Have a Baby They Said . . . It Will Sleep Like a Baby They Said

by | Sep 10, 2013 | From the Trenches, Parenting | 72 comments

So, in the comments of Sunday’s post about vacuuming, Sarah and Elizabeth and Sarah Marie asked for my two cents on getting babies to sleep. 

As you wish . . . 

“Sleep like a baby.” Seriously? Who started that saying? Have they met babies?

I don’t know who Leo Burke is. Wikipedia suggests he might be a retired Canadian professional wrestler, retired American professional baseball player, or current Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Who knows?

My first baby was like living in a Berenstain Bears book about how NOT to get babies to sleep. While pregnant, I had read ALL the books about babies. So, I knew how it was going to go. At night, I was to wrap my baby up all nice and cozy, nurse/walk him until he was really asleep, then lay him down in his crib and head off to my own bed for four to eight hours of glorious sleep.

Well, that’s not quite how it worked out. No matter HOW deeply asleep he was, if I put him down — he woke up. Sometimes five minutes later, usually immediately. Occasionally I’d get an hour. He would sleep on me, or in a moving stroller. That was it. Not on dad, not in a parked stroller. Swings and buzzy seats might as well have been made of hot lava. He couldn’t have screamed any louder in them if they were.

Once, Jack was asleep in his bucket car seat (which was pretty rare) when we walked into Mass. And a lady walked up to us and picked up the blanket over his seat and totally woke him up. As if sleeping was just something babies did all the time and as if he would just GO BACK TO SLEEP. Well, I know now that some babies do. But mine don’t. And I still haven’t quite recovered from that day 11 years ago when a lady woke my baby up.

Getting that baby to sleep was really hard work. I would get him to sleep, put him down, fall asleep myself for a minute or two, he’d wake up, we’d start over. I would even put him in the stroller and walk laps around the courtyard of our student housing complex in the middle of the night, because nothing else worked. It was NUTS.

found here. totally what happened. (what is with me and zombies this week?)

Finally, after a couple of months of that I was just so exhausted that I’d fall sound asleep sitting up in my bed nursing him at night and realized that we actually could get some sleep that way. I no longer cared if co-sleeping was just for hippies and weirdos. It was the only way my baby and I got any sleep at night. The husband was concerned about it at first, but we did some research and decided that we were comfortable with the safety of co-sleeping. And the fact was it was the only way we could actually sleep at night.

It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a godsend for us.

So that’s what I’ve done with all my babies since. I carry my babies around all day and sleep with them at night.

The only advice I really have from where I am now about newborn sleeping is that I’ve learned to not ever start doing things I don’t want to keep doing. So, even on nights when the baby is fighting falling asleep I don’t ever get up and walk him around, because I don’t want to have to get up and walk him around on a regular basis. I’ll nurse and pat and go from one side to the other and hum and sing, but I stay in bed. Because in my experience being more stubborn than the baby usually works.

But then, all of a sudden sometime between six and nine months, it stops working. Where baby and I used to nurse and sleep happily through the night, now baby is kicky and wiggly and we wake each other up and it gets really old really fast.


So, THAT’S when I turn to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. Of all the sleep books out there, I think this one has the most reasonable approach to getting babies and kids to sleep in a way that works for your family. If you want to nurse your baby to sleep, he’s okay with that. If you don’t, he can help you there too.  It’s not one of those books that says, “If you don’t do it exactly this way, your child will most likely become a serial killer.” I don’t like books like that.

Since in my case, with my babies, they WILL NOT stay asleep if I try to put them down, once I move them to the crib, I let them cry it out. And once it’s over, I’m always glad I did. I only gave it a half-hearted attempt with Jack when he was a baby, mostly because we lived in a university-built townhouse and I could hear every sound he made and so could the whole neighborhood. Plus, he was my first and I was already sleep-deprived and I just wasn’t emotionally prepared to handle it. So he didn’t learn to sleep until we moved into a house when he was over a year old. I was so very tired.

But with every baby since, I read the book over again as a pep-talk, re-convince myself that learning to sleep on your own is just as important as learning to eat healthy foods or to wear your seat-belt and then just do it.

Anita sleep trained in one night. Frankie sleep trained over the course of several very miserable months. But if you knew them, you’d say that sounds about right. And once it’s done it has always felt worth it.

For our family a key has been being able to separate the kids enough that they don’t wake each other up and to find a way that mom doesn’t have to listen to a crying baby, because it makes her feel like this:

 Then like this:


Then like this:

Not good. And am I talking about myself in the third person? Also not good. Anyway, baby gets his own room until he learns to sleep well. We have a spare bedroom now so this isn’t a problem. But even when we lived in an apartment, we made it happen. Bobby spent his babyhood in a pack n’ play in a closet, Harry Potter-style. Anything to keep the baby from waking up the toddler and vice versa.

When I put a sleep-training baby down, I go somewhere I can’t hear him. I take a bath on the other side of the house, or go read a book in the yard, or watch a movie. We have a noisy hall fan, and I use a white noise machine when I sleep. We’ve even just slept on the fold-out couch on the other side of the house for a couple of nights. I never, never sit listening to the baby cry (or watching the baby cry on the monitor). It doesn’t help. It makes me crazy and mean to my husband and other children.

And it’s counterproductive, because I know that he has to learn, because we weren’t sleeping well together anymore and for us, there isn’t another good option. So the choice is: (temporarily) miserable baby or miserable mom and miserable baby. He won’t remember it in the morning, but I will. So I put him down and don’t listen to him and don’t go back in (except for one-night nursing usually) until it’s time to get up.

Even with Frankie, who really resisted it, the end result was totally worth it for us and for him. Once he figured it out, he started sleeping well and going to sleep easily. And we were all so much happier for it.

Sometimes it works great for a while, then baby will regress and start waking up again. I just continue to not go get him at night. Even if he’s probably teething, or has a runny nose, or got shots that day, or anything. Because it never seems to make it better and it always makes the re-training process take longer than if I just do not go get him at night. 

I wish I had more of a magic formula, something that would sound better than: Put Baby in Crib, Put Fingers in Ears. But that’s what we’ve had long term success with. Once they’re sleep trained, my babies sleep well and in their own beds, my toddlers sleep well and in their own beds, my kids sleep well and in their own beds. And they all seem quite happy and well adjusted.

But I guess you never know . . . 

how terrifying were those plastic ’80s Halloween costumes?

You really just have to do what works for your particular baby and your particular family and your particular self. If you have read a book that says there’s only one possible way to successfully sleep-parent and all other ways are wrong and potentially damaging, I would say that probably a better use for the pages of that book would be as insulation for the inside of your sound-proof sleeping helmet, or as stuffing for your giant whole-family mattress, or, I don’t know, just toss it out. Because it’s really just not true.



  1. Endless Strength

    There's so much stress created by books claiming to have the one full-proof way of getting your kid to sleep. We've been fortunate to work the kids into sleeping in their cribs fairly early in the newborn stage and working them into the schedule of going to bed with the other kids sometime between age 1 and 2. I had the most trouble with #5 and even he now gets in his crib at the same time as all the other kids, lays down and goes to sleep quietly.

  2. Monica

    mine were the same, and we used 'solve your child's sleep problems' book, which worked really well. I didn't know there was another good one out there!

  3. October Rose

    Our process with #1 looked pretty much the same–falling asleep in bed turned into cosleeping, and when that got old we did CIO. It worked very well for us.

    Now that we're expecting twins, though? I don't know what it's going to look like … How the heck do you cosleep with two babies?? And if one baby doesn't need sleep training does he just have to suffer through the other's CIO phase? I guess we'll cross those bridges when we reach them.

    • Kendra

      Twins! Congratulations. Dr. Weissbluth has another book specifically on twins. I haven't read it (we're all singletons so far) but I would imagine it's helpful.

    • Kris

      I have to jump in on this – my sister has twins that are almost two and she SWEARS by the Weissbluth book that is specifically about twins. She has three friends that all have twins and they recommended it to her. She had to take a different approach than you do with a single – she had them on a pretty tight schedule from day one (with some flexibility for changes in the day, individual baby needs, etc.). I have several friends with twins and they say this is the key to survival. The other thing that everyone told my sister, and also my friends have said, is that in the night, when one wakes up, you go ahead and wake up the other to nurse. I know it flies in the face of "don't wake the sleeping baby" but this it critical to Mom getting some sleep. Nurse them both at the same time in the night and they will quickly get on the same internal schedule, which allows everyone to sleep better and more often.

    • October Rose

      Thank you both!! I will check out that book. I have also heard similar things about keeping twins on a stricter schedule, which will probably drive me a little bonkers at first (I tried that some with our first and it ended up being way more stressful for me than it was worth!), but I guess there's no way to avoid being at least a little bonkers while adjusting to two new babies. 🙂

  4. Elizabeth

    We do the exact same thing. I also tried to put newborns in their own crib, only to fall asleep while nursing after several weeks of sleep deprivation. It startled me when I woke up and had no memory of falling asleep. I realized it was probably safer to co-sleep, intentionally prepare a space for the baby, and be well rested than to be so exhausted that I continually fell into a deep, memory-erasing sleep. And we basically progress in the same fashion as your family, culminating with crying it out at six months.

    My third child is the exception thus far. Crying it out at six months resulted in screaming every night for a month straight (love language = physical touch in a major way), so we put him back in our bed. Crying it out worked perfectly when he turned one and could understand some verbal communication better. Like you already wrote, doing what works for your family is the way to go!

  5. Mary @ Better Than Eden

    This is such a hard topic. I don't claim to have any answers but I can't get past the feeling when it comes to CIO that there has to be a better way. I can't picture other mothers throughout history doing this and still somehow people figured out how to sleep (I definitely could be wrong on this, I know.) And I don't buy into the well, it works so it's okay type of thinking since we are not an ends justify the means type of people. The /way/ we do things matters. And same with the it's okay because they don't remember it defense. We wouldn't use that line to justify a decision with an elderly person with Alzheimer's so I don't think it can work with a baby either.

    That said, I totally see why people resort to it because I have been that cracked out mom many a time but it just seems like we're missing something. For me personally I think I'm happier with myself if I respond and sacrifice and choose to err on the side of love in these hard decisions and I can't see regretting that. But oh my gosh, it's hard and I feel like a new person and a better happier wife and mom when I have real sleep so this whole topic is something I wrestle with a lot. The few times we've let them cry for a few minutes because I was at the breaking point, I felt it was only fair that I had to listen and pray for them (often in tears outside the door). Ah, Lord please guide us and help us know how to handle these decisions and be the mothers You want us to be!

    • Colleen

      Agreed, Mary, I just can't do the Cry It Out Method.

      We do a lot of things, actually wrote a post about it here:

      But mainly I just want the baby to be asleep in his own space, and I don't mind being nearby until they are comfortable with going to sleep on their own.

      I just can not imagine the baby's sad and scared thoughts, crying out for their momma, and being ignored. Breaks my heart.

    • Kendra

      For us it just came down to trying to limit the total amount of baby unhappiness. I resisted crying it out for a long time with Jack for exactly the reasons Mary mentioned. I would have happily kept co-sleeping with him, but it stopped working for either one of us. He was going to cry on me or cry in his crib while i stood there watching him or cry as I walked him in the stroller in the middle of the night and it was for nothing. Or I could let him cry in his crib for a few nights and learn to sleep on his own and it was done and he would happily go to sleep. Once it was done I felt like in our case I should have done it much earlier and avoided all that misery for him.

      Colleen, your comment breaks MY heart, I wouldn't want to lay that guilt, based on your assumptions about what's going on in a baby's head on a mom who has made the difficult decision to do what works for her family. If you have something else that works for your babies, awesome, do it. But I can tell you from my own experience that what works for one family doesn't work for all families.

    • Colleen

      What I was saying is that when I hear a baby's cries, I can not think about what is going on in their head without having to go comfort them. Not that all moms should feel guilty for letting them cry it out. I just personally can not do it because I think about it from the baby's point of view too much.

      Trust me, I had a colicky baby who almost broke me on this, because knowing he was fed, changed, burped, and loved all day long and would still scream non-stop was maddening. But thankfully, my husband would take over trying to comfort him at night so I could get a break from the screams.

      I do hope and believe that all moms are doing their best for their children. And the CIO method just doesn't agree to what I consider "doing my best". But I'm sure I do plenty of other things that others might perceive as not my best. We're all works in progress, right?

    • Anonymous

      As a Catholic I believe in absolute truth. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Leaving a baby alone all night is not normal, natural or right. Would our Blessed Mother have left our Savior to "cry it out"? Our Mother in Heaven never ignored her Son's pain or suffering, no matter how painful it was for her. Mothering is hard. Lack of sleep is painful. Suffering brings one closer to our Lord. Offer up your mothering challenges, don't leave your precious infant alone in a room and ignore his cries.

      • Casey

        Seriously, what a silly comment. Babies, as innocent as they are, nevertheless are born with the stain of original sin. Hence they lack discipline and it’s the role of the parent to instill it. The idea of Our Lord needing to cry anything “out” is absurd.

    • Kendra

      Sometimes, when you are not raising the Second Person of the Trinity, True God and True Man, you have to resort to parenting techniques that work great for all-person babies, but would not have been necessary for the baby Jesus.

    • Kim

      laughing at your response kendra.

      i knew this topic would get some interesting replies.

      we are somewhere in the middle of cio and not. mostly not– we co-sleep(breastfeed to sleep) up until age 2 or 2.5 depending on kid. but seriously, when you get up into the higher number of kids, sometimes by default, the baby just unintentionally cries itself out when you are attending to other babies. just happens. jesus was an only child for one thing…

    • Elizabeth Hoxie

      At first, I was totally opposed to CIO, but eventually I realized my son and I were both miserable and sleep-deprived and I wasn't doing him any favors by making myself a martyr. Two weeks of CIO and he was putting himself to sleep, sleeping through the night and taking naps. Surprise, surprise…he was a MUCH happier toddler! I certainly don't think CIO works for every family, but I think we as Catholic moms have to be wary of choosing misery in the name of sacrificial love. Sometimes what's best for baby is also easier (and healthier) for us too!
      This time around, we're a little wiser. Like you said, we haven't started anything we don't want to continue. That means our daughter sleeps in her bassinet and we put her down drowsy, but awake. Hopefully we can avoid CIO altogether.

  6. Kris

    Reading this was like reliving my early baby days! This is almost exactly our story, too. My oldest didn't sleep through the night until he was almost two – or GO to sleep by himself – my husband or I would lie down with him until he fell asleep, and it was getting longer and longer. I also had no idea about co-sleeping when he was little – I made the long trek upstairs every couple of hours to nurse him – WHY did no one tell me?? When he was almost two, I was VERY pregnant with #2 and knew that I just couldn't be getting up with a toddler and a nursing baby every night, so we also did CIO. Took two nights and he was going to bed by himself and sleeping all night. I kicked myself for not doing it sooner. The longest he cried either night was 10 minutes. He knew the whole time that we were downstairs and checking on him, so I never worried about him feeling "abandoned" or "sad". He was mostly just mad that he wasn't getting his way – welcome to being in charge, Mom! With my second, I had a bad ankle sprain when he was about 2 weeks old and my husband didn't want me climbing the stairs in the night, so into the bed he came. Totally transformative. The rest were co-sleepers from the beginning, until, like you, it became to "wiggly" and not workable. We've all bee sleeping well ever since. All mine were consistently sleeping through the night by about 9 – 11 months.

  7. Nanacamille

    Oh yes I remember walking Jack all over the Stanford campus getting him to go to sleep which only happened just as you were about to give it up. Betty sounded like a Teridactal crying herself to sleep and then we all woke her up cheering over a very exciting Stanford basketball game on TV….talk about a mad mom. By Bobby we had all learned not to wake a sleeping new baby no matter what..cheer in silence. It is definitely a challenge especially if you are around people that don't realize how important it is not to wake that baby.

  8. Anonymous

    For a variety of reasons, CIO hasn't been an option for us (living with my parents / in apartments, for instance), but a book that I've found helpful in our two-so-far sleep training voyages is "The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight" by Kim West. It involves some crying but not as much, and since the parent is right there in the room, my experience is that it feels like a coaching process. It takes longer than CIO seems to, but for those for whom CIO isn't an option for one reason or another, it's worth checking out.

  9. Elizabeth

    When it comes to CIO, babies six months to a year are developmentally ready for it. I wouldn't do CIO with a newborn. But I can tell the different between an angry cry vs. a scared/hurt cry in my kids. When we do CIO, they are angry. Babies are rightly the center of the universe when they are born. You can't spoil a newborn. As they grow, it is our job as parents to slowly teach them that they are not actually the center of the universe with boundaries and rules, and they find comfort in knowing what to expect and that we are in charge, not them. They want their parents to be in charge — It is very comforting to know they don't control everything. We disrupt their expectation with CIO, but then they adjust to the new expectations. Sleeping in their own bed is the first baby step to growing up.

    Of course, I don't think one must CIO promptly at six months and, if you have a different method that works for your family, then go for it! When my son was one and did CIO, it took him maybe 10 minutes to figure it out. He isn't developmentally harmed by waiting until he was one vs. six months vs. nine months, and I think this blog post reflects a lot of flexibility in method and age as well.

  10. melody

    I strongly agree with Elizabeth about no CIO with newborns. I was given the horrible Ezzo book by Catholic friends after my first child was born. He was "colicky" and what that really meant was that he was in pain and had gastrointestinal issues of which I was unaware. CIO for that kid would quickly have turned into "failure to thrive" and would just have been very unkind. I had to learn to just suck it up and mother with everything I had.

    Since that time, we just nurse on demand and cosleep (cosleeping actually helped me save my firstborn's life.) The babies never cry. I get sleep. Nursing on demand is satisfied. And actually, when I'm next to the babies at night, they tend to sleep really well… and few transitioning problems when it's time for the big bed. It is gentle on the babies but requires more from mom. I get used to a little less sleep and happy babies. 🙂

    Whatever works for each family!

    • Amanda

      We've used Babywise with all 3 of ours, even our colicky middle child, and it's been wonderful for us. We did CIO for naps for a whopping 2 days for our oldest son at 9 weeks old, then none for our middle son (colicky) except for brief 2 minute cries when we put him down at 7-8 months just a handful of times. Our third, a daughter, cried it out just once or twice for a bit as a newborn, nothing huge or long, and that's it. I'm thinking my oldest son cried in bed a total of 3.5 hours, my middle son a total of 20 minutes, and my youngest daughter a total of 30 minutes. Ever. Now my middle son cried tons in our arms and at the breast and in the carseat and anywhere else the stomach issues hit, but we never left him in the crib crying during that. CIO for the other two was brief and only ever at nap time, I've never had a baby cry at night.

      All three slept through the night 11 hours straight at 8-12 weeks with no intervention on my part. And these were not just naturally easy babies, except my third who is a beautiful alien baby who is never unhappy, lol!

      So Babywise doesn't necessarily require CIO and rarely involves much CIO. I run the Babywise Community website and some of our moms do no CIO, most do CIO with lots of checks (kind of baby whisperer style). It's really more about establishing a routine, encouraging full feedings, and laying baby down awake from the start. There is a chapter for colicky babies, though I think it's woefully inadequate, which is why I'm working on a Sleep Training for colicky, reflux, stubborn, overtired Babies e-book 🙂

      For me, being a wuss who would cave with full on CIO, starting early and slowly works best for us. But there's more than one way to get a baby to sleep fortunately 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Babywise – when I find my book, I will burn it. The demise of breastfeeding with my firstborn. Horrific advice. Timed feedings ha, ha. (And the "full" feeding – if one has the time to wake and encourage for an hour or more – yes, okay – but maybe there are other children who need mom) Sleeping eight or more hours without a feeding and keeping up supply?! (oops, just add a feeding in somewhere else in the day – um, doesn't always work) Whoa. I am proof of the train-wreck. I would never recommend this book for anyone who breastfeeds. I do know of several instances where babies were labeled "failure to thrive" because of the Babywise method. – Vieve

  11. Valerie

    My first born sounds a lot like your first born. After she fell asleep, I could not lay her down without her waking up. She always immediately had her "feelers" out to see if I was nearby, and would cry if I wasn't. We finally tried the CIO method around 8 months old, but EVERY SINGLE TIME she would cry so hard that she would poop and then be sitting in a dirty diaper. I remember feeling so guilty after letting her scream and cry for one hour one night, only to go in after she fell asleep to smell a dirty diaper. Then she woke up while I was changing her! Now, with my subsequent four babies, I always wonder when they are crying, "is their diaper dirty?" even though I always put them down with a clean diaper. I also fear that by letting them CIO, my kids will learn that their cries don't mean anything. My heart can't live through it, so we end up doing extended co sleeping until about 14 months or so (usually whenever breastfeeding ends) and figure out the sleep training in their own "big girl/boy" bed. You're right about every family having to find what works for them!

  12. Suzette

    I'm so so glad to know you did cry-it-out with your kids. It's my second baby and at eleven months, deeply depressed from lack of sleep I said enough is enough is enough. And sleep trained that boy. My first was like yours, just didn't have the emotional strentght to pull through and stick to it. As always, thanks for sharing!

  13. Ashley Sue

    Personally, I can not condone CIO for a child who is under a year and has been used to attachment parenting. My instincts say otherwise and my first and second both didn't sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time until they were about 3.5 years old. We have a family bedroom until they ask for their own space because I would rather they actually be ready than forced with emotional confusion. But just me.

    • Elizabeth

      So has your baby ever cried it out in the car? Or do you pull over every time the baby cries and nurse them or comfort them until you can drive again? Just curious…

      When babies are strapped rear facing in car seats, they generally are forced to "cry it out" while the parent drives unless they happen to like the car. My babies have varied widely in the car, everything from screaming from start to finish, to screaming and then falling asleep, to crying until the ignition key is turned, to loving the car. Each baby is different. But I rarely am in a position to pull over and comfort them when driving somewhere. They have to "cry it out", because safety requires that they are strapped into a car seat. Some women are unable to co-sleep for safety reasons. I personally do co-sleep.

      As I said above, I find exhaustion to be a safety hazard, because I pass into a deep sleep and have no memory of sleeping. So I co-sleep until the age of the baby makes that impossible, and then we do a pretty short CIO where my babies are generally angry over the change and quickly accept it (and love their crib). But some women may feel unsafe co-sleeping because of medication or other life circumstances. I wouldn't criticize them for finding a way for everyone in the family to safely sleep, nor would I suggest it is unnatural. And knowing many families and kids who do CIO, they are very affectionate, loving, nurturing families who have wonderfully healthy kids. SO I guess I wouldn't worry about it too much :). It sounds like your situation works well for you.

  14. Mary Schneidau Sullivan

    We've done the Ferber method with both of my girls (now 3 and 16 months) and been happy with it. It's not straight CIO; he describes it as "progressive waiting" and he does say that if the length of crying doesn't decrease within 3 days or so, something else is probably going on and needs to be addressed. He also says sleep training shouldn't be done before 6 months. But there does come a point for my babies (in both cases, around 9 months or so) where our intervention causes more disruptions for baby and family than non-intervention does. And sleep training is not a "one and done" deal. Like you mention, sickness, teething, travel, growth spurts, etc all conspire to undo hard-won sleep battles. But each family has to decide what fits them best and go with that.

  15. Danielle

    Thanks for writing on what works for you! Two questions: at what age do you start CIO and do you use it for naps or only nighttime?

    • Kendra

      I start it sometime between 6 months and a year. Once they stop sleeping well with me in the bed, and show other signs of some ability to understand and have preferences rather than just needs. I know that some people successfully sleep train earlier, but we have so much success with co-sleeping in the early months that I've never had any desire to try it earlier.

      I tend to just do it all at once, naps and nighttime.

    • Kris

      I wanted to add this this – I think it's easier (at least in my experience with my 5) to start with bedtime. They are sleepier and more ready to fall asleep with less crying. I also found that once we conquered bedtime, naptime just generally solved itself. Once they understand that getting put in the bed means sleep, they get it for both.

  16. Anonymous

    Did you ever have any luck nursing your babies in a wrap or carrier? I am in the market for one! Needs to be newborn compatible though. I'm looking at the Baby K'tan, but no one seems to tell me if you can nurse in it, like the Moby wrap. I've tried slings with no luck and it's impossible in the Baby Bjorn.

    Great post on what works for you. We too do whatever works until it's not working for either of us. So yes, when they are a much older baby, usually around a year, for us, we offer a sippy cup of water in the night and that is usually the end of any fussing and we all get sleep! White noise in all the kids rooms! GREAT sleepers 🙂 -Vieve

    • Elizabeth

      I currently have a 1-month-old newborn (4th baby), and I nurse in the Baby Bjorn all the time while walking around and even doing chores. I adjust the height accordingly and use a breastfeeding cover when out and about. Wish I had advice on the K'tan, but I've never used one. I do prefer Patapum once babies are old enough, but I can't remember if I nursed in it now. http://www.patapum.com/

    • Elizabeth

      Looks like Patapum does have infant carriers too, but I haven't tried one. I'm kinda curious!

    • Kendra

      I'm able to nurse in the Jellybean Sling, I talk a little about it in my baby gear post.

      I do think people can nurse in the Moby wrap, but I have never used one, it seems unnecessarily complicated to me. But I know people really like them.

    • Ashley Sue

      I love my ring sling because its got that built in extra fabric so you can have more coverage if needed.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for the replies. I have the Lite-on-shoulder ring sling. Maybe they differ, but when I have mine good and secure baby is incredibly contorted and would have to really twist to nurse. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong, but I have watched a lot of youtube vids. That's interesting about the Baby Bjorn and nursing…maybe that is why I saw a mom with it hanging really low! Just not sure I like a newborn dangling in there, I do like it for a bit older kids, but may give it a try. The Baby K'tan is essentially a Moby, but with two loops that can be put on in seconds. Just wish there weren't varying opinions as to whether or not you can nurse in one. Thanks for much for the help 🙂 – Vieve

    • Anonymous

      There is a way to nurse in the Lite-on-Shoulder (I had one and nursing was actually really easy in it). There are YouTube videos, but basically you scootch one of the baby's legs over so his/her legs are coming out the same side, instead of straddling you, and kind of lay them down … do a search for nursing in a ring sling.

    • Ashley Sue

      I just nurse the baby as she sits in the sling. I don't move her or anything.

    • amanda

      You're probably nt following this anymore, but just wanted you to know I had a k'tan with my second and I preferred it over my moby. I also nursed in it all over the place. I even nursed while walking around Marshall's once and no one had a clue!

  17. Michele Chronister

    Love it!!! My husband's pediatrician when he was a baby was actually Dr. Weissbluth and his book has been an absolute Godsend to us! I like that he allows for co-sleeping and nursing to sleep and such when they're little but acknowledges that parents go crazy between 4 months to a year and it's okay to let little ones sleep train somewhere in there. Our first was sooo stubborn about it (and we did it way to late with her) but even she learned…and we're hoping for quicker results with her little sister!!

  18. Grete

    I am so happy to meet you over a post on baby sleep habits. I think our children are somehow related. This sounds almost exactly like what happens at our house. Right now I am in the sleep-deprived days with our fifth baby. (And I am so "over it") He is 5 1/2 months old and he doesn't know it, but he is almost ready for the cry it out method of sleep training that we do. It has worked for his four siblings…and while, like you, I hate putting him through it, I am fairly confident it will work for him.
    I was wearing him around all day until recently, too, but since he is 21 lbs I just can't do it anymore. He doesn't nap well, but I am hoping that his naps will improve once he can learn to fall asleep on his own, which has been our experience with his siblings.
    We keep babies in their own room, too. Even if that means 3 others share a room (they do).
    Thank you for sharing about the stress that baby sleep habits can cause. Sometimes when I talk to other families, I think we are the only ones whose babies are so high-needs. We keep thinking God will give us an easier baby next time…but so far He hasn't!

  19. Anonymous

    For my first five children, I did CIO at various ages(never before one year old). For my sixth, after a hospitalization and surgery, for some reason he refused to nurse to sleep. Because this particular child had already been through quite a lot ( many surgeries, 60 days in hospital) I did not have the heart to let him cry it out. I was able to get him to learn to go to sleep on his own without him crying it out. First I rocked him to sleep, with a music box playing. Then, I think what I did next was put him in the crib awake and pat him to sleep with the music box playing. Then later he was able to get to sleep on his own with the music box. he would wake up at nigh and just push the button on his music box and go back to sleep. Eventually he could go to sleep without the music box. He never had to cry it out. Of course it took six kids before I figured out to do it this way.

    • Elizabeth

      We do CIO, but we also do the music box in conjunction with that transition! It is a great method! I completely forgot about it, since my newborn is four years younger than her closest sibling. I start off nursing with the music box, then putting them in the crib with the music playing, and then they eventually go right to sleep when they hear the music and also push the button in the middle of the night if they wake up. Great suggestion — Glad you reminded me :).

  20. Caitlin

    It's really unfair to make sweeping judgements of different sleep methods! Which is the opposite of what you did, Kendra, but the comments didn't quite reflect your "no-judgement" attitude in the post.

    By the time our daughter was six months old, she was getting literally half the amount of sleep recommended for her age. She was SO tired and SO miserable. I mean, I was too, but she felt even worse. The Ferber Method taught her how to get the sleep she desperately needed.

    As soon as she caught up on her sleep, she was a completely transformed, happy baby. She needed to learn how to sleep and it would have been really unfair to her to keep doing what wasn't working. Which was pretty much everything else…

  21. Sarah Ransome

    Thank you SO much for writing this. He woke up every half hour last night and we are so at that co sleeping point where he pulls my hair and kicks and rolls and its awful. My mom makes me feel like the devil for even thinking of letting him CIO but me, my mom and my sister all have AWFUL sleep habits so maybe she's not the one to listen to. Do you let them wake up and cry back to sleep? Cry indefinitely? And promise they're fine the next day?

  22. Son Mom

    I think you are exactly right with your comment that you have to do what works for each particular family, for each particular parent/baby combination. In my case, I have never needed a lot of sleep, and have no trouble falling back asleep when interrupted, am too wimpy to CIO, and have large age gaps between my kids (3-4 years) — and my husband is a heavy sleeper not bothered by snuffling baby noises or squawks. As a result, co-sleeping has been an easy solution for me. With all of my kids, they have developed more adult sleep patterns (aka soundly all night) around age 2, even though they were all still nursing then, so it was relatively painless to transition them to sleeping in their own beds at that point. Since mine have been so verbal by then, even if they're not thrilled about it, I can explain to them that they need to stay in bed and not nurse at night. And that still has given me a year or two to enjoy sleeping through the night just me and my husband in our own bed until another one comes along.

    But if we weren't getting enough sleep, or I had gotten pregnant sooner, Well, you do what you gotta do to stay sane 😉 Though I admit, as one who never actually tried CIO, two of mine probably would have been just fine, but I don't know that either my first or my fourth, the "high-needs models," would ever have given up. They didn't "fuss" or have an "angry" cry — it was just immediate DefCon 5, "I am dying of extreme heartbreak and agony" with them when I had to put them down and walk away for a few minutes just to get a little break. And of course those two models have been my worst sleepers!

    I have a grudge against Weissbluth, though, because he firmly states that all babies need to go to bed early — 7pm is his recommendation — and if you think your baby is an exception, you're wrong. All four of mine, if put down at 7, wake up at 9 refreshed after their lovely evening nap and ready to party until 1am. But since my husband and I are both night owls (and he is really extreme — even when he worked 8-5 for years, his body never got used to it no matter how much sleep he got), I think it's something genetic in our family. We're the most sociable happy people you can imagine at 10pm 🙂

    • The Nem's!!

      Completely agree about bedtime! My kids go to bed between 9 & 10pm and they sleep in until 8 or 9am. They are the happiest kids ever and they take naps too! I think I was more inclined to try Dr. Weissbluth's method when my kid still wasn't sleeping through the night at 13 months. But,then magically…he did! With my second, she started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks (!!!) and she napped completely on her own, no issues! I did nothing different and had the same schedule…part of it may have been I was more experienced as a mom and the other part (big part, I believe) is that my second was just different!!!
      If I put my kids to bed at 7, they'd get to see their dad 2 days a week (weekends!). No two families are the same…we found what works for US now but are flexible enough to make changes later if need be! Maybe my kids aren't the exception, but we feel spending time with Daddy is more important than a 7pm bedtime…and I certainly love the sleeping in part myself and I know that won't last forever!!
      One of my favorite baby books that I give as a new parent gift (DVD too) is Happiest Baby on the Block…love the 5 S's and I'm a huge believer of swaddling!

  23. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    Yes yes and yes! It took me 13 months to realize that crying it out is way better than a sleep deprived mom, dad, and baby! I view cry it out as the loving option now, not a cruel one. For our family, it would be cruel to allow our babies to be cranky and miserable all day. It's loving to push them to learn to sleep on their own and soon become happy and calm children during the day.

    This is quickly becoming a favorite blog of mine!

    • Kendra

      You got it. Here's hoping it's more Anita-like and less Frankie-like for you!

  24. Amelia

    I just spent way much time reading these comments. Interesting post and comments! Anyway, I thought I would throw my two cents in. Our sleeping strategy is really simple and has worked well for all my kids so far. We basically just co-sleep from day one. And continue to co-sleep until the child naturally wants their own bed or naturally starts sleeping through the night…usually around age 2.5-3. After that, they are allowed to come into bed if they wake up in the middle of the night, but they have to start the night in their own bed. This just works for us and really I've never felt super tired or sleep deprived. I could probably count on 1 hand the number of times I've actually been "up" with a kid in the middle of the night in 11 years of parenting…(just the occasional illness or kid that rolls out of bed), but because I stay in bed with the baby and just nurse while sleeping, I always feel like I get plenty of sleep. My own insomnia keeps me up way more than my kids ever have (even as babies). And, my kids are all really good sleepers.

    This is just what works for us. I can totally sleep with a baby or toddler in bed with me. In fact, I probably sleep better with them there (because I'm neurotic about SIDS and like to feel the baby breathing next to me). And, my babies/toddlers will sleep "alone" in my bed for a few hours in the beginning of the night…it's not like I have to sleep next to them every second they are asleep…so we have time all to ourselves in the first part of the evening (and we have another bedroom/office room that my husband and I use for kid-free time).

    Anyway, this is what works for us…I've never felt sleep-deprived or unable to stand co-sleeping so we've always kept with it…and it my kids always seems to get plenty of sleep.

  25. MarianneF

    Late to the conversation, Catholic mom of 8 here. People talk about letting an older baby (going on a year) CIO as if it is a newborn. I could NEVER let a newborn cry it out, but an older baby who doesn't need the feedings and who will be better rested and happier after learning to sleep? Yes! I had a 10 month old who had co-slept her whole life (with daytime naps in her crib), but who was getting "kicky and floppy" all night in our bed. I put her in her own room in a crib, she fussed for 5 minutes in the middle of the night and went back to sleep until morning. I've had other babies who have cried for as long as 45 minutes in the middle of the night. The amount of distress that a baby needs to feel to be crying is a lot less than an adult, please remember. It's how they communicate even the slightest discomforts. Crying doesn't equal "Mom has abandoned me and now I'm going to die!"

    It is hard to hear, but one thing to remember is that we are doing the older babies a favor by giving them a comfortable, quiet sleeping space, where they can be in charge of their own sleeping rhythms. How many times have I been co-sleeping with an older baby, and my husband or I change position and wake the poor thing up, then have to nurse when baby isn't even hungry, just to settle her back down? Not a healthy sleep pattern.

    My formula, which varies from baby to baby is similar to the original post, but I wait a little longer to transition to the crib at night, with daytime crib naps being the intermediate step starting at about 5 months. Co-sleep from birth to about 10-12 months, then switching to crib sleeping at night (getting baby for a feed if necessary for not past a year old) around then. Works for my babies and they seem so much happier after the transition. They even start doing the "crib dive" as I approach the crib at night around a year old.

  26. RAnn

    I have a confession. I'm not a perfect mom. I need my sleep and I let babies cry it out. I've also used the TV as a sitter and sometimes homework doesn't get done as well as it should. I'm sure no super housekeeper. Such is life.

  27. Anonymous

    To me, there's a big difference between a baby with a healthy attachment being left to cry for a while at night and a baby who is truly abandoned/neglected and is suffering from attachment issues. One comment above mentions not using CIO for babies raised with attachment parenting, but I don't see a huge contradiction there – a baby (not newborn, of course) with healthy attachment isn't going to suffer brain damage or excess stress levels from crying for a while.

    With our first, we co-slept and nursed entirely on demand, and by the time he was 8-9 months old he was waking EVERY 45 MINUTES. Every night. I was a zombie. So we did CIO, and now at 2 years old he is a sleeping champ.

    Enter Baby #2 (now 8 months), who I figured would co-sleep for a few months until we moved him into the bedroom with his brother. He would have none of it – I couldn't believe it, but he wouldn't nurse laying down nor would he relax next to me, even at two days old. So we moved him to the crib, and although we've gone through phases of having to let him CIO, he generally will only fuss for literally 2-3 seconds before laying down and relaxing.

    What I always tell new moms (not that I'm super-experienced myself, of course) is that they need to do whatever they can live with; if they can't bear to hear their baby cry, by all means don't let them cry. If they can handle a bit of fussing and prefer their baby to learn to fall asleep himself, go for it. Each way has its pros and cons, but neither is going to cause brain damage, undue suffering for the baby, attachment issues, etc. -A different Kendra

  28. Anonymous

    What about breastfeeding and natural child spacing?

    Nursing every hour through the night may mean 3 or 4 years between babies. Worked for me.

  29. Layla

    Sorry for the weeks-later comment, but I'm in the thick of CingIO with my 7.5 month old, and I have a question. Do you ever go in to change a diaper? My daughter has been waking up soggy and SCREAMING lately. I've tried waiting her out, but when we hit the 1 hour mark (esp. when the wailing started at midnight), I just can't do it. So I go in and change her, and then she's all bright-eyed, so I nurse her back down, and….just, argh. Should I not change her? Try different diapers so maybe she won't wake up when she wets? Just wait until she's older (this option scares me because we waited way too long to sleep-train Betsy Wetsy's older sister and it was worlds harder)? Teach me your ways, please!

    • Kendra

      So sorry Layla, that sounds miserable. But in my experience going in at all just prolongs the agony for all involved. I would get diapers a size or two bigger than you need and just wait her out until she's sleep trained. Then, once she does regularly sleep through the night, if she happened to wake up one night, I'd go in and check since it's out of the ordinary. But right now, you don't know if she's waking because she's wet, or just because she doesn't know how to go back to sleep.

    • Layla

      Thanks so much for your reply! This was my inclination, but I needed someone to tell me I'm not a monster for considering leaving my kid in a wet diaper so we can all get some sleep. She took to sleep training at bedtime really well, but this middle of the night business is killing me. It helps so much to have confirmation from someone who has done this successfully (like I said, we didn't try CIO with our oldest until she was well over a year, and that was dumb (for us!–other commenters, please don't take that as a personal insult)). I'll stick an extra stuffin in her bedtime diaper, invest in some earplugs, and push through. Thanks!

  30. laureno

    My first born is 7 weeks old and I am at a loss of what to do with his sleeping. For the most part he sleeps in a crib in our room because his room has no heating and winter is not yet over in Montana. He has been doing the normal every two hours of sleep then up for an hour then down for two, until last week when he decided it was time to sleep 5 hours right after we put him down! But after those five hours he will sleep for three, then two, then one hour and be ready for the day and crash two hours later.
    Well now this week he has decided that sleeping is just not what he wants to do. I put him down when he starts to get sleepy and I usually rock him to sleep or nurse him to sleep and gingerly lay him down. Then he sleep for 30 minutes and is up for 4 hours! I have tried co-sleeping (I love to have him near) but recently he won't sleep for more than 45 minutes without waking up, crying, fussing, kicking. I try to nurse him back to sleep which again only lasts for 45 minutes. I am at the point where I want to try have him cry it out in his own bed but I feel horrible about it and I hear that constant argument in my head, "God gave you this baby to comfort and you are just leaving him there to cry!" I never felt that way about my siblings that I'd let cry it out haha. I just don't know what to do at this point. He is so young, but he is one squirmy worm and won't sleep well next to me and he is not sleeping more than 2 hours in his bed, but it's usually during the day. At night it's down for 30 minutes then up for 4 hours! Any ideas?

    • Kendra

      I'm so sorry, that sounds really hard. I would really recommend the book I link to in this post, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The author gives really helpful step-by-step advice. Simple enough for even very tired and frustrated moms to follow. My only other recommendation is to go with your gut. God gave you this baby, yes, and you have to figure out the best WAY to comfort him. It sounds like you have already tried the things that have worked for my babies, like cosleeping and night nursing, but they don't work for YOUR baby. You can't feel guilty about trying things. Keep trying until you find what works for you and your baby.

    • laureno

      Thank you Kendra! I will keep trying. We actually have that book so I will read away. God bless you and your family! I guess this is a great thing of offer up for Lent too 😉

  31. jgehretmc

    How do you know when to go in for a feeding and when to let them cry? My first is 5 months and we are thinking about doing CIO in a few weeks.

    • Kendra

      I usually start the process planning on going in twice a night, once around midnight and once around 4am, but only if they wake up. Then, in a few months, I start letting them cry through the midnight feeding, and only do the 4am, then eventually I stop going in at all. Some babies don't need it though, Lulu started sleeping through the night straight through as soon as I started putting her in the crib at nine months.

    • jgehretmc

      Thanks Kendra! I really resonated with your story about Jack not sleeping in his crib, that was my son 5 months ago. It was rough until we discovered co-sleeping around 3 weeks, which was amazing while it lasted. I should have read your blog sooner to know there are others out there with the same struggles!

    • Melissa

      I know I’m late to the comment party, but I stumbled across this post when searching for some sleep training advice. We have a very stubborn 14 month old who has relied on me nursing him and now rocking him to sleep. Within the past few months the number of night awakenings has skyrocketed, and he will only go back to sleep if I go in and rock him until he’s completely passed out. We decided to go with the Weissbluth method because I reached my breaking point and he only seemed to get more worked up with the Ferber method check-ins. He cried for almost five hours standing up in his crib the first night. It was terrible. The second night he cried for an hour but woke up again around 4 am and cried, never going back to sleep before we went to get him at his wake up time (6:30). For the two naps we’ve tried he cried for an hour and 15 minutes before we gave up. Do you think it’s still okay to continue this method? I worry about him being so overtired and really have no idea what I’m doing. I posted for advice on a Catholic Mom’s group and was met with a lot of hateful comments so I was reassured when I found you use the same method!

      • Kendra

        I’m so sorry. This is such a hard issue to begin with, and other moms can be so harsh about it. I would recommend staying the course. In my experience sleep training my kids, I found that my chill babies sleep trained relatively quickly and easily, and my stinker babies took a lot longer and it didn’t come easily. But it worked for all of them, with no long term sleep issues. All of my kids sleep well at night in their own beds now. Even the one who took months to completely sleep train. And he was in no way traumatized! Again, some people feel very strongly against sleep training, and I’m fine with people deciding it’s not for them, but it’s been an important tool in our family. I’ll be doing it again in a few months with baby number ten.

        • Melissa

          God bless you and your beautiful family! Thanks for the advice/reassurance!

  32. Suzie

    We also do co-sleeping then CIO. (I say this like having two babies makes me super experienced!)

    With our first, I was a mess. I didn’t want to co-sleep because I was convinced he would die instantly, but I was going mad without sleep. (As in, had to have therapy and considered medication mad. For other reasons too, but the lack of sleep was multiplying all the other problems.) So we co-slept and we both slept much better… until we didn’t. He was about four or five months old, I think, when we both started waking each other up. And then guess what? I didn’t want to CIO because I was convinced he would be psychologically damaged. (Again, with the therapy…)

    So we struggled on until he was six months old then moved him into a cot in his own room and did CIO and WOW WOW WOW. We both became really significantly happier.

    So with our second we planned on doing the same, expect she became wriggly and annoying around three months so 3-4 months was ROUGH (including attempts to gently put her down in the cot that were NOT well-received) until we did CIO earlier than #1 at four months. It worked well enough and quickly enough and she became a good sleeper by six months just like #1.

    I call what we did both times “Bedtime CIO”. Leave them to cry til they fall asleep and don’t go in until three hours after their bedtime feed (because they can manage that long between feeds during the day). Then kinda wing it through the night on whether to leave or feed based on how long it’s been and how mad they are. Despite not being that consistent during the night, leaving them to it at bedtime made a huge difference in how often they were waking up during the night, so they quickly moved to 2-3 night feeds and blissful silence in between.

    Before I had my first, I swore up and down that cosleeping was unsafe and CIO was cruel. Now I believe that cosleeping can be as safe as a cot (mum only, no heavy bedding, etc) and I do CIO because I don’t want my baby to cry.

    Crazy? Not really. They do lots of crying up front in order that they might then spend many nights in blissful sleep and many days happy and well-rested. I believe that we got the least overall crying by doing CIO. And with #2 I didn’t feel the need to cry outside her room while she cried inside the way I did with #1.

    People really underestimate maternal sleep deprivation as a risk. I talked to my therapist a lot about this. Maternal sleep deprivation hugely increases the risks for all sorts of other things, from car accidents to poorly-prepared formula to falling asleep on the sofa to serious depression or even psychosis.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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