Sleep training isn't easy. If it were, there wouldn't be controversy akin to political debate surrounding crying it out versus gentle sleep training. The reality is, getting your baby to sleep through the night looks differently for every family. Very rarely does the term "cry it out" actually mean letting your baby scream themselves to sleep (it should never mean that, actually.) However, knowing how to survive your first night crying it out is key to surviving the rest and, ultimately, establishing a healthy sleep pattern for your little one.
According to Baby Center, sleep experts use the term "cry it out" to refer to any method of sleep training where tears are involved. You could let your baby cry for five minutes or an hour (not recommended), and it would still be considered CIO. So before you turn your back to the method altogether, know that it isn't as heartless as it always sounds, and that, when used appropriately and on the right children, it can really work.
The Baby Sleep Site noted that the effectiveness of CIO methods is entirely dependent on your child's temperament and why they aren't sleeping through the night in the first place. But if you determine that CIO is the best way to solve your baby's sleep issues, here are a few ways to make it as smooth as possible.
1. Start A Pre-Bedtime Routine
Sleep experts all agree that routine is essential to a successful night's sleep, according to Baby Center. In fact, starting your routine before you actually let your baby cry will at least give them a heads up that bedtime is about to happen, instead of letting it be a total surprise.
2. Stay Calm
If you're stressed, sad, or worried, it will only heighten the situation. The Baby Sleep Site instructed parents to stay calm, which will let your baby know that you're not worried and that they're safe.
3. Have Back Up
Make sure your partner is on board with the decision to sleep train. Having both parents involved with further the resolve and quicken the process. Plus, you'll have someone to vent to after it's all over.
4. Have A Game Plan
Make sure you have a well thought out plan before putting your child into their crib. Know which cry it out method you're going to use, how long you plan to let your child cry, and what you'll do when you comfort them. It can be hard to watch your child want to get out of their bed, but changing their sleep habits will take time, and being fully resolved is the best way to make it happen sooner rather than later.
5. Have A Distraction
Whether it's simply your partner to grin and bear it together, or a book to read, having a distraction (and a timer) to keep your mind off of when you get to go into your baby's room next will make it easier on you.