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Controlled crying: has it worked for you?

(29 Posts)
oxocube Mon 03-Jun-02 12:57:39

I apologise as I realise that this is probably a very old topic but I am new to this site and would really appreciate any advice from parents who have tried the controlled crying method of sleep training. I have two older kids (6 & 4 yrs), but they both fell into their own patterns and were sleeping through the night by 4 months. My youngest is 7 months and until 2 nights ago, was waking up approx 3 times every night and would not go back to sleep until breastfed and (usually) in our bed. He eats well through the day , 3 solid meals and about 4 breast feeds, so I felt that he was ready to start sleeping through the night and could not be waking because he was hungry.

Day 1: baby went to bed at 7.30, woke at 8.00 p.m and cried for about 1 1/2 hours. I went back to him every 15 mins but didn't take him out of the cot. Then he fell asleep and woke only once thru night and fell asleep again after I tucked him in (but didn't take him out of cot)
Day 2: exactly the same

I have read lots about Gina Ford on this site and am trying to implement some of her recommendations but I have some questions for all you mums out there who have tried this and would love any advice. My two older children are at school, which means school runs at 9.00, 12.00, 1.00 and 3.00, not to mention after school activities and arrangements to play with friends. My baby often falls asleep in his pushchair going back and forth to school. Do I wake him and put him in cot, awake and try to get him back to sleep? Also, his afternoon nap is far too short, often only about 40 mins and he is shattered by bed time. Can I use the C.C. method for afternoon naps too? I tried this yesterday, but he screamed for so long that I eventually got him up, thinking it would probably be bath time before he fell asleep!

My two bigger kids are understandably a little jealous of the anmount of time little one is demanding at the moment. Any advice on juggling a sleep programme, Princess Barbie and Harry Potter single handed? My husband often works away from home and we currently live abroad so asking family for help is not an option.

Sorry this is so long winded but I would love to hear from anyone who has been in similar situation, particularly if this programme worked! Plus, how long before this is supposed to work?

maryz Mon 03-Jun-02 15:26:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Purp Mon 03-Jun-02 16:12:38

Oxocube, you have similar concerns to me about your 7 month old boy. DD (8 months) is my only child so I'm afraid I have no advice re how to fit in his naps with the other two, though I do wish you luck with that and hope someone else can help you once they are back from their good ol' Jubilee celebrations!

My concern is daytime controlled crying. Seems like your night time CC is working quite well? ANyway, re the daytime stuff, dd wakes up after 25 mins and will sometimes go back off with a cuddle but I would like her to go straight through for at least an hour and a half (hopefully more). Since yesterday, I have left her for a max of 15 mins and she has gone back to sleep once each nap so I am hopeful for success.

What I am trying to get round to, apart from hoping someone can help you Oxocube, is to say yes please would someone out there please advise about daytime cc. Do you still go in every 15 mins? Do you leave them until the appointed hour that you wish they would sleep to? Some people seem to say 5 mins, 5 mins, 10 mins etc others longer gaps. Is is personal preference do you think? Also I suppose, how strongly they are crying. Oh dear, I'm sure I had loads of queries but I have forgotten them, no doubt due to DD's hideous nighttime antics at the moment. I'll stop now. Good luck again Oxocube.

Purp Mon 03-Jun-02 16:26:50

I've just remembered one of the other things I wanted to ask. People keep asking how you do GF with child number two (or three in your case Oxocube) and although someone once said where in GF's book to find it, no-one has been into any detail as far as I've seen and I'm sure lots of people are interested. Any info anyone? Pupuce?

LiamsMum Tue 04-Jun-02 05:33:09

Purp & Oxocube, yes controlled crying worked well for us when ds was younger. (We haven't had to use it since then). He went through a stage of crying when we put him to bed at night and we used the cc method - we found it does work quite quickly. He doesn't cry at bedtime anymore and he's hardly ever woken through the night. As far as daytime cc, that is a hard one... the way we got our ds into regular naps through the day was to give him a dummy for his day sleeps only. He looked forward to this and would then sleep for a couple of hours. It also settled him straight away and he didn't spend any time crying. This is probably not everyone's answer but it worked for us... best of luck with everything.

LKM Tue 04-Jun-02 09:49:16

Only have one dd (and still v. young - 9 weeks) but have found CC to work well at night (first time 2 hours but now 5-15 mins max and has slept 8pm to 4.30am or longer last 3 nights) but if she doesn't go down after about 15 mins day time I don't persist. I try my best to keep an eye on her daytime for signs of tiredness and put her down asap when I see these. If that doesn't work and she gets overtired I do resort to walks in the buggy on occasion - 20 min nap seems to perk her up enough to try again for a longer nap the next time. I can't remember if GF has a recommended # of hours that a 7 mo can stay awake for but for my 2 mo I do keep my eye on the clock and look for tiredness signs after about 1.5 hours as she rarely lasts longer than 2 hours. One final tip that works for me - if I think she is getting tired, put on some music and quite often she will start to drop off in her bouncy chair. The louder the music the better for her!

Bozza Tue 04-Jun-02 11:58:40

oxocube - I would definitely stick to your guns with the nighttime routine because it is going well and (to me) this is the most important bit to get right. However if your lifestyle/other kids means you can't manage a daytime routine I think I wouldn't try controlled crying for naps. It seems unfair to expect it of baby. Also as mentioned a routine may evolve naturally. We did cc with our son because he was breastfeeding out of habit and it worked very well for us. But never had as much luck in the daytime. Although now at 15 months he will go down for his one nap a day without trouble unless we have messed with his routine.

Other point is CC once a day might be all you can cope with. Especially if other kids need attention.

oxocube Tue 04-Jun-02 14:03:57

Thanks to you all for the advice. Bozza, I think you are probably right about the day time naps: I have tried it a couple of days in a row and it doesn't seem to be working. I know all kids are different and perhaps my baby feels happier with 3 short naps of about 30 mins in pushchair, than with 1 long afternoon sleep. It works better re other children anyway. BUT, the great news is that the nighttime C.C. does seem to be working: last night was night 3 and instead of 1 1/2 hours of crying, d.s. fell asleep after about 55 mins - still heartbreaking to listen to, especially as now, when I go to settle him every 15 mins, he grabs my hand tight and stares straight into my eyes with a 'please don't leave me' sort of expression! Last night, he woke once but fell asleep within minutes after settling.

I will definitely persist with this, even though it is hard, and to be fair, d.s. doesn't seem to hate me in the morning. (Life is so less complicated with babies than with husbands!!!)

Thanks again to all.

Bozza Tue 04-Jun-02 14:13:00

Well done oxocube. I'm posting this because you need all the encouragement you can get when going through this. I can certainly sympathise. It is very hard. Hopefully soon you will have a proper breakthrough.

aloha Tue 04-Jun-02 14:55:48

I do think some babies just aren't ready for controlled crying until they are older. Tried it with ds when he was about 5months and he cried and cried - more than 3 hours and still going strong before we gave in. We tried again soon after - same result. Then at nearly 8months, we did it and he cried 20 minutes first night, then less and less at each waking. Now cries max five mins. Yes, we did have months and months of sleep deprivation, but I couldn't cope with hours and hours of crying and felt it was wrong. If the crying doesn't go on for hours and the periods of crying are getting shorter, I'd say persist. It worked for us, eventually! BTW, I don't do it for naps. he usually goes down well two hours after getting up esp if rocked in his buggy. But if he doesn't stop crying within 5-10mins, I pick him up again. Life's too short for that much crying.

pupuce Tue 04-Jun-02 19:57:25

Hi Oxocube (and Purp) - I've not read all the answers... have not much time tonight but here are my thoughts.

Why don't you "wake" your son at around 730/8 AM, get the kids to school at 9, let your son nap at 10AM for however long : I'd say between 30 to 45 minutes (but my own DD - 10 mo sleeps over 60!)
Pick up kids at 12, have his lunch ready for 1215 (I suspect your home at that time?), get your kids back at school and your son back in bed for a long nap at 1315 (until 1500).
His room needs to be quite dark and if he is not a good sleeper, try to keep the house very quiet for his naps. It is very common for babies to wake naturally (go into lighter sleep) after 45 or 60 minutes, so during his longer nap you might want to not "jump" in (I don't think you're doing that) but wait for him to fall back to sleep.

I read what you said about 3 shorts naps... I do think you should try to give him 1 long as these naps have different purposes and the long one is good for a small baby : it recharges their batteries and gives their brain a break

I have always found that going in when a baby has cried for a few minutes, holding them tightly against me and whispering, humming a song for about 1 to 2 minutes, worked... not always at the first try but I never had to do it nore than twice.

Please tell us how it goes - I am always interested

Purp - I did start a thread on GF with a second baby.
My experience is that my 2nd child was far easier and if it had been my first child, I probably would not have needed GF as she slept and fed really well and never cried.
While I was much more relaxed about DD's routines, I realise that I know the book very well, so I am sure I use it a lot unconscioulsy. One thing to keep in mind and which I have found VERY true... Once your baby is well established on a routine you can easily modify it. I would say it is worth the effort (sticking for at least a couple of weeks to a routine) to get their sleeping well established as it is a great gift.
Recently I went for 5 days on a trip and the routines went out of the window but DD was right back on them when we came back and she was very easy during the trip but hardly ever napped when she was supposed to.

maryz Tue 04-Jun-02 23:06:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

oxocube Wed 05-Jun-02 15:22:55

Thanks for the suggestion Maryz, but dh is working away from home at the moment, so not possible. Also, I deliberately decided to try the C.C. when he was not at home: I know he wouldn't be able to leave our d.s. to cry (tho he's not the one who was feeding 3 times a night!)and felt that it would only lead to friction and perhaps a row. I thought it would be easier to do this on my own, less tension etc. Another problem since dropping the night feeds, though, is my milk seems to be drying up. Not sure what to do about this except perhaps feed more often through the day, maybe go from approx 4 feeds to 6. Did anyone else have the same experience? I would like to feed another 4 months or so if poss.

Pupuce, thanks for the advice. I would love d.s. to have a long sleep in afternoon. It would give my brain a rest as well as his. But HOW,HOW,HOW? He simply will not do it and I don't have the courage to leave him to cry during the day as well as at night. Tried quiet room, blinds drawn, a quick cuddle then trying to put him back but to no avail. Hopefully, once nights are sorted, he may be rested enough to sleep better thu day (if that makes sense!)

Tillysmummy Wed 05-Jun-02 15:37:10

My dd is making an awful lot of fuss before settling at night now which she never used to. Sometimes it takes an hour. She stops as soon as I go in and see her.

I haven't had the guts to try controlled crying yet - I know I should. Has anyone got any recommendations as to how I can get through it ? I would find it so hard to listen to her cry for ages. She gets so angry.

Normally I go in and see her, stroke her hair for a minute and then leave. I end up doing this 3 or 4 times during the hour. It seems she thinks its a game as she laughs when I go in and gets really excited.

Any tips to help me pluck up the courage on the controlled crying front ?

Tillysmummy Wed 05-Jun-02 15:39:39

Forgot to say, she's 8.5 months

Azzie Wed 05-Jun-02 15:59:52

Tillysmummy, we had this with ds for ages. Eventually at 12 months we decided that we had to bite the bullet and sort it. We were totally fed up with spending 1-1.5 hours every evening sitting in his bedroom (dearly though we loved him), then doing it all over again if he woke in the middle of the night.

We did controlled crying and it was hell. He was very stubborn (must get that from dh ) and refused to crack for about 3 weeks. At the height of the process dh went off to Japan on business, leaving me to cope alone - I really wasn't sure whether I could be hard-hearted enough without dh's moral support.

However, the first night was bad, on the second ds got up to 15 mins between visits then went to sleep, and on the third night I only had to go back to him once. It was as though he suddenly realised that I was serious. Since then we have had no trouble whatsoever getting ds to bed. He was a lot happier because he had had enough sleep (and so was I), and he also went down just as easily for his daytime nap. I wondered whether we were doing him some sort of terrible mental harm, but it didn't seem to affect him or his attitude to us at all.

In our experience, controlled crying was very very hard to do, but paid off big time for all of us. You have to make up your mind to do it and stick to it, though - I'm sure that if we'd wavered it wouldn't have worked - ds is turning out to be far from stupid (must get that from me ).

pupuce Wed 05-Jun-02 16:20:51

I have no experience of CC myself but Christopher Green says it is best to do it early on BUT HE DOES NOT recommend it before 6 months of age. He says that "worst" sleepers are the hardest to change...

Oxocube - I know what you mean....but not sure you might not be able to do daytime and nightime at the same time. Can someone not do the scool run for you for 3 or 4 days ? I hear that CC takes less than a week in the vast majority of cases (again there are some stubborn ones )

Last summer I remember another mum having a really hard time with daytime naps (baby REFUSING to nap at all!).... so she asked for support and she was online while her baby was crying.... it did work within 2 days for her.

There is hope - but you must be detremined todo it properly or don't bother at all IMO as it is hard enough !

Tillysmummy Wed 05-Jun-02 16:21:20

Thanks for the encouragement Azzie. I need to pluck up the courage. Need to talk to DH about it tonight, talking of which, time for me to go home.

aloha Wed 05-Jun-02 18:18:53

Hi Tillysmummy - did you read my post? My ds was a horror for sleeping for 8months - waking up all night at 2/3 hour intervals. Then we decided to get tough (and were dreading it because before he'd cried for hours). He cried for max 20mins, then less and less. Now he sleeps through, and if he does wake at all, cries a couple of times and goes back to sleep. Recently he cried harder and we though 'oh no' but he just had a nappy leak and once he was dried off went back to sleep. It's been like a miracle for us. Like you I couldn't stand a lot of crying but I and a friend have found something changed at 8months and they responded much better to the cc. It might be a lot easier than you imagine. I wish you lots of luck!

Fionn Wed 05-Jun-02 18:56:06

Tillysmummy - Yes, try it! We didn't have the courage/desperation to try it with our first until he was 15 months old, and although we saw a change fairly quickly it was 4 weeks before he would go to sleep on his own and get himself back to sleep if he woke in the night. Don't believe the books telling you it will take 2 weeks maximum - it might, but it might not! It was awful to let him cry (2 1/4 hours the first time! But with us going in every few minutes), but more difficult as he was so old.
With the second we tried at 6 months. That didn't work so I spoke to a very helpful woman at Serene (formerly Crisis- I've still got their no. somewhere if you're interested), who said it doesn't work before 7 months. So we tried at 7 1/2 months and it worked after a couple of weeks. It really helps to keep a sleep diary, recording what time they go down, how long they cried for, what times they slept, what you did etc etc for every night. It's encouraging to see the progress on paper even though it doesn't always feel like it's progressing when they're howling at 3am and you're exhausted!
One vital thing - it won't work unless you're both determined. Friends of mine couldn't do it because their husbands always wanted to give in on the second night. And you should share it when possible, so the child knows one parent isn't an easy option!
It is hell, but so is being exhausted and constantly woken. Pick your night to start, get the sleep chart ready (I can give you exactly what you're supposed to record if you like) and don't give in!
Good luck!

aloha Wed 05-Jun-02 22:24:10

Fionn - how interesting! That's just my experience. CC was no good for us at 5months and easy at just 8months. I was so surprised how easy it was and he does sleep well now. And he doesn't appear to love us any less!

Fionn Wed 05-Jun-02 23:28:08

Aloha - yes, I remember someone saying to me that they don't remember it in the morning and it's true. It would be impossible to do if affected them negatively, but it really doesn't seem to.

sis Thu 06-Jun-02 15:27:22

tillysmummy, it worked for us after the first 2-3 nights. The first night we tried it ds cried for about 35minutes and the second night, he cried for about 10-12 minutes and then he stopped crying and seemed to drift off to sleep until teething and colds started affecting his sleep again. BTW, ds was about 15months old when we first tried it and the first night, I sat in our bedroom (next to ds's room)and stared at the clock as I could not read or distract myself in any other way. The second nighgt, dh and I just cuddled eachother for comfort!

oxocube Thu 06-Jun-02 19:39:20

This is now night 5! My d.s. still cries (for about 40 mins this evening) but the night time waking seems to be stopping. Last night he woke once, at 3ish but cried for a matter of seconds before falling asleep. Bad news is he woke at 5 and I DID feed him back to sleep, but he was unwell, teething and very hot, so I felt it would be unfair to leave him. One thing I am doing, though, is the settling/ leaving to cry routine for about 35 or 40 mins, going back about every 10 or 15 mins, then I go to him and stroke his head and pat him for a few minutes longer until he closes his eyes. Then (at least for last few nights) he falls asleep. Maybe this is not 'true' C.C. but he IS still awake when I leave the room, but only just.

The only words of comfort I can give are that it does seem to be working, but it takes a lot of soul-searching IMO. Yes, I feel really crappy leaving my lovely baby to cry, but I felt just as crappy when I was feeding 3 times a night with no sleep. I think I have decided (God, I'm so indecisive!) that I don't think it makes someone a good or bad parent for going down this route, or any other for that matter. You just have to decide what will work for you and your family, I am rambling. And I'm new, so what do I know!

Very best of luck to you, Tillysmummy, and to all who are going through this at the moment. xx

mears Fri 07-Jun-02 14:09:42


Just a response to an earlier posting about your milk supply. Night feeds do boost milk production because of higher prolactin levels so you could always do one feed only or, as you suggested yourself, feed more often during the day. The more you feed, the more milk you make. Perhaps lots of breastfeeds during the day will stop him looking for the breast at night. Don't count the feeds but be relaxed and let him feed when he/you wants.

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