The three most controversial words in parenting just might be "cry it out." The process of sleep training a baby or toddler with the cry it out technique is often fraught with guilt for parents (because who doesn't hate to hear their child cry?). But it can also be a sanity-saver for moms and dads who haven't gotten a good night's rest in months. If you're wondering when to start cry it out, the answer depends in part on your baby.
According to Baby Center, cry it out refers to any form of sleep training that involves leaving your baby to cry while trying to fall asleep on their own. Usually, these periods of crying start out short but get longer until, ideally, the baby can fall asleep on his or her own, without any help from mom or dad. Baby Center noted that you'll probably want to wait until your little one is at least 4 to 6 months old to begin. At that point, a baby should be mentally and physically ready to sleep through the night.
What To Expect suggested that parents wait until closer to 6 months to use the cry it out sleep training methods, noting that, at that age a baby, is capable of understanding the fact that when they cry, a parent comes running — and they're perfectly capable of using it to their advantage at night.
As noted previously, however, not all babies will be ready for sleep training at the same time. The Baby Sleep Site suggested that parents rely not on age, but instead on where a baby is at developmentally. That's because if a baby is old enough to sit up on their own or even stand, they may put up a much tougher fight when you lay them down to sleep.
Although there isn't total agreement among experts on the exact age to start cry it out techniques, there is some agreement on the signs that it's too soon. According to Cafe Mom, a baby isn't capable of sleeping through the night if they are younger than 3 months or weighing less than 11 pounds — they'll most likely want to wake up and eat.
Deciding to sleep train your baby is rarely an easy decision. It wasn't for me, but after just one rough night I immediately saw a positive change in my daughter. Getting enough rest at night made her happier and more energetic, and it even improved her appetite. And although I'm sure there are plenty of people out there ready to call me a terrible mother for sleep training, I know that the end result — more sleep for both of us — actually made me a happier, healthier, and saner mom. It may just do the same for you.