Crying it out: Cruel to be kind?

Sat 18 Mar 17 | Mummy Stuff | 4 comments

Happily playing here in front of me, you’d never know that Little P has just been screaming for 45 minutes, and so loud that I thought she was going to be sick or forget to breathe or that the knock on the door just now was going to be Social Services.


I’ve done it before. I’m a pretty pragmatic person. I can cope with some crying. But oh my goodness, does she go for it. And is she stubborn!

And today I have felt miserable and exhausted about the whole thing.

“Leaving a baby to cry herself to sleep is cruel. She’s so small still. She needs my comfort.”

“If there’s nothing wrong, it’s the best way to help her self-settle and sleep longer.”

“Perhaps she’s not ready. Or I’m getting naptimes wrong. Or she just hates her cot.”

“I’m going back to work soon – she’s got to work it out for herself.”

I don’t normally doubt my own decisions very often – I think them through hard and I commit. But these are the kinds of arguments going around in my head. It’s exhausting.

When my eldest was 5 months old, we were still rocking him to sleep. Or rather, doing a crazy up-and-down-squat-bounce thing to not only get him to sleep in the first place, but every time he woke up in the night. Which was a lot at that point. He was a chunk so it was also doing my back in.

So I took a deep breath. After taking a bottle of wine and some ear plugs round to the neighbours each side of our little London terrace (“Evening! Please don’t hate us or ring the NSPCC!”), I stuck out a few nights of howling whilst distracting myself with catch-up TV and tea at 3am, and it worked. M learnt to self settle and we didn’t look back.

This girl-flavoured baby is totally different. Night-time isn’t bad, though she normally disturbs once and is up at 5am, but her daytime napping is ridiculous! She’s ten months old – and if she’s in the buggy she might manage 45 minutes on a brilliant day. Most of the time it’s two catnaps for 15-20 mins and if you put her down in her cot she screams blue murder for nearly an hour sometimes, eventually falls asleep, only to wake up screaming 15 minutes later. I try to get her back, but she’s furious, or needs a new nappy, and I can’t bear to leave her to scream again as I’ve lost all the adrenalin and steely resolve.

She doesn’t even have a magic ‘thing’, a lazy parenting go-to that guarantees she’ll fall asleep. She doesn’t want to be cuddled, or me to stay and shush her, she just doesn’t want to sleep.

But what’s the real problem, I ask myself?

Well, for one, and it may sound selfish, but I’d really like an hour to get some jobs done in the house. Have a cup of tea. Look at my phone (let’s be honest). She’s crawling and trying to climb stairs and into everything so it’s full-on all day. Especially when M isn’t at pre-school. Secondly, it would be nice if she didn’t get crabby and stroppy a couple of hours after each rubbish catnap, and be clingy and upset from 5pm because all she wants to do is go to sleep. And actually, the worst part is the emotional strain of not knowing – will she scream for half an hour today, or an hour? Will she have longer than 15 minutes sleep? Maybe today’s the day!

I know that babies need naps – it’ll help her sleep longer at night I’m sure – so why won’t she? I’m at the point where i need that whole bottle of wine and ear plugs for myself, not just the neighbours…

Image credit: Mallmo / Shutterstock



  1. SD Gates

    Oh I am so glad that phase is long behind us. I never let our kids cry, because it would just tear me up inside. My theory was, that their bed and their bedroom should be a sanctuary, a place where they felt protected and safe, not a place where they felt imprisoned, discarded and ignored. So I did the holding and rocking thing, and it gets old, but…when they became toddlers, they did not climb out of their beds, they did not fight bedtime and their rooms are still their sanctuaries. Of course all my friends think I am just a whimp, my parents thought I coddled my children (they are British) and I did my kids a disservice by not letting them learn to be self-pacifiers, but I think it worked out well. Good luck!!!!

    • kimberly

      Thank you! We’re all so different aren’t we? Can’t wait til this phase is behind us… x

  2. Jakijellz

    Oh I used to have the same problem – this has brought it all flooding back! In the end my little one would only sleep in his buggy – in the living room! Whilst not ideal it was the best I could do and better than nothing at all and so I did that and that was it! Now those days are long gone and daytime naps no longer exist! I hope you manage to figure it out soon 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #TriumphantTales

  3. Mrs Mummy Harris

    Ben doesnt often cry when I put him to sleep. He rocks his head when he’s super sleepy and usually within minutes he’s sparko. But every now and again he tries to fight his nap and cries. Leaving him to cry it out was torture at first but he self soothes and its helped with his naps on a regular basis. No dummies, just surrounded by a few regular toys that i transferred from his crib to his cot and even moving to another room to sleep on his own hasnt disturbed his sleep routine.
    I think sometimes its better to be cruel to be kind! Thank you for linking up to #TriumphantTales
    I hope to see you back again tomorrow.


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