The Myth of Cry It Out!

In my travels I have come to realize that parents are a bit confused about what cry-it-out means. Cry-it-out is not a method in itself. There are so many different types of sleep training methods that use cry-it-out but there are so many different ways and variations of it. Cry-it-out simply means that with whichever method you have chosen to use for your sleep training process, that there will inevitably be some crying involved.

There are 3 major training methods that all use a form of cry-it-out. The first method is the Pick up/Put down method. This is when you pick up your baby every time they cry and put them down when they stop. The second method is gradual distinction. This is when you start off on the first night by being right at your babies side, patting and shushing him till he falls asleep. Then each night after that, you move further away from the crib and shushing progressively softer and less often. The third method is Guided Training. This is when you check on your baby for a few minutes and then leave, returning into the room at greater intervals to console your baby. An example of this is you would check on your baby in 5 minutes and then in 10 minutes etc.

Each method of training involves crying. Each method also involves the parents offering consoling at some point to their baby. The crying is NOT because your child is being neglected, starved or abandoned. They are simply being given the opportunity to figure out what your baby needs to figure out to fall asleep. Some babies may discover their fingers where as some may stare at a light on the ceiling. Allowing your baby the opportunity to learn how to soothe himself is vital to learning great sleep skills. If you are a parent that is not happy with your child’s sleep habits and feel that training of some sort is necessary for the happiness of your baby and your family, then it is important that you find the right method for you. If you are a parent that is content with your baby’s sleep habits, then there is no need for change as your family is happy.

In retrospect, it is important to understand that a crying baby doesn’t mean bad parents. This is quite an unfair statement. Allowing your baby to learn how to self soothe, which involves some crying, is a very hard thing for a parent to do. If you have a family member or friend who is currently sleep training their own baby, please remember this and offer them your support, not grief.

  • cgg

    Babies sleep patterns change constantly and anybody who tells you that you can “train” your baby to sleep is mistaken. There is a multi-million dollar business built around this.   Every time a baby is made to “cry-it-out” the baby’s body releases adrenalin, the fight-or-flight hormones. Too much of this stresses out a child’s developing body and is not good for the baby.  These children develop insecurities in later life, are less empathetic.  There is a whole slew of research around this. Check it out yourself.

    When I had my 2 little girls, who didn’t sleep through the night for the first 18 months I was bombarded by people telling me to cry it out.  I refused and went to them and yes, horrors of horrors, nursed them or rocked them back to sleep.  Was I exhausted? Yes.  Did I feel desperate for sleep? Absolutely.

    Now I have 2 very secure and happy little girls who sleep 12 hours straight, through the night without fear because they know that should they need us, we will be at their side.  I always use the analogy of a bear family.  The mother bear would never leave her cub alone in the dark forest to teach it to “self soothe”.  The mother bear is always by her cub’s side protecting it. Why would we do anything different. Follow your instincts moms.

    • Wmao

      Dear cgg, that’s great that you didn’t have to let your babies cry it out.  Can you tell me what happened at 18 months?  What happened then that made them sleep through the night, without you having to nurse or rock them to sleep?  Did they simply grow out of it?  Also, how did you put them to sleep in the first place?  Were you nursing or rocking them to sleep but now they’ve learnt to fall asleep on their own?

    • Amber Grace

      Yes, I would also be curious about this. I’m a single parent and I co-sleep and nurse my son to sleep every night and for every nap. I have tried CIO and it did work, until I caught a cold, then babe caught a cold and we were back in bed together. To be honest, I’m happy either way, but also curious, what changed for you? My LO has slept through the night, once, and I think back and wonder the same, “What was it about THAT night?”

  • amy wilson

    so many people are telling us to let our 4 month old “just cry it out” for sleeping, but it just makes her worse.. so I’m trying other solutions, mainly the pick up/put down one since it works the best 

  • Brook

    I have followed my mothers foot steps and I can tell you that the kids go to bed at the same time and it does not matter where we are…they sleep right threw and this is since they were born! Your mother knows best! I am a believer!

  • Joelle

    I so agree with this article. I have seen parent who would never let their baby cry for more than a few seconds. They were completely exhausted and the baby was incapable to be soothe herself.

  • Solo09

    Interesting thoughts in both the above blog and the comments below.  I am just about 17 weeks pregnant and still have yet to experience this for myself.  Still good information to store away.

  • Christine Hudder

    This is great advice for a new soon to be mom! Thanks

  • Rachel K

    I thought I’d never let my baby “cry it out” but then I went back to work when she was 12 months old and realized I just could not do the 3am feeding anymore (for soothing purposes) and she was gaining weight just fine – so I let her “cry it out” – first night was only 7 minutes, second night 5 minutes, third night not even a minute.  I waited until 14 months old to do this – when I was sufficiently done waking up at 3am.  Now she is almost 21 months old and still sleeps straight through from 8pm to 6:30am or so.  Thanks for the read!

  • Josie

    I think a bedtime routine is really important but I will say we have let our daughter ‘cry it out’ a few times when we just couldn’t do anything more and it actually did work.

  • Josie

    I think a bedtime routine is really important but I will say we have let our daughter ‘cry it out’ a few times when we just couldn’t do anything more and it actually did work.

  • Dianagulizia

    Great article…I did it with my older son and he is 2 now and sleeps great. I’m going to start soon with my 6 month old!

  • Sara deRuiter

    I’ve just started to sleep train my 7 month-old at bedtime. I’ve been late to do this as I find it exceedingly difficult to listen to him cry, especially when dealing with my own PPD issues. My husband has been instrumental in helping with this and after about a week, my son seems to be adjusting well to this new routine. We’ve done the Guided Training method and it seems to be going well for us so far and although we can hear him crying throughout our condo, it’s good for us to be able to step away and “recharge” for a few minutes before going back into his room.

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