Momfession #15-16: Sleep Crime, Etc.

January 11, 2012


So I’m just going to say it: My baby doesn’t sleep well and I’m 100% sure it’s my fault.

I finally admitted it to myself on Christmas Eve when Mr. Waylon was up until 2am screaming like a banshee while the rest of my family tried to a) sleep and b) resist kicking us out of the house. Only later did it occur to me that the little sucker is just confused. Not only do we alternate between co-sleeping and not co-sleeping (inconsistent), we alternate between nursing him to sleep, rocking him to sleep, and walking him to sleep, all around midnight. Midnight! Last time I checked, your baby’s bedtime should not be the same as an irresponsible teenager.

In all this confusion, I’ve tried to figure out what the heck we’re doing here and have come across two schools of thought.

School #1
Official Title: Cry It Out
Nickname: It’s A Hardknock Life
Motto: Self soothing will help them in the long run
Stereotypes: Working moms, Type A moms, self disciplined moms
Pros: Your baby is probably sleeping through the night
Cons: Crying babies are bad for morale
Rules: Get rid of sleep prompts (nursing, rocking, walking babies to sleep)

School #2
Official Title: Attachment Parenting
Nickname: Soft Cookies
Motto: Your baby needs you
Stereotypes: Co-Sleeping moms, softie moms, new moms
Pros: Your baby trusts you?
Cons: Your baby is probably not sleeping through the night
Rules: Feed on demand, pick them up when they cry

Baby Daddy and I have tried both of these schools and found they are equally taxing. Admittedly, we hardly let him cry it out anymore. In fact, he probably spends just as much time in our bed as he does in his own bed. And if he doesn’t want to nap–he doesn’t nap.

I know it’s normal to be figuring out sleep and babies as first time parents. My confession lies only in the fact that we are lazy. We have books, family, friends, ourselves (ever hear of Google?) to help us work out a better schedule–but instead we remain in survival mode, the three of us lying in bed every night, just waiting for the monster to tire or for the crying to stop.


On a few separate occasions we even stooped as low as the sitcom cliche; two parents huddled in the corner of the bed while the baby rests peacefully in the middle. It is in these moments when I picture our son, four years old and four hundred pounds, his picture the front story of the newspaper, the headline: The Mom Who Could Never Say No.

Something’s got to give.

Maybe we’ll start a new school called “sell all our possessions and hire a nanny.”



The other day I gave my baby an empty soda can to play with out of desperation. He cut his hand and it bled.

I am the worst.




56 thoughts on “Momfession #15-16: Sleep Crime, Etc.

  1. Haley

    “the mom who could never say no” — you are far from that. You are just figuring it out, we’ve all been there. I remember those nights, even at 6..7..8 months old. IT GETS BETTER. I know you’re tired of hearing it. I know you’re just TIRED. That monkey loves you and you’re a great mom, take a deep breath.


  2. Vanessa Jubis

    Oh I feel you Mama! Maybe it’s simply a phase he’s going through? Teething?

    Try this: a late night warm bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil in the water to get him out of ‘wired’ mode.

    I did the full co-sleeping thing with each of my 3 girls. The 3rd DD, although she has her own ‘big girl’ bed now, still stumbles into our bed around 3am. Sometimes I don’t realize she made way to our bed and other times, I’ll just tuck her under my armpit, LOL!

    Your little guy. Is. Adorable. :)

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      Teeth, yes. Though I feel like we’ve been using that as an excuse since he was born.

      Lavender essential oil…really? I don’t doubt you! I just doubt Waylon and his macho-ness would be affected (kidding) (sort of).

      My heart is warm thinking about a 3 year old creeping into bed to be close to her mama. Some say bad parenting, I say–it’s natural.

      Thanks for the advice (for real).

  3. Erika

    You are probably not looking for “suggestions” but the thing that works for us (and I fall very much between the two schools) are:

    Same routine for naps as for bedtime except for bedtime there’s a bath. Savannah will be 6 months on the 24th and has slept 12 hours straight only 2 or 3 times. Usually she goes 12 hours but wakes up 1-3 times to eat.

    As a first time mom I have very much learned that:
    A. babies have no freaking clue how to put their own selves to sleep, even when exhausted, therefore they have to be taught to do this by us following their sleeping cues

    B. Consistency

    C. More sleep = more/better naps…

    I’m sure you have heard this all before:-) But! It has made us sane at our house!

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      I should have said: Suggestions welcome. Though I also want to say that we’ve tried a lot of suggestions and then after a big fat fail, gave up. That is not helping (the giving up).

      Thank you for the tips. Sharing is caring.

  4. Melody

    You’re not the worst! Once we let Bennett ‘play’ the guitar…it was adorable and he had so much fun strumming and smiling away..until his little fingers all seemed to get cut at the sometime! Off course, he didn’t notice so we didn’t either right away which resulted in a bloody guitar and a sad little boy whose music lesson ended unexpectedly!

    I remember watching YouTube videos on both sleep methods…neither seemed to work for us and I was so frustrated. Finally I just picked a routine (bath, binky,book,bed) and stuck with it until Bennett got the hang of it around 9 months old. Good luck with it!

  5. Jennifer Jo

    Sounds like you’re relaxed, not lazy. And parents who think they have it all figured out just get frustrated when things don’t go according to plan, which they almost never do.

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      True, but sometimes I worry we are too relaxed?

      And then I think, no! If we’re relaxed–he’ll be relaxed!

      But he is not.

      Crossing my fingers he gets the clue soon that WE ALL NEED TO CHILL OUT.

      (It’s been a long day)

  6. Christa

    Sleeping was one of the toP trials in my new motherhood… After several years we still don’t have it down to an exact science. I’m convinced one doesn’t exist… From Norah going all through the night one night and waking up at 3 am screaming to lay on the floor and roll over three times in a row… I’m convinced babies are just not an exact science in general. Oh and I caught Arment playing with a sewing pin once around 6 months, he was bleeding.

  7. Erin

    The soda thing is really funny. You FAIL. Ha. Jonah once got a bottle of prenatal vitamins open and scattered around the house before I even noticed. I called poison control and the guy was like, “Is there anywhere safe in your house you could put your child while we discuss this?” Um, yes sir.

    We were similar with both our babies. We didn’t set out to co-sleep, but honestly, if I didn’t succeed in getting him down in the crib by the second attempt, I usually just said, “Screw it!” and fell asleep with him in our bed, nuzzled in my armpit and nursing constantly (honestly, at least every hour) throughout the night. Exhaustion will just make you do anything to sleep. I could not be bothered to work at it. We also held our sleeping babies like insane people. Seriously, all the time. It was ridiculous. We swore we would be different with Henry, but it was all just the same. I remember the pediatrician asking if Jonah was sleeping through the night at the 6 month appointment, and when I said no, she said, “Well, then just don’t expect he’ll sleep through the night at all until he’s about 5.” And then I cried.

    Everyone told us, “Just let him cry!” which we weren’t comfortable even trying until 6 months, but honestly, even then,it didn’t work. Probably because I’d still nurse in the middle of the night, even if he’d cried it out at bedtime. Crying it out did turn out to be an incredibly easy process when we tried it again around a year and they were truly ready not to nurse at all at night anymore (we were consistent for about a week at bedtime, naps,
    and during the night and then all was good). But honestly, most nights even now we end up in one of their beds my morning.

    Wow, this is all so depressing.

    But here’s the big secret I think no one is talking about:

    Babies under one year do not consistently sleep well.

    I think we think that our baby should sleep well from early on is because the few parents who had the freak sleep-through-the-night-from-6-weeks-on babies are always quick to boast and tell you that putting a baby in your bed is stupid and the newborn phase was easy. They’re cocky. All the other parents are embarrassed that their 8 year-old still sleeps in their bed occasionally, so those parents just nod and smile when you talk about sleeping woes.

    A lot of my friends who were scheduled-never-nurse-to-sleep-crib-only-cry-it-out parents have still called me when their kid was 6 months, freaking out because suddenly teething or an ear infection or a trip had thrown the whole routine off, and they were sleeping on the floor with a shrieking baby. So honestly, I think this is life with a newborn.

    But honestly, I probably shouldn’t be the one giving advice. Find a parent with one of those miracle sleeping babies and listen to her.

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      “Is there anywhere safe in your house you could put your child while we discuss this?”

      Not a fan of using LOL, but seriously: LOL.

      I have been kicking myself for weeks over this kid, harboring guilt and exhaustion and acting like I am the only one to experience this dance. Am I that vain? I’m almost embarrassed now. Almost.

      But really, it’s hard. Thank you for saying that it’s hard.

      1. Erin

        Upside: Your milk supply will never dwindle because you’re nursing around the clock. Brag a lot that your kid is smarter and healthier because he’s literally consumed more than triple what the normal infant takes in.

        I also forgot to mention that my sister and I call co-sleeping:
        Parenting: The Marathon!

        1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

          I don’t see how it could possibly dwindle when I’m hooking him up to the “tit juicer” all night. I think he thinks I’m an open buffet.

          I suppose I am.

          Marathon. Yes. Genius.

  8. Jessica

    We’re in the same boat!!! I’m exhausted…. And we’ve tried everything as well so if you figure something out, please let me know!!!

  9. Jamie

    YES! I have a 4 month old and am right there with you. I will say that around 7 months we used the Ferber method (read the book first!) and it totally worked with my son. Within a week he was only waking once around 5:30 a.m. for a quick nurse. He also started napping out of my arms consistently. We’ll be doing the method again soon here for this little guy.

    However, I believe each child is different (duh) and you have to trust your instincts. My 4 month old has a much more… spirited? personality than his brother so we’ll see if he puts up with this Ferber method or not.

    But, I’m so very tired and also feel like a damn milking cow all. freaking. night. long.

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      Waylon is the king of spirit. I have let him cry for over a half hour and he just pushes himself upside down and wails. Stubborn much?

      I’ve heard about the Ferber. I should probably try the Ferber.

      1. A

        Ferberizing worked for us! No need to buy the book, here is the plan:
        Put your sweet baby down in their crib. Walk out the door. They start to cry. You go to a room where you can’t hear them cry. Turn on music if necessary. Set the alarm for 5 minutes. When it goes off, go pat your crying baby on the back. Say sweet things about how you love them. Leave. Go to music room. Set alarm for 10 minutes. Go back when it goes off and say in nice tones “This is as hard for you as it is for me” to to your crying baby by the crib, but don’t pat them. Go back and jam out. Set alarm for 15 minutes. At the ring, go back and say nice things to baby from the door. Set alarm for 30 minutes. Probably fall asleep yourself. Repeat this each night for about a week. Purposes: Let’s baby know they are not abandoned, but still lessens the reward for crying by stretching out the time for reward, and lessening the reward each time. They then are like “Screw you and your empty words of care, I’m going to calm down by staring at that blue spot on the ceiling , or feeling this soft bit of sheet” etc. Tool required: A mind that has Freaking Had It, because lack of consistency will ruin the plan. So if you’re willing to put night peace above all else, Ferber is your dude.

  10. Megan

    Oh. My. Goodness. This post is PERFECT for today because about 3 hours ago I was practically yelling at my husband “We HAVE TO let him cry it out!!! I’m so inssanely tired all the time I am going to have to be committed somewhere!!” I’m not mad at my hubb. I’m not mad at my son. I’m EXHAUSTED.

    My boy is now 1 and we’ve on-and-off let him cry it out, but it’s been very inconsistent and I’m weak. I give in. Baby wins most of the time. He loves to nurse through the night and I’m really trying to wean him so that’s not good news. He does sleep in his own crib most of the time, but we do compromise on that occasionally too. It’s been rough lately. I keep telling myself he’ll ‘grow out of this’ and sometimes he’ll have enough good nights that I think he will- and then we end up at square 1 again.

    So, I think we’re gonna draw a hard line, call it “hell week” and really, truly see if he can learn to go to sleep on his own…

  11. Brooke

    I love your honesty. You know the nuthouse I called home back in the day, and who’s kidding who, sometimes still, but sleep was my thing. We let those suckers cry. Leave the house, it will prevent the milk from just pouring out on impulse, and leave baby daddy to tough it out. Easy for me to say, I know, but even on our worst days now I know I can at least take solice in that they will go to bed…without me!
    Hang in there sweetie, you’re doing great. And making me laugh out loud all the time.

  12. Heather B

    The book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” has been a lifesaver for us. It’s very adaptable to different parenting styles too (it address Cry it Out and Attachment and gives option for both!)
    We have done some sleep training with Cohen and it really seems to work. Not every time (nothing is every time with a baby, right?!?) but overall it helped A LOT!

  13. Katie B.

    So I had the worlds worst sleeper. Like, up anywhere from 2-5x a night until she was 11 months old. And you know what? I nursed her every damn time she got up because OMG she would actually GO TO SLEEP quickly versus the whole rock, rub-back, tap-tap, sing stupid god awful song, dance thing….and honestly? Giving her the boob for 5 minutes was easier. Did it create a habit? Yep. I tried to “break her” of all this bee-ess. I did like 3 days of stupid ass sleep ‘training’, and it did NOTHING but break my heart. And make me feel guilty.

    So on the day she turned 11 months she QUIT nursing on me, like, looked at my boob and turned away as if she was repulsed. And guess what? That’s also the day she started sleeping 12+ hours a night through the night and has never looked back since.



    I can relate.

    And I am in no way suggesting that giving up nursing will result in sleep (and I still don’t care, nursing was important to me and I would have continued if she would have let me), but still. It was like a little surprise for how sad I was that we were done nursing.


    Long winded. But basically, I just believe they sleep when they want. The end.

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      Oh, we are the same.

      And that gives me so much hope! Like maybe he’ll just do it on his own? I worry that he’ll be a terrible sleeper until he’s a teenager because I’m doing something wrong now.

      You rock.

  14. Shum's mom

    Our eldest daughter (and you know who I’m talkin’ ’bout) was Ferberized in 2-3 short days/nights around 9 months of age. It was either gonna me or she who had to find another place to live, and it wasn’t gonna be me! After following the book to a T, she began to take naps during the day (how quaint) and slept through the night every night! Even if/when she woke up during the night, she figured out how to put herself back to sleep ALL BY HERSELF. No boob, no pacifier, no soft music, no rotating mobile overhead, no strolling around the darkened house whispering sweet nothings in her ear like ‘Don’t you know you’re making me crazy’, no humming, no nothing. Score! The whole thing was nothing short of a miracle. Made me fall in love with her all over again, lucky for her! (There had been quite a few days and nights where I had “lost that lovin’ feelin’!”) But…..ya gotta stick to it ALL THE TIME for it to work; otherwise, their little pea-sized brains somehow figure out that maybe, just maybe, THIS time you’ll come in and rescue them….and then you have to start all over at square one. I’m a Ferber believer ‘cuz it worked for me. When I was finally ready to totally devote several days and nights to the method, it worked. I totally sympathize with you, Kate. Not the most upbuilding of times in a young mom’s life. Dare I say….this is only the beginning!!! You’re doing great, Kate. I am so totally impressed with how honest you are. He is a very normal child and you are a very normal new mom. And a good one at that! Now stop your bawlin’ and start reading!

  15. Bec

    This could have been me writing this when Sam was Waylon’s age! I felt like I had ruined Sam’s sleep for the rest of his life. I know a lot of people said it before me, but it DOES get better. When I was at my wits end, a friend suggested putting Sam to bed earlier than usual (he was staying up until 10:00). I put him down at 7:00 when he started to yawn/ rub his eyes thinking there’s no way he’ll think this is bedtime, but sure enough- after a couple of days, he started going to bed @ 7:00! Good luck!

  16. Bec

    Shoot- that posted before I wanted it too. I also wanted to say that you’re doing a great job as a mom and I love reading the comments on your posts like this because I breathe a sign of relief knowing i’m not alone.

  17. margo

    urg. I suddenly remembered why I wasn’t fond of my children as infants. It was the terrible sleep deprivation – and most people would have said my babies were good sleepers. We picked a routine and stuck to it, but I still remember LOTS of nights where I eventually cried too from terrible angry frustration and exhaustion. I don’t think I bonded with my babies very well.
    My kids are now 3 and 6 and almost always sleep through the night. Hang on – babies get older (and I like it better).

  18. kezzie

    my son has never been a good sleeper. we went back and forth between the crib and cosleeping for a while, but are now exclusively cosleeping. other moms (from both schools) assured me he would sleep through the night by one… he is now 16 months and only wakes up twice on a good night! i recently found out that sometimes this habit doesn’t stop until after breastfeeding stops . i don’t plan to stop until around 2. so during the really tough nights i just remind myself his face hurts, he is just a baby, this is only a season… soon enough he won’t need me at all.
    this recent study may make you feel better about not letting him cry it out
    and this about cosleeping
    i am loving your blog. it is the only mama blog that consistently makes me laugh out loud!

  19. Amy

    I have never commented, but have been reading your blog for a few months. I find myself constantly laughing, I love it! I have a 16 month old and can I just say that I always tried to find a “solution” to the same issues. Our kid still goes to bed late, fail. He still sleeps some in our bed and mostly in crib. Honestly? I found that a line somewhere down the middle worked best FOR US. I tend to lean way more attachment parent, but with our kid, we HAD to set some limits and such to just get some adequate sleep for us all. When we were first putting him in his crib at 11 months (did I say FAIL?!), we did let him cry for about 15 minutes the first night, he fell asleep, 10 the next, and so on. It just worked, because he was truly exhausted. Anyway, I’m not sure that I even helped? But as long as you know you aren’t the only one, sometimes it’s just how it is. Oh and last night? By 4 am he was in our bed and I slept in a 1 ft space on the bed, haha. The things you do for sleep! Good luck, relax and find the “middle” that works for y’all! Oh and the coke can thing? Guilty..

  20. Ali

    I really appreciated this post because I’m in a very similar situation. I have a four month old baby boy who sounds a lot like Waylon. It’s so easy to feel like “I must be the only mom who doesn’t know what she’s doing!” For me this post was refreshing!!
    You’ve had more practice than me already, but here’s a few things that have helped me so far:
    1)Trust your instincts. I know I could never purposely let my son cry it out. He’s a baby, and I don’t think it’s possible to spoil a baby. A child, yes, but a baby, No. But if your instincts allow for crying then that’s okay too.
    2)This too shall pass. The baby stage is so short compared with the rest of the child-rearing years. I have to remind myself of this all the time. Eventually, he will sleep through the night. And before he does, it will get better, little by little.
    3) Cut yourself some slack. I take much solace in the fact that while there are moms out there whose babies are amazing sleepers, are good natured etc, there are also moms out there who have it waaay harder than I do.
    To make you feel better, this is how things are for me right now:
    Baby sleeps with us (which I made myself accept) and he wakes up around 5 times a night. Once between 10-12, again between 3-5, and then every 45minutes after that until I can’t stand it anymore and we get up at 8:30am.
    I usually hold him through his naps during the day, because if I put him down, he wakes up after 10-30minutes. So I put him in the baby carrier and get some work done, or just sit around and relax.
    I start trying to put him to bed at 7:30pm, but usually it takes until 8 or 9pm. Once he’s asleep, I leave the bed and sometimes he’ll sleep until we’re ready to go to bed, or he’ll wake up after 20minutes and I’ll go back in and nurse him to sleep. It takes a lot of time, but it is what it is for now.
    Anyway. This is my first time commenting, and I’ll add that I love your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Heatherina

    I opened my computer! To look at your blog! There is so much on here!!
    This is awesome! I mean the blog, not the sleep issues. Which we have too. Pretty much all I do all day is try to get The Smush to sleep. Today, I discovered a very funny thing. I gave her one of her gauzy blankets when I was trying to help her learn how to fall asleep in her crib not in my arms. She grabbed it with both hands, covered her face and immediately (it just took me 5 minutes to figure out how to spell that) stopped whimpering!! Weird.
    I was having a mini panic attack reading about the Ferber method. I also just heard about the new study about why the cry-it-out methods are no good. Don’t think I could handle it.

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      On Huffington Post? I read the same thing. Ferbs makes me nervous too, but sometimes I have a mini panic attack thinking about holding him until he’s a toddler.

      Anyways, you’re a great mom and smush is so lucky to have you–gauze and all. It’s so funny that worked!

  22. Heather Joseph

    Let me preface my comment with two comments:
    1) Whatever you decide to do or not do, Waylon will very very likely grow up to be a fine young man who loves you both and isn’t in need of more therapy than most. Really, unless you’re a crack whore and leave your 5 year old home alone, you are all probably going to be fine. (Watch out for the zealots who tell you otherwise, they’re just scared they’re wrong and are screwing up their kids permanently).
    2) I was exactly where you are, exactly when you are in Waylon’s young life. And I was losing my freaking mind. And was conflicted. And couldn’t get behind any of the supposedly only 2 schools you listed above. Then my sister in law loaned me “Sleeping through the Night” and things got better. I really love the author b/c she goes into some of the basic principles of sleep – for grownups too. And it makes so much sense to me – as an adult. Frankly, *I* sleep better following some of her advice. She gives lots of different methods and tips to try, while strongly advising you to follow some basic sleep principles. Ferberizing is one strategy – but she suggests modifications if you can’t handle the crying – modifications that still conform to some basic sleep principles. It took about 2-3 weeks, and then our “monster baby” (b/c that is what we lovingly called him out of frustration and sleeplessness) started to sleep 8 hours a night. And then he quickly moved to 12 hours. Imagine that! 7 pm to 7 am. I felt like I was literally born again. Almost in a religious sense.

    (Revert back to point 1 – whatever you do or don’t do, Waylon will eventually turn 18, likely be a well adjusted good kid who doesn’t hate your guts – amazing how that happens more often than not).

  23. Pingback: The Crib That Never Was or Why We Went Hippie: The Floor Bed Approach | Motley Mama

  24. Shantel

    We are definitely going through this right now! I know I am not supposed to nurse her to sleep, but for the most part – it works! And I want sleep too. The idea of sleep training is taxing. But going back from part-time to full time working soon so guaranteed sleep would be great. We’ll see! I pretend like I am in control, but no way!

  25. Jeff

    Here’s the basic reality, kids are just the best worst thing that ever happened to a person. Sleep is no longer your domain, much like dinner, or watching tv, the quicker we realize that these little terrorists won’t be satisfied until we are broken down spiritually and physically. So my advice is, build him a sound proof enclosure with a decent ventilation system and TAKE BACK THE NIGHT!!! Seriously though good luck…


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