I’m pretty sure blogging about baby sleep is akin to discussing politics or religion, but I’ll give it a shot.


I assume sleep-deprived parents will be blearily reading this post, so here’s a short summary of what we did:


  • Waited until he was old enough to begin training per our pediatrician’s recommendation (he nap-trained around 4.5 months and night-trained around 5.25 months)
  • Focused on teaching Henry to be capable of soothing himself back to sleep without the aid of a parent or a prop (like a bottle)
  • Stopped nursing him to sleep
  • Started off by following a strict nap schedule and getting naps under control
  • Allowed him to protest cry
  • Responded to protest crying at regular intervals (five or ten minutes) in accordance with severity of crying.  Did not respond to light protest fussing more than once (at the ten minute mark).  
  • End result?  After six nights of sleep training, he slept from 8:30 PM to 7:00 AM with no crying.  OH YEAH!


Before I had my baby, I knew that sleep with a newborn would be rough – everyone talks about it, right?  But really, I had no idea how rough it could be (and I know that Henry wasn’t that bad).  Before training, we were often up four, five, six times a night.  Every night.  It was so, so horrible and draining after a few months. 


Based on my drug-free birth and other ‘crunchy’ leanings (um, I did eat my placenta), I think lots of readers expected me to practice more Attachment Parenting principles.  AP is generally against protest crying sleep training, instead promoting bed-sharing or co-sleeping, responding immediately to a baby’s wakeups, and frequent nighttime nursing.  While the AP view is popular, I am not a AP parent, and it is certainly not the only way to handle a baby’s sleep.  Others believe that you should just let the child naturally figure sleep out and not try to train at all.  But I always knew that I would do some sort of sleep training with Henry.  Beyond the early months, I had zero desire to bed- or room-share, and trust me – Henry was not figuring it out on his own anytime soon.  I really don’t think there is one way to help your baby’s sleep, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with AP principles or other techniques… I just believe our sleep training plan was the best for Henry and the adults in the house. 


Also, it’s really, really important to discuss your plan (whatever it is) with your baby’s doctor.  I’m not a doctor; I’m just a mom… and a first-time mom to boot.  I’ve heard everything from, “You can sleep train at 3 months” to “Wait to sleep train until they can crawl” to “A baby can’t go overnight without food until he’s a year old” to “A baby can sleep through the night at 4 months.”  Again, so much of when a baby can or cannot sleep through the night or go longer without eating is so dependent on the child.  There is definitely NO one-size-fits-all approach to baby sleep.


That being said – here’s what we did and what finally worked for us:


  • Research, Research, Research:  I read many sleep booking (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, The Baby Whisperer, On Becoming Baby Wise (<— this book is controversial, which I knew going into it).  I gave HSHHC a bad review when I first read it when Henry was three months old, saying it was confusing and hard to follow.  I looked back over it the other day and it makes PERFECT SENSE.  I was so sleep-deprived at the time that I couldn’t decode it (so sad).  Of all of these books, HSHHC was the best for teaching me about napping and how napping impacts nighttime sleep; I also liked The Baby Whisperer for the E.A.S.Y. plan (eat, activity time, sleep, momma time).  But I believe the best type of research that I did was talking to other moms about what they did with their children.  I also spoke to my mom about how she trained me, and surprise-surprise, I was sleep trained through controlled comforting!


  • Henry’s Needs Changed:  What a baby needs at 1 week is WAY different than what they need at 5 months.  I am so glad that I nursed ‘on-demand,’ shared a room, and responded to Henry’s nighttime cries while he was in the newborn stage (1 to 3 or 4 months).  Getting through those first 3 or 4 months is so rough, but I think responding to all of Henry’s cues was a very good thing – I don’t think it’s possible to ‘spoil’ a baby that young, it established trust, and it helped set my milk supply.


  • …. However, Everything I Do ‘Trains’ Henry:  My friend said this to be a few months ago, and it was like a lightening bolt.  Everything I do, Henry watches and ‘learns’ how his world is supposed to work.  At 4.5 months, he fully believed that if he woke up in the middle of the night, he should cry.  Then, I would come immediately into his bedroom, I would give him a bottle, and then he would go back to sleep because that’s how we always did it.  He also began to expect that I would ‘rescue’ him at 4:30 AM and pull him into bed with me.  I did not want him to get used to this habit.  I realized that I could gently teach him to expect different things, and he would respond appropriately.


  • Started With Naps:  My first attempt at nighttime training (around 4.5 months) was a huge disaster for several reasons, but most importantly, I failed at night because we didn’t have the day under control.  I didn’t know how often Henry needed to nap or when he needed to nap (more on that below).  His naps were short, sporadic, and out of control.  I initially believed that he would tell me when he wanted to nap.  Little did I know that…


  • Never Wait for Henry to Get Overtired:  Incredibly, babies don’t know when they need to sleep.  They go from awake to sleepy to overtired in ten minutes flat.  It was important for me to learn Henry’s early sleep cues – his eyes gets a little red, he rubs his face, and he quiets down.  If he’s fussing or yawning a lot, it’s way too late and we’ve entered overtired territory.  You would think overtired = going to sleep easier, but it’s the opposite.  Overtired means crankiness, fussing, screaming, thrashing.  It sucks. 


  • Sleep Begets Sleep:  HSHHC and other plans taught me that Henry should not be awake for more than 2 – 3.5 hour at a time.  His first nap is always within two hours of waking; there is a bigger spread between the later naps.  When I watch both Henry and the clock, he naps a lot more easily and is never cranky.  Right now, because he takes short naps, he naps 3 times a day (for about 45 minutes to an hour).  I hope his naps get longer and he only needs 2 soon.  He goes to bed between 7:45 PM and 8:30 PM.


  • Beware of Extra Cheater Naps:  Henry is one of those babies that immediately knocks out in the car or stroller.  Cheater naps are sometimes a great thing – I time it around his second or third nap, which is usually harder for him, and he falls asleep like an angel.  But if I’m driving home at 7 PM and he falls asleep for a cheater fourth nap, I am guaranteed that he will wake up throughout the night. 


  • Get E.A.S.Y. First:  Henry’s biggest issue with nighttime wake-ups was that he was accustomed to a parent using a bottle to put him back to sleep; he often only drank a little bit during these nighttime feeds – it was more for comfort.  How could I expect him to put himself back to sleep when he naturally woke up during the night (something we all do, even as adults) if he was used to the bottle?  I switched up his routine so that he slept, ate, played, and then slept again…. instead of eating before sleeping.  When a feed runs into a nap, I feed him in a bright room and keep him awake.  I NEVER let him fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth now.


  • Establish Sleep Cues:  We go into his nursery, I close all the blinds, I change his diaper if necessary, we sit in the rocker, and I sing him the Barney Song (“I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family…”) five or six times.  I always sing him this song for naps and bed so he associates the tune with sleep.  Then, I put him down in his crib awake but drowsy (I used to knock him out with a bottle and geeeeently put him in his crib dead asleep – but he would wake up, wonder where I went and why he didn’t have a bottle, and freak out).


  • Respond to Protest Crying Regularly:  There are lots of ways to handle protest crying – controlled comforting (which is what I did), camping out, total extinction.  Pediatrics recently reported that gentle protest crying methods like controlled comforting and camping out do not cause long-term psychological damage or weaken the bond between child and parent. I know AP parents have a different opinion about cry-based methods, but I was sleep trained through controlled comforting, don’t remember a bit of it, and love my mom!  I used to think that letting Henry cry for five minutes was soooo severe – I was really against crying methods.  But I began to realize two things:  one, Henry knows his crib is a safe place.  He’s not scared, he’s just whining (and I fully expect him to whine a lot as a child, so I better get used to handling it).  Two, five minutes of crying is nothing.  He was just getting started at five minutes – it wasn’t nearly enough time for him to settle back down; I was rescuing him WAY too soon.  Our controlled crying plan is as follows: if Henry is crying really hard (hysterical crying), I check in on him every 5 minutes for 30 seconds.  I pat his back, sing him a song, and leave.  I never pick him up or make a motion like I will pick him up (if he had a soiled diaper, I change him in the crib using my iPhone as a light).  If he is crying regularly but not hysterically, I go in every 10 minutes for 30 seconds.  If he is just fussing, I go in at the 10 minute mark and that’s it.  I never go ‘backwards’ (so visiting every 10 minutes and then stepping it up to every 5) because that’s reinforcing (cry harder, get attention).  I never planned to leave him in hysterical crying for more than 25 minutes or regular crying for more than 60 – 90 minutes.  If he was that bad, I would’ve aborted the plan and tried something else.  But we never got close to either of those limits, and there were only a handful of naps and sleeps that required more than one visit.  In terms of morning wakeup, I let him get up at 6:15 at the earliest; if he rises within half an hour of that time, I let him make noise and comfort on the regular intervals.  He’s gotten better about getting up later over time. 


  • Commit:  Whatever you decide to do, I think it’s really important to COMMIT to your sleep training plan for at least a week (unless you’re going over your recommended cry limits).  Protest crying is really hard to listen to, but the only thing that sucked more was the first time I attempted to train Henry – I let him cry for 5 minutes and then I ‘gave in’ and ‘rescued’ him.  Basically, I put him through the worst part of sleep training, and we didn’t get anything out of it.  All he learned was that he needed to cry for 5 minutes and he’d get to sleep with me in my bed – fail!  As a mom, I know the difference between Henry’s “I’m being sleep trained” cries and the “something is seriously wrong” cries.  Trust your gut!  I highly recommend getting a breathable bumper (so you know their legs or arms aren’t trapped in the crib slates), using a timer (10 minutes of crying feels like a long time to a parent), and not staring into the monitor the entire time.  Take notes throughout the night so you can look them back over the next day – it’s hard to remember exactly what happened when it’s 3:00 AM.  And lastly – get one parent to do ALL of the sleep training.  I found this was less confusing for Henry.  I hear it’s best if the dads do it, but Kristien was too busy, so I took over.  Just make sure your mommy backbone is strong.


  • Tackle Nighttime Second:  We got naps and bedtime under control for two weeks (meaning no bottles to sleep; self-soothing in the crib) before tackling the middle-of-the-night wakeups (while we were nap training, I comforted Henry in the middle of the night with a bottle per our old tradition).  I think this was a good idea because it taught Henry what to expect and helped him learn self-soothing basics.  There’s a lot of debate about when a baby can sleep through the night without food, and some would say that Henry is too young, but my doctor said it was fine.  Henry never seems ravenous in the morning; we usually wait 15 minutes to have a bottle after getting up.  When we started to nighttime train, I prepared myself for a few hard nights with the controlled comforting, but Henry did really well – thanks to his nap training!  It took one bad night (a few longer cry sessions with lots of comforting) and four decent ones (short cry sessions that didn’t involve comforting) before he figured it out.  On the sixth night, I heard him wake up in the middle of the night, and I watched on the monitor as he stretched, rolled over, and settled back into dreamland all by himself.  And then he woke up after sunrise and smiled and cooed until I got him out of bed – no crying.  It was amazing!


Photographic evidence of a happy, well-rested bebe:


All in all, I am extremely glad I sleep trained Henry.  Not just for Henry’s sake – he seems soooo much happier now that he sleeps regularly and deeply – but also for my and my husband’s sake.  I really cannot explain how rough baby sleep can be on the adults in the house.  We want Henry to be happy, but we need to be happy, too.  I know there are many ways to handle baby sleep, and I truly don’t think one method is better than another in all cases, but this one definitely worked for us!  It also taught me a lot about parenting – about how to be firm with Henry and do what I believe is best for him even if he doesn’t like it initially.  I hope he’s learned an important skill – self-soothing to sleep – and it benefits him for many years. 


I still heart coffee.  You can never take that away from me!



  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat December 4, 2012, 8:26 am

    Posts like these will be so helpful to me when I become mom some day – sounds like the sleep training has benefits for both you and the baby!

  • Verna December 4, 2012, 8:35 am

    Very very similiar to what we did with my son. SAVED us!! I love Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child! That book is the best!

    • Verna December 4, 2012, 10:39 am

      I have a question about the EASY part. I breastfed both kids and I don’t think my milk has a lot of fat in it. I’ve always worried they would wake up early from naps because they were hungry. Have you noticed anything like that? Did he get used to only eating after nap and start eating more? Thanks! We’re expecting baby #3 in July so I’d like to have a game plan down before then! ; )

      • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 11:13 am

        I have not – I think they just adjust. Sometimes I give him a litle snack 30 minutes before he sleeps if he has been very active, I just try not to make it the last thing he does before sleeping.

      • Becky December 4, 2012, 11:20 am

        I’ve been following the EASY method since my son was almost 3 months. As a new mom I found it very helpful to schedule our day and I was better able to anticipate his needs. He is now 4.5 months and a very big boy. He happily goes 3.5 hours between feedings and sleeps 8 hours at night without eating. And he rarely wakes up ravenous!

  • Erika December 4, 2012, 8:38 am

    As a mom to a 2.5 year old I still find this stuff interesting. Great post and advice! Only thing to add is after my baby’s routine got interrupted with being sick/teething/going on vacation/having visitors or whatever – we had to re-sleep train him. So I’ve probably had to do it up to ten times 🙁 we are about to go into another round so thanks for the refresher!

  • Allison December 4, 2012, 8:39 am

    Sleep Training was the best thing that happened to my family. I know it is not for everyone but I was not functional for the last month or 2 before we trained my first. It was hard and took considerably longer than I hoped but I think this is because we waited until almost 9 months. At 6 months with my 2nd it was MUCH easier. I agree that whatever method you use committing to it is the most important thing.

  • Hilary December 4, 2012, 8:51 am

    As usual Caitlin, you tackled a difficult subject with grace and composure. Kudos to you! Great insight.

    As someone who is usually against CIO methods, this made me think about how to handle my 6 mo old who still wakes up several times at night. I’m in that ‘do whatever it takes to get her back to sleep fast put a boob in her mouth’ camp right now. Thanks for the tips!

  • Sara December 4, 2012, 8:54 am

    My sis sleep trained my niece, and I’m pretty sure ill be doing the same when I have kids. This was a great post, and I appreciate your honesty and boldness, despite the “controversial” matter.

  • Amy Q December 4, 2012, 8:56 am

    He is so stinking cute that I can’t stand it. For real. I could just eat him up!

  • Jackie December 4, 2012, 9:01 am

    Congrats on your success! Our training looked very similar to yours (although we went with the “extinction” method of crying it out [so hard for 2 nights, but very, very effective]).

    It’s crazy how little sleep you get in the beginning, but how much you can still function during the day. My 9 month old is sick and slept like total crap last night (although “crap” now would’ve been AWESOME when he was 1-2 months old) and I am DRAGGING today. It’s all a matter of perspective. 🙂

  • Kayla @ The Best Things December 4, 2012, 9:06 am

    Those pics of Henry are priceless!! I’ll be keeping a mental note of you sleep posts for when I have a baby one day!

  • AD December 4, 2012, 9:14 am

    Thank you for posting this! I have a question: when you were nap training, did you follow the same intervals of controlled comforting that you listed earlier in the post? Did you feel like he wasn’t napping well at all some days because he was fussy for too long and then the nap was ‘over’?

  • amc December 4, 2012, 9:15 am

    Great job momma. I appreciate the words you chose: protest crying and controlled comforting. Cry it out sounds so dramatic and damaging, but let’s face it, very few adults are tormented by their own infant sleep training. For example, I’m fine. I love my parents and have slept well for my 30 years. You said/wrote something similar. It’s okay to teach babies skills even if they protest. That’s the parent’s job.

    My husband and I are generally up about 4 times a night with our 6 month old. I think it’s time for some sleep training in our world too. Methinks it will be more difficult for me, the mother, than my sweet baby boy.

    • Emily December 4, 2012, 11:23 am

      Did Here’s sleep habits overnight change much between 2 months and 5 months when you started sleep training? And had your milk supply adjusted to him sleeping through the night or are you still waking up once during the night to pump? My 3 month old daughter is starting to give me longer stretches at night (like 7 hours) and I find that I’m waking up before she does with engorged and sore boobs, very ready for a night time nursing. I’m trying to rude it out without nursing or pumping until she washes up to hopefully regulate my overnight supply. How did you deal with that? Thanks and geat, thought provoking post. I’d been waiting to hear more about the sleep saga!

      • Dominique December 4, 2012, 11:53 am

        When I’ve had this happen – which isn’t very often, but it does happen, I will hand express about an ounce from each side. This usually gives me enough relief to go back to sleep but I don’t feel like it’s enough to really mess up regulation of my night time supply and it doesn’t take milk away from her when she’s ready to eat. Also, when you are engorged, hand expressing an ounce is really easy and goes really fast. Hope that helps.

        • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 11:55 am

          Good tip!

  • Rebecca @ Blueberry Smiles December 4, 2012, 9:17 am

    I know I’ll come back and read this post one day when I’m preggers or have a newborn. Henry looks so happy and cute in all these pics!

  • Marlène December 4, 2012, 9:22 am

    Great post! I have a 14 month old who does NOT sleep through the night, and I’m experiencing a level of tired I never knew existed!!

    I did everything “wrong” – I nursed him to sleep till he was really old (like 9 or 10 months); I am inconsistent (sometimes I rescue and sometimes I’m firm); and I just let his daytime naps happen.


    I’m only now starting the “trade down” method, where we slowly over time trade one sleep association for another (going from nursing to rocking, from rocking to back rubs, then to shhhh’ing, etc.).

    It’s not easy, that’s for sure! Good on you for this! I hope Henry keeps up the good work!

    • Verna December 4, 2012, 10:42 am

      Ugh! This is me! I should have known better since this was my 2nd but she still seemed like a baby to me so we let it go on too long! Now I’m pregnant again and she still wakes up at least once a night!

    • kim @ vegan mama December 4, 2012, 6:08 pm

      I don’t think nursing babies to sleep is “wrong”. In fact, it feels very right to me! Of course, it’s not for everyone, but my 10 month old has been napping very well for several months, and recently her night time sleep has drastically improved, and we always nurse right before she sleeps. Sometimes she falls asleep while nursing, and sometimes she doesn’t. I just lay her in her bed after nursing, asleep or not, and she fusses or talks to herself for a few minutes, then is a sleep! We did a bit of sleep training around 5 months, to teach her how to comfort herself to sleep for the times when she didn’t fall asleep nursing.

      • Mari December 4, 2012, 8:58 pm

        Thank you for this. I love nursing my four month old to sleep (and he only wakes once at 5AM to eat), but I was beginning to worry I was doing something wrong. It’s so hard to know what’s best!

        • Verna December 5, 2012, 3:36 pm

          It’s not so much the nursing to sleep that was our problem as continuing to feed her in the middle of the night. We let that go on too long.

  • Eliza December 4, 2012, 9:23 am

    THANK YOU for these posts. I have no immediate plans to become a mom but will take a similar approach to it when it does happen – “crunchy” leanings, but not being an attachment parent. You are so thorough and helpful. I hope you realize that!

    And the first picture of Henry… omghdoia7f876grfi76!! HYSTERICAL!!!!

  • leah case December 4, 2012, 9:24 am

    what a great post! As another non-AP parent (in a very AP heavy area!) it’s refreshing to see other parents doing things similar to what we did!

    • Julie December 5, 2012, 9:56 pm

      Leah, I feel ya as I became a mama in NYC in an AP heavy neighborhood. I sleep trained both my kids with gentle crying-it-out and I felt like I couldn’t even tell any of my friends. Most of the co-slept with their kiddos. I secretly just kept comments to myself when they complained that their babies weren’t sleeping through the night and we were having blissful, through-the-night sleep at our house.

  • Jenny @ For Your Consideration December 4, 2012, 9:31 am

    Wow! Thanks for posting this. Definitely bookmarking it for the immediate future.

  • Amanda December 4, 2012, 9:37 am

    Good job mama!

    Gettting the whole napping/sleeping thing under control is one of the BEST feelings EVER!! Way to go!!

  • Beks December 4, 2012, 9:40 am

    I’m not a mother (or even a wife) yet, but I find these posts on raising Henry very interesting. I’m the youngest of two, and wasn’t really around my younger cousins long enough to really watch how my aunts/uncles dealt with them, or anything. If/when I ever have kids of my own, this is good information to have. 🙂

  • Sara December 4, 2012, 9:40 am

    We did sleep training with our son (now 13 months). We started it at 6.5 months and it was a god send. We did the controversial Ferber which is a controlled comfort (or graduated extinction) method after trying camping out. Camping Out made it so much worse – he was so confused as to why I was in the room but not picking him up! With Ferber the longest he ever cried was 45 minutes – sounds horrible but really not too bad when you put it into perspective!

    The one thing they don’t tell you is that it is not a one time fix. We don’t CIO when Nolan is teething or sick so then we had to do it again once he was well, but at that point it was never that bad (maybe 15 minutes and usually just 1 or 2 nights at bedtime). At that point we had to stop controlled comfort because he again would get confused (thus very angry!) so we had to do total extinction.

    Nolan has been a great sleeper since then and sleeps 12-13 hours straight every night, goes down for his naps so easily and sleeps 2-3 hours total in a day. He is so happy when he wakes up so it was well worth it!

  • Laura @ My Pink Thumb December 4, 2012, 9:40 am

    What a great post!! I’m due in May with my first, so I’m definitely going to be bookmarking this for the moment when I find myself grasping at straws! 😉

  • K December 4, 2012, 9:44 am

    Caitlin, thanks for sharing your experiences! It’s great that you figured out a plan that suited everyone and found success! I agree that consistency trumps method almost every time! We had the same experience with aborting sleep training after 2 nights and we felt terrible for it, but my cortisol levels were through the roof as we heard him cry (even though he never cried longer than 15 minutes) and it just never felt intuitively like the right thing to do (again, for US). Our little guy, at 7 months, still wakes hourly, so we knew we had to do something to get everyone some rest, but we really took our time and read everything. We read lots of books that we may not have philosophically agreed with because every sleep book has something good to offer, whether or not you agree with the method. We also really needed to re-think out position on crying and be open to th fact that we’d not really given our baby a chance to express himself, and so we really started to LISTEN when he cried. In the end, we cobbled together a program that really caters to our baby’s personality and needs and so far, we’re into 3-4 hour stretches of sleep, which is glorious compared to before! There is no crying alone involved (and actually, very little crying at all!) and we’re with him every step of the way. We are willing to accept that we may be at it much longer this way, but that’s a trade of we are happy to make. Again, I totally respect your decision and I don’t harbour any judgment toward parents who do variants of CC or CIO! In some situations, it’s truly what might be called for.
    In the end, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that there is a lot of room and a whole range of strategies and solutions in between doing nothing and cry-based methods. I feel like sleep training is synonymous with crying, but the truth is that the is a lot you can do short of crying (or waiting it out) to help a baby cry. We started by spacing out feedings and letting Dad do the consoling and we spent a few weeks just teaching him the bedtime and nap time routine in his room to get him really comfortable in his room and crib. All of the things seem to really be easing the transition. All this to say, I loooove reading about other people’s experiences… Especially when they end in more sleep for everyone!

    • Sheena December 4, 2012, 11:08 am

      I just wanted to agree with this comment that there is a range of options between ‘crying it out’ and ‘waiting it out’. My babe is just over five months and I’ve been working on helping her sleep better using a method probably closest to the no-cry sleep solution (putting her in her crib drowsy but awake). We have a video monitor so I watch her wake and re-settle at other times earlier in the evening and I still sleep in her room so I hear her wake and re-settle as well. So, when she wakes and doesn’t go right back to sleep I believe she’s hungry. She also doesn’t usually cry when she wakes in the night to eat. Just starts to fuss after a few minutes. If she wakes and cries right away I know she just needs to go back to sleep. I don’t mind nursing her once or twice in a twelve-hour stretch of night time sleep at this point, which is where we’re at now.

      All on her own, she went from nursing every 1-2 hours during the day (I also have a very strong letdown, so it was hard for her to eat a lot at one time) to nursing every 2.5-3.5 hours, so I’m thinking she might go longer stretches at night all on her own as well. We’ll re-evaluate in a month or so. Also, she never wants to nurse when she wakes up. Even if she last ate at 4am and is up at 8am, she won’t eat till she’s been awake for at least an hour, and then she’ll only nurse for 2 minutes or so (again, fast letdown, so she’s getting more milk than you’d think in 2 minutes) until she gets sleepy (and then she’ll nurse in earnest). I tried to establish an EASY routine with her and we were both too frustrated. Didn’t work for us at all. All babies (and parents!) are different!!

      Thanks for posting about your experience Caitlin! And others too!

      • Sheena December 4, 2012, 2:14 pm

        Oh, I also wanted to add that I think “self-soothing” and falling asleep on one’s own are very different skills…I don’t quite understand why they get lumped together, but once I figured out that, in my opinion, they are two separate things, it made it much easier for me to come up with a sleep strategy.

  • Laura @ My Pink Thumb December 4, 2012, 9:44 am

    Thank you so much for this post!!! I’m due to have my first in May and I’m sure there will be a point where I will find this helpful! 🙂

  • Janet Reinking December 4, 2012, 9:51 am

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a little while. I liked hearing about the sleep training, but I really loved your pictures of him in the crib. I’m currently expecting and due in a few months. So, now to be somewhat off topic. I also really like the way your crib looks. I looked back at your nursery tour and saw the crib that you got from Walmart. Now that you’ve used it for awhile, how have you liked it? Do you still feel like it was a good purchase? I’m currently really struggling to choose a crib. So, any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks!

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 10:07 am

      Yes I love it. So beautiful!

  • Emily @ Emily Eats and Runs December 4, 2012, 10:04 am

    Incredible post! Very interesting and insightful.

  • Eli's Mom December 4, 2012, 10:16 am

    We used the 5’s (from the Happiest Baby on the Block) to sleep train our little one and we started since we brought him home from the hospital. We are now blessed with a baby with a super happy disposition and hardly cries at all. However, having said that, he isn’t a napper and I do have a hard time “nap-training” him since I am a working mom and the in-laws are helping taking care of him 4 out of the 5 workdays. No matter what I do on my three-day weekends, it gets undone because the grandparents want to play with him all the time (i know I should be happy with all the help I can get). So now, all he wants to do during waking time is play… which makes our weekends seemed like we cannot do anything because he is always awake and doesn’t want to nap at all anymore. 🙁 Oh well.

    Anyway, this post helps me in some ways. Maybe I just have to stick with it as much as I can when I am the one taking care of him. I still don’t have a concrete plan yet but I will consider some of the points you highlighted. Thank you so much.

  • Nicole December 4, 2012, 10:19 am

    Very informative post (though I’m not a mom) and I just love the pictures of Henry. He is so cute!

  • Lindsay @ Trial By Sapphire December 4, 2012, 10:23 am

    When my mommy time comes, I’m just going to re-read your blog and read your book recommendations. In addition to my own research, I feel like I’ll be more than prepared! This is a great post, Caitlin. I know there are so many differing parenting methods, but it really is about finding what fits your family best.

  • Reenie December 4, 2012, 10:30 am

    Yea for you!!

    Those are the most adorable pics of Henry 🙂

  • Kate December 4, 2012, 10:33 am

    OMG that first photo of Henry is PRICELESS.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life December 4, 2012, 10:34 am

    We did the same methods you did, for the most part. You will find even as Henry gets older there are still some opportunities for sleep training. I find that whenever things get on course and we’ve settled into a routine, that’s when our little guy says, “hey, mom and dad, don’t be getting too comfortable!” And he throws us a curve ball!

    A bit of research, a plan to commit to, two parents on the same page, instinct, and a good amount of adaptability can take you far! Great post!

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action December 4, 2012, 10:39 am

    He is such a cutie! All those pictures of him are adorable!

    Glad to hear the whole family’s sleeping better 🙂

  • Marissa C December 4, 2012, 10:53 am

    I still feel grumbly about any sleep training before 6 months and I still HATE HATE HATE Babywise with a passion and will always view it as a pile of misinformed, unscientific crap written by someone with no background in child development. (yes, I’ve read the book) However, I cannot disagree with how you wrote this post–a lot of people who use sleep training attack other methods, especially AP.

    My biggest beef with Babywise is if you read the intro, the author presents it as The Only Way–don’t follow his method and your baby will have a myriad of issues later in life, will never sleep…oh, and your marriage will go to hell. I cringe at a new, impressionable, sleep-deprived parent reading it.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 11:11 am

      A lot of people who use AP attack people who sleep train, which is why I added that whole paragraph in in the first place. There really is no one right way, people just want to think that there is!

  • Erin December 4, 2012, 11:06 am

    This is so similar to what we are doing with our 5 month old. We tackled naps first, as well. I thought she would cry for hours, but this wasn’t the case. I am also surprised that I quickly learned the difference between the ‘something’s wrong’ and ‘I’m settling myself’ cries. We check her after 10, then 20 minutes. But my husband has to do it, I seem to make her more upset .
    My daughter still cries for a few minutes before going to sleep, but my ped told me that it’s just how some babies settle themselves. He also agreed that she does not need to eat at night now that she is 5 months. All I need to tackle next is not nursing her to sleep. But that’s more of an issue of me not wanting to give that up yet!

  • Amanda, RD- The Nutritionist Reviews December 4, 2012, 11:12 am

    Thanks for an extremely informative post! I do not have children yet but bookmarked this for when my husband and I do.

  • amanda December 4, 2012, 11:22 am

    I am so glad sleep training works for people, and wish it did with my 6.5 mo old son – I’ve been trying for a couple/few weeks now! This is definitely not meant to critique this post AT ALL, but so often I read on the Internet (and hear from other parent-friends) how sleep training worked for them in some record amount of time, with some really small amount of crying time. It really makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong with my little guy! I have done months of research, every night when my baby is still crying himself to sleep at night (sometimes an hour with checks still, and sometimes 15 minutes, other times none at all [this has only happened a couple of times]). Bedtime routine could not be more tight in my house, and I am the “trainer” parent, dad can’t hang with the crying.

    Even if my son puts himself to sleep, he will still wake about 3-4 hours later for a feed and 3 or 4 hours after that for another. I thought taking care of bedtime would help this, but he still can’t put himself to sleep in the middle of the night if he wakes at 3 or 4 hours (I have seen him stir an hour or two later and go right back to sleep). Please advise if you did the comfort checks in the middle of the night too, in addition to bedtime, and really, how much protest was there? I have never even tried not nursing back to sleep in the night. I wanted to make sure he could go to sleep at bedtime first.

    I am starting to feel like crying at bedtime is going to be forever and it sucks! Oy. My “mama backbone” is getting tougher, but it isn’t easier.

    • Allison December 4, 2012, 4:42 pm

      My son could put himself to sleep at bedtime very easily but would NOT go back to sleep in the middle of the night without nursing. Many of the books I read said if a baby put himself to sleep at bedtime then he would be able to do it in the middle of the night but this was not true for my son. After many books that did not seem to address our issues (needing to be night weaned), I found the book The Sleep Easy Solution. It has a very specific plan for weaning the night time feeds slowly so your child will gradually transfer the nighttime calorie intake to the daytime. It took a few weeks to wean all of his night nursing but it was SO worth it and he is now 2.5 and a great sleeper. We used the same methods for my daughter (now 14 months) and she did well with it too, although her sleeping was better than his from the beginning.

      Don’t know if it might help you too, but I found the specific plan in this book a huge help for night nursing.

    • Katie December 4, 2012, 4:47 pm

      Have you looked at the http://www.troublesometots.com website? She has a post up now about night weaning and one about how to troubleshoot when CIO isn’t working. Very helpful stuff!

  • Rachel December 4, 2012, 11:29 am

    Hi Caitlin

    I’m not a mom and still waiver back and forth as to whether or not I want kiddos but as many other non-moms on here have said I really enjoy reading these posts- they definitely put parenthood into perspective in such a real and honest way, which I love.

    On a COMPLETELY unrelated note- I was wondering how things have turned out with the citronella collar with James? We’re having some trouble with our new addition and are considering a citronella collar. Reading reviews on the internet can make you crazy as people have so many drasticially different opinions and since I trust yours, I would love to hear your thoughts on the long term results.


  • emma December 4, 2012, 11:40 am

    I’m sorry if your baby cries you pick it up. End of story. This reads like the strategy my 94 year old grandmother used on my father…and he hates her. Sorry Caitlin but I don’t agree with any of this. You talked about how much you wanted a bebe for YEARS so you should have expected that you would no longer sleep through the night until oh I don’t know they were in college? If your baby cries you pick it up and soothe it. Maybe I’m a crunchy granola pediatrician but what can I say? I specialize in neonatal care so maybe my own experiences are clouding my judgement but this post just breaks my heart.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 11:51 am

      I’d be willing to have a discussion with you regarding different sleep training methods but not when you tell me that I’m a bad parent, must have not really wanted him more than I want to sleep, and Henry will essentially hate me. Seriously. If you are a doctor, you should think more about the way you say something to parents, even if it’s online. Also… Neonatal care is vastly different than how you treat a five month old, as I’m sure you realize and I acknowledged in the post.

    • amanda December 4, 2012, 11:56 am

      Hi Emma: What is heart-breaking? Caitlin never said she simply left her baby to cry at night (extinction crying). She has outlined comfort checking. You do not always have to pick your baby up out of the crib to soothe them. I can sometimes simply rub my little guys leg and he’ll quiets down in 30 sec and go to sleep. But this does take several night and possibly weeks to get there. Baby’s cry, it is their only way to communicate, so you will NEVER be without tears no matter what with a baby. Even if you’re rocking them to sleep! My guys still cries while rocking and less so, if I let him work it out on his own with soothing checks at 5 mins/10 mins (MAX). Many babies need their space to settle. And others don’t. Please keep that in mind, all babies are different.

    • Katie December 4, 2012, 12:06 pm

      Certainly don’t want to start a debate here but my mother is FAR from 94 years old, used the controversial Ferber method with us and she is my all time favorite person in the world.
      I plan to use the CIO method a bit when I become a parent soon because I agree whole heartedly with Caitlin that parents need to be happy and sane too (post the newborn stage when sleep is out the window naturally :-)). 10 minutes of crying for a few nights for a child with well-rested, FUN and energized parents to play with after a good nights sleep is certainly a good trade.
      And if a parent isnt sleeping through the night until the child is in college, then they may be lacking in other important parts of parenting because they are so tired. Energy, happiness and relaxation are important traits of parents too, not just running in whenever a short cry happens
      Caitlin, as usual your posts about parenting give me confidence in myself for when I have kids. I absolutely LOVE this one.
      And the pictures of Henry KILL me! he is SO cute! he is obviously THRILLED to see his momma every morning after his good nights sleep 🙂 As I am sure she is thrilled to see him 🙂

      • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 12:12 pm

        Glad to know you love your momma 🙂

        • polly December 4, 2012, 1:54 pm

          yay Katie!! loved her response . and love your blog, Caitlin. and Henry is just down right ADORABLE. Seriously, a yummy baby!!!! 🙂

      • K December 4, 2012, 2:49 pm

        I have no desire to draw out any kind of debate, but as one mom to another, I would say this: you can’t know the right approach to sleep training until you meet your babe. Some babies are tension releasers and some are tension increases. CIO is not a suitable approach in every situation. These are decisions that I respectfully, amicably suggest you be open to reviewing once your kiddo arrives. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a baby who won’t even need to be sleep trained! Good luck with your pregnancy!

        • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 3:19 pm

          Agree with this comment for SURE. I know a lot of bebes who would not respond the way that Henry did.

        • Katie December 4, 2012, 4:57 pm

          K, I agree as well 🙂 I wont know until I have a bebe at home and get to know my child and myself as a mother. CIO, AP or any other method are wonderful if it works for mom, dad and bebe alike (with special focus on bebe of course :-)) I just am glad Caitlin is focused on her own happiness as well as Henry’s. You can tell Henry LOVES her to death with that smile, which is all that matters at the end of the day.

    • K December 4, 2012, 1:30 pm

      Oh, Emma. I know you’re going to probably get flamed for posting that comment, but thank you so much for doing so. I was really starting to feel alone and like maybe I was wrong for not wanting so sleep train my child. I don’t think all sleep-trained children are going to hate their parents (way too many people were sleep trained for that to be the case), but I do feel like it’s such a sad thing to do to babies. They trust their mom and dad…but then the parents suddenly aren’t there. It just feels…weird. I can’t do it. Yes, sometimes babies cry, but I want to be there for my child.

      I’m a new mom and I don’t claim to know squat, but I am trying to follow my intuition, and sleep training always makes my heart hurt. Everyone accuses AP parents of being all judgemental, and I suppose that is often true to some extent. But here’s the thing, there are WAY more sleep trainers out there than AP parents. We very often feel totally alone and I frequently am made to feel like I’m doing things wrong. I’m the “weirdo”. People tell me I’ll regret x, y, or z. So it’s no wonder that some AP parents get loud and obnoxious about it. Sometimes that what you have to do just to make people understand that there are choices out there for how you handle these kinds of issues. I do my best to not be judgemental about people’s choices because child-rearing is all really hard. I won’t even say that sleep training isn’t necessary for some babies (maybe it is?), but I don’t care for it. Even when I doubt myself, sleep training pains me. I don’t know…I guess I’m just saying thank you, Emma, for just putting that out there.

      • K December 4, 2012, 3:21 pm

        BTW, Caitlin, I wasn’t saying you were judging in this post, just so you know. I’m just overwhelmed by how many people have basically been telling me I’ve been doing it wrong. Most sleep training parents I’ve met are not exactly open-minded about all this. *sigh*

        • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 3:26 pm

          K – I didn’t think you were judging me, no worries. 🙂 I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about this before, but my theory with judgmental parenting is that people want to believe they know the right way because it makes them feel more secured in their choices. If your baby is happy and you are, too, then you’re doing it right.

      • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 3:23 pm

        K – Do you and whatever makes YOU and your baby happy. I might end up AP-ing my next bebe because of their personality – you never know! Only you know the right way to parent your child, so take what others say with a grain of salt.

      • Nessa @ Isle Style Living December 4, 2012, 9:01 pm


        Sleep training isn’t for everyone (glad it worked for you and your family, Caitlin).

        When my son hit 12lbs, his pediatrician told us he doesn’t need to feed in the middle of the night anymore. We slowly spaced out his feedings over the course of a month. It only took a few weeks for him to sleep through the night, but he was easily sleeping 6+ hours at a time, and that worked for us. We were blessed with a sleeper LOL.

        I still nurse him to sleep or his daddy will rock him. We don’t have a strict schedule but keep him on routine. I know that every 3 hours during the day, he’ll most likely need a nap. Sometimes that’s 30 minutes, sometimes it’s 2 hours. He sleeps 12 hours during the night and wakes up happy.

        While we didn’t follow any formal sleep training, we set expectations based on his cues. It’s what worked best for our family, with this baby. I’m sure the next baby will be different.

        I’m glad Caitlin found something that worked for them. Happy mommy, happy baby!

      • MJ January 6, 2014, 10:47 am

        K, realize I’m getting here rather late in the game, but I feel for you. I would LOVE to be an attachment parent, but my 14-week old has never slept more than 4.5 hours and rarely sleeps that long, night or day, despite all the good sleep habits/consistent routines we have in place. As a result of the sleep-deprivation, I’m now getting sick for the third time since he was born when I normally have a pretty robust immune system. I go back to work in a week, and my little guy either just started his 4-month sleep regression or started teething. I’m at the end of my rope, no one in my house is getting adequate sleep, and I think we are going to have to sleep train. It breaks my heart, especially since my kid can CRY ( max so far 1 hr 15 min, and 50 min every time we drive 50 min to see my parents). I have a feeling we’ll have to try several methods before one works – he is intelligent and strong-willed and has had very particular preferences about life from day 1. You are lucky if you are able to AP your child and still function.

    • Kelley December 4, 2012, 1:56 pm

      Emma, this comment does a disservice to new moms everywhere. I think it’s refreshing for moms to share their honest success stories. Caitlin is the type of mom that every kid should dream of. Caitlin– you’re such a great ambassador for the challenges of motherhood. Keep it up!

    • kathy December 4, 2012, 2:45 pm

      I am glad someone said this. So many woman need to realize baby do not sleep and crying it out does not help a baby.

    • Erin December 4, 2012, 2:48 pm

      It is not at all about Caitlin(or any mommy) ‘getting’ to sleep through the night. She is teaching Henry to soothe himself and be a happy, well rested baby. Some babies need help learning to sleep.

    • Reenie December 4, 2012, 2:52 pm

      “This reads like the strategy my 94 year old grandmother used on my father…and he hates her.”

      You father hates (your words and very harsh I might add) his mother because she sleep trained him. I’m sorry… but that’s about the most ridiculous and funniest thing I’ve ever heard!! haha…. seriously!! 😮

    • Tammy Root December 4, 2012, 3:04 pm

      Emma — As a neonatal nurse I would expect a more educated and unbiased comment. Clearly you must be aware of the research on sleep and what the lack of sleep does to a person — both babies and adults. Caitlin (and myself) are just teaching our babies how to sleep, just like we will teach them to tie their shoes, do their homework, etc. They will likely protest but in the end it is in their best interest. A little protesting is expected and it really does help the well-being and health of our little ones. I strongly believe that a secure infant must have its needs tended to, in order to build trust — my baby has her needs tended to just like Henry does. I am sure in the neonatal unit you hear newborns cry and cannot possibly pick every one up to soothe every time. We all have to do what is best for us. Certainly you are entitled to your opinion, but you attacked Caitlin as a parent and that is not right.

    • Reghan December 5, 2012, 8:27 am

      This is such a rude comment. To say that she shouldn’t expect to sleep until her kid is in college is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve been sleep training my baby since he was 4 weeks old. I don’t let him cry it out, I comfort him when he cries, feed him when he’s hungry etc but he’s sleeping from 7pm, going down usually without any crying, until 7am with one feeding at 4am. He’s 3.5 months old. I don’t think this is coincidence and I don’t think I’m a terrible Mommy for wanting my whole household to get a good nights sleep. If you were my ped I would find a new one ASAP.

    • bonnie December 5, 2012, 9:57 am

      Below is a link to an interesting diagram of the psychological effects of sleep deprivation over a long term. (And if you tell me wikipedia is wrong, look at their sources- which are usually valid.) Also, I’m pretty sure its documented that you will die faster from lack of sleep than from lack of water or food.

      Henry, Caitlin and Kristien all need healthy sleep. Who are you to tell her she’s wrong when that is one of the happiest baby faces I’ve ever seen?!


    • Jill December 5, 2012, 11:49 am

      It is our job as parents to teach our children how to sleep, how to eat, how to take care of themselves, etc. Sometimes tears are involved. This method seems to strike a balance between comforting your child as they learn a new skill but also gently encouraging them to learn that skill even if it is hard for them. Sort of like what you will be doing for the rest of their lives.

  • Debra December 4, 2012, 11:50 am

    Ok- PLEASE take this as a joke: when I read the part about singing the Barney song, I thought “child abuse!!!” Seriously, that was a great post.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 11:55 am

      Hahah but it’s so sweet!!!

    • JessicaE December 4, 2012, 11:57 am

      LOL! I thought, oh isn’t there ANY other song?!!? 😉

      • jamie December 4, 2012, 2:29 pm

        I was a preschool teacher for 5 years, prior to that, had a deep seated hatred of all things Barney. But, let me tell you, babies and kids absolutely LOVE him. Don’t ask me why, but they are mesmerized, and love the song!

        • Lauri December 4, 2012, 4:40 pm

          Sing Barney to him, fine – Do.Not.Ever.Let.Him.Watch.Barney. OMG I saw that purple dinosaur in my nightmares. My son was OBSESSED with Barney for the longest time and it is the most annoying show on TV!!! He would start to like other shows.characters but would always come back to Barney!!! Thankfully he has finally moved on but every once in awhile he will turn it on and I have to leave the room, haha!

          • jamie December 4, 2012, 6:46 pm

            Yep. They become obsessed. haha! I don’t let my daughter watch tv very often, but I do have a picture of her at 6 months old standing up, supported by the tv stand, trying to watch Barney from 1 foot away. Ummm, wow!

  • Julie (etsy stalkers) December 4, 2012, 11:51 am

    We totally had to sleep train both of our kids. Best thing we ever did.

  • marci December 4, 2012, 12:01 pm

    glad it worked! why do you put his onesie over the pants?

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 12:11 pm

      Hahah Kristien does that… He likes the way it looks 😉

  • Katie December 4, 2012, 12:04 pm

    Way to tackle this topic. We did babywise with great success. Modified it to what we were comfortable with, but did things to help her soothe to sleep pretty much from 6 weeks on. Eliminated a lot of the crying and “training” part because she was used to it. Though I fully realize we have a very easy baby so we will see what happens with the next one 🙂

  • Rebecca December 4, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Not a parent, but this will come in handy if/when I become one! Lots of interesting things to think about.
    Not really sure what my parents did with me and my sister. Might have to ask them!

    And the Henry pictures are adorable–as usual. 🙂

  • Deanne December 4, 2012, 12:27 pm

    When my Mom had me and my sister she had no idea what to do. So she pretty much did attachment parenting and we were pretty spoiled. We knew that when we cried she would come running. This went on for years and eventually she ended up being told by the doctor that if she didn’t go home and take bed rest he would admit her to the hospital, she was physically exhausted. After she got better she watched a 20/20 program on sleep training and decided to do it. She did what you did but with a 2 year old (me) and a one year old. I cried all night long, my sister projectile vomited. Eventually my sister fell asleep and after 6 hours with me she took me to the emergency room. My doctor happened to be there, he looked me over told her the only thing wrong with me was that I was spoiled and to let me cry for another 6 hours if I wanted to. So she did (it only took another 2 though). The next night I cried for 2 ish hours and my sister for 20. The night after that my sister went to sleep right away and I cried for 20 min. After that for the first time in 2 years we slept thru the night. I remember a lot of being little and honestly kids will do anything you let them get away with, but thats true for anyone. You need to set boundaries and limitations. I learned best by having predictable conciquences. If I do x then y will happen. I was a horrible child until my parents learned that.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 12:35 pm

      Oh no!!!’ your poor mum. And poor you! What a story.

  • Lisa December 4, 2012, 12:32 pm

    This is completely unrelated but I was just on MSN looking at an ugly sweater post that popped up and you guys are on it!!


  • Lyndsey December 4, 2012, 12:32 pm

    Caitlin, it sounds like you had a great plan and executed it well. I am very lucky in that my son (3 months) sleeps through the night now. However, the actual getting to sleep process is…tricky. It takes about a half hour, sometimes more. We are probably going to try the graduated extinction when he is 4 months (that’s the earliest age, per Ferber). I know this is going to be necessary because he HAS to go to sleep with bottle/pacifier and once he’s 6 months and aquires object permanence, he WILL start waking in the night for those things.

    Have you taken a look at troublesometots.com? It has been a GODSEND for us. Also noobmommy.com has great Baby Whisperer resources.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 12:34 pm

      Yes! Such a great resource. Thanks for mentioning it. Good luck!

  • Ashleysh22 December 4, 2012, 12:41 pm

    These are great! I can’t wait until I have kids but sleep deprivation is already an issue as a medical student. I’ll definately keep these in mind!

  • haley December 4, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Oh girl, I have so many questions for you! I feel like I’m where you were when you started.. my 5.25 month old and I have been working on the napping for a few weeks but I feel like it’s made me more confused… I try to watch for his signs, but he tends to wake up after like 20 minutes and just PLAY… So I go get him after a few minutes, and five minutes later he’s zoning out and rubbing his eyes again. It’s SO frustrating and means that I spend ALL of my day, every day, doing nothing but trying to get him to fall back asleep. Did this happen to you at all? Does it somehow eventually fix itself in time? Nothing I’ve read has helped…

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 3:25 pm

      My advice to you would be to follow the crying times above when he wakes up 20 minutes into his nap. That is not enough time for even a ‘short’ nap. He’s naturally just waking up (to roll over or adjust) and needs to learn to re-settle. So if Henry was doing this, I would let him cry per the times above with controlled comforting until he fell back asleep. If you get him up when he wakes up after a few minutes and play with him, it’s going to confuse him. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have other questions.

      • haley December 4, 2012, 10:56 pm

        Thanks for the advice, Caitlin! My hubby and I just tried the controlled crying for a nap… sang him a song, rocked him, then put him down… and after 25 minutes of hysterics (we went in every 5 minutes to sing to him and pat him), he was STILL hysterical =(. So then what?

        We went back to our rocking routine (sometimes rocking him to sleep takes 5 minutes, others it takes 45… and I can’t imagine doing it until he’s a toddler, as my arms already tire!), and he fell asleep for about 20 minutes, then woke back up crying…

        So then we should start the 25 minute process ALL over again?? I know you said it never took up to 25 minutes for Henry… Do you think I should keep trying, day after day? Or do you think my baby’s just a higher-need babe that needs another approach? I know you’re not an advice specialist or anything, but I truly appreciate being able to get feedback from other Mamas rather than going back to books, which can’t talk back, lol.

        Can anyone help a sister out??? I’m totally at a loss as to what to do…

        • Caitlin December 5, 2012, 7:06 am

          When you say he was hysterical, do you mean like crying so hard he only stops to take in ragged breaths? Level 1 crying (5 minute visits) is like the most intense crying your child will ever do. If it was not that intense of crying, you should try visits every 10, not 5. If you aren’t sure, you can try recording it and email it to me. (What I thought was Level 2 crying was really Level 3, for example)

          Do you usually do naps or does your husband? Who was doing the controlled crying comforting?

          Also maybe try googling camping out. Do you think he would respond well to that?

  • Erin B December 4, 2012, 1:32 pm

    First off, not a momma but love all the posts about Henry. I really enjoy seeing how well researched your decisions are.

    Henry is soo cute!!

  • Lindsay December 4, 2012, 1:32 pm

    I’m not anywhere my baby-making years, but thank you so much for yet another informative and well-balanced post. Why oh why can’t more people be as respectful of and sensitive to divergent opinions as you are?

    Boyle for President 2024. Seriously.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 3:22 pm


  • Tiffany December 4, 2012, 1:32 pm

    I am not a mom yet, but most of my friends are, and I have been watching the many MANY different parenting styles — and how their children are turning out. I don’t think there is any one ‘right’ way, but from what I have seen with personal experience, this is the the right way for me. All of my mom friends are excellent mothers, for sure, but the ones who have followed this formula (sleep training, other babywise-stuff) tend to be the least tired mothers with the most chipper and peaceful babies. Of course, every child is different and what works for some won’t always work for other, but it is good to see another example of this. Thank you, and good job on writing it so that it did not come off as preachy.

  • Julie @ Swim…Bike…Running on Empty December 4, 2012, 1:32 pm

    I really love all of your baby blogging! We do not yet have children but hope to start a family within the next couple of years and I know your blog will be a wonderful resource. Keep doing what you’re doing as Henry seems like a great, happy baby!

  • Eileen December 4, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Thank you! Great job tackling a controversial subject. I’m still not sure if we will train our 6 mo old, but this is the most compelling story I’ve read/heard.

  • Allison December 4, 2012, 1:49 pm

    Thanks for this post! We are 5mos preggo with our first, but I got a HUGE dose of reality while nannying for a baby from 3mos to 11mos. I nap trained the baby completely on my own (his parents co-slept with him, even during naps), and I went through so much of what you seem to have gone through with Henry. I feel a little more prepared for my own now, and I feel a lot more prepared for the emotional part of it.

    • Marissa C December 5, 2012, 12:17 am

      All right, I’m curious…did the parents know you were nap training him? If they were cool with it, no problem, but I would be more than a little upset if I found out my childcare provider was using CIO methods with my child.

  • Kelley December 4, 2012, 1:52 pm

    I feel like I could have written this post. I was nodding my head the whole time reading it. =) I agree that you need a strong mommy backbone. Once I figured that part out, it was smooth sailing. I wish more people told me how much work it was to sleep train babies. I just assumed that babies always just fell asleep, I had no idea what it actually required. You’re doing a great job, Caitlin!

  • nancy December 4, 2012, 1:52 pm

    That was a beautifully written and obviously well thought out post. There will be many new moms who will benefit from your research and experience. As my kids are teenagers now, you made me think back to how I did it. Like you, my only goal with a newborn was to establish trust. When you cry, I will come. Always. My kids developed a daytime nursing schedule pretty readily and a nap schedule followed. No matter what, I honored my kids’ naptimes. That meant years of working around morning and/or afternoon naps but that was fine with me. They were happy and predictable and, in the early years, that’s just fine. One started sleeping through the night at 12 weeks, one at 14 weeks and one not until 6 months, but they were all excellent nappers. We had a bedtime routine that we always followed and by 8:00 everyone was in bed and we had adult time. Now that they are in high school my husband and I really miss those hours to ourselves. Now we go to bed before they do. 🙂 Seriously, you have done a wonderful thing for Henry and for your husband and yourself. You did your research, spoke to your dr and followed your mommy instincts. That’s good parenting 🙂

  • Breanne December 4, 2012, 1:55 pm

    I don’t have children (yet), but this was a great read. I am curious though… how do you feel about your time with the dreamfeed? I know that you mentioned it helped get Henry to sleep longer through the night when you started. Do you think it made this round of sleep training more difficult?

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 3:21 pm

      I think it was good for the time we did it. At that age, he physically couldn’t go without eating for long, and dream feeding allowed the adults to get more sleep – win win.

      • Breanne December 5, 2012, 3:54 pm

        Thanks for your reply Caitlin! I love reading your insights. 🙂

  • Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker December 4, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Even at the stage we’re at now, I still feel like sleep is a night by night thing — even with Ada’s good track record! I hope it keeps up for you. Teething and growth spurts definitely make things interesting, like last week. Bahahaha. We continued a dreamfeed with Ada at 11pm each night until Ada was like 11 months old. I know until at least 8 months, she really was hungry at night because she didn’t take to tons of solids right away and she was crawling and cruising early — so the crying was definitely because she needed that. Beyond that mark, I just got scared of her waking in the night. 🙂 Anyway, here were are at a year, and she has very good days and some random bad days, which — like I said — are almost always with teething! Same with naps . . . all the stages and phases are fun! (SARCASM)

  • Susan December 4, 2012, 2:23 pm

    My issue with all of the sleep training books, websites, and experts is that they all seem to insinuate that if you don’t follow their methods, your kid will never sleep through the night until they’re in college and you are basically ruining their life (and yours). I don’t think this is necessarily the case – all kids are different.

    I was blessed with a very, very easy baby boy (now 1! OMG) who has always been a good sleeper, and was sleeping through the night by the time he was 4 months old. Up until very recently, he always took a pacifier to sleep, and on top of that, we – GASP! – rock him to sleep (it’s actually less of a rock, and more just sit and cuddle with him). All of the things that will supposedly keep your child from ever being able to sleep well. And yet, he sleeps consistently for 12 hours a night, and naps for 2.5-3 hours during the day. Sure we have the occasional (maybe 1 night a month) “rough” night where he wakes all of once and isn’t able to settle himself back down…but don’t we all have nights where we don’t sleep so great? And for what it’s worth, I took a bedtime bottle and was rocked to sleep for quite a while (around 2 maybe?) and I never had any sleep issues. And I love my mother 🙂

    So sure, there are kids that need some kind of sleep training, but I think it’s important to realize that there are kids that don’t. Every kid is different, and it’s important that parents do what works for THEM and for THEIR family, not what some book, or website, or “expert” says they should do (or else).

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 3:20 pm

      I think the reasons why these books do this is because it makes the more marketable. Why buy a book that says “this may or may not work for you” when you can buy one that says “THIS WILL WORK FOR EVERYONE – it’s a MIRACLE!!!” you know?

      • Susan December 5, 2012, 10:09 am

        Haha, very true!

  • Mandy @ Eat Pray Grow December 4, 2012, 3:13 pm

    Caitlin, as a hopefully-someday-soon-to-be-parent, you’ve really opened my eyes to the fact that every family is different, and there’s no right way to do everything – just what’s right for your situation. It takes a lot of pressure of me to feel like I’ve got to get it all figured out, and I’m not so quick to judge. I think as long as a mother and father invest the time and energy to take interest in things like this (rather than just do what’s convenient or what everyone else is doing), whatever conclusion they come to is commendable. Thanks for your informative writing!

  • Jenny December 4, 2012, 4:11 pm

    Great post! I did a very similar method with my daughter. She’s now 2 and a great sleeper. You really do have to teach them how to sleep. I also enjoyed reading the debate sparked by emma’s comment. You know that any post about sleep will spark conversey!

  • Sarah C. December 4, 2012, 4:43 pm

    We have three kids and did the same things. Our pediatrician taught us how. Works great and everyone sleeps!

  • Bronwyn December 4, 2012, 5:05 pm

    Thanks for this post Caitlin – I am due in about 3 weeks and I have been reading as much as I can on sleep training – this post is definitely going to be bookmarked! I’ve always known that I would do sleep training of some sort with my child, which probably stems back to the fact that I was sleep trained as a baby (and I LOVE my parents!) and also that I am a Secondary school teacher – I love me some structure and in my experience teaching kids they actually love it (and need it) too. I think you just have to be flexible and willing to adapt to the nature of your baby. Love these posts and your blog!

  • Louise December 4, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Thank you for posting this. It is definitely the “politics” of motherhood. QUESTION: Do you just unzip the sleeping bag and check Henry’s diaper with a no fuss approach on your first visit to his room? My problem is that sometimes I find I’ve been trying to settle my bub without making too much fuss and eventually work out I’ve left him in his own poop :S And inevitably if I am proactive and change his diaper he hasn’t pooped and I’ve just properly woken him up.
    Oh, and in regard to the harsh and rude comment, I’m pretty sure only trolls don’t capitalise their names, neo-natal pediatricians probably have first grade grammar covered 🙂

    • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 6:42 pm

      I just lean over and sniff really hard. I can smell it!

      • Louise December 4, 2012, 7:31 pm

        Ha ha, yes sometimes I walk into the room and know immediately, other times I sniff his butt region, smell nothing and then eventually take the nappy off to discover crouching tiger hidden poop wedged in there

        • Caitlin December 4, 2012, 7:39 pm

          major LOLs

  • Amber K December 4, 2012, 7:41 pm

    I have nothing to add except that Henry always looks so happy! I love his smile.

  • Mary Ann December 4, 2012, 8:35 pm

    It’s funny how as times, evolves some things never change. When we had kids, we used this same method, but it was called “letting them cry it out”. We did the 5 minute intervals of checking on them and with our first child it was easy. The second child took about 10 days. But this definitely gave us some much needed sleep and time as husband and wife. Now when the time is ready, there is a method and a book for toilet training called “Potty training in less than a day”. And it works!

  • Emily December 5, 2012, 7:18 am

    Thanks for the great post! I have a 7 week old who is obviously too young to be formally sleep trained, but I have been trying not to introduce too many “bad” sleep habits or props and gently help him learn how to fall asleep on his own by putting him down “drowsy but awake”. I find it all very exhausting, sometimes I get to the end of the day and I feel like I spent all day trying to get my son to sleep. At the same time, on days where I try to have a more laid back approach and just let him do what he does he is a total crank by 6 p.m. because he is so over tired! How do you/ did you find some balance so that Henry is getting the sleep he needs but it is not taking over your whole day?

    Again, thanks for offering a balanced perspective on a challenging issue. I had no idea sleep could be so controversial until I became a mom- good thing sleep training is not a national political issue!

    • Caitlin December 5, 2012, 7:21 am

      Thank you! In regards to feeling like all you do is help him sleep, that is probably just how it’s going to be for now. I hate to say that but it’s true. I remember dedicating a straight week to formal nap training for all I did was help him sleep. If your baby is a little bit finnicky there might be more work upfront, but just remember to pay off when he’s a few months older

  • Abby December 5, 2012, 8:11 am

    Thanks for such a great post. You are doing an amazing job as a momma along with all your other jobs too! I have two daughters , 21 months and 3 months, so I have a little experience :). I have been fortunate that both girls around 6 weeks started sleeping through the night (9-6). I didn’t do anything magical besides meet their needs. I have never read any of the sleep books, even though my sister in law gave several to me. My oldest transferred to a mattress on the floor at 18 months and she needed us to lay with her. My husband and I look at this time as a little down time for us!
    What makes me crazy is all the buzzwords and how we want to label everything we do! I think 95% of parents are doing what they should be doing and that is meeting kids needs the best way they know how to. I just looked up attachment parenting, and it was started by 2 teachers who were seeing the need for kids to be more attached to their families due to the “latch key” era. It’s our intuition, our gut, our hearts, that can lead us to be good parents. And when we are attune to our kids they teach us a lot! You are doing what’s best for Henry and know him so well.
    I think sometimes if we stop labeling what we do as parents and just watch and listen to our children we would all be better off. I have to add this in here…besides having two children of my own I lost a niece last May. She was stillborn at 32 weeks and ever since I stop myself in the difficult moments and realize what I have!

    Keep up the wonderful work you do!

  • Charitydawn December 5, 2012, 9:56 am

    Love the pics of Henry! We’re just starting nap/night training… I have so many concerns with it :S tons of questions too.. I think I may need to pick up a few books.. Our sleep time song is night mantra… It is very sweet and has wonderful meaningful lyrics.

  • JenRD December 5, 2012, 9:32 pm

    Great post, like usual! Your approach was very similar to what we did for Maya, and she is the happiest baby ever. We love watching her on the baby monitor if we hear a loud noise which may wake her up, after she has gone to sleep at night–she does this thing where she shakes her head side to side, to soother herself back to sleep. Two minutes later, she is snoring again.
    Henry is adorable!

  • Julie December 5, 2012, 9:52 pm

    You will be so glad you did this as the years go on and IF you decide to have another baby in the future, you will know what to do. I sleep trained both my kids almost exactly like yours. They are champion sleepers and don’t wake up at night at all. Nice job, mama!

  • MegaNerd December 5, 2012, 11:28 pm

    I read this entire thing and found it so intriguing. I don’t know jack shit about how to be a parent… or about baby sleeping patterns or whatever but I’m super impressed by your parenting skills. Remember all this stuff so one day when I have a kid I can call you up and ask what the heck I’m supposed to do! 😉

    Can’t wait to meet Henry in a few weeks!!!


  • linda December 6, 2012, 12:40 am

    Hi! Very useful post. Can you please clarify one statement: “If he is just fussing, I go in at the 10 minute mark and that’s it. I never go ‘backwards’ (so visiting every 10 minutes and then stepping it up to every 5) because that’s reinforcing (cry harder, get attention). ”

    I’m confused…when do you go in every 10 minutes vs 5 minutes?


    • Caitlin December 6, 2012, 7:03 am

      Intervals of 5 min is hysterical crying without pauses, 10 is for normal crying. 5 min check ins is only when the baby is freaking out.

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action December 6, 2012, 3:08 pm

    I know this is kind of late, but I had to share.

    I was reading this post yesterday- and then last night I had a dream that I had a baby (in reality, I do not). In my dream, the baby woke up every couple of minutes and I was SO tired. And then the baby was crying so hard that he threw up all over me. Plus I was trying to feed him and it wouldn’t work and we were both crying. I woke up feeling exhausted and impressed with all parents! Also realized that if that’s what parenthood is like- I’m nowhere near ready for it.

    Good work being such a happy mom and having a happy baby 🙂

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) December 6, 2012, 3:53 pm

    I feel like we have had the same experience! I tried sleep training twice (at 4 mo and again at 6 mo). The first time was failure (made lots of mistakes, oh well) but at 6 mo it was so much better. We did the Ferber method of progressive waiting, for an entire week. I even put myself on lock down so that I was sure to be home (and thus consistent) with ALL of her naps. It is SO AMAZING once a baby learns to self soothe. No more pacing the halls every hour when she would wake during the night! 🙂 And like you said. . . she is SO much better rested and thus SO much happier during the day. YAY for well rested babies!

  • Jaclyn December 9, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Oy, overtired-ness is the WORST! Interesting post. You’re so right that it’s different for everyone. We’re not in the stage where we can sleep train yet (my daughter is 3 1/2 months, but she was a 31-week preemie so she’s really 1 1/2 months developmentally) and I’m not sure we’re going to, since I’m more of an attachment parent. But I’m bookmarking your post for when we’re ready to see if we can gently teach her to sleep through the night!

  • Ashley December 28, 2012, 9:14 am

    Man oh man I am glad I bookmarked this! Major props to your mommy backbone. My daughter will be 4 months on New Years, and the sleep issue was getting out of control. Like Henry, she is an easy baby so our ‘out of control’ is some mom’s dream situation, but rocking her to sleep each night is not working anymore! I felt she is a little too young for controlled comforting, though I intend to use that if it becomes necessary down the line. Last night I started the shush-pat/pick-up-put-down method, and it was ROUGH. I’m glad I came back here to read this to remind myself it’s worth it, and it will get better!! She does still eat about 1-2x/night and I don’t think she’s ready to sleep through the night, so figuring out which wake-ups are for food and which are for comfort is tough. Please keep sleep updates coming, as they are sooo appreciated!

  • Mitzy King January 1, 2013, 12:55 am

    I offer a customized sleep plan plus 2 weeks of email check-ins and 2 weekly phone calls.
    I have a personal investment in working with families who are tired and need the extra support, a tailored plan and reassurance I can offer to help their little ones learn to sleep better. I have been there and I am on the other side. I am committed to supporting you get here too. If you want more information, feel free to look at my website at http://sweetdreamspdx.com/
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  • Kath February 20, 2013, 12:59 pm

    Just doin’ some research!

  • Ash March 17, 2013, 9:47 am

    Was enjoying your blog, and…kind of cringed over this post. 😛 I know a lot of people that sleep training has worked for, and just as many for whom it’s been disruptive of sleep and relationship. I think there are lots of options when it comes to catching enough sleep as a family. I love your healthy living posts, and wanted to point out that sleep training isn’t always part and parcel to getting enough rest and being healthy. 😉

  • Darnaud April 8, 2013, 8:09 am

    I just wanted to let you know that your blog reached out to someone half way around the world but going through what i assume, must be what millions of mums go through, so thank you so much for sharing. I live in France but am originally from the middle east and have a beautiful baby boy who is sweetness personified but after months of not sleeping I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to take care of him properly I need to also take care of me ie SLEEP for more than 1 hour at a time. After searching for weeks for a solution, a quick no crying magic method that would work for him I slowly came to realise it does not exist and that this baby deserves to learn to sleep and self soothe too and not depend on me for everything .
    Your story is what finally gave me the courage and determination (as well as a rough guide) on how to teach him to sleep. We started last night and fingers crossed, we too shall be seeing a big improvement soon Thanks again

  • Jasmine April 29, 2013, 7:56 am

    Hi you son sounds like my 4.5 month daughter. I am currently on the 8th night of letting her cry for a certain amount of time and then adding 5 minutes each night. It horrible i saw no improvement. I also have a toddler (he sleep trained himself at 3 months) and he will wake up too sometimes when she cries. My husband is out of town for a couple months so i am by myself. In a desperate need for sleep I came across this post, my daughter has no schedule during the day, and takes short naps (some times only lasting 20-30 minutes) i have been trying to change that but i don’t know how to start! Can you please share with me how you went about this?

  • Lessie June 11, 2013, 9:21 pm

    Help please:). I have an 8.5 mth old that I can’t seem to get out of my bed. I actually don’t mind the co-sleeping part as she sleeps all night unless not feeling well. I want to b able to go lay her down and fall asleep on her own. I have to Rock or lay down with her for her to fall Asleep. She will sleep without me in bed for about an hour. After that I have to go to bed so she will go back to sleep. She is on a pretty good sleep schedule during the day as she takes 2 long naps. Morning about an hour to hour and half and after lunch about hour and half to two hours. Her bedtime now is usually 8/8:30. Iike it to be 7:30/8pm so I can get things done. I am still breastfeeding and she usually wakes at 4 am for feeding. Any help suggestions greatly appreciated. Tonight is night 1 (second try) of using the Ferber method. After 25min of crying I had to get her, I couldn’t take it any more. I went in to soothe at 5,8 and 12min intervals.

    • Caitlin June 12, 2013, 7:26 am

      It’s going to be harder because she’s older and it will take days to change her, not one night. I would do 10 minute intervals for as long as it takes.

      • Lessie June 12, 2013, 11:39 pm

        Thank you Caitlyn. What is your recommendation for the max time to let her cry? I don’t want to seem like a cruel uncaring mom by letting her cry. But at this point I think that will b the only thing to get her out of my bed in her own bed. And if she wakes crying in the middle of the night do I do the 10 minute intervals until she falls back asleep?

        • Caitlin June 13, 2013, 8:19 am

          It’s not cruel. She isn’t hurt. She’s just being made to do something that she doesn’t really want to do.

          I would judge the intensity of her crying. If it is hysterical with no pauses and she’s gasping for breath,
          I would do that 30 min total. But that’s only if she’s crying like that the entire time. If she drops down to a less severe cry (normal crying) I would do up to 90 minutes. It will probably only take one night of 90 minute crying. If there are long pauses of quiet in her crying, I would let her do that as long as possible to make it necessary for her to fall asleep.

  • Lessie June 14, 2013, 5:44 am

    Thank you. Will keep you updated! I probably won’t try again until Monday as I have guests coming in for the weekend.

  • Dallas June 27, 2013, 1:37 pm

    My daughter is 2 months old. Do you think she’s to young to start nap training?

  • Shaunna July 17, 2013, 7:30 pm

    Just a question. What did you do to nap train him? My LO is 4.5 months and just started napping in his crib. I swaddle him, walk/bounce him and set him down drowsy, sometimes asleep?

    I have to swaddle him or he wakes himself up. Will self soothing help him go back to sleep?

    • Caitlin July 18, 2013, 7:39 am

      I started to nap train around then. Maybe a few weeks later. Try breaking him of the swaddle habit first. There are loads of tips on how to do this online. Good luck!

  • Catherine September 6, 2013, 8:14 am

    I found your article the night I was starting my three days of letting my beautiful 6 1/2 month boy somehow “gently” “cry it out” which I never thought I would do and couldn’t imagine it even working. I did not feel ready but my husband took Friday off so he could let me catch up on sleep during the day. My husband and I were so exhausted after 61/2 months of no sleep. He gets up very early for work and I was like a zombie from having our baby wake every one, two or if we were really lucky three hours. Many nights he would wake for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours for no apparent reason. I put him down pretty tired at 8:30 with a cloud b turtle light and his favorite sounds of birds. I desperately started searching online one more time to make sure I wasn’t going to damage him if he cried a little. I vame upon your blog and what you wrote here helped me so much. I felt like, “Ok, maybe I can do this, every 5 or 10 minutes isn’t that bad. He cried and fussed for 10 or 15 in the car several times.” I went in ever 7 minutes. But only twice. He fussed alot and woke up many times but never actually cried for more than 7 minutes. We’ll see how tonite goes. I feel hopeful that it will be easier and we will get through this and I certainly did not feel that way before. I just wanted to thank you for your words that reached out into the night and comforted me and gave me hope.

    • Caitlin September 6, 2013, 8:49 am

      Stay strong!!! It’s soooo worth it. You can so do this.

  • Natalie Grimble November 3, 2013, 10:28 pm


    Imy daughter is 6 months old and I started tonight the sleep training. I was wondering if my daughter wakes up in the middle of the night, should I feed her or let her cry it out 5 minutes then soothe her and so on and so forth?
    This is not easy but I truly believe it will work.

    Thank you,


    • Caitlin November 4, 2013, 8:25 am

      The goal is to stop feeding her at night so don’t do that! I suggest looking up Ferber method.

  • Amanda November 5, 2013, 11:01 am

    Thank you, your posts are so helpful. I’m struggling so bad right now.

  • Francis November 12, 2013, 8:12 am

    When did you sleep train, iam considering sleep training my 41/2 month daugther? Is it to early?

    • Caitlin November 12, 2013, 10:40 am

      i sleep trained at 5.5 months. I would probably wait another few weeks or ask your doctor first.

  • Janet Avez December 5, 2013, 3:42 pm

    Hi, its so nice to read someone else’s experience. Someone who went through what you’re going through and can guarantee that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…I’m currently training my 5 month old DS and using the extinction method since going in and checking on him made him even more irritated than not. With that being said, its been 3 weeks and naps are still torture. He cries for 20-40 min each nap and it just doesnt seem to be working. What am i doing wrong?

    • Caitlin December 5, 2013, 3:43 pm

      How often is he napping? Do you think he’s napping too much? Too little?

      • Janet Avez December 7, 2013, 1:25 pm

        He has about 3 naps/day every 2 hours I would say. I noticed if he doesnt nap between his last nap around 3-4 and bedtime around 8pm he wakes in the middle of the night. I base his bedtime on his feeding schedule (eats every 3 hours) so last feeding is part of bedtime routine which is at 8 pm.

        • Janet Avez December 7, 2013, 3:01 pm

          I put him down as soon as I notice his cues-yawn, rubbing eyes..this is usually right around the 1&1/2-2 hour window. Also, he is still swaddled as he’s not fighting it yet and if without it, cant fall asleep. I have developed major anxiety within this process and fear that my child will suffer from health issues due to all this crying…PLEASE HELP

          • Caitlin December 8, 2013, 1:42 pm

            He will be okay. I am sorry you are going through this. Maybe try giving him a pacifier to help? I’m not a huge fan of sleep props, but if it will cut down on the crying, perhaps this is best. Do you think he is over the swaddle even if he’s not fighting it yet? Can he roll from front to back yet? Maybe you can put him down on his stomach if he can get in and out of the position?

  • Christine December 13, 2013, 12:17 am

    Hi Caitlin,
    Thank you so much for your post!! You have helped so many mommas and your post was so comforting to me! My baby boy Samuel is 3 months old and I think ready to be sleep trained. However, I was wondering how he is supposed to soothe himself if he is still being swaddled? When did you stop swaddling your son (who is SO cute btw!!)? Does sleep training involve taking his swaddle away? Is it okay that he can’t get to his hands for comfort-sucking? Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • Caitlin December 13, 2013, 9:29 am

      I would ask your doctor. In my opinion, three months is too young. Henry would not have been ready to go all night without eating at 3 months. I would probably also transition out of the swaddle first.

      Good luck!!

  • Courtney January 6, 2014, 3:00 am

    I discovered your blog while I was pregnant. It was the highlight of my sleepless nights when it was nearly impossible to get comfortable with a baby in my belly. Fast forward several months and the sleepless nights have continued to pile up. I have a 5 month old baby boy who is super dependent on me to sleep. Since birth he will only be nursed or bounced to sleep. I know you are not a sleep expert, but I am seeking sound advice wherever I can. I was wondering how you got Henry to sleep without a bottle or a parent? For instance, was there a transitioning technique or did you just lay him down and let him fuss to sleep? I was also wondering if you had trouble getting Henry to eat when he woke up versus eating to sleep. My son, Nehemiah, is so easily distracted when nursing that he won’t eat a ‘meal’ unless it is when he is falling asleep.

    • Caitlin January 6, 2014, 7:32 am

      After a point, I would give him his bottles in a quiet room because he couldn’t eat in a loud one. But to get him to go to sleep, I did a controlled crying method with timed checks. No real tricks, unfortunately. If your son is 5 months and your doctor is okay with it, you could probably start doing it if you wanted. I actually have a baby sleep post going up this week so stay tuned!! Congrats on your son and thank you for reading my blog!!!

  • Courtney January 6, 2014, 3:02 am

    PS) I know it has been awhile since Henry has mastered the skill of sleep but anything you could remember that may help will be greatly appreciated.

  • sara January 10, 2014, 10:08 am

    Hi! my son just turned 9 months, so we are a little late due to some reflux, etc. But I am determined now to do some sleep training! He goes to daycare during the day and naps well. But within the last month, he fights sleep horribly…we have to do a dog and pony show to get him to sleep! I nursed and he shared a bed with us, moved him to a bottle at 4 months, but we are still sharing a bed! He is eating some solid foods now so that helps sleep. But I am wondering the steps I should take. We have tried a few times lately to nap or sleep in his bed, but only after he falls asleep. He doesnt stay in there very long before he knows I will get him and bring him to my bed. I am afraid that he wont nap well in his bed, and I know how important naps are! so do you have any advice on getting him in his bed first? I know I have to do this before we start to sleep train, because its not going to do much good in our bed!

  • D June 24, 2014, 3:20 am

    First thank you so much for not being venomous. It’s hard to find that in this topic.
    I am a new dad (6 months) just getting out of the military and getting ready to move to my wife’s home and native land. As a result I am taking over primary child care until I can get a work or student visa. As I sit here at 1 am it is good to see some one who is kind, balanced and not telling me that my gender will preclude any viable parenting decisions.
    Thank you

  • Jane B July 12, 2014, 6:33 am

    Cute baby! I am juts wrapping up extinction overnight 1. We did naps and bedtime a few weeks ago and my almost 8 month old got better at falling asleep but 5 or so overnight waking continued. It really is amazing to me how different babies are… And still to this day how judgemental some people are. In my humble opinion it takes a really dedicated and caring mama to successfully implement a method that allows crying. You need to really know your stuff and understand quite a bit about baby sleep. Also the commitment is one of the biggest you’ll make. It’s 625am in my house and this is the first time I’ve woke up without my baby in my bed. And she’s still sleeping! (In our plan I’m allowed to go get her anytime she wakes after 6). I’m so thrilled I could go run through the streets with joy. I almost did that but will savor every moment here in Saturday morning bed with my husband beside me (also the first time this has happened since she was born). I just got to a point where I could see that poor sleep was not only negatively impacting me, my husband, our relationship, and most importantly, my daughter. I see it when she sleeps well how happy she is, how much less cranky she can be, how much more joy there is in all of our lives. I think everyone just needs to respect each other’s parenting decisions. (The only obvious exception exception is child abuse. ) This is the hardest work I’ve ever had to do, and while it is painful and downright awful at times, the little triumphs are actually huge and I won’t regret this choice. I wish all you Mamas and Mamas to be the best of luck on your journey to peaceful sleep for all with a babe in the house!

  • Roxanna July 17, 2014, 4:31 pm

    Hi Caitlin,
    I have read your blog for years and love all your posts but never left a comment until now…
    I realize this is a very old post so I’m not sure you are going to get this. But my hope is you do and I hope you respond a help this mommy out!!!
    So my son is 5.5 months and he has always been a pretty decent sleeper, however within the last month he decided that he wants to wake up every2 hours and nurse (my son is exclusively breastfed), I know he isn’t hungry and he just wants it to go back to sleep.
    Last night we decided to sleep train and we aren’t going by the book per say but its working for our son. He still gets nursed and then into the crib for sleep but he’s the kicker and where I need another mommys help and opinion….
    Since he is born he has always been swaddled to sleep (one of the swaddle blankets) and would not, could not sleep without one.
    So for his first 5 months he slept in our room in one of those rock n play and he has just outgrown it. We knew it was time to go to his crib. The first night he went into the crib swaddled but after watching him I just did not feel good about it, he was rolling over and i knew he needed his hands and feet to help him. So last night for the first time we stop the swaddle sack.
    He did remarkably well, only cried hard for about 15 min and after that just moaning and whining, took him significantly longer to fall asleep, about an hour but once asleep he slept like a champ, only woke up once and I nursed him and he went back to sleep…
    Here is where I need help. I am very confident that he will figure out this night thing and I know he will start to sleep through the night my DIFFICULTY is with naps!!!!
    He has always napped swaddled and now without it he just can’t sleep. It has taken him 2 hours and he still isn’t asleep! He isn’t hysterically crying but he goes off and on. I don’t want to confuse him between night time and naps! I don’t know how to get him to nap without his swaddle, he figured it out for bed time but can’t figure it out for a nap!!! I know consistency is key…. Help!
    What should I do???

    • Caitlin July 18, 2014, 9:19 am

      Have you tried swaddling with his arms out for naps? I think you could do this and be fine. It would probably only take a week or so to drop it completely. That’s my only idea though because we didn’t swaddle for a long time so I’m not as familiar with it.

  • Audrey August 12, 2014, 8:33 pm

    HI!! I have a question for you and I would LOVE to hear back because I am sort of at a loss of how to do it. My son is almost 5.5 months old and was used to cosleeping and/or bedsharing. We have started transitioning him to his own room and it is going pretty well.

    We are currently working on night sleeping and nap sleeping. However, once my son gets those down I plan on moving on to the night weaning phase. I know you said you went cold turkey, but what was your process for this? If he cried did you go in and comfort? For how long? I have a feeling that my son will scream all night if he doesn’t get to nurse. I am just not sure how to do it, but something has to give. I am exhausted and by the time morning comes I have gotten about 4.5 hours of sleep in.

    Thanks for any advice! 🙂

    • Caitlin August 12, 2014, 8:37 pm

      I just did the controlled crying described here – basically I would go in and check on him every 10 minutes but that’s it. Good luck – I know it’s really hard but it’s worth it.

      • Audrey August 13, 2014, 3:32 pm

        Thanks for your response! My son is currently waking up 2 times a night to eat. USUALLY once between 10-11 and then another time between 2ish-3ish.

        How many nights did it take your son to finally not need a bottle and thus sleep through the night? And was he waking more than one time to eat like my son?-If so did you battle one feeding at a time or go full force and do both/all? 🙂

        • Caitlin August 13, 2014, 4:45 pm

          Yes he was doing what your son did… Sometimes three times a night. I think I ripped off the feedings all at once, like a band aid.

          • Audrey August 14, 2014, 8:07 am

            Sorry for all the questions, but I feel like you are my only resource at the moment! 🙂

            I know you said you waited 2 weeks until you did the overnight weaning. However, was that jut a date on a calendar that you picked a head of time or did Henry start doing something at that 2 week mark that let you know it was time to start night weaning?

            And again, how long did the night weaning last until Henry was sleeping all the way through? I think I read somewhere a week?

            Also, congrats on your pregnancy! I just saw that on your blog!


          • Caitlin August 14, 2014, 9:11 am

            I just picked a Friday and did it – I was pretty sure he had the nap routinue down because he was going down for naps with mininal crying (maybe one check and that was it).

  • Claire November 12, 2014, 1:48 am

    Thanks for your info we are in a very similar position. Our daughter has a good long morning nap (sometimes 2 hours) and lately has been doing a good healthy afternoon nap (1.5 to 2 hours). Wishes goes to bed tired at 7:30 (rubbing her eyes and tired) and the proceeds to wake every 2 hours. Sometimes it’s an hour and a half sometimes we get 3. She generally isn’t hungry and just wants her pacifier or to be picked up.
    We are DESPERATE. ANY TIPS!? How do we start!? She is now 5.5 months and I think more than ready …..

  • Lydia December 26, 2014, 12:57 am

    Great post and one I will be consulting often in the coming weeks! Could you sum up the different crying levels (and what to listen for with each)? I have a totally unscheduled, nursing-obsessed 4 month old who is currently bed sharing (only way I’ll get some sleep!) and my goal is to get her in her own crib and almost night weaned by 5.5-6 months. My husband would like to do more CIO with her and get her in her own bed now (for safety and sanity reasons), but I’m struggling with letting her cry at all (I’m actually surprised i turned out to be such a softie with my baby – I was always a pretty tough baby sitter). It would be good to know what types of crying WE (baby and I) can handle, because I struggle letting her cry mildly, let alone hysterically.., and I tend to give in and nurse her (the only way to sooth her back to sleep) after mere minutes every time.

  • Lydia December 26, 2014, 2:06 am

    Also, sorry – another question: how might controlled comforting work with a baby who only wants to be comforted with nursing? I’ve tried patting and shushing her without picking her up/nursing her when she pops back awake during naps, but she usually won’t have it. She demands the boob whether she’s hungry or not! So I fully anticipate that when we try to sleep train her for real, there won’t be a break in her crying when we go into to sooth her at timed intervals; she’ll just continue to cry whether we come in to comfort her every 5, 10, 15 minutes or not (unless I break down and nurse her). Would sustained crying defeat the purpose of controlled comforting as a training method, do you think? Also, should my husband attempt the comforting since she associates me with food?

    • Caitlin December 28, 2014, 8:59 pm

      hey sorry for the delay – just saw this. i would recommend breaking her of the nursing to sleep habit first, and then try the controlled crying.

  • Aliza March 12, 2015, 6:21 am

    hi! So my baby is 4.5 months old and waking up anywhere between 1 and 4 times every night. We put him down at 7:30 or a little earlier, feed him again between 9 and 10 and then thats it for feeding. He will wake up, cry, we put the pacifier back in and then he falls back to sleep. Sometimes he does this 3 or 4 times though. We don’t take him out of the crib, but what can we do to eliminate these night time wakes?

    • Caitlin March 12, 2015, 9:37 am

      If I were you, I would start trying to soothe him in the middle of the night without replacing his pacifier. Don’t let him CIO over it but pick up and soothe as much as you can without it. Maybe put his thumb in his mouth? Then in a few weeks I would try the controlled crying method to eliminate the need to soothe in the middle of the night at all.

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