8 Reasons to Avoid Sleep Training Your Baby

Sleep Training Baby Crying

All parents have limits. Even the most patient, connected, attached parents can reach the point when they are ready to hurl themselves out of the window from sheer sleep-deprivation-induced insanity. Anybody who has me on their facebook friends list will know that recently I have been dealing with some serious nightwaking, and I admit that at times (always at 3am after the 6273647626th waking of the night) I have wondered whether I could continue in my efforts to never let my baby cry it out.

I know that our sleep issues will soon resolve themselves – in the meantime I am doing all I can to ensure I get enough rest to be able to cope with Squishy’s night time needs. I am so very glad that we stuck to our principles and refused to train him. My oldest son, Monkey, was also seemingly allergic to sleep in the first year of his life, and I am proud to say that he also was never left to cry himself to sleep, no matter how many times he awoke (it was a lot, by the way).

This difficult stage in our lives has really made me think about why I make the parenting choices that I make. During the recent height of Squishy’s sleepless stage (try saying that at speed when you’re sleep deprived) I read lots of books and online articles about babies and sleep, the majority of them by people who hold the same parenting philosophy as I do. However, it was the articles and books written by the CIO/Controlled Crying advocates that really cemented my belief that sleep-training babies is wrong. Now I feel that I can really put into words the reasons why I don’t subscribe to this night-time baby training business – and here they are.

(A side note – dealing with nightwaking is HARD. I know that. I am one of those people who NEEDS sleep, and having two children who didn’t (and don’t) seem to need much has been difficult and has shown me sides of myself that I don’t much care for. Please don’t think that I am one of these mums who preaches from her pedestal having not experienced just how tough it can be – I know. I’ve been there, and I’m still there now. I am not saying that we should all joyfully leap out of our beds a million times a night to tend to our babies, and I am all for gentle ways to encourage our babies to sleep better when they are physiologically and emotionally ready. What I am not, and never will be down with is the systematic and prolonged abandonment of children left to ‘teach themselves to sleep’.)


Reason #1 – Sleep Training is Not Fair


This may get some peoples’ backs up but quite frankly, I’m not worried about that. I don’t care how you dress it up; leaving little babies to cry by themselves in a dark room is not fair. Period.  Most of them aren’t crying because they are ‘frustrated due to learning a new skill’ (falling asleep alone), as I read in one book. They DEFINITELY aren’t crying because they are devious little manipulators. They are crying because they need the comfort and love of a parent, and that need is as real and as valid as their need for food.

I am not talking about leaving a baby to grumble for five minutes before falling asleep – we all know babies that seem to need that 5-minute wind-down time alone (not that either of mine have been like that). A few minutes of fussing is completely different to prolonged, distressed screaming night after night from a confused, frightened and lonely child. Babies don’t understand that mama is exhausted and needs sleep – all they understand are the overwhelming feelings of need; of emotional pain and longing. We may know that our babies are safe in their rooms, but they do not know this. Their instincts are telling them that they are alone, and therefore in great danger.

No sane parent makes choices for their kids that they don’t believe are in their children’s best interest. I am not saying that parents who use these methods are intrinsically cruel; I am saying that the methods themselves are cruel.  Listen to your hearts, mamas.

For a gentle sleep solution, Try Sleepsense


Reason #2 – Sleep Training Doesn’t Work Long-Term


Using sleep-training methods, be they the good ol’ CIO method or the supposedly more humane Controlled Crying (ugh), are short-term solutions. With most babies they do ‘work’, in that within a few nights the baby will probably be sleeping alone and for longer stretches. But what happens when baby gets sick or is teething? What happens when the family takes a holiday somewhere and the routine gets messed up? They have to do the whole stinking awful process all over again. Children who have learnt healthy sleep habits in their own time, in an environment of love and respect, will be much more capable of slipping in and out of routine without much uproar. Co-sleeping babies will usually sleep anywhere, as long as they have a warm body to snuggle up against.

When we sign up for parenthood, we don’t expect to be excused from our responsibility to our children between the hours of 7pm and 7am.


Reason #3 – Sleep Training Is Dangerous


When a child cries, cortisol floods the body to help the child deal with the stress they are under. The rush of cortisol creates a fight-or-flight response in the body, putting the child under a lot of emotional and physical strain. Being subjected to this over and over again can be very damaging. Research suggests that children who have been conditioned to high levels of cortisol may be more prone to aggression later in life.

It makes sense, really. A baby’s brain is constantly growing and making new connections. By allowing this stress response in the body repeatedly, you are allowing the brain to become accustomed to stress and hardship.

In addition to this, it must be noted that it is normal for babies to sleep lightly, and for short periods. It is thought that the baby being in too deep a sleep, unable to rouse herself when experiencing a normal episode of apnoea, may cause some SIDS deaths. Sleep training teaches babies to sleep for long periods of time, and this is unnatural. It is better to find ways to cope with the lack of sleep (co-sleeping, daytime naps, early nights) than it is to try to change what is natural and normal behaviour for the baby.

There has not been enough research done to prove that sleep training harms children, BUT there is also not enough to prove that it does no harm. And that isn’t a risk I am willing to take.


Reason #4 – You Risk Losing your Baby’s Trust


Our babies rely on us for everything. They are small, helpless little creatures that are completely at our mercy. The trust that they have for us is a precious gift, given to us when we give birth to them. Our babies believe that we will be there for them unconditionally, so when we refuse to parent them in the same way at night as we do in the daytime – answering their cries, cuddling when they are sad, feeding them when they are hungry – they become confused. I refuse to risk breaking that sacred bond of trust that is formed at birth.

There has not been enough research done to prove that sleep training harms children, BUT there is also not enough to prove that it does no harm. And that isn’t a risk I am willing to take.


Reason #5 – Sleep Training Is Unnatural


Like I’ve previously mentioned in this post, there’s a reason why sleep training is hard. The cry of your child is a sound that penetrates every single part of your body. The sound causes your blood pressure to rise and your pulse to race. To comfort your crying baby is a compelling, biological urge. Answering your baby’s call does not make you weak and it certainly doesn’t mean you are spoiling them. To want to comfort your baby is natural, normal and desirable.

For a more natural, non-CIO method, Try Sleepsense


Reason #6 – Sleep Training Negatively Affects Breastfeeding


If a mama is nursing her baby, it is especially important that she feeds often at night. Levels of prolactin are higher at night time, and this hormone is responsible for milk production. In the case of younger babies (<6months old), cue feeding at night is imperative for their continued growth, health and for maintaining mum’s supply. Scheduling feeds at any time, let alone under the age of 6 months – or even night weaning, as some baby trainers suggest – is damaging to the breastfeeding relationship and may even result in babies failing to thrive (FTT). If night weaning must be done, it shouldn’t be attempted until the baby is at LEAST twelve months old.

Over the age of 6 months, and once the baby has an interest in solid foods (this may come much later than 6 months), feeding at night is still important. Babies of this age are very busy little creatures – Ooh mummy, look at THIS! There’s DADDY! Ooh, the doorbell rang! What’s big brother doing? - therefore they may not spend as much time at the breast in the day time as they need to in order to get what they need. So, they make up for it at night. It’s called Reverse Cycling, and it’s normal at this age. By refusing to feed them during the night you could be depriving them of necessary nutrients, even if they appear to ‘tank up’ during the day. Breastmilk cannot be quantified, so there is no way of telling if they’ve had ‘enough’.


Reason #7 – It Sets The Tone for Future Parenting


Would I miss my son’s music recital/appearance in a play/football game/etc because I was tired and it was inconvenient to go? And would I try to convince myself that it was for his own good, so that he did’t become too reliant on me? No. I would make sure I could be there, even if it meant re-shuffling my schedule or missing a much-needed opportunity for a nap, because by not going I would be letting him down. Why is nighttime parenting any different? When we sign up for parenthood, we don’t expect to be excused from our responsibility to our children between the hours of 7pm and 7am.


Reason #8 – Sleep Training Impairs your Connection with your Child


The bond between mother and child is natural, but it also needs to be nurtured. Why spend all day making an effort to be present with your child; to connect with them and bond with them only to test that attachment to its absolute limit that very night? Continued abandonment at night will help erode that connection you work so hard to create and maintain.

After a busy day, we can all feel that connection fade. I figure it must be better to end the day snuggled up in bed with your babe (whether you have a family bed, or just snuggle to sleep before placing them in the crib), enabling you to reconnect with them, than to end it listening to them cry themselves to sleep.


For a gentle sleep solution, Try Sleepsense



  1. says

    Fab article. Will share this.

    I have to sit through Baby Groups listening to mums going on about how much their little one slept last night and the week before and how often they woke etc and how they might give this ‘crying technique’ a go… >_< I don't know how to handle this. I feel it's not my place but then nobody gives those little souls a voice either. *sigh*

    • says

      *sigh* yes, i know what you mean. trying to find a way to inform without alienating is SO hard. It’s like they don’t realise that their babies are whole, real human beings :(

      Thanks so much for commenting!

      • Jenn says

        I had to leave a popular baby forum because I so badly wanted other moms to know that you don’t have to resort to CIO to help your baby sleep, but I was only met with huge hostility and resistance. It was really heartbreaking to hear of new mom’s being told that their 3 week old was ‘learning bad habits’ and ‘trying to manipulate them’. I really wanted to spread the word about love, and compassion, but apparently love and compassion are highly controversial in our society. It is too bad. I have met success with some of the strategies in “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” and I agree that sometimes the Baby B “Balance” has to come into play, but I really wish that people wouldn’t use the argument all the time “every family is different, and you have to do what is right for your family,” because based on the real science behind baby brain development it is never ‘right’ to leave your newborn to cry for hours in order to train them to sleep.

        • Devian Daniels says

          Isn’t it funny that a society that claims love and compassion is over-rated but in the same breath say that slapping your kid on the hand is child abuse? I let my baby cry last night. I was in two hours and I couldn’t take it any more! I had to hold him and tell him I love him. It made me cry and made me feel like absolute crap when he got comfortable with me and started to sleep, He woke up in a panic and started screaming, thinking since he was falling asleep I was going to put him in his crib again. I told my husband that morning, I a not doing that any more. They notice. They realize what you are doing and they can tell you are not there. We have the instinct to nurture for a reason and now I feel terrible about doing that to my beautiful Gabriel. Society needs to realize that nurture just means they are going to love you more. I’m not going to subject my son to a whole night of crying, hysterically, for my benefit. Two hours have put a dent in our bond and I will never let that happen again.

          • julie says

            Aw mama, I hope things got better for you both. We all learn from doing things that give us that sick feeling in our stomachs telling us “this just isnt right for me” Dont be too hard on yourself and just keep moving forward with all the love you have for that sweet boy. My son too is named Gabriel :) ((hugs))

    • Allan Parry says

      We have slept trained all 4 of our kids & one of them is an adopted little precious girl. We personally how found our kids to be extremely happy and healthy members of the family not the center of it. All 4 of our kids are very different we have 3 girls and one boy the girls learned to sleep through the night within a couple of days our son took a little bit longer. We would suggest you don’t take the legalistic view on sleep training. Of course if our child is sick or hurting we would get them but if they are just crying to test the boundaries of when someone would come we would let them work through it….understanding that it is night time it is time for us all to sleep so we can enjoy the daytime. We personally think coddling to the child’s every need is more damaging than understanding that life has boundaries & rules. We personally have heard & seen situations where one parent is so child focuses they forget about the spouse. Backwards thinking from what we have lived, the spouse absolutely needs to come first and the parenting needs to happen as a team. Other stories of sleep deprivation causing family struggles as to when to go do anything because there is no schedule outside of when the baby wants to sleep, eat, play….etc. The baby becomes the center of the family not part of it. As a husband with 4 kids all of my kids understand the order of the household and that they are an important extremely loved part of that order……they also love waking up refreshed being that they have learned from being 2 months old that 8 is bedtime and if you wake up early you can play in your room until 7:00 them come jump into mommy & daddy’s bed…..My 2 cents (a very happy, healthy husband and father of 4 very different, very healthy, very energetic kids:)

      • C says

        Certainly, this is information that is too little, too late. But I’m glad your 2 month olds actually SURVIVED being left without food and comfort for 12 hours. That is horrifying. I am willing to entertain that different things work for children of an age to physically be able to go that long (6months). But what you did was dangerous and I really can’t let another mother read that without saying so.

        • Renae Heath says

          Thank you for saying this! Not one place, not one website, not one friend, not one doctor has ever said to let a 2 month old (or any child under 6 months) to cry it out, not be changed and to sit in their soiled mess of a diaper or to not fees them (omg!) All night long! It’s a wonder that poor baby survived! His kids are little yet, easy to say they are emotionally healthy or this had never done any damage. I don’t doubt for a second he loves his kids with everything he’s got- I just wished those babies wouldn’t have needed to endure that at such a young age >o<

  2. says

    Thanks, I needed to read this today. I am so conflicted about sleep. I want to sleep so badly but I also want to be a responsive parent. I want to comfort my baby without resenting her. We almost let her CIO the other night without advance planning. We were just so frustrated when she woke up crying when I put her down after a midnight feeding, and my husband and I, from our bed 4 feet away from her crib decided to let her cry and see what happened. (She had recently turned 6mo so were within the “acceptable” window of what most people say about CIO).

    My heart vibrated with every cry. Her cry changed from one that was familiar and tolerable to a brand new echelon of scream. After about 15 mins, my husband rescued her. She didn’t calm right away like she usually does when picked up. When I took over the comforting, she started to calm but her breathing was irregular for a long time afterwards. I won’t ever let her do that again even if it means I don’t get to sleep for an 8 hour stretch for the next 2 years.

    • says

      I know how you feel; it’s so hard. I think there’s a general tone of ‘who cares about mum’ within the online AP community sometimes. Sleep IS important, and you can’t carry on with zero sleep for long. That’s why it’s so important to find ways of making sure that you get enough rest without the baby having to be trained, you know?

      I once did similar with my oldest, and it was awful. Big hugs to you mama. Would co-sleeping be an option for you? Just to make it easier to do the night feedings?

      • Applebunny says

        I needed to read this thankyou!! My little boy is 15 months. We have, sadly, left him to cry, maybe 5 or 6 times, mostly 15/20 mins, once 40 which result in sleep. I felt so guilty and vowed never again but last night I found it entering my mind. Almost 2 hours of sitting with him trying to sneak out of the room, only for him to wake each time. When he woke at 2am he came into bed. Last night was tough.usually he maybe wakes just once or twice and can be put back down. The solution I am looking for is how to get out of his room more quickly. I place him in the cot and put on either music or light show. I sit on the floor until he is asleep. Any attempt leave before this results in standing and screaming, he often checks as getting sleepy to check I am still there. This in intself is progress though as he does not need soothed with my voice or hands. I find the thing that makes it tricky is that we have our daughter who is 3 and she is often left waiting. I hope this helps raise empathy but I fear that she may feel left out at times, although I ensure we get extra stories.
        I returned to work a couple of months ago. My wee boy always went down with no issues for his nap in his cot, since returning to work he only naps in buggy for my husband and now for me on days off the cot is also refused. Would only taking daytime nap in cot or while wearing help with settling in cot at night?if he wouldn’t nap I would just delay it until afternoon, eventually he would be tired enough to nap in cot. But of course my husband can’t just feed him for comfort and lack of time has resulted in him napping in buggy.desperate for sleep but so glad to have read your article and regained a little strength to know we are doing the right thing.

    • Meagan says

      I just quickly read your post. I am going through the same thing with my DS. Not that I exactly want to try the CIO method,but,by making the mistake and reading some posts on how to get baby to sleep and exactly how and how much a 4 month old “should” be sleeping and all the “rules” on how to get them to sleep exactly so,I have been wondering if I’m doing my son a disservice by not putting a more strict sleep routine/sleep train-type thing onto him. He has been having sucha hard time getting in any real naps,lately,often sleeping only 30 minutes a few times a day. We can’t get him to sleep before 8pm and he’s always up by 5:30-6am. We swaddle him,rock him,shush him,try to comfort him the best we can,but he screams,twists,and generally fights us longer and longer as the day goes on! I was almost convinced,in ready these “remedies” that I was doing everything wrong and needed to be more firm with him. Thankfully,I came across this list to help me remember why sleep training is a no-win solution. I have worked too hard,these last 4 1/2 months to build a bond of love and trust between us,I don’t want to sever it in a week.

      • Naomi says

        He may be in some kind of pain. He could be teething, or he may have gas. My nephew cut his first tooth at 2 months, so it’s not unheard of. Try giving him Hylands teething tablets. It took a couple of times for them to start working well for my daughter, but they are fantastic! If you think it may be gas, I think gripe water is good for that (I’m not sure, my baby is a fantastic farter and burper). If it’s just pure exhaustion, try wearing him and going for a walk. Or invest in a swing. You can also try white noise, like a running vacuum cleaner. This trick worked well for my daughter. I would swaddle her and turn on white noise (I found some online) really loudly and would rock her until she calmed down.
        You’ll figure it out! Remember, putting him down and walking away for a few minutes if you are getting upset, angry, or frustrated is okay too. Take some time to calm down, or tag team with your partner. Good luck!

  3. Jude says

    You make me feel better about how we’ve handled our baby waking up. Lots of cuddles, rocking or sleeping in our bed. My mum and friends have spent the past year lecturing me for not leaving her to cry and it’s really pissed me off! Nice to hear someone on my side for a change.
    And my baby sorted herself out and sleeps through now because SHE wants to, not because we forced her to! Much nicer than hearing her scream and sob.

  4. Angelina says

    It broke my heart when I heard a woman say “I just need to let him cry it out” in reference to her 2 month old. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had moments of “maybe I’m supposed to let her get herself to sleep” and then I remember that ahe still needs me. Though, it is frustrating when my friends that have sleep trained brag about how they simply lay their babe in the crib and they sleep 10 hours, meanwhile I am a super attached mama and don’t even own a crib. But they are the ones that lose out on that bonding/cuddle/watch baby sleep time. They aren’t babies forever, my mother didn’t rock me to sleep in high school :)

    • says

      Two months?? :( That’s heartbreaking.

      I admit I sometimes feel jealous of these mums that, like you said, can lay the baby in the crib and not hear a peep out of them until morning but honestly? I’d miss my baby. We tried putting Squish to bed upstairs for the first time the other night, hoping for some adult time, but we both missed him so much that as soon as he woke for a feed we bought him straight back downstairs with us, haha. Like you said, the time is so fleeting. It’s important to soak up every last little bit of baby that you can.

  5. says

    My first was one that woke up every 45 minutes all.night.long. AND the only thing that would get him back to sleep was nursing. We coslept which made things a little easier, but it was so hard many, many nights as my husband works nights and is a full-time student during the day. I felt like I never once got a break from parenting my high needs baby that didn’t like to sleep. But he eventually started sleeping better and by age 2, would nurse for a few minutes and then roll over and just go to sleep. And, he just magically started sleeping through the night at the same time. My second was a great newborn sleeper but around 4-5 months old, he started waking a lot more. But, honestly, it’s fine.

    It’s very, very normal for a baby (especially a breastfed one) to wake every 2-3 hours at night until around age 2. I recall one study of James McKenna’s stating that on average most babies are physically not able to sleep through the entire night until age 2-2.5. Their physical needs and mental development is just too strong. Why should we hinder this growth by being unresponsive? This time is very short and vital to proper physical and mental development. As a mother of 1 horrible sleeper and 1 not-so-great sleeper, I can promise you, that eventually they will sleep!! By being responsive to my boys, they transition easily and have developed health sleep habits that are conducive to any environment.

    Thanks for your post!

    • says

      Oh I feel you mama… those nights are long… I get so jealous when hearing of my friends babies who sleep for 2-3 hours at a time. Oh, what I would give for 2-3 hour blocks of sleep! Haha.

      Thanks so much for your comment. It’s really important that people realise that frequent waking is normal and natural baby behaviour.

  6. Melissa says

    Great article!
    I am going to bookmark it, so I can read it after challenging nights with my 4 month old. Those are the days when it is really hard to see the positive’s of sharing sleep and waking a gazillion times a night. I can cope really well with two wake ups, I actually really love the nights with two wake ups. We snuggle and it’s bliss. But grumpy Mummy comes out at the third wake up :/

    You always seem to post about issues that are relevant to me at the right time, Imogen. :) We must be in similar life stages

    • says

      So glad you enjoyed it. I feel your pain; Squish is 5 months old and for about a month and a half he has been waking hourly or more through the night, and as we cannot co-sleep at present it is bloody hard to meet his night time needs. I have started swaddling him again and as a result he sleeps for a good 3-5 hours at the beginning of the night! I don’t know whether swaddling would be an option for you but it might be worth trying. My Squishy hated it as a newborn but loves it now.

  7. says

    I’m not rubbing it in, you know I’m not – I’ve been horrendously fortunate in that Saraya slept through the night [bar 1 night of teething when she briefly woke at 1am for about 10mins] since she was 8w old and is still doing so. I never had to “train” her, she was breast fed too so like you say you can’t really train them to sleep through the night – she taught herself. In saying this I don’t AP, recently her napping has been a bit erratic because of my recurrent hospitalisations and as such she has started napping on my knee because she became distressed if put to bed for a nap although this is a sporadic habit! I really hope Squish learns sooner rather than later for your sanity!!! <3

  8. chanelle says

    i did actually use controlled crying at 12 months onwards after one week my daughter slept perfectly. It was not cruel she simply was protesting being put to bed even at the peek of her tiredness… now at 18months she has progressed into a bed and i only have to say it’s time for bed and she will just run up stairs and get into bed. I dont believe you should use the controlled crying on small babies that makes no sense but once they reach a level of understanding in my view its simply setting boundries I want an adult child relationship where i am the adult and in charge of what happens

    • says

      Thank you for commenting!

      Yes, I do see your point. I do think that it’s a different kettle of fish when it comes to older children. By the time my oldest was 14 months old he was reliably sleeping from 8-8 every night without any kind of training from us, so the issue of sleep training the older baby didn’t really come up. I do agree with you though that setting boundaries is important. I’m not sure that I would ever feel comfortable doing Controlled Crying but I would/will certainly set boundaries with bedtime when I feel that my babe is old enough to understand. We each know our kids best :) You’ll see more what I mean if you read This article, about respectfully setting bedtime/sleeptime boundaries.

      Thank you for your input!

    • Sas says

      This debate often seems to be divided into “pro” and “anti” camps with little common ground between the two, but I don’t see why this has to be the case. I am definitely “anti” sleep training in young babies, and “anti” full-blown CIO at any age, but I do believe there is a place for a gentle “controlled crying” type of approach in much older babies/toddlers.

      My son was the kind of baby who hated falling asleep, he really fought it every night (he just seemed like he didn’t want to miss anything!), although once he was actually asleep he wasn’t too bad at staying asleep (at least no worse than was normal for his developmental stage), however once he woke in the night we had the same trouble with getting him back to sleep. The only way he could fall asleep was during a feed (but if he woke up as you were putting him down it was back to square one!), or by rocking him for a VERY long time.

      Up until the age of about one I just dealt with it, but just before he was about a year old I decided he really needed to learn to fall asleep without me rocking him for ages! Rocking a tiny baby is easy enough, rocking a one year old gets rather tiring after the first 5 minutes, especially if you’ve been woken up in the middle of the night! The first step I took was to move from rocking him in my arms to rocking him by “jiggling” his mattress, which seemed to work but wasn’t really much easier for me (I remember many a night of severely aching arms!). So I basically did the whole controlled crying thing but VERY slowly & gradually, trying my best to make him feel secure. It was difficult but it worked remarkably quickly and he began to settle himself happily. He never seemed in any way traumatised by the experience. I never had any kind of “relapse” as described in “reason #2″, yes being ill or having a change in routine might mean he needs a bit of extra support in settling himself but I’ve never had to start the controlled crying again.

      I think there is a vast difference between trying this with an older child and with a very young baby. By the time I tried this with my son I was able to reassure him verbally & explain what was going on a bit – a young baby has no way to understand why their caregiver is “abandoning” them and has no way to communicate other than crying. An older child has had time to learn that their parent is there for them and has had repeated proof that they love them very much, a young baby is more vulnerable to this learning being disrupted. I would never try something like this with a baby only a few months old as some parents seem to, I just don’t think it’s suitable for kids that young. And there is a big difference between something like controlled crying (where the length of time in which the child is left to cry is very gradually extended from one night to the next, and in the early stages the parent is providing comfort and reassurance on a regular basis) and a more extreme “cry it out” approach where the child is just left crying alone for as long as it takes. CIO is a much more harsh method that seems to expect the child to just cope by themselves and quickly teaches them that is hopeless to cry and that they cannot depend on their caregiver. Controlled crying eases the child into it much more gently, and lets them know that their parent is still there for them. I also think that controlled crying works best when a parent makes the effort to stay responsive & attentive to their child – for instance being aware of the way your child’s cries sound when there is something more serious wrong and responding differently under those circumstances. This way the child knows that when they REALLY need you (e.g. when they are ill, or have had a nightmare and need extra reassurance) you are there for them.

      There is a danger in a blanket approach saying “all methods involving allowing a child to cry are bad in all circumstances” in leaving some parents running out of options and suffering for a very long time with severely disrupted sleep. I saw this in a close friend of mine, who refused to use any method involving crying until her daughter was at least 2 years old and had been a consistently bad sleeper from birth (waking every night until that point, sometimes several times each night). She’d tried all sorts of things but couldn’t bring herself to allow her child to cry for more than a few minutes. My friend was an absolute wreck by this point as she had not had a proper night’s sleep in 2 years, and she’d had a difficult pregnancy so she had never had the chance to fully recover from that either. It was only when it became clear that her mental & physical health was suffering that she finally decided to try controlled crying. It took a few false starts when she felt unable to continue with it before she finally bit the bullet and stuck to it, and she was able to get her daughter to settle herself and had pretty much her first full night’s sleep in 2 years! Her daughter is now a good sleeper and my friend is clearly so much happier & healthier, and I think it’s such a shame that her feelings of guilt at the idea of leaving her child crying led to her suffering so much. I don’t think having a mother who was such a wreck was good for the child either! The way that some people talk about allowing a child to cry as though it is child abuse is doing a serious disservice to parents who desperately need more options after suffering extreme sleep deprivation for far too long! It’s not being selfish as a parent to use a slightly more gentle “sleep training” method like controlled crying when you’ve tried every other reasonable strategy you can think of and your lack of sleep is affecting your ability to be a good parent and function as a human being during the day, but the “anti sleep training” rhetoric makes some parents feel as though it is.

      • Helen says

        This is exactly how I feel. I used a mild version of controlled crying with my daughter when she was 12 months old (and I was 3 months pregnant). I NEEDED sleep for my unborn son’s wellbeing as much as my own and it was really distressing to have people judging my decision in the same way they would a mother allowing a 6 week old to cry it out.
        We made sure she knew we were there and we were very mindful of the type of crying and the length of time.
        Thanks for putting it so succinctly…

      • cmstrassner says

        I couldn’t agree more. Each child is different, and therefore requires parents who are sensitive to that child’s specific needs. They’re are many, many studies done about how damaging sleep deprivation is on a child’s development as well, so although I certainly respect the desire td nurturing relationship with regard to sleep, the point is each of us has to make the often difficult decision about which research to honor and which creatures the most peace, short and long term, in our families. Blanket statements about cio techniques are equally as harmful as any other blanket statement in the world of parenting.

  9. Joanne says

    I get this, I tried the CIO method with my first daughter, yeah, it didn’t work out so well. My 2nd son slept in his bed, in our room, I got up when he started to wiggle around and fuss, he would eat and go back to sleep. We didn’t have any problems with nighttime sleeping until he hit 2 years old, at this point he was waking up in the middle of the night screaming, he came into our bed and would sleep all night so we let him, he just turned 6 and has been happily sleeping in his own bed in his own room for 2 years. I miss having him in our room. This baby is 2 months old, I keep reading about how he should be waking up at night, for the past 2 weeks he has been sleeping from about 11pm to anytime between 6 and 8am without waking up, He cluster feeds before he goes to sleep.. should I be concerned that he isn’t getting up to nurse? Should I be waking him up? Last night he went to sleep at 10:30, he made some noises around 4 but didn’t ever open his eyes (i was awake lol) so i went back to sleep. Why am i stressing over a baby who DOES sleep LOL ;)

    • says

      Of course I am no expert but as a fellow mama I would say… enjoy it while it lasts! Lol… I only say that because my Squishy was much the same at that age, until he hit 3.5 months old and started waking every 45 minutes – or MORE – through the night until he was nearly 7 months old. How is your baby’s weight gain? As a breastfeeding supporter, I would be inclined to say that if he is gaining well, meeting milestones, peeing lots and otherwise developing well, there is no need to wake your baby to feed through the night. Of course, if you are concerned, waking him to feed him isn’t going to do him any harm! :)

      Thank you for your comment!

      • Joanne says

        lol, yes i’m enjoying it while it lasts I can’t help but feel as if he’s letting me store up some much needed sleep right now! and yes weight gain is great, as well as everything else. xxx l

  10. moxie says

    A child must first acquire a healthy, trusting dependence with her primary care giver before she can learn to have a healthy, trusting independence. And that cry? There is a reason why it stirs mama’s heart so—she is supposed to respond! That’s how baby learns to trust and bond.

  11. Jenifer says

    Our daughter just turned two. And we just weaned. I get so tired of people saying to just let her cio. Our bed is her bed. She started sleeping through the night about 3 months ago. We tried cio several times but we just couldn’t do it. The crying is not a mad cry but a terrified cry. My husband and I are wussies. But we are wussies who get to snuggle with our baby all night!

  12. jackie says

    Please oh please publish point 6 loud and clear. When my daughter started on ‘training’ her baby to sleep longer it resulted in poor weight gain and risk of failure to thrive. Every suggestion from me was poo pooed because baby did start almost sleeping through the night at 4 months but at 5 months she almost fell off the weight chart. Luckily my daughter started feeding her whenever she woke – then baby started waking more and feeding more and has improved no end. But all those books on training baby carried more weight than I did.

    I suspect all this ‘training’ is because so many mothers return to work within two years – sometimes within months and a nights sleep is important to the mother. No-one is willing to face up to the fact that babies need Mum for at least the first two years and parents and society should plan for a two year break. The plethora of books claiming babies can be ‘trained’ is scary. My comments around the whole subject were scorned as out of date. But then I discovered 30 odd years ago that my brains seemingly fell out with the placenta and being Mum means I also don’t know anything. I have two degrees by the way (recently retired from my career) but consider my parenting as the most important job I have ever done.

    • says

      Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so pleased to hear that your daughter saw the light and stopped listening to the books. What kind of world do we live in that our babies are allowed to starve for the sake of sleeping through the night :( The whole assumption that babies are manipulative and in need of training is very, very worrying. How far from our instincts have we strayed?

      I also totally agree with your comment about babies needing their mums for at least the first two years. I think most parents would probably choose to stay home for that long if it were a choice! Unfortunately so many of us simply have to return to work sooner than that – what a shame :(

    • Yvette says

      I agree with you, thank you for sharing. Our first baby took two years to sleep on his own, although I did return to work at 4 mos. because we co-slept, I did not have serious, dangerous, sleep deprivation. Just the occasional bad night if there were tons of wakings (usually teething or an ear infection). Anyway, this second baby has been even easier and even though I’ve taken a year off, I still want to do stuff during the day. And I’m not sure I could do much if we didn’t co sleep. It’s the easiest most natural way, but unfortunately our society has taught us that it is wrong and the baby must learn to sleep alone in a crib. I can’t imagine getting this little one to sleep in a crib. What a waste of time for both of us, and I’d rather just feed the baby.
      The other reason I hate sleep training is Bc my friends kids wake up at 6 or some ungodly hour. Bc they’re starving. No thanks. Roll over, feed, sleep. Repeat. Don’t make it so hard on yourselves and the babies with all this training. Relax, keep on boobin.

  13. Belinda says

    Hi, great to read your article, Imogen, and great to hear everyone’s responses. You have given me renewed confidence that I AM doing the right thing by listening and responding to my baby and that his current latest sleeping pattern (waking every 2 hours at night and an extra 1-2 feeds) WILL pass and in the meantime, he’s getting just what he needs. Was beginning to doubt myself after hearing and reading too many people saying what he ‘should’ be doing at his age. Thanks! :)

  14. hayley says

    all i can say is thankyou. makes mefeel like i am doing the right thing i have a 2.and a half yr old and a 14 month old 17 months apart both wake and end up in my bed. i never sleep trained it completly goea against me i cant let my kids cry, but i was starting to feel like a bad mum when parents around me would brag about getting thier kids to sleep all night self settle, and then i would have my sister tell me its my fault because im to soft and run to thier every cry. so thanks for reminding me of why i parent the gentle way,

    • says

      Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad that this has helped somebody. I’m sorry you have been feeling as though you have been doing something wrong. At the end of the day, mama knows best! Keep doing what feels right for you and what works for your family xx

  15. Emma says

    Thank you! These are the reasons I tend to my 9.5 month old boy night after night after night. I figure that it won’t last for ever and get my partner to step in when he can do I can recoup sanity and sleep. As soon as I gave up on believing I was in control of his sleep and stopped seeing his waking as a parental failure and more an opportunity to cuddle him it got easier. No more sleep but easier to cope. X

  16. Naomi says

    I really want to parent this way, but I’m getting seriously frustrated with my baby (she just turned 1 year). Does she need a sleep schedule? How exactly do you do the sleep thing? We don’t co-sleep, as I desperately need my sleep to function and she moves constantly at night (we tried it for 3 months), so she’s in a crib in her own room, but I go in to nurse her if she cries. I have started to wait if she’s just making a little noise to see if she goes back to sleep, which I’m okay with. To get to the point, some nights we do her routine, I nurse her, and she goes to sleep and sleeps until her 11:30ish feeding, and goes back to sleep easily until her next one. But more and more, she is super restless the first part of the night. We haven’t been super consistent with putting her to sleep at the same time every night (which we used to be) or getting her up at the same time every morning (which we also used to be, because she would just wake up). Would this inconsistency in time be causing this restlessness? Or could it be something else? Also, I’m struggling with getting her to take 2 naps. I know she needs it, but she just won’t go to sleep for her second. Should I wake her up from her first one at an earlier time? I just want to feel like I’m being a good mom, and that she’s getting the sleep she needs, and I’m so confused!

    • says

      Hi Naomi! Thank you for commenting.

      As a mum with children who didn’t/don’t sleep much, I really really feel your frustration. I think with sleep things you just have to follow your heart and do what feels right. In my opinion, giving her a minute to see if she’ll settle herself at 12 months is no big deal. In fact, I started doing the same with Monkey at about that age – and discovered that he must have been crying in his sleep for a lot of the times that I would rush in there and whisk him out of bed, terrified that if I left him too long he would wake right up. He still does it now sometimes at almost 4 years old, if I peek in he is still fast asleep!

      With naps, she could possibly be starting to transition to just the one nap. It can take a while for them to transition and it can be really tough, because they still *need* the sleep but they don’t *want* it for a while. Could it be worth trying to maybe get her to take her morning nap a little later, skipping the afternoon one and seeing what happens? Or, like you said, you could try getting her down and waking her a little earlier than you normally would. The transition to one nap from two can take a while. I found the transition from 1 to 0 with Monkey to be the hardest. Some days he would nap, other days he wouldn’t and for a while, if he napped he wouldn’t go to sleep until 11pm but if he didn’t, he would be awake every hour because he was so terribly overtired!

      It’s not going to hurt her if you try out some different things. Babies are pretty good at setting their own schedules with regards to getting the sleep they need. I’m sure you are a fantastic mum xx

  17. Samantha says

    My son is 27 months now. I’ve never thought of myself as a parent who has refused CIO, always as one who didn’t need to use it, but honestly I think it was a subconscious choice. Don’t get me wrong, there have been nights where my little one pushed both my husband and I past our limits (between 15 and 20 months of age)and we left him in his crib to cry until he fell asleep. It has happened, a good 10 to 15 times, I’d say. But we’ve never thought of allowing him to cry himself to sleep as a method to sleep train.

    Even now that he is 2, we still get the occasional poor night of sleep. Usually it is because he needs us. He has gotten into the habit of waking up in the middle of the night and crawling into our bed, and that had begun to frustrate me. But he woke in his own bed this morning and when I woke up I was surprised to find myself a little sad that he wasn’t snuggled up against me. I actually went to check to make sure he was still breathing before I took my shower.

    I really enjoyed this article. It was like a justification of why I chose to parent as I do and brought up points I did not think of.

  18. Tomas says

    I think we can all appreciate how passionate you are about your children and how to raise them, but people on your site need to be aware that “one-size” does not fit all. Also, some things you advocate can be outright dangerous (i.e., no vaccinations), but I digress. As for sleep training, there are some things you listed here that are just not true. It’s not dangerous (there is no proof it contributes to SIDS deaths), it does not interfere with breastfeeding (my baby breastfeeds just fine), and it has not impaired our connection with our child. I have a 9-month old daughter who has been sleeping through the night since she was just over 4-months old, and yes we did sleep training. I know many people think this is selfish and strictly for the parents benefit but it’s more for the child’s benefit. We used the Ferber method which is a modified CIO. We decided against pure CIO for the reasons most of you have mentioned in this thread. Pediatricians will tell you that babies cannot self soothe before 4-months of age so we waited until after that and when she started sleeping longer stretches at night before we attempted it.

    For us it was textbook Ferber. The first night she cried off and on for about 50 mins. I’m not going to go into Ferber details here but basically you comfort the baby for a short period of time and while increasing the time between comforting. It was hard to listen to her cry but we didn’t let it go on for too long before going in and eventually she went to sleep. The next night it took her 20 mins to go to sleep. The third night it was 40 mins. On the fourth night and thereafter we put her down, she would roll to her side and suck her fingers until she fell asleep. It took about 20 mins to go to sleep but she was very good at self soothing by then. That was at around 4.5 mos. Now, at 9 mos, she continues to go down easily most of the time. Occasionally she needs some affection before going to sleep and we give it to her.

    The bottom line here is all parents need to do what’s best for their child. We chose to put our daughter down in her own room, never co-sleeping, since birth. We also chose sleep training and fairly strict routines. Babies thrive on routines because they know what to expect and when to expect it. Ours sleeps for about 11 hours or more each night and wakes up a very happy baby. She’s in the top 90-95th percentile and is developing beautifully. Am I suggesting everyone do what I did? No. It may not work for everyone. But don’t discount something like sleep training as being bad for your baby when that simply is not true.

    • says

      Where on my blog have I ever said that I advocate refusing vaccinations? I don’t vaccinate my own children, but that’s as far as my advocacy goes….

      I would like to respond further to your comment, when I am at the computer and can share relevant info and links as part of my response. Watch this space. :)

      • Tomas says

        I’m trying to reply to your Nov 5th response to my comment but I’m not sure this is working correctly.

        When I say you advocate not vaccinating children it’s like this… you have what I imagine are loyal followers to your blog. When you advertise in your bio that you do not vaccinate your own children, you advocate not vaccinating children by example. If in your bio you footnote that research proves that vaccinating children is safe and saves lives, then fine. But I think we all can correctly assume that by not vaccinating your children you are one of the minority that believe the unsubstantiated claims that vaccinations are more dangerous to children that not vaccinating them, otherwise you, as an obviously caring mother, would vaccinate your own children.

        As for the relevant links… if you’re referring to “research” that proves vaccinations are less safe for infants than not vaccinating them, I don’t buy it. I’ve read many, MANY studies and vaccinations are directly responsible for lower infant mortality rates. You can believe what you want. That’s perfectly ok. I’m only commenting here because I believe people will follow your advice without doing their own research. I’d just like people to know there has been real scientific research done on many of the subjects you discuss in your blog and much of it goes against what you advocate (i.e., co-sleeping).

        Thanks for listening.

    • Tegan says

      Tomas- Im not to sure why you read this blog if you feel that way about it???
      We are all adult here if someone chooses to decide to not vaccinate at all because Imogen doesnt and has it in her bio then thats just utter stupidity on the persons behalf and has nothing to do with Imogen she is simply stating she doesnt and maybe she has a good reason not to and while Im at it how dare you bring up shes not a caring mother because she doesnt seriously how about we bring it up about you not being a caring parent because you do cio oh hang on its modified version oh thats much better. Maybe you need to go and find another blog that suits your needs and leave this one to the people that appreciate it

  19. Lori Ann says

    My daughter Vivienne is now nineteen months and has started sleeping through the night on her own. I have had my moments in the middle of the night, being pulled from sleep by her cry, when I considered sleep training but I could never bring myself to do it. I trust her and I trust her crying is telling me something.

    Our next door neighbor, on the other hand, sleep trains their son. Every time he gets ill or they go on holiday and return, they start all over again. I am privy to it because our bedroom is right next to his (we live in a condo). I listened to him last night screaming at the top of his lungs and banging on his crib for hours. It tears me up because he sounds so scared and helpless and I just KNOW he’s having an existential crisis.

    It makes me angry but it is none of my business I suppose. All I know is I am up as soon as I hear my baby’s distress signal, which, is not often at all anymore. I think with time, a baby’s sleeping works itself out. She learns to trust you are there should she need you. Eventually she learns that very often, she doesn’t. It’s a process, I believe is better left to unfold naturally, if the parent can handle it.

    Thanks for the article. I’m one hundred percent in agreement with you.

  20. Kristy says

    I sleep train my baby – but not by letting her cry. There are other ways to sleep train and the method that I tried worked effectively after only a couple of days and at no time was my little one left to cry in a dark room all by herself.

    My little one gets put into her bassinet awake after showing sleep signs. If she cries, I go in and rock the bassinet until she settles down. Then I leave the room, and repeat if she cries.

    It is a little unfair to say that you shouldn’t sleep train at all. My baby is now 11 weeks old and can put herself to sleep with NO crying 80% of the time. She doesn’t sleep through the night and I attend to her when she does wake by feeding her, changing her nappy and putting her straight back down. She puts herself back to sleep with minimum of fuss, and meanwhile I am getting much needed rest. While she doesn’t sleep through I am also not up all night holding her and trying to rock her to sleep as I was for the first 3 weeks of her life. She is also already learning the art of self settling and sucks on her hands to do so. When she wakes after 45 minutes during the day, she sucks on her hands and put herself back to sleep for another hour or so.

    There are some very effective sleep techniques which DON’T involve letting a little one cry it out. Maybe the title in your article needs to be rethought?

  21. Marni says

    I am glad I came across your blog. I have been dealing with a lot of night time wakings the past month, and I was coming to the end of my rope. I joined a Mother’s network on facebook, and I am shocked at how many women say CIO is the only way to do it. I was starting to think maybe they were right.

    Yesterday (with the help of hubby) I took a lot of naps through the day. At night I was ready to stay up, and help my girl get used to her crib, and get some sleep. I took her about an hour of laying in her crib to finally get to sleep. The entire time I didn’t leave her side, and if she fussed I held her hand to calm her. I actually ended up getting a 5 hour stretch where she slept (which is a record for her). I feel so much better about the way I did it, and I don’t have any guilt over letting her cry alone in her crib.

    I think tonight I will be doing the same thing, just to be sure she is okay.

  22. Mill says

    My wife has been sleep training our son for last 2 weeks. I admit that some nights he falls asleep right away and never gets up till after 10 hours of sleep. But some nights he has a terrifying cry before falling asleep and some nights he gets up around 4am where I have to push my wife to feed him.Personally, I am not in favor of this. I need suggestions on how to get my wife to agree to have our son sleep with us. I am also willing to have her sleep in a separate room through the night.

  23. Elle says

    I love this, thank you!! My son has very severe GERD. He is almost five months and sleeping has been an issue because a lot of his nights are filled with pain. My SIL keeps telling me that we should start sleep training with him and I just hate the idea. I have watched as she has to sleep train her son over and over and over again at the slightest change (he’s almost 2) and it just does not seem worth it. We want him to realize when he is tired, I want him to feel ok crying for me at night if his tummy hurts and I definitely don’t want to ignore those cries. My MIL thinks we should do it because it worked so well for our nephew..but seriously they sleep train him every month due to a new change. Is it really working that well? We have chosen to let him lead us on his sleep. He takes a nap at 9, 1, and 4 and is usually in bed for nighttime sleep at 7-7:30 only waking twice for feeds. I’d say that is a pretty consistent sleep schedule..one that he choose! Thank you so much for this post, thank you for reminding me why I decided I didn’t want to do this.

  24. alanna says

    I am happy that I am not the only mother that jumps when her baby starts crying in the night, I will be honest after I have fed her and changed her diaper I have put her back in her crib where sometimes she will fuss a little or play with the blankets and her hands but I can not leave her to cry for more than 5 mins and that seems to be the most, I keep getting told by the grandparents that I have to let her cry herself to sleep but what they do not realize is if she starts wailing all I have to do the majority of the time is go in there pick her up and hold her while either patting her bottom or rocking and she is sound asleep within minutes. Is this not easier than listening to her scream for long periods of time. I have had to put her in her crib when I get frustrated but I am usually good to go after 5 or 10 mins of deep breathing and bringing myself back to reality, and again if she is screaming to the point where she is red in the face I just will not leave her, it scares me cuz when she really gets going like she can she starts to choke on her saliva and has a hard time catching her breath afterwards something I am not willing to do willingly especially if she is by herself.

  25. Katherine says

    My reasons for not sleep training are fairly simple. If I wanted a creature to train I would have got a puppy not a baby.
    It’s not fair to expect my baby to understand I need sleep and get all her milk and mummy time during the day.
    Allowing her to become so upset that it has consequences reaching into adulthood is wrong.
    We desperately wanted our baby and had to work hard for years to get her.
    Also my instincts tell me that if my daughter is trying to communicate with me by crying and I ignore her, our ability to communicate with each other will be affected. I want her to know that if she needs me I will always be there because she is part of myself.
    Once as I came upstairs when she cried just as I went to pick her up she was violently sick. Shockingly so. She was about 5 months old. I was very upset after when I realised if I had sleep trained her she could have choked on her own vomit and died…. And I would have been downstairs congratulating myself on the monitor silence. It’s dangerous.

  26. George says

    I agree. We tried the CIO method for one night and gave up. Just didn’t work for us. Controlled crying? That is just as bad. But we did finally find a way to “sleep train” our baby without tears, when he was about a year and a half. Details are here:


  27. Ray says

    It seems like this can be broken down into two school of thought. Pro sleep training vs. anti sleep training. I’m sure that both schools of thought can find valid points to support their positions. I think it comes down to balance. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, you’re going to find supporting evidence for your position. That’s just how the internet works. There are pros and cons to EVERYTHING! It’s a law of nature. This is why balance is important. I see just as many pros/cons for both schools of thought. To think your side of the fence is the golden path is absurd. Your method is right for you. As far as sleep training not being natural….I don’t know about that. If it wasn’t natural….it wouldn’t be possible. If it wasn’t natural, nature would not have given us the mental capacity to conceive of something like sleep training. If it exist….whether in thought or in the physical, it’s natural. Humans are complex, and we march to the beat of a different drum. We’re the only species that drives cars and reads books, so to say that sleep training is out of the realm of being natural is absurd. Yes….crying raises cortisol levels. So does running. Cortisol happens. We all release cortisol on a daily basis. It’s all about balance. We all need some Cortisol in our daily lives….it’s good for us. If it wasn’t, out body would not produce it from a very crucial thing like exercise! But….too much of anything is a bad thing, so I say find a balance. Find a sensible path. That’s being healthy. Sleep training or not….the poorest in this country live far better than the wealthiest 100 years ago….so I would say that both methods have worked out well for the species. Humans seem to be doing quite well. Balance….do what works for the family.

  28. Katherine says

    I understand that your ability to parent during the day can be severely affected by the sleep you dont get at night. I also understand that a tired baby/toddler/child finds it harder to fall asleep and fucntion during the day too.
    however, whatever your opinion of your own experience, the science and research in terms of changes to a child’s physiology and psychological status is clear.
    see margot sunderland’s book what every parent should know for clarification

    • Vanessa says

      I know my post is way late, but I just found this article and wanted to chime in. We have been dealing with a huge number of night wakings, some nights every hour or more with our now 6 month old. I was feeling sick during the day and semi-comatose at work and wondering how I was possible going to function. I am not a fan of CIO because (among many other reasons) I figure that most of the time, a baby is having some kind of developmental change and needs you, and there are gentler ways of promoting sleep.
      A big increase in wakings started when my daughter was too distracted to nurse much during the day and was also going through a growth spurt. Then it seemed to morph into her not being particularly hungry at each waking, but wanting to nurse to sleep because she couldn’t figure out any other way to get back to sleep. One day I was afraid to go to work because I was so tired I was worried I would crash the car. I told my husband that we had to figure out how to reduce the wakings. I don’t expect her to sleep 10-12 hours, but I know that she probably can go 4 hours without eating
      The past few days we changed how we handle the night wakings. When/if she woke up 45 minutes after going to sleep with a full feeding, my husband comforts her back to sleep, boob-free. When she wakes between 10-midnight, I fed her tank her up (ad cozy her up!) as much as possible. Then when she wakes after midnight or so, hubby’s back on the scene: he picks her up, rocks and comforts her back to sleep. The first night she cried on and off in his arms for nearly an hour and that was rough for me. Then she didn’t wake again until 4:15. The second night, same routine, except less crying, fewer wakings; third night, even less time before she went back to sleep until 5:30. I am feeling much more human again with some rest! When she wakes in the early am (between 4 – 5:30) I feed her and she sleeps for another hour or more in the bed with us, rather than in her cosleeper.
      I think that in your exhaustion it can be very hard to try to do anything differently. Enlisting the help of your partner can be great. I was feeling resentful of him snoozing through most of those wakings! Good luck, mamas!

  29. Jessica says

    This is your blog, and I appreciate that you have a message to put out there, but I simply don’t agree with much of this. I have two excellent sleepers (ages 3 and 5 now). I didn’t ever make the decision to CIO or otherwise. I researched early (infant) child development and have a medical background, as well so I truly just wanted to raise a healthy, well developed child. WIth my first, he preferred being swaddled and laid down when he was sleepy, even as a newborn. He would become increasingly agitated if I tried to rock him to sleep. I know that’s not the norm. I formed a flexible schedule around breastfeeding and napping, taking leads from his cues. I don’t believe in a staunch schedule, but I do believe that children do not come out of the womb knowing how to nourish and maintain good sleep hygiene. Parents have a role in instructing and guiding children into healthy habits and lifestyles. Because my son was fed regularly, he hardly ever got anxious about hunger and he ate a larger amount with each feeding and never really associated the breast with comfort and coping mechanisms. He did take a pacifier because all infants manage stress through their sucking reflex. I can count on one hand the nights when my son struggled to go to sleep. I would calm him and rub his back and tell him that it was time to sleep. If he cried I would return and repeat the process always calming him before I left him to fall asleep. Co-sleeping is dangerous and it’s been proven so. Although I never wanted my child to cry, I also know that crying, in itself, is not unhealthy (there are actually some health benefits, believe it or not, but that’s another story) and your child will cry many times before they are 3. It’s their communication. What I see parents do, especially those who do not model the basics of sleeping and eating, is set up a system of positive and negative reinforcement. When a 5 month old cries and the parent responds, the child’s act of crying is reinforced as the method of getting the parent’s attention. It seems this children actually cry more often and until a later age than some of the others that may have been able to pick some self-soothing and higher level communication skills. My second child is an excellent sleeper as well, but took almost the entire first year to sleep soundly all night. She would wake up once or twice a night and I could quickly get her back to sleep with a backpat and paci adjustment. I don’t like to say that because I’m bragging, I just think any child could learn to have healthy sleeping and eating habits if they are given general direction in these areas. It must be early on and with love and compassion, but I don’t see why a child’s cry means “please let me sleep with you and can you feed me every half hour”. Couldn’t a child’s cry mean “I don’t know what’s next, I’m stressed about being tired and never feel like it’s the same routine in each day. You are asking me what’s best for me at the moment, but how should I know, I’m a baby. I feel chaos”. No one really knows, but it’s bizarre to think that babies shouldn’t sleep deeply as you said above. Their brains are developing exponentially and require regular, long periods of sleep to stay healthy. My only other concern is the kind of mother you are able to be in a sleep-deprived state. Your baby needs the most patient, rejuvenated, present and healthy version of you everyday. If you are not allowing yourself sleep at night in lieu of enforcing that nighttime is for sleeping with your baby, you must be hurting and stretched thin during the day. I wish you the best and hope that you will find the perfect balance of flexibility and structure in your life.

    • Andra says

      i respond to my baby EVERY SINGLE TIME she cries and you know what?? she cries FAR less than other babies in my moms group. her needs are met when she needs them to be. she is happy and healthy and extremely pleasant to be around. crying is how a baby lets us know they need something, even if that something they need is just a snuggle, a glance, a smile … LOVE!! they need LOVE for goodness sake! of course responding to a cry reinforces that this is the way to get a parents attention. do you seriously expect a 5 MONTH OLD to sit right up and say ‘hey, mom i’ve got a messy nappy and since i have you, would you mind terribly filling my belly too?’. the notion that i should teach my child not to ask for my help is utterly frightening! how can i expect her to come to me as a teen to ask questions about boys, her changing body and sex if i can’t even respond now when she is letting me know she needs me. all this baloney about babies being manipulative is absurd. if a person doesn’t want to deal with a crying baby then they simply shouldn’t have one. babies cry. that’s how it works!

      • Rose says

        Not to disagree with you but I think part of being an experienced mom is to learn and recognize that every baby is different. Yours who cries the least in your mom group may have nothing to do with your parenting. I would refrain from judging other parents’ way/choice of parenting based on how their babies behave. Kids’ personalities may be the dominant factor!

        I have two kids who are different in many ways. My son cried a lot despite us responding fast. Now he is school age and his demanding, persistent personality is very obvious. He was also tested gifted in certain areas and have a slight tendency of being hyperactive physically. Every child us different.

  30. Clare says

    Love your article, can’t tell you how refreshing it was to read. My LO is 4 months old and we both decided early on that there was no need to shut him away in a room from 7pm to 7am, it’s not like I’m going anywhere and becides I love having him around. We’re now in a pattern (don’t want to use the word ‘routine’ as I dislike it so much) that when we all go to bed 10:30pm me, hubbie and our dog our little one takes himself
    off to sleep too. I didn’t bring him in the world to leave him to cry I just want to love and nuture and watch him grow!

  31. Carol says

    Loved your post!! I have been contemplating CIO with my 9 month old, did it one night… Never again… He has never slept through the night (never!) but I cannot bare to hear him screaming for me, while I ignore his needs…

  32. paula says

    I just read your beautiful article on how you overcame PPD and then I come to an attachment parenting thing. These kind of articles make me feel guilty. They make me feel like I’m a bad mom. I had crippling PPD with my daughter and I was very ‘hands off’ which means it was easy to sleep train her. She is THE happiest and most attached child on the planet now and our household has become a wonderful one with our loving family. I spiraled into PPD with the articles about BF and co-sleeping and just about every other controversial topic under the sun. This year its attachement parenting, next year it’ll be some new thing that the superwonderfulgreat parents do.
    What I’m trying to get at is that articles about the ‘dangers’ of not co sleeping or feeding on command or whatever else is up for discussion can make moms with PPD’s self worth feel even more out of sync. Everyone should just let each other raise our children the way we know how. They will all most likely turn out to be in the ballpark of normal. You can’t tell a c-section baby from a ‘natural birth’ baby, you can’t tell a BF from non BF, you can’t tell which parents fed their kids grass fed ground beef…

  33. Ashlee says

    I agree with this article whole-heartidly. My baby rarely EVER cries and that is because I get to him before he gets that way. Why on earth would anyone want to teach their children to deal with things by crying until they can’t cry anymore. I will sacrifice my own sleep to make sure my baby is comforted and comfortable.

  34. Yvonne says

    Are we allowed to leave comments saying that we don’t agree, too ? Am asking as I dont see any. My LO is 6 months and after 2 days of sleep training sleeps in his own bed, in his own room since his 4 months. I am very happy with this and so is he. He loves his bed and even plays by himself in the dark, never cries from distress or feeling left alone only anger from over-tiredness. Also he is VERY attached to me and I am still nursing him (no problems there), actually only started a little weaning today. Usually he sleeps from 10.30 to 7 ish every night (10.30 I wake him to nurse as he goes down at 7 and its too long a stretch for him without food). Basically I am doing the oposite and yet none of the 8 reasons happened to us. Question: As you say crying is dangerous, do you never leave your baby to cry ? Because that is not good either…
    Anyway to be honest, I feel attacked by your article because I sleep trained my LO and it sounds like we , parents who do sleep train are terrible parents. Any way just my opinion on this. Hopefully you don’t delete it because it is negative.

    • Yvonne says

      Plus Jonah does not sleep when he is in our room or our bed. Also I feel you are saying that we are going ot be bad parents because we sllep trained him (#7)

  35. Richard Bower says

    I love this article. I’ve been struggling to sleep train my son who tends to need me there to sleep, I’ve only decided to sleep train my son because his grandmother, my mother, said if he cries to leave there until he falls asleep. Now with that being sad, number 3 on this list brought about concern and curiosity. I the son of my mother, the woman telling me to leave my child to cry himself to sleep, have been known to be overly aggressive at times, and I wonder if this may have been caused by my mother attempting to sleep train me. Don’t get me wrong I grew into a good adult man, and as I see it a great first time father, obviously my mom did something right, it’s just a bit of curiosity. The concern is that happening to my son. I don’t want him growing into an aggressive boy, teen, man. I do thank you because this article has been a huge eye opener for me.

  36. Steph says

    This is a veeeery late post, but just had to say thanks gor writing this! I’m far from being an all natural mama. I formula feed and choose to vaccinate etc. But because I’ve chosen to not cio I’ve gotten alot of nagging. “You’ll be saying your 12 year old is just too little” blah blah…also thanks for not shoving your opinions down others throats- I was told vaccinating my baby is the same as allowing him to drown. I’m a huge believer in allowing people to make their OWN CHOICES. And I feel this article is really saying that.

  37. Siobahn Gregory says

    Thankyou so much for having this out there. This has really helped me with continuing with what I’m doing as a mother. I knew deep down that what I was doing was right but when u get to that point when you are that tired you do start looking for other solutions, but the reality is your baby needs you day and night and as a mother your role is to be there. I love my daughters and will continue doing what u seem to be doing and I know I will be a guilt free parent with 2 very stable and happy girls who have a great bond with me and each other. I kno that by 12 months my youngest will be settled and sleeping miles more than she is now. And why try and rush this process? No job rushed is a good job something always gets effected, just like anythin in life! Do it right the first time and you won’t need to do go back and do it again :)

  38. Maretta says

    I’m sorry. But I feel this list is ridiculous.I believe in raising a confident self soothing child.don’t get me wrong I cuddle, kiss, console my children. But there is a time for sleep and I most definitely have no issue Lessing my kids soothe themselves to sleep. There is no medical reaction to the CIO method, and to state otherwise is misinformed and misleading. The unfortunate thing about posts such as this is it offers new mothers doubt and useless knowledge for them and their new babies.

  39. alice says

    When my daughter came into the world my partner and i had no idea there were different parenting techniques. we took the advice of our early child health nurse. this advice consisted of controlled crying, feeding every 3 hours, and aiming for a full uninterupted sleep at night. my baby was a whole 2 weeks old. the nurse also wanted us to put her in her own room, and advised giving cooled boiled water from a bottle to ‘sooth’ her during her agonising desparate screams. we did this. during the hellish couple of weeks we were doing this i fealt we came close to drowning her in that water. we endured hours of desparate crying. my poor poor sweet little girl. we decided the nurse had no idea. we went back to following our instincts after two weeks of torture. my daughter was affected; during a routine check up my gp noticed on her growth chart that the 1month head circumference was smaller than it should have been and asked me what had happened between 1 week and 1 month. i told her and she recommended following my instincts with cuddling, feeding and sleeping.

  40. Lmommy says

    Thank you for so articulately saying everything I’ve wanted to scream every time I hear people talk about sleep training. It IS wrong and I agree with everything you said. Thank you for having the courage and the words to do so.

  41. Adriana suyama says

    I think this is a great article. I’d like to know hat u think about sleep training for toddlers… My daughter is 2 and has always gone to bed by hersef naturally. Now, since we’ve had a second baby, she wants us to lay with her while she falls asleep. She likes to pinch our hands to soothe herself lol. I def don’t mind spending some time with her to help her settle down and fall asleep. But it takes her on average about an hour to fall asleep. My husband or I end up falling asleep, and then its so hard to get up, we either just stay asleep, or can’t get anything done after cause we r so tired. And she goes to bed early, like 7 or 7:30. So it’s getting in the way of a lot. This has been going on for about 4 months. Should we let her cry it out now that she is older?

    • amy says

      HI! We had this problem with my now 3.5 year old. I would say you might try moving it an out til 8ish, but for us at 7-7:30 we start book reading. He gets his milk and then we read for 30-1hr. This helps settle him so he can fall asleep faster. I would not advise no nap at 2 (you know your kid best) but from our experience that just ment he was falling asleep at 6pm but up at 4-5am. If you like mornings, more power to you, but I preferred atleast getting to 6am. Also, we started a “you are allowed to read by yourself time” we slowly initiated it and this let him spend that extra hour by himself. I know people will disagree with this but by 18-24 months your child should be able to play alone for a small amount of time. I am not saying cry…. I am saying play/read. He reads in his bed then falls asleep. I think by this age its letting them feel loved and you are there when they want you, but they can be alone for alittle bit to sleep.

  42. Carina says

    Adrianna…. here are a few suggestions that may help your 2 year old fall asleep faster. (1) You may want to try cutting out her nap or shortening her nap (if she atill takes one). The nap may be causing her to not be tired at night, hence why it takes an hour for her to fall asleep. (2) You may want to try putting her to bed later, maybe around 8:30-9:00. Her current bedtime coukd be too early and she may just not be that tired at 7:30. (3) Try late afternoon / early evening activities like taking walks, playing at the park or turning on music and dancing. It’s fun, good exercise and will help naturalky tire her out and cause her to fall asleep quicker. If you combine all 3 of these things, you will probably only have to lay with her for 5-10 minutes and she will be asleep : ))
    On a side note… I was very disturbed to see someone write that they were advised [by some nurse] to let their 2 WEEK OLD NEWBORN BABY cry it out and that they followed this advice and let a newborn baby scream for hours at night. It is NEVER advised to let a newborn baby “cry it out“!!!!! I am so confused how someone would think that was ok, nevermind suggest it?? I know CIO is controversial and has pros/cons and two sides, but I assumed it is common knowkedge and common sense that CIO is NOT to be used with newborn babies. Letting a newborn baby cry for hours every night is [by law] considered child negligence, is extremely harmful to the baby’s growth and development, and is a failure to meet the baby’s basic need for food!! Newborn babies NEED to be attended to day and night, and newborns will NEED to eat every 3 hours or so (day AND NIGHT!!) I can’t even imagine the emotional distress that newborn baby went through with being starved of food and attention every night for the 1st month of her life : (( I am sorry to sound judgemental to the poster of that comment, but I just cannot understand why you took that advice or how you did not know that was dangerous and negligent?? Everyone knows that it is expected that new parents will be sleep deprived bc of having to feed and care for their newborn at night. It seems absurd that any adult would think it is normal to come home from the hospital with their newborn baby and just let her scream all night, every night without tending to her and feeding her!! Anything and everything u read anywhere (internet, books, magazines, hospital discharge papers for a new mom) clearly state that a newborn baby needs to be fed every 3 hours or so, therefore how could it be possible to not know this?!?! #mindbogglingtoinfinityandbeyond

  43. LaToya says

    It’s mean… Just plain wrong. You know in your gut when you hear your child screaming for you that’s its wrong! At least I did when I tried it out of desperation , it didn’t last very long of course, after hearing him scream for what felt like forever ( even tho it was a few minutes) I walked in the room to comfort him like the say to do, but the look in his eyes….. I couldn’t do it… I scooped him up and that was the end of that! Now with my 2nd child I know never to try that foolishness again…. It’s terrible!

  44. Jeannette says

    I just stumbled on your blog in a moment of extreme frustration over my little guy’s suddenly erratic non-sleeping after months of sleeping 10 hours at night. Thank you for what you write here and in other entries. I consider myself a “kind-of” attachment parent and have had a really hard time finding others who are not extreme one way or another. My friends and family all tell me “let him cry it out” and it just doesn’t sit well with me. I get a lot of judgment about being too much of a softie. But when I look for support online, all I seem to find are the gung-ho attachment parents who are often judgmental about any sort of separation between parent and baby. I appreciate your attitude in what you write. Thank you for the encouragement.

  45. Emma says

    I love this article! My 7 month old has been in bed with us since Day 1. In the hospital I refused to put him in the crib because I couldn’t have got him out again if he cried (I’d had a CS and couldn’t move much), so I even slept with him there, with the complete support of the midwives on duty, though I’d have fought it if necessary.

    At home we have a bedside cot which he spends part of the night in (that took time – it was too far away from us at first) but once he needs a feed he’s pulled over into our bed and generally stays there for the rest of the night. We’ve had lots of nights away in hotels, and even a long weekend camping, and he always sleeps with us, and sleeps well.

    He does wake during the night for feeds, but half the time I really couldn’t tell you how often, because I can put him on the breast without waking up properly, and then go back to sleep letting him get on with it. I don’t feel at all sleep-deprived, and on the few occasions where I’ve been a bit tired I’ve just had a nap with him during the day.

    If he cries (or often before he gets to that point), that is his way of communicating that he needs us. These days there is a degree of flexibility during the day – times when he is cross rather than distressed, and I know he’ll be fine if I take a minute or two to finish what I’m doing. But when he’s tired there is no negotiation – to have a good quality of sleep, he needs to feel safe, and making him feel abandoned is really not going to do that. So co-sleeping at night, and babywearing during the day, and the result is a chilled, happy, flexible, adaptable baby, and unstressed parents. What’s not to like?!

  46. angela says

    i am so glad i read this! i have a 7 yr old daughter… who i still co-sleep with… because when she was a baby i just couldn’t abandon her… and that’s what it felt like every time i tried to let her cry it out. i now have a 6 month old son and find myself doing the same things… at first he was very easy to lay down after nursing to sleep… and would sleep a few hours at night before waking to nurse again but then back to his crib… however in the last couple months he seems to want to be with me while sleeping… and is nursing a lot during the night, in bed with me, and i am so torn about what to do. there is so much advice and so much judgement over what i should do with my children. i tried to lay him in his crib tonight, after nursing to sleep, and he woke up screaming. and cried for over 1 1/2 hours. and the whole time i felt awful and bad and wrong. like you said it goes against everything in me not to comfort and take care of him. it’s not like they will sleep with me for ever.. I won’t have to go to college with them so they can get to sleep. but i do agree that they need to know that they can trust that i am always there for them… even at night. and i even learned a few things… about the cortisol and such. so yes i agree… and thank you for not making me feel like a failure!!!!

  47. Elizabeth Smith says

    I have just found your blog site and really enjoyed reading articles on this subject – we are in the middle of what I can only describe as THE most challenging period of parenting we have experienced so far – and wanted to share what we are going through partly to help others but mainly to hopefully get some suggestions and views to help us resolve and get through this – because we are at breaking point!! Our little boy is 10 months old. He was an amazing sleeper from 0-6months. He was sleeping 12 hours when he was 4 months old. Then we flew from the uk to Canada, and home again when he was six months old, and this marked the start of what has now been 4 months of tear jerking sleep deprivation. I dont think that the trip is a key factor in this, but it was serioulsy like he never got over jetlag.

    Our typical night goes something like this.
    After the usual dinner and bathtime routine, followed by an extra “pre bed time” supper of wheatabix (just in case its hunger) He now goes to bed, falls asleep immediately at around 8pm – he is out before I even walk out of the room. But, at 2am every night without fail, he is wide awake. Banging on his crib like a drum, screeching, crying, giggling. On a good night he is awake for 2 hours. Last night he was awake from 2 am until 6. My alarm goes off at 6 for work – and nights like these happen about 4 times per week. Some of my thoughts:
    1. He has cut 6 teeth in four months, and is a terrible teether. There are weeks when he is clearly teething and in discomfort, ok this helps explain to a certain extent. But alot of the time he is just wide awake, happy and wants to play.
    2. His crib is still in our room. I know this is not ideal. He has a big sister who is 21 months and the long term plan is that they will share a room. I can not bring myself to move him into her room until his sleep regulates. So, at the moment we are kind of stuck with him in our room. He knows we are there obviously, and it can be a game to get our attention. But what do you do?
    3. I have cut daytime sleep down to bare minimum. He now sleeps 20 mins in the morning, and is allowed 45 mins max in the afternoon. Before I started cutting back, he would easily sleep 45 mins in the morning and a full 2 hours in the afternoon. This has not appeared to make any difference.
    4. He is one of the most happy, content and agreeable babies, according to other peoples observations. Litterally an angel by day, and a complete monkey by night.

    Reading the article on 8 reasons to avoid sleep training – I really agree with all points, especially when we are talking about young babies. But when you have a 10 m old (who looks more like a 15 month old, not that this is an important point but to me he is more like a toddler now than a baby) who clearly just wants to play in the middle of the night and you are at breaking point, going to work some days with less than two hours sleep – could it not be said that all babies are different and indeed some may need some form of sleep training and discipline? Would welcome all suggestions and tips.

  48. Emilie says

    Thank you. I found this article very interesting but if I’m honest, it has still left me unconvinced that sleep training is not a good idea.
    My daughter is 14 months old and has been sleeping through since she was about 2/3 months old. This is the norm in France and yes I was breastfeeding.
    So maybe I just got lucky? Of course that’s possible but I also trained her to sleep at nap times and at night. Eat/ play/ sleep was what worked for us!
    I love my daughter to bits and I chose to train her to sleep for very good reasons too…
    That being said, a difference in opinion will not stop me sending big hugs to all you Mums who are sleep deprived. As stated in the article, it will not last forever!!!

  49. Aubrey says

    I really needed to read this today! My 7 month old is waking up more often at night and is having screaming fits at bedtime. I started to research sleep training and came across your article. I had started to doubt myself and thought sleep training was the only way to go. Thank you for your wonderful words! I am going to go snuggle my little guy now :) Thank you!

  50. Julie says

    I appreciate this point of view, however, I recently used the Ferber method to help my 6.5 month old sleep at night. He is a MUCH happier baby all around. We still have a wonderful bond and relationship, in fact, I know that he smiles and plays more now that he is actually rested. He used to spend much of his day whining and irritable. I did a lot of reading before deciding to do this. I don’t disagree with much of this reasoning, but as for labelling it “cruel” – I felt more cruel making him try to function without sufficient rest. I also read that as far as the cortisol thing goes, there is a study that shows that if parent is checking on baby at regular intervals that not all babies release cortisol when crying under these circumstances (because they are being comforted and reassured).

    Yes, it was hard, but I do not think that giving my son a good night sleep is unreasonable or unnatural. And I hope that in the future I will be able to make other good parenting decisions for my son, even if they are tough. I think Elizabeth S’ speculation is correct: all babies (and mommies for that matter) are different and need different things. Let’s try to support each other!

  51. Katie says

    Thank you! I have been struggling with sleep issues with my 5 month old for just over a month now. She’s waking up several times a night to nurse and I have received super negative judgement for still feeding her and getting up to rock her back to sleep. I tried letting her cry in the crib while I rubbed her tummy last night it did nothing but put me in tears and then I rocked her half the night out of guilt! I am sharing this with every mom I know! I feel validated now like I’m not crazy for going to my daughter I am just a good mom! Good for all of you who would rather give up sleep than let our angels cry it out :)

  52. Mamamally says

    Thank you for this post I needed a stern reminder of the importance of allowing my boys to develop as they are ment to. I am the mother of three boys. I never allowed my oldest son to CIO because it never felt right. I have been blessed with twin boys that are 6 months olds and do not sleep much at all. My husband works nights so I am all alone and last night my head never hit the pillow. Dragging myself to work today was not easy and I was starting to consider letting my twins try the cry it out method.

  53. says

    My two month old has an underdeveloped esophagus. She wakes gasping for air or choking on saliva. She needs to stay as calm as possible. I NEVER let her cio. It results in occasional burnt dinner , super sonic fast showers & many sleepless nights. It is dangerous to let her cry. She has herself on basic schedule but if she veres off that’s ok!

  54. says

    LOVE this! I, like you, refuse to let my baby cry it out. It just breaks my heart when she cries and I do everything I can so that she doesn’t cry! Right now my little girl is 5 months old and since the very first day she was born has slept in my arms! Lately I have been trying to crib train her because my husband and I have not been sleeping well since she is bigger and moves around more and it has been off and on difficult! The method I’ve been using is when she cries after I put her in her crib, I hold her and comfort her and then lay her back down. Sometimes she goes to sleep after fussing for about a minute but sometimes she cries harder than before. I pick her up, nurse her in the bed and as soon as she’s done I put her back in her crib and she sleeps til she’s hungry again or needs comfort. So far it’s working and I’m up a lot at night but I’d much rather her know I’m always there for her than for her to lose trust in me and be left scared and feeling helpless and alone! Do you have any tips for crib training? I love co sleeping but it’s getting harder and harder to sleep on our full sized bed with her lol

  55. LM says

    Loved this article…I have a baby who is not a great sleeper and definitely not great at going down herself but there is something inside me that just can’t do sleep training or anything like that. This makes me feel better as people keep offering unhelpful advice that goes against how I want to do things. We now have a little routine of story, lights off, song, reassurance mum or dad is there until she falls over..she is only 6.5 months, a wee new thing.

  56. April J says

    Thanks for this! I believe that you’re advocating “go with you gut and not what some book says.”
    thank you for that!
    We’re having trouble with NAPS not night sleep (he sleeps with me) and a lot of people suggested the pick up put down method and 15 min into it he had scratched his head all up and I was beside myself.
    He’s going to be too big to fit in my lap one day and ill miss this.

    Kids don’t keep, right? :)

  57. says

    My son is currently 6 months old and we cosleep and BF on demand. I think you make a lot of really good point in this article but I have to say that as another parent whose own mother left me to cry it out (from day 1 no less, gotta love 1950s American “science” that some people still buy into) I disagree with 2 and 4. In the case of point 2, I wasn’t out of whack when we changed locations as far as sleeping goes. But then again, I knew once I was put down, my mom wouldn’t be back for 6 hours. It didn’t matter if I didn’t cry or if I cried for hours. If I was teething or sick. So I suppose being dejected lead me to not fight being put down, even if we were on vacation or I was at grandma’s house.

    Regarding issue 4, I trusted my mother with every fiber of my being as a child. I sincerely believed she did everything out of love and that she was perfect. This despite being raised in an exclusively CIO, regularly-spanking home. Now, I realize that my mom projected perfection because she did not want her methods to be questioned. But CIO didn’t keep me from trusting my mother. In fact, in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, it did the exact opposite.

    Coming from this background has led me to really despise CIO. That said, if my son is tired I will let him cry for a few minutes to wear himself out. If it leads to him getting worked up instead of exhausted, I go back for him.

  58. Jessica says

    Thank you so much for this article! I am blessed with a 13 month old girl and the only way that I can get her to sleep is co-sleeping. When she turned 6 months old I tried the crying method and I HATED it! I cried too! I couldn’t stand to listen to my girl be so upset. Sometimes she would sleep, most of the time she didn’t and sometimes it would seem like she was learning to sleep on her own but after 6 weeks we all were zombies and sick and I couldn’t stand it anymore and I brought her back in bed with me. Now I look back and I feel terrible for letting that go on for 6 weeks. My baby still wakes up often, even sleeping right next to me. But co-sleeping is the only way she will sleep for long. Although there are times when I am so frustrated that I don’t know what to do anymore, I love being so close to my little girl and one day I will look back and wish I could just snuggle with her again. Reading this article helped assure me that even though it is tough sometimes, I am doing the right thing. It is also very helpful to co-sleep while breastfeeding.

  59. kacey brown says

    Thank you so much for this. I have 9 month old twin boys who i bf on demand. These little monkeys wake more times than I can count, but instinctively I know letting them CIO is wrong. It’s wonderful to read such a well written piece setting out why it’s wrong. I am often made to feel like I am slightly mad because I will not sleep train them.

    • Lyn Nichols says

      Kacey, I know exactly how you feel. I have 6 month old B/G twins and I also bf on demand. They wake 2-3 times a night (often, more) to nurse, sometimes out of hunger, sometimes for comfort. Either way, I have no problem waking up to meet their hunger or snuggling needs. However, like you, when I tell folks they’re not sleeping through the night, they (usually moms and usually strangers) give me this “wow something is wrong with your kids” look and then proceed to give unsolicited advice about how they got their kids to “sleep through the night at 3 months”. ARGH. Mama, thank you for this wonderful piece. I was seeking validation for what I am choosing to do for my children, and I found it here.

  60. Lynne Curry says

    I love this article!!! I’ve had to listen to countless arguments from my boyfriend & family etc about how I should give him a bottle just before bed and I should leave him to cry it out!! I really wanna tell them a few things that are unsuitable to put in print. I stuck to my guns and now my baby falls asleep about 10-11pm and wakes up at 7.30am.. He is coming up for 13 weeks, so I am prepared that it could all change, but was wondering if he isn’t feeding at night, could he be missing out and should I wake him? Thanks :-) x

  61. Breanne says

    Thank you for this! I’m a first time mom and decided long ago that I would not leave my baby to cry. I have been criticized and heard so many times that I just need to let him cry it out. Sometimes it wears on me that everyone around me seems to be critical of this aspect of the way I’m parenting him. Thank you for the reminder of why I’m doing this!

  62. Faye says

    I agree that our babies need lots of love attention but I don’t totally disagree with all sleep training methods. I think there is a lot in-between CIO and Co-sleeping that can be tried to help your child sleep better once they are past the newborn phase. I have a gorgeous, happy baby girl who I adore but she is one of those babies that always cries to sleep no matter what you do. We have just always tried to do what limited the crying but it is very stressful. She previously slept in our room in a bassinet and on us during the day (not a good day time sleeper). We always put her down asleep but then started to put her down sleepy but still awake. Now she settles well in her crib after a cuddle and being read then sung too but may still cry for 5 or 10 minutes before finally falling asleep. Usually if she doesn’t settle after 5 minutes I will try help her settle by making gentle shushing sounds and stroking her tummy or back. She sleeps very well and wakes up more rested. All babies are different and you have to do what works for you.

  63. Nikki says

    Hi Imogen,

    I feel so much more at ease about where I am at with my 9 1/2 month old after reading this as well as “A Letter from a Sleep-Training Baby.” Our lil guy wakes very often at night…sometimes as many as 6 times in an 8 hour period. It seems that he is constantly nursing sometimes and I have to remind myself often that what I am doing with him and for him is such an admirable and beautiful thing that only lasts a short while in the context of a lifetime. Of course I am tired! However, I am proud of myself for nursing him, wearing him often, co-sleeping and involving him in as much of our lives as possible. I quit my job to stay at home with him and although we’ve had to give some things up, we have found our lives to be filled with much more meaning. Getting back to what really matters to us…things like closeness, sharing meals, sleeping together, waking together, taking walks and finding much to do outside is worth way more than money. Another book that has helped me that I hadn’t seen mentioned is called, “The Continuum Concept” by Jean Liedloff. It speaks about attachment parenting from the viewpoint of the author, who over the course of several years, visits a tribal people and learns how they interact with their children. I came across your blog tonight after a particularly rough, exhausting night and it reminded me of the importance of trusting my instincts and blocking out a lot of the pressures that our modern society would tell us is a better way. I don’t buy it. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to share your experiences. Your words are inspiring and empowering!

  64. Elizabeth says

    Loving your article-I’ve got a 12mo who just sucks at sleeping. I’ve just about reached the end of my rope. I allow him in our bed when need-be. I said I would never do this however when it’s 2am and you’re exhausted, suddenly it’s not such a bad idea.
    I’m worried, that without this horrible sleep training everyone is jamming down my throat, that I’m asking for it, big time. Will my LO ever learn to sleep through the night? Will he always be in my bed? Can you reassure me that although my non-sleep training method isn’t followed by many it seems, that I too will eventually be well-rested?

  65. Chiara says

    I love reading this kind of articles and I’d like to vouch for the effectiveness of the nurturing mothering method. I never read a book about parenting, I took advice from friends and family but made my own decisions, I am what I call a “do what works” mumma.
    My daughter was breastfed and slept in her own basinette next to me, sometimes she slept with us in bed sometimes on her own sometimes in a rocker and other times in our arms… what ever worked.
    She wasn’t always a great sleeper and I admit to leaving her for a few minutes crying because I had to collect myself but I always answered her cries and I always tried to find the reason, hungry, wet, hot, cold, pain, loneliness, bad dream… who knows but when ever there was a tough patch my husband and I would try to figure out why… Maybe more snacks, action, earlier bath time, no tv stimulation after a certain time, more carbs at dinner, even buying formula because when she weaned herself at 11 months cows milk was making her throw up and she had never been a spewy child so we switched and voila from 3 or 4 night wakes up to 1.
    She’s now 15 months old and has weaned herself, she settles herself, she doesn’t cry but goes wroomwrroooomwroooom to call me for her midnight feed… yes like an engine… she used to sleep through the night but now wakes up for one formula feed in the middle of the night, 10 min and she’s back to sleep, no crying no screaming no tears. People keep telling me to offer water and she’ll soon learn… I believe she’s hungry and when she doesn’t need that bottle anymore she’ll sleep trough just like when she went from her basinette to her cot, not a pip she was ready and was happy for the change.
    Everynight and nap time, when I put her down tiered but awake and I tell her I love her and she just rolls over and goes to sleep I know I never broke that bond and I’m amazed at her for doing something I never taught her… its all her and she’s amazing.

  66. Pip Penrose says

    Thanks for this! We co-sleep in the same bed with our 6week old. So far she doesn’t really have to cry before I
    Awake and getting her ready to nurse. Thanks for this as we look ahead its nice to know in advance that there is support out there for continuing to enjoy the bond more than the schedule. Because we nurse laying down I get much more rest than I otherwise would as well as awesome skin to skin time too! I would encourage any mom to try co-sleeping. I just love it and so do my daughter and hubby! (He sneaks peeks at her through the night and otherwise wouldn’t get to see her). Thanks so much for the article!

  67. Sylvia Salomon says

    I never sleep trained my babies until they were about 2, & by then they had slept so much w/my husband & I that is was a bit hard to get them to sleep on their own, but, with love & reassurance that we were there for them but, they still had to go to sleep on their own, they finally got it. Not to say we didn’t have some nights that were extremely hard, but, we set limits for ourselves to help them thru it. They are now 18 & 22 & are very well adjusted young adults, we had plenty of people telling us how to do it, but we knew what was best for our kids….a little crying is going to happen….but, continual crying & screaming is not the way to go, at least it was not for us. Side note….my son usually sets his own bedtime for 9pm on his own, he is 18 & when he is tired he shuts his light off & is out…it is funny because I tell him he is 18 he doesn’t have to go to bed at 9pm…..he’s like mom….I’m tired! You know your baby….hold them close!

  68. says

    Wonderfully written! Nothing churns my stomach like picturing helpless babies crying at night for comfort only to be ignored. It is unfortunate some of these parents refuse to consider changing the game plan, even though it feels wrong, whether sure to social pressures or their almighty need for sleep. My son woke every 2 hours to nurse until he reached 18 months. My twins will be a year old tomorrow and still waiting frequently. I haven’t had decent full nights rest in over 3 years and never once have considered letting my babies cry themselves to sleep. My relationship with them is too important.

  69. dodi says

    Hi I tried doing the cio with my youngest daughter Madison for about 2 wks n it broke my heart so I stop, felt more comfortable n happy by smuggling her to sleep which some people say it’s a good but bad thing to do, she slept threw the night from nb til 8 months old than from there she wakes up almost every couple hrs some times every hr, there r times I just wanna let her cio but remembering how hard it was last time I wouldn’t do it, my kids dad takes them every 2 wk for awhile (I have 2 girls) n every night when he has my baby he’s always letting her cio n knowing that makes it so uncomfortable n sad for me, I asked him not to do that but he won’t listen to me cause he thinks hes THE better parent n knows a lot more, we’ve been separated since my youngest was a month old, my youngest oldest Isnt biogicially, he was pretty much not in her life til she was a8 months old. (We were together for less than a yr so yes we were dating for couple wks when we got pregnant) when he brings my girls bck home my baby always has that horse voice n coughs so much due to cio. Is there any advice on Wat I should do? Plz

  70. Kylie says

    Thank you sooooooo much! I have never been comfortable letting my babies cry themselves to sleep but the “elders” and other mums believe in the whole CIO thing and have made me feel awful for wanting to go and comfort them. The nights I spent crying in frustration with Isabella (now 5) screaming in her cot and now Quinn (8 months) doing the same are just too many to count. I have started to trust my own instincts and pick Quinn up and rock him and cuddle him to sleep (much to the disgrace of others) and he seems to get a much better night sleep! So again, thank you… For making me feel normal! Xxx

  71. Kaitlin says

    Personally, I think that any article I read that has such definitives on what does or doesn’t work for raising children automatically dismisses itself. Saying that a certain thing NEVER works or no one should EVER do something is pretty single minded. It shows that the author is not open to the idea that parents and children are all different and (to an extent) we should trust that *most* parents are doing their best. For example, I would guess that this woman would really judge me that I had, on occasion, let both my sons cry it out. For both of them it was never for over 10 minutes and guess what? Within the week my babies were sleeping 12+ hours! Happy momma and happy baby! I guess I should specify: Both babies breastfed perfectly, they both love me to death and we have a strong relationship (despite what the article might lead some to believe), they have both slept through the night long term, and no, going on vacation or sleeping elsewhere has NEVER thrown them off. I think worse than striving to give you and your beautiful baby a good nights sleep is someone insinuating that those whose babies CIO will have trust issues, their relationship will be impaired, and that you are doing something unnatural. I’d prefer to spread the love, not the hate, so I’ll end this little rant by saying that no matter what method you choose, as long as you are doing what you feel is right for your baby you’re doing a wonderful job! :)

    • Kaitlin says

      Wow! Also, by reading more comments I’m shocked by how many that don’t ever let their babies cry have children who are 18 mo, 3 years, and even 5 years that are still crying in the night!! So much for long term sleep problems for babies that cry it out ;)

  72. Hillary says

    This is an interesting article but it is not a practice I subscribe to. Personally, I have “sleep trained” all three of my kids. But not by CIO. They might take 5-10 minutes sometimes to settle down, but I think that’s totally normal and even healthy. And full disclosure – none of my kids had colic, which is a completely different ball game. That said, the main ways I have sleep trained my kids is through consistency and helping them differentiate between morning and night. I have been very consistent with bedtime and naps. My kids are in bed between 7:30 and 8 almost religiously. Waking up between 7 and 7:30 is standard. My 2.5 year old will also sleep from 1-4 every day. After reading a couple of books and cuddling for a minute, she happily lays down with her monkey and blanket. She LIKES to sleep! Some people think I’m crazy for not going out in the afternoon, but my toddlers need their sleep. I have always tried to protect and preserve that nap. Now that I have a 1st-grader and preschooler it is a little more challenging and I need to leave my house at 3 a couple of times a week. My toddler has been resilient and will most of the time continue her nap in the car when we do have to leave. I do my best to let her have her needed nap on other days. She will likely phase out her naps over the next year like my older children have but for now this is life.

    I am expecting number 4 and I plan to continue my sleep training with my new sweetie. When my other three infants woke up in the middle of the night I immediately went to them but I didn’t make it playtime. I kept the lights off or low and got down to business: a quick diaper change, nurse until they are done and swaddle. I didn’t rock them and cuddle – I saved that for daytime. They learned quickly that the only reason to get up was to eat and then go back to sleep. This continued until they stopped needing me at night. I admit when my very healthy-hearty boy turned 9 months I was done waking up at night. He was only waking up once at that time, but he was getting plenty to eat during the day and I felt it was time to get rid of the night feeding. We took a weekend to “train him.” When he would wake up, instead of me going in to nurse, my husband would go in and hold him for a few minutes and my baby would go back to sleep. It wasn’t a cry all night thing, but there was some crying involved. There was no resentment from my baby. And when he woke up for the day he was ready to nurse and happy to cuddle with mommy.

    Of course, when my babies and toddlers were sick or teething I was cognizant of that and gave them the extra attention and cuddles they needed. (Really, what mother doesn’t?)

    I don’t co-sleep. Honestly, I’m too worried about rolling over onto my baby and due to lack of sleep not noticing. My infants have slept in a bassinet by my bed for the first 6-8 weeks and then I transitioned them to their own crib. I do this because I would wake up to every noise when they were in my room. When they were in the next room I heard waking up/hunger cries, but not the grunts. I slept so much better and so did my baby and my husband. (Let’s not forget, our dear husbands need their sleep too!)

    I am a firm believer that kids need sleep – and that sleep begets sleep. When your infant or toddler isn’t napping well during the day, the night can be just as difficult. My sister had a 14-month old who had colic as an infant and would NEVER take naps. Or if she did, she wouldn’t nap longer than 30-45 minutes at a time. When my sister sleep-trained her daughter to sleep longer stretches during the day, the night time sleep improved as well. And we all know that good sleep is related to healthy brain development and overall health. Good sleep in children leads to less stress as a parent. Really, it’s a win-win. Our bodies are designed to need sleep, just like they are designed to eat, exercise, think, etc. It’s part of our makeup.

    My point is that sleep training IS NOT BAD! I agree that a blanket approach isn’t good for everyone. And let’s be real – EVERY child is different. That said, “abandoning parenting” is never appropriate. (And no I don’t include CIO as abandoning your child. Let’s be real. These mothers aren’t leaving their children in their cribs all day!) I firmly believe you need to listen to your heart and do what is best for your child and your family. You know when your baby’s cry is one of hurt, anger or simply tiredness. That’s one of the blessings of motherhood – that intuition we receive to know how best to care for our children. And of course moderation in all things is always applicable. A little crying here and there is not a bad thing. Separation from mom and dad isn’t either. And if co-sleeping with your child works best for you and your family by all means carry on. As it’s been said, to each their own. And let’s be honest. We are all just trying to do our best.

    Here’s to happy, healthy children and the parents who care for them.

  73. Kelly says

    I love this article! Babies are so helpless and dependent on us for fulfilling their needs it only makes sense to respond to their cries. My baby wakes up so happy when we are snuggled in bed together. Such a simple thing to make them feel safe. It is human instinct and evolution, I believe. It breaks my heart to hear them cry.

  74. So tired says

    I am so glad this article came up when I typed in ‘gentle sleep training’ to google. You’ve reminded me how important it is to trust your instinct, so very reasurring. Thank you.

  75. Kathryn says

    Hi, I just stumped across this page and well I am shocked. All my children were bought up with sleep training and I had no idea of the effects of it, but it was the only way I knew. What you say makes perfect sense and if I was to do it over again then I would do it this way. It’s funny as my eldest naturally slept quite well, however my daughter did not. She is now 11 yrs old and quite aggressive (although I know there are other underlying reasons for that too) and that really struck a chord. However if I was to have another baby, my methods would be completely different. I was young and naive when I had my other 3 and probably quite selfish too, I never really felt like I gave me as a parent. I want one more where I give myself to that child completely so to speak. Thank you for opening my eyes :)

  76. Katrina says

    I love this post and what you’re supporting. I am a new mom to a 4 month old boy. When we brought him home I had this innate urge to hold him….always. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing but it felt right. I loved holding this squishy snuggly baby in my arms and he seemed very relaxed and happy. As time went on, when he was around the 2 month mark, I felt a bit like how am I ever going to get anything done around here when this wee boy is insisting on being held all the time. In saying that for the majority of the day when I didn’t need to feed myself, shower, or do household chores I was fine with holding him. I think I felt the pressure from the school of thought that eventually I HAVE to work on getting him to nap in his crib and not co-sleep with us. It wasn’t that anyone was saying that I had to do this, but a couple of my friends were sharing what they are doing currently with their babies and what works best in their homes, which was sleep training. I didn’t understand this concept at all….and had to do some google searches to see what ‘sleep training’ even meant. I read a post on Kelly Mom which stopped me in my tracks and confirmed that, for us, co-sleeping and not sleep training is what felt right for my husband and I. Here we are at 4 months and everyday our sweet boy is becoming more and more independent, a happy relaxed baby. It seems funny to me now that a couple months I was so worried about if this was the right thing to do, as for us, it certainly has been! He wakes every 2 to 3 hours in the night to be fed and I love how easy it is. I feel and hear him rouse slightly and I nurse him and he barely needs to wake up (which means I barely need to wake up)I love that he is exclusively breast fed and that it worked out so well for both of us. Now that we have both learned what we are doing it is so easy! Always with me, always the right temperature and is nice quiet bonding time.
    In the morning he wakes up and coos, smiles and tells me all kinds of tales, and rarely will cry which I love. Seeing this each time he wakes cements that this is the right choice for our family. My husband will say ‘I’m so happy that he is here with us’ as we are falling to sleep at night. Lately he will lay and ‘talk’ to us before he closes his eyes, he isn’t needing to be bounced or rocked as much as he was earlier on. I feel fortunate to have a supported partner who is on the same page as I am. We are starting to get to a point where he naps alone now and will do so for about 2 hours at a time, but often I will lay down with him. This is a luxury when you only have one child so I am taking advantage of it now. When I have my next this likely won’t be as much of an option. What I know is what I have witnessed for our family and that is we have a baby that rarely cries, sleeps very well at night in between his 2-3 hour feedings, is becoming increasingly independent and able to play for longer periods of time without being held, and is thriving with being exclusively breast fed. I am loving being his mom and am happy that this is the route that we went with. It feels like the right thing for us. I wish people wouldn’t get so defensive about their choices. My friends that are sleep training are amazing women and mom’s, each with their own approach and needs, and I respect their choices, just as I have witnessed them respect mine.

  77. says

    Sleep training doesn’t have to mean teaching your child to sleep independently by leaving them to cry-it-out. There are many other techniques.
    Please don’t don’t tar every sleep training technique with the same brush!

  78. Lynn says

    I just wanted to say that you summed up everything I have thought for the last several years but couldn’t put words too. I have two grown kids and two little ones. A kindergartener and an almost 2 1/2 yr old. With my 5 year old I tried to sleep train her twice and my husband once. It was a disaster. I tried playing with her in the room and we tried slowly backing away. Apparently 2 out of the three times we chose my daughter had an ear infection brewing and it was a disaster I have never had worse mommy guilt or more deserved. I then confided the situation with my paediatrician who told me to wait a whole year until after her 2nd birthday and that would be a good time. While I do believe every child is different and some will come to sleep more easily earlier on than others my two were not like that. I never tried sleep training after that. We co -slept for the next year straight with my first and with my second almost exclusively except when I used a bassinet right next to me and my hand on her the whole time as she was too little during those first 3 or 4 really sleep deprived months and other medical reasons it was the best option. I have to say walking up to them and snuggling them in the night and night nursing was much more enjoyable and fulfilling that way and I can’t even begin to relay all the benefits. But one of the best things was I got so good at hearing her breathing and feeling her body and smelling her that I became almost a super mom. I could smell she was getting sick almost a full two days before it was recognizable to the doctor. I got so good at it the doctor would call in a prescription based on my smeller. She had a lot of ear infections first one at only 6 weeks that were really throwing us off and quite frankly sleeping with my kids made me feel more capable before that I was REALLY FEELING LIKE I SUCKED AT MOTHERHOOD. When each of them turned a little more than two I realized that my husband and I moving in the bed we were now waking them up and so it was best for all due to shear size to end this. I transitioned them into their own bed, in there own rooms. My husband and I and sometimes the whole family (weekends) had a sleepover for a little over 2 weeks to “welcome” them into their new room. Doing it that way was an honor to both my children as if it was a right of passage that now they have their own place and since two year olds are in the me do/ me own phase it fits right in. I have to say I don’t remember nary a tear this way. The first two night they both went right to sleep and then as they adjusted to their rooms and new found skills maybe a bit of getting up for about 20 minutes but I quickly figured out what both of them wanted to sleep with my youngest likes to sleep with some soft books and a special blanket that she never wanted before. But honestly it was only about two weeks and I got to sleep through it. I was well rested and easily calm this way. (Whereas with sleep training that is a nearly impossible state to be in. How could any mom be when your child is crying for you and you are going against every fiber of your being to not attend to it. ) I got to read stories, when my 2 year old never would sit for them at all before. This worked on both of my kids beautifully and truly they have exact opposite personalities, my oldest especially to put it as her teacher does “DD does exactly what she wants, when she wants”. My husband even found it an enjoyable time, honestly one of the easiest things we have had to do parenting.

  79. Sara says

    Really do love this makes me happy knowing I’m not the only person thinks it horrible leaving babies to cry it out, think I’m to over the top when it comes to my kids an baby, last night me and my partner went out first time without our 6month old son he stayed over his nanny house I felt heart broken to know they didn’t keep him in there bedroom, now today iv hated everyone near me I knew it was to soon to leave him now I’m so upset and my bubba now has cried so much more at me feel like the bonding has been messed up but still I will carry on getting up to my darling when he crys,even when my kids are 20 and call me crying il be there

  80. Emily says

    Thank you for posting this. I recently came across your blog while searching for information about bed sharing and co-sleeping with my baby, but that is the only thing that seems natural and “right” for us. I live in the US where this is greatly discouraged and it is comforting to know that there are others out there that share my views on making sure all of my baby’s needs are met at every hour of the day. I couldn’t bear to think that my baby girl is alone and afraid in her crib. I’d much rather deal with any potential issues later on when she is more developmentally mature and can understand the world around her better.

  81. Vanessa says

    I have sleep trained my baby, however she only grizzles for 5 minutes prior to falling asleep! I definitely believe in finding a balance and what ever works for you and your baby is the best way. I have one happy baby so I am happy too. Interesting read though , I will take a little away with me.

  82. Kitty says

    Great article, thank you! I am very anti CIO but, in a moment of sleep deprivation and desperation, I was talked into trying it. I was told if I could make it through “just” 3 nights then we would be golden and would have an excellent sleeper on our hands. Skip to night #4 and my sweet baby boy crying for 1.5 hours, nearly hyperventilating. It was the worst night of my life! I’m so disappointed in myself for not listening to my instinct. I will never do CIO ever again. Since then, I can’t leave my child in his crib alone at night and I have to sleep on the floor with him until he falls asleep- or we bring him in bed with us in the middle of the night. I’m concerned that I caused damage that I can’t undo. He’s 16 months. Do you think he’ll remember/forgive me?! I’d hate to think that I’ve tainted his trust in me. :(

    • Sarah says

      Kitty, your child won’t remember it, and most likely will remember far worse things you are yet to do! It is a lifelong relationship you are building, and as imperfect human beings you will both do/say things to taint it. Forgiveness is so important for yourself and your child.

  83. Katie says

    Amen! My thoughts exactly put to perfect words. I’m always told I’m crazy by my husband. So nice to have a little backup. I even laughed a few times. Thank you!

    • Lolo says

      Amen indeed! I get criticized by my inlaws for being a responsive parent and told how they got their children to sleep. I consider the methods they’ve shared to be insane and abusive and they think I’m a dirty hippie. Thank you for this beautiful summary.

  84. Candice says

    My views on sleep training are objective and impartial as each baby is individual and has their own needs, as do their parents. You do whatever works best for you and your family, and that is that. For us, our Baby C now 8 months old, has always loved our company – he enjoys co-sleeping and cuddling up to us during the night (we make sure the bed is safe by using a light sheet if he is bed sharing, but we have also butted the cot against my side of the bed for easier night feeding & dreamfeeds), he plays comfortably on his own but likes to be supervised to ‘show-off’ his new tricks after he has learnt something, and now that he is crawling very well, he is really happy to crawl up to us and put his arms up for a cuddle. Some might say that we are spoiling him with love, and affection; and this has resulted in Baby C being such a Happy Baby, who is always smiling and laughing, and loving the company of others too. You can tell when parents have put their needs first and their baby isn’t as happy as they could be, and that is where they haven’t allowed themselves enough time to get to know their own baby and his/her needs before implementing any sort of sleep training whether it be CIO, co-sleeping, camping out, rocking to sleep, etc. Firstly, get to know your baby. Then decide what method you think would work best for your situation. And this will change as your baby grows, so also remember to be flexible in your approach. With hubby returning to work after 1 month, we did attempt the CIO method, but Baby C was distressed and in tears, we could tell that he didn’t want to be left alone in his cot, he simply wanted the comfort of one of us. So the decision then was simple, we would be there for him if that’s what he needed. Hubby needed a good night’s sleep, so he slept in the spare room a few nights a week. Babies are smart (not manipulating), they know what they want but they need their parents help, and it isn’t loving to ignore their cries for help. Frustrating, of course, when you aren’t sure what they need. And that’s the only exhausting part – trial and error. Have courage and faith, and you will find what works.

  85. Rose says

    I know it is late for my comment but at the beginning I liked the open-minded invitation from author for comments, only to realize different opinions are not well tolerated in the comments section. I am not for sleep training myself but find some comments from other readers telling people to ‘go somewhere else and leave this site to those who appreciate it’ immature and discouraging of discussion- which is the purpose of this article!

  86. says

    In Norway, they have a saying “Mamma må ha bannan” with means Mom needs a banana, and it doesn’t just apply to taking a break to eat a snack. It means that the children can only be happy if the parents are also happy. If you are making yourself sick with sleep-deprevation, you are not doing your baby any favors. A trained baby is a happy baby because it makes an environment where 1: both parents and children’s are assured of getting enough sleep, 2: it develops the childs independence 3: It creates trust by giving an opportunity to show your child what consistency means. My children can trust that when bedtime comes, we will put them to bed and they will have a nice sleep. Sure it’s traumatic the first couple nights, but traumatic doesn’t mean unnatural. Life has struggles in it, and life works better with some structure to it. Bedtime helps show both of those things. I can’t remember exactly when we trained our kids, but I’m pretty sure it was after they were done breastfeeding at night. By they way, our kids still love and trust us, and we love our kids too, and of course they are first in our lives, but in order for them to be taken care of, we also have to take care of ourselves. That means getting enough sleep so we can function as parents and at work (to earn money for all the food housing cloths and toys), and it also includes making sure we get some couple time in now and again. A happy marital relationship is the best foundation for happy kids, but a happy marriage requires constant nurturing.

    • Candice says

      Just curious as to what age your kids weaned from breastfeeding at night. My friends in Norway tell me that some children are breastfed until they are much older – 5 or 6 years old. I agree that babies are happiest when their parents are, and therefore remain objective because each child is different – they reach different stages in their development at different times, and all have different needs as do us parents :)

  87. Irina says

    But there are other methods except CIO and controlled crying. We started “training”, with a sleep consultant backing us up. The parent doesn’t leave the room, but sits near the bed and comforts the baby (no, it’s not Tracy Hogg). It was a hard decision, I still cry every time she cries, but I did had me reasons – she got used to falling asleep on the breast, started waking up more and more (she was a good sleeper) and woke up every night because of poop (she did it so seriously that it woke her up, and it woke her up so thoroughly she couldn’t even fall back asleep on the breast, so it ended in her being awake for a whole hour-hour and a half every night, which isn’t the best for her, too). She falls asleep on the bed now, with me near, and she keeps lifting her head, looking up at me, she knows I’m there for her. And yet, I’m not sure I’d do that again.

  88. Kelly says

    I enjoyed the read, I like hearing different points of view, but I found The content of Point Seven a bit silly – miss a events important to the child because they need to cope without you, really unnecessary and detracts from the rest of the article. I quite agree with Candice’s comment above. Every bubba is different, every family is different, for some sleep “training” is quite successful and others not so much. I don’t agree with babies being left for hours crying for attention, but us Mummas get to know our babies quite well, we know which cry is one that needs attention and which one is just a passing protest that sleep will win over. None of us should be judgemental of another family’s choice. Although, if someone is giving baby vodka in their bottle to get them to sleep, judge away!

  89. Bree says

    I am so glad I found this! Both my sisters sleep trained using the book “Baby Wise” and as soon as I had my baby, I followed what I felt was right. Right now, my exclusively breastfed baby is 4 months old. He has never had problems going back to sleep at night-I’m very lucky. For nap time and night time, I usually put him in his bed with the mobile on, in about 10 min. or so he’ll fuss because he NEEDS me. I love that he needs me, that’s my job as his mother! I go and pick him up and rock him to sleep and lay him back down. And sometimes he even sleeps with me in my bed! Haha I know most people will say that I’m creating bad habits, I’m still a new mom, and I’m learning and I believe that my baby is getting what he needs. Back in the day before sleep training, my mom and many other mothers before us rocked their babies to sleep. I turned out fine and have a wonderful relationship with my mom and have never had sleep issues.
    If there any good books on naturally putting baby to sleep, I would love to know about them!

  90. Amanda says

    I am a lucky one. My DS and I co-slept together for 6 months (Between 5 and 8 hours a night after he didn’t need night time feedings) before I both stopped breast feeding and I started to put him in his own bed. Thought it would be hard cause he was so used to me, but he slept 12 hours the first night without me having to wake up. He is now 13 months, and never cries when I put him in his crib. To those mama’s who don’t get much sleep, I applaud you for your resilience. Especially if you work, or are in college, or both as I am.

  91. says

    I love this article. Thank you for it. My 12 month old does really well at night most of the time but she still doesn’t sleep through the night completely and some nights it’s a lot of being awake and rocking a baby. When I try to talk to others around me about it they blame me for not letting her cry it out. I can’t do it. I just can’t. If my baby needs me I am there, even if I want to rip my hair out because I’m so tired. It’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one who has felt that way because sometimes it feels like I am! I know it will pass eventually and one day I’m going to miss those late night cuddles.

  92. Viktorija says

    Sleeptraining – first separating night from Day should start early on and is ok. Just making sure night is for sleeping and day is for playing.
    True sleeptraining starts with quitting the nightfeeds. Then making sure baby doesnt fall asleep at the breast, then fall asleep by themselves. Done.

  93. Courtney says

    I just imagine myself, unable to speak or move, alone in the dark, crying for the one person I trust to come and comfort me. They don’t. They stand in the door or pat my back or don’t come in at all. For me as an adult, that would be absolutely horrendous.. As an infant… Much worse. My parents did do that to me as an infant, and all three of my siblings. We were brought up in a loving home with good food/healthy relationships/no money troubles.. But we have all got some serious anxiety issues. I truly believe if they had slept with us or even had our cot in their room, we would be much happier.

  94. Crystal says

    I just had to post my experience. I was a very naive new mother, listening to “experienced” mothers that I know tell me that I should do the CIO method because it HAS been scientifically proven. I also hired a sleep coach and they “claimed” the CIO is ok because babies have short memories. So… I tried it. I let my son cry for 2 weeks. Not all night, but I intervals…5, 10, 15, … And so on. Every fibre in my soul said not to let him cry My son was the happiest baby (6 months) I knew before this training. And after, he was different. I cry every time I think about this. But… Then he got sick with an ear infection and my life changed. He and I spent 4 days and nights with each other, he had to sleep in my arms upright because if the pressure. He looks at me now like he did before sleep training… I will never let him cry in the night again… I decided to become a mother, well that’s what it’s about, that beautiful look of love and trust. I will bow to be a better mother and to follow my heart. Don’t believe people know what they are talking about when it comes to the soul, because generally, they don’t. We just have to follow our own gut instinct.

    • Lindsay says

      You have to listen to your instinct. No ones word is gold in this world but your instinct is! Perhaps he wasnt ready at 6months. I hope everyone is sleeping well now.

  95. says

    It’s so interesting to see how many people feel the same way. All babies are different and sometimes there is no harm in them having a little cry if they are over tired until they settle themselves but its different if they are hysterical. I had trouble with my eldest when he was little and once I left him crying for 20 mins I couldn’t do it any longer and when I went Into his room he had been sick in his cot (he was 11 months) I felt heartbroken. My health visitor said that when I put him to bed I should say goodnight do the usual ritual bedtime story etc.. Then potter around upstairs putting washing away, quietly sing to myself and maybe run a bath so he can hear that I am there. Before this advice I would put him to bed then turn the lights off and stand in silence waiting for him to go to sleep. Of course he would panic and start crying! After the advice I followed from the health visitor he settled and slept almost immediately. Best advice I ever had, it’s all trial and error but I would definatley not do any controlled crying again.

  96. Juda says

    As a first-time mother I hadn’t heard of the cry it out method until I searched online for ways to soothe a baby to sleep. I was trying to find nice lullabies to sing and hum to my child or gentle massage techniques, I was truly disappointed to read of so many people letting babies cry themselves to sleep. It is so heartless.
    My baby sleeps well through the night and I believe it is because he is well fed, well rested and loved throughout the entire day. When he stirs I am there beside him waiting for him to wake up, when hungry his food is always ready and when tired I sing and rock him to sleep, in between he receives all the attention and affection loving parents should give. He is always in a calm environment where he can hear me potter about, t.v. on lower volume as an example of what I mean. He has slept 8 hours each night from 7 weeks of age.
    These are my parenting techniques and my story, I know all babies are different, some are really hard to settle but I do believe you reap what you sow.
    By the way, My child sleeps in his own cot and has done so from birth, not because I don’t want him in our bed but because it is safer. I don’t think tired adults and small infants sharing a bed is a sensible combination. Sorry to offend.

  97. Kathy Forbes says

    It is simply as a mother of six, yes each child is different, but for the first year the baby gets the control. without questions, it is the only way they communicate with us and have only known us, separation anxiety is a real crisis and should never be or at the least be a consideration at birth, that should be the last of their issues, considering they will master a language, sometimes two, learn to operate thier tiny bodies, being a baby is a hard job, after all that I would need some calm arms to fall into as well.

  98. Nikki says

    Thank you for this article. My almost 10 month old son has never been a good sleeper and I haven’t gotten any sleep in over a year. The doctor keeps telling him it’s okay to let him cry. He also says he doesn’t need to eat in the middle of the night and waking up every 2 hours is just a habit now. I cannot let him cry. I tried it once and I couldn’t take it. I was crying and my husband said forget this. I keep hoping he will sleep better one of these days because he’s breaking my back walking him around at night! It’s good to know there are other mothers dealing with the same thing and not wanting to go down the cry it out path. So many people try to make you feel bad for not doing it.

    • Lindsay says

      They make you feel bad because you are putting your need to feel ok in front of your baby’s need for sleep. Babies need sleep so that can thrive! It’s your responsibility to ensure they get that sleep. Even if it means you are going to ache when your baby cries. Maybe you luck out and don’t have to train but not a lot of mom’s are that fortunate. Toughen up sister, you’re baby is depending on you!

  99. Shannon says

    I have a few ladies in my life that are pregnant and I know will do CIO and a few other parenting practices that I dont subscribe to. I get really sad and actually sick to my stomach thinking about it. I love bedsharing with my 4 month old. I have a arms reach attached to the bed that she never ever used. I actually have a few pillows in there that I use to give myself some extra space lol. I pray that people realize that babies dont sleep all night and should each or be hugged when they ask to be.

  100. September says

    This article gets so much wrong. We have a beautiful 7 month old who slept great, 10 + hours a night, from about 3 months of age to about 6 months of age. I would always rock and nurse her to sleep. She NEVER napped well. At about the 6 1/2 month mark, it had gotten very difficult to sooth her to sleep, and she still wasn’t napping. Then, she abruptly stopped sleeping at night, too. I tried everything (we even co-slept). Sleep training for us was NOT about convenience, NOT about having hours to ourselves (I absolutely loved cuddling with her in those hours I was trying to get her to sleep… LOVED it.) But she was not sleeping. We had a baby with bags under her eyes. We had a baby who was getting increasingly crankier and crankier throughout the day. So we finally resorted to sleep training. She doesn’t nurse any less than she did before, she doesn’t respond to us any differently. There are studies that show that neither sleep training nor increased cortisol levels during protest crying cause any sort of long-term (or short term) issues for babies. The connection I have with my little girl is reinforced every day through the love I give her constantly. Constantly. Obviously, there are some parents who reject letting their babies cry, even if it’s for the specific purpose of getting them to be able to sleep. And maybe not all parents or all babies need to use a CIO method. But all babies need to sleep. And if they can’t do it with your help, as loving as it may be, then you may need to let them cry it out.

  101. New Mommy says

    My baby is 4 1/2 month’s old and was just starting to sleep in 3-5 hour stretches. Recently our schedule has changed by about 5 hours due to my husband’s schedule at work changing and now he has started waking much more frequent. Anywhere from every 1/2 – 2 hours. I started looking it up online and everything I came across said it’s time to sleep train your baby. That at 3 – 5 months babys sleep pattern changes and they need to learn to self settle or they will Never be able to sleep through the night. The first thing that crossed my mind was baby’s can’t talk how do you know that they do’nt need to eat or be diapered much less just held rocked or eaven just touched to be soothed back to sleep. Then i started reading how to sleep train cio and cc methods. Then I though what if I were so distraught and I needed to be held or soothed and my husband refused to acknowledge me. I would feel abandoned! I know first hand how it is to hear your baby cry and not be able to help for example my son absolutely hates his car seat i have tryed everything to get him to like it but as soon as i buckle him in he freaks out and i feel so powerless knowing there is nothing I can do to sooth him when i am driving. Do I really want to put us both in that situation when I don’t have to? Do I want to keep him wet in his diaper or hungry at night? My answer is No and why do this to baby’s that rely on us for their every Need! I am so glad I came across this site and that I’m not alone in thinking this way. Please continue to feed change and rock baby when they don’t just want it they Need it!

  102. P says

    Why does a routine or scedule equate to letting your baby scream? My baby is in a routine and I don’t regret it. It’s not iron clad or down to the minute but it helps me as a new mother to be able to keep my sanity and get things done. It also helps me when figuring out what is wrong with him. Never have I let him scream or cry it out or not comforted him AND he has had no problems as far as weight gain etc. He is the happiest little boy…even when teething. Every baby is different and parents are too…what works for one may not work for another.

  103. Jessie says

    I have another reason not to “sleep train” that I wish got more attention- my son has Autism. As a baby and small toddler, he appeared neurologically typical- and he’s pretty happy and trusting as far as Autistic kids go. One thing many folks don’t realize is that children with Autism don’t produce melatonin as their non-affected peers do; considering that emotional and physical attachment is one of the most important things for kids on the spectrum to be able to learn, I am so glad that we were always there for him at night. I’m not blaming any parents for their choices- I’m merely saying that, knowing what I know now, I am so glad I can look back and remember treating him compassionately, and I get to enjoy a lot of snuggles even today.

  104. Sophia says

    I let my son “cry it out” (5-10 min) for naps around 3 months old. It was literally the only way to get him to nap *at all* and he was obviously tired all day. Any stimulation from a human presence would make him too interested to sleep. I once spent 40 minutes lying next to him, fluttering my eyes closed to try and teach him to nap and he just cried the whole time (compared to the 5-10 minutes alone). I started leaving him alone to nap once he was already sleeping 8hrs at night completely spontaneously (he was always a good night sleeper – 6hrs from birth although I am pretty sure that didn’t help my terrible trouble trying to breastfeed). As a result of this small amount of crying at 3 months of age he has more or less since then had 11-13hrs sleep at night and 3-4hrs sleep in naps without any fussing – in fact I am so confident in his lack of fussing for sleep that if there is any sleep related fussing (if he has a stressful day, feels ill, has a nightmare etc) I have no concerns about going in and holding his hand and singing to him until he is calm because I know it’s just going to be a one off and I am not starting any “habits”.

    But people always seem to equate this kind of thing with letting a kid scream in the dark for hours… does anyone really do that? When I let my baby cry it wasn’t so much to teach him to sleep on his own as much as to get him used to the idea that when it’s light outside you can actually still wind down and go to sleep. He literally couldn’t relax unless I left him alone because if he could see me he couldn’t understand me not giving him constant, stimulating, attention that kept him awake.


  1. [...] Originally Posted by kirsty lou m YOU CANT TRAIN A BABY TO SLEEP.!. No you can’t. 8 Reasons to Avoid Sleep Training Your Baby | Alternative Mama | Alternative Mama And don’t think I am one of those mothers whose baby sleeps through the night and naps during the [...]

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