thread: Does controlled crying work for everyone who tries it?

  1. #1
    Kellee Guest

    Does controlled crying work for everyone who tries it?


    You may have read my previous post about patting my son to sleep. I really am starting to lose my mind. But I am going to a Sleep Education Class this afternoon, where I anticipate that they will recommend CC. I am happy to try it, but I was wondering if it will work. I have to say that at this stage, if it doesn't work after about a week, I will probably have some kind of a break down, as I can't handle it when my son is upset. I feel like I don't deserve him. He is so wonderful and I can't be the mother that I need to be. What kind of mother can't help their child sleep? Sometimes I wish that I could just leave. I can't even talk to anyone about it because if I talk to my husband or mother they will just worry about me. I get nervous everytime he gets tired because I know that there will be nothing I can do to help him. Patting doesn't even work anymore. Today he fell asleep while we were coming home in the car (after screaming for about 30 minutes) and when I tried to move him into the cot he woke up. Then he was grizzly for about 20 minutes, screamed for about an hour and wouldn't respond to patting or being fed to sleep (these used to work). He's actually really good at night time, but I don't know how much longer I can do this. Please help me. I really feel like I have nowhere to turn.

  2. #2
    BellyBelly Member

    May 2004


    Kimberley was a bad sleeper and i had problems getting her to sleep.
    I put a radio in her room that played CD's and put one on when she went to bed. Even story's on CD were great it would work but not all the time.

    I hope you have some luck soon and would love to know how you get on.

  3. #3
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!


    First of all, it sounds to me like you are exhausted by this whole situation, so please let me reassure you that every mother I know has feelings like yours when they are at the end of their tether!

    I feel like I don't deserve him. He is so wonderful and I can't be the mother that I need to be. What kind of mother can't help their child sleep?
    You are no doubt a fantastic mother (especially as you are so concerned over this issue) & honestly, most mothers struggle to help their children sleep at one stage or another.........if it was "easy" for a Mum to help their baby sleep, there wouldn't be so many books/methods/strategies on how to go about it!

    I think the Sleep Education Class you mentioned souinds like a great starting point, and then take it from there.

    But please don't stress. This WILL resolve itself!

  4. #4
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Oct 2003
    Forestville NSW

    Kellee I had a really hard time with settling Matilda, we tried everything. We tried rocking/patting/slinging/driving/pushing in the pram and she fought sleep.... (she still does) I went to Riverton in Brissy for a week and they did CC... I'm not that into CC but I figured a week out of Matilda's life wouldn't traumatise either of us and if it didn't work we could come home & do what we wanted to do. When we came home we modified CC and DH & I do things a bit differently, but we don't do CC. Thats our choice with Matilda. I know when Matilda gets tired, I know her signs, I know her routine (the one she decided on) so, when she gets tired & we are at home I give her quiet time for 5 minutes, reading a book usually and then I rock her in the rocking chair with a "sleeping prop" like her dummy and/or muslin wrap she sleeps with, and after 5 minutes she's usually asleep. I put her in her cot & most times she wakes up but I pat or rock the cot for a few minutes until she's asleep. If I'm tired or am not in a great place, sometimes I walk out if she's still crying and have a break for a minute and then I got back in and do it all over again. This is my modified CC....DH is more strict on it, but that works for him & Matilda responds to either way now. If we aren't at home or things are crazy here, its heaps harder, and somedays are bad days and it will take hours to settle Matilda no matter what I do. But today for both her sleeps its taken 5 minutes each.

    So...I guess what I mean to say is that sleeping education places or classes can be really beneficial in helping you identify things with your baby, but you can change thing to suit your family as well. I gained heaps of confidence with Matilda by going to Riverton, and I would suggest it to anyone with difficulties in settling their babies, but at the same time they will say their way is the best way, and thats okay I just chose to go home & do what we want to do in our house.... iykwim? Good luck and hopefully you will get some help! Its so hard to see your little ones struggle to get to sleep!! Trust me, Matilda fights it so hard I'm often in tears myself.

  5. #5
    BellyBelly Member

    Aug 2004

    Kellee you poor chicken, please dont be so hard on yourself, it is nothing that you are doing wrong, you are a great mother, if you werent a great mother then this wouldnt be worrying you so much.

    just a suggestion, is there something over your bubs cot that he can look at to try to put himself to sleep, like a really colourful mobile? ones that move and play music are great because there is plenty for them to look at.

    another suggestion is to talk to your DH and mum, that is what they are there for, to worry about you, it is their job! don't bottle it all up sweetie, and hey, your mum has been there, done that, she may have some great suggestions for you.

    Chin up, i bet you will feel a new lease of life after this class too. let us know how you go.

  6. #6
    Fire Fly Guest

    Hi Kellee,

    You sound very distressed, poor bugger. I know this sounds hard to do but the more stressed you are the worse the situation usually gets because they pick up on our moods. And if your getting nervous or stressed because you know a sleep is due he will react to that.
    My DD is 22 months old and i was having trouble getting her to sleep at night. No where near as extreme as your little man but still enough to drives us nuts as well.
    Yesterday my husband and I went to a Parenting Centre that deliberately doesnt do CC which i was against doing. And last night i had the best sleep, she still was a bit unsettled but the difference was noticeable.
    They got us to put our DD in bed, and walk away. If she cried (which she did straight away) then I return. Do this 3 times. If still she isnt asleep then get a chair and sit the chair next to the bed and sit and face away
    from your child but holding their hand or stroking their back, head whatever, or just place your hand close and at the same time as stroking just calmly and quietly say shhhhh time for sleeps (make up the same soothing words to suit but use every night). Do this for 15 minutes and this still doesnt work remove the chair and kneel on floor with chest on bed and face child and talk softly to or sing, do whatever works but be consistant. She said i could say soflty what 2morrow may bring then continue to sooth. Do this for a further 15 mins. If this still doesnt work then lay you head only on pillow next to child and again sooth talk or by this stage i close my eyes and stop talking. This is were you stay unit child is asleep. If your child tends to wake through night do it all again.
    If BF are to be included then take your child out of bed to feed and then place back in bed and do the above.
    I dont know if any of this will help seeing as you child is alot younger but you can give it a go and see. This lady reackons my DD would get it by day 2. Again age makes a difference.
    Hope i helped someone. Dont dispair though, there is organisation out there that dont do CC. See if you have a community Centre that has the number to Parent hotline or something.
    Good Luck!

  7. #7
    katanya Guest

    I have never tried control crying , but I like nearly every parent have had issues with sleeping, and I like you have guilt over my techniques and whether I am providing enough routine, or doing the right thing etc..I some times just wish too that someone else would take that situation away from me and do it for me, and recently DP has been helping me. Before Felix was feeding to sleep, but I decided to stop this and now we have to work on a whole new routine.

    I think you need to gibe yourself some credit, if you weren't a good mother would care about whether he sleeps or cries, or whether he is okay. I think maybe you need some help from your husband and maybe mother. It is REALLY hard to admit you need help, and I too love helping others but resist being helped myself. Please see that perhaps you need some one to give you a hand on this one, because your little boys needs his Mummy happy and stress free, and having Daddy and Grandma help is only going to make it better for him!

  8. #8
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Oct 2003
    Forestville NSW

    I was thinking of you today as I was trying to settle Matilda and that I didn't mention one thing... control crying definately does not work on all babies, and more than that it definatley doesn't work on all mums. (like me)

  9. #9
    Kellee Guest

    Thank you so much for your support and advice. I went to the sleep class and, as I thought they would, they recommended CC. After talking about it with my husband, we have decided to try a modified version of this, as our bub is incredibly sensitive and would probably respond badly to a full blown version of CC right away. We have to ease him into it, so we are going to make sure we walk out of the room and only come back in when he gets to about a 'medium' grizzle (if you know what I mean) and soothe him by patting before walking out again. If this doesn't work and he gets hysterical, we will pick him up to calm him down, but then we will put him back when he's settled. We will try this for at least an hour each time, but if he isn't settling down (like last night) we will hold him for a while. I think when babies get to that crazy point, they don't even know what they're crying about, so CC wouldn't work as they wouldn't be learning anything. I really appreciate your help, and will let you know how things go after a week of this. Thank you all again.

  10. #10
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Aug 2003

    Kellee, I did controlled crying with Ashlea when she was little, she was used to being rocked or patted to sleep which was fine when it only took five minutes, then it started to take twenty mins, then fourty, until every sleep time it was taking an hour to get her to sleep.
    I did controlled crying with her, and it nearly killed us both! I think my biggest problem was that i was a stubborn nut and so was Ashlea, and I really should have gone to the sleep schools or gotten help with it, and it really makes a huge difference having support. Ashlea's dad worked night shifts, so i was home alone all night, and he slept most of the day so i once again had to deal with it then too. I did find that if he was up and there with me it was alot easier to deal with.
    From what i know, controlled crying isnt the same as it was years ago. Its not about leaving your child for such an ammount of time til they are hysterical, but more so responding to them, reassuring them etc.
    I have seen some kids that get it in one or two days, others take a week or two, and yes some kids never seem to get it.
    I personally felt like if i couldnt deal with my own child and need someone else to do it for me then i was a bad mother too, i know how you feel...
    The two hardest things for me was sleep deprivation, cause i was a monster without sleep, and hearing her cry and cry and cry thinking just shut the hell up and sleep you stubborn nasty baby! Then i'd feel awful for thinking that about her!
    My biggest point is that it does work for some, not for others, and with the help and support from the sleep centres etc it would be alot easier and at least something that may help if your open to it !
    Good luck!

  11. #11

    Mar 2004

    hi Kellee, welcome to BB.
    I can't help much with sleeping tips but I just wanted to say that you shouldn't feel like you are a bad mum or that you are alone with your problem. If lots of people didn't have the same issue they wouldn't need sleep schools. Most sleep schools have a counsillor(sp) you can talk to if you feel lkie it. I think that if you tell your DH and your mum they might worry but they will probably also give you more support which you sound like you need right now. I don't want to always tell my DH when I need a bit of extra help or I'm stressed and want a break (he always over-reacts) so sometimes I just ask him to do a couple of jobs for me (ie take a turn at settling bubs) while I put my feet up or get out of the house until its time for the next feed. The effect is the same but without the drama.

  12. #12
    Axeliz Guest

    Controlled Crying/Comforting

    Hi Kellee

    This is timely! It is such a controversial area, I'm finding. I personally think it comes down to your own personality and also how you were raised and react to that childhood. There are a lot of books which strongly advocate "controlled crying/comforting". However we were relieved to discover that there are also a lot which offer alternatives. I think parents need to feel free to follow their hearts in this area and their intuition. I'm no expert, but I just couldn't stand the sound of our son crying and crying and crying (and we did try this). I discovered that there were others like me, and some experts who are now advising against this approach and opting for a style which is more inline with "attachment/natural parenting".

    I am a member of Australian Breastfeeding Association and have found them very supportive and helpful in providing information on various topics. ABA referred me to two books on sleep issues. One is called "100 Ways to Calm The Crying" by Pinky McKay and the other is called 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' by Elizabeth Pantley and I noticed that Dr William Sears if referred to in both books.

    We had the experience of feeling pressured into doing controlled crying by my mother-in-law who enlisted the support of my sister-in-law, who then phoned us and ran through it over the phone. However, we just did not feel comfortable with this approach. Instead of feeling supported, the implication was (particularly from my mother-in-law) that we were incapable parents who needed to be put on the right track. Anyway, in summary, we now see what seems to two strong schools of thought on the issue of sleep. My midwife tells me that most people are somewhere between the two.

    Guilt can really weigh you down when parenting. All we need is someone telling us that we are "bad" parents because we do one or the other. Some people are naturally drawn to a very structured style of parenting and don't feel comfortable with co-sleeping. They lean towards schedules and predictable routines. Others welcome sharing their sleeping space with their babies as they cherish night-time feeds and enjoy a more spontaneous pattern to the day with a variety of activities blended with their favorite rituals.

    For those who are uncomfortable with the whole controlled crying issue, Dr William Sears explains it better than I am able. He is a Christian and a very experienced paediatrician. He puts some of it down to an innate connection which mothers have with their babies which is unique to any other relationship. It is natural for a mother to feel uncomfortable when she hears her child cry for long periods. It goes against her nature to leave her child, instead of tending to his/her needs. When others impose this method onto a mother it is unfortunate.

    We have so much pressure to force our child to sleep right through the night when they are just babies. For most children this doesn't occur until they are two or three years old. We are made to feel guilty if we comfort our baby and parent him/her to sleep, when in fact most babies need this reassurance that we are closeby and accessible if they are distressed. In fact it is now believed that babies sleep lightly because they are need to wake easily if they are too hot or cold, or if they are unable to breath. When they need comfort and reassurance as they go to sleep, this imposed detachment from their primary care-givers causes unnecessary levels of stress for them and their parents.

    For parents there are no easy answers to the hard questions. But sometimes we make some things more complicated than is needed. My sister-in-law is happy with the controlled crying method, while I am not. But we both love our children and are trying to do our best as mothers with what we understand to be suitable for us and our children. In the end, I'm sure God gives us strength for the journey, whatever parenting style we choose.


  13. #13
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Nov 2004
    Chasing Daylight...

    First of all, welcome Anne :wave:


    I hope you've started to find some answers... the girls all have some good suggestions.

    I just want to add that it's really important to modify the advice you're given to the personality and needs of your own child.

    When my daughter was born, I had some friends really into the Controlled Crying techniques, and they pushed me towards settling Gabrielle in that way. But she wasn't a "routine" baby... she did things at her own speed, and rigid rules didn't work for her. She was a little snugglepuss (still is at almost 4yrs). For day time sleeps, I rocked her off in my arms until she was about 9 m.o and then put her into her cot. This usually took about 5 mins, as she used sleep props and as soon as that dummy went in her mouth she was out like a light.

    My son, on the other hand, wasn't the cuddliest of babies... he only liked cuddles on his terms, and was highly offended if he thought you picked him up to cuddle him under false pretences (ie putting him to sleep). What worked for him was a loose routine, sleep at roughly the same time each day, and letting him settle himself in his cot, with a few pats every now and then if he was crying. And no sleep props for him, thank you very much!

    I guess my point is this... each baby is different and will respond to sleep time in different ways. Keep experimenting until you hopefully find something that will work for him and you.

  14. #14
    Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

    Jan 2005
    Funky Town, Vic

    Kelle, look after you too. You sound exactly like I felt with Mitchell. It is horrible, and enough to tip you into depression.

    No, controlled crying has no guarantees, nothing bloody does or we all would'nt be here. CC was big for awhile but alot of parents found it too hard on them and the babies.
    Sometimes I let DS cry for a little while as he is so wound up. No specific times, it depends on the way he is crying.
    DS is very easily overwhelmed, I noticed this when he was very small. I was advised to take the mobiles out of his room as they would distract him from falling asleep.
    Patting drove me spare too. The SSHHH thing we always use, and most of the time I can just stand at the end of the cot and shoosh.
    DS is a very light sleeper, so often a small radio in his room on a classical station drowns out any outside noise. Quiet but not too quiet.

    Good Luck, your not the only one losing the plot, but again, make sure you get some time away or be able to do something for yourself or you will wear down further (if thats possible, poor love)

  15. #15
    Resident Samsquanch

    Jan 2005
    Down by the ocean


    I didn't try controlled crying but at one stage I was so tired I just said "stuff it he can bloody cry" and left him. It worked.

    Don't ever think you are a bad mother because you baby won't sleep. Sometimes they won't settle and there is nothing you can do.
    Angus was very unsettled the other night and screamed from 11pm - 2am. I don't know if it was teeth. He might be getting molars as he is 20mths now. Who knows.

  16. #16
    Axeliz Guest

    Hi Kellee

    Thanks for posting this to me. I'm learning so much about why NOT to use Controlled Crying techniques. Your point about each child being different is very valid. There's a helpful paper on the Attachment Parenting International website, written in response to a CBS segment "How to Train Baby to Fall Asleep", I was also recommended Pinky McKay's book, "100 Ways to Calm the Crying" by the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) and "Parenting By Heart" is another book she wrote, which is well worth reading.

    I was also recommended reading "the no-cry sleep solution" by Elizabeth Pantley, by ABA which is also endorsed by Dr WIlliam Sears It is through reading some of his articles, which I realised I am a "natural parent" (or "attached parent"). He has so much wisdom, which reflects the many years of experience he's had as a father, husband and paediatrician. I figure his wife Martha, must also have some of that wisdom!

    Anne [-o<
    (mother of Josiah, now 8 months and crawling backwards!)

  17. #17
    ♥ BellyBelly's Creator ♥
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    Feb 2003
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia

    Anne, I was told that the 'No Cry Sleep Solution' said at the end of the book that if it hasn't worked for you, you have to do it again as you haven't done it right, and keep doing it until it works. Doesn't sound as innocent as the title implicates!!! But definitely Pinky McKay's books they are BRILLIANT! Lots of recommendations here for those.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
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