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Anyone have stories (yours or someone you know) of CIO *not* working, backfiring, etc.? What do...

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

So, my husband mentioned to me last night that lately it's been hard for him at work sometimes, because he has a couple of coworkers whose babies (younger than our 10-month-old) already "sleep through the night." So if he says something about how we had a rough night with our daughter, they'll just ask "Why does she sleep with you?" or "Why don't you just let her cry it out?" He feels like he doesn't have a good answer, and it's making him doubt our choices. Which are really more my choices that he goes along with, because he hasn't done as much reading about AP and the research as I have, and because most of the nighttime parenting falls to me, since we breastfeed and cosleep.


I was thinking some personal stories might be helpful for perspective. (And more research, too, if you have any great links.) No matter how committed you are to AP in principle, and how wrong the sound of your child's cry (even for a moment) feels viscerally, it can be discouraging, I think, when so much of the culture makes it sound like CIO is "easy" and harmless. Especially when you've had a couple really hard nights in a row and are feeling tired and run-down.


If anyone ever tried CIO (or knows someone who did) and it DIDN'T go as smoothly as claimed, I'd love to hear that perspective for a change. Babies who still woke up multiple times a night even after CIO, relationships that felt damaged by the experience, or just anything that didn't go as planned.


Also, what do you say if and when people ask you why you don't do CIO? I tend to try hard to keep it personal and not come off as too judgmental, partly because it's usually a close friend or family member, and also because the only thing I feel I know for sure about babies after 10 months of having one is that every one is an individual. So I can imagine that for some babies CIO sleep training really was a fairly easy process and doesn't do too much harm -- but I definitely don't feel comfortable with it for my own. I often say something along the lines of not being willing to mess with it because her daytime personality is so easy-going -- she almost never cries during the day, so I can't bring myself to force her to do so at night. 


Thanks for sharing any tips or stories!

post #2 of 35

So, CIO went super-smoothly for us, actually, the one time we tried it.  We tried it because I almost fell asleep while driving.  I do not think "Better then Major Vehicular Accidents!" is universal endorsement for the strategy. 


My thoughts:

- Sleep training is not the only way to keep a baby from keeping both parents up all night.

- CIO is not the only sleep training strategy on the planet.

- Even "sleep-trained" babies have the occasional rough night that keeps everyone up.  (Molars, anyone?)

- One way to not take questions from co-workers about why you deal with baby sleep the way you do is not to complain about baby sleep at the office.

- It may be that your husband is really saying that co-sleeping isn't working for him, and if that's the case, it would help for him to say that, so that you can consider solutions to his problem, without the distraction of worrying about what might work for his co-workers, about whom you are entitled not to give a good goshdarn.


If co-sleeping is making it tough for your husband to rest, then the family bed may need to be reconsidered.  Some babies sleep longer stretches when they aren't in bed with their parents, so that may be worth the experiment, but 9-10 months is an awful time for baby sleep in general (google "nine-month sleep regression").

post #3 of 35

I usually would say something like "We just can't stand to listen to her cry for that long" and "I think it's pretty normal for them not to be sleeping through the night at this age, lots of babies don't sleep through the night at this age". We did train her to fall asleep drowsy and not nurse overnight at the age of 14 months. 2 or 3 really awful days (not hours of crying but more like 10-15 minutes and even that was really hard to listen to) and then it was done and now she can be put down drowsy, usually sleeps through, and when she wakes up usually will settle without nursing. I think she just needed a push. I wonder if that is when CIO works for people--when it's done when the kid is pretty much ready to make the change anyway and is just stuck in a rut of a previous habit. 

post #4 of 35

The idea of CIO makes me very, very upset. Whether it's working or not is not the point at all.

I mean, in what other instance can we refuse to be close to a human being who can't help themselves?


... if we were the caregivers of an elderly person, for how long can we let them cry until we respond? One hour? probably not. But 10 min would be ok, right?

... if we were the caregivers of a disabled person, letting them cry for a specific period of time would be ok, assuming that they are fed and have no physical needs, right?


WRONG! But we can obviously do it to babies, because they aren't persons, are they. I mean, as long as it "works" we can do anything to them.

post #5 of 35

^^^^We're not supposed to advocate "harsh sleep-training practices" on MDC. I'm not sure what qualifies as "harsh". Some people seem to think a certain amount of crying is okay and is not the same as straight-up CIO. Some people think it doesn't qualify as CIO if the parent stays there but doesn't pick the child up. Some people think any crying is unacceptable. *shrug*. I'm not trying to violate any forum guidelines. So if my post is unacceptable somebody can tell me. But your post does raise a few questions for me. First, what about the circumstances MeepyCat describes, where they had to do something to change the pattern because the parents' sleep was suffering so much they were a danger to themselves? Let's assume that they tried all the gentler methods first. (The No-Cry Sleep Solution never did anything for our family.) Second, say you hear your kid cry and you're in the middle of something you can't interrupt. It takes you 5 minutes to wind up what you are doing, and during that time the kid has stopped crying. Did you just let them cry it out? Or did they just manage to get through a slightly rough patch without your help? If they managed to get through a minor upset on their own, is that bad? Third, as parents we are going to sometimes push a kid in a direction they don't want to go. Sometimes, as a result, they'll discover that's what they wanted or what is best for them anyway. At what age can we/should we start doing that? Is toddlerhood too young? If you make a change and your toddler at first hates it but then rallies and is totally fine, is that bad? 


I mean, how do you change the rules on a child? When are you "allowed" to do so? If you follow what your child needs to sleep in infancy, and then find yourself with a 22-lb 14-month-old who will only sleep by being held for 30 minutes-1 hour and subsequently wakes every 30 minutes all night to nurse, are you just ... stuck with that until they outgrow it? At what point is the parent allowed to decide those behaviors are unsustainable for them? 

post #6 of 35
We did CIO with our older DD....honestly before I knew any better and because it was what literally everyone in my life told me to do. It did work, for a time, but then like a PP said she would have rough nights, maybe a rough stretch of 3 weeks or so when she wouldn't sleep through. I found that every time she had a change (potty training, transitioning to her toddler bed, learning to open doors, stopping bf-ing etc) she would wake up more in the night, and now that she can get up and come in our room, she does!

Now she is 3, and doesn't always sleep through. Actually she will often come in our bed without us even waking up and snuggle in smile.gif. So, for us it worked but temporarily. And we felt terrible and horribly guilty doing it.

Now my DS is 10 months, and we decided not to let him CIO - just can't do it again. I do put him in his crib and he might make a few fussy noises, but doesn't actually cry. If he starts crying I usually go in within 5 minutes or so (like the PP said I can't always get right in there, especially while caring for my DD. Also sometimes I wait to see if he will just cry for a second and then stop). I don't think this is "crying it out". I don't think it's reasonable to expect to be in there the second a baby starts to cry, especially if you have other children. If my DD is on the flush I can't just leave her, especially if I know the baby is physically safe for 5 minutes or so. Sometimes I am in the shower and my DS wakes up and is crying. I don't take an extra long time in the shower, but I do finish up before getting out. I don't know at what point it becomes CIO, but I think 5-10 minutes here and there is ok.

I also consider the cry, if it is a panicked cry, like he is hurt or freaking out (I'm sure you all know the one I mean smile.gif ) then I go in right away. A fussy/annoyed cry is different, and I will get in as soon as I can.
Edited by kristah1000 - 3/26/13 at 5:46am
post #7 of 35

My dd's never, truly slept through the night for years - I'd still always answer questions (usually by kid-less people) about sleeping through the night as 'yeah, she pretty much sleeps through the night' as my expectation was that most babies do wake up briefly too even if people don't admit it and it's mostly my own business.  And I'd always just answer questions about it as 'yeah, this works best for our dd' without going into a lot of details.  I was just going to do what seemed best and right for her and us, no arguments - and of course I usually did know us all best, being the main caretaker and doing whatever all the time.



I will say that both my dd's have huge differences in their sleep.  

Dd1 was always an irregular sleeper and loves to be up late, she got lonely being left alone and liked cuddles and company - but she'd sleep anywhere and long stretches if she had all that.  Dd2 is actually a regular sleeper and prefers to go to bed early, but gets worried about knowing where anyone else is (esp. mama) if she is woken up - but doesn't need someone right there the whole time.  I'd suspect Dd2 probably could 'sleep train' or do CIO successfully, but dd1 would have always fought it because it never would have met her natural tendencies or preferences.


I think personality plays a huge deal in why or how well anything works out for helping your baby with all those things they need - and OP, if she's really so easy going that's probably partly due to having her needs met an nighttime and being able to trust in that (that you will help her when she's feeling tired/cranky and during the scary dark time of the day she doesn't get to do fun things).  Assuming it's all within the bounds of your and your dh's needs as well. . . that's a whole other story.

Edited by mumkimum - 3/26/13 at 10:18am
post #8 of 35
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post

I mean, how do you change the rules on a child? When are you "allowed" to do so? If you follow what your child needs to sleep in infancy, and then find yourself with a 22-lb 14-month-old who will only sleep by being held for 30 minutes-1 hour and subsequently wakes every 30 minutes all night to nurse, are you just ... stuck with that until they outgrow it? At what point is the parent allowed to decide those behaviors are unsustainable for them? 


With differences in weight and age, these are the circumstances that led me to almost drive off the road.  They also led to mild hallucinations, massive irritability and intense depression.  Sleep deprivation is torture, banned by the Geneva Convention because it eventually does drive people insane.


So when people ask when are parents allowed to decide that some behaviors are unsustainable, I'm inclined to encourage parents to make that decision before it gets that bad.  There are all kinds of ways to approach it - bringing in babysitters or grandparents, working out a sleeping-in-shifts arrangement with your partner, supplementing with formula overnight, talking to your pediatrician about alternatives, whatever.  You, as a parent, are always allowed to make changes if something's not working for you.  It doesn't have to be this bad - if you would just prefer something different, you can change things up on the baby. 

post #9 of 35
OP, my suggestion is that your husband change his talk at work. If asked if there's any sleep problems, he can simply say "nope". If asked if your child is sleeping through the night, he can reply "as well as any __ month old". The change the subject.
post #10 of 35

I have some CIO friends.  I respond with something like "that doesn't work for us."  Anything with too much elaboration- will start a heated debate where someone is going to feel their sleep style is being judged.  If that's an argument you want to have, go for it, but just to move the conversation along, be brief and talk only about yourself, answer calmly and confidently.  But, if you have the urge to talk about it more (or your husband does) then I agree, that might be a signal that he (or you) wants to do something differently.  

post #11 of 35
Originally Posted by Ratchet View Post

I have some CIO friends.  I respond with something like "that doesn't work for us."  Anything with too much elaboration- will start a heated debate where someone is going to feel their sleep style is being judged.  If that's an argument you want to have, go for it, but just to move the conversation along, be brief and talk only about yourself, answer calmly and confidently. 



I also used to say: CIO is not an option for us.

Thankfully in our community people don't really practice CIO, so I haven't got many questions about it.

post #12 of 35

I let DD cry a few times out of sheer desperation. Not my finest moment for sure but I was really losing it and couldn't go get her. What I learned: CIO doesn't seem to help her fall asleep. She just works herself up more and more as she cries, and eventually I was worried she would vomit from the stress (or at least those were the sounds she was making). There's a great blog called "Ask Moxie" and she talks about how for some kids they cry to release stress and then feel better while for others it causes stress to build up more. Well, my DD is definitely one of the latter!


So no more crying for us, I mean sometimes she will cry once or twice and stop, I wait that out (I have gone in right away before only to see her still asleep). But after a couple of minutes I go in and get her. I sympathize with the stress, DD has had rough nights when she would sleep one sleep cycle (45 min) at a time, and by the time she fell asleep and I put her down I only had 20 minutes to sleep before she woke again. Those were a rough few nights. *shudder* And we were not breastfeeding so don't let anyone blame it on that either.


What finally helped us is teaching DD to fall asleep on her own in her crib (after rocking, warm milk, and a snuggle) while I (usually) sit beside her on the floor. She seems much less disoriented when she wakes at night and therefore can get back to sleep on her own or not even wake fully. She is 2 now and wakes up once some nights, not at all others. This is quite the improvement from 4-5 wake ups a year ago. So you can get better sleep through methods other than CIO. Talk with your DH about what is/isn't working for him. If it's just hearing about other babies maybe he needs to stop venting about sleep issues at work.

post #13 of 35

There is no letting my current toddler cry. No one ever has let her cry if there was absolutely any way to prevent it. Anytime she's ever cried, she DOES NOT STOP until we hold her. She will throw up. She does this in the car, and did it in her crib. (she's only thrown up in the car, not the crib) I have tried from the beginning to get her to sleep some without me(like possibly naps? so I can get things done), and we've had no choice but to force her to sit in the car, screaming until she threw up. sigh. With some kids, you can not win. This is my fourth...my third was hard, but not even this bad when it comes to the car and sleeping alone. I have been severely sleep deprived bc she woke ever 45 minutes almost the whole first year. There was nothing I could do, without having her scream and throw up.


And I will tell you...she is almost 18 months old, and if I take the kids to school in the  morning, she will scream and throw up several times the whole way home. Dh changed his work hours just because of this issue so that she could stay home with one of us during drop-offs. Car sickness, you say? Well she is fine when we pick them up after school. I have heard it all.

post #14 of 35

I just say "Nah, that's not something we do. It doesn't work for our family" like Rachet suggested. If they ask why I'm prepared to say I treat my kids like I treat my spouse: with respect and attentive love. Sometimes this bothers people and I'm not sure why, unless it makes them feel insecure.


FWI, my 4 mo screams in the car, always has and generally it's just because he wants to be held. So when I am driving 45 minutes home from my mom's house, with my toddler and newbie, DS2 cries. I stop for nursing and cuddles, check his diaper, but the instant I put him back in the carseat he screams. So I'm driving home as fast and safe as I can with a hysterical baby who wants his mama. And sometimes he has to just scream for 15 minutes while I sing at the top of my lungs to him and hold his hand (driving one handed). It's not a pretty thing. 


My point is this: when I finally get home, DS2 and I are both a wreck. But it takes soooo much time to calm him down. He stops crying but he is so clingy and fussy, taking much longer than normal to fall asleep. He doesn't act his normal self, and rightly so since he's been subjected to such emotional and physical turmoil. I feel so sad he has to CIO in the car and we stay home a lot more because of this. It helps me feel very justified in never letting my babies CIO.


Also, my mom let me and my siblings CIO and I admit I do feel resentment for that now. On a recent car trip she was with me when DS2 cried in the car and after he finally fell asleep, she said his screams didn't really bother her. I wanted to grab her shoulders and shake her and yell at her. I love my mom and she's an awesome person but I don't know how she could have done THAT to me. greensad.gif

post #15 of 35

We tried CIO when DD was first born, mostly because we pretty much didn't know what we were doing. What we did know (learn), was that when we tried that (CIO), she would be up all night, screaming and crying and even making herself sick, and we knew that wasn't good, so we didn't (couldn't) do it anymore.

post #16 of 35

DD used to cry in the car when she was tiny too. I spent lots of our drives with my hand draped over the top of her (rear facing) car seat so she could suck on my finger. It calmed her a lot since we did supplemental feeding with a tube held on our finger so it had a positive association for her. It was hard on my shoulder though, plus at times a little tricky to drive that way.

post #17 of 35
While we didn't do CIO to sleep, DD hated the car until she was about 11 months old and would cry full tilt after maybe a minute or two on nearly all car trips. If someone was back next to her entertaining her and touching her, she would do better, but yeah essentially CIO in the carseat (though I tried to comfort her best I could, with a hand/finger, with words, with singing, etc.) because I had to go places never "worked". She eventually I believe came to understand that she had to be strapped into the seat and to be ok with not being held 24/7, but CIO had nothing to do with it. I think if you have a child that sort of fusses themselves down (and I stress fussing, not crying), then letting them fuss a bit can work because they are calming themselves down, but if you have a kid that escalates crying like mine did, CIO is just not going to work. Well, maybe after 30 minutes or more they might wear themselves out so bad they can't cry anymore? Which is awful, leaving an infant terrified and upset for 30 minutes, yeah that's not going to work for you right!?

I too would just say CIO does not work for you child/family and leave it at that. And hopefully DH can find another Dad or two who didn't use CIO to commiserate with!
post #18 of 35

So, I let my 15-month-old cry one night. He wasn't even in a crib. He was in me or my husband's arms, being rocked, cuddled, and patted. Everything we read told as that they "fall asleep eventually". Well, how long do you have to wait for eventually? He screamed furiously and hysterically for about 3 hours without a stop until I just nursed him again. CIO may work for some people, but I honestly think my son would just cry all night until we gave in. And how much sleep would I get then?

post #19 of 35

I haven't read through all of the replies, just thought I would share my story :)


My Mom has always talked to me about what a horrible sleeper I was as a baby.  They did CIO to me because that's what they were told they were supposed to do.  And the first nurse my mom talked to didn't tell her that she was supposed to check on me occasionally, just just locked her jaw and listen to me scream for almost an entire hour before she gave up and came to get me.  When she asked the nurse on call the next day what she did wrong, my mom was told about the ferber method of gradual extinction, so they tried that.  It didn't work either.  They tried every variation of everything in the book, and the only thing that worked? Time.  I still remember being left in my crib and being terrified, not for myself, but because I couldn't see my parents, and since I didn't know they were safe, or present, or there, I felt incredibly vulnerable.  So the compromise was for me to "peak out", where they would pull my crib into the doorway of my room where I could look across the hall to my parent's room to see them.  I remember still being scared because their room was dark and I couldn't actually see *them*, but if I cried or let out a wimper they would threaten to move me back.  So I would lay there, alone and afraid until I dozed off.  I woke up at night until I was over two, then something clicked and I started to sleep through the night.


My Mom always told me that I had some kind of Karma coming my way.  And that's what I talk about when people used to ask me if my DS slept through the night.  I was a horrible sleeper and it only makes sense that my son is a horrible sleeper.  I joke about it and don't ask for advice.  I never really complained about lack of sleep, etc.  At a certain point people just started to assume that DS slept through the night in his own bed and they stopped asking.  If people do ask, I usually am honest, but I don't invite conversation with people with different views unless they are asking advice. 


My DH also hit a point where he wasn't able to sleep well with DS in the bed, so DS and I moved to DS's room, and DH stayed in the big bed.  I think DS was about 18 months or so, and would sleep in his bed for the first part of the night and I would be with DH and when DS woke up around midnight to 2 am, I would move in and sleep in the other bedroom.  The thought was that he would eventually start sleeping longer stretches, and he did.  Slowly.  I got pregnant when DS turned 2 and he has a late schedule, so now I typically just pass out when he goes to bed.  A couple of months ago, he started to just STTN on his own.  I didn't nightwean, I didn't do anything, he was just ready.  He still has rough nights on occasion, but he will revert back to going back to sleep (many times if he does wake he will ask for a glass of water and go back to sleep on his own) without help from me.  He is going though something right now, so he is asking to nurse again, but he's generally only up once, and I have no doubt that after this passes he'll go back to STTN again.  DH does get lonely sometimes, so I try to make an effort to make sure that he feels loved too - balance is important.  I have also told DH that if he wants to help create new sleep associations for DS that all he has to do is initiate it.  I have him a list of ideas that he could do to help...but it's not that easy.  Much easier to keep things as is.  When DS gets over this hump and goes back to STTN, I will probably sleep with DH for the next couple of weeks until the baby comes.  Perfect. 


There are SO many variations of ways to gently teach babies to STTN or endless possibilities in terms of sleeping arrangements that you can explore.  Perhaps don't focus on the negatives or things that you don't want to try, and explore different variations of things you are willing to try.  Many times a request like that from a partner just means that he needs to have you tweak some things to help meet his needs and CIO is the only other "solution" that he knows about. 

post #20 of 35

OP, I haven't read the entire thread, but I only have a moment & wanted to share our experience w CIO. It was HORRIBLE!


I tried w DS2 bc xh couldn't sleep well for work & I basically felt I had little support to do otherwise. We laid him down very sleepy, but not asleep after nursing, in his cradle, rubbed his back a moment, & left the room quietly. We let him cry for under 5 excruciating minutes-- did I say cry? I meant scream bloody murder. We went back to get him a la Ferber (or at least a version thereof), and xh was the first thru the door. DS screamed for him, was comforted by us both, spent the night in our bed from then 'til he was wanting his own bed much later. BUT... just xh comforting him first really changed my relationship with him- not in a positive way. I think he blamed me & it really hurt us in our bonding. He was a baby & had no way of knowing it was xh's pressure to do this! I was already expecting #3 at that time, so I don't think we fully recovered our bond after that until years later.


I know this is not everyone's experience & I don't disparage anyone for whom CIO works. This was my experience, tho & I hope you find some  encouragement here, OP!

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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Co-sleeping and the Family Bed › Anyone have stories (yours or someone you know) of CIO *not* working, backfiring, etc.? What do you say when people ask "Why don't you just let her/him CIO?"s`s.