Getting Enough Sleep without “Crying It Out”

newborn-baby-momAfter I commented on Chana Jenny Weisberg’s post 3 Surefire Ways to Get Babies and Toddlers to Sleep,— Chana invited me to respond in a guest post. Please visit Getting Enough Sleep without “Crying It Out.”

Chana publishes a weekly newsletter and is famous for her video “pep-talks” for moms.

If you’re visiting from Chana’s blog, I hope you’ll stick around and subscribe. I’ve picked out a few posts you might enjoy:

Fasting for Breastfeeding and Pregnant Women

Tips on Staying Home (With Your Kids) and Staying Sane

How Do Large Families Manage?

Frugal Strategies for Young Families That Pay Off as  Your Children Grow

Why the “Average” Haredi Family Goes Away for Pesach

Photo credit: mbaylor


  1. Thanks so much for this eloquent defense of NOT crying it out.

    My son went through a stage when he was 8-9 months old when I wouldn’t be surprised if he got *half* of his calories from nursing at night. (I joked that he was reverse cycling even though I was a SAHM.) His sister was way too interesting during the day!

    I personally thing the whole “teaching to self soothe” thing is a sham. I am an insomniac and have had trouble with falling asleep/staying asleep since at least junior high school–the last thing I wanted to do was make bedtime or nighttime a source of tension.

    Now I have two great sleepers…who didn’t sleep “through” until about age 3. It ebbed and flowed all through toddlerhood (including times when the rule was if you came in when it wasn’t light out yet you could stay…and sleep on the floor). No regrets.

    • sylvia_rachel says

      Yes, this! (Except, I only have one. But boy, can she sleep!)

      Of course the plural of anecdote is not data, but IME there are two main outcomes of CIO: either the baby “learns to self-soothe” very quickly, like with a few minutes of fussing or crying for a few nights, or the parents throw in the towel because instead of the above happening, the baby continues to scream and scream, everyone is upset, and no sleep is happening for anyone. Which has led me to theorize that maybe the “success” of CIO depends entirely on the temperament of the baby…

  2. so basically if a mother doesn’t co-sleep and nurse, she’s doomed? Somehow, I’m not buying it.

    • It’s possible to co-sleep and not nurse.

      It’s also possible to be responsive while keeping the baby/toddler in a crib in another room. It can be more exhausting for the adults.

      My kids just did not take to a crib, and I don’t think it had to do with nursing vs not–Miss M slept on the (carpeted) floor of our room from 8 months until she was old enough for a toddler bed (also in our room). She did not nurse every time she woke up, but she didn’t have to self soothe either.

    • Leah: I did direct many of my comments to nursing moms, since Chana referred to her nursing baby in the original post. It is also what I know best.
      I also wrote this:
      “Children’s night-waking is a big problem for some moms. The moms can’t function well, or are prone to illness, and they don’t enjoy co-sleeping either. (For the record, I used to be a restless sleeper and hated co-sleeping at first.) Here are some suggestions I give to moms in that situation. Maybe one or two will work for you.”
      Every one of the suggestions would work for moms who bottle-feed or who don’t co-sleep.
      The info I shared about breastfeeding moms is relevant to sleep issues and not very well known. It’s not meant to disparage bottle-feeders, rather to encourage breastfeeders who may feel pressure to wean because of night-waking issues.

    • Leah, I nursed, CIO’d and cribbed (I’ll nurse in bed for the first few weeks but after that, I need my space!) and my kids are more or less normal. I think it depends on the kid.

      As I commented there, I also don’t buy it that CIO traumatizes kids.

      Eli didn’t need it, but I distinctly remember with Avital, she woke every hour after bedtime for a while at 7 months. She was absolutely miserable during the night and day and I finally broke down and CIO’d.

      I didn’t do CIO to get a full 12 hours of sleep (I continued to night nurse till about 14 months), but i could see that the child was desperate for 4-5 straight hours of sleep. Going to her every hour and nursing didn’t help her get what she needed. I remember it actually made her angry when I came to try to soothe her after a while. She cried for maybe 30-40 minutes and then fell asleep while i patted her tush. Sooo happy I did it, and at 8 she’s now a champion sleeper and seems to still take a liking to me.

      • Abbi – you can “not buy” that CIO damages kids, but there is mounting scientific evidence to prove that it does. The “my kids/I turned out just fine” is faulty logic. My MIL swam in the summer in the very chemically polluted waters of the St. Lawrence River in the 1950s. By the looks of it, she turned out “just fine” – does that make swimming in toxic water ok?

        • Mounting evidence? Please link. In all my years of reading these web discussions, I haven’t seen one reputable study on this supposed trauma.

          I’d also like to point out that some kids cry whether you hold them or not. Some kids just cry. That’s why doctors have a catch-all meaningless term for it called “colic”. They don’t know what it is. Are you suggesting that all kids who’ve had colic as babies are traumatized and unable to bond with their parents because their parents weren’t able to comfort them and calm their crying? Seems highly unlikely to me.

          Comparing CIO to swimming in chemical-laden waters is specious and fear mongering and there is no reason for it.

        • Agree with Abbi, no scientific basis whatsoever. If you do please link.
          I use CIO after certain age if they didn’t figure out the whole fall asleep on your own and stay asleep after 8-9 months. I also sleeptrain my kids. By that I mean that they have established nap schedules that happen more or less consistently and that they fall asleep on their own (put in crib, say I love you, and be done).
          And I did nurse on demand, by that I mean that anytime my son was awake he nursed, but because he had a schedule then his nursing also followed his schedule.

          As usual each kid is different.
          For our daughter we used extinction (what you would call real CIO, put in crib and don’t walk in to console at all). That’s the method that fit her personality best. It took her about 3-4 days and no problems since. Best thing we ever did

          For our son, simply CIO didn’t work so we followed the Weisbluth method. B”H now at 18 months he can ask to go to the crib, we put him down and don’t hear anything for 11 hours.

          • Love Weisbluth, I think he really lays out all of the issues of establishing good sleep habits really well. I followed his advice even before I read the book and it was nice to read a good explanation of the method after the fact.

          • Just found a really good thread on Google Answers that links to a lot of studies on this topic:

            One standout for me:

            “Behavior Characteristics and Security in Sleep-Disturbed Infants
            Treated with Extinction”
            Karyn G. France
            University of Canterbury
            Journal of Pediatric Psychology 17(4) pp. 467-475, 1992

            “Measured and compared the behavior characteristics and security
            scores of 35 infants (6?24 months) treated with extinction for sleep
            disturbance with those of 13 untreated and 15 normal sleep controls.
            There was no evidence of detrimental effects on the treated infants
            whose security, emotionality/tension, and likeability scores improved.
            The findings are congruent with those from a previous study with
            preschoolers and have important implications for the prevention of
            later behavior problems in sleep-disturbed children.”

          • Abbi and Elisheva, thanks for looking up studies. I’m glad there are some that some show that there is no lasting damage to CIO. As I wrote, most of my objection is ideological. Pantley’s book shows that there are gentle methods to encourage sleeping through the night if it’s important for the family’s well-being.

  3. I had read CJ Weisberg original post and was scratching my head to see how it “differed” from CIO.
    I will be honest and say that I did let my kids CIO sometimes (like the 4th or 5th time they woke up in the night when they were past 9 months old)- not that it worked since I wasn’t very convinced and usually took care of them pretty fast anyway!.
    To LeaGG- I never had my kids in the room with me- they went straight from the hospital to their room. It meant I had to go into their room to nurse (or bottle feed, depending on the kid) every single time. Most mothers I know find this very hard and prefer co sleeping or at least having the baby in the room. I found out I actually slept better when I didn’t hear each time the baby moved in his crib. I also have an extra bed in the kids’ room which makes nursing easier (I could lie down, and did fall asleep sometimes…), and I taught myself to fall back to sleep right away once I got back to my bed.
    – Hannah- I am expecting again now, and would like to read the No cry book. I saw on the original post you offered to lend the book… if the offer is still available, I’d be very thankful if you could lend it to me….

  4. I don’t have time to read this right now, but boy is that baby in the picture cute. It really makes me want one 🙁

  5. When the babies get to be my kids age, (17, 15 and 13) it is perfectly appropriate to let them WIO (whine it out). Eventually they fall asleep, but I’m not really sure when because I’ve hit the stage where I drop before they do.

    And sleeping in the morning is never a problem for them.

    (How ’bout some posts about teens?)