Never Say Never - Let's talk about sleep

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 9:14 AM | Claire (Administrator)

When I had my daughter, I discussed with my husband some of the things we would never ever do, for me, it was : I will never let my little princess "cry it out".  For 19 months, we stuck to that decision, if she cried one of us would go in and comfort her, but this weeks we had to let her "cry it out".   At 19 months, toddlers have already started testing the rules and limitations that we set, that is what Katelyn was doing, she started waking up in the middle of the night, she started refusing to go to sleep at bedtime, for two weeks we tried everything, we took her from the crib b/c we thought she started hating her crib, we let her sleep with us, b/c we wanted her to get her rest, but when she had a tantrum at 4am and nothing would soothe her, we realized she was overtired and none of the solutions we were trying worked... we discussed, should we let her cry?  We decided we would, the first night we gave up after five minutes, we felt too guilty about it, the following day Katelyn was so over tired she was having tantrums about everything, she wouldn't eat properly, she was a completely different child from the one we knew...  that night we decided we had to stick to the plan of letting her cry for a bit and then going to sleep... she cried for about 10 minutes (it wasn't a "I'm hurt or I'm in pain cry") it was her I'm really tired cry, I started going up the stairs about five minutes into her crying and when she heard me coming up she stopped crying, so I started back down again and she started crying again, at one point she stopped crying to listen if we were still there and then started crying again - it was at that point that I realized she was just crying so that we would come in and get her.

Our choice was, do we try to make her feel better at this moment, but she will still not sleep and still be overtired tomorrow or do we let her cry for a bit, go to sleep and then be rested tomorrow.  We decided it was better for her health if she went to sleep and got a good night rest and it worked.

The first night she cried for 30 minutes (which was heart breaking for us, mostly b/c we felt bad about it, will this affect her emotionally, (From what I've been told by her doctor and York Region Public Health - it will not affect her b/c we are not neglecting her - we followed the guide in the "Secrets of the baby whisperer".  She slept 12 hours, which is her usual amount of sleep before the change in schedule.

The second night she cried for 10 minutes ( we already saw the huge improvement in her mood, her eating and her ability to enjoy her toys again from just one night of rest, we didn't feel guilty anymore), she slept 12 hours

The third night she cried less than two minutes

Last night she didn't cry at all. 

So now, I saying "never say never"...  For us, we could see that our daughter was over tired, we could see that she needed to sleep and even though it broke our hearts to do it, we had to think about what is best for her in the long run and we had do something we didn't feel good about, but that is a part of parenting, sometimes we have to make the right decision, even if it doesn't fit into our picture of what we would or wouldn't do.  If you are having issues regarding sleep, and you would like more information on a variety of solutions, send us an email at and we will forward you some resources.

What have you said you would never do and then decided to do afterwards, share your stories whether it be letting them watch TV, letting them cry it out, putting them in daycare, using a pacifier, letting them suck their finger, co-sleeping, etc. 


  • Tuesday, February 03, 2009 4:03 AM | Suzette
    Glad to read this story as I've been wondering about this myself. My husband thinks we should let him cry it out as well as he believes our son is controlling us. However I keep telling him he is too young to start leaving him to cry when he is exhausted. He only wants his bath, bottle and bed by 8:30pm. We try to keep him up till 9:00 pm so he will sleep till 7:00 am (well with one wake up during the night for a diaper change and bottle). However, lately he has been waking up between 11:00 - 12:00 midnight and the only thing that calms him down is Mommy bringing him into our bed to get him to sleep again at which point I return him to his crib. I often wonder if I'm doing the right thing and at what age I should be leaving him to cry it out and sleep because he is definitely exhausted.

    I would love to hear from all you other mommies on this topic.
    Link  •  Reply
    • Monday, February 09, 2009 8:04 AM | Stacey Prater
      We are having the same problem with ou 10 month old. We cannot get him to sleep through the night STILL. First we were having difficulties getting him to sleep and have resorted to rocking for up to an hour at times. Now we finally get him to sleep and he usually wakes up screaming at some point during the evening. We let him cry for a few minutes to see if he will go back to sleep, but he only goes back to sleep about 20% of the time.

      Most recently he woke up at 2 in the morning and I tried everything to get him back to sleep. I was up until 4 with him. It was terrible. I even tried putting him back in his crib to let him cry it out, but he just screamed and woke up the whole house.

      I am also wondering at what point do I just put him down and let him cry it out, and for how long do you let them cry. I am worried about what will happen when he starts daycare in a few months. Realistically, the daycare provider will not have time to dedicate to rocking him to sleep at nap time.
      Link  •  Reply
      • Monday, February 09, 2009 9:01 AM | Claire (Administrator)
        Hi Stacey & Suzette,
        There is a technique to helping your baby learn to sleep. The purpose is not to just let them cry until they fall asleep, but to let them know that it is OK for them to fall asleep on thier own. If your baby has not been a good sleeper from the get-go, it may take longer than a few days. The most important thing is for everyone to be consistent. If you pick them up one night, but then let them cry the next night and then pick them up again another night, this is not a good idea. When you decide that you will sleep train your baby, you have to stick with it, it is never recommended to sleep train a baby below six months.

        There are many different techniques and the one I like the best is from Tracey Hogg's "The Baby Whisperer". I will get the book out later and write the technique or if you have a chance pick it up at the Library or book store.

        Good luck and remember, be patient and consistent
        Link  •  Reply
        • Tuesday, February 10, 2009 5:17 AM | Stacey Prater
          Thanks Claire,

          Someone else had also referred this book to me. I will definately pick it up.

          His sleep has been so inconsistent that I can't plan anything, it's terrible.

          As a parent, it's nice to hear that you are not the only one having difficulties. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one.

          Thanks again.
          Link  •  Reply
  • Friday, February 13, 2009 6:38 PM | Lucy
    Hi Alexia & Young Moms,

    I went back to work in January & didn't had time to connect with our Life With A Baby Group. It's been very hectic these past few months for me, life seems to be a little bit out of control. I don't even know where to start....! The two main problem that I am facing now is: #1 - Justine refuses to sleep in her bed; #2 - I have no time to read to my baby.
    My number one problem is that my child refuses to sleep in her crib! I was very particular from the start about training my child to sleep on her own - in her crib & in her room. I started to putting Justine to sleep in her room & in her crib when she was less then a month old. Everything was fine till she was about 6 months old. Once she became older & started to notice things, she had a mind of her own regarding where & when she went to bed.
    My husband & I have tried letting her "cry it out" a couple of times but it has not worked - and I should say that we were not consistant & had a hard time seeing our baby cry, scream & jump on her bed - it just broke our heart.

    Is there a better or should I say an easier way to train a child to sleep in his or her bed without bringing down the whole house?

    The present routine is - at night I take Justine to bed with me, usually she goes to sleep in 10-20 mins, then I wait for another 10-15 minutes (when she is fast asleep) before I take her to her room. She sleeps on her own for about 1 to 3 hours (depending on how tired she is), then she wakes up screaming & I have to go and get her & bring her to my bed. This is the case every night & I don't know how long it will go on.

    I am working full-time now & am not enjoying waking up every night. Both my husband & I are having a hard-time. We don't have a full night's sleep because Justine wakes up every night wanting to sleep in our bed & when she sleeps with us, she is either kicking us or rolling into us!

    I will try to get this book that you have mentioned & hopefully I will be able to get some insight into how to resolve this issue.

    My other problem is more of a guilt issue. After a full days work I hardly have the energy to read or sing to my child. Even during the weekend I am busy with my household chores & trying to get ready for the next week. Does any of you working moms face the same problem? How do you go about finding time to read & explore with your child?
    Link  •  Reply
    • Sunday, February 15, 2009 4:34 PM | Claire (Administrator)
      Hi Lucy,
      Since you want Justine to fall asleep in her bed, you have to put her in the bed while she is still awake, if she falls asleep with you all warm and snuggly, when she wakes up and realises she is not where she fell asleep she'll be really upset and wants to cuddle again. Now, since no one gets any sleep when you sleep together, I really think the best thing for everyone involved is to really try to be consistent and allow your baby to fall asleep by herself. This does not mean that you put her to the crib and just let her cry, it will take about two weeks of consistently doing the same thing, for eg.
      Since you are workign, you should start on a Saturday, you should let Justine know that she will have to sleep in her crib tonight, so during the day, you should tell her she will have to sleep by herself tonight, talk to her, look at her and tell her "mommy and daddy loves you, but you need to start sleeping by yourself" put her in the crib during the day for fun time. At bed time, you should have a consistent routine so that Justine knows what is happening, each night start the bath at the same time, this can be an opportunity for singing and reading, Katelyn's bath is about half an hour, then if Justine likes to be massaged, you can use the soothing massage oil and give her a nice massage while singing soft soothing music and talking to her in a calm voice. When you go to the room for her to sleep, you can put on a baby lullaby CD (instrumentals only), put it on low while you read a good night book (again something soothing and not stimulating), hug and cuddle let her know she is going to bed now, put her in the crib and leave the room. If she cries, the first night, you wait five minutes, look at the clock b/c to us moms two minutes of crying can sound like 10, so wait five actual minutes, go in the room, do not pick her up or touch her, calmly talk to her and say, good night Justine, it's time for you to sleep now, you are tired, mommy cannot sleep with you tonight, good night and we'll see you tomorrow. you do this every five minutes until she falls asleep. The reason I say do it on a Saturday is b/c the little munckhins are persistent and this could go on for a while. It's important to keep going in at five minute intervals the first night so that she knows you are there for her and she doesn't feel abandoned all of a sudden. The next night you wait 10 minutes, the next night 20 minutes, the next night 30 minutes (Hopefully by now Justine gets the message that she has to go to sleep by herself. Two weeks is a long time, so for that two weeks, you have to be realistic with yourself and decide what you can and cannot do, so maybe you will have to get someone to come in and clean for you b/c you'll be tired and won't have energy to sleep.

      Also, if you feel that your weekends are spend cleaning etc and you want to spend this time with your daughter and Husband, then if you can afford for someone to come in and clean I would recommend it. When Justine is older, you won't really care whether or not you had a clean organised house every weekend, but you will be happy and proud of the quality time spend together. If you feel guilty about something, then you need to make a change. You may also find that once Justine start sleeping better, you'll also feel better and you'll have more energy, but until then, give yourself a break... don't expect too much of yourself, ask friends and family for help - and remember... FAKE IT till you make it :-) You will make it!
      Link  •  Reply
    • Wednesday, February 18, 2009 5:15 PM | Joanna
      Hi, Lucy
      In response to your dilemma of finding to read to your child, well, the only way to find time is to *make time*. Unless you are super woman, there is not enough time in the week to cook, clean, do chores, AND spend quality time with your child, especially if you're trying to do it all on your own. We have a cleaning lady and we still find we are behind in a lot of things! But we prioritize. And our number one priority is our daughter.

      If laundry piles up, and dishes are in the sink, then so be it. Of course, you'll need enough clean clothes to see you through the following week :-) Isak and I agree about priorities and so we help each other out and no one complains (well, we try not to) when things are not quite in order (e.g. messy kitchen, disorganized paperwork).

      I agree 100% with Alexia in that years from now (maybe even just a couple of years from now), you will not look back and regret not having chores done. But you certainly might regret not spending precious, precious time with Justine during her toddler years.

      Now go read a story with your little one! :-)


      Link  •  Reply
  • Tuesday, February 17, 2009 10:26 AM | Mireille
    I feel better reading this Alexia - we had to go through a similar pain when Thomas was 7 months old and I was at my wits end with his poor sleep. I also said it was something I'd never do. We are now down the road from the trauma (for me mostly since I was so used to responding to every cry)and although sleeping can still be challenging with colds, teething, traveling and other disruptions the main thing I've noticed is that Thomas is a lot happier. So to all Mom's who think Cry it out it a horrible thing -- you might just find a point when it is right for you & your child. I have a friend who had to go through it when her daughter was a toddler after she fell down the stairs from lack of sleep.
    Link  •  Reply
    • Wednesday, February 18, 2009 5:39 PM | Joanna
      Naomi didn't sleep through the night until she was over a year (maybe 13-14 months...). I nurse her to sleep (part of the problem). I tried different methods too. And yes, I also prefer the Baby Whisperer's EASY method although we had such a difficult time with it and my husband started referring to it as the NOT-SO-EASY method. Needless to say, we didn't have much success with anything (partly because we were not consistent enough). But... after Naomi started daycare, she learned to sleep on her own but only at daycare. Gosh, what kids will do among other kids. And the caregivers were amazing too. It was a learning process there too, which included the caregivers singing her to sleep. Eventually, all it took was them putting her in her crib, covering her with a blanket and saying "Sweet dreams" or something like that. And.. she slept! But no, not at home.

      Well, one day, when we finally came to our senses and realized Naomi's constant waking was affecting our work, we took action.

      Whenever Naomi woke in the middle of the night, my husband would go in and try and calm her. He would just sit with her (or lie with her as she slept on her bed; she had stopped sleeping in a crib a long time ago), and speak soothingly and/or pat her back. If she was really hysterical, he wouldn't utter a word or touch her. The first time, she fell asleep after half an hour. After that, it was 10 minutes. This lasted less than two weeks. After that, she started sleeping through the night. OMG, what a relief. I had forgotten what it felt like to sleep through the night myself!

      So, really, what I'm trying to say is... perhaps try having 'Dad' put baby to sleep. Babies respond differently to each parent. Also, try staying with baby while they "cry" rather than leaving him/her to cry it out. It may just work.

      Link  •  Reply
      • Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:08 AM | Stacey
        Since my first blog, I have purchased the Baby Whisperer book, and have been at it for 2 weeks. What a difference. YES it was hard at first, he cried and screamed for 1 1/2 hrs for the first few nights with just trying to do the Shh/pat and pick up/put down method. BUT he was definately easier to put down for naps during the day after the first two days. Now, I can give him a little quiet time by reading him a book, then simply plop him in his crib for a nap and he falls asleep within 15 mins. The evenings are still difficult, so instead, I read to him and rock him for about 20 mins until he is ALMOST asleep and then put him in his crib. This evening method has been so much easier then what we were going through before. He still falls a sleep on his own, he just gets a little help from me.

        Also, I have been putting him to sleep as baby likes to play with daddy, not go to sleep for him.
        Link  •  Reply
        • Wednesday, February 25, 2009 11:32 AM | Claire (Administrator)
          Hi Stacey,
          I'm glad to hear things are better!

          Link  •  Reply
        • Thursday, March 12, 2009 6:45 AM | Marina
          I'm so happy to hear that many people find 'The Secrets of Baby Whisperer' book helping. It was a life saver for me.:)
          Link  •  Reply
  • Wednesday, May 06, 2009 2:17 PM | Velika
    I will start my comment with the following link:
    I do not know if you have heard of Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish children's author, pediatrician, and child pedagogue ( I personally find his words inspiring and his views way ahead of his time.
    “When is the proper time for a child to start walking?” Korczak asks. “When she does. When should her teeth start cutting? When they do. How many hours should a baby sleep? As long as she needs to.”
    Every child is different so approaches should differ too, but I am sure every mom knows what is best for her little one and wouldn't go for less than that.
    Parenthood is a 24 hour job - we all made the biggest decision of our lives when we decided to become parents. Nobody told me it was going to be so challenging, difficult, and that sometimes I won't have a clue what to do. But it all comes naturally - I believe that if we just take a moment and listen to our babies (and ourselves) parenting is not that difficult anymore.
    My son is 18 months old, wakes up several times at night to breastfeed, sleeps with us on our bed and has his own way with things. Some may find all this crazy but I decided to respect his baby needs and desires. It bothered me a lot when he did not want to eat, woke up so many times at night, wanted my attention all the time - I thought he should have started sleeping all night when he was 2-3 months old. Then I started reading. Everybody had their own theory. I was confused. Until I read Korczak's words. Then I decided to try to take it easy and enjoy and cherish every moment with Daniel. I too suffer from lack of sleep, get tired and want to do many things at once. What keeps me going after a long sleepless night is the thought that this is just a stage, it too shall pass. And I try to give my son all my love and attention he needs. It's that easy. Because time passes by so quickly. So, all moms, listen to your child, take a minute to listen to your instincts and accept the challenge called " being a mom". Good luck!
    Link  •  Reply
  • Saturday, October 17, 2009 6:43 PM | Julia
    It's such a relief to see that it's not just me going through these sleep troubles. My daughter's been sleeping through the night in her crib since she was 2 months old but at 6 months it all changed. The whole teething pains made her wake up several times at night and we started to bring her into our bed. And once she experienced co-sleeping, that's all she wanted. So when we tried to put her back to her crib, she didn't want to go near it.
    She would cry so much when we were putting her to bed, that we would end up bringing her back into our bed. This eventually was tiring us all out and none of us were getting good sleep at night. She even started waking up to be nursed at night again. (She stopped being nursed at night between 2-3 months)

    She is now 8 and a half months old and we did the cry it out method. She still cries alittle when we put her to bed but it's only for a few minutes. Once she falls asleep, she'll sleep for 11-12 hours straight. And sometimes when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she'll go back to sleep on her own.

    I know this method isn't for everyone but for us, this was the only way she would fall asleep on her own. If we went to pick her up and comfort her, she wanted to play with us. She would literally fight her sleep to stay awake.

    I think crying it out method is very hard for parents. Most of the time, my husband and I were staring at eachother counting the minutes. I wanted to cry with her because I felt so bad. I just don't want to see my baby cry!

    But, like Claire mentioned above, we were worried about our daughter's health and her not getting good quality sleep at night and being exhausted during the day. Hopefully, this pattern will continue but who knows....when we think we have it down, things always changes;)
    Link  •  Reply

Our Community

Life With A Baby
LWAB Foundation

Our Partners

Click here to visit this Mount Sinai's website

© 2020 Life with A Baby, Inc. All Rights Reserved.