Dear Mama Who Uses CIO (From a Mama Who Uses Wait-it-Out)

Dear Mama who Uses CIO,

I recently became aware of a thread on a forum that linked to my post about “Wait it Out” sleep training. One person stated “I hope the author’s intent was not to make parents who CIO feel shitty and it was solely to make moms who WIO feel better about doing so. ”

I’d like to make my intentions clear.

In the dark of the night when I am unable to sleep and I’m snuggled down in a rocking chair with my eyes half closed, holding a child that will not sleep… The thing that fortifies me is the positive, not the negative.

You do not cross my mind. I do not sit awake in the dark and stew with anger over the people who use CIO. I do not sit awake all smug and clever and snickering and giggling about my superiority. I sit there crowding out any frustration or sadness with happy responsive thoughts and digging deep to try to feel empathy for the child in my arms. I sit there witnessing her smallness, her rapid growth, and the too-fast but too-slow passage of time between her first breath and her now. I sit there looking for ways to blissfully surrender to the moment.

Because that is what fortifies me.

People with hard jobs look for the things that fortify them, the things that help them continue a job that they see as worth doing despite difficulties.

I know that moms who use CIO do the same thing. I have seen it on the forums. You talk about your reasons why. You talk about independence and the value of sleep and the need for a baby to have a happy mother.

Not because you are thinking about /me/ and trying to make /me/ feel shitty about my choice to WIO instead of CIO. You’re not talking about MY baby and how she will be a dependent whiny clingy child with bags under her eyes and an indulgent irresponsible mother who was so afraid of five simple minutes of crying that she sacrificed her entire family’s happiness to be a martyr. All while rocking in the dark of the night and dreaming up ways to make CIO-ers feel terrible.

I don’t think that you are taking the easy way out. I feel like I am taking the hard way out. And you don’t think that I’m taking the easy way out. You feel like you are taking the hard way out. We both feel as though we are doing what is healthy and necessary for our children.

Don’t waste a second wondering if I judge you. I’ve seen enough judgmental language on the internet to know exactly what words each of us could use in an all-out war against each other. Words that leave no doubt about what each of us thinks.

It would be a waste of time. A pointless war.

I don’t judge you. I see you as a parent who is doing the hard job of parenting, just as I am doing the hard job of parenting. And I see you as someone who will fortify their choices in whatever way you need to fortify your choices, just as I will fortify mine.

And this is a good thing. Children benefit tremendously from parents who are strong, loving and consistent in their responses.

You’re a good mom. Now get ME out of your head. Don’t worry about my judgement or the judgement of some whackadoo mama on the forums who thinks that everything should be done HER way or MY way or YOUR way. Wasting time worrying about me or her just takes away the energy that you need for doing what you feel deep in your heart is the right and healthy thing.

Just don’t be that mom who predicts dire misfortunes shall befall all of us who don’t sleep train. The predictions of dire misfortune are the reason for any “snark” in my letter about WIO. They are a reaction to false things being said about MY baby. Not about things that you know to be true about yours. My letter is shared by others who WIO for the same reason- frustration with others false predictions about their children, and a joy in their choices. Don’t predict doom for us. Our babies will sleep just fine. Two of mine already do, and the third is already starting.

<3 A Wait-It-Out Sleep Training Mama

15 thoughts on “Dear Mama Who Uses CIO (From a Mama Who Uses Wait-it-Out)

  1. As someone who participated in the thread of which you speak, I’d like to thank you for the clarification. In a world where judgement is thrown so freely, particularly when it comes to parenting, it’s easy for us to assume that there’s judgement in everything. It’s nice to know that this isn’t the case.

  2. Sarah, you’re amazing. You cut through the nonsense, the drama, the emotions (often heightened by all that sleep deprivation and just speak calmly with love and truth.

    And to be honest, when I’m half awake rocking my non sleeping 18mo, I’ll be thinking of YOU rocking your non-sleeping little one and be grateful for your encouragement.

  3. Thank you, not for the clarification, but for the reminder that I should not take others’ accounts of their CIO triumphs as a reflection of my choices. To each their own but for me & mine, we will continue to wait it out :)

  4. I was the original poster who shared your post on the forum, and I shared it because I read your post as encouragement to find what works for my family, even if it’s not what other people think I should be doing (even though what they think I should be doing doesn’t matter, it still gets to me). All I’ve heard about my baby’s sleep the past few months is “when will you start letting her cry it out?” and “you’ll have to start letting her cry so she learns to sleep”, like there’s no other way. I appreciated seeing a perspective from the other side of things, something I could relate to. I didn’t see it as CIO bashing, just explaining that it may not be “the norm”, but it works for you.

    1. Shaz,

      Sorry you ended up with people upset at you! Your reading of it is exactly how I intended it. I got SO much advice to CIO and so many things were said about my baby, my motivations, the reasons why I should CIO, etc. that this letter was just basically a dismissal of all of it as it applied to my child. Not something to make CIO moms feel bad. :)

      It seems to be a letter that people either love or hate. I’m glad that it resonated with you.


  5. Sarah, you are truly amazing for being able to express so clearly these simple yet hard to define truths. Thank you for encouraging mothers to trust their instincts and not listen to the unfounded judgements of others.

  6. To clarify, as someone who posted on that forum that you felt the need to interrupt and respond to, without participating it… I did not feel attacked by you. Trust me when I say you do not have any place in my head when I spend time with my daughter. When I hold her during her sorrows, when I stand at her doorway begging for her 2 minutes of crying to shorten, but refusing to enter her room because the rational side of me knows it will be worth it, and knows that running to her will only make it more difficult for her to fall asleep.

    I can appreciate your attempt at clarifying, and I never once though you were attacking those who do CIO. But by using language that says you love your child so much that you would not let them cry. That because you love your child you will go to them when they cry. That’s insulting to those of us who might have a different parenting method. Do I love my daughter less because I don’t run in and pick her up the moment she fusses in her sleep? Of course not. Although I believe you when you say you don’t judge, you may want to take a moment to consider how your words will portray your feelings.

    And you may also want to take a moment to live by your own rules. Just because someone points out the flaws in your phrases, does not mean they spend their parenting moments doubting their decisions.

    NO one hated your letter. and certainly was no one upset with Shaz. It’s really truly not all about you.

    I 100% am not concerned with how you chose to raise your child. I would never throw threats about what will befall your family if you WIO. But I also don’t presume you are judging me. To be honest, the thought never crossed my mind.

    1. The problem is this: I DO love my child so much that I won’t let them cry themselves to sleep. I DO love my child so much that I will view her cries as communication.

      And you DO love your child so much that you will listen to her crying and maintain the consistency of the method that you have chosen. You DO love your child so much that you are teaching her to sleep in a way that is emotionally difficult for you but that you see as being healthy.

      When I say that I love my child so much that I will respond to her cries that doesn’t mean that if I chose to use CIO that I would love my child less. It means that I would choose to express my love differently.

      You’re reading it like this: “I love you so much sweet-button-bottom that I will never be an evil CIO mommy and all evil CIO mommies let their babies scream until they puke and they’re non-responsive and their babies don’t feel loved.”

      That’s not what I wrote.

      A mom who goes back to work to be a good strong example for her daughter can write about being a good strong example for her daughter without saying that a stay at home mom is a bad example for her daughter. The mom who goes back to work is a good strong example of one sort and the stay at home mom is a good strong example of another sort.

      My letter says exactly what my experience is. I am TOLD that I should let my daughter scream. I am TOLD that I should not respond. I am TOLD I should stand outside the door and do the 5-10-15. I choose to discard that information as not being applicable to my life or my child.

      If I ask you “well why don’t you just co-sleep?” you could give me a list of the reasons why you don’t. Can you give the full list of reasons why you don’t co-sleep without using anything that could possibly be read as a judgement against cosleeping moms?

      I don’t believe YOU spend your time doubting your decisions. I was responding to the single thing that I responded to– the question about my intentions in writing the letter.

      My intentions were not to make people that use a different letter feel shitty or to judge them.

  7. Thank you!
    (written on my iPhone I’m the dark after walking and nursing my little guy back to sleep from an hour awake and some screaming… Let’s hope it was bad dreams and he’s not sick again or teething!)


  8. This conversation would be much more successful if you would stop assuming what I think.

    “I love you so much sweet-button-bottom that I will never be an evil CIO mommy and all evil CIO mommies let their babies scream until they puke and they’re non-responsive and their babies don’t feel loved.”

    Is actually not what I read at all.

    1. What I’m getting from this conversation is that neither of us understands what the other is thinking.

      I’d like to understand what you’re thinking.

      What is that you are reading?

      1. (To further clarify: I’m assuming that the conversation that I’m having is about the portion of the thread that I originally responded to. Which is “I hope the author didn’t intend to make CIO parents feel shitty.” Which is why I focused on the “intention to make people feel shitty” and “you should not feel shitty” aspects. If we’re having a different conversation and you’d like me to focus on different aspects of something, just let me know what it is that you’d like to talk about.)

  9. I do think about other mommas sometimes, when I let my one year old nap in my arms because I like the cuddles, or when she wakes up in the morning and delights in finding my there beside her, or when I rock her to sleep and she finds the spot she found day one of her life and falls asleep. I think about my grandmother who tells me how she locked her babies in their rooms so she could “get things done”, and wonder if she wouldn’t want that time back now.

  10. Great post!! I agree completely with WIO and do not judge parents for what they do. I can only be the best to my daughter not to everyone’s children. It is a parental duty to do what’s best and each person is entitled to helping their children in different ways!! Thank you!!

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