babyhood, motherhood, parenting, sleep, sleep deprivation

When cry-it-out meets its match?**

It’s been a very teary household here at Casa Iqbal. By which I mean, me. As in, 6 months of approximately no sleep on my part. All evenings began like this:

  • Around 8pm little guy would grow very tired and demand to sleep, so I fed him, rocked him a touch until he’s a little drowsy but not full on passed out asleep. Take him upstairs and put him to bed where he promptly passed out.
  • Until 8:45. And then, the wailing began until he was picked up, rocked and soothed back to sleep.
  • Until 9:00pm.
  • And so on and so forth all night long.

Yes, sometimes I got 1.5-2 hours of contiguous sleep, but mostly, just up. All night long. And as some of you kindly advised I did co-sleep with him and still do during the wee hours but sadly he’s not a quiet sleeper and hits, smacks and squirms leads to co-sleeping even when he’s latched, to be a sleep-disrupting affair.
Between caring for two kids all day, and then one kid all night, I reached the point where cry-it-out became a beautiful siren calling my name. So about two weeks ago I gave in and gave the cry-it-out monster a try. If you follow me on my facebook blog page then you know it was rough, and many of you were kind of enough to call, e-mail, comment and otherwise give me advice for the first and most awful day, and I appreciated it.

But there’s a problem. See, this is how I thought cry it out would go:

Day one: Cry Cry Cry Cry Cry
Day two: Cry Cry Cry Cry
Day three: Cry Cry Cry
Day four: Cry Cry
Day five: Cry
Day six: SNORE for a consecutive 5-6 hours

But this is not how it’s happening. Not even on the same planet of how it’s happening. You see, yes, the cry-it-out works for a little bit, as in, as a result of the cry-it-out 40 minute marathons, he does now fall asleep and stay asleep without being up every 15 minutes. But the ultimate effect of cry it out is that it has only extended his sleep to about three hours. And that 8pm-11pm stretch is ultimately his longest stretch, with him up every hour or so all night long thereafter. And around 11pm when he wake up, I feed him, and then hit repeat all night long. I’m too tired to bear the tears. At the moment he’s in our room and some of you suggested moving him out might help, but he screams bloody murder all night long even when I’m not up in the room yet, so I do’nt know if it will help. Also I’m afraid across the hall from his brother the loud screams will disrupt Waleed’s sleep leaving me with two fussy kiddos.

This sleepy mother beseeches you: Anyone reading ever been in these shoes? Do you see something I’m doing wrong in the process? Do they normally cry-cry-cry and then continue waking up? Do you just continue to make them cry-it-out all night long? How long does this last if you’ve been in these shoes? Or should I just accept my lot as an all night keg and attach an IV of caffeine to myself to function in the daylight hours [which would ofcourse serve to only keep him up longer. Sigh]. Any advice much appreciated. [And Mina, any advice you might have as I know you were in the same exact shoes and do not know how you did it.]

Edited to add: His pediatrician thought he might be hungry at night so to feed him more during the day like 6 oz of food twice a day. I felt like this was too much because I never fed Waleed that much at this stage but today, instead of the usual two cubes of baby food, he gobbled down three and then proceed to eat almost an entire mushed banana. So maybe poor kiddo was truly hungry at night? Will try again with another six ounces tonight and see if that helps.

12 thoughts on “When cry-it-out meets its match?**”

  1. Oh, I'm so sorry! I'd definitely try the food. Hen was never a good sleeper as a baby, but he was fat & happy so I never thought it could be hunger. And then when I had to stop nursing at 8 months, & he hated formula, so all of a sudden we were both excited about getting more food into him? He ate enough to feed a whale. That's when we just started pureeing a (big) serving of whatever we were having & giving it to him. Slept beautifully for the first time ever. (and he's still an awesomely adventurous eater.)

    It def. did help with Hen, even though Hen was never as bad as this.

    I DO remember that moving him out of our room at 6 months helped a bit, too. Even just the minimal people-in-the-room noises of two sleeping non-snory adults were enough to keep Hen watchful, hoping that MamaMoo would be coming to feed him any second now, so he'd better stay awake lest he miss it…

    I hope you find something that works soon, because oi, this sounds horrible. So sorry you're having to go through this!


  2. Hey when I did the cy out method with Faizan. I feed him dinner about 6 or 6: 30. Then 7:30 gave him a warm bath, put his pj's, and took him in his room. I had slow soothing music on, nighlight, and I gave him a 6oz warm bottle. Then I put him down in his crib. Somedays he would cry 6 times a night, some nights 4, etc….. It took me 2 months to get it to work. I was consistent and patient. I would let him cry for maybe 20 mins before I went it. The visits would be quick….Try not to pick him up….just say its ok, pat him on the head. In my experience it works. Rafia


  3. I honestly have no advice. For months now, they both go to sleep at the same time, in the same room. I just put a couple of mattresses near George's bed and we sleep all three like this. Sometimes Stevie wakes up two times a night (sadly, I can count those three times on one hand and still have spares :-p). Usually it's 3-4, or more when teething, snotting, whathaveyou-ing. Since they sleep one next to the other, they sometime comfort each other during the night, and I just smile and try to get the fredk back to sleep. Sometimes I need to nurse Stevie back in stupour. We each have our own mattress and this makes for very little floor free in their room, but enough sleeping space for all of us. Rarely, George wakes up from a nightmare or with fever and comes for cuddles on my mattress and it is absolutely the best thing, being wedged between them for a short time, until I need to go to the loo, or to scratch my toe, or anything else that breaks the spell. Sometimes I fall asleep in my bedroom, in MY BED, but after midnight I have to go back because Stevie wakes up and that is that.
    Fortunately, they do not often wake each other up. I do not know if it is something my kids do, or most kids do. But I ain't looking this horse in the mouth, am grateful and beg for more.
    Sleeping on a mattress on the floor is less uncomfortable than it might sound. But I guess I put more emphasis on SLEEP not WHERE. 🙂
    It gets better. Not soon enough, but it does.
    Do whatever you can, anything and everything you are comfortable trying, because this party all night is gerting harder and you need to rest. Try to get them on the same schedule as much as you can, for the noon nap and night sleep. My boys have been sharing rougly the same sleep schedule since Stevie was 6-7 months old (I think), beginning of this year or so. It is better because this way they are confined to one room, and they only need one adult, me. My husband can sleep and go to work, and we can enjoy some time together after the children are asleep. It surely feels strange to be on our own, and talk without pausing to explain words or retrieve legos, and leave glasses and electornic devices where we might fancy… 🙂
    Come on, you'll get by, stop worrying and just do what you need to do to get some rest.


  4. I truly hope it gets better soon. It's been pretty bad here, too, but never as bad as it seems to be for you right now.
    I used the mattress solution as well, like Mina (though only with the younger one in the room). It wasn't ideal, but it allowed me to get some more sleep.
    I would also definitely try the food solution. If he wants to eat more during the day, all the better, it might just help.
    My experience with crying it out is similar to yours. We tried once for about a week (we tried a modified version where you start by staying in the room …. and we never got to the point where we felt comfortable leaving), then gave up.
    It has gotten a lot better here. The real improvement – to only 1 or 2 times waking up a night – came when I stopped nursing at about 15 months and she simply got a bottle of milk in the evening. Not sure it was the added food (she sometimes drinks a lot of milk in the evening) or the “distance” from mommy, if you know what I mean.

    Wish I had the ultimate advice for you, but I can only commiserate. Hope it'll get better soon.

    BTW, Ramadan kareem!


  5. Oh I feel you. I do. Have you tried propping the head of his bed up? My son was awake every 40 minutes around the clock due to reflux, until we got it treated. Yours might not be severe enough to warrant treatment, but propping the bed may help? It's something anyway. Hang in there!


  6. oh! My heart goes out to you! Magpie was not this tough, but a few thoughts: we found we were disturbing her sleep (and she ours) when we all slept in the same room. she did much better (once she adjusted to the transition) in her own room. i think the more daytime food idea is a good one. magpie has always been tiny and a bad eater, especially when she was little, and so i was loathe to drop her nighttime feed. However, once we did, and she adjusted to this (again a couple of nights), she began to really sleep through much better. now she sleeps all night, from 7-6 or so. it's changed all of our lives for the better. I so hope you can get there. the sleep deprivation is brutal!


  7. Try Ferber. And be consistent. If you are picking him up/feeding some of the times he cries, he is getting mixed messages and therefore will keep crying til you come get him b/c it works sometimes.

    Seriously, buy the Ferber book, read it, and follow strictly. And he should be out of your room where he can't smell/hear/see you.

    We did Ferber successfully on 2 kids.


  8. Go with your instincts Aisha and don't torture the baby with more cry it out. If you will read Ferber then read Sears and others who advocate Attachment parenting. Babies have needs and not meeting those needs (even for touch) by letting them cry, will develop into longer term issues….I think the food should help, and maybe before he sleeps try giving him oatmeal/cereal…something a little heavier for his tummy. Best wishes, my prayers are with you.


  9. Thank you so so much for all the advice everyone. My laptop is broken and I type from an ipad so its hard to reply individually to everyone like I normally do, but I've read them all and really really appreciate it.

    An update: The food did not do its magic, even though he does appear to need more food than I was giving him, he is still up constantly, next step will be moving him out of our room tonight to see if that helps. We'll see. Thanks again!!!!


  10. I feel for you and reading your post brought it all back. My now 21 month-old was a nightmare and we had to lie with him to get him to sleep. As he got older the fact we were with him just stimulated him more so it would take up to 1 hour to get him down. At 1 year we did the cry-it-out method but went cold turkey and didn't go in his room to comfort him. The first night he cried for over an hour and then went down. 2 hours later he woke and cried for 30 mins and then 2 hours later for 15 mins. We have a baby cam so kept an eye on him. Since then he sleeps happily in his bed. Dont get me wrong, the next day was at least 20 mins cry and then by the end of week it was a kiss, cuddle and down he went. We still co-sleep if he is ill and then when he is better we do have a minor cry before he settles back in his routine.

    2 points; making sure he is well fed is essential, he always slept longer when at my parents' house because they kept feeding him! He would have his meals and then take more from them. 2, he doesn't sleep like that if we are in his room…we are still sleeping on the sofabed nearly a year later!

    Hope that helps.

    Good luck, Nadia


  11. I'm so sorry for your sleep deprivation. It is brutal. I have a child who sounds like yours. We did cry it out for 2 months, starting with soothing etc. etc. It did not work for us. We spent the entire second month after working through the whole soothing routine, with the child crying at least once an hour all night long in spite of us not going in. At 7am when we got up for the day and I fed her she went back to sleep for 2 hours and I was a mess. We documented the crying spells, took video, took it to the pedi who told us to give up and feed her twice a night, prop up the head of her bed, and give her antiacid meds until she was a year old. In retrospect she was probably truly hungry and just had a small stomach or reflux upsetting her but it was sooo brutal. My husband called it quits because the interrupted sleep was affecting his ability to do his job and she ended up sleeping in our bed until she was 3 just because we couldn't cope any longer. She has turned into a fine young woman in spite of it all, although she is still a very light sleeper and awakes several times a night. My best advice is to find someone to watch the kids while you nap a couple of times a week until it gets better. Good luck. Follow your instincts and take care of yourself too!


  12. Little E would wake around 3-5 times a night until about a year, year+. She would breastfeed every single time she woke up. After she started solid foods at 8 months (kid hated purees, so we went straight to finger foods at 8mo), I knew she was getting food during the day so I felt like I could work on reducing the night feeds. I think she might have been legitimately hungry all night, but I had to convince her to sleep through it and that in the morning we would fix the hunger pains.

    It was a long process. I did not want to do cry-it-out. When she woke up I would pick her up, re-wrap the blanket/swaddle, comfort and cuddle her, then put her back in the bed. She started to add 15 minutes to and hour more to her sleep segments. The next time she woke up I would feed her. Slowly, the time between wakings would get longer and the feedings were slowly reducing.

    I was a sleep-deprived zombie mom for a long long time. Now, at 2 years, she goes to sleep super easy and stays asleep for roughly 12 hours each night.


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