If you're trying the cry it out (CIO) method of sleep training, you might want to think twice before broadcasting it. After all, you could very well face sanctimommy mudslinging, passive-aggressive prayers for the wellbeing of your child, and the revocation of your millennial parenting card. I've faced my fair share of criticism for employing CIO, and honestly, I'm over it. I had my reservations, but at the end of the day, I'm a cry it out mom. Sorry I'm not sorry.
I decided to sleep train my baby when she was 8-months-old and nothing else was working. I was exhausted, so one night I simply let her cry it out. She lasted 10 minutes, and the rest is history. I've used cry it out at bedtime, in the middle of the night, and for naps. Hell, when she's throwing a toddler tantrum I let her cry. Don't get me wrong — it's not always my go-to strategy. I'm very in tune with my child's needs and do my best to meet them, but I also have to remember that I'm the adult and I know what's best for her. She may resist going "night night," but it's what she needs. If she has to cry a bit to get there, I can live with that.
I'm really tired of hearing that cry it out somehow qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. I'm done apologizing for being pro-CIO, and for the following reasons:
Because It Works
There's a reason so many parents do CIO. The extinction method is freaking effective. A recent Australian study found that babies in a graduated extinction group fell asleep faster, slept longer, and woke up less than other groups.
Anecdotally, I can tell you it worked like a charm for us. My daughter started sleeping through the night a few days after we began sleep training, and she's done so ever since.
Because Its Safety Is Supported By Research
I swear to all that is holy I will lose my sh*t if I read one more thing about CIO killing baby brain cells. The Australian researchers mentioned above found that stress-inducing cortisol levels were actually lower in babies receiving sleep training interventions. Their parents were not more likely to report behavioral problems. This suggests that not only is cry it out safe in the short and long term, but it might actually be best for babies due to the link between good sleep habits and overall health.
Because It Was A Last Resort
I tried everything. I made adjustments to my daughter's schedule, developed a consistent bedtime routine, and ensured that her environment was conducive to sleep. I made sure she was fed, clean, dry, and safe. I was going in to comfort her and just making it worse. According to sleep expert Alexis Dubief of Precious Little Sleep, I was ready for cry it out.
Because It's The Right Choice For My Family
I'm not a proponent of cry it out, nor am I trying to "sell" it to other families. It just happened to be a good fit for my particular family and our individual child. If you can get your kid to sleep without it, more power to you. But in my family, we prioritize rest. Sleep, for us, is a family value.
Because Sleep Is Essential
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is especially important for children due to its impact on mental and physical development. Sleep has incredible (non-negotiable, even) benefits, from promoting growth to boosting learning to increasing attention spans and decreasing the risk of obesity.
Sleep problems don't go away on their own. Pardon me while I head them off at the pass by crying it out with a malleable older baby rather than a stubborn 4-year-old kid.
Because My Daughter Isn't A Newborn
I don't know where people are getting this idea that cry it out is for brand new babies. I'm sorry, but if your 10-week-old newborn isn't sleeping through the night, you just have to live with it. Newborns need soothing and they absolutely should be fed on demand. That's why Precious Little Sleep suggests CIO for the 6-month and older set. I won't beg forgiveness for sleep training an older baby.
Because I'm Happier
When parents are no longer sleep deprived, they report lower levels of stress and better interactions with their babies. In short, cry it out has made me a better mom. I'm happier because I'm rejuvenated after a full night's sleep, and my baby is less fussy when she's slept well. It's a recipe for a good day.
Because I Know My Child
My child's temperament was well-suited to the cry it out method. She was, for the most part, an adaptable, easy-going baby (not so much as a toddler, but I suppose that's to be expected). By using a hodgepodge of the Ferber and Weissbluth methods, as well as listening my own maternal instincts, my daughter was pretty much sleep trained for good (with exceptions for teething, sickness, and nightmares) in three days.
Just as I knew a hungry cry from an "in pain" one, I now know when my child's wails mean something besides, "I don't want to go to bed." The other night, I heard frantic cries from my daughter's bedroom and you better believe I came running. Sure enough, she'd climbed out of her crib and fallen on the floor. She was fine, but she scared herself silly. A little comfort, and she was back in her bed (and mom made plans to convert her crib the very next day).
Because The "Big Kid" Bed Transition Was A Breeze
When I transitioned my daughter from a crib to a day bed a few weeks ago, I had a "back to square one" moment. I'd put her in the bed, explained to her the change, and assured her she was safe and I was close by. Still, she screamed. But, and this is an important but, she stopped after 15 minutes. The second night, it was a few minutes, which diminished to a cursory whimper on night number three. That night, she rolled onto the floor, cried a bit, and then put herself back to bed. That's called winning.
Because I'm A Grown-Ass Woman
For a long time I've struggled with my insecurities, but I'm learning to work past them. Part of that process is owning my decisions. It's fine for parents to disagree with me, but it's not OK for them to invalidate my experience. I'm the mom, I know my kid, and I know what's best for us both. As far as cry it out is concerned, well, my happy, well-rested baby tells me I have nothing to apologize for.