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Controlled Crying

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  • Against all maternal instincs
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      17.05.2010 12:11
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      Recommended, if you can get through it!

      There is an overwhelming amount of advice out there on raising babies it can be so easy to get bombarded with too much conflicting information. It is true that no-one knows your baby as much as you - you should trust your instincts and try not to be too hard on yourself. You obviously love and care for your baby if you are searching around for answers to help you!

      I found the first few months of raising my daughter very difficult. I now realise that I am a person who very much likes to be in control and likes to think that I am doing the best. When everything is "going wrong" and nothing seems to be working and you are all messed up with post-natal hormones, it is easy to see how tough things can become. And then you face the prospect of listening to your baby crying and not going to them immediately!

      My husband and I liked the idea of having a set routine as it would give us a basis to work from with our newborn so that we had some idea of what might work to raise our baby, since we were new to this. We turned to the most obvious answer in Gina Ford's The Contented Little Baby Book. I read this cover to cover before baby arrived, forgot most of it and then it became a bit of a "bible" for me for the first couple of months as a quick reference. The book gave us set routines to work to and methods to try which ultimately worked a dream, but not without some hiccups along the way.

      Controlled crying is suggested in the book to "train" your baby to go to sleep by itself. Before we had our daughter, we totally bought in to the plan that we didn't want to spend endless hours with her rocking her to sleep, driving around in the car to get her to sleep, etc. and that she needed to learn to go to sleep herself. The theory is that if you know that your baby is okay, it has been fed, has a clean nappy, "should" be tired and is not in pain or something (these things aren't always easy to tell and we faced the tough question on the couple of nights when we did controlled crying of "if she's been crying on and off for a couple of hours, does she need to be fed again now??") then it should be left to go to sleep on itself. Obviously you try to encourage this in as many ways as possible, to keep the baby calm before bed time and the room dark, etc. I know that some people may immediately think that the idea of controlled crying is cruel, but our reaction was that it made sense and we were onboard with it.

      This does not prepare you for the heart-wrenching awfulness that is hearing your baby's cry and not being "able" to try to comfort it. You cannot do anything, especially eat, while your baby is crying like that. It is just horrendous. You just have to keep telling yourself that it is for the best and hopefully you have the support of your partner or someone else with you. I would say that we had about 3 nights (not all at once) of serious controlled crying where she would cry on and off for a few hours, but we also went through a week or so at various times of our daughter crying for around 10 minutes before going to sleep when first put to bed in the evenings. On the nights when it was bad, the only thing I could do was housework because it kept me busy. You really feel like it is never going to end, but it does and then when your baby starts to go to sleep contented on itself it makes it worthwhile.

      I have to say that controlled crying was made very slightly easier in our case because our daughter was never a cuddly baby and if we did go in to check on her and try to calm her down before putting her back down in bed after about 5 minutes of crying she would simply scream louder! It seemed to us that she was saying "no, I don't want to get up, I'm just really tired and I can't get to sleep!!".

      At 14 months old, our daughter is a fantastic sleeper and has been this way for most of her life. She has slept through the night every night from around 7pm to around 7.30-8.30am since she was about 4 months old, apart from when she has a cold and can't breathe through her nose. She sucks her thumb to soothe herself and has slept in her own room with blackout blinds in the same cot bed since birth (apart from when we have slept at my mum's for the night or on holiday). We know that she stirs through the night and in the morning sometimes because we can hear her moving around or chatting to herself but she goes back to sleep herself. She has been pretty much wide awake on a few occasions when we have checked on her before going to bed ourselves, but we just say good night to her and we don't hear anything from her. Last week when we checked on her, she was sitting up in bed and gave us a massive grin as the door opened - she had somehow got out of her sleeping bag AND her pajama bottoms, so I redressed her, laid her back down and said good night.

      I consider us very lucky and wonder how much of this is just naturally her behaviour and how much is down to the way we have raised her. With another baby due in August, I am intrigued, with trepidation, as to what he will be like. Potential update for this review on the way!!!

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        11.05.2010 23:35
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        I have a 14 month old son who has co-slept with me since 5 months old. I've read many reviews on controlled crying and have half heartedly tried it before, giving up before properly trying, but I tried it recently with every intension of success.1st night we waited till he was tired and placed him in his bed, he Cried instantly and I was prepared for a 3 hour crying session, but to my amazement only lasted for 25mins and he was out for the count till the next morning.2nd Night, same again waited till he was getting tired, usually between 9 and 10pm. Placed him in his cot and he cried for only 3 mins and went to sleep.3rd night, he cried for 10 seconds and that was him for the night.All I would say is do this with confidence as it will work

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        10.02.2010 08:45
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        its better to be a well rested baby and a well rested mom than a cranky baby and depressed mom

        I have a 6 week year old girl who has been catnapping for the past few days. she would only fall asleep if in mom or grandma's lap, and, if she woke and wasnt in someones lap then she would wake and cry and couldnt get back to sleep. i used to lie down next to her to get her to go to sleep (which worked for awhile) but then it got to the point where she would resist that and just lay there with me and want me to interact or throw a fit for hours (get way over tired). i tried cuddling, rocking, pram, etc, to now avail. the last few days of catnapping she has turned into a very cranky, over tired and hard to handle baby, and i became a extremely tired and depressed mom (one night i lay awake telling my husband that i hate myself, im a horrible mom, etc). today i had a plunket nurse (NZ) come and teach me CC. As every mom has said previously, this was very very hard for me to do. Today was my first (very hard day of CC) and she is a completely changed baby. She is getting good sleeps and good feeds and is back to her happy self. Plus I enjoy being around her because i don't have a 2 hour long ordeal of trying to put her down for a nap or bed time.. I still question myself and have read all the reviews on this page... . i wish i could be with her every minute (ie she sleeps on my lap or in a sling all day) but it would mean i would get no sleep and be an awful mom when she wakes up. also at night, being with me does not help her get to sleep anyways! last night she cried in my arms for 2 hours because she was so overtired. she sleeps in a bassinet next to our bed and i still am breast feeding her 3 hourly (i would never deny her the food she needs). as someone else said, this is a method i would have gawked at before i had my baby, but have realised that you have to be flexible with your ideals to ensure that you can be the best parent you can be. This is only my first day of CC so it may change but at least I'm no longer hating myself and actually enjoy being around my baby now.my conclusion is that its better to be a well rested baby and a well rested mom than a cranky baby and depressed mom

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        25.01.2009 13:37
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        Controlled crying worked for me, maybe it could work for you too?

        As a first time mother of a 14 month old boy , I have had to learn the hard way when it comes to controlled crying. The first 4 months of my sons life were the hardest. The sleep deprevaton was really getting me down. I had no support as such ( although my husband was great ) , and I didn't really know what I was doing as far as routines went. When I could take no more, a friend of mine lent me a book called the " contented little baby book ". It saved my life , and explained quite clearly what routines should be in place at what age. Also it went in to alot of detail about controlled crying. I would definately recommend this book to anyone stuggling with a baby as I was. It is really hard at first to leave your baby crying for what seems like an eternity, but they don't suffer for it, and soon learn to settle themselves.

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        15.01.2009 17:21
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        Takes iron will but give it a go - it really does pay off

        Controlled crying is one of the cruelest things you can do.... BUT, sometimes there just isn't a choice! If the crying is driving you mad then it is a helpful way to get your baby to settle themselves. It really does work and at the end of the day, if your baby can settle themselves they will ultimately cry less and be happier and more content. Your sanity will also be saved.

        We have been really lucky with our 4 month old son. He is an absolute angel and was right from the start. I know how lucky I am and part of the reason is because he is just such an easy going little boy. I am not foolish enough to think that the way I have treated him has made him this way. Having said that, I have used controlled crying at times when his routine has been put out for one reason or another and it does get him back into a routine pretty easily.

        At the beginning I was very distant and could not cope so a lot of the controlled crying was done during the day - unintentionally! This was good because it meant we did not have to lay next to a screaming baby during the night.

        Remember though, young babies cannot be spoiled. You cannot expect a routine early on and if you have a needy baby who wants to be cuddled, you will need to be patient and only start the controlled crying when they are a little older and have bonded with you and gained a sense of security.

        First of all leave them to cry by themselves for only 5 minutes. This is a long enough time for a little person. Lengthen the time by five minutes each night until they have learnt that you do not rush to them just because they are having a tantrum at being left alone.

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          04.12.2008 13:03
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          Controlled Crying

          The controlled crying method is not an easy option but after months of sleep problems with our first son we decided to give it a go. We did try other suggestions first (e.g playing soothing music after putting him down or lying down next to cot etc) but nothing worked. The first 2 nights of controlled crying were extremely hard but on night 3 we were able to put him down without any fuss & he slept all night. After that our son has been a good sleeper & much happier during the day. There have been (& still are) the odd few nights every once in a while where he plays up before bedtime (now being a toddler!) but he still sleeps through OK. Another review likened this method to the RSPCC ad which is ridiculous - controlled crying doesn't mean sticking baby in a cot & leaving him without a care or second thought - you are constantly going in to reassure him that you are still around.

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            11.11.2008 17:01
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            A method to get baby to settle themselves

            Hi all. I know this is a troubled area but I thought I'd write about my experience. I would always say to mums 'You know your own baby best so you do what you think is right' but at times it is hard to stop yourself offering advice.

            I'm Mum to a 8 month old little boy. He went into his own room from day 1 at home. We put him in a moses basket in his cot and then into his cot at 8 weeks. I put him down awake for naps since a few weeks old.

            I'm sure other reviewers have written in length about the method but I'll still sum it up.

            1. Watch for tired signs in your baby. When they are very young it is hard to spot. With my baby when he was very young it was a case of thinking well he's been active after his feed for approx 30 -45 mins I bet he's getting tired. If we saw one yawn that was it. If he yawned more you had missed the window of opportunity to get him down and would then become overstimulated and get over tired. Now he's older they are really obvious. He does lots of eye rubbing and gets narky but he's also got a set nap time now.

            2. Take baby to their sleeping area and put them down awake. I would draw the curtains and shush him quite loudly while I was doing it. Wrap them up. Close the door and leave them to it.

            3. Then wait for the cries! I never used a dummy, comforter or sounds. I would let him cry for 20 mins and give him the opportunity to sort himself out and go to sleep. If he went quiet for a minute or so then started up again I would started the 20 mins again. Here some people would go in to comfort about 2 minutes into the crying and reassure then withdraw, gradually making that time longer but I never did. Yes he did cry but eventually he dropped off. Things got easier when he learned how to suck his fingers.

            Now we have a baby who is able to get himself to sleep - providing he's not hungry of course.

            I really liked the method. Early on I would sit by the monitor, biting my nails, listenign to him crying but as he got better at it it gave me more time to get things done. I watched my fellow mums spend ages rocking their children to sleep jumping up at their first parple.

            If you are going to do this, you need to be strong and have set parameters and stick to them.

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              07.11.2008 09:08
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              Rhsy sleeps wonderfully since doing this.

              My son Rhys is now 6 months old, I just can't believe where the time has gone!!! He has always been a wonderful sleeper on a night, as we have had him in a bedtime routine since he was just a few weeks old, so he slept through the night from the age of 8 weeks, which we were very grateful for!

              The only problem I had with Rhys' sleep was through the day; he would fall asleep but then wake up after 15/30 minutes and would be crying, as if he needed more sleep. He would then be grouchy all day until his next nap and the cycle would continue. Because he wasn't napping well enough I had one very grouchy baby on my hands. He then became over tired and over stimulated and simply became a nightmare to get to sleep at all through the day.

              I spoke to my health visitor and she introduced me to the controlled crying method. She said that what I needed to do, even through the day was put Rhys down for his naps in the place that he slept in at night, ie his cot. So then he would associate his cot and nursery with sleeping, so he knew that when he was put in his cot it was time to go to sleep. Before this I had always just let him nap downstairs in his bouncy chair or on his play mat, so it was no wonder he wasn't sleeping properly!!!

              The way the controlled crying works is that you put your baby into his cot when he is showing signs of being tired, ie crying or rubbing his eyes, whatever your baby does to tell you he is tired, it is important that you put your baby in his cot before he actually falls asleep, this way he will get used to settling himself to sleep and be able to do this if he wakes up during the night and you aren't there. You then give him a kiss and leave the room closing the door behind you. If your baby cries you leave him for a minute, then return to the room, calm him down (without picking him up), I usually stroke his head and shush him, once he has stopped crying then leave the room again. This time if he cries leave him for 2 minutes then repeat the calm down procedure. If he still cries do exactly the same thing, increasing the time you leave him by a minute each time. The theory is that because you are returning to your child and telling him that you are still there and that he is not alone, this should settle him into sleep without too much crying. My health visitor said that if I stuck to this I should see that he will happily go to sleep in his cot when tired without crying at all by the end of the week.

              So the day came that I decided to try this, Rhys started rubbing his eyes, which I know is the sign of him being ready for a nap, so I went upstairs and put him in his cot. He was fine at first but after a few seconds he started to cry. Im sure any Mother will agree with me that it is awful to hear your baby crying and you will do anything in the world to stop them, so when you have to just sit there and listen to it, it takes a lot of will power, but I knew it was for the best so I had to persevere. After a minute I went back in and then repeated it after 2 and then three minutes. After I had calmed him for a third time he settled into sleep by himself. I was so pleased and couldn't believe that the method actually worked!! My baby then slept for 2 hours and woke up in a wonderful mood, without crying at all.

              Once we had battled the first time I have to say that it just got easier and easier. The next time I put him down for a nap I only had to go into him twice and then the third time I only had to go into him once. He now goes down for naps no problem at all and will nap for at least an hour three times a day. Depending on what mood he is in he will sometimes have a little cry, but more often than not I don't even need to go into him, he will settle himself.

              I am very pleased that I stuck with this method and that it worked for me. I would highly recommend it to anyone out there who has problems with their child's' sleep. It is very hard to start with but it really worth it in the long run.

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                04.11.2008 22:36
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                So fair this has worked miracles and I never thought it was possible!

                It had never been my intention to leave my baby to "cry it out" but after 10 months where I could count my nights of more than 5 consecutive hours of sleep on one hand, I was literally at the end of my tether. We had tried co-sleeping, we had tried homoeopathic remedies, we had tried prescribed sedatives, basically everything except the method I was dreading most. It was time for some tough love and I knew that I had a serious battle on my hands. Let me entice you to read onwards by telling you that this technique really worked much to my total amazement.

                My son had terrible colic for the first 3-4 months of his life, and then had 2 long bouts of bronchiolitis. He also did not have his own room until we moved house when he was 9 months old. Therefore he had become very accustomed to being cuddled, rocked and gently persuaded to sleep by any means possible. He was completely incapable of sleeping without myself or my husband aiding him. In this way, when he woke in the night as part of a normal sleep pattern, he was unable to calm himself and after a minute or so cried out loudly for help and would not cease until I appeared and did something. To offer an analogy, it would be like you or I falling asleep in our bed and then waking up somewhere totally different and cold, without our favourite pillow and any of the other things that help us drift off calmly.

                An average night would see me getting out of bed at least 3 times but at worst it could be as often as every hour. I was plunging into depression and finding myself transforming into a bad tempered and exhausted mother in the daytime. I often felt anger towards my son, even though it was not actually his fault, for this was the sleep habit we had trained him into. To make things worse he is not a relaxed or easy baby who takes to things quickly.

                The thought of leaving him to cry made me feel terrible, I had tried before and he just screamed for an eternity and eventually finished vomiting, hyperventilating and glaring at me in hysterical anger. By 10 months he was also capable of standing up in his cot and refusing to lie down. I do not think he had ever gone to sleep on his own before, or slept in his own room. I knew that once we started controlled crying, every minute of him howling like a cat on fire would seem like a year to me. My husband and I agreed that however hard it would be we must present a united front and give this our best efforts for the sake our our sanity.

                The new routine involved preparing him for bed slowly; giving him a nice bath ; dressing him in his room with the lights low; singing to him; giving him his milk and then finally popping him into bed with gentle reassuring words and leaving him to it. A similarly soothing routine is applied for nap time in the day. The first night we were to go back and check him after 5 minutes, reassure him, stroke him and then leave. If he was still crying 10 minutes later we could repeat the process and after that 15 minutes and so it continues. Needless to say, that first night it took well over an hour of painful screaming for him to fall asleep alone. He woke twice in that night, but I never went to him, only checked him after he finally went quiet again. The following night we were advised to leave it even longer before the first check, thus baby gets the idea that his crying does not achieves cuddles and that they must sleep alone. The checking is really only to help them realise that the parents are still nearby and they have not been abandoned.

                On average it by the third night of controlled crying most babies sleep through and fall asleep with minimal protest. However probably owing to my son being 10 months he was still screaming for on average15 minutes before every nap and night time sleep. He was at least going to sleep alone in his own bed and even if he woke in the night I did not have to go to him and resettle him. There were some mammoth 2 hour screaming sessions and regressions along the way and I can tell you that it is not easy to hear your child cry out for you desperately and to ignore their angry little tear stained face. Sometimes I was full of resolve and blocked out his crying somehow and at times I sat outside the door of his room for long periods also crying myself.

                On the 11th day he managed to fall asleep for his morning nap without crying at all and even with an air of calm. I would say that 2 weeks further on he now does this 75% of the time. There are still moments when he grumbles for 5 minutes and there are still moments when he cries for 10. He still often wakes and whimpers and cries in the night, however he knows that he can drift off without me and he knows that I do not come running. I am sure that there will be future nights in which he really gives us a hard time, but if there is a reason such as illness we will break the rules for that night. I am also expecting relapses at various points.

                On average a baby of my sons age sleeps 10-12 hours a night straight. This will never be the case for my son, he goes about 9 hours maximum. Once I have pottered around the house and got myself to bed I am getting maybe 7 hours in total and often broken by his whimpers on the monitor, but it is paradise compared to the nightmare I was living before. I am no longer dreading bedtime and wondering what the point of me even trying to sleep is. I actually enjoy the ritual of putting my son to bed now.

                In conclusion, if your baby is refusing to sleep, this will eventually work even though it can be painful and emotionally draining. Your baby will not remember this time and certainly my son is still affectionate and happy during the day despite the struggle we have been through. I wish we had done this a few months earlier when he was less mobile and less aware.

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                  11.10.2008 10:26
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                  Controlled crying worked great for me and i would recommend it as long as its done correctly

                  I dont see controlled crying as neglect, i know how easy it can be fior first time parents to spoil their children and get them to the stage where they can only fall asleep been rocked or in mummys arm. My girls were around 12 weeks when i started the controlled crying, i had to get them into ome sort of routine and sleeping pattern as i had twins. It would have been literally impossible for me to rock my babies to sleep. I als oknew me and my partner needed the time when they were in bed to relax and spend time together. To some that may seem selfish but when you have a baby you still need time for you! even if its just to get a nice relaxing bath without been disturbed or eat your tea before its gone cold because baby is crying. It only takes a week or so of the controlled crying and their into a sleeping routine. I used to lay them down awake after a nice warm bottle and leave the room. they would start to cry and after a couple of minutes i would go back in give them their dummy and leave again. If they ever got really worked up to the point they were sobbing i picked them up settled them and laid them straight back down. Like i say after around 5 nights they went to sleep alone with no probelms at all. To be honest it was the best thing i could have done, not only does it give us time to relax but it gets your baby into a sleeping routine where they can sleep as long as they need. I would definately recommend this and i do understand that its not always easy to let your baby cry but so long as you know they have a clean nappy, their not hngry or in pain it really helps baby and you.

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                  27.05.2008 15:45
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                  it worked for me

                  wn i was pregnant with my first chil i didnt have a clue about babys and made what i think is a common mistake with first time mums and i bought loads of chilcare books all designed to make you understand less than you already do in my opinion! Anyway all these books are very big on this issue and how its essential to teach children how to sleep etc by leaving them to cry for 3 mins then going in then 5 mins etc. i must admit i struggle with this one because i am one of those parents who feel like you cant spoil a newborn. i just think babies cry for a reason and thats the only way they have to communicate with you and ok yes its awful when you are tired and they are tired but they wont sleep and you cant stand it but i feel like your baby should fall asleep contented not sob themselves to sleep unhappy. Im not a childcare expert but i have had 3 kids all with completley different personalities but i did the same thing with all 3 of them. i dont know if anyone will find this useful or if its stuff you already know but like i say just sharing my experiences. All my 3 wrer sleeping 8 hours a night from 7 weeks old and i think its because i had a routine with all 3 . they had morning and afternoon naps at the same time every day,they were fed at pretty much same time every day and they always had a bath,soft music and a bottle at 8pm,then i turned down the light,put on the mobile and they would go to sleep. For the first few weeks id sit in the room with them but they always fell asleep without complaint-i think because they were used to it and like i say all 3 were going 8 hours by 7 weeks-actually my youngest by 5 weeks. hope someone finds this useful

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                    26.02.2008 12:35
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                    i cant even leave them to cry now and they are a lot older

                    I didnt want to spoil my child by giving in to every whim so i decided that at bed time when she would cry at me to take her back out of her cot i would use the controlled crying method, leaving her alone to cry a little and then she would realise i wasnt going to give in to every whim.

                    The first night i put her in her cot and she began to cry, i walked away, turned off the light and sat just out of sight on our stair case, this idea must have lasted all of about 3 minutes although it seened like an eternity to me and possibly to my 8 month old daughter, i gave in and went back in to her room and sat with her untill she fell to sleep.

                    I tried again night after night but just couldnt do it, it broke my heart to hear her crying and leave her to sit on her own, i just couldnt do it.

                    She soon realised that at bed time she had to lie down with her eyes closed wholst i sat on the chair next to her cot and would be asleep in minutes, we have never had any problems with her sleeping.

                    I know a lot of people will think i am too soft on my children but i just couldnt leave them, either of them to cry, surely it is neglecting there need for comfort to just walk away and leave them?

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                      05.09.2007 00:37
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                      fantastic

                      i have never heard such a load of rubbish! how can it be neglect to let ur child get to sleep!! my daughter is 8 months and in the beggining had trouble getting to sleep, i used the controlled crying method and now she goes to bed by herself every night. after a bath and cuddle she is put in her bed and i say goodnight and leave the room. she goes straight to sleep with no fuss and is in no way neglected! as for those of u who have children still coming to sleep in bed with u when they are up to a year old, i seriously wonder what is wrong with u!!! do u not realise how ridiculouse that is. so what happens when u have a couple more children? there where four in the bed an the little one said roll over.....ect!!!! madness! and i would like to no what type of cot is small enough that i child can get out of it because that should be impossible!!! and whilst doin controlled crying it is possible to keep an eye on them thru the crack in the door without disturbing them!! if u know ur child u should no the difference between their cries and no when they r just crying because they r tired.

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                        23.10.2006 22:51
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                        use the night time awakenings at such a young age as a bonus time together

                        I have just read acouple of the reviews concerning controlled crying! I am sorry but has no one else seen the advert for the NSPCC where there is a little boy in a cot and the voice over says, ? has learned not to cry as he knows noone will come!!??

                        I just feel that yes my daughter fights her sleep, but eventually, usually no later than 9pm she drifts off, I put her in the cot and my husband and I get some non stressed us time.And even if this goes on for another 10 months then it is worth it as long as she is happy!

                        My daughter is 10 months old, and fights sleep to the end, she has a bath, then a story then boob (yes still breast feeding!) and then depending on her day can either fall asleep or just fight it but once asleep she sleeps through till about 1am, then comes in our bed with us and nurses and sleeps through till about 7am. I sleep fantastic and so does she and we are both happy and content with no pain, no abandoning issues and no drawn out choking crys!

                        A the end of the day your baby is so dependent on you that if you do leave her to cry, she is crying for a reason, and it is probably total bewilderment as to why you are making her feel so unhappy! Just think, if your husband/partner dropped you in a big caged room and said goodnight, didnt explain anything else and then left, how upset, confused and scared would you be?

                        I know it may be tiring SOME days but you knew this would happen and you still chose to bring a life into this world, so take responcibility and cherish and actually enjoy those night time cuddles, they grow so quick before you know it, your baby will be in a uniform getting ready for highschool and you will be lucky if you get a cuddle once a week!

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                        • More +
                          19.10.2004 19:24

                          Advantages

                          Disadvantages

                          • "Against all maternal instincs"

                          Unnatural practise - Advantages: Easier for parents in the long run - Disadvantages: child feels abandoned, child feels they're not worth responding to, Against all maternal instincs

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