December 1, 2008

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: I haven’t slept in days.

Jasper is six months old. He doesn’t so much sleep at night as he does snooze and hang out between bouts of crying for mommy. He invariably ends up in bed with me, which is in some ways great, because he is as soft and snuggly as a cashmere pillow stuffed with kittens and dusted with baby powder and fairy farts, but also, in some very important ways, not great, because he inevitably kicks me in the boobs a few dozen times. I don’t sleep when he’s tucked up against me. I haven’t slept in days. Weeks even. I’ve lost track.

I have the dim sense that this is not quite right, that this is sub-optimal, that things really shouldn’t be this way. Emilia slept in her crib, swaddle-free, through the night, from about five months of age (of course, she didn’t sleep a wink during the day, but at least our nights were restful.) For the life of me, I have not been able to recall how or why she did this. I don’t remember doing anything special. Except for, you know, a little bit of crying it out now and again.


It finally sunk in last night – late, late last night – that we had been willing to let Emilia cry, a bit, at bedtime or during night wakings. Not very much, and not for very long – you could hardly call it Ferberizing; more like Ferber lite – but on those occasions when it seemed that she needed to fuss herself down and when it was clear that her cries were fussy tired cries and not desperate needy cries, we’d let her cry it out for a minutes on her own. And it worked, and she was fine, and we all slept, and it was good.

But I can’t bring myself to do it this time around, and I’m not even sure why. All of Jasper’s cries sound desperate to me; every whimper out of his throat yanks at my heart and rakes across my nerves. His sobs and shouts and grumbles ring in my ears – he needs me! My baby NEEDS me! – and every moment of tears passes like an eternity. My heart lodges itself in my throat and my blood thrums in my ears and my whole body tenses. I cannot let him cry.

And sure enough, when I hold him, he stops, and herein lays the problem, I think: he does need me. He needs me in a way that my spirited, independent baby girl never did. She never cried to be held or to be snuggled: she cried (as she still does) to be free, to stand alone, to have her way. She cried in resistance to shutting her eyes against the fascinations of the day; she cried from the exhaustion of having rolled/crawled/climbed/raced her way through every moment of her wee existence. She cried and raged against boredom, against constraint; she cried with the fury and spirit of a tiny Beat poet, shouting her rhythms into the shadows and demanding that world give way to her presence. Jasper, on the other hand, only cries for boobies and hugs and – in the event of an epic shit – a clean diaper. Those, I can provide. And so I do.

So it is that I cannot let him cry. I cannot let him cry because I know that it is within my power to soothe his cries. I cannot let him cry because he cries for me. Such is the vanity of motherhood, that I am weakened by his need for me, that I am weakened by any such need, that the needing – the feeling that I am necessary, that I am fundamentally necessary, in any given moment, that I am the only being in this world that can provide the desired comfort – becomes the focal point of all my motivation: gratify his need (indeed, their need, for my daughter knows well that she can have me wrapped around her finger only by uttering the words I need you, Mommy.) So it is that his need, my need, our need for sleep become secondary to the need that is articulated – that he articulates – most forcefully: the immediate need for comfort, the need to be held, the need for a hush to be wrapped in love.

But love cannot sustain the sleep-deprived mother, and the sleep-deprived mother is an impaired mother and all the hugs in the world aren’t going to help anyone if I’m passed out on the floor and the children have to crawl over my body and forage for sustenance.

So do I do this? Do I let him cry and hope that sleep comes and that my heart doesn’t explode? Or do I forge ahead on the fuel of love and hugs?


Toronto-area peeps – if you’re interested in joining me at a breastfeeding demonstration (to save breastfeeding clinics in Ontario) on Wednesday, let me know. Details are at this post; leave a comment or e-mail me if you wanna go. UPDATE: Mister Jasper is a very sick little baby, and I simply can’t go to this. E-mail me if you want details, to attend yourself. (And? Anyone local who wants to go and do a brief story on it for BlogHers Act Canada? I would LOVE you. E-mail me.)

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    Immoral Matriarch December 1, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I can’t tell you what to do, and I’d never presume to try.

    But I didn’t let mine cry. I suffered and suffered until the need finally subsided. With a few occasions in which I put them down and let the room to where I couldn’t hear them and I cried or I just thought or whatever just until I could calm myself.

    I’ve never regretted it. :)

    Immoral Matriarch December 1, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Oh, and this:

    “But I can’t bring myself to do it this time around, and I’m not even sure why. All of Jasper’s cries sound desperate to me; every whimper out of his throat yanks at my heart and rakes across my nerves. His sobs and shouts and grumbles ring in my ears – he needs me! My baby NEEDS me! – and every moment of tears passes like an eternity. My heart lodges itself in my throat and my blood thrums in my ears and my whole body tenses. I cannot let him cry.”

    Perfect description of what it’s like.

    EliandMe December 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Wow. Are you me?

    I won’t let my baby boy cry it out, for those exact reasons. Although I have never articulated them quite as succintly as you just did. Even to myself.

    18 months on, he is still in our bed. Kicking me in the head. I can pretty much sleep through it now. Although I still have crazy dreams about being kicked in the head.

    Stac Cole December 1, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I may have missed this somewhere…but does he take a pacifier? Is there something, anything that you can use to help self soothe in place of YOU? I did let mine cry it out to a certain degree, but if he completely and utterly NEEDS you, then it won’t work at 6 months old. He’ll just scream. And scream. And more screaming. I think self-soothing is the answer. You need to find a self-soother.

    Shawna December 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I cannot help either. Both our kids’ temperaments and our sleep habits meshed perfectly to allow co-sleeping, so that’s what we did and are doing. Neither baby kept/keeps me awake, but we’re not heavy sleepers and I have no fear of squishing them. Both slept/sleep soundly tucked into my armpit and I sleep fairly soundly and motionless, unless called upon for a boob, which happens every couple of hours but only for about 5 mins at a time.

    Anonymous December 1, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I honestly don’t know but I’ve been and some days still am where you are. Sometimes he can cry a little and go back to sleep and sometimes he cries and cries and ravages his little throat because the cries go hoarse (because I’m exhausted and please maybe he will cry himself to sleep?). And then I go and get him and we snuggle and he sleeps and I do not. I honestly don’t remember how we got through the days and nights where his need for me was constant but I’m here and can attest to the fact that while my mind may not be in its pre-baby form, I didn’t lose it altogether. I know it feels awful – but thanks for putting it into words for the rest of us.

    Sarcastica December 1, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Everyone is different, and I can’t tell you what to do. I’ve been told myself that when the baby arrives, I’m to let it cry its fussy cries. I can’t say I’ll do that though…because he/she is still inside me and not crying.

    I hope you figure it out though!

    Ms. Moon December 1, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Of my four, there was only one I could ever let “cry it out.” And that was out of final and complete desperation. She never slept over two hours at a stretch and I felt I was dying.
    I think you have to do what your heart and soul AND body tell you to do.
    Whatever that is.

    Her Bad Mother December 1, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Stac Cole – he does take a pacifier, which works wonders, unless he’s busy spitting it out or yanking it out. Then he cries. SIGH.

    Mary G December 1, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I have felt exactly as you describe. As you describe so well that I am almost back there again.

    But. Allow Grama an observation from long, long experience with her own and others’ babes.

    The longer you wait to let him learn to self soothe, the harder he will find the task and some kids don’t learn for years and years and you end up with kids in the bed and an ear for the creaking door and it sure does destroy not only your sleep but your not sleeping as well.

    I was taught that you need to be consistent in how you handle bed time and such. Again, experience leads me to think that this is not as true or as important as Dr Spock et al thought it was.

    I sat by the prewarmed (important) crib and sang and touched, patted and rocked. It worked. Might not for you but it is worth a try.

    Michelle December 1, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    As a mother who dealt with the same problem for 8 months +, I’d say you need your sleep. He needs you, but he no longer needs you to physically comfort him every time he is upset. He NEEDS to learn how to comfort himself a bit. And that, I’m sure is what he and you both NEED more than anything. It’s not an easy process. I’m very much against the whole cio thing. However, there are other ways that you can comfort him while letting him soothe himself.
    I blogged about it, but basically we took a weekend (so that H could help too) and every time Peanut would scream that horrible scream, one of us would go up to her room and if there was no reason for her cry (shitty diaper, sick, etc) we would sit on the rocking chair beside her bed (no eye contact, no lights on), rock back and forth (this is mostly to soothe mommy or daddy), smile the most serene smile you can (so that it comes through in your voice) and say “Hush, hush” over and over again until she settled. This way, baby can see you, smell you, hear you. You are there to comfort him, but more than that, to actually help him comfort himself back to sleep. We worked in shifts, alternating. The first time was the worst with about an hour and a bit of crying, but it’s NOT crying it out. It’s not leaving your baby alone in the night to scream. It’s being there for him.
    Here’s the thing, it WORKED. And it worked WELL. It took a few days, but by the end of the week, she was sleeping through the night (we actually figured out that she WAS hungry, so we started doing a sleep feeding right before we went to bed, around 11:30).
    Good luck. I hope you guys find whatever works for you!

    carolyn December 1, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    What you do is whatever works, whatever it takes so that you get some rest. Maybe he will cry it out and maybe he won’t. My youngest cried until I picked her up; no matter how long I waited. No kid ever started college still sleeping with mom and dad. Do you have a bassinet or a cradle that you can put right next to the bed? You can touch him, but he can’t kick you….

    Diane December 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    For the love of God, let him cry. Give it 10 minutes. Hell, give it 5 and see what happens. Give him the opportunity to learn how to soothe himself. He will never sleep on his own if you do not let him. Better yet, when he cries, go in and pat him on the back. Sing a song to him and let him calm himself. Try to develop a bedtime routine and stick with it, every single night. He will soon learn that after steps 1 and 2, he must do step 3, which is sleep. Just try it. Expect it to be hard, expect it not to work immediately, but if you stick with it, you will both learn. Good luck.

    Her Bad Mother December 1, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Just to be clear – he actually goes to sleep reasonably well – it’s just that he wakes up and won’t go back down. We have a very consistent bedtime routine and have few problems with the GETTING to sleep – it’s the STAYING asleep that’s a challenge.

    ewe are here December 1, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Well, based on various friends’ experiences, I’d say start letting him cry and settle himself. Start small, if you must, but start. Or you might still be doing this six months from now.

    Or so my exhausted friends have told me….

    Anonymous December 1, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Does your husband have better luck getting him back to sleep? This is kind of throw everything you can think of against the wall and see if it sticks kind of thing…babies and the ways to get them to sleep I mean. Not all babies can handle or respond to CIO. And while there are babies who do sleep well after whatever process or natural inclination – but it’s not just weak willed moms that have difficult sleepers. I think you should trust your intincts…he has slept through the night before. You blogged about it. :) He will again. Or at least for long enough stretches for you to get by until he goes off to college.

    Don Mills Diva December 1, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Oh Catherine – I can feel your exhaustion.

    And I think you need to let him cry. You must sleep – you must be present for when your children really and truly need you.

    I know it’s hard, but you must sleep.

    Anonymous December 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Have you tried putting him in a crib or half crib or pack and play right next your side of the bed? I had a desperate cryer, and she wouldn’t cry it out – she’d be hysterical for 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 hours – never just fall asleep. I’d get so overtired, I couldn’t figure out (or remember) how to solve the problem/break the cycle – and everytime I’d tell my sister, she’d say, “have you tried using the little crib by your bed?” and every time I did, it was enough, and we all slept.

    I hope you find something that helps.


    Domestic Extraordinaire December 1, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I have no advice-just lots of hugs!

    Angella December 1, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    We had to let our kids cry a bit to break their habit around 6 months of waking up at the same time every night.


    You just do what works for you. Before you know it he’ll be five and this will all be a (very) hazy memory…

    Sharon December 1, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    If he has a consistent bedtime routine that is working, you should try to create a consistent response. If that means going in, briefly comforting him and going back out, then that’s what it is. One option is what we did initially for bedtime: the ‘comfort til sleepy and put in crib’ then when they mastered that, ‘comfort til relaxed and put in crib’ and then ‘comfort briefly in crib (w/out taking out) and then just let them be. They could do it. They did. We slept for the first time in 9 mos.

    I can tell you from my experience, though, that my (or my husband) going in just pissed our kids off royally. Yes, the crying was brutal and I cried right along with them . Both my kids were/are very physically needy, but it only lasted 3 nights (night 2 was the worst) and it HAD to be done. I waited til 9 mos w/my son and was about to have a nervous breakdown. With my daughter, I did it at 7. They are not scarred. I still have incredibly close relationships w/them – they know I am always here for them (they are 5 and 3 now).

    I DO personally know someone who refused to let her kids self-soothe and they are a freaking NIGHTMARE at bedtime, middle of the night, etc and they are also 5 and 3. These kids dominate their parents at night and are behavioral probs during the day b/c they are so damn sleep-deprived. Just one extreme example.

    Amy December 1, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    You know this already, but you asked, so…

    Any short-term “gain” you may experience from letting him cry is not worth the long-term harm it may do to a baby’s developing brain and psyche.

    My daughter was the same way. She’s 2.5 and wakes up 1-3 times a night to nurse. We’ve done some half-hearted gentle night-weaning attempts, but nothing’s ever stuck. When we stressed over her sleeping, we all suffered. But when we finally figured out how to roll with it (after maybe 8-10 months? I can’t remember) everything was a million times better. Somehow I adapted to lack of sleep and just got better at night-nursing. So my advice is to keep muddling through it. It sucks, but this is a temporary situation. Eat well, rest when you can, and wait it out. One of two things will eventually happen: Either he’ll get better at sleeping or you will get better at not sleeping.

    Ursula December 1, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Oh, man. I don’t know what to tell you, but I can commiserate some: my son is exactly the same. Has been since birth. He’s now 16 months old and still won’t sleep through the night. He freaks out and wails whenever he wakes up and I’m not there, and his Papa has no power to calm him. Only me. He needs MAMA.

    Worse than that, every attempt to sleep-train him has backfired horribly. It has always resulted in a child who is more anxious and more clingy. He’ll regress and become anxious whenever I have to go to work, he’ll sleep fewer hours at a time during the night, refuse naps, or refuse all sleep unless he is being held. At this point, I give up. I can’t bear to panic my kid and can’t deal with getting even less rest. I’m sure it’ll all come right someday…anyway, I hope so, for both me and for you, too!

    Ursula December 1, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    By the way, although I think CIO is a trick that can absolutely work for some kids–your daughter, for instance!–I do get a bit annoyed that so many of its advocates don’t warn you that, in fact, it may make things ten times worse, may give your child panic attacks (yes! panic attacks in a baby! not fun!), and may result in serious trust issues between child and mother. I’m angry because nobody warned me about those possibilities, and it has taken weeks to repair the damage. Bottom line: if you do not feel right about CIO with Jasper, if his cries sound needy to you, if your heart says, “Hold him! Soothe him!” then follow your instincts. I didn’t, and I seriously regretted it.

    Becca December 1, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Delurking to say that I have a terrible time trying to get my 6-month old daughter to sleep.

    I feel like I’m, feeding, soothing, shushing, tap-danching, binky forcing, rocking, buying devices, doing nothing, everything but no reliable go-to-sleep pattern has worked. Or it works one night, but not the next.

    Currently I’m trying buckling her in her car seat because a couple of nights ago she slept the whole night there! But the next night, no.

    I’m inclined not to let them cry; but I’d sure be less stressed about it if I knew she’d start sleeping at x point in time, and not wake in perpetuuity.

    Shannon December 1, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Hi, Do you rock him to sleep? Maybe he once ge realizes that you havent vanished from the face of the earth when you leave the room he will be able to sooth himself back to sleep when he wakes at night. I am in no position to offer advice as mine still wakes at night and needs me to “way” with her atleast once a night.

    What really caught my attention was when you said that you go to him because you feel needed when he cries for you. I feel the same way. If your baby/child is comforted and stops crying, its hard not to go to them. It is ingrained in us as mothers to comfort our children and to keep them from harm/pain. This is magnified in the night when everyone is so tired. I would do almost anything at 3 am to keep Julie from pitching a fit.

    Hang in there, 17.5 more years and you can kick him out.
    I am sooo kidding.

    Cloud December 1, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    My Pumpkin just wound herself up more and more if we tried to let her cry, so we never have. I think you have to decide whether you think it is likely to work for Jasper and let that guide whether it is something you should try. I don’t think it works for all babies. If you decide to do it, I hear that actually reading the latest edition of Ferber’s book is helpful. There is also a book called the Lull a Baby Sleep plan that looked like it might be helpful for babies younger than mine (I found it when Pumpkin was over a year old).

    Pumpkin was up anywhere from 2-5 times a night when she was 6 months old. I remember that desperate feeling I had when I was so chronically sleep deprived. We used some of the “no cry sleep solution” ideas, and some of our own ideas and tried to improve things. I’m not sure if we ever made any difference on how well she slept.

    What worked best for us was to accept that this was how our baby was, and figure out how to minimize its impact on our lives. We figured out a schedule so that both parents got the minimum sleep required to function. I need 4 hours uninterrupted. Hubby needs more total, but can handle more interruptions. So Hubby was on duty until 1 a.m. or so, and then I took over. And I went to bed really, really early. When Pumpkin was still taking a bottle, I pumped milk to give Hubby so that he could give her a bottle for one of her night feedings.

    Hubby would also take her out for a long walk or something so I could get a decent nap at least once per weekend.

    Now she only nurses (she is 20 months old), and doesn’t get bottles at night. I still nurse, though- she has resisted nightweaning quite stubbornly, and I eventually decided it was more trouble than it was worth to keep trying. I do most of the night duty now, but she is usually only up once per night. If we’re in a bad stretch, Hubby gets up with her on the weekends and lets me sleep in a bit, which helps.

    I blogged about a lot of this- there is a sleep label on my blog which would get you to those posts.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

    Dana December 1, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I remember when Dawson was six months old (or maybe it was five months, I don’t recall), he had this phase where he’d cry incessantly and I just didn’t know what to do. I called my mother at midnight (because I was losing my mind!) and asked her what to do.

    She told me to let him cry and that if I couldn’t handle it, to go outside. She also said crying wouldn’t hurt him and to just try it for ten minutes.

    I did try it, and he did stop crying but the guilt nearly killed me. I picked him up immediately after that, and I still don’t know if the crying it out thing works because I never tried it again after that. I was too nervous about it.

    I think we all just do what we think is right.

    I wish I had better advice. I also wish there was something I could do to help. How far a drive is Canada from Wisconsin? (wink wink)

    daysgoby December 1, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Oh, Catherine. Your anguish shines through this. I’m so sorry.

    I do think that you need to have a plan, though, and stick with it – because he’s not the only one who needs you.

    Many, many hugs –

    drawer queen December 1, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Pacifier, good. Before bed cereal, good. Maybe another comfort thing, we used a silky (small blanket silk and flannel) I had to train my kids up on the comfort items by using them when we did rock or cuddle. They slept in a bed with pacifiers and several silkies scattered around so maybe in the night they would find them for comfort. Sometimes I would go in and give them the silky and rub their back or pat until they calmed a little but not pick them up. A little crying will not hurt, and see if with his comfort items he can make it, but the endless screaming helps nobody and you will kill yourself with guilt. Can you really wear him out before bed? Play a lot, make him run laps? (kidding, but only about the laps)

    Lasha December 1, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    It was so good to read this post and the comments, just to reinforce that there is no “magic solution.”

    My daughter is 20 months old and she starts in her crib but always moves to our bed part way through the night. Usually she goes right to sleep and we all sleep. But some nights she won’t go back to sleep, or worse, she’s starting to fight actually going to sleep despite a consistent routine (with me, anyway. It’s better with her dad).

    I just can’t let her cry it out, although I have done what Michelle describes, letting her cry with me in the room. The whole “I’m here as long as you need me.” But sometimes I just wonder, am I doing something wrong? It’s good to see that we can only do the best we can.

    Momo Fali December 1, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    One of the benefits of having preemies is that the hospital is kind enough to put them on a schedule for you. Of course, that didn’t stop me from spoiling my daughter and holding her constantly until she was well over a year old. My son didn’t want to be held. Kids are just different. I hate to say this, but maybe you’re right. Maybe he DOES need you.

    Anonymous December 1, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    I would have him checked for reflux. If he goes to sleep fine but wakes u until he is picked up it could be heartburn. My daughter’s began at his age.

    Hannah December 1, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I couldn’t let my first cry; his cries were like your Jasper’s. They were explicitly for me and the soothing he needed, and he slept in my bed until he was almost ten months old. Current baby (only six weeks older than Jasper) seems to need to cry it out occasionally, just like your little girl.

    Every baby is different, and you need to respond accordingly. But don’t doubt yourself if you feel that Jasper needs you more than Emilia did.

    Jennifer December 1, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Honey, I hate to tell you this but my now 16 year and 11 month old did not sleep through the night (or generally sleep at all) until she was in 1st grade. Oh about 7. My dad makes fun of her now because all she wants to do is sleep. He would make comments to me like “how in the hell are you doing this, she never sleeps”. My mom and dad did not watch her because SHE NEVER FREAKING SLEPT. And my 8 year old, refuses to go to bed. He told me yesterday I am not going to sleep because I DO NOT want to go to school. I told him mommy is old and needs her sleep (I am 37). With him I tried the crying until he slept and it never worked, he just worked himself up more. I would sleep in the chair to get him to sleep and not move.

    Good Luck

    Amelia Sprout December 1, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Leave him for a day or too, let the kinks be worked out by someone else. He shouldn’t need to night nurse anymore.

    Also, how have solids gone? I know they swear it won’t help them sleep through the night, but I swear it helped us.

    Chef's Widow December 1, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Baby #1, Catcher.

    We let him cry. I gave him boob. He slept the night. He'd whimper every now and then and the Chef & I would wake up and monitor but usually go back to tralala land.

    Baby #2, Louisiana.

    We do not let her cry for the same stated reasons by you. I don't know why, we both know better, but we pick her up every time. Biggie is now 13 months and if I leave a room she cries. If I am not in her direct line of sight she cries. If I close my freakin' eyes she cries. And it is totally ALL fake! Girl is a better actress than Meryl Streep.

    But it's totally my fault. And someday she is going become a super famous actress and I am gonna be her momager!

    Just like Mama Spears. But not as drunk. JK.

    Shannon December 1, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    I’m absolutely certain someone must have recommended this before in one of your previous posts, but have you read “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”? My sister made me read her copy a couple weeks ago and it has changed our sleeping totally – for the better. Mine were hardly the same issues as yours, but reading the book was enlightening and hugely informative. Best sleep book I’ve read, and I have read them all.

    In the end, you’ll know what’s best for him and your instincts will tell to do. I really, really hope you get some rest soon!

    Christie D. December 1, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I don’t know your whole situation, but the two thoughts that come to me are:
    - Have him in a crib or moses basket right next to your bed.
    - Stop drinking caffeinated drinks.

    I realize this second one would be hard if you drink a lot of coffee/tea usually, but I think it might help him to sleep longer.

    With my Baby 1 we did CIO around age 6 mos., and it worked as in the textbooks.

    With Baby 2, I tried CIO, but we frequently stayed overnight with Gma and Gpa in those days, and he would cry in an unfamilar bed and then Gma and Gpa would go to him and/or make me feel bad so I would go to him. Then the next night we would go back home and I’d have to start over. After a few episodes like this, CIO obviously wasn’t working due to the inconsistency, so I gave up and soothed him to sleep every night until age 2 or so (when he moved into his brother’s bedroom). As a baby, his crib was in my bedroom, and when he woke up I would make soothing noises or take him into my bed (where he went back to sleep and didn’t kick).

    Fast forward to ages 13 and 9, and (disclaimer– I am not claiming that this was caused by sleeping arrangements!) Son #1 (the CIO child) is more emotionally needy overall, but can go to sleep by himself with no problem. Son #2 (the soothed-every-night-by-Mommy-until-age-2 child) is very balanced and non-needy emotionally, and much stronger and more confident socially, however he has this very annoying aspect of hating to be alone, especially at night. For example, he won’t sit alone downstairs doing his homework if the rest of us are upstairs, and almost cries if he has to go upstairs by himself at night to take a shower, when the rest of us are still downstairs. He has always shared a bedroom with his brother and hates going to bed before his brother. So, he is *really* secure socially, but insecure when by himself… you can’t win! We can only do our best and I don’t think there’s a magic way to do it. They never turn out quite perfect in the end anyway… ;)

    anita doberman December 1, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Hear your pain – I was pretty good with my first three and the last two I went all mushy – feeling like they really need me and I cannot for the life of me stand it if they cry. The older girls, well they are older,but the little ones are so cuddly and tiny….
    I may have to let the baby cry one of these nights I am too tired :)

    Baby in the City December 1, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Margot sometimes has a hard time soothing herself back to sleep. For us, keeping her from waking in the first place has been the only strategy. The way we do this is by dressing her warmer than we think is necessary without going overboard. Just a long sleeve onesie and a pair of socks under the fleecy sleeper does it.

    I’ve also heard that babes that like gear: swings, music, lights, etc. do well with mobiles that are of the same ilk. If J starts out in the crib, maybe going in and turning on a mobile like this will work.?? Dunno, I’ve never tried that one myself, but heard it works.

    Her Bad Mother December 1, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Amelia – oh, the solids. GAH. He does NOT like eating solid food. He loves his spoon – LOVES his spoon – and he likes the occasional teething biscuit (Farleys) but he hates anything mushy *on* a spoon. Loves that boob, though.

    Yeah, the eating thing is a whole ‘nother story. I expected that, his being a chunkster, he;d be all over the food. He’s just not.

    Naomi (Urban Mummy) December 1, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    I’ve been there. OH, have I been there. Every 3 hours for 10 months. We ended up cosleeping, and I learned to sleep with him in my bed (to the point where I wasn’t sleeping so well when he WASN’T there!). That would be my main suggestion – try to sleep with him there, if you can.

    I was so frustrated until I changed my perspective. As you said, he needed me. (now, at 2 years old, he’s still cuddly, still loves to hug me, and yes, still sometimes cries just for mummy).

    Does he eat food yet? Try some very ripe avocado, banana, or well cooked sweet potatoes. Perhaps an extra full tummy will help?

    (I never did let him cry. Either of them really, although my first did a bit more then my second)

    Heather December 1, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    My first two were the same way. My daughter (the first born) I could let cry it out. Didn’t bother me that much because her cries were more pissed off than anything. My son? I couldn’t bear to hear him cry. His cries were plaintiff, acusatory. How could you do this to me mom? I thought you loved me.

    What did I do? I rocked him to sleep every night. Every night. Until he wanted to go read books with Dad and big sister. Then I was extraneous. He is actually a better sleeper than my daughter is though.

    Naomi December 1, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    My Jasper is 16 months old and the clingy, cuddly polar opposite of his big sister. I was going through the same things you mention until I forced him to sleep in his crib just after his first birthday. And I was still up several times a night nursing him until a week ago when we went out of town for three days for hubby’s art opening and both kids were stuck at grandma’s. She let him sleep with her but once we got home, he went back to his crib. And hasn’t nursed. And has slept through the night (8-ish to 6am) for the past two days. Crossing my fingers that it isn’t a fluke.

    You’ll know when you’re ready. With me, it was open sores on the nipples. Shrieking in pain kind of ruined the whole cuddly nursing thing for me…

    Mama Luxe December 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Ok, I lied…I’ll offer some thoughts.

    This will pass. I swear. I had the high need baby of high needs babies. She still is high maintenance…but she sleeps and she’s sweet and she’s fun. So, eventually…he will sleep through the night.

    Have you read No-Cry Sleep Solution?

    Some things I’ve found:
    * White noise is my friend.

    * Sometimes when nothing works, a bunch of things together will work.

    * Whatever works this week, may not work the next…but what did not work last week, may work now.

    * Get some sleep, somehow…it is easier to think when you’ve slept.

    * A baby crying in a loving caretaker’s arms (even if it is not mama) is not CIO…get someone else to hold him, get some sleep, and then think it over when you are rested.

    Sharon December 1, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    I just have to add one more comment. I did NOT harm my children (their brains, their psyche, their trust, etc.) by doing CIO. I would never, ever, ever do anything to harm my children intentionally. I researched it extensively. I used a combo of techniques (No Cry Sleep Solution, Weisbluth, Ferber). My children trust me. They did not have panic attacks. And they go to bed when it is time and they stay in bed at night. My husband and I are consistent, consistent, consistent.

    Here are the things I thought about before I sleep trained:
    1. How much more of my bitchiness our marriage could take. And my husband was a HUGE support in the middle of the night – taking all sorts of shifts, etc.
    2. Getting into a car accident with my baby. There are tons of studies that say sleep deprivation is as if not more dangerous than driving drunk, because it is so wide-spread. There were times my eyes felt so blurred I knew I shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
    3. Losing patience with my toddler (when my second was born). I could see how frequently this was happening and I knew that it was exacerbated by my terrible sleep-deprivation.
    4. PPD – I had it with my first, recognized it with my second and sleep was key for me in managing it.

    So, its a balance, I know. But I just had to say that those of us who CIO aren’t doing it to hurt our kids or because we’re selfish. We’re doing it because we want to be better parents, spouses, and healthy people. It is OK to take care of yourself as a parent and it is KEY to the health of your relationships with your children.

    Mimi December 1, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Oh god. Munchkin has got up 14 of the last 17 nights, at least once, and usually for more than 20 minutes. I’m ready to die, myself, so I kinda feel what you’re going through.

    We did cio with her when she was about 4.5 months old: it worked, but I had that visceral reaction like you. What I did was, I hid in my basement, where I couldn’t hear her. It totally worked.

    You need to do what you need to do: everyone’s advice is different because everyone’s situation is different. But you do need to sleep. You really really do.

    mothergoosemouse December 1, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    I’ve been infinitely more patient with Oliver where it comes to night wakings and 5am nursing marathons. Maybe it’s a boy thing, maybe it’s a “he’s my last baby” thing.

    My only input is to consider your well-being too. As you said, no point in responding to every need if it means that you end up unable to respond to anyone’s needs, including your own.


    Anonymous December 1, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    You’re writing my story. I have a nearly 3 year old and a 7 month old and I don’t freakin’ sleep.

    And yes, my older girl cried a bit here and there when it was necessary.

    I can’t, can’t, can’t seem to let the little one do that this time around. Maybe because she just learned how to say “MAMA!” And that’s what she screams when she needs me. Which is always. AND ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN NIGHT.

    Oh, and the kicker? Found out I’m pregnant. Yesterday. Puts this one 16 months younger than my sleepless second. Surprise! I’m never f’ing going to sleep.

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