Controlled Crying: Day 1

Well, I know you’re all just itching to know how it went!   And if you’re not, I suggest you stop reading, because it’s about to get very boring for you.  I’m afraid I need to keep a record for myself, and here’s as good a place as any.

So, last night, knowing that my husband was working late, Evie was in a miserable grump, and I was far too tired to spend all evening traipsing up and down the stairs to pace and rock my little chunk to sleep, I decided to get started with the  “controlled crying” sleep training for poor, unsuspecting Henry.

The method I went with involved going through our usual bedtime routine – warm bath, before changing into PJs, zipping into the sleep sack, then nursing while singing rock-a-bye baby, and finally a kiss goodnight and into his crib – before leaving him to self-settle.   The second I walked away, of course, he flipped over onto his tummy, spat out the dummy / binky, and started yelling.

Next step?   Wait 5 minutes.  Do.  Not.  Cave.

So I turned up the TV, and sat and watched Caillou with Evie until the timer went off.  (You know you’re desperate, when you will willingly sit through an episode of Caillou…)

The most irritating, goody two-shoes, whiny excuse for a boy, ever!

5 minutes of Caillou, and I was almost relieved to have to head up to Henry for a 2 minute reassurance – roll him onto his back, pop the dummy back in, stroke his hair and then….walk away.  No matter what.   Sob!

Time to set the timer for 10 minutes this time.  Caillou wasn’t loud enough any more, so I needed to do something super noisy – load and turn on the dishwasher, put the laundry in the dryer and hit the start button, put a load of diapers in the washing machine and…yep, that drowned it out nicely!  And all the lights in Redmond just dimmed a little.

All dark in the Pacific Northwest. Sorry about that…

Finally it was time to go and face the music again.   Poor Henry.  He was so unbelievably cross – I think he just couldn’t quite believe this had happened!  He was red in the face, tears and snot streaming, and had cried so much he was sick.   This sounds a lot worse than it is – if I’m honest, Henry is sick when he sits up.  He’s sick when he giggles.  He’s sick if you give him a cuddle.   But that didn’t stop my mummy instincts from jumping into gear, my gut from wrenching, and the tears from pricking my eyes.   Poor lamb – how could I be so cruel?  Maybe I should just pick him up

I know, I know, I’m *sorry* – don’t look at me like that!!!

But I was strong – you’d be so proud of me!  I turned him over again, mopped up the milky puke, stroked his hair, told him I loved him, but that it was time to sleep, and backed out of the room again.   To a soundtrack of outraged screams, of course.

Timer set for 10 minutes once more, so I took the chance to get Evie into her pyjamas, and start talking about the books she would like to read.   This helped the minutes pass quickly before it was time to head back and see just how much my son hated me by now.   But, you guys, it was amazing.  As soon as I opened the door, he stopped crying.  Within seconds of flipping him over and replacing the dummy, his eyelids were drooping, and by the time I had kissed his head and told him how very much I love him, he was fast asleep.

He stayed that way until 2.15am.   7 hours and 15 minutes without a peep.   A. May. Zing.

(This is a lot more than I can say for his big sister, incidentally.  Sigh.).

I’ll admit that I did feed him at 2.15.  I just felt sure he would be hungry by then, and I didn’t want to confuse things by trying to force a hungry baby to sleep.  But he nursed well, and went straight back to sleep again.  Out like a light.  I’m sure it was the right thing to do, for now.

The only hiccup came when he woke at 5.15 am.  I panicked.  I didn’t know what to do?  Was this him up for the day?  Is it mean of me to try to follow the controlled crying regime now, even though it’s only an hour before we usually get up anyway?   I don’t know.  I still don’t know.  In sleepy confusion, I quickly got online and asked a few friends (conveniently in the UK, and so in a helpful time zone!), and their opinions differed.  The support was fantastic, but the advice was conflicting.  Gah!  As it was, I did let him cry it out, popping in every 10 minutes to reassure him.  It took nearly 40 minutes, and then he fell asleep.  For all of 10 minutes.   We were up for the day by 6 am.

But that’s OK.  That’s OK if he only wakes once in the night.  It’s when I’ve already been up half a dozen times, that the 6am (well, 5am, I guess) wake up call makes me shouty.

So, all in all, I’d call the first night a success.  It sucked to hear him cry, and it broke my heart to see my happy little soldier so very distraught, but it was only really for 20 minutes, and then we all got a much better nights sleep.   Followed by a 2 and a half hour morning nap at 8.30 am.  A far cry from his usual half hour cat-napping.

We’ll see how Night 2 goes.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to it – in fact, I already have a sense of dread just thinking about it – but I keep reminding myself just how hard the past 6 months have been, and how much better it could be.

And as for Henry – I think he forgives me:

Happy, well-rested, little sausage!

Keep everything crossed that very soon, these bleary-eyed, foggy-headed days will be behind us, and I won’t be completely grey-haired by Christmas!

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6 Responses to Controlled Crying: Day 1

  1. Catherine says:

    well done for being strong! That’s such a hard part! Does he like sleeping on his tummy? I know that helped Olivia sleep when I was getting in to sleep training with her.


  2. Stefanie says:

    Congratulations! We’ve done the controlled crying, very hard at first but so so so so worth it!!!!!

    We just had 2 weeks of guests and he was way out of wack being cuddled to sleep all the time, so we recently had to ‘kick start’ him back to the usual.

    I just have to remind myself that he is full, clean nappy, safe – nothing to cry about! And that I can be a lot more stubborn than him! I can win win win! And we are a much happier family for it!

    PS I think I tell him I love him 100% more than any other parent does… Just to combat my guilt :/


  3. Kerstin Pepper says:

    He does seem to sleep on his tummy, but weirdly, he’ll only stop crying when I flip him back onto his back and stroke his hair. If I try calming him when he’s already on his tummy, he never relaxes, keeps lifting his head and trying to move around. Once I walk away, he flips back onto his tummy to go to sleep…. Funny, fickle little man! So yes, he likes sleeping on his tummy, but he just doesn’t like for me to make that choice for him! 🙂


  4. Kerstin Pepper says:

    Ha ha, Stef – you’re a stronger woman than me, well done you. It took me a year with Evie before I hardened my heart enough to go through it! And only then because I was going back to work, and figured Denis wouldn’t appreciate a zombie on his team. 🙂 But I’m the same…. constant reassuring “I love you”s. As if he cares…. xx


  5. Aimee says:

    Glad to hear first night went well! :0) it is heartbreaking hearing them cry – even for 10 seconds! When everything we do won’t stop H crying, we have to leave her and do the pat/reassure until she knackers herself out and falls asleep – and it’s gut wrenching, so well done to you xxxx


  6. anita says:

    So glad it was a success. And yes, I definitely think it WAS a success. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with waking for one feed at his age. I wouldn’t dream of denying him that. As long as he feeds, then goes back to sleep again, of course (fingers crossed for tonight). The 5am wake-up may get later and later as his sleep becomes more regular. If Livia wakes at 5 I do leave her, but so far she gurgles herself back to sleep. If she cried/screamed at that time I think I’d go to her and take her downstairs just to keep Declan asleep, cos at least I can have some quiet play time with her, or try to let the rocker get her back off to sleep, but once he’s up all hell breaks loose, as I’m sure is the same with Evie. Sending good vibes your way for tonight. Oh, and FYI – I’m typing this as Livia makes her horrible whiny “I’m tired but wont sleep” noise in her rocker (currently 1 hr past bedtime), trying very hard to ignore her, hoping she’ll soon drop off and let me take her back to bed…’s hoping!!


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