The WIO (Wait It Out) Method of Sleep Training

(Please read this first: I Am Not A Better Mother Than You.)

Dear Daughter,

You are three months old, almost everyone agrees that you are too young for “sleep training”, “cry it out”, “Ferberization” and all those other methods of sleep training that the parenting circles buzz about. Others say that three months is plenty old enough. Everyone has their rules, their ages, their advice, their books, their suggestions.

With your oldest brother I became anxious and felt like I was doing “nothing” to help him learn to sleep. With you, I smile peacefully when offered advice about getting you to sleep. I know that I’m not doing “nothing”, I’m laying the foundation slowly and gently.

Chances are pretty good that you’re reading this as an adult and thinking “I love to sleep! Sleep feels awesome.” and snuggling under your covers hitting the snooze button repeatedly.

You’re at the infant stage where to be held is comfort. When I put you down and you cry I don’t k now why it is that you’re crying. I’m told that you “want to be held” and that you are “spoiled” and that “you need to learn to self soothe”.

The thing is.. Sometimes we want comfort because something bothers us. Sometimes we’re rocked by the waves of life and battered by stresses. Sometimes we cling to those we love because we seek solace in comfort. Sometimes we cry because of pain or discomfort but find peace and calm in the arms of someone that we are close to. This applies to adults who have all the words in the world to communicate their needs and to understand them. To adults who have had years to fine-tune their ability to self comfort.

Since you have no words, I do not know the meaning behind your cries. And since you are an infant, I do not choose to attribute malice or aforethought to your cries that soothe as soon as I pick you up. I do not view you as a cunning little creature that wishes to interfere with my life by insisting on being near me.

Maybe you have reflux that makes laying down painful. Maybe you have a belly ache. Maybe you are anxious because of a noise, or afraid of the dark. Maybe you simply do wish to be held because my arms are the safest and warmest place in your world. Maybe your instincts speak loudly to you in ways that you do not understand and you simply know that right now you need to be held in order to be calm.

I cannot think of any reason why I should feel okay letting you lay there screaming. Yes, I need sleep. Of course I need sleep. And I snatch that sleep where I can. Yes, I like sleep. I love sleep. I’ve acquired that taste for lazy days of lounging around in bed. Lazy days that I can’t remember the last of. I have words to vocalize these needs of mine. I have people that I can speak with, and I can even make a stab at  saying it eloquently. “I need sleep.” Sometimes I’m so tired that I could cry with that need for sleep.

I am grown. I am strong. I understand the passage of time and that THIS will pass. You will sleep. Your infancy is the briefest part of the brief time that you are a child in need of my arms.

I can wait it out so that you don’t have to cry it out.

I can wait until you have the words to explain your needs and until I can use my words to help you understand the deliciousness and safety of the dark warm place that is your bed in the night in your room in your home with mommy and daddy just a door away. I can rock with you in the dark and let my thoughts and dreams wander and savor the stinky sweet baby smell of your hair and feel the wakings spacing out and coming together as you grow through growth spurts and phases.

I put you down and smile at you in your bed as you stare up at the ceiling fan and smile. You learn that your bed is a safe place to be while awake. When you fuss or cry I pick you up and tell you “I know, you want to be held right now.” You learn that your bed is not a place where you are abandoned, but rather a place that you can happily be while awake.

I nurse you when you need to nurse, trusting you to know your needs and your hunger.

I smile at you and talk to you about how snuggly and warm your pajamas are. How sleepy and relaxed you look. I stroke your cheek and let you savor the sleepiness as you drift off feeling safe.

As you get older like your brothers have, I will do these same things. I will stretch things out and treat bedtime with no urgency or anxiety. I will talk to you as I have to them about relaxing every bit of your body and how your bed is so safe and warm and snuggly and how you can feel the sleepiness in your feet, your legs, your belly, your arms.. How you sink into your mattress and your pillow and how finally your eyes are heavy and sleepy and they barely stay awake because you are so tired that you just… fall… asleep.

Then I can simply remind you “You need to close your eyes and relax.” And I can start telling you that I will be back to check on you as I need to do my bedtime chores.

I’m more worried about how I will convince you to get out of bed when you’re a teenager than I am about the idea that you will never self soothe or that you will never sleep in your own bed. I want you to truly enjoy going to sleep at the end of your long and eventful days, I don’t want you to simply lay there with your eyes awake waiting for sleep while counting sheep as I do the same thing one room over. I want to teach you all the things that I’ve learned about falling asleep, rather than leaving you as an infant to somehow figure it out on your own.

I can savor bedtime and wait it out, because this will not last forever. You are a little creature that is bent on independence. All I need to do is help you see sleep for what it is. Safe, comfortable, and lovely.

<3 Mama

Follow up: “Learning to Self Soothe (WIO)

282 thoughts on “The WIO (Wait It Out) Method of Sleep Training

  1. This is beautiful. I found your blog recently and the posts are a really lovely way to begin thinking about my mothering choices with my first child, also three months. Thank you.

    1. (Thank you. :) Writing these letters helps soothe ME when I’m passing through these times. I read gentle happy things to remind myself that I can do all of this in the gentle happy ways that I want to do things in. It is nice to know that others see my writings in the same ways, and it makes me happy that I will be passing these on to my daughter and to my sons.)

      1. I really enjoyed this! I have a two year old who sleeps fine now and crawls into our bed at some point in the night and a nine month old, who hardly sleeps at all at night. In his crib and even when he is with us in bed. I’m exhausted, my husband definitely doesn’t understand even though he thinks he does. I want to cry some nights. but this reminded me that it won’t last forever and I need to actually cherish these moments!

    2. I decided to WIO and we waited 5yrs, and my son is still a horrible sleeper. I definitely took a different approach with my daughter. I got a gentle sleep consultant to help, and she helped set up good sleep habits for my baby. She was sleeping through the night by 3months, she is an amazing sleeper, I feel so bad that I did this to my son by not setting up such horrible sleep habits and “waiting it out”. I highly recommend my consultant she’s amazing

      1. If we’re recommending gentle sleep consultants, I’d like to chime in about an awesome doula that I know who runs a Baby Sleep Club. Her name is Devon Clement.

        WIO doesn’t make awful sleepers, though. It’s not a passive approach. It’s an active one that makes changes at different points along the way. If you’re passively waiting it out then it can take a lot longer.

      2. I don’t recommend Violet AT ALL! She upselled me a more expensive package and I only got one email from her and she was somewhat mean too (not supportive at all). And that was it. No follow up. Never heard from her again. Biggest mistake I ever made was not believing in myself and hiring someone to just send me a long email of what to do.

        1. I’m sorry you had that experience. I’m a huge believer in trusting in yourself and your child. I’ve never been fond of sleep consultants.

          I hope that sleep is going better for you and your child now. <3

  2. Ah, Sarah, your posts are perfectly timed these days! Spent an hour doing the nurse, sing, rock, nurse, rock, nurse, sing my boy to sleep this evening, all the while thinking “this too shall pass.”
    Thanks, as ever, for sharing your beautiful writing.

  3. This. is. beautiful. This is what I have been trying so desperately to explain to my husband and my well-meaning family members. Thank you for posting this. I will be sharing this with others… <3

  4. Thank you for writing this! I have a son slightly younger than your daughter, and I am a first time parent. This spoke to me, as I have been reading a lot lately on how I am supposed to “train” him to sleep, before he gets overtired/spoiled/all other casualties of not knowing how to “self soothe.” Since I have no idea what I am doing (FTM ;), I have been following their advice, even though it feels so contrary to what I feel is right. Like the advice that when he wakes up at night to feed and change him, but don’t interact or look at him… how hard is that when you have a smiley baby grinning at you hoping to get a grin back?

    It’s hard to trust your instincts when you feel like you have no experience or knowledge to back them up. Your blogs help to fortify my desire to parent in gentle ways, even when bombarded with messages to the contrary.

    Thanks again :)

  5. This was beautiful – thank you for sharing and describing so eloquently this challenging but fleeting stage. My first baby, the one I thought would never sleep alone, now has to be roused from bed in the morning. My sixth baby snuggles close in our bed right now and I treasure these moments, knowing I’ll blink and she’ll be grown. I’ve spent the last decade sleep deprived due to my little ones’ needs and I do not regret a moment I spent rocking and soothing and cuddling them to sleep. I’m raising them to love sleep as much as their momma and someday I’ll get a nap!

    Thank you. :)

  6. So well-written! Thank you for sharing this. It’s all about trust, isn’t it? I trust that my baby (well, toddler now–he’s almost 2) really does need me when he cries or asks to be held. I hope that when he’s 5, 10, 15 years old, because of that trust, he will trust me enough to keep asking for what he needs.

  7. Thank you. Tonight of all nights was a tough one as I am struggle with my 15 month old. Who wants to stay up until 10pm!Hopefully she will snuggle until late tomorrow morning.

  8. Your post is a thoughtful and beautiful reminder of the crucial role mothers play in developing trust and security in their child. This is so refreshing after all of the blogs and books pushing CIO as the answer to all problems (which we know, is most definitely not, and perhaps a major problem in itself.)

    Thank you for reminding mothers everywhere that it is not only “ok” to hold and soothe your baby, but that they will grow into children who are not scared to go to bed and know that mama is always there when needed.

  9. Thanks for the gentle, soothing support for a method I’ve been supporting (in spite of helpful advice from those offering quick fixes) for the past 17 months with my daughter. I wish she slept until dawn; I wish we all did. But I’d much rather enjoy a calm, quiet bedtime routine, even though I’m still up with her once or twice a night. All the best to you and your children.

  10. Thank you so much…this couldn’t be more perfectly timed as I am online trying to figure out if I should be doing something differently to help get my 9 month old to go to sleep and then stay asleep! This article made me cry…why am I being selfish? I will miss this…thank you for the wake up call! No pun intended…lol

  11. I have been fine with “waiting it out” up until recently (my daughter is 7.5 months). Getting her to sleep is not an issue, But I’ve started to feel anxious about the night wakings and wanting her to “self soothe”, as “they” put it. They tell me she should be sleeping through the night (and should have been by 5 or 6 months apparently). They tell me she doesn’t need to nurse at night (she’s not hungry & she won’t starve apparently). They tell me to let her cry it out, or to let her cry while I rock, pat, shhhh (I’d be teaching her to self soothe apparently). 
    But majority of the time (sometimes 4 or 5 times a night) she just wants to nurse – whether it’s for food or comfort or both – i don’t know… She can’t tell me with words.
     All I know is that when she cries at night and nothing works but to put her to my breast (which obviously works instantly),  it doesn’t make sense to me to instead let her cry and scream for minutes (which seem like hours) in the hopes that she will figure out that mom is teaching her to “self soothe”. That just makes me feel like I am not listening, not responding properly, not helping.
     I have tried again and again to soothe her during night wakings in different ways to “wean” her from night nursings/comfortings, but it just results in her frustration, screams and tears. So I “cave” and give her the breast which calms her in seconds and only takes a few minutes before she falls back asleep. 
    So maybe she keeps waking because I “cave” – maybe I’ve created the habit? 
    Or maybe, just maybe, she’s waking because she is a little thirsty, or a little hungry, or a little chilly, or a little scared…. And maybe being cuddled up next to me, doing what she knows best, is the only thing she needs, wants, deserves from me… And isn’t it my responsibility, My role, My honor, My privilege, My joy, to provide those things- no matter what time of the day or night? 
    Maybe, just maybe, allowing her the comfort of nursing when she wakes at night really isn’t that evil, awful, bad habit that “they” make it out to be.
     And maybe, just maybe, I AM doing the right thing for my child.

    1. Christa, I just wanted to say that you are not alone and that I agree with your sentiments. At 12mos, it was typical for my daughter to be up every two hours or more per night to nurse. It was difficult, but I understood that she needed the comfort. I’m sure had I let her CIO, she would have eventually stopped crying for me at night, but at what cost? She has always had a need for nearly constant physical contact, right from day one, much different from her older brother. Those needs did not pause just because the sun went down. It took two years and I am happy to say that she sleeps through *almost* every night now (at 2 1/2). :) She is a happy, funny, confident child. Sometimes a little too confident, like when she walked to the park by herself and it took me nearly a half hour to find her! And she still loves to snuggle. A lot. I truly believe that had I refused to meet her needs and forced her to give up on the idea that “mommy will come to help when I need her,” she would not be the confident, carefree little being that she is. Your child will probably never thank you in words for choosing to parent her at night, but she will thank you by filling all around her with the joy that radiates from a child who knows she always has a safe place to go when she needs it.

    2. Christa, I had the exact same experience with my son just a few short months ago. Up until he was almost 10 months old he woke every 1.5-3 hours and nursing was the only way to get him to stop crying. I was over-stressed because I was sleep-deprived and we moved across country when he was 8 months old. Finally, I stopped going to him right away (only letting him cry for a few minutes), and one night, he decided that rocking was okay and he didn’t need to nurse to get back to sleep. After that he started sleeping for longer periods, and he is now 11 months old and only waking once or twice most nights. I firmly believe that he did still need to nurse at night, as he weaned himself from it. He has always nursed himself to sleep, which I was told was a big no-no if I wanted him to be able to sleep through the night, but there are times like today when he went down still awake for both his nap and bedtime and talked to his stuffed animals til he fell asleep. I am just counting these little baby steps as blessings along our journey and hope that you keep up the good work with your little one, trust those instincts. Its a gradual thing, but it really does get better, and once they are gone, you almost start to miss those quiet mid-night nursing sessions. (Although I am really enjoying the longer sleeps at night!)

    3. Sarah and Christa, thank you for sharing and putting all of my thoughts and sentiments into such heartfelt and elegant words….you spoke the words of my heart. :)

  12. These are such wonderul words… and so true. I love it. It is what I wish more poeple would realize and it is so awesome that you have basically put my feelings into words.

  13. This speaks to my heart!! My 13 month old has been up 4 times or more tonight..I just go in and nurse her, and put her back down. Not every night is like this, but this week it has been. Thank you for this piece!! <3
    (I have done this sort of thing with the other three too) :)

  14. Oh Sarah, this is so beautiful and true and real. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for being able to express it so much better than I could.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s the encouragement I need tonight as my 11 month old again decides sleep isn’t possible unless he’s snuggled my hand into his chest & curled around it.
    I’ve forwarded this to my husband as you’ve articulated beautifully what i’ve been trying to explain for months.

  16. You put beautiful words to the “method” I instinctively chose with my now-16 month old son. He hasn’t yet “slept through the night,” but I’m okay with that. I look forward to seeing how things change as he grows older.

  17. this are my sentiments except we bed-share…I have 6 sons and we always WIO and 4 of them- the teens- sleep just fine alone, through the night :)

  18. Beautiful. Well written. You have captured exactly what I have always felt with my now 2 1/2 year old son and now my newborn daughter. Brilliant and so sweet.

  19. What an awesome perspective! I think reading this has effectively inoculated me against the well-meaning tough love advice I am sure to be reading at 4am after my baby arrives this fall. I should print this out and hang it in his room. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  20. I love this! It’s like you articulated the thoughts I had in my heart but couldn’t quite explain. My daughter is almost 14 months now and is waking less and cuddling less at bedtime… I wish I could go back in time a year and tell myself how much I would miss those middle of the night snuggles!

  21. Perfectly written. I have Little Bit’s crib next to our bed in side car fashion. For the longest time she needed to feel me in order to sleep, maybe just a foot on my leg, but she needed to feel some part of me. And now, at 8 months, she has started rolling away from me and sleeping in her own bed. All on her own. I can literally count the sleepless nights we have had in 8 months on one hand.

  22. Loved this! Beautifully written and I feel exactly the same way with my 2 month old. So lovely to see it put like this.

  23. This is so lovely. An incredible parenting affirmation of what I’ve been doing with my almost 9 month old. Thank you for writing this.

  24. Thank you for this. This captures my heart and elaborates a feeling I’ve had for 7 months now…that’s how long I’ve been nursing and rocking my firstborn to sleep each night and for every nap. Sometimes I feel like my husband and I are the only ones who think this way and when that happens I’ll return to read this. In the last two weeks my baby has shown definite signs of progressing towards sleep maturity and all I can do is smile knowing we did the right thing.

  25. This is exactly where I am in my life. We are up 10 or so times a night for a comfort nurse back to sleep. Thank goodness for cosleeping and the warmth of mom’s breast.

  26. What perfect timing! I had a long night with my twins who seem to be taking turns needing to be held while the other sleeps. I get frustrated when the second I put one sleeping baby down the other cries to be held. I keep telling myself that they are not trying to make mommy insane, but that they need me and I am determined to be there for them.

  27. Ya, but what about when you have a baby who wakes up every 45 minutes if you rock them to sleep because they go ino light sleep and realize you aren’t there anymore?
    I’m exhausted when I get sleep in 45 minute chunks, how must my baby be feeling? I really don’t know what to do in this situation, but rocking my baby for 10 minutes til he falls asleep, tryin to sneak him into his crib, starting over if he wakes up, and praying he can make it through at least one sleep cycle doesn’t seem to work.
    What do I do?

    1. That was my first child. And when I would get him to sleep my husband at the time would wake him up.

      I don’t blame people for choosing sleep training. This post is about how you don’t have to do it for the baby’s sake. I know that sometimes parents feel that they have to do it for their sake.

      The “No Cry Sleep Solution” is a really good book, but I didn’t find anything in it that helped with my first, because of the situation at the time.

      I’ve discovered some things that help, like waiting 20 minutes after baby falls asleep before putting baby down, and making sure to hold baby’s hands by her side when I lay her in her bed. Swaddling helps. I do a loose swaddle around her legs and a tighter swaddle around her top. She wakes because she startles. I don’t know your baby or your situation, so I can’t make any helpful comments. I’m sorry. You must be exhausted.

      1. Thanks for the reply!! I do really struggle with sleep with my five month-old. He needs to wake up in the exact same situation as he went to sleep. If he wakes up and the air is running where it wasn’t when he fell asleep, he wakes up!
        It is frustrating. We’ve done a mild version of CIO with five minutes of crying (where I constantly check on him or camp by his crib), five minutes of comfort. It works okay in the day. At night, the little guy goes right back to sleep after nursing (which I do on demand), but he just wakes up REALLY frequently!
        I guess I also am in the WIO camp because as frustrated as I am, I do realize it’ll only be a year or two while he’s still nursing. And eventually I won’t get those midnight cuddles with my little man.
        I just wondered if you had any suggestions.
        It is a short time in my life, I know that. I just wish the two of us could get better rest during it!! :)

        1. I’ve found that certain “comforts” help my children sleep longer. My oldest likes to have his feet bare and likes to be covered by a blanket. No matter how cold it is he wants his feet sticking out bare, and no matter how hot it is he likes to be covered by a blanket. My middle child likes to wear 100% cotton footed pajamas and will wake up if he is wearing anything else. He hates blankets and will wake up to uncover himself if you try to cover him while he is sleeping. My daughter has benefited from this knowledge as I now recognize that she likes to be naked in a diaper with bare feet while sleeping.

          Point being.. Maybe there is something that will help him feel like “it is bedtime” or to be more comfortable sleeping.

          My middle child started sleeping better once he could roll himself onto his belly, and better still once he was old enough to sleep with a pillow. My daughter sleeps best swaddled for the first part of the night, but sleeps best unswaddled on her back for the second part of the night after she’s woken for a diaper change and a nursing.

          Some kids like white noise machines which keep things consistent.

          As my kids get older their preferences become more “preferences” and they become a bit more malleable. (Which is good because even though I giggle at the thought of my middle child attempting to explain to his college room mate why he is wearing adult sized footie pajamas… Yeah…)

          A change in diaper might also help. My kids have all been sensitive to diapers that contain chlorine so going with a brand that has less chlorine helped. My middle child was able to sleep through the night really well with cloth diapers when he was a bit younger.

          Look for the things that your child finds comforting, and see how you can integrate them into his sleeping area (when they are safe for his age range). If a change in noise bothers him, look for a white noise machine to keep the noise more consistent. If a change in air flow bothers him, look into a ceiling fan. With my oldest he needed room darkening drapes and a nightlight. Together. For about a year. Now he’s very flexible. He just had a period of need for a certain thing to help him through a phase.

          I wish I had the magic answer for you, but every child truly is different. All I can really say is “Don’t be afraid to listen to your heart”. Even if an idea seems odd it might be helpful.

    2. Please try the pick up/put down method – worked for us… The book is called The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems). You show your child how to sleep in the crib, you need to stay there with them for the first few times, but then they know and can do it themselves. Please refer to the book on HOW.

    3. When you move baby immediately after baby falls asleep then baby will wake up pretty quickly. Wait an extra 15-20 minutes before moving baby.

      Do you swaddle? How old is baby? My middle child started sleeping through the night when he figured out how to roll onto his belly to sleep. Most babies start sleeping better once they outgrow the startle reflex or are able to contain it. I swaddle my daughter to contain her arms.

  28. I absolutely love this! I was the same way with my first (now almost 3) as you with your first – worried she’d never sleep on her own but doing what I felt right – and now am exhaustedly delighting in snuggling my almost 1 year old, so grateful for the chance to help her think pleasantly about sleep. I love this reminder of why we’re doing what we are and wish I’d read it 3 years ago! Thanks for the beautiful reminder :)

  29. Yes, in theory this is a great idea. Lets all just wait it out and hope that our baby gets better at sleeping. My daughter had sleep issues from day one. She never slept more than 1 hour straight from the moment she was born. Being a new mom and not believing in CIO, I just waited. I rocked her, I sang to her, and I cuddled her. At one month old it wasn’t any better. At two, still not better. Surely, it will eventually get better I thought. At nearly 11 months old, it still wasn’t any better. She doesn’t do any better co-sleeping and she was a chronically over tired baby. It seemed that in my desires to meet all her ‘needs’ by not letting her cry at all that I failed to meet the most important one for her…sleep.

    My husband and I had become so sleep deprived that we couldn’t function at work or at home. Our marriage was suffering as a result. We tried everything, we took shifts, we traded nights. Nothing worked and our daughter never got any better at sleeping.

    Everyone is so afraid to let their baby cry it out. At 3 months old, yes, suck it up and hold that baby. But after nearly a year of never sleeping more than one hour at a time…something needs to happen.

    So we did CIO and I don’t regret it one bit. It was the best decision we ever made. After only 4 nights of crying (and we regularly checked on her) my daughter slept 12.5 hours straight through the night. She is no longer chronically over tired and my husband and I can finally get some sleep.

    CIO is not bad. Not meeting all of your babies needs (sleep included) can be much worse.

    1. You made the choices that you made out of necessity and love. Only you and your husband have the child that you have, and only you know what you tried, did not try, and the choice that you made at the point in time that you made the choice. You know at what point that choice became necessary for your family. I’m glad.

      If you feel in your heart that it was the right choice made out of concern and love for your child and your family, then it was the right choice for you. I have not reached that point with my three children, and it would not be the right choice for me.

  30. I agree to a certain extent.

    I do not believe CIO should be a first line option for dealing with sleep issues, but I do believe there is a time and place for it.

    I think that suggesting WIO to a Mom that has already tried no-cry options and has an older infant 7+ months sometimes can be quite harmful. Why? Imagine you are a stressed out Mother desperately trying to get her infant to sleep after months and months of waking hourly. You have tried all options except CIO. You are at your wits end and starting to feel depressed, anxious etc. Why is it horrible of that mother to try and teach her child to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own using CIO? There are too many proponents of the ‘WIO’ method who suggest this to stressed out mothers who are about to go over the edge with stress etc and then prolong it even more, further risking depression etc because of the guilt that other Mom’s are trying to place on her?

    In any case, we did it. After many many months of my child waking every 45 minutes. After all no-cry solutions had been attempted. After I had to stop myself from driving and cooking at home bc I was so sleep deprived it was dangerous. It took 2 nights of crying – attended crying at that. You know what? He cried about the same amount in his crib for those two nights as he did in my arms every single night for 10-11 months straight. After that, he learned how to fall asleep on his own. Not only that, we discovered that my previously MISERABLE son must ahve been utterly sleep deprived just like his Mom as he turned into a happy baby as soon as he started sleeping longer than an hour at a time.

    I regret allowing articles like this and Mom’s in forums to allow me to feel so much guilt that I prolonged this much longer than I should have. Fantastic if you can take endless sleepless nights with no sight in end. Gold star if you are still doing it at 15, 16, 17 months. Please though, don’t project that onto others re: what they should be doing with their children.

  31. Beautiful. . . Read it while holding my sleeping 3mo.

    I’ve btdt with CIO and it is oh-so-not-worth it.

    This article is one for the mommy-inspiration files. . .

  32. What she doesn’t consider is that her baby needs sleep just as much as she does. She isn’t doing her daughter any favors by not training her to get the rest she needs.

    1. She gets sleep. A lot of it, actually. When she’s awake she’s happy, otherwise she’s zonked out.

      Don’t confuse a lack of training for a lack of teaching. :)

      1. I really appreciate this because I have decided to “WIO”. There’s no pressure anymore, that why this isn’t harmful. It builds my confidence that I’m a good mom. That this is normal , or at least okay. Whenever I did try to “train” my child to sleep, that’s when we all got way less sleep, thats when I hated my abnormal needy child, I hated myself for “failing” but when I allowed myself to co-sleep and even sleep rocking on the recliner, we all got sleep. I loved my precious baby, I had confidence in myself. Now it may not work for everyone but I am and this author is not being selfish for “WIO”.

        1. I just don’t understand all the to and fro ‘arguments’. They might not be all out wars, but it’s still arguing for and against. Why do us women need to do this to each other and say ‘I’m not telling you what to do’ when we put ourselves out there to help each other and teach each other in blogs and articles all the time? I would have loved to have someone tell me what to do and just be plain truthful about all the options. I listened on the sidelines and picked a balance of self-settling, comforting and avoided the ‘controlled crying’ thing where you leave your baby in the room. I listened to Mums that said it’s not a bad thing to walk out the door when they are partially awake so that babies can learn that being ‘away’ from Mum doesn’t equal neglect. I sang to my babies from another room. I vacuumed around them so they’d get used to noises. I loved it when Mum’s of my mother’s generation said to me… “this cry isn’t a ‘I need to sleep cry’.. it’s more of a ‘I’m sick’ cry or hurting. Check out for reflux or this or that… try this.” Why are we so down on each other for teaching and helping and saving another Mum hours of heartache? Why don’t we get it that not all studies are unbiased or truthful.. and go suggesting that another technique is not the best? We can do better.. and there is a part of us that loves to be told what to do that is gentle and well meaning, honest and not projecting a moral judgment. I have to agree with ‘Anon’. I mean.. gold stars if you want to be a hero and wait till who-knows-when for sleep to happen for both parties. Sticking to your guns just to prove something works isn’t being a hero though.. it’s just being stubborn.. and many mums are paying the cost with a damaged mental, emotional and physical health just to their own detriment… I know I did and I didn’t even know what CIO or WIO was then.. I was just neglecting my own sleep and not asking for help. Please be good to each other… us Mum’s have the power to help and encourage.. and also to tear down so easily with thinly veiled judgments? <3

  33. It really was a lovely and well-written article. Sadly, I’ve known plenty of moms who adopt the same strategy and end up with 2 and 3 year olds who will not/cannot sleep through the night. That is dreadful for both parent and child. We used CIO (within reason) combined with a feeding schedule with both of ours, and could not be more thrilled with the results. They both slept for at least 7 hours per night by 7 weeks old. That meant I was sleeping 7 hours per night, which meant I was an infinitely better mom during the day. They both also eat what they’re served, including vegetables, with no wars at the table.
    I’m glad this method worked for the author, I’m just convinced it is not always the best plan for baby or mama.

    1. Doing nothing about sleep is not a great idea. I gently encourage my kids without leaving them to CIO. Bedtime takes a half hour for all three with just me.

    2. Please just be very, very thankful that you have been given two infants who like to sleep and who may have easier temperaments. Please refrain from believing that this is a perfect parenting formula for America or for the rest of the world. Research simply does NOT bear this out and logically, if it did-  it would work for almost everyone and it clearly doesn’t, given the number of supportive comments here and around the web. Nor does Sarah’s chosen method work for everyone and she isn’t saying that it will. She is just writing it down for her daughter and sharing it for those who would find it helpful.  And that is very thoughtful, to encourage some of the moms out there who don’t fit into the general society infant care”box” because, in America, the majority of media/experts/magazines/education system/ culture prefer the adult controlled feeding & sleeping schedules and the notion of early independence of children. (this is not the norm around the world) I had three very different infants- middle child was the “textbook” model as you have described and she slept well(and lots- about 22 hrs a day) and I parented her the same as her older sister who ate every 1-2 hrs around the clock and did not nap well or sleep thru the night until she walked at 13 mo. Third child was a mix of the first two.  So it is ironic that in a country    where early independence is so lauded, that instead of children being allowed to truly be independent and be whoever they are, many parents &leaders & experts really expect them all to be just the same in terms of eating & sleeping, beginning in infancy…

    3. Feeding schedules are linked with failure to thrive in breastfed babies unless they are schedules of frequency rather than schedules of spacing out.

      If your baby falls into a schedule there is nothing wrong with it. But most women and babies will not do well with watching the clock while breastfeeding. Unless it is to wake up a baby for feeds when the baby is doing poorly.

      I just wanted to point that out, as “schedule” is often discussed and for breastfeeding babies it can be bad news. Moms looking to schedule breastfeeding babies need to be aware of the possible pitfalls so that if they start having problems they know how to fix them rather than just assuming that they aren’t making enough milk and weaning.

  34. “I do not view you as a cunning little creature that wishes to interfere with my life by insisting on being near me.”

    Stoking the flames of the mommy wars, I see. Lumping everyone who does CIO into this bucket? Come on.

    1. May I refer you back to the first few words of this post? :)

      This is a letter to my daughter, which I have also shared on this website. It is not a letter to a mom who does CIO.

      The “cunning little creature” line comes from discussions I have seen on CIO where people have talked about “manipulation” and cries being manipulation. Not all moms who do CIO see cries as being manipulation. Some do. The bucket above contains exactly the people who view babies as cunning little creatures or manipulators. If you are a CIO mom who does not view babies as cunning little creatures or manipulators, it is not your bucket. And if you are a CIO mom who does view babies as cunning little creatures or manipulators, then it is your bucket but if that’s your view then I don’t see what the issue is with lumping you into that particular category.

      I quite simply don’t view my baby that way. And if you do, maybe your baby IS that way. I don’t know. I’m not raising your child, I never met your child, I have only really spent significant time with my own kids.

      My primary reasons for not letting my kids cry it out is that I believe that cries are language, comfort is free, and sleep is a natural need for all humans. So far my three kids have proven that children need help learning how to go to sleep on their own, and that if I wait for verbal skills to develop that is easier to achieve. And that in the meantime establishing a routine that contains plenty of sleep for everyone means that the kid is hooked on a certain amount of sleep already and isn’t accustomed to screaming and fighting about that sleep.

      1. It may be a “letter to your daughter”, but its more a swipe at people who do CIO. I read similar judgement on your twitter feed between yourself and a group of moms. You’ve “made peace with what other parents do”? Why is what other parents do any concern of yours at all?

        (And for the record, I didn’t do CIO with my kid because he didn’t need it. I’m just sick of attachment parents who are continuously trying to tell the rest of the world how uncaring and awful they are.)

        1. I’m not swiping at anything. No, I do not like CIO, do not understand it personally, etc. But I don’t care what others do with their children.

          I also do not understand why/how someone could like the taste of liver, but understand that people do. Even though attempting to eat it nakes my stomach turn.

          “Made peace” just means that when I wonder why people chose a different method/food I find icky, I just say “different people are different”. NOT that I see myself as the savior of the world.

          My tweets are about not understanding how people think that CIO is the ONLY way that a child can learn to sleep. I do not understand how people can think that the options are CIO or a child who can never sleep and who is not getting any sleep/is miserable and unhealthy. Those comments were brought on by someone in this thread saying I am not doing my daughter any favors by not training her to sleep.

          I personally do not care much what other parents do. My letters to my daughter come from being constantly exposed to non-AP parents telling me “your child will never sleep”, “you are making your child clingy”. In other words, from the exact same place that your grouchiness with me comes from.

          Only I am NOT speaking to the parents that do things differently than I do. I am not saying “You let your child cry, that is abuse!”

          I am talking about what I do, and my personal reasons for it, and why I do not feel that a different method is necessary for me.

        2. I have to agree with Anne and the other Mums here that have logically and truthfully objected to the subtle attack that is hidden behind the veneer of this ‘letter’. I love it that you care for your children Sarah.. I don’t think anyone can reasonably doubt that. I love it that you promote the nurturing part of mothering. However, you do imply that there is something morally wrong with settling techniques that allow a baby to cry.. and your writing does suggest that a mum can’t communicate to their baby love, care and security whilst using some settling techniques that are different to your style. There wasn’t any information that acknowledged the difference between emotionally traumatised crying and communicative crying…and there is a big difference.

          I’m sorry to say that the ‘do what’s best for you and I’ll do what’s best for me’ answers really do contradict this subtle self-righteousness… and that’s what it is. I can’t wait for there to be blogs and articles written that actually give both baby and mum some dignity in their intelligence and stop playing the emotional drawcard of victimising a baby and painting the woman as a slave to her baby’s every ‘need’. All this talk about CIO and WIO confusion is really not going to help a Mum out there who is beyond the point of no return when it comes to her own sleep… when she becomes so sleep deprived that she herself becomes VERY sick.. well.. these kinds of articles are just going to play on her mind in the worst way. CIO.. WIO just equal WHOKNOWSWHAT at these times…how about some BALANCE in and true compassion to other mums who don’t need a guilt trip.. but need some tips, education and help. Sarah.. you have the power to provide encouragement… can you please do this without the hidden swipes. Thanks.

          1. Could you tell me which parts of my letter to my daughter harshly judge what others do with their children as opposed to harshly judging the way that certain advice applies to my children?

            The way I wrote this letter is this: I was told that you are blue. But I look at you and you are green. I do not know how anyone who has never met you, never seen you, could tell me that you are blue. I look at you. I love you. I see that you are green.

            Not “Anyone who says that babies are ever blue is clearly a jerk who kicks puppies for fun.”

            I am told that babies are manipulative. I do not look at my daughter and see someone who is trying to manipulate me. I am told that I should let her scream. I do not see the value in MY letting HER scream.

            My letter is my filtering process. “I am told this. I do not see this applying to you.”

            Other parents that choose to read my site should do the exact same thing. They should think about all the things that they have been told, and they should love their children enough to see their child and not the things that others say. Me included. Only ever take my advice if it speaks true to you.

          2. Sarah… the title of your ‘letter’ and the emotive way you have written can be read by someone who is at risk of post-natal depression or in the middle of it or some other kind of sickness where they are vulnerable as grouping your views as being the right way and the best way as opposed to their ‘I don’t have a clue’ way I’m just trying to survive. A lot of mums out there don’t even know what these defining terms are or mean “ie..self settling, CIO.. WIO, attachment parenting, controlled crying or any other of the other terms {that sometimes can become misnomers}). When a vulnerable person reads comments like “You’re at the infant stage where to be held is comfort”… this says to them… “If I can’t hold my baby like this woman does… whenever, wherever… I’m not comforting my child like I should.”

            You’ve described psychology 101 very well. This is psychology 108… a few bumps up so I’m sure you get it. So when you say “I cannot think of any reason why I should feel okay letting you lay there screaming.”.. . this can suggest to a parent who is emotionally vulnerable (hey lets face it.. MANY nursing and/or mothers are with hormones, tiredness, sickness are) that they are not using reason if they need to let their baby ‘scream’ to care for their own needs… for a small amount of time.

            This is not ‘harshly’ judging.. but it is subtly judging as you have labelled this ‘letter’ with a type of parenting.. and so those that don’t solely agree with this WIO or attachment parenting.. are going to see you say, (especially those vulnerable), allowing your baby to cry,scream,whimper,fuss is not nurturing and caring and loving your baby as you yourself do. You’ve mentioned all these ways of crying in your writing.. and in the middle of that you’ve said…

            “Since you have no words, I do not know the meaning behind your cries.” This is a statement that confirms what you believe… that follows later with “When you fuss or cry I pick you up and tell you “I know, you want to be held right now.” So this says that somehow a parent that is nurturing and caring and loves their child shouldn’t presume to know what their child is crying for.. but should instinctively know that a baby needs to be held whenever he/she cries.

            I and others who don’t necessarily disagree with comforting your baby this way.. but don’t want to limit parenting to the ‘one size fits all’ attitude when it comes to sleep, feeding or teaching your baby find these emotive comments disillusioning. They compel people to ask questions of themselves about whether or not they competently care for their children instead of educating and helping. (ie..There ARE different kinds of crying that can be addressed effectively in different ways at different times of the day…. without even labelling it with a style so to encourage others to feel outside the caring realm so to speak. A single caring parent that has reflux to deal with might need to go have a shower whilst her baby does actually scream on his/her own… but does this mean he/she is being less of a parent in terms of comfort or care?)

            Without defining ideas better as parents who find pleasure in helping others as I’m sure you do Sarah can mean a lot of confusion, open ended questions that suggest judgment. That is what I’m saying.. I don’t think I can make myself any more clearer…. and so you are going to have people like Anne and others disconcerted when you don’t make it clear about what you mean. People are going to feel you are saying that those that CIO or MIO or XYZ are somehow on a different side and therefore judged because of the psychology 108 described above.

            I’m sorry you’ve had people judge you and say to you that you should let your child scream. I’m encouraging you to help others to differentiate between communicative crying and screaming so they don’t put themselves in the ‘scream/cry’ blanket kind of grouping and therefore see you as judging…. I mean it’s obvious you think this is wrong… (there is only so far you can go with the what’s right for me is ok for you.. humans are varied but not THAT different when it comes to basic needs) and people who have babies that scream blue murder whenever cold air hit’s their babies bottoms are going to see your judgment and not your love when their baby is pooing and wees more than five times a day… as dumb as that sounds. 😛

          3. Naomi,

            Please consider that many moms suffer from PPD for many reasons. Personally, with my first the cause of my depression was being pressured to do everything against my instinct. What kept me out of it was putting my son in the center and making my response to his needs the most meaningful part of my existence.

            Why do you think that this letter has been shared as often as it has? Because it speaks to others who are being told to go against their instincts. What impact do you think it has on a woman who truly feels deep in her heart that CIO is wrong, who is pressured into it by everyone telling her that it is the only way that her baby will ever sleep, and who sits outside of her baby’s door going against every instinct in her body and with a hurting heart as her baby screams for hours and will not console? She feels like a failure. And a failure who has gone against her wishes, her instincts, the core of her being. She has absolutely nothing left inside that is hers. She is gutted.

            If a mother truly needs to use CIO, and truly feels that it is the RIGHT thing to do and the loving choice to make, then my words will come across as utter indulgent nonsense. It is the mother who is being pressured to CIO, who is CIOing against her will, that my words will either soothe or hurt.

            For those that they might hurt I say this: No informed decision made out of necessity and with love is ever the wrong decision. No one will ever live your life but you. No one knows your need for sleep other than you. If your sleep deprivation is so bad that you might fall asleep and drop your baby or get into a car crash and no one can watch the baby while you sleep then CIO *IS* the loving choice because it is what keeps everyone safe.

            For those like me, taking that happiness, that necessity, seeing it as a positive and loving thing, and giving that sleep deprivation a meaning.. IS necessary for our mental health. It lets us understand that this is the choice that we have made, that our babies are not manipulating us, that this will pass, that sleep will come. It allows us to relax into motherhood and it allows our babies to relax. Life becomes more happy.

            Many women are using this letter to share with their family and friends who are pressuring them to use CIO. Many women that feel as I felt- torn between their heart and the words of others- find this letter helpful.

            The part about “I know, you just want to be held right now” does not mean that I instinctively know what my child needs. It means I have no freaking clue but if they soothe in my arms, it is where they soothe. My daughter has screamed her head off on a few occasions, soothed when I picked her up, and I later realized that she was screaming because she had gas. The gas did not go away when I picked her up, but it helped her deal with the pain of the gas. She didn’t need to be held, she needed to fart, but being held eased the pain of the need to fart.

            “I don’t know what’s wrong, but I can hold you” relieves feelings of helplessness for many women when they simply cannot figure out what is wrong with their child.

            Do you believe that it would help at all for me to add a paragraph at the top of this letter where I say what I said above about informed decisions made out of necessity and love?

            I do not wish to cause anyone pain or doubt over the choices that they make that are necessary and that their hearts say are the right one for their situation. But at the same time, this is a letter that I desperately needed to read as a new mother. One that could have saved me a lot of pain, and one that I have been thanked for many times.

            What do you believe the right course of action is here?

            Edit: I have just written this: and placed a link to it at the top of the “WIO” post.

  35. I never let my children “cry it out” and now that they’re grown with babies of their own, I’m so glad that I always held them. PS They don’t “let their babies cry it out” either.

  36. We are in the midst of a 9 month sleep regression, and I so needed to read this. Thank you! I plan to print it out and put it in my daughter’s baby book as a reminder on those nights when sleep seems to elude us once again.

  37. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I don’t know if I can truly describe in words how greatful I am for this beautiful letter you’ve written. It has changed my outlook completely on what is best for my daughter. We have been struggling for six months now to get her to sleep in her own bed, she was fine early in life and now that she’s three refuses to stay in her room in her own bed. It’s like theres a bright light shining showing me the way now. Thank you for helping me put this sleep deprivation stage into perspective! Now instead of feeling hopeless due to lack of sleep & alone time with the husband, I will be greatful for the opportunity to be the loving arms my daughter obviously needs.

    1. At three I started explaining to my son how to relax and get sleepy from his toes, his legs, etc. After I made sure he understood how to relax, I’d start saying “I need to go get a drink of water, I’ll check on you in five minutes. If you’re still in bed I’ll lay down with you for a little bit”. Then I’d come back, lay down with him for a bit, and then go do another bedtime chore and return, lay down, etc. There were no tears because he was old enough to understand, and he was at an emotional place where he was okay with that.

      I slowly modified that to just checking on him in 15 minutes and he was usually asleep by that time. If he wasn’t I’d kiss him on the forehead, remind him how to relax, and come back in another 15 minutes. At five it is something that he likes and prefers but not something that he NEEDS. I still do it because it makes me smile. He sleeps like a log until I pluck him out of bed for school/camp in the morning.

  38. Love it! So beautiful! I have not at all regretted waiting it out with my daughter, who is 3. She always slept a lot, but needed help in staying/falling asleep. She needed to be with us (my husband and I). Slowly, she began to wake less and less. Was I tired? Yes, I was. Was it worth it? Yes, it was. Around 2 she started asking to go to sleep in her own bed. She started asking to read books by herself. It was such a smooth, beautiful transition – proved to me that it will happen, when the child is ready.

  39. This is the exact name I was looking for for how I feel about my precious baby! Thanks for giving me a name for it! This is oh so perfect! So glad God lead me to your blog! Will be printing for my sweet baby girl’s baby book too!!! God bless you and your words of love and encouragement!

  40. Thank you! We were having a terrible time with bedtime last month. Creating a “bed” room helped. Now all four boys sleep in the same room, making it easier to help everyone calm down and fall asleep without a fight. Its hard to deal with people saying I’m nuts for putting them all together or that I should just tell them goodnight and be done with it.

  41. Gosh!! my daughter is 10weeks old & i have been dealing with the exact same situation/emotion. My son- born exactly a year before his sister gave us a challenging time with his sleep. So everyone has a say & of course I am a bit nervous too. But I can`t hear my child cry & cuddle them. Thank you for reassuring my belief in ‘spoiling’ my children.

  42. thanks a mill!!! my gut feeling always told me that this cry out and negativity “she is playing you” ect. can’t be intended from nature. why should there be any bad bone in baby? mine is now 22 months not sleeping through the night, still being breastfed at night. going to bed at 8pm with a book, coming for the boob at midnight, and then for her morningfeed between 5-7am. she is the most adorable little girl, and i can live with it. it is such a short time anyways. funny i also always thought i will spend more time getting her out of the bed then into it.

  43. Thank you for this. Beautiful writing and beautiful sentiments. Sometimes during a hard night it is difficult to remember why I am doing the things I am doing so it is lovely to have this kind of reminder/reinforcement.

  44. First off let me say I love this ” letter to my daughter.” I am a new mom my little Emma is 3 months. We co-sleep which I thought I never would do, I’m still nursing her a d pumping the rest of her food. I am one of the lucky ones! She has been sleep about 8 hours straight through the night since about 2 months! Very lucky from what I hear. I am a person who desperately needs sleep. The first two months were so so hard for me. But we got through it and thankfully ahe now sleeps at least 8 hours straight!
    I had no idea about WIO method although I 100% agree with it! This letter put into words how I feel. Now on the other hand I don’t know what I would do if for months and months and months Emma wouldn’t sleep hardly and kept me up all night?! I might try Juat about anything out of deperation lol. Thankfully I don’t have to;) Also to the one who wrote this letter, everytime I’ve read this out loud I get chocked up and almost start crying. It touches a sensitive place inside me and I thank u for giving my thoughts and feelings words!;) I had nk idea there was such debate on this topic until I started reading the comments. Wow. Ultimately you have to do what right for you and you child and not everyone and there situation fit into the same box with the same solutions! good luck to all the moms! <3

  45. I want to sincerely thank you. My 9 month old daughter is sleepin soundly on my chest as I type this, and I am at peace with that fact. I have struggled for the past 9 months with all of the advice and expectation placed upon my daughter. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told to let her CIO. My heart just can’t take her crying, so we co-sleep. As much as I love having this beautiful baby sleep next to me I have never really felt at peace with my decisions. Free reading many of your letters to your children, I know now that I am doing what works for us and I should enjoy every passing second as much as possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  46. I love this letter. It expresses what I have been doing with my own daughter, now 23 months old. We coslept and nursed to sleep every night, holding her in my arms for naps for months and months until she could lay on her own while sleeping. While she still needs mama next to her to drift off, she had been sleeping through the night 11+hours for quite some time. I feel like while I am not the most patient person and I fight my impatience as a mother daily, my nighttime interactions with my daughter are the best thing I have done for her.
    Last night, when she wanted to go to sleep in her “big girl” toddler bed I was nervous and pleased. It took five minutes of me laying near her for her to fall asleep, which I am happy to give her. And she slept alone at night for the first time ever.
    Basically, I want to say thank you for your beautifully written sentiment that responds to my own instincts and goes against every person who has given me grief over sleep.

  47. So happy to have read this, I read the baby whisperer and have been trying the pick up put down method and it has been a nightmare. I just want to hold him and comfort him till he gets sleepy. I decided yesterday that I will do it my way and not by a book. I’m glad that there are other people that don’t think it is a crime that I comfort my baby to sleep.

    1. I hate the pick up put down method. It results in a lot of screechy. It might work for some babies but not mine. The gradual approach and waiting until they’re able to understand language and communicate works just fine for me. I have two older kids that sleep through the night (unless they are sick or have a nightmare)

      It’s about approach. We establish a bedtime routine then do anything necessary to get our children to fall asleep during that routine. Later when they can understand language and concepts then we talk to them and ease them into falling asleep on their own.

      My two year old will currently fall asleep laying next to someone with his head or back being rubbed and has started falling asleep after just being laid down in his bed if he’s tired. He puts himself back to sleep when he wakes up unless something is bothering him. My five year old has been able to fall asleep on his own since he was 3 or so.

      I understand some parents want their 7 month old or their one year old to fall asleep without needing comfort. I don’t personally have that desire or need. Bedtime is wind-down family time where we reconnect. When I’m consistent with providing routine and comfort my children fall asleep quickly and comfort back to sleep quickly.

  48. thank you for putting into words what my partner and I decided 5 years ago to do with our twins. beautiful.

    Our perspective was always that people often spend years of their life trying to crawl back into bed with someone – sometimes in unhealthy ways – perhaps that normal, healthy need for closeness and peace at bedtime (and other times) should not be denied so young…

    we also wondered why crying at night to express a need is different than crying during the day to express a need…

    then, it turned out that one of our two had insomnia. hours of wakefulness at night. exhausted mama, to be sure, but i’m convinced that if we had tried to force her to find a way to go to sleep on her own that it would have been damaging to her in terms of her sense of security and trust in us.

    and i found the long nights to be an opportunity to practice patience and gentleness.

    i had those, including a doctor, who said i would just “have to” let her cry at some point. we didn’t.

    my now-5 year old non-insomniac sleeps like a log until morning – as does my dear insomniac unless she’s having one of those nights. fortunately, those nights are growing fewer and further between.

    it worked/works for our kids.

  49. It is so encouraging for me to read that many of you are so patient with your babies- gives me more hope for the future :) So thankful that the “Skinner-ian” practice of training children scientifically like animals w/no feelings has not completely overtaken your generation. (Ezzo was BIG when I had small children and then/now ((maniac)) Pearl) Now my 3 children are young adults and they too are thankful that there are thinking, feeling young parents just ahead of them. 

    Other potential benefits of your gentle night parenting are support of longer nursing, which keeps hormones more even for you(and possibly reduces breast cancer risk) and breastmilk continues to provide perfect nutrition for young children which continues to complete brain cell development beyond infancy, and of course breastmilk provides the perfect antibiotic for whatever childhood illness your little one encounters.

  50. You are brilliant for putting in to understandable and beautiful words that our generation can understand what brilliant old school therapists like D. Winnicott were trying to share. Thank you thank you thank you! I will share with many of my clients and friends! Joanna

  51. This is lovely. I cuddled my son to sleep every night until past his first birthday, until one night he pushed me away and lent towards his cot where I placed him and he went to sleep himself. He is now coming up to 22 months old and while he will sit and cuddle downstairs before bed, once we go upstairs he just wants a kiss and to be put in his cot where he happily goes to sleep. I’m pleased he sees his bedroom as a place of peace and comfort. We never did any method of sleep training, we were lucky not to need to. He likes his bed. :o)

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  53. You say this is just a letter to your daughter, though it obviously is more than that because you chose to put it on this website. You also say (in a response to a comment) that you find CIO icky. I’m sure you realize that sentiment shines through here, loud and clear.

    I’m sorry non-attachment parents tell you you are creating a clingy, needy child who will not sleep. It is no one’s business to say anything else to anybody about the way they parent. But please understand that by writing this letter, in this way, posting it here, and responding to comments in the way that you have, you are doing the same thing to parents who have chosen CIO. It’s very clear how you feel about CIO and the judgment you project toward people who use that method. Please know that.

    1. Your thoughts are welcome, even if I do not necessarily agree with them.

      I see this as my space to share things. The things that I choose to share may not be all encompassing and may have a strong viewpoint, but I don’t see why you feel that my view in particular is judgemental in a way that necessitates my being called out on it within my personal space. I have read articles that have outright called CIO child abuse. That seems like it would be a better place to critique a person’s thoughts.

      I share my views publicly because others share their views publicly. If you read the other comments on this letter, and the comments elsewhere on the internet, many MANY mothers are being made to feel “guilty” for not sleep training their child. Not because they want more sleep, but because people are telling them that they HAVE to train their child to sleep.

      I would like to say this: My intentions are to tell other mothers that if your heart tells you that CIO is wrong, then it is not the right choice for you, and that is OKAY.

      If I wanted to say that mothers who allow their children to CIO are horrible abusive parents, I would say so. I have not said so because I do not believe that is the case and I do not believe that life is that black and white.

      Yes, I raise an eyebrow at certain things such as the idea that infants can be manipulative. But I do not think that ALL cio-ers feel that their children are manipulative.

      This is not a letter for mothers who feel that CIO is the best or only option. This is a letter for mothers whose hearts are telling them “don’t”, and more specifically it is a letter for my daughter so that if she is ever told that she has to use CIO with her children.. She knows that she doesn’t HAVE to and that there are other options.

      If you can find one community of hardcore sleep trainers that I have posted this to, or one time that I have said that I consider CIO abusive, or any place where I have slammed CIO as a whole rather than picking particular aspects of it that befuddle me.. Please tell me. Otherwise I’m going to stay a little bit confused as to why you feel that I’m being so attacky and mommy-warsy.

      Yes. I do find CIO icky. The idea of using it with my own children is very uncomfortable for me. Which is why I don’t tell other parents what to do. Maybe the thing that *I* feel is correct in my heart makes another parent as unhappy and anxious and sad as CIO would make me.

      I don’t know what’s in another person’s heart or mind or life or beliefs. I can’t tell them what to do. There is no universal parenting method that will work for everyone, and I realize that. I wouldn’t even want to tell my daughter or my sons how they HAVE to parent. I don’t even tell dad how he has to parent.

      CIO is not for me. And if CIO is for you, then this letter to my daughter might not be applicable for you. Maybe there’s a loving letter somewhere about CIO that you can read instead. :)

      1. I just wanted to say thank you for your thoughtful response to my comment. I understand that we’re not going to see eye to eye on this and that is okay.

        I think I felt attacked because when I find someone else parenting practices to be “icky” I really don’t agree with them, and not just that they are not okay for me but that they are practices that do more harm, universally, than good. There are very few parenting practices that I feel that way about. I may not understand the desire to night parent in the way that you do but I don’t find it “icky” and it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I just know that it will not be what makes me and my child happy (and yes I do believe that my child is MUCH happier as a result of sleep training. She is a different child from the overtired baby who got very little sleep). I’m willing to admit that this is mostly my own issue, although the other comments in line with mine lead me to believe that I’m not the only one who felt the way I did.

        You’re right, I could be spending my time reading a letter to a child who was slept trained but honestly I’ve never come across one. I’ve never come across any parenting site that so deeply extols the benefits of the way I choose to parent. I don’t know why that is. I guess it’s just a different mindset.

        Maybe I should go write that letter myself. And if I do, I’ll be very careful not to suggest that those who choose not to CIO are doing a disservice to their children or themselves.

        1. “Icky for me”. :) Maybe I just have a wide range of friends, but I have friends that use CIO, that circumcise, that pierce their baby’s ears, that spank, that formula feed, that forward face in car seats at a year, that have their newborns sleep in a different bedroom, etc. All things that feel icky applied to MY kids.

          Then I also have friends who are vegan, gluten free, and never watch TV with their kids, and who homeschool.

          There is “icky” for me, “too hard” for me, and “I WISH”.

          The parenting practices I actually judge the parents in are not “icky-for-me-” they are abusive or negligent. And even then I often feel sorry for the parents because many of them were simply not taught better coping skills, or are simply following what they know. (I obviously feel worse for the kids in this case).

  54. My boys are now grown men, ages 25 and 28. I practiced WIO along with attachment parenting and extended nursing. Both were fussy infants who needed nursed every so many hours, day and night, until well into toddlerhood. We practiced shared sleeping, weaning each child into his own bed by the age of three or four. I slept when the kids slept, tucking them both into bed with me for naps.

    The youngest turned out to be autistic, and unlike the “normal” autistic person loved to be touched, hugged and cuddled. His eye contact was poor, but not with me – he’d gaze into my eyes while nursing. He’s now very affectionate and loves to hug people that he loves. He still has autism, but he’s extremely high-functioning – enough that he’s getting his PhD in Atmospheric Sciences (weather and climate-related) and taking a trip to Germany next week to give a presentation.

    His brother is the “the IT guy” at a small non-profit. He’s not bashful about giving affection and never was. Is he perfect? No, of course not. But I’m very proud of how he turned out. He’s happily married to a wonderful woman and they’re in the process of working on getting me a grandchild.

    To the Moms who are feeling overwhelmed right now I have this to say: Sure, you’re tired. You have one of those kids who nurses round the clock and you feel “touched out” by the end of the day. Your sex life leaves something to be desired because you’ve held a human being all day long and frankly want some space when you can get it. The house is a mess, the diaper pail is near to overflowing, and you would die for eight straight hours of sleep. Your husband wants to take you out to eat – guess what? The baby won’t cooperate and the toddler always throws a tantrum in restaurants. So, once again, it’s either having Chinese delivered or another meal from the crock-pot, which you now think is your best friend.

    I could ramble on and on, but what I’m getting at, in my rather roundabout way, is that none of this lasts forever. One day that baby of yours will be getting his high school diploma and you’ll wonder how the years slipped by so quickly. His first car, his first girlfriend (or boyfriend, if he’s so inclined), his gang of friends that all call YOU Mom, his first tooth, or his first trip in an airplane to Germany … it all comes and goes so quickly. You WILL get your sleep, you’ll rediscover your sex life, and you’ll be able to go to movies and eat out in nice restaurants again.

    My final word of advice is this: Pay no mind to what THEY say is the “right” way to train your baby. Go with your gut instinct. Also, remember that to “spoil” something is to neglect it and let it rot. You can’t spoil a baby; they’re not manipulative. A baby’s wants are a baby’s needs. A toddler’s wants… not so much their needs. Ditto your twelve-year-old’s wants. There’s a difference.

    Good luck to all of you and Goddess Bless!

    1. I most certainly DO have a job – one that requires a college education and a computer-techie mind. Thanks for asking, though. :-)

  55. Love this! So many people didn’t understand why we did WIO (love that there is a term now for that). And we didn’t have an easy sleeper by any means. Ours was the baby who, due to severe reflux, despite the medication, would still wake every 2 hours, at least. And she was the one who would stir as soon as we laid her down. We did have to hold her most nights asleep until we went to bed because she wouldn’t stay asleep if we put her in the bed. But praise God, it got better. She still crawls in bed with us in the early morning most nights but we don’t mind that at all. And she never dreads sleep. And she’s healthy. And… our marriage is stronger than ever because through that trying time we learned to be more patient and more empathic with each other. So, for anyone who is feeling discouraged, please know that it does get better and it can improve your marriage, not destroy it. :)

  56. What a beautifully written article. My daughter is 11 months old, and her sleeping habits have changed several times. I have nursed her to sleep, rocked her to sleep, swaddled, put her in the swing, and sometimes she’d just fall asleep on her own in her bed. We have let her cry it out before, because none of those options would help. It pained us to listen to it, but sometimes you get so frustrated that it’s better for baby if you just walk away for a few minutes. Now she’s back in the phase where she prefers me to hold her to go to sleep, and I love the bonding every night. There is no right or wrong way, whatever works for your family and raises a happy, healthy child, go for it. I wish there was not so much judgement in the Mommy world.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful letter to your daughter.

    1. Yes, if you cannot let go of the frustration, it is best to put baby down. They can feel the frustration and upset and it all escalates. With my first I had some of these occasions, with my second I had fewer because I understood that it would pass. With my third I have discovered that CHOOSING WIO and understanding that I will not be getting much sleep.. It has made me way more mellow. It’s hard. And when you are being told that the child should be sleeping by now, it is harder.

  57. This is a wonderful and inspiring letter. The CIO Moms in this email string that are critiquing it need to look internally at what is really bothering them. I am sure I could be wrong, but to me it sounds like guilt being expressed as anger. Maybe you should go find another website to commiserate with people who made a similar choice and leave Sarah alone. She has made a choice, so have you. Go live with your choice and express yourself somewhere else.

    1. Joan, this is exactly the attitude that I am talking about in my post (just below yours). I would like to think that all mothers are taking the time to look inside and making the best decisions they can for their children. I could just as easily psychoanalyze your choice (and I love your choice..I admire your choice) but I won’t. Because I believe you are a wonderful mother…and I also believe that I am too.

      As for Sarah – this is a beautiful letter. But if she chooses to post it online and share it with the world on a blog that welcomes comments, then she is also choosing to hear what others think about it.

  58. This is a beautiful letter to your daughter, and I admire your ability to WIO. Just as I admire any mother’s ability to do what is right for them and for their children. For me, I am a mother twins (naturally conceived, so no, I was not prepared for this). I am also a person who doesn’t survive well on very little sleep. I am not the mother I wish to be when I am tired. So for me, what was right for my children was to give them the mother they deserve…and trust me, they deserve so much better than the sleep-deprived version of me. And so we did sleep training. Remember, not all mothers are blessed with the opportunity to hold and comfort their children whenever they need it. How does one do that when two of them are struggling at the same time? For their own sake, it was necessary to teach them some self-soothing as it isn’t possible for me to fill that role whenever I want…though I wish that I could. I admire women who sleep train, I admire women who don’t. My frustration comes from the women who are judging each other. I’m not saying that is what you are doing here, but letter’s like this, when published, open the door for such judgement. Aren’t we all looking to do what is right by our kids? Shouldn’t we assume that this is so?

    1. An informed choice made of love and necessity is never the wrong choice. You love your children, understand your life, and make the choices that you need to make for your family. Drink it in, love them deeply, and don’t accept any guilt that others try to hand you. You alone know your life, and you alone make the choices that keep you and your family healthy.

      My letter is a written expression of my filtering the things that I am told through the daughter that I see in my arms. Not an indictment of others. Yes, there is a world of judgement floating around out there as everyone thinks that they have somehow found the magic method to parenting. They are lucky. Most of us struggle with being inundated with advice that simply does not fit our children or our lives, and we have to filter things.

      One of the things that I have to filter is advice from those that advocate CIO. I also have to filter advice from those that advocate complete indulgence.

      My letter to my daughter does not judge you for the methods that you use, it judges the methods that others tell me I MUST use.

      Regrettably some people will use my letter as a bitter angry thing to make moms feel guilty. Just as many moms that use CIO attempt to make moms that don’t sleep-train feel guilty. That is a misuse of my words.

      My words are directed to moms like me, for whom CIO is NOT the right choice, who are being told left and right that their baby “needs” to cry, and that to not let them cry is to deprive them and teach them the fine art of manipulation.

      My words are to relieve guilt wrongfully imposed. For people to share with others who are attempting to force them to change how their heart says to parent. As an explanation not as a weapon to inflict guilt on others.

      If you are making an informed loving and difficult decision for the good of your children and your family, there is NO guilt to be had there even if your methods are different from mine. Guilt comes from selfishness, not from a balancing of needs.

      No anonymous stranger, no nosey sister in law, no high school friend will ever love your baby as much as you do.

      1. Beautifully put as was your letter. Thank you for acknowledging that. It is good to know that some of us out there are trying our best to live free of judgement.

  59. I love this post. I have a question. My daughter is almost 10 mo. and I have another one coming in March. How close were your children together and how did this bedtime routine work with a new baby. We are going to try the Sleep Lady technique not letting her CIO but I am not sure it will really work and am worried how the new baby will fit in. How did it work with your sons? Did they go to sleep first?

  60. if only someone had written this 33 years ago. i felt guilty when my babies cried when i left them, which wasn’t long i couldn’t bear to hear their little hearts break, but i felt guilty that i picked them up too, because you just didn’t let that little one be the boss, which confused and maybe affected the way i felt about my mothering skills. so i say hip hip hooray to this wonderful insightful mum. enjoy the moment, they are babes for only a short time.

  61. THANK YOU! Thank you for being so gentle, wise, and giving mommma! And for shining your light and making our paths lighter!

  62. I should’ve read before posting:) Let me correct myself, pls:
    Thank you for being such a gentle, wise, and going mamma! And for shining your light and making our paths brighter!

  63. Such a lovely blog. I waited it out with my little boy too whilst everyone around me looked at me pityingly that he wasn’t sleeping through yet at 5 months! It’s just 5 months… only 5 sleep deprived months of my life where I got to hold and cuddle and soothe my beautiful baby boy. From about 6 months he started sleeping through and now, at 8 months, crawling and exploring with his newfound independence, I’m lucky if a get a cuddle! Why do people want to rush this oh so short and precious stage. Well done for articulating it so beautifully.

  64. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. That what I really need at this moment when they told me the only way to teach my 6 months old son to self soothing with crying it out method which something that I always against. I’m going to print this and will share it with other new moms who struggling with the idea of crying it out method.

  65. I love this, simply love it. You put into words exactly how I feel, but so often don’t say or explain to others. I sometimes feel guilty, or rushed, or bad if I can’t get my daughter to fall asleep in a timely fashion. But then the moments I have as I rock her, helping her sleep, I realize I would not trade that time for anything else in the world. I rock her, or nurse her, or hold her to sleep because that is what my instincts as a mother tell me to do. And she is happy, secure, comfortable and healthy (11 mos old). I choose to wait it out because I feel it is the best I can do as a mother, not the easiest. Thanks for writing this.

  66. dear sarah, *WONDERFUL* post!!!

    to all the mamas out there who, like you, are inclined to follow their guts/hearts and respond to their crying babies, i would like to offer this: my 7-y.o. is a great sleeper, and she was never left to cry in the night as an infant/toddler/preschooler. a need for closeness is as legitimate a need as hunger, and i will never regret my responsiveness. all those CIO advocates would’ve had me believe that i was creating bad sleep habits — malarkey!
    rock on attached mamas (and daddys, and grandparents and aunties…)!


    1. Brooke, if you dub it the “Ride It Out Theory” then you can call it RIOT. I like that even better than WIO. 😉

  67. So as a new grandmother whose daughter (first time mother) sent me this link, I am touched by your sweet sentiments regarding parenting your daughter as well as your sons. Thank you for publishing them. It was very encouraging to my daughter as she grows in her parenting. First time around, you feel so uncertain and inadequate.

    CIO was also popular 24 years ago but tried it once with the above child and never did it again. Just was not effective and personally heartbreaking. What did work was letting her nurse for an hour every night until limpness — I guess she got “drunk” because she would sleep through except for one very brief visit in the middle of the night. My perspective was (and is) that it’s such a short time in our lives that we WILL get through it. Our babies only know they have a need and can only cry to express it, not explain it. They also don’t understand the concept of the passage of time until elementary school … and even then you wonder as they shower endlessly as teenagers! My subsequent children also shared a room from early on which solved much of fears of being alone. Thanks again, Sarah.

  68. I HAD to comment just so you could be continuously reminded that this was AWESOME. I know you’ve had comments on this post attacking you for having your opinion on what is best for YOUR children–people in this country love to attack others without using their brains first. CIO didn’t work for us with my 1st daughter, and I refuse to feel pressured to try it with #2 due in a few months. You letter is clearly written from a perspective of a mother who realizes that just because something is “popular” and that “all the experts say…” doesn’t make it right & certainly doesn’t work for every baby. Every mother must do what’s best for HER chilren even if it isn’t what the “experts” say. Bravo!

  69. I wholeheartedly agree with this post. And don’t understand why people are feeling attacked. I have 2 very good friends who CIO from a very early age. I did use CIO for my daughter who would NOT settle with nursing or rocking or swaddling or snuggling, and having 3 kids 3 and under, with the oldest having a speech delay, I was on the verge of losing my ever-loving mind. I did what I had to do in that situation, evaluating MY life and MY situation. I didn’t find the need to use CIO with my other 3 kids, and she was #3, so not like it’s my first rodeo :) I still love my friends who CIO, I still love myself, and I love my children equally.

    Why all the polarization? Why all the defensiveness? If you feel guilty about a choice you made from reading a blog post about it, then maybe it really doesn’t feel right to you still. Maybe you might not choose the same thing next time. Sparring over CIO vs WIO is the same as breast vs bottle, rf vs ff and any other countless “mommywars”.

    I’m all about survival. Do what you have to do to get through infancy. For most of my kids, WIO worked. For one CIO was the answer. I don’t feel the need to justify my choice to WIO or my choice to CIO with one of my children. I don’t feel attacked or guilty or put upon by someone else’s OPINION…

  70. Another voice that just wants to say thanks for writing this. I had been WIO without knowing it for the last 8 months with my little man. Family, friends and the ever-present “they” have all suggested that an 8-month old should be sleeping through the night by now! We caved to the pressure of trying to “sleep train” for naps… never again. I have come to terms with the fact that this is only temporary. Now I just need to find a way to better deal with all those helpful people who want to know “how’s he sleeping???”

    1. I read an awesome response somewhere. “He is sleeping like a baby.” People assume that means all night through. 😉 You get to be truthful (babies sleep terribly) but avoid the details all at once.

  71. I just want to tell you that in light of all the negativity I’ve read on here that I see your blog for what it is – YOUR opinion and YOUR way of doing things. No one is required to read your blog or agree with it. I’ve never thought you were out to make others feel badly. I love your writing and have found comfort in it many times. Please don’t change a thing.

  72. Thank you for this! I am new to your blog and a new momma. I am struggling with feeling judged by family and friends for the way that I am parenting. I am trying to trust my instincts and my baby’s needs, as you describe. Your posts are beautiful and give me comfort and confidence.

  73. What a fantastic letter to your daughter. I have boys now aged 3 and 5 and we did WIO (though didn’t know to call it that) – though I do like RIOT! My older boy settles himself to sleep beautifully now, and wakes up bright and breezy 11-12 hours later. My younger child takes himself to bed when he is tired and is asleep within 5 minutes. At times whilst we were journeying to here it felt a long road, but now, looking back it was a blink of an eye. I too found so much information telling me I was doing it wrong, I was spoiling or ruining them, that I was judging other people (by not doing what they were doing – never understood that to be honest). Finding your letter in those days would have been so heartening.

  74. My son will be 1 yr old next week and is still waking every 1-3 hours. I will be returning to work next month. I would be ok WIO if I didn’t have to return to work; I”m worried about how sleep deprivation would affect my job performance. Have any moms here WIO and worked full-time? If so, how did you manage? I’ve tried many other ‘sleep training’ methods, none worked. I have a hard time letting him CIO. Any advice would be appreciated. TIA

    1. I went back to work when my daughter was 3.5 months old. She started sttn at 18 months. My dd is a night owl, so I would go to bed around 8 at night when she was done cluster feeding. I handed her to dh and went to sleep. He’d console her and hold her until she was really hungry, usually around 1030/11, and then bring her to me. We chose to bedshare, which was heaven and worked for us. All I had to do was pull down my shirt and she latched herself on. We did that on and off all night until my alarm went off at 6.

      During my days off, I napped with her. During my pumping breaks, I set a timer and relaxed (didn’t fall asleep, but just sitting and relaxing was helpful).

      My dd was down to 1-3 feedings at night at a year, and now nurses around 4 in the morning. I sleep through it all so it doesn’t bother me at all.

    2. Hi Michelle,

      I feel for you. That first year is challenging with sleep. But it does get better. I worked full time my daughter’s first year and she was not a good sleeper due to severe reflux. The only way we got through that year was bed sharing. We had a mini co-sleeper in the bed with us (although I wish we had a side car style) and I would just pull her in bed for nursing. Once we got the hang of it, I could fall back to sleep and then just switch her to the other side when she stirred. My husband would walk with her when she needed comforting. If you choose to try the bed sharing, maybe you can find a friend that can demonstrate in person how that works for them and how to do it safely. Once I got the hang of it, I ended up getting much more sleep than I ever would have if I had her in a crib and had to sit up feeding her. So did she.

  75. I’ve tried co-sleeping when he was younger…did it for about 6 months. I have a hard time sleeping this way. Now that he is used to sleeping in his crib, he also seems to have a hard time co-sleeping, unless he is constantly nursing (basically using me as a pacifier). If i send my husband to him when he cries during the night, he will get mad and be up for 1-2 hrs whereas if i just nurse him back to sleep, it will take only 5 mins.
    So you moms who worked full time and woke up at night and WIO, you were able to function ok?

    1. Oh yeah. It wasn’t always the easiest thing, but neither is parenthood. For ME, functioning with a little less sleep was easier than considering not responding to my daughter’s needs.

    2. @Michelle- I went back to full-time office work at 3 months postpartum. My son is currently 22 months old and has never STTN (meaning atleast 7 hours in a row) and only a handful of times slept more than 4.5 hours at a stretch. He generally wakes up every 1-3 hours and will only be nursed back to sleep (we bedshare). If I try anything else… I don’t even like to think about it, it’s heartbreaking. I am able to function, but it took awhile… like I’d say until this past winter, before I felt like myself again, could remember phone numbers and stuff :) My job isn’t very stressful or physically demanding so that definitely helps. I am still WIO… don’t know when it will change, feels like never, but when I read online about other people’s experiences I know it will get better.

  76. Beautifully written. As a FTM and early childhood educator, there are so many places that my training and my heart overlap. I am a firm believer in a combination of methods, what best suits your baby, but I loved loved loved reading your post!! I will definitely be getting in here every so often to see what other nuggets I can gain from you while I constantly learn my daughter’s (6weeks) tricks and trades!

  77. As the mother of a 14-year-old and a grown daughter and now a grandma, I must say this was beautiful! I could never do cry-it-out…just felt so wrong to me. I’ve read tons of articles about it, but nothing so special as this. :)

  78. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for the sweet reminder that this too shall pass, and that while our babies are just babies, they NEED us in a way they don’t even understand. Until they are old enough to hear our words, like you said, it is our job to soothe them and teach them safety and comfort. I’m in awe and complete appreciation of your words right now! Thanks again :)

  79. Beautiful post. I have always struggled with insomnia, and was a little terrified that my daughter would not learn healthy sleep habits. She’s 9 months old now, and we already have struggled with sleep for several months…she fights it. I’m not open to doing CIO and mostly have waited it out, but sometimes it’s so hard to see her so fussy and sleepy and fighting so strongly not to sleep. I can almost see her already as a sleep-deprived 10-year old, teenager and adult like I was.

    1. Talk to her gently about sleep and teach her what you have learned. How to relax from your toes up through your body, and how to let your mind wander on peaceful quiet things. Talk about sinking into your mattress and all of the safeness around you and how bedtime is the snuggliest sleepiest warmest safest place and time ever. :)

  80. I have rocked my kids to sleep until they are ready to go to sleep on their own. For my oldest that was around 15 months old. My second was much more of a challenge and didn’t go to sleep on his own until he was almost 4. My baby is now three and a half. Some nights she will curl up in my recliner and fall asleep on her own, but most nights I still rock her to sleep soothing her as she drifts off. I enjoy our curdles and I know all too soon she won’t need me anymore to help her fall asleep.

  81. Dear Sarah, a friend of mine sent me the link to this blog post because I was feeling completely lost on how to teach my nearly 1-year old son how to fall asleep on his own and sleep through the night. I felt like I wasn’t being a good enough mom because I just couldn’t figure it out like the other moms who let their babies cry it out. Then I read your letter and I cried. I cried because it’s beautiful and because that is exactly how I feel. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I no longer feel like a failed mom in the sleep department, but empowered. I want to teach my son how to self soothe by learning to relax through breathing and meditation. It’s been a long year, but I know it will improve as we are able to communicate better. Thank you!

    1. *hug* You’re not a failure in the slightest. Every child learns at a different rate. My children all learn to sleep through the night before they learn to “self soothe”, and then they learn how to “self soothe” during those sleep regressions when they wake up in the middle of the night a bit more again. And they learn this in a supported loving fashion that doesn’t involve crying in a crib as an infant.

      Yours will too, if that is how you want to approach it.

      Do not feel like a failure. You’re taking it slow and gentle.

  82. Babies are growing.They do most of this at night when the body repairs and creates new cells. Bone growth and development HURTS.
    If you ever had shin splints or cramps while running or “growing pains” as a teen- you barely glimpse the pain babies go through. Of course they want to be held at night and can not sleep.If you were going to grow 2 times your weight and height in less than a year it would hurt. Growing pains cause wakefulness in babies and young children.
    Also sleeping alone is lame. Every one knows this. :) And there are some things we can not know until they have words. Even then.Babies cry because they need some thing.

  83. I found this post to be incredibly touching and refreshing. I am weary of hearing that a baby needs to cry it out because for one, the mom NEEDS to get her sleep so she can be her best for the baby and that it must be trained to learn how to sleep to prevent future problems. The baby doesn’t care if his mom is tired, he cares that he is crying of hunger or pain and no one us coming. By nobody responding that baby will eventually become out of touch with his needs, and the mother is choosing to “lose” that bonded relationship with the baby. I feel like its important to start that relationship when their newborns.. I had my first baby a month ago ( baby girl) and I never want to lose the bond we have all in the agenda of training her. Thank you for putting a voice to my thoughts and for giving me courage tao raise her how I feel rather than how those around me are doing it..CIO is the norm now days- a majority of mothers around me are doing it- and I feel renewed again to trust my instincts as a mother confidently. You’re my hero!!!

    1. Kudos on the babygirl! Listen to those instincts, they are important in filtering out baby training advice. :) Teach, don’t train. Our children are eager learners with independent minds and souls.

    1. Thank you! And I made the mistake of visiting your site. Now I want a greek yogurt breakfast taco. Now. Must visit your site more in the morning, I have a feeling I’ll like it there.

  84. I was always a mom who thought baby would their own bes, no room sharing and no way I would ever hold hold hold, my baby would self soothe and there was.nothing else, but you know, when I actually had him, I spent 11 months room sharing and never let him cry it out. Now I realize, this post put it in perfect words. I always said this too shall pass, and my now 15 month old is perfectly adjusted, these days he does.sometimes fuss before.bed, but I go in, I talk I soothe , I don’t pick up now only because he thinks it is play time… How perfect this post is. Thanks

  85. Thank you. I was fine to do what I felt was right with my child, but its always comforting to see someone else come to the same conclusions, and your post echoes my thought process.
    My son loves to sleep now but it was a long 14 months of waking up at night. I waited it out and am so happy that I did.

  86. This is lovely! Sums up how i feel but you have put it more eloquently. My boy is 3 weeks old tomorrow and although i do feel exhausted at points i could never leave him crying and i love the fact that he needs his mummy and daddy and we will always be there for him. Im glad i found this blog!

  87. Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve loved sleeping with my babies and could never let them cry it out. I like to read this every once in a while to remind myself why I do it. I wish more women would trust their instincts before they trust a book.

  88. Thank you for sharing this. It makes me feel less guilty about doing the right thing for me and my baby which is comforting my 10 month old when she needs me. I have been criticized for spoiling, feeding on demand and running when she cries in the night. I hope that the little layers of comfort, kisses and cuddles, and love build up over time, so that the little knocks later in life don’t knock them down. Wise words you write. Thanks

  89. My twins are 21 months old. She has been sleeping through the night for over a year. He has been sleeping through the night for almost a month. Different babies have different needs. I treated each of them exactly the same. She would sleep and he wouldn’t. As I told people who would tell me what to do to get him to sleep “very few 18 year olds need to sleep with their mommy. He’ll figure it out on his own. But until he does, I will be there to help him”

  90. I am surprised that you don’t see the hidden attacks to other mothers when you use words like abandonemnt. With that being said, I am an “attached mother” and am glad that my children are responsive to these “methods” almost all of the time.
    Aside from how you comare yourself to other mothers I think the article is sweet.
    To the mother’s who worry that they aren’t good enough or dwell on their decisions as a mom… No mother is perfect.

    1. It depends on how you look at it. If you look at it like an attack, I guess I can see any of my reasons for wanting to do any of the things that I do as an “attack”. But you can look at any reason that way.

      I choose to wait it out because I want to respond to you when you cry. (this can be read- OTHER MOTHERS DON’T RESPOND TO THEIR BABIES WHEN THEY CRY! BAD MOM!)

      I choose to wait it out because I enjoy spending time with you… (this can be read- OTHER MOTHERS DON’T ENJOY SPENDING TIME WITH THEIR BABIES! BAD MOM! UNGRATEFUL MOM!)

      I choose to use CIO so that you will be able to sleep independently and self soothe. (This can be read- OTHER MOTHERS DON’T CARE IF THEIR BABIES CAN SLEEP INDEPENDENTLY OR SELF SOOTHE! THEY WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO BE DEPENDENT ON THEM FOREVER!)

      I spend $300 on a car seat that can rear face longer because if my child were ever to get hurt I would feel SO guilty. (This can be read- MOMS WITHOUT $300 TO SPEND ON A CAR SEAT DON’T CARE IF THEIR CHILD GETS HURT! BAD MOM!)

      Right down to the choice of detergent. “I want my baby to smell good!” (So moms who use hypoallergenic scent free detergent don’t want their baby to smell good. They want their baby to smell like poo.) Or “I use hypoallergenic detergent because I don’t want my baby to get exposed to chemicals. (So moms who use anything else are wantonly exposing their kids to cancer laden chemicals.)

      If I chose to use CIO, I would feel that I was abandoning my child. And none of the articles about it “being okay” would make that feeling go away. It doesn’t mean that I see other mothers as “abandoning their children”. It means that all the suggestions that I have gotten to try CIO and that it would “be okay”… Do not work for me.

      The reason that this post goes semi viral here and there is because a LOT of moms that DO NOT want to CIO because it DOES feel like abandonment.. Are told over and over and over and over and over and over that they should. That they should ignore what they feel. That they are hurting their babies.. That their babies will never sleep… etc. Not because everyone wants to jump around and be all like “I’M A GOOD MOM AND EVERYONE ELSE IS A BAD MOM! IN FACT YOU, THE WRITER OF THE POST IS A BAD MOM TOO BECAUSE YOU DON’T DO 100% OF EVERYTHING THE WAY I DOOOO! WHOOOO!”

      Go read the post I linked to at the top of this post. :) I’m not a better mom than anyone. I’m the mother that I choose to be for the reasons applicable to my life and my children. Other mothers are different because they’re different and have different children.

  91. So does this mean you never have a night / naptime off? You never go out for a nice evening with your husband and/or friends until the baby can go to sleep on her own? We have used this same approach – my daughter is 2 1/2 now and it’s getting rather old. I love my child with everything that I am but also need to nurture myself – and that includes interactions occasionally with adults over a mature dinner. It would be nice to have the option for someone else to get her to sleep so I could have a tiny break every now and then. I’m not criticizing. I think to each their own, but I truly am asking what you do about the evenings and middle of the day naps? Do you really never take this time off? All my best!

    1. The baby needing help to go to sleep does not always mean baby needing MOM to go to sleep. Unfortunately my daughter really only accepts me for sleep right now, but is starting to accept dad as well, and will likely accept gramma/grampa after that since she has a very close relationship with each of them.

      When she was 3 months old her dad and I went to see Avengers in the theater, she came along in the wrap and nursed/slept through it. He and I watch movies together and spend time together while she sleeps.

      With our middle child he accepted a variety of ways to fall asleep and eat. So we were able to go and do more things. It was nice. To be honest, I do miss it. But it will pass. Right now the “can’t take a bottle” is a much greater hurdle than anything else.

      With Anne Marie we will likely be able to go do something for several hours in the afternoon after she is about 10 months old.

      In the grand scheme of things it’s short. Intense, but short.

      When I HAVE to be somewhere she is not allowed, I arrange childcare to be with her nearby.

    2. DH and I have had date nights since dd was 6 weeks old. :) She falls asleep for others in other ways (daddy cuddles her to sleep, grandpa bounces her, grandma rocks or carries her). And now, at 3, she can put herself to sleep. She prefers to nurse to sleep, but if I tell her to roll over and go to sleep on her own, she does.

  92. I can’t thank you enough for writing and sharing this. My son is just over 4 months old and I feel like I’m being bullied into sleep training and various parenting methods. 4 months isn’t some magical time that I should just stop tending to his needs and/or only tending to them on my time. This isn’t my time- it’s his.

    Thank you for putting my feelings into words and validating the choices my little family is making!

  93. Thank you!!! I,too, am of the WIO club with getting my 11 1/2 month old son to sleep. In fact, we even take it a bit further and nurse to sleep for every nap that he’s not in daycare for and for bed. I have to stay in bed with him for the entire time he sleeps. Thing is,he falls asleep beautifully with out much fuss (once in a while,he has his moments),and he stays asleep.
    I’m able to “deal” with this because I’m always reminding myself that this time,with him in my arms,cuddled up against me, is so limited. I can’t imagine not having him near me for almost all of his sleep. All summer long,when my husband was also on paternity leave (we live in Europe where we get year-long maternity leaves and the father can also have about 12 weeks) and we “had” to carry our son around in the Mei Tai baby carrier for every single nap,if we wanted to be out in the sun.Was this convenient? Not especially,but it works and we got to be there for him.
    So many people,including mother in-law,has been against us holding our son so much. We keep being told to put him down,make him sleep on his own,etc. Thankfully,I’m pretty opinionated myself and stick to what I know in my heart and gut to be right for me,so no one can persuade me otherwise. Still,it’s so wonderful to hear from like-minded mothers just to add a bit of the fire of support under me. Even this strong mamma,it helps. Thank you for this article!!

  94. Thank you for this article. I’ve never sleep trained my son who is now 18m. We co-sleep for many different reasons and I’ve always felt like I was wrong for doing it (even though I didn’t/don’t care) but this article made me feel 100x better. Thank you again!

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  97. thx for this. i’m sitting here crying (i was crying before i found your post) as my 6 mo son cries himself to sleep for his nap. he cried 28 minutes. we’ve been doing sleep training for 2 months. it is killing me and he is not learning anything (as far as i can tell). all i can find online are sleep training boards where they tell u how it worked for them or to keep trying. and i really am at teh point that i thikn my baby doesn’t take to sleep training (CIO) like other moms’ babies have. i’m going with Wait It Out. thanks for this. i really needed it. as did my little boy.

    1. Jenny-

      *Hug* There’s a great group of mamas over here: We talk about ways to help make waiting it out easier. Ways to gently encourage our children to sleep more/sleep better, etc. It’s a great group of non-judgemental moms. Many of them have tried CIO and have had similar experiences to yours. I hope to see you there!

      <3 – Sarah

    2. Jenny, Sarah mentioned your comment – and would love to see you in our WIO group on FB. We have been in your shoes and feel the pressure to “get our babies to sleep”. But thankfully we have each other to turn to for support. Its a great group – its so helpful and has made those difficult days a bit easier when you know you are not alone in your journey! Hugs to you! Glad you found Sarah’s amazing letter!

  98. I don’t remember when it was that my wife first showed me Nurshable, but I love it. Our son will be 14 weeks tomorrow, so I find myself reading and rereading this post a lot. Thank you so much, really. This papa loves what you’re doing here.

  99. I have a 2 month old, born at 36 weeks and with IUGR. I’m exhausted. Thanks for the post. I don’t think my brain is working well enough to process all of those thoughts.

  100. I loved reading this. While I did use CIO for two of my kids (the other was a naturally easy sleeper)I appreciated the reminder of bedtime being a time of comfort and relaxation.

    Too often I am in a rush to get my kids to bed (to “important” things) and forget to enjoy the time with them.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  101. This is absolutely beautiful. I was told to let my daughter cry-it-out at her 4 month appointment and it just didn’t sit right because she always seemed hungry when she woke every 3 hours at night. We just found out she has both a tongue + lip tie meaning she’s had difficulty nursing since she was born and she really was hungry. I’m so glad I trusted myself and continued to feed her throughout the night. She needed me and while I’m looking forward to the days I’ll get more than 3 hours of sleep in a stretch I can wait because she’s worth it!

  102. I loved this post…read some of the comments, was surprised at some of the negativity in the comments, particularly from moms who have tried CIO and in some way felt judged for doing so and consequently insulted, and judged those moms who chose to WIO instead. Relax, people! This is an open letter from the writer to her daughter, and perhaps can be helpful for those moms who, like me, have felt undue pressure to let their babies CIO and feel like bad moms for not being able to do so.

    If you have done CIO, and found success, great for you! But for the rest of us sleep deprived but unable to do CIO moms out there, let us find solace in this, stop pissing all over our parade with your nasty comments that clearly come from that part of yourselves that might feel, dare I say it, guilty for doing CIO…how else to explain all these moms’ derisive comments?

    1. Why do you assume CIO mothers who feel the letter is insulting feel guilty for doing CIO? I will be doing CIO with my daughter as soon as she hits three months old and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Yet I can still see how this letter can come across as judgmental. For you to assume that these women feel guilty is just for you to press your own judgments on them.

  103. I instinctively did this with my baby and ignored all the “you’re spoiling him”, “he’s manipulating you/got you wrapped around his finger”, “you need to let him cry/it’s horrible but it works and you need your sleep”s. I didn’t sleep for 10 months, but your body gets you through. I co-slept first. Then as he got up less, I let him fall asleep in bed then moved him to his crib, then brought him back in when he woke up in the middle of the night. By a year old, we could snuggle him to sleep in our bed and then put him in his crib, and he slept soundly through the night, and woke up calling for us. Isn’t that nicer than listening to your own baby scream for you and sob alone in their crib?

  104. There’s a plethora of research that confirms CIO/excess amounts of stress hormones are harmful to baby’s developing brain and can result in decreased intellectual, emotional and social development.

    1. It is so true!! It’s shocking how many women don’t even realize how much harm they do to their child, thinking that they “actuallyare doing the ‘right’ thing” with CIO :/ Apart from being a cruel method of telling your child that you don’t care, “cry it out you creature”, CIO so bad for their development…In every regard… How can they sleep peacefully, those mothers proudly announcing using CIO?? Poor babies:( They don’t know what awaits them and they don’t realize how emotionally cold/disturbed their mothers are…

  105. Wow..are simply the words I uttered after reading speak the heart beautifully portrayed & I just hope everybody understands that..I am a mother of a 13 month old darling boy who has been co sleeping & breastfed..and I am always in a constant pressure from everybody to sleep train him & that I am “spoiling ” him..have been doing a lot of reads but couldn’t convince myself..your words bring so much relief:)

  106. Aw man, I wish I’d found this in the spring, when my girl was going through those early infant (3-6 month)exhausting times in sleep and parenting. As soon as that phase passed I thought that there should be an “It Gets Better” campaign for exhausted parents.

    She’s 9 months now, and naps well but wakes every 1-3 hours at night. Some nights she’s up every 45 minutes!! Why can she sleep 2.5 hours during some naps, but at night she must wake more often than that?

    And even now that things are infinitely better than at 4 months, it is very lonely parenting this way. But when I calm her at night I’m certain it’s the right thing to do. It is the stuff that makes a mother and I wouldn’t give it up for anything

    …Unless my daughter just miraculously decided to sleep straight through without me. I’d take her up on that offer!

    My worry is that she has nights where it’s difficult to get her back to sleep. When she wakes, she doesn’t want the breast, or to be patted, or picked up, or NOT picked up because the fussing will escalate to bawling. I’m concerned she just wants to sleep but can’t get there. Eventually we do get there but I’d hate for her to be uncomfortable because I haven’t taught her how to sleep right.

    Ahhh, anyway I guess this too shall pass. Wonderful group idea and name!!

    1. (Please note- I have a policy of openly allowing trackbacks as long as they are not spam. That said, I do not believe that the article linked to by the trackback above shows a good understanding of what the “Wait It Out” method is about. )

  107. I felt the same way you do when I raised my four children. My sister let her three children cry and self-soothe. The kids are grown now, and all seven of them turned out great. The only difference is that mine were demanding, difficult, and self-centered during their childhood years (which was very difficult to overcome). Hers are actually more respectful to her and appear to be more emotionally attached to her. Now I babysit my seventeen month-old granddaughter, and when she’s very sleepy, we lay her down for her nap. Sometimes she cries for one or two minutes, then self-soothes herself to sleep.

  108. I’ve just read the letter and I cried a bit… It touched my heart, as I always felt sorry for those abandoned children… crying…asking for a hug…for the comforting warmth of their mother’s skin… not being responded to… :(

    Sarah, thank you SO MUCH for the letter. I love your words and your attitude… This is exactly how I felt when my baby (now 14 months old) was an infant and I was not that comfortable constantly holding him, rocking to sleep, being sleep-deprived myself, but ! I knew I was right doing what I was doing… Simply being there for him… Knowing and ACCEPTING ( <– the key word) the fact that "this shall pass"… Hugging…Comforting giving him my breasts = the closest and the nicest "thing" he had at that time 'at hand'.. Not thinking: "No more breast, because it will spoil him"… I didn't care what the books said.. What other people said.. Although YES, it was so difficult hearing what bad mother I am holding my baby 'all the time' and spoiling him by that… Who could stand that pressure you get everyday from the people around you… But I knew I had to follow my heart, my thought, my instincts… Most importantly, I knew I had to follow my baby and what he was saying to me (or I should say: "trying to say")- this was the only person that mattered…Not the 'talkers', 'unwanted advice-givers', not the authors of those freaking CIO-style books…

    Dear Mothers, please don't do the CIO… I beg you.. This little baby has only you… If the baby cries, this must mean something. This means there is a reason..Maybe it is gas, maybe the stomach aches.. maybe it's this painful teething period that makes your baby wake up and cry, maybe it was a nightmare (yes, babies actually have them), maybe it's reflux that makes laying down uncomfortable… maybe something scared them.. maybe your baby doesn't get this darkness, this quietness in the room…Whatever the reason, the baby is calling you to tell you something… And you, the mother, the closest person to him/her, is leaving the baby to cry (because "they say you should be doing this" or because "now is the training time") and not reacting to your baby's asks.. Do you even realize how heartless it is??
    No matter how tired or frustrated you are.. Your baby is even more even more miserable right now…

    Your baby was just born to the big world where everything is so "new", strange, potentially scary, unknown… He/she knows only you, your voice, your skin, your breast… This is where he/she can find peace and joy… He/she has years to learn everything, but now… being x months old, it is still to early to train him/her anything.. Now is the time to show your baby that the world he has just been born to is safe, predictable. that you are there for him/her… that when he/she calls you (cries), you will respond…

    Think for a second.. Imagine yourself being ill… not being able to walk or get off the bed… you are calling your husband who is in the room just next door.. you desperately need something (a painkiller or a glass of water) and you are calling him and calling and calling.. and nothing happens.. No reaction… no helping hand.. and now think of your baby how he/she must feel.. How cruel is that… It's hard for adults not to be listened to… Imagine the same for such a little baby… That is million times even more unfair… But -they say- you are doing it for the child' sake… No… it's not for his sake… It is hurting him/her.. Until he/she realizes he/she cannot really count on you in this whole new big world..

    And to make things clear, I am not going to apologize for criticizing CIO method.

  109. I can’t remember how it was when I was an infant, probably no one can, however, sometime after infancy, I do remember crawling in bed with my parents whenever I had a hard time sleeping. All I know is, they never turned me away and I turned out ok. Everyone has a theory on how to handle a baby at bed time or any other time one puts their baby down to sleep. I had 6 children and they were all different when it came to sleeping. All I can say is follow your heart and trust your instincts. Just remember that they will grow up before you know it.

  110. Am I the only one sad reading the comments? So many mothers commenting are at the end of their rope and this article is telling them to keep going. If you are miserable change it, you don’t have to sacrifice your health and your sleep so your baby can thrive or be attached. Sleep problems are real, not getting enough sleep is not healthy for your baby and if he’s waking several times a night he’s not getting good sleep. Mothers its OK to take care of yourselves! Please, you don’t have to sacrifice your whole identity, your health and your happiness to be a good mother. If WIO is making you miserable please look somewhere else. There are so many forms of sleep learning that are respectful, kind and gentle. See this article by my friend Sydney on why you don’t have to be a martyr.

    and here are some resources to get you happy and healthy again if you aren’t now.

    a story of how intense AP pressure hurt one mother

    and another

    1. Kelly,

      When I hear “don’t be a martyr” I don’t feel relief, I feel like I am being called silly and ridiculous, and that by talking about the things that I choose I am being harmful.

      I do become sad when I read comments that are forceful or that are mean.

      I am not sad when I read comments from people looking for support and that are having a hard time.

      Hard isnt bad when you believe in something, because going against your beliefs would be worse.

      If a person is doing somrthing that they don’t believe in, then yeah.. hard is bad.

      But I also become sad when I read comments like yours, because they are hurtful too. They presume that AP is damaging both the parent and the child and that mothers are sacrificing themselves.

      None of that is true, but your comment made me tired and upset and made things harder for me.

      Everyone says I am important and that I should not sacrifice myself. But I have made the choices that I have made because those choices are important.

      If I am a martyr then my choices are ridiculous and stupid and I am following someone blindly and making unnecessary sacrifices.

      But I am not. I am following what I believe and am usually able to find joy and meaning in it. I would find no joy in my personal things because I would be sacrificing something that is more important to me than the books I want to read and the sleep that I didn’t get.

      I share my writing for the mothers like me. So many women reading my blog are like-minded.

      I see it like a marathon, so your comment feels a lot like someone standing on the sidelines with a big sign proclaiming that runners need not martyr themselves and that a 5k is good enough and that rest is important, too.

      I am sure that there are some runners that don’t want to be in the race, but considering the circumstances and location the message does more to demotivate the people running for good reasons than it does to help those that don’t want to be running.

      You are sad because you have made a different choice and feel my choice is the wrong one.

      I am not sad because I have made my choice and know my reasons. I assume that people making the same choice also have good reasons.

      When someone contacts me personally I let them know that they need to shut out the noise and listen to themselves. WIO is too hard and pointless if you don’t believe in it. CIO and sleep training is also too hard if you don’t believe it is the right option.

      But that doesn’t mean that everyone having a hard time is a martyr. Parenting is hard.

      Follow what you believe. My choice would not fit you. I would never tell you that it was ridiculous of that you were martyring your child for your own cause. I would say you found a different balance, and I would be happy for you.

      1. I do not feel like your choice is the wrong one, it is clear you are a loving mother. I think your choice is not the only way and I feel badly for the mothers that are not enjoying themselves in motherhood. If waiting makes you happy and your baby happy, great I have no issue with those situations. I feel badly for the people that think there is no other way to be respectful and meet babies needs at the same t ime, because there are many. Babies are capable of sleep if you allow them a chance.

        I don’t think your way is the wrong way for you. I don’t think my way is the right way for anyone but me. I certainly didn’t CIO, I allowed my babies many opportunities to sleep on their own so slowly over time they got it. I don’t think its WIO or CIO there are MANY MANY options in the middle that are very gentle and respectful if people want to do that. Balance can be achieved for the whole family.
        I’m not saying that to you personally, its clear that you love what you are doing. I’m saying it to many of the commenters who sound tired and defeated, just in case its not working for them. It’s ok to reach out if its not working for you. There are ways to allow your baby to sleep without getting up 10 times a night and get the sleep you both need.

        I also did not call you a martyr, nor did I call you riduculous. I linked an article about doing what’s right for you and not subscribing to something that isn’t working for you, I summarized it in a brief sentence. That was not intended to be personal. I know both Suchada and Sydney personally and they both bravely shared their struggles with guilt of leaving something they thought they believed in but ultimately did not work for them. These are real stories and some women get stuck in them for years.

        I’m not here to make anyone feel bad. I’m here to present an alternative and possibly let someone suffering know that they are ok, they don’t have to do it if it’s not working. They can let go of it if it doesn’t feel balanced. I’m presenting the other side of the coin.

        1. Ok, so I’ll be honest here and admit I made a mistake. A friend of mine who I know through our local RIE Moms group shared this article two days ago (July 19) on the exact same day it was published….two years ago. I saw the date and assumed it was a new post. Apparently the year didn’t make it through my advanced filtering system :)
          Anyway, she shared it and I read it because I’ve seen you in the RIE group on Face Book. Clearly we have different methods. Like you, I was hoping to help out a few of the commenters who seemed at their wits end. However, now that I know they likely are not going to read it…well I feel a bit silly! This was not really directed at YOU personally at all.
          I can tell other peoples words affect you deeply and this is somewhat of a safe space for you so I will keep my opinions to my own blog and trust other peoples journeys in that if what they are doing isn’t working for them then they will find one that does when it is their time. Best of luck,

          1. Kelly,

            I think you are picking up on some annoyance that I am noticing in myself and that I am trying to pinpoint the cause of. Sorry about that.

            The word martyr is a hot button one for me because in my experience the women that I interact with WANT to wio and are harassed by their pediatricians and family and friends. So for me the “it is okay to WIO” message is the balance.

            I need to think more about what is making me grouchy. :)


          2. Sarah,
            Interesting insight. Do you mean today, or in general? To me the word martyr is simpler than that and only means someone who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle. Those are the people I was trying to speak to the people that stick it out for the cause when really the cause is hurting them. That’s not everyone, but I know quite a few, for whom it was shameful to think otherwise and so they stayed…

            Yes pediatricians and any outsiders really can think they know better than you, on any topic really, but we weed that out and listen to the circumstance, consider the feedback and use our own good jugement and timing for all involved. It’s not easy no matter what you believe.
            I did notice that you commented that I was making you feel tired, upset and sad. I spoke my own truth, I on my own, didn’t make you feel those things. I took care with my words and can not be responsible for the way another person reacts to my beliefs just as you can not be responsible for how I react to yours. It seems to me it might be hard for you to hear other points of view as you only want what you deem as supportive comments (to you) on your blog. Why can other perspectives not be supportive? People learn a lot about hearing many sides. Anyhow, I don’t know why this triggered you so much either, but I hope you can figure it out.
            I still don’t get how its the same as a marathon, commenting on your blog is not analogous to going to a marathon race, because it is an open forum. Second of all, people aren’t shamed in this culture and made to fear that they are terrible people if they don’t run a marathon. If people were shamed for not being marathon runners, then it would make a lot more sense to go up to someone training for a marathon and say, psst, you know you don’t have to do this if you don’t WANT to, but nevermind that. I think it is fair to say that RIE and AP will probably never align, but that’s ok. Sleep was a huge issue in our house and for many of my friends, sleep deprivatrion causing families to unravel, so for people like that, that’s why I offered help, just in case they are too scared to allow it to be ok to see something else. It can still be gentle. I’m sorry if I caused you to be unsettled. I seem to have a knack for that… good night Sarah,

          3. Kelly,

            Just this week. (The annoyance). My daughter started sleeping through the night in March and so now that I have about 10-12 hours at night where I can get sleep I have become a bit too relaxed about making sure that I actually get the sleep that I need, and my sleep is more erratic than it was during the 23 months of WIO. I also neglected to re-order the vitamins that I usually take. Apparently I’m a bit better at the self care stuff when I’m WIO. Gotta get back into better habits again. :)

            We’re coming from two different places and we each have a particular mindset that we are accustomed to interacting with. I generally have a good idea for reads my blog, as I interact a lot with the readers and I am a former member of my own target audience.

            We’re not hardcore AP parents that are immersed in a culture that supports us by default. Many of us are first generation AP parents or we are living among friends and family that have a very different approach and that treat us like we’re a little bit off-kilter in the head. So when we say that we want to eat all organic for the duration of our pregnancy we’re told “Don’t be a martyr, eat the ice cream!” Then we are going to give birth and we want to try for a natural birth. Don’t be a martyr! Breastfeeding and having trouble in the early weeks? Don’t be a martyr! Sleep issues? Don’t be a martyr!

            I compare it to a marathon because a lot of women when they announce that they want to do Couch to 5K and then train for a marathon people aren’t supportive. They’re skeptical. They let you know every step of the way that you don’t have to follow through. That you can give up and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. That no one in your family was ever athletic. That maybe walking is more your speed. You injure your foot and “I guess you have to give up running now.”

            It takes a LOT of effort to move past that, especially when you’re having a hard time and are needing encouragement.

            Suggestions to move to a different path should come at the end of a conversation.

            Friend just got here for a fun and rejuvinating playdate. Will finish responding later. :)


          4. Ok, thanks for responding. It seems that you take issue with the word choice of the article I posted. I did not call anyone a martyr, I just posted what I thought was a supportive article that empowered people to not get stuck in something they don’t like. I get it, that word is weighted more heavily to you than it is to me. I don’t feel like people use that to describe things lightly. I meant it like you don’t have to be miserable if you don’t think its working. I think some people get stuck and don’t know what else to do and become resentful and that’s the part that I’m talking about. It seems we both want to support mothers, we just do it differently, and that’s ok. There’s always room for another point of view! Enjoy your visit and get some sleep! I did that too when my kids started sleeping. Its crazy, right?! My husband would get so mad! It must part of the adjustment.

          5. Kelly,

            Makes sense. :) I’ve been sent that article several times, actually. It’s often used in a way that makes my particular group of people upset and it makes them feel crazy. So I have a built up annoyance towards the article itself as well. Honestly, there are probably a lot of people that find my WIO article annoying for the same reason- they’ve been sent it at a moment where it was the last thing in the world that they wanted to deal with. I would probably have very different feelings towards the article if I had come across it on my own rather than having it sent to me by friends who were asking help with defending their choices to their friends and family members. I think that we have a tendency to respond to things that are out of context. Like a person on a forum for Apple products being told that they should switch to Linux or the Mac when they’re looking for help installing a computer program on the computer that they have.

            It’s one of the reasons that I stopped replying to posts on the RIE forums that I’m part of, because even when I feel that I might have an answer that would be helpful my answers are not part of RIE and I assume that they are not what a person is looking for. So I’m a part of the groups to read and learn, not to interact or respond. Same with the AP groups, actually. A lot of my tools aren’t in line with AP philosophies so they’re out of place. So coming across the recommendation to consider sleep training that involves crying.. Was out of context.

            The adjustment to getting more sleep is so strange. I used to be able to sleep 12 hour stretches and now I keep waking up between sleep cycles. Nuttiness, all of it. :)


          6. Sarah,
            Thanks for that. It sounds like you are in what I call “sleep purgatory” you’re cathcing up, but nor really yet! It’s kind of miserable!
            I think you are basically telling me that my responding to this post as a shout out to any other mothers who may be stuck was out of context. Perhaps maybe as out of context as when the RIE forum gets AP avdvice on sleep and rapidly goes south. Maybe so, and maybe I was naive commenting here. I still see the difference being that this is not a closed forum like that is, yes this is dedicated to WIO, I get that, t his is where people come to read about that. It is a public page though, but I’m willing to let it go. I really did think someone might see it that might benefit and as I suggested crying is not the only way to get a baby to sleep, but that is where RIE parts ways is that crying is not seen as always bad, its accepted as communication in order to tell us what is wrong and believing that babies are capable of that, you know the argument, I know so I won’t go into it more than that.
            My line of thinking should you use the marathon one (I’m a runner so I relate!) is it’s not like holding a sign discouraging someone to stop at mile 5. It’s telling them its OK to stop if they are injured as sometimes pride can make us continue on when really its hurting our bodies or minds. If its a cramp the by all means get some potassium and some salt, hydrate and get back in there! If you’re hurt though, do yourself a favor and stop.
            In my case sleep deprivation took a big toll on my body and mind, as did running eventually. I was told I would get arthritis by 40 if I didn’t stop, so I stopped, I grieved it and finally accepted it. The sleep deprivation did not pass, it carried on, I stopped eating, my hair was falling out I was basically a mess. Someone had to tell me STOP this is not helping anyone the whole family is working around YOU, its ok to stop. So really let’s figure this out so we all survive.I now understand sleep is a basic human need and have accepted that and supported healthy sleep habits for the whole family.
            Thanks again,

      2. Being a martyr doesn’t mean that you are following someone blindly or making stupid decisions. It does mean that you are unilaterally placing someone else’s needs entirely ahead of your own when you could be looking for balance. My mom was (and still is) a martyr. She feels sad about the way things are going for her at times, but doesn’t feel it is in her power to change, or doesn’t know she has a choice to change it. She places everyone’s needs and wants ahead of her own, even when it comes to her own space and time. I reminded her today that she should consider who is most affected by a situation to decide whose wants and needs should be prioritized. When it comes to her body, space, and time, it should be her needs. When it comes to my body, space, and time, it should be my needs. This is not a sacrifice, it is healthy boundaries. When it comes to the grey area in between, both people should be considered equally to find a balanced solution.

        Your statement assumes that the baby’s need for attachment is primary to all other family needs at all times and that it requires a 24-hr constant effort (my understanding of AP is not this… additionally, this strays from Attachment Theory). It also assumes that WIO and CIO (I assume you mean full extinction?) are the only options. As Kelly pointed out, parents do not need to sacrifice their and their babies’ physiological needs for healthy sleep in order to fulfill attachment needs. The fact is, more is not always better and I don’t know of a single academic study that shows that supporting a baby and family in developing healthy sleep habits from early on is damaging to attachment. There is a certain amount of contact and responsiveness and touch that babies need and it’s critical that we meet those needs, but more is not always better. We must look holistically at all the needs of a family, including every person’s need for restorative sleep, as well as nutritive and attachment needs of the baby.

        I have written about respectful sleep training and my concerns with using the term “CIO” here:

        1. Tiffany,

          If you are going to use the comments section on my blog to talk about your own particular method of sleep training and to link to it to promote it to the people that are reading along… I would suggest you attempt to understand what I’m actually talking about first. :)

          WIO isn’t “do nothing and cater to baby’s sleep until the child learns how to sleep.”

          “Martyr” is diminutive. It says that we make sacrifice mindlessly without thought for ourselves. I’m sacrificing things, sure. All parenthood comes with sacrifice. That is part of the balance involved. Even if you use full blown extinction training from day one there’s balance involved unless you’re handing your child to someone and just walking out. The WIO moms that I know aren’t martyrs. They find balance in all kinds of ways and the “sacrifice” is thoughtful and not martyrdom in the way that you describe.

          I’d suggest reading up a bit on WIO.


  111. I also wanted to post to support other mom’s. I am there. I have been there and I am still there. When my DS was born he cried the whole time in the hospital. He wouldn’t even let us set him down for a second. He had to be right on top of me. It didn’t get better. When I got home I knew nothing about baby sleep and thought he would fall asleep on his own. Not. He was so alert and would stay awake and watch everything and get so overtired and then start to scream. The more he screamed the more cortisol is released into his system and the more alert he became. I will never forget when he was like 2 weeks old he cried for 9 hours without sleep! That is a long time for a 2 week old to be awake. When he did fall asleep and I set him down, he would wake as soon as I set him down. He had to sleep on me. Can I get much rest that way? No.
    He was one of those babies that needed movement and had to be bounced to sleep and as soon as the bouncing stopped, he woke. At six weeks I found “the happiest baby on the block and that worked”. Even though those methods worked to get him to sleep he would still get up every 40 minutes. At the end of his sleep cycle he would wake up. He never gets into deep sleep. I have read over 20 sleep books but they don’t know MY baby. Eventually he got to big for swaddles and we did wambees and too big for the swing and I would have to sleep by him for every nap. He was such a light sleeper, he would wake if you dropped a sock. It peaked at about 10 months when he was getting up about 12 times a night. Now he is 18 months and gets up about 6-8. I am still exhausted. I have chronic insomnia because my body doesn’t know how to calm down. I am so full of adrenaline. I have never had any help with any nights or feedings. I do them all as my LO wont take a bottle.
    So I have been there. I still am.
    One things I want to share:
    1) Around the time he was 1, I realized that all of it was a GIFT. I know that sounds weird but I have cried so much and prayed so much and held and rocked him so much and we have this amazing bond. I know everything he is going to do before he does it and I look at other parents with their kids and they seem so detached and their babies don’t even try to communicate to them as they play “by themselves”. I am not criticizing independent kids but just saying that my LO was good at communicating his need for comfort and our relationship is something I could never explain.
    When my son was like 4 months I found someone online who begged me to listen to my gut and WIO because they did CIO with their 3 oldest kids and they were fine but then they had a fourth kid and they did WIO and she said she was blown away by the difference in relationship and bond that she deeply regretted CIO -you cant go back. Hang in there. Believe me I get it. I think 3 hours of sleep TOTAL is great. That is where I am and it has been 2 years since I have slept more than a few hours at a time. I get it!!!! It is so worth it! Everywhere I go people comment about how insync my baby and I are. I am not bragging. I have nothing to brag about but I am just saying you wont regret WIO.

  112. Thank you so much for this post. I feel a little alone in a group of women who seem to prefer sleep training to anything else. I am so happy to see there is a term for it even “Wait it out” Yes! I am due with my first in 10 weeks and I am bookmarking this to read later when I am so sleepy :)

  113. This is so beautiful, thank you for writing it! I am blessed with two gorgeous kids but neither of them sleep well. It’s been 4 years of sleepless nights but I know in the end I know it will be worth it to have happy and well adjusted kids. It is never worth it to let kids cry alone in fear or distress so that you can get your beauty rest.

  114. This brought tears to my eyes! my son is 18 months and from the beginning has always had a tough time sleeping. I felt so alone until I read this! I love all your posts and you really inspire me to strive to be a more patient mother. Thank you so much for sharing. I know all children are unique…but you should write a book. I’d buy it in a heartbeat!

  115. Exactly this: “Maybe your instincts speak loudly to you in ways that you do not understand and you simply know that right now you need to be held in order to be calm.”

    In the three months of my son’s life, I have learned more every day to trust him and what he is telling me.

    This is a truly beautifully written post. My own feelings about this exact topic inspired me to also write about it, just before coincidentally (or maybe not) coming across this post of yours. You took the words right out of my mouth, and I am so happy to see other mothers striving to be respectful of their little ones – it seems that people so easy to forget that babies are whole people too, however small they are. :)

  116. I am crying after reading this. Full on sobbing. Feeling like a failure because I didn’t sleep train my 17 month old. Not knowing what to do. Desperate for someone to tell me he will be ok. I tried CIO for 5 horrible nights, it ended up taking 10 nights to get back to a gentle (all be it longer than I would like bedtime) He wakes once per night, I give him a bottle and rock him and within an hour he is back down. I have tried rubbing his back, standing by his crib, sitting in his room, on his floor. He wants to be held. The Doctor told me he would always be a horrible sleeper that he will do poorly in school that this is all on me, I must leave him alone to cry even if it takes 4 hours. He has never fallen asleep with tears, I went to him after an hour on those 5 horrible nights. He won’t nap in his crib so I drive him around, another monster I created. Another thing to feel guilty about. I just want to know that my child will be ok, that we will figure this out together. I am so sad, scared and full of guilt. Can anyone reading this help me?

    1. Oh Stacy.. <3

      My kids don’t sleep through the night until they’re closer to two. One needed to be closer to three. Some need more support to fall asleep. Some needed less support to fall asleep. But they all needed support until they were able to fall asleep independently. CIO is NOT necessary. My daughter was a horrid sleeper at 17 months. Then started sleeping through the night at 23 months.

  117. I had two hard cases if we talk about sleeping problems (one daughter and one son). I needed help and step by step instructions on what to do and I’ve found it in Susan Urban’s guide (very short so I’ve read it in an hour). Really solved sleeping problems and believe me both cases were hard It was quite some time ago but I can see it is still available on the same website:
    When i needed help with sleeping problems I’ve read about this guide on some website and now I want to share becasue I know that it is really not easy to deal with sleeping problems

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