It's one aspect of parenting a baby that moms and dads look forward to the least: sleep training. Even the term itself is fraught with mixed feelings and attached meanings. Although your baby technically knows how to sleep, helping her get the right amount of healthy Zs may require some work on your end. If you've felt that some of the sleep training methods are extreme, consider why to try modified crying it out, because it's an approach that is right in the middle. This method incorporates a little of all the sleep training ideas in a way that feels mild and doable for many parents.
Just the words "crying it out" are enough to make you cringe, which is exactly why the full version of that method is so difficult for many families. It's natural to want to comfort your baby when she is crying for extended periods of time. Having discomfort with extinction sleep training (crying it out with no rescue from the parents) is why so many parents find modified crying it out to be a good fit for them. Also referred to as fading, this method is based on using your instincts as well as a plan to develop healthy sleep habits for your baby.
According to Baby Center, the fading method requires parents "gradually diminish their role in helping their baby fall asleep, giving him room to figure out how to soothe himself." Since this method requires you put your little one down drowsy, but awake, your child learns to self-soothe while having your support and presence close by. To find the sweet spot of when your baby is ready for bed, Parents magazine suggested tracking your baby's sleep for a week to see what times of day she becomes fussy and tired. Once a pattern emerges you will know what an optimal bedtime will be. After that, you can begin modified crying it out.
The main reason you should try this method, if you desire to sleep train your child, is the amount of flexibility you have with customization. As the Baby Sleep Site explained, "this technique entails allowing baby to cry while checking on him at intervals," which means you have some options with what that looks like. Some parents prefer to stay in the room with their child, which is known as camping out. This way, the baby knows you're near by, even though you are only intermittently offering comfort.
Another option you have is to leave the baby's room, set a time limit for crying, and return to her room to comfort her once the limit it reached. Or, you can do any variation thereof that feels right for you. But the one thing you must be clear on before you start, is that both caregivers are on board for staying committed to this method. As Psychology Today pointed out, sleep training can be hard on parents, so they should understand the method and support each other throughout the process.
Deciding how you are going to ease your little one into dreamland is a daunting choice and task, but having options with different methods of sleep training can make the journey a little smoother. Modified crying it out may not be for everyone, but if it feels right to you, it's worth a try.