Do you just let your baby cry at night?

Hazel, wide awake
Hazel in her not so "magic" sleepwear

My baby is now six months old, and she still doesn’t sleep through the night. About a month and a half ago, Hazel outgrew her much-loved swaddle, so Mike and I researched baby sleepwear, then bought her something called a Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit. When we first put her in it, we both burst out laughing because Hazel looked like a mini scarecrow, with her arms sticking straight out to the sides. But after fussing for a bit, Hazel quickly got used to it, and that first night she slept for six hours straight, which seemed like a long, blissful vacation.

For about a whole week she slept pretty well, and we even moved her bedtime up an hour, from 10ish to 9ish, at the suggestion of our pediatrician. “If Hazel fusses, just let her cry for 10 minutes before going in and comforting her,” she said. And as heartbreaking as that was, it actually worked well—if she cried when we put her to bed, she’d usually stop crying before the 10 minutes was up and then she’d be asleep for hours.

Well, maybe it’s just because she’s teething, but the progress has come to a halt. She hasn’t exactly gotten worse, but she still wants to be breastfed at night. Last night, for example, was not unusual: We put her to bed at 9:30 pm, and then she woke up at 1:30 am, at 5:30 and at 7:15 to breastfeed. The books I’ve read say that most 6 month olds shouldn’t need to nurse during the night at all, and if they do so, it’s mainly just for comfort. But what’s the alternative?

I mean, it’s one thing to close the door on your baby at 9 pm and let her cry herself to sleep for 10 minutes while you pretend not to be standing on the other side of the door, listening intently and feeling mean. But it’s a completely different story to do that in the middle of the night, especially if you and your partner are trying to sleep and your baby is in a pack & play attached to the side of the bed. Should you roam around the apartment like a zombie for 10 minutes while your abandoned baby’s screams echo through the building? Or put in earplugs and let the baby cry her eyes out six inches away from you?

Of course, the easiest thing to do is just to pick her up in my half sleep and breastfeed her for 15 minutes or so until she falls asleep and then quietly slip her back into the pack & play before nodding back off myself next to a snoring Mike.

But then if I do that, am I creating a monster? Will my baby realize that she has her parents wrapped around her finger and start subtly demanding more and more extreme coddling until the only way she can fall asleep is if she has daddy caressing her pinky toe and mama spoon-feeding her milk? Let me know what’s worked for you!

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