There's a few things to consider when it comes to sleep training. Your baby's temperament, developmental stage, and usual sleep patterns all matter — especially when you're looking to develop consistency in the routine. Even the best sleeping babies go through disruptive sleep patterns, though. When they're growing, learning new things, or just excited, a regression feels like a giant step backwards. So, should you cry it out during sleep regressions? Turns out, and with almost every other parenting decision, it depends.
The Baby Sleep Site cites the cry it out method as a sleep training tool to help "break poor sleep associations." It's not about denying food when baby is hungry, or a clean diaper when dirty, and is in no way meant to relieve a parent of their duties altogether. It's basically setting rules for what's allowed during sleep times, and sticking to those rules to the best of your ability. While no sleep training system is 100 percent successful, there are multiple professional perspectives on how effective using cry it out is in the long run. As Dr. Darcia Narvaez, PhD, states on Psychology Today that there are dangers to sleep training that may have longterm affects and seems not to discriminate on whether it's used during a regression or with regular sleep training attempts.
When trying cry it out, it's important to note every baby is different and may react to the method in different ways. Their ability to self-soothe is a factor, as well as their age and your ability to differentiate their needs from their wants. Once that's established, you'll be able to determine if crying it out is for you and your baby.
According to Dr. Craig Canapari, MD at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital and specialist in pediatric breathing and sleep-associated issues, sleep training methods — including cry it out — should produce the desired results within 3-7 days in younger children. If a regression is lasting an abnormal about of time, Canapari suggests eliminating a medical problem before hopping back on any sleep training regime.
Sleep training in general takes a lot of practice for both the parent(s) and baby, and when regression strikes there's no clear answer that will automatically work for all involved. Every baby is unique, and every parent/child relationship has its own set of guidelines for what's best. Whether you've tried other methods and are curious about the ways in which cry it out may be beneficial, or you've mastered cry it out but it's suddenly not working through the regression, just remember to be patient. Babies change and grow a lot through their first year, and no matter which path you choose, sleep will come again, somehow and someway. You know, eventually.