The No-Sleep Sleep Solution, Round II

I am hereby convinced that I am some sort of bad sleeper lightning rod. I am filled with bad sleeper mojo and turn every child in my presence into some kind of raging insomniac.

When we accept weekend visits with friends and family, their little angels don’t sleep and the whole time the parents sweeeear that normally they’re not like this, no really they never are, why they’re just angels, angels sent from heaven–angels sent from heaven who sleep on command and we can’t imagine whatever could be the matter!

But there’s no need to explain. I know the truth.

It’s me.

So I shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve gone and done it to my own kid. Oh sure Sage resisted for two years, tricking us into thinking she was a great sleeper from day one. But now, just as her older sister decides to start sleeping in her own bed consistently for the first time (oh joy!) in close to four years, Sage has decided that nope, not happening. Not interested. Not now, not ever. Haha, fooled you Mommy. Fooled you Daddy.


We put her in her crib and then she wails and hollers and shrieks and sobs just loudly enough that should we be in, oh say…CAIRO at the time, we would hear her loud and clear. She wails and hollers and shrieks and sobs until her sister says YOU’RE WAKING ME UP SAGE. Because, see, they’re in the same room. That’s what happens in New York. Sharing rooms and tired parents.

This is the point that I finally give in and retrieve Sage from her Ragazzi prison, justifying that one sleeping child is better than no sleeping children. And then, in some sort of odd twist, Sage decides that now, perhaps she is interested in sleeping after all. It’s just that she can only sleep with me.

(So it would seem that the magic sleeping repellent that I somehow possess becomes inactive at closer range.)

I am constantly amused that I get a steady stream of emails from new parents who have stumbled upon one of my earlier agonized, tortured blog posts in search of tips about sleep-training. Not because they are writing to commiserate but because they are searching for advice.

Advice? Me?

Haven’t you seen the tagline up there, the one under the little winking woman that has been coopted by some cafe press site? Yeah, that one about not knowing what I’m doing?

That one.

My sleep-training advice is this: Don’t ask me for sleep-training advice.


34 thoughts on “The No-Sleep Sleep Solution, Round II”

  1. Same situation here … Brooklyn apartment, shared room with two kids (4 1/2, 18 months). Just started to sleep train little bro last night. May i suggest Peltor 'Kid' ear protection earmuffs? They come in hot pink, acid green, and bright blue and are very effective. Big sis took them to bed tonight in preparation for the (hopefully much less dramatic) screamfest.

  2. Nope. No advice here either. All three were all different and I tried all the same things and all different thing (mostly weeping in different keys or octaves) and they all just sort of decided one day to ignore everything I was trying and as I reached the brink of giving up, they just fell asleep and slept through the night in their own beds.

    The little one still has his moments, but mostly he’s decided I’ve been hazed enough and he’s going easy on me.

    Oh sure, I can list all the things I’ve done, but it’s meaningless. I am a shell of the person I used to be and now sleep like a dolphin, with one side of my brain always awake.

  3. Nothing to offer here, sorry (I’m far too sleep deprived to think clearly! ha). My boys are 23 months and 4 months, and so no one is getting any sleep around here. Good luck though!

  4. Nothing to add that may help you.

    I recently babysat for friends’ 5 month-old Ferberized baby. I kept tiptoeing into the nursery and touching her to make sure she was breathing. I didn’t realize babies could sleep without flopping around like fish and blabbing in their sleep.

    The best sleep advice I got was from my pediatrician. She knows I’m a bit wound and was whining about my son’s bad sleep habits. “Sometimes a child is a live wire, just like their parents.” Then I let it go. I was always the kid who tried to stay up until ten, flopped around the whole night, woke up hating the dark and then wanted to sleep in. I guess I just got me two of those. Ya know, when I’m almost 40 and lack of sleep may just kill me. Sweet.

  5. When I was pregnant all I prayed for was a child that slept.

    My child slept in two hour increments (or less) for 18 months.

    That’s why she’s an only child, lol.

  6. We are in the same boat with #2. Now that #1 is finally sleeping pretty well (He’s Thalia’s age), the new baby is ruining our lives.

    We are trying a new book this weekend. Who knows. This one might work.

  7. You know I sucked at sleep training too, don’t you? Hell, we didn’t even own a crib by the time #3 came b/c we knew it was a joke. Now, when people get a look at our upstairs, they sometimes wonder where our 4 1/2 yo son’s room is. I have to duck my head and explain that he either sleeps with his sister or with me. He’s FOUR-AND-A-HALF! We actually have talked about buying him a bed. So that’s progress, I think.

  8. Not to startle the unindoctrinated, but my daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 5. For years at different times after that, she slept with me. But now, at almost 14, she can sleep til 10 on weekends. So it kinda makes up for it? And a few times a year I’ll actually ask her to sleep in my bed for a ‘sleepover’ and I kinda miss the old days.

    I know you are still living in your ‘old days.’

  9. I am rocking this sleep training thing right about now. I just put my 2 yo in with my 5 yo (dispite my partners hesitation) and its going great so far. I put the 2 yo in first and sit outside the door (where he can see me) and read until he goes to sleep then i take the 5 yo in 🙂 Since I put 2 yo in bed at 7 my 5 yo is usually in bed by 8 (last night it was 8:30).

  10. Oh huge congrats Lisa, I’m jealous. I should have mentioned that Thalia actually goes to sleep earlier these days. So yeah, there’s that.

  11. I have this theory that when there are more than one kid in the house, they subconsciously take turns. Like, ‘oh, I see our parents have totally broken your spirit and gotten you to sleep through. Let me STEP INTO THE VOID so they don’t get any foolish ideas about having ‘sleep training advice.'” I have 3, oldest is 6.5, and I haven’t had a good nights sleep in oh, 6 yrs and 6 months. Something like that.

  12. I don’t think anyone in this house sleeps particularly well, except perhaps my husband. Oh and the cat.

    I was generous and passed on such sleep disorders as sleep walking. Never a dull moment.

  13. I think we are seduced into thinking our children will be little angels who sleep from 8 pm to 7 AM with nary a peep. They will go into their cribs willingly, and never roll onto their tummies or squish their little faces up into the corner of the crib.

    They will never scream for four or more hours every night without ceasing if you let them “cry it out”, and never get too upset when doing so that they are sick to their little tummies.

    I combine putting my son in his crib when he falls asleep at night, and then bringing him to bed when he wakes to nurse. My son sleeps this way, I get at least 5 hours of sleep (cumulative), and everyone is happier. Will we work on having him sleep in his own bed at some point, and putting himself to sleep? Sure… but I believe that the best sleep training is what works for your family right then, not what some book, media ad, or unrealisitc developmental expectation from our society tells us is right.

  14. Sleep training, blah blah, what worked for me might not work for you blah blah WAIT. WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT “COUGAR ON THE PROWL” THING?

  15. At 5 and a half, my kid will finally go to sleep by herself – most of the time. And even when she does, she comes and climbs into our bed at six. Someday, it will get better. It has to. After all, we’re not going to college with them, right?

  16. At least you’re able to keep your sense of humor abt it. No sleeping is t-o-u-g-h. My little gal is just now testing the sleeping boundaries at 6.5 yrs old. I think hers is a control stance. My little guy didn’t sleep for the first 9 months, but he’s so nicely paying us back with full nights now. If not one, the other. Hang in there and thanks for commiserating with us all!

  17. Oh, I am SO crabby without sleep.

    But my crew actually sleeps better if they’re all together, a fact we learned during an (insanity-induced) two-week camping trip.

    What? All 3 in a tent and they slept?

    When we got home, we put all 3 in the same room and haven’t looked back.

    I’m *so* much less crabby now.

  18. I am sorry to say that I feel your pain. Or, I sort of feel it, through my sleep-deprived numbness that currently masquerades as normal functioning.

    Let’s hope it can only go up from here?

  19. Oh I hear ya! My first was a terrible sleeper!! My second is much “easier” (though not perfect). What actually convinced me to have a 2nd was the consolation it couldn’t get much worse than my first. LOL! It’s funny that if it weren’t for my 2 sons, in their own ways, I wouldn’t even have my website (all about sleep!). My first son gave me the topic and my second when he was a baby slept on my lap for several weeks while I set it up. Ha! Sooo ironic!

    I hope the kids let you sleep soon!

    Have you thought about a bed in your room, but her own bed? Or, it might work well to set up an air mattress in her room where you stay with her until she falls asleep, then slowly transition to putting her in her bed and you are on the mattress “sleeping”, then work towards you leaving after she is asleep, then swap the mattress for a chair that you will move further to the door every night until its out of the room, and so on.

    Have you tried a sticker chart, too?

    Just some ideas! Hope you get some sleep, soon. I find it so exhausting when both boys have a bad night, so I totally feel you on one sleeping is better than none!

  20. The sleep thing is so hard. I thought I had it down — PunditGirl was great until she was about 2 1/2, then was up every nite until she was 5.

    Oh, I guess I probably shouldn’t have told you that. 🙁

  21. I asked Isabel at and she saved me, mostly because she bases her advice on her whoopdy doopdy PHD but also on the developmental milestones going on.

    Of course, I haven’t quite listened to her yet.

    Maybe that’s why I’m still not getting sleep.


  22. This made me remember something completely unrelated. Kind of.

    At my bridal shower a few years ago, the women who attended were all given index cards to write the best marital advice they could think of. Most were serious, some were funny, but the most awesome one ever came from my SIL who wrote “Um. I married Bob. You don’t want to ask me for marriage advice.”

    Heh. Great minds think alike?

  23. I realized with my first, now 21 months, that cribs are scary. She always hated it, and never slept well. Therefore, at 13 months, she got a toddler bed. It was revolutionary. However, sleeping through the night did not occur until we allowed her to cry, 10 minutes at a time, when she woke. Two days later, no night waking, and no crying at bedtime. I know this doesn’t work for everyone. It took me 18 months to get up the guts. But now I sleep.

    Except for that pesky newborn in my bed. Round II for me soon, too.

  24. Thank god! I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one with a child who resists sleep. My focus has been on gettting her to fall asleep on her own (which takes forever) and then I crawl in with her when she wakes in the night. At least we sleep the rest of the night pretty well, right? (Though my sister says we’ll be sharing a dorm room when she goes off to college…)

  25. I am not the one you should be asking…my 2 year old son comes in my room, stealthily, every night between 2 and 6 am, and if I do notice, I am too tired to put him back in his bed. But sadly, often, I don’t notice until I wake up in the morning.

  26. My kid is doing that same thing. Crying at night (again) after sleeping SO WELL for SO LONG. Problem is, she won’t sleep with me, either.


  27. Liz – we’ve commiserated before, and I feel even more strongly we are cosmic sisters living the same life in two very different cultures (unless NYC and Birmingham Alabama suddenly collided YIKES!) I recall just a month or so ago we both enjoyed LOST while hearing “PACI! – MAHMEE!” shrieked from elsewhere in the house. I have just now sat down after an hour of “I want my MAHMEEEEEEE! I don’t wanna sleeeeep! I wake up!” All from a 2 1/2 year old that used to wave “night night” as I shut the door behind him.

    Someone please tell me the demon possession does in fact end at some point (probably just in time for his 18 mo old brother to be taken over by said demon).

    Ah isn’t it bliss though? The time goes so fast. “You’re gonna miss this…” isn’t that the latest sad country song?

    Who are THEY kidding?!

  28. And hey – funny side note…

    Ninja – the company I work for is the sales agency in 26 states for Peltor hearing protection (now owned by 3M)! Anyone need them? I get sample price!

  29. I’m a newbie to your blog and came across it while googling “Brooklyn Moms”. <>Your blog RAWKS.<> thank you thank you thank you.

    The last line of your post is SO TRUE. Everyone is so different and no one can really give you advice…yet everyone does.

    My husband’s friends said we HAD to let my 8 mo. old cry it out and I knew it was not right so I didn’t do that and luckily she sleeps through the night. That’s not because of anything we did, it’s just luck.

  30. I'm getting all sorts of advice from lots of people on “why” my almost 5month old shouldn't be sleeping with me… but so far the only reason for this that they've come up with is “you'll never get her out of your bed” yet I have plenty of others telling me the exact opposite “we co-slept with all three of our kids and had no problem transitioning them out of our bed” so yeah… advice – bah. oh – and good luck getting Sage to sleep in her crib 🙂 good luck to me too when we figure out we're ready for E to sleep in her crib 🙂

  31. I don't have advice as much as I have commiseration and data/theory that suggests that your kids are right on target with their sleep habits (4 years old is a fairly stable, secure age; moving towards 2.5 is a whacky, vulnerable, sensitive age). I didn't really read your post as asking for advice, so feel free to ignore the next jumble of words. But if you want to check out why it might be easier to change sleep habits NOW, LIKE RIGHT NOW, LIKE DON”T WAIT UNTIL SHE'S 2.5 years old, then…—3-years/

    @MU: I do believe I'd trade that “whoopdy doopdy PHD” in for all that great sex you write/podcast about.

  32. Ugh… I'm sorry. And obviously techy-challenged. I have no idea why my name didn't appear on that last comment (and Bedtiming did).


  33. The problem with all the advice is that it requires coherent thinking in the middle of the night. With both my kids, I put them to bed in their own beds, and if they woke up in the night, I brought them in with me. Once each of them turned about three, they stopped waking up much in the night, but if they do, they come in with me and we all get much-needed sleep!

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