Last week, at 8 months old, my daughter Valentina started waking up at 2:30 am. Very upset and wanting to eat.
The thing was, she hadn’t eaten at night since she was 4 months old. (I had sleep trained her then.)
I didn’t know why she was suddenly waking up at night again. I thought maybe a developmental leap, since there are still no teeth in sight, and she seems perfectly healthy.
(In hindsight, she finally rolled over last week onto her belly – she’d been teetering on her side for months but wouldn’t commit to fully rolling – and since then, immediately has been rolling across the room like a maniac, threatening to smash into walls. So it probably was developmental but hindsight is 20:20).
So after the third night of waking up at night, I decided that something needed to be done. This was quickly becoming a habit, and one that was not helping my sleep nor her own.
So the next night, when she woke up at 2:20 am, I went in once, after 5 minutes, to offer her pacifier and make sure she didn’t have a fever or a dirty diaper.
And then I went back to bed. And listened to her cry.
Her bed is a little nook right off my room and there are slats in her door to give it ventilation so… it felt like she was almost right next to me. It was loud. It was torturous. I hated it.
Here’s why I did it.
Every time I go in to check on her, her crying gets so much louder. She’s infuriated, lately, by my coming and then leaving again. She spits out her pacifier. She is most definitely not reassured.
And I don’t have the patience for sitting next to her, patting her, and I don’t think it would be comforting to her anyway.
Nursing her back to sleep was definitely not teaching her to be a better sleeper. It was teaching her to wake up for a midnight snack every night.
I figured CIO was the fastest, and therefore most merciful, way to get the job done.
And thankfully, I was right. The next night she made a few squaks at around 2 am, and since then, she’s slept through the night. She wakes up happy and so do I.
CIO isn’t the right choice for every baby and every family. I never tell a family that they need to do CIO. When I work with families, I help them make the right choice for their family. For very young babies and for preschoolers, there sometimes isn’t any crying. For those in between ages, well, there generally is some crying but it is temporary and great sleep is on the other side… no matter what method you choose.
If you are thinking about sleep training but are worried about your child crying, you are not alone. It can be daunting to think about.
Schedule a free consult and let’s talk about your options and what you can expect, should you decide to sleep train. I’m here to help. No pressure to buy.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.