself, and we co-slept happily until she was around 2. I would never have thought to use CIO as a way to break her of co-sleeping – that is a very abrupt change that would probably have been very upsetting and confusing for her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

It seems to me that cosleeping is what I will continue to do! And happily. He loves it and I love it and it makes for great evening cuddle time after a long day of nurse work! Thanks gals!

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answers from Provo on

My son is 21 months old and still doesn't sleep through the night. And I don't expect him to till he's older. He to would not be comforted by a pat on the back. He had to be held by his mom and loved.
You are doing just fine. You haven't broken your baby by attachment parenting. If that is the parenting style you want, then you are going to have to stick with it. Your baby has only known continuous love so that would be EXTREMELY hard to change. Continue what you feel is perfectly normal for you and your family. If you do decided to CIO (highly advise that with someone who has been doing attachment parenting. MAJOR conflict with what your baby knows) be prepared for TONS and TONS of tears by both parties.

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answers from San Diego on

Love the responses so far. It is so hard to know what is best when you're first trying things out, and then every kid is so different.

My bf had a son who slept through the night with sleep training at three months. I felt so horrible (AP mom here) that at 18 months my daughter was still sleeping with me. Along comes her second and her daughter simply would not sleep without parents.

Try your best not to compare and each philosophy is so personal, even within the same family.

You ARE doing great! Sometimes the best outcomes aren't known until years down the road.

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answers from Dayton on

You are NOT a failure!
No two babies are the same-my 2 kids are as different as night and day.
My son is 15 months. He co-sleeps, he wakes at night to nurse (usually twice) and he likes to nap in my arms.
In fact, chances are if I am on Mamapedia-my son is taking a nap. ;)
I can put him down occasionally on our bed. But sometimes it doesn't work out.
I expect all of this.
How old is your son?
When my DD was 2 we put her crib mattress on the floor next to our bed. I made it as soft and fluffy as our bed w/ some (cheap) king sized pillows (baby mattresses are like slabs of cement).
She had a glowing bear. And a special mommy blanket.
She transitioned out of our bed.

I will wait to do this again when my son a) is old enough to comprehend and b) starts getting on my nerves. Lol. DD had leg/feet issues-she liked to rub them on me. ;)

DD is 5 now and sleeps pretty ok on her own in her own room.

It will be ok. Relax.

You do what works for you, and don't worry about what others do. ;)

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answers from Eugene on

Your sisters baby is totally different from yours. Even twins are not the same. Poor sleeping habits. This is a myth. If you aren't working and needing to get him to daycare at a particular time let him work it out for his sleep pattern. Just put him down at 7:30 every night and let him nurse. Once he is weaned everything changes. By now he has teeth and can eat cereal at night which will keep him full enough to sleep longer between feedings. Continue nursing. CIO is waterboarding for infants. We just don't do it. Several generations were raised on that nut job idea and from it we got drug addicts and rebels like me. You know feminists.

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answers from Boston on

No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. Attachment parenting IS a good thing. It's just time to transition to a little more balance and your baby is now more developmentally ready to sleep for longer stretches. NCCS is a gentle alternative to CIO. It gives literal, practical advice for things like breaking the nursing lock if your baby falls asleep at the breast and wakes up when you pull him off, etc. One of my sisters has a daughter who STTN at 6 months but her temperament is different and my sister's approach to parenting in pretty hands-off. Don't compare yourself to your sister - STTN is not a competition!

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answers from Dallas on

Breathe, relax, and stop giving yourself a hard time :)

I have a friend who has 5 kids and each kid had a different sleep style, from the sleep through the night at an early age, to a didn't sleep through the night till he was 4 (this one is like mine). All kids are different. We co-slept out of necessity because we traveled a lot when my son was small and didn't have access to cribs. When we settled, we got a twin size mattress for his room and skipped the crib. This way, I could still co-sleep a bit, be comfortable, and have him get used to the bed. It was a great way for me to nurse him at night and be comfortable. If I fell asleep, it was ok.

He's 4, and he still likes me to be with him to fall asleep, but he stays asleep most of the time. I've been working to "wean" him from needing me. Instead of snuggling till he sleeps, I snuggle a bit, and then sit next to him. I'll gradually cut that out so he can sleep on his own. But honestly, though it takes "my" time, I know this won't be a time we'll have forever so I cherish it.

Honestly, I'm not surprised he doesn't like the crib, because I look at crib matresses and think "how uncomfortable"; why do we assume that little kids don't have the same preferences for comfort that we do. :)

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answers from Kansas City on

you are not a failure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! does he sleep better if being held upright? my oldest would scream if he layed flat when he was a newborn and when he was about 2 months old we found out he had reflux and once he was on some meds and we had to switch him to lactose free formula he was okay. just take you time and see what works for him. as for the mom who is trying to say sleeping through the night is not a normal milestone, she is clueless. it is a milestone, it just comes at a different time for every baby. my brother was sleeping through the night when he was 10 days old, i was 3 weeks old. my oldest who is now 2 1/2 was about 7 months old and my 8 month old twins were 3 months old. everyone is different. dont stress it. you are doing a great job.

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answers from Phoenix on

Please don't compare your child's sleep habits to your friend's child's. It's a recipe for madness. Some kids sleep well at night, others do not. I have 3 children and none slept through the night before 18 months. None of them slept with my husband and I as a matter of routine, but they still woke 4-6 times a night. Once they start sleeping through the night, though, they sleep a solid 10-11 hours. He will someday sleep, I'm sure of it! If you want to transition to a new sleep arrangement, do so very gradually and have a lot of patience. The No Cry Sleep Solution is a helpful book to get you started, but recognize your child is unique and the suggestions may need a little tweeking. As for weaning off night nursing, allow at least 3-5 days for each nursing session during the night. Replacing the nursing with a cup of liquid helps. The child will resist at first and then accept it willingly after a few days. You might want to make sure you hold the child upright over the shoulder in a chair not cradled by your breast while trying to get him back to sleep. I also had to replace camisoles with t-shirts to decrease the temptation for my son to nurse.

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answers from Milwaukee on

We used Marc Weisbluth's book..healthy sleep habits, healthy child!! it is the bomb! We started it when our son was 4 months old. But it is never too late. You really do need to let HIM learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep. Our son is 4. He has never slept in our bed, not once. We have never slept in his room, not once. He has not needed us! Teething was sort of tough to hear him whimper but our deal was if he cried because of teething for more than 15 minuntes, we would go in. He never cried longer than that b/c of teething.

In the begining of sleep will be tough to not go in but it is SOOOO worth it in the long run! Try to let him learn! It usually does not last more than 3 days or so. Good luck!


answers from Kansas City on

I can't sleep through the night. The goal is not him sleeping. It's you figuring out what you are willing to do for him and what he can do for himself. There are things you can do. Pottying...that's taken care of for now since he's in diapers. But I BELIEVE you should go and change him. I will not leave a child to sleep in a wet diaper. Drink.. good sippy cup with water. There, done. Noises bothering him? Get him some music or white noise machine or fan. Make sure that what he is hearing is soothing. There...done. Hungry? Well I personally draw the line by the time they are maybe a year and a half. I am not going to feed a child in the middle of the night at that age. But do feed him a bed time snack.

I believe that part of the problem with kids not sleeping is that we've taken all comfort out of sleeping. We are so dang scared of SIDS that we want them in an empty crib with a hard mattress, no pillow... yuck. I have a hard time sleeping when I AM comfortable. If he's in good health, strong, and able to move around on his own, it's time to soften his mattress. Put some soft pillow topper type pad on the mattress. You can get a twin and cut it down. Wrap that with a tight fitting sheet. Give him a thin pillow or a thicker but smaller pillow. Just so long as the pillow doesn't go from side to side in the crib and it's not heavy. Give him a few safe toys that can't fall apart. Give him a nightlight and his sippy with water. NOW he's ready to be alone.

When he cries, go in, change him, hug him, kiss him, and leave. I have no problem doing that a couple times per night so they are sleeping in dry pants.



answers from Omaha on

I will simply say, don't be so hard on yourself. lol easy for me to say I am sure- but I do the same thing to myself. My son wasn't a good sleeper, and now at 10 requires at least 10 hours of sleep to be pleasant and functional the next day. However, he doesn't get that most nights, because he won't go to sleep. My husband started the co sleeping thing- even after years of saying we wouldn't do that. And with my husband gone most nights- it was easy for my son to wait til i was asleep and come slip into bed with me. BUT, we ended up making him a pallet next to the bed, and not allowing him into the bed and that seemed to help. It hasn't killed any of us, it's just been kindof a hard habit to break.


answers from Santa Fe on

Well, my 21 month old also sleeps with us at night. Some nights she also wakes up crying and upset once during the night but most nights she sleeps through the night. My plan is to transition her to a mattress on the floor of our room when she is 2. I suspect I will start off sleeping next to her and then I'll move into our bed. Then we will eventually move the mattress into her room. Our older child finally started sleeping through the night when he was about 2 years old. He was sleeping in his own room by about 2 and a half. I think you are doing great....every baby is so different. I have to say I am jealous when I hear about my brother's daughter who started sleeping through the night when she was only about a month old! She is such an easy baby. Anyway, good luck making this transition with your little one. Time goes by terribly fast and before you know it he'll be 10 years old and you will hardly remember when you were trying to get him to sleep in his own bed.



answers from Rochester on

I had to add my 2 cents. I have 3 kids. The first two I did not sleep with. My hubby and I decided right away that we would never do that! LOL keep reading it gets better! So for our 3rd (this is when you get all the kinks out and you start getting things right LOL) The fist night......She slept in our bed:) I honestly wish I would have slept with all my kids! She is now 8 months old is mostly sleeps in her crib, but sometimes still sleeps with us. When we put her in her crib we make a big deal out of it, like it is the most fun place in the world to be in that crib. We also have fun toys and a stuffed animal that in her faverite that only stays in the crib. We started only making her take naps in the crib (so that mommy could sleep better at night)! Then on weekends we tried having her sleep in her crib. Now she floats between her crib and our bed (about half the night in her crib and half the night with me). I think it works well and will do this for a while. I told my church family that I was sleeping with my child and told me when she would tell me when she was ready to sleep in her own bed and that it realy was not a bid deal. Also sleeping through the night means nothing. My first slept through the night. He is now 7 and is a good sleeper when he actulay goes to bed (he likes to stay up really late reading in his room, and then can never get up for school on time! our 2nd never slept and is now 3 and goes to bed like a champ at 7 and gets up like a champ at 6! Just remember this is just a phase and will soon pass!



answers from St. Louis on

You are not a failure! Some people are just lucky to have good sleepers. My son has become a great sleeper at a young age BUT that's just because he did it. We co-slept for a bit. We stopped when he kept waking me up cause he was tossing and turning so much at night. Then he was able to transition himself to his bouncer seat and pack and play in my room. It wasn't till he was sleeping 6-7 hour stretches that even tried his crib and it still took a couple of attempts. Basically what I did to transition him from my bed out was I kept him in my room, but somewhere different (in his case it was the pack and play). I would put him down in it and attempt to have him sleep in it as long as possible. As long as I wasn't trying to sleep yet, I would respond to his crys, re-soothe him however it was needed, then put him back down. I did this till I was ready to go to bed. When he woke up after I went to bed, I would usually just pull him in the bed with me for the rest of the night. I did this every night for about a month and then one night he start stretching his sleep times till he was sleeping 6-7 hours. This is when I actually moved him to his own room and his own crib and I once again did the same thing, although this time I did crib till bed, after bed, pack and play in my room once to twice, then my bed until he started sleeping in his crib through the night. At this point, he almost never had to be pulled into the bed with me. Eventually they figure out "this is where I sleep." I did have to make his mattresses more comfortable though, which I did with some nice fleece blankets, just to make it a little softer feeling. I know they tell you not to for SIDS, but it helped a lot. He never messed with the blankets beneath him until he started rolling over and by this point he was pretty good crib sleeper so I just took them out.

He still does a LOT of naps on me or in his swing and not in his crib (this has been an ongoing challenge for a couple of months now). Honestly, I tell everyone now, just go off of your baby's own personal cues. When he's ready to start sleeping more independently, he'll start to do it. If you try it and it doesn't seem to be working, then don't push it. Just wait a little longer, maybe try again later, and if it still doesn't work, just try again later. He will not be in college and still needing you to sleep so don't stress about what other people's babies are or are not doing. Just do what works for YOU and YOUR BABY. If you really want to transition him then do it slowly and off of him, but don't feel like a failure. Sleep is developmental and he will get better.



answers from Omaha on

My son does the same thing. He is 5 and still wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to sleep with me. I have found that if I turn on soft music he sleeps through the night. On the night I forget I don't get to sleep. He tells me that he is scared and that he wants me to sleep with him. He has been like that since day one. Would never sleep in his crib. he slept in his play pen next to my bed with my hand in it. Try putting on music so he feels someone is still in the room with them. Good luck



answers from Eau Claire on

I did co-sleeping with my son till about 18 months and I wouldn't change a thing!

He also woke in the night, usually about twice, to nurse, until around age one or shortly after. I had to lay with him on the bed and nurse him to sleep for naps when he was smaller, then I transitioned to nursing first, then laying down and reading board books, then singing while snuggling till he fell asleep. Then I moved the whole routine to his own mattress on the floor in my room (about 18-20 months old) so he no longer slept with me for naps or overnight.

That was the routine for quite a while, nurse, books, songs. Then the only thing I added in when he was 2 or 2 1/2 was I didn't wait till he fell asleep. I read 2 books, sang 2 songs, then said goodnight and would go lay in my bed. Each time he got up to try to come to me, I picked him up and put him back on his mattress. The first time I would say, "I love you, but you need to stay in your own bed now and go to sleep." After the first time I said nothing, just kept putting him in back in bed. The first time he probably got up 30 times, the second night it was maybe 10-12, the third night, 4-5. Within a week he gave up and learned to just go to sleep. Then the only change after that was no longer staying in the room with him, same routine though.

With these basic step-downs, I got to still do the co-sleeping while he was young, which was precious and important to me, but I now have a very good little sleeper too. The routine really helped him also. Bath, teeth, bed, books, song, snuggle, sleep. He always knew what would happen next and that made things easier.

Your son just needs to learn how to self-comfort. If you work on his learning to fall asleep with you nearby maybe, but not holding him, he should be able to learn how to self comfort and life should be much easier for you! Good luck!

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