Cry it out – who wins?

The last couple of nights have been a huge bedtime battle. I’ve been trying to keep a more set schedule when it comes to the kid’s naps. Around 11 or 11.30 he goes down for 60-90 minutes. Then again at 3 or 3.30 for about 60 minutes. He’s usually grouchy enough at that point to actually go down with only a little fuss.

But bedtime? Is suddenly an all-out war. And I’m not sure who’s winning.

Of course, it’s not really about winning. The boy has to be able to put himself to sleep. And he was most of the time. He would cry a little, like he does when he’s hungry or wet. It lasts a few minutes and then he’s out.

And now – the last couple of days? Serious crying. The kind where they do that “uh, uh, uh” breathing because they’re crying so hard they can barely catch their breath. He screams so loud and so long I wonder when he’s going to take a breath in. It’s the type of crying that winds him up and makes things worse. We’ve all had those crying fits, right? Where you’re crying so hard you just can’t stop? Yeah, that’s him right now.

It is breaking my heart and I feel like a terrible mommy. I want to cry right along with him, because it really sounds like he’s hurting. Like he needs me. It takes every ounce of will I have not to go in there and scoop him up. Because a 1/2 hour of that would break even the strongest of wills.

And I’m not that strong. I know we have to set the habit now. I don’t want to create a bedtime monster. But God help me, I’m not sure I can get through this with my sanity intact.

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7 Responses
  1. Christine (6 comments.) says:

    The only rule is that every time you figure your kid out, they change on you :). Have you tried a short walk before bed (the cold air does wonders) or a bath every night? My kids had to do their nightly routine the same way every night – and kept the same one into elementary school. Good luck :). You will get through this!

  2. canape (7 comments.) says:

    I can’t do it. I’ve tried. Because they are “supposed” to be able to put themselves to sleep.

    IMHO, the goal is to have my baby sleep. If I have to rock him to sleep every night, then so be it. But having him lay in there and scream doesn’t do either one of us any good. Of course, I think we are a few months behind you guys, so maybe I’ll feel differently later?

    I know that “uh uh uh” breathing – it is so awful.

  3. Christina (3 comments.) says:

    I really really do feel you on this. We actually – and please, feel free to judge me for this – went to a child development specialist who coached us on sleep for Aidan. We had a heck of a time getting him to bed every night without the crying battle. Both Greg and I did not so much handle the CIO method initially.

    But the therapist gave us some tools/ideas – and now we have a totally consistent bedtime routine AND we made a book with pictures that we look at every day that tells the story of our sleeptime routines.

    And within four days it worked for us. The first couple of nights were rough, but now we have about two minutes of crying and poof. Down.

    That’s my story, so I really feel your pain. CIO is tough.

    Christina’s last blog post..Daily Tweets

  4. Heather Cook (1 comments.) says:

    Did you check for an ear infection? When my daughter did this around 18 months I tried to tough it out . . . but the third day I figured something was wrong. Yup, double ear infection.

    Heather Cook’s last blog post..Little Effort . . . Big Payoff

  5. Julie @ the calm before the stork (13 comments.) says:

    It must be something about this age??? I feel like I’ve just gone through the same thing (cross fingers that I can use the past tense). Suddenly, one night, after weeks and weeks of fairly easy not too much crying at bedtime, we were back to the 45-60 minutes of fussing, fighting, and a new level of screaming that he’s seemed to have recently developed/discovered.

    I wrote about my struggles on my blog, feeling like a bad mom, and someone posted a comment about attachment parenting with links to articles about how CIO causes despondency at best, brain damage at worst.

    I freaked out. FREAKED OUT. Went back to rocking the boy down and running to him at every cry. For a week or so. Then I talked to a counselor whom I trust very much and she asserted that Jonah was just angry that he wasn’t at the “party” with us. It may sound weird, but it’s what I believed the first time round when sleep got hard and we started CIO, at 7 months. I let him cry again a few nights ago, and things seem to have settled back down.

    I read on AskMoxie that 9 months is a prime time for what she calls a sleep regression — due to teething, developmental leaps. It happens. So, whatever we do, it’s hard to even say what works. I guess.

    For me, the biggest result of CIO was J being able to sleep for 10 hours at a stretch. HEAVEN.

    I should just say this: I hear you, I relate. It’s hard. We’re GOOD moms.

    But I’ll add my two posts about sleep — the first where it started to fall apart, the second where the attachment mom weighed in…

    sleep ad-nauseum

    joy and sorrow


    Julie @ the calm before the stork’s last blog post..i believe in miracles

  6. becky says:

    @Christine – we haven’t really started the nightly bath routine, although I’ve thought about it. Looks like it might be time for that.

    @canape – I seriously think it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. When he’s just whining, I can let him cry. But when he’s so upset like he has been, it just kills me. I don’t mind rocking him or sitting with him and talking to him every night until he falls asleep. But I realize that I may not want to continue doing that until he’s five years old, either. I’m really just looking for a happy medium right now. On the other hand, I can’t run and pick him up every time he cries. He’s smart, and he’ll soon learn to use that to his advantage. I have no doubts about that.

    @Christina – I admit that I have to shut the door on his crying. Hello, bad mommy! But I can still hear him since the couch is only feet away from the door (small apt). I’m starting the consistent bed routine… well, at least the TIME he goes to bed, instead of letting him stay up until he falls asleep with us & then moving him. And I think that’s what he’s fighting. The book idea is good. At the least I could always read the same bedtime story each night.

  7. becky says:

    @Heather – Yes, we took him within the last week or so and they said he was fine. He had been crying and grabbing his ears a bit, so I wanted to get it checked. Instead, it was most likely the teething. (But man did he CRY when they stuck that light in his ears – WOW, that was one ticked off baby.)

    @Julie – I KNOW. It has to be their ages. We had fairly easy bedtimes. A little crying, but nothing this drastic. And yes, this is a new level of crying. Much louder and more insistent. I think he discovered it at the doc’s office when we were getting his ears checked. :(

    I go in and check on him, let him know I’m here, but tell him he needs to go to sleep. But I only do that right after I put him down. If I go back in later, it starts escalating again.

    I’m not sure if it’s settling back down yet. I think it was a little shorter tonight. And yeah, I read Ask Moxie. I should have remembered about the 9 month sleep regression. It’s perfect timing for him. He’s just about to crawl – bouncing back and forth on his hands and knees, doing a little rabbit hop (I told my mom he hops like her car did when she was learning to drive a stick. Heh.) On top of that it looks like he’s finally learning to sit all the way up on his own – tonight he went from his tummy to sitting up a couple of times. Normally I have to help him get upright. And he’s putting more weight on his legs as I daily stand him up and let him hold on to my hands.

    I guess we’re hitting about 9 hour stretches or so, but I wish the wake up call wasn’t at 4:30. ;) I’ll be over to read your posts about the sleep issues. Man, I would’ve freaked, too, if someone told me my son would be brain-damaged from CIO. Yikes!