Letting her “Cry it Out” (Sleep Training)

holy moly.

It sounds like Abigail’s being tortured in the other room.

I can’t even believe I’m going to admit to blogging while listening to my daughter “cry it out,” but I feel like it’s the only way I’m going to be able to hold strong until she gives up and falls asleep. I know she’s tired. She’s actually quite exhausted. But she knows that when she cries, I come waltzing in to rescue her (or to pick her binky up off the floor and swiftly put it back in her mouth).

Not today, little one…not today.

I feel confident in saying that things are going to change because I experimented with the “cry it out” method last night.  And wow, while listening to her cry her eyes out for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes is more painful than labor contractions at 8cm dilated, hearing her finally calm herself down felt like the most amazing accomplishment since actually pushing a baby out of my body (maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I felt like I’d conquered an impossible feat). She went back to sleep. And she slept until 7:30am (and so did Mommy).

Let me backtrack a few months.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that we’ve had our ups and downs with Abigail’s sleep schedule…for the most part, however, we feel like we were extremely spoiled in the early months.  She started sleeping through the night at two and a half months. That continued for another 5+ months and then something happened. Something terrible. A little something we like to call “sleep regression.”  Whether it had to do with the fact she could pull herself up, or she learned how to crawl/walk, or she had a bad dream, she began waking up every night between the hours of 2am and 4am.

That was brutal.

Right when you think you’re back on a normal sleeping schedule after months of exhaustion, you realize that you’re an idiot for thinking it would last. For some lucky parents, it does last…for us, it obviously didn’t (side note: Abigail’s asleep…she cried for 23 minutes and after some last ditch efforts of sad, sad whimpering, she finally gave up…5 gold stars for Mommy!).

7x7xDaddy, being the AMAZING husband and father that he is, resumed his role of “middle-of-the-night-check-on-Abby-guy.”  Night after night, he’d roll out of bed, check on Abby, put her binky back in, and 9 times out of 10, he’d return to bed with our baby, her baby and, of course, blanky (which we refer to as the “3 B’s”).

Every night, we found ourselves in one of these positions (the most common being “H is for Hell” – and we have a queen size bed)

And as much as we love snuggling with Abigail and as much as she loves sleeping with us, we knew something had to change.  Trust me, I’ve read the books. I know we’ve been doing the wrong thing. I’ve actually read this one paragraph in the book our pediatrician gave us over and over and over again that clearly states:

“During this difficult period, you may need to experiment with several strategies to find those that help your baby sleep…some children go to sleep more easily with the door open (not Abby)others develop consoling habits, such as sucking their thumbs or rocking (nope…but we probably never gave her a long enough opportunity to figure one of those out)go to her side but don’t turn on the light (well then how is Daddy supposed to find the binky she threw violently out of her crib?), walk with her (then how are we supposed to get her in our bed?), and certainly don’t take her to your bed (ohhh…gotcha).

See, we read. We’re smart people. We apparently just don’t believe what the experts are saying. And we hate hearing her cry! And we love cuddling her and making her feel safe and secure. (excuses, excuses, Mommy…)

As my Dad stated last night over a delicious sushi dinner, “babies are designed to learn.”  It was a simple, obvious statement that really packed a punch.

Guess what Abigail has been learning?  That when she’s going down for a nap and she stands up immediately to throw binky (and now sometimes baby) overboard, Mommy comes to the rescue.  And that when she wakes up in the middle of the night missing us, she’ll cry out and Daddy will come in like a knight in shining armor to “save” her and she’ll get “rewarded” for this silly behavior by getting to snuggle for the rest of the night.

Well, it’s time for her to learn something new.  Bedtime is bedtime and her bed is perfectly suitable for a full night’s sleep. Nap time is nap time and if she wants to be soothed by her binky (and baby) she should probably think twice before flailing them overboard.

And last but not least, Mommy and Daddy love her unconditionally and while these first few days of “crying it out” are going to be tough on all of us (even though Daddy’s out of town so he’s missing out on all the “fun”), we’re trying to teach her a better habit so that in the long run we’ll all wake up in the morning well rested and ready to snuggle (as evidenced by this very picture I took this morning).

That being said, it would be a lie for me to say we’ll never allow her in bed again…it will happen. I know it. And when it does, we’ll all absolutely love it…but it’s not going to be the norm. And it’s not going to happen anytime (too terribly) soon.

Wish us luck!

And PLEASE share your sleep training stories with me to give me strength, inspiration and a few laughs…

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to enjoy these few minutes of silence by doing the dishes and taking a shower.


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12 Responses

  1. Mara says:

    Stay strong!! We’ve been sleep training with Rosa, and it definitely gets better, and some nights, downright blissful. We still have rough nights here and there, but it is *SO* much better than Cesar and I clinging to the last 7 inches of our king-sized bed on either side while Rosa has free reign with all the room! She’s like a raccoon in the night; searching for food, pulling mommy’s hair, trying to tear sheets, scratching any parent she can find. It was awful! We kicked her out. The hardest part is not letting her back, even on the rough nights, but everyone says “consistency is key”. So, thus my “stay strong” advice! Good luck and keep us posted!

    • 7x7xMommy says:

      Hahaha, Mara – I love this…”she’s like a raccoon in the night…” It’s so true! Consistency is now key and we’re doing our best to stay very strong! I’ll be writing an update in the next couple days…hopefully I’ll have great things to say! 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. chris says:

    Hahahaha…love the blog honey 🙂
    Super job at letting her “learn!”
    You are the best Mommy, for sure 🙂

  3. chris says:

    Abby looks like she’s holding no grudge, happy as ever. Keep your resolve. You will all benefit.


  4. Anina Duren says:

    Oh, you seem so lucky! We tried to let the girls cry it out a while ago and never had any success. They would just scream for hours (yes, multiple hours!) on end without ever calming down. Maybe because there was two of them, and they just kept getting each other all worked up or something. They’ve never slept in bed with us, and don’t even like to be touched or cuddled when they are falling asleep, but they need one of us (and recently they’ve only wanted me) to be in there with them. And so, yes. That means even at 36 weeks pregnant I sleep on the floor in their room for at least a little while every night. What oh what are we going to do when the new baby comes? God only knows…

    • 7x7xMommy says:

      Oh my goodness, Nina – how are you going to do it!?! Knowing you, I’m sure you’ll figure it all out in no time 🙂 , but it must be so much harder with twins (especially the sleeping aspect of things). Everything will work out!!!

  5. Heather says:

    Good luck! Crying it out never worked with Harper he just worked himself up too much and it would take even longer to get him to sleep. What worked for us was 1)getting a night light so he could find his own binky 2) we bought a Twilight Turtle so he has something to look at while falling asleep and 3) I snuggle, rock and sing him until he is sleepy and then put him down 4) I sit on the floor and continue to sing until he falls asleep

    After consistently doing this for about two weeks every single nap time and night time I can now keep the snuggle/ sing short and put him in and just walk away….for now it is working but at you know EVERYTHING has the potential to change and I’m sure tonight I’ll be eating my words.

    Good luck and as you know different things work for different babies and families. YOU are mama and you know best. Stick to it if it’s what you feel is best and she will come around…you’re right in the end baby needs a good night’s sleep and so does mama so whatever gets you there is the best thing for you!

    You can do it Abby! (and so can you mama)

    • 7x7xMommy says:

      Heather, I definitely think consistency is the most important part. And you’re right, everything has the potential to change…and I don’t want to speak too soon, but so far this “crying it out” method has been working really well! She’s slept through the night 3 nights in a row now without a peep…and her naps are getting easier as well…it was so tough for those first two days but so far, so good (fingers crossed it lasts!).

  1. February 16, 2012

    […] of me) and I talked about how it sounded like Abigail was being tortured in the other room (read “Letting her ‘Cry it Out’ (Sleep Training)” here).  Those nap refusal sounds came directly after a night where I listened to her cry for at least […]

  2. April 6, 2012

    […] just like any other night she started whimpering, she threw her binky overboard, she tossed her blanky out of her crib, and she chucked baby over the edge as […]

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