Falling asleep on his own is a skill every child can master. Learn what the cry it out method means and how it can lead to a happier life for you and your family.
Being a working mum, I understand how challenging it is to put a restless baby to sleep, especially when you’re feeling exhausted yourself.
You’d spend long hours of cuddling and soothing the child, and still, he’d be wide awake without showing any signs of drowsiness.
One method that promises to help with sleep training has been winning parents’ hearts. It’s called the cry it out method, and it can lead to lower levels of stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.
New parents have tons of questions when it comes to the cry it out method. They have concerns such as:
- What is the cry it out method?
- Is the cry it out approach harmful?
- When can you start the cry it out method?
- Does the cry it out method work?
In this post, I’ll try and answer all of these questions and help you establish a healthy sleep routine for you and your baby.
What Is the Cry It Out Method?
The cry it out method is a popular sleep training method that involves teaching your newborn child to fall asleep on his own and soothe himself back to sleep if he wakes up during the night.
You let your baby cry for a specified period of time before going into his room to offer comfort. Gradually, you’ll start increasing the time before you offer comfort so that ultimately, your child learns how to sleep independently.
The end goal is for your child to learn not to rely on a lullaby, bottle, or a hug to fall asleep.
Yes, the method involves tears, yours as well as your child’s, but the benefits can be plentiful.
Once your child learns to sleep on his own, you’ll also start feeling less stressed, anxious, and sleep-deprived.
Is the Cry It Out Approach Harmful?
One recent study from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia that was published in the journal Pediatrics, studied 43 sets of parents, with babies between 6 and 16 months.
The study found the cry it out method had a positive impact on a baby’s ability to fall asleep. It also found that the babies who were sleep trained had lower levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone.
When Can You Start the Cry It Out Method?
Parents are recommended to try the cry it out method once their baby is of slightly older age, usually four to six months old. When your baby reaches the age of four months, he has gained sufficient weight, he can sleep for longer hours, and he can self-soothe more easily.
However, the ideal age can vary from child to child. If you notice that your baby struggles a great deal with the method, it’s better to take a break and start anew once your baby is more emotionally ready.
Does the Cry It Out Method Work?
The theory behind the cry it out method is that every child can learn to sleep on his/her own if parents give him/her the opportunity.
If you comfort your child every time he wakes up at night and starts crying, he’ll get used to you rocking or nursing him to sleep.
But if you leave him to fall asleep on his own, in time, he’ll learn not to cry for you and soothe himself back to sleep.
The crying component is an inevitable side effect as your baby learns to sleep independently. The short-term pain of listening to your child cry is outweighed by the long-term benefits such as lower stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.
How to Practice the Cry It Out Method Effectively
To increase the effectiveness of this method, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Have a Good Bedtime Routine
Set a good routine for your baby before you put him to sleep. Give him a cozy bath, nurse him, or play him a lullaby so that he actually feels tired. These bedtime routine steps will signal to your baby that it’s almost bedtime.
Prepare for a Few Challenging Nights
Not running to your baby’s room when you hear his voice can be difficult at first. Try to relax and keep yourself busy to make the process less excruciating. Also, remember that when all it’s over and your baby learns to fall asleep on his own, you and your partner will finally get that rest you so desperately need.
Stick With It
One of the main reasons why the cry it out method fails is parents giving up too quickly. Consistency is critical when it comes to helping your baby adjust to falling asleep on his own. When he wakes up crying, it might be tempting to nurse him back to sleep. However, remember that by doing so, your hard work will be wasted, and you’ll be forced to start the process anew.
If you think your baby is not yet emotionally or physically ready to sleep on his own, then postpone the process and start again in a few weeks.
Get Help From a Certified Sleep Consultant
If you find it hard to implement the cry it out method, know that you don’t have to do it alone. Many parents have found help by hiring a certified sleep consultant that can customize a sleeping plan for your baby. By working with a sleep consultant, you’ll get a program designed just for you, based on your schedule, your baby, and your home environment.
Leaving your baby to cry alone in his crib is tough for every parent. Watching your child grow can be a little sad. Packing his bags when he leaves for college can be overwhelming.
These are natural parts of a parent’s life. Whether it’s leaving him to cry alone or watching him leave for college, every pain you’ll ever feel as a parent will only lead to something amazing in the long-term.
Your baby will learn to sleep on his own. He will graduate from college and make you proud.
Teaching your child to be independent is the surest way to prepare them for adulthood, and all the challenges that lie ahead.