Thursday, August 03, 2006


Posted by Anonymous.

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal (or paternal!) mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...


I am a huge supporter of the CIO (cry it out) method. I let my daughter CIO when she was a mere six weeks old. Yes, I know that's early. I've been judged, criticized, and even lectured by moms in real life and via computer message boards for doing this. I'm a horrible mom. BUT-my daughter started sleeping through the night pretty early on, so I can't be all that bad.

Despite her decent sleeping habits, certain milestone came along that would cause her to revert back to the 'waking every 3 hours' days. When she started cutting teeth, I thought I would never sleep again. I broke out the Tylenol, the Orajel, the teething tablets. I offered a bottle, I offered extra snuggles. But teething is painful (this I DO actually know, after having my own wisdom teeth break through in my 20s...seriously, OW). When all is said and done, sometimes you just want to CRY. And so I let her.

Don't get me wrong. I never let her sit and scream for hours on end. In reality, I never let her go on wailing longer than ten minutes. But I was told what a horrid woman I was/am for even letting her go that long.

To this day (because as we're now in the toddler years and milestones are happening more frequently), I let her CIO if she wakes during the night. I turn the volume on the monitor as low as I can while still being able to hear her. I listen for the cry-if it's a whimpery cry, I stay in bed. A more frantic, hysterical cry gets me running down the hall, but the little cries, I stay put.

In recent months, my child has gone through phases where she will cry in her sleep. At first I found this alarming and started thinking that she was suffering some form of psychological trauma as a result of being raised by two completely inexperienced morons. Now I know many kids do this. If she cries out excessively, I will get up and rub her back in an attempt to soothe her (even though she's snoring away between the cries and does not even know I am there). Otherwise, I let her 'work it out' herself and go back to sleep in hopes she will not start crying again in five minutes.

This makes her father crazy. He tells me over and over that I should get up with her and offer her milk. His theory is that a little extra milk will fill her up and she'll sleep for the rest of the night. My theory is that she's NOT AWAKE so why the hell would I wake her up and risk her STAYING UP? And since he thinks his theory is right, why isn't he the one getting up to test it??

I humored him and tested it at 5:00 this morning. Carried our kid downstairs, heated up a cup of milk, when she grabbed and tossed across the room (eyes still closed, mind you) and screamed. She then zonked out on my lap. I waited a bit, brought her back to bed, and that was that. Did she cry out again? Yes.

She cries in her sleep sometimes. Get over it. We tried it your way-your way sucks, and since you refuse to get up and help, we're doing it MY way.


Jenn said...

Well, although I don't necessarily agree with letting a 6 week old cry it out, I do let my daughter (who has been sleeping through the night since 2.5 months) cry in the middle of the night if she happens to wake up. Like you, usually it's due to teething or new milestones. It's not often. She is also sleeping most of time while she is crying. I have a video monitor, which I love. I can look in and tell whether she's standing up screaming or just rolling around having a bad night.

Funny just last night my daughter happened to cry at like 4am. My husband went to get up and get her, and I was like ummm what are you doing? Cause once you wake up with them, they stay awake. I kept him in bed and she was back sleeping soundly within like 2 minutes.

Of course if she is crying more than 5 minutes (which is all I can stand personally) then I'll go in. But I NEVER (unless she is completely inconsolable) feed her in the middle of the night at this point.

Karen said...

Let no one judge you for doing what is best for your child. End of story. My daughter started being gently Ferberized at 5 weeks, because she was ready for it. My son didn't take to it and didn't sleep thorugh until he was 12 months. She did CIO, he did not.

The point is that we figure out what's best for our kids and we should do nothing else. Your child sleeps, can put herself back to sleep, and you should be overjoyed and proud of yourself for helping her learn to so so. The next time your husband feels like you should go offer her milk, tell him that he should feel free to get up and do so himself.

It's amazing to me that using CIO has to be spoken of in a place like the basement. My daughter is only 4.5, but I don't remember being judged so harshly by my peers for sleep training her. What has it come to when our most basic parenting decisions have to be aired in secret, like the dirtiest of laundry?

DD said...

Because she sounds like she is crying IN her sleep, it sounds more like she has entered the phase of night terrors, which is very common for toddler/preschoolers as their imagination develops. Some children will scream outright so I don't see why crying in their sleep would be any different.

I don't believe letting her CIO in her early months has much to do with this current phase. When we still had the monitor in our room when our son was 2, I would sleep with ear plugs. I figured if he could wake me up through the earplugs it was serious, but I didn't think hearing him sing, moan, talk or even sob was anything I needed to get worried excessively about.

Depending on the distance between your bedroom and your child's, you might want to consider getting rid of the monitor altogether. Having EVERYONE'S sleep disrupted won't help anyone.

Donna said...

Every mother is different and every child is different and there's more than one way to raise a kid. Your method may not work for me, but it works for you and as long as your children are healthy and happy, I am happy for you. We moms are way too quick to criticize one another.

Anonymous said...

I don't "believe in" CIO, but my 3-year-old is a terrible sleeper, as was his sister at his age, so I don't know whether my method is that great either.

What I can really get behind in your message is how quick husbands are to criticize and try to guilt you into getting up and going in, when THEY are not the ones (usually) having to deal with the repercussions.

If my husband were doing to do all the night stuff, then he could have an opinion about it, but until then, I agree that the mom is in charge.

moplans said...

Ten minutes does not IMO constitute CIO and I shut that baby monitor off long ago.
Getting kids to sleep is really hard and you should not beat yourself up about it. Everything else you say after your first line makes you sound to me like a pretty responsive mom.

As for the negative feedback you are getting from people I would say don't discuss what you are doing with them. What works for you is what you have to do.

I agree the husband gets no say unless he is doing the work. Don't humour him! His idea. His 5 am wakeup call

nonlineargirl said...

My husband and I have done CIO when soothing to sleep stopped working (about 4 months). It worked for us. I know others are uncomfortable doing that, and that is fine for them. I am with you - if your husband is not comfortable with letting your child cry out, he should act on his views and be the one to get her up, warm her milk and feed it to her.

mystic_eye_cda said...

Ok, I don't want to get into the CIO or not, ok, because not everything works for everyone. I personally would loose my mind listening to him actually cry in another room for 10 min. However I also was doing the whole attachment parenting thing until one day he screamed all evening and my friend said. Why don't you just try putting him in his crib with all the lights out, and he fell asleep. (Though I am lucky, I guess he has been able to put himself to sleep intermittantly since he was 6 weeks old. Sleep through the night, no, but sometimes I can put him in his crib and he will sleep and sometimes at night he wakes me up but goes to sleep without eating.

I just wanted to say my baby screams and cries in his sleep sometimes. And it makes me mental but I know he is actually sleeping and NEVER wake a sleeping baby.

I also wanted to ask, if it is possible to do so without it sounding judgemental, because honestly I am not being judgemental I am just curious. For the poster and others whose babies slept through the night at 6 or 8 weeks old, are you formula or breastmilk feeding? (and if breastmilk from the breast or from a bottle). I am just wondering because that is just so far from my experience so far.

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

When my Mom stayed with us, she was in my son's room every time he cried with a bottle. It took about 2 weeks to get him back on schedule after she left. She just can't stand to hear a baby cry and I had just had knee surgery so she was in charge. Once she was gone, I went back to my own methods. My son is no worse for either. If you are getting up, you get to decide.

Awesome Mom said...

I am a huge advocate of doing what works for each child. You should never have to feel bad about that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with doing whatever works, however I neve let my children CIO because I always believed the reason they stopped crying is because they gave up on you and I couldn't live with that. I know many people who happily used that method and as I said, whatever works, but it's so very not for me. And my kids sleep fine, for the record.

I did want to point out tho, that it's not only early to let a 6 week old CIO, it might not be very safe at that age. I would encourage CIO moms to wait until at least the 3-4 month mark. This is based on the advice of our pediatrician - who criticized me for NOT using CIO.

No matter how you do it, someone won't like it, so you may as well do it *your* way.

Christina said...

I do believe that CIO can work as well as other sleep methods.

However, I don't think this is a CIO issue. If she's still asleep, it sounds like she's having a night terror. They're far worse than nightmares, because the child can appear to be awake, but still be screaming and thrashing. It's terrifying to watch, and you feel helpless because the best way to deal with it is to let it pass. If you pick them up, they will only struggle and scream more, because they don't realize it's you - they're still asleep.

Toddlerhood is prime night terror time. My daughter still has them now and then, and we have to let her get through it on her own. She also wakes up occasionally in the night (like last night, where I made the mistake of going in, and it took over an hour for her to go back to sleep), and if she cries I generally only go in if it goes on longer than 10 minutes.

Laural Dawn said...

I hate the CIO battle. I hate the nasty comments even more.
You do what you can to get through it. For us sometimes it's crying sometimes it's not. My son is now 2 and at this point he needs to cry sometimes. In fact, sometimes we can't even start to calm him down until he has had a good cry.
Honestly, I know where he is coming from.
I couldn't handle Ferberizing him -- even though my doctor insisted it would help my PPD. Neither of us were ready, and that was at 3 month.
At around a year we were both ready and after a couple of nights (15 minute bouts of crying - not hours) he started sleeping.
And, now at 2 he's on and off with his sleep.
I'm not offering any advice. Just saying that no matter what method you choose it sucks. And, really, some kids sleep and some don't.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm back...I'm the original poster of this particular 'confession'.

The point of my post was not whether or not CIO was acceptable. I'm ok with doing it. My mom did it with all 3 of her kids. We all slept through the night by 2 months old. My husband was skeptical at first, but he's a believer now.

That being said, I will say this: CIO isn't something that works for EVERY child. If my next one (whenever we decide to have one) does not respond to CIO, we won't do it. I believe in individualized parenting when it comes to stuff like this-do what works for each separate kid. As they get older, sure, you have to try to parent them similarly for the sake of 'being fair'...but at the newborn stage, I say whatever works. Heck, I'd stand on my head in the corner of her bedroom if she'd sleep all night.

Essentially, I'm not a CIO mama...I'm a WW (whatever works) mama. There are aspects of attachment parenting that suit our situation-we do those things. There are aspects of it that don't suit us, and we don't do them. Through trial and error, each family finds what works for them.

I have to say that using CIO has ONLY been ok with me because of one wonderful invention: the video monitor. After my daughter outgrew the bassinette (at 6 weeks), and we moved her into her own room, that monitor was my savior. It still is. We also have a plain audio monitor that we sometimes use. But if we are downstairs and she is upstairs sleeping, the video monitor allows us to see what's going on with her...the interesting thing is that the 'night terrors' that I assumed she was having-there is no thrashing or kicking going on. She lays there and whines in her sleep. She has no idea we are in the room when we go in to check on her. The first few times she did this, I picked her up to calm her down, thinking she WAS awake-and she completely freaked out. I scared her more by waking her up...

The 'cry in her sleep' cry is very different from her other cries. It's more of a whiny cry. Last week, I bolted out of bed when I heard her screaming a hysterical-pain cry...she had gotten her arm stuck in the crib slats. In my dead sleep at 3am, I could tell the difference. That kind of a cry gets me out of bed...odds are, had she been fully awake, she would have been able to move her arm out herself, but no sooner than I moved her arm for her, she went back to sleep!

To answer someone's question: my daughter was a formula baby from the start. When I say she 'slept through the night' at 6 weeks, I am talking about a stretch of sleep that went 6-7 hours. Of course, she woke up hysterical, screaming for food...but who could blame her, when she would eat ever 4 hours during the day? :)

As for whether or not a CIO baby 'gives up' on his or her parents, that's an opinion thing. I have to say that I just don't see it that way. My daughter may CIO to sleep (this is RARE-she normally goes to bed very easily, because we don't attempt to put her to bed until she's ready-and she is like clockwork and has been since around 8 months). She may CIO during the night (night terrors or not-sometimes it's a teething issue, and if I know that's the problem, I will give her the teething tablets or orajel or whatever). She may decide to wake at 4 and start her day. I give her 10 minutes to calm herself down...during this time, she's not hysterical...she will cry, but not scream. 95% of the time she zonks back out. I know my kid-if I take her out of that crib during the night or very early in the morning, I am going to deal with a MONSTER for the rest of the day. I think she gains more from calming herself down than from me trying to soothe her.

Last night is a perfect example. She did the whiny cry, but it went on and on and ON (normally she gets over it in 5-6 minutes). 10 minutes, I get up. She freaked at everything. Didn't want milk, fought the diaper change (she was half-asleep), she finally woke up and decided she wanted to play (this was at 3:45 this morning). I got her back to sleep an hour later-she slept in a little later than usual, but she is a bear. She's cranky and easily set off. Had I let her CIO, she would have gone back to sleep and woken up on her own time in a better mood.

She's one of the happiest kids I've ever seen (and I'm a teacher and have worked with kids from infancy-high school). My sister in law is STILL battling sleep issues with a 7 year old...swears that CIO is cruel. But you know what? I'd rather do it my way.

The whole point of my original post was that I do let my kid cry despite my spouse's insistence that I get up and give her something that she DOES not need nor want. I let my kid cry because she doesn't know what it is that she wants, and rather than play guessing games at 4 in the morning, I make the decision that what she needs is SLEEP. And she does go back to sleep.

As for me starting CIO at 6 weeks, my ped. told me to go for it as long as I was ok with it...and having that video monitor made me ok. She also told me I shouldn't carry her everywhere, which I know is very popular...if I didn't want to. And I didn't want to, and it was nice to hear someone tell me that it was ok to not wear my child all day long.

I guess my original point was that despite me being 'mean' in doing CIO (which I don't actually thinks is mean, I think doing what is best for my child is the most important thing), I think we're doing ok. Despite my hubby's input (with no hands-on help), I think my kid's turning out just fine.

mystic_eye_cda said...

Hi Anonymous,

In case you get back, I meant to add last night, but due to my son's current nap strike (he is trying to crawl so as soon as he is on his back he rolls onto his belly and then starts crying because he is tired and doesn't want to hold his head up, I roll him back, repeat. And noooo pinning him down doesn't work, putting him in the swing doesn't work. And yes at this point I would stand on my head) Anyway....

My husband was OBSESSED with burping. Said I didn't burp the baby enough. CONSTANTLY drove me up the wall. He was a gassy baby so of course some times when you pick him up or move him he is gonna burp. Also I found that rubbing or patting his back just made him tense up so I would just sit him upright until he burped (unless he was asleep, then I repeat DON'T WAKE A SLEEPING BABY) I don't know what gives hubbies the idea that the a) know what they are doing when they are never around, b) can/should critisize momma, and c) never do what they propose.

Oh and I was asking about the formula because my baby fed EVER 60-90 minutes during the day and ever 2-3 hours at night for the first 3 months. Yes I almost lost my mind. (Until we learned to nurse lying down, after that neither of us really woke up for feedings)

I had this whole ever 2 - 4 hours guideline in my head. I've also always wondered what through the night meant.

I also know a mom who pumps and bottlefeeds (yes, every feeding not just when she is at work because she doesn't work and her son will go 5-6 hours at night. Which totally cracks me up because she has to get up every three hours to pump. Look I'm not going to say breastfeeding is all sunshine and lollipops but pumping and bottle feeding really sounds like the worst of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

Brenda: have you tried bundling him? Then he can't roll over and keep himself awake. I've done this with kids as old as 14 months, and it almost always works like a charm.

Anonymous said...

I wish that I had the strength to let my children cry it out. I don't think that you're horrible at all. My oldest is almost four and I haven't gotten a single full night of sleep.

Good luck!

Waya said...

I haven't had a peaceful uninterupted sleep in over five years!! With 3 children under the age of five, it's not one child, it's the other waking me up almost every single nigh. In the meantime, my hubbie is oblivious to the piercing screams.

I do believe in the CIO method. I would let my kids cry for 10 minutes, go in and check on them, if their diapers are wet...I'll change it and then put them bk to sleep. I'm so used to this that I can change diapers in the dark. I'm sure you've acquired that knack as well. We mothers are sooo talented aren't we?!

I know there are critical moms out there and I can be one as well. But you're the only one who knows what works and what doesn't for your children.