Let Him Cry

*Thanks to Dan, a new dad here at Graco, for contributing this post!*

Let him cry and the tears will run down both of your faces.

Getting baby to sleep through the night is no easy task. You should know that our baby is pretty close to being perfect in the sense that he is very easy to take care of…. Except for sleeping through the night.

Poor little guy still gets up to eat, every morning around 3am. We feed him, bathe him, tuck him in, still every night we have broken sleep. Four days ago we started to do as the doctor recommended, we let him cry. Supposedly, babies will cry and then fall asleep. Over the course of a few days their little bodies get used to waiting to eat and they sleep through the night.

Well, after doing this for 4 nights in a row and sleeping only a hand full of hours, we are the ones who are crying. While this method may work for some, it isn’t for us. Not only did this method strike out, we are now more tired than we were before.

Parental instinct is telling me that he’s not ready yet… and neither are we.

If anyone out there has any ideas on how to get our baby to sleep sound through the night, we’re all tears (pun intended).
-DM

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5 Responses to “Let Him Cry”

  1. Angela January 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Judging by the picture, I’d say he’s too young to cry it out still. Most ‘babies’ aren’t ready to cry it out until they are between 1-2 years old (closer to 2). By that time, they know that they can ‘get their way’ by crying for mom and/or dad, but before that, they cry because they need something. There are a few things you can do before that age that may help. Make sure to keep the nightly comforting to a minimum. Hug/cuddle until they’re calm, but still awake and lay them down. Then if they still cry, wait a few minutes then go in and rub their back or something to comfort them, but don’t make it too much of a production. Keep doing this until they get back to sleep on their own. This teaching them that you’re still there, but they can comfort themselves back to sleep. It’s rough the first week or so with this method, but it will work and the baby isn’t getting so worked up that they literally can’t fall back to sleep.

  2. Holly January 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    I agree that he does appear too young to “self-soothe”–to get himself back to sleep without any parent intervention. There are recent studies that actually show there are damaging effects to just letting babies “cry-it-out”. It can lead to emotional and social detachment and increased anxiety later in life, as well as neurological problems–the toxic hormone cortisol is released when a baby is distressed which is a neuron killer (NOT GOOD in a baby’s developing brain because it can cause mental and physical problems later in life). This method of trying to force independence on a baby actually causes higher dependence later in life. The baby is absolutely dependent on caregivers for learning how to self-regulate. Responsive care–meeting the baby’s needs before he gets distressed–tunes the body and brain up for calmness. When a baby gets scared and a parent holds and comforts him, the baby builds expectations for soothing, which get integrated into the ability to self comfort. Babies don’t self-comfort in isolation. If they are left to cry alone, they learn to shut down in face of extensive distress–stop growing, stop feeling, stop trusting. Plainly put, sometimes a baby just needs to be babied! If your baby needs comfort to fall asleep then comfort him. There are some things that have worked for us (we have 2 boys aged 3 1/2 and 4 months). The order in which things are done at night are a big deal for us…we must do a bath, then lotion and jammies, then a bottle, then baby is allowed to breastfeed if he hasn’t fallen asleep on his own, then he is put down for the night. I used to just breastfeed him until he fell asleep, but then he wouldn’t eat enough so he would wake up after only a few minutes to a couple hours. We find that if given an adequate amount of food, he will sleep all night. (And we’ve found this routine only through trial and error, and through MANY nights of no sleep or broken sleep!) If baby does wake up during the night we try to just pick him up and burp him (as that is usually the culprit to the awakening), and then hold him and gently sway/rock him back to sleep…all while just staying right beside his crib in the dark–if we venture out to the living room or turn on lights it only seems to wake him further. We have found this to be about 90% effective so it’s our go-to move when he wakes during the night. Also establishing certain items that are associated with bedtime–such as a favorite stuffed animal or toy to cuddle and a favorite blankie that are only used at naptime and nightly bedtime–can also help soothe him. This helps to further establish the security much needed by an infant to help them feel safe, loved, and therefor calm and de-stressed enough to sleep through the night or to easily go back to sleep if he does wake during the night. We’ve also found that if baby takes a couple good naps during the day he will sleep better at night–if he doesn’t nap, he’s too wound up at night to sleep. And if you’re like us, you likely have also found certain things that help put him to sleep–holding him a certain way or walking around holding him vs. rocking in a chair. Our baby also is a sucker for the “Shhhhh” sound….if i make that sound quietly while comforting him, it puts him to sleep a lot sooner! So just make note of the little things that tend to help comfort your baby. Simply put, a good bedtime routine, plenty of food, and making sure baby has his “lovey” items to take to bed with him, along with making sure his room is a comfy temperature (also sometimes a nightlight in his room will help too in case of the whole fear-of-the-dark anxiety is adding to nighttime anxiety) and that it is quiet are key components to a good night’s sleep, for baby and for yourself.

  3. Ronni January 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Dan, My daughter still gets up at night she is one. We started using the “CIO” method when she was about 6 months old. She finally got the concept at about 11 months old that Mommy and Daddy get her out of the crib in the morning. Now she self entertains herself when she wakes up at night.. The only time she cries is if she has a poopy diaper or she is in pain. Each parent will get many tips and you will need to find what works best for you. I have also been told that a baby finds it comforting when mommy or daddy picks them up and holds them when they start crying.. I listened to that one and now I am working on weening my daughter from crying about everything.. go figure :)

  4. Desiree January 18, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Dan, my babies are 10 and 6 now and fortunately they both slept through the night. Although I have heard of this method we used it for getting both the girls out of our bed at night. I have to admit they were both a little older than 1 but it was still hard to get through the crying. My eldest cried for about 7-9 nights straight. The time periods got shorter and shorter until one night we hadn’t even released we slept through the night without her calling for us. One safe bet is that it won’t hurt the little guy but you do have to stay consistent and follow through for it to actually work. Good luck!

  5. Kelly January 18, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    yay for ditching CIO… I know if I were crying, I’d want my husband to be there for me, why wouldn’t my baby want her mom/dad there for her?
    Try reading “The no cry sleep solution” by Elizabeth Pantley. it helped me learn about baby sleep patterns, and implementing a routine & putting my baby to bed awake.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0071381392/elizabepantle-21/

    good luck!