Controlled Crying

July 29, 2017

This is one of those topics that makes my toes curl. I have seen many a parent page argument about controlled crying, and I have heard many conflicting opinions and arguments from either side of the fence, but here’s where I stand.

We had to let O cry it out. It was the worst experience of my life, but it worked.
Just after he hit one, he went through this awful stage where he refused to sleep and just wanted to be held. He’d fall asleep in our arms, but as soon as we put him down he’d jump up and immediately cry, so we’d get him back out, and repeat.
We tried everything. It got to the point where we’d been up and down all night for about 6 hours trying over and over again to put him down, and we’d finally lay down at 7am, ready to get up at 7:30am for a full day at work. He wouldn’t sleep in our bed and he wouldn’t let us lay down and sleep on our chest, so we had to sit up with him and hold him. It just wasn’t working.
He had also dropped his nap through the day at this point too.
The health visitor came round and told me to leave him and sit next to his cot, but that didn’t work either, as he would be more irate knowing I was right there and he didn’t understand why I was not holding him.
In the end, Anthony begged me to try it because he was at the end of his tether just as much as I was. We were surviving on about 2-3 hours of sleep a night, and we couldn’t function properly anymore.
The first time was absolutely horrendous. I cried with him, and was sat watching the monitor, praying that he would just lay down. I couldn’t take it anymore and was just getting ready to jump up to go and get him, when he finally stopped and started to lay down. I checked my phone and it had been 3 minutes, even though the screaming felt like it had gone on for an hour.
3 minutes for him to lay down and go to sleep, and he didn’t wake up all night. I honestly felt like such an idiot.
Don’t get me wrong, before this he slept for 12 hours anyway, and if we had held him and not moved, he still wouldn’t slept for 12 hours. We didn’t do this to make him sleep through, we did it so we could sleep ourselves, to function as parents and to be able to carry on without losing our minds.
If he woke up through the night, we’d still go and get him and give him a cuddle for half an hour, but the crying would only take place when we were putting him back into his cot after he had fallen asleep.
I remember feeling so ashamed that it had come to that, and I was almost certain that he would be traumatised and that he would never forgive me. I thought he’d be different in the mornings, and that he would be more distant with me, but he just wasn’t. He woke up as happy as he had ever been, with a huge smile on his face, ready for the day.
As the days went on, we’d let him fall asleep on us, and when we eventually put him down, he would cry for about 20-30 seconds, but would then immediately lay down and go straight to sleep. He knew at that point that we meant business, and that we wouldn’t just keep getting him out. We’d just put him down and if he got up, we’d give him a kiss, and close the door.
We have made a breakthrough in the past few weeks, and can now sit next to his cot without having to let him fall asleep first, and he will just lay down and close his eyes. He knows bed time now, which was what we wanted all along. It wasn’t as simple as just telling him to “go to sleep”, because he didn’t have the foggiest what we were talking about.
It truly is horrible, and as a parent it’s extremely tough to ignore everything that your body is telling you to do, but I genuinely believe now that it was for the best. I know some people will think “well he probably only wanted a cuddle” but we could have cuddled him forever and it still wouldn’t have been enough. When you are at the end of your tether with no options left, there really isn’t anything else you can do, unless you are willing to sit up all night and have no sleep whatsoever.
I was so tired once, I nearly chopped my own finger off when cutting a crust off his sandwich.
Sometimes you have to make these decisions in order to function properly, and to carry on being a successful parent (with all of your fingers intact, too). At the end of the day, it’s nobody else’s business and if you feel like it is the best thing for your child, go ahead and try it. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work, but it is your child, and you will always be the one who knows best.

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  • Reply Michael McFarlane July 29, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    We've been very lucky with our two, they have both been excellent sleepers. From such an early age we stuck to the sane routine every night and it just worked for us. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to leave your baby crying and not go to see or comfort him. As you say, in the end you are the parent and you know what's best for your child.

    • Reply MumConventional July 29, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks for your comment. It really is, and when anyone says it like that it really does make you feel so guilty, but then I remember the reasons why we had to do it and it just makes sense again. Sadly, it's not a case of just leaving him to cry, as we would never do it at any other point of the day (well, except for the other day when he wanted to play with a tin opener and I took it off him), it was just that one barrier we could not get over!

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