An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Healthy sleep habits, grumpy baby

If Jon and I decide to try and have another child there are so many things that I will do differently. At the top of that list is WILL NOT INTRODUCE GUMMY BEARS INTO THE DIET. For the last month we have heard nothing but Leta’s plaintive gummy bear song, a mournful yearning for her favorite food that we now deny her because she refuses to eat anything else. “Gubby bers?” she’ll ask while nodding her head furiously perhaps thinking that the rhythmic motion of her head will hypnotize me and bend me to her will. And when I say no, not until you eat something else, something containing actual nutritional content, she’ll ask again only this time emphasizing each syllable slowly in case I didn’t understand. “Guuuub-byyyy berrrrrs?” It always sounds like, “What part of gummy bears don’t you understand, Earthling?”

There is one thing, however, that I hope I get right the second time around as well as I did with Leta, and when I talk about this I’m going to be walking barefoot into an area littered with land mines. Leta sleeps 12 hours a night and takes a two hour nap every day. She has been sleeping this well since she was six months old. Occasionally she’ll have a bad nap or wake up early (see: tin foil solution) but for the most part her sleeping schedule has been a stabilizing constant in our lives. Whenever anyone accuses Leta of being grumpy because she’s tired I want to stand up for her and set them straight: do not give fatigue credit for her grumpiness, she is grumpy despite her well-restedness. That is determination.

It wasn’t easy getting her to sleep this well, and what we had to go through to get her to this point is one of the many factors that led me to check myself into a mental hospital. But what we did worked and it was the only thing that would work for her. I never discussed in detail the 15 days of hell that we had to endure to get Leta to sleep more than two hours at a time because at that period in her life I was in a very bad, very dark place and I knew that I would be judged if I talked about it. Since this seems to be the week to answer frequently asked questions I thought I would go ahead and talk about it especially since I now have distance from it and I am no longer emotional about it.

When I sat down to write this, however, I realized that I had forgotten some of the specifics of what we went through. That is part of the self-preservation of parenthood, the fuzziness of memory that makes it possible to move forward. So I went back into my email archives and found an email I had written to a another new mother while we were going through Leta’s sleep training. She had written asking for help in getting her six-month-old to sleep at night. This is an excerpt from that email:


Getting Leta to sleep through the night was what sent me over the edge. I was coping somewhat before we decided to take away her pacifier, but after those two grueling weeks I lost it. My first piece of advice: be prepared for some trauma, on your part.

I have read and re-read all the sleep books. All of them. This book and this book are the ones I finally decided to use. At Leta’s four-month check-up her doctor asked me if she was still getting up twice a night, and I was like, OF COURSE she is, doesn’t every four-month-old get up twice a night? But in Leta’s case it was twice and sometimes three times and sometimes six or seven times because of that damn pacifier. Her pediatrician told me that she was old enough to go a whole 12 hours at night without feeding. I thought he was insane.

Leta could only fall asleep with the pacifier, and if she woke up and it wasn’t in her mouth she couldn’t go back to sleep, and then sometimes when I put it back into her mouth she was awake enough already that the only way she would go back to sleep was if I breastfed her. And it just got worse and worse and there were a couple weeks there when I was feeding her four and five times a night, and then she wouldn’t eat the next day. It was totally fucked up, and I knew I had to do something because I was going crazy.

So I finished reading the Ferber book, and I decided one Sunday afternoon that we were going to start that night. If I even thought about the pain that we were going to go through I knew I wouldn’t do it, so I turned to Jon and said THAT’S IT. No more pacifier. Except, it wasn’t just the pacifier. We took away her pacifier and we reduced the night feeding and we sleep trained her ALL AT THE SAME TIME. They were all the same problem essentially.

So we took away the pacifier and I gradually reduced the night feedings, letting her eat for only a couple minutes each side when she woke up in the night. Every single time we put her down for a nap or for bedtime she screamed. And screamed. And screamed. The books say that it should all be over with in a few days. But those books? They lie.

We decided that at night she had to sleep at least six hours before I would go in and feed her, and then the feeding would be really short. And then after that feeding she wouldn’t get another one for at least four hours. So she would wake up after two hours of being down at night and we let her scream. And she screamed and screamed and screamed and we didn’t go back in. And then she would scream two hours after that and I wouldn’t go back in because it had only been a total of four hours since her bedtime. That happened probably five days in a row, and then she eventually started sleeping eight and nine hours without waking up, and when she did wake up I would feed her for two minutes and put her right back down. The eight-nine hours slowly became 10-12 hours, and it was finally over.

The only way we could do it was to let her scream. We couldn’t go back in. We tried going back in several times to soothe her and it only made things worse. So much worse. So we set goals. First it was six hours, then it was eight hours, and then it was 10. It worked. I wasn’t going to cut out all night feedings for Leta until six months, but she started sleeping 12 hours in a row by herself. I think she figured out that she was only going to get two minutes of boob and it wasn’t worth it anyway.


Can you see the land mines?

Here’s the thing: it worked for us. It might not work for someone else. I have always been of the opinion that you have to do what works for you in order to survive, that there is no one right way. This is how we survived, and now for twenty months we have had night after night of uninterrupted sleep.

How does your child sleep? What worked for you?

  • Twilight Monkey

    We have five kids between the ages of 10 weeks and 9 years, creating insurmountable potential for sleep deprivation issues. How did we solve it? Well…we just threw all the sleep-help books away (especially the “Cry-It Out” ones) and committed to the family bed.

    Crazy? Not a chance. We have it down to a science now–the baby is born, the baby stays on in the parents bed until around 2 or 3 years old, and then moves out under an arrangement agreed upon by both parties. Our oldest stayed the longest, but the duration gets shorter with each new migrant to “big kid land.” Currently the 2 year old has gone off to the room he shares with his big brother, and we just have the 10 week old between us.

    We get relatively uninterrupted sleep each night, punctuated only by the normal night time needs of kids, and often not even that. We actually get a ton more sleep from what I hear from other parents, considering that we don’t have to go to a separate room for our baby to nurse or comfort her. The only time I lose sleep is if I choose to stay up late to read blogs or hang out with my husband! When I nurse at night, I honestly could not tell you how many times I nurse a night, since I barely wake is all a fuzzy dream-state where neither of us truly wakes up completely.

    Would it work for you or anyone else? Maybe. It takes a complete revolution of parenting styles in some aspects, and not everyone is willing to do that. We practice many other forms of attachment parenting (babywearing, breastfeeding, etc.), so it isn’t really a big deal for us, since we carry our babies and toddlers in slings and back carriers so much.

    Co-sleeping saved my sanity, and has kept me able to face each day packed with homeschool, university classes, copious amounts of housework, research papers, my babywearing thesis project, and all the other stuff that goes into running the household with my husband.

  • I am so freaking happy…I held my breath thinking someone might say something mean to you…all the way down. Why? dunno. Except when I think of brave, strong, authentic women I know, your name comes to the top of the list. As many have said, the next baby could be totally different…my first, daughter, loved to sleep, and so soundly I checked her constantly because the silence worried me (you know why, that dreaded thing no parent will name out loud). My second, boy, mexican jumping bean just like Leta, still when the silences came, checking him to make sure he hadn’t maimed himself with the force of his howls. Luv ya!!! Go for it y’all 🙂

  • meringue57

    Thank you sharing your life so candidly with us, your humble readers. As a 27 year old woman contemplating starting to try to have a baby with my husband, who has dealt with anxiety and depression, your stories make me believe that I can do this, too! Thank you so much for that.

  • Thanks for putting this out there and leaving comments open. It’s an issue that most parents go through and there aren’t many places where you can find actual results to the theories without people preaching that their way is the only way. Wow, run-on sentence.

    Also, thanks for the tip about foil on the windows. My daughter has been waking with the sun the past few weeks.

  • monkey

    Wow. I guess I’ve been lucky. My first slept through the night starting from about month 1. My second followed suit basically. My first slept with me in bed for the first 2 months and was nursed. My second slept with me in a recliner until week 5 when he needed to have a craniectomy, and then it was into an inclined crib for him. (Side note- the nurse actually chided me for letting him sleep in the recliner with me till it dawned on her that it probably eased up the pressure in his head. Then she felt stupid for getting on me. Which as a general rule, you shouldn’t do to a mom who’s dealing with her child’s head being opened in a matter of minutes. Bad timing all around.)
    Anyway, son #2 is a lighter sleeper than son #1. Some nights we hear him wake up and talk for about an hour. But we don’t go in there. I don’t do any fancy routines for bedtime cause I think that causes more habits/rituals in the end. It was always kiss, “Night night”, tucked in, lights out, and door closed. If he gets upset, it’s only for a few seconds and more an act of protest on his part. He knows we’re not going to go back in there and rock him to sleep. It always sounds worse than it is, but basically it’s getting them to learn to soothe themselves.
    Oddly enough, I’m not a fan of the co-sleeping thing. It’s just that I get so paranoid when they’re that tiny that I have to feel them breathing constantly. Having them snuggled on my chest was easier than getting up to check again and again and again. I already have OCD tendencies as it is!

  • Okay, this decided it. I’m sleep training my five month old TONIGHT!

    She’s been an awesome sleeper, sleeping through the night starting around 3 1/2 months, but in the past couple of weeks has started to wake once, maybe twice a night. It’s coincided with her realization that she can make wonderful high pitched screaming noises.

    And we’ve been “bad” parents — replacing the pacifier, bringing her to bed with us.

    No more, I say. Sleep will be had!

    And thanks, Heather, for sharing. As always, you inspire me.

  • We had Jackson very nicely trained until two things happened: the diapers came off and he got a big boy bed. Then, free to roam the apartment in the middle of the night in search of a toilet, he inevitably ended up in our bed. Still does. Oh, well.

  • Aimee

    Your story is so similar to my own. I was breastfeeding and she was waking up every 3 hours to feed even at 6 months old. I knew that she should be sleeping through the night but frankly, as much as I was longing for a full nights sleep, I still enjoyed getting up with her and getting to spend that time with her. I knew it was something that I was going to have to just get over so I too purchased the Ferber book. The first night we did it, she was asleep by the time the first 10 minute alarm went off. I was amazed. The next night wasn’t as easy and by the third night she started to figure out what was going on and she got pissed. From there on out, for about 2 weeks, it was torture! I cursed doctor Ferber, using words that I have never heard come out of my mouth. Every night it seemed like a knife was going through my heart as I sat there and listened to her scream. Then I did the one thing that I hadn’t been doing before. I got her a lovey. Hers is a bunny and she always has it when she is sleeping. That seemed to be what turned the corner for us. She still has her moments and she still cries when I leave her room at night. Though, usually only for a few seconds and then she scoots all around her crib trying to get comfortable. It truly felt like I was going to die but the book is right. At that age, she had figured out how to manipulate me and get what she wanted and it was working.

    Wednesday was her 1st birthday. She’s amazing. Not to brag but up until about 2 weeks ago she was going to bed at 7:30, getting up at 6:15 and having 3 naps a day. She’s down to 2 naps now but she’s sleeping in later. Thank God! Of course, now that this is better something else will come along and it will feel like the end of the world again. oh well

    She just woke up…gotta go.

    PS Shoshun is possibly the cutest thing I have ever heard in my life!

  • north

    Our boy gave us the gift of sleeping through the night the weekend before my wife went back to work at 3 months. I say “gift” becuase I have realized, over the years (he is 3 now) that it is more or less up to him.

    We used the “Happiest Baby on The Block” method and it seemed to work, but there are so many methods, and so many ways to succeed, that no one method seems to trump another. It seems like you are getting a consistent “whatever works for you is the right way” answer from everyone, and I think this is the truth.

    We have good friends who just now, at 3 years, are getting medieval on their daughter and removing the pacifier. Our boy was never a big fan, so we are un-aware of the horrors of taking it away.

    I must add that I’ve become a big fan of the site – funny, insightful, great photos – all the normal stuff. Keep it up.

  • Kim

    Oliver is 11 days shy of being a year old and still doesn’t sleep. We’ve got him down to waking twice a night but this is truly ridiculous. I haven’t slept more than five consecutive hours in 14 months. (He put his head on my bladder at the 7 month mark and didn’t move after that.)

    We’ve tried all the books. The doc says they sleep when they are ready. Lovely. I’ll go jump off a bridge now.

  • Are you TRYING to draw the trolls in? Because this is a sure fire way to do it. We did the sleep scheduling with our kids: wake, feed, play, sleep, and essentially let them cry it out. This did not work with our first kid, because she is a night owl. Still at age 8 she would stay up until midnight if we let her. But we did it anyway, because we thought it was the best way to go. I think family beds are great, but I don’t want to share my bed. Sleep training worked great with our other two.

  • KelliT61903

    I fought the “cry it out” technique for probably the first 8 months of my son’s life (he’s only 11 months now). I thought, “I will NEVER do that. There has to be another way.” Maybe there is, but after my son started waking up every two hours after our first vacation with him, I gave in. By some miracle, it only took one night (my pediatrician said be prepared for two weeks of hell). I thought I was going to pull my own hair out and pass out from sobbing, but it worked.
    I wholeheartedly agree that what works for some may not work for others. In my short time as a mom, I definitely think that each family has to find their own way.

  • strawberrygoldie

    I did what you did. Worked like a charm.

    I also made sure that, as a baby, Seth slept with noise around him. So now he can sleep through my loud, late nite jabbering with my husband.

  • Bad Mama

    My daughter sleeps like Leta, except her naps were three hours long until recently. Other mothers used to ask me, with desperation in their eyes, what I had done to get her to sleep so well. I always felt terrible when I answered, “absolutely nothing”. I co-slept and she had a pacifier and she nursed on demand once a night until she was 7 months old, and then she slept straight for 12-13 hours. The parents who were asking for my advice were doing the same damn thing, but their kids would wake up multiple times a night. I guess the one thing I was willing to do was let her cry for 5 minutes after I put her down, but no more. This is how I learned that so much of what my kid is has nothing to do with my parenting. She’s a mellow kid that is happy to lie in her crib looking at books and playing with toys until I get her up in the morning, so whatever I did would probably have worked just fine. Some kids won’t learn to sleep without a fight, and some will, so you have to do what you can to keep your sanity. I have to admit I’ve had fun with people who are sanctimonious about what should be done, on both sides of the CIO debate, with my story.

  • I admire your fortitude. We had similar problems as you did, but I didn’t recognize the pacifyer as the issue. And perhaps it wasn’t necessarily for us … I think it was a problem of sleeping styles. We had our daughter in our bedroom until she was 11 months old and I think we just kept waking each other up. She woke up to nurse every 2 hours for the full 11 months. My husband finally DEMANDED we put her in her own room. We tried Ferber but neither of us had backbone enough to listen to the crying. Eventually, I think, she began sleeping through the night using the Ferber method anyway … mainly because we couldn’t hear her crying when she woke up. I had turned the baby monitor’s volume all the way off and relied on the rolling lights to warn of her anger at my obvious negligence of her infant sleep defiance.

    I remember now as being not that traumatic, though. Perhaps it’s just the protective memory loss of which you spoke.

  • With my first, we had the same problem because she was premature. We were forced to wake her every two hours for feedings to get her to gain weight. Obviously hell ensued, and we virtually used the same method you used to get her to sleep through the night.

    With our second, I basically sat on the floor, crying, banging my head on the wall until my husband would take the screaming urchin and shut him up. It was awful.

    The third, just slept. He is very obedient, was even born on his due date, and during the day, I often forgot about him because he just sat in his bouncy, looking around. Which, perhaps explains why at 6 years old he’s content to just sit at the dining room table quietly eating cheerios all day.

    It was a lucky day when I gave birth to that one.

  • cheryl

    we essentially followed dr. weissbluth’s plan from “healthy sleep habits”. prior to deciding to try a sleep training method, calvin’s naps were erratic & typically only lasted 30 minutes. he would sleep in his crib for 4-6 hours before waking up at night, and then we would move him into our bed with us. for the first six months of his life, this was the only way we could get a suitable amount of sleep. as he grew, he stopped fitting so nicely between my husband & i, making it almost impossible for me to sleep with him in our bed. one night, after several nights of less than 4 hours of sleep, i decided that something was gonna give. i nursed him & then put him in his crib. he cried for almost an hour (we expected much worse) and fell asleep. he didn’t wake up once that night, sleeping 12 straight hours. the next night, he cried for only 30 minutes, the night after it was only 10. by the fourth night, he would sing or talk for a few minutes before falling asleep without a tear. we’ve hardly had any problems since then. he has had some pretty bad recurrant ear infections for past two months, so he wakes 2-3 times at night & fusses a bit before falling back asleep. it’s almost been too easy for us. he’s 9 months old now sleeps better than any other child in our family did at this age, so i’m pretty proud.

    we caught some flack from people when they heard that we left him to cry himself to sleep, but we always told them that we’re responsible for giving our child the skills to get what he needs. he needed sleep desperately at that point & what we were doing has helped him learn to get himself to sleep & soothe himself when he wakes at night. it’s just like you said, you’ve got to do what works for you.

  • Susie

    Ditto almost everything you said. We had to endure HOURS of screaming from our younger child. They said it would take a few days, but those crazies had never met the force that is my daughter. Nonetheless, I saw it as a short-term/long-term situation. The short term was hideous, and I thought I might lose my mind or someone from social services would come and rescue my baby from the clutches of her evil parents, but neither happened (close on the former, though). In the end, she learned to love her crib, just as she loves her bed now.

    Also, it certainly is true that what works for one child isn’t necessarily the answer for another. Our first child found his thumb at 4 months and so began a beautiful relationship. He soothed himself to sleep and stayed that way all night and every afternoon for 2 hours. And fortunately for us, he did not walk into Kindergarten sucking his thumb. He started doing it only at bedtime when he was 2, and when he turned 4 (I mean on the DAY he turned 4), he quit cold turkey.

    We had one that used his thumb and one that used a pacifier, and I know people had positive and negative opinions about both. Fortunately for us, I figured they could do whatever worked for their kids, and we would do what worked with ours. If we all raised our children in the same way, this world would be so boring. Besides, then I’d have married someone exactly like myself, and I’d be divorced by now.

  • Hi Heather!

    I feel for you enduring the trauma of sleep training. I have a 16 week old daughter who sleeps about 12 hours a night. I’m EXTREMELY lucky, and am bracing for what I feel may be a scary teen-hood, since I’m getting away scot-free now.

    My trick was, another new mom had told me about “the knockout cocktail.” at 7 weeks, I started giving Lauren a mixture of half breastmilk half formula with a few drops of Mycontin mixed in for gas. ( About 8oz total ) We’d give her that, and put her down for bed. It started with about 7 hours, and has shot up to 12 blissful hours a night. WHOO HOO! Other than that dose of formula I mostly breastfeed.

    Hope this helps someone else avoid your trauma!


  • My son is now 9 months old and sleeps for 11-12 hours a night, with TWO (count ’em, TWO) hour to an hour and a half naps a day. I am always hearing people talk about the troubles they have getting their little ones to go to bed at night… But with ours, we just lay him down in his crib and walk away, and we don’t hear from him again until morning- not a peep. We were lucky enough that what we did when he was around 4 months old- put him down in his crib, walked away, and let him scream it out till he fell asleep- worked. As we all know, every baby responds to a different approach in a different way.

    I love your blog, by the way- it makes me feel like I’m not the only one when it comes to discussing at length my baby’s pooping habits.

  • Dear God in Heaven…. it’s the Gummy Bears that I’m worried about!

  • jaclyng

    Like you, I also read twenty books and nothing seemed right. We finally used the Ferber Method, although reluctantly because we knew it would be hellish for everyone. Thankfully we only had to endure the screaming for three nights. We stayed downstairs with music on to drown it out and clung to each other for support. My daughter has slept through the night ever since. I kiss your feet, Dr. Ferber.

  • The hardest part is for the parent’s to agree on how long to let the kid cry. I am a softy and would on a regular basis go in to comfort my son.”What if he is having anightmare? we should comfort him”

    It took me longer to realize that he needed to figure a way to sleep on his own. Our other problem is that our son has been (from eight months) and still is a jumper in the crib. When he wakes up he immediately starts jumping.

    You are right, different approaches for different people.

  • I completely agree that every parent needs to take the approach that works for them. For us, our daughter (Emily) was a frequent waker and not always to breastfeed although that often helped. I too was totally exhausted. I tried the Ferber method and, unfortunately, it turned out that Emily was the type who showered the room with barf if left to cry. Of course, that completely defeats the purpose as everyone was wide awake (and feeling pretty nasty) after that. Instead, we used the Baby Whisperer Pickup/Put Down method and it worked for us (in that things improved). However, Emily never actually slept through the night until she was 14 months old. Man, that was a long 14 months. Now she sleeps great but it was a long haul, trying different methods and hearing all the criticisms from people who think they knew the best for me and my child. I have no criticsms to offer when you do what you need to do to have the best family life you can – and keep your sanity while you’re at it.

  • I think this is the best advice for new parents: Do what works for you.

    My daughter ate and slept much like Leta. She would want to snack all night long. This did not work for us, so we started letting her cry it out at around 5 months. She was tired and not really hungry and would only get more pissed if we tried to comfort her without the boob, so we let her cry.

    It sucked … even with the TV volume turned up.

    But it worked and she was a great sleeper until she got old enough to get the night fears. She would wake up scared. We could let her come into our bed, which allows her to sleep but not my husband or I. Or one of us could go into her room and stay with her a bit until she was settled (or my husband would fall asleep in her bed).

    We picked soothing her in her own bed and now she’s back to being a good sleeper again.

  • Beachgal

    We used a modified cry it out method with my son when he turned about 8 months old, maybe sooner, I don’t remember exactly. It became necessary when the only way he’d go to sleep was to either rock (and rock and rock and rock) and then we’d pray he’d stay asleep when we put him down. I couldn’t handle doing that any more, he was getting too heavy, and combative sometimes. By modified, I mean, do the normal bedtime routine, then cuddle and rock and put him in his crib. The first nite, of course he cried, we waited five minutes, then went in and calmed him and laid him back down. Then if he cried again, five more minutes. First nite it took about an hour and half, until he finally fell asleep. Second nite, we extended the time we let him cry, to seven minutes. Only took 45 minutes for him to go down. Third nite, we were up to ten minutes inbetween going in, and it took half an hour. By the end of the week, he only fussed slightly for a few minutes, and we wouldn’t really have to go in for calming. As he hit milestones, like new teeth, or was sick or something, there would be a few nights he’d fuss and we’d have to go in after ten minutes or so but again only when something was going on. He sleeps about 11-12 hours a night now. Incidentally crying it out has never worked for naps for us. He’ll nap for his sitter with no problem, same with my parents. My dad will take him into their bedroom, lay in bed with him, and he’ll go to sleep. That totally never works for us. I have to rock him to sleep for naps on the weekend unless he falls asleep in the car. Phew. That was long, sorry.

    Incidentally, I took the pacifier away cold turkey at 10 months with no trouble. He never seemed to miss it at all.

    I’m glad you found something that worked for you. I’ve told numerous people that the cry it out thing for bedtime sleep was absolutely the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do , but the best thing for him as well. This mom gig is the hardest thing I’ve ever known, hands down.

    Love your site and your wonderful family.

    Normal lurker in South Carolina,

  • I have no kids (yet) so I have no answer. But since you turned comments on, I just wanted to say that I adore Leta, she’s so cute. But if you and Jon do decide to have another baby, I’d bet you anything he or she will be the quietest, most low-maintenance kid that ever walked the face of this Earth. Crap, I bet the kid will even change his or her own diaper! Cause the world just seems to work that way.

  • Pixie

    Hey there.. this is my first time commenting– and I have been reading your site for over 2 years!!! I love it.
    What worked for me… I was a single Mama when I had my son 3.5 years ago… At first we co-slept, easier for nursing. Then I began putting him in his crib for naps, and by 9 months he wanted to sleep in his crib at NIGHT! Go figure. (He also weaned HIMSELF at 17 months little bugger!) Jade was a good sleeper, tho I also made the grandiose mistake of giving him the hellacious “paci”- he STILL likes it at night- 3 ‘ahhem’- of them..yikes.
    I couldn’t do the “cry it out” method at first- I picked him up whenever he needed it… He slept well and nursing never made me tired bc he was in bed with me. When he went to his own bed at 9 months the mursing in the night stopped. He “cried it out” for all of 10 minutes maybe a couple of nights then that was that. THANK GOD!
    He now sleeps 12-13 hours/night.
    My secret is that I have never compromised on bedtime. Even when Jade was tiny. That’s what I know– that my adult time begins at 8pm. SHARP.(Used to be 7- I miss that! But my job doesn’t get me home in time- imagine!) Jade works well with consistancy. So what worked with me was that- doing the same thing every single day. He came to expect it.
    Even eating meals at the same time worked well. It all seemed to go hand in hand.
    Now– if I could just get him out of Pull-Ups at night.
    that would be phenomenal. Oh yeah, and off the um-paci.
    Heather- your posts are amazing. I look forward to your honesty and your edge every day. And you are right- if it works for you and your kid then why mess with it??? 🙂

  • I used Ferber with the Small one, after I read in my baby book that they could be sleep trained at 5 months. Hubby wasn’t too keen on sleep training, even after I pointed out that I had chosen the week he was going to have days off to start it. No appreciation for my brilliant timing.

    She actually only lasted about an hour screaming for about three nights. Didn’t have any more problems until she started outgrowing the bassinet.

    As for the gummie bears- I recently introduces Small Angel to generic Fruit Loops. She asks for seconds every time, and I give in because IT KEEPS HER HAPPY. Happy toddler equal happy, SANE mommy.

  • Bean

    Heather, thanks for posting this. We used Ferber for our two year old son and were so thankful we did. It resulted in about 4 days of misery (he hated the pacifier and didn’t want feedings, just comfort when he woke up) but by 7 months he was sleeping thru the night. During teething and stuff we would be flexible but my son is a good sleeper (except we are dealing with the sun now – gotta try tin foil).

    Here’s a funny, I remember one night him falling asleep and I went in to check on him and couldn’t find him in the crib! He had fallen asleep sitting up in a corner of the crib holding on to the rails. He was so squished up that I didn’t see him at first. It was really cute and I even woke my husband to look.

  • We did the same method with Sophie. I remember sitting a the top of the stairs, about 10 feet from her bedroom, with my hands pressed to my ears rocking back and forth. It was awful. The screaming didn’t last as long as it did for you guys, but the relief and full nights of sleep that followed were immeasurable in value.

    Hard as it was, when I have another child, you can bet your ass I’m going with Ferber again.

  • Moon

    We have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to wait too long for our 3 year old to start sleeping through the night. It was perhaps 4 months or so. Our 1 year old is another matter. She bounces between sleeping through/waking early and waking up during the night. At night she wears little orthopedic shoes that are connected by a huge metal bar. She’s had either full leg casts and orthopedic shoes since she was 1 week old. After a surgery and another round of casts, she’s had to wear the shoes and bar since about 5 months old, So anyway, we were convinced that the lack of mobility due to the shoes and bar was a major contributing factor of her waking up during the night. Unfortunately there were three reasons we couldn’t really do any drastic techniques to get her to sleep through. 1) She’s one of those babies that when she gets herself worked up, she makes herself sick – major barforama. 2) With our other 3 year old in the other bedroom, one screaming baby would lead to two awake children. That was something we wanted to desperately avoid. 3) Well frankly I felt sorry for her. I mean *I* certainly wouldn’t be happy if someone strapped my tiny feet into little uncomfortable shoes, tie them so tightly that I got bruises (necessary to prevent them from kicking them off), and afix a cold metal bar between the shoes so that I couldn’t alternately kick my legs, move around, OR turn over. So we lived with it and tried other methods of getting her to sleep. One of the main ones was major temperature and environmental control in her room. She LIKES being pressed up against me when she’s being nursed to sleep. And she generates some severe body heat. So my thinking was that the difference in temperatures was something that could possibly contribute to her being uncomfortable enough to wake up. Well that pretty much did the trick. We finally got the right temp, the right amount of blankets, the right ambient noises, etc. We put on a fan that we have facing the wall so that it doesn’t generate breeze but it does make a heck of a lot of white noise. The only other thing that I’m convinced helps is something I feel that any parent should know. When your child wakes up, DO NOT treat it as if it’s a play time. Your baby will know the difference. If you keep it quiet, do what needs to be done (diaper, nursing, bottle, holding, whatever), then that indicates to your child that it is still bed time and it is NOT time to wake up and play. Just hold the course no matter what.

    Kudos to you Heather, for figuring out what works best for you and yours and to have stuck with it for so long! 🙂

  • we’ve been through every method thot of, and some that haven’t, and whenever something would work, *ping* the next night (or the night after that) Lucy would catch on and we’d be screwed. after more than three years of fighting it, she now goes to bed with us, when we do, and sleeps blissfully for 10 hours. and then has a two hour nap at school.

    DH and i kept fighting about the family bed (switching sides for and against, just for variety), but once we gave in, everyone settled down.

    i totally agree, you’ve got to do what works for you.


  • I wonder if you will ever read past comment 129…. I can only say that before we had a baby every time someone said things like “he was yelling so much I felt like throwing him out the window” or things like what you have just confessed we DID pass judgement on these people… only after you have a baby do you understand and are able to empathize with these comments….. My 10 month old is napping at the moment therefore I have a few minutes to catch up with things….. but only a few…..

  • My parents raised 5 children using the method you shared. No landmines here. You did good.

  • Heidi

    The moment my son’s pediatrician told us that he was big enough that he didn’t require middle of the night feedings, all bets were off. I desperately needed my sanity back, and we Ferberized him. Since 8 weeks he’s been sleeping through the night (5 and 6 hours at first). Now he’s a 12-hour per night and 2-hour napper at 15 months.

  • MelisAGoGo

    Night sleeping wasn’t so much of a problem for us (although we did eventually go the Ferber route because rocking him every night, each night later and later got REALLY old) but napping! Napping in the crib! Oh the horror! I swear, my son is 18 months old and I think he’s only been sleeping in his crib for naps since about December? The only way he’d sleep was to have me hold him and rock in the chair. Well, I got the flu and was pretty much told by the doctor to keep him at daycare all day (he goes part time) for a few days while I tried to get well. Wouldn’t you know it, the little sucker slept in the Pack N’ Play-without issue-for daycare without any problems. It was at that time when I said enough is enough and started sticking him in his crib for naptime. Turns out, it seems it was MY OWN DOING that was keeping him from napping well in his bed. We’d come home from daycare and I’d let him play-little did I know that he was already tired. Now we have a routine: I pick him up from daycare and talk about going home and going “ni-nite” the whole way home (about 10 minutes). We come in the door, remove coats, and then make a swift departure to his bedroom. I turn on his music (he *does* have that, and a B too-I know, I suck), give him a kiss and tell him I love him, then lay him down and cover him with a favorite blanket and then close the door behind me. Most days we have no issue and he’ll sleep 2-3 hours.

    Now if only he’d pop the rest of his damned teeth so we could take away the B at bedtime(it’s his one security item).

  • Both of my kids slept through the night at 10-12 weeks. I did the “cry it out” method, too, but of course at 11 weeks babies are much less determined and have much less perserverance than a 6-month-old. So, “crying it out” for us consisted of three nights of “aahhhh….. aaahhhh,” for a couple minutes, and then they’d conk. (I’m knocking on wood right now… I’m about to have my third baby, and onyl hope it goes as easy.)

    I do remember those first 12 weeks seeming like hell, and now in retrospect it seems like not a big deal at all. Even though it was six months for you, I’m sure you, too, are feeling like, “That was nothing! Especially compared to [whatever hardship you’re going through right now – mine is lying and talking back].”

    The thing so many of my friends did (I live outside of the People’s Republic of Boulder, Colorado – Hippietown, USA) was co-sleep. It wasn’t worth it to them to endure the crying out, so the boob was available all through the night, and it got to the point where the baby could find the boob without even waking mom up. I say whatever works! I don’t judge either method. I, personally, treasure my sleep FAR too much to wake up several times in the night if I don’t have to, or to even share my bed. (Hubby’s lucky I let him in.) 😉

    Now, regarding landmines, I would like to quote (ok, more like paraphrase) something that Vivki Iovine writes in The Girlfriends’ Guide to Toddlers. (A great, funny read – a must get if you haven’t already.) She says that it’s a huge misconception that kids are like a fine, delicate souffle… one wrong ingredient or one misstep, and you’ve ruined the whole dish. In fact, kids are like a crockpot stew. You can cook it as long or short as you want, and put practically anything into it, and you’re still going to come out with good stew.

    I really have to tell myself this little quote all the time to get through. And, I think of how many “inappropriate” ingredients my parents might have thrown into my crock pot, and I still turned out to be a good stew. (Ah, heck – who’m I kidding? I’m a GREAT stew!)

  • sprklnld

    our first baby wold go to sleep at night jsut fine every night. i would nurse her and sometimes she would fall asleep in my arms, sometimes not and either way i could put her in her crib and she would just go to sleep. i felt very lucky about that. but, she did wake up a lot for the first few months and i was ok with that until i went back to work. the first month back i was able to swing it but after the adrenaline started wearing off i was a wreck so at 4 months i decided to let her cry. i made a deal with myself that i could manage getting up once a night only if it was after 2am and that is what i did. if she cried before that i wouldn’t go. pretty quickly she got into the groove of it and would wake up after 2 sometime and then again at 530 which was totally purfect because i could feed her in bed before i got up to go to work. as she got closer to 1 she just started sleeping longer until the point it was only the 5:30 appointment. i wound up pregnant again right before she turned one and that is when i stopped nursing all togehter. she didn’t seem to miss it at all. she is now 2 and still gets up around 530-6 but she has been in a toddler bed since she was 18mos so she just gets out of bed and plays in her room until we come to get her. our 2nd baby seems to be following in his older sisters sleep habits so far. i hope it continues.

  • missuswayne

    Well, I haven’t read most of the previous posts, but I’m guessing they go a little like mine…

    You could have been describing our exact experience with our now-20 month old son, except for the follwing:
    – the hardcore sleep training didn’t happen until maybe 7 or 8 months
    – I did let him nurse once at around 5am every morning and then we all went back to bed
    – and we didn’t get to 12 hours a night plus a completely awesome 2-3 hour afternoon nap until about 12 months (I guess he had a morning nap at that point too…)
    – I didn’t have a stay in a mental ward, although I truly came pretty close…let’s just say I’m experiencing better living through chemistry…

    But essentially a similar experience. Ferber is tough, but it works like a charm. The other book works also, but I found it invaluable for it’s detailed info and anecdotes.

    Our son now goes to bed and down for his nap like his crib is the most fabulous place to be, like he’s been waiting for this ALL DAY. He usually wakes up happy and joyous. It’s pretty great. The tinfoil on the windows doesn’t hurt either 😉 Seriously, that was a great tip.

    We’re trying for number two right now, and I figure now that I’ve figured out how to get a difficult baby to sleep I’ll end up with a perfect sleeper and no way to re-use all my skills.

  • sharkcutie

    My daughter was a good sleeper very early on but when she was approximately eight months old she became very sick with a virus. Sleeping through the night stopped. After ten days of little sleep, I was a zombie. (I am such a wimp) My best friend at the time, who had been a neo-natal intensive care nurse, suggested giving my daughter benedryl. I was momentarily aghast (it seemed too similar to my use of Nyquil as a sleep aid in graduate school) but then, eagerly grabbed the lifeline. We both, my daughter and I, got more than eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. For some reason, that one good night’s sleep put her back into an all night sleep mode.

    It could be a slippery slope, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

  • Daisy

    Our daughter sleeps 10-12 hours a night and still takes a 2 hour nap in the afternoons. Thank God she is such a good sleep cause I NEED sleep! New baby coming in the next month so my days of sleeping till 8am are numbered. She had a paci till she was over 2 years…cause I’m a pushover. Even now if she finds one (new baby’s) she will sneak one and I will find her sitting in the corner with it.

    You have to do what works for you and your baby. We mostly used the SuperNanny method when she was introduced to her toddler bed (18 months…she’s 3 now). Coudlnt’ keep her in it. That took a couple of weeks of getting her to go to sleep without one of us sitting in there with her. Again it wouldn’t have taken so long if I wasn’t such a softy. Like a PP have to go through a week or two of hell to get them trained. It’s so worth it now!!

    On a side note: Maybe the Gummy Bears will be good for potty training? We used Skittles…only cause I don’t really care for them and if I had sat a jar of M&M’s on the counter they would have been gone in a hour!

  • SarahJanesmomSue

    Just about cried after reading this. Couldn’t do the crying thing. Wasn’t emotionally equipped. My daughter is three now, we co-sleep and she still wakes up to nurse in the night, although often it is 5:00 or 5:30 am now. I haven’t slept more than 6 hours in a row for over 3 years, and then it has only been once or twice. Takes alot of discipline and courage to cry it out. While your 15 days ended with a hospital visit, my 3 years may end the same way. Ironic, isn’t it?

  • I am a big fan of the “let ’em scream” method. I think as adults we can sometimes apply adult emotions to a baby’s cry. But really, babies cry about pretty much everything. If you cried everytime you were a little hungry, grumpy, uncomfortable, slighly damp or without something to play with, it would put it all in perspective. (And people would probably try to ignore you, too.) When a baby cries, and adult thinks of what would make THEM cry and feel that immediate action is necessary when it isn’t always.

  • We had to train both of our boys to sleep by letting them cry it out. And we have to re-do it after they are sick or teething. But sleeping parents make the world a better place. We’re expected a third, and I’m sure at some point we’ll have to let him or her cry. A few days of screaming is SO SO WORTH IT.

  • annak

    look, heather, no land mines!

    i have no kids, not planning on it either, but this sounds like a very logical method to me.

    i wish I could sleep for 12 hours.
    12 hours!


  • KayTay

    We did something similar. Our daughter wasn’t so good with the sleeping the first few months either and naps were awful. I was rocking her to sleep everytime and sometimes it would take forever. When she was about 3 1/2 months we tried the put her down and let her cry and stay outside the room method. She cried for 2 hours and I cried for 3. So the next night I just sat next to her crib and talked to her until she fell asleep. I took about an hour that night and every night it took a little less time. By the end of the week she was going to sleep on her own, without being rocked. She was still waking up about once a night, but by 6 months she was sleeping 12 hours as well and taking great naps. I agree everyone needs to do what works for them, but I know people who spend half their day trying to get their kids to sleep, because they didn’t train them to fall asleep on their own at a young age. Yes it was hell for a week, but I’m so happy that I went through that one week of hell when she wouldn’t remember it than months of hell when she would remember us leaving her to sleep on her own. She’s such a great sleeper now, and I really attribute it to what we did all those months ago.

  • Maddy G

    We have two daughters, now almost 3 and almost 2. When the older daughter was 10 weeks old, she was down to waking up once a night. I knew she didn’t need to eat and was just waking up out of habit. We had heard about the glorious results of crying a baby through from some friends of ours and had heard my mother’s tales of woe. When my siblings and I were littler, my mom responded to our every cry at night and as a results none of us slept through the night until we were over 2. That was clearly not an option, and I was heading back to work in a few weeks so we decided to try crying our daughter through.

    The first night was horrendous. She was still crying after an hour and I was beginning to crumble. I wanted to go comfort her sooooo badly, and felt like a horrible parent. Two hours passed while my husband and I laid in bed with our pillows over our heads listening to that gut-wrenching cry on the monitor, praying she would go to sleep soon. At that point, I desperately wanted to to comfort her. My husband stood firm — no going in her room. After 3 hours of the most pitiful “you don’t love me” wailing you’ve ever heard, we turned off the monitor so we could get at least a couple hours of sleep. I felt like a complete failure of a parent and thought my daughter would surely want nothing to do with me in the morning.

    The next morning I was amazed to find my daughter chipper and happy as usual. She seemed to have forgotten the whole thing. I think that was my first glimpse into the resilience of a child. That night, she woke up at the usual time, cried for an hour and went to sleep — I began to get hopeful. On the third night, 20 minutes! And on the fourth night — hallelujah — she slept for 12 hours straight. I felt like a GENIUS. My husband and I were quite pleased with ourselves.

    It’s true that every kid’s different though. It didn’t go nearly as smoothly with our second daughter, due in part to the fact that we didn’t have a third bedroom so she slept in our room. It’s much harder to let a baby cry when they’re right next to you. Eventually, at 6 months, we put her in a pack and play in the kitchen of our tiny apartment, tried to soundproof my older daughter’s bedroom as best we could, and let the baby wail. It worked, but she needed to relearn to sleep through several times after that. She’s a much different and more delicate sleeper than her sister, but at this point she puts herself to sleep and sleeps through almost every night.

    We have some friends who have an 18 month old and the mom still nurses her 2 or 3 times a night and drives her around in the car so she’ll fall asleep for her daily nap. The parents are so exhausted all the time but can’t bear to let the child cry. It’s taking a toll on their relationship with each other too, since they are always so tired and get short with each other quite a bit. I’m sure it would take awhile for an 18 month old to cry through, but I think it would still work. If they only knew how much happier sleeping a full night would make them. I can only imagine it would be a rebirth of sorts!

  • Mack’sMom

    I’m the mean mommy of the sleeping habits…

    My daughter was getting up 2-4 times a night for whatever reason until she was 9 months old. Rarely was it to eat, but mostly just to be comforted.
    Finally one evening before we went to bed we made a decision…one that took me several weeks to feel okay about. We turned off the baby monitor.

    For weeks I would wake up thinking I heard her crying. I would rush to her room to find a snoring child. Finally once I adjusted, we turned the monitor back on….and she was sleeping through the night.

    It was more about MOMMY than baby! Don’t get me wrong, my husband got up too, but he didn’t issues like I did! When he got up with her, I sat in bed wide awake. If I got up with her, it took me forever to fall back asleep. I was so slept deprived that I was physically sick.

    Our method however isn’t working any longer. In the last month we moved to a new home. In our previous home her bedroom was on the other end of the house. Now her room is next to our room…and we can’t ignore the screaming! The adjustment perioud has it’s good days and bad days…more bad than good. Her other new trick is TRYING to climb out of her crib.

    Now when I hear her screaming, I’m imagining her falling face first to her bedroom floor! If I go in to check on her, she hands me her blanket and thinks I should take her to bed with me. NO WAY! If I leave her, she screams even louder! I’m ready to install survailence so I know whether or not I need to enter the room.

    Any suggestions?

  • our son is eleven and a half months old and still wakes at least twice every single night. sometimes five, six, seven times. he has never, not once, slept more than six hours since birth. the only way to reduce awakenings is to let him sleep with us. for now, he goes to bed in his room fairly easily and then around midnight comes into bed with us.

    this is not so much a solution as a survival technique.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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