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Baby Sleep Questions Answered

When It’s Not “Just a Phase”

By Amalah

Hi. I’m writing in regards to this article.

My granddaughter learned to scream at the top of her lungs when she was 3 months old and it hasn’t stopped since then. the parents and I have been living together since she was 2 months old. The first scream I identified with as a frustration type scream that occurred all day and into the evening which eventually morphed into a frustrated cry. Each time I walked into the room where the baby was that day, she had not been moved. By nightfall I went out there to get her and brought her to my room and once I did, she was happy and babbling and eventually fell asleep in my arms as I rocked her.

To add, she is now almost 8 months old and after months of her crying or scream crying most every night and at nap time, I can’t help but wonder if this is ok for the baby?

There have been times where she’s been allowed to cry for well over an hour. If she had been colicky, what age do they grow out of that?

I’d like my name and email to remain anonymous please.

Thank you.
Sincerely, concerned grandma

I am also concerned.

Not so much that your granddaughter hasn’t outgrown her “screaming phase,” because that doesn’t sound like what this is, at all. She’s not just flexing her lungs and testing out her vocal range for the fun of it. Given what I’m seeing here, she’s being routinely straight-up neglected.

Did I read your letter correctly? She was left for an ENTIRE DAY to SCREAM when she was THREE MONTHS OLD? Never moved, never (presumably) comforted? Was she even fed?? Was her diaper changed?? If that is true, oh my goodness, NO. No. No no no nononono.

Is it colic?

And no, that’s not colic, given how easy it was for you to comfort her and stop the crying. You picked her up! You interacted with her! You reassured her that no, she had NOT been abandoned to die in the wilderness. That’s not colic. That’s simply someone meeting the bare minimum of a baby’s needs.

Cry-It-Out sleep training is to be temporary

Some parents do go the cry-it-out (CIO) route for sleep training. And some parents do start CIO as early as three months old. But even the most hardcore CIO sleep-training should not, I am mean NEVER EVER, involve letting a 12-week-old scream in frustration for an entire day. And then continue to let her scream for multiple hours a day for the next five months.

The idea behind CIO is also that it’s a temporary thing. The baby is allowed to cry and eventually learns that no one is coming, the crying isn’t working, and after a few naps/nights of this they learn to simply fall asleep on their own. It’s not my favorite, and I never did it. I preferred the more gradual sleep training methods like Ferber, where you at least go in and comfort your child every five, 10, 15 minutes, etc. And I never, ever let their cries escalate to non-stop screaming. I wanted my babies to sleep just as much as every other exhausted new parent does, but I wasn’t going to cause them distress and anxiety in the process.

And it hasn’t been just a few nights and/or naps of her crying and screaming for an hour for your granddaughter. It’s been at least FIVE MONTHS, perhaps even more than that. This isn’t working. This needs to stop.

Please, go in and comfort her

Read her a bedtime story, sing her a lullaby, pat her back or belly. Tell her it’s time for sleep but Grandma is there and Grandma loves her and isn’t going anywhere. Check her diaper, find out when she last got a bottle. Please, INTERVENE. I know she’s not your daughter and I totally understand that you don’t want to come across as overbearing or boundary-crossing. I understand the grandparent dynamic and how you’re probably trying to not seem judgmental or disrespectful of her parents’ parenting choices.

But I get to judge all I want, and based on what you’ve said here, her parents’ “parenting” choices suck.

More on crying and sleep from Alpha Mom:

1. Toddler Cries It Out: We Need a Better Idea
2. Low-Cry Sleep Training for Tension Increasers
3. The Fight-to-Sleep Baby

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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