Monday 18 June 2012

Controlled Crying

Back in April I blogged about controlled crying, and back then it was very apparent to everyone reading, that I was not warming to the idea of leaving Leo to cry for any time at all. On Friday night though...after I had tried everything else I could think of....I hopped on the controlled crying band waggon!

We have always followed the bath, bottle bed routine with Leo, and this is something we have done from day One. I have often tweeted all about the up's and down's we have experienced with our routine and sought out as much advice as possible.

Many people have recommended controlled crying, but I have always shied away from it, not wanting my beautiful boy to shed un-necessary tears and vowed to find another way. Once you have tried everything though...Somehow the idea of controlled crying seems much more attractive.

It is no secret that we have had to improvise our bedtime routine with Leo, more times than you can shake a stick at it, but there are many reasons that can suddenly make a successful routine flounder. As we have experienced...

I have tried feeding him his dinner earlier and then later in the hope he will drink more of his bedtime bottle. I have attempted spraying my perfume on his blankie when he has become so clingy that only Mummy will do, and I have even used magical baby bath. Of course sometimes you get the right combination and the sleep problem will disappear....At least for a little while anyway.

Sometimes no matter what you do, you cannot see the way back to that once blissful routine that you followed so religiously.

Since our return from France last week, Leo has been drawing out bedtime and setting new records in terms of fighting off sleep. Needless to say while we were away Leo's routine was turned on it's head and we created some bad habits that we are now paying for.

On Friday night I followed our usual routine to the smallest detail. He had his dinner, bath and milk. Despite all of this he would not settle and in the end I found myself Googling controlled crying and decided right there and then that I must now give it a try, after everything else had failed. 

I started off at 5 minute intervals before running back in and scooping him up. I waited before extending the duration before going in and soothing him. After the first hour and the 5 minutes not getting us anywhere, I did start to wait longer before going back in. The longest time gap I left was 15 minutes, and that felt like a eternity. 

I did not talk to him when I entered his room, but I did pat his back reassuringly and soothed him with a 'Shh'. When I went into Leo, I found him sat up in his bed screaming, his freshly washed hair a sweaty mess. 

He seemed to take forever to calm down even when I was holding him in my arms. I do realise that this was shear temper on his part but it does not make you feel any better about it. Each time he screamed I found myself wanting to snuggle him close and whisper sweet nothings into his hear. 

I wanted to tell him I was sorry and back down.

The more I felt like this, I suddenly realised what a contradiction this would be for my little Leo. As soon as I felt like this I thought how he had cried so many tears, that for me to just back down now and un-do all of our hard work was just completely cruel and un-fair.

 It took Leo a record breaking hour and a half before he succumbed to sleep....but he did in the end.

An hour and a half is a long time, and it is fair to say that I hated waiting 5 minutes...10 minutes and 15 minutes to go back in with a attempt to settle my beautiful boy.

Leo is at an age where he knows how to push the boundaries. For instance just last night when bedtime came around he point blank refused his bottle in his room. I persisted and so did Leo, upon walking out of his bedroom the tears stopped. Entering my bedroom and sitting on the bed, he suddenly drank his bottle. Leo had got his own way. As soon as he drank his milk I took him straight back into his room to go to bed.

Controlled Crying has not been a easy route for me to take, but after our first 3 nights of practising it I do feel more confident about what I am doing. It has certainly worked and once Leo has gone to bed, he is in bed. He will protest and you can certainly hear him crying but it does not take as long as our first attempt did on Friday. He may cry for about 20 minutes now, sometimes less...but he goes to sleep.

When I am sure Leo is sleeping like a baby, I sneak back into him and peek at my sleeping beauty, he always sleeps where he drops after giving up his fight to stay awake, and he's tucked up with his favourite blanket. You would not know that he had been screaming so relentlessly and just looks completely peaceful.

Leo is currently going through a very clingy stage and he just wants to stay with me all the time, however I return to work next month and I need to know that bedtime will be in check. Maybe he can sense something big is about to happen? Maybe he knows Mummy will not be here as much....?

Whatever the reason is, I am optimistic that implementing controlled crying into our routine may make bedtime easier in the long run... even if I do shed a few tears along the way.



  1. Implementing any kind of sleep training is really hard, I know, and you have my upmost respect for sticking with it. I'm very lucky and have a good sleeper, but then I might be described as being a pretty tough mummy right from the start. I hated hearing him cry, but I quickly learned that even as a tiny baby he needed to have a little winge and whimper before he would sleep. Even saying that, we get bad nights from time to time which are generally caused by changes in routine like being away and I wonder how on earth I'll ever cope with getting another one to the point when I plop them in bed awake between 6.30 and 7pm and then get them again at 7.30 in the morning.
    It's tough and it's heart wrenching, but keep reminding yourself that it is for everyone's good. Tired parents can't do as good a job as parents who have slept well. And babies need that sleep even more; to grow and to learn and be healthy.
    Consistency is key so stick with it hun. He'll get there. x

    1. Thanks for the comment Lucy. It is funny how quickly routines can change. Leo used to sleep so well. He would be down at 6pm and sleep until 11 where he would have a bottle and go down until the next morning.
      I wouldn't say you were a tough Mummy, I would say you knew what needed doing. I just could not bring myself to let him cry, I guess you could say I was a bit soft! I can already see a difference in how he is sleeping and I am going to keep going with it. xx

  2. I'm so glad Leo is finally admitting defeat! It is really hard to hear them scream, but like Lucy, we had to be tough from the start or she would never be sleeping through! She was actually much better once she went in a bed, but prior to that she would cry for up to twenty mins every night. I hated listening to her, but if we went in it would only start all over again once we left the room. All credit to you for stickin with it hunny x

    1. Thanks Lisa, I am really glad. How old was Holly when she went into a bed? I don't think Leo will be out of his cot for a while yet.

  3. Awwww. I know I am going to find this hard when Paige grows up but in the end we have to be strong and I do think that it is best for them and us. I hate it when Paige cries now and I always go see to her straight away if I can because she is so young but I am hoping I will be strong when the time comes Xx

    1. I am sure you will do fine my lovely. They do say not to practice controlled crying until baby is at least 6 months old. You may never need it though :-) Leo just needs to know the boundaries again. It seems to be working though as he went down fine this evening which was great!

      Hope your ok lovely xx


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