Establishing Schedules and Sleeping Through the Night




Almost everyone said that there is no help for letting them "cry it out". Some said put them in their room and let them cry. Others had a more gentle approach like the Ferber method (let them cry for 10 minutes, comfort them and let them cry for 15 minutes, etc.). But every single recommendation I received had some variation of the "cry it out" method. ::sigh:: was hoping to avoid major drama but I am going to have to steel myself and get through it.


Recommended books:

Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi Mindell
Weissbluth's book, Healthy Sleep Habits
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby
Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, William Sears
Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber


Related Reading on Park Slope Parents:

Cry it out vs no cry sleep solutions


Tips and stories aboout sleep schedules:

"I'm reading the Ferber book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" and am at the very beginning where the talks about sleep stages through the night - finding it very comforting so far and like it "makes sense". If anyone else wants to get together and discuss that book or others let me know.  Also, J. just started sleeping in his crib in separate room with much better results than we had him in the bed with us and Pack n' Play in our room earlier in the night. From all the tummy time he's finally started to sleep on his tummy or side and I have a theory that this is helping him sleep much longer through the night.  I'm the one who has to adjusts not having him as close to me but he seems to sleep way better not in the bed - I know that's personal preference though.
Overall just a good reminder that sometimes things just change on their own. I had forgotten the option of just putting him down in his crib and seeing what happens and it worked!  Fingers crossed and keeping expectations low. We use a gentle ocean white noise. Naps are another story, figuring that out still.
I also found the Wonder Weeks app sunny/cloudy feature to be spot on for this period along with the book. Having a terrible few weeks of crabbiness as he has been growing developmentally and now we're back to calmer waters. Most of you are probably past that point though, we're a late May baby.
"As far as moving out of your bed goes I read a great piece of advice and used it and it worked like a charm. You move the crib into your room and push it all the way up against your side of the bed so that it acts like a cosleeper. This way your smell and sounds are still just as close. Then, every couple of nights, you move it a little further away, until it's as far as it will go and then move it into their room."

"We've been doing CIO for nighttime and naps with the help of a consultant. I was adamantly opposed to CIO, but Max was waking up 4-8 times a night and we were all completely miserable. He was a shadow of himself because of lack of sleep. The no cry options didn't work, although we were never consistent with them because I was so exhausted. Naps were happening in a carrier while I sat unmoving for an hour or more. It just couldn't continue.   Max went 12 hours alone in his room without audible cries on the fifth night. It was really tough getting there and I don't know if I would have continued if we hadn't seen progress each night. The consultant has been helpful in getting us through difficult times. She is good at convincing us to continue and providing emotional support. She is very pro-CIO and though I am not totally convinced it's teaching him to self-soothe, he is waking up seeming rested and starting to nap in the crib. Nap training much harder! If he napped in the stroller, I wouldn't be doing this." Read more about CIO here.

"We did the full Ferber method a few weeks back because N. started waking up so frequently with his sleep regression that I felt like I was teaching him new bad habits trying to get him back to sleep multiple times a night with nursing etc.  we started with a few days of stretching out his feedings by half an hour more each night (per Ferber) and then did CIO with intervals of patting. The first night was 2 hours of crying - I think mainly because we went without a pacifier since I was so exhausted of the endless waking just to pop it back in. Obviously that night wasn't fun. But after that first round, Niko has been able to put himself back to sleep on his own and he rarely cries longer than 15 minutes (if that) before falling asleep, even sans pacifier. Has made the biggest difference in the middle of the night, in that now when he wakes up and when we know he shouldn't be hungry we can just wait for him to fall asleep again. That being said, we are dream feeding (I might drop it in a month or two but right now I am enjoying what works) and when Niko wakes up after 5 or 6 am I go ahead and feed him, since by the time it's 6 in the morning I figure it's either he eats and goes back to sleep or he is up for the day entirely. But I am definitely enjoying the stretch of sleep from when I go to bed until 5 or 6 in the morning.  I know all babies are different and lots of methods can work, but Ferber worked for us to at least have a system to stretch the night feedings and to develop some soothing techniques other then the pacifier (i.e. That didn't depend on me running back and forth to the crib)." Get more member advice on CIO here.

"As far as the dream feed goes, I did that with my older daughter and it worked GREAT, I would nurse her around 10-11pm before I went to bed and then she would sleep until 6-7am the next morning. She didn’t even fully wake up for the feed but happily nursed and then went back in the crib without a problem and when we phased it out that went pretty smoothly.   I tried to do institute a dream feed with this little girl a few times when she was younger since it was such a great thing with Ava, but when I would try (around 10-11pm) she was just conked out! I would pick her up and try to get her on the breast but she was just a little sack of potatoes and totally asleep so it never took. Each kid is just a different story! Although maybe I will try that again before trying to go through CIO again."

"He was sleeping really well until about 5 months or so, and then it all went out the window. we had occasional success getting him to fall back to sleep by giving him a pacifier in the middle of the night (we did not pick him up, just stuck it in his mouth, and sometimes he would fall right back to sleep.) Or if his mouth bothers him, sometimes we'll give him a frozen teething toy, which helps. Or occasionally Tylenol."

"I never (absolutely never) let my child sleep in bed with us. 2. At around 3 months we started to let him cry it out. And from that first night we let him cry and he has slept through the night almost consistently. Although there were intervals at which he woke in the middle we made sure he wasn't sick or teething and then let him cry it out to get back to sleep. 3. We do not give milk in the middle of the night unless he is sick. 4. Starting at around 6 months I made sure not to let him fall asleep on the breast during his last meal of the day just before bed. It was important that he learn to fall asleep on his own, in his crib. If he started to fall asleep I'd take him off the breast. Then if he wanted more I'd put him back on."

"You are going to have to work on putting him down in his own bed/room and you are going to have to start letting him cry it out. CIO. It can be the most difficult thing in the world for a mom to do, and seems to bring up many issues for people. But it is the only thing that really works."

"My pediatrician recommended that for that middle of the night feeding you have your husband/partner go to the baby (of course this only works if the child doesn't sleep with you I guess) with a bottle of water. That way the child learns if they get up in the middle of the night they don't get the 'good' stuff and go back to sleep."

" We sleep trained back when he was 8 weeks old at the suggestion of our Pediatrician and he has been sleeping 10+ hrs. since.  This is what works for us: 
- Last feeding at around 7:30 is always a bottle and it's 1 oz. more than he would normally take.  He normally takes 5.5 oz so we give him 6.5 oz for his last feed. 
- He gets fussy between 6:30-7:30 and that's when we give him a bath and my husband does massage/leg exercises with him to keep him occupied until it's time to eat. 
- Once he is done with his meal we put him in his crib in the Halo sleep sack (we stopped swaddling) and turn on the Cloud B Giraffe on Sleep mode.  Sometimes after we leave he falls asleep without crying and sometimes he cries for 5 minutes straight (we go in and comfort him but don't lift him out of his crib) and then we leave again.  If he cries again then we wait 10 minutes and do the same.  He has never cried past the 10 minutes mark meaning he falls asleep."

"We started giving him rice cereal in the evenings (in a bowl with a spoon, not the bottle) to fill up his belly before bedtime.  Also, I would cluster-feed as much as possible in the evening.
- The bedtime routine became a real routine - dinner at 7, bath (every other night), lotion rub-down, bottle with breastmilk while sitting in almost dark bedroom for a few minutes while he finishes the bottle, then in the crib awake.  We let him cry it out and it's worked for us, although it took a awhile and there are still nights when he cries.
- Our sound machine has a light projector on it and projects little pictures on the ceiling, so we keep it on all night.  Since that's what puts him to sleep at the beginning of the night, the sound and the pictures help soothe him back to sleep if he wakes up during the night.
- If he woke up during the night around 4-5 months and couldn't get back to sleep after 30 or 45 minutes, my husband would go in (the pediatrician said that it had to be him to make sure that he and I didn't just start breastfeeding and creating an incentive to wake up) with a bottle.  He would give him the bottle without taking him out of the crib and then he would snuggle him, while keeping him in the crib, then slowly release him and get out of the room.
-Regular naptimes during the day became critical, too.  You've heard the phrase, "sleep begets sleep". "

"Our girl started sleeping through the night the night we came home from her 3 months doc appt. She got her hep b shot that day and was a little more drowsy than usual. Made me worry of course the first 2 nights :) We also found out that day she was exactly 12 pounds, which my mother in law said is the weight they need to be when they start sleeping through the night. I don't know if that's backed up with research, but it was true for us! We actually didn't have to sleep train her at all, it was pretty weird...she just went from 2 night wakings to bam sleeping 11-12 hours. Looking back, these are some things we did which may or may not have contributed to this.
- we didn't use a pacifier until around 2.5 months...then when we did it was only during the day and only when she got hysterical. Only several times did we use it for bedtime (but never continuously throughout the night)
- I used to feed her immediately before putting her down, but I started feeding her 1-1.5 hours before putting her down (after reading a post by a fellow mama that she does this!) It seems to make more sense to feed them immediately before putting them down so the food lasts longer...but WE don't eat immediately before going to bed! (I know bad comparison since we're adults with mature systems...)
- we stopped swaddling around oh 4 weeks...she seemed to like it at first then really didn't. Anyway, bc she wasn't swaddled, she was able to find her fist (at first) then thumb to suck on around maybe 2.5 months. That was HUGE. I think above everything else, this played the biggest role in her sleeping through the night. At this time, for daytime naps and bedtime, I would give her about 7 minutes to cry, and she would usually find her thumb by the 7 minute mark. If she started getting hysterical I'd go in (even if it was before 7 minutes was up) and give her the knuckle of my second finger to suck on...then she'd reach up with her hand to grab my finger and then slip her fingers/hand into her mouth. FYI there were a handful of occasions where she just couldn't soothe herself so we'd bounce her to sleep on the yoga ball and give her the pacifier then transfer her to her cosleeper. 
- for daytime naps we never closed the curtains from the day we brought her home from the hospital. She takes her naps in a well-sunlit room. I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but her nighttime sleep has always been waaaaay different than her daytime sleep. She is in a much deeper sleep at night. The smoke alarm went off 2 nights ago, and it's right outside her door...I couldn't believe it but she didn't stir at all! If that happened during the day she would've startled awake and cried for sure.
I exclusively breastfeed and feed her about every 2-3 hours during the day. I think (but am not sure if this actually true) they need to tank up more during the day to sleep through the night? Her biggest feeding is in the morning (she's hungry, and I have plenty of supply from not having drained my breasts for 10 hours (I pump once before going to bed around 10 or 11)). Then her 2nd feed of the day is also a big one...then the last feed is also big. It's like she knows she's going to sleep for the night and just stays on the boob for a longer time, she even gets a different look on her face for the last feeding."

"We did not use CIO with our first (and won't with our second), it just wasn't for us. I also rocked and nursed my oldest to sleep until he was nearly one (these were also supposed to ruin any chance he would ever sleep on his own). Now at 2.5 we read a few books, turn on his nightlight and he gives me a "biiiiiiiiggg bear hug" before I (or my husband) leave the room and he then lays down and falls asleep from 8pm-7am.  He started to "sleep through the night" (7pm-5am) regularly around 9 months old but occasionally had nights when he woke up and wanted held for a bit or woke-up hungry and of course illness/sleep regressions/ transitions have all upset our sleeping for a few nights/weeks.  He was always an early riser, usually up by 5am until he was about 18 months old and dropped his second nap."

We started sleep training our son a week ago and so far it's gone really well.  A little about C's (19 weeks today) sleep habits prior to the training... At 7-11 weeks, he was sleeping through the night. Starting at 12 weeks he was only sleeping every couple of hours and the two weeks before we started sleep training he was waking up every 30 minutes to an hour. As soon as we would put the pacifier back into his mouth, he'd fall back asleep.   After our nighttime routine is complete, we put him into his magic merlin suit, turn on the sound machine, put him in his crib and leave the room. The first night was pretty rough and he cried off and on for a couple hours. The following nights were much better - 20 minutes, 10, 5, 3, 3. However, last night he cried for 45 minutes....I wasn't expecting this since the previous nights went so well, but I guess there are going to be hiccups along the way.  The first couple of nights he slept from around 7 PM to 6 AM. I'm sure he was awake at some point throughout the night but he was able to put himself back to sleep. (This is a big win as Ive spent many hours over the past four months bouncing him to sleep) The other nights he's been up around 4 AM and cried for 10-20minutes, but then put himself to sleep.   It's been a really tough and heartbreaking week however C has been a very happy baby every morning when he wakes up. The entire family is getting more sleep than we've had in the past few months!"

"We just started a light version of it a few days ago :(  T, who is 15 weeks today, was not going to sleep until around 10pm or later so we wanted to try and bump that up to get her more sleep at night and cut the night feedings as the doctor at Tribeca Pediatrics said her weight is great and go for it.  We've been putting her down in her crib wearing a Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit between 8-8:30 after a bath, massage, book, and quiet time.
Night 1 - she woke up after an hour and cried for about 10 minutes. We went in and put her pacifier back in, rubbed her tummy, and soothed her without picking her up. She fell asleep and began stirring again around 2am and 5am.
Night 2 - she cried the moment we put her down and was wailing for 15 minutes before I picked her up after trying to soothe her (couldn't do it). Then we put her down around 9:30pm where she cried for another 15 minutes but fell asleep and slept until 5:30am, got her pacifier and was asleep for another hour.
Night 3 (Tonight) - same deal as last night. She was visibly tired and we tried soothing her without picking her up. After 20 minutes of crying, she fell asleep. Fingers crossed she does well! > > While it has been SO HARD to hear her cry, I do want to note I have woken up to a smiley, happy baby in the morning. Good luck to those that are trying!"

"As for naps, baby usually doesn't nap that well unless I swaddle her (Dr. Harvey Karp, yo), turn the lights off, put on the Sleep Sheep (white noise) (usually the tv is on, too) and push her in the swing until she falls asleep (the motor in our swing broke 2 weeks ago).  Sometimes naps can last for 20 minutes, sometimes 3 hours if I'm lucky.  She also naps in the Ergo.  Doesn't really nap in the stroller anymore!"

"E. is almost 5 months. Basically sleep trained at night, naps are such a mess. She goes to day care so she doesn't cry it out there. They rock her. She takes a long nap and a short one there, but at home with me it is a mess. I actually started taking her to day care some days I am off because she sleeps better!  We do the 30 minute nap most days at home. We still use a swing to get a good sleep in even though I wish we didn't need to do that. I'm hoping that the naps start normalizing as they get older. They have to. I feel like if we create "healthy sleep habits" and go insane doing so, there's not much else to be done. Hang in there. And I tell myself there's nothing wrong with a nap time glass of wine."

"A trick we used with Oliver was that I would sit next to him and let him suck on my finger till he fell asleep. I would do this up to 3 times or if an hour of nap window passed then the next waking would be up for real. It helped, esp because I didn't interact with him. If the nap window passed without successfully extending the nap then would leave the room, count to five and make a grand entrance, throw on the lights, sing, say good morning and eventually that structure helped. Once he started putting himself down later on I would give him privacy for the same amount of time every day unless he was really upset. Sometimes now we get 3 hour naps! Though it's 3 naps usually 20 mins first , hour plus next and 20-35 mins later. I hope this helps!"

"Baby sleeps with me from 11pm onward since it's easier than getting up through the night to attend to him. So I'm not feeling much progress yet on sleep at the 4 month plus mark. I am thinking through working with a sleep coach. We haven't done any cry it out yet, etc.    Hang in there. Good to know others are not having it all figured out yet.   Someone posted this about pumping by Judith Warner and it pretty much sums up how I feel:  "I hope that some day, not too long in the future, books on women’s history will feature photos of breast pumps to illustrate what it was like back in the day when mothers were consistently given the shaft. Future generations of female college students will gaze upon the pumps, aghast.  “Did you actually use one of those?” they’ll ask their mothers, in horror.  And the moms, with a shudder, will proudly say no."

"We thought we had it figured out and then things went from bad to awful. We just met with a sleep consultant and are moving him to another room to cry it out. I'm so disappointed, but also completely miserable from the lack of sleep. I know his short naps are a problem because he is tired all day and never seems totally awake. We are all zombies. The consultant recommended letting him cry for an hour in the crib for naps (after we finish night training) and then picking him up and trying again after an hour of awake time if it doesn't work the first time. Dr. Kennedy, if you're interested. I can't recommend her because we haven't done anything that she has recommended yet, but I can let you know how it goes."

"We're also in the nap-less group, very similar to the issues others are having.  Baby sleeps really well while on the move -- stroller, ergo, or car.  She also sleeps well at night, but naps are a huge struggle unless we're out and about.  I'm home with her on Wednesdays, and yesterday was a huge nap struggle -- first short nap in the ergo, but woke up when I tried to transition her to the crib, then another nap on a walk in the ergo that did survive the transition to the crib, and finally a cry/fuss it out nap that she basically insisted on, but couldn't really get to sleep for at least 20 minutes.  I have no words of wisdom, just empathy.  I'm definitely going to try the method mentioned above to have her cry it out for up to an hour.  Fingers crossed it helps!  We also share a room with baby, and did have success with crying it out.  We didn't do a ton of research, and probably didn't do it the "right" way, but hit a point of desperation and just tried it.  We're also breastfeeding on demand, so it can be done!  In our case, we had it easy because the baby had dropped her night feed long ago, so we knew when she went through the four month sleep regression that it wasn't hunger.  She learned to roll, and we had to drop the swaddle, so her own rolling was keeping her up.  One night we kept getting up to rock and comfort her, and at some point (around midnight) even that stopped working, so we put her in her crib (screaming), climbed into our bed (baby still screaming), and just held each other until the screaming stopped (about 20 minutes later).  It was the WORST, but the next night we started with letting her cry, and over the next two nights she figured out how to self-sooth.  We've had some little regressions, but overall it worked!  Last night was a little regression, so I'm a zombie too, chugging diet coke and about to pump at work.  Good times!  Good luck and good sleep :)"

"We’re still in the no sleep day or night program over here too. This little girl is totally unpredictable, unlike her older sister who you could set a watch by, and we’ll have good days followed by bad days with no rhyme or reason to any of it.
Sometimes she wakes once a night then there a stretches of 3 or 4 night time wakings. We tried to sleep train but instead of crying it out she will scream at the top of her lungs for hours on end and after a few nights of that I had a complete meltdown so consistency had to go out the window before I did (she was so overtired she was pretty much screaming all day too and since I wasn’t getting any sleep there was NO way I could handle it). Some days she’ll take two hour naps and wake up happy and bubbly but mostly it’s half hour crap naps that she wakes up from even more cranky than when she fell asleep. 
I once had success with this trick:
Disrupt the Sleep Cycle 
Usually the nap duration is military-precision predictable: you know exactly when your child is going to wake up. Which is helpful, because you’re going to set a timer for ~5-10 minutes prior to the time your child will be waking up. Wake them just slightly by jostling them while they’re still in the crib (not enough so that they’re standing there waiting for you to pick them up but enough so that you see a bit of eye fluttering). Often this will disrupt their sleep/wake pattern just enough so that they navigate back into deep sleep, thus extending the duration of the nap. Continue this pattern for 5-7 days, after which your child should have RE-habituated to the new longer nap sleep pattern and voila no more short naps for you.  People are often resistant to this strategy because they fear simply waking their child up resulting in even shorter naps. But it’s often extremely effective and, worst-case, if you do inadvertently wake them up fully, you’ve only shaved a few minutes off an already short nap so really, it’s not a big deal. It worked and she took a two hour+ nap and did so for the next two days (for the 1st morning nap) and then it was back to half hour naps and it’s never worked again since.  I’ve also SOMETIMES been able to leave her to fall back asleep after a short nap and she’s had another 1-1 1/2 hours sleep after that, but again it’s only ever worked for the first nap of the day and I’ve only left her if she’s calm, if she starts freaking out I give up and pick her up.
The disrupt trick came from this site,  and I also like the information on this one.
Not that any of it has helped me but lord knows I’ve tried and since this is kid number two I know I’m not entirely to blame here and that this little girl too will EVENTUALLY turn into an adorable three year old, who like her sister will have me tearing my hair out over a fight about watching Frozen for the umpteenth million time but will then go to bed and let me drink in peace and sleep for 8 uninterrupted hours. ONE DAY.  Sometimes it’s the last thing you want to hear but THIS TOO SHALL PASS. (I tell myself this everyday and I usually want to punch myself in the mouth when I do)  Solidarity sisters! None of us are alone with our crappy sleepers! ;)  If a little foul language won’t offend you I laughed so hard that I cried when I read this post a while ago.  And this one has nothing to do with Parenting but also made me cry from laughter which is sometimes all you need.  Good luck and may the force be with you."

"I'm also breastfeeding and sharing a room with the baby and we did CIO, which was the only thing that worked to get him to sleep through the night.  My husband and I slept in the living room, where we have a pullout sofa.  We set up a video monitor to make sure he wasn't getting stuck rolling, etc. It's been a week and he's doing great... seems much better rested too.  But we're not dealing with him rolling/getting stuck!    Naps are another story and I'm appreciating everyone's advice here -- baby is generally a 35-minute napper unless I'm lying down with him.  I think we will attempt some nap sleep training once we're confident he's got the nights down."

"We're having nighttime issues, mainly because the baby is constantly congested from daycare. Before she went to daycare, she was a 35 minute napper unless she was being held. I don't have any concrete advice, but I will say that once she got comfortable rolling and could get her hands out from under her and we got a breathable mesh liner for the crib, her naps got much better. We can put her down on her back and she'll immediately roll to her belly. She fusses/talks herself to sleep on her belly now, while she could never self-soothe on her back. The liner stops her from getting her legs stuck through the bars, and she can breathe through it if she gets wedged."

"So far, the baby is still sleeping in our room in an attached co-sleeper. I have not done any sleep training yet or moved her into her own room because I am moving soon and don't want to do it twice. However, I have used The Happy Sleeper book for getting her to nap and sleep at night (do a routine, put her down, go through steps if she is crying over and over). After a couple of rough days she will nap mostly on her own. Bedtime is easier but not flawless. However, the naps are still short. Like 30 minutes or maybe 45. She wakes up sleepy sometimes but generally happy. Here are things that drive me crazy:
1) The same problem of inconsistent information. Put her down when she rubs her eyes (says the Dr. and it never works) or on a schedule (better results but they change)? When/why the length of naps will change? It is putting her down at the wrong time (says the Dr.) or she will grown out of it after regression/when she learns to self-sooth.
2) The math on how much sleep they need never seems to add up to me. 12 hours at night plus 3 hour - hour and a half naps (which equals two to three hours of day sleep)."

"Have you read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Marc Weissbluth? It was given to us by friends of ours who used it as guidance for naps & bedtime for their 3 daughters & we found that it really helped us. The gist of what he says about naps for babies 5months-12months old is that they should take 1 nap at 9am-ish, 1 at 1pm-ish and some babies also take a short third nap somewhere between 3 and 5pm - with a bedtime somewhere between 6-8pm. He advises having the child to only nap in their crib if possible (which messes with mobility if that's an issue for you- it wasn't for us) and leaving the child to cry for up to 1 hour which sounds pretty brutal (and it was) but after a couple of days it really worked for us! It's a constant evolution - each day is different but keeping a consistent nap schedule helps us stay sane! Good luck to you and to all parents and babies!"