Monday, March 14, 2011

Crying it Out - does it really work in the long run?

As some may know we have had ongoing sleep battles with my almost 4 year old (eeekkk!  4!)  For quite some time.  The really bad fights started almost a year ago when she moved out of her crib to her bed.

Yes, our daughter slept in her crib until she was 3 and I highly recommend it....(even though as you read on you will find out that I have no idea what I am doing.)

She slept well for about a month and then the craziness hit and it really hasn't stopped.  There has been much crying and fighting.  Mike and I have done everything.  We have put up gates, child locks, bought cd players, rubbed lavender on her feet, laid with her, sang, read, spanked, ignored, not spoken, yelled, continuously put her back in her room like Super Nanny...and on...and on....

I feel like I have read every single book on sleep or at least the popular ones.  They all say the same thing eventually consistency, schedules, sleep logs and crying.

As I get ready to sleep train Georgia, I am really beginning to wonder if all this sleep training is just some buzz word that Dr. Ferber came up with.  Is sleeping through the night actually achievable for any child? 

I have never been too concerned about the number of wake ups my babies have until they are about one.  Then my exhaustion sets and and well...truthfully I end up pregnant too.  Maybe my expectations are too high?

I do think a regular schedule is very important and we do our best to promote good healthy sleep.  I am a firm believer that sleep is crucial to growth and development.  I love sleep, personally.

As I type, Mike has just taken Ally after her second wake up of the night (and it is only 11pm) to bed.  Yep, we are sleeping with our child.   For the past two weeks Mike has taken Ally downstairs at his bed time and they sleep for the rest of the night.  At first it was because the fight had started to happen through out the night too and we decided that sleeping was more important then the where.

Now I sit here perplexed because we had a tough night with Zoe (yes it could be the blasted time change too) and it seems that getting Georgia to sleep is also a fight.  I just feel like we are doing something wrong.  I admit that I have a very hard time letting my children cry it out but I have found that it works...or at least in the beginning.

Basically I sleep with my babies until they are about 6-7 months.  The rule I had was that you could sleep with me as long as you sleep.  Around 6 months each girl starts to be distracted by and want to nurse all of the time and not un-latch until morning.  I  can't do that for long before it drives me nuts and fighting to get my nipple away from an insistent baby is hard when you sleep together.  So we do cry it out and move then to their own bed and room.  Things seem to go really well.  Until they are older...


Why is it so hard?  Why is there so many tears and heart ache?  Why is sleep something you have to teach?


  1. It's crazy isn't it! J was always a good sleeper, but we eventually turned to crying it out to put her to bed. She was almost one and she wouldn't go to sleep easily unless she was rocked.

    It worked and it only took a few days.

    Then when she was about two she started resisting again...we started using a timer and that worked well - it might work with Ally. We started with her bedtime routine - when the timer goes off, it's time for a bath. When it goes off again, it's time to get out. When it goes off again, it's time to start stories. When it goes off again, it's time to brush teeth and go have songs. For a few weeks, it went off again for the end of songs (even though she has about five and they have to be in the same order) and time to get into bed. For awhile there was one more timer for when it was time for Mommy to leave her room.

    Now we have an alarm clock that we rarely set that goes on her dresser. When it goes off, she can come out of her room...

    We use the timer for other things too - when it's time to put toys away for dinner, when it's time to leave somewhere fun etc.

    That might work with Ally since she's older - J is starting to recognize numbers and last night I had a sitter come over. I was coming home just before bedtime (at 8) and when I walked in the door, J told me I was early because the clock still said 7...maybe you can get Ally to at least stay in her room or her bed until the clock says a certain time?

    And day light savings time? It's a killer and we had some issues with it too!

    Sorry for the novel...

  2. Callie just switched to a big girl bed a few nights ago, we finally finished building it. Maturity-wise, most kids don't really 'get' the boundaries of a bed until about 3 anyway, so I wasn't in a hurry to transition.

    I'm sorry you're struggling with sleeping issues. Getting the girls to sleep is nightly thing for us, as they like to talk in bed and goof off. I have to be ruthlessly consistent, and sometimes just plain ruthless. Once the light goes off, any talking is a spanking. Getting up for a reason other than a nightmare or potty break is also a spanking. We do not let them come to bed with us. We do not let them snuggle with each other. Bed time is quiet, in our own beds, and asleep. Any attempts at something other than that at bedtime are squelched immediately.

    I don't know if it is us, our kids, or what have you, but it works. We have to listen over the monitor and mean what we say. No slacking, no letting it slide. But a few weeks of ruthlessness equals 90% compliance or so. And yes, both girls test those boundaries every month or two. We just keep on top of it and it gets better. Ally sounds like a sleep nightmare in terms of training so your mileage may vary, but for us nothing but strict boundaries and attract enforcement works. We might just have good sleepers, I can already tell Lilah is just more of a night owl than Callie. But no matter how awake she is we force her to lay there silently once the light goes off. For the most part it works wonderfully.

    I wish I had better advice, I know you have said you don't like spanking for sleep issues, but one warning, a swat, and then cloth-diaperless spankings for any closely spaced repeat offenses stops the disobedience and keeps things moving in the evenings as they should. Gentler tactics weren't helping us, either. We also cosleep for the first few months like you, and I haven't noticed that negatively affecting our sleep patterns any. But with two little girls in the same room a strict guideline works the absolute best to everyone getting the most rest. I am still woken up at 2 am by night terrors and nursing, sure, but it's not disobedience and a kiss (or nurse) usually ends it quickly.

    You have nothing but compassionate hugs from me!

  3. As I told you we too went through what you did with our daughter (turns out at 23 she is a night owl)... and we also didn't spank for sleep issues.

    We did the family bed... sleep was way more important to me than anything else in the end... and you know what?

    My kids turned out to be pretty darn great kids, teens and adults.
    We are a very close family.. and whether or not the family bed had anything to do with that I cannot say.
    And yes.. there were many a night when I would dream of a sleep that did not consist of a small foot pressed into my side.. or a night that my husband and I could share our bed alone (wink, wink).. however that time, no matter how frustrating slips by too quickly.. and what I wouldn't give for that little foot pressed into my side.. sigh.

    My advice... buy a bigger bed.. haha...

    actually.. in the end.... you do what is best for your family no matter what advice is thrown your way.

    Good luck... and sweet dreams (soon I hope!)