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Controlled crying, advice please?

(37 Posts)
emma87 Wed 08-Jun-11 09:32:49

Ok i know lots of people dont agree with it, but after months of deliberation over this and many discussions with my health visitor plus lots of research, me and my partner have decided, as a last resort - having tried everything else, to do controlled crying with our son, starting tonight.
Our son is nearly nine months old and has never slept through the night.

Does anyone have any advice for us, preferably anyone who's done controlled crying themselves? It would be much appreciated as we really don't know what to expect or how we're going to get through it.
Thanks in advance for any help..

beela Wed 08-Jun-11 10:25:15

Hi Emma, we did CC with our DS (7 mo) a few weeks ago, also after much deliberation and deciding it was the last resort.

We did it to deal with settling at bedtime. He has never been a self-settler but was not unhappy, but had started crying the minute he was laid in his cot and would not be calmed, despite a perfectly reasonable bedtime routine not changing at all! He was still waking in the night a couple of times as well, but I didn't mind that bit (too much grin). It was more the fact that he was crying whether we were there or not and taking up to an hour to settle him, which we concluded wasn't doing any of us any good.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we went in at 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 5 minute intervals the first night, and it took 45 minutes and he passed out mid sob sad.... but then he slept until 6.45am! The next night it took 30 minutes, then the following night 10 minutes, and now we put him in his cot, sing him a lullaby and leave the room with him smiling and asleep a few minutes later. A month ago I did not think that was possible.

He now sometimes sleeps through, but when he does wake I am more confident that it is due to hunger so I feed him and he usually goes back to sleep straight away. I would say that on average he sleeps through 3 nights out of 7 and the other 4 he wakes once for a feed.

The other big bonus is that he now self settles for naps, which have extended dramatically.

In terms of advice I would say:
- bear in mind that it could take up to a week - 10 days to work and don't lose your nerve after only 2 or 3.
- if you are finding it really hard, go downstairs and shut the door rather than listening to him sob because it is horrible.
- find something else to do (e.g. iron a shirt and then go back) rather than just watching the minutes tick by.

Oh, and I think we were a bit soft, other people say to leave longer intervals but I couldn't cope with any more than 5 minutes! However, I think we started at 3 mins the second night.

HTH. Good luck and let us know how you get on smile

smellsofsick Wed 08-Jun-11 11:44:53

We followed a similar style to you beela but did five, seven, nine etc. We did this when dd was waking up at 3.30 on the dot every night and just chatting, which eventually lead to crying.

The first night was pretty awful but by the third night she was sleeping all the way through and is such a happy little thing in the mornings now.

I think, if you've reached that point where you know it's for the best, then go for it. Be prepared for a couple of awful nights but keep focused on the fact that your child will benefit from self settling.

Will you let us know how it goes?

loubie1967 Wed 08-Jun-11 11:51:56

Emma, my DD1 was 10months old and progressively getting worse at sleeping at night. I was exhausted and couldn't think straight. DH took over and offered to send me to hotel while he took over. I couldn't so he shut me in one room and her in the other. First night, she cried for hours before eventually sleeping then woke every 45 mins to scream some more, but a bit shorter each time. Night 2 was a bit better, by night 3 she was sleeping soundly ALL night!

V emotionally draining for me, dh much harder so couldn't care less. DD1 now 12 - no long term damage physically, or emotionally. She still doesnt need as much sleep as her siblings, but happily this makes it easier to get her up for school.

It does seem cruel to many but if you're desperate I'd recommend it, as it will do you so much good to get a proper nights sleep.

bibbitybobbityhat Wed 08-Jun-11 11:55:26

Keep in mind that your baby benefits in the long run from having a proper night's sleep. You are doing it for his health and well being just as much as yours.

emma87 Wed 08-Jun-11 13:05:06

Thanks for the advice guys, its good to hear what real mums have been through with it and thanks for your tips i hope they will be helpful for us, i know its gonna be horrible but it sounds like it'll def be worth it in the end.

Does anyone know if when the baby wakes during the night, which i suspect he will a few times as he normally does, do you start again from say 3 mins,then 5 mins etc or do you start straight from the maximum u reached last time, say fifteen mins??
Really confused about this bit.

mrspear Wed 08-Jun-11 13:09:10


Re night time wakings; we started from the beginning. We do 5, 10 and 20 minutes. As you little one is so young and is probably not on 3 meals a day you may find he will still need a night time feed.

Good luck ... we waited too long but it has worked!

beela Wed 08-Jun-11 14:16:35

I think you are meant to start from the beginning on night wakings but I would only do that if I was certain that he didn't need feeding - my DS is only 8 mo so I tend to give him 5 mins and if he is still awake then I go in and feed him. Half the time I don't have to get up cos he has gone back to sleep by himself. Have never had to do a full CC session in the middle of the night, thank goodness.

The other thing I had to tell myself (when it was so tempting to stop and cuddle him to sleep when he was so worked up and exhausted) was that once you have started on the CC path, it is more cruel to give up part way through because that sends out such mixed messages.

Stock up on wine and chocolate is my other tip grin

emma87 Wed 08-Jun-11 19:36:56

Well I couldnt do it. I just stuck to my normal routine of letting him fall asleep in my arms after finishing his bottle, and then put him down into his cot fast asleep. The thought of disrupting him and upsetting him was too hard for me, i must be soft, i had really convinced myself that tonight would be the night that i would be able to begin with this.

I think its because he was having a cry earlier while i was preparing his dinner, and i just couldnt bear him being upset and i picked him straight up and started talking and singing to him. I thought to myself, how the hell am i going to be able to leave him crying in his cot for possibly hours if i can't even bear it for a few minutes?? And with my partner working evenings I've got no chance if no-ones here to stop me picking him up I'll probably give in pretty easily. And i agree that you should only start doing this is your confident you will see it through to the end, if you give in part way through you will acheive nothing, probably just make things worse, and you and your baby will have suffered for nothing.

Now i just don't know what to do. Altough he went down really easily tonight which is rare, I know he will wake several times during the night and each time it can take up to an hour or 2 to settle him again, i'm exhausted from it and can't go on like it anymore, but i'm obviously not strong enough to do controlled crying am i?

AchtungBaby Wed 08-Jun-11 19:43:12

What about this?

emma87 Wed 08-Jun-11 20:08:59

Thanks, i've never actually heard of sleep counsellors before, but i don't think there'd be one in my area we live in dorset not much here lol, and it sounds pretty expensive too. It's something to look into tho thanks.

AchtungBaby Wed 08-Jun-11 21:42:10

emma87, AFAIK most / all sleep specialists offer phone consultations in addition to home consultations.

DH and I initially planned to have a home consultation with a local specialist, but we surprised ourselves by deciding to have a phone consultation with a non-local specialist (Andrea Grace) instead. Andrea was wonderful, and helped us to turn our biggest parenting challenge into our most positive parenting experience.

smellsofsick Thu 09-Jun-11 07:21:16

emma it's fine, don't worry. The other thing about CC is unless you're absolutely committed to doing it you shouldn't start. As someone else has said, giving up half way through is even worse!

Would you be able to go out for a few hours and let your partner do it? That's what lots of MNers seem to do

DialMforMummy Thu 09-Jun-11 08:27:36

I second what smellofsick said. I would have given in if it had not been for DP.
Is your DP away every night? Maybe you could wait till he is at home and do it together?

sanam2010 Fri 10-Jun-11 09:28:16

I recommend reading "healthy sleep habits" by dr. Weissbluth, it explains all the empirical evidence and science behind sleep patterns, night wakings etc and he is an advocate of cc. I am doin attachment parenting and never did cc but i did read this book bc he is an infant sleep expert. I find some people do cc without really knowing how and whem to do it, and i think as cc is a radical step for exhausted parents, it is good to know the basics. It will tell you how to do it and also give you the confidence to follow through in the frst days.

My sister followed his methods and it worked very well for her ds who naps 2h each days and sleeps 7 to 7 pretty much since 6 months. I always envied her esp with the naps but didn't want to do cc. I wish you could luck, hopefully it will help your whole family sleep better!

littlebearsmummy Fri 10-Jun-11 19:22:43

Feeling very blue. We're night 4 into controlled crying with our 8.5mth old. I thought we'd taken a step forward tonight as she settled within 2 minutes initially. However she woke after 30 minutes and is now screaming. We're going in every 5 minutes, but it's so hard hearing her cry grin( I feel like I'm going slightly mad.

DialMforMummy Fri 10-Jun-11 20:16:08

Mine got worse when I kept going in. So I ended up letting him CIO. Doesn't sound appealing I know but I did feel like going in every so often made him worse.
He sleeps fine ever since (2 and half month ago).
I feel your pain.

RitaMorgan Fri 10-Jun-11 20:25:27

If you can't stomach CC have you tried Pick-Up/Put-Down? There is still crying involved, but it's crying with you there rather than alone.

girliefriend Fri 10-Jun-11 20:28:29

I think you have to be able to cope with your babies and your children being upset tbh - thats kind of your job, if you are overwhelmed by them being upset how are they ever going to learn to manage their feelings?

How I did it with my dd was to have a bed time routine, put down asleep after lots of cuddles, played soothing music, and went downstaires!!! If she started crying I would put a timer on for 10mins and then go up and check she was okay - give her a kiss and cuddle and put her down again. It worked and after a few nights I was only having to go back up maybe once.

To this day she sleeps really well 7pm - 7am and I feel proud that I've helped give her the skills she needs to sleep well.

orangehead Fri 10-Jun-11 20:42:24

I did cc with ds2. I tried a couple of times and gave up it was too hard. When he was 18 months and I like a walking zombie as he woke 8/9 in a night, I was well a truly desperate. I think thats what you have to be to see it through. At the time I had only been gong out with dh a few months and he got me to ring him after I had put ds2 to bed and he stayed on the phone throughout the cc to support me. I could not of done it without him. I was totally amazed that it only took 3 nights and wished I had done it sooner.
Obviously you have your partner with you but the same applies you really need to support each other as it not easy and just remember it will be worth it when you get there. Good luck

realhousewifeofdevoncounty Sat 11-Jun-11 00:02:16

Can I just ask, when you "go in" after 5 minutes etc, do you go in and just let your presence be known, or do you pick them up so they stop crying and then put them down again? I know for a fact my dd wouldn't stop crying if I just went in to the room, and would probably in fact get worse, so does that mean in effect you leave them to cry for hours on end without stopping at all? I don't think my dd would ever stop crying unless I picked her up and she would just get in more and more of a state and happily cry all night. She fights sleep for hours in the day and can go for hours without sleep, so I would be worried she would just keep screaming til she made herself ill or literally fell unconscious - seriously. However she is still only 5 mo so perhaps too young to try it anyway.

That's not a criticism btw, just genuinely curious. She won't self-settle and I have thought about maybe trying CC in the future, but I'm just not confident it will ever work with her, and as other posters have said I think I would need assurance that it would work eventually to have the nerve to try it at all I think.

Anyway sorry about thread hijack, but interested to know!

RitaMorgan Sat 11-Jun-11 00:18:21

5 months is way to young for controlled crying - they need to know you'll come back, which is more like 9 months.

I think it depends on what sort of baby you have - some will cry down and eventually calm, some just escalate and the only way they stop is if they cry themselves exhausted. I have an escalator grin so I knew CC wouldn't work for us.

seeker Sat 11-Jun-11 00:25:52

'Keep in mind that your baby benefits in the long run from having a proper night's sleep. You are doing it for his health and well being just as much as yours."

No you're not. You're doing it for yourselves. That's not a bad thing, but you need to be honest about this. What would be best for your baby would be to take him/her into bed with you and get a good night's sleep that way. And you will. But people choose not to do that - and that's fine. SO lon as they keep in mind whose benefit this is for, There is NO WAY that cc or CIO is the best thing for the baby.

realhousewifeofdevoncounty Sat 11-Jun-11 00:30:19

Yep. Sounds like mine too! Have tried pick up/put down, or my version of it, I soothe her to stop the crying and attempt to put her down again while still awake, but she just starts crying again as soon as I start to lower her into the cot every single time. So eventually I abandoned even trying anymore and just succumb to rocking her completely to sleep in my arms before lowering her in gently, which may take several attempts in itself as she often startles as she is gong down. My 5 mo is now getting very heavy to be rocked to sleep - so I just make dp do it! It was his fault anyway, I had CS so he started out right from the beginning rocking her to sleep - I wouldn't have had the patience or the stamina to do it myself! In fairness though it was all that would work with her as she was refluxy and collicky.

I just can't see that cc would ever work with her, but maybe things will seem different by the time she's older! And don't worry, I wouldn't even attempt CC atm.

differentnameforthis Sat 11-Jun-11 02:40:26

Absolutely agree with seeker! It isn't for the babies benefit at all.

Dd2 slept through from a young age, but now, nearing 3 she has been waking at night 4 out of 7 nights roughly, for a yr. She climbs into our bed & falls asleep. Then I carry her back to her bed. She settles at bed time perfectly, but she just needs her cuddles & some comfort to help her when she wakes, I'd rather she do that, than have me up over an hour trying to return her to bed.

I am shock that some of you say you leave your child for up to 20 minutes, crying before you go back in. 20 minutes to a baby is a hell of a long time.

If I was crying for 20 minutes, in a house where I knew other people were, but they never came to see what was wrong, I think I would be pretty emotionally wiped out about that! And I think I would lose my trust in those who love me.

Babies wake at night, they are difficult to settle around 7/8/9 months because they NEED the attachment to you, the safety & comfort that you provide. Why deny them this? I find it cruel.

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