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In Praise of C.I.O.: Come and Get Me, Sanctimommy Googlers

3.27.2008

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I am officially starting a petition to get the phrase “sleeping like a baby” struck from the English language.

My girls are beautiful. Smart. Healthy. (Except for this week, in which the unstoppable, Vesuvian-like flow of thick, nasty mucus from Thalia’s nose has us considering just how much it will cost to build an ark.) The one thing my children have not been blessed with is the ability to sleep.

Able to consume astronomical quantities of food: Check
Able to sleep through the night: Not so much 

Thalia refused to nap anywhere but a swing, that battery-hungry beast, then forced us into reluctant co-sleeping for 11 months until finally I broke down, emotional and sleep-deprived and let her cry. It lasted an hour. The next night, about 20 minutes. If memory serves, on the third night she slept like…well, some other person’s baby.

I can now assure you close to two years later that she shows no signs of psychological damage, no fear of abandonment. Although she did run away, shave her hair into a mohawk and get a tattoo a couple weeks ago. But I attribute that more to allowing her to watch the Family Guy with us.

Sage, on the other hand, was a champion napper until a few weeks ago when she decided she’d far prefer to forage for dust bunnies and small, jagged hair clips under the couch in the afternoons than lie down in her crib. This wouldn’t be such a travesty if she weren’t also still waking up, on average, 2-4 times a night and yelling for a bottle.

Let me say that one more time for emphasis: After 10.5 months, she still wakes up 2-4 times a night. And cries. Loudly. She goes down, but won’t stay down. We shove a bottle in her mouth so that she won’t wake her sister right next to her. Which is of course the total wrong thing to do to get her to sleep through the night. We’ve traded a smart, long-term solution for a quick fix.

Every night for more than 300 nights.

And I am so so so freaking tired. (And, evidently, fat.) I can only imagine that Sage is tired too.

So this week it’s deja vu all over again, as we let her cry Monday at 2:45 AM without intervention. It lasted a half hour. We all lived. And then she slept the rest of the night.

Last night: Only one waking. We still gave her that bottle.

But tonight the kitchen closes at 7PM for the night. Wish us luck.

And as for you, the kind, helpful, supportive anonymous reader who commented on a post two years ago: You are a horrible,selfish person.I wont even call you a mother because even animals take better care of their young.Crying it out is child abuse.Most of us want children,not programmed robots.Get yourself sterilised.

I hope you’ll be back to offer me more of your thoughtful suggestions. Why, I’d hardly know how to parent without you.

84 shards of brilliance… read them below or add one

Jenni March 27, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I am absolutely, 100% with you on this. We got my son to nap using CIO and to stop waking eight times a night (at 7.5 months!). Now he’s down to one waking, sometimes zero. And, if he wakes, we let him cry. It never lasts more than 30 minutes. It sucks, but I know I’m doing the right thing for him, and for my husband and I.I stand in solidarity. You can do it. Good luck, and sweet dreams.

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KayleighJeanne March 27, 2008 at 3:15 pm

I wish that my pediatrician hadn’t told us that my daughter needed to be supplemented, preferably with lard, so that she would put on some weight.He totally guilted us into getting up and feeding the baby every. single. time. she wakes up during the night. I envy your all cried out baby, even if complete strangers think she will turn into a sociopath.

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Becky March 27, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Oh, I feel for you. When my oldest was a baby, he would only sleep in the swing and it had to be on full power. Yeah, we did that for 9 months until he finally slept in a crib. And now my baby who is 1 1/2 decided that she wants to start waking up every hour at night. What’s up with that? Sleeping like a baby is a terrible phrase.

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Backpacking Dad March 27, 2008 at 3:31 pm

We made our daughter watch the “Sleepeasy Solutions” video when she was 4 months old and told her that her days of co-sleeping were behind her.She slept 11 hours that night, and pretty consistently ever since. Probably more to do with the solids than watching the video ;}Although when she woke up at 5 this morning I also had that “what do they mean sleeping like a baby?” thought.

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mrs. q. March 27, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I’m with you. Or will be very soon. Phe slept through the night at 3 weeks old. Now? Notsomuch. Um, how about Notatall. She co-sleeps now and makes me INSANE because she shrieks the second she senses she is near her crib. Our excuses went from ‘she has a cold’ to ‘she is teething’ to ‘she had a near-death allergic reaction’ back to ‘she’s effing teething again’– we tried letting her scream. First 15 minutes, she puked. 2nd try, she pooped herself. I should get myself ‘sterilised’ too… let me know hgow it works and I’d love helpful suggestions to get this one to NAP– SLEEP! ANYTHING!!

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katesmama March 27, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Oh if I could only muster up the nerve to try CIO with my 18 month-old (that’s right, 18 months and not STTN!). Sleeping like a baby – hah!You may just inspire me – keep us updated!

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toyfoto March 27, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Your kids are like my kids. We’re headed to cry-it-out land with the little guy, soon. It will hurt but not for long. He’s not sleeping with us and he’s not sleeping without us. My thinking is somebody should be sleeping. If not the kid, than the people operating heavy machinery during daylight hours.

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Fairly Odd Mother March 27, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Ha! You should have that comment made into a t-shirt—so vicious it’s awesome. I’m sure that commenter is a perfect mother.Anyway, I think you are doing the right thing. I did the WRONG thing and let Jilly have a bottle for a wee bit too long. Now, 8 cavities and two abscessed teeth later, I have a feeling those night bottles were a great quick fix, but not such a great plan in the end. Thankfully my other two, who only nursed on my fabulous ta-tas in the wee hours, have perfect teeth.

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NotAMeanGirl March 27, 2008 at 3:46 pm

I can’t handle CIO. I’m glad to know someone is strong enough to withstand the crying. I’m a wussy. My son is 7 and he STILL wants to sleep with me sometimes. Meh. (Though I have to admit sometimes its nice waking up with him all snuggled up to me. He’s such a sweet kid.)

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Heather March 27, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Best of luck in your CIO adventure. My daughter had a horrible time sleeping and after exhausting every option this CIO opposed mommy bit the bullet and we haven’t looked back. She sleeps 12 hours at night now. Keep us posted on your progress!

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Mandy March 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I just wrote a post about this issue too. The one thing my boys don’t do well is sleep through the nights. My oldest is 3, but it took 1.5 years before he slept through the night without interruptions. (The one time we decided to let him cry it out uninterrupted, he was still screaming hysterically 2.5 hours later… so no one can tell me that the cry it out method works for all kids!) Even once Nate learned to go through the night, it was a struggle as any interruption to the routine meant we were back at ground zero for 1 to 3 weeks.My second, 6 months, is doing the same thing. I have asked for help and/or suggestions. If I hear anything particularly useful, I’ll pass it along.

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Mandy March 27, 2008 at 4:08 pm

LOL… I am so laughing at myself. I’m so tired I can’t even read straight. If the cry it out method works for you, go for it. No one should judge another parent… I mean heck, I might be the only perfect one out there, but that’s nothing against the rest of you! ;)

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Kristin March 27, 2008 at 4:11 pm

PRAISE YOU!!! CIO method works. It’s a bitch, but it works. And please, child abuse? Really? Has this person ever watched the news? Read a paper? I’d like to think of it more as “empowerment”. You’re giving your kids a gift, of sleep, of a restfull mommy, of the ability to know that they are OKAY alone in their bed, with themselves. Serioulsy, is this lady going to go rock her kid to sleep when he’s 30?

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Anne B. March 27, 2008 at 4:40 pm

I agree with Kristin… teaching a baby how to go to sleep is a gift. They get over the crying. When my doctor suggested I let The Baby cry I was hesitant. He asked me if he were crying or having a tantrum to get a food or a toy would I give him the toy to make him to stop crying, and, if not, would I feel cruel? Hmmmm, I had to say that I hoped that I wouldn’t give in and wouldn’t feel cruel about it — even though my child would be genuinly upset. It was hard to do, but it worked very quickly! Now, if I could just get him to go to bed without bottle/rocking….

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fluorescentmom March 27, 2008 at 4:53 pm

My son is about the same age as Sage and I am doing this same thing this week- Baby Boot Camp. It’s going fairly well, except for how much it sucks. Good luck tonight! I really enjoy your writing- thanks for putting it out here.

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Mayrasmom March 27, 2008 at 5:00 pm

My daughter is nearly four and people still ask all the time how does she sleep, or was she good at bedtime last night. Wrong thing to ask of a sleep-deprived parent.I hope CIO works for you. -Kathleen

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Amy March 27, 2008 at 5:10 pm

We used CIO with my first daughter (now 2) at 6 months because she never slept and it was the best thing we ever did. Now we are blessed with another horrible sleeper, but she’s only 7 weeks so we’ll be waiting a while longer until we try CIO again. Good luck!

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Molly March 27, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I am a huge believer in CIO. We did it with both kids, one of whom started out life as a horrible sleeper who would not sleep anywhere other than her crib, even as a tiny infant. CIO worked in a matter of days and now my kids are both great sleepers. We never have bedtime battles and they don’t beg to sleep with us. In fact, they love their own beds. It absolutely worked for us. Hope it works for you too.

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Beth March 27, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Good luck. It has worked for us. Even the next morning they don’t seem to remember. They just wake up happy and rested.Try watching Jon and Kate Plus 8 while she cries. That always cheers me up. How tough can one or two kids be?

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littlebiskit March 27, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I totally agree with Anne. In my mind, when someone says CIO, I always envision a terrified little baby. My daughter? Was not terrified. She was pissed about having to go to bed, and not having me there with her. That doesn’t make me very sympathetic. So we let her cry. I used a method I heard somewhere (not sure if it has a name) where I let her cry for five minutes, then went in, rubbed her back, shushed her a little, and then walked back out. No talking, no picking her up, and no turning the light on. If she started up crying again, I went back in another 10 minutes. Same thing. Waiting another 15 minutes, etc. After my third trip in, she squawked a couple more times and then gave in. Second night was two trips, and then none. I’ll swear by this to the day I die. Worked wonders with my LO.

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clueless but hopeful mama March 27, 2008 at 6:50 pm

You are one brave woman to post about this (especially considering the sh!tstorm you got last time!) but I’m glad you did.CIO was the best thing we ever did for our daughter. She was happier and we were happier once we all were sleeping through the night. To any CIO haters: no one is talking about letting an infant with real, true needs cry without attention. What we are talking about is helping an older baby/toddler learn to put themselves back to sleep when they wake up. (This ALWAYS involved at least some tears. I don’t think that’s the end of the world or causes permanent damage.) Once you know their needs are met and they are old enough to not NEED food every 3 hours at night, they can learn to soothe themselves. (IMO, of course)

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hfb March 27, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Geez, babies cry and toddlers have tantrums, that psychopathic crunchy earth mommy needs to get over herself. Maybe she can join the troops of freaks who glare at me when I don’t react much when my 16 month old has a hissy fit in a store over something I won’t either buy or give to her. My daughter was a year old before I put my foot down on the absolutely no napping and waking EVERY SINGLE HOUR during the night. I was nearly homicidal and in the interest of all living creatures in the house we started scaling back and letting her cry. She was a stubborn creature and once fussed for two straight hours with my husband and I going up to check on her a few times. Now she sleeps through the night for 10-12 hours and even takes a 2-hour nap or at least quietly entertains herself in her crib in the afternoon. Life is much, much better.Nothing is more important to you and your kids than a good night’s sleep. Nothing. That grumpy old crank who emailed you clearly needs both sleep and a new hobby. :)

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trifitmom March 27, 2008 at 7:25 pm

good luck !! it will work out !!

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Erin March 27, 2008 at 8:00 pm

I am definitely of the opinion that when it comes to sleep you have to do what works for your baby and your family! Funnily enough, I’m on the other side of the coin – before DS was born, I swore that I would never so much as sleep in the same room with him. Of course, now we’re still cosleeping happily at 19 months :-) Good luck and I’m sure things will work out great!

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Miss Merry Sunshine March 27, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Oh good luck. My daughter still wakes up at 17 months. If the effing wind blows wrong she’s up. It’s maddening and I swear if one more person tells me their baby slept through the night the day they brought them home from the hospital, I may punch them in the ovary. NOT helpful! We have to let her cry some and we put a sippy cup of water in the crib…that has been the magic answer. We may get her off the bedtime bottle next! That’s just crazy talk…

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yasmara March 27, 2008 at 8:14 pm

We just did this last month with my 14-month-old (now 15 months). I had to leave the house with my almost-3 year old and spend the weekend with my parents while my husband dealt with the crying. It actually went better than expected and he (husband) never went more than 10-15 minutes of crying before going in to soothe him (baby) and now it’s such a relief to know that when he goes down at 7:30 he will STAY ASLEEP. After over 14 months of multiple night wakings (plus not sleeping well for the last trimester of pregnancy), I finally feel like I’m close to a normal human being and my son seems happier too. I think CIO done in a reasonable manner is necessary for some kids.

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Laura March 27, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Whenever someone says ‘I slept like a baby’ or something similar, my dad, being the sarcastic guy he is, says “Oh, you were up every few hours? That’s too bad.”I did CIO with baby #1. It sucked, but was totally worth the week from hell. Now at 4 years old, she is a champion sleeper.CIO absolutely did not work with baby #2. Lucky for me, a reassuring pat on the back was enough to get her to calm down enough to put herself back to sleep. But now at 16 months, she is back to waking up every 2 hours for no apparent reason. It’s so infuriating. CIO is still not working. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?Good luck with Sage tonight. I hope your night goes better than the one I’m anticipating for myself.

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Stimey March 27, 2008 at 9:27 pm

All three of ours went through CIO. All three of them sleep through the night. All three of them cried for fewer than four days. It may not be for everyone, but it sure worked for me.

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Cassey March 27, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Turn on the dryer, dishwasher,fans and T.V. I just did it a couple of days ago with my third, you’ll feel like a whole new with a full nights sleep!

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~Kat~ March 27, 2008 at 10:16 pm

I’m going to be real annoying here and just say “good luck my friend”. If only because, that’s all you need for an issue like this… lots of luck and patience. Someday, you will sleep again… it may take a few or ten years but you will….

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carrie March 27, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Stick to your guns. It’ll be so worth the few nights of crying to have an independent sleeper in the end.Trust me. I’ve got a kid with “I don’t want to sleep alone syndrome.” It isn’t fun.And wouldn’t it be nice if people could spell “sterilised” properly if they are going to suggest you should not have children? Geesh. Gotta love those nice emails, huh? You’re a great mom. But you don’t need me to tell you that! :)

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Amy Jo March 27, 2008 at 11:01 pm

We support crying it out and mommies who do it! Go Sage Go!

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Meredith March 27, 2008 at 11:30 pm

I feel like a dork posting this comment, but oh well.I found your blog one night many, many months ago when we were CIO with my daughter. I googled “cry it out” and found your post on Thalia’s experience and it comforted me to know that other good mamas had done the same thing…hating every minute of it, but knowing that the reward of sleep would be worth every second of heart-wrenching screaming. It was just what I needed to get through that first night.So – thanks for telling us all about it.

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The Casual Perfectionist March 27, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Good luck!!My little girl was an awesome sleeper as a baby, but right before she turned 2-yrs old, she started waking up at night. On the advice of our pediatrician (at her 2-yr appt.), we did the CIO, and you know what? The first night, she cried SEVEN MINUTES, fell asleep for a couple hours and then cried a second time for FIVE MINUTES. That’s what we were worried about?? The next night, she cried once for THREE minutes.We were lucky that it only took two nights. Sometimes it takes longer…and she woke up so HAPPY in the morning.Granted, I went to her, rubbed her tummy and explained to her that she needed to sleep because everyone was sleeping, but I didn’t pick her up.I specifically watched the clock, because 7 minutes seems like 35 minutes, but it was the jolt she needed to getting back on track.GOOD LUCK!! It will only get better from here…and then it will be something else. ;)

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Diandra Mae March 28, 2008 at 12:37 am

I think the method littlebiskit is referring to is the Sleep Lady Shuffle. It’s a modified version of CIO, and has adaptations and suggestions for different aged and types of babies. (even talks about nap training) We used it for our son, who started sleeping through the night at 4 weeks, but couldn’t get there without tata, rocking, singing, etc. We had to wean him off of that, then work on teaching him how to get himself back to sleep once we dropped his middle of the night feeding. Now at 10 months, he is a great sleeper…though I will admit he is an early bird. Especially with this daylight savings nonsense, he’s chirping awake at 5:30 am. Ugh!Good Luck with your baby girl.

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Zellmer March 28, 2008 at 1:17 am

We are doing this right now, too. After our first born was an excellent sleeper, our second one has proven to be more challenging. It would have been easier the other way around.Anyway, at our wits end with trying EVERYTHING else after our baby wouldn’t stop waking up every hour and growing more and more dependent on us putting the paci back in his mouth, or reswaddling him, we are so, so tired. We’re on night three right now of CIO, but I’ve already seen some improvement. I wish both of us luck.

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Anonymous March 28, 2008 at 1:59 am

Good luck to you all. I am old, and I don’t think you want to hear this, but I was very lucky as all three of mine slept through the night by a month. I joke that maybe they all knew I was a witch without sleep and they didn’t want to go there!I had a neighbor who got up with her little girl every night, and still got up with her at age four for the child to have “green juice”. Like someone else said, it was very helpful in promoting tooth decay, so probably in vogue with some dentists! Good luck to you all! Like the country song says, “someday you’ll wish for this time to be back”.It is a good time in your life, take time to enjoy it. (I am enjoying my life now, though.)CSLMom

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the mama bird diaries March 28, 2008 at 2:16 am

Good luck tonight. We had to do it CIO with both of our girls to get them to sleep through the night. If there was another option, I would have gladly taken it. What mother wants to hear their child cry? You are doing the right thing.

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J at www.jellyjules.com March 28, 2008 at 2:24 am

Good luck! I’m all for the getting them to sleep through the night, at a reasonable age. Too young, it’s silly. But Sage is clearly old enough.My mom co-slept with us, and says that we never cried, all was easy. Then we ask her how long we got up at night, and she says, every two hours, until we were 2 years old. That’s right. Not saying anything against co sleeping here, but christ, every 2 hours? Until I was 2? I think I owe her something.

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Kirsten March 28, 2008 at 2:28 am

It is so worth it. We did it with our son, and yes, the crying is hard to get through but it doesn’t last for long. And I knew that he was crying simply because we had helped him form the bad habit of waking each night… once that habit was broken he slept 11-12 hours a night. And just remember, you’re a great mom. It is evident that you love your daughters very much and truly want the best for them.

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Michelle March 28, 2008 at 3:15 am

I just wanted to let you know that despite the Perfect Mom’s opinion, my dog is firmly in favor of CIO. Harley can tell when my youngest daughter is crying because she’s hurt, scared, or in need, and when she’s crying because she’s annoyed that mommy and daddy are really making her go to bed. If it’s the latter, he ignores her. So do I.

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Michelle March 28, 2008 at 3:26 am

PS In case my last comment sounded cold, I would point out that I have co-slept the last 4 of my kids until they were done breastfeeding (and I let them wean when they want). But once a kid doesn’t *need* to eat in the middle of the night, she needs to *sleep*! And despite “abusing” my kids by making them sleep at night, all 6 of them are happy, well-adjusted, and good sleepers!

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lisa March 28, 2008 at 6:12 am

I was really uncomfortable letting my daughter cry it out, because I had intended to cosleep forever like all our friends. But I just couldn’t do it. By 11 months I was insane. After we let her cry it out she was a different child. Naptime and bedtime are a joy. She smiles as she snuggles down into her bed. It used to be a two-hour fuss-fest. CIO dramatically reduced the amount of nighttime crying, and taught our child how to cope. Our friends’ kids may have never had to cry it out, but they still don’t go to bed until they’re exhausted and cranky at 11pm.

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Jennifer March 28, 2008 at 9:19 am

My son is almost three and now will sleep most nights through. This means he wakes up once or twice one-three nights a week.We also did CIO when he was about 10 months old because I couldn’t take much more of it.At some point they need to learn and although CIO seemed cruel to me at the time, in retrospect I would have done it earlier. In the big scheme of things, it is nothing.

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Jennifer March 28, 2008 at 9:21 am

Oh, and whoever commented on imagining a “terrified” baby crying herself to sleep, when in reality the baby is just pissed off that mama’s not at her beck and call, I am so with you.Good luck.

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Mom24 March 28, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Good luck…I never had the gumption to make this work. We would try, but my kids seemed to fight it for 4 or 5 days, and by then my resolve caved…I know exactly what we should not have done. I totally agree, for what it’s worth, that you are not harming your child at all. You will all be better off for teaching them to sleep, especially them.

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Kelly March 28, 2008 at 1:26 pm

I didn’t let Lillian cry it out until 14 months. At that point, she still woke up 2 times to nurse. I should have done it much, much sooner. Good luck. The kitchen doesn’t need to be open, and you need to sleep.

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Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck March 28, 2008 at 1:34 pm

We are at 1 or 2 wake-ups a night with my 18-month old. For a long time, we just stuck him in our bed and he went back to sleep. But we are expecting #3 and I can’t have my son still waking up on a different schedule than a hungry newborn because I will probably LOSE MY MIND. And so last night, he got to cry it out. It lasted less than an hour, but then I was awake for another hour and half. Gah. Hopefully tonight will be better. And then in July we get to start all over with a brand new baby. Sweet.Good luck to you!!!

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Jerseygirl89 March 28, 2008 at 1:35 pm

I didn’t want to do CIO, but there got to be a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. Nothing else worked. Now I’m so glad I did. One thing that helped, though,was leaving a bottle of water in the crib.

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Just Another Lesbian March 28, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Maybe I’m the exception here, but we did the CIO method at 6 months and Bailey slept through the night on the second night. Now, our 11 month old sleeps 12 hours without waking every single night. This, from a girl would NOT sleep anywhere but her swing or my arms for the first 4 months and had to be forced into her crib, waking 4-5 times a night before we tried CIO.Perhaps I’m heartless, but listening to her cry the first night wasn’t hard. I just kept thinking about all the hours of sleep I didn’t get when she woke up and all the hours of agony it was when she didn’t get enough sleep. The cost benefit analysis meant that she needed to sleep and so did we. Enough said. I turned the monitor off and enjoyed a television show. I checked on her a half an hour later. She was sleeping. My partner on the other hand fell apart. But we got through it and now have a champion sleeper, a better marriage and an hour or two at night to just be grown ups. Good luck to you!

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