Controlled crying : Our 2am experience last night…

Controlled crying :: Our experience via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

This is a picture I took of Edie having a lie in last week – she had been up for three hours in the night. Three. Hours.

It’s 1.58am. I have now been awake with Edith for over an hour in a little something I like to call the “mummy-I-know-you’re-there-and-won’t-sleep” initiative. Yesterday I was at a conference all day, I set off at 7am and didn’t get home until gone 8pm, which basically meant that I got up with Miss grumpy but I didn’t see her all day or put her to bed. You know what happened? Fuck all. She didn’t bat an eyelid and what’s more she was an angel for her Maw Maw at bedtime. On top of that because she assumed I wasn’t here she slept through. In 15m the only time she has ever slept through is for my mum or if she has been under the impression that I am not here. The rest of the time she is up and down like a yoyo on steroids.

So, back to now. She woke up at 12.40 for a feed, which I obliged. I always do. This time however, the same as it has been every time the night after my absence, she won’t go back to sleep. So here I am, exhausted from a packed day yesterday, knowing full well this will last for hours and I’m up with the boys plus trying to grasp those creative juices that are supposed to flow the days following a conference, and she just won’t sleep.

This is the first time in her tiny life I have really lost my patience with her and decided to try a mix of leaving her to cry, lying her back in bed and ignoring her totally. I guess you would called it controlled crying… After a good hour of feeding her – boob feeds she didn’t really want that mean she has been biting, pinching and generally being a nightmare – I lay her back in bed, kissed her and walked away. 2 minutes later I’ve done the same, then 5 minutes later and I’m currently lying here writing this listening to her shrieking at the top of her little lungs in what can only be described as the song of the furious. She’s irate. She’s not slowing down or chilling out, but she is giving me a headache and I fear we’re about 2.4 minutes away from the boys waking up.

So what to do? Pick her up and sit with her for another 2 hours like I did before when Adam and I went to London? Leave the house every night between 5 and 6, returning only after she has one to sleep in the hope that she thinks I’ve taken a night job?

The answer is I haven’t a clue. I’m too tired to make a plan and I can hear the floor boards creaking in the boys bedrooms… Wish me luck.

H x

**** Afternote Note****

So, I’m up this morning (obvs) and Edie is all sweetness and light. She FINALLY went to sleep at 2.22am. The last time I went in to her was at 2.16am. Yes, there were tears, but I can honestly say that I don’t believe she went to sleep because she felt abandoned. Edith is now 15 months old, studies show that babies under the age of 6 months suffer with abandonment fears when they are left to cry it out, but it becomes less so as they become more aware. I’m not promoting any method of controlled crying or CIO (cry it out) though neither am I judging or dismissing it at this point because to know that this exhaustion is only an issue because my daughter *knows* I’m in the house and will come to her is really frustrating.

In short, Edie isn’t hurt, depressed or extra clingy – she couldn’t give a shit. I, on the other hand, am still exhausted but hoping we’ve made a step in a better direction.


  1. Avatar May 5, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    Ooh your afternote did make me chuckle – I’m sorry it has been a rough night but I completely agree, your little one will not go to sleep feeling abandoned. She was just doing what every baby does in testing the water. Good luck with the next few nights x

  2. Avatar May 4, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    Not good at all when you have a night like that but you did the right thing! Hope you can get a better sleep soon! You deserve a rest!

  3. Avatar May 4, 2016 / 9:08 am

    I’m glad she did go back to sleep – I hated leaving my daughter to cry at all, but I think you know in your gut if it’s real distress. And I know my daughter has always acted differently to me than even my husband too.

    • Harriet May 6, 2016 / 9:19 am

      I know it’s rubbish isn’t it! H x

  4. Avatar May 4, 2016 / 7:03 am

    Oh gosh, I remember those days well! Avoiding this sort of thing is why we chose to co-sleep. I slept while my children nursed and fell back asleep on their own next to me. I don’t do tired!

    • Harriet May 6, 2016 / 9:19 am

      I don’t do tired either – sadly we got to the point where she wouldn’t sleep in bed with me anymore 🙁

  5. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    I think sleep deprivation is the single worst thing about having kids. Hope you find a routine to help her, maybe baby massage with some almond oil with a few drops of lavender oil would help her into a relaxed sleep?

    • Harriet May 6, 2016 / 9:21 am

      It so is! I have tried every Camilla – sprays, oils, diffusers… everything!

  6. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 10:19 pm

    Hope you get more sleep soon, it’s awful when little ones wake at night. Our has only just started sleeping through at 19months.

    • Harriet May 6, 2016 / 9:22 am

      Thank you – still no better!

  7. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Oh no hun sorry to hear that you had a rough night. She is a cheeky little thing she looks as though butter wouldn’t melt!

    • Harriet May 6, 2016 / 9:23 am

      She really is but I assure you, she’s a beast haha! H x

  8. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    Oh bless you! Those nights are tough aren’t they! I did controlled crying with my girls. I do think if they arent’ hurt and you know if they are crying for basically no reason or just attention {when they’ve had loads already} then crying it out isn’t all that bad xx

    • Harriet May 6, 2016 / 9:23 am

      I think in some instances it is the ONLY thing to do, or you totally lose it! H x

  9. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    Sorry to hear you had such a rough night. Although I think we’d all prefer not to leave our babies to cry, sometimes you do what you need to do for the best for everyone. Sounds like your gut instinct was right on this one.

  10. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    She’s a clever little madam isn’t she?! Controlled crying sounds like the best bet. We do it at times when our son is unsettled (not often anymore), and it’s the only thing that works. If I faff over him he ends up a horror because he’s over tired.

  11. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 2:47 pm

    It’s really a very difficult situation as you feel guilty for letting your baby cry at these me time you want them to teach them that night time is bedtime and get them settled into a routine.

    • Harriet May 3, 2016 / 4:12 pm

      I have to say this time I didn’t feel guilty at all – she was having me on and I needed to sleep. Usually I would feel awful but this felt necessary!

  12. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 12:50 pm

    Use what works for you. I used controlled crying when my girl was little and it worked really well for us, taking only a couple of days to fully work and she is now almost 16 and all is well 🙂 Just go with your instincts as a mum.

    • Harriet May 3, 2016 / 4:13 pm

      I love this comment Lynette because the truth is it HAS to be what works for you at that time. No more mum shaming eh?

  13. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 12:32 pm

    Hello Harriet,

    Well done you. I am a qualified maternity practitioner and nanny, so I experience sleep issues in toddlers and babies on a daily basis. I believe in controlled crying and can rather say the opposite: the children are usually very happy the next day once they are in their routine and they sleep much better knowing they don’t have to depend on someone to fall asleep.

    Good luck!

    • Harriet May 3, 2016 / 12:44 pm

      Thanks Nadine, I am very much into the personal choice for each parent attitude, and I think that is the best way to be. The truth is I’m not a fan of leaving babies to cry BUT I do think that in some instances something has to give and when she was up for hours, biting and pinching my nipples, it was a case of her crying to save my sanity or me losing my shit. I chose the option where we all make it to the morning. H x

  14. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 10:52 am

    Sorry you had such a tough night, sounds like someone loves their mummy cuddles too much not to let her sleep! ☺️
    I hope that you get some well deserved sleep soon! ☺️ X

    • Harriet May 3, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      She does, and I adore to cuddle her. I’m always happy to go in a give her night feeds (happy was the wrong word, I loathe the lack of sleep, but I do it for her with a smile/scowl) but when she simply won’t go back to sleep, something has to give.

  15. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Sounds like a horrible night, hope you get a better nights sleep tonight. She probably just missed seeing you during the day x

    • Harriet May 3, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      It was. Little madam!

  16. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 10:01 am

    Oh dear, hope things improve fast! And that you also get some much needed sleep and rest 🙂

    • Harriet May 3, 2016 / 10:12 am

      Thank you! I hope so! Hx

  17. Avatar May 3, 2016 / 9:21 am

    I feel your pain. My youngest didn’t sleep through until she was 16 months old, up and down all night. I too was exhausted. Then one night she just did it and now does every night, she is now 20 months. They all get there eventually, but when you are living with it every day you think it’s never going to end!! Sending mummy hugs, hang in there x

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