Sleep is one of the most coveted commodities in parenthood. It's so hard to come by that there are entire books and websites solely devoted to helping parents teach their children how to sleep. The problem is that with so many options — and so many sleep deprived parents — it can be hard to determine which sleep training method is best for you. You've probably heard of the phrase "cry it out" before and whether you're intrigued by the though of your child actually sleeping or turned away by the word "cry", there are a few things you should know about crying it out before trying it in your home, or deciding against it all together.
Take my daughters for example. I have one daughter who is a perfect sleeper, basically since day one. She's slept through the night since she was old enough to do so and required very minimal sleep training. My other daughter, on the other hand, is what I tenderly refer to as a "problem sleeper." Despite my best efforts at coaching her to sleep on her own (starting when she was old enough to sleep train), she continues to wake up in the middle of the night to this day.
It's easy to "cast the first stone" at a parent considering a cry it out approach to sleep training, but when you've exhausted all of your other options and are still waking up multiple times a night, it can be pretty tempting. Luckily, it's not as bad as the name implies, and when implemented correctly, can work wonders. Here are a few things to consider about the method before trying it out for yourself.
1It's Called A "Last Resort" Method
According to the Baby Sleep Site, implementing a cry it out method is often many parent's last resort. After trying the "gentler methods" to no avail, sometimes there aren't many other options out there if you want your baby to learn to fall asleep (and stay asleep) on their own.
2It Doesn't Mean Abandoning Your Baby
As one of the most controversial sleep training methods, many people cringe when they hear the words "cry it out" because they imagine it simple means leaving your child alone in their room to cry indefinitely until they eventually fall asleep. However, according to Baby Center, cry it out simply refers to any sleep training method that allows crying in the picture, whether it's for a short period of time or longer.
3It Generally Works Quicker Than Other Methods
Some other methods can take weeks or months of gradual change to get your baby to sleep through the night, but most cry it out methods work much quicker than that. One Baby Center piece, specifically describing the Ferber method of cry it out, noted that it usually takes a few days to a week.
4Your Baby Needs To Be The Right Age Before You Try
The Baby Sleep Site suggested that parents start with gentle methods at around four to six months, and after that point, if nothing else is working a version of cry it out may be for you.
5It Doesn't Make You A Bad Mom
People will think of any and every reason to make you feel like a bad mom, especially if you mention that you're letting your child cry at night. As long as your baby is old enough, and you're taking the proper precautions, there's no "right or wrong" way to sleep train your child.
6It Looks Different For Each Family
Similarly, each baby is different. Some babies sleep through the night on their own with no issues. Some babies, however, require a bit more work, even into their toddler years. Each parent has to decide what's best for their family's nighttime routine, it's as simple as that.
7You Should Start With A Solid Foundation
The Baby Sleep Site also noted that it's crucial to start with a solid foundation of a calming bedtime routine, and to create a bedroom space where your baby feels relaxed, comfortable, and at ease, before starting a cry it out method.