Many new parents wonder about controlled crying – whether to do it, how to do it and for how long. 

Pediatricians recommend it as part of a comprehensive sleep plan, but is it the best method for your child, and does it yield positive results?

Here are some benefits of using controlled crying and other important things you should know before starting this sleep training method.

Let’s dive in!

What is controlled crying?

Controlled crying is a CIO (cry-it-out) type of sleep training. It involves letting your baby cry for gradually increasing increments of time before returning to comfort them.

This type of sleep training method for babies can be  done in one of three ways:

1. the parent leaves the room

2. the parent stays in the room but ignores the baby

3. the parent sits with the baby for a few minutes before leaving 

Controlled crying is not for all babies but it may be an option if you want your child to learn how to sleep on her own. There are a lot of pros and cons to this method but at its core, it’s essentially about teaching your little one healthy sleep habits. 

Is controlled crying right for your child?

The decision of whether controlled crying is the best method for you and your child is a personal one. Mainly, it depends on your parenting style and the age of your little one.

For example, controlled crying is not recommended for children under the age of six months. Moreover, the method may not be effective if your baby is suffering from an illness or other developmental changes like teething or sleep regressions

Before trying it out, make sure everyone in the family supports your decision as you’ll probably need all the help you can get. Don’t skip discussing this decision with your pediatrician so that they can give you professional advice. 

If you don’t see positive results from controlled crying in a couple of weeks, consider a different method of sleep training.

sleep training methods for babies

Is it effective?

According to a 2018 review of studies, 1 in 4 children benefits from controlled crying compared to children who were not sleep trained. There were also significant reductions in parental reports of severe infant sleep problems. 

In addition, the review also found that parent moods also significantly increased. 

One small study examined 43 infants and found several benefits to controlled crying, such as:

  • a decrease in the amount of time it takes small children to fall asleep
  • Fewer wakings during the night

The study didn’t find any adverse stress responses in children or long-term attachment issues. 

However, keep in mind that this sleep training method may be less effective if your child is ill, teething, or reaching a new milestone. 

When can I expect to see results?

The period between starting sleep training and seeing positive results depends on your child. Every child is different with a unique temperament and needs. Generally, you can expect to see some results in four to seven days.

If your baby is a self-soother (she easily drifts off to sleep at bedtime without much help from your end), you’ll probably crack it in 4 or 5 nights. But if your little one is a signaller (she has difficulties falling asleep and wakes up multiple times at night), it might take longer – over a week, perhaps.

sleep training methods for babies

Tips for Successful Controlled Crying

If you’re ready to start sleep training your little one using the controlled crying method, here are some tips to make the process easier for you and your child:

  • Make sure your little one sleeps in a sleep-conducive environment. Her room should be comfortable, quiet, and dark. Consider getting a white noise machine to block out any sounds coming from inside and outside the house. Another great idea are blackout curtains that will keep her room dark even if you live on a well-lit street or a street that gets plenty of sunshine. Leave pillows/blankets/stuffed animals/crib bumpers out of the crib to avoid suffocation or risks for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Establishing a sleep routine is crucial for your baby to understand when it is time to sleep and what this means. A good bedtime routine may include a warm bath, massage, and a lullaby.
  • Drowsy but awake: Avoid putting your little one in the crib fully asleep. The ideal moment is when she gets drowsy but is still awake. If she’s older than four months, then she has to be put to sleep awake and not drowsy.
  • Hire a sleep trainer. Sleep training newborns is a difficult process, and you may need help from an expert to get it done right. An experienced sleep trainer can make the process easier for both parent and child.

Conclusion

To sum up:

  • Controlled crying is a CIO (cry-it-out) type of sleep training. It involves letting your baby cry for gradually increasing increments of time before returning to comfort them.
  • The decision of whether controlled crying is the best method for you and your child is a personal one. Mainly, it depends on your parenting style and the age of your little one.
  • According to a 2018 review of studies, 1 in 4 children benefits from controlled crying compared to children who were not sleep trained.
  • Generally, you can expect to see some positive results in four to seven days.
  • Some tips to make the sleep training process easier include following a bedtime routine, creating a sleep-conducive environment, putting your baby down drowsy but awake, and hiring a sleep trainer. 

Sleep training a baby can get challenging for some parents, and you may need help from an expert to get it done right. An experienced sleep trainer can make the process easier for both the parent and the child. Connect with us today and get a personalized plan for your baby. I’ll be there to guide you every step of the way.