Things I know about controlled crying

I will never stop having my butt kicked by my children. You think after almost 5 years in the business I would know a few things {which I guess that I do} but I am always surprised at the ways in which I am still clueless.

Rob is in charge of putting the baby to bed. Night after night he does it, no bullshit, gets on with it, puts her down and that’s that. Whenever I try and do it, she must smell my fear or something, because she goes through exactly the same routine as him, and then snap! When it comes down to the “Goodnight” I get a determined and pissed off “Mummy SID!” And that’s that. The kid wants me to sit with her, waiting until she goes to sleep.

Now, I have made my bed with Daisy and I must lie in it {literally}. She has been a baaaaad sleeper from the get go and the dramas that would follow her crying it out – tantrums, vomiting, broken doors, subsequent night terrors, bleeding noses, a stressed to the max working at the time Mama meant that I would sit with her. Every night. Until she slept. This used to take hours. Motherfucking hours of me sitting there, resenting her, Rob, myself, but it meant sleep. Eventual sleep. So I did it. Years later you will still find me perched there at the end of her bed, post story time, waiting. Crazy? Sure thing. But it takes about 4 minutes or less now until sleep comes and I can check emails etc. I actually love that time. And it won’t be forever so it’s a battle I am happy to say that I lost.Β But. If you think that I’m going to do it all over again? YOU’VE GOT ANOTHER THING COMING. Sorry second born, you miss out.

Whilst Rob was away last week Mum stayed and she put her to bed. No dramas. Friday night she went down fine, but then awoke hours later and wanted us to “SID! Dadda/Mama SID!” I was tired. Over it. Screaming at Rob and the baby which woke Daisy, we started those terrible middle of the night fights. I hate those nights. I hate those fights. I am ashamed of my behaviour. My anger. All of it – just because my sleep was broken. Again. I got back into a bed {not my own} at 2am Saturday morning after being woken at 9.30pm {yes I was asleep at 9pm on Friday night}. Saturday night Rob put her to bed and snap! It started. Except he wasn’t having a part of it. We let her cry it out. Urgh. It took endless trips in to her to reassure her and an hour and 10 minutes of endless screaming before sleep came. She lost her voice. We felt sick. She did too no doubt. She was stressed. We were all stressed. Then again, hours later it started up again. Sure it only took about 45 minutes to get her down, but still, everyone suffered. Including Daisy, who was woken again. But what’s the alternative? Sitting on the floor, in the cold, waiting/hoping/praying/begging for sleep to come only to have the same thing happen again the next night? Tiredness. Anger. Resentment. What’s worse?

So. We are still deep in the trenches with this. But some things I know so far are…

: It sucks. For everyone
: Last night was better and no doubt, tomorrow night will be even better
: She will learn to sleep on her own eventually
: She will forget it all over again
: It will get better
: It will get worse again
: It’s easier to do when you don’t live in a terrace with two adjoining common walls
: It makes you feel physically sick listening to your baby cry
: It’s not for everyone but if it’s not for you, don’t offer views to someone trying it out
: It is stressful for the kid {and parents} at the time sure, but I do believe that the stress and fights between parents, parents to kids and tired, resentful parents that result from the kid calling the shots has to be a worse side effect in the long run
: It sucks


  1. Oh I feel for you πŸ™
    Yes controlled cying sucks.
    Because more than anything as parents we don’t like seeing our children upset.
    I had an awful sleeper too.
    We went through the controlled crying with hubby doing the yard yards and me sitting in the wings crying as much as the baby.
    But… are right.
    It will get better.
    It really will…..
    Until then know in your heart that you are doing a GREAT job & ultimately doing the best for your little girl.
    People say that parenting is hard but nobody tells you the reality cause one of us would do it!
    Its these times where it feels there are no rewards as a parent that are the hardest.
    Just know there’s lots of us out here cheering for you!
    Go easy on yourself.

  2. As a parent of one really crap sleeper I will watch and learn from you Master (so I don’t stuff the next one up!)

    We are all with youxxx Even if it’s just a midnight tweet πŸ™‚

  3. I have been there. Dear god, I am still there, hopeful, resentful, brewing. Over the years we have done this many times with that sleepless Max and Badoo gives it a go as well. Night after night, year after year. I feel your pson, Beth, I know it so well. Hopeful, Resentful, brewing. x

  4. With you all the way on this one Beth! We managed to instill SLEEP into Will (now 2.5) early on. However, in the last 6 months the switch has flipped and we have started with the controlled crying. It has worked!! Hang in there just remember that they NEED to sleep. Those poor little mites are soo totally knackered and they need you to teach them to sleep well. That’s what I’ve learnt anyway.
    Well done and keep up the good work.
    Big love,

  5. You hit the nail on the head. It SUCKS. Big time.
    We just finished our latest bout of controlled crying and luckily it didn’t take too long for her to get the jist of it. But it’s the fourth time we’ve had to do it because of various things that disturbed her sleep (we’ve had the vomit cough many times).
    It’s heartbreaking listening to your child cry. The worst feeling in the world.
    I know the fights too. I’ve said some horrible things to my husband in a sleep-deprived rant. Apparently when we’re in the midst of controlled crying it’s only me who knows best. I’m a complete bitch.
    Bloody sleep. Lack of it upsets everyone.
    I do believe it’s worth it in the long run, and despite the crying I doubt they remember it (that’s what I tell myself!).
    I hope each night gets better for you and by the end of the week you’re enjoying a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
    Huge virtual hugs Beth. xxx

  6. I’ve just been discharged from a baby sleep school (yes. there is such a thing), 2 weeks ago.

    My 7 month old has been a mummy-induced shit sleeper (i.e I rocked him to sleep from the day that he was born).

    So, seeing as I created the problem, I decided to fix it by admitting myself to a sleep school.

    Best 2k I’ve ever spent (how they sleep at night knowing they’re rorting the desperate & sleep deprived is beyond me).

    My baby went from sleeping in 10-20 minute installments, to sleeping 5 hours a day & all through the night (yes, I realise this will dramatically reduce as he gets older – I’m just enjoying it while it lasts).

    They used a controlled crying technique, and it killed me. Literally killed me. But the end result has been almost unbelievable.

    I think anyone who dares to judge a parent who goes down the controlled crying path, hasn’t experienced the rock bottom you hit when you’re sleep deprived. Loathing your husband. Resenting your baby. And desperate.

  7. I know I don’t need to say anything other than: I know. All too well, as you know.

    Take care xxx

  8. I have been exactly where you are.
    I don’t know who cried more – me or my kids.
    You’re right … it totally sucks.
    Hope you are ok – its just so hard being a Mum sometimes.

    Lack of sleep is the best form of contraception in this house ….

  9. God, you poor things, its pure hell when you are in it but the reward is great for perseverance. Stella has never been a good sleeper, waking frequently but easily settled. We have found that she needs a refresher course every few weeks and this involves some controlled crying in the middle of the night when she wakes and just wants company. Its hard on everyone but a night or two and she gets back in the pattern. I love your attitude about sitting with Daisy “it won’t be forever” and you are right. This will pass and one day we will have teenagers that we CANNOT get out of bed!

  10. A friend just shared this on Facebook. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

    Thank you for making me feel not so alone, and not like the only one who turns into that middle of the night bitch.

    And not the only one who ends up resenting instead of enjoying my children who I have nicknamed the “sleep stealers”

    I am also a few days into trying to change our sleeping habits. I have a 2 year old who slept through the night for the first time ever last night ( well she woke but for the first time I didn’t have to go in) and a 4.5 year old who since little sister came along gets up several times a night because she is jealous of the attention little sis is getting in the night. They share a room so I have always taken 2 year old out to try & prevent her waking her sis.

    Fingers crossed, for me just that 1 night or a little improvement is enough to make me feel a little more in control & less fragile.

    Good luck


  11. Two words for you – ‘Toddler Taming’. If you don’t already have it, go and buy it. Today. Its a book that changed my life, literally. Highly recommend.

  12. I love your blog and read it every day, though this is my first time I’ve commented (on any blog, ever!) I have had two terrible, TERRIBLE sleepers and then crazily had the third who, by some miracle, is an okayish kind of sleeper. Anyhow, I can completely relate to the middle of the night nastiness. My husband and I agreed some time ago that “what’s said at night, stays at night”. It’s tuff, hang in there! Anne

  13. Anonymous says

    It’s bloody tough but it totally works and you will forget about it too. Tough it out, the pay-off is soo worth it, just be firm cos you’re right, they smell your fear or indecisiveness. And remember: this too shall past!
    Good Luck!

  14. It works. I know need to go there again with my one year old son. At the moment my husband and I are in the denial phase where you just suck it up and pretend that waking up 5 times a night isn’t toooooo bad.

    But really, CC is on the cards. I can’t handle it for too much longer, and I’m sick of all this co-sleeping. I want my bed back.

    You know it’s nearly time when you start to sing to your 1 year old “For fuck’s sake, sleeeeeeep! For fucks’s sake sleeeeeep!” At least he won’t remember it.

  15. Thinking of you , Beth. That’s tough.
    No one realizes how golden sleep is until they stop getting a decent uninterrupted restful amount of it. You are so spot on when you say that by teaching H to sleep you are helping HER. She needs good sleep too!

    I have just had two consecutive nights of 8 consecutive hours of sleep. For the first time in a long time. The difference in my disposition (and the size of the bags under my drawn tired eyes) is phenomenal.

    Sending some zzzzz’s and some cyber hugs your way. Too right. It sucks!

  16. I wish I had no idea what you are talking about but alas! I have two dreadful sleepers. Two of them. One is six, the other two. Nothing works to help them. They own the night. We are sleepless in Sydney. It sucks. I hope yours follows the rules better than ours and you are sleeping like a baby (scoff) soon x

  17. Anonymous says

    Reading this blog made me feel like you were with me last night! We experienced everything you described, including a 3am fight between my husband and myself and our 15 month old. And to think I am going home from work today to do it all over again! Thank you for making us feel normal.

  18. Do you know something lady, every night, my two dish up something different for us. I swear they’re in cahoots to jointly deprive us of as much sleep as possible… because it sure as hell seems like they tag team on who is going to wake and when. Sleep over the past year has been a fleeting luxury… something we get from time to time. Mainly I deal with it… I know, you’re shocked ;o) but Scott does back me up when I need it and I know he is awake even when I’m doing the comforting/yelling/pleading with the boys.
    And your point 7 is absolutely on the money… living in a terrace with 2 common walls, I go through this guilt every time they cry out during the night.
    Good luck love, may the force be with you xo

  19. I wish I had known all of you when my children (5) put me through ten or more years of being sleep deprived and I thought all my kids friends slept through the night and mine were the only ones that didn’t. I don’t think I functioned fully for the whole of that time. Now, my kids are in their twenties and a full nights sleep is one of the things I value the most. In fact it may make it to Maxabella’s grateful linky some time soon!

  20. Keep going. It gets better. I promise πŸ™‚

  21. I still remember doing controlled crying with my son five years ago. it was absolutely horrible but it worked so well in the end.

    He doesn’t remember it at all!!

  22. I still remember doing controlled crying with my son five years ago. it was absolutely horrible but it worked so well in the end.

    He doesn’t remember it at all!!

  23. I can bet you my anger was ten times worse than yours. And that is why we did controlled crying (or comforting, whatever you want to call it) earlier in our boys’ lives, because if we didn’t, I may have climbed into the oven.
    I think our health professionals should teach new mums more about controlled crying. I think too many people live with sleep deprivation for too long. Too many parents play chicken every night with their kids, begging them to “Go the F*** to sleep” and I can imagine that only leads to some bad feelings on behalf of the parentals.
    Good luck. They will grow out of it, hopefully sooner rather than later.

  24. Arrrggg I really feel for you. My first was a great sleeper from day one, but my son was awake for 9 months it seems. I hit rock bottom, so did all of us. He gave me 20 min sleep a day, and no more than 2 hrs at a time at night. I figured that control crying was better than me killing him in my sleep deprived state. I didn’t give in once, neither did hubby. We cried in bed together wondering how the hell we could do this to a tiny little baby. But we did. And its the best thing we did. It took 5 long nights, but compared to the 9 months of hell, it was a small price to pay. The interesting thing I found was my daughter never woke up even once to his screaming, and that was my main concern of not doing it sooner. Good luck to you xxx

  25. Yep, I’m there with you or at least I was 2 years ago with my daughter and CC worked wonders. I rekon it should be more control comforting (you know, you control how much you comfort you’re child instead of rushing in at first whinge) nicer name anyway haha. My son is 8 months old and also a bit of a difficult sleeper but I find he gets histerical if left to cry so I am trugging along with a LOT – ALOT of coffee and have been refered to Tresillian at Penrith.
    Best of luck with you’re sweet girl, from memory it got better every night until no tears at all : ) x

  26. I can’t do CC, breaks me too much. Co sleeping has been our answer for number two. Not always, but if she wakes through the night, in she comes and back to sleep she goes.

    As for miss 5 I am also sitting in the bed singing songs til sleep arrives. And also know it will only take a few minutes these days…

  27. Keep it up, mate.
    My daughter was so shit at sleeping/settling that they named a suite at the sleep school (aka the bad babies home) after me.
    She will be fine.
    You,on the other hand, may not feel human for about 6.5 yrs, if my experience is anything to go by….X

  28. I feel for you, I had a shite sleeper – he didn’t even sleep during the day… CC didn’t work for him, he was just too stubborn!! One night in desperation I rang the parent help line and got lucky. The person on the other end of the line suggested the withdrawal method (nothing to do with sex…) You start by holding their hand or sitting in the room and night after night you slowly move further away from them until you and just put them to bed and leave the room. It is a longer process but so much less stressful. When ever there was a lapse due to sickness or being away we would put him to bed and tell him we would be back in a minute. Each night the minutes got longer until when we would finally go in to check him and he would be asleep. Persevere it’s worth it…

  29. Controlled crying works, you have to stick at it & trust me, it’s just the start of them trying things & testing the boundaries, which you’ll need to be very firm in place for when they are teens. You’ll get there & look back at this post & think, really, was it that tough?? Only as you’re distracted by the next challenge, whatever that might be in the power struggle. Little girls test their mummies, often they struggle being the daughter & not the leader, you’ll get it all sorted, it takes time & determination. Good luck, love Posie

  30. I am in those motherfucking trenches with you, man. Full camouflage gear and everything. Max was a goddamn angel. Rocco has broken me, repeatedly. I will never be whole again NEVER. Parenting is not for pussies.

    And how awesome is it, after those terrible midnight screaming session fights with your kids AND hubble, and you lie back down and try to go to sleep and your heart is racing and you’re crying from rage. SO PEACEFUL!

  31. I hear you too. My number one was a brilliant sleeper. My number two is ten years old and we have just finished hugging with her in tears because she had insomnia last night and woke up moaning and yelling. she was so angry with her self for waking at 5 and not being able to go back to sleep!
    Funny, because number three is two years old and pretty good at going to sleep. He always yells for me to come back to his room after I say goodnight, but then goes quiet. Last night number two said “I am sorry I was like that for so long when I was a baby.”
    My resentment for number two’s sleeplessness was palpable so when I had number three with an 8 year gap, I opted for co sleeping on some nights and not to fight it. Strangely he sleeps really well. Perhaps because I am less stressed by the rules of sleeping and have been through the tunnel with two older kids.
    Be kind to yourself, remember all the mummas and daddas in the world awake with you in the middle of the night.

  32. Oh it IS the pitts! but as everyone has said, it works and you get to that point – the point we all know far too well – where you just gotta sort it out!

    I went through it with Izzy (now 3) and find myself here all over again with Ayla (7 mths)…. Urrrgghh.. its soul destroying at the time but just think of that first full night of sleep πŸ™‚

    hang in there xx

  33. Anonymous says

    Hi Hun, did you say she has night terrors?
    your story sounds the same as mine every night and a i have a 4 1/2 year old. keep on keeping on, you her mummy and im sure you have exhausted all options, so you know what is right for your children.

    have you considered sleep apnea? I found out last week my son has sleep anea because of enlarged tonsils!

    it causes them to be terrible sleepers even bcoming scared of going to sleep. they experience, night terrors, constant waking and even heavy breathing or snoring.

    just worth a check, we were riding on our last hope Xx goodluck

  34. I read this when you first posted and I laughed and took strength from it as my husband and I crept ever closer to sucking it up and accept that our bubba boy needs to learn to sleep without boob in his mouth.

    We started CC last night. We read this post again to help us stay strong.

    Thank you, Beth, for assuring us we’re not monsters.

  35. I am there too, I hate putting the kids to sleep, probably my least favourite thing about parentng (apart from accidents in knickers). We made the mistakes with number 1, we had to sing him to sleep, and there is only so many times you can sing twinkle before you want to… Somehow though we still made mistakes with number 2 and are this week trying to break a cosleeping habit :(. Controlled crying here we come

  36. I am there too, I hate putting the kids to sleep, probably my least favourite thing about parentng (apart from accidents in knickers). We made the mistakes with number 1, we had to sing him to sleep, and there is only so many times you can sing twinkle before you want to… Somehow though we still made mistakes with number 2 and are this week trying to break a cosleeping habit :(. Controlled crying here we come

  37. I’m right there with you now. He’s wailing and I’m blubbing. It will be worth it… please let it be worth it!

  38. Anonymous says

    I am reading this whilst I can hear my 2.3 year old screaming at the top of her lungs, mummy where are you??? My lovely night sleeper has turned into a child that, not only will she not go to sleep at nite, she wakes after an hour screaming. If I go into her room and lie down nxt to her cot, she asks me every 5 minutes if I’m still there……..for 8 hours. I also have a 4 month old……and my husband works away. I am at the lowest point of my life. I see no other alternative but to let her cry it out…..but even that’s not working…….

    • This BREAKS my heart. I hope you are OK. Stick with it, or don’t, there’s no easy answer. Maybe do whatever works until you get some more mental strength up? Hang in there…I’m thinking of you x

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