The cry it out method may sound a little shocking to some. New parents don’t enter parenthood with the idea of willingly letting their baby cry it out. Of course, it may happen. There isn’t anything wrong with letting baby cry. The important thing is learning what the cry it out method is and when it’s okay to let your baby cry safely. Some parents will decide that it’s never okay for them to let babies cry to sleep, and that’s fine. This article is just here so you can learn what cry it out is and to weigh the pros and cons of letting your baby cry.
The cry it out method is a sleep training method. The goal is to break sleep associations. Many new parents will let their baby sleep with them. If your baby is used to this they may resist the idea of being placed in their own bed. It’s okay if you decide to let baby cry in this situation. The idea behind the cry it out method is that they learn to sleep on their own and you, as a parent can learn to set limits and not feel guilty that you don’t run in the minute the baby cries when you know it’s not something important.
Is it safe to let babies cry to sleep? It may seem uncomfortable, but if you know your baby has everything they need there is nothing neglectful about not going in to give your baby their dropped pacifier or if they want to come to bed with you. Sleep associations are like habits. If you come in every time your baby drops their pacifier that’s a sleep association. Being able to sleep in your bed, being rocked to sleep, and any other number of things that deal with the sleep routines of your baby could be considered sleep associations. These aren’t always bad things, but if they begin to stop baby from sleeping without them and you want to break those habits, you may need to let baby cry.
The goal of the cry it out method is to let baby figure things out themselves. If they drop their pacifier, there is a good chance they can get it on their own. Once they realize that it’s up to them, they will usually stop crying and be able to get what they need to go back to bed without your help. There are times during the day when it’s simply not feasible for you to run to your baby and pick them up when they cry. If you’re driving, do you pull over? If you’re most parents, you probably don’t. You assess the situation and if it’s just fuss and not necessity, you keep doing what you’re doing. The same thing can be done at home.
How Old Should the Baby be before you Let Baby Cry it Out?
Ultimately, you know your baby better than anyone, so if you think they aren’t ready, they might not be. Then again, it could be the uncomfortableness of hearing your baby cry that’s making you think that. Researchers in Australia worked with parents of kids age 6 months to 16 months on the cry it out method. Compared to other sleep training methods, the babies that were taught to cry it out were falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and waking up less overall throughout the night.
If you’re worried about letting baby cry causing them stress, you don’t need to. The research also showed that there were no short-term or long-term effects for babies who were expected to cry it out. In fact, it seemed that stress hormones were lower in the babies that experienced sleep training. So, if you’ve heard that letting baby cry it out will lead to behavioral problems or added stress, this study and others like it prove the opposite.
Pediatrician, Dr. Tanya Altmann recommends sleep training from practically day one. More specifically, she recommends introducing baby to their sleep environment and by three months putting them to bed when they are sleepy, but not asleep. This allows them to learn self-soothing from the beginning. Learning at such a young age is an important tool that will stay with them for life.
How does the Cry it Out Method Work?
Again, you know your baby the best, so that’s important to keep in mind. You do not have to let them cry it out unless you want to. If you want to try this method, the other thing you need to remember is consistency. If it’s hard for you to hear baby cry, keep in mind that it will be harder on them and you if you aren’t consistent.
You need to make a plan and stick with it. Like most parts of parenthood, the goal is to be firm but fair. If you know they don’t need anything, there is nothing to suggest that they won’t be fine without you. They will figure it out and once they know you’re not coming, most babies will soothe themselves to sleep. Don’t feel guilty – this is something most parents have to deal with at some point. The goal is to be responsible and respectful about it. Make a decision and stick to it. Your waking hours with baby will be more enjoyable for you both, as a result.
Of course, the cry it out method may not be for you, and that’s okay. There are other sleep methods out there that have shown successful results. You might decide to use one of those or none at all. The choice is yours. The important thing is that you both are getting enough sleep in a safe environment for both of you.
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