Tension increasers

Let's recap the theory. I think there are a minimum of two kinds of people, hence babies: Those who release tension by crying, and those who increase tension by crying. Which is why some babies seem to need to cry to be able to fall asleep, while others escalate more and more if you let them cry at all.

My first one is a tension increaser, who fell asleep being nursed or rocked, but if I let him cry for even 30 seconds he'd get so worked up it would take hours to calm him down. (Based on my experience with him, I always thought people who "forced" their babies to cry were heartless and selfish, and would pay for it with children with a myriad of emotional problems.)

Then I had my second, who got more agitated the more I rocked him, but when I left him alone to cry he'd scream for a few minutes and then fall asleep. He seemed to need to be able to release tenson by crying, and then once he got it out of his system he fell asleep like it was nothing. (I remember thinking that if he'd been my first I'd have thought people who didn't let their kids cry when they wanted to were selfish and pushing their own agenda onto their kids, and would pay for it with children with a myriad of emotional problems.)

This is absolutely not a binary distinction. My kids seemed to be pretty solidly one or the other, but there's so much variance, and some kids seem to be one for naps and the other for nighttime, or one until one age and then they switch, and personality and culture comes into play, too. So who knows if it's a continuum, or a box-and-whisker plot, or a Venn diagram, or a scatterplot. I'm sure in 40 years parents will be reading this thinking about how cute we are that we were just starting to figure this out, but for now I still find it an interesting puzzle.

FWIW, 10 minutes seems to be about when you can tell. If you let your baby cry for 10 minutes (which is an astonishingly long time), a tension releaser will be petering out and starting to fall asleep or at least winding down and not crying hard, where a tension increaser will be creaming even more loudly and angrily. Try it once, and you'll probably have an idea of which way your child leans.

Today let's talk about tension increasers. Tomorrow we'll talk about strategies for tension decreasers.

As I've said, my older one (who is now almost-9) was a no-holds-barred tension increaser. He would go to sleep easily by nursing or being rocked. Later, when he was a toddler, he needed someone to be in the room with him while he fell asleep, but he always fell asleep. In the middle of the night he could be comforted back to sleep, but he almost always needed some kind of touch.

If I left him to cry, either because I couldn't deal with it anymore, or I had the audacity to need to pee or something like that, or because I bought into the "let him cry" hype, he's keep crying. Louder and longer and more furiously than before, and he'd get more and more worked up. So then, instead of calming down in 5 minutes, it would take 45 minutes to calm him down from the crying. He needed the touch, and he needed to know that someone understood and was specifically paying attention to him.

Contrast that with me. I'm also a tension increaser. On Sunday night when my ankle was killing me and I didn't have a diagnosis yet and one of my friends mentioned "ankle reconstruction surgery" I started crying alone in my apartment, and it made me feel worse, and then I couldn't stop crying because the crying itself was making me feel bad. I cried for two hours, and felt like throwing up.

But my mother reports that when I was a baby I wanted to nurse, then I'd arch my back and want to be put down, and I'd fall asleep. So I didn't want or need the comforting touch that my older son did, but I also could not be left to cry, because it just made me feel worse.

I think there are two takeaways here: 1) If your child is as clear about what s/he needs to fall asleep as my son and I were, you're lucky, and 2) If you can get to a place of no expectations, it might be easier and clearer for you.

What I mean by that second one is that we all bring these ideas into parenting about what babies are like, and also what we're going to be like as parents. I thought that babies needed to be comforted to sleep, and I thought of myself as a mother who comforted her baby to sleep. I was really, really, really lucky that my first child fit into my expectations, and that my expectations of myself happened to be exactly what he needed. If I'd had my second first, we'd have been in for months of confusion, disappointment, and feelings of inadequacy.

If you think that babies sleep a certain way, based either on culture or past experience or something you read in a book (please PLEASE either read no sleep books or all of them) or what your mother-in-law says about how your partner slept as a baby or whatever, then if your child doesn't sleep that way, it may take you a long time to be able to identify cues from your child about what s/he needs because you'll be fighting with your expectations. And you also might have to fight with what you think about yourself, and that's pretty much the last thing you need while you're reevaluating your whole life every night at 3 am anyway.

I initially titled this post "Strategies for tension increasers," but the problem is that all babies are different, so the only thing I can tell you definitively about tension increasers is that it won't do anyone any good to let them cry, so just don't bother.

Other than that, allow yourself to trust that your child won't need help going to sleep forever. You know how people talk about kids needing to "learn to fall asleep"? I think some kids not only need to learn, they need a full apprenticeship of years. And that's ok. The ones who do a full apprenticeship seem to get it with a vengeance, and turn into the kids who fall asleep with no fuss and can sleep anywhere as adults.

Parents of tension increasers and adult tension increasers: What worked for you? Were there tips or tricks that you used to get your child to sleep? How long did it take before your child consistently went to sleep easily alone? Feel free to share stories of waking up in a puddle of your own drool on your child's floor next to the crib.



126 thoughts on “Tension increasers”

  1. I think Moxie’s theory speaks to the different temperaments of children, and that what works for one child doesn’t work for another.The sleep issue is so complex, though. Sometimes, children who are crying a lot before bedtime might be: a) tension increasers, b) overtired, c)trying to get attention, d)all of the above, e) none of the above, and f) who the hell knows?

  2. Once my firstborn got past the stage of nursing to sleep, I developed a repertoire of just-boring-enough songs and stories. I know (and am not afraid to use) all the verses to the Battle Hymn of the Republic — nice and drony, and you leave the room singing “Glory, glory, hallelujah!”When he got a little bigger I would tell in a droning almost-whisper the story of a boy who fought a dragon (that part was short) and then went to a banquet to celebrate. I went on and on about the banquet, course after course after course. And you know, it’s fun to hear about a celebration for a boy who killed a dragon, and it’s fun to think about all that yummy food, but there’s…only…so much…a sleepy boy can take…before he…gives up the…zzzzzzzz
    Struggling mightily with my fifth at the moment, who fights sleep SO HARD it’s making me crazy, so thanks for the opportunity to share something I did that actually worked. 🙂

  3. Pumpkin, my first, is definitely a tension increaser. One time when she was a baby, I put her down thinking she was asleep and snuck off to go to the bathroom. She woke up and started crying, and by the time I got back to her, she’d worked herself into a hysterical state and thrown up. So I knew right then that CIO methods weren’t for us. I didn’t see how having a cranky, awake baby and a bunch of vomit was an improvement over having a happy, awake baby.In her case, I think she really just can’t stand to be alone when she’s upset. Sometimes, when she wakes up in the night and calls for us, she’ll tell us that she’s lonely. She started sleeping through the night when she was about 2. We’d finally gotten her attached to a specific lovey. We’d gotten her a big girl bed, which helped- she always hated her crib. She’d completely nightweaned a month or two earlier (and then completely weaned not long after), and once she stopped nursing in the middle of the night, it wasn’t too long before she stopped waking up.
    BUT- she still needed me, or more precisely, my hair, to fall asleep. Some nights, I’d be in there for an hour. Finally, when she was 3, I managed to change our routine to listen to 4 songs, tell one story, then mommy leaves. That is mostly how things work now- I get called back a few times some nights, but she mostly goes to sleep on her own. She wakes up once in the night sometimes, but she mostly sleeps through. She’ll be 4 in April.
    I am really glad that I listened to what she needed on the sleep front, because I honestly think we would have had a much harder time if we’d tried to impose our will more forcefully. She is a very stubborn little girl, and can still cry for ages if she wants me and I can’t come (if, for instance, I’m getting her sister down for the night and she takes it in her head that she wants Mommy, not Daddy, to give her a bath).
    We struggle a bit now with how to handle all out tantrums- she still increases tension, and doesn’t really wind down if left to cry. But sometimes, I just can’t go to her and comfort her, and if the reason she’s screaming is that we’ve told her that it is Daddy’s turn to give her a bath, then me going to her feels like we’re rewarding the screaming. We haven’t worked out a consistent strategy for those sorts of tantrums yet, but luckily, they don’t happen that often.

  4. Oh goodness, my first was a huge tension increaser – if only I’d read this post then! Seriously, one night when I couldn’t take it any more and left him in the crib to cry it out (didn’t work), the police actually showed up to check on the screaming. I kid you not.So, my request, can we talk more about what this means as they grow up? I find, for example, that while I know what to do with him when he’s crying, that where it plays out now is in holding grudges. he can work himself up over a slight on the playground and turn it into a giant thing that he can hardly get over, and I’m wondering if talking it out (which is what I would need) is only causing him to get more worked up. (He’s 8 now)
    Another note, for tantrums walking away helped, whereas with his brother, who I think might be a tension decreaser, walking away from tantrums didn’t work. Not sure what that piece of data means…

  5. What a wonderfully timely post! I was just about to write to you, as I am in the middle of 9 month sleep regression HELL, and I feel like I am about to die.I think my baby is definitely a tension increaser. I nurse her to sleep (or until drowsy) and she stays asleep for a while – sometimes two hours, sometimes five hours. We’ve tried sending husby in there to soothe her back down and it works for a moment – back rubbing, etc – but the second he stops, she starts crying again. The only strategy that consistently works is a quick nurse back to sleep. Usually once or maybe twice a night on a “normal” night but since the moment she turned nine months, it could be three, four or five times and at totally random times. Kill me now. I feel terrible because I am the only one that can get up with her and my husband feels terrible because he can’t help out or split up the duties!
    It seems like all “sleep training” strategies focus on getting your child to sleep in the first place, but that is not really my problem. She will either nurse to sleep or fall asleep after sucking her thumb for a moment. She goes down easily the firs time. It’s just the crazy, random wake ups that have me stumped. There is no rhyme or reason to them and no pattern at all. I thought it might all be related to crawling because she’s sometimes be up on hands and knees, but other times she’s just laying on her back.
    Can’t wait to hear everyone’s comments… I am so far deep into a fog of exhaustion right now it doesn’t ever seem like this phase is going to end. 🙁

  6. My tension increaser is 3.5. As an infant, he would ALWAYS fall asleep nursing. Always. If I let him cry, we were in for a long, long night. Now, at 3.5, if he wakes at night all it takes is laying down beside him until he falls back to sleep (5minutes-ish max). At bedtime, I typically need to rub his back for a couple minutes, then I sit outside his door until he falls asleep.My increaser will let himself cry and get worked up until he actually vomits. It makes it difficult to hold the line because I KNOW there will be vomit if he gets incredibly upset. Does anyone have any tips on that? (Ped says it is normal, but ugh).

  7. My daughter always needs touch to fall asleep and stay asleep. She nursed to sleep until after age 2, and at 3.5, she still needs someone to lie with her until she is asleep. She’s never fallen asleep or slept through the night on her own. I don’t mind being there as she falls asleep, but she also wakes up OFTEN–like several times a night–and she will only go back to sleep if I go lie next to her or bring her into our bed. If she sleeps with us, she sleeps pretty soundly, If she sleeps in her bed, there are 4-5 wake-ups nightly. You can probably guess where she usually sleeps.Any ideas for helping a 3 y.o. learn how to get back to sleep on her own? She rarely wakes up fully–just startles a bit and senses that she’s alone in bed and cries and cries (with building intensity) until I get there and she’s back to sleep in seconds. Will she grow out of this?

  8. I think my second is a tension increaser, so I rock him to sleep or hold his hand until he falls asleep. No big deal. But what’s stumping me is recently, about an hour after I put him down, he wakes up screaming and then it takes forever to get him back to sleep. If it’s the middle of the night, forget it! I just bring him into our bed. Any of you wise mamas want to venture a guess as to what’s going on/what I could do?!

  9. @Mimi- the 9 month sleep regression is born of separation anxiety and it sucks big rocks. She’s crying because she’s realized that you aren’t there and that is freaking her out, so yeah- the only thing that will calm her down is for you to show up. This is a major developmental leap- check out the book called Bedtiming if you want to know more about it.I’ve been through this regression twice, with two very different kids (Pumpkin = a crappy sleeper to start with, and a tension increaser who couldn’t self-soothe AT ALL, Petunia = a better sleeper, and pretty good at self-soothing), and both times I felt so sleep deprived I thought my brain had turned to fuzz. I never found a magic solution other than time. It does end.
    Can you sleep in and/or take naps on the weekends while your husband takes care of the baby? I used to send my husband out for massive long walks with Pumpkin at her nap time. He’d walk for her entire nap (2 hours!) and I’d sleep. That helped a lot. With Petunia, the long walks weren’t really an option, because she and her sister were on different nap schedules. So I just got to sleep in on the weekends, and that helped, too. Hubby would grumble a bit about how he never got to sleep in, but then I’d tell him how many times I was up in the night, and he’d shut up.
    With Petunia, this time period is also when we started partial night cosleeping (we bring her into bed with us after her first wake up), and that helped a lot, because (1) she woke up less because I was right there next to her and (2) I could go back to sleep easier after nursing if I hadn’t had to get out of bed, walk down the hall, nurse, and get her back down. I just sat up, nursed, and then snuggled back in with Petunia. We tried nursing laying down, but she swallowed more air and it gave her gas, so I stopped that. I fought the idea of cosleeping with Pumpkin, and didn’t start the partial night thing until the 18 month regression. I regret that- I think I would have gotten a lot more sleep if I’d brought her into bed with us.
    The other thing you might do is more to help with the next regression- after this one ends, you could try establishing your husband’s baby soothing routines during a “good” sleep period. That may increase the odds that she’ll accept him the next time a regression hits. Or it may not, but at least you’ll get a bit of a break during the good periods!
    Hang in there. You’ll get through this.

  10. DD, 4 tomorrow, is your classic tension releaser, or at least was until she was round 3(?). She doesn’t cry to fall asleep anymore but I have found that if she has a little cry around bed time, for an unrelated reason, she will drop off without any fuss. As far as sleep goes now, I put her (and her brother) to bed and leave her, but she might fool around a bit in her own bed or with her toys in her room and when she is ready she’ll go back to bed and fall asleep herseelf.A long time coming seeing she was waking even up to 8 times(!) until she was 3. Then at 3.25 there was nother sleep hiccup which lasted 3 months. Amazingly, things sorted out at 3.5.
    I remember when she was 19 months we flew to Australia from Europe and she was all over the place because her usual routine was out the window and she was exhausted. I would nurse her to sleep, but she couldn’t actually let her self go completely because she needed to cry and you can’t let a kid cry in the middle of the night on a plane when everyone else is snoozing. It was awful. Everytime she woke up, which was constantly, I’d have to put her back on the breast and the time I didn’t she would thru a freaking mental!! We both needed a damn good cry.

  11. @Mimi, my 2nd kid did just what you described. Fell asleep pretty well, but started waking up in the night. The pediatrician recommended that we take her outside and let her get a lot of sun (may be really hard right now depending on where you live.) It seemed to help some, as did playing hard with other kids.

  12. I am so glad I found your posts, even though it was a couple of years too late for my first. I didn’t like the idea of crying it out and it was obvious that crying it out didn’t work for my son, but people treated me like I was stupid for not just forcing it. When I did force it, it was such a horrible experience.Anyway, my son stopped all the screaming when we dropped his last nap when he turned two. He would be so tired at night that he would fall asleep. I think he just doesn’t need as much sleep as other people.
    When did he start going to sleep alone? On his fifth birthday we started leaving him along in his bed, awake. We’ll tell him “I’ll come check on you in ten minutes.” and he doesn’t like it, but he is almost always asleep when we come back in the room. I think he falls asleep easier when we aren’t in the room because there is nothing to distract him. He talks constantly so with no one there to talk to it gets boring.
    My daughter on the other hand. What a different child! She’s 8 months and had her first real crying jag yesterday. Seriously. It lasted almost 30 minutes and is totally related to teething. When I was pregnant with her and people kept telling me that she might not be a screamer I couldn’t even imagine. My son would cry for hours on end. It is such a joy and relief to have a happy baby who loves sleep.

  13. Moxie. I love you. You have no idea how much this concept of tension increasers/decreasers has impact my thoughts on babies and sleep. It is brilliant and really hits home that point that we need to do what works for our child.Also, I very helpful timely post as I just wrote a post today on my blog that referenced this very concept.

  14. This is interesting stuff, and I wish I would have considered the whole “tension releaser v. increaser” theory when I had #1, who was colicky and just generally miserable for an entire year.But #2 stumps me.
    He started out needing to be nursed to calm down, whether he was tired, or sick, or just mad.
    Then, around 8 months, he really responded well to CIO, which has led him to be super-easy to put down at night (no nursing, no touch). But he has awakened between 3 and 4:30 am every day for the last SIX MONTHS and is almost impossible to get back down at this point. We have tried CIO, moving his bedtime earlier, moving his bedtime later, consolidating naps, no more nursing until 5 am, no getting out of the crib until 5, etc. etc. NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK. And he’s almost 14 months. Sleeps like a champ until he turns into a rooster at his appointed time. WTF? Is he morphing from a releaser into a slowly-kill-Mom-and-Dad-torturer?
    Sigh. Any suggestions would be really, REALLY welcomed.

  15. Re the 3.5 year old who won’t stay asleep in her own bed: Miss C needs to hold my hand (and no-one else’s) for 5 minutes until she falls asleep, and then used to wake every night and take easily 1.5 hour with me in her room before falling asleep again (she has never slept in our bed, of her own choice and we haven’t encouraged it). But I got so exhausted from those nights that we started putting a make-shift mattress on the floor in our room, and when she wakes at night, we take her duvet, her pillow and her water (replaces the constant ‘i need water’ night-time demands) and she sleeps the rest of the night there. We’ve been doing this for some months, and haven’t mentionned that she should stay in her own room. Then I mentionned casually one day that if she did sleep all night in her own room until we got up, she would get a little treat (2 M&Ms…), it suddenly became interesting and something to strive for. She now manages it approx 4 nights a week and we all sleep much better. Long drawn solution, long drawn answer and off-topic, sorry. If your little one is used to sleeping in your bed, the first step would be to incentivise the move to the make-shift mattress, I guess. Good luck! As Moxie once said to me ‘This too shall pass’. Best advice I ever got. PS: Miss C is definitely a tension increaser.

  16. To drive home the point about all kids are different: I have Chuckles (now aged 5.5). He was neither. We was neutral on the crying. If he woke in the night, I could leave him to cry and he wouldn’t get any louder, more furious, more upset, but he also wouldn’t stop. He would cry for 45 seconds, stop for 5 minutes (I would fall back asleep), then cry for 45 seconds (waking me since our house is small), sleep for 5 minutes. I let this go on for 3 hours one night. Basically, I didn’t sleep that whole time. So, I went in there and nursed and then we all slept for 4 or 6 hours. That drove home the point to me that all babies are different and all sleep strategies work for some kids.
    (As for Chuckles, whenever he would wake up crying in the night (and it had been 3 or more hours), I would promptly respond and nurse him since we all would maximize our sleep that way.)

  17. Perfect timing on this post, I had been kicking around the idea of writing you about the tension increaser/decreaser thing, because mine doesn’t seem to be either – so I will benefit from today’s comments as well as tomorrow’s!He is 5.5 months, and if I let him cry for any extended period of time he’ll get pretty pissed but it won’t take me any longer to calm him down that if I went to him straight away. If he’s in the swing he can often go back to sleep after 5 or 10 minutes of crying but it doesn’t really work if he’s in his crib (or maybe I’ve just never been brave enough to try).
    Also, the whole if he goes to sleep on his own he’ll sleep better/longer? Thus far, so not true for my rooster. Seems like the more comatose he is when I set him down, the longer he’ll sleep.

  18. BIteSizedTherapy, I’m really talking about crying vs. not WHILE FALLING ASLEEP. Not just around bedtime. There are too many variables about that, you’re right. But if you’ve had a kid who absolutely couldn’t cry to fall asleep or one who HAD to cry to fall asleep, my theory makes a lot of sense to you. If yours isn’t one or the other, then don’t worry about it.Erin, I’m not sure what you mean about “holding the line” until she vomits. What situations are you in in which she has to cry that long and there’s not a way around the situation?
    Blythe. Holy crap. Grudge. Let me think about this, because it’s me, too.

  19. I too have a tension increaser and the only way I knew what to do was Moxie. Thank you.As an infant, he needed to nurse to go to sleep. He never ever fell asleep in a stroller or carseat — both upset him furiously. And he was a “cry until I can’t breathe or I vomit” kid from infancy. It sucked hard.
    I knew he was a tension increaser because when he cried and I couldn’t fix it (ie while I was driving even a short distance), he would cry until he struggled to breathe or vomited. If he threw up, he’d keep crying. Only being soothed by me or nursed calmed him down. I knew then that CIO was not going to ever work for him.
    As for night time sleep, he nursed to sleep for a long long time. It was easy and fast and I couldn’t think of one reason why someone would NOT do it. He woke up fairly often at night beginning at 4 months and that regression basically didn’t end until he was a year old. The whole thing coincided with my return to work, the start of reverse cycling on his part, cold season (which hit us hard that year), and the never ending sleep regression. He woke up as often as every 30 minutes and never slept longer than 90 minutes at night for about 8 months. I hated the idea of co-sleeping or sleeping apart from my husband but it’s the only way we survived for that whole first year and beyond. It was so horrid that I swore I would never have another child.
    Once he hit a year, it got more difficult to put him to sleep (nursing stopped working as well), and our whole bedtime routine got more complex and frustrating for me. We’ve tried lots of things. For a while, earlier (like much earlier) bedtime worked well but it had to be timed perfectly to a 90 minute cycle — he would fall asleep after he’d been awake for 90 minutes but not if he’d been awake for 115 minutes. Gah. He still woke up often and needed me to nurse him back to sleep.
    Crying or fussing has never been something we can ignore from him without consequences. It amps him up and he needs help to come down. We started teaching him to take deep breaths mid cry and that helps. We started it about a year ago and yesterday he used it without reminding at preschool drop off.
    As for amount of sleep and how he gets it, my increaser also seems to need less of it than other kids. He’s 2.5 years old and if he takes a nap longer than 45 minutes, he can NOT fall asleep at a reasonable hour (before 9:30) at night. He needs about 11 hours of sleep and I’d prefer he get them at night rather than during the day. I WOH and all three of us need to be up and out of the house 3 days a week by 8 am. If he doesn’t fall asleep until 10 pm, I’m up later than I’d like, am tired, etc and he’s a bear to wake in the morning. It seems crazy but I need him to drop his nap. My mom, who takes care of him while we work, loves his nap as it gives her a break. But it ruins my whole day. And it’s not like I can leave him in his room to go to sleep on his own while i go to bed. I have to lie with him until he is sound asleep.

  20. This is all SO helpful to me since we are having a lot of related trouble with our 5 month old. Here’s a question, if anyone has a second to answer it:How does co-sleeping work, exactly? I have a queen sized bed that comfortable sleeps myself and my husband. Often after the 4-5am feeding I will bring the baby into bed with us because he has a hard time falling asleep after that feeding, but I end up curled around him or lying in as straight a line as possible next to him with much thought given to placement of covers/blankets. This all results in interrupted sleep that is better than *no* sleep but not at all deep sleep. So how on earth would I do this ALL NIGHT?
    The baby has allergy issues that we’re trying to work out and that is contributing to poor sleep. I don’t see his sleep issues resolving anytime soon so I am toying with the idea of full-night co-sleeping. But the logistics are fuzzy.

  21. My older one (now 3.5) was definitely a tension increaser. This was the kid who would cry for 6 hours straight if we let him (trying to let him ‘go back to sleep’). Still now, during some of his developmental changes, when he has a tantrum, he can go into his room, cry and scream and maybe slow down, but ramp right up again when he remembers he was upset. (sigh). Our youngest (almost 9 weeks) is a bit more mellow… so far she seems to be a tension decreaser (thank GOODNESS). I’ll let y’all know when that 9 month sleep regression hits. 🙂

  22. @Johanna, I’m no help with a baby that young, I’m afraid. Until 6 months, my kids slept in a moses basket or a cosleeper next to out bed. We have a queen size bed, too.When we brought Petunia into bed with us at about 9 months, she was big enough that we didn’t have to worry quite so much about the blankets- although, since she is wearing a sleep sack, she generally doesn’t want more blankets on her.
    Pumpkin was a restless sleeper, so successful cosleeping with her required settling her into solid sleep BEFORE laying down with her. She used my hair as a lovey, so I’d turn my back to her and that helped.
    Petunia likes to snuggle in close for a minute or two, then she rolls away. If she is having a particularly restless night, I’ll kick Hubby out to the guest room or living room sofa (hey, it is actually really comfy). I say it is for his benefit, but really, I just want the extra space.
    I’m not sure that was much help. Hopefully someone with more cosleeping knowledge will chime in!

  23. @Johanna – IMHO, as big as a queen seems, it isn’t quite big enough for 2 adults and a baby once baby is older than say six weeks. DH and I are average sized (not big, not little) and I know exactly what you are talking about. (One night, I finally nursed the baby to sleep but forgot to leave room for myself, so DH slept in his spot, baby slept in my spot, and I slept at the foot of the bed a la the family dog – no kidding.)At first we were totally resistant to DH and I not sleeping in the same bed. Then we were just tired. Our temporary solution was DH on an air mattress in the living room, until last week when we caved and bought a full sized bed for the nursery. (He’ll need a big boy bed some day anyway.) So once I get tired of putting DS back to bed I sleep with him in his room and DH sleeps alone in our bed. (Alternatively we could have gotten a king for our room but our queen is a perfectly good mattress and we didn’t really have the room anyway.)
    Regarding blankets: what works best for me is to just have a twin sized comforter and no top sheet or blanket. The comforter is fluffy but not particularly heavy. Since nothing is tucked in anywhere it’s a lot easier to rearrange blankets when you have to switch sides. I just pull the corner up over my shoulder so it keeps me warm but can’t get in DS’s face. Also, a pillow to put behind your back helps a ton in staying comfortable.

  24. Like @Blythe I also met the nice police when I took the excellent advice from my health visitor to put DD in her nice safe cot( crib) and take ten minutes out at night.I’ve also seen neighbours and the security guard on the development. We do have very thin walls. But her crying would make my ears ring for ages after such scenes.
    We’ve been seen out of stores by security guards too during very bad tantrums between 14- 22 months. Once DD gets upset she’s like a kettle. The pressure increases, and once it discharges it’s like boiling water spraying everywhere.
    DD has a voice of operatic quality and is now nearly three minus one week. She co-sleeps and she does not fall asleep alone. The co-sleeping is a needs/must to get sleep for the parents, not a parenting belief.
    My DH, whom she so strongly resembles, doesn’t release tension either. If you do the talk the resentment thing over, whatever the occasion, he starts obsessively winding himself up.
    Can’t sleep etc. Can keep a grudge for decades. Like his mama. Whom he strongly resembles.
    She was called The Tank as she rolled over the opposition to her enormously strong will.
    I can cry anyone a river and feel better for it. DD can talk now and understand more, but she deals with issues by avoiding them. If daddy’s away, and that was the cause of those nights and tantrums often, talking about daddy makes it much worse.
    If she cries I hold her and comfort her but don’t talk and then distract her with a new activity once she’s calmed down enough. She’s still energised then, but doing a jigsaw puzzle or drawing relaxes. So does chocolate.Change of scene.
    The police,neighbours and security guy also were sensational distractions. DD cheered up straightaway.
    Distraction is also the best way I’ve found of avoiding melt-downs.Better to walk her around the block than try to talk things over.Emergency supply of dark chocolate always on hand.
    At night I just do the comforting and holding thing so she can get back to sleep eventually.
    Because I hold her that much I can absolutely hear her heart race faster and faster and her tension rise as the crying progresses.
    The thing is that DD deals well with a lot of stuff that upsets other tots. She’s generally calm and can really concentrate for ages. She’s not frustrated by things she cannot do technically, she has another go until she cracks it.
    She’s equally very tolerant of things going wrong or mummy messing up as long as she feels in control of herself and her situation. Which is also why distraction and changing the situation works.
    She’s doing much better now she has more understanding and can express herself more as she’s grown older. But once she feels out of control she goes out of control inside. Truthfully I am glad that 8-22 months is over in terms of nights and tantrums.

  25. @Blythe, OMG. Grudges. I have a 6 1/2 year old who was definitely a tension increaser. Also a refuse-to-accept-second-bester to the Nth degree (no bottle, no paci, no thumb, no nuthin but mama…but a toddler style sippy cup worked for her at 6 months because it was DIFFERENT). Anyway, she still prefers to have somebody hang with her while she falls asleep, though at this point it’s a preference not a need. We usually indulge it, though I’m thinking the next step now that she’s reading well is to transition her to the big kid “you can read for a 1/2 hour if you’re in bed on time” thing. When she was around 3 or 4, the deal was that all her questions had to get answered or she simply wouldn’t go to sleep, and I’m talking 1 in the morning not having gone to sleep at all, so we just did what she needed and answered them. It worked but it was a PITA, unless you contrast it with having a pissed off and very headstrong 3-year-old up until 1AM.BUT, grudges, she holds them. And slights, she takes to heart. She seems to be pretty sure that people’s social behavior is really intentional and that things that hurt her feelings are meant to. Time-out is both highly effective in that she’ll remember one for months and a total nightmare to use as it’s good for an hour of upset. Screaming is much less of a problem than it used to be, but explaining over and over that “mommy, that really hurt my feelings when you told me that was rude. I didn’t know it before so it wasn’t fair that you said that” when she is corrected (gently, I assure you) happens all the time. I have so not solved this, although I’m working on “sometimes you just have to take your lumps and move on”, which she seems much more able to do in a school context than at home. And I’m trying to help her to the next level of empathy – in general, she’s quite able to imagine the feelings of others and be careful not to hurt them, but I think that intensifies her sense that if they say something that hurts her it must be on purpose.
    Good deal of perfectionism in her makeup as well (she comes by it honestly) so one thing we have been working on there is getting the word “yet” into her mindset when she gets frustrated (her “but I CAN’T draw a good horsey”; us: “yet – if you keep practicing you’ll get better at it”) and rewarding her for persistence. Telling her the horsey is good enough now just makes her think we’re idiots.
    Anybody else with a school-age or older one of these, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

  26. Thanks to everyone for such helpful information. I have a 12 month old who was so terrible during his 8-9 month sleep regression that I don’t think I would have made it through without this website and knowing that it was just a phase.Now a question…I would really love to help him learn how to fall asleep in his crib. I’m still nursing him, but unfortunately he almost never falls asleep nursing (I wish – That seems like it would be so much easier!) When he wakes at night, I nurse him, and then rock him to sleep. He actually prefers me to stand up and walk with him to fall asleep, but he’s a heavy 12 month old now & rocking will have to do. He typically falls asleep pretty easily while rocking, but somewhat often no matter how long I hold him before putting him into his crib, he wakes up as soon as I try to put him down. I’ve spent plenty of nights holding him in the rocking chair almost all night long. My savior is that if that happens, I put him in his carseat, set the carseat on our glider, and rock him until he falls asleep. Then I can put his carseat on the ground & since there’s no transfer he stays asleep. Once he’s asleep either in his crib or his carseat he sleeps well & has lately only been waking once per night. Since he sleeps well in his crib once he’s there, I feel like if I could just get him to fall asleep there it would be fantastic – No transfer to the crib needed. He’s definitely a tension increaser though, so I’m not sure how to accomplish this. But I also feel like I need to try something because he’s going to grow out of his infant carseat in the near future & I really can’t function if I end up holding him in my arms in the rocking chair all night. If sleeping with me would work, I’d do it in a second but it doesn’t. Ideas?

  27. @Charisse, I think I should cut and paste that comment about adding “yet” and save it for when Pumpkin gets a little older. That is genius.And I’m sorry, but her comment about how she didn’t know something was rude before is priceless. I don’t think I could keep a straight face if my daughter told me that. Your little girl rocks. But you already knew that.
    Obviously, my tension increaser isn’t to this stage yet. But I can tell you one thing that helped me with my perfectionism was to have one thing I was pretty good at but that I didn’t have to be great at- that in fact, I knew I was never going to be great at. For me, it was music. I don’t know when I started using it this way, but by the time I was in college it was pretty clear that this is why music was so valuable for me.

  28. @ErinYou just reminded me that if my 4 yo. tension releaser actually goes to bed crying hysterically, will continue to wake up constantly for cuddles. In fact, if hubby and her have a run in (which is usually the cause of the tears), I have to go there and calm her down otherwise she will have a bad night. Does that make her a tension increaser, or a tension releaser with a twist, or just an individual?
    3.5y.o was when we also brought in rewards for nights slept in own bed. In our case tokens for rides at the supermarket ( 10c a ride). DD went frpm multiple wakings (6-8 times a night), to ZERO!! Eventually we did away with the tokesn because she stopped waking up at night. Don’t know if her sleep would have sorted itself out anywya, or the tokens actually worked ( she would do anythign for a go on those damned supermarket rides), but whatever it was her sleep improved a trillion percent.

  29. @Cloud, well Mouse is starting piano tomorrow, at her request! maybe it will work for her in the same way. :)@sarah, btw, didn’t see you before but Mouse was(is) like this as well – low sleep need in general and capable of oversleep. The way I thought about it was that she had to be up a minimum of X hours before she could sleep again, and so an extra nap could really foul things up, because she did need her night sleep (or her afternoon nap when we were going 2->1). We had a devil of a time convincing caregivers that a 2 or 3 year old who was tired enough to go down for a nap with encouragement (often *because* being up late had prevented her getting enough night sleep) would do better if she powered through. But we eventually did convince them, and life got much much better. Try and make it happen if you can – it sounds like your instincts are right on for your child.

  30. My oldest son (now 3) was a major tension increaser as a baby. I had a really difficult time emotionally dealing with his sleep issues when he was an infant, because I had quite a few friends with babies the same age who let their kids cry for 10 minutes, and they slept through the night. We tried CIO, and it was terrible. My son cried for over an hour before we’d give up, and it never got better at the end of a week. We gave up at that point, because my son was noticeably clingy and upset during the day, and I was a wreck as well. I still feel guilty when I think about that. He finally started sleeping through the night at 13 months, and is a great sleeper at this point.My second startled me at the age of 2 weeks by falling asleep on her own once when I set her down to go throw out a dirty diaper. She’s always fallen asleep without much fuss. Now at age 2, she’s recently turned into a veritable acrobat and comedian at bedtime, taking nearly 2 hours to fall asleep at night. But I guess that’s another story…

  31. WOW, what a great topic. I hope every mom who has a young child reads this.I agree with Moxie, what else is new!
    Every child, and every parent, is different. Labels are useless. Applying what you’ve learned from your first child is not necessarily going to mean it will work with your second child.
    So where does this leave parents?
    I believe it leaves us with one thing, and one thing only, our intuition.
    Our knowingness of ourselves, and our understanding of what the clues are that our child is sending is all we really have. I believe that parenting is as much of a growth moment for parents as it is for children. I believe parenting is structured to increase our awareness as we raise our children.
    This is the direction I began my 12 week blog series with yesterday, http://www.proactiveparentingblog.com. Sorry for the shameless plug, but a girl has to start somewhere!
    I believe parenting is about asking yourself what does the baby/child want?
    Why am I resisting what the baby/child wants and needs?
    What are my thoughts about the type of parenting I’m choosing to do?
    Is my understanding of the parenting I want to do in conflict with the needs my child is having right now?
    If you ask yourself questions like that, IMHO, it’s the best place to begin. By asking questions like that you begin to exercise the parenting muscle, the intuition.
    If you don’t exercise that muscle you, most likely, will come to a point when you feel alone, without answers and are upset/frustrated that your child keeps demanding that you address a situation you don’t feel prepared for.
    That’s my 2 cents, cause Moxie, as usual, nailed it.

  32. My son is totally a vomiter. He’d cry until he’d throw up, every time. So CIO wasn’t working for us at all. The thing that really worked for me was just getting myself to a zen place. I’d be in nursing him back to sleep every 45 minutes some nights but I just tried to be calm and peaceful about it (for my own sanity) and eventually he grew out of that stage.@Johanna, we co-slept with our son until he was 10 months old. We have a king size bed which helps a lot. My husband also sleeps right on the edge of the bed (he always has), leaving lots of room for me and the baby (and we each have our own covers). We swaddled the babe so he didn’t really move too much (he was swaddled until 10 months, yup). I would scoot over to him to nurse, then scoot back to my side so I didn’t have to move him or be too confined by the baby thisclose to me all night. It did take me a few nights (maybe a week?) to finally get good sleep and get used to sleeping in a new position.

  33. Oh, crap. Now I feel awful because I was the one who mentioned ankle surgery. I’m sorry! There were lots of other factors! Really! You don’t need surgery!

  34. “Telling her the horsey is good enough now just makes her think we’re idiots.”Off-topic but I see this developing with my three year old who was practicing his T’s and none of them were exactly right and he gave me what could really only be described as a withering look when I tried to tell him they were indeed good T’s.
    On-topic – he was a tension increaser. Tried very, very unsuccessfully CIO at various stages until I just accepted his sleep needs included me on his terms. Things improved dramatically. Still needs me next to him to fall asleep at night. Needs me to get back to sleep if he wakes during the night and his preference is to have me sleep next to him all night. Never took a pacifier or sucked his thumb. And bed time is much better if he hasn’t had a nap during the day. But until he turned two I thought I was destined to live a life of sleep deprivation forever. Those were some dark days.

  35. @Blythe – wow, we have the same kid only mine is 5. He will suddenly stop wanting to go to school and only after several days will the story come out of some event that is large in his heart and tiny in the world.He’s also a tension increaser. We left him to cry once or twice as an experiment and each time he escalated to hysteria and threw up within 20 min, and was up all night and then clingy the next day. So yeah, no.
    So these are things that worked at various stages:
    – nursing
    – rocking/walking
    – in the absolute insanity-making periods I would put him in the Ergo and walk OUTSIDE until he fell asleep. The walking and wearing were for him, the outside was so I didn’t kill anyone. This included 2 am, which was really oddly peaceful and I still have memories of him breathing on me while I watched the stars over the lake.
    – then we transitioned to lying down together for like…an hour
    …45 min
    …20 min
    Now he’s 5 and although he can and has put himself to bed, I mostly still lie down with him for a few minutes. We have a cosy chat, say our ritual good night, and he rolls over and falls asleep. I actually have to admit I have come to cherish that time with him very much and plan to hand the baby over at that hour to my DH (when baby comes) so I can keep at it.
    It is the most likely hour for him to share anything emotional like…the grudges.
    He also is a waker-upper at night. I think he’s probably slept through the night without any waking whatsoever…25 times in 5 years.
    After he turned one, he was up every 2 hours like clockwork until we started cosleeping at 14 months in sheer desperation, which we hadn’t done in the same space before (we had a co-sleeper and then a crib across our room, which is small).
    So he would get up in the night and play then, but we’d sort of rub his back or nurse or later give him some water and get him back down.
    After he transitioned to his own bed (sorta) we just taught him to come to our room and snuggle in and go back to sleep rather than waking up and going to play. So he does. Although then sometimes he wakes up again and goes back the other way.

  36. I’ve got one of each, and I just got a really hard sell yesterday from a pediatric nurse (at our 15 month checkup) to forcibly night-wean our tension increaser. (On the theory that excessive breastfeeding is suppressing his appetite for solids and responsible for insufficient weight gain.) I had decided by this morning that I was going to ignore the advice.We actually both sleep reasonably well. I’d like him weaned and out of my bed, but most nights I nurse him once or twice without really waking up, and then roll over with my back to him. Some of the stories here make me think I should be glad for what I have, and avoid shaking it up.

  37. After watching how my oldest reacted to bedtime routines, I’ve become a firm believer in doing almost anything to help a kid get to sleep. We started out nursing to sleep. When she was about 17 months old, it stopped working, so we stopped nursing. Then I stayed by her bed until she fell asleep until she was about 3. Then one night, I told her that grownups often read before bed, and let her bring books into her room and look at them while I did things in the living room. She was fine and has been ever since.My son (22 months) currently lays in our bed until he falls asleep, and then I move him. When we move him from a crib to a bed, I’ll let him read books and see if it works. If not, I’ll stay with him until he’s ready. I’ve decided not to worry about it.

  38. #1 was definitely a tension increaser. We tried CIO a couple of times and it was painful and did not work. As other people commented, there were people who would suggest that I was at fault for not giving it more time to work.At ten weeks she slept through the night, but the key for her was to cosleep. I kept that secret for a long time and, truth be told, felt like a total failure of a Mother because my daughter could not go to sleep on her own and coslept. Silly when I think about it, but such a large part of our society and the literature out there suggests that ALL babies are able to fall to sleep on their own and sleep through the night by a certain age and, for the most part, most seem to indicate that some degree CIO is the way to achieve this ‘ideal.’
    She’s three now and she still pretty much needs somebody (usually me – her hostage) to be with her at night until she is sleeping. She is better now if she wakes up and I am not in there. She finally started to go down for nap alone, but looks like she is ready to stop napping, so oh well!
    I have given up allowing my self esteem to be attached to how well my children sleep (or eat for that matter, because I have learned that I cannot force them to do either, no matter what the experts say.).
    My second, now 16 months, I do believe is a tension releaser but, ironically, has probably been prevented, until recently, from doing so because of the trauma I experienced with #1! But I put him down for nap, he screams for a couple of minutes and then is out. He did recently wean by his own choice, so that switched everything up a bit. But something tells me that period between about 4 and 12 months where he was up every hour might have been different if I hadn’t been so scared to try letting him cry just enough to see!

  39. @Camilla – My babe lost weight between her 12 and 15 month checkups, and I’m nearly certain it’s *because* she weaned. It is a struggle to get her to eat enough high calorie foods, partly because she’s allergic to dairy and soy milk doesn’t have enough fat in it. But we are worried about the weight thing, and I sort of wish I hadn’t weaned at 14mo.

  40. I have a 3.5 year old who was (and still is to some degree) a very definite tension increaser. Like the rest of you, I bottled/rocked/co-slept/let him pull on my hair – whatever it took to get solid sleep. To this day he still needs me to lay with him until he’s asleep, and still doing a little hair pulling for comfort. It’s good to know that he/we aren’t alone in this, and through reading the posts I definitely see a strong connection between tension increasers, emotional sensitivity, and a need for touch. My guy needs to talk things through and have all of his “whys” answered. He also needs “big big hugs” when he’s feeling emotionally strained, and very much takes things to heart if he’s feeling slighted. And perfectionism, yes, we have that too. It is good to have these clear boundaries and ability to read your child and their needs before a big meltdown happens… but it sucks when the rest of the world (ie, impatient family/friends) don’t get it.

  41. @Camilla, for what it is worth, I think you got awful advice from that nurse. My first is thin- she’s always been at 15th percentile for weight or less (but average height). She is also a super picky eater and was slow to take to finger foods. I kept pumping at work until she was almost 18 months old because at least she got some nutrition from breast milk, even if she wouldn’t eat the lunch or snacks I sent to day care. My doctor was thrilled that I was willing to do that.I doubt nightweaning would increase your baby’s food intake.

  42. Your post is so timely I could cry. Our little S is almost 15 months old and never slept a whole night through yet. For the past month, she’s been waking every 3 hours, demanding the boob, and on the few occasions I’d had enough and said “no, go to sleep” she cried for THREE SOLID HOURS with no let up. I finally gave in and boobed her, and she settled but tossed and turned for another hour.We’re off to see the ped tomorrow (for her chronic constipation–Ugh!) and I’m so at my wits’ end that I was going to ask him how to CIO (because he mentions it every visit). Because I’m just so up to here with sleep, and tired of being tired, and frustrated at this kid who won’t sleep.
    But she’s a tension increaser, alright. That kid will scream and scream and scream… I’ve been wondering how in the world CIO could possibly work.
    Honestly, I’m just so tired of feeling like a lousy Mom and feeling so guilty about getting mad at baby in the middle of the night. I also feel like a broken record!

  43. I love this conversation so much I almost wish I had a tension-increaser! I don’t actually know what #2 is because we’ve never let him cry for more than five seconds because our house is so tiny he will instantly wake up his brother which will make us all want to die/kill each other. I doubt he is (a tension increaser) because he HAS cried in the car and can eventually get himself calmed down/asleep without vomiting, etc.BUT @ Johanna: we’ve always had queen sized beds and not found it a problem with co-sleeping, either with a small baby or our larger one. It may help that we’re smallish, but mostly we sleep with the baby tucked in the corner of our arm (head at the shoulder, basically sleeping on his side). It’s a similar position to what you would take if you were side-nursing, with less contortion, and I can sleep with baby like this on my back or on my side. My arm is usually supported in this position by a pillow. In any event, it also solves the covers/blanket/duvet issue because the baby isn’t moving around in the bed, but rather tucked up under the blanket with me, in a way that’s easy for me to control. I don’t sleep fantastically like this, or for all night, but it works for short periods of time, enough for us to get more sleep.

  44. Forgot to mention–we have a good bed routine (bath, book, boob and rocking) and now that she’s down to one nap, she’s usually out at night in 10 minutes. So… I guess I should count myself lucky. Hubby used to be able to put her down, but it’s all Mama all the time these days. I’m thinking teething, constipation, learning to walk, and talking up a storm may also be culprits…

  45. OK I’m not sure if I have an increaser or decreaser because my 11 month old shows signs of both!Eg. Wouldn’t go to sleep at night. Tried nursing, rocking, singing, walking. Finally we put her in the crib and walked out of the room, had to let her scream because after 2 hrs we were exhausted. And she screamed, but it started winding down and she knocked out. Took about 10 mins total. This happened again at naptime the next day – tried nursing her to sleep, no dice, I put her in the crib, took a shower, by the time I was done she was out and slept for 2 hrs! She also screamed herself to sleep in her stroller once (I couldn’t really stop anywhere as I was in a residential area). So tension decreaser, right?
    Well fast forward to a few nights later, and we try the same trick, and nope…escalating screams, sobbing so hard she’s hiccuping. Only nursing calmed her down and once she was calm I was able to put her in her crib. And consistantly in the middle of the night (yes, still waking at least once and more often twice at night) even though our doctor said “Ignore her at night and she’ll get the message” she just cries and cries and it escalates if I don’t go in there. I go into her room, give her a quick nurse, put her back in the crib awake and she goes to sleep. The whole thing takes about 20 – 30 mins.
    And then today, at naptime, I tried the leaving her in her crib trick again and she screamed and screamed and screamed and after 30 minutes was still freaking out so I gave up. No nap today then.
    So I don’t know what to do since I can’t seem to employ a strategy because I don’t know what it’s going to be. Is it possible to have a kid that flip flops between increasing and decreasing?

  46. Our one and only (2.5) is definitely a tension increaser. Instinctually I figured it out pretty early on. But it was coming here that re-confirmed it to me when outsiders were saying to let him cry, he’d sleep through the night, etc. Ugh.That being said, I think it’s a moving target with DS. How I need to intervene has definitely changed with age as well as changing with the amount of experience he has with a situation or what developmental stage he’s in.
    When he was an infant & baby under 1, I definitely found that if I got to him right away, we could avoid a major meltdown. It was just so much easier to soothe him if we didn’t delay. Of course you get the ‘oh, he’s just testing you, blah blah blah’. But I knew the quick intervention was what he needed. As he got older and more secure, we could increase this time.
    He has always (and still is) nursed before bedtime. Under 1 (approx) I nursed him to sleep. As in, nurse and rock until he (hopefully) was in a deep enough sleep so I could transfer him to his crib, and then to sneak out of the room and try not to make a sound. And sometime between 1 and 2.5 (prob. after 18 months), I could nurse him before bed, but put him in awake. Any time he was in a separation anxiety phase or going through some big leap, there would need to be more nursing, otherwise major increasing tension crying.
    We sleep trained using a modified CIO method for the first time around 22 months. I still think we had/have a tension increaser. It’s just that I could tell that he was ready to move on to less intervention (i.e. less nursing etc.) for falling to sleep. Essentially, I felt like he needed someone to come to him when he woke up. But, that after that check, I told him I would leave him alone for 10 minutes to try to fall back asleep on his own. And if he couldn’t fall back asleep in that time period, I would come in and check on him again. At first he cried for 7 minutes, but he did fall asleep afterward. Every time he woke in the night, I went in, checked and then left him to get back to sleep. I waited on the stairs just outside his room. And within 3 days the length of crying steadily decreased from 7 minutes to nothing. The interesting thing was that when he cried in these circumstances, I could tell it was an angry cry, not a fearful or upset cry, if that makes any sense. It just sounded and felt different.
    That was good and well and lasted until about 26 months when it went out the window. DS entered a crazy nursing phase (hours non-stop) at bedtime and anytime he woke up in the night. That was really not a good two weeks. I almost lost my mind. But then, it eased. And interestingly enough, he needed to have someone there with him to fall asleep. If I tried the old modified CIO method, he really freaked and would cry for way past the 10 minutes and increasing tension on the way. Going back in to check on him after 10 minutes made things worse. I finally just stayed with him. For a few weeks I had to stay for close to an hour. I eventually worked my way to where we are now at 2.5 which is that I put him down awake/semi-awake after nursing and rub his back once and tell him that I won’t be far. Just this reassurance that I am not far seems to work, and he goes to sleep on his own. He’s still night waking and I’ll try to night wean again when I’m totally recovered from the flu.
    I guess with my long rambling, all I can say is that it’s a see saw for us ( the amount of intervention required to assure tension-increasing DS), but we’re slowly moving forward to needing less intervention, even if it’s in kind of a two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of way.
    On my most exhausted nights I fall asleep with DS in the rocking chair, for the middle of the night wakings. It’s much less now, so not to worry for all of you going through the sleep regression phases. Things do change even if some of the parameters are still the same.

  47. Some thoughts to share on this:- Baby 3 never slept, I swear, for more than 30 minutes ever until 16 months. Then he started sleeping right through the night. Honestly it happened one night and we really never looked back (he is 4 now). Or maybe I was such a wreck by then that I’m not remembering it right. 🙂 We think it’s because he was finally old enough to understand that that’s what we wanted him to do – we are the old hippy parents who just would not CIO or force anything. We kept talking to him about sleeping and asking him to please sleep all night and offering suggestions about what he should do when he woke up when it was still dark.
    – Notwithstanding the above, I did halfheartedly sort of try CIO once early on. I think he’s in the tension increaser category.
    – Pediatrician once told me to just let him cry and that the record in his practice was 8 hours. Yeah, we ignored that and suffered on.
    – Dear mothers who are suffering sleep deprivation now: it will get better. It really will. Hang in there.

  48. No time to read comments as tension increaser as just started to wail, but Moxie, I love you. You are so right. Babies are people too.

  49. I love this post! It’s so important for every Mom to realize that children are different. What works for your child may or may not work for mine. And vice versa. I particularly find this issue about crying it out to be important in the adoption community. Every single book I read about attatchment swore that I would be scarring her for life if I did it. But after learning who she was, I knew that it was what worked for her. I never let her cry more than 5 minutes, and I always went back in (because in my mind, that was the important thing to teach her, not that we would never leave, but that we would always come back). She would always fall asleep. I stopped telling my friends in the adoption community, because of the judgment.She has never been a perfect sleeper, she woke up several times a night even until she was four, but even now, she insists on going to sleep by herself. It’s who she is.

  50. Thanks, y’all – I love this discussion.I have a 2.5 y.o. son who is a tension increaser, for sure. Crying never worked for him. We co-slept for the whole night for his first 6 months because I was breastfeeding multiple times a night, but then I wanted a break, so we started nursing him down into his crib, then trying to keep him there as long as possible. That meant a lot of getting up, walking to his room, and nursing down. Not so great for my sleep… Then there was the period of time that the wakings started happening every hour, then every 45 minutes, then every 20 minutes (I wonder if that was around 9 months, as I didn’t know that 9 mos was a “known” regression time). I was going crazy trying to keep him in his crib, but nursing wasn’t helping. He was also learning to walk at that point. That was when I (unsuccessfully) tried to night-wean. I had made up my mind that I was not going to nurse between midnight and 6 am. I would go in after 20 minutes and just pick him up and bounce him in the Ergo until the crying stopped, and then sometimes succeeded in putting him down from the carrier into his crib. I don’t remember how long that period lasted. Seemed like forever. But eventually he stayed asleep longer, and I’ll never know why. Just like anything I try to get him to sleep, I wonder, was it something that I did, or did he just transition on his own into the next thing??? Ugh.
    Giving him a consistent nighttime routine (bath, jammies, books, saying goodnight to the outside world, nurse, then to sleep in his crib) helped a lot when we were going crazy due to the bedtime fight at about a year. He would still wake during the night, but I could nurse him quickly, then re-transfer back to his crib.
    Then at 2 y.o., his imagination took off, as well as his speech and he did not want to sleep alone anymore. So many nightmares, so many night terrors. So he would nurse and then if I stayed in his room until he fell asleep, he would sleep between 4 and 7 hours in his crib, and then at first wake up, I would take him into our bed and nurse him and then he would sleep the rest of the night with us. He was just so verbal and so adamant that he didn’t want to sleep in his crib that I “caved”. Then it became routine, and I don’t actually mind it. Now, just in the last month, he hardly wants to sleep alone at all, and maybe sleeps 1.5 or 2 hours in his bed, then wants to sleep with us. I feel like we’re always just doing what works for him at the moment, and as I continue to figure out this parenting thing (ha), I become less rigid in what I need to define “a good night’s sleep”.
    I am feeling for you sarah, as we have the same issue with the overall amount of sleep needed being reeeeeeally small. Ugh. He has never slept more than 10 hours overnight (and that’s with multiple wake ups, so actually he’s not even getting 10 hours…). And never more than 12 or 13 hours total for a 24 hour period. There was a period of a couple of weeks where 4 am was when he was up and ready to play. Sometimes we could convince him to “rest” with us until 5, sometimes we just got up and went with it. And now, at 2.5, he has all of a sudden decided that 8 or 9 hours overnight is good enough, sometimes with just an hour nap. He will sometimes not take a nap, and sometimes that means he’s extra tired and sleeps better, but most of the time it means he’s OVERtired and sleeps poorly. Wah, another catch-22…
    Again, I feel like the more I fight the current situation, the more pain it brings to ME. I once heard someone say, “You can lead a baby to sleep, but you can’t make a baby sleep.” Helpful for those times when you need a little zen. 🙂
    I have a sidetrack question, maybe for another time, but does anyone think I’m doing a disservice to my boy by nursing him to sleep for his naps every day (a handfull of times in his life he has fallen asleep with a paci or when my hub has sat with him if I wasn’t at home), and about 75% of the time for nighttime? [He doesn’t seem anywhere near weaning, and the pre- and post-nap sessions are key for him, as well as the pre-bed, once overnight back to sleep, and right when he wakes in the morning sessions. Now that he can speak, he tells me just how much he loves “mommy milk”.] I’m just wondering if other people see a connection between weaning/nightweaning and sleep… One person said they didn’t see the connection. Just wondering about others with tension increasers/sensitive/attached babes. Thanks!

  51. Oh, and I feel really sort of evil about my new strategy, but it’s working, so FWIW…I nurse both sides for 10-15 minutes each, then if he’s still awake, I put him in his crib, then sit in his room for 10 minutes waiting for him to pass out. If he’s still awake, I get up, and if he pokes his head up and starts to cry for me to sit down and stay, I say, “I have to go to the potty. I’ll be right back. I love you.” Sometimes he protests a bit, but I can explain things to him at this point, and say that I really have to go potty, and he seems to buy it. Then he falls asleep, and I can get on with my night. Is it bad to tell little, white lies???

  52. @Charisse,I think I’m the adult version of your sensitive tension increaser ;). I can identify with a lot of Mouse’s reactions. Of course, to a certain degree, I’ve learned to manage them. But I’d be lying if I said that to this day it doesn’t still hurt occasionally on some level when I get corrected for something. Especially something like being rude. It’s so opposite of my intentions (in general) that it stings to hear that I’ve messed up.
    I think you’ve nailed a lot of it in the perfectionism. And that if the mistake or thing that needs correcting is in an area that Mouse is good at or something that usually comes easier for her, the sting may be even worse when she gets corrected. It’s like there’s an underlying thinking that ‘I should have known better’ and ‘Maybe I’m not as good as I think I am because I’m making mistakes’. I’m sure you know all this, but SO hard to get comfortable in making mistakes for someone with an intense drive for perfection (and high capabilities). But you know, practice (making mistakes) makes perfect 🙂
    The other component is autonomy. It’s like getting corrected insinuates that you’re not smart enough/don’t have the capabilities to figure it out yourself.
    Perhaps this is what’s behind: “mommy, that really hurt my feelings when you told me that was rude. I didn’t know it before so it wasn’t fair that you said that.”
    So the fact that the correction is gentle is almost irrelevant. I think that deep down it’s that fear of being exposed as an imposter of someone who is good at X. I think when you’re highly perfectionistic, and you don’t tend to make a lot of mistakes, you get into this warped sense of trying to maintain the illusion of perfection. You’re worried that if you don’t it means that really, in the end, you’re not that good at what you think you are. You want to catch the mistakes, yourself, before they happen so you can correct them. Yourself.
    “Telling her the horsey is good enough now just makes her think we’re idiots.”
    Oh, I can identify with this. I would get so frustrated when I was younger when my Mom would do this. I think that the drive to perfect was so strong in me that her basically saying ‘oh, it’s fine’ in so many words was an insult. Because, clearly, it wasn’t fine, I could see that there was room for improvement. And more importantly, I wasn’t able to produce with my hands what I could see in my mind. SO frustrating (even to this day ;)). Because my drive to perfect was/is so strong, I couldn’t ignore that. It wasn’t a question of if I would perfect, but how. Saying it was fine was asking me to ignore that inner drive, which if I did, felt like it was going against my integrity. I just didn’t know how to improve it and that was why I was getting frustrated. Of course, I can articulate this as an adult now. I couldn’t then, but I do believe it was what was behind my reaction to something like that.
    But I think what can help is re-directing that. Helping to critique the work, to look at it: “Why isn’t the horsey good enough? Let’s compare it to a drawing of a horsey that you think IS good enough. What are the differences? Oh, the proportion of the legs to the body and the body to the head need some work. OK, well instead of trying to only draw horseys, maybe there are some exercises you can do to learn how to do proportions?” That kind of thing. Obviously, you are not going to go that in depth with every single thing. And the concept of ‘yet’ is awesome. (I’ll be book marking that as well for future use 😉 ).
    Oooh my, I think I’ve gone way off the post topic. Just a bit of food for thought in case anything sparks a new thought process or approach.

  53. @Jennifer, I don’t think you’re “ruining” him by nursing him down. He’ll stop eventually, right? If it is working for you right now, what’s the problem? Unless YOU are ready to wean.FWIW, my tension increaser did finally start sleeping through the night when we finally completely nightweaned. But it was when she was about 2, she’d also just moved to a big girl bed that she liked, and who really knows what did it?
    And I’ve seen the “I have to go to the bathroom” method in some sleep book (I can’t remember which). So at least one “expert” thinks the white lies are fine.
    I remember stressing so much about all of these sorts of things with Pumpkin, but the details are already gone- just a year and a half later. It kills me to read all the guilt and worry in these comments. I remember that feeling of being a lousy mother because I couldn’t get the sleep thing “right” all too well. I’m here to tell you that even if you do it completely “wrong” by what the experts say, it all works out. The baby whose sleep patterns just about sent me to the loony bin is a beautiful, secure 3.5 year old now, who sleeps through the night (usually) and falls asleep on her own (usually). We’re all trying to do what is best for our babies, and responding with love to their needs. I think that is what really matters.

  54. I’m so glad I’m not the only one with an increased who needs less sleep than normal. Gramma has such a tough time with keeping him up and it seems mean to insist she have a rougher day so I can have an easier night. But it would be nice to not do battle with a not tired kid every single night when I’m so tired after work.

  55. So interesting that some of you are wondering if boobing your babies to nap/sleep is bad when I would LOVE to be able to do this (baby girl 6 months old) – it used to work for us but not any more, which is really a pain when you are flying for example. Now I put her in the sling and walk/rock her, or now that she seems to like her stroller again (she is in a semi-sitting position instead of lying down – probably bad for her back as the instructions say as of one year BUT she sits on her own anyway so… plus it really helps her breathing right now) Up until two nights ago I could boob her to sleep in less than half an hour; last two nights it took over two hours of her going mental. This may also be the medication she got for her asthma, which is viral and should be gone soon. I hope it is the medication.And, I find those of you who have persevered with so much such WONDERFUL mothers, I HOPE I will be like you if princess does not improve on the sleep front – it does not look like that will happen any day soon. Our doctor also recommended CIO, but in my gut I do not think that will work. I let her fuss when I am busy and she is moaning in her playpen, but otherwise I like to sooth her if she upset ALWAYS and I have found that she has gone from a whiney baby to such a sunshine, partly also because she feels secure.
    Up until a month ago she cried if somebody looked at her, almost from when she could see and now she charms everyone… well almost. And she smiles and laughs ALL the time except when she has to go to sleep for naps or the night.
    I think she is a mixture also as if she cries a lot before bed as she has done the last few nights, she sleeps better (i.e. only wakes twice which is a very good night for her), BUT her asthma gets worse and she gets worked up and it lasts AGES. I am asthmatic as is my father and brother and we all live in different countries so I do worry that she may be too. For this reason, I do want to let her get too worked up….
    So I am rambling, but: to those mums who think they are bad – you rock!
    Enclosed is an interesting link for you from a study done by psychologists in Notre Dame.
    Thank you, Moxie x

  56. P.S. My nephew was a “great sleeper” as a baby: started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks WHILE ON HOLIDAY!!! always napped, as soon as he could walk, would get his blanky and paci and say I am tired and go to his bed on his own!!!! Yes, I am serious. THere was no CIO involved – I know my sister-in-law, she is a softy. Plus they live in my building, I would have heard it. Anyway, now at almost 3 and for the last 6 months at least, he needs 1.5 – 2 hours to get him to sleep, no crying (unless you leave him), just reading and chatting. I know, I have minded him a few times and I got to go asleep in about an hour which was a record. And for a while now he has been waking up at five. SO: sleep issues happen to all babies at some stage and the mums who say otherwise are probably not telling the truth…

  57. Second child was a tension increaser. I found that she was generally easier to read than my tension decreaser and that I could fend off the major melt downs if I caught her needs early enough. She also enjoyed nursing and cuddles more than my tension decreaser. He generally hated being held, soothed and had no tired or hungry signs. Tension decreasing crying was the strategy by default nothing else worked.As an aside, the tension decreaser is now five and I’ve realised over time that he is generally not a body sensitive child. He had toilet accidents later than normal, does not typically notice being sick or cold etc. It doesn’t surpise me in hindsight that his needs were so hard to meet since he probably wasn’t aware of them. My now two year old tension increaser is WAY more in touch with herself and can self-regulate (ie asks for a jacket) and ask for help,when she needs it.

  58. Oh, and @ the milliner: you completely hit the nail on the head. I read that and thought, “She must be talking about me… and my child”. I know I am like that, and I see that in him as well. I guess that better equips me to handle it with him because I know what he’s feeling. You summed it up perfectly.

  59. @JenniferRe: nightweaning, nightwaking: my daughter was nightweaned early ( 7 months), although her first ‘morning’ feed was around 5.30. Redefining it thus, helped ME a lot, but probably confused her as she would continue waking earlier and earlier pushing the ‘morning’ feed back so that sometimes she got it at 5.00. When I was a my wits end, she would even get it earlier.
    Personally I don’t think night weaning will stop you LO form waking up. My daughter had a history of nightwaking from 20 months to the age of 3.25. I weaned her completely at 2.5, but that did not stop her from waking up just to make sure I was still there. We even got up to 8 visits a night during the worst of it. The only thing completely weaning her did was stop her waking up at 5.00/5.30. She tried it for 2 weeks or so after I weaned her, realised there was no milk to be had and then stopped bothering to wake up so early. We got an extra hour, hour and a half sleep from that.
    DD was on the 3rd percentile for weight until she was 18 months and I remember the ped suspected that it may have been due to too much nursing. Although she was only nursing that once at 5.30 at night, she was totaling 7 nurses a day and only eating a handful of foods. There was absolutely no way I was going to cut back on the amount of breasmilk she got in the hope that it would starve her into taking to solids.
    As it happened, I will never know if it was a case of the chicken or the egg, becasue at around the 18 month regression she developed a keen interest in food and she has never looked back. Now at 4 (today) she is very experimental as far as food goes. She eats a variety of food, prefers savoury to sweet and rarely eats between meals. She is also a healthy 25 %ile for weight and 75 for height.

  60. What an amazing post.It works with adults as well as with children.Some people need to brood to get it out of their systems. For others, like me, it makes it worse. Patterns in the family as well? I wonder. Thanks so much.

  61. @Kate and @the milliner and @Charisse- OMG, me too! And this is why performance reviews at work are so painful for me 😉 I can only hope BabyT doesn’t have the same personality.

  62. Just more fuel for the potential grudge topic.My tension increaser is a big grudge holder too. Her friend does some little thing one day (usually they’re both end-of-day exhausted) and she won’t forget and will bring it up weeks later. Meanwhile, her friend has moved on and forgotten the whole incident.

  63. I have no idea what Boo was. I think he was neither (?!). 😛 I made the (now recognizable) mistake of thinking one-size-fits-all when it came to strategies, so when we were “sleep training” we would let him cry for as long as 45 minutes. In hindsight I really really really regret doing it now, particularly as I’m a psychologist and I am recognizing some signs of attachment insecurity. BUT it’s also hard to know whether that was caused by the 2 months of (ineffective) CIO sleep-training (which we eventually stopped doing, and just went with the do-anything-to-get-more-sleep-for-everyone strategy) or if it has to do with something else. It’s all too easy to blame oneself as a parent! I wish someone had said “Give them 10 mins and if they’re not winding down then do something else” to me.@Jennifer I did not see a connection between nightweaning and sleep. I night-weaned at 7.5 months at the suggestion of the health visitor here in the UK (Boo was 91st percentile for weight, and the health visitor said it was time for ME to get more rest. Bless her heart.) Night weaning had no effect on the night wakings – at 10 months there were still about 2 wakings per night, though having night-weaned it meant that my husband could take some of the night-waking duty.
    Boo was always REALLY good at falling asleep independently when he was tired, which is ridiculous now that I think about why we were sleep training him. We were trying to get him to stay asleep rather than to learn how to fall asleep on his own.
    It’s all hazy to me now but I remember that things really turned a corner after he turned 1. Something clicked and the night wakings went away between 12-14 months; by 15 months he was sleeping through beautifully with only one or two night wakings per week. Now at 25 months we’re dealing more with nightmares and other issues rather than independent sleep. These days he’ll say “night night mama! boo sleep own bed, mama sleep mama’s bed.” 🙂

  64. @Jennifer – night weaning didn’t change my son’s sleep pattern but it did help our family with sleep because my husband could deal with it. So there’s that. 🙂

  65. @the milliner – very very well put! I have a lot of these traits myself, and I really couldn’t stand being a beginner at anything until I was over 30. I can recognize now that it hampers me a lot – if I care about some piece of work a lot, it’s hard for me to accept any flaws in it. I have a hard time harkening back to how it worked in childhood though – thank you so much for helping me think about it!! I’m going to try helping her talk through the flaws and what she wants to do about them.

  66. @Jennifer, I totally started using the ‘I have to go to the bathroom’ strategy a few months ago. Like you, I was a bit conflicted about the idea of telling little white lies all the time. I probably did that for about a month, but then I was just able to say that I was going to the living room and that I wouldn’t be far. So you may be able to transition out of saying that sooner than you think. It truly is amazing now to be able to explain things and he understands and gets it.@Kate (8:03 am), It TOTALLY sucks when the rest of the world doesn’t get the whole tension increaser/emotional sensitivity thing. Ugh. No, I am not an overprotective parent. It’s just the way it is with my kid and I’m just trying to help him manage/process the events around him and his emotional experience regarding said events.
    I can see some of these traits coming out in my DS too. But I’m also trying to have a check and balance to make sure I’m not putting my own needs on to him (i.e. yes he’s sensitive, but maybe he is better at handling change than I am – this is our current thing). It’s tough, for sure, because it is so personal, and can be so intense. So when we showed up at daycare on Tuesday to find out that DS was switching classes, I had to do a check to see if my intense reaction was solely on behalf of DS or if it was for me as well. (Of course, a little of both). But it helped me dial back the intensity a bit when I could see that DS was adjusting fairly well in just a few days. I, however, may take a bit longer ;).
    @ARC, I totally know what you mean about performance reviews. I’ve had many bosses over the years who have reassured me that it was OK to have one (small) thing to improve on a review!
    And, as much as having a personality like this can provide challenges of this type, it’s also having a personality like this that enables you to be very creative, very passionate, very empathetic, etc. – all great qualities. Until my mid 30’s I spent much time feeling that being so sensitive was a fault. But it’s just a trait. Yes, it needs to be managed. But not because it’s a negative thing. More because everyone in the world doesn’t have the same needs, and well, we have to find a way to get along / work together / etc. If BabyT does have that personality, rest assured he will have the best mama to help him manage the challenges, because she gets it and she is aware of it.
    @charisse, “I really couldn’t stand being a beginner at anything until I was over 30”. 🙂 Glad it helped. I’m very curious to see how this stuff will unfold with my guy (if at all).

  67. I really love these types of discussions. You don’t hear the idea that babies are all different too often. You are just told that they ought to fall asleep by themselves and STTN by 2-4 months old. If they don’t, you’re a bad parent. Took me a while to get over the bad mom guilt and just let things roll. This blog and Dr. Sears The Fussy Baby Book have been of immeasurable help to us.I’m currently still nursing a 20-month old with still no sleep in sight. I’m starting to gradually night-wean him to at least work on getting a decent stretch of sleep. It’s been so difficult ever trying to work on sleep with him since he has hit every growth and developmental spurt HARD. Not to mention the horror of teething over here. Plus, having the perfect little tension-increaser who needs me to be next to him. Oh well! Some day I’m sure he’ll sleep 🙂 I’d love it to be tonight, but I don’t see that happening. It’s always an encouragement to me to see posts and comments like these. It helps combat the strange looks I get when people hear that he’s still not sleeping. In my saner moments, I don’t see how I can do anything differently- it’s just not in the cards for him to sleep all night by himself. At 2 AM, though, I really wish I’d gotten a baby that sleeps 12 hours at night and 2 during the day!

  68. I think the tension increaser/decreaser is a spectrum. My daughter leans heavily toward being an increaser, especially for sleep. She has to have touch to fall a sleep, and has not ever fallen asleep alone (she’s almost 2). When she falls and hurts herself, she needs to release a certain amount of tension before calming down. However, even when she is releasing tension she still prefers to be held during that time.

  69. Wow! This post is so amazing for me right now. I have a decisive tension increaser who needs me to nurse her to sleep all the time. We am in the throws of yet another period of rough sleep. The other stories of people doing the same thing as us are so wonderful to read.I’ve been given so many lectures about CIO. I have a friend with a daughter 1 month younger than mine who is a huge CIO advocate and she’d go on and on about how we needed to try it. We tried once (not on purpose, but because I was seriously sick with food poisoning and was puking every 2 mins). My daughter screamed, like she was being seriously physically harmed, for 3 hours. I have never heard her so distraught. It only ended because I finally just nursed her. I told CIO-crazy friend about our CIO experience and she made a face and said “I’d never let my baby cry that long” BITCH.
    My daughter is 18 months old and I don’t see an end in sight for this yet. She still wakes up every 1-2 hours until I’m in bed with her (we co-sleep). And then she will still nurse frequently at night.
    For those of you who have been through this: Is the end gradual or abrupt?
    Are we going to have to stop nursing/co-sleeping to move past this?
    Are regressions common?
    These comments are so, so helpful for me to read. It’s so nice to hear that others with children of similar dispositions.

  70. I’m beginning to wonder if all pediatricians give out the CIO lecture. Our ped’s med student actually gave me a lot of crap about it at my (now 20 month-old) DS’ 12 month appt. I told her I’d think about it and then completely ignored her. What did all of these doctors do with their kids?? My son is a tension increaser, and still needs to nurse several times in the middle of the night, but I’ve made my peace with it. Whatever works, works. And hey, it’s nice to know he’s not the only one.

  71. @Joanna about co-sleeping… Shortstack is 29 months now and we’ve always co-slept. It has had 3 major itterations -1. Shortstack in the middle when he was swaddled.
    2. Moved the bed to the wall and slept wall-him-me-hubby for about 8 months.
    3. For the last year we’ve moved to two beds, Shortstack + parent in his room on a futon, other parent in the big bed.
    He still has no affection for a specific lovely (unless you count my left boob which he is a HUGE fan of cuddling with) and he is a big cuddle hog and can’t get enough of it.
    We like it, but our system is so non-traditional we generally don’t talk about it anymore because everyone is sure that we’re wrecking him.
    I’ll tell you a plus side though – he is a courteous bed partner. My friends who have crib sleeping kids say that when they bring their kids into bed it is like sleeping with a cartwheel … not him, he basically understands sleeping politely.

  72. I came back to add that the book that helped me the most after the first year, with a tension-increaser and running out of options, was “Sleepless in America” (which I think is a terrible title, but.)What really turned the tide for us on quality of sleep, which is what a lot of CIO advocates quite rightly highlight as a need, was to get our meals and wake times and outdoors-in-sunlight times as regular as possible. Up at about the same time each day for breakfast, go outside. Lunch at about the same time each day. Dinner, ditto. Bedtime, ditto (we’d nailed this one though).
    Now my son as a tot didn’t always EAT at our prescribed mealtimes but having a clear rhythm really, really helped – especially, I believe, the outdoors time early in the day to help the circadian cycle along.

  73. P.S. I was not slamming CIO advocates, it’s just that they go on about how important sleep is and I used to feel soooo guilty that it just didn’t work and didn’t have a ton of other options at that particular point in time.

  74. Please forgive me, but I got through only a few comments and realized that if I waited to comment until I read them all, I might never comment! And I have stuff to say on this subject!!My daughter was definitely a tension increaser. Oh, the time I had to use the bathroom and left her in her crib for 5 minutes! It took 45 minutes to calm her body-wrenching sobs. Poor baby. And the time we didn’t realize the monitor wasn’t on and she must have been crying for 10-15 minutes? One and a half hours to get her at all calmed down, and even then not really soothed! There was no way we could do CIO with her.
    I had a moment of enlightenment once that I think explains at least my daughter’s tension increasing: My daughter has been slow in the development of self-soothing skills.
    So we talk about how kids develop gross motor skills, fine motor skills, verbal skills, etc., at different rates. Well, my daughter was slow to develop her self-soothing skills, and even now has trouble with it. She cannot soothe herself by crying. She does not attach to a lovey. She does not know how to calm her body or her mind by herself.
    Once I realize that and pointed it out to my husband, we were able to approach her bedtimes with more understanding, patience and strategies to help her learn. Unfortunately, at almost 4, she still needs us to lie down with her to fall asleep at night and comes into our bed 95% of nights.
    We’ve tried so many different things at bedtime, but nothing stays effective, except one of us lying with her. And we don’t mind her coming into bed with us at night, as long as she goes back to sleep or at least stays still and quiet so we can sleep.
    We regularly remind her that she can try to go to sleep by herself and that she doesn’t HAVE to come into bed with us at night. In fact, just the other day I said to her that she COULD stay in her bed all night and not come into ours. She responded that she doesn’t want to be alone. She’d rather be with us.
    And since her sleeping in our bed doesn’t bother us, how can I argue with that?

  75. Thanks for all the feedback on weaning’s effect on sleeping. And thanks for the reduction of guilt on nursing my big baby to sleep. I know in my heart that it’s “okay”, but there’s always that lingering doubt when you talk to other mamas about sleep. So very few mothers nurse past infancy (not obviously in this forum, thankfully!), that getting “good” information about it is difficult.Let’s just have a general “ARRRRGH” about doctors prescribing the CIO method for all babies! GRRRRRRR!
    And yes, to Katie, Jilly, and others who noticed, as I have, a link between “sensitiveness” in their babes and their “increasing-ness” (is that a word?). Not that sensitive babies can’t be releasers, but I’ve wondered about my son and general sensitivity to everything – teething, visual images, noise levels, and his general need for closeness with me, day and night. Food for thought…
    Thanks, Moxie!

  76. @Jilly – That a good point about not being aware of his body. My daughter is like that in many ways, too. Perhaps that’s why she is not good at self-soothing–she doesn’t know what her body needs to do to calm down and be soothed! You just gave me such an AHA moment! Thanks!

  77. You have no idea how timely this post is to me. My son, K (my first and probably only) has been a terrible sleeper from the start. I had to nurse him to sleep until he was at least 10 months and he didn’t start sleeping through the night until he was one. Nap time is sheer hell (usually). And now, at age 2, he has decided that he will be either waking up in the middle of the night to call out for me until I show up or waking up at 5 am to start the day. Now a month of this is literally turning me into a 24/7 bitch, which is just perfect when you’re around a crancky toddler.I have no recommendations but really appreciate all the wisdom on here.

  78. @the milliner, thanks for the lovely, confidence-inspiring comments ;)BabyT is also a tension increaser, and of course that invites everyone and their grandmother to let us know that we should “just let her cry a little”. Personally, I think THAT’S the worst part of having a tension increaser.
    Both my husband and I have become super-attuned to when her (rare) crying is toddler protest vs. COME AND GET ME RIGHT NOW MAMA.
    Since about 12 months she finally stopped the regular nightwaking – we did the Jay Gordon gentle nightweaning thing and didn’t even have to do the full thing.
    But of course, nothing ever stays the same, and the last few nights she’s been up at 2am, just looking to hang out, and definitely NOT wanting to be alone. Sleeping in our bed doesn’t work. She wants company. Sigh.
    I’m glad I found Moxie before she was born, so I was ready to figure out which kind of baby she was 😀

  79. Moxie, I thank you so so much for helping me realize (years ago) that my son is a tension-increaser. I kinda-sorta knew it during his first year, but it didn’t hit home until we tried a modified C&C for night wakings when he was about 15 months old. One hour later, we caved and spent the next three hours rocking him in our arms to help him calm down. And he was so traumatized that we spent the next three weeks having to sit by his crib rubbing his back while he feel asleep – and this for the little baby who had happily gone into his crib awake at bedtime since he was only a few weeks old.He’s almost four, and it is so obviously a part of his personality. There is no such thing as ignoring a tantrum until it goes away…it will only get worse. I know some people think we are spoiling him, but it is so clear to me that a hug or some direct eye contact will calm him down so quickly…and then we can discuss what needs to be fixed.
    I would think I was spoiling him, too, if he didn’t have a twin sister who is not a tension increaser. (Not such a clear decreaser as your younger son, but definitely not the same as her brother.) Different people, different needs.

  80. I was thinking about this post today and wondered if any of you are/were reluctant co-sleepers–meaning you co-sleep to get some sleep, not as a philosophy.I’ve been co-sleeping with S for 15 months now (it’s down to 3/4 of the night, most night–she starts in the crib). I never thought I would, but the need for sleep won out pretty quick. I wonder, though, how hard the transition will be to helping her sleep all night on her own. Any experience getting co-sleeping tension-increasers to fall asleep–and stay asleep–on their own? I’m curious to how people went about the transition…

  81. Jennifer – I don’t have your situation, but I have a sensitive/attached boy, and I can tell you that every single time he’s moved on a stage, it’s because he was ready and told us so. So for us, we’ve stopped trying to “make” different stages happen or “make” him learn to do something alone or differently or whatever. We just keep giving him opportunities to improve and he does.I also find that if he cries at all while falling asleep, he awakens much more during the night. When I say cry, I mean real cry. For us we have a real cry and a complaint.
    Iris – I heard of someone with that problem, and they weaned him off by first having him sleep at the foot of the bed (mattress on the floor) then moving his mattress in beside their bed (both on the floor), then moving it to the foot of their bed, (both still on the floor), then putting THEIR bed back up on the frame with his mattress on the floor.. then just slowly moving the mattress toward the far wall of their room, and then eventually into his room.
    What about you sleeping in HIS bed with him too and then slowly decreasing the amount of time you spend in it?
    Thank you all SO much for letting us know we aren’t bad parents and aren’t alone!

  82. Tina – we had a stretch of reluctant cosleeping when BabyT was around 7-8 months. We ended up moving her back to a crib in our room, first for naps, then partial nights, and then eventually the full night. When we moved her to her own room at 13 months, it actually wasn’t too bad at all. But our babe is pretty laid back about things we think are going to be huge changes. And then she freaks out sometimes for reasons we can’t determine 🙂

  83. I’m SO glad I found this website a few days ago…we’re smack in the middle of the 4 month nightmare, which by the way, people had me believing that once we survived the first 3 months things would be better. They are evil liars. So we had an award winning sleeper until we didn’t and in desperation, while I have not been interested in the CIO method, I was tempted to try it. My husband kept suggesting it, but my gut was telling me it would not work. Now I can see what my gut was telling me. This kid goes from zero to 60 and then to 120, and therefore a tension increaser.Of course this label doesn’t change anything other than we probably won’t be using any CIO methods, it gives me some sick comfort knowing it’s this little monkey’s temperment and not my very weak ability to listen to his screams and remain calm or remotely sane.
    So, thanks Moxie and thanks readers, I’m so happy to have found this site just as I was about to commit myself to the looney bin. I’ve read other posts and I no longer feel like such a failure because my baby and I aren’t doing what “the experts” say we should be doing. I’m a pretty confident person normally, I can’t believe how quickly I can get sucked into comparing what should and should not be happening in our house. I will nurse this baby to sleep for as long as it works, so suck it experts…

  84. Boy, am I hoping someone gives me feedback though I’m coming late to this party. Rascal makes us laugh constantly. And I am exhausted. He is DS#2, he is nearly 14 months. He started life sleeping really well, through the night…a shock after DS1. But within a few months, it was different and kept shifting. For a while I could nurse him down- or his dad could rock him down- put in crib until at least 1st waking and then he’d move to bed if it was too much of a pain to get him down again/I was too tired to get up.Now, he won’t sleep in the crib.He freaks out.
    I have no idea how to get him down for a nap other than car or stroller. I have rarely been able to transfer inside from stroller w/help from boob.
    At night:
    He is a tension increaser in teh sense that if you let him cry- ESPECIALLY without me in the room (even w/ daddy holding him) he gets more and more upset and used to puke w/in 5 minutes. Though if I leave him mid-bedtime-nursing because I can’t stand it w/ his dad for a few minutes to scream, it does sometimes seem to tire him out.
    He seems to need to RUN AROUND A LOT to get ready for bed. He climbs down from nursing, runs around, climbs on everything, comes back for more nursing. Sometimes I can zen it out– FOR AN HOUR OR MORE OF THIS– sometimes I hate, hate it, get resentful I can’t rest on my own or be more a part of his brother’s bedtime. (btw the I hate it seems to do w/ certain phases of my cycle)
    Originally I thought I’d wean him by now to make it easier to deal with some medication stuff on my end, now it seems so far from reality.
    He needs me to hold him to fall asleep. He varies how many (2? 10?) times he wakes up and I MUST nurse him back down. He often wakes if I dare to get up to pee.
    But the part I really want to know about is this movement thing. If it wasn’t winter in NE, I would try walking him in stroller or backpack before bed.Since he doesn’t transfer well, a carride isn’t a great idea- also not feasible w/ 2 guys right now.
    I dream of a time that 1 parent could put both boys down… but that’s maybe another story.
    Sometimes we try later or earlier to bed; letting him run around more or less; holding him tight instead of letting him run around (physically quite difficult actually). Rocking is too boring or something, he just wriggles away. I couldn’t bounce him on a ball for an hour. What does he need? How do I do this? I give him plenty of running around during the day. He used to fall asleep at 6:45 or 7, now he seems to wiggle and climb and run ’til at least 9 regardless of when I start bedtime. He didn’t just start walking- he was steps @10mo and super bipedal by a year. Now if I leave the door unlatched he climbs down the steps and runs down the street.
    So yes, separation anxiety up the wazoo. And yes, a very physical boy.
    What am doing wrong/right? How will I live through this? Will it get better? How the heck does this work????

  85. @ OneTiredMama: No advice here, just wanted to say you’re not alone. Although S is 15 months today, she’s still up at least 3 times a night (last night it was 4–luckily I finished freelance just before she got to screaming). Daddy used to be able to put her to sleep, but now it’s all Mommy, all the time. I thought we’d be home free on the sleep issue by a year. HA! I’m sleeping in bits and pieces all night, and my eyes burn all day. Last night was one of those nights I ran out of patience and insisted she “STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW!” Because she’s old enough to be crying to make noise and demand, but she’s not old enough to understand or reason with. I keep hoping it’ll get better…

  86. My oldest (26 months) is definitely a tension increaser, and we are currently learning how to work with him now his baby sister arrived on the day this post was published. He has recently begun demanding someone lay in the room for him to go to sleep, then freaking out if he finds said person gone. We tried to let him go one time, since people told us it was just a tantrum… but it got really ugly. After only about 10 minutes, I remembered this would never work, one of us went to lay with him, and he was out in about 5 minutes. We also discovered he’s finally getting those eye teeth in, and this is complicating the whole situation. Pain medicine helps, but he’s still waking up in the middle of the night and usually DH goes in there to sleep so I can continue working with baby girl. Eventually we might both sleep in the same bed again, but I’m not sure when!

  87. @Tina, thanks for commiserating.It seems harder to find understanding when your baby is beyond early infancy, and more so w/ my second. One friend wanted me to CIO but then when I did try-basically to find out if he was an increaser or decreaser- and he puked w/in 5 min (we timed it) – (and repeat performances when I HAD to leave him)- my friend got up in arms like I was blaming her. No point here except that, sigh, it’s hard, and can feel lonely.What’s great about moxie’s post is seeing other people recognize that parenting is all so kid-dependent; having no evening time to yourself after kids go to bed is out of your control (as is how much sleep you get etc) becasue kids are all different…

  88. Another thing to add into the mix: children who have sensory issues. One of mine used to insist that I cover him up exactly so. It got to be that he would want me to do it over like 20 times-meantime the baby was screaming and his older brothers had had ENOUGH of junior.These kids can be tension increasers or decreasers, but the key in helping them is to set up a sensory diet for them. If you haven’t got one, deep massage is good too (light massage is really irritating to them).
    If you do that for about 5 or 10 minutes it can help a lot. Not always a direct chute to la-la land, but close.

  89. When I had my first child, I don’t know who cried more, her or me. I wished she had coming with an owners manual with instructions and troubleshooting helps. But, I survived and now she is an amazing 24 yearold woman!

  90. Your articles are excellent! One small typo in this piece(wanted to e-mail privately, but didn’t see that option):If I left him to cry, either because I couldn’t deal with it anymore, or I had the audacity to need to pee or something like that, or because I bought into the “let him cry” hype, he’s keep crying.
    Seventh paragraph (second paragraph under second heading) first sentence: “he’s.”

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  92. Our Charlie is six weeks old, and has set her own schedule, unftaounrtely. Some days there’s absolutely nothing I can do to get her to fall asleep, sometimes she’s awake for 6-8 hours straight and happy as a clam! Which is kind of nice, since those nights are the ones when she sleeps in 5-7 hour chunks. No idea how she got this way, I just let her sleep when she’s sleepy or play when she’s alert. Then other days she’ll have a regular sleep/wake pattern and sleep in 2-3 hour chunks. I’m not sure yet if I’ll try and regulate her, or let her regulate herself. I’m a big believer in body knows best , so unless she gets super cranky or irritable I’ll probably let her set her own sleep/wake times

  93. Does Charlie roll aruond in his sleep? My LO likes to sleep on her belly and she moves aruond a ton in her sleep. I’ve thought about getting a sleep sack, but was afraid she wouldn’t be able to move if I put her in one.We just dress her in long sleeves, keep her room at a comfortable temperature and let her sleep w/o a blanket. Going to have to figure something else out for winter though.

  94. Audrey, I have gone through this with Holli, minus the surezies. Her tonsils are HUGE, which has caused her to have obstructive sleep apnea. I have had surgery scheduled for her twice to have her tonsils out. Now, as I’m sure you know, Holli is NOT an easy patient and I was so nervous about having the surgery done. Well, both times I have had to cancel the surgery because she has ended up being sick. I have been taking her to a chiropractor since May and it has helped TONS! She gets an adjustment and she also gets a laser treatment (I can’t spell the exact type of laser it is, but I can look it up for you if you want to know more).

  95. Audrey and Tim, you are foremost in our prryaes and thoughts. My son had asthma when he was younger and was in intensive care for awhile. PRAISE the Lord that asthma is not a complication to Viv’s illness. We pray that she heals in the next few days and is that beautiful little person that she has always been. Judy & Bob

  96. @andreaon ah interesting point about not being able to climb out. i know a lot of bbiaes younger than charlie that have been able to climb out of their cribs. perhaps his sleep sack is keeping him in his crib because he is definitely a climber! i want to keep him in his crib as long as possible, so that’s a definite plus!

  97. These are all good remedies , but I must point out that the somytpms that are listed, e.g., tiredness upon waking up in the morning, feeling like you’ve gotten no rest at all during the night, waking up because your own snoring is loud, are all somytpms of a medical condition called Sleep Apnea. Mild occasional sleep apnea may not seem to be all that important, but chronic severe obstructive sleep apnea requires special treatment to prevent low blood oxygen, sleep deprivation, and other complications. The most serious complication is a severe form of congestive heart failure and/or stroke.You can be natural and a dirt worshipper and still visit your doctor. If what you are experiencing is more than a little snoring, you will be doing yourself and your loved ones a favor by getting yourself checked out.

  98. hi julie it is aunt jill and nick how cute, I can just hear him saying that about cmonig to get him. ( /) > > > WOW!!!!!He must have learned this in his new typing class.nopeWe found you off of your sisters website. Bye 🙂

  99. Swaddle swaddle swaddle! There is NO way either of my kids would have slept for more than 30 minutes in a row without swaddling. They waved their arms around, would startle, and awaken without fail. This was an ongoing issue with each until 5 months or so. Sleeping on their stomachs (or held) also solved the issue, but I didn’t feel comfortable with this given SIDS risks, etc.

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    Najakuratniej niechybnie to po debetach pozabankowych.
    ORAZ iz zwykle umowy niniejszej nie czyta? To nuze nie istnieje wina parabankow!
    Na nieszczescie, ma pani autorska cene, natomiast branie chwilowki w krajowych przeslankach nieslychanie przypomina chodzenie po polu minowym –

  103. Czegokolwiek zebym nie dokonali, zadluzenie bez BIK a istotnie bedzie totez wyjscie.SPOsRoD owego wzgledu czytelna wiekszosc pozyczkobiorcow nie zdaje se sytuacji, jak duzo faktycznie scisle mowiac bedzie smakowac ich zadluzenie pozabankowa.
    Dla wielu sposrod nas nie ma w zwiazku z tym wiekszego znaczenia, iz o pozyczka jest coraz to ciezej. Grunt aby kedys dzierzawic finanse – jak nie w banku, owo w parabanku.
    Sumce walutowego, jakimi obracaja szczerze tlumacza sie na wzrost hobby nimi sektora bankowego zas firmie finansujacych obszerne inwestycje.
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  104. Pomimo tego dzisiaj na kredyt w euro tez moga liczyc tylko zamozniejsi kredytobiorcy, ktorych srodki utrzymania sa duzo powyzej przecietnych przychodow, zadany istnieje plus wielgachny wklad krajowy.TUDZIEz pustka nadzwyczajnego – pies z kulawa noga inny pieniedzy dosc im nie uzyczy.
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  105. Z artykulu widzenia pozyczkobiorcy korzystniejszy jest z pewnoscia kategoria najwiekszej rangi, jaki zaufa po prostu na notarialnym „przysiezenia”, ze sprezentujemy zobowiazanie.SPOsRoD rzeczonego wzgledu zdecydowana wieksza czesc pozyczkobiorcow nie ceduje siebie sedzi, jak bardzo scisle mowiac faktycznie bedzie czestowac sie ich pozyczka pozabankowa.
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  106. Oczywiscie od czasu przetrzasania Internetu w badaniu rozlicznych propozycyj. Miejsca, jakiego wskazane jest odwiedzac owoPozbycie sie swoich kredytow nie jest latwa sytuacja, co nie znamionuje jednakze, iz nie jest dozwolone biezacego dostac.
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  107. Niestety, niezwykle cyklicznie ujawnia sie, iz osoba bezrobotna ewentualnie rencista istnieje na szybka pozyczke nazbyt bez grosza, tudziez blisko to ja otrzymuje.Owo nie osobna pozytyw tego wariantu debetu. Plus otrzymywanego przez nas debetu nie musi istniec rowna sumie splacanych za posrednictwem nas zobowiazan.
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  108. ORAZ jednakowoz podejscie istnieje linie – koniec obnizyc prawnie oprocentowanie prawdziwe kredytow pozabankowych, i „mekka” jednostek pozyczkowych nieslychanie szybko sie przerwie.Jederman kto kiedy tylko proch do czynienia z organizacjami pozyczkowym, trafilby bezpiecznie az do moralu, iz chwilowki owo pozyczki w celu niedowolnego.
    Niedaleko tym oprocentowaniu jest owo wysokosc pierwszej stopie wierzytelnosci splacanej w ukladzie stawek opadajacych.
    W produkcie nie mietosilabym dotychczas ani niepewnego czasopismem dotyczacego zbiorowego debetu – zali sie kobieta Katarzyna. –
    Pomimo tego, niemniej jednak wieksza czesc sposrod nich faktycznie bedzie tansza anizeli rutynowego wierzytelnosci, nie niedowolnego sa w celu kredytobiorcow dochodowe.
    pożyczki chwilówki

  109. With all the technology, such as noise reducing headphones, I wouldn’t hear the crying anyway. Wouldn’t care if it was a tension increaser or decreaser, I’m letting it cry. Don’t care if it blew its lungs out. Got to train it early and show it who’s boss!!

  110. My little guy is definitely a tension increaser. He won’t fall back asleep without a nurse, not even a bottle works. He’s up lately 3x per night. Gah. I have accepted that this is my life now – my sleep is sacrificed nightly on the alter of mamahood. But, do you have any strategies on how I (ME) can recover from my own slerp lose?

  111. Hi. My question is what do you do (tips) on how to deal with a tension increaser. Or have we just made our bed and now must lay in it till they’re older? Thanks.

  112. The story about my daughter that has passed into legend is, just after I went back to work when she was 2.5 months old, my mom told me at the end of the day that she had cried since her morning nap–7 hours, by that point–without falling asleep. I took a picture of the first time she fell asleep on her own because it was such a milestone (it was in the grocery cart, with my hand holding up her head). The first time she fell asleep for a nap on her own was after she turned 2, on the living room floor in the infant seat which we were now using for her brother. All this is in stark contrast to me, who didn’t have a bedtime because I usually didn’t make it that long.

    She’s now 3.5 and we’ve just tried to be flexible and watch out for signs of things that are changing or things that she seems to respond to. We try to keep a simple, dependable bedtime routine. She gets to play in her room between bath and bed, and we set a timer on our phones which we let her push the button to start. Now that she’s old enough to have conversations, we try to get her invested in the process, and she understands much better. We got a little sit-against pillow for the corner of her bed to make it comfortable for us, and we found a fairy tales podcast (Nashville Public Library) and a Doctor Who radio drama podcast that she likes, so she can choose among those, her Gloworm, or us reading for her to fall asleep to. She gets one cup of milk, which I’ll be glad to get rid of when she’s able because of the effect on her teeth, but for now, it’s absolutely necessary. We’re big on validating feelings in our family, especially as a way to stick to a plan without a lot of waiting or pleading (like, "I know you’re sad. It’s always hard to end the day when you’re having fun, isn’t it?" while we’re changing into jammies and continuing to climb into bed). That all seems to work with her.

    Our son is slightly less of a tension increaser but he’s certainly in a phase of that right now, and we haven’t totally figured it out with him. He also has a bedtime routine but we basically have to lie next to him until both of us fall asleep.

  113. How do you truly know whether your child is a tension increaser or decreaser? I feel like our son walks a fine line between the two. He is 8 months old and always H quick to rev up to 100 once he gets started BUT he never cries at the breast and alsmost always settles as soon as he’s in someone’s arms.
    If he wakes in his crib though with no one around he does get very upset very quickly and to be honest I can’t handle listening to his cry for more than 3-5 minutes.
    I’m interested in how other parents really noticed which category their child fell into.

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