Before anyone jumps on any bandwagons, let's get one thing out in the open first. The term "crying it out" can have many different meanings. Sleep training is a touchy subject for every single parent whether they co-sleep, take a gentle approach, or cry it all the way out. No matter your method, it's important to go into sleep training as prepared as you can be, which is why having a few ways to distract yourself when crying it out may come in handy.
Now, before I get called names and labeled an uncaring mom for even speaking the words "cry it out," let me explain my "method" first. Baby Center noted that there's no "one size fits all" method to sleep training. As most experts recommend, it's important that you don't try and sleep train your baby too early. In fact, according to Baby Sleep Site, even four to six months old is probably too early to sleep train. Most babies thrive off of being close to their mothers, so sleeping on their own might not be the best approach until they're truly old enough.
Additionally, for most mothers I know (including myself), crying it out rarely means simply leaving your baby in the room alone to work through their abandonment issues all on their lonesome. In my case, it meant setting a timer for two minutes, laying my of age baby down in her crib, soothing her, and leaving the room. She cried at first, but very quickly realized that I would always come in periodically to check on her and comfort her. Gradually, (that's the key word here — changing habits can't happen overnight) each of my children learned that they can put themselves to sleep on their own, and sleep through the night while they're at it.
So no matter your preferred method of sleep training, if it involves a few tears, you may need a few tricks up your sleeve to keep yourself busy and less tempted to intervene.
1. Set A Timer
One of the most helpful things you can do it to set a timer for exactly the same time each time you lay your baby down. I usually started off with two minutes, which was all I felt comfortable with. As your baby learns that you're really not gone, and that you'll always come back at a set time to comfort and tell them they've got this, you can (very slowly) increase the time. The Baby Sleep Site noted the importance of being consistent with your intervals, whether you're sleep training a toddler or a younger child.
2. Have A Game Plan
It's best not to go into something as controversial as crying it out without a game plan. Know the steps you'll take to get your baby ready for bed, how long you plan to let them fuss, and what you'll do the next time they wake up. An article in Popsugar noted the importance of having a predictable routine each night before bed time. Children thrive on predictability and when they know what do expect, they'll adapt much more quickly.
3. Keep A Sleep Log
Parents recommended keeping a sleep log of how often your baby wakes each night. This way, you have something to keep you busy, and a log of how well your baby sleeps each night to look back on.
4. Pick Up Knitting ... Or Anything Else To Keep You Preoccupied
Seriously though. Having something to keep your hands busy will help you not stare at the clock until it's time to go in again.
5. Text Your Mom Squad
The only people who can truly relate are the moms who have been there before and understand your desperation to help your baby sleep.
6. Bring In Moral Support
Trade off with your partner. That way, you get a short break, and you can both commiserate on this beautiful time for years to come. Whether you decide to trade off "shifts" or take separate nights, having someone to help you can make it much easier to handle. In fact, an article by the Baby Sleep Site stated that sleep training has been proven to have a positive long term affect on relationships.
7. Imagine The Beautiful Sleep You'll Both Get When This Is All Over
One of the only things that kept me dedicated (even though my kids caught on very quickly) was the hope of an entire night of sleep, alone, in my own bed.