Crying it out- How long should I let an 11 month old cry for?

Jennifer - posted on 12/28/2010 ( 14 moms have responded )

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She sleeps fine as long as she is being held. As soon as I lay her in her crib, she wakes up. I have tried (it feels like) everything but she hasn't been a good sleeper from the start. I'm still up every 2 hours at night and sometimes fall asleep rocking her in her chair. Naps are out of the question! I'm doing everything the same as I did with my older daughter but nothing is working! Any suggestions?

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Renae - posted on 12/29/2010

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It is never necessary to leave a baby to cry in order to teach them to sleep through the night. There are many sleep training methods that involve no crying or distress to the baby at all.

However, to answer your question, if you do choose to use a crying method, research shows that the stress levels are less if the baby is left to cry until they fall asleep without you going in to them at all. When you check on a baby at timed intervals, you have to leave again, and that is the problem, each time you leave the stress levels peak again, then just as the stress levels off, you come in again - then leave again and it peaks again.

Again, however, if you do choose to do control crying, as it was researched and intended to be used, is 5 minute intervals for the first hour, 10 minutes the second hour, 15 minutes the third, 20 minutes the fourth and subsequent hours. The normal range is 1 to 4 hours.

If you leave the baby to cry until they fall asleep, the normal range is 30 to 60 minutes, most babies stop crying at 45 minutes.

If you use any crying method, I recommend it is only done in conjunction with cry interpretation so that you know if your baby is in severe distress. Basically, cry interpretation in a nut shell is about listening for pauses in the crying. There should be a 5 second pause every 30 to 60 seconds, if there is no pause then the baby has something wrong that needs to be tended to.

Let me know if you would like some no-cry options. Also keep in mind that crying methods need to be repeated around 4 times per year, usually after sickness or teething. This is because crying techniques are not a permanent behavioural change as they are not following the principles of behaviour modification. No-cry techniques based on behaviour modification promote more permanent results and cause no distress to anyone. Let me know if you want to know more.

Aubrey - posted on 12/28/2010

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When our son was 11 months old I was tired of waking up at night with him because I was pregnant and was very tired, so my husband and I moved out into the living room (we lived in a VERY small house with only one VERY small bedroom) we moved out into the living room so we couldn't hear him crying as loud. The first night he cried 2 times for 30 minutes each time, the 2nd night he cried 2 times for 10-15 minutes each time and the 3rd night woke only 1 time and cried for 5 minutes and after that 3rd night he was sleeping through the night. With our daughter who is 9.5 months now we did cry it out with her at 7 months and she cried 1 time a night for 20 minutes and after 4 nights was sleeping through the night. I know the cry it out method isn't for everyone but I didn't think it was bad at all. If our children cried for longer than 45 minutes we would go and pick them up for a few minutes and then lay them back down and they always went right to sleep after that (only 1 time did our son do that though).

Renae - posted on 12/29/2010

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Laura - of course it does! You cant explain to a baby how you want them to behave, so you change the parents behaviour in a way that results in a change in the baby's behaviour, that is how it works! Well spotted.

The jury is still out on whether staying in the room with the baby is better or worse for the baby than leaving them alone. In my experience, it depends on the baby. For some they launch straight into a severe distress cry and it confuses the hell out of them to have mum sitting there but not coming to comfort them - these babies are better off when mum leaves the room. However other babies will cry less and go to sleep more quickly if mum is in the room. I personally do not advocate this technique, mostly because if you are in the room, you are not teaching the baby to go to sleep on its own, you are still allowing a parental sleep dependance so this technique only teaches the baby to go to sleep without being rocked or fed, it does not teach them to sleep through the night. It is also a very stressful technique for everyone concerned. Most mothers cannot sit there without crying themselves, and that just perpetuates the situation and makes the baby even more distressed - its just a hard and messy way to do it, I see no reason to ever use this technique as there is always a better way. Actually, for that same reason I dont use control crying either, I haven't seen a situation where there wasn't a better option - but I will tell people how to do it if they want to since if they are set on doing it, they should at least do it properly (the way the research says works the fastest) and get it over with - but I never use it clients.

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Amber - posted on 12/31/2010

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Are you breast feeding or bottle? My daughter is 4 months now. I had been only breast feeding but for about 2 weeks she was getting real fussy, always wanted to nurse and would pull at her ears. So I thought she had an ear infection. Took her in for her 4 month well baby and found out she had only gained 3oz from her 2 month old weight. We than learned I was not making enough milk anymore. But as for the cry it out, when she cry's I check that she is dry, fed, and doesn't need to burp. she gets walked around til she is calm. if I set her down again and she crys again. I put her in her room for 15 minutes before starting over with my check.

Jennifer - posted on 12/29/2010

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Every child is diffrent, although you should make your dr. aware of her sleep paterns if you have'nt already. I would let my cry starting at 5 minutes and then increasing the amount over several days even weeks to let her get used to soothing herself. I have 4 children and none of them were the same.

Jessica - posted on 12/29/2010

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I would love to learn more about no cry options, I have been struggling with my toddler for over 6 months and altough controlled crying has worked some of the time, it is not correcting the problem, she is 16 months and now wakes at least once a night, taking approx. an hour to fall back to sleep. Over time ive found going in every 5 monutes works best for her but it is still horrific. I am trying now to leave her to cry to sleep it has been over half an hour without going in to her. It is breaking my heart and I just can't continue, it obviously isnt suited to her but other than pick her up every time and BF her i feel like I have no alternative. I would love another option. Jessica x

Melanie - posted on 12/29/2010

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what i do is nurse the baby cuddling on the bed then sneak away because mine would dothe same thing. it works well for us.

Emma - posted on 12/29/2010

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i had similar trouble with my daughter who has only been sleeping through fully for the majority of this year and she was 3 august.i ended up taking her to a sleep clinic that my health visitor recommended and it was brill,although it does take tough love.they even said because they know they can get round you even if she cried to the point she made herself sick that was fine...luckily it only ever got to that on the first night and by the first week she was sleeping through.we still have the odd bad night now but stick to what we did then and it works,so get in touch with your hv see if they do them where you live.

good luck x

Laura - posted on 12/29/2010

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Great explanation, Renae!

Jennifer, I would like to add that siblings are different people--what works for one won't neccessarily work for the other (as you are finding out). CIO is just one option for dealing with the sleep issue. I suggest communicating with Renae about other behavior modification methods. Mind you, these other methods often modify the PARENT"S behavior more than the child's! : ) Good luck to you!

Jenni - posted on 12/29/2010

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CIO doesn't necessarily mean you have to leave them alone to cry. You could try putting her to bed and sitting with your back to her on the floor of her room. That way your not abandoning her and she can still see you. Then you can do it for as long as it takes.
I would also recommend putting her to bed sleepy but awake. When you rock an infant/toddler and then put them to bed the weight of their bodies causes them to wake. They find themselves not where they fell asleep and start to cry for you. I started sleep training my babies as soon as they were born. Putting them in the crib while they were still awake, when they fussed I would pick them up and try again, and again, and again. Eventually they learned to fall asleep on their own. My son took 6 months, my daughter took 2 months.
Do a wind down before bed to prepare her for knowing sleep is coming. A bath, jammies on, followed by reading a book in bed, a kiss, a hug, and goodnight.
Also if this is something that just started happening I'd look into other things the could causing her to be more fussy with sleep: teething would be my number one suspicion considing her age. Around 12 months infants get their first molars and they're nasty things that upset sleep, eating and contribute to general crankiness.

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When my son was 9 months old I was going through the same thing. He would nurse to sleep, but when I tried to lay him down he would wake again and want to nurse. I did get to a point where I let him cry, but never left him.... just wasn't giving him what he wanted. It took an hour. Didn't solve all our sleep problems, but he learned 2 things that night.... I would never leave him, but he didn't HAVE to nurse to sleep. Don't know if that helps any or not.

Katherine - posted on 12/28/2010

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At 11 months it's really too young to do CIO. I agree talk to your doctor.

Heather - posted on 12/28/2010

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I think this should be a question for your doctor. My kids always quit crying after a "reasonable" amount of time but protracted crying could be a real issue. Ask your pediatrician.

Jennifer - posted on 12/28/2010

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And back to my original question, if I let her cry it out, how long should I let her cry for? I'm not a fan of this method but I need to do something...

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