Controlled crying - fallen at the first hurdle!

So it turns out I'm a wimp & I'm gutted. We tried controlled crying with my 6mo last night for the first time. He was bathed, changed, fed & put down by 8pm. He cried for 50 mins before he fell asleep. We checked on him at regular intervals so I knew he was ok. Obviously it was hard listening to him cry but I didn't think 50 mins was bad at the first attempt. But then he woke up after 1.5 hours so that was nearly 3 hours after he'd been fed. As he was usually used to being attached to my boob all night I fed him but put him straight back down. This is when he cried for almost 2 hours (nappy change in between in case that was the issue). At 1am my husband & I caved in & I put him in bed with me.

The problem is that he's gone from being in bed next to me, touching me, nursing on me, just generally feeling comforted, to going cold turkey, in the cot on his own all night. There was no transition (I don't know what this transition would be!) but that's what got us most upset. My husband thinks he's still too young.

I'm gutted because I thought this was my magical solution. I knew it was going to be hard but when he wouldn't resettle after nearly 2 hours I just didn't think it was fair on him anymore.

I don't know whether it's worth just doing CC when we put him to bed first time & just get him used to it this way or would there be no point in doing that but then not continuing through the night?

Maybe I should start with nap times instead but Iv read that naps are harder coz they cry for so long that it's time to get up before they've sometimes even fallen asleep!

I don't know what to do now. To make things worse it looks like he's getting conjunctivitis or something in one of his eyes, it's a bit pink & puffy.

Sad & disappointed! :-(

34 Replies

  • Did you leave him for the whole 50mins? I read that you should let them cry for say a max of 10 mins at first. You go in (no fussing) but settle them back down and keep doing that until theyre sleep. Then once they stop crying "every 10 mins" you up the time and keep doing so. It sounds incredibly long but my friends babies seem to sleep all night in their own bed after a week x

  • No we didn't leave him for 50 minutes. We started at 2, then 4, 8, 10 then every 10 minutes after that. We didn't pick him up, just stroked him, reassured him then left the room after 2 minutes.

    I knew the first night would be the most difficult and I know it wouldn't take long (usually about 3 days) for him to learn if we were consistent but the fact he was still crying 2 hours after his first wake up (we checked on him constantly during this time too) has really thrown me and I don't know whether to continue with it x

  • Hi, I cant really help with the sleep im afraid, im one of the lucky ones that has a good sleeper (for now.... im prepared for a nightmare toddler as its too good to be true lol) have you tried sleeping with your son's bedding for a few days and popping that in his cot? He will be so used to being close to you he is bound to wake sensing you are not there. By sleeping with his things your scent will get onto him and perhaps offer some security for him? Its easy for me to say, but id persevere as it will only get harder to break the habits he is in. But if say after a week there is no improvement maybe re think and explore other options?

    If you think he is getting conjunctivitis, take him to the GP as soon as you can. My little boy has just had it and drops and regular bathing with cool boiled water cleared it up in just a few days. Xx

  • Hi thanks for replying. I will take him to the GP tomorrow if it's no better, iv been bathing it in cooled boiled water this morning just in case.

    I can try sleeping with the cot bedding but I've done this before & it didn't seem to make much difference. It's worth another go though.

    I stood behind his cot for a while last night (he couldn't see me) and he was asleep but he kept jumping & waking himself up. I'm not sure if that's dreaming or a reflex but it was definitely waking him up.

    You're right about it being just as hard to break the habit later if I don't do it now. That's unless he just naturally changes his sleeping ways!!

    I might try again tonight at least for the first time he goes down. X

  • In response to the eye problem, pop some breast milk in there 2-3 times a days, it's wonderful stuff xx

  • Hun I cannot reply to this right how but I have just done night 3 starting with gradual retreat type sleep training, I can post here later or PM you. I ended up speaking and crying down phone to another mum going through same thing (who I am meeting now) and a health visitor. Stay positive, WE can get through this xx

  • I did 5 days of just nap times over easter.. gradually got less and less then on the Saturday I did it at bedtime. . As hard as it maybe.. when he woke after an hr I wufnt of fed him as quite frankly I dont think its hunger it comfort and the fact he settled himself albeit after tht time.. he may of settled again on his own. My son naps so much btr.. yesterday he slept all night then I put him down at 9 and he napped till 10.45.. U need to hav some days where u make no arrangements and just do it.. if u really want to tht is... but u both need to b ready.. I did nap times first because I put him in his cot and came down prepared dinner. . Cleaned.. in the middle of the night its not so easy to distract urself even tho u can still hear. X

  • The reason I fed was because I don't think he's drinking enough during the day. He's breastfed but usually has a bottle of formula before bed. But for the last week or so he's refused his bottle & I don't know why, he just pushes it away. And his breastfeeds are only quite short. We've been weaning him for about 3 weeks now but currently he only has a bit of porridge in the morning then a portion of fruit or veg purée at lunchtime so he can't be getting too full. I don't know if it's just a phase but that's why I fed him as I wasn't convinced that he'd had enough before bed.

    I'm going to try again tonight though.

    Just out of interest, what time does your son wake up in the morning? And how many naps does he have during the day? X

  • My son is breastfed too and when am at work frm tomorrow he will hav to hav a bottle which hes not a fan of but my mother in law tries to giv him a lot of stuff with dairy in just to make up for it which u cud try.. He wakes at 7am and has 2 x 2hr naps 1 at 9.30ish and one at 2.. hes in bed at 20.30 x

  • I can't really give you any advice on what to do/not to do, but I just wanted to say try not to be disheartened or feel that you've fallen at the first hurdle, you're doing really well! It's not an easy task at all.

    As Cheekymonkey3791 said, you (plural) can do this! Hang on in there!

    By doing this, you're being 'cruel to be kind' (it's not cruel, I was just quoting the phrase) and it's better for your LO in the long run that he's in his own bed and not relying on you as a comforter. I have a friend who still can't get her four year old son out of her bed, and my 'nephew' is 10 and still tries to get/gets into bed with his parents every night...!


  • Ur good I wouldn't of lasted that long! But don't give up if u think u can do it like ceri said try nap times. .. or try the pupd method ? Some babies give in quicker than others of ur baby is one of the tougher ones it will take longer. .. and the longer u leave it the tougher it gets as they get older. ...I was told at a few months old it would only take an hour max with the pupd method so I've def made a rod for my back! It's so hard xx

  • Are you having another go tonight? X

  • Yeah we are. He went down at 7.20 and he's still crying now! Been in every 10 mins, not sure if that's winding him up even more actually.

    It's heartbreaking but I'm looking at the bigger picture :-( x

  • Ok right now the best thing you can do is stay calm, positive and breathe. Think of what you can all gain. I am not doing your method as such. My night 4 commenced at 7.30 and he is sound asleep now. I am on my phone but will get on my laptop shortly.....hang in there X

  • The first few times r crap and u feel like the shittest mum ever but I haven't looked bk.. b strong x

  • He's asleep now, 35 minutes. So that's an improvement on last night's 50 minutes. I'm anxious about him waking up already though lol. Thank you so much for your support cheekymonkey & ceribean :-) x

  • Thts great. When he wakes.. if he does soon I wud try and hang bk specially if its quite soon. just giv it time and see if.he settles bk..maybe try with a nap tomoro.. sleep feeds sleep so the more he realises cot equals sleep might b btr x

  • Washing up done and cup of tea in hand so here's what I learnt this week.

    As I know you have been following my sleep dramas too and nothing seemed to be working, he is coming up 8 months, EBF since day 1 and I started weaning say 6 weeks ago. Baby Led mainly so its been slow so I do a little spoon feeding but he is really fussy about what he will take off a spoon. He might wake 2-3 times before even I had gone to bed and often need us to help to put him back to sleep and the same through the night, I was exhausted, worse in some ways then dealing with the newborn as have a very active child who needs entertaining.

    So after months and months of no sleep I finally cracked, I saw one of new mummy friends on the Wed at Yoga group who explained that she too had been to hell and back and also had a meltdown, she said it was at our Baby Café that she got the advice from a HV so I was determined to go the next day. It was so busy that day that all the HV's and BF counsellors were busy with new Mums with days old babies and I in their eyes are a conditioned veteran so never occurred to anyone to speak to me and see 'how things are going'. Archie was a total nightmare to take his nap so the cracks were starting to appear mid morning and by end of the session I was in complete Mummy meltdown as I had admitted to myself I needed help, sought to get it and couldn't. One of the other girls saw how upset I was so she got the BF counsellor to speak to me who I have known for 6 months now, sadly she was really unable to help except to say that some babies will still need a night feed at his age. I expressed like you my concerns about his daytime feeding and felt that he was snacking and he was, he is a busy little soul and did not simply have the time to indulge in a little quiet time with Mummy and of course he was feeding at night....ALOT so from my point of view I was in a never end cycle, a roundabout if you like and I needed to get us off so next stop the HV.

    Still in meltdown I cried down the phone to the HV on Friday afternoon and explained all our problems and this was the advice I was given and you can take what you need from this as your bubba a little younger.

    *At 7.5 months he should be able to get through the night

    *Was I giving Multivitamin to him daily, Yes (Apparently they need this if having less then a pint of formula a day)

    *Was I doing BLW - Yes but am doing a combination (some things need to go on a spoon) but not ingesting a massive amount yet, poos are forming so suggests what he does eat is binding him.

    *How often was I Breast Feeding - Technically every 2-4 hrs depending on what was happening, especially when trying to squeeze solids into the day and he was snacking at the breast.

    *Do we have a bedtime routine & how does he fall asleep - Yes - which ends with him feeding and nodding off.

    You see where I am going with this, you may have to ask yourself the same questions....there may be more but I am tired :-(

    So..she says....however he falls asleep he will expect those conditions to be maintained, be it where, how, was music playing, night lights, and so on because when he does wake during sleep cycles everything needs to essentially needs to be the same.

    At Archie's age he should be on 5 breast feeds in 24 hrs be it all 5 during the day or if feel is the right thing 4 in day and 1 at night around the 3/4am mark.

    Continue to offer the solids 3 times a day and the other girl was told to also offer 2 snacks...not to worry about volume even at this age......Think of food as an extension to their playtime...if some goes in great, if not...don't worry as most of his nutrition still comes from the BF's.

    I was to stop an soothing methods, no more shhh/pat or Pu/Pd all too much for him. I like to think of it this way, when I go to bed to sleep, I like to get all snuggly and comfy and wind myself down, I do not want someone rubbing me or patting same rules applied to baby now...he's moved on. The only thing I might do is a gentle still hand but if this is too much I can tell right away.

    The other thing with the falling asleep was this, an extreme example but fall asleep in the chair and wake up in your bed and have no idea how you got there, its confusing, same for babies of this age, I cannot let him fall asleep in one place and move him to another as would have done as a wee baby, we have to adapt as they change.

    Oh the other thing I did was change bedtime routine slightly, as we are all in one bedroom and I would normally feed to sleep on the bed, I now do my routine but take him to living room, no TV, all nice and calm and quiet and I feed there or I sit on the floor by his cot. When feed is over before he falls asleep I then pop him in his sleeping bag and proceed so am trying again to remove the feed to sleep association.

    So on that same day I spoke to HV I thought no time like the other half slept on couch as he was due to go on nights the next night and needed some rest, something he is lacking too! I have been doing this on my own since I started Friday night and it has been hard.

    She spoke about 2 methods, CC as you are trying and gradual retreat. I had had to adopt a combination of both and I am still trying to tweak to find the best way to approach this as my boy is so active in cot, he is sitting, crawling and pulling himself up. I cannot tell you how many times he climbs the bars and I lay him down again, it felt like 50+ when I do start to lay him down on his back he is already in a half twist to get onto front ready to crawl to climb again before I have even moved away from the cot....this in turn brings me to the tired monkey, which face plants the cot bars as time goes on and hurts himself so I am still feeling my way......if I simply lay him down in bed and walk away it doesn't work, if I stay with him it eventually works so tonight I tried it differently, I laid him down, told him sleepy time and left, he cried, I went back after a minute, laid him down, told him sleepy time, walked I know he is up again so I did this for only 10 mins giving him just 2 mins of crying, he has to watch me leave the room and that anxiety kicks in before I have even left so after 10 minutes he was starting to get hot and clammy I decided to lay him down, he gave me the very 1st sign of I want to soothe and settle which was hand behind ear and a little head wobble so I stayed and sat by cot. He tried to get up once or twice more but I was already laying him down before he could fully climb. I make no eye contact, do not look at my phone and I hang my head down so he knows I am there and I am quiet, I might reach my hand through the bar if needed but definitely no Shhhh'ing. Another 10 mins passed and he was out...below are my nights 1-3 which 'they' say are the hardest.

    Night 1.....1 hour to settle, woke as a predicted 10.30, boiled water only offered, resettled within 20 mins, we then slept until 4am, I tried everything but feed, at 4.30am I was starting to crack, crying myself so tried more boiled water and a dummy, no joy, by 5am I did decide to feed to cure hunger but not to put to sleep, another hour passed, still the end I brought him to bed to lie with me and in past would have fed.....but I did not offer, we finally went back to sleep about 6.30/6.45 and we slept until 8.00 (which was poo!) so I stayed in bed, he has breakfast boob, let him knock about a while and wait for tired signs to kick in, they did and I had him asleep again on our bed 08.45-9.30 (average for him - 1 40 min sleep cycle) He also had a lunch time nap and a long late afternoon nap so I could not put him down so early for night 2.

    Night 2....1 hour to settle....I tried to read to him in cot to keep him calm but nothing worked he just wants to climb. He later woke as predicted 11, boiled water, quick to settle.....Yay.....bed for me....decided if he slept until 4 then I would feed and settle him down but it changed, he woke at 01.30...not for hunger I thought so took me again 2 hours to settle (was torture) and then he woke at 7am for breakfast feed - Naps times at usual times

    Night 3...1 hour to settle, did not wake at the dream-feed time.....slept until 1am, resettled with water, woke again 3.30, I decided to BF and I removed him from the breast when the suckle changed to butterfly sucks, woke again 5, I was exhausted, by 5.30am getting light still active so brought him to bed and let him crack on again, probably another 30 mins awake, no further breast offered, we got up 7.45 - Nap times at usual times

    Night 4...20 mins to settle, asleep 7.50, I heard him Manta and resettle at present idea how tonight is going to pan out....

    Sorry this is so long, I just wanted to show you that I am there, going through the same drama's, fighting a similar battle but we need to win each and every battle before we can win the war (on sleep).

    One thing I have noticed is that he breast feeds properly again during the day since I have abstained from feeding him what felt like all you might find the same and use cooled boiled water to settle him when you do not want to feed. If anything I think all that crying has got to do nothing for your throat :-( and he has sounded a bit horse since I started this

    My ideal for the moment is asleep by 8, for him to sleep through until 3/4am - 1 Breast Feed and go back to sleep until 7am....and then I hope that we will drop his feed himself as he takes on more solids.....we have to have dreams eh :-) xx

  • Update....10.20 standing & crying, laid down, little boiled water, more grumbling, I sat by the cot in darkness, then I recognised the pre sleep chatter and whining.....back to sleep within 5 mins so I am off to bed now myself and will hope for some sleep as my head is banging :-( Nite....Hope this helps in some way xx

    01.45-02.45 Awake and only offered boiled water, he was trying sooooo hard to go off bless him, I felt his frustration, less crying in this hour then previous nights. Think hungry but not fed.

    04.00 Woke and fed well, let go and fell asleep before I could move him as no comfort sucking

    07.15ish, Woke for day & breakfast milk feed 07.45.

    Annoyingly my cat woke me at 6.40 when he was sparko! Grr....won't make mistake of leaving door open again.

    Well that's us!

    How did you get on? Xx

  • I have no wisdom to share but my son is just over 5 months and I'm really struggling. He feeds off me all night in bed, waking every 1.5-2hrs and hardly drinks during the day. I'm currently trying to get his calories up during the day and shut the milk bar for longer periods at night so I can at least get a bit of unbroken sleep. Last night he wouldn't go back down for so long it was eventually food time so he got his way - aaaaarrrrgh! Xxx

  • Thanks so much for all your info cheekymonkey, there are definitely some useful points I can pull out of that. It's interesting to read your night log, at least I know there are other people awake at stupid o'clock in the morning haha! Do you feel like you're making some improvement?

    In terms of our night last night, Finley actually did really well. It was night 2 of CC, when I put him down he cried for 35 mins (50 mins on night 1). We checked on him at 5, 10, 15, 20 mins. So he was asleep by 8 and then woke at 10. I was tempted to feed as it had been 3 hrs since his last feed but I took ceribeans advice & held back. We left him to cry without checking him because I could hear his cry starting to slow. He was back asleep in 30 mins. He woke again soon after at 10:50 but we left him again & he fell asleep in 10 mins. So after 11pm he probably woke 6 or 7 times but we left him each time (I could tell with his cry that he was trying to settle & wasn't screaming for food) and he stayed in his cot by himself all night until 6:30...Unheard of!!! I then fed him & we dozed until 8 then got up.

    A huge achievement for him to have settled himself so many times & to have stayed in his cot all night. We're both tired as we were obviously listening carefully every time he cried but we might be getting somewhere :-)

    Fingers crossed for an improvement for us both tonight! I'll update again tomorrow. Thanks for your support :-) xx

  • That's great, you have to do what works for you and maybe some of my tricks will work. I didn't say before as I forgot but am also using a Comforter/Transitional object which I wore in my top for a day and also when BF so its scented. I put him down for a nap today with it and he was out in 5 mins and slept for over an hour which he rarely does so yes slowly slowly catchy monkey as they say. I definitely feel that we are making progress, old habits are hard to break but we can break them :-)

    Good luck tonight with night 3....xx

  • Sounding good can't wait to hear how u done tmw I still have yet to try Im too tired and to much going on I hope to hear that u guys have cracked it and get a full eight hours! Xx

  • This is it, you need to be in the mind set and plan to disrupt your nights sleep further to come out the other side. I was so tired everyday I had no choice, I had not realised how bad things have become and that I had to actively do something about it....1st time Mum so massive learning curve at every corner lol xx

  • :-) He got 10 I got about 6! That will do me for now xx

  • Although different technique... Night 5....We got 10 hours!!!! Whoooohoooo

    I wanna scream and shout and let it all out :-) (Am dancing in my head at 5.30am)

    Keep going Hun! How'd last night go? Xx

  • Congratulations!!!! :-) We got 10 hours too and it was only night 3...I can't believe it!! The best thing was that he went to sleep last night without even crying! He woke twice in the night for about 10 seconds then went back to sleep, I'm so proud of him!! The only problem now is that my boobs are so full by morning time they feel like they're going to explode haha!!

    So we've gone from co sleeping & him nursing on me ALL night, to sleeping on his own through the night in only 3 days. He has NEVER slept more than 3 hours since he was born so this is a miracle! And his naps yesterday were better already.

    Long may this continue for both our little ones!! (Until the next cold or new tooth haha!) xxx

  • That's brilliant, boobs will settle, I thought I would wake up to rocks today but they both ok, I just had him feed off both for 7pm feed.

    He's had a nap too after quick feed at 5.30 but I couldn't go back up sleep....too wired lol. He's still been yawning away but think he's confused by Mummy's excitement! Xx

  • U get used to it although mon night I fed him.. in bed by 8.30.. slept I got up for work at 4.30 and got home at 6.30pm abd forgot my pump so basically 22hrs of no feeding my tits hurt sooo much lol xx

  • I really feel for you cos I know it goes against everything to not response to his crying but if you decide this is the way you want to go it will take time. I did it with my LO and very hard for first 3 nights but the difference is unbelievable. I went straight in at the deep end for naps & bed time & cos your watching for the cues you know when he is tired & he's getting the sleep he needs he's a much more content baby. Now my son rarely crud for more than 15 mins but most of the time by the time I'm back downstairs he's stopped & is sound asleep & sleeps through most nights & if he does wake he chats to himself and I wait afew mins to go in & he normally goes back over. I think it's one of those things you have to be cruel to be kind, you know how much sleep he needs & you have to make sure he gets it for his own sake. Good luck x

  • Does sound like you are doing a lot at the same time though as you have said you just started weaning and then making the sleeping changes as well. Perhaps you could try more gradually, I.e. Put the cot in the same room as you and move it gradually towards the door night by night. It's a lot to expect your little boy to be all on his own suddenly. Btw, I second the breast milk in the eye for conjunctivitis. It sounds a bit funny but it worked for my daughter when she had a red eye within a day. In any case it's sterile and can't do any harm!

  • Hi thanks for replying. I posted this just over a month ago so it's no longer a problem for us. The CC worked by night 3 and he now sleeps about 10 hours a night & has 2 - 4 hours during the day.

    Funnily enough he didn't actually have conjunctivitis at the time but he does now! Iv been using breastmilk to clean them alongside the drops from the GP & it does seem to be getting better! X

  • Oh silly me. I didn't look at the date! Glad it's worked out! My lo is still breast feeding and co-sleeping (6months) and we're all happy with it at the moment but at some point we're going to have to try to change this I guess!

  • I do love co sleeping but when he started wanting to use me as a dummy ALL NIGHT I knew something had to change coz it was driving me crazy!! CC is heartbreaking at first but if you decide that's what u want to do then believe me it does work quickly if you are consistent. He wakes at 5am so we still have a couple of hours co sleeping in the morning before we get up :-) x

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