Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Term, Straggler Work AND looks like CIO is necessary...

I have ANOTHER week of meetings and make-up grading / test giving / straggler work. And I'm teaching a May Term course. The course is a senior capstone, so seniors need it before they graduate. However the course was underenrolled- 4 people- so we agreed to run it as a "directed study". That means the instructor gives the students assignments, but they are to do most of the work as independent reading and writing and spend much less time in a didactic setting. I volunteered to be the instructor because A) I am a glutton for punishment and B) I need the approx $1000 for a new laptop (7 years out of a Dell Inspiron 6000 is really not bad, ey?). Oh, and C) I like students and teaching and D) I like to learn new things. But the money is the important part. :)

For the last few nights I have become convinced that my 8-month-old needs to undergo sleep training. She can't be simply put down in the crib after a nice bedtime ritual. She needs to be swung actively or cuddled etc. She has a very strong preference for sleeping using mommy's empty breast as a 160-pound pacifier. This is not sustainable, and must end if I am to get the high quality sleep I need to survive. I am also very confident that since Girl gets showered in love, affection and attention when she is awake, she will not suffer attachment injury if I/we* put her through sleep training.

For those of you unfamiliar with the parenting lingo: CIO sounds like Chief Industrial Officer or something, but it's Cry-It-Out, where you let the baby cry itself to sleep progressively each night or go "cold turkey". This is a controversial method and some parents (like myself) just can't STAND to sit by and let their baby wail. But I'm (or we are*) going to try it, none-the-less. I will first get rid of this May term, inform myself adequately, then begin my liberation (?).

Anybody have any experience with this? Boy didn't need it. I would love to hear your advice!!

* I find it still very strange to refer to parenting in the I/we terms. But that's a major theme in this blog. I/we parent our children. I for half the week and We for half the week.


  1. Anybody have any experience with this? Boy didn't need it. I would love to hear your advice!!

    I did it with both kids. Usually it takes about 3 days and they get the message and no longer cry when put down. The first night is pretty brutal, they can go on crying for hours; you are supposed to come back and check on them at ever longer intervals (2 min, 5 min, 10 min, 15 min, etc.) It helps if someone other than you (as the boob owner) does the checking and it's also good to remove yourself from the room temporarily (in case baby sleeps in the same room as you). I moved to the guest bedroom when we started sleep training, so hub bore the brunt of it (plus I cannot stand the baby crying).

  2. We used the modified 'baby whisperer' on our kid. supposed to be kinder and gentler because you don't totally leave them alone. (we modified it by letting him cry up to 7 minutes). it took 2 days.
    I read soooo many books on sleep training and heard that doing it at 8 months can be tough because they are just starting to worry about separation anxiety. before 7 months and after 11 months are easier/quicker.

  3. Like GMP, Epsilon slept in the same bed as us. I left the room, and my partner stayed. We let him cry it out at 1 year. The first night he cried for 2 hours. The second night for 30 mins, the third night for 5. My partner stayed in the room the entire time, which allowed for (now amusing) events like Epsilon crawling over to him, punching him in the nose before curling up on his chest to go to sleep.

    The other thing we tried (unsuccessfully) at 7 months was to do the "put the child down (off nipple) when she is drowsy, but not asleep." Then set the next time you are going to let her feed (i.e. not before 6 am) and comfort her in any other way until then. This takes a few days more, and Epsilon was responding well to this, and then we had some overnight guests, and that ruined everything.

    Good luck.

  4. We let Monkey cry it out at 4 months, the earliest suggested by Weisbluth in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. We felt awful, but there were some nights that Monkey would cry even when being held. Eventually our mental well-being required something to change.

    We never had to do the 2-3 hour CIO like I've read about, but he did fuss a lot at first. After a few days, though, he started putting himself to sleep really well. He still fusses some nights when we put him down, occasionally longer than 10 minutes, but usually just a few minutes. He also goes through issues when he's sick or when other things screw up his sleep schedule, but it's never too bad.

  5. Oh, except for a few of nights ago when Monkey kept flipping onto his tummy after we put him down to bed. He screamed when he realized what he had done, so we flipped him back. Then he flipped again, and screamed, and we flipped him back. The third time, we let him go. He wailed for almost an hour, much worse than anything I've listened to before, and I cried the whole time. The he fell asleep. Now, he flips himself onto his tummy whenever we put him down for naps or bedtime and goes right to sleep.

  6. The one thing I swear by re: CIO is that there are some developmental windows where it is best NOT to try it because of attachment issues and separation anxiety - 8-11 months and 17-21 months are the most difficult (see the great book "bedtiming" for more on this). Doesn't mean that it won't work for you right now, but it may not be the simple 3 nights that all the books tell you it will be. At 8 months you might want to do the "check and console" variation rather than compelte "extinction". Depends on your baby. Mine would get super angry when he would see me, so I found it best to jsut stay out of the room.

    CIO never worked when my son was smaller, but the last attempt at 15 months gave me two months of sleep heaven! My little guy had been co-sleeping and is very persistent in temperament. It took 6 nights to fall asleep without crying himself to sleep - and the first few nights he did cry off and on for hours. With many, many wake ups. I enrolled in a large RCT on CIO at my uni and this is the advice they gave us:
    - pick a time when you are off work if possible (I did it over Christmas vacation, oh joy, oh bliss! NOT).
    - be consistent and stick with it for at least a week - stoppign and starting is harder on them and you.
    - be consistent with the same methods for naps and night sleep if you can
    - expect a "regression" after success (i.e. after a few days of sleeping thought babe may all of the sudden start with the crying again).
    - don't freak out is there is a little spit up and such. My son would poop after about 5 minutes - lol. Just quietly change them and leave again.
    - learn to identify the "mantra cry" (comforting themselves) from a "hysteria cry". After a short time I noticed my son was crying to calm himself, it was more of a whine than an actual cry-cry.
    - a video monitor in the room while you do this is a great source of comfort and helps you to be persistent.

    However, I have to say that the biggest lie about sleep training is that it is a "one off". Sadly it is something you must do over again if you get off track with illness, teething or travel. Good luck!

  7. i feel compelled to comment though i just wandered over here.
    I have a almost 4 and an almost 2. and they were terrible sleepers for their first year due to horrible reflux. After the pediatrician at year 1 with #1 told me, I really needed to CIO. I did, and it worked. It was hard for the first couple of nights, but after 3 nights it was awesome - only a little fussing.
    it makes such an amazing difference with the quality of life to be able to do a bedtime routine and put the kid in the crib and go about my evening. Also - resulted in sleeping 10-12 hours straight.

    We did the progressing checks way -- go in after 5 mins, then 10, then 15.

    (ymmv -- with my second i tried cio when he was 9 months and it didn't work, but once he hit 12 month it worked quickly - though i think this had more to do with his reflux issues than anything else.)

  8. My son slept really badly, he was still waking up every two hours at 8 months and wanted to be nursed back to sleep. At this point we were pretty much ready to try CIO, but then we tried "The no-cry sleep solution" by Elizabeth Pantley first. I really disliked the way the book was written, but there were many practical tips how to get the baby to sleep better step by step, without crying and it really worked well and we saw the first improvements within a week or so.
    Maybe that's worth a try for you?
    Whatever you decide, good luck to you!

  9. PUI prof, sorry to hear about the stress spike (in your next post). Good luck with that.

    It is me again, woman with two kids just a little older than yours, also raising them alone during the week while husband dear works a few hours away. I should just give myself a name so that I don't have to keep typing that. If you or any of your regular commenters have ideas, let me know.

    My advice is to definitely try cry-it-out. A friend gave me this advice with my first one, and I still think about how much this one random piece of advice helped me so much. With my first, I think I did it at around 8-9 months, and with my second I think it was around 6-7 months. I did not do it gradually, as your first commenter did. For both of my kids, they cried 45 minutes-60 minutes the first night, but then less and less each night after that, until they were sleeping through the night after 6-10 days. Now they are both great sleepers and are both very easy to put to bed.

    I will warn you that this is one of the things that is very difficult to do without a spouse. Before doing cry-it-out, both of my kids were used to nursing themselves to sleep, and we really liked this time together. So emotionally it was very hard for me to hear them crying. Sometimes I would work out at home while they were crying to take my mind off it. Sometmes I would call husband dear and put it on speakerphone so that he could hear the baby crying and be sympathetic.

    Just keep reminding yourself that it will be a hard week, but then things will get much better.
    You will get through it. Hang in there.