What Happens When Crying-it-out Doesn't Work?

Updated on January 15, 2008
D.P. asks from Peoria, IL
11 answers

I read the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and our 5 1/2 month old doesn't seem to get the falling asleep on his own. He has succesfully fallen back to sleep through the night, (YEAH!) but he is having a LOT of trouble falling asleep on his own. We are on our fifth day and the crying does not seem to be decreasing for naps. In his book, Dr. Weissbluth says it is ok for the baby to fall asleep while nursing but it seems that this is the only way he will go down with less than one hour of crying. Has this happened to anyone else? What did you do? I can't stand it anymore!!!

Also, I mean this in the nicest way possible, but please do not respond with criticizing our choice to let our child cry it out. Everyone can make their own choices as to what is right for them.

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answers from Chicago on

I just want to Congrats you on the cry it out method. I have a six month old and I have tried it and can't take it. (I know he needs to do it but I can't take much of it!).

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answers from Chicago on

We had the same situation with my daughter and what worked for us was the Ferber method ~ where you go in after 5 minutes of crying, pat your son on the back and then leave. Then wait 10 minutes and do it again, and then 15 and so on and so on. It took about a week, but finally my daughter was going to sleep without any crying. It was extremely difficult and I would go sit on the front porch so I wouldn't have to listen to her crying. My husband would be the one to go in. I am a strong advocate of letting them cry it out because I believe it helps them to be better sleepers. My daughter was an awesome sleeper and then we had a little hitch to deal with when we moved her to a big girl bed, but she's back to sleeping great again. Good luck ~ I know how frustrating it can be, but I promise it will get better. :-)

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answers from Chicago on

Weissbluth eventually worked for my daughter, but not for my son. We used the same method as Leslie - increasing the time you check on him by five minute increments. Just silence when you're in there and a little pat or kiss to let him know you care. :)

Best of luck!!!

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answers from Chicago on

I tried it too, and it did not work at all for my son. HE would cry for three hours with me going in regularly to check on him. Eventually he would cry so hard he'd throw up, which became his new tactic. After two weeks of crying, he started forcing himself to throw up. If he eventually fell asleep, he'd wake up in the middle of the night and start all over again. NOT OK! It got so bad he started refusing to sleep in his crib at all, and every time he saw it he'd scream. I had to start bedtime in other rooms at that point and by 13 months he moved into his toddler bed. Now at 16mos I still have to lay with him for five minutes till he falls asleep, but he also sleeps 12 hrs straight. I knew it wasn't working and kept trying and it made it much worse. I agree that you should just trust your instincts and do what your heart tells you. If baby still wants to fall asleep while nursing let him. He only gets to be a baby once.

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answers from Chicago on

What you are essentially doing is called "Ferberizing" your baby. The method is to put your baby down while he is awake, and let him cry it out. Go in after 10 minutes, talk to him for one minute WITHOUT touching him just so he knows you are there, and increase the intervals by 5 minutes each time. So go in at 10 minutes, then wait 20 minutes, then wait 25 minutes, etc. before going in.

This method can take up to 3 weeks - it took about 12 days with my daughter. It sounds mean to some people, BUT IT WORKS!

My daughter is 18 months old now, and sleeps through the night for 12 hours straight. She was 5 1/2 months when we did this, and she began sleeping about 8 hours straight after we completed the process. By 8 months, she was sleeping 12 hours through the night. Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

Darlin, has your son read the book? Didn't think so. =) Books are guides, they give suggestions as to what MIGHT work, just like this website. Unfortunately every child is different! You have probably noticed that with your boys already. Believe me, we have 8 kids and they ALL have their own set of rules! Free will is an amazing thing. =)
My suggestion? Play with him really well before naps. Bicyle his legs, put him on his tummy to practice crawling, take him for a walk (even if it is around the house), play peek-a-boo...do whatever you can to make him active. Then when it is close to nap time slow things down, quiet things, sing to him, nurse him and put him down.
TRUST YOUR GUT! We are so focused on doing wrong that we have forgotten to trust our own mothering instincts. I think you two will do just fine. *HUG*



answers from Muncie on

He's still young enough to nurse to sleep and still benefit from your milk. At 5 months my little one had weaned herself so I had to transitioned her to a passifier. She 17 months now but she only gets it for sleeping.

Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Hi D.,

I am not sure what works best at what phase. Right now, my husband has left my bed, we simply don't fit.
My son turned 6 months on the 9th. The Dr said he had GERD and that's why he kept waking up, we'll see if the med helps after a few days.
I got really excited earlier today, he seemed tired, I propped him on the boppy (in case the acid reflux was the cause of him awakening or not being able to sleep soundly) and he fell asleep without even crying.
On his 3rd nap, he screamed for 1 hour, no matter how many times we went in.
If I hold him or lay in bed with him he will sleep all day.

With my daughter, she did the exact same - except I didn't bring her into my bed as often. She's 17 months - thus the reason why I pick him up as soon as he woke up and 1 attempt at him taking the paci.
Our bedrooms are all next to each other upstairs.

She magically "got it" at 8 months. I guess I could say I'm hoping for a similar result soon enough.
I just can't take him waking me up every night (he didn't do this always) and then taking over our bed. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE to cuddle my little angel. Then I'm a zombie all day and we run a business, I have to function.

It's the toughest thing to me - teaching them to sleep on their own. Ever since my daughter "got it" and it only took 4 days of CIO and she never cried more than a few mnts, it has been glorious and i no longer dreaded nap and bedtime....

Good thing is as soon as I pick him up and smile, he seems to forget his "torture" so I don't feel so bad....

Don't think I can let him cry much for long though...



answers from Fort Wayne on

Crying it out is what I had to do with my oldest. I was not with her father so it was just me and her. When I started, I thought about quitting b/c it was soooo hard. I went days with 2-3 *broken* hrs of sleep... but I said to myself, if I quit now, when will it stop? So I stuck it out. My daughter however was 9mons old. It took about 4-5 weeks b4 she was completely through crying it out. If I had to do it again, I would even though it was by far one of my worst mommy moments ever. I ended up very sick (from stress) but in the end it finally worked.
All babies are different and maybe crying it out is not the option for your baby. Have you tried a go to sleep routine or music? A swing or a moving/vibrating bouncy type seat to get him to sleep and then moving him to bed?
Best of luck. The less stressed you are during the periods of getting him to sleep the better for both of you.



answers from Chicago on

Hi D.

I nursed both my kids to sleep at night and struggled with them falling asleep on their own also. My daughter finally fell asleep on her own around 7-8 months. And my son around 8 months also. I tried the crying out method and love the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. My daughter is now a great sleep and my son is improving. I believe that crying it out before 6 months doesn't work. I know some believe in it, I don't. Good luck




answers from Chicago on

My pediatrician told me that the cry it out method can take up to 14 days depending on the kid. We did this with our oldest son and it took the whole 2 weeks. He cried (although never longer than 20 minutes) for the same amount every night, and I swore it should have been getting better and that it wouldn't work. My husband said we had to stick it out the 14 days. Well, on day 14, he didn't cry at all. He is now 5 years old, and he is the best sleeper ever since we did the CIO method. I am so happy we did it, and I think it was the best thing for him to. So, hang in there a little while longer. I know it is heart breaking, but try to take a shower or do something so you don't just sit there and listen to it.