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The Trained Night Crier vs. The Cry it Out Method

After visiting my son’s pediatrician at his 9 month appointment, she told me that my son was a “trained night crier”.  She came to this conclusion after I told her my son wakes several times during the middle of the night, but not because he is hungry.  I try to feed him but he simply pacifies himself to sleep, only to repeat the cycle several times a night.  At 9 months old, he should easily be able to sleep through the night without waking.  However, I knew that in order to break my “trained night crier” from his bad habit I would have to put on my poker face.  Sure enough, my doctor gave me information on how to teach my son to sleep better using the cry it out method. 

Let me tell you, I was less than thrilled about this.  Despite the fact that my son has a horrible time falling asleep for naps, and hasn’t slept through the night since he was born, I was still reluctant to bite the bullet and start this type of sleep training.  I have had mixed feelings about the cry it out method.  At about 5 months of age, we started sleep training our son, and he actually learned to fall asleep on his own at night.  This was a huge relief that solved a lot of our bedtime woes.  However, it did not cure his middle of the night waking, and definitely didn’t fix his passion for fighting nap-time. 

As he grew older and learned to roll over and crawl, he eventually lost his knack to settle himself to sleep at night.  And ever since then I’ve resorted to lying next to him until he fell asleep, and then tiptoeing out of the room and hoping I didn’t wake him.  My husband suggested many times that we try letting him cry it out so he could learn to put himself to sleep, but I just didn’t have the heart for it, or the motivation. 

So when my doctor gave me a reality check at the 9 month appointment, I knew it was time for me to suck it up and teach my son good sleeping habits.  If I didn’t do it now at 9 months, it would only get worse and harder with time.  So after scouring over the handout she gave me and reading a lot of posts on the internet, I decided to start slow and implement the method for his nap times at the beginning.  It is much easier to listen to a crying baby during the day as opposed to the middle of the night.  And my hope is that by learning to put himself to sleep for naps, he will learn to put himself back to sleep when he wakes in the middle of the night. 

So here is the plan.  I do the normal sleep routine when I see he’s getting sleepy, and then lay him in crib awake.  When he cries, I only check on him every 5 to 10 minutes, soothe him for only a minute without picking him up, and then leave the room again.  I repeat this until he goes to sleep.  Like I said, I did this with him before at 5 months, and it is easier said than done!  My pediatrician said it will take 3 or 4 days for him to learn, but the pamphlet said up to 2 weeks.  I will chronicle his progress below.

Thus begins my adventure of the trained night crier versus the cry it out method:

Day 1

  • Nap 1:  60 minutes to fall asleep.  Not as bad as I was picturing for the first try.
  • Nap 2:  30 minutes to fall asleep.
  • Nighttime:  Only woke up once in the middle of the night!  A rarity!

Day 2

  • Nap 1:  10 minutes to fall asleep.  Barely even cried!  It can’t be working this fast, can it?
  • Nap 2:  90 minutes to fall asleep.  I though after his first nap today that he already had the hang of it, but I was sadly mistaken.  Only napped for 30 minutes.
  • Nighttime:  Woke twice during the middle of the night, but was able to get him to go back to sleep without even picking him up.

Day 3

  • Nap 1:  45 minutes to fall asleep.  Slept 1-1/2 hours.
  • Nap 2:  45 minutes to fall asleep.  Slept 40 minutes.
  • Nighttime:  Woke twice.

Day 4

  • Nap 1:  2 minutes to fall asleep.  He barely even fussed!  Slept 1-1/2 hours.
  • Nap 2: Less than 10 minutes to fall asleep.  Slept 30 minutes.
  • Nap 3:  20 minutes to fall asleep, but barely cried.  Slept 30 minutes.
  • Nighttime:  Woke twice.

Day 5

  • Nap 1:  Less than 20 minutes to fall asleep.
  • Nap 2:  Slept in the car.
  • Nighttime:  Woke twice.

Day 6

  • Nap 1:  Slept at church.
  • Nap 2: Fell asleep with no fuss!  Slept almost 3 hours.
  • Nighttime:  Woke twice

Day 7

  • Nap 1:  Fell asleep with no fuss for the second time!  This is great!  Slept 1-1/2 hours.
  • Nap 2:  Had a rough time again: 3o minutes to fall asleep. 🙁  But slept 1-1/2 hours.
  • Nighttime:  Woke twice

Day 8

  • Nap 1:  20 minutes to fall asleep.  Slept 45 minutes.
  • Nap 2: Fell asleep with no fuss.  Slept 1 hour 45 minutes.
  • Nighttime: Woke 3 times.

Day 9

  • Nap 1: Fell asleep with no fuss.
  • Nap 2:  No fussing again!
  • Nighttime:  Woke twice

So it took a little over a week for him to go a full day of falling asleep with no fussing.  Not too bad!  There were only a couple days where he cried a lot, and the amount of fussing dropped off pretty quickly.  It still hasn’t really crossed over into his nighttime waking as he still usually wakes twice a night, but I would definitely say it has been worth it anyways.  Nap-time is so much easier on both of us now.  He doesn’t fight sleep like he used to and he still usually takes nice, long naps.  It’s a win-win. 

Although I was extremely hesitant to try the cry-it-out method, it has proved to be the right choice in my certain situation.  With that said, the cry-it-out method isn’t necessarily for everyone.  There are a lot of extreme opinions out there about it.  The main thing is to simply trust your gut when dealing with baby’s sleep issues.  No two babies are the same and what worked for one won’t necessarily work for the other.  I’m just happy that the doctor’s solution has so far turned out to be a good one.

Have you used the cry it out method for baby?  What is your experience?

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