Monday, March 27, 2017


By Kate DelPizzo

One thing every new mom is guaranteed to hear soon after her baby is born is some variation of the question, “Does he sleep?" This query can (and will) come from anyone and everyone she encounters: good friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, other new moms; heck, I even had a total stranger at CVS ask me when I was waiting in line to buy some baby item that was designed to make my son’s gas miraculously disappear (hint: Colic Calm is magic in a little bottle).

When my son was born, I learned very quickly that he was NOT a good sleeper. His tiny eyes were always wide open, looking around the room, taking in every sight and refusing to close. He was happiest when he was surrounded by a crowd of people and fought like the dickens whenever it was time to go down for a nap or to bed at night. My reports from daycare would read as follows: "Ben napped for 20 minutes...all day."

As other new moms were exclaiming with joy that their 10 week olds were giving them 6 hour stretches at night, my little guy was waking up every 45 minutes and refusing to sleep once 4am hit unless he was being held and rocked simultaneously. It was around this time that my husband learned to excel at sleeping in motion and I got pretty good at googling "how long a person could actually go without sleep?"

By 4 months, I started doing some serious research on sleep training. I learned all about the various methods: extinction, Ferber, Sleep Lady Shuffle, Babywise, pick up put down, Pat/shush; you name it, I read about it. I joined Facebook groups about sleep training. I read about the pros and cons of sleep training. I convinced myself that I was crazy to sleep train. Five minutes later, I convinced myself that I was crazy not to sleep train. I even went so far as to get the number of a sleep consultant who touted "a good night's sleep is closer than you think."

At 5 months, when the sleep deprivation was getting real, and I was surviving on coffee and the occasional lactation smoothie, I decided to bite the bullet and call the sleep consultant. My husband and I filled out an extensive questionnaire, cleared things with the pediatrician, and booked an immediate Skype conference with the hopes of getting one step closer to that ever so coveted “good night's sleep.”

Our 60 minute consultation covered everything from temperament and nursing habits, to comfort level with different methods of sleep training and evil "sleep crutches" impacting my baby's ability to self-sooth and sleep independently. It even instilled a glimmer of hope that my restless son could (and would) eventually sleep through the night or at least for more than 45 minutes in a row.

We decided, since my son was rather persistent, to try a more extreme version of sleep training, where we would put him in his crib awake, let him cry for 45 whole minutes before entering the room to calm him down and repeat the process over again. It seemed brutal, and I was hesitant to agree, but our consultant ensured us that this method would take about 3 or 4 nights and result in his learning how to sleep independently.

On that first night, we did our typical nighttime routine (bath, lotion, pj’s, nurse), but instead of letting Ben nurse to sleep (aka evil sleep crutch), I handed him off to daddy who topped him off with a bottle and plopped him into bed... wide awake. Truth be told, I then raced out the door and immediately drove to Wendy's where I purchased a huge order of fries and a frosty. If the wine store hadn't been off limits, due to frequent breastfeeding and disinterest in pumping and dumping the liquid gold that is breast milk, it would have easily been my next stop.

I decided to call my husband and check in with him about the process. We had agreed that it would be best for me to leave the apartment after putting the baby down, because my hearing him scream would have been helpful for no one.

To my great surprise, my husband told me that the baby had "fussed" for about 10 minutes and then had fallen sleep. It was a miracle. The child who had lungs of steel, had actually fallen asleep without a major fight! 

Despite this win for our team, my husband urged me to come home to relax because "the worst was yet to come." I wish I could say that this wasn't the case, but unfortunately he was right.

That first night, Ben woke up around 1am, (an improvement from past nights). I went in to nurse him, as we had agreed to sleep train with 2 overnight feedings, fed him, and put him back down in the crib... awake. I left the bedroom and had high hopes that he would fuss for 10 minutes and return to sleep. For about 2 minutes, my delusions of grandeur were real and the baby merely "fussed".  After that, however, the lungs of steel kicked into high gear and he began to wail.

I had the immediate urge to go in and hold him, but we went through with the plan, and let him cry for 45 agonizing minutes, before my husband went in to comfort him and we began the process over again. By the end of the night Ben had cried and cried and cried and cried, my husband and I had yelled and cried and screamed and cried, but ultimately the baby had put himself to sleep.

As the process went on, each night got easier and by night 4, things were much smoother. Although Ben was still putting up a fight, he was crying less and sleeping more. My husband and I were less irritable and finally feeling slightly rested and in better spirits. Although "sleeping through the night" was still a ways away, the nights of waking up every 45 minutes were behind us for the time being (I'll save sleep regressions and nap transitions for another time).

In conclusion, I would be lying if I said this process was simple, worked immediately and made my son an amazing sleeper. It was hard, time consuming and exhausting. It made me question myself as a person and wonder if I was a horrible mom for letting my kid cry. Heck, I am sure there are several people who will read this blog and think that I am a mean mommy for sleep training my son and letting him cry at such a young age. To those people, and to all mommies in general, I say this: Being a mom is deciding on what is best for you and your child and trying your best to see it through to fruition. It isn't the same for every family and it won't always be pretty. Sometimes your kid will cry for 45 whole minutes, you will feel horrible, and end up questioning your decisions. But no matter what, as long as you love your child with all your heart and try your best, you are doing a great job.

Sleep well mommies!! ‘Til next time.


  1. Oh my goodness, I can SO relate to this post! My son doesn't sleep well at daycare and recently started boycotting his afternoon nap altogether. I also used to nurse my son to sleep. I'd nurse him every time he cried at night. I saw some improvement with sleep when I took night milk off the menu. But it's so hard. There always seems to be another sleep issue to combat, like growth spurts and teething. It's tough in that first year for sure!

    We didn't end up doing a full-on CIO method, but I did have to learn to let my baby cry sometimes. Ugh, so hard. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You are so right! If it's not one thing, it's another. Thanks for reading!!

  2. Its always different for every child no matter if they're all related. My first born slept for long stretches of time I couldn't sleep from the worry. I would call the nurse line and ask if he was ok. He wouldn't wake for diaper changes and feedings. So id have to time it and do it every 2.5/3 hrs. The second was a good sleeper too and would only wake for feedings and changing. The third i consider a nightmare. Sleeping wasnt consistent for her. She still fusses throughout the night and id lay awake with her. Id let her cry sometimes because she'd sleep all day and be up at night. She's gotten better but it was tough. It wasn't just a couple of took months. It eventually changes as they get older.

    1. Totally agree! Every baby is different. Such tricky business! Thanks for having a look at our blog!

  3. My husband and I would always disagree and fight about when to go in and comfort or when to just let them try to self soothe. We hardly ever agreed and it didn't make the situation any better. But I will say that eventually you all will get sleep. And then when the kids are teenagers again, you won't sleep again because they are out and about.

    1. That is so true! This too shall pass, until the teenage years! Hahaha!

  4. My son was like this-he wasnt ever colicy or sick...he was just too into the world to sleep! He's better now at almost two but i remember those days and nights...

    1. Always good to know about the light at the end of the tunnel!