Getting My Infant to Sleep through the Night

Eight months.

“Crying it out” plus “cold turkey” equals “everybody’s happy!”

It was only pretty recently (the beginning of July) that I was able to master getting my infant son Jack to sleep.  After he learned to crawl at six months old, my wife nor I were no longer able to get him to sleep without him (and us) getting extremely upset.  So I tried my own version of the “cry it out” method and it has worked great.  I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, we soon realized that the getting to sleep was only the first half of the problem.  Even though we could get him to fall asleep, he was not able to remain asleep for more than a couple of hours.  That meant that none of the three of us were ever getting enough sleep (especially my wife and my son).  Additionally, it meant our son was drinking at least three bottles of formula during the night and therefore needing three additional diaper changes.

After a decent amount of research, and obviously acknowledging the immediate effectiveness of the “cry it out” method, my wife gave me the green light to apply the “cold turkey” method to get him to sleep through the night without needing to eat.  So I did.  And it is so awesome.  Life is beautiful, now.

Here’s what I did the first night of applying the “cold turkey” method: When I put him to sleep for the night (around 7:00 PM), I closed his bedroom door most of the way, then I didn’t come back until the morning when he cried after 6:00 AM.

On the first night of going “cold turkey,” he woke up after an hour and cried for 30 minutes straight, but then fell asleep for two solid hours.  Then he woke up and cried for 10 minutes and fell asleep for three hours.  Next he woke up and cried for 5 minutes, then another couple of hours.  As the night progressed, he continued to sleep longer and cry less.

We heard him cry at 5:40 AM, but knew not to go get him yet since it was still before 6:00 AM.  So we waited, and the next time he cried it was an hour later, and we went to go get him.

I can honestly say that the three of us were never happier to see each other in the morning.  Jack had survived his first night without eating since his dinner meal; plus, his diaper was dry.  And we, the parents, both were able to sleep more solidly than any other night while being in the same house with him.

More than a month has passed since that first night; this system has been so good for all of us.  Now when he does wake up in the middle of the night it only takes a couple of minutes for him to get back to sleep- on his own.

We had been hindering his sleep by continuing to feed him through the night; preventing him from progressing deeper into his sleep cycle because we would comfort him not only with food, but with additional soothing. Therefore we fed him too often and he never learned to fall asleep without parental help. We had been enabling him to overeat and under-sleep.

Have you half-way considered this technique, in your desperation to get your infant to sleep, but just felt that A) it was too cruel, B) it would mess up your kid psychologically, and/or C) you never knew any nice, normal parents to ever do this method?

Well, I am indeed a nice, normal parent who believes in the importance of raising my son in the most positively reinforced ways possible. I came to the conclusion I was hurting him more by not teaching him to fall asleep on his own.  And I can obviously see that, so far, I have not messed him up psychologically and he still treats me the same.

But if you should have any doubts, continue reading The Dadabase every day.  That way, you can still check in on my son to make sure that both the “cry it out” and the “cold turkey” methods are not only effective, but for my son at least, they are also a good and necessary thing.

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  1. by Carrie

    On August 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    How soon can one try the “cold turkey” method?

  2. by Brooke

    On August 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    What do you do when you have a three year old sleeping across the hall?

  3. by Dani

    On August 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Great post. I still don’t know if I would try this…Maybe not I enjoy snuggle with my baby for a while and then take her to her bed when she is asleep. :)

  4. by Kristina

    On August 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Ummm infants are supposed to eat during the night. Not only because their tummies are small but preventing a super deep sleep cycle helps to prevet SiDS. The CIO method has been shown to cause distress in infants and leads to learned helplessness. It’s disappointing that parents don’t realize that having children is a sacrafice to themselves. Having children means less sleep. It’s called being a parent. I’m very disappointed in your touting crying it out. I’ve got two kids and I’m terribly tired a lot of the time but I’ll
    never leave my baby to CIO in a room by herself. She’s a BABY. I wish you and your wife would realize that your child is a baby and needs you.

  5. by Nick Shell

    On August 9, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Yikes, that would be tricky! I guess I might be able to tell you in about two years :)

  6. by Nick Shell

    On August 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks Dani. I appreciate the fact that even though you admit this method may not be for you, you still respect the fact that it works for other parents. You’re cool :)

  7. by Nick Shell

    On August 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Kristina, thanks for reading and commenting today on The Dadabase. If I was as patient as you are, then maybe I could try it your way. But I gave up instead. Kudos to you, though. I’m just not that disciplined.

  8. by Tracy

    On August 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I learned early that my babies do not need to be awake in the middle of the night to eat. All of my 5 kids have slept 6-8 hours straight by 2 1/2 months old, and 10 hours by 4-5 months. My oldest got sick at around 6 months, and needed a little extra tlc during the night. But after he got better, he still woke up 2-3 times a night. I knew he didn’t need to eat since he had been going without his nightly feedings for 4 months. I did have to “cry it out” with him. It took 2 nights and we were back to our normal routine. I am very glad that my oldest taught me this early. When people do not get enough rest they are cranky, that goes for babies and adults. I was able to be a better parent because I got enough rest. It was not being selfish, it was knowing what was best, and what my child really needed. That is your job as a parent.

  9. by Nick Shell

    On August 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Agreed :) Thanks for reading, Tracy.