If you've ever tried to get a baby to sleep through the night, there's a good chance that, at some point, you were made aware of the "cry it out" method. There's a lot of controversy surrounding crying it out, and people on both sides of the debate are fervent in their arguments. Among the many things every grown-ass woman knows about crying it out is that, although some families find it extremely effective, it may not be suitable for others. Shocker, right?
My partner and I used the cry it out method with both of our sons, and found it to be extremely helpful. We understood that there are times when you shouldn't let your baby cry it out and were very attentive and cautious during this time, paying close attention to the length of time our boys spent alone before they fell asleep and to the tone of how they were crying. Though we practiced the "cry it out method" with caution, we still came across some parent-shaming on our journey towards a (very necessary) full night's rest. Again, shocker.
I hate that we were ever made to feel guilty about any of our parenting decisions, because we always had the best interests of our children in mind when making those decisions (as most parents do). Having come out on the other side of sleep training, successful, I fully understand the benefits and pitfalls associated with it. Having said that, I feel like every grown-ass woman should know the following things about crying it out, whether they practice it or not.
It Isn't Right For Everyone
Just because the "cry it out" method worked for my family, doesn't mean that it's the right or appropriate choice for another. If you're practicing attachment parenting, it probably won't work for you. If your baby has any sort of health issues, it probably won't work for you. If you're extremely impatient, well, it probably won't work for you, either. I get that, and I realize that each family is just as unique as their needs, so sleep training isn't a good fit for everyone and that's more than fine and what one family chooses doesn't negate the choices my family makes, or visa versa.
It's Not Easy On The Parents
My first son did extremely well with sleep training. It only took a few days, but I will admit that even those few days felt like forever. I remember the first time we put him in his bed alone; he cried for maybe three or four minutes but if felt more like an hour as I watched the clock tick by.
No matter how "easy" or "difficult" your specific sleep training experience may be, no one enjoys seeing a baby cry, especially when it's your own baby doing the crying as a result of a parenting decision that you made. I knew that in the long run, sleep training would benefit our entire family, and it really has, but getting to this point wasn't exactly a cake walk.
It Takes Time
Though sleep training my first son was fairly easy, my second son was an entirely different story. I understand that both of my boys are unique, but our first son had my husband and I fooled into believing that sleep training our second would be just as simple and hassle free and, well, "easy." You guys we were the most wrong.
Our youngest son is much more stubborn, attached, and strong-willed than our oldest. He ended up back in our room the first few nights we tried sleep training him and, after a week, we had to take a break because all of our nerves were shot. We waited for a month or so before attempting to sleep train him again, and he quickly caught on and attempted to foil our scheme. Again, the first few nights were major fails, but after a week he improved with each passing night and, eventually, he didn't whine or whimper at all when we put him in bed.
"Crying It Out" Is An Inaccurate Label
I really wish this method had been labeled as something other than "crying it out," because it paints an inaccurate picture. The Ferber method, also known as "crying it out" is about teaching a baby to self-soothe. It doesn't mean that you're putting your baby in a crib and ignoring them, or that you never answer their cries. It just means that you gradually increase the time in between soothing them, though this simple approach is often exaggerated. Ferber actually doesn't recommend parents allowing their children to relentlessly cry until they fall asleep. Instead, he encourages, yes, encourages comforting a child frequently during the sleep training process.
There Are Times When A Baby Shouldn't Cry It Out
There are many times when a baby shouldn't cry it out and, sometimes, a baby should never cry it out due to their own unique situation. If a child is ill or adjusting to a different and unfamiliar routine, parents should hold off on sleep training. If a child has been crying longer than usual or is in a new environment, they shouldn't be allowed to cry it out then, either. "Crying it out" isn't a relentless routine. It's tactical and it's attentive and it requires diligent planning.
Not Everyone Is Successful With This Method
Like any aspect of parenting, what works for one person doesn't always work for another. My kids are great sleepers now, and I credit a lot of that to sleep training them, but I've got friends with great sleepers, too, and they shared their bed with their kids. We both had the same goals in mind, but we took different routes to get there, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
It's Definitely Not Torture
The one thing you should never say to parents "crying it out" is that they're somehow subjecting their baby to torture. No sane parent would knowingly or willfully "torture" their baby. Just, no.
Like I said before, sleep training in't about abandoning a baby and making them fend for themselves. Just because I was outside of my baby's bedroom while he cried (or mostly just whined), doesn't mean that I'm a bad mom. I was literally five feet away from them. Close enough to tend to their needs if need be, but far away enough for them to learn to self soothe. That's far from torture, folks, and it's pretty offensive to say so.
It Doesn't Merit Judgement From Other Parents
We all parent differently, but I feel confident in saying that we all basically want the same thing: happy and healthy children and sleep. If you don't want to sleep train your baby, don't, but don't judge someone who does. We've each got our own unique situations, and we're all just trying to do our best.
For my family, crying it out was extremely effective, and even more beneficial for all of us. I get that some people don't agree with it, and that's fine. I don't agree with other parents' decisions all the time either, but I try not to make unfair assumptions about their parenting based on a situation that I don't know. Maybe if all of our kids slept better, there would be less mom shaming happening every day. Just a thought.