About Me


  • MoxieTopics
    Short PDF ebooks on specific parenting topics, in-depth and focused

Coaching and Workshops

Click through to Amazon.com

Moxie's reading

The 10-year-old's reading


  • MoxieTopics
    Short PDF ebooks on specific parenting topics, in-depth and focused

« Mending, with help | Main | Q&A: newborn how-tos? »



I just wanted to suggest looking into food allergies too. My daughter was an every hour nightwaker until we elimnated eggs from her diet. Now she only wakes 3-4 times a night, which isn't great, but it's much better than before.


My 6.5-month-old always used to scream and scream at bedtime, even with us soothing her. One day I got really frustrated that she wouldn't nap even though she was plainly tired, and I left the room and counted to 30, and she screamed -- but by the end of the 30 she had almost stopped. So I counted to 60 and she was asleep.

(The counting is critical; otherwise 10 seconds, which is really not an awful amount of time to leave a baby alone, feels like 280421 hours and you feel like the most cruel, heartless person on earth.)

So I realized our mere presence at bedtime was overstimulating the baby, who was too tired to take any of that. And now when it's nap or bedtime we just leave her alone, and she cries a bit but way less than she used to with us there, and soon enough she finds her fingers and goes to sleep. Now whenever I hear her cry out I count to 30 before dealing with it, because often she'll put herself back to sleep if I don't bug her.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying, yes, I think you should try leaving him alone for a bit and seeing if his cries decrease or increase. If they decrease, you win! And, while it still seems kinda heartless to me leaving a crying baby alone, here's how I think about it: if leaving her alone gets her to cry for a minute and fall asleep, and keeping her company gets her to cry for 20 minutes and fall asleep, leaving her alone is actually much more compassionate.


We are in the process of sleep training my 7 month old, who did a lot of waking up at night outside of growth, developmental spurts, recently. She was nursed to sleep everytime she woke up and so lots of nighttime wake up calls. And to think she was doing 12 hour stretches from 6 weeks until the 4 month sleep recession screwed everything up, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, she tends to be the type who needs to let off steam to sleep, so letting her cry was an option I didn't oppose.Her nighttime wakings have been reduced considerably, by letting her cry when she woke up( instead of picking her up and nursing her automatically), after my ensuring she was safe, didn't have a dirty nappy etc. W

What hasn't been working is getting rid of the first wake up call, which really isn't so bad as it happens anywhere between 15 and 40 minutes after putting her to sleep at around 7.15. For the last 3 nights hubby has been going in to check on her upon waking and she absolutely hit the roof the first time that it wasn't me. The second time was a bit better and the 3rd even better, but we still haven't eliminated it completely. She really is a hard nut to crack! (I have a sneaking suspician this is due to separation anxiety being at 29/30 weeks and will improve in the next week or so.)

However, really there has been a world of improvement. Even her napping has gone from 3 wake ups every 40 minutes to sometimes none at all and therefore 2.5 hours of rest for her and me.

bec 37

It might be really simple. It might be that your son desperately *needs* to sleep through the night, but can't, because when he experiences slight wakefulness (the times when an adult would just roll over and barely realize he was awake), he *thinks* he needs to nurse to get back to sleep. It may be that you have to just leave him alone so that he figures out he can get back to sleep and stay asleep. It may take a few nights, and be torture for you to hear the crying, but the end result will be everyone gets to sleep and there may be less of the crying during the day as well. Remember, he needs and wants this sleep, he just doesn't know how to get it and you are doing him a favor by allowing him to figure it out.

Caveat: This worked amazingly well for us with both children and took only a couple of nights of having to hear the crying and feeling like horrible parents. The only difference is that my kids didn't wake up every hour (it was more like every 3-4), so perhaps my solution doesn't fit your problem. I think it's worth a try though. Good luck!

bec :D


This sounds a lot like what happened wth my daughter. I remember when she was around 10 months old, and like 3 am, actually trying to stalk dr. Sears by googling him so I could tell him how mad I was that I had done everything he told me to do (via his book) and I STILL had a screaming baby that woke up every half hour and required 40 minutes of bouncing to get back to sleep. She also had never been a good sleeper, and was colicky as well.

What worked for us was Weisbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child book. I' not one for unilateral CIO (our 5mo old cosleeps and nurses to sleep - you do what works with each child - though he's starting to squirm and kick and nurse all night. boo) Turns out, at least some of the crying was while she was sleeping - when I wet in to comfort her, I'd wake her up. Otherwise, she'd cry a little and go back to sleep. Once I stopped going in, she slept much better (not perfect, but better) I'd also sugest gettng a timer. Many times, the parent with the timer had to stop the other one from rushing into the baby's room - the non-timer parent was convinced it had been a hour when it was really less that a minute. The book really helped us form strategies for dealing with her sleep. And while she's still not a great sleeper (now it's mostly resisting bedtime, but she's three, so what can you do) she's so muh better that she was. There is light t the end of the tunnel!

Good luck!


My very similar baby is now 13 months old, and I know exactly how you feel. I remember that exhaustion-induced nausea like it was yesterday. Like your organs are rotting inside of you. Like the lining of your stomach is turning to ash as you walk down the street. I wrote some hysterical posts in Moxie's comments section and got some really supportive feedback from readers, so I feel like now it's my turn to be supportive. By 9 months, my daughter was such a bad sleeper that the only place I could talk about it was the internet--I felt embarrassed about my inability to get her enough rest and I had to start lying about it at dinner parties because it was so unbelievably bad. Here's what helped me: putting her on a schedule, even though the schedule was a schedule of failed attempts, because that meant I was on a schedule of effort. By which I mean, instead of spending my entire life trying to convince her to fall asleep, I'd put her in her crib at the same time every morning, afternoon and night for her 2 "naps" and "bedtime," and if it didn't work (at the beginning it almost never did), I'd get her up again and wait until my next scheduled attempt. This gave a rhythm to our days which really cheered me up, in that it allowed me to plan things like leaving the house, or brushing my teeth. At first, she'd cry in her crib at 9:00, 1:00 and 7:00. After awhile she'd play happily but not fall asleep for 45 minutes at 9:00, 1:00 and 7:00, and now, at 13 months (so, after 5 months of trying) she takes 2 naps a day and sleeps through the night (except for 1 midnight snack) for 11 hours. Now, I have no idea if this happened because of my schedule (probably not, to be perfectly honest), or if she just got older (more likely), but scheduling my efforts instead of spending my days pacing my house in my nightgown pleading with my baby to fall asleep really helped me. This is a long-winded way of saying a) I've been there and survived and so will you b) for some babies there is no sleep solution other than the passage of time and c) putting the kid on a schedule helps the main caregiver more than the kid, in my experience, which is totally limited, as I'm just some lady with one strong-willed kid. The nights got better alongside the naps. Painstakingly gradually. Either my husband or I always went in to her for a little cuddle (except for one short, failed CIO experiment), but ultimately she had to cry herself back to sleep, every time. I really think that some kids just have to figure it out for themselves, as Bec said. Okay, now I'm going to go find the Moxie link to all the nice things everybody wrote to me way back when. Way back when I was so tired it gave me diarrhea. Way back when I'd fall into a trance of crying and exhaustion, muttering "I just don't want to feel like this anymore," even if there was nobody else in the room. Here it is: http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/2007/02/qa_4_12monthold.html#comments


Our son is 13.5 months old and has only just started sleeping through the night. His sleep was always very broken and got even worse around 9 months when he started waking around 1am and staying awake for 2 hours! We tried everything (and I read every sleep book and drove myself insane feeling like a total failure). I don't think we necessarily "solved" the problem - he probably partly grew out of it - but we did have to change some things.

First of all, we figured out that although he was waking in the night, our going in to 'help' him back to sleep wasn't working anymore. It was almost as if we made him more awake as he wanted to interact with us. Even if he lay in our arms and looked sleepy, after 1-2 hours of bouncing, rocking, walking etc. he still would not go down. So we decided that if we weren't helping, then we were hindering, so we had to stop trying. Instead, we tried letting him cry when he woke in the middle of the night. It absolutely killed me to listen, but even though he cried for 45 minutes the first night, I could tell from the increasingly longer gaps between cries that he was getting tired and getting closer to sleep. After only 2 nights of this (and admittedly, he was only waking 2-3 times, not every hour) he stopped waking. At all.
And wow, do I feel refreshed finally!

We also found, though, that he will only sleep 10 hours max a night, so if we put him down too early, he sometimes wakes in the night and is really awake, whereas when we put him down at 8 he will sleep through till 6. So figuring out how much sleep he actually needed was helpful, otherwise he was segmenting his sleep into chunks - kind of like big naps - and then finding himself awake in the night.

All this to say that what we thought was "helping" was not and that it really only took 2 nights (for us - YMMV)for him to learn how to go back to sleep on his own. I was totally against CIO at first, but by 13 months I figured that he wasn't going think I'd really abandoned him (his cries were more angry than scared or upset) and I knew that he needed to get better sleep - as did I.
And, FWIW, I read somewhere that shadows under the eyes can be a sign of a mineral/vitamin deficiency. If I can find the link I'll post it here later.
Good luck, and don't feel bad for a minute. As a good mom you care about your son's health and well-being and sleep is a big part of that.


I have a tiny suggestion for one part, though we are in just as bad shape.
sometimes I have had my wife hold the baby in the front room while I take my keys and 'leave'. She takes him into the bedroom and I tip-toe back into the house. then he'll let her put him to bed.
that's as far as we've gotten though. he still wakes all the time and wants FOOOOOOOOOOD.
Also he hates the crib but in the bed he kicks us in the guts.


ooooh, so much sympathy here! As a first-time single mom of a 7 month old who has had every sleep disturbance you can imagine, I completely get it.

Mostly I've been dealing with the going-to-sleep problems. My son will wake up 2-6 times per night, but only needs his lovey or a kiss and he's out again. Getting him to sleep is a different story though. He is definitely in the "letting off steam" camp, but I have a hard time letting him cry to do it. It frays my nerves and I hate it. So we have compromised with a bouncy chair hanging from a doorway. When he can't sleep, I put him in there with some music, and he'll bounce, and bounce, and bounce, and bounce.... well, you get the idea. When he's really wired, he won't let me take him out until his head is literally nodding into the tray. Then it's a cinch to put him down- he just rolls over and is out.

But I also wanted to put in a plug for the "new" ferber as a great resource for attachment-parenting a babe with sleep problems. I know, I know- I never read the old ferber, heard it was awful, draconian, a dirty word in many homes etc.

But "new ferber" has been great for me. He addresses going-to-sleep and staying-asleep separately. Basically he says that you need to diagnose your baby's problem(s) before you can figure out how to fix it. If your babe is feeling fear or anxiety (a possibility at 7 months), he thinks "crying it out" is unkind and will only make it worse. You would have to figure out the source of the anxiety, address that, then think about solving the other issues. If it is a sleep-cycle problem, then bedtime may be too late (or too early) for what his body is expecting, or his naps may be messing up his night-time sleep, and Ferber gives you suggestions about how to ease your baby's sleep cycle back in sink with the rest of the family's needs. There may be an issue with sleep associations, where he hasn't learned how to fall asleep without you, and he needs help building the skills to do that. Ferber is also big on habits and routines as a way to keep sleep cycles and sleep associations working in your favor.

If you're sure that you are really talking about a habit (he just has gotten used to you, likes it better than not-you, and isn't motivated to give you up), and not hunger, allergies, night terrors, too much energy, etc, then maybe sleep training would help. If you are even considering it, I would be sure to read Ferber because it is a far cry (hah hah) from just "crying it out". He explains the rationale and gives you various ways to do it. The main trick is waiting a bit longer each time, but if you can't stand hearing your baby cry and doing nothing (I'm a total wimp about this) you can start by waiting only 10 seconds, then 15 seconds, etc. He'll get the concept pretty fast that the interval keeps getting longer, even if it is only a few seconds longer each time, and he may give up sooner than you think. But the most important thing Ferber says is you absolutely should NOT try sleep training unless you are totally committed to doing it, because if you let him cry for a while, then go get him, it just teaches your babe that he has to cry longer and harder before you come. He says this just tortures everybody and makes the problem worse. All this makes a lot of sense to me.

I have done mini-versions of this about 5 times, each time after a major disruption of Ben's sleeping (a cold, a week with visitors in the house, a big teething episode). It lets me do whatever I need to to help him through the latest disruption, all the things they tell you never ever to do, basically Whatever It Takes, then get back on track later.

But I also agree that if your baby escalates instead if settling, crying it out is going to be tough on everyone. Maybe then try to work all the other possible angles first!

Well, hope this helps... Best of luck to you!



If you guys can afford it, you've earned a night or two in a local hotel while Dad takes night duty. Then you're guaranteed not to hear anything and can get 8 hours (or 10 or 12) of uninterrupted sleep. You're baby will be fine with Dad.

Hang in there, it will get better.


I'm right there with you, mama. My son's been a pretty terrible sleeper all along. And it really just kept getting worse and worse. I think for him pain from his middle of the night reflux has kept bedtime and sleeping kind of a boogey man and now he gets a little leary whenever we start his bedtime routine.

He's what has "Worked" for us. I say "worked" because things are better than they were but by most people's standards with an almost 8-month old they are terrible. His middle of the night screaming fits are much, much shorter and rather than 45 minutes of screaming followed by 30 minutes of sleeping followed by 45 minutes of screaming, we have about 2 hours of sleeping followed by a couple of minutes of sleeping.

First, I decided to throw away any book that told me to put my kid asleep drowsy but awake and that would solve our nightwaking problems because he didn't know how to fall back to sleep without help. Because my kid falls asleep without help about 80% of the time when he goes down for naps and for bedtime. Something is dfferent about middle of the night wakings though.

Second, I"m a Moxie-girl in the "Your kid sleeps they way your kid sleeps"... so while it seems like we have similar problems, my hyper-alert stubborn refluxy boy, might not be anything like your little angel.

Daddy does bedtime in our house. Nursing has been divorced from bedtime for a long time. In our house it's because daddy gets home late so the only time he gets is bedtime. I nurse him one last time, then we all dance for a couple of minutes and daddy disappears and does the bedtime routine. Daddy is also on duty for all nightwakings that are not obviously due to hunger. (I'd say after 10 hours asleep, he could be hungry again). I'd like to point out here that I was a happy co-sleeper until it was more co than sleep, I wear my baby all the time and I use cloth diapers... I'm pretty crunchy granola, so take my methods however you choose.

When things really hit their nadir we instituted a "no one picks up the bubs in the middle of the night" policy. I can't say definitively with my sample size of one, but something shortened the wakeful periods and spaced them apart more than 2 hours or so. It took about a week of even more screaming than before. We stood next to the crib and sang to him and patted him and tried to help him fall asleep, but didn't pick him up. It could take more than an hour sometimes.

So... we are far from sleeping well, but 33% of the time Eli wakes up crying now and falls back to sleep before we have counted our way through our "give him two minutes" to put himself back to sleep policy.

I definitely think some advice I've read in the half dozen sleep books have was good. The middle of the night is not the time to make these important decisions, so we came up with a plan, talked about it and just STUCK with it in the middle of the night, despite the fact that it was horrible. Then in the light of day we would talk about it again and make any revisions. I think that was helpful and important for us.

Clearly my ability to write a concise story has suffered from my lack of sleep. good luck, and you aren't the only one who's kid just doesn't sleep.


I have nothing good to add to all the other (wonderful) comments, but to wish you luck and if I knew you in real life I'd give you a big old sympathetic hug. We sleep-trained via Ferber at about your baby's age and it was a Godsend, although mine didn't night wake a lot, she just would not GO to sleep. I've been living through sleep deprivation lately because girlfriend is getting molars and you do just want to die.


Just a story. Not mine -- my sitter's.

Her little guy was 8 months when she started working for us. A few weeks later she mentioned that she was up with him every [some hideously short interval that I've mentally blocked, it was so awful] all night long. Every night. I said nothing, because I don't want to tell anybody what to do (stop laughing).

After his 9-month checkup, she said her pediatrician (a naturopath) told her she should probably let him cry. I was empathetic and told her only that we'd done it with the Munchkin and that it sucked, but we'd all survived. I also lent her my Happy Sleep Habits book (which I know is demonized 'round here somewhat, but I adamantly insist is not the cry-it-out bible; he simply presents that as a valid option) which she read.

It took her about a week to gather her nerve. She said she did the bedtime routine, put her little guy down, put in earplugs and went to bed. This was at around 7:30. She'd decided that if he woke up sooner than 4 hours, she would let him cry; after that he might be legitimately hungry, so she would feed him.

He woke the first time at 1:30, then not again until 6. Within a couple of nights, he wasn't waking in the middle of the night either.

Furthermore, when she asked her husband how long he'd cried (she'd gone to bed, remember; she'd assumed it was ages based on how long he slept), he said it wasn't more than ten minutes.

Stacy, it is possible that your baby can't fall asleep easily because he isn't well-rested. Short spurts of sleep all night aren't any more restful for a 7.5 month old than they are for you.

I'm not going to get started trying to convince anyone to let their baby cry it out if they don't want to, but I will say this: Sometimes it's about choosing the lesser of the evils. You might need to consider the possibility that, while ideally you would not let your child cry himself to sleep, it may be that doing that a few times is the price you would pay for better rest for both of you.

Best wishes, Stacy. It's a hard one.

Oh, and I've got two kids that I 'know' inside and out and I have never been able to say, "oh, that's a tired cry" or whatever. Sometimes they're just not that great at communicating -- not knowing what to do in this situation does not make you a bad mom.


Oh, Stacy. I'm so sorry. I hope it gets better soon.


The lack of sleeps sucks and it does make your stomach hurt (and your eyes and your neck muscles and your fingertips and your feet and your pounding pounding head that is worse than any hangover in the history of forever). It also makes you crazy and doubt yourself. Been there, done that....right around 7 months. I have no advice as we still Don't get a ton of sleep, though it is better. Just know you are not alone.


I could have written this letter myself. Except my son is nearly 15 months and we keep a family bed. The crying thing especially makes me want to give you a huge through-the-internet hug, because my son does the same thing. He cries at bedtime and that seems to be the ONLY way to 'wear him out' enough to allow himself to go to sleep (nursing is the only way he'll actually go down) but at any other time if he cries it's a tension increaser and he becomes hysterical if a boob is not produced. We've tried bedtime with daddy, and Sam just remains hysterical until I get home (sometimes he passes out from exhaustion while crying and trying to get away from his father, but I just don't think that's a real win). Nothing has worked and I'm certain it isn't allergies. Maybe sleeping separately is the answer (we don't have enough room to try it). I hope it works for you.


ah, i do remember this! only for us the really bad patch was at 14 months, but the pattern was the same. we took moxie's advice, dad took over for a week and it completely changed everything. the girl started sleeping through the night and still does - and dad got to be the one who knows best about sleeping and we are all very happy with that :)
again, i would like to say thank you to moxie for writing me a long email with such excellent advice before this site even existed... i was so desperate and i will be forever grateful for the help.


Here's how Andrea from Superherodesigns.com handled a similar situation with her 7-month old. After all, it can't hurt to try!

"After more than 7 months of not sleeping through the night (Ben averages 3 night wakings/feedings) I was suddenly at the end of my rope.

"I sat him down before putting him to bed last night and said, "Ben, I really need you to sleep through the night. How about you wake up for only one feeding? say around 3AM and sleep until 8AM. I really need some rest." He stared at me, fascinated, noticing I was speaking to him in a rational, adult tone he had never heard.

"So here's the crazy part. He slept for ELEVEN hours straight. Eleven hours people! I couldn't believe it. I checked to make sure he was breathing around 4AM in total disbelief. If there is anything I've learned so far as a parent, it's to not get attached to any of it, good or bad. It will surely change. But a girl can hope, right?"


I could have written this letter, too.

My daughter is now 26 months old (2 years, 2 months) and is STILL NOT a good sleeper. For naps and for bed, it takes up to two hours to get her to fall asleep. She fights sleep so much that I can see her eyes drooping while she screams "I'm not tired! No sleep!". Very frustrating. We have tried every method in every book, but we have finally come to realize that it's just her temperament. It makes it easier to know that her father is the same way. He still requires 2-3 hours of wind-down time before he can fall asleep. Sometimes he even has to be in front of a tv screen to do it. They (husband and daughter) also require very little sleep compared to other people their age.

Granted, now she only wakes up once in the night and demands I "lay down!" with her. This is usually about 5am, so I do and sleep with her until 8 or so. (I'm seven months pregnant and have no will to stay awake in the middle of the night.) But the taking-forever-to-fall-asleep jig is so annoying.

Through the years of trying to teach her to sleep (CIO, Sleep Lady, SuperNanny, Weisbluth, Sears, all of it), the only thing that has done us any good was this: http://drjaygordon.com/development/ap/sleep.asp and it's particularly suited to your situation. It got my daughter out of waking up 6-8 times a night and needing to be nursed to sleep each time (at 13 months old). I couldn't believe how much it worked! (and it will work well with what Moxie is suggesting) Things are still rough, but not nearly as rough as all that was. I was going to the chiropractor because I was spending so much time nursing her in bed and had a horrible back as a result.

Good luck. I hope this comment has been more encouraging than discouraging.

I, too, don't feel like I have any instincts with my daughter. She's such an anomaly to me - even now. Sometimes their little personalities just don't make any sense to us.


We had exactly the same sort of baby the first time around. I thought I was going to die. I endured until 14 months because I'm either supremely stubborn or a masochist. In the end, we had to do sleep training. It took about 6 weeks to get to something we could all live with. I agree with everything Moxie wrote, but wanted to add a couple more suggestions of things that worked for us.

First we tackled how he went to sleep at the beginning of the night. He cried 90 minutes the first night, with my husband going in every 10 mintues to pat and reassure (no picking up - and not me). He cried 45 minutes the 2nd night. He cried 15 minutes the third night. After that bedtime was a snap. It was miserable and felt like torture but it really did help tremendously once he figured out what was going on.

Until he went to sleep on his own consistently, I went in to him whenever he woke up after he fell asleep on his own at the beginning of the night. I think by the third night that first stretch of sleep went from 40-60 minutes to about 5 hours. That's a big change. Oh, and mine had the dark circles too and they went away within a week of us doing this. He had just been soooo tired.

After that we tackled the night time wakings. I didn't mind nursing in the night if he was hungry. I just didn't want him waking up out of habit once every 90 minutes. We made an arbitrary time limit. If he'd slept at least 2 hours, then I'd go in and feed him. If it had been less time then my husband went in. Eventually we stretched the time limit to 3 then 4 hours. This is the part that took so many weeks, but eventually it worked.

We also had problems with him waking up to eat at 4:30 am and then not going back to sleep for the rest of the night/early morning unless he was sleeping on my lap. We never did really fix that. We tried not goin in until 5:30 am at the earliest, but that just ended in us listening to him cry for an hour every morning. I eventually gave up on this one and just got up at 4:30 every morning until he was 2.

Good luck!


At 7 months, they CAN understand what you say, so telling them what you need calmly and rationally can have astonishing results. BTDT with my second.

Didn't work with my first - he had reflux (silent - NO gulpy swallows or other signs that I knew were signs, just some minor sinus congestion periodically, plus very active night sleeping, and snoring, and frequent waking). He also had spinal issues (long hard labor, we suspect that as the cause, since he snored pretty much from birth). And he had environmental allergies (really sensitivities enhanced by the reflux causing sinus swelling). And temperature issues (his body temp ran LOW, so our house was always way too warm for him).

Unfortunately, we didn't solve all of these until he was 5+, and the main one was the chiropractic (at 4 years), which stopped the night waking, but not the active sleeping. Reflux meds at 5+ stopped the active sleeping.

I slept in a recliner with him on my lap until he was 2, I think - not sure exactly when that started (he was in a crib by 4.5 months, did not tolerate the extra heat of bodies near him), and I had to put a thick pad between me and him so my heat wouldn't make him uncomfortable. Ugh. Very sleep deprived part of my life.

Having run that gauntlet, my advice? 1) Check health issues first. Reflux is common and silent reflux is hard to diagnose in infancy. A trial run of zantac may be useful (10 days to max effectiveness, if it doesn't help, then you have an answer - but talk to your doc first, obviously). 2) Dr. Ferber's new book is worth a read. I like the flexibility and diagnostic approach. 3) Consider chiropractic - there are pediatric practitioners. For something like this, it shouldn't take more than 2-4 weeks to see significant results if this is the issue. 4) Sleep deprived kids have a harder time going to sleep - they're running on adrenaline all the time. breaking the cycle is hard, but once broken (whatever the source), I'd be surprised if it doesn't get better fast. 5) "Allergic Shiners" are a classic diagnostic sign of allergies. Environmental, or food, though very common with environmental. Milk allergy in particular is very closely tied to sleep behavior. Unfortunately, that means cutting all dairy (including traces) out of your diet for 5 and a bit weeks. Yeah, five. Because while other more 'loud' symptoms of dairy allergy will decline or vanish very quickly, and almost all are gone by 2 weeks, it takes 5 to have the sleep process repair. There was a nice study on that, that showed that five weeks was the magic number, including a food challenge and a re-removal of the offending food. Worth it, IMHO, for the sleep alone. 6) Take notes. Your instincts are fuzzy from lack of sleep. I had to take notes to get my details in order. I made note cards and kept them in G's room, with a pencil, so I could note time, reaction, behaviors, how long he nursed, how 'intently' he nursed b ack down, anything I could think of. When I'd had some caffeine, I could look them over. That's how I figured out which wakings were the best ones to try to kill off - because like you, the every x hours all night was killer, but give me 4 hour stretches, and I'm golden! At the same time, fighting to remove the wrong waking wasn't helpful. Knowing they took a pattern - one 'hungry/serious waking' followed by two light wakings followed by one serious one... hey, I can take two wakings out right there! WOO! Started by giving him water at those wakings, and less stimulation, and so forth. I also did learn that he wasn't EITHER a cry-to-release OR a cry-intensifier, but BOTH. I had to learn how he cried in each situation, to get a handle on the cue for which would be the up-cycle and which would be the down-cycle events.

Never ever worked to have DH go in at night, at least not until HE decided that DH was THE ONE for nights. I can tell you I was totally thrilled the first time I was rejected at night, for DH. WOO! And also kind of felt like chopped liver for a bit, when it lasted more than a year before I was 'permitted' to attend to him at night if it wasn't a nursing need. Worth a try, though, certainly.

Best of luck! You can do this. It may be useful to do the two nights at a hotel routine so your subconscious stops listening for the baby a bit. That way you can start out from the less-sleep-deprived state on the problem-solving. It may make things feel more sane, and it will NOT cause a permanent rift in your baby's attachment.

fake name

Wow, I could have written this post! We are about to transition our 10 month old out of the family bed and hope that it will reduce night wakings.

One of the things that REALLY helped us what chiropractic. She just gets out of alignment to the point where even the smallest gas bubble causes pain as it passes through and it wakes her up.

And...the main culprit of the gas in the first place was food intolerances, which we are also dealing with.

Now there are nights (usually right after getting adjusted) that she sleeps for up to 4 hours straight. Bliss!


I feel for you! Being sleep-deprived is THE WORST. Like other posters here, my son was not a good sleeper for a long time. Especially when teething, developmental leaps, etc. were in the mix.

Two things might help that are not sleep training involved:
craniosacral therapy - we went first for nursing trouble, but it's also shown great promise for sleep, ear infections.
We saw a pediatric chiropractor but some massage therapists and others do it as well.

And, in desperation over crazy up-all-night screaming over teething we took our son to a homeopath (actually ours ia a natropath who also does homeopothy). She took his whole health history and then made him some teething tablets based on his needs. We had tried the Hylands ones with no luck at all. Guess those only work on 50% of kids!
And these new teething tablets helped him sleep much better right away (even without teething in the mix).
Might be worth a shot.

Good luck - and try to get some rest when you can!

Jen '96

Just want to second the mention of earplugs. I was a big earplug user prebaby (I don't sleep well myself) and was very sad at the thought of giving them up, but I've been working them back in. At first it was just on nights my husband was on duty, but now that my 12-mo-old sleeps mostly through the night, I have them in more often. This keeps me from even knowing if he is having a little bit of crying in the night before going back to sleep on his own. If he's REALLY crying I can hear it through the earplugs. And sometimes--you're all going to laugh--I just put in one. No, really! I go to sleep lying on my left side with the plug in the right ear. Sometime in the night I roll onto my back or other side, and then if he cries I can hear him from the nonplugged ear. We also turned the sound off on the baby monitor at about 9 months. This way we don't hear every little murmur, but we can still tell if he's really crying.

Hope some of this helps. I FEEL for everyone who's suffered baby sleep deprivation. So that means all of us. :-) It does get better, I swear. I find it extremely heartening to remember Moxie's advice that someday he will go off to college and it will be none of my business whether he's sleeping or not. Thanks, Moxie. And all you commenters.


I haven't read through all the comments, so someone may have said this already. What was an absolute lifesaver for us was doing away with the night light in our son's room. I thought our pediatrician was crazy when he suggested this, since our son was like an alarm clock and woke to eat every three hours on the dot. He was also a drama queen, as you've described. But the first time we turned the night light off, our son slept through the night (ten hours) and has done so ever since. I've told many people about this little trick and it's worked for others too. Amazing. Good luck!


Man, I feel for you. We were lucky in only having periods like this with our very definitely increase-tension-by-crying kid. We had a lot of success with the "Pantley Pull-Off" method whenever things got badly out of whack. (She would start waking up due to teething or illness and of course we'd do whatever she wanted then, but then it would continue.)

You can go read Pantley about it, but the gist is, you first just do whatever you need to for a few days so everybody can get some dang sleep. Then, you start gently popping the baby off the breast as soon as their eyes close (you let them back on when they protest, but you persist and eventually they fall asleep without the breast in their mouth)...next step a few days later, pop them off with eyes still open...next step, rock only until eyes close, then stop moving...next step, stop rocking with eyes open but let babe fall asleep on you...and so on, you get the idea. Usually once we got to Step 2, the wakeups would dramatically improve.

What was nice about this was that we knew we had a somewhat disruptible kid--she was always a solid sleeper when all was well, but she was in daycare so there were plenty of little illnesses, the usual teething, she's always been kinda gassy, etc. This was a process we felt comfortable repeating every time things got rough.

(And I mean no opposition to the FIO stuff suggested--it might well work! But if it doesn't, this approach can too.)

Good luck!


I had big sleep problems with my son -- he woke and nursed all night long, usually about ten times a night. Seriously. I finally hit the breaking point when he was 14 months, and it was then that a friend gave me the best possible advice. She told me that it was clear that I was sleep deprived, and that I couldn't be the best mother to my son if I was that chronically tired. I'd thought I was being a good mother by meeting his demands and letting him nurse as much as he wanted, but really it was resulting in both of us being too tired to interact well during the day. She also gave me the latest version of Ferber's book (which is worthwhile to read even if you don't use his techniques, because he is a sleep researcher and explained a lot of things about sleep that I'd never guessed) and thankfully, gentle Ferberizing did the trick.

Do what you have to do to get the child to sleep, or at least to make sure that you, the mother, can get some rest. It might feel terrible while you're training the child to sleep (whatever method you use), but know that you are doing you BOTH a huge favor. A rested mother is a better, happier mother, and your child deserves that!


We don't have such serious issues, but we've found that a bottle of water can get my son (9 months) back to sleep when he wakes up during the night but isn't hungry. I've also heard this can backfire since sometimes babies wake up to pee during the night (which obviously happens more if they're drinking), but it's worked for us and reassured me that he's not waking at night out of hunger.


It's so nice to know you are not alone, at least. I have a 6.5 month old and am so exhausted every day I just do not understand why anyone recommends child bearing. Seriously. I love him but I do not love this. Is there anyone else out there who hated the first 6 months, or year?


I never thought I would let my son cry himself to sleep, but at right about 7 months, when the sleep deprivation was making me mentally ill (and we didn't have it *nearly* as bad as you!), we did it. My husband and I made a pact that we were not going in there for ten minutes. We set a timer (critically important). We clutched each other for the ensuing fifty hours = ten minutes of crying. But the crying was becoming intermittent, and we decided we could live through another five minutes. Very soon after that the baby was miraculously, magically, peacefully asleep. And that was the beginning of his becoming a wonderful, independent sleeper, at night, naps, the works. For us it took only a few days. The worst time was 30 min of crying off and on. After a week we would just walk in there and put him down and he would say goo to us and put himself to sleep. Babysitters were amazed.

Who knows what would happen with you, but for us, the whole experience really changed our way of thinking about helping the baby sleep. We now think that we did not give him enough credit for being able to handle his night wakings his own way. I had wanted to give him the gift of our unwavering attention and comfort, and instead I think we were, with the best of intentions, disturbing him as much as he was disturbing us. Now he's a great sleeper, and I have to think what a great benefit that's going to be for him his whole life. I hope what we eventually did was helpful to him, and it seems clear to me that we did him a favor in at least getting out of the way.

Good luck! And when you someday get to sleep again, you will feel like a different person. I hope it is soon for you.


As a Weissbluth detractor, I just wanted to offer this caveat/apology:

Do whatever works for your family.

In my sleep-crazed state, that book annoyed me more than any other, in large part because it was so horribly structured and edited. (I'm a professional editor, so these things really bug me. I was stomping around ranting and waving my pen; combine that with 8x/night waking and you have a frightening sight.) It also, IMO, used fear to try to convince the reader of its premises. So, into the shredder.

BUT I have good friends who were helped greatly by that very book, as much as or more than Pantley helped us. And of course, this isn't about any particular book or method; it's about getting through an extremely difficult time in whatever way works for you.

Someday soon you will be waking only once or twice in the night, or not at all. You *will* find what works for you.


Sarah, it does get better.

For me, the first six months were more wonderful and terrible than anything I'd ever experienced. A friend of mine hated the first six months so much she was afraid to tell anyone. She has twins and was dealing with mild-to-moderate PPD; her wonder/terror ratio was probably far tougher than mine. And yes, a year later we're both enjoying being moms.

I'm sure you've heard this before, but even though it gets better, if you need help now - friends' support, counseling, meds, someone to take the kid for a night so you can experience REM sleep - get it. I'll be thinking about you.


Ooh, Lisa, I so totally agree about the editing. And I'm not a professional editor, just an amateur but prolific reader. I think the advice is good but dear GOD it can be hard to find it in there!


Oh, Stacy, reading your post made me want to cry in sympathy! I'm just going to echo 2 things that have been mentioned: 1. the four hour stretch of sleep as that magic amount! Several people have mentioned "the four hours" and it's so funny because my MIL and I were just talking about those nights when you thought, Oh, if I could just sleep for 4 hours straight, oh, that would be wonderful. You'll get there. And 2.) I also want to agree with a previous poster who mentioned craniosacral body work on children. A brilliant friend of mine specializes in this--I don't understand it, but she does and I know what she does for children works. Good luck, Stacy.

pnuts mama

having scanned through the comments i won't add our experience since it is so similar to so many. i would do anything to have felt this web of support and empathy when we were struggling through this stage of infancy.

i nursed the pnut to sleep til at least 12+ months and then swapped me for a binky so as to not disrupt the sucking motion. also we stopped co sleeping at 6ish months to break some of that "ooh look there's mom and her boob again" all night long crazy. we have a routine at night that includes a classical lullaby cd and had a f*sher pr*ce lullaby birdie soother that played music and a 'movie' on the ceiling that eventually she could press the button, find her binky and go back to sleep with, but it took a while. a very very long while. it was hell, and i don't miss it.

and yes, sarah, some folks would happily do without the unhappiness during the first year, me included. as challenging as two years old is, i wouldn't trade it for pnut at 6 months. hang in there, everyone who battles faithfully through the sleep wars.


Weissbluth helped us immensely - mostly to understand our son's sleep and how it works. But I agree with all of the above - it's structure was awful and the way it was formatted sucked. I think Moxie's advice and all the advice above is fantastic and (having been in your position ourselves) I think you will have a good place to start. I always felt better with some suggestions and a NEW GAME PLAN. Regardless of how tired I was. It was a plan to implement and it gave me that wonderfully false sense of control. Stick with it!

Also I think you should treat yourself to a hotel stay - once a month until things get better. Your baby will be fine with dad and you really need some sleep in order to function in the world and be the kind of mom you want to be. Good luck!


I feel for you, Stacy! My baby was/is very similar--she would do one longish stretch (2-4 hours) and then wake up every 45min or so the rest of the night. I was a wreck, she was a wreck, it was just plain miserable. After trying everything, we resorted to CIO at 6.5 months. It took her 3 minutes to fall asleep the first night and she slept longer than ever before. The middle of the night wakings were and continue to be more difficult to get rid of. We decided that I would not feed her before 3am, so until then we just kept going in to reassure her and comfort her after increasingly longer time intervals. It was not fun and was definitely not my first choice of sleep training methods, but it did work and only took a couple of nights. The bummer is that every cold, house guest, weekend trip messes things up and it's back to square one. I think a lot of it depends on personality and we definitely have an intense baby.
Note to Sarah: I LOVED months 1-4, months 4-10 were hard, hard, hard for me. I hated a lot of it and felt horribly guilty about it. I thought I was a "baby person" until I had my own. We are having SO much more fun now (at almost a year) that my daughter is walking and starting to understand language. Hang in there!


Sarah, I have often told people that I wished that maternity leave started at 6 months. Another friend of mine says to our new mom friends 'just wait for 6 months or so - that's when the Personality Fairy arrives'. I do like the second half of the first year, but only in bits. And sometimes, only in bits per day. And sometimes, those bits may only add up to a few seconds, it seems! It gets better. And different. And if it doesn't seem to be getting better, check into PPD - I didn't have quite typical symptoms, so didn't realize my dragginess and lack of enthusiasm for any of the 'up side bits' was PPD for quite a while, at least with the twins. But even without the PPD (which was very mild and very brief with the singletons), the first six months are NOT my fave. Second six... eh, start to get more interesting. 15 months, hell but fascinating. 18 months, more hell but WOW, look what they can do! 2 years plus, just stunning. Still challenging, but the joys kind of supercede eventually, for me.

Jen in Redwood City, CA

Stacy, you have total sympathy from me. My little guy (now 30 weeks old, sleeps in a crib in his own room) slept straight thru the night back in month 4, which spoiled me. Since Memorial Day, he's woken anywhere from twice a night (yay!) to six times a night (like last night, for example). He usually falls alseep nursing, but he's fallen asleep in the car or rocked in my arms, with and without a pacifier. We've tried early and late bedtimes as well, but we haven't had Dad take the night shift yet due to a big project at work. Just as well, since little guy is teething, rolling over onto his tummy, and who knows what else. It helps me to know I'm not alone and that this phase will eventually pass. Hang in there!


My friend just discovered that her 7-month old was waking every hour on the hour because he wasn't eating enough throughout the day. He actually was waking up hungry. You mentioned you are giving solids as well as bf'ing, so maybe upping the amount at the meals could help. It's a thought! My friend's little guy went from waking every hour to sleeping THROUGH THE NIGHT like the snap of your fingers.


I too am in the "more fun with every passing month" club. Sometimes things get more complicated (you have to prepare more meals, answer more questions, etc.) but they pretty constantly get less arduous as an overall trend.

Just another note: I think it's really hard to judge when to stick it out and when to try something new, especially when you're sleep deprived. But there's got to be some rule of thumb, maybe around 3 or 4 weeks, where if you're not seeing some small amount of improvement, it's probably not working--whatever "it" is. So give things a chance, but don't get scared by stuff that says you must see things through at all costs--if it's not working, stop and try something else.


First, and foremost, I just want to extend so much empathy to you. I am drawn to Moxie because it makes me feel so normal. It counters the idea that every moment of motherhood is glorious and fabulous. Some of it is just SO hard. And I will never forget the first 4 months of my baby's life when he literally never slept longer than one hour. Even now when I am on vacation and his sleep is so disrupted (waking at 4:30 a.m. instead of 7, not napping) and I (3 months pregnant) can barely sleep well, I feel that frustration, insecurity and confusion that you expressed. There is clearly no one way to go about this. Just know that everything you feel IS so real and hard and there are many that sympathize with you.

Finally, we also followed Ferber when our baby was young and it worked well...after a few nights. We dropped one night nursing at a time and immediately he nursed more during the day and slept well at night.

Clearly though as this website points out, teaching a child to sleep happens over and over. And I still feel my stomach turn when he cries, though, and for me one of the best quick solutions has been to shower right when he goes down. Better than earplugs, the shower can get me through those first 10 minutes (when the crying usually ends). My husband also got noise-cancelling headphones. A bit extreme, but as other people have said, sleep deprivation really makes it so hard to do anything that one night with solid sleep may help.

So very sorry. Best of luck.


Ditto on having a drama queen son and ditto on feeling as if I have no, or totally conflicting instincts around raising my 7-month old son. I think feeling like I have no idea what I'm doing is more difficult to cope with than the lack of sleep (though our sleep "problems" don't seem quite as involved as yours). I feel like I've had to let go of so many expectations as a parent, but some are just too difficult to get rid of - especially the expectation that I can provide for my son what he needs. It's hard to do that when I feel so uncertain about what his needs are sometimes. My own lack of sleep is making this post difficult to compose - just wanted to say I hope that things start looking up for you soon - however that might happen.


Ahh...sleep. What IS that wondrous drug? I feel like I used to sleep, that I used to enjoy it. That I even dreamt on occasion. Like one poster wrote, I've long since stopped mentioning to anyone other than close family or internet mamas the sad truth about my 19-month-old's sleep.

Now when co-workers ask, Is he sleeping better?, I nod emphatically and smile. The worst part of extended sleep deprivation is how absolutely foggy I feel. I know I used to be quicker than this, you know? I was this witty person who had sharp comebacks and funny things to say.

Wow, I sound all depressed. Really, I'm not. I adore my son to pieces, and while 0-6 months was pretty much a disaster, every month since then has gotten better.

(I have every sleep book, by the way, if anyone wants one! I think they would have helped me more if I had piled them in the yard, lit them on fire, and roasted marshmallows.)

I'll be the first to confess it:


I'm not ashamed of it anymore. I think he came into this world this way. Of course, there are things I can do to assist him in getting the best sleep possible, but you just cannot make the kid sleep through the night. Even with CIO.

Soooo...I absolutely second 2 nights in a hotel. You'll need more than one, because the first night you'll still wake up every 2 hours. By the 2nd (or 3rd!) night, your brain will let you get the sleep you need.


Ahh...sleep. What IS that wondrous drug? I feel like I used to sleep, that I used to enjoy it. That I even dreamt on occasion. Like one poster wrote, I've long since stopped mentioning to anyone other than close family or internet mamas the sad truth about my 19-month-old's sleep.

Now when co-workers ask, Is he sleeping better?, I nod emphatically and smile. The worst part of extended sleep deprivation is how absolutely foggy I feel. I know I used to be quicker than this, you know? I was this witty person who had sharp comebacks and funny things to say.

Wow, I sound all depressed. Really, I'm not. I adore my son to pieces, and while 0-6 months was pretty much a disaster, every month since then has gotten better.

(I have every sleep book, by the way, if anyone wants one! I think they would have helped me more if I had piled them in the yard, lit them on fire, and roasted marshmallows.)

I'll be the first to confess it:


I'm not ashamed of it anymore. I think he came into this world this way. Of course, there are things I can do to assist him in getting the best sleep possible, but you just cannot make the kid sleep through the night. Even with CIO.

Soooo...I absolutely second 2 nights in a hotel. You'll need more than one, because the first night you'll still wake up every 2 hours. By the 2nd (or 3rd!) night, your brain will let you get the sleep you need.


oops. sorry for the double post! See, I'm tired, people!! :o)


I just want to second the comments that food allergies and reflux can cause these kinds of symptoms--dark circles under the eyes, wanting to nurse constantly, inability to sleep well.


My daughter used to have a complete fit when we put on her pajamas too, she new it was bedtime. I just started giving her bath a bit earlier (right after dinner) and putting on her pajamas then. Then she has some time with daddy before bed and then I nurse her to sleep with no big meltdowns before bed. Obviously, we had to change our bedtime routine some, but the bedtime routine wasn't really working with all the crying anyway.


I could've written your post exactly, except that I couldn't make it through the hourly wake ups for as long as you have. I was dead set against sleep training, but one night I just couldn't take it any more so we let the babe cry it out. It was pure torture for all of us. I lasted two nights and went back to nursing him every hour. I bought "No Cry Sleep Solution" and used her suggestions to no avail. It was so obvious to me that the little guy just didn't know how to fall asleep without help. So we tried CIO again. He cried for 20 minutes once each night for the next two nights, and started waking only once a night to nurse. Now, three months later he can sleep through the night. I think the second time we tried CIO he was just ready. That couple of weeks made a huge difference.

For what its worth, months 4-6 were hell for me. I felt like all my friends babies were sleeping soundly, and I was the only one who just couldn't get it together. (Thank god for Moxie!) Once we started sleeping better, my days got progressively nicer. We've really turned a corner at 9 months. Hang in there...


I know this might not mean much to you, but I am with you. I went through all of that. ALL of it! And at 18 months he has almost finally done a whole week of sleeping through the night. I could run laps around the city!

Do things for you. Go swimming. Get a massage. Take care of yourself first. When we went through this I was mad at the world - including my son and husband. I struggled with PPD. Do you think you might have that problem? You sound so sad. I cried myself to sleep most nights. I thought there was a cure, something I was doing wrong. Remember that the more love you give him now will help him sleep better later on in life. And you'll have nothing to regret.

Good luck and keep your hopes high.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search Ask Moxie

Sign Up For My Email Newsletter

Blah blah blah

  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
Blog powered by Typepad