How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night (In Just TWO Years).

sleep train

Spend the first six months of parenthood in your pyjamas trying to get your baby to sleep, trying to get some sleep and trying to get stuff done on barely any sleep.

Establish a good bedtime routine. This is key to everything. Babies like to know exactly what to expect. So that they can do the exact opposite.  

On discovering that, apparently, everybody else’s baby sleeps through the night, take approximately one month to read baby sleep books, search the internet for baby sleep solutions and visit the health visitor on a weekly basis convinced something must be wrong with your child.

After spending three weeks wandering around the house like a pyjama-wearing zombie, you decide you must sleep train baby.

Too exhausted to sleep train baby. Postpone until the following day.

The next day you are still too tired.

Four days later you slightly less tired so start sleep training.

Put the baby into her cot ‘drowsy BUT not awake’ (the golden rule of sleep training).

She immediately screams her head off. Tell her calmly, ‘it is sleep time’ and leave the room.

Baby screams even louder. Immediately return to her room and pick her up.

Wonder if she might be teething.

Tell husband about possible teething and both decide to postpone sleep training.

One week later commence sleep training.

Husband puts baby down, she screams. He leaves the room.

She screams even louder.

Discuss how long we should leave her. Five minutes maybe?

More screaming.

Tell husband you are going in.

Husband points out that it has only been 45 seconds.

Inconsolable screaming now.

Discuss possibility that she might have banged her head or been sick.

Go and get the baby.

Both fuss over her and feel guilty for leaving her to cry.

For three minutes.

Decide to research a different sleep training method in the morning that does not involve crying.

Baby then stays awake all night to make it clear she was not happy about the sleep training attempt.

Forget about plan to sleep train baby.

One week later pass out in Sainsbury’s from exhaustion and vow to definitely sleep train the baby.

That evening put baby in her cot sleepy but awake.

Baby immediately screams.

You pick her up, cuddle her, then just as she is looking comfortable in your arms – put her back in the cot.

She immediately cries.

Pick up, cuddle, put back down.

Repeat this process until you are too tired to pick her up, cuddle her and put her back down.

Text husband. I CANNOT DO THIS ANY MORE! IT IS YOUR TURN ON THE BABY.

Husband continues with the pick up, put down process until he can barely stand (or his smart phone runs out of battery.

You take over and carry on until you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Take the baby into your bed for a ‘few minutes’.

You and the baby fall asleep for the remaining hour of the night.

The next day you decide to find a sleep training method that involves less effort.

That night put baby down in cot but do not leave the room. ‘Gradually retreat’ to a seat next to the cot.

Baby throws out her dummy, then screams for her dummy. You give her back her dummy.

Repeat ten times.

She continues to cry but you tell yourself she is perfectly ok. You are right next to her.

Try singing a lullaby but she can’t hear it over her screaming.

Compromise by stroking her head over the cot bars.

Baby is now even more upset because she thought you were going to get her out.

Attempt to fob baby off by giving her a teddy. She throws out the teddy.

Try to give her a cuddle through the bars. Get arm stuck. Baby holds on to stuck arm for dear life.

Baby bites arm.

Finally wiggle arm out and the baby is in full blown tantrum mode.

Baby bangs her chin on cot.

You lift her out and give her a cuddle.

Postpone sleep training until tomorrow due to chin injury and bitten arm.

The next day the baby is a little bit grumpy. Decide she might be coming down with something.

Put off sleep training just in case.

The baby turns one and you realise you have barely slept in an ENTIRE year.

Make the decision that you must absolutely sleep train the baby that night.

Husband takes the baby up to her room.

Ten minutes later he returns downstairs.

Husband confesses he did not put her down ‘drowsy but awake’.

“She fell asleep on me, ” he shrugs.

Have a row with husband about the importance of putting her down ‘drowsy but awake’.

Decide it is pointless doing sleep training tonight as husband has ‘buggered it up’.

Sulk with husband for two days then decide to definitely, definitely, start sleep training. No. Matter. What.

On the third night of very gradually retreating nowhere baby sleeps for five hours straight.

Believe you have turned a corner.

Tell everyone you know baby is practically sleeping through the night.

Announce on Facebook that baby is practically sleeping through the night.

That night the baby wakes up TWELVE times.

Discover you are pregnant and vow to sort out baby’s sleep ASAP!

One month later you have not gradually retreated any further than the chair beside the cot. And the baby is still waking up most of the night, every night.

Realise you are actually more exhausted than before you started sleep training.

The baby doesn’t even scream now. She just stares smugly, throws her dummy out or sings. But should you even think about moving your chair an inch further away – she unleashes hell.

Get more comfortable chair.

Try putting baby to bed later.

Still she wakes.

Try putting baby to bed earlier.

Still she wakes.

Quit sleep training.

Stop Googling about the baby not sleeping, stop worrying about the baby not sleeping and accept that your baby is not sleeping.

Resign yourself to that fact that after a two-year battle the ‘sleep thief’ has won.

Then happy in her victory (and by now suitably exhausted) the baby will finally, finally, finally SLEEP…

We didn’t bother trying to train our second sleep-hating daughter. We were far too tired.

Instead, we used a combination of simple techniques including ‘Get The Baby To Sleep By Whatever Means Necessary’ and ‘Sod It. Just Let Her Sleep In Our Bed’. We still didn’t get a lot of sleep but it was far less stressful!

For more information on how NOT to get your baby to sleep feel free to subscribe or join me on Facebook or Twitter. If you are struggling with a sleep thief check out my Survival Guide or read this to find out about bedtime routines. You can subccribe for posts straight to email below!

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READ MORE: Baby-Trapped #2 10 things to get your through the night shift

225 thoughts on “How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night (In Just TWO Years).

  1. Oh man I just love this blog post. It sounds like me when I was trying to wean, I have given up now. I don’t believe in sleep training either. What the heck is this drowsy but awake crap? I never heard of it. We have pretty much co-slept.

  2. You are hilarious and a fabulous writer! I’m so glad to have found this blog. It captures my motherhood experience perfectly. I have two girls just like you and both are sleep thieves. Although I thought I had it figured out with the second one by embracing co-sleeping. She slept well until 5 months and now I’m reliving the nightmare, but I’m enjoying it a lot more this time since I know it ends. Thank you so much for writing these. Honestly I felt like I was the only crazy one that ‘chose’ not to sleep because I didn’t want to leave my baby to scream herself to sleep. Now I see it’s not just me 🙂

      • I read all of your articles last night. They made me laugh so hard. I shared your article with as many people as I could. Most loved it, but it seems that people who don’t have a sleep thief just don’t get it 🙂 They still think they could ‘train’ any baby. I really find the sleep training books to be the source of all evil. When I get some time I want to write about how the books steal the joy of parenting. At least they did for me with my first. They give a false sense of control, make you insecure about your own instincts and in turn make you feel like a failure when your baby doesn’t fit the mold. Now that I know better I am enjoyig my children and motherhood so much more. I just feel sorry for all the new moms who are told that they can and should be able to get a baby to sleep ’12 hours at 12 weeks’.

        • Thanks so much. I know exactly what you mean about the books. With my first I was so busy trying to get everything right according to the experts it took all the joy out of motherhood for me too. With my second I am following my instincts. We are still tired but enjoying parentshood much more@

  3. This is the best written piece on baby and toddler sleep I’ve ever seen, word for word it is my life and my daughter sounds just like yours, especially when reading some of your other articles. We have a little comedian who is very excited about everything in the world and has never wanted to sleep ever! Now 21 months old and breastfeeding at night is only way I get through the days , love it when get comments like I couldn’t breastfeed at that age but then say in same breath they couldn’t cope without yheir 7 or 8 hours sleep! Duh that’s why I’m still doing it, breastfeeding and co – sleeping stopped me from dropping dead with exhaustion , it was survival! Taking a week off work in one month’s time to wean off as dont want to feed bdyond 2, am going in with no illusions after attempting every sleep training method on earth. We have a very strong willed and sleep hating and breastfeeding loving little girl! Thank you for making me laugh, cry and feel normal.

    • Thank you! You and i are in the same boat. I never planned to long term breastfeed but my youngest is 23 months and bedtime boob is the only way i can get her to sleep! Also, planning on stopping when she is two! Then i never planned on co sleeping either but it became the best way to get a few hours sleep! I just wish i had done it with my first baby instead of going by all the books! Good luck with the weaning my friend!

  4. Soy de España, y leyendo este artículo, has calcado mi experiencia con mi criatura, jajaja. Prácticamente llevo ocho meses y se ha cumplido la mayoría de estos puntos. Es como si leyera una profecía sobre mi vida.

  5. Oh, those baby days. That exhaustion… that incredible tiredness. After Baby #1, I let mine sleep in with me, which they did till they were two, and it was blissful*. (*I say blissful, obviously I mean tiring, scary, funny, smelly and tiring. Oh, and tiring, really astonishingly tiring, with a hint of blissful.)

  6. This made my day! This is exactly what I done with my first child and by 2 and a bit she started sleeping through the night lol! With baby 2 who’s now 7 weeks, I decided to try some gina ford -_- feel free to find the results on my site, I just posted today! X

  7. I love this article which reminds parents they are not alone. May I offer a suggestion: babies need to learn to self soothe and go to sleep on their own. No hand holding, bouncing, nursing, or sitting by their bedside. You become a prop. Do you fall asleep instantly or do you fluff your pillow, roll and turn, change positions before you pass out? We tried these methods above and my husband and I were going insane. Please parents, look into Babywise. Let them fuss (as if they are tossing their pillow, rolling and turing…) for ten minutes, check them and if nothing’s wrong, rock them a few minutes and put them down! My three year old slept on her own, no crying to sleep after 9 weeks! It took patience and it was hard to hear her cry, but it paid dividends! No, she didn’t cry every time, some times were worse than others, but she learned this is sleep time and fell asleep happily and woke happy. She slept then 10pm-7am. Now she sleeps 12hrs each night (waking earlier than me and looking at books in bed till I get her) at three yrs. She is a happy girl and healthy. No psychological issues from crying as a baby. Only issues are that she’s Italian and her voice has no volume, just loud or off.

    My 5 month baby sleeps 10-8am. We taught her the same things. Let them fuss, swaddle them, and we gave them each a small stuffed animal that was only for sleeping. It smelled like what they’re used to. It was something comforting other than momma. They turned their faces towards it and sucked on their lip or tongue then went happily to sleep. And if hearing some crying is not for you, I get it. Children are a blessing from God and our sacrifice makes us saintly, however you chose to care for them!

  8. This is very accurate… it is extremely hard to follow through when you are exhausted and your child is screaming. And you want to be the nicest mother and father you can be. We went through this our first, the next 3 we forced ourselves through a controlled crying/self-soothing schedule. It is absolute torture for parents the first few days, until it suddenly works. They get it – you are nearby if they need you but they do not need you to fall asleep.

    Remember, there is at least as much (or more) crying involved for baby and parents with the ‘pick them up after 3 minutes of crying’ approach. This is just spreading the crying out into many smaller bursts over a 10 hour period, rather than getting it all out of the way at bedtime.

    Do not tell yourself (or others) that you are being a better parent because you are suffering through sleepless nights. This is actually your choice to a certain extent. The other choice is to teach yourself and your baby they can indeed fall asleep without being in your arms. Getting your child to sleep all night can help you be a much more patient, relaxed and energized parent during the daytime. Neither choice is bad, wrong or unloving, that is completely insulting and ignorant to suggest.

      • Nobody is really being insulting here (it is a lighthearted article), I am emphasizing that -either- choice is valid. But you said earlier “Babies can’t actually learn to self sooth! …back then I naively believed all that stupid sleep advice!”. I think that is a bit harsh and you will find many people disagree.

  9. It literally brought tears to my eyes reading these posts (and knowing that others understand) the struggles of a sleepless toddler!! Sometimes in the dark small hours of the morning I think of the huge army of other Mums (and Dad’s) … all out there at that very moment, experiencing the same battle… That feeling of unity brings me comfort! We are not alone!!

    • I totally agree. Through writing this I am feel so much better about things as I have discovered there are so many parents in the same boat. And that is a very comforting thought at 4am!! Thanks for sharing!

  10. […] It does seem that we’ve collectively somehow forgotten how babies are supposed to sleep. The ISIS website -bet they wish they had a different name at the moment- is great for clearly explained infant sleep theory but look at any forum for new parents and it is full of people asking what they are doing wrong. Parents now don’t understand why their baby keeps waking up (or in some cases why their baby has just started waking up more often) and what they get in return are suggestions for various forms of sleep training, or various reasons why it’s happening -these range from the reasonable (cold, hunger, wind) to the rather more debatable (teething, growth spurt, ‘wonder weeks’)- or recommendations for professional sleep consultants, ‘experts’ who will purportedly get your child to sleep through the night (for a not indifferent sum of money). Personally, I recommend this brilliant post for some no nonsense advice http://stolensleep.com/2014/09/27/how-to-get-your-baby-to-sleep-through-the-night-in-just-two-years/ […]

  11. i just loved this!!! My oldest is 2.5 and he still doesn’t sleep through, it’s been absolute torture but he’s so happy and kind! My second is now 6 months, she was sleeping better but clearly he’s been in her ear telling her tales of how to get moved permanently into our room…. I have assured myself that in another 3 or so years I might get a 5 hour stretch!
    Thank you for reminding me that It’s both totally normal and that I don’t have to stress so much!

    Great job mama!

    • Thank you! Before my eldest started sleeping through she made sure she taught her baby sister all she knew about keeping me awake! They really do hate us sleeping! Oh five hours! Now that is the dream. Hope you get sleep soon my friend.

  12. Omg….. reading this sounds like a mirror image of what we are going through for the last three weeks. My 10 month old daughter just changed over night after being a perfect sleeper since 6 weeks old. It was such a shock how quickly things can change. I’ve nearly flooded the uk with my tears and I don’t know where they are coming from. Im hoping this won’t last to much longer but its nice to know it happens to others because I thought there was something I was doing wrong.

  13. I’ve always put my kids to bed asleep ( worked with 5) and it was easier, they have slept through since dropping night feeds which was before 12 months. Every child is different as is every parenting method. You find what works and stick with it

  14. I absolutely love this! I went through the same thing with both my children who are now 5 and 9 they both sleep now but because I was so used to getting up with them for years my body got used to it and when they started sleeping through I couldn’t. Sounds strange but I actually miss the night time cuddles and now I spend my nights constantly getting up and checking on them in the night as they look so cute when they are sleeping it is nice to be able to just get back in bed though and be able to go back to sleep without a battle lol! We all go through itbbecause our kids are everything theres nothing more precious in the world!

    • Thanks Sam! I went to stay at my mums for a baby free night as I was so exhausted but could I sleep?! No! My body clock must be really messed up! I actually have more sleep when I am waking up for the baby every few hours. One day we’ll sleep again…

  15. My son is eight now, but I do remember the horrible sleep advice I read in countless books. We co-slept so I never had issues with losing sleep, but I do remember lots and lots of worry over a phrase that read something like this: “If you don’t teach your baby to sleep on his own, he will never learn the skill of going to sleep.”

    Such nonsense!!!!! Hours I worried about this until one day it hit me: going to sleep is not a SKILL that must be taught. People get tired. People sleep.

    Take your sweet ones to bed with you. They will be teenagers before you know it. And then they’ll sleep for ages.

    • Totally agree! Babies can’t actually learn to self sooth! I hate that expression..but they will sleep alone once we have taught them to feel secure enough to do so. I just wish I had had the confidence to co sleep with my first..but back then I naively believed all that stupid sleep advice!

  16. You had only one fight with your husband?!? 😀 My wife and I had discussions upon discussion on what to do with our son, what method to implement. But it was getting harder and harder and when he was around 8 months old we just couldn’t take it and we implemented the “teach your child to self soothe and fall asleep” method which can easily be translated to “let your baby cry in carefully designed intervals until it gives up” Worked like a charm after only 3 days and we’ve been happy since 😀

    My wife wrote a longer story of our journey in her article: Every child can learn to sleep

  17. That right there is the story of my life! I was laughing because I do indeed understand and I wish I could say it gets better but my at least every night one of my children get up…..I know they will get there eventually but that seems so far away some days

  18. I feel for you. I am glad you aren’t one of the tough nuts who let their babies cry themselves to sleep. Babies need to know they can count on you when they are upset. A wise woman once said to me when I had my first child “when a child needs security, they should have it”. That means you, Mama. You’re doing well. Keep up the good work. p.s. Our daughter is expecting their 4th child and she hasn’t slept through the night in nearly 7 years. She looks great but is tired all the time too. Hang in there. They are so worth it. If they grow up knowing they can count on you, you will have a friend for life. Bless you. xo

    • Thanks for the lovely message! That woman is very wise..if mine are crying in the night a lot of the time they just want the comfort of feeling secure..and who can blame them! Hanging in and cherishing those lazy pyjama days!

  19. Sleep deprivation is terrible, I feel your pain. A health professional told me recently that it’s now against the Geneva Convention for Human Rights to use sleep deprivation as a method of gaining information!

    My youngest is almost 3 now and he’s only recently started sleeping. For an entire year between the ages of 6 and 18 months he was waking every 40minutes in the night. Co-sleeping saved my sanity (just).
    Thank you for this article, it shows us mothers with sleep thieves are clearly not alone!!!

    • Thank you for sharing. I know how you feel. We had a long run of every half hour… Co sleeping gives me a few hours with my youngest – if I am lucky. Just wish it had worked with my first sleep thief!

  20. This made me laugh a lot, it’s like reading about my own life!
    I have 2 sons 19 & 3 months old. Pair of sleep thieves as you put it.
    Usually when I read something about how to bring up kids it just makes me think we’re doing everything wrong. This article made me feel like we’re normal and there are plenty of other people going through the same thing as us. Good work!

  21. I’m really lucky I never had to go through all this,
    I had my first ever child January 28th 2014, and when we got home so she could sleep I’m her own Moses basket the first ever night she did 5 hours sleep from then it was just going up in hours. By the time she was 2 and a half months old she slept for 9-10 hours. She is nearly 9 months old and now does 9-13 hours, I didn’t really have any help off her dad, and he sadly has moved on with a new gf who he is engaged to, and she has a 4 year old girl, just goes to show sometimes the single parents can do just find on their own with no help with money, bottle making, night shifts etc,
    And I work full time as a self employed dog walker and take my little girl with me everyday unless it’s to wet or cold for her, I think the best thing for a baby is fresh air, enough food, a clean nappy every 2-4 hours even if it is a little wet.

    • I also must add that when my little girl turned 3 months old, I put her in a travel cot until I got a proper one. And she slept through in there too, it doesn’t matter what I do or where I go, my little girl is always good for me, everybody she meets she greets them with the biggest smile on her little face. And she has the most beautiful blue eyes, which people always comment on, and she even sleeps through live music etc, I have posted on facebook saying how good she is and it has not changed. I can say out loud

      IM A SINGLE FIRST YIME MOM, AND PROUD OF HOW WELL I HAVE DONE ON MY OWN WITH MY BABY GIRL AND I AM SO VERY PROUD OF HER

    • Thank you! Yes we often end up with the youngest in with us these days. Enduring my hair being pulled and being kicked at regular intervals is preferable to getting up and down in the cold!!

  22. lol, this is so true I made the mistake of bothering with a cot with my first and paid for it ever since and she was a fairly “good” sleeper. My 2nd and 3rd I skipped the cot and went straight to co-sleeping and been rewarded with lots of sleep ever since 🙂 number 3 is just 4 mths old and we sleep the night away (with a few barely wake ups for milk) and wake up refreshed in the morning, its pretty awesome!

    • Co sleeping is definitely the way to go! My youngest normally ends up in my bed at night. Just wish I had had the confidence to follow my instincts and co-sleep with my first sleep thief. If I had a third I would do it from day one!

  23. Lord, my LO took about 13 months before she started sleeping through the night. We did exactly what you did, then when she was 10 months, my husband forced me through sleep training because I couldn’t function anymore. It took a month of crying for an hour or two before bed, and she still was up about 3-4 times a night, shrieking like someone was torturing her.. Now it’s AWESOME. I think persistence was key, and it had to do with my still breastfeeding her at the time, and she wasn’t getting enough to keep her full through the night. Feeding her right before bed works even now.

  24. Ah this is awesome! Thank you thank you. Sleep training worked for DD1, not even vaguely for DD2. Am currently at the ‘zombie mama succumbs’ stage 😉

  25. Great post! My baby always learns to sleep through the night the FIRST weekend my wife decides to go out of town. Why? Because I sleep through it all, lol. I’m not proud, but it is almost impossible to wake me up at night… the house would literally burn to the ground around me. After 3 nights of me not responding to my kid crying, something internal sets off and they’ll sleep through the night haha. This has happened three times and my fourth will soon know what it feels like to be totally abandoned in the night, LOL. Trust me, I laugh but I know I’m a terrible person.

  26. Wonderful post! We went through this with our #1. Just when we thought we had it all figured it, we had twins. When they were four month old, their paediatrician said they were old enough to sleep through the night. I could have kissed him, but I was too tired. He sent us home without a magic wand, just a mere “good luck”… Eventually, it all worked itself out and #4 was born. This little guy was different: he actually liked being left alone at bedtime. By then his older siblings were on a bed time routine, so that may have helped him settle down.

  27. Bravo for the perfect description of what sleepless hell feels like. My 2nd son hated sleep. He is now 5 years old and still hates to sleep. I send him out to the yard for a few hours, exhaust him and he has no power over the sleep thief. Sweet Dreams.

  28. Bravo for your very humorous account of an age old struggle between what some might view as the good and the evil. You and your husband are undoubtedly warm and empathetic people who would perhaps rather stray off the path than choose the harsher road, that calls to mind a strict nanny clad in a long, all black dress with a stern expression chiding to “let them cry it out…” Remember Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind’s diatribe against the cold hearted nanny for turning off all the lights when his daughter was terrified of the dark? “She doesn’t have a cowardly bone in her body!” Follow your heart. Their is nothing like a mother’s intuition. And as someone once reminded me, they likely won’t be sleeping in your bed when they are seventeen.

    • Ah thanks. I totally forgot about that line in Gone With The Wind. I love Rhett a little bit more now! So true and I hope not…I am squashed enough with her being baby-sized!!

  29. Loved your post, fealt like visiting old days of my daughter. My daughter never slept till 4am in the morning, be it co-sleep or let her sleep in her cot. She would scream, play and i use to be like a zombie. Prayed god to give her sleep so i got get my sleep back…..i am usually into ”non-heard zone of prayers” but once she turned 1, somehting changed in her. She started hitting bed by 11pm, which was not bad compared to 4am…..and throwed party over it. I could see people eyeing me crazy, but i feel its more of the kid. Few kids have more energy then others and few are non-sleepers. You have to just sail along.

  30. Ha this is great. So happy when my little girl started sleeping through the night. I remember the first morning after, I was nearly late for work because I was used to her waking me up throug out the night and very early. lol. Great share!

  31. Brilliant. My son is a week away from turning 13 months and 2 nights ago for the first time slept for 6 hours straight, only waking and feeding once. Magic. Last night? woke. and. fed. every. two. hours. This post was like you’d documented our lives.. I bet you were told your girls were “alert” – which the midwives said to me the day he was born and it was the thing everyone said… had no clue this was code for “won’t sleep sucker!!”
    Thank you for the laugh – my husband and I were crying with laughter (instead of sleep deprivation) reading this. We’re assuming we’ve got 11 more months of the madness. Our routine has been solid since 4 months and makes no difference whatsoever. Stuff it. Our little man is happy, funny and gorgeous – and I’ve finally realised I am not a failure,… he’ll sleep when he’s ready. In fact I’ve decided anyone with a none sleeper is actually a “better” parent – because we are loving and laughing despite the torture. (Jokes – I am not a competitive mum and I salute every single parent out there.)

    • Thanks! Yep, we were told our babies were ‘so alert’ from day one! She would not even sleep that first night on the labour ward. Sleep deprived parenting is hard work but I found it so much easier once I accepted it and like you, realised I am not a failure. As a result I am far more relaxed with my second child who has escaped any form of sleep training and instead just ends up in our bed every night!

  32. How crazy is this!! haha. And the sleep training is only the beginning. Toddlers will behave the same with that kind of ‘training’. Tantrums in STORES and other public places and AT OTHER PEOPLE’S HOMES. How embarrasing. Then it continues until teenage years. Oh nooo! I didn’t have to deal with that! It stopped quickly with toddler’s first attempt to take us that far into ‘training’. haha.

  33. Thanks all, I’m writing this from my bed roll which may be on the couch or on our daughters bed as I long since gave up the right to shared sleep so my wife might get the benefit of co=sleeping (my snoring prevents my participation) My wife keeps promising its the last night but I;m way too wise to believe that!!!
    Do what ever you have to do for the benefit of your child, that’s what being a parent is and it never stops, I have a 27 year old that is testament to that fact.
    In hope……….

    • Thanks Doug. That is so funny, it sounds like the conversation my husband and I have most nights. His snoring also means he spends many nights on the settee while our daughter enjoys his side of the bed!

  34. Good grief I am back in 1991 when I had my Son! I went through the same as a single parent (I had three kids with him but it didn’t work out – he was a cheat and still is lol) It was so hard to leave him screaming like he was dying, little sod! It doesn’t get any better, the drunken nights etc. Love your blog, thank you for the reminder!

    • I have got so much respect for single parents since becoming a mum. It is hard enough with two of us…especially when you have non sleepers! Oh I am not looking forward to the teenage years!

      • Thank you, that is verykind of you. There is always a little prejudice in the world for single moms but I was having none of it – I worked full time and helped them grow up as best as I could, picking the pieces up when their dad let them down. They are lovely and I wouldn’t be without them, wouldn’t want teenage years either!!!!

  35. I feel extremely fortunate after reading this post – our little girl has been sleeping through the night since 7 weeks old. She was getting up at 4am first (8pm bedtime) and now sleeps until 6 or 7 (7 or 8pm bedtime) although we do have another one arriving in March next year so I’m thinking we’re definitely not going to get it that easy again!

    Great post, will save ready for March! ha 🙂

  36. Good luck, my twenty three year old first born still stays mostly awake 6 days out of 7 despite trying everything available to us for about 20 years. She moved out to live in the dorm at age 18 and I still haven’t caught up on my missing shut eye. Some humans don’t require as much sleep. Despite what the research says.

  37. I have a two year old that slept 10 hours in the hospital and did that every night since we got home, so, yeah nothing to complain about. I don’t know if it’s her personality or what but when she was in the hospital I kept the door open to my room so we let the noise in and she went to sleep with that, so when we got home no noise kept her awake, maybe that helped. I think you have to treat each baby differently, they will all have different things that comfort them and make them feel secure enough to sleep, the same with a child, one technique won’t necessarily work for all of them. Follow your instincts, it’s your kid, chances are if you think about what helped you sleep as a kid that will probably help them sleep.

  38. You know what: Both of our kids slept in our room for a while and I feel they suddenly were ready and it was never really a struggle from then onwards. Saved both of us many sleepless nights. In the end: whatever works best for you. And you need sleep…

  39. Despair not! Just wait until your beloved babies reach the age of 13 or thereabouts, and, lo and behold!, you will not be able to get them out of bed. In the mornings, that is, for school. Getting them in to bed in the first place may be more of a challenge, I admit.

  40. My first slept through the night, I put her to bed drowsy but awake…it was a dream. I didn’t know any better, I just thought that was normal. My next three…… let’s just say they MORE than made up for the rest I got way back then. My husband keeps telling me that the baby must be schizophrenic….My magic number is 3. At 3 years old…there is a chance for me to sleep the night through. Because I’ve long since decided I’m just too damn old and tired to bother trying to train anyone to sleep…. it ends up taking way longer than just giving in and holding them, or sleeping with them anyway. My youngest is almost 2….so I’m really really excited, and keep telling my husband we’ll be all set in just one more year. I can hang in there…. and I hope you get some sleep over there too!

  41. I read this with my 4 month old next to me (despite ‘never’ co sleeping). Woke him and my husband up laughing so hard! It’s 4am. I was not popular!

    • I wish I had tried co sleeping more with my first but I was too worried about it! My second always ends up in our bed…and when it works, it is the only way I get a few hours sleep!

  42. Brilliant post as usual. Congratulations on a well-deserved Freshly Pressed. I look forward to hearing repeatedly in the comments here about how you (and I) could have avoided years of heartache and fatigue simply by leaving our infants to cry until they (deliberately) vomited. Because a kid who can’t yet control its bowels is totally capable of wilfully manipulating its parents like that.
    Thanks for the follow, too! It’s a compliment to me to be read by such a warm, funny, human writer. Wishing you a synchronised nap from your girls today. 🙂

  43. Here’s the thing… your baby is not going to be waking you up for ever. Being a parent is a wonderful experience, and before you know it, they will be flying the nest. Learn to embrace them when they need you, you can get by for years without enough sleep; it’s all about paying it forward!
    mother of 5 speaking!

  44. Reading this had me reliving the first 2 years of hell I went through with my son. I was Sleep deprived and feeling failed that I couldn’t get my kid to sleep in his own bed. You nailed the description of the living hell.You are not alone. 🙂

  45. We had an undercover sleep thief. He did the normal baby shenanigans, nothing too bad (helped by co sleeping with him – I perfected the art of breastfeeding lying down whilst asleep). I think we got him mainly sleeping through at about a year. Great. He continued to mainly sleep through most of the time. Then age 6 1/2 he stopped. He started waking in the night and refusing to settle back to sleep. He would come into our bed and wiggle and kick us so we couldn’t sleep. Usually half an hour to an hour after we’d fallen asleep and had just got into deep sleep. If we put him back in his bed then he would get out again and back into ours. If we repeatedly put him back to bed then he’d get in his sisters bed and wake her and then we’d have both of them awake at 2am. Fighting. My mum said helpful things like “you just have to be firm with him” and “just put him back in his bed”.
    After 2 or 3 months of this he switched from middle of night waking to not going to bed at night. He would mess around and wind himself up at bedtime, then not stay in bed. We would be repeatedly be putting him back to bed every 5/10/15 minutes until 9/10/11 o clock at night. Nothing got done in the evening, we were just sitting there waiting for him to get up and need putting back to bed.
    People said helpful things like “have a routine” (we had a routine, it had worked fine for 5 1/2 years, we hadn’t changed it), “be firm”, “don’t let him eat within 2 hours of going to bed” “don’t give him processed food”.
    By this stage we were all over tired. There were a lot of tantrums, mainly, but not exclusively from him.
    Then after about 6 months of sleep deprivation, he started going to bed and sleeping through again. Nothing had changed, just like it hadn’t when he stopped.
    Then we had 6 months ish of good sleeping. And then he decided to give up sleeping again. For a few months again.
    We’re in a better phase at the moment, not perfect, but better. I’m not holding my breath that it will last.
    I think the worse thing is that whist their are always smug people with methods around, I think it’s more accepted when babies don’t sleep through (maybe I have rose tinted glasses, my youngest is now 6 1/2 and those years long behind us). It’s kind of expected that parents of babies are sleep deficient, even if not fully appreciated. But by the time they’re 7 it’s not expected that they won’t stay in bed and it feels very firmly to be considered a parenting issue. At the same time, the options are less (whatever you’re views on controlled crying, when you have someone that can climb tree’s, ride a bike, unlock doors, you cannot make them stay in bed, there is no cot side, no stair gate, the only way is to physically hold them in bed (assuming they’re not fighting, in which case they will get away, if not you whereupon fall asleep yourself and they get up, I kid you not) or by some illegal/immoral means of tying/gaffertaping/locking them in (which I don’t condone, have not done, but sometimes I feel I would sympathise with why someone might be tempted).
    Phew, that was a bit of a rant, sorry. Think you may have touched a nerve!

    • Ha It’s Ok i love a good rant! Besides it made me laugh! Is that bad!? You must be shattered!!

      Gaffer-taping?! Hmm my sleep-deprived mind is now considering this option…

      • Laughing is fine. It’s the unsolicited parenting advice (often from men without children) that assumes I’m an idiot that grates.

        The gaffer tape option does feel tempting when sleep deprived….

  46. There are others?! Mine turns two at Christmas and while she now goes down easily, I’m still up two or three times a night and she refuses to nap more than an hour during the day. She’s a very light sleeper and her baby sister arrives at the end of the month. I’ll sleep when I’m dead…..

    • Congratulations! If it makes you feel any better my eldest did get slightly better once her sister was born…she still wakes up a few times but goes straight back to sleep after a cuddle/dummy/drink.. However, her little sister has taken over the Sleep Thief title!! Good luck my friend!

  47. Of course, every baby is different. I read the books, obsessed over other people’s babies who slept through early and finally did the controlled crying method with both- took one session each and they both then started sleeping through. It doesn’t, of course, happen that way for everyone who tries CC, but it saved my frazzled, addled, labile ass. Of course, it’s not a forever cure- it just taught them that they could sleep through without needing milk. They still wake up now (age 3 and 5), erratically- one or both, but have phases of being blissfully asleep for 12 hours too. Good luck whichever way you survive.

  48. My two year old still falls asleep on me 6/7 nights! I was ‘strict’ on the older two – to little avail – and like you say, do what works!! Besides, it’s an excuse for 10-15 minutes of quiet cuddles before he wakes at 5am!

  49. My two girls share a room. The 6 year old is fine. My two year old iS the duracell bunny. Only way I can get her to sleep now is by getting in bed with her. Then I fall asleep too. I invariably stumble out at some point in night and whenever I do she is awake within 30 minutes. If I stay there all night she sleeps. Hallelujah! Doesn’t give much adult time but who cares when you can sleep?! In the meantime husband has perfected the starfish move in the double bed which he now has to himself by and large. Sigh.

  50. My twin girls are 2 years old and still not consistent in sleeping. The problem is that I can’t leave one to cry for long because they wake the other up! (Whether in same or separate rooms! We’ve tried both)! 😮 Normally ends up with me sitting on the floor in their bedroom holding Amy’s hand whilst Hayley is in our bed with my sleeping, snoring husband! When will it ever calm down! :-/

  51. I can’t believe what I am reading.

    From the beginning be clear, and consistent. Night is for sleeping, not cuddles, not endless drinks, stories etc. Put the child in the bed, switch the light off and go away. If you have not followed this method from the beginning, sadly you may have to deal with screaming, crying throwing up etc. Eventually the child will sleep – so don’t give in. If they don’t sleep for as long as you need to then they can play in their cot until the household is awake.

    Our first child slept through the night before the midwife stopped visiting. In fact we were waking him up for a feed until the midwife looked at us as if we were mad and told us not to wake him (he was our first baby , we didn’t know any better). Granted this seems to be unusual and so apologies to all parents who are struggling. For baby number 2 I don’t remember any issues – followed the method outlined above.

    Parents you need to get a grip and be PARENTS not slaves to your child!

    Neither of our children ever screamed in the supermarket or succeeded in ‘pester power’. The deal was we were there to shop, if the child played up it was told we would go home immediately and it could look at an empty plate as there would be no dinner as we hadn’t bought any.

    Eventually the children learnt that I meant what I said and pretty much didn’t bother misbehaving. I never actually had to carry out any of the consequences they were told would happen (I think I did start wheeling the trolley towards the door first time they played up in the supermarket), but I would have done – so be careful what you threaten as if they don’t cooperate this method depends on you carrying out your threat.

    Only on very very rare occasions was it ever necessary to bribe them. They knew that the default was that they were expected to behave. That’s it. If they were extra good then they occasionally got a reward.

    My children were nice well behaved children and are now pleasant well adjusted adults.

    • Thanks for the advice. However, I expect it is too late and my children are destined to be juvenile delinquents because I did not leave them to cry until they were sick!! I also bribe them often. With biscuits. So there is no hope for me.

    • Wow. With my first child I stuck to your method as he never slept and by the time he was 2 we were exhausted. Enough was enough. However after 8 weeks of your so called being consistent I ended up with a baby that woke upmore and more at night. In the day I couldn’t even walk out a room for 2 seconds he was so frightened I wasn’t coming back. It wasn’t tantrums or naughtiness it was pure fear and he was able to verbalise it too. It took a year to undo the damage. In the end cuddles love and security was the best way. With my second we didn’t even bother ‘training’ and had no problems. As for those poor parents that are ‘slaves’ to their children it’s not there fault that you had easy babies. For all you exhausted parents some encouragement…..remember for all the times your baby is awake and others are sleeping she/he is learning, developing and taking the world in 🙂

      • It definitely depends on your baby. I know plenty of people who had the same problem as you because their babies did not take to ‘consistent’ sleep training. Thankfully, my eldest is living proof that by NOT leaving her to cry and instead making her feel secure and safe in her own bed – she now goes to sleep confidently and happily! Just hoping her sister will go the same way!

    • Did you leave your babies to cry alone in their cot at night? This is really not recommended…I agree with the supermarket bit for older children. But when babies are little they need response from parents when they cry.

    • It often staggers me that people who leave their babies to cry assume that us ‘spineless parents’ will continue the same behaviour when the child is older. A small child who cannot understand why they are being left alone at night is different to a child throwing a wobbler in a supermarket, or kicking off in a restaurant or pushing another kid over in the playground. We do know the difference.

  52. Hilarious… Not sure though why people allow their kids to take over their health and well being to quite that extreme and yes before everyone decides to lay into me i have had children and fostered children too. Parents your children will sleep eventually if you dont keep going into them every time they kick off. Naturally illness or breastfeeding is a different issue

  53. I really do sympathise. I had four under five and the third one used to wake around 10-12 times a night to have the juice in his bottle topped up. We ended up with the last two in our bed by default (falling asleep while breastfeeding for the first two years and feeling bad about it! However my children are attachment parenting and co-sleeping. The babies wake often but just latch on and feed and everyone gets to sleep more and no-one is stressed or ever screams. Maybe, just maybe our babies really do need to be near us all the time for the first three or four years. My Grandchildren have successfully transferred into a bed in their parents room and then their own bedrooms by the age of three to four. Kids will survive and grow up ok whichever way you do it, so why not do it in a way that minimises upset for everyone? I wish I had known what my children know all those years ago!

    • I agree! With my second baby I am far more relaxed and the only way we can get some sleep is by co sleeping! Plus she is still breastfeeding at bedtime at 18 months which is the only way she will sleep. Hoping she’ll get there in her own time!

  54. Oh my god laughed so much – thank you!! We’re 9 months into ‘sleep training’ – never knew I could function on so little sleep! She’ll do it one day I’m sure….

  55. Brilliant! I remember this well…. And although Mushroom sleeps through the night, I am still aiming for the glorious day when I can creep quietly out of the room and not need to stay there in the chair until he’s fast asleep… (he’s 3)!

  56. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so true! It could be written about my family! My daughter is 9 and we are still sleep training! The only consolation is that our son is the complete opposite and crashes out at any given opportunity most nights! He loves his sleep. I remember the only way my daughter would fall asleep was those electric fisher price swings. Strapped in on the highest speed! The second we turned it off…..

  57. Still “sleep training” my youngest who’s 4. Who am I kidding.. i gave up a year ago and am just waiting for her to be old enough to just ignore at night 🙂

  58. …I’m slightly worried that you might be stalking me…how did you hear about that discussion with my husband about the baby falling asleep on his shoulder (seriously every blooming time)?

    As I write I am sat here gradually retreating…gradually retreating towards the changing table, I don’t leave the room until there’s been silence for a good 25 minutes…

    …it’s dark in here…and the other day there was a spider…

  59. I cracked up laughing at so much of this! Sound like we ‘train’ very similarly and are all complete softies! I was at the end of my rope recently; baby wouldn’t be rocked, co-sleep, cuddled – had to drive him to sleep every day and evening, for weeks! It’s a lot better now (touches wood), but was on the verge of doing controlled crying as nothing else was working. Convinced my reluctant husband then five minutes before bed time I completely lost my nerve and we decided I just couldn’t do it… Husband quickly agreed – Suckers!!

    • Ha not just us then!! My babies literally go to ‘total meltdown’ so quickly I just don’t think it would have worked anyway! Even if I have the cheek to go to the loo before I go into her it makes her more determined to stay awake all night.

  60. Wow! We used the same techniques you guys did, only our son taught himself to throw up deliberately because he know it would cut our sleep training attempt very short, AND it only took us THREE years! Hooray! Then we had a baby who seemed to be more easy going, but soon realized he was just tricking us. That’s when he decided to keep waking up like a new born baby (every three god@*%# hours for milk!) for 15 months!

    Yesterday we were invited by some friends for a BBQ. At one point after having completely exhausted myself running after a toddler who enjoys running at full speed towards stairs and pools, I looked over at two of my friends and for a moment, tried to remember how I know these people. I’m serious. It was like my brain short circuited for a second, deleted some really basic information and left me completely lost for a few seconds.

    That. Is not. Normal.

    Poeple. NEED. Sleep.

    • Ha ha.three years. Good going!

      I know exactly that feeling! I often walk into a shop and find that i not only have no idea why I am in there, but also how I got there. I think it’s called slowly losing our minds….

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