A Letter From a Sleep-Training Baby

Dear mommy,

I am confused.

I am used to falling asleep in your soft, warm arms. Each night I lay snuggled close to you; close enough to hear your heartbeat, close enough to smell your sweet fragrance. I gaze at your beautiful face as I gently drift off to sleep, safe and secure in your loving embrace. When I awaken with a growling stomach, cold feet or because I need a cuddle, you attend to me quickly and before long I am sound asleep once again.

But this last week has been different.

Each night this week has gone like this. You tucked me up into my cot and kissed me goodnight, turned out the light and left. At first I was confused, wondering where you’d gone. Soon I became scared, and called for you. I called and called for you mummy, but you wouldn’t come! I was so sad, mummy. I wanted you so badly. I’ve never felt feelings that strong before. Where did you go?

Eventually you came back! Oh, how happy and relieved I was that you came back! I thought you had left me forever! I reached up to you but you wouldn’t pick me up. You wouldn’t even look me in the eye. You lay me back down with those soft warm arms, said “shh, it’s night time now” and left again.

This happened again, over and over. I screamed for you and after a while, longer each time, you would return but you wouldn’t hold me.

After I had screamed a while, I had to stop. My throat hurt so badly. My head was pounding and my tiny tummy was growling. My heart hurt the most, though. I just couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t come.

After what felt like a lifetime of nights like this, I gave up. You don’t come when I scream, and when you do finally come you won’t even look me in the eye, let alone hold my shaking, sobbing little body. The screaming hurt too much to carry on for very long.

I just don’t understand, mummy. In the daytime when I fall and bump my head, you pick me up and kiss it better. If I am hungry, you feed me. If I crawl over to you for a cuddle, you read my mind and scoop me up, covering my tiny face with kisses and telling me how special I am and how much you love me. If I need you, you respond to me straight away.

But at night time, when it’s dark and quiet and my night-light casts strange shadows on my wall, you disappear. I can see that you’re tired, mummy, but I love you so much. I just want to be near to you, that’s all.

Now, at night time, I am quiet. But I still miss you.

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Comments

  1. omg. thats heartbreaking. i’m glad i read this tonight – my daughter has been up every 2 hours in the night for weeks and i’m at the end of my rope but this reminded me why i never have and never will leave any baby of mine to cry it out.

  2. This breaks my heart . . . I hate to think of people just letting their babies cry and cry. We didn’t use The No Cry Sleep Solution (I’ve never read it), but we’re working on ending the co-sleeping (after two and a half years) because it just wasn’t working for us anymore and everyone in the house was miserable. I was really, really relieved that I’ve been able to get my kiddos to sleep without the “Supernanny” CIO method. There’s so much out there that suggests that you HAVE to just let them cry, or you’ll never be able to sleep through the night, but it’s not true. I wish there was more out there about the middle ground between CIO and co-sleeping, because I think a lot of people could use it. Thanks for the reminder about how children need to be respected.

    • I totally agree. I am obviously against CIO but at the same time, I dont believe mums should feel guilty for wanting a little more sleep. There are plenty of gentle solutions to help nudge them in the right direction, it’s just that none of them are quick-fixes. Good luck with moving on from co-sleeping, it’s hard to make the big changes but it sounds as if your household is definitely in need of the transition!

  3. This is so lame.

  4. Hi there,

    I run gentle baby classes (www.babycalm.co.uk) and would absolutely love to publish this poem in our training material – does anybody know who wrote it? we talk about the science and psychology of CIO but I think this poem would really grab the new mum’s attention and reasonate with them.

    I would be very happy to of course give full credit to the author if given kind permission to use.

    Thank you!

    Sarah

    • Hi there, Sarah!

      I wrote this, and I am so flattered that you like it enough to want to use it in your training material! Of course you can, please go ahead! It would be wonderful if you gave credit to me, Imogen O’Reilly, and a link to Alternative-Mama.com.

      Thanks so much! xox

  5. Thank you so much Imogen, I think it’s just beautiful – you had one of my teachers in tears last night after I posted it on our teacher forum. I really do think it will help parents to understand their babies more. We are fiercely oppossed to sleep training and anything we can do to get the message across helps :-) – we are planning to release a book next year, I don’t suppose you would give permission to use it in print would you? (I’m not definite I would use it but would like to if I could make it fit). Again you’d be fully credited and we’d send you a free copy of the book.

    Thanks

    Sarah

    • Oh that’s wonderful! Definitely the effect I was going for… It’s so lovely to know that there are people out there who are doing their very best to educate parents and expectant parents about gentle, respectful and loving childrearing practices. The more mainstream ‘methods’ seem to forget that babies are tiny human beings, worthy of the same respect and kind treatment as an adult.

      I had a look at your website earlier and your classes look wonderful.

      I would be absolutely thrilled if you used this in your book! Please feel free to do so if you wish, and thank you in advance for crediting me and Alternative-Mama.com :)

  6. I am SAD to see that ANY publication would bash another’s parenting decisions like this. I do sleep train babies and the comment about being against all sleep training is so stereotypical it makes me upset. Sleep training, when done PROPERLY, often requires no crying at all, or if it does, it is minimal and done at an appropriate age when a child can learn to self-soothe. Not all sleep training is CIO. If you start when a baby is very, very young, follow their natural rhythms, all it takes is a little encouragement and the right environment (both day and night) and you can gently and lovingly train a baby to learn to fall asleep on their own without crying. I am tired of people making sleep training out to be some horrid evil. The real evil is bashing parents and passing judgement on them with a superior, “I am a better parent” attitude. Each family has to decide what works best for them. For some it is feeding on demand and a family bed. For others, it is a more scheduled life and each person sleeping in their own bed. How about showing a little respect for those who are smart enough to know what works best for them? Oh, and FWIW, I support my clients, whatever methods they choose–I don’t think it is my place to make their parenting decisions for them or to try and make them feel bad and bully them into a different one.

    • Firstly, thank you for taking the time to comment. I know this is an emotive post and although the majority of feedback I’ve received is positive, I know you cannot please everybody.

      Secondly, this post was written with cry-it-out sleep training in mind, and I stand by it. I am all for supporting parents in their own decisions – what I do not and will never support is leaving babies to scream alone in their beds.

      I do agree wholeheartedly that there are many gentle and kind ways to nudge babies towards better sleep – that is not what this post is about. As you can see, I have linked to a book about gentle sleep training so yes, I am aware that there is such a thing.

      I don’t believe in training children, especially not if it involves leaving them to cry. I don’t believe that it is respectful nor kind to them as human beings. That is my opinion and as this is my blog, I feel I have a right to express my feelings on this subject.

      I am no stranger to lack of sleep, both of my kids are seemingly allergic, lol. So yes, i know how hard it can be and i certainly don’t think i’m a better mum than anybody else. This article wasn’t intended to bash parents. It was merely an attempt to give a different perspective.

      Thanks again for commenting, I appreciate all feedback – good and bad.

    • It must hurt, for these people to hear that their decision to go against science, nature and, for those who are religious, God, causes their child pain.

      I’ve seen the effects of sleep training on adults. The insomnia. The reluctance to go to bed. The inability to sleep with their own spouse. Issues with closeness. Adult separation anxiety–the list goes on.

      But this is not bashing any kind of parenting. Quite the opposite–it’s addressing a LACK of parenting. There are non-neglectful ways of helping an infant sleep. And frankly, if you weren’t prepared to make sacrifices, you shouldn’t have become a parent. Anyone who tells you parenting is easy is selling something.

      “We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” ~Maya Angelou

      “When you know better, you do better.” ~Maya Angelou

      • There is no way you can make that stretch between CIO when a child and issues of closeness when an adult. Huge stretch, correlational at best. Please do not attempt to make such assumptions in ignorance.

        • I do not find it to be a stretch. Nor do I feel it is an assumption made in ignorance. In case you are unaware, our early childhood has a profound affect on our adult lives. Do a bit of research before you call someone out as ignorant in your OWN ignorance.

        • Of course you can , and it is not a stretch. Our personalities are completely formed by the time we are two years old. If a baby feels insecure, abandoned, and accepts the fact that ‘nobody is coming when I need them’, that will most certainly stay with them throughout life.

      • You say you are not bashing but this entire thing you write was bashing. Get over yourself lady, really! All this lady was saying is that CIO method is not something to frown upon. It is a technique. Just cuz you don’t agree with it doesn’t make it wrong. I don’t do the CIO but I’m not going to tell a mother she’s wrong for using it. Every parent does it different, and their parenting as well as mine is no better or worse then yours. If our children grow up to be productive members of society, then we’ve done our job right. Don’t make up assumptions with your own ignorance.

      • My friend was allowed to sleep in her parents’ bed until she was two and a half. When she was then moved to her own room, it was a traumatic experience that she remembers to this day. Bed-time became a frightening time for her. She started getting scared as soon as the sun set as this meant that bed-time was approaching.

        She has been struggling with insomnia since the age of 14 and still are.

        Just saying…..

        • Our sons have co-slept with us and the move from our bed to bedroom was NOT traumatic. We did it slowly. In the beginning we’d lie down next to them in their bed, then gradually move out of the bed – down to the floor, further down the wall, sit in the door and then – one day, we tucked them up and removed ourselves completely. When they called out, we’d get up and go to the door so they could see us. It takes time, it takes effort and it means giving up your time – but for us it was worth it. I would never sleep train my children – I respond to my children’s needs as and when, even now when they are 5 and 3 years old I always come if they call!

        • Your friend is the exception, rather than the rule. I nursed and coslept with all three of my daughters when they were babies, and not one of them had issues transitioning to a bed in another room. There had to be something else going on there…

  7. I appreciate your response, and I totally respect your right to hold your beliefs and raise your children as you see fit, but yes, as politely as I can say this, you do present your point in a ‘I am a good parent, people who sleep train are bad parents’ type of manner. That is what I have an issue with, not whether you choose to sleep train or not, co-sleep or not. And I am not displeased with your viewpoint as you implied. I have an issue with “how” you present it. Like so many who hold strong beliefs and consider themselves and their way to be the only ‘true’ right way, you DO present your view in a judgemental manner, condemning others, even while saying you don’t and I honestly think you actually believe you don’t, but you do.
    And if you are only referring to CIO in your letter and that is the real point of the blog, then it is important to be clear about that and you are not. You simply lump it in the same catagory as all sleep training and while some people do believe CIO has it’s place, it is very different from true sleep training and that distinction is important.
    I believe that like my clients, if you have found what works for your family and you are at peace with the decision you have made, then it is 100% the right decision for your family. It just would be great if you allowed others the same freedom to make their parenting choices without judgement. It might be ‘your’ blog, but promoting your point in such a manner that it demeans others who chose differently is unkind, no matter what the topic.

    • Thank you for replying :)

      I do apologise if I come across as being judgemental. I thought that the blog in question was pretty clearly about CIO sleep training; I know that the title references ‘sleep training’ but the blog itself is quite clearly describing Controlled Crying, a form of CIO.

      Blogging about parenting is a strange beast; it is so hard to express an opinion without upsetting somebody, especially if you feel passionately about the subjects you are blogging about. I feel very passionately that training young babies to sleep is not a good thing, and my strong feelings on the subject are bound to come across.

      I appreciate that you feel that true sleep training is different to CIO sleep training. I agree to an extent, but I also feel that weeks-old babies are supposed to wake up a lot at night. I would really like to hear more about exactly how you train such young babies to sleep for such long stretches, I had a look at your website but it doesn’t really tell me much about your methods.

      I can see that your issue with this post is not my standpoint (as you say, we are all entitled to make a free choice on how is best to raise our kids), but the way it comes across, and I appreciate that. I strive to make the Alternative Mama community a supportive and non-judgemental one, but at the end of the day the people who read this blog generally subscribe to a certain style of parenting and agree enough with my standpoint to have shared this particular blog many times.

      So whilst I really do appreciate your input, I continue to stand by this post. I think you should read a more recent blog I wrote about allowing crying vs. CIO, which was written to show my actual feelings about this subject – rather than having been written for shock value, like this post was. It was my intention to incite strong emotions in the people who read it, and I appreciate that those emotions, in some, would be directed at me.

      Thank you again for replying :)

      • I saw in a comment that you don’t agree to sleep training – even those that don’t involve leaving a baby to cry. Wow! You also assumed that the letter was about a weeks old baby. Maybe I missed it but…I didn’t see any age mentioned in the letter. I would have personally assumed that it was a toddler but I guess that is wide open for opinion.

        I am anti-CIO. I don’t believe it is okay at all in letting a child cry and scream. However, to say that any sort of “sleep training” isn’t okay is extreme. I’ll give you an example of someone with extreme views such as yourself….

        She is a friend of mine. She has a 5 year old and a 1 1/2 year old. First, if Mom is NOT in bed sleeping with the toddler, he MUST be held while sleeping. Even if that means holding him for 3 hours. She can’t get up or do much as he is a light sleeper and will wake up. That is a great way to be neglectful of the other child in my opinion. So, how would you suggest transitioning him to any other normal sleep pattern without “training him”??? Or should she just neglect her other child because of the needs of her younger child?

        Secondly, because she is so against “sleep training”, his natural schedule rules the household. This leaves Mom very worried about this upcoming fall as her oldest will be starting Kindergarten. As I said, toddler schedule rules the roost. They go to sleep at around 7 am and wake up sometime between 2 and 6 pm – just depends on when he wakes up. School goes from 9 am until 12 pm 3 days per week for her half day Kindergarten class. So, if the schedule isn’t forcefully changed…how in the world will she get her oldest to and from school? She is always exhausted because of the toddlers’ crazy, demanding schedule. She’s been to see many Doctors and nothing is physically wrong with her but she barely has the motivation to leave the home to go grocery shopping.

        She has tried tweaking the schedule a bit to slowly, yet as naturally as possible get him moved to a more normal schedule but alas…it has yet to happen and if it’s changed at all he become extremely irritable and cries. So please, do tell…how would you get this family who is against any sort of “sleep training” onto a normal schedule so that she can PROPERLY raise BOTH of her children? I see what they are like often and I have to say, it is absolutely unhealthy. I would love some tips on how to get this kid on a normal schedule of sleeping before September so that she can actually be there for her other child. I don’t even want to think of the excuse she will use when she misses picking up her daughter a few days in a row because they were still sleeping.

        • You’re right, the age of the baby in the letter is very much open to opinion.

          No, I don’t generally agree with training children – training is markedly different to making changes and helping a child adjust. The word “training” seems to lend itself mostly to babies, who cannot be explained to or understand why changes are made. When a toddler/preschooler is of an age where they can understand what is going on, you can explain to them what the new routine/whatever is going to be, implement it and then empathetically, respectfully support them and guide them through the changes.

          I wouldn’t say my views are particularly extreme. But you are of course entitled to your opinion of me.

          I think there is a lot of weight placed on the words we use to describe things. “Sleep Training” vs “Sleep Learning”, “Discipline” vs “Guidance”…. they are all essentially the same thing but in my mind, the word “training” has negative connotations. “Training” assumes using techniques to modify the behaviour of another human being and to me, that is disrespectful. It assumes the Trainer is The Boss and the Trainee is bottom of the pile; a passive participant. Changes can be made with respect, and with both parties actively participating. I accept that in extreme circumstances, like the one your friend is clearly in, the routine obviously has to change. If she were here now, I would point her in the direction of Janet Lansbury’s RIE Blog.

          Thank you for your comment.

  8. I have to agree whole heartedly with Tonya, especially since the first poster Clare sounds like she is really Sleep Deprived and needs help and a baby feeding every 2 hrs is NOT 100% normal and there could be a problem with bub that the Snack Breastfeeding is hiding. Could you live with yourself Imogen knowing that this Blog was indirectly the cause of a death of a child through SIDS..IE. Poor Clare decides she is deperate for sleep and decides to Co-Sleep and falls into a deep sleep on baby and well do I need to write the rest, im sure you get my drift.

    I am not a CIO/CC advocate by any means but I believe in educating myself on all parenting ways and I do believe in allowing bub to self settle in ther own SIDS safe cot while you look after yourself. Someone once told me that as a Mum that I am the most important person in the house and if I dont look after myself then how is anyone else going to get looked after. Oh and Sleep Deprivation is still used as aa form of torture and with this Blog you are also telling parents that Sleep Deprivation is what is expected of a parnet.

    I think you should put your efforts into writting beautiful porms for people with cancer or alike or even use this energy and time to help people whom are in more need than to just hear YOUR opinion.

    • Lol, okay, for a start – SAFE co sleeping does not cause SIDS – in fact it has been shown to prevent it (see studies by McKenna – oh and believe it or not, even FSID admit that when cosleeping is done whilst following safe cosleeping guidelines it does not pose a risk of cot death – as told to somebody I know who recently attended a seminar where FSID spoke. Do your research before you start accusing me of being responsible for the deaths of babies!

      Secondly, as somebody who is trained in supporting breastfeeding mums and is educated in matters of breastfeeding, 2 hourly feeding IS normal. Frequent feeding at night is beneficial to milk supply because the levels of prolactin are higher at night.

      Thirdly, I am well aware that sleep deprivation is a form of torture – I have two kids who don’t much like sleeping themselves, so I know how hard it can be. Before you start assuming that I don’t think mums should look after themselves, try reading the rest of my blog – Here and here would be a good start.

      Fourthly, THIS ARTICLE IS VERY CLEARLY ABOUT CRY-IT-OUT SLEEP TRAINING. I never said that mothers shouldn’t find GENTLE or RESPECTFUL ways to help their babies sleep – when they are physically and emotionally ready to! Again, i refer to the two articles I just linked to.

      And finally, sleep deprivation IS a normal part of parenthood. Babies need attention during the night as well as the day, and the very notion that a young baby should be expected to sleep for many hours straight at night is not healthy. In fact, a growing number of experts are starting to suggest that young babies being trained to go into a deep sleep could be a cause of SIDS in itself.

      Thank you for your comment. As I have said before, this is my personal blog so if you don’t want to read about my opinion on matters of parenting, I respectfully suggest that you don’t read it.

    • Kelly, you do realize SIDS is a way to explain the unexplainable? ie, an infant falls asleep and stops breathing with no obstruction to their airways. If an adult falls into a deep slumber, rolls on the baby, and in turn, causes the infant’s death then that is NOT unexplained. If a child suffocates on a pillow or large, fluffy comforter and as a result, passes away, then that is also NOT unexplained.

      • Fact: co-sleeping with an infant increases risk of SIDS. SIDS is not necessarily unexplainable, in fact a parent whos child dies of SIDS whom had multiple increased risk factors which can be determined through investigation may face criminal neglect and endangerment charges depending on the state and circumstances this potentially could include co-sleeping if the child is found to have suffocated d/t bedding. I also find the allegations that letting your child cry for a period of time will psychologically damage them for their adult life. that is somewhat of a stretch, theoretically it is possible I suppose but there are so many extenuating circumstances in the maturation of a child which could change their psychological development. The composition of multiple neglect and abuse factors could be correlated but sleep training would not fall into that category so to make that correlation would be false in any sense. In my opinion I would think it would be more “damaging” to a child to allow them to develop a routine throughout infancy and into their toddler years and to abruptly change it then. I also think it is hilarious to say you can rationalize this change to a toddler. this is their way of life. if anything a toddler has a more in-depth sense of loss and abandonment than an infant. I personally can’t let my son cry for an extended amount of time, it erks me and I have to go to him. However I think parenting is an art and is often done by trial and error every parent will find what works for them it doesn’t make it right or wrong.

        • Seriously? SIDS is SUDDEN infant death syndrome. It’s name implies that it is unexplainable. Co sleeping REDUCES the risk because if baby stops breathing, mom and dad are right there. They aren’t a whole room away. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/sleep/sids.html http://www.sids.org/ndefinition.htm Like I said before, if an infant suffocates on a large pillow, oversized blanket, or because their parent rolled on top of them, those instances are EXPLAINED. In those instances, you know EXACTLY why the baby stopped breathing, ie it was SUFFOCATING.

  9. I want to be clear about something here. I am not against the methods Imogen supports, and I do fully agree with her that safe co-sleeping is not an issue in SIDS related deaths. In fact, I also concur with her that it is just the opposite and can be done safely. However, I do wish information was more readily available for new moms on safe ways of co-sleeping; too many of them have no clue and do not follow safe practices. All documented incidents of death from smothering actually were not by the mother unless she was impaired or was not using safe co-sleeping practices, so while I do have issues with the direct criticism of sleep training and not being clear that CIO was the only thing being referenced, I am not against mothers opting to co-sleep or feed frequently. They are not the methods I use with my clients, but they certainly are viable options for many people.
    I read this blog and many others like it because it is important that I know as much as possible so I can discuss all reasonable options with my clients and if they choose to follow methods different than what I teach, I can point them in the direction of those who can help educate them. My ultimate goal is always a well-rested, well-educated family, however they get to that point.

    Tonya

    • Thank you Tonya, I really appreciate that. I agree wholeheartedly that there should be more information available to those who wish to co-sleep. The person I mentioned in my reply to Kelly who attended the FSID seminar asked them during the session about the statistics for co-sleeping deaths when regulations were followed (as the statistics now represent deaths in which the mother was drunk/otherwise under the influence or not following guidelines) and she was told to wait around at the end. After the seminar, the FSID spokesperson admitted that safe co-sleeping posed no increased risk of SIDS but that they choose not to tell people that, in case they co-sleep and don’t follow the guidelines. To me, that seems about as ridiculous as telling people that it’s unsafe to drive, rather than teaching them how to do it right.

      Thanks again for commenting Tonya, I know we have disagreed but I appreciate you jumping in there regardless. x

    • There IS information readily available for new-parents to learn about safe co-sleeping. All you have to do is to type in “co-sleeping”,or “co-sleeping rules”,or some phrase such as that,and you get the complete list of things to be aware of when thinking about co-sleeping. I knew all about co-sleeping and how to do it safely before I even got pregnant!. It’s,unfortunately,up to the parents to do research of their own. I say unfortunately,because so many new parents go into parenting blindly,or so I’ve met.

      For example-I have met many women who were told to put their newborn on a feeding schedule (I,myself,was told to do this when my son was less than 5 days old,again when he was 4 weeks and again just after 1 month).Recause these women don’t do their own research and learn how important it is for them to bond with their baby and learn to read what their child needs,they blindly listen to the “expert” and put their babies on a strict schedule (every 3-4 hours,10 minutes on each breast). I might add that these are breastfeeding moms,not ones who initially chose to formula feed. Every single mother I have met who followed the schedule were somewhat soon after that they were not making enough milk and their child was not growing enough. They were then told to put their baby on formula. These women were all heartbroken. If they had done their own research,they would have known how important it actually is, in the first 3 months, to NOT put your baby on a schedule. Plus,if they had done their own research,and actually decided to listen to the doctors about the schedule,and found that their baby was not thriving,they would then know to stop the schedule. Instead,they,once again,blindly listen to the “experts” and put their baby on formula and feel like a failure (or so they tell me). This is why I say “unfortunately” people don’t do their own research,so they won’t fall prey to so-called “experts”,even if they’re well-meaning experts. Experts don’t know our babies the way we do,it’s up to us,as parents to ALWAYS research the best we can,when it comes to our children. Even if you find that you agree with the experts,it’s best to always come to that conclusion on your own.

      • My doctors always told me if y baby cried and holding or changing didn’t make them happy then I needed to feed. They fed when the were hungry. When they weren’t I stored milk in freezer. My dr and nurses said every situation and every child is different. You need to learn what works for you and your baby, NOT what people claim is the “norm” everyone and every child is different. I have two healthy boys 9 and 19, 6 sisters and between them dozens of boys and girls and what worked for one didn’t work for others. Listen to the baby and grow and learn together. Drs. are human too. They make mistakes. We learn and grow together. Good luck to ALL parents!!

  10. I have to support YOU Imogene. I have five children. The first was left to cry it out, as that was all we knew. The second, third, fourth and fifth have been closely snuggled up in bed with mama and daddy. MY sleep IS more peaceful having my baby with me at all times. My baby sleeps better with me. When there is illness, I have one that vomits in his sleep and does NOT wake up. One winter he was so sick that he would probably not have woken in the morning with the amount of vomit that was there. Luckily we were there to clean him up, and make sure he was safe. My oldest that cried it out, has had some issues with love, and closeness. I truly believe letting her sob in her own crib in her own room, all alone, caused this. I strongly uphold your values Imogene. Thank you for writing this.

    • racheal says:

      this is sad :’(
      i couldnt do that. and i agree w/jill! my sleep is better when my baby is sleeping with me than in her crib. im more anxious and cant sleep when shes in her crib. im always checking on her and her crib is right next to me.

      • Oh, I know exactly what you mean! If I go out for a drink with the girls, I slide the cot bars up between the bed and the sidecar on that night as obviously it is unsafe to drink alcohol and co-sleep. So he is only about…. 4 inches further away from me, and i can easily reach over the bars to get to him, but it feels soooo far away!! Isn’t it wonderful to have a little, soft, squishy person within snuggling distance :) thank you for commenting!

        • I am a huge fan of cosleeping and having my two month old near me in my bed is amazing and he sleeps through the night. I do not ever sleep with him drunk nor under any intoxicating substance. I believe he is a happier baby when he’s with me because he looks at me and smiles. Just though I’d Throw that in.

  11. What a humongous pile of tripe. Way to make people feel guilty!

    • I don’t understand why we’re all so afraid of guilt. Guilt makes us reevaluate our actions and forces us to make better decisions in the future. If someone feels guilty about leaving their kid to cry itself to sleep after reading this, then perhaps they weren’t totally happy with their choice to do so. Thank you for your comment.

      • Well put!!!!! As a life-long vegetarian/vegan,I often have people ask me if I’m trying to make them feel guilty. I never do,in fact,I go out of my way to not have people feel bad about their choices,just because they’re eating with a vegan. I tell them,if they’re feeling guilty,it’s their own conscience making them feel guilty. For anyone coming on to this site,and sitting long enough to read this post as well as the comments,clearly,it’s something that rubbing you for one reason or another. Maybe,you should take a look at why it upsets you so much instead of attacking the author. You’re on this site for some reason-why would that be if it’s something you don’t agree with?

  12. Imogene, I truly think that you must have struck the nerve that you were aiming to. I believe the readers that you are evoking such a terrible response from are feeling guilt. I remember that guilt when i made our first child cry herself to sleep. I also remember that first awful feeling when I followed “well meaning” advice from my pediatrician to put my son over my knee and spank him. Looking back, it makes me sick and angry. Why didn’t someone of value come into my life earlier to show me how to cherish my children – even God’s way – without harshness? I know now, and am still learning. But I too stand by what you wrote. Kuddos Honey!

    • Thank you for this, Jill, I appreciate the support. I don’t believe that we should punish ourselves for the choices we make that, in hindsight, could have been better. We can only do the best that we can do at any given time with the tools we have got. Nobody is perfect.

      When my first son was a baby, I made many mistakes that I wish I hadn’t now. I feel deep regret over his babyhood. Surely it’s better to learn something from them and try to turn the guilt into something positive :)

  13. Heather says:

    That was a truely beautiful poem. I read it and then all the comments here before reading it again. I can understand each persons point of view here. I am a mother of a 11 week old beautiful baby girl, and I am definately sleep deprived. I have read books and websites on CIO techniques and I was recommended this method by friends and childhood nurses. I tried it one day and listening to my daughter cry was the most painful thing ever (worse than my labour), it hurt my heart. When I finally did pick her up she wouldn’t look at me. For 10 weeks I had held her and kissed and fed and rocked her too sleep. She knew that she was loved. And then suddenly one day I abandoned all of this and left her alone. How confusing and horrible for her. While I respect that this method has worked for some of my friends and their children, it is not for me. It does not sit well in my heart. Thinking of trying it again makes me uneasy, and I never will.

    People have mentioned how posts like this appear as if parents who do not use CIO techniques are trying to act as ‘superior’ to those who do. I do not believe that this poem was trying to achieve this. Each of us hae very individual parenting styles, and posts on blogs like this are never going to please everyone. But those who don’t use CIO have just as much right to post about our beliefs and methods as those who do. And as Imogen says, it is her blog and if it upsets someone then you don’t have to read it. There is no need to post comments that attack her beliefs.

    It is sad that I do not feel comfortable talking to my friends who use CIO about my beliefs because I am always told that I am judging them. Why does it have to be such a sensative issue. What works for one family does not work for another. As each parent, each child, and the relationship between them is different.

    Thank you Imogen for posting this poem, whenever I have that hard night and it’s 2am in the morning and I feel like just leaving my daughter to cry I will think of this poem and remember why I will never try it again. For this too shall pass.

    Heather

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Heather! I agree that it needn’t be a sensitive issue. Thank you for seeing that this poem did not set out to make me look superior… I am far from it. The purpose was simply to look at CIO/CC from the possible perspective of the baby.

      You are spot on when you say each parent, child and relationship are different. What works for one does not work for another. Neither of my children are/were the types who would lay in their cribs, grumble for a minute or two and then go to sleep. I tried it with my oldest on the advice of a Health Visitor when he was just 6 weeks old (!), and he just cried for the entire two hours that I spent checking him and “reassuring” him every 10 minutes. It was awful and, like you, it made my heart hurt – and showed me why I would never do it again. I firmly believe that in the majority of cases, there must be a better way than that.

    • It’s the same with me with my in-laws. I think they’re feeling guilty about how they raised my husband,as he was a high-need baby like our son.
      There are so many things that people perceive by others different from them as being attacked. They almost always are not. I mentioned,in another comment,that I am a life-long vegetarian. People so often think they’re being attacked or judged or made to feel guilty over their own choices,just because they’re different from mine. I go out of my way to make sure people don’t think this,as well as with my parenting methods. Yet,there will always be those who project their own feelings of guilt onto others who are doing things differently,especially when they see it as a “better” way then their way. No one way is better. Only different. That’s why there’s so many different ways to do things. Otherwise,there would only be one way to do everything and that would be it. What a boring world that would be.

  14. This is exactly why I snuggle up each night with my darling bubs!!
    So well written, well said Imogen x

  15. the letter made me so sad and I know this is how my children would feel if I had ever sleep trained them…..

    Much prefer the natural approach of allowing them time to fall into their own routine.

    I have four children, aged from 1 – 11 and have never trained any of them, I have however dealt with sleepless nights and a child that just didn’t sleep for months!

    I think, as parents we have to do what is right for us and our children.

    If people feel guilty after reading this blog then surely that says more about them than the author?

  16. Beautiful. My 1st nursed every hour, 24 times a day, for the 1st 7 months. Needless to say, I was tired! But I believe leaving an infant to CIO is wrong and harmful. That first time period where mom may be sleep deprived is so tiny in comparision to their whole childhood, what can be indured, should be indured. My cousin gleefully told me about her 1st night home with her daughter from the hospital ‘i put her to bed and walked out, she cried for two hours and then went to sleep. Now she just goes straight to sleep, so knows crying isn’t going to get her anything’. I was horrified and all I could think was ‘great, you just taught your newborn that her only means of comunicating with you is worthless and mommy doesn’t care if she needs something’ what a dismal way to start a life!

    • Oh, lord. That story about your cousin made my heart hurt :’( I can understand being driven to CIO when you are insanely sleep deprived and have been for months,but the first night home?!? That’s a serious parenting fail if you ask me.

  17. This is heart-breaking :( but good. All the people who claim this to be rubbish have clearly just glanced at the first few lines and not bothered to understand how a baby or child feels who is subjected to this kind of training.

    The letter very clearly says:

    ‘Eventually you came back! Oh, how happy and relieved I was that you came back! I thought you had left me forever! I reached up to you but you wouldn’t pick me up. You wouldn’t even look me in the eye. You lay me back down with those soft warm arms, said “shh, it’s night time now” and left again.

    This happened again, over and over. I screamed for you and after a while, longer each time, you would return but you wouldn’t hold me.’

    This clearly sounds like CIO/CC so where anyone would get the notion from that Imogen is bashing all Sleep Advice (I detest the word training!) is a mystery.

    Thank you Imogen for this.

    Nev

  18. This post is wonderful!! Hopefully it opens parents eyes to the damage of leaving their child to cio.

  19. Re my cousin, yeah, she didn’t even have a hard labor or anything. She had an epidural upon arrival to the hospital and slept until they woke her up to push for 10 min. As I understand it she’s gotten better with subsequent children, but watching her parent her 1st was pretty painful at times.
    I do admit to some ‘controlled crying’ (always thought that was a stupid term) after a year old on my own kids. But it’s when I’m nursing them to sleep and they refuse to stay on breast or lay down. 3rd or 4th time they get up to play I tell them ‘ok, you can play by yourself’ and walk out of the room for a min or two. Then go back in, ask them if they are ready to lay down, and put them back to breast. So I’m not objectable to some ‘cohersion’ later on, but I think in the under 1 group they just can’t understand it. Laud on the poem again.

  20. This is a very thought provoking letter. It makes me feel guilty and I have never left my children to cry in the night or done any form of ‘sleep training’. They do, however, sleep in their own room and have done since 3 months. I don’t know why I should feel guilty about this. They sleep well and me and my husband sleep well.

    Not sharing a bed with your baby doesn’t have to be a bad thing and it doesn’t have to be something which impacts badly on your child. Both my children are happy and well adjusted. They happen to sleep well. If they cry in the night I go to them but I have never shared a bed with them. I feel the tone of the letter is potentially guilt-tripping Mums into co-sleeping. I hasten to add that I have nothing against co-sharing, it just isn’t something that I considered with my children.

    Siân

    • As I’ve said before, how people see this post is not under my control. I am well aware that co-sleeping isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t right for us when we had our first baby for many reasons – He was very refluxy which meant he had to be held upright for half an hour after each feed otherwise he would puke it all back up again, and frankly I just didn’t want to. Partly because I was misinformed and therefore scared I would crush him, and partly because I was very depressed and didn’t have a proper bond with him – I didn’t really *want* him near me at night. Second time around was different, I wanted to co sleep but was unable to for the first 7 months because of SPD pain.

      I don’t understand why anybody would feel guilty about not co-sleeping after reading this. It has nothing to do with co-sleeping. It is about leaving babies to cry alone in their beds.

      Thank you for your comment, it is always good to hear from readers – especially if they have a unique perspective on a post. So thank you :)

  21. I’m not sure where the apparent confusion with this article is… it’s quite explicitly about crying-methods of sleep training. There’s not really any ambiguity at all:

    “Soon I became scared, and called for you. I called and called for you mummy, but you wouldn’t come!”

    “I screamed for you and after a while, longer each time, you would return”

    “After I had screamed a while, I had to stop. My throat hurt so badly. My head was pounding.”

    “You don’t come when I scream, and when you do finally come you won’t even look me in the eye.”

    “Now, at night time, I am quiet. But I still miss you.”

    …it’s all very clearly geared towards CIO (more specifically, Controlled Crying). There really shouldn’t be any confusion so, I can only conclude, that if these people did actually read the post then they are DELIBERATELY trying to suggest ambiguity where there is none, as a defense tactic because they were, for whatever reason, offended or “guilted” by what they read.

    I don’t think a parent who uses CIO is necessarily a bad parent. Some are, some aren’t… as can be said for any parent. I do, however, think that any (yes, ANY) parent who feels that CIO is the best way, the only way, or a desireable method is a MISLED parent – or a selfish one whose primary concern is their own wellbeing over that of their child. Thankfully, I think the former is most often true… most people who do it are simply misled, and think it’s a perfectly normal part of raising a baby. More than that; many new parents have their heads turned so far by friends and relatives, and “baby sleep training experts”, that they’re convinced that it’s the ONLY way. Those are not bad parents. Just misinformed parents. I will say, though, that I really wish that parents would put in the effort to BECOME informed, before spreading these woeful methods far and wide.

    Crying-methods are simply NOT the only way – or a good way – to encourage good infant sleeping patterns. It’s very much possible to do it by other means. CIO/CC are just the EASIEST methods, and perhaps the quickest methods. But, I’m sorry to say, knowlingly using a sub-par technique on your child, to its detriment, simply because it is quick and easy is lazy, selfish parenting. Does it make someone a “bad parent” across the board? No, they might be in other ways a wonderful parent. But does it make them a bad parent in that moment when they choose to leave their crying baby alone in a room? Yes. It does. Through either ignorance, laziness or selfishness: it is a bad parenting technique.

    • I agree completely that there is a big difference between being DRIVEN to CIO and believing that it is a desirable way. Absolutely.

      Thank you so much for commenting!

  22. Hi! I have co-slept from moment one with both of my children. Carrying them full term, birthing and wearing them naturally lends itself to sharing night times with them too. I love to be close with them, i can feed on cue and be there as they wake. I feel so naturally close to them, we cuddle in the mornings and talk, breastfeed and plan our days.

    I haven’t had a full nights sleep in 4 years, this i feel, goes hand in hand with the early years of being a mother.

    My children sleep really well, the most disruptive nights have been the 5 months since my second baby was born when my 4 year old has woken up 4 to 6 times each and every night, I think he is adjusting to our new addition. Because we all sleep together, and they are held in my arms during the night, they are fostering great respect for eachother and i often find them holding hands and smiling at eachother in bed.

    I fully recommend co sleeping, i do not know any other way myself, so i cannot really imagine the alternative. I respectfully and lovingly listen to my kids if they need emotional release, I am there for them as they feel out their worlds and maintain a strong attachment to me and I to them.

    Thanks for the thoughtfull post Imogen, when people are challenged by something, it often preceeds growth as we rethink the norm. Wonderful!

    • Thank you for your comment, Holly! Aw, the thought of your littles holding hands together in bed is wonderful :) what a lovely way to bond! Our 3yo sleeps in his own room and loves it there, but hubby and I often quietly wish he would come to join us all in bed sometimes. :)

  23. I’ve never told anyone this before, but I remember driving along a busy road six months after the birth of my second child and looking at a pole and imagining turning the steering wheel so I would hit it at speed and die.

    My first child had started speaking at six months old and hadn’t stopped; he was a very very full-on, demanding child (interesting and interested, fascinating and delightful – but utterly unrelenting and totally merciless). While he slept well at night, he gave up day sleeps very young – he was much too busy for that! When the baby came along, I was up 3-4 times every night to feed him. I often fell asleep sitting bolt upright on the lounge feeding the baby, and woke stiff and cold. Both the kids got very sick twice each in those months – not at the same time of course; that would be too simple – and while hospitalisation was considered for each of them at various times, the doctor decided I should keep an eye on them at home instead – and so there were nights of absolutely zero sleep.

    On one of the many trips to the doctor with a sick kid, I mentioned that I’d snapped at my grandfather the day before and felt dreadful about it – and the doctor started looking at me sideways with that “post natal depression?” question in his eyes. I was direct with him – I did not have postnatal depression. I was simply desperate beyond belief for some sleep.

    I went to a mother-and-baby facility for a few days. As a result, the baby started sleeping through. I started to become human again.

    I didn’t like the mother and baby facility and I don’t like the idea of controlled crying at all (if that is what you call what we did there). But I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I think those few days of rocking, patting, calming etc probably saved my life. With a little more sleep, I coped a little better and became more rational and stopped thinking about killing myself. And, I found out later, my husband stopped thinking about leaving.

    The thing is – you made this up. You don’t actually know what goes through the mind of a child in this situation. It’s pure conjecture on your part, and it’s pretty manipulative.

    And of course I don’t know what went through my child’s mind as I rocked, patted and calmed either. I only know what went through mine.

    I look at someone like Claire who posted further up that she had been up every two hours for weeks, and I think – this kind of creative writing is not fair on the Claires out there. You don’t know who is out here reading this or where they are at, you don’t know who might be reading this when they are at the end of their rope.

    I wonder what the baby in the poem would have said if mummy didn’t come any more because she DID turn that steering wheel into the pole. Or if daddy was around less because mummy had become too dreadful to live with. Yes, that is conjecture, yes, that is manipulative, and yes, suicide or divorce are not everyone’s alternatives to helping their baby learn to settle – but they were mine, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

    My baby isn’t a baby any more – he’s ten. I’m prepared to bet those few days have made very, very little difference to his psyche. I have a close, loving, joyous cuddly relationship with the “baby”, and an intense and full-on relationship with his older brother (who still has stopped talking!). My marriage survived those rocky days. I’m still alive, and I’ve never, ever had those thoughts again.

    • I am truly sorry you had such a hard time, Megan. I can completely empathise with what you said about fantasising about driving your car into that pole. I have had similar thoughts myself at times.

      Believe it or not, I didn’t write this to try to make anybody feel guilty for the choices they made. I accept that, whilst I personally would sooner co-sleep than leave my baby to cry, it isn’t an option for everybody – for many reasons, none of which are any of my business. Co-sleeping wasn’t an option for us with Monkey, either, and I certainly felt the effects of the sleeplessness. Had his sleep not improved by itself by the time he was 1, I probably would have resorted to some form of CIO too.

      “You don’t know who is out here reading this or where they are at, you don’t know who might be reading this when they are at the end of their rope.”

      No, I don’t. You’re right. But what I do know is that there are many, many people out there who are willing and happy to put earplugs in and leave their little babies to scream themselves to sleep. There are people out there who aren’t willing to get up even just once or twice each night to their babies. There are people out there who genuinely believe that small babies need to cry, that they are manipulative little creatures, that they will *never* learn to sleep without being taught in this manner and that seeing to their babies during the night is “giving in”. This was written for them, in the hope that seeing CIO from this perspective may cause them to reconsider.

      You’re right, it is pure conjecture on my part. People can make of it what they will (and they have). Practically every issue in parenting comes down to our individual perspective.

      Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your story.

      • I’d like to add, Imogen, to your reply to Megan, that sometimes people follow CIO because they HONESTLY think it’s the best way and that they’re doing the right thing for their child.

        A few years back, I had a youth leader who had a young son. They practised CIO, because they honestly thought they were doing the right thing – discipline, not allowing the baby to manipulate them, instilling good Christian parenting from the start. Good people, good intentions.

        One night the baby wouldn’t stop crying, and they refused to check on him beyond the fed/clean/burped/there’s nothing wrong checks, and left him to cry. Apparently he cried for a couple of hours, before quietening down, and finally, sleeping through the night. They were harrowed, but triumphant. Until the next morning, when they went in to his crib, and found him there, dead.

        No explanation, post mortem showed no ‘reason’, he just died. Their story now is very different, and they are absolutely against CIO now. Of course, it’s an extreme case, but it is very, very sad. Babies cry for a reason.

        • Oh my goodness that is absolutely harrowing :’( those poor parents. That poor baby. I can’t even imagine losing a child, let alone knowing that it may have been preventable.

          Thank you for sharing that. People need to know that this kind of thing really happens. Our babies rely on us to keep them safe.

    • I could not agree with you more, Megan. We have no idea what goes through a babies mind, but we know what goes through ours. I too had thoughts of suicide. I too went MONTHS without sleep with a baby who had colic. This is very manipulative, it IS judgmental, and whether or not it’s meant to, it DOES make people feel bad.

      This isn’t about a mother who just puts ear phones in and doesn’t care. It’s about one who goes in to check on her baby and settle them down. It’s about someone using controlled crying. And it is VERY judgmental, misleading, and manipulative.

  24. Aoife B says:

    I think that most of our sleep problems stems from the idea that children should sleep alone. Parents are set up for difficulty once societies move to this concept.

    Over half of the world still have babies in the ‘family bed’ and would look at you 1/2 mad if you told them that in the west we don’t sleep with our babies.

    And this SIDS argument about co-sleeping is just dangerous. If co-sleeping is done correctly it is way safer in terms of SIDS than babies sleeping alone in a cot, still will happen, but statistics are on your side if you co-sleep safely. National guidelines are often based on research that was not picky as to couch/chair/sleeping etc. So the results of the study were very flawed and have lead to an increase of SIDS because of solitary sleeping.

    Funny thing is if you look at the research the most dangerous place to breastfeed at night is in a breastfeeding chair or chair or couch. That is where mums can fall asleep in dangerous positions out of exhaustion because our biology has never set us up to have such interrupted sleep. It has set us up to co-sleep and learn to bf in our sleep pretty fast. See Dr Kathleen Kendall-Tacketts (University of Texas I think’s) research on this one. And on how co-sleeping prevents SIDS see Dr James McKenna, Mother and Baby Sleep Lab, University of Notre Dame.

    When our society gets over this idea that babies should sleep alone and starts to talk about how to co-sleep safely (which it turns out is not safe when you don’t exclusively breastfeed and so is another good reason to exclusively breast feeding.) then parents won’t be faced with utter exhaustion and resorting to sleep training of any sort in most cases as all the family would be well enough rested.(of course human nature being human nature this too won;t be a fail safe, but statistically speaking again will over come most of these apparent sleep problems that are so common today) As I said nature has never set us up to be this dangerously tried, and I agree with comments above that sleep deprivation is dangerous to all the family and very much to mothers (sure it is used as a form of torture in secret services all over the world, that says it all.)

    Just the 21st Century answers are leading us so far away from what nature has set us up biologically to do that we have to find ‘other 21st Century’ answers that try to over ride nature. But they all have consequences.

    But please can people stop feeling guilty. If you feel guilt don’t, feel cross that our national guidelines scare people into sleep deprivation and allow for this industry (books, night nannies, parent trainers etc) to grow up around sleep. Get mad that the research that the national guidelines is base in is so flawed that it is placing our babies at a greater risk than needs be and at the same time meaning that lots of parents feel guilty about secretly co-sleeping and of course then perhaps doing so in unsafe ways for lack of national guidelines on how to do it safely. The way things are set up at the moment every one feels guilty, some cause they are following what nature is propelling them to do, yet national guidelines says is ‘risky’. Others cause they are having to go against their gut which says that things that upset our babies don’t sit well with us, and they don’t sit well with us for good reason, nature is telling us something about it. Guilt all round because of false 21st Century goals.

  25. “You don’t know who is out here reading this or where they are at, you don’t know who might be reading this when they are at the end of their rope.”

    This is crap. If they are that close to the end of their rope that a blog post from someone they don’t know is going to tip them over, then they should be getting help from a professional.

    This is a point of view, and one that clearly is displayed by the majority. If you don’t like it, close it. I really hope that it’s helped just ONE person say “oh wow there is another way” and go and pick up their screaming baby.

  26. So, of all the posts out there, then we are supposed to be force fed crud about CIO and how THAT is what we are supposed to be doing? We are not allowed to view another persons point of view? Someone could have easily went to a CIO website or blog and read that and had THAT throw them over the edge. What I am saying is this is a blog. And it is Imogene’s blog. If this is what she felt and wanted to share and you WANT to read it, then please do. I cannot tell you how many blogs I have clicked off of because they were oh… offensive, boring, dull, too religious, to feminist, to MAINSTREAM!! I LOVE YOUR POST! KEEP WRITING!

  27. We have resorted to co sleepping after multiple sleepless nights when we had to wake every fourty or so minutes…to settle my little girl…n gosh…the sleeptime has definitely turned better….I must admit although it’s not most confortable even in king size bed but I rather do this then to get up every few minutes to check or settle my baby..,I surely intend to phase her into sleeping independendly but not looking at it till she’s atleast two. Am sure it’s going to be hard as hard as me weaning her off my boob which is turning to be challenge now at 1.5years. Are their any negative affects of co sleeping?

  28. Hi,
    I was wondering if i could share this?

  29. I wouldn’t swap one night sleeping with my little boy curled up with me, for all the uninterrupted sleep in the world. He is so precious to me… I wouldn’t want to miss these baby/toddler years hearing him breathe and feeling his little hands rest on me, cuddled up through the night or his kisses in the morning. Nighttime is my uninterrupted time with him, and I know it’ll all be gone too soon as he starts to want his own bed. I had my son to enjoy sharing our lives moment to moment and I look forward to bedtime so much. Sometimes I feel sad because I know that mums are putting their children in cots in other rooms because they are told it’s best for the family, and they don’t feel Knowledgeable or supported enough to make a different choice.
    My son will be a man all too soon, and i want to b able to look back On his childhood knowing that I cherished every moment and didn’t unnecessarily separate us.
    I agree that co-sleeping is very hidden. It’s not part of mainstream advice, or choice. My wish for the world is that it becomes more known about so that people can make their own choice without being made to feel that they are doing something wrong when they sleep with their children. Xx

    • This is a great comment, thank you for chipping in! I’m all for people choosing to have their babies sleep where they want them to sleep, whether that’s in bed with them, in a cot in their room or in a separate bedroom – I just want people to make those choices because *they* want it that way, not because they have been guilt-tripped or fear-mongered into doing so.

  30. Joybaby says:

    Hi Imogen.
    Lovely writing technique and puts into words a lot of my reasons for doing it the way I have and following my instinct.
    This has been on my mind a lot lately. I feel so alone somedays in my way of parenting. People seem so strict in how they raise their babies and sometimes its as though they want their babies to grow up and not be babies.
    I would never force my opinion on others and I truely only follow my instinct in my parenting style while weighing up opinions and views of others as I go, but the advice that I’ve been given from time to time and things I’ve read always seem to appear so ‘simple’ yet when I think about trying them (for eg CIO) I just cant.
    When my baby girl (now 11 months) wakes and cries, I attend to her as quickly as possible, as I just envision how I’d feel crying and no body coming to me.
    I worry mostly about psychological impacts my parenting could have on my children and that is my motivation for how I parent and aim to show love consistently.
    Her cot is still in our room, but when she is restless I always put her in bed with us. If I dont wake again she stays with us till she wakes again or until morning, if I wake up then I move her back into her cot provided she’s sleeping soundly. I also demand feed at night, and I know its more comfort than anything but for now I’m okay with that.
    We used to swaddle her as a baby, and now she doesnt like the blankets, they have to be under her arms. I wonder if this is linked because she used to fight her sleep and swaddling was the only way we got it right, but with a lot of crying and fighting it out.

    I am no expert, and think I would overwhelm myself with information if I had to properly research it, but I have to follow my gut and to me it’s that I want my child to feel loved and secure, and while she is still so dependent on me, I want to show her that I’m there for her.

    Maybe with #2 I will change this approach, but only time will tell I guess or perhaps its different with a boy?
    I must say however that I often feel condemned for my way of doing things, especially by the older folk (those of grandparent age for example), which surprises me as with today’s culture of fast paced, career minded, time and routine based lifestyle compared to 30 years ago, I would’ve thought our parents generation to be more relaxed about this.

    Keen to see more comments and start reading your blog :)
    PS Hope I make some sense, its way too late and I should be in bed!

  31. My older and younger brother were both co-slept with both parents in a queen bed, until 18mo-2yr. I was born prem, kept in hospital for weeks and my parents were too afraid to bed share with such a tiny infant, so I slept alone in a bassinet from two weeks before my due date! This was 22 years ago, and while I can’t place blame on anything specific, I will never leave any child to cry (even unknown children who can’t find Mum at the supermarket!). I’ve suffered years of depression, a suicide attempt which ended in three weeks in a coma and a further month under 24/7 supervision – I regret that my parents hadn’t been ENCOURAGED to co-sleep with an at-risk infant! Obviously no one is to blame, 22 years ago it was all about Plunket and very few were aware of the perks of co-sleeping. I avidly support you, and get the word out whenever I can (and more!). Go you, Imogen!

    • Thank you for your supportive comment and for sharing your story. It is so very hard to pinpoint the cause of our issues, I’m sure that sleep training, for some, would not affect them as adults but for others i have no doubt that it would, and as we wouldn’t know in advance whether or not it would, it just feels safer not to do it.

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a hard time. I can empathise. Thank you again for stopping by <3

  32. Jamie Parker says:

    Gee, thanks for making me cry!! So thankful we didn’t try that sleep training nonsense! I couldn’t deal with breaking my babies heart!!!

  33. This is a heartbreaking look at what a child must feel like when he is left to cry alone, at any age. It’s important for parents not to ignore the fact that their children might feel this way. They are crying for a reason. And it’s not to make a parent’s life miserable. It’s because they NEED something. They are fully human, with real feelings.

  34. Candace says:

    I too have heard of cases of CIO, without such tragic circumstances, but where the baby was crying for a specific reason and the parents never went to check, instead relying on video monitors. One of the babies had an allergic reaction and when they finally checked on her they found she was totally puffy. I have never used CIO, I kind of hybrid cosleep, musical beds, some call it. Now my 2 yo sleeps all night in his own room, pretty much all the time, often not even coming to my room in the morning to get me! I don’t care if it is just speculation in regards to what a child might be thinking, this is a thought provoking post and if it makes you feel guilty then that’s all on you. Us that dont use CIO are comfortable with our decision.

    • Thank you for your comment, Candace! How scary, about the allergic reaction :/ Babies cry for a reason and it’s our job as their parents to do what’s best for them. I firmly believe that in 99% of cases there is always an alternative to CIO even if that means making compromises yourself.

  35. Brieanna says:

    Imogen has simply given a voice to a baby who is experiencing CIO method. I am curious to hear from the ones who strongly dislike this article because they feel guilted to maybe put themselves in that crib and let us know what they think that baby would be feeling or thinking?

    Just because CIO is an option does not mean it is right. Thankfully we have people like Imogen blogging to give a voice to that baby who can only communicate with cries and screams!

  36. I really enjoyed this article. I also oppose CIO methods. We do a co-sleeping/musical beds kind of strategy in our house in which the kids start in their own beds, and then co-sleep after night-waking. My 2yo has randomly stopped night-waking all on her own and now sleeps all night in her own bed about 90% of the time. My 5yo still makes her way to my side about 50% of the time though!

  37. Shanna Saleh says:

    Literally made me cry.

  38. this made me cry. and I knew what to expect when I read it. well-written.

  39. Personally, I was not impressed by this blog.
    While I can appreciate what the author is trying to convey, I think it falls short of the truth.
    It does not apply to your average woman, who would never allow their baby to feel fear and abandonment. Not all CIO methods involve locking a child in a dark dungeon until the child cries so much that it cannot make but a whimper any more.
    This was highlt exaggerated, and plays completely into the stereotype that any mother who puts a baby in a crib and lets it cry for any amount of time is inflicting pain onto their child, and therefore cannot be considered a good mother, let alone a good human being.
    I’m actually a co-sleeping mother, but even I couldn’t help but feel extremely insulted by this over-the-top ‘poem’ (or whatever it is).
    I would like to see more women reach out to other mothers, and let them know that co-sleeping is perfectly safe and enjoyable to both baby and mother. Not make up some crazy piece that sounds as though it’s a script for a Stephen King movie, designed to terrify the living heck out of people.
    It’s a shame we have come to this.

    • Beccs, I agree that this post is completely over the top, however, I believe it was intended to be. It is a thought provoking piece, that has certainly met its target. I feel that this article lends to the screaming of a baby that does break your heart, not the slightly grumpy cry of a baby who is happy to fall asleep on their own (after letting you know they are not that happy about saying goodbye for the night).

    • Celeste says:

      I met a mother who let her 6 month old cry for 6 hrs. The baby threw up 9 times! After 6 hours the baby passed out. She told me how proud she was to have stood her ground. I also know another couple who bragged about how, after letting their son cry for 5 hours the first night, he fell asleep after a week, he “only “needed to cry an hour. They told me how they put on the TV loudly so they wouldn’t hear him. I read, all the time-people writing about doing this-leaving their baby to cry while the parents have loud music or TV on to drown out the crying. I’ve read of people letting their babies cry even though they are repeatedly throwing up from being so upset. Yet the parents still won’t go in to comfort the baby. It does happen, in fact, it seems to be far to popular, if you ask me.

  40. Thanks Imogen for this wonderful post, it made me cry. :)
    My 11 yr old was not a co-sleeper as I had no information that told me it was even an option. I held her for hours on end to get her to sleep, when I finally decided she was asleep, I’d try to put her in her bed, only for her to start screaming all over again. If I hadn’t wanted my ME time so badly, I would have just sat down with her in my arms and she would have continued sleeping. To this day she has problems going to sleep, it can take hours. We have tried counselling, aromatherapy, chiropractic, kineisiology, fan on, soft relaxation music playing, night light, lavender oil, chamomile tea before bed, reading in bed before lights out, keeping a diary to write all thoughts down. None of it works. It impacts on her schoolwork, and friendships as she is tired most of the time, she snaps at her family, friends and teachers. She is reluctant to try new things and always seeks my reassurance for everything.
    In contrast, my now 2 yr old co-slept for 10 mths and was exclusively breastfed until 6 mths (she still breastfeeds up to 6 times a day now!). She moved into a cradle in my room when after 2 months of 2hrly feeds through the night, she started waking every hour for a feed and wouldn’t just drift back off to sleep afterwards anymore. There was nothing wrong with her, she just wanted to be close to me. She was happy to the sleep in a cradle next to my bed and started sleeping for three hours (which gave me some blissful time to sleep). When she moved into a cot in her own room, she started struggling, so I’d stay with her and rub her back til she drifted off to sleep. A family friend cam to stay for a while and questioned my doing so much to put my girl to sleep. I felt like I had to follow her advice so as not to offend her. So I started putting her to bed and letting her Cry it Out. It hurt my heart so much I was crying along with her. After a week my friend left and the CIO wasn’t working for either of us, s I stopped. We all started to relax and her sleeping became much better with mummys assistance in the bed again. She is so friendly and outgoing, will try anything new (except foods agh), and she knows mummy is always there for her.

    If only it was that easy with the 11 yr old :(

  41. well said imogen. im not sure i would bother answering these ppl who are challenging you, i love the article xxxx ( sleep deprived mum of two, youngest 11months) :)

  42. On the fence says:

    So your condoning co-sleeping, thats fine, but what are you suppose to do with triplets? Have you ever tried to fit Mummy, Daddy, & 3 Babies in a Queen sized bed?????

    • This article has nothing whatsoever to do with co-sleeping. It is about leaving babies to scream themselves to sleep. There is a happy medium, and a child can sleep in their own bed and indeed in their own room without being subjected to CIO.

      Would I co-sleep with triplets? I’d sure like to. I have no idea how it would work, though. Maybe there are some co-sleeping mummies of multiples here who would care to enlighten us? We co-sleep in a double bed, with a cotbed sidecarred to extend our sleeping space. Perhaps some kind of arrangement like that would work.

      I don’t really understand why everybody seems to think that I’m telling everyone they should co-sleep. Sure, I love co-sleeping but I am well aware that it’s not the right choice for every family. Again, this post has nothing to do with co-sleeping. It’s about CIO.

  43. Can’t there be a balance? Some nights I let my child cry and he goes to sleep in under 5 minutes. If it takes longer or he wakes up during the night, then I let him lay with me. Although when he was little, I really didn’t feel it was safe letting him sleep with me because I have been known to roll over on my cats. Now that he’s bigger, I will let him stay in bed. I just feel things out. I don’t see why it HAS to be one way or the other. I feel like there is a balance between smothering and not giving a child enough attention and comfort. That’s what works for me. I’m not judging other techniques. My advice is to feel it out and do what works best even though it can take a while to learn and get it figured out.

    • This was not written with those babies that need to grumble for 5 minutes to go to sleep in mind. It wasn’t written for parents who are following their instincts with their kids. And i havent actually mentioned co-sleeping anywhere here- people seem to be assuming that I think co sleeping is the best and only way when in fact I am well aware that this is not the case for everyone. I completely agree that parents should feel it out and figure out what is best for their individual child, and balance is what we are all striving for. Balance is not leaving a small baby to scream for hours on end. Thank you for your comment!

  44. Jeannette Scott says:

    I would love to add my comments.As a baby I was badly burned(13 months) & in those days-the late 1950′s parents did not stay at hospital with their children.
    I was in isolation & visitors-three times per week visitors were only allowed to look at me through glass.
    This is my earliest memory- not being able to move my arms-they were strapped to the sides of the cot so that I could not scratch my burns.
    My lovely Mum would be there three times a week to gaze at me through the glass.
    After a couple of weeks I would ignore her until it was time to go & then my screams of “Mummy” would follow her up the Ward.My Dad visited two or three times
    but couldn’t “bear it” ditto my Granny.
    When I came home after six weeks my Mum said it was weeks before I made eye-contact with her or went for comfort to her.
    She never left us to cry it out-we always co-slept with our siblings. When the Grandchildren came along she would stay with them until they were sleeping too.I thought she was soft but have changed that view.
    She was a very busy woman with five children & many extended family commitments too but I was never left to cry myself to sleep-all five of us had good sleeping patterns too.
    I work as a Nanny & have never felt comfortable leaving a baby to cry-it’s how they communicate with the World.I have had to taper & temper my views as I cannot impose my beliefs on parents.I have advised & guided them in many matters including sleeping but ultimately their child their rules.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story. How awful that must have been for you as a child, and how hard for your mother to see. I’ll bet that leaving you alone in the hospital was the hardest thing she’d ever done.

      Your mother sounds amazing. How wonderful that she committed to caring for you all 24/7 in that manner. Thank you so much, again, for sharing your story. It’s so important for us all to try to see CIO from a baby’s point of view. They may be small people, but they are *people*.

  45. This post does strike a nerve, and it does make me think (I have used CIO at times), but I also think that it would be more real if I actually thought that that was what was going through a child’s head — that they’re just defeated and are quiet but don’t say anything anymore. That truly would be horrible, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on.

    In fact, sticking with sleep training is what I credit for having my children wake up so happy and be excited to go to bed. My 2.5 year old literally runs up the steps to his room at bedtime. He doesn’t cry when we leave, and he wakes up happy. He’s done this since he was about 5 months old (other than the climbing the steps part).

    • Hi, thanks for commenting!

      I am glad that you and your children have had a positive experience with sleep training. As always, children are all different. I will never advocate CIO but I am not ignorant enough to assume that all children will feel or react a certain way to anything. This is just one possible perspective, and one that I feel is probably relevant to many babies. :)

  46. bushfairy parent says:

    Oh my nerves! THis posty has me in tears! I am so torn as to how to help my baby sleep on his own and soothe himself ast night, but this just doesn’t seem the way forward for us personally.

    • Thank you for reading! There are plenty of gentle ways to help a baby sleep better. However there’s no need to do *anything* unless you actually want to. They all learn to sleep alone eventually :)

  47. Kimberly sarabia says:

    Love this …more nomad should see it

  48. Thank you for this! This is exactly how i have always felt and i am tired of everyone bullying me into thinking differently. Yes i am sleep deprived and until i find another way that is a sacrifice i am willing to make. BTW this is my second child, my 3 yr old sleeps just fine now and i never let her cry it out.

  49. Love this.. Thank you. I wish it was available 7 years ago! I remember the first night I left DS to cry. He was 3(ish) months old, and my husband had to sit at the steps and hold me back. Someone in my mommy group told me that he was not normal, at risk of developmental issues and more due to his inability to sleep the night. And what did I know! I wanted the best for my little guy. After what seemed like hours of crying, I pushed past and snuggled and nursed my gorgeous little guy. Turns out, it was about 30 seconds of crying. What a mistake. And what happened next? Well, turns out I wasn’t “strong enough” to be a good mom, and that my “weak parenting skills” will only cause me strife, rude kids, and no control in my home.

    Meet my family.. surely that person would bite their tongue these days. Respect rules my home, respect from me towards my kids, and a gorgeous ability for them to respect us in return. No fear, no shame, no isolation – respect.

    Something that feels so wrong could never possibly be right; we wouldn’t be blessed with such instincts if they weren’t useful. The bigger issue, to me, is the opportunistic side of many sleep trainers (of course, not all) who convince otherwise normal families of healthy babies that their sleep is somehow abnormal and needs to be fixed. The length of sleep is not the same as the amount per day, and infants are not meant to sleep for long periods! So infants sleep alot? Yes! Does it occur when YOU want to sleep? Not likely!! But we are told that because we’re all human, we must share sleep patterns… but evidence tells us that that is garbage. Infants would sleep the night, naturally, if that was what was best for them. They are not manipulating us, nor need to be manipulated! They need to be guided, nurtured and provided for, even if the clock says 3am and not 3pm. The direct correlation between sleep training and weaning is another point often missed, when it is simply known that breastfeeding is so very protective of SIDS. The current (easily located) research on bedsharing & breastfeeding highlights that moms get MORE sleep with their babes. Other recent research has actually shown that sleep trained babies have long periods of being silent but AWAKE in their cots, and aren’t actually sleeping and benefiting from the cortisol-low, high-touch, nurtured environment that their little growing brains thrive on. Tough to argue, if trained babies sleep less and co-sleeping moms sleep more! And that’s just one of many points. So.. we have to ask ourselves, which will it be: evolutionary instinct, biological norms and 2.5 million years of practice combined with science? Or.. this new idea of sleep training which has been around for less than a hundred years, that “works” when your only definition is to try to manipulate biology and meet parental needs.

    I promise myself and the moms I serve to only provide evidence-based information to help them make the best decisions. Not a single seminar, workshop, book or etc on sleep training that I have attended (and I have attended MANY) has ever presented the evidence-based dangers, the risk of SIDS, the late-onset psychological disturbances, the attachment disorders, the lowered breastfeeding rates, the early weaning rates, the lack of infant sleep and increased silent awake time overnight, and.. the list goes on. I’ll have an easier time hearing the words of sleep trainers when they themselves provide balanced research and risk assessment when manipulating something so important as normal, biological sleep patterns in infants.

  50. Hi,
    this is heart wrenching but also not nice for parents like me who suffer from mild depression due to constant sleep deprivation. Our baby is 19weeks and has never been able to sleep more than 11-12h in a 24h period. She has been waking more and more the “older” she got. She used to sleep in her bassinet right next to my bed but every peep woke me up. For a while we co-slept in bed but I have the habit of pulling my covers over my meck and would therefore smother her. I could never fully relax having her in bed just out of fear to accidentally hurt her. At some point I had to let her sleep in her bassinet and actually sleep in a different room. Since her naps had always been no more than 30-45min she bever fully rested and woke up crying badly! Some people say to let a baby fuss but not cry. Well, my baby seems to have a loud fuss that seems kind of like crying to me since i haven’t been around babies much. I believe that rushing to her and actually rocking or even waking her when she screamed like that (often with her eyes closed) taught her not to be able to fall back to sleep. I had to gently start sleep training her which in my eyes means getting her used to falling asleep by herself (put down drowsy almost asleep, then less and less asleep)… This week I felt like she was ready to fall asleep on her own. I sing to her and rock her and tell her I’ll lay her down for a nap and come back to cuddle after she’s rested. She has a lovey and a music box to fall asleep. Often she fusses but she did the same in my arms and often arched her back so i felt like we are “fighting” for sleep only for maybe 30-40min only to have her nap 30min. During those last 5 days that she has had the same routine and yes some arguing on her side…she now is able to nap 1.5h and wakes up quietly and smiles big at me when I come and pick her up! She also started sleeping through the night like that! I wear her in a wrap and cuddle and kis her A LOT but doing so for sleep has unfortunately no one here rested.
    I’m against cry it out and will go to my baby if she seems inconsolable but waiting for 5-10min before intervening has often helped her to fall asleep better than when I came and seemingly got her all active by seeing me!
    This poem is really not helping mothers like me who try the best for their families. If I envision my baby thinking that then she probably also thought: “Mommy why are you not playful and fun during the day with me? You used to sing to me, now you just cry and lie in bed because you are too tired to function… I wish I had my old mommy back that would help me learn to sleep in good ways and has energy to care for me!”

    okay, so much for my long message :) Again I’m not for CIO but after 4 months no sleep there needs to be support for parents like us whose babies can’t sleep without letting off some steam – be it in my arms or her crib. I am a happier mom now and my baby is finally getting sleep!

  51. I really dislike posts like this for several reasons.

    First, babies do not have internal dialogues. This should be common sense, but emotional and hormonal women read blogs like this and feel guilt. Babies do not know scared, they are not emotionally aware enought o miss mommy and daddy until well into infanthood. That is why seperation anxiety is usually not seen before 7 months.

    Second, the most effective parents are parents that are as well rested as they can be. You do not get a medal for being the most exhausted mother.

    Third, there are some babies that do not respond to non-CIO methods. My daughter is one of them. She had extreme colic, she screamed for at least 7 hours a day, every single day, starting at 4pm. True colic cannot be helped with gas drops, the 5 S’s, on any of that nonsense. If a baby can be helped by them, by definition, that baby does not have colic. After trying 17 different methods that were cry-free, we finally did CIO and she and I had the best night sleep that night and every night thereafter.

    Fourth, and this pissed me off the most. It was not in your article, but in the comments. A commentor wrote about an experience someone she knew had where a baby died at some point between the cessation of crying and the parents waking up in the morning and YOU supported the idea that the parents could have prevented the death. How dare you lay the burden of blame on parents that suffer from the loss of a child due to SIDS. For whatever reason, some people seem to respect what you blog about, so you have a responsibility to your sheep. Do not be that irresponsible to label a crib death as “preventable”. That is one of the most disgusting things I have read in a long time.

    Also, I found my way to this post from an Attachment Parenting website. The posters there are incredulous about the passive aggressive way you are trying to guilt-trip mothers into your way of thinking. Unfortunately, when people think of AP, it is self-righteous bloggers such as yourself that come to mind.

    • If the parents had checked on the baby they would´ve spotted that something was not right and perhaps may have prevented his death., Do not see anything wrong in Imogen´s statement. I work in a children´s hospital and lots of ear infections are due to leaving babies to cry unattended. It´s child cruelty, pure and simple.

  52. What do you think about this? says:

    I think that it is very important to care for your child’s needs. And when a child is hurting…a parent definitely needs to respond. But a child also needs to be led. A child also needs parents who will set reasonable, clear boundries for them. When a child is old enough, it is appropriate to teach the child how to sleep through the night by themselves. Sure, during the sleep training process, a child may cry. Deep down a child wants what is most comfortable. But sometimes there are more important things than what is most comfortable to a child. Sometimes a child doesn’t know what’s best. And when a child longs for their mothers arms because its most comfortable, and cries when the mother’s arms are unavailable it introduces an unhealthy dynamic in both the household and in the child’s life as an individual. It introduces the dynamic of a child-led home. It introduces a dynamic of manipulation and of control.
    A mom or dad might think that they should get up every time their child cries. …but this can lead to a very tired mom or dad…and a frustrated mom or dad…and an angry mom or dad…where they feel like the child is leading the home…and the child is manipulating circumstances.

    It is important to realize that when you are sleep training your child, you DO need to check on them at regular intervals. If there is something hurting the child during sleep training…a parent needs to find this out and help. But once the parent establishes that there is no physical pain or danger…then a parent needs to insist on leading the child…and teaching the child to sleep.

    The benefits are a happier household…a more rested and less frustrated mom or dad…and a growing baby who will feel safe and confident that his/her parents know what’s best and will lead them gently and lovingly.

    Of course, I haven’t shared everything there is to share on this topic. But I’m just sharing some thoughts for all those moms and dads out there that feel exhausted, controlled and manipulated by their crying children and who will read this poem and feel guilty for wanting to lovingly lead their children into what is best for them.

  53. This is so heartbreaking. every child deserves to be loved kissed and cuddled no matter what time of day or night. For those parents who think this way of handling yr child is ok, you r so very wrong. Love yr child with all yr heart, pick them up and show them love. Kisses and hugs aren’t just for day time, they r for everytime

  54. Elizabeth says:

    After reading some of the comments calling your post “extreme” I would just like to ask if anyone remembers the episode of “Mad About You” when Paul and Jamie decide to have Mable CIO and the episode was aired without commercial breaks so everyone could feel the stress the parents were going through, sitting in the hallway talking and waiting. At the end of the episode, she of course falls asleep and we are left to learn that 22 minutes of straight crying was good parenting on their part. So no, I don’t think your post is extreme at all. I think it’s what lots of parents think is normal. Kudos to you for presenting the other side.

  55. I often wonder if parents cannot handle being their for the children at their beck and call then why have children? As parents it is OUR responsibility to be there and comfort a crying baby. You wouldn’t expect a toddler to carry on the responsibility of an 18 year old and understand the importance to graduate, or even what is school. so why would you expect a BABY to understand what going to sleep is let alone the concept of SLEEP is. Makes me sick, I truly believe crying it out is child abuse and if that was done to a toddler the courts would be all over those parents. What makes it right for a poor helpless baby who cannot talk. Any mom with a heart would not be able to sit there and listen to those deep cries. Babies can only communicate through crying. Shame on all of those moms who don’t do what they are suppose to do.. SORRY!

  56. Wow, what a wide variety of responses on such an innocent statement, just goes to show that no one is ever really entitled to get respect for their own opinions.
    I thought this piece was beautiful Imogen!
    I am so strongly opposed to CIO, I think it is horrible, there, I said it! And I don’t care what excuses anyone throw at me for why they may think it is right. How can you just listen to your baby crying and not run to his/her side?
    The first week with my boy was extremely hard as I had a very slow letdown and wanted to breastfeed him really badly. At times I fell asleep on the couch for a few seconds at a time because he would go about half an hour asleep and then wake up hungry. I never once even remotely considered CIO.
    After that first week of extreme sleep deprivation we bought some formula, and I think the reason I am so lucky and can’t even really remember what sleep deprivation feels like is that I made a point to always put him in his cot after feeding him. Even if I knew I would have to get up and pick him up after twenty minutes I always put him in his cot.
    So I consider myself on of the lucky mom’s as my boy sleeps through every night. When he was about three weeks old he started sleeping through from 10pm to 5am, and now he is 5months old and sleeps through from 9pm to 7am.

  57. Courtney says:

    Omg I am balling right now. We made this mistake with our oldest and I swore to my husband that we would NEVER do the CIO method again. we aren’t doing it with our youngest. Instead what we do to get him to sleep is we place him in either his bouncey chair or his stroller and gentley bounce or rock him to sleep. We leave him in either stroller or chair for approx 30 mins, then transfer him to his crib. Since my husband and I started doing this he has been sleeping all night (at only 10 months old this is huge) and has been doing this for the last 5 months.

  58. Crying it out isn’t that bad depending on the situation. Sometimes babies are overly tired and not crying because they want comfort. Sometimes they’re crying means they are pissed from still being awake. I usually give it 5 minutes and if my baby is still crying I will get her but I have found that more often than not she is asleep with 1-2 minutes of crying.

  59. There really is no way to state an opinion on a parenting technique that doesn’t come across as “bashing” another parent’s decision. This letter is sad, and beautiful at the same time. Children are people, it’s unfortunate that they are treated as servants instead. I haven’t been in the situation where I would need to use CIO, we have the crib side-carred to our bed and my boy sleeps like a champ as long as boobie is near and he has enough of his own space to stretch out. I can understand a parent feeling like they have no other option, and seeing a letter like this would trigger some guilt. I don’t believe that was your intention, but there’s no way to avoid it. Beautifully written, Imogen. Thank you for this. I will be sharing it with others. It’s so poignant to think of things from the child’s perspective, and it needs to be done. This invokes emotion by doing just that.

    • I’d also like to say that there is nothing in this that says “I am a better parent than you”. It’s supposed to be the child speaking, after all.

  60. Such a great poem! Really heartbreaking! My little ones don’t cio. Its to sad!

  61. I love this and am very surprised at the negatives comments on here!
    I understood perfectly that you are talking about CIO methods that require you too leave your baby crying until they fall asleep from utter exhaustion, not 10 minutes of grumbling!
    I have a 10 month old that still doesn’t sleep through. I tried CIO once and he vomited so many times that I just knew that this wasn’t right.
    I later looked it up and realised that I should’ve known better.
    I have a biology degree so I know the effects of flooding the brain with the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline. Then reading about it from a psychological view point just reinforced that it wasn’t right for my or my baby.
    There are more gentle ways to help baby to sleep. But they require more patience, self discipline and self control.
    And those issues are mine, not my babies.
    He will sleep eventually, and I will probably miss being needed at night!
    I created him and will nurture him for as long as he needs me too.

    I love your article :)

  62. Needed to read this today. THANKYOU

  63. I feel that this is a bit offensive. We did sleep train our baby to an extent.
    First off, he slept in ou bedr room , but not our bed, from day one. I never wanted him in my bed. Don’t get me wrong, I would have LOVED to snuggle him close, but I didn’t feel that it was safe. So I didn’t do it.

    In the first six months, he had colic, so there was no sleep pattern at all. At six months, he began sleeping in his crib next to our bed. At around 10 months, he started refusing to go to sleep. It didn’t matter if he was in our bed, in his crib, or elsewhere, he just wanted to be down playing instead of sleeping. After trying to set a routine, trying to sleep with him, trying to put him in the bouncer…everything we could think of, we realized that we had to let him cry. He was not crying because he wanted me. Me laying down or being there with him had no effect at all. It was the sleeping that he didn’t want to do. So we let him cry. And it was MISERABLE. He would cry so hard that he would throw up. I would go in every ten minutes, I would try to let him sleep in my arms, in the bed, everything, but all he wanted was to be down. Call me a crappy mom if you will, but I’m just not okay with a kid staying up until 3 am and playing. Eventually, after several awful weeks, he came to realize that bed time was just that. Bed time. And that it would be okay, he could play with his toys in the AM. He went to sleep happily after that. We moved him into his own room at 14 months. He had no problems at all. He is now two and a half. He cries at bed time because he wants to get up and watch TV or play, but once he accepts that he can’t do that, he settles in and goes to sleep.

    And sometimes, he calls for me in the middle of the night. I get up, and I snuggle that big ole’ boy in my bed until the morning.

    Not all parents who use CIO are cruel. Not all of us are torturing our children.

    And BTW…it IS Okay for parents to want some alone time at night.

  64. My first baby co slept for about 4 years, than she said she wanted to sleep in her new bed we bought…. She is turning 8, No problems sleeping in her room,and not afraid of the dark…
    I felt so much more comfortable with my 2 kids near me at night. My husband said we even seemed to breath in sync sometimes… When I fell asleep they would feel relaxed…
    It was great for nursing especially during growth spurts…
    My son didn’t sleep as well next to me, so I would put him in a crib some nights, however, he is 5, and is definitely much more afraid to sleep alone in his room.
    Every child is different, however my babies never cried at night, unless they woke up with a bad dream, or teething pain.
    I personally could never have left my babies in a dark room alone, crying and don’t see the need to do so…
    Before we know it, they are older- those baby cuddling years go by so fast…
    I personally believe in doing things that feel right as parents. If you are doing something because you feel “you should be because someone says so- but it makes you feel guilty, why?”
    Being a loving parent, who keeps their children safe and healthy is what is important.
    I know so many mothers who “secretly” told me they would bring their little ones in their bed to sleep so they themselves could get some sleep.
    Once they knew how I felt they felt relieved.
    Things change… In the 70′s my mother was told not to nurse because there wasn’t enough milk the first few days after birth, and told her formula was much better….
    This is choice the mother now should make, based on what’s best for her and her baby. Some women have to go back to work, so give formula… We just know that it’s best to at least try of possible…
    Another example of old antics… The food pyramid… 6-12 servings of bread and cereal per day? And pictured white bread…. Dr Sears has some very good information, for anyone who may feel like they don’t know what to do.
    We obviously have to be safe, so of course making sure baby can’t fall off the bed, or get stuck in a bed side railing…. Also, if a mother has drank alcohol, or certain medications than co sleeping wouldn’t be the best option.
    Safety and love :)

  65. I love this so much and have read it before but never knew where it came from and now I’ve found your blog! Well done to you for putting into words what so many people think and feel! I could never leave a baby in another room to cry alone. Actually, my kids sleep in my room, so I couldn’t even put them in another room at all! It’s not a matter of who is a better parent or not. It’s a simple fact: sleep training causes distress to infants. Babies don’t need to ‘learn how to sleep’. In those first few years when all those brain synapsis are being fired.. why would you want to do anything to a child that causes them stress and discomfort!? There are other more gentle ways to get a child to sleep ‘better’ at night, although no baby should be expected to sleep through the night. Here’s one I wrote http://katesurfs.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/train-a-dog-but-dont-train-your-baby-to-sleep/

  66. B”H
    This is so beautiful. It has helped me through many many challenging nights and through my own method of ‘sleep training’. Being reminded what a baby is thinking during such a process really helps when the sanity rope is down to a thread and the screaming won’t stop for anything, so thank you from me and my baby.

  67. I have never tried or believed in “sleep training”, both of my children still cuddle with me to fall asleep. The 15-20 min it takes for them to fall asleep is priceless to me. My son is now 4 and still wants to cuddle mom or dad to fall sound asleep. Yes he may be 4 but in one year….two years…three years he will not want to cuddle anymore. My baby girl who is 1 is such a cuddler and just wants to stare into your eyes when she falls asleep. I know every parent has their own way of doing things, but this blog just made me cry. I feel like when a child is crying and all alone “learning” to self soothe this is what is really happening in their little head. They know no different, cuddling at night to fall asleep I feel is a reassuring way to show your child just how much of a gift they are from God. Thank you for writing this crying and sad for so many!

  68. Stephanie says:

    This is truly sad. Not because of the letter itself, but because this would be a non-issue if the baby was placed in the crib or bassinet after eating, every nap time, every night time, from the day they come home from the hospital. I loved and cuddled my children as much as the next mother, but when it came time for sleep, they went to bed, period. There was no adjustment period, it’s just the way is always was, from the beginning. No one was crying, no one was screaming, they were sleeping soundly in their own space with no outside distractions. I don’t understand why so many parents set their children up for failure by bedding in with them for months, only to change the game when they aren’t getting enough sleep. In my opinion, it’s nothing more than laziness, whether breastfeeding or not, feeding should be done separate and apart from the bed. You don’t eat dinner from your bed do you? So why should your child? During the night, get up, take the child to somewhere quiet and comfortable, feed the child and put them back to bed. It’s not about loving your kids more and wanting to bond, so spare me the holier than thou backlash. Sleep is as important for parents as it is for children and this is why everyone should have their own space. It makes for a happier family, from the get go. My suggestion to new parents, don’t bed in, you will never have to undo something that you have never done.

    • More like it is sad that you didn’t bed share. Humans are the only mammals who separate themselves from their young from almost day one. Animals have a “family bed” yet humans just toss their kids in a crib. I didn’t bed share in the beginning, but my son slept in a bassinet next to my bed. It was because it was easier during his middle of the night wakings to grab him from the bassinet without having to completely leave my bed or room. Also, just because I don’t eat right before bed doesn’t mean my child shouldn’t. As we grow, so does our stomach which means an adult doesn’t need to eat as often. A newborn’s tummy is no bigger than a walnut by a few weeks old. That’s not much room to hold food, so of course they wake to let you know they are hungry. Am I supposed to not sleep in the same bed as my husband? I mean if he passes away or we divorce than I will have to get used to that and before marrying him, I didn’t have someone constantly sleeping with me. Obviously sharing a bed with your child is a little different than with a spouse, but just going off your thought process, everyone should sleep alone.

      • Stephanie says:

        I did not say we should all sleep alone, nor did I say my kids never slept with me. I stated that they slept in their beds from day one. When my kids were sick, or scared or tired, of course we laid and cuddled well into the night, but our normal sleep pattern was for everyone to be getting a full night’s sleep, comfortably in their own space. This does not mean my husband doesn’t sleep with me. And I, having raised three kids, and now having a granddaughter fully understand how babies stomachs work. Of course you feed them when they wake, but it is an amazing opportunity for parent and child to bond away from the hassles of the everyday, and not simply having stuck a breast in their mouths so I could go back to sleep.

  69. Thank you for posting this. It is devastating to me that so many children are left to CIO at some point in infancy. The damage that is done to their tiny bodies and budding understanding of the world is tragic. I happily co-sleep with my kidos and could never bear to subject them to such unhealthy trauma as CIO. To those who think this is ridiculous I would ask that you please give us your description of what is going on in an infants mind when they are subjected to CIO. Give us your version of their thoughts. I would be curious to hear if you think they are happy, content, feel safe and secure. If so, why are they crying hysterically?

  70. Imogen – You do not need to apologize for what you wrote here. You did not “bash” anyone or any particular practice. You only wrote a letter from a baby’s perspective. Anyone who took it as a personal attack did not feel that way because of your “judgmental” words, but rather due to their own guilt over their own choices. They will need to work out their own feelings in their own time and in their own way. It’s not your job to help them.

    Also, for anyone who does not believe that how a baby’s crying is handled is important to the human development, please see the below link and also do further research on your own. The societal standards (two parents working full time, only six weeks off for maternity leave and daycare being the norm) in the U.S. based on capitalism do not allow for the best and most natural environments for our babies to grow into healthy adults. Hence, why we are the most unhealthy westernized nation in the world. The choices we make and the responses we receive from others (or lack of response) really do have an impact on others and ourselves, respectively.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out

  71. you have my full support. i am so happy that there are women like you, imogen, who are brave enough to post such literature, evoking such strong, negative feelings from people (primarily direction towards YOU personally). my daughter is 18months and seems to bf more regularly now than she did when she was newborn, ie: ever 5min… lol. i could never imagine allowing my family, friends or pets CIO, let alone a brand new human, seems confusing me to… my theory, parent from the heart, you will never go wrong. thanks again :)

  72. Beautiful.

  73. A lot of people I see are against the crying it out method. I for one, go both ways. I never let my child do it long, an hour at most, especially when all other methods haven’t worked. I enjoy the nights where I can get my little girl to sleep in her own bassinet, and I’m right there when she starts screaming. But, I also let her cry for awhile because it helps develop their lungs. So while we all have our own opinions, and yes, it’s awful to hear them cry, every one has their own method. I know soon I will have to get my girl used to sleeping on her own, but I will try to do so without having her cry and cry for hours. Right now, I’m content letting her sleep with me because she sleeps for a good solid 6 hours straight, if not more.

    • An hour? You let a baby cry for an hour? An hour seems like an eternity when you are hungry, upset, and lonely. Why would you do that to a baby?

      • umm she never said an hour. she said a while. According to CAS (my aunt is a worker there) it is okie to let a baby cry for no longer than 15 mins

        • Umm yes she did; ” I never let my child do it long, an hour at most”. go back and read it again. And, no matter what kind of an “expert” you think your Aunt is, it is NOT okay to let an infant cry for 15 minutes.

    • Also, crying does NOT strengthen a baby’s lungs, as you stated. That is an old wives tale. Babies cry because they need something. Period.

    • Crying is “good for their lungs” like bleeding is good for your veins. In other words, it isn’t. Crying is horribly BAD for babies brains. And crying for an hour IS A LONG TIME.

      A must read for everyone http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/fussy-baby/7-things-parents-know-babys-cries especially point 6. And for anyone who inexplicably still believe the ancient myth of crying being good for lungs, point 7.

    • Its a very OLD myth that crying develops a baby’s lungs. It doesn’t do anything for your childs lungs and yes, it does say “an hour at most”, I sincerely hope you mean with intervals of going to your child and not an hour left alone to scream.

    • You know what truly helps to develop lungs? Being born and breathing in air. There’s no more development needed. Does crying help to develop your lungs? I’m guessing your answer is no.

  74. This article was shared on a breast feeding Facebook support group, Milk It, where I am currently a member. I just wanted to let you know how deeply it touched my heart. If only for a while, I refused to let my baby be anywhere but in my arms. My sweetheart is 2 months and wakes every 2-4 hours to feed. Some mornings I mind, but I get over it. Tonight I will awaken with a smile on my face because I am privileged to hold my beautiful, healthy, perfect angel close. Thank you so much for this blessing. The grace in which you handle negativity is refreshing. You are obviously doing something right.

  75. Fantastic! I wish more new mums would really think about their actions. From womb to cold, lonely bed? NO!

    • Why does my parenting choice affect you? It doesn’t, so be kind and don’t make judging statements like that. Both my babies went from womb to bassinet (in their nurseries) and I don’t regret it for a minute. I am a parent that could NOT sleep with my babies or even with them in my room as I cannot sleep hearing their little sounds, squeaks, and in the case of my youngest – growls – when they are sleeping. Be kind and carefully choose your words in the future, Jen.

  76. I co-sleep my babies. All 5 of them. My teens and 7 year old prefer their own bed now and have for a long time. Probably since they were each around 3. I still have aA 3 year old and 9 month old with me. The 3 year old likes to nap in her bed and sometimes sleep. Its up to them! Nothing wrong with the comfort of having mommy or daddy there. Could you imagine going to sleep sad and crying every night? My friends think I’m nuts but it works for us. And believe me, I have the most kind hearted, caring, concerned kids :) thanks to knowing that someone is ALWAYS by their side. You only have them for a short 18 years anyway.

  77. I co slept with my little one till she crawled out of her bed. The we put her in her crib in a room with her older sister . Sometimes they would just play till they fell asleep or we would find them both asleep in the crib. There both small so it was cute. If she cried I would just change her and give her a nip and she’d be happy and pass right out.
    Now if they could follow direction like they go to sleep I’d be in heaven!

  78. I am glad i never sleep training my baby and i feel disgusted when mummies are proud that they sleep trained they baby by letting them cry out loud and think she can has a good sleep.

  79. I don’t think that it is a big deal to let babies cry it out. It teaches them to self soothe. It does nothing to their psyche, because to be perfectly honest, most children don’t develop a cognitive memory until they are around 2 or 3 anyways. Possibly maybe even 4. I think there are many parents who over react to methods such as this. You’re not harming an infant by leaving them to cry it out. Many parents have had success with it and their children sleep just fine and are fine.

    • Sounds like more people really need to read up on pre-natal & peri-natal psychology. LOTS of people have memories from before 2, some well before 2 as there are people with confirmed memories of their births. Pretty sure being left to scream would be traumatic enough for those who are able to remember very young to recall that one.

      Not to mention it doesn’t matter if they don’t remember a)all our experiences in the first 2 years shapes the brain & reactions for the entire lifetime. Flooding the brain with stress hormones is simply a bad idea. And b) the they won’t remember it argument is absolutely asinine. We don’t let people beat their babies because they won’t remember, we don’t tell women who were raped after being drugged that it doesn’t matter because they can’t remember.

      The actual scientific evidence shows you are also wrong about “self-soothing” . Babies learn to soothe themselves by being soothed until they mature enough to do it themselves, which usually isn’t until well past toddlerhood.

    • When you cry, sure you can self soothe, but what do you want? You want someone to hold you close. You want to be comforted, right? Why deny a child the same comfort you, as an adult, would wish for?

  80. Wow……lol….I don’t know what to say…..really I don’t know what to say!!!!! I don’t know wether I agree or disagree. My kids right now are much older, but when they were born, I never had to train them going to sleep, I just put into their crib and they would fall asleep right away. But as soon as they got a bit older, they would be sleeping straight 12 hrs from 7pm till 7am.

  81. I am in support of Imogen completely.
    Here’s what made me a co-sleeping momma, despite everyone telling me I’d suffocate my baby, or that my husband would.
    My brother married a single mom with a 5 year old son. He’s now 12. My step-nephew is very unstable emotionally, and very clingy to his mother. Once, when she told him we’d have a campfire, and then we had to cancel it for bad weather, he fell apart screaming and crying and yelling at her. He was eight at the time. I asked her and my brother if I could speak to him privately, and we engaged in a few hour long conversation about all the different things he was feeling inside that made him feel so dependent on his mom, and so easy to snap emotionally.
    We covered many topics, but at one point, he did say that he remembered when he was little, couldn’t remember how old, that he used to cry so hard and help would never come.
    It clicked in my then 15 year old brain that he had no trust in his mother to not leave him, or to fulfill her word when she gave it too him, which is why at 8 he still followed her around like a shadow, and was always on the brink of an emotional meltdown. Upon return from that family vacation I began the research that would turn me into a pro-attachment parenting, co sleeping, breastfeeding momma before I even had kids.
    I am now 19. My own son is a year old, and we have just now stopped cosleeping, and not because I decided it was time either. My son, my husband and I have coslept with no problems, not ever once coming close to rolling over on him, and always waking up and being alert if he made the tiniest fuss, which was always just to night feed. He has beyond reached all of his developmental milestones.
    Lately when he has gotten tired in the day time, he voluntarily has gone to his own crib and laid himself down for naptime. He displays such independence it amazes me. I tried about two weeks ago, just for kicks and giggles, to lay him down in his crib when it was time for bed so I could stay awake and get a few things done. He didn’t cry or fuss at all. He fell straight to sleep and slept nine hours. I’d say since then he’s sleeping in his crib alone about 85% of the time and he doesn’t fight me on it at all. (I still like to take him to bed with me because I just love snuggling with him <3)

    My personal experiences have made me opposed to the Cry It Out method and in favor of cosleeping and attachment parenting. I do not however look down on any mothers who use or do not follow my methods/beliefs. They are doing what they feel is best for the child. The only thing I feel in that regard is sadness for the child, which I keep to myself more often than not.

  82. Dear Baby being sleep -trained,
    I love you so dearly and loved having you near me, smelling your hair and keeping you close. I loved nursing you and being able to respond to your every need. I love you more than you will ever know.
    Darling baby, since you were born you have rarely settled well. I thought after having one child I would know how to settle you but even sleeping in my arms doesn’t last long. I wish I had the strength to hold you and rock you all day and night. I wish I could put my life on pause and just be there for you needs all the time.
    But precious baby, I have forgotten what it means to eat, to shower or use the bathroom. My heart breaks each time you awaken and I just want to rush back and hold you again. I have little nutrition to offer you for I barely have time to take a bite or to drink or to sleep and gain the strength needed to give you your needs.
    I have another child, your older sister/brother who also needs hugs and to be fed and changed and yet where will those extra hands come from if I am keeping you close by all the time.
    Your father wonders if he will ever have a hot meal again or even a simple hello from his wife, before you grow up and leave home, for all I can do is hold you and keep you close and try and soothe you.
    My precious precious child, this decision to teach you how to self soothe hasn’t been taken lightly. I know you will gain by having a well rested and fed mother. I know you will gain by having a mother who is calmer and has more emotional space for you.
    I planned to keep you close for as long as I could, as I did with your sister but Gods plan was not so, for I know if I continue this way I will lose myself and we will all lose.
    My darling darling child, know that you are never ever alone. And even when I may not be in the room I hear every one of your cries and I sob with you and it tears my heart but I know it is right for all of us. I will always be there for you and you will learn that in all the treasured future years ahead.
    I love you always and forever and ever and miss you so so so very much,
    Your Mommy

  83. I never have and never will let my children cry it out. I don’t understand parents who do.

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