Real life CIO Stories / by Ida Theren

Below, we have collected a few real life CIO (cry-it-out) stories.

"I just wanted to share a story about my older son that broke my heart into tiny little pieces. He is 4 years old now. We used graduated extinction when he was 5-6 months old. It took about 4 nights of crying but he started going down easier at night and waking only to nurse (he night weaned on his own around 11 months). 
He was consistently sleeping 12-13 hours a night with a total of maybe 30-40 min awake time for nursing, but each time he was sick or anything else disturbed our routine we would have to redo another night or two of crying. 
We moved to another state when he was 18 months and we stayed with him for hours in his new room to help him get adjusted but after a few weeks decided that it was time to go back to 'normal'. That night when we left him to cry he jumped out of the crib and we moved him to a floor bed and put a cover on the door knob so he couldn't get out at night on his own.
Bedtime continued to be a struggle in and off with occasional crying and very often trying to keep us in his room as long as possible. 
Fast forward to 3 years old last fall..we all had the flu and we wanted to keep a closer eye on him so we moved his mattress next to our bed. We never moved it back. All three of us were so much happier together. My husband and I felt so dumb for not listening to our guts sooner. 
I became pregnant with our second son a few months later and our then 3.5 year old said something I will NEVER forget:

"Mama you remember when I slept in my room? You leave me alone and I was crying and I was scared and you locked me and you didn't come...I don't want my brother to sleep alone, ok?"

He remembers everything..he has slept with us for over a year and he still remembers us locking him inside his room when he was scared and lonely. Sure the knob cover was for his safety but he didn't know that and it certainly didn't feel that way to him. 
I have apologized to him many times since then..every time he brings it up, which isn't too often anymore. However I know he still remembers because he just talked about it last week, I think he had just come to terms with it and forgiven us for it so he doesn't feel like he has to bring it up. 
We now lay with him until he falls asleep and then come back up to our room to sleep a little later. The change in his level of attachment to me specifically has increased ten fold. He is a super happy and well adjusted child and can sleep in our room as long as he needs. 
It goes without saying that our approach to sleeping with our second is totally different. 
I just wanted to share this because it illustrates that they do remember sleep training and it does matter and impact them deeply."

–Michelle, USA 


"I never once told my parents that I was scared. I was thinking about it before and I *think* i used to get in my parents bed when I was very small if I had a nightmare, but Im not sure. I do remember having a nightmare in my cot of woodlice crawling all over my yellow crochet blanket so I mustve been very young, under 2, and I also remember being scared of a painting in my bedroom and looking at it from my cot but not asking for help. 

As our relationship deteriorated, the very idea of seeking comfort from her actually made me feel ill, I hated HATED her hands and the rings on them because of the violence. I was terrified of being alone but terrified of her too. The hitting made me unable to associate her with warmth and until I had my daughter i hated the word 'mother' and was unable to connect comfort with any of my family."

–Brittish woman in her 30s


"I remember being ignored and made to stay in bed no matter how well I did not didn't sleep, no matter whether I was scared or not. No matter anything. 
It's led to soemthing of a phobia of mine. I am terrified of boredom. I can't go to bed if I'm not tired without freaking out."

–American woman in her 30s


See this story for another parent's experience with CIO.


Do you have a story to share? Please feel free to post it in the comments section. By doing so, you have agreed to let us share it online anonymously, in the purpose of spreading awareness.

For advice on healthy night time parenting, see the group Sleepy Littles. For more articles and research about CIO, see the group Anti CIO resources