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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson Sleep Training

‘Sleep Training’ is a hot button topic, sure. But we were desperate for sleep as most parents of babies are. Elliot was 6 months and she had my number and was ringing it 4 times a night. She knew that if she cried loud enough I would come running, boob in hand, ready to stuff it into her adorable little mouth, to prevent her from waking up her 2 1/2 year old brother who would surely insist on 19 books before returning to sleep. It was getting worse as she was getting smarter. She needed to learn how to sleep on her own. We are her parents. That’s our job.

Here is my stance on the “sleep training” subject: I feel that the happiness of the family trumps the happiness of each individual child. I think that as long as you show love and your child feels loved, then it doesn’t matter how you manage to get them to sleep. I think it’s really, really important to teach kids how to self soothe.

But … I try to avoid “Crying It Out” (the version with no check-in) because it’s stressful for parent and child. The biggest problem with CIO is my fear that they feel abandoned by me, wondering where I am, and that they’ll lose important trust we’ve established. But I don’t think that’s even true or possible. That’s just my fear.

I think we are all on the same page when we say that when your child is a newborn you do not let them “cry it out.” Sure, you can give them a break every now and again, and let them cry for a few minutes (which some Dr’s believe is a stress reliever). I’m not a scientist, but I believe firmly in the “babies can’t be spoiled/loved/held too much” camp and I think that if your 3 week old baby is screaming, you pick her up, and soothe. Please. Babies need to trust you, and I think that it takes months to build that trust.

Emily And Elliot

Ok… But, after 4 months or 15 pounds (some say 5 months) it’s more widely known that they can kinda handle some distress on the way to sleeping through the night. Being neither anti or pro-CIO, again I believe that at the “safe age” you need to do whatever is best for your family. I would advise to try an easier method first to preserve your emotional sanity (Ferber or the one I did, see below) BUT, if you have to do CIO to just get it done (because it works) then do it. They’ll be fine, and it will hurt you more than them. To me it’s a last resort because the sound of my baby crying is painful for me, and doing what we did at least made me feel like she knew I wasn’t abandoning her because I was constantly in there chanting to her. Let’s face it a lot of the “sleep training” methods are made for us, not them.

Elliot was a lot more stubborn and willful than Charlie was at this age, so I put it off for weeks. But like I said above, that little girl had my number and she was ringing it, texting it, IM-ing it, and doing all sort of Facebook notifications with it all night long. So I looked at the calendar, and I saw a Sunday/Monday/Tuesday in a row where I didn’t have to be on camera or have any stressful shoots and I booked it. “Sleep Train Elliot, ” I wrote on the calendar. It was the week before she turned 6 months old. Happy 1/2 birthday, little bird 🙁

But I needed backup (at least I felt I needed backup … don’t we all need backup??)

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I was desperate for moral/professional help. So, we called our old nanny, Shauna (founder of Nanny Agency LA), who had successfully trained many a baby via a non-CIO method. I had become personal friends with her, she still sits a lot for us and we hang out, plus both kids are super comfortable around her. So, I hired her to help me get through the night. By the way, she has even trained babies without the parents home, which she offered but I couldn’t (if you are desperate feel free to call her and she can place one of her sleep training experts to do the job for you).  I just wanted someone else I trusted there to say “Nope, don’t go in. Wait 1 more minute because she’s winding down.” It’s like I needed a babysitter. The plan was that Brian and Charlie would sleep in the guest suite to eliminate the stress/possibility of waking that toddler up, and also so at least one parent would be able to function the next day (it’s detached from the house and while the monitor stretches that far, Brian still slept out there with him). I didn’t want to do the “sleep training” by myself but I didn’t want both of us being dead the next day and since I had the boob (and he didn’t), I knew that I would take the first night just in case.

Which brings me quickly to weaning – she was nursing at night but mostly pacifying because I was too tired to rock her to sleep. Shauna asked me if I was ready to wean her at night too and I said, YES. I only wanted to do this once and as long as she can healthily go 10-12 hours without food at night, then wean I will.

So around 6pm Shauna walked me through our now pretty strict routine:

The “No-Cry” method (which Shauna loves) recommends this (as most books do, actually):

1. Bath

2. Massage (possibly with some lavender oil).

3. Bottle (without sleep sack).

4. A song that anyone can sing for them -WITH sleep sack.

5.  Lay them down AWAKE, say your “script” and leave.

The key was making sure she doesn’t fall asleep while feeding, and giving her the song/sleep sack and script as her cues that this is non-negotiable, “it’s time to sleep.” 

After that, our plan of attack was to implement The Happy Sleeper method of going in after 5 minutes of crying, saying the EXACT same script in a really happy/positive voice, then leaving. Repeat until no crying. Every. Five. Minutes. Our script was this:

“Its time to sleep, Elliot. We’ll be right outside. I love you sooooo much and I can’t wait to see you in the morning. Good night.”

You must be happy, loving and positive. Kids mirror emotions as we all know, so if you are panicky and stressed, you are making it worse.

No picking them up, rocking, and ideally no pacifier. They are learning to go to sleep without any tools that they can’t use themselves at night. We did the Ferber Method with Charlie (which starts out with smaller increments and then gets longer and longer in between going in, a few have written their experiences with it as well), and it worked (to get him to sleep without rocking, he never needed middle of the night sleep training as he slept through the night at 9 weeks). Recently we had to re-train him when he regressed after traveling abroad, because he was dying to come sleep with us as he had in the hotels. We did the 5 minute/script method for him (at 2 years old) and it worked and we were pretty comfortable with it.

Alright. So how did it go?

She cried from 7:45 – 8:50, not SCREAMING just a “C’mon, please come rock me to sleep!!” kind of thing. We turned the monitor off but we could still hear her. Shauna and I poured a glass of wine and watched something that I don’t remember because all I was thinking was “When is she going to stop crying? When is she going to stop crying? Wait, is she stopping? Is she stopping???” We kept a journal of the time, and I went in every five minutes and gave the script with the most loving, calm “you can do it” kinda voice possible. Sometimes she cried more when she heard me come in and sometimes less. She was definitely losing steam around 25 minutes but technically she fussed for 50 minutes before she passed out. I think I only went in 5 times because if she stopped fussing even for 30 seconds we restarted the 5 minute clock  – you know, those 30 seconds in which you hold your breath and stretch your ear towards the door thinking “is this it? is this it???”

Once she was down for a while, I relaxed and went to bed. Around 2am (are you guys still awake and reading this?) we had another 8 minute session so I only went in once (at the 5 minute mark). And again at 5am for 7 minutes, although that time Shauna went in because I didn’t hear her (thank you, Shauna).

Around 7:00am she woke up like an angel. So happy, smiley, and as if nothing had happened.

Turns out she caught on kinda fast. The next two nights I did it on my own because I felt confidant, and they got easier and easier – she cried less and less. Brian and Charlie came up on the second night and much to our shock she didn’t wake up Charlie.

We were high fiving all over the house. All our problems were solved.

Of course since then she started waking up at 5:30 then 5am then 4:30. At first I thought that she was hungry (7:30pm – 5:30am is 10 hours after all), but when we were approaching 4:30am I realized that we had to do it again. So three nights ago we went back to the 5 minute method. The key to this is feeling CONFIDENT that she isn’t hungry so I make sure that even if her schedule gets messed up during the day that we don’t feed her after 4pm (besides some solids) so we can be sure to give her a full, huge bottle at 7pm. If you want to know all the details, I am only nursing her in the morning and at night and I’m not sure how much milk she’s getting so that is complicating things, too.

We’ve done the 5 minute script again the last two nights in a row and it’s worked. The first night was only til’ 5:30am and the second (Tuesday night) was 7:30pm – 6:30am. That is solid sleep, folks and has worked great for me as that’s when I like to get up anyway.

Baby Elliot Sleeping

There were some props involved. I’m sure you could use ton of different brands, but if you wanted to know exactly what we use here you go:

1. The white noise monitor. Both our kids have these and they are essential to their sleep.

2. The sleep sack. Again both our kids have these (we love those for our winter sacks) and while they are strangely expensive the cheap ones always break or rip.

3. A lovey. Both our kids have teeny-tiny blankets that bring them comfort and signal sleep time. Charlie sometimes wants this while we watch movies but generally these are blankies for when they are ready to go to sleep.

4. A comfortable mattress pad. Due to SIDS the mattresses these days are rock solid. With both our kids, we found that they slept so much better in our bed or in a bassinet than in their hard, hard crib for obvious reasons. Around 7 months with Charlie we added a thick blanket folded on top of the mattress but under the sheet to make it feel softer but tight. With Elliot we cut to the chase and ordered this,  but now I’m realizing I don’t think its organic which is a bummer so I wish I had ordered this. Ours is very soft, though and she loves it. My very unprofessional and purely editorial/opinion advice is this: I wouldn’t add that layer until they are 5 months so they can easily lift/move their heads and are not swaddled any longer. For us (caveat: OUR FAMILY and we hold no expertise), we decided a more comfortable mattress pad was a common sense option and our kids sleep well on the softness.

That’s it. People have asked about co-sleeping and after polling my friends that did co-sleep and that didn’t co-sleep, the jury is in that co-sleeping babies don’t sleep through the night as young, but do at some point and then meanwhile they probably have some really good cuddling time. We didn’t do it because we chose the “let them be independent and let us sleep” route, but with Elliot we were so tempted and definitely slept with her a lot longer (til 6 weeks, I think).

It’s really what works best for you. While I can be super opinionated and even annoyingly know-it-all in many ways of life, when it comes to kids I’m a “do your best” kinda person/parent. Seriously. Get through it with love and crying infrequently.

I’m also now a “I have had 8 hours of sleep and I can perform brain surgery if you need me to” kinda person. I know that this is only temporary and that things will digress, regress and undress over the next 5 years, but she has learned that she can get through the night without me now which means freedom, sleep, and sanity. And that is the recipe for happiness right there. I love that little baby but I’m even more fond of her when she sleeps through the night.

Also, can we all agree that having a friend who has once sleep trained to help you is a really important gift? It should be some sort of rite of passage or tradition. We all need help with that and we should be there for each other more than we are while drinking wine and watching “The Proposal” over and over.

In conclusion, “sleep training” is like giving birth – it doesn’t matter how you do it, it only matters that everyone survives.

Emily and Elliot Sleep Train

So. Let’s get into it in the comments. How did you “sleep train”? Are you anti-sleep training? Is co-sleeping a good thing? Did you CIO, FERBER, or do you even remember because its all a blur and it doesn’t really matter anyway???testtest

  1. Timely post! We have mostly been cosleeping with intermittent efforts at getting our now 11 month old to sleep on her own. She’s pretty good from 8-2am, but then she wants to be in bed and to nurse on demand (or all the time). Needless to say, a year of bad sleep is wearing and I’m ready for her to be independent! Especially as we get closer to her first birthday! I wonder though if a lot of the problem is that humans didn’t evolve to sleep alone and so we’re expecting a lot of our babies… But I love your point that a happy family is more important than a happy individual. Thanks!

    1. I completely agree that humans have never really slept alone – it’s a lot to be asking of everyone! Parents who have no problem training their babies to sleep away from them right off the bat should feel no guilt – get sleep wherever you can (seriously). But I like to remember that I sleep best with my husband in bed and even as a child, I slept best with my siblings in my room. I had plenty of years sleeping alone, but it was never restful.
      I love the verbal method of sleep training – talking to them, but not picking them up. When we need to train our babies to sleep (because we all do at some point), it’s nice to keep that relational tie flowing. I mean heck, I’m comforted from my mother’s words on the phone across the country… it’s the same when we speak to our children.

      1. I like this idea! And I totally agree! I hate sleeping alone and almost never do.

    2. I wonder if it’s more of a personality thing than a ‘history of humanity’ thing… I definitely sleep better alone. when my husband’s gone for whatever reason I’m in sleep heaven! I miss him of course, but that glorious feeling of total rest is like nothing else. I’m also an introvert. We tried co-sleeping with my (now) 10 month old but my brain could not relax, I was too hyper-aware of her presence & possible needs. My husband wishes we could still be co-sleeping but he’s an extrovert & sleeps like a rock if we’re all together. We moved her to her crib at 3 months then weaned & sleep-trained at 6 months. We tried every method but honestly the weaning & the eating solids probably had the biggest impact. We tried the script, too – she would just get furious with every repetition. Not her favorite. We’ve finally gotten to a place where we respond to certain kinds of cries (teething or not feeling well) but leave her to fuss with other kinds of cries and she mostly sleeps 7 pm to 6 am. I’ll take it. Parenting is not for the faint of heart!

      1. p.s. also, contrary to popular advice, she hated being swaddled, could care less about white noise (it made no difference with or without – we used it a long time before figure that out!), gets very energized by baths & massages (not relaxed!) & really just defies all popular wisdom.

  2. Will you say more about the impact extensive travel has on your kids and their sleep schedules? I love to travel but am petrified of disrupting sleep schedules, which are not perfect anyway but making them worse seems like a terrible idea. How do you soldier on and travel and make memories and cope with the reality that a big trip means regression and sleep training all over again when you get home?

    1. I’m not Emily, but have traveled cross country and internationally with my 22 month old. Honestly, she’s coped with it surprisingly well. We immediately put her on the new schedule when we get there (and focus on getting outside, into daylight, lots of walks) but maintain our same sleep routines (normal bedtime, books, song etc.) and do the same thing when we get back home and she has adjusted like a champ. It’s not perfect of course – usually there is one bad night during the trip, and one when we get back home – but it’s always better than I feared. We haven’t had to fully retrain when we get back, though it often takes a few days to settle back into old routines. I should say, though, that my daughter is generally a very good sleeper, so it might be different if you have a more restless sleeper.

      1. I will write about it soon, I promise. With one it was fine – not awesome, but still worth the trip. Our new goal/mantra is to avoid major cities until they are old enough to not need to nap. We have found in New York and Sydney that we don’t really get to do anything because we are in naptrap and neither kid is sleeping that well, so the whole family is tired. So lake house vacations for us for a while. One was fine, two is too much. As Jennie said if you can get them on their schedule asap they do adjust. Our biggest problem/mistake is when we only rent one hotel room (instead of an airbnb) and then they get into bed with us when they wake up in the middle of the night and then they want to do that when we get back home and it takes weeks to break them of that habit. ANYWAY, i’m not the #1 spokesperson for traveling with a baby and toddler these days – just make sure you go somewhere relaxing and easy. The less getting into cars the better. I’ve already outlined the post and i’m thinking maybe next friday i’ll post it. Stay tuned (and good luck). xx

        1. Totally agree! I just spent a week in Austin, TX with a 17 month old and a 5 year old. The 5yo could totally deal and even shop, but the little one was ruling the show, with all the sleep needs, food particulars and desire to roam. Told the husband that it was going be mellow country trips with as few options as possible for a while. Or wait until baby is totally weaned and go away on our own.

    2. We’ve traveled halfway around the world with our two little ones (almost 4 and 2) a few times, and they’ve been surprisingly resilient. We try to arrive at our destination in the late afternoon, so we can unwind a bit, take a relaxing bath and then go to bed early. The first day or two, one or more of us might wake up around 4 am, but it doesn’t take more than a couple days to get on schedule. We pretty much throw naps out the window while traveling, but they do get some sleep in transit (either in the car or carriers) and are plenty tuckered out by 6 or 7 pm. Coming back home sometimes takes longer to adjust, but it’s generally not that bad. I vote for family traveling! 😉

      P.S. Overnight flights have really worked for us. Early morning ones are not so easy.

  3. Love this post! I’m honestly terrified to say this because…hello internet people backlash but, I used CIO with all three of my kiddos. The crazy thing is we all survived! No one has been scarred for life and they all still love me!!

    1. I also used CIO with my 3 kids, starting at 6 months. It was extremely hard for the first 2, by my 3rd I knew it had to happen and it worked and we were all so much happier afterwards. Babies need to learn how to self soothe eventually (we did it at 6 months as well).

      1. I hope it was clear in my post that I think it doesn’t matter – its like giving birth – as long as everyone survives it doesn’t matter how you do it. xx

    2. Yeah, I tried (CIO) with my first and I didn’t like it. With my other two, I used a very similar style as emily with the soothing… combined with sometimes laying on the floor below the crib, etc. Whatever works.

    3. Ha, ha! I feel the same way. I used CIO with both mine–at 8 months with the first then at 4 months with the second. It was quick and effective and we were ALL so much happier for it. They’re both loved, loving, well-adjusted happy kids who still have great sleep habits at ages 6 and 3. No regrets whatsoever. I will say that CIO involved more than just letting them cry, there was a routine and schedule implemented along with it that helps them learn to soothe themselves.

  4. I think this is a really good post – and I completely agree with the happy family approach. We sleep trained at 6 months and did Ferber, along with a very similar bedtime routine to what you talked about. So the first night we waited three minutes, the next night five minutes etc. It worked great and I found it much better than the total CIO (for me, that is) because we could set the timer and know that there would be a point when we would go in there. We were lucky that at 6 months she was only waking once at night (around 3:30) so we night weaned at the same time. It worked surprisingly quickly – 4 nights – but we have had to “re-train” at certain times. But our kid is generally a great sleeper now (22 months) – we very rarely (i’m talking 1 time a month) have to go into her room during the night.

    And I completely agree that self-soothing is a vital skill, once they are old enough. It’s really important that kids be able to put themselves to sleep.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel like a sleep training failure… My first born slept through the night like a champ at 8 weeks, but my now 7 month old son has my number too and rings it off the hook. Between night potty training with my toddler and a baby who calls me to him every other hour I’m losing my mind to say the least. I felt like we haven’t been consistent, but your post gives me hope and tonight I’m going to implement this method (again, and be consistent about it). Thank you for writing this because last night I didn’t think I was going to make it to today!

    1. Oh man. I can completely understand. We’ve been putting off potty training Charlie because I just need a break from the middle of the night jobs for a month. Good luck, mama. Lower your expectations, rent some movies and maybe by monday you’ll be sleeping more??? xx

      1. he can still wear a diaper at night and potty train during the day, a lot of boys aren’t ready to give up night diapers until much older than 2 1/2!

      2. I can help you potty train Charlie. You need 3 days of just you and him (or Brian can do it, or I can or your nanny…but no Elliot around). Read Potty training in a weekend. Its insanely cheap on Amazon and you can finish it before Elliot finishes 1 nap.

  6. Thank you so much for this post!! My 16 month old decided that she would no longer sleep through the night (we never sleep trained before – she was always just a great sleeper) and my husband and I are on the edge…we don’t want to use CIO but haven’t found an approach that works for us. I’m going to try this method- this seems like something we can do. It’s nice to see a mommy post on the blog:) I miss these!!

    Wish me luck and thank you again!!! xx

  7. Man, I loved you before you had kids, and now I love you even more. I’ve been following your blog for years and you are the real deal. I love how genuine you are. Your posts are the ones I legitimately get excited to read. As a mom of four, I concur with everything you said! So happy you get to sleep! I’m gearing up to start training our little Bea these next few weeks. Your post came at the perfect time! Congrats on this HUGE milestone! ??

    1. Thank you thank you thank you 🙂 Good luck with Bea!!

  8. We waited until our daughter was 9 months to sleep train, and immediately were all “why did we wait so long?!?!?!?!” I’m due with our second and am already planning on doing it once we get the go ahead from the pediatrician. Unless of course, the second one turns out to be one of those unicorn babies who sleeps through the night on their own from 6 weeks. Fingers crossed!

  9. Thank you for this perspective! I feel like no one talks about sleep training because it really seems to bring out the nastiest comments on the internet–but you are so right. We are a FAMILY and we all have to work together for our health and happiness, whatever that might look like for each individual family. Our rookie mistake was swaddling our guy wayyyy too long when he clearly wanted out. As soon as we stopped he started sucking his thumb which is his preferred way to self soothe. We’re already saving for those braces…

    PS That noise machine is the best ever. My husband and I bought one immediately after we started using it in the dude’s room. It seems pricey, but it seems to use way less electricity than the air purifier/fan combo we were using in both rooms for background noise. And it travels so well! LOVE!

    1. Haha saving for the braces….yep us too! Well no we’re not but we should be because our 2 year old is a thumb sucker and the dentist already said they can see him changing the shape of his pallet….grrr but I love the full nights of sleep we get!

  10. What a great post. My boys are now 10 and 13, but I read every single word. Really, really good work.

    What I like about your approach is that you really broke down the problem into smaller, manageable parts, then solved each individual part. Sleep training can be so overwhelming, so this is very admirable.

    Good job Henderson family!

  11. What is that adorable sleep sack? We just transitioned our daughter from being swaddled every night, but she’s still sleeping in the swaddle, just with her arms free. I’d love to get her a couple of cute, cozy sleepsacks that are velcro free!

    1. halo makes a ton of cute ones!

    2. Thank you, Emily, for sharing our sleep sack! I’m thrilled Elliot likes it. It’s happening, sleep magic!
      Friends, I just started our Mother’s Day special discount so you’ll find them on our site,
      at -20% through Sunday!
      Good luck to all the baby sleepers out there and Happy Mother’s Day!
      xx Catherine

  12. Both of my girls started sleeping though the night around 8-10 weeks old. This was a blessing since I had to go back to work at 6 weeks. We did the CIO when there were relapses but turning off the monitor was probably the best thing we did. Our bedroom was on the first floor and their rooms were on the second. So if I could hear them without a monitor that is when I knew it was something more (feeling sick, hungry, wet diaper, etc..). Today they are 21 & 19 and have never had sleep issues as children or young adults.

  13. Thanks this is super fascinating and helpful! Even though I’m not a mother yet, I definitely want to be someday. But losing sleep is my biggest fear, and I feel just a little bit more prepared knowing that there are ways to make it work!

  14. Timely post! My 10.5 month old has woken EVERY HOUR since she was 2 months old. It is hell. We tried letting Her cry with us in the room soothing her, but I was a wreck. I think we may need to do something like you did, though, because I’m borderline crazy from the sleep deprivation.

    1. That is so hard! My little guy has always had a hard time sleeping. Sometime he would be up five times a night and sometimes for hours. It was awful! Come to find out he had all these food intolerances that were bothering him and giving him itchy skin as well. Once we cut out those foods, he started sleeping much better! Like, sometimes he would wake but just once and then fall quickly back to sleep, and sometimes he would sleep all night. It was a game changer for us! I hope you find something that helps your baby sleep better! Good luck!

    2. Been there! It’s SO HARD. My daughter had acid reflux–maybe just rule anything like that out? Even with medicine, though, she basically had to age out of it. (The medicine did help, but not THAT much.) Good luck! I never knew how tired I could be until I was awake non-stop for basically nine months.

  15. My nearly 7 month old is struggling with naps! He can get to sleep in his crib, but after 32-38 minutes ALWAYS wakes up crying. Does that method work with naps as well? Does your friend have a sleep guru recommendation in Seattle area?
    Thanks! Chelsea

    1. Sometimes waking up crying from naps is because the baby is too warm, or going through a developmental phase that raises anxiety.

      If he’s covered in sweat try taking clothes off and gently swaddling in breathable fabric, then turn a fan on in the room (but don’t blow directly on him). Even better if you can circulate fresh air from the window.

      If he’s just grumpy you can see if (gentle) swaddling and an attachment object (blanket like Emily’s lovey, stuffed animal, slip of yours) will soothe. Also adding to your “script” a statement about your whereabouts “I’ll be in the living room. You’re safe.” can help.

      Good luck!

      1. OOh thanks, Liss, you sound like you know your stuff. Very helpful. xx

        1. Lots of nannying, so many nap time routines … Guess I should’ve said before. Hope it does help.

    2. We’ve been dealing with the 35 minute wake up since birth with our now 4 month old. 20% of babies have this thing where they can’t get from light sleep to deep rem sleep and just wake up instead of passing through this phase of sleep in light sleep. It’s definitely our biggest struggle and we work VERY hard on our naps with 2 out of 3 being able to now be stretched out to proper length (with alot of help from us during the wake up time).

      Just wanted to let you know your not alone and yes it sucks big time!

      1. How did you work on naps? My 4.5 month old is a short napper & still needs to be rocked or bounced to sleep before crib. We use Merlin suit & sound machine too.

    3. My baby had the same issue, would wake precisely 30min into his nap, Every Single Time. Crying. For months. Regardless of anything I did, or how tired he was. It’s as Hilary says, some babies have trouble transitioning into the next phase of sleep. It suddenly resolved itself at 5 months. It drove me totally crazy but it was a temporary developmental phase.

      All the best!

    4. Chelsea – SAME SAME SAME. 7 months old exactly and suddenly started hating naps in his crib. I’ve been letting him cry some just to get him to sleep, following the 2-3-4 nap routine method, but even when he falls asleep, he’s up 30-40 mins crying every nap. Don’t know what to do!

    5. When we started letting our 9 month old CIO his naps went from 40 minutes to 2 hours. I tried ferber for a while but his crying would intensify every time I left without picking him up. I think you just have to try everything until you find what works for your family

      1. Victoria — so I;m clearly desperate, i’m seeking advice on Emily’s comments.. haha…

        so when he wakes up after 40 mins, i let him cry for a little.. before going in and he’s smiley and doesnt seem tired so i think huh he must be done with his short nap! BUT should i start up the ferber intervals when he wakes..? i haven’t tried that yet..

        1. I helped my baby with too-short naps from an idea from The No-Cry Sleep Solution (I’ll warn you that many of my friends thought I was nuts to do this, but it worked and my son went on to take 90 min – 3 hour naps subsequently). I timed his naps and when I heard him start to rouse but before he woke up, I went into his room and very gently shook the crib or bounced the mattress by putting light pressure with my palms until he went back to sleep. I didn’t say anything to alert him of my presence. After about a week of that, he started connecting his own sleep cycles and became a champion napper.

          1. I’ve heard of that! thanks! I’ll give that a shot and check out that booK!

  16. Oh man. I really wanted to be able to do this with my last kid, but I couldn’t do it. I wish I could have though because she only started sleeping all night on her own AFTER she turned 2. TWO YEARS of exhaustion. I felt I was doing the right thing but I am almost 100% certain she would have been just fine without me at night. Work suffered, health suffered, relationship suffered. Was it worth it in the end? Probably not. But it’s over thank god and I can’t go back now. I won’t be having any more kids but if I did, I would surely try what you tried above. It sounds gentle but effective. Congrats on rejoining the living Emily and thank you for sharing!!

  17. I recently read “Bringing up Bebe” and highly recommend it. There’s a long chapter on babies “doing their nights”. A lot of the tips there are written here, like putting the baby to sleep awake and talking to them like they can completely understand you. My main take home was that the sanity of the parents IS ABSOLUTELY as important as the sanity of the kids and you deprive them of much if they can’t self-soothe and connect their sleep cycles by themselves.

    1. Love love love love the French parenting books! I had no idea which parenting style I identified with until I read those. I recommend them for everyone but I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

  18. We Ferber-ized our first. And apparently waited too long because she was actually able to talk by the time we tried. I remember one night she stood up in the crib and wailed pitifully “Someone please help me!” We lived in an apartment then and I was sure someone was going to call CPS. She’s 20 now and I’m back to sleepless nights waiting for her to come in the door by curfew. The circle of life!

    1. That’s hilarious and made me laugh out loud. Charlie will yell in the morning if we don’t get him fast enough in full articulate sentences that cracks us up. “Mama and dada i’m awake and ready to get out of my crib now!!!”.

  19. When my 3 year old was a baby, I took classes and read everything I could on getting him to sleep through the night, but this post is better than any resource I came across! I love all the detail! And I appreciate the non-judgmental tone. Thank you!

    1. Thank you very much. That is such a nice thing to say. xx

  20. Did you know the number one distressing sound for a mom is the cry of a baby? For a dad? It doesn’t even register in the top ten. My advice to all mom is go to Vegas for the weekend when you baby is ready for sleep training and have your husband do it. I went away for three days and when I came back my baby girl was sleep trained.

    1. That is VERY good advice. I know a decent amount of couples that the husband won’t sleep train but the wife is ready (because the wife is the one up all night). So most of them have sneakily done it while the men were out of town. So crazy.

      1. Yeah. I love my husband, but he was OUT when he fell asleep. Meanwhile, I was on constant alert. I’m glad we aren’t in cave man times, because I’d be the one fighting off the sabre-tooth tigers at night.

  21. Sleep was terrible with our first daughter until we embraced co-sleeping. I loved having her in bed, it was such wonderful snuggly time, especially since I work full time and miss her during the day. When she nursed throughout the night, I barely woke up for a second to help her latch, then passed back out.

    Around 10 months she started preferring to sleep in her crib and I was so bummed! She’d still wake up occasionally once in the night to nurse, then back to the crib. At 12 months and onward, she’s 2.5 now, (minus the occasional sleep regression, etc) she has been a rock solid night sleeper, 12-14 hours at a time. Her bedtime routine has been the same since she was an infant, similar to Emily’s, except the adorable recent addition of her now telling me a bedtime story before we say goodnight.

    Naps, however, are another story entirely >_< Our second daughter is due in July, so we'll see how that throws a wrench into everything!

    1. Any time we co-sleep (usually in the morning for Elliot’s first nap if its on the weekend) its just so magical.

  22. Good for you…..you’ve got to let babies cry.

  23. Just a plug to add a step after the pre-bedtime feed: brush baby’s tooth/teeth!

    1. Ha. yes. She doesn’t have teeth yet, but when she does … I think we were the worst with Charlie and didn’t brush his teeth for months. Then we asked the pediatrician when we should start brushing his teeth and she said ‘Uh, when he has a tooth’. Still haven’t gone to the dentist though (although we have an appointment for 2 weeks from now). Wish us luck ….

  24. We did a similar letting her cry for 5 min thing when our daughter was about 5 months old. We weren’t very by the book with it though and have had to re-sleep train her several times because we let things slide. The biggest game changer was when I dropped the before bed breastfeeding and started having my husband put her to sleep which we didn’t do until she was over a year. It is great bonding time with my daughter and her dad after he gets home from a long day at work and she doesn’t demand boob.

  25. Thank you for this post! I am currently pregnant with twins. I unintentionally did the cry it out method with my son – I had the flu and was too sick to get up multiple times a night. I am very hesitant to do that again because it will wake up everyone. This method sounds perfect.

  26. Where is that adorable floral onesie from???

  27. I don’t have kids yet, but thought this was really interesting. I’ve heard people talk about sleep training before but have never heard details. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Good for you! We had to sleep train our oldest child at 4 months, and his ability to sleep on his own through the night is one of the best gifts we’ve given him. He is almost four now and has no trust or abandonment issues. Each family and each child is unique, and we should all respect those differences and cut the judgements.

  29. Your timing is impeccable as our 5 1/2 month old is getting up every few hours and needing constant holding. We also have concerns of the screaming will wake the older child.

    We’re going to give it a whirl. Thanks for sharing and with such detail!

    1. Good luck 🙂

  30. The timing of this post is spot-on for my 10.5 month old! We did Ferber CIO around 7 months and she took to it great but we never managed to drop the 4-5am wake-up and I still nursed at that time thinking “heck, I can sleep 10-5am and if I nurse her and she sleeps till 7am, perfect.” She even gave us a few 7p-6am nights then we went on vacation and it put us a million steps back with sporadic wake-ups. Concurrently my milk supply plummeted so and we switched to formula and so we’re sure there were a few nights she was actually hungry. Not to get bogged down on the details but thanks for the post. My calendar currently has May 9th as the “sleep training” start and hoping we can get our little one on track and like the idea of the 5-minute interval with the positive sayings!

  31. Great post Emily! I hope you don’t get a lot of hater mail about it. Sleep training IS such a hot button topic. My first sounds like your first when it came to sleep. He started around the 7 week mark after giving him formula (GASP!) for the first time during his 6 week growth spurt. I loved nursing but like you I worried and didn’t know how much he was getting and one night he was screaming and trying to nurse but nothing was coming out. So he got a bottle of formula and slept the entire night. Well we went with what worked after that! I think it was a combo of figuring out the right time to put him down in conjunction with his bath, and him getting his days/nights figured out finally. He’s been pretty awesome with it. Now at two he’ll have his moments. He’ll go a few days sleeping through the night completely and then some nights he wakes up multiple times. I hate ignoring him but sometimes I do the wait 5 minutes thing and if he doesn’t call out again then we’re good. Of course I can’t go back to sleep! Last night he called out a few times and I went in and his diaper had failed and he had wet the bed. So glad I didn’t ignore him! He seems to be pretty persistent when he knows something is up. Glad it worked for you and I love that you’re promoting what worked for you might be different for everyone else.

  32. Thank you so much for this. My 2-year-old sleep trained herself, and was sleeping through the night by maybe two months? She’s a genius and the easiest child. Now I’m pregnant again, and there’s no way we’re getting that lucky again. I’m preparing for a monster (a cute one, of course, but terrifying still) and I am keeping this for 30 weeks from now when I’m up crying all night long while my monster laughs at me and demands more milk.

    1. Listen, Charlie was the same way and I was SURE that we would get a really difficult baby with #2 but she’s pretty easy. I think had a been as diligent with her schedule/routine and put her down awake, etc, she would have slept through the night easier/earlier. Point is: its possible. You can get two easy kids. She has a slightly different personality (although so similar its crazy) so who knows what the future will bring but she is certainly not “the nightmare” that I feared 🙂

  33. I think this is a very brave, well written post. You’re right that it’s a hot button topic! Everyone has their own way and don’t want to be made to feel guilty about it, so some people go on the offensive and start shaming other methods such as CIO or co-sleeping or what have you.

    My personal opinions and methods are different from what you wrote here Emily, but that doesn’t matter because everyone is different! I applaud your post and the open, accepting way that you wrote it.

    1. Thanks, Donna 🙂 I seriously appreciate this comment and how you wrote it. xx

  34. So glad you are all sleeping! Like all parenting decisions, there are many ways to tackle sleep issues and each family has to do what works for them. It’s the best feeling when you finally wake up well-rested with a happy baby!

    The one thing I’ll add to anyone looking for advice on this is: make sure both parents are in agreement and a plan is mapped out. There is nothing worse than fighting with your spouse about how to deal with a crying baby at 1 am (and again at 1:40 and at 2:30, and 3:15…) when you are both losing your sh*t from exhaustion.

  35. Emily, you’re so awesome! I am also mom to a little one (now 13 months old) and I reluctantly sleep trained at 7 months old. OMG what a huge difference. Your comment that “what is best for the family is best for the child” is so spot on and something every first time mom should get tattoo of. JK but only kinda.

    Now I love your blog for fashion, home decor, cute kid pics, and now mom advice. 🙂

  36. This is a great article Emily but the really special thing is how fabulous, helpful and non-judgemental all of the comments are. I’ve read many parent things on the interweb and haven’t come across many places as supportive or positive as this. xx

    1. I know!!! you have no idea what a relief it is to not have to cringe and be nauseous while reading the comments here. Thanks, everyone, seriously.

    2. I totally agree! How pleasant and nice it is to read thoughtful, positive comments. I was reading this post thinking, oh no, her comment section is going to explode with anger but everyone’s been so pleasant 🙂

  37. Love the details and the tone of this post! And I’m so happy for you that she’s giving you good sleep. I have a 5 month old and we are in a good rhythm. Every morning I’m so thankful! Us mamas have to support each other! You’re doing a great job Emily!

  38. I have a friend who says that she really really loves her kids…between 7am and 7pm!!! Outside those hours all bets are off! hehehe

    1. This is not funny: it is sick. Being a parent is not a part-time job.

      1. I’ve heard of sleep training… Is there such a thing as “Humor training”? Because someone needs that real bad. ??

      2. It’s a joke. I am not the original poster, but I adore my child. That said, being sleep deprived for months or years is very, very hard.

      3. I am the original poster and yes it was a joke, but as many good jokes are it speaks volumes about lots of issues; how important it is to teach your babies/children the skills they need, that it is ok to need your own time, how we shouldn’t talk about motherhood in a fake way or try and pretend that we are perfect all the time, because there are so many hard times and parents need a support network and to be able to talk honestly.

        My friends first child woke up every 45 minutes for 7 MONTHS! He also screamed in his sleep so even if he was asleep she didn’t get any rest. My friend almost went mad. It changed her whole world. She is completely entitled to say that motherhood is not easy and frame it as a funny anecdote. She has just recently become a single mother to her three gorgeous, kind, smart, sweet, well adjusted children. She well and truly knows that parenting is not a part time job.

        I wasn’t going to justify myself, but I guess I just feel too strongly that we need to support the women in our lives and be able to be honest about what is really going on in our lives and the challenges we face.

  39. So glad you’re getting some sleep and found a strategy that works for all of you. I did CIO with my twins but with my 3rd tried and failed. Different baby, different needs but we got there in the end. Just wanted to give a word or two of advice on potty training your toddler. Don’t let anyone guilt you into it if you or he isn’t ready. With all my 3 kids I waited til they were 3 and showed sign of readiness I.e. staying dry for periods of time and/or telling you they have a dirty diaper. Then I set aside a few days when we could mostly stay home in only underwear with a potty close by. They can sit on it as much as they like and get a huge party/happy dance if they produce anything on it. All of mine had only 2 to 3 days with accidents then no problems. Don’t try to night train at the same time. Pull ups are fine until they are consistently waking up dry. But pull up comes off as soon as they are awake. Works great and you don’t have to lose sleep. Hope that helps. Parenting is hard work but it gets easier every day and all the bad phases pass eventually.

  40. We did the Ferber method with all three of our kids at the age of about four months. And it worked like a charm. Although I didn’t wean them at such early age, the sleep training quite quickly resulted in just two nightfeedings in the course of twelve hours, and that I could handle. They all weaned themselves around nine months. I truly believe that Ferber has saved our entire familys health, happiness and sanity. When you have three kids in a row in the course of exactly four years and one week, getting the sleep routine right from the beginning is crucial to survival (at least for the parents!) After all: sleep is one of the best things in the world. Congratulations on teaching Elliot to self soothe, and welcome to the world of happily sleeping parents! Greetings from Norway.

  41. I love your take on this and know you must craft these sorts of posts trying not to offend anyone, which is difficult! Our kids are now 11, 9, and 7, and while I looooove babies, I do NOT miss those sleepless/sleep-wrecked nights. I kind of remember what we did sleep-training wise, but it was different with each kid, and now it doesn’t matter. They all turned into fantastic sleepers. 🙂

  42. Timely post for me as well. Been up since 3:30 since we tried to CIO with intermittent check-ins and it lasted for 2 hours with our 6.5 month old, ending just a 1/2 hour before our 3 year old are up. Your method is up my alley. Will check out the book. Thank you for sharing!

  43. Thank you so much for honestly recounting your sleeping journey. I think CIO gets a lot of bad rap from people who don’t know what that hourly wake up and cry routine is. I did a similar thing as you with check ins at 5, 10, 15 and then 15 until they slept. My kids are sleeping angels now at 3 and 5. I am so glad that I did this. I also hired a sleep consultant because I read too many books and got myself confused. The sleep consultant was for me because I also needed the support, “I’m not crazy to do this right?” I used Angelique Millette remotely. My good friend is going through all this right now and I am definitely going to send her your blog post. You are lucky to have a friend to hang out with you through that first hard night. My husband fought me the first time we did it for our son during a rare “fifth night regression.” But he saw that the method worked and with my younger daughter, he was asking me since birth, “Is it time to sleep train yet?” practically every day. I, like you, prefer to wait until you can be pretty sure that it’s not hunger cries. I also had to train my kids to eat during the day and that nighttime isn’t an all night boob (or bottle) buffet.
    Cheers and thanks again for being so candid.

  44. I am a parent educator at a hospital and teach newborn sleep classes and I want to hug you!! This is such an awesome and up front way to break it down. I think sometimes it seems so overwhelming to parents. I totally get it as I have three little boys of my own and for real swear I would have three more if it wasn’t for sleep. Our oldest went through a crazy sleep regression at three and my husband and I lost count at 130 times he got out of bed and we put him back in one night…I almost lost it. Luckily we stuck to it and have three well rested kids and and two semi sane parents 🙂

    1. You should resign. This type of pro-sleeptraining bs is incredibly damaging. Abandoning children at night is showing them that your love is conditional. Self soothing is not a legitimate scientific term – emotional regulation is a developmental milestone that is not reached until childhood… A baby has no idea that it hasn’t been abandoned under a rock.

      1. Hey there, nobody is abandoning anyone :). I’d love to read long-study research of well-loved healthy human babies. If you could send a link to that I ‘d appreciate it! Thanks.

        1. Professional opinions, anecdotal stories, and scientific research exists to support almost any method. Even more confusing is that scientific research is ever changing, limited, and has and can be wrong.

          Earlier this year you talked about mild depression after giving birth and I (lovingly) pointed to a study that suggests some correlation between epidural and post partum depression as an attempt to encourage you to consider checking your hormones. Other commenters went nuts and someone mentioned a study that showed no correlation between epidural and post partum depression. The study she suggested followed a total of 200 women and the author of the study herself said it was inconclusive and more research was needed due to the small population etc. Both points of view had imperfect information.

          I guess my point is, you want someone to provide proof that what you are doing is wrong, when you don’t have proof that what you are doing is right. Sometimes you follow science and sometimes you don’t (as most of us do). For example, science doesn’t really backup the need for organics or non-GMO’s but many of us use our intuition to chose organics. You seem pro-organic but then Instagram advertise air-wick products. I think there are a lot of inconsistencies in the way you approach your life decisions, which is fine, but you seem insecure about your choices and then open them up for discussion/argument here and them seem defensive. All around an odd approach.

      2. A baby may not know its been left under a rock, but a 3 year old should realise that getting up 130 times a night is probably not doing anyone any favours. Just like calling yourself a dr and leaving negative remarks is helping no one either.

        1. That comment was pretty rough, but it’s right about emotional regulation, which doesn’t happen until about 5-8 for most kids (8-10 for highly sensitive kids). That’s one reason I just can’t get behind full-on CIO methods. BUT, I think a method like the one Emily used is about the kindest, gentlest version of sleep training out there and isn’t the same as CIO. It’s basically a parent scripting behavior for the child since she can’t do emotional regulation, and is totally not abandonment. I do believe co-sleeping is best for most babies and young children, but it’s also really hard and sometimes we have to find a balance between the ideal and the reality (which includes modern life, lack of support, depression, etc) that makes for a happy, healthy family life.

          1. I should say, coalescing *can* be really hard, or it can be really great, or it can be a mix like so much of parenting (the mix has been our experience).

          2. ^ cosleeping. Ugh, auto correct!

  45. With my daughter I reduced her night feeding (easy to do when you’re bottle feeding) until she wasn’t waking for hunger. She slept through the night for a week and then started waking up 3-4 times a night wanting her pacifier. So we let her cry it out at that point. My first son was a blur but I do know around 5 months I finally let him cry it out. I was nursing so what I had used with my daughter wouldn’t work. My second son slept through the night last night for the first time!!!!!! I moved him to his own room a lot sooner than my other two and I would try to settle him down with a pacifier and bum pat two times before feeding him. Also, having him further away I didn’t hear every little noise he made, which I was responding to when he was in my room and I probably was making his sleep worse.

  46. I was mostly a SAHM (part-time WAHM) when my son was tiny, so I never felt a huge need to get him to sleep through the night (or even close to it) until he started waking every 1-2 hours. Then we worked on just skipping nursing sessions (first wake up eliminated first, then went from there) until he could go back to sleep without milk, then falling asleep on his own in his crib. It wasn’t until after a year that we started even putting him down in his own bed! He’s almost 2 now and he still likes to snuggle at night, but we’re getting ready to move him into his own full-size floor bed, which he’s so excited about. I like that he has a little more agency in the decision at this stage and seems happy about the shift to a “bi’ bed.” ?

  47. Love this post! We sleep trained at 5.5 months with a method similar to what you did and it was pretty painless. Now at 14 months, she’s a great sleeper and if we get off track because of travel, a cold or tooth, it’s easy to get back on with a night or two of retraining. The best gift we can give our children is the ability to self-soothe. Not just for sleep, but for life. And being able to put oneself to sleep when your tired is also a skill that will serve them well. She wakes up happy and rested – and is in no rush for us to get her either! It makes me really proud of her independence to see her playing in her crib for 10 or 15 minutes when she wakes up in the morning – arranging her animals, waving her lovey, walking and practicing words. She’s not afraid to be alone, another important skill. And when she’s ready to see us, she starts yelling for ‘daddy’ and ‘up.’ I will do it agin with the next ones with no hesitation. A well-rested family is a happy family and I agree that trumps all! Glad you are getting sleep!

  48. Oh Emily, thanks for being so candid and thoughtful with this post. So many “public figures” wouldn’t, so thanks for being cool. I thought that “sleep training” meant “cry it out” so I didn’t even want to research it. I realize now that I was surrounded by a bunch of judgmental people when I was pregnant/early on with my newborn. Anyway, fast forward to being at my wits end when my daughter was around 6 months. I finally (in my zombie state and thanks to my wonderful pediatrician) started researching sleep training again. We did something very similar – using the Jodi Mindell “Sleeping Through The Night” book – at around 6 months I night weaned and we went in every few minutes. All the mamas and dads and caregivers out there in the throws of serious sleep deprivation, it gets better! My 18 month old is now in a great place and even when she gets thrown off by travel or getting sick, we know how to handle it and get back on track. As Emily says, confidence is f-ing KEY. xoxo

  49. oh god. i love her little punkin haid. oh my god.

  50. I’m actually in the co-sleeping camp, but I would like to say I thought you wrote this post so well with honesty and non-judgment. Moms judge other moms too harshly in general. I felt secretive of the fact that we co-sleep for so long because I didn’t want to hear all the “you need to train that baby!” And “how will he ever sleep on his own” type comments. We lie with them til they fall asleep (10-15 minutes) then have our time together, then when we’re ready for bed we join them. If we dont they always wake up to come find us. If we are just there everyone sleeps through the night. For our family, it’s how everyone got sleep and when everyone is rested, everyone is happy.

  51. Ohhhh sister, you’re speaking my language. After nearly 8 months of me swearing I’d never let my son cry it out, and him waking every half hour on the dot, my house was a war zone. It took his pediatrician and some very dear friends to tell me all parties, babe included, needed to cry it out. I read the Ferber method a thousand times, did a Rocky-style training to psych myself up (no running stairs but I’m certain I talked to myself a lot and perhaps smacked myself in the face a few times) and picked a weekend. 3 hours on the first night – I almost died inside – of hubs and I taking turns going in at the allotted times. During my off minutes? I drank a bottle of wine in the bathroom while sobbing and texting my girlfriends who swore I could do it. It felt like Seal training at the time. Buuuuut, all that to say, Senor No-Sleep is now almost 5, and snoozes through every night soundly. Bath, books, bed. Boom. It was so hard in the moment, but it worked wonders for us in the long run. Everyone is different, but I say following one’s gut is always a good idea. Also booze. Yup.

    1. This is so messed up. Being a parent is hard. Psyching yourself up to abandon a child is sick.

      1. Exactly my thoughts ^^

        1. Get a grip. I was writing in a humorous way about an incredibly difficult decision and point in my child’s life as well as my own. I can tell you with utmost certainty that my son is one of the happiest, most loved littles on the planet. If that’s your definition of abandonment, you may want to pick up a dictionary. Parenthood is incredible, and rewarding, and it IS hard – sometimes made unnecessarily more difficult by ridiculous opinions and statements like this. So thanks again for your two cents, Bully Brigade, and happy Mother’s Day from this “evil” mother to you both (if you’re even mothers). Seems like you’re doing a bang-up job with that whole setting an example thing.

  52. Well.. Your article was well written, but primarily a lot of opinions and not actual facts. CIO can be harmful to a child and I don’t think that should be disregarded so quickly. Parenting is hard. Some of the hardest decisions you’ll ever have to face. And trying to respect everyone’s decision without offending anyone can be just as hard. Personally, I am very very against CIO and all it stands for. Your children are only little once, they have a lifetime of highs and lows ahead of them so just love them and tend to them when they need you and still want you. Babies need trust, and love, and comfort. Being a sleepless parent some nights is unfortunately part of the job description. I’ve had many sleepless nights. In fact I think I’m in a permanent sleepless state. But I know that I am the best mom to my 2.5 year old son. He trusts me, I comfort him, and the love between both of us is unconditional. So yes we co-sleep, and he still nurses. He does not cry and he knows someone will always be there for him. We don’t abandon his needs to benefit ourselves. This might not work for all families, but it works for mine. We’re all just trying to be the best parents we can be. But I truly wish people would educate others when it comes to CIO. I can’t even believe it’s considered a “method”. There are so many other ways to guide your children. Being a mother is not easy it’s so trying and exhausting at times but it is our jobs.

  53. I tried it and just couldn’t do it. We are a Montessori family, and the main idea is to respect the child and follow the child. CIO felt like neither, and my heart would shatter with each passing second. So, we got rid of the crib, got him on a floor bed, and laid next to him until he was sleepy, after which we got up and went on with our evening. Expecting our second babe soon and will probably not even deal with reassembling the crib.

    1. Great job!
      Sleep training is child abuse. I see underdeveloped children with extreme emotional issues with seemingly decent parents and then discover they were sleep trained/ abandoned at night… Conditional love ie: parenting during the day and not at night, is emotionally abusive.

      1. Care to share your credentials along with your opinion? It’s easy to bash someone’s personal experience on a blog and give unsolicited advice under the guise of being a doctor yet not provide any more info other than one article…I’d love to see if you’ve published anything yourself on the subject. Looking forward to your response!

      2. Dr. Wiles, I am very concerned that a Doctor would call a loving parent who is sleep training her baby for the good of the family’s emotional and mental wellness “child abuse”. I have had three pediatricians actually tell me to turn off the monitor at 6 months so that I could sleep and regain my energy to be there for my child. Sleep training is not for everyone (like Emily stated 1000 times) but it does work and is not even close to child abuse. Stop mommy shaming a very clearly thoughtful and caring parent. You are a disgrace to the medical profession.

      3. Actual doctor here – child clinical psychologist. To call CIO out child abuse is ridiculous on multiple levels – most critically, because it trivializes true child abuse. As someone who has worked with children who’ve been abused – horrific, scarring, harrowing abuse, not the so-called “abuse” accusations you fling at loving parents in the complete absence of evidence – I find your comments inappropriate and disgusting.

        Second, show me the data to back up any of your claims. Show me the peer-reviewed longitudinal studies demonstrating the harmful effects of cry it out.

        So what do the data say? That there are many ways to parent, and no one way is right; and that what is essential is warmth, limits, and happy parents who find out what’s right for them.

        1. I am not a mother so I have no personal experience with any of this but I am SURE it is incredibly hard. I am not a MD but I am an RN and in my professional experience, I have seen true child abuse.

          Dr. H., I am so glad you spoke up and asked for real evidence, i.e. longitudinal, peer-reviewed studies, and made the point that sleep-training (CIO, Ferber, etc) pales in comparison to child abuse that clinicians and others are all too familiar with.

          I hope all of the hard-working mothers out there know to throw these ugly, judgmental posts out with the bath water. Pun intended.

      4. Care to share YOUR credentials please? I suspect you may have a PhD in Being an Opinionated B*tch, but that’s about it.

        1. …so I guess that’s a no

    2. Not sure if the credentials thing was for me but, nope, don’t have an MD. Just an MS and it’s neither child nor healthcare related. But I’m a mom and a sensitive human being, and I’ve done tons of research on the Montessori method and natural parenting. That, along with my instinct, told me that the gentle approach is the way to go – at least for us. I knew in my heart that if I had to be sleep-deprived for 7 years (he’s 2 now, and I’m not 🙂 ) I would not regret it. But hearing his cries and not going to him (even for 5 minutes at a time) would tear me apart for ever.

      A goal of the Montessori approach is to allow children to gain independence at their own pace. By fulfilling his needs, but not going overboard (i.e., doing things for him that he can do on his own, which “self-soothing” is not a part of during infancy for most children, IMHO), you can create a motivating, loving environment in which the child will voluntarily, instinctually rely less and less on the parent, one step at a time.

      This mothering thing is rough…but it doesn’t have to be. That’s how I look at it. <3

  54. What about naps? Baby has been good at night for about two months but we still struggle with every nap

  55. Great info! We co-sleep with our first (3years old), but aren’t sure if we will do it as long with our second. It was easier for me to go back and continue to nurse if we coslept, but I completely understand when people put their baby in another room. Whatever is best for family.

    1. Cosleeping is natural, wonderful and healthy for all. Great job on providing that safe, loving environment. Sleep training is child abuse.

      1. Hi there Dr. Wiles. Mr. Henderson here.
        Not one to usually jump in on the comment thread, but it sure does sound like you’re insinuating that we are ‘abusing our child’. That, I can’t let slide. The majority of the comments here have been fair, measured, and considerate, but you’ve crossed a line and pissed me off.
        You can tell us how you disagree, you can politely offer alternatives, but you CANNOT call into question my wife’s or my quality of parenting. Ever. Because last time I checked, having happy, loving, children who you cherish so much you want to vomit isn’t child abuse. But what do I know, I’m not a doctor.
        So please, change your tone or get off this thread and live your life.

        1. This is so timely, I just read a study which theorized that 9/9 people who used the name ‘Dr. Wile’ to comment on blog posts were actually Internet trolls who spend their days mommy-shaming and don’t actually have medical degrees. Man, bonkers.

          1. HA HA, @sarah. Thank you.

          2. My pedetrician told me without me inquiring that if my son woke up in the middle of the night after 3.5 mos to give him exactly 5 minutes. If he continued to cry go in and tend to him. He was my husband, my brotherinlaw’s and my nephew’s dr. All of whom are kind, respectful and caring individuals.

        2. Bravo.

        3. Bravo!

          1. Not that the other comments aren’t good, but I meant Bravo to Bryan!

        4. Mr. Henderson, Bravo!

        5. *Hearty applause*

          I mean, you shouldn’t even have to explain this to anyone, especially some random strangers on the Internet, but it’s nice to see you chime in on here in support of your wife and family, Brian. You guys seem to be doing a wonderful job! Have a lovely, restful weekend.

      2. Before you slam parents who are lovingly teaching their child to sleep through the night, know that co-sleeping can be very dangerous – and there are studies and injuries to children to back that up. Maybe you need to resign! My ped never suggested co sleeping for. I numerous and obvious reasons. What bad commentary and advice you have interjected on here. The majority of these moms seem like loving, sane people…you, not so much.

      3. http://woodtv.com/2015/06/05/mom-hopes-babys-co-sleeping-death-warns-others/

        You are an uninformed person who is selfishly Mom- shaming for no reason. That Psych Today article is propaganda and not at all what is being discussed here. If you want to see an accurate article about the dangers of co-sleeping and exhaustion, here’s a link for you.

        And for the record, children don’t stop crying because they feel abandoned at 6 months. They stop crying because they are tired and go to sleep. And they wake up happy because they are rested, not because they are relieved to not be abandoned. I feel sorry for you. Attachment parents who don’t teach their children any independent skills are the ones with the real problem when their 5 year old has no idea how to self-soothe, be independent or utilize basic coping mechaninism stop normal levels of stress and disappointment. It’s a parents job to lovingly teach those skills. Your rendering your children helpless. Go find another thread to terrorize. This was a loving and refreshing respectful conversation before you entered it.

        1. Jennifer, legit point about nutso Dr. Wiley, but then you end your comment by ALSO mommy shaming parents who “attachment parent.” Be careful, we’re all just trying to survive this crazy parent roller coaster. For the record, I’m totally with Emily on this one, but let’s all support each other!

          1. I apologize and you are right. I was, wrongly, reacting to her defensive comments throughout the post.

  56. Such a great post! I have a nine month old and he sleeps till about 5 am then wakes up to nurse. He then goes back down till about 6:30am. I’d like to train him to just make it till 6:30 without needing that feed. What do you do with Elliott if she wakes at 5 or 5:30? Do you get her up or do your 5 min routine?

    1. You are blessed with a genetically great sleeper (unless you trained). It is amazing that a 9 month old can make it so long without a feed – do not train your baby; feed him. Sleep training is incredibly damaging–this woman knows nothing about the psychological detriment that abandoning a baby causes. And the notion that a baby understands a script is laughable if it weren’t so sick.


      1. The psychology today, as mentioned above, pulls studies that have no relevance to the claims that are being made about sleep training. As a psychologist and sleep researcher I put very little stock in what Psychology Today has to say about sleep training.

        This link is to a peer-reviewed publication that shows NO longterm differences in children who were sleep-trained.


  57. this is very useful article. thanks

    1. Do not take this ill-informed woman’s advice – babies left to cry will be emotionally damaged. By abandoning them you demonstrate no empathy and showthem that their voice won’t be heard by you — just about the worst foundation for a parent-child relationship.


      1. Did you read the post or are you just reacting to the phrase “sleep training”? I did not CIO in the way that you are referencing in that article. In fact I didn’t CIO at all, Please read my blog post, read the books that I referenced which are about lovingingly setting up a routine, checking in, and soothing when needed. I soothed her every five minutes. Sorry, I rarely get defensive and I respect your opinion but I really would like you to read the post clearly especially if you are going to throw the phrase ‘child abuse’ around. It was my understanding that “Sleep training” does not mean CIO and for the sanity of the child I am pro a loving “sleep training” family. THank you .

        1. Gotta love a “doctor” whose source is a Psycology Today article. It’s the Us Weekly of psychology.

          1. Oh, good to know. I looked at the article and was like “this is bullshit” but didn’t know it had that reputation. That makes WAY more sense.

        2. I read what you wrote, it didn’t seem like a strict CIO, and I doubt Wiles is a doctor.

          With that being said, I am so confused … the tone of most of your parenting posts are “I am drowning and lost”, “I don’t really know what I am doing” and “the process doesn’t matter as long as everyone survives”, then you explicitly ask people to comment and then get defensive when people have different opinions than you.

          I can understand being offended by the name calling but other commenters posted their dissenting opinions nicely and you asked them for “scientific proof”. I think a better use of the platform is to open a discussion where people can all listen to each other and all of the different types of proof people have (anecdotal, professional opinions, scientific research) or better yet you could actually interview experts on both sides of an issue to weigh in.

          I think it’s normal to be inconsistent in deciding when to go with “science” and when to use intuition, but you can’t really have it both ways, sometimes ignoring science and sometimes demanding proof. I always leave your parenting posts/comments feeling very confused and disheartened. I have the same feelings when you comment on being pro-organic but then advertise air-wick on your Instagram. Or your posts on giving birth or how to ask for a raise. I can’t exactly pinpoint what I dislike about these posts but I think it has to do with sharing your opinion about something where you have no expertise and then feeling attacked when others do the same thing. Like you want to just be able to write about things that are controversial and then expect all supportive comments. I am not sure what I am supposed to learn or takeaway from these types of articles or comments.

          I originally came to this blog for design ideas but I think all these side issues give a bizarre twist and I can’t help but feeling lost after reading parenting posts and argumentative comments.

          I can imagine other readers share my sentiments but I may be alone on this one?

          1. You are not alone. I felt uncomfortable after reading this post on Friday, but I did not initially comment because everyone else seemed so positive. Looking at all of the additional comments definitely validates my feeling that such controversial (and scientifically hazy) topics really are not appropriate for a design blog.

            – from one Emma to another

          2. I personally love this about Emily. As a person who loves design, fashion, photography, and art, I often feel very disconnected from the people who actually are at the forefront and successful in the industry. Social media is a platform that is continually becoming more and more shallow. It’s all about self-promotion and making your life look as perfect as possible. It’s the highlight real and not reality. Emily is one of the few people that is truly authentic and shows her life as it is. She’s not putting up any kind of front and gives me hope that you can show exactly who you are, what you believe in, and people will support and come along side you. Emily is a master at design and styling but she’s also down to earth and personable and that’s what makes this blog so irresistible.

      2. Wow. I missed so much in just a few days. Is it too late to quip that I’d be more likely to take advice on sleep training from Dr. Dre or Dr. Pepper than “Dr. Wiles”? Anyone…?Hello…?Dammit.

  58. Oh man. I feel so relieved and happy for you! Yay!!

  59. Hi Emily,
    Congrats! That is a huge milestone and I really appreciate the detail in your post. Our 1st two daughters are 9 and 7 and are terrific sleepers. Our 3rd little lady just won’t sleep. She is 2 1/2! We are exhausted! She cries for hours if we ever let her which I can barely stand. Any advice on this age? It just breaks my heart. If it were 30 mins or an hour I could probably manage it. We also travel lots so it seems like we’d constantly be training. Ok this comment is a big ramble because I am sleep deprived!

    1. She needs you. Don’t ask this style maven for parenting advice : this blog is dangerously misled. Read some Sarah Ockwell-Smith, kellymom.com, or evolutions parenting blog. And this. Do not let your children cry and feel abandoned. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201407/parents-misled-cry-it-out-sleep-training-reports

      1. An actual doctor isn’t going to have time in the middle of the day to comment on every comment on a blog post. I’m so sorry you had to put up with this troll, Emily. It’s sad when people have nothing better to do with their lives than pretend to be doctors and harass good people. 🙁

    2. Probably impossible with a busy family (bigger kids and all) but my best guess is overtired. We had a lot of trouble when our now 5 year old was 2 because we didn’t really have a set schedule and let her “lead” the way… Fast forward when the second baby came along for my own sanity we started an early evening bedtime routine (dinner/bath/story/bed) the kids are usually down by 7! (I’m sure that sounds early especially with the older kids/homework and if the adults work etc.) but if I try to deviate from getting my 2 year old down early he becomes a maniac because overtired – good luck momma!!

  60. This comes at a perfect time. Funny, I’m an RN and have confidently worked with infants and their sleep and comfort for some time. However, when it comes to sleep training our baby my husband and I are at a total loss. We’ve tried the Sleep Solution which resulted in me and my baby crying for endless hours. We’ve tried the bassinet next to the bed and co-sleeping, which have all resulted in me feeling drained and incredibly cranky. We’ve implemented a solid nighttime routine and have scheduled our evening feedings so that tummies are full. We’ve purchased countless love-ies, sleep sacs and pacifiers – all ending in the same result: me drearily awake at 11 pm, 2 am, 4 am, and 6 am.
    I realize that as parents it’s part of our responsibility to help our kin learn and gain confidence to be able to self sooth and sleep. But to be perfectly honest, I myself am a terrible sleeper and always have been. Is it possible that as individuals our sleep requirements are different? Also, with the increasing hourly demands of our jobs, low parental leave allowances and western world desires to “keep up with the Jones'” are we channeling these stresses into our children’s sleep routines. Meaning, do our high levels of stress lower our tolerance for our children’s natural sleep cycle?
    Just throwing my story and ‘ponderings’ out into the WWW, it really does take a village.
    Happy mother’s day to all the mama bears out there!

    1. Yes – sleep is genetic. You are doing the right thing by meeting your childs needs – it us absolutely preposterous to assume that all babies can “make it through the night” without nursing or reassurance from their parent. Self-soothing is a myth. When a child stops crying they have given up on you, their trust in you is diminished. They have no way of communicating except for crying and if you pay no attention they give up. Emotional regulation is a developmental milestone that occurs in childhood – you cannot force a baby to learn bc their brains are undeveloped. This advice is dangerous and Creates lack of empathy, which is a dire issue in our society today. Please hold and nurse your baby/ toddler. They will grow out of nightwaking on your own and you will survive. Parenting is hard work.

  61. Great post! I have a little guy about the same age, born Oct 15th. I started a very similar bedtime routine around 3 weeks old and have never wavered. Similarly, I had a night nurse come 3 nights in a row (around 7 weeks old) to help us do a limited CIO method just after the big bedtime feeding. Of course he was too young to sleep through the night without feeding – but once he learned to self soothe at the beginning of the night, the nighttime feedings became much quicker. He phased them out one by one and started sleeping 11 hours straight by 14 weeks old. No issues to this day (knock on wood). XO

  62. Consistency is so important for babies. I had my “daytime song” and my “nightime song” while nursing and for some reason, the baby could tell the difference and instantly fell asleep after my song. I continued singing that nighttime song during their toddler years….
    Just a comment-you may want to use caution using lavender oil. I used that too, and my son developed a lump on his chest. The doctor said it was the lavender oil. Once I stopped using it, the lump disappeared. Essential oils are rather powerful and need extreme caution if using on children and babies.

  63. We just started sleep training our 6 month old and tonight will be day 2. Your post was just so perfectly timed for me. What have you done with naps ? I am reading that babies organize night sleep differently with naps. My husband insists we sleep train naps at the same time as we do for night time but I am having a hard time doing both at the same time so curious to know what you did ?

    1. Hi there – I had this same question when we did it and was told by a sleep coach to do nights first and do whatever you needed to do to preserve the naps (holding, rocking, feeding) while sleep training at night because you don’t want an overtired baby. naps aren’t as deep a sleep as overnight, so harder to do, but once you get the nights down, they get with the program and the naps will be easier. It took us two nights for night training (and with less than 10 minutes crying each night, but she was already weaned) and the. We attacked naps which took 3-4 days with 10-15 minutes crying at the put down. Good luck! And hang in there – there is rest and joy for everyone on the other side!

  64. With both of mine I did things very similar to what you described. As they got older at tuck-in I started saying a version of our “script” — outraged down

  65. This is dangerous. There is multitudes of research and published studies on the emotional detriment of sleep training. My heart aches for the poor children and the children of anyone who follows this horrible advice.

    1. It’s not dangerous. It’s just different from what you’d do.

    2. Exactly. I’m a psychologist and sleep researcher. The claims in this article are based on a completely different sample of grossly neglected children. Not the case here (obviously)

  66. With both of mine I did things very similar to what you described. As they got older at tuck-in I started saying a version of our “script” — pared down to a few lines, and more big-kid sounding. Now at 10 & 7 when I say it to them at bedtime they immediately yawn, every time! I find it so hilarious, but also good evidence that it works!

  67. Does it matter??!! Why don’t you stick to style advice. It matters – babies cry because they need their caregiver. They can’t use words and the notion that they understand a script is absurd. Abandoning a child is child abuse and that is exactly what this is. When they stip crying it is not because theyhave “learned” to “self-soothe” rather they have given up on you as a parent: they no longer trust you and they aren’t going to waste their survival energy screaming. Of course they are happy to see you at 7–they had no idea that they weren’t left under a rock to die. Read some sarah ockwell-smith, or evolutionary parenting blog, or kellymom.com


    1. Woah, “Dr.” Wiles, drop it already. People who (rightfully) do not equate sleep training with child abuse aren’t going to magically change their minds because you choose to write the same comment over and over again. Attachment parenting is not the only way, and co-sleeping is not a safe or healthy option for everyone. The sleep-deprivation I experienced in the first 5 months of my daughter’s life didn’t just make me feel tired; it kept me from being the best mother I could be because I could barely function in such an exhausted state. It was worse on the days when we co-“slept” because I was so worried about harming my baby that I didn’t sleep at all. We all know that parenting is a tiring job and expect a certain degree of exhaustion, but when it prevents you from being the best parent you can be, something needs to change. A rested baby = rested parents = happier, healthier parents, which we all know is the key to raising a happy, healthy child. You’re entitled to express your opinion, but doing so in a less-alienating, kinder way would not only be more humane but might make more people consider your stance. You’re engaging in emotional abuse by labeling people who sleep train as child abusers.

      1. YES. This is a wonderful response. Parents need to be present to help their children grow up to happy well-adjusted kids. Insufficient sleep and maternal depression are strongly linked. Also? Insufficient sleep and frequent wakings are terrible for the child’s cognitive and socio emotional functioning. To flip Dr. Wiles ridiculous argument on its head, not helping our children learn to sleep (at a reasonable age, of course! We’re not talking about teeny tiny babies) is not helpful for their development.

        Safe co-sleeping is an option for some parents and if parents and children sleep when co-sleeping, wonderful. This is not always an option.

        I do not comment on blogs frequently, but as a psychologist and sleep researcher, I hate when I see the psychology today article as “proof” that sleep training is harmful.

        Emily, your post was wonderful. And for what it’s worth, I have read many books about infant sleep and child development, I think the Happy Sleeper nails it!

      2. Excellent response. I don’t have a children but I have a mother and I, occasionally, sleep. It seems to me that exhausted, sleep-deprived parents are more likely to to lose their tempers or at least become tense, anxious, and depressed. Any baby would sense those emotions and probably become anxious itself. Not that parents should worry about that. You can’t be perfect.

        People will have different opinions about helping both babies and parents sleep, but this so-called Dr. is being OOT and rather cruel.

    2. I have never commented on any post, ever, but you “Dr. Wiles” are an absolute lunatic! No wonder we’re living in a world of self obsessed kids.

      1. Don’t feed the troll!

        1. You’re so right, I just couldn’t help myself this time! :/

          1. Ha, I totally understand. So infuriating. Just had to take the opportunity to call Dr. Wiggles over here a troll again ;). Just some juvenile name calling, don’t mind me.

        2. hahahaha oh man, this comment deserves an award.

        3. Aaah! You are so right!!! Something just came over me 😉

        4. Haha!! I responded earlier in comments and then got down to these ones and now am regretting ever engaging!!!

    3. None of those are legitimate sources “Doctor”.

    4. I totally agree! A baby is desperate when left alone crying (not matter if mommy shows up after a while or not). If she does not show up, the little one gives up and does not learn “how to sleep” or “self-soothe”. THIS IS BULLSHIT! The baby looses basic trust – which can never be established again. Human babys are not made to be left alone at night… they are in need of a caring person!

      1. And again I ask where your evidence is. I keep hearing a lot of “feelings” and not a lot of actual evidence that this damages the baby in anyway. How do you know they don’t self soothe? How do you know they feel abandoned? This is all just how YOU FEEL. Emily and many other parents talked to an actual licensed doctor and made an informed decision to sleep train based on FACTS and SCIENCE.

    5. True physicians aren’t going to suggest other blogs as their sources. They’re going to provide links to actual studies. You’re clearly not a doctor. I have a feeling you’re a mom with a little too much time on her hands who happens to think you’re doing everything perfectly. So everyone should listen to you and read the blogs you read. That’s not how life works. And becoming a physician is a long, exhausting process. It’s offensive when you create a screen name that reflects credentials you simply don’t have. Oh and the idea that you call Emily and Brian child abusers is reprehensible. They’re obviously good parents who made the choice that is best for them. I’d bet anything that in 20 years, their kids are going to be well adjusted, happy adults. Now put the computer down, leave it down and go back to your own family. Internet trolling is NOT the example anyone should set for their children.

      1. The article that Dr. Wiles linked to–which is written by a doctor of psychology—-provides numerous links to credible scientific studies about the dangers of sleep training. This article not, itself, a study, but rather, compiles evidence from numerous studies– it’s a kind of literature review, making scientific evidence available to a broader reading public.

        I know nothing about the credibility of Dr. Wiles, but it’s clear that Dr. Narvaez, author of the Psychology Today piece, has sufficient expertise and knowledge to write what she does. To pretend otherwise in the name of defending an Internet stylist from trolls is sloppy reasoning.

        1. This is precisely what scares me about the Psychology Today article. Careful, it was actually written by a journalist and researcher (Angela Braden). I could not find credentials, but regardless of what her credentials are, she does not cite research accurately. It’s NOT actually not a comprehensive literature review. It’s cherry pickin research in order to make claims about an opinion. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done. But it has to interpreted VERY carefully. Blog posts and magazine pieces are not subject to the scrutiny of anonymous peer review. This means that anyone can cite literature without checking the appropriateness of the citations.

          Case in point: I have examined each and every reference cited in the blog post. I do not want to hijack Emily’s thread anymore than we already have, so I will limit my examples of wrongful citing to this one: They repeatedly cite Levine’s review of the stress exposure literature. This review IS comprehensive and cites studies on complete abandoment, like (i’m sorry to actually think about this) kids who are left without ever being touched or loved in an orphanage. The author of the blog encourages us to view sleep training (specifically Crying it Out to extinction, which Emily didn’t even do to begin with) as a type of abuse on a continuum with the extreme neglected cited in the research article. This is completely unethical to tell a lay audience and a gross misuse of the literature.

          You can tell by the tone of an article whether is someone is really “trying to make scientific evidence available to a broader audience” or they are trying to influence your decision making by the degree of inflammatory remarks. This was a sensationalist piece. A person who is genuinely presenting evidence for greater consumption would present evidence and let the reader decide without judgement.

          1. Angela Braden, the ACTUAL author of the piece, has no advanced degree. She is a blogger and self-claimed researcher. You are right, Heather, there are so many problems with this piece. This is not a credible literature review. It was written by someone with an agenda.

  68. Great info! We’ve got naps down but the initial go to bed is a disaster every night. Once she goes to sleep, we’re golden.

    I’d love to know the cute, colorful outfit she’s wearing. Super cute!

    1. I’d really like to know the brand of her outfit. Please!

  69. I’m sure there would also be rude comments if Moms didn’t exclusively baby wear or exclusively breast feed. I find some comments on here absurd. I am a social worker and work with kids and adults who have been emotionally abused! It is horrible!

    What Emily is describing doesn’t constitute emotional abuse! How horrible to suggest this. She is a loving mother who is always looking after what is best for her children, to suggest emotional abuse is mean, rude and completely out of line!

  70. Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m at such a loss on this topic and appreciate hearing your method. We struggled with “what is our sleep approach?” for a year and since we are expecting a second baby, I decided I need a plan with baby number two. This is so great. Thank you. Thank you.

  71. Pregnant with the first and soaking all this up! This may be a silly question but I can’t find it anywhere. When crying it out method is used, do you worry about baby sitting in a wet diaper all night? That can’t be good right?

    1. Not a silly question at all! But when babies start sleeping through the night (at 9 weeks, 6 months, a year… whenever!), they are going to be sleeping in wet diapers; it’s just unavoidable. I can’t speak for cloth diapers but disposables are very good at wicking away moisture and I haven’t had a baby wake up from it. When the diapers leak (perhaps too small or not “overnight” diapers), then yes, babies can wake from that but not from just sitting in a wet diaper. Good luck with your first baby! You’re in for the best, most wild ride of your life.

      1. I had that question too but she just sleeps through it. A baby nurse once told me to put extra aquafor or some other mild cream to prevent the rashes but she doesn’t have any (more than usual, I mean). xx

  72. Her room is amazing so I would want to stay awake all night so I could admire it. Hats off to all the families out there trying to balance the different needs and temperaments of all the babies & toddlers. I think your post shows the value of a bit of flexibility and patience

  73. I have never commented on a post in my life but you “Dr. Wiles” are an absolute lunatic! No wonder we’re living in a world full of self obsessed kids. Me, me, me!!

    Everyone is happier when they sleep. I’m a better mother when I sleep. My son is ridiculously happy when he sleeps. It is so important for a childs brain development to get as much sleep as possible, so basically not teaching your child the skill to fall asleep is really cruel.

    How dare you throw around that hideous term “child abuse”. What a little shit.

    Let me guess…. you are the person who’s walking around with a 5 year old hanging from your breast. Now, that’s child abuse.

    Great post Emily! As usual a joy to read!

    Jo x

    1. Can we all just agree that comments like this about a five-year old “hanging from their mom’s breast” being child-abuse are really offensive. Like those are the worst moms on the planet, come on now! Obviously there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding longer than 6 months (like many people do) or even a couple of years if that’s what mother and child feel happy and comfortable with. It’s ridiculous that bfing moms have to defend themselves so often. The breastfeeding-shaming is no joke and so damn annoying, like, for real, people?

      1. I completely take it back! I in no way meant to offend breastfeeding mothers (especially as I’m one too!) it was more of a heat of the moment thing with that troll (silly me) The last bit in my head was kind of a joke, it obviously didn’t come across that way. Maybe there is a reason I never comment 🙂
        Anywho peaceful vibes all round!

        Phew! I think I need a g&t now!

    2. Thank you, Jo. Although if a mom wants to BF til their baby is 5 then that is absolutely their prerogative. I can barely make it to 8 months so its hard to relate, but listen, we are all doing our own thing here and its important to never judge the more unique “roads”. Thank you so much for commenting. xx

  74. Wow, that crazy fake doctor seems like just a regular internet troll enjoying stirring the pot. While each baby and each parent and each family is different and one thing is not going to work for each family, I can say that for my family we tried absolutely everything we could think of to get our first baby to sleep for longer than 35 minutes at a stretch. We tried co-sleeping, bought every book under the sun, did it all. And what we finally figured out is that sleeping in the same room we were all keeping each other awake. My son is a very active sleeper, so we kept thinking he was awake, and would check on him, then our nearness would really wake him up, then we’d all be up. Or we’d be convinced that he wasn’t really awake but we’d still be up because it’s really hard to ignore loud baby noises as a new parent. Then he wanted to nurse every 35-45 minutes but would just snack and fall back asleep. We were all cranky and going crazy! Baby included. After trying everything else for about 3 months we finally did the Emily version, which almost worked, but ended up finally just letting him cry. For like, an hour. He was fed, he was dry, he didn’t have a hair wrapped around a finger or toe (why are the books always talking about that?), he was totally fine, he just didn’t know how to fall asleep without me holding him and he needed to learn or else I would crash my car on the way to work from sleep exhaustion. So we did it for 3 nights and it worked and he’s a completely regular, non-abandoned kid who loves his parents and knows that we didn’t leave him under a rock to die because he cried for 3 nights. It’s okay to get some sleep, parents. It’s needed. Unless you are privileged enough to not have to work and can also exist on zero sleep then you need to get some sleep for the good of the family, and your kid will be better for it, too. I firmly believe that if we let our children dictate everything that they “need” then they’ll all be living at home still with no jobs at 32 years old and I am not having that happen. That would be a parenting failure. I think people like fake-doctor-internet-troll should stick with pets who will always need you the same amount and will make you feel super important. The rest of us can be proud to create future adults who will be independent, helpful members of society. Because they know how to get some shut-eye. Thanks, Emily, for braving the trolls and writing honest things!

  75. Thank you for such an honest account of your sleep training experience! Kudos to you for sending this over the interwebs. I bet you have eased a lot of mommy minds with your account (we’re so good at beating ourselves up)! I was really hesitant to do any sort of CIO method but it got to a point where my little one would not nap unless I drove her around in the car. I used the Ferber method with my 5 month old and was actually shocked to see the difference in my baby. She went from a perpetually cranky baby to always having a smile. The impact was so noticeable that my husband and I immediately knew we had made the right choice for our little girl.

    1. YES. we were just talking about this today. They are so much happier when they sleep more. Their brains are so well rested. Sleeping is good for people. Period. xx

  76. Please don’t pay any mind to the naysayers. Mothers who choose to spew harsh and hasty judgment on others who are brave enough and honest enough to share their experiences…let’s just say I worry about the children of those mothers far more than mothers who sleep train, god forbid.

    Have you read “monkey baby” on Pregnant Chicken? This actually explains so much about why certain moms are the way they are. It’s like how the alpha female monkey sometimes steals other monkeys’ babies, just for the sheer power trip of it. Just think of those negative comments as alpha female monkeys trying to steal your baby monkey, but know that you’re one of the most badass mommy monkeys out there.

    1. I’m going to read that. I’ve never heard of pregnant chicken but i’m about to google … xx

  77. I failed miserably with sleep training all 3 of my kids, as in I did nothing. I nursed all night long till my boys were around 1 yo. The first slept with me/us till he was 10. He now loves a dark, quiet room with no one near. The second still sleeps with us and the third…don’t ask. The little stinker is over 2 1/2 and STILL wants to nurse at night. I give in, so she doesn’t wake the 4 yo right next to me. It’s a mess, but I SUCK at leaving them alone. Seriously, I’m what not to do if you want sleep. They’re all so wonderful and I just love squeezing them throughout the night.

    Good job Emily! Your kids are adorable and lucky to have you!!

    1. HA. that sounds exciting and cuddly and crazy. I don’t think you’ll regret a second of that snuggling or BFing. Thanks so much for sharing. xx

    2. You know, that’s actually really nice to read. There’s so much stress around sleep training that it’s satisfying to hear someone say ‘I suck at it, but my kids are awesome.’ Haha That makes me feel reassured about raising my kid somehow; whether I get him to sleep through the night or not. Loving goes a long way 🙂

      1. P.s. Though I’m definitely on the sleep training bus because I’ve gotta have my sleep, too, haha, otherwise I am not a happy momma. Helpful post Emily! Thank you for sharing the details! 🙂

  78. Where have you been two years ago? Now I am prepared. You should couch us!

  79. I loved the details, thank you! An honest account, makes me think maybe we can do it too, at least when we have a room to put says baby in other than our own. Grr

  80. First time commenter. Emily, you’ve got balls to post about parenting in general, and then to top it off, a post about sleep training?! What can I say? Parenting isn’t for the weak, and you’re rocking this like a pro. Anyone who’s being honest with themselves knows it’s trial and error, so I totally admire that you’re willing to share the details of your experiment with your readers. THANK YOU for such a detailed sleep related post. I for one, was hugely encouraged by your experience. Not because it was easy, but that you thought through the cost, aimed for the end game and got help to get there.

    I’ve got a 2 month old. This week we’re in the “it only takes 2+hrs to get him asleep” camp. But this is my second so I know he’ll get there. Looking forward to sleep training, and once again, so glad you posted this. It’s always nice to read someone else’s detailed notes.

    Best to your family 🙂

    1. Thank you! And congrats 🙂 Maybe you’ll get a Charlie that slept 8 hours at 8 weeks 🙂 xx

      1. Dr. Wiles is totally not a real doctor. That much is obvious. And the article she refers to ALSO is not written by an MD or PhD. The author is a blogger who also sells her services as a sleep coach using her patented alternative-to-CIO program. In other words, she has a personal financial interest in this area. She has no advanced degree, and when you see a reference to “not breastfeeding” and “stranger daycare” as “risky parenting practices”, well, it’s not difficult to spot the journalistic slant.

        Sleep well knowing that you are not abusing your child (or operating on some lunatic continuum of neglect). Let’s put that to bed.

        I did essentially what you described for our son and it worked very well for us.

        Happy Mother’s Day to all – especially to you Dr. Wiles! Your children may not be subjected to the draconian practices of sleep training but I’m sure you’re setting a solid example while imposing as a doctor who also cyber bullies perfectly lovely interior decorators. Hip hip hooray!

        1. Ha. thank you thank you. xx

  81. I’m no mom, so I’m just here for the cute baby pictures….sheeee lookkksss soo like youuu ..really cute!!

  82. Boy oh boy. I knew the second I saw the title of this post it was going to be a blood bath. Emily, you are a brave woman and I applaud you putting yourself and your personal life out there for the world to see. I’m really sorry you are becoming a victim of mom bashing – we’ve all been there and there’s no worse feeling than someone who knows nothing about you and your children tell you you’re doing it wrong. We are all doing the best we can to survive and raise happy humans. There’s no hand book and sorry but shit gets straight primal at times. I am extremely jealous of your tenacity to get your baby to sleep thru the night bc it’s what was right for you and your family. I am personally of the Cosleeping attachment parenting camp but man, it’s HARD sometimes. I see my other mom friends with toddlers who sleep happily thru the night and I’m over here still bfing my 16 mo 14x a night. BUT it’s a personal decision and I wouldn’t have it any other way (well, most days). You are a great mom. Keep up the mommy posts and try to ignore the naysayers (I know, it’s hard). For all the haters you have 100x more supporters. Happy Mother’s Day!! Xx

    1. thank you so much and I seriously respect your mothering as well. I think co-sleeping sounds so wonderful, it just doesn’t fit our personalities and lifestyle right now but man, I do love to cuddle those kids …xx

    2. Hi Emily! I haven’t ever commented before but I felt the urge to speak up on this thread (like many others).

      “For all the haters you have 100x more supporters” – representing the supporter side, over here!!! I have many design friends that also quietly gobble up every part of your blog 🙂

      Your blog posts are supurb and I really love reading your more personal posts. As a 26 year old lady in the design world, I deeply admire you for your crazy-successful business and your ability to parent the most beautiful kids ever (title not handed out lightly) at the same time. Kids scare me, especially because I plan on having a demanding career at the same time. And holy moly how do you handle a screaming baby?! You make it seem manageable and real – I can feel your understandable frustrations and love for your kids all at the same time in each post. You’re basically my rockstar and I have so much respect for how you’ve handled sensitive topics.

  83. Emily this post was amazing , thank you. I used CIO with my first ( hated it) but gave him a bottle at 4:30am because I felt so guilty that he was hungry- this lasted for 2 years and it was torture because sometimes he was ready to start the day. Now with my 5 month old I have started your method and it worked wonders but I put him down at 8 or 8:30 pm and he wakes at 5:30am – today I did the 5 method at 5:30 am but it took an hour to get him back to sleep! My question is am I supposed to be doing the 5 minute thing at 5:30 am too? Or just go ahead and start the day ?

    1. I had this same dilemma. At first I thought that 5:30 was good, but then it slipped to 4:30 so I went back to the 5 minute thing and that worked, but i’d say (and again I’m NOT an expert) if she/he doesn’t fall back asleep in 20 minutes then she might be up for the day and wanting food. 10 hours is still a long time to sleep. I knew that Elliot wasn’t ready to get up because she would immediately fall back asleep. So I sleep trained her again and now she is up to 12 hours (last night 12 and a half!!). And she is the happiest little baby for her extremely happy and well-slept mama. xx

    2. I’m guessing Emily might not be able to field all these questions that have popped up on this thread. You might have some luck googling “infant sleep consultant.” I used a woman named Tracy Spackman at getquietnights.com. Her methods are gentle, customized to your child’s development stage and your family circumstances. Good luck!

  84. We used Ferber for both our 4.5 year old and our now 7-month old. The older brother sleeps SO well that we kept with the same method for both. Our younger (Charlie!) always slept better than his brother from day 1 but we still had to sleep train at about 5.5 months. I did much better at putting Charlie down and letting him fuss/cry – I was making my way through seasons of Parks and Rec that I never got to. We also put older brother and Dad in the basement a couple of nights when it was all about getting him to sleep. Once Charlie could go to sleep (but still wanted to comfort nurse back to sleep after middle of the night wake ups), I went downstairs with older brother to get the food source further away. Big brother only slept downstairs for 4 nights total – he was bummed that his sleepovers (in his new big boy sleeping bag on our pull out) didn’t last longer. Congrats on the better nights of sleep!

  85. Wow! Great timing with this post. Thank you for being so honest and putting yourself out there. Unfortunately, folks can be rather judgey about this topic. You said it best, whatever is best for your whole family.

    We used Ferber and Sleep Easy Solution for our first daughter (3yrs) and it was life changing once she started to sleep. I was a better mom, my husband and I were better, whole world was brighter. Gonna do the same with our second daughter (7 mo). Yes, it sucks and is heart wrenching, but it’s short lived and the benefits are worth it. Plus, your little ones learn to self soothe, which is what parenting is, instilling skills in our kiddos.

    Anyway, thank you thank you for your amazing design advice and sharing your family struggles and wins. Happy mama’s day to you!!!

  86. I am 69 and I used the same method with all my girls. They are mothers and grandmothers now and seem to have adjusted fine. Lol
    I married at 16 and in weeks I flew half way around the world, by myself, to be with my husband. My first daughter war born 4 months before my 18th birthday.
    There was no internet and I was half a world away from any family to get advise. Surprisingly I did the same thing to get all 3 girls to seep through the night. There certainly was no “name” for the method I used, just made up using what I call common sense.
    Children rearing, the most important thing anyone can do, is very hard and they do not come with an instruction book. You have to do what you think is best and hope it is good enough.
    Did I make mistakes, more that I care to mention. But I did my best!!

    1. I wish there was a like button for this! Happy Mother’s Day!

  87. Ugh, I don’t even know where to start with your unbelievable selfishness but this article reaffirms that sleeping through the night is not my goal as a parent. I see your behaviour as neglectful but that is your cross to bear.

    1. Being a mommy martyr must be exhausting Candace!

    2. What a bizarre and obnoxious thing to say. I would think that you would want to be rested so that you could be a calmer, more energetic mother while awake. Some people think being rested allows them to attend to all aspects of their life better. No one is a mother and a mother only 24-hours a day, even if they think they are.

    3. Methinks that “Candace” and “Dr. Wiles” are one in the same. Trolls are the worst!!!!

  88. Wow, I’m not sure where to start, since I’m in the minority with my opinion and I hope I’ll find the right words to transport it in a way that doesn’t get judged so quickly. This post really made me sad, let me try to explain why. Although I know that many of us have stressful, busy lives I do agree with a previous poster that babies simply require our constant attention and presence especially in those very important early months but honestly probably far beyond that point in their lives. Personally, I never planned out a strategy of how my baby was supposed to sleep and find the idea of sleep training so odd. When my son was born there was no way in the world I would have not let him sleep with us. He’s now still sleeping in my bed at 16 months, not planned or anything, but co-sleeping was simply what my motherly instincts lead me to do. It pained me to not be around my baby so there was no reason at all for me to doubt our sleeping situation. Even today he still nurses every two or three hours each night but I never wake up tired in the morning. Through having him so close to me from day one our sleeping patterns synchronized in a way, so even if I wake up for a minute or two every time he wants to nurse again, it’s pretty stressfree: I roll to my side, he latches on, we both continue sleeping. In those 16 months I never once had to get up at night after nursing him to sleep in the evening because he would happily continue sleeping right away if he could nurse whenever he wanted. Not saying this is possible for everyone but I do hear from my co-sleeping and breastfeeding mom friends that their nightly routine is pretty stressfree as well. Surely there are other cases, though. Our sleeping situation does demand some “sacrifices”, like me going to bed with my son every night at 8 (and yes, staying there). To some of you this might sound crazy but for me it’s what makes me happy and content and fulfills the expectation I have of myself as a mother. I wanna be there, I don’t want him to feel scared or alone ever.
    Regarding the concept of sleep training, it just seems so unnatural to me and the idea of a couple-months-old baby having to sleep in their crib alone in a room is not something I would ever want for my child. I understand that everyone is different and trying their best and we all have our very own idea of how to be a loving and caring parent, but I simply don’t get it. How does the rest of the world do it (everyone besides us privileged first world parents) and how did our grandmothers do it? Right, they don’t and didn’t put their baby in a crib to sleep alone in a room. Co-sleeping and breastfeeding (and carrying my baby) are the most fulfilling and essential parts of motherhood in these early stages (at least for me) and the least I want to offer my son in terms of closeness. I get that everyone is different, I’m just totally surprised and shocked about the majority of the comments being so pro-Ferber or other CIO methods (cause let’s be real, they are all CIO only to different extents. Even if you’re supposed to walk in every 5 minutes to utter the same script, the baby is still left alone crying). I know for myself that I would never want to leave my baby feeling unprotected or alone let alone letting them cry unconsoled. An experience some of you describe as traumatic even for yourself, which makes it seem even more absurd, I mean why do it then? Personally, I think if we would all listen more to our instincs and worry less about planning a sleep schedule or even taking sleep classes some issues might be solved by just being there (as in physically present) for your baby all the time, keeping them close and making them happy by sleeping close to you, because in the end, that’s what they all want, no?

    1. Ditto. You describe my thoughts on the topic perfectly.

    2. I totally agree, Jasmin! <3
      Same situation here and we are so happy with it. Didn't face any "sleep problems" for months now, and we do not have an "easy" baby for beginners 😉

  89. Emily,

    This was a lovely, very interesting post.

    I don’t have children and am well past child-bearing age, but I have a tendency towards insomnia and am interested in at least reading about sleep even if the thing itself eludes me (melatonin helps a lot!). I also enjoy your writing and this post was no exception.

    The method you describe sounds very gentle and sensible to me. I would think the baby would be comforted by having her parent respond after a few minutes and by hearing the same loving sounds and words, gradually learning to relax on her own. It may not work for everyone, but nothing ever does or ever has. You sound like very loving parents who have given a lot of thought to trying to do the best for your children.

    Being out of the baby loop, I was genuinely shocked by the negative responses. Child-rearing philosophies go in and out of fashion, but I guess self-righteousness never does. I feel a little sorry for those who have been so vehement about their opinions on this, because they will have to realize eventually that all parents, even them, do things that effect their children in unexpected ways. It’s the nature of the beast. You do the best you can and no one is perfect. Getting over it is an important step in growing up.

    You sound like you and Bryan are doing a great job and have two lucky children.

    Happy Mothers Day!

  90. Emily – you are my soul sister in your love for brass, blue and babies. I suffer from similar afflictions. I also suffered from severe sleep deprivation… I let it go for over a year and read every book, blog post, and peer reviewed medical journal with regard to sleep theory/method/ training available. After co-sleeping (I use that term lightly because, let’s face it, there was not a lot of sleeping involved for any of us – self, husband, or baby) and nursing multiple times per night and trying everything we finally (with my husbands gentle prodding) decided to do our own version of Ferber. Millie was a little over a year old and she was not ever going to learn how to self soothe if we didn’t teach her. After all, second to loving them to pieces, that is our job as parents, right? To teach our children?
    I have never been a good sleeper and it has affected my health in a variety of ways. When I recognized Millie could potentially have similar issues I didn’t want to allow that to happen. She needed to learn good sleep hygiene. It worked. While she was always a very happy energetic baby, after the “sleep training” she was even happier (and so were her parents!) Would I have done it at 8 weeks old? Not a chance. But that is me.

    To all the judgmental moms and “Dr’s” who have posted on this thread – knock it off. Constructive criticism is one thing when discussing shelf styling or the right shade of blush paint. Calling someone a child abuser – that is on another whole level of unacceptable and minimizes true child abuse. Working with your baby to show her how to sleep and letting her cry for a few minutes at a time is NO DIFFERENT than letting your baby cry in her car seat (in the back seat facing away from you if following safety recommendations, right?) while driving down the highway. Short of pulling over and risking everyones lives there is no choice but to let the baby cry for a few minutes, right? Unless you are the people that, the second the baby starts crying in said rear facing car seat, you cut off the drivers near you to get to the shoulder AS FAST AS YOU CAN to soothe and rock your baby while vehicles are flying by at 60 MPH. Seems reasonable.

    Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the fabulous mothers out there. Even the judgmental ones – I am sending extra love and happiness to you. I imagine you mean well but just because the internet is faceless that does not give you the right to be a jerk.

    1. I agree. I know that there are many attachment parents who are delighted with their approach, and I say kudos to them. If something works for a family and their kids’ needs and personalities, then great. But unfortunately, a loud minority of attachment parents get incredibly judgmental and extreme. Like I said, great if it works for them. I do draw the line at sancti-parents calling cribs “jails” (as I’ve seen in other comment threads), or accusing the Ferber method as being “abuse”. And it’s also difficult, as well as often unrealistic, to expect parents in Westernized societies to live like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. I roll my eyes at that expectation, for the simple reasons that most households have both parents working outside the home, AND, few of us live in extended families with other adults to help with childcare. Quite simply, it’s all on the parents. I have friends who emigrated to the US from India, and they told me that in India, many families still co-sleep because the grandparents either live with them or are close by. Among their Indian friends in the US, no one co-sleeps once they emigrate here. That’s the kind of thing the attachment evangelists (I mean the extreme ones), never acknowledge.

  91. No co-sleeping at our house. Ever. And we “feberized” both of our kids. They were excellent sleepers their entire childhoods and now are responsible adults. I never thought I missed out by teaching them to sleep in their own beds and putting themselves to sleep. Being firm shows love too.

  92. Our baby has slept in our bed from day one for the last 10 months. It’s the 2nd baby so it’s been a lot better than the first, but I dread the day that we try to move her to a crib overnight.

  93. you are SO FUNNY and i want to read your thoughts on every single topic there is.

    I am currently battling nap time for my 7 month old. I used ferber method to sleep train him and he sleeps great at night (well tonight he won’t know that i’ve said that….) but i CANNOT get him to nap longer than 30 mins… and i refuse to accept that “some babies just aren’t nappers” as my MIL says… I need the naps…

    1. I used to have the same problem! This article’s suggestion (and really the whole website) really helped us! Good luck!!


      1. Sarah – Thank you!!! 🙂

      2. Sarah-

        Trying this sites methods this week. Thanks! Read about 4 sleep books so far and bit of pieces kind of work with my babe so crossing my fingers for the semi wake up 25 minutes in so hopefully I don’t have to help him through the naps everyday!

  94. Wow, what a few days you’ve had! You are truly a wonderful Mother, Happy belated Mother’s Day Emily!


  95. Thank you for this post! I’m so glad you found a method of sleep training that worked for you and Elliot. Every mom and child is different and we all need to make the decisions and adjustments that work best for us. When my daughter was born, I found it so stressful to sleep in the same room with her, let alone co-sleep. I could not turn my brain off at night having her near me and I found I had to put her in her own room almost at day 1. But I honestly can say that was one of the best decisions I made as it meant I slept better and had more energy for her when she woke up for those infinite number of feedings. And as she got older, I really needed that uninterrupted sleep at night for my sanity. I did the Ferber method – and the key to that working and not adding more stress for you and baby is to really understand their sleep patterns (ie don’t put them to bed earlier than they usually go), their feeding patterns etc, so you know that they’ve had a full, fun day, have a full tummy and there’s nothing left to do but sleep!

  96. Sleep training was the single best thing I have done as a parent. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  97. Happy Mother’s Day, Emily. You’re doing great.

    The only true safety issues with infant sleep are location ( for ex., no choking hazards/air flow issues/no car seat for long sleeps) and position (for ex., sadly tummy is not safe for infants). You already know this, because your pediatrician follows the literature! The rest is culture, family, and preference, and there’s no one right way – just as you close your post by saying. (I study maternity care and have a doctorate, but guess what, you don’t have to be a doctor or a professor to make decisions about raising a child and share your process, that would be ridiculous.)

  98. Unlike most of the commenters, I don’t have a baby or toddler at home. I have two adult children. One is 20 and figuring out what he wants to do with his life and the other is 18 and heading off to college in the fall. One is our biological child and the other our adopted child. One boy, one girl. One was and still is a great sleeper, the other wasn’t and still has bouts of insomnia. They could not be more different. I don’t remember all of the details about how they learned to sleep through the night but the 1990s version of sleep training worked for our family. Today, they are thoughtful, engaged adults who can work through their own problems and don’t expect their parents to manage their lives. Along the way we made mistakes because, duh, we’re not perfect. Everyone should raise their child with love and should let others do the same. We all know what actual childhood looks like and should reserve comment for the real thing. (For example, I developed mastitis while nursing my 3-day old baby, was hospitalized and almost died. Afterwards, I discontinued breastfeeding. One day a co-worker told me that not nursing is child abuse. You can’t make this stuff up.)

    I only give two pieces of advice to friends and family with young children: 1) ignore the haters and 2) a parent’s job is to raise an good adult.

  99. Emily, you have no idea yet what you have done for the quality of your family life. As a mama a few years ahead (son 10 daughter 8), I promise this is one of the best things you could have done. We used The Baby Whisperer method, and our kids slept 7 until 7 and still do give or take. Of course, they’re older now and stay up a bit later but that’s happened very gradually over the years. Once they go to school, it is so obvious which kids have grown up well-rested and which haven’t and which parents get some recharge time every night and which don’t. The moods of every family member are calm, upbeat, and capable. Anyway, just trust you’re doing good things for your family. And my rule of thumb is when I reach a point when I’m almost dreading or resenting parenting a certain behavior (for lack of a better way to describe it), that’s my cue for full-stop switching gears we have to change this and find a better way mode

  100. this post gave me the push i needed to start sleep training my 16month old girl. She did so well this weekend! thank you for bringing this up!

  101. Emily, I think you were brave to tackle such an incendiary topic. We did Babywise with our first, and I have huge regrets about doing that. Routines with babies are absolutely fine and healthy–strict schedules with a newborn, as Babywise recommends (and has been warned against by the AAP)-is RIDICULOUS. Our oldest daughter is fine and healthy, and we are very close to her. But I wish I hadn’t been motivated by fear in the beginning, and I wish I had gone to her when she cried at 5 weeks old! I feel like *I* missed out on a special time. I doubt her body remembers, but I do. Babywise kind of “worked” with our first because she was a champion sleeper from day one, and she’s always been a light eater. I quickly realized with my second baby that I wasn’t going to be able to do any feeding schedule in the beginning, simply because of her huge, cluster-feeding appetite. By then, I was much more confident as a mother, and knew that things would mostly work themselves out. We did a modified Ferber approach with babies 2 and 3 when they were around 6 months. So I’m not against moderate sleep training at all, it’s just that the extreme approach is a terrible idea (as you said).

  102. Your kids sound very loved and I am glad everyone is getting more sleep. That’s a win for everyone. This post did make me uncomfortable because I’m pretty wary of sleep training (and the idea of babies “self-soothing” seems a bit ridiculous), but it sounds like you did a great job checking in regularly on Elliot. And I admit that my feelings about sleep training might change if I end up with a poor sleeper later on.

    Is it possible for you to delete trolling posts like Dr. Wiles? It seems like that might be more productive than actually responding to them. Unrelated to trolls, I have noticed some robot spam comments on some of your recent posts (not this one), so you may also want to delete those.

  103. Dear Emily,

    I am in love with your blog for years now und I adore you for your creativity, your style and the way you give us wondeful views in your private life.

    When the book “The Happy Sleeper” was presented by Joy on her blog in 2015 I just had to buy it. I read it cover to cover and I was so positive that this was exactly the way how I wanted to “help” and support my baby to sleep more that 2 hours without waking up crying. To be honest, I did not have the strength to really pull it off.
    This is way I am very thankful for your article! During the process, sitting in our living room (and the standing in front of his door, crying myself) – hearing my little one (he is now turning 2) cry was impossible for me. He is a tough little cookie and hearing him screaming and calling me so desperately was too much for me.
    I asked myself if this is really what I wanted to do and if I am causing any damage concerning this trust in his momma always being there for him- day and night. Honestly, I still do not know if this is my way to go. This is why I loved reading your article even more.

    Love from Germany,

    P.S (Just for info). Here in Germany, we have a lot of petitions running against Ferber. His method is extremely unpopular here and a lot of mothers, doctors, nurses want to have his book being removed from the market.

  104. I know, it is your responsibility how you deal with your children as it is your family. Still, I think you have far more options to get enough sleep but to sleep-train your baby. I seriously doubt, that you only want your baby to fall asleep solitary and sleep all through the night because of your elder child. I mean, didn’t you know before that a baby needs attention day and night? Personally, I am convinced that the key to good sleep of ALL family members is often much more simple than people expect. We share bed with our 16-months-old toddler since the day of her birth and we synchronized our sleep rhythms over time. I wake up a little when she wakes up, she rolls over to nurse and we both fall asleep as quickly as we woke up. All three of us, my husband, our daughter and I, we have never suffered from a lack of sleep for the last 14 months.

    I cannot understand the majority of comments here. Ferberizing and ‚controlled‘ crying IS ‚crying it out’ and IT IS HARMFUL to your baby – no matter at which age it is done. You take care of you baby all day long. You respond to his signals reliably. And at night, out of a sudden, you leave your baby alone alone with all his needs such as hunger, thirst, immediate proximity, comfort, feeling of security… Your baby won’t understand why you are a caring and loving mum by daytime and a more or less absent and cold person at night. By the way, did you know that babies develop something called object permanence earliest at the age of 8 to 14 months (according to the renowned psychologist Jean Piaget)? This means, your baby does not know, that you are just behind the door if it does not see you – until it is able to know. If you go out of the room, you are really gone!

    As a co-sleeping and nursing mother, I am very much into this subject and could write a whole book on babies’ sleep. I will summarize briefly: Babies’ sleep differs from adult sleep a lot! Evolutionary biology shows evidence that babies need to wake up several time at night. If not, they would have been forgotten, starved, caught by wild animals or frozen to death. It is a programme which they still possess. Waking up at the right time always meant survival of the babies in human history. That is the reason why babies sleep best in physical contact to their caregivers. Falling asleep literally is something you cannot be forced to. It needs a secure and comforting environment. If a baby is left crying, it will not learn how to self-soothe and finally how to fall sleep solitary. No, it will give up hope for you (his attachment person) to come and take care of his needs. Wonder why your baby falls asleep though when left crying? It is a sheer physical reaction which saves energy and also saves the baby from being heard by harming animals if the caregiver does not show up after a while. You can image which fear of death you baby is facing with CIO methods! Do you guys here seriously want your baby lose trust and experience fear?

    1. I am trying to share some links to books and references with you as you guys asked for solid arguments. Does not work 🙁

      1. Thanks for the detailed comment, fiona! If you could try to post those links again I would be very very grateful. You explain things I know intuitively but struggle to justify to the (sometimes very judgemental) mainstream mommy mafia in my circle of friends/family due to my lack of knowledge about scientific sources.
        I see a clear division in the comments here and think it all comes down to two contrary approaches. One being very child-oriented and the other being more of a happy-family approach. Many moms and dads just arent ready to give up their lives for a short period of time (for me, a short period is at least one and a half years, as thats how old my child is right now). And by giving up ones life I mean being there for a child 24/7. Literally!!
        If you’re not a SAHM this is impossible, I know, but you could be there 100% of the time you CAN be there (basically all the time except work hours). For me this meant no date night with my husband (heck, not even a dinner together (sans baby) in the house for many many months because I wanted to sleep next to my child so he wouldnt feel alone at night), no time at all for hobbies, getting my hair done, going out with friends for a drink (cause nursing, simply said: no time for anything except caring for the needs of a baby. There was no room for anything else, not even a movie with my husband for quite a while. Those were the sacrifices I happily made and saw as my job as a mother. But there are so many parents out there who dont feel the need to focus their entire attention on their baby once they hit the 3-months-mark, and thats their way of parenting. Everyone is doing the job the way they want to do it. You can be commited one hundred percent or you can have some freedom and some parts of your old life back, go out with friends, have alone time as a couple etc. There is little room in between.

      2. I hope it works this time:

        Many people in the posts above asked for studies and references stating that all CIO methods are harmful. So here are some solid arguments of pediatricians, researchers and experts AGAINST CIO methods:

        Middelmiss, W. and Kendall-Tacket, K.: The Science of Mother-Infant Sleep: Current Findings on Bedsharing, Breastfeeding, Sleep Training, and Normal Infant Sleep. Praeclarus Press, 2014

        Renz-Polster, H.: Born to be wild. Kösel, 2009

        These books clearly show that sleep training is harmful to children and it does damage the relationship to their parents!

        Or read this:
        ‘Although many baby sleep trainers claim there is no evidence of harm from practices such as controlled crying, it is worth noting that there is a vast difference between “no evidence of harm” and “evidence of no harm”. In fact, a growing number of health professionals are now claiming that training infants to sleep too deeply, too soon, is not in babies‘ best psychological or physiological interests.’

        Or this (with a statement of brilliant Dr. James McKenna):
        ‘The stringent and terrible generalizations of what babies should be are generalizations like weapons, nothing to do with scientific evidence of who babies are and what they do, but they are all generalizations of how a western 6 month baby should do. Any child is not independent. The harder you push at the start, the less confident they will become. They need to secure all the confidence and affection and touching, and grooming as much as a child can possibly get when they’re young to get them to be resilient, adaptable, and be with others.‘

        Or Dr. Williams Sears:
        ‘Baby loses trust in the signal value of his cry – and perhaps baby also loses trust in the responsiveness of his caregivers. Not only does something vital go “out” of baby, an important ingredient in the parent- child relationship goes “out” of parents: sensitivity.‘

        And sleep training is not as successful as some of you might suppose:

        By the way, Richard Ferber revised his arguments against co-sleeping and stated that he feels deeply sorry for parts of his theory as it turned out to be wrong for children. See e.i. www3.nd.edu/~newsinfo/pdf/2006_05_22_pdf/The%20Little%20One%20Said%20Roll%20Over.pdf

        Ferber ‘readily admits that he is not trained in infant psychology. Most interesting, Ferber now says in interviews that he regrets some of the advice he’s given. He’s been quoted as saying that he feels badly that child health professionals are encouraging parents to leave very young babies to cry, and that it’s ok to co-sleep. […]‘

        ‘[… ] it is well-documented that sustained, uncomforted infant crying causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen levels, elevated cerebral blood pressure, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, and cardiac stress. Cortisol, adrenalin and other stress hormones skyrocket, which disrupts the immune system and digestion. It’s a reasonable guess that if this is repeated over time, these babies would build a slightly different brain, more prone to „fight, flight or freeze.“ […]‘

        both http://www.ahaparenting.com/Ages-stages/newborns/case-against-ferber-sleep

        Addition: This video by Dr. James McKenna about co-sleeping might be interesting for you:

        I love his explanation of how babies „work“.

        I see that I am on the minority side here with my opinion. Still I know that there are millions of pediatricians and researchers as well as parents sharing my opinion! Maybe my post with all its references makes you reconsider the responsibility you bear.

      3. Emily, I know you are convinced by the sleep training method you describe. You surely have your reasons. However, could you please publish my last comment (1 hour ago) with all the links and book advises (it says, my comment is awaiting moderation). In the discussion above, there were so many requests for solid information why CIO methods are risky. There might be some parents out there that would be glad to know before they try ferberizing on their babies. Thank you!

      4. Many people in the posts above asked for studies and references stating that all CIO methods are harmful. So here are some solid arguments of pediatricians, researchers and experts AGAINST CIO (unfortunately, the links had to be shortened):

        Middelmiss, W. and Kendall-Tacket, K.: The Science of Mother-Infant Sleep: Current Findings on Bedsharing, Breastfeeding, Sleep Training, and Normal Infant Sleep. Praeclarus Press, 2014

        Renz-Polster, H.: Born to be wild. Kösel, 2009

        These books clearly show that sleep training is harmful to children and it does damage the relationship to their parents!

        Or have a look at this:
        ‘Although many baby sleep trainers claim there is no evidence of harm from practices such as controlled crying, it is worth noting that there is a vast difference between “no evidence of harm” and “evidence of no harm”. In fact, a growing number of health professionals are now claiming that training infants to sleep too deeply, too soon, is not in babies’ best psychological or physiological interests.’
        (see naturalchild…/guest/pinky_mckay)

        Or this (with a statement of brilliant Dr. James McKenna):
        ‘The stringent and terrible generalizations of what babies should be are generalizations like weapons, nothing to do with scientific evidence of who babies are and what they do, but they are all generalizations of how a western 6 month baby should do. Any child is not independent. The harder you push at the start, the less confident they will become. They need to secure all the confidence and affection and touching, and grooming as much as a child can possibly get when they’re young to get them to be resilient, adaptable, and be with others.’
        (see selfmademom…/2010/11/14/why-i-changed-my-tune-on-crying-it-out/)

        Or Dr. Williams Sears:
        ‘Baby loses trust in the signal value of his cry – and perhaps baby also loses trust in the responsiveness of his caregivers. Not only does something vital go “out” of baby, an important ingredient in the parent- child relationship goes “out” of parents: sensitivity.’
        (see askdrsears…/topics/health-concerns/fussy-baby/letting-baby-cry-it-out-yes-no)

        And sleep training is not as successful as some of you might suppose:
        (see todaysparent…/baby/baby-development/sleep-training/)

        By the way, Richard Ferber revised his arguments against co-sleeping and stated that he feels deeply sorry for parts of his theory as it turned out to be wrong for children.

        Ferber ‘readily admits that he is not trained in infant psychology. Most interesting, Ferber now says in interviews that he regrets some of the advice he’s given. He’s been quoted as saying that he feels badly that child health professionals are encouraging parents to leave very young babies to cry, and that it’s ok to co-sleep. […]‘

        ‘[… ] it is well-documented that sustained, uncomforted infant crying causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen levels, elevated cerebral blood pressure, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, and cardiac stress. Cortisol, adrenalin and other stress hormones skyrocket, which disrupts the immune system and digestion. It’s a reasonable guess that if this is repeated over time, these babies would build a slightly different brain, more prone to „fight, flight or freeze.“ […]‘

        (both ahaparenting…/Ages-stages/newborns/case-against-ferber-sleep)

        Furthermore, there is a wonderful video by Dr. James McKenna about co-sleeping which might be interesting for you. I love his explanation of how babies really „work“.

        I see that I am on the minority side here with my opinion. Still I know that there are millions of pediatricians and researchers as well as parents out there sharing my opinion! Maybe my post with all its references makes you reconsider the responsibility you bear.

  105. Hahaha! I cracked up at the “boob in hand” line. I’ve told my friends who are new moms “when they start crying, just stick a boob in it!”

  106. Update –
    Followed your detailed post and my kid is sleeping like a dream already. You got a lot of negative feedback so I thought I’d send some gratitude your way.

    My 5 month old is not only sleeping better at night, but instead of 4 sporadic weird short naps a day, he’s doing two 2 hour naps like he should. He’s so much more rested. I won’t even mention how I feel.

    Everyone’s child is different. Everyone’s schedules are different. There’s no right or wrong way on the subject of sleep.

    But this has process worked for us. So quickly. I can’t thank you enough for sharing and for putting up with the meanies as a result .

  107. I was literally just wondering to my bleary-eyed self, “how am I going to get my 8 month old to sleep through the night?” when a friend of mine liked this post. Our guy has no problem getting to sleep, but staying there has become a problem. I’m going to try this tonight! Question though. Baby boy is no good at taking a bottle. Would it still work to nurse him before bed in the place of a bottle? And we usually feed him supper before the bath time routine begins. What are your thoughts on that?
    Should we be starting earlier?

  108. I’m getting ready to have my second and I don’t remember anything from my first (who didn’t sleep through the night till 2 1/2)! So this was so great to read–thank you!!


  109. As a mother of a now 10 month old, I will say I don’t think there was anything as confusing to me as sleep training. I had no idea how many strong and radically different opinions there were out there. All I’ll add is every mom is different and every baby is too. Our little guy was teeny so I wasn’t comfortable dropping night time feedings for the first few months (even though people swore I had to do it at 4 months or else we’d miss the magic window be screwed forever). We tried sleep training at 6 months and it just didn’t work. And we did it for a week. Flash forward to 9 months + day light savings = sleep regression. We decided to sleep train on a whim at 11PM on a Sunday since I was about to lose my god damn mind. This time it actually worked. He just wasn’t ready the first go around. Long story, moms should trust their gut and do what works for their family. Then don’t apologize for it or feel bad because of it, you know your baby best!

  110. Thank you so much for sharing this tips. We actually tried the “Crying it out” method and it was a big big failure … I still remember how frustrated it was … Fortunately, the cosleeping worked out perfectly for me. So for me, it’s a yes.

  111. Love this and i enjoyed the supportive comments regarding everyone’s personal methods! couldn’t agree more that family happiness is the most important goal and getting there requires balancing each family’s UNIQUE blend of personalities, tolerances, needs etc. Kudos to all those that recognize there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And thank goodness, or how boring the world would be! (no internet trolls mommy bashing if we all agreed on the one true way!)

    we did full CIO with my 18 month old who was adopted at 12 months (particularly ripe for attacks here as you are ‘not supposed to’ do CIO with adopted kids). however even if i was willing to throw my health and happiness to the wind (which I wasn’t) I was pretty sure that waking up all night long and needing 1 hour+ to be soothed to sleep was a major factor in my little one’s crankiness and constant respiratory and ear infections. After two tough nights she got the hang of sleeping and it was like she had a personality transplant (me too) and she became a little ray of sunshine. Constant runny nose cleared up too. It was the right choice for all of us, no regrets!

    I’m super curious to know when the sociopath tendencies are supposed to emerge, as some people seem to think that is the consequence of our decision? she’s 5 1/2 so maybe we’re on borrowed time before it all breaks down, but we’ll just try to enjoy our happy kid and sleep in the meantime!

  112. Thank you, Emily – wonderful post, your loving middle way and very good point about the benefits of good sleep for the child’s long-term development persuaded me to go the same route with my baby girl as soon as she turns 5 months next month. Two questions, if I may – do you keep the white noise monitor on all night or just for the falling asleep phase? Should the same approach (bar the bath) be used also for naps? Thank you again for so openly sharing your story (and all your inspiring creativity in this blog, my daily treat!)

  113. When I saw the title of this post, I wanted to get a box of popcorn…. I usually don’t read comments but I knew these would be, um, entertaining(?)…
    To all the people who are raising kids these days and think training/helping kids learn to sleep through the night is so very awful and damaging, I say, my children (adults now) and millions of people in the world throughout history were allowed to cry it out/self sooth/ trained in a time when there weren’t a million books and internet sites to comment.
    Those people have gone on to be all the successful, educated, enlightened and healthy people in the world – doctors, teachers, CEOs and most assuredly, even presidents. Some of those people even raised the people who are commenting their way through the internet and are writing books about the horrors of the way they themselves were probably raised. Yet somehow they are thoughful and insightful enough to rant/write about the subject.
    Hmmmm…. Maybe it’s not so damaging?
    Taken to extremes, I’m sure there can be negative affects but I’m skeptical of the idea that one or two nights of “training” (now it has a name) can undo all the nurturing, comfort, love and caring a child has all the rest of the days (and nights) of their lives.
    I know it did not for my kids.
    Emily, thank you for sticking your neck out there. And kudos to your husband for having your back. Hugs to your kids too, but I’m sure they get plenty from you. Day and night.

  114. Thanks for sharing!! I’m going to sleep train my 6 month old son this week! A couple of questions:
    1. Does the level of darkness matter?
    2. For a bed time, is it after 2 hours of being awake? Or a specific time?
    3. Do you do the same for naps?

    Thanks again for your honest and sweet parenting posts! I love them ?

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