Cry It Out: Yes or No?

If there’s one topic that divides opinion between mums it’s this. Is it ever okay to leave your baby to cry themselves to sleep?

There are numerous ‘Cry it out’ methods. Gina Ford and Ferber argue that babies aged six months or more can be sleep trained, i.e. left for short periods to get themselves to sleep at night, provided they are not hungry or in need of winding. Some paediatricians believe that even younger babies can be left to self-soothe. However other experts say that leaving a baby to cry for any amount of time can cause lasting emotional damage.

So now it’s over to you. Is any form of sleep training or controlled crying okay? Let us know your personal views and experiences in the comments box below, but as always, please remain respectful of other mamas’ thoughts and feelings.

Image by Little Beanies

The loves of Lisa’s life are Rich and their kids, Lyra and Jenson. Although she does wish they would let her have a shower in peace every once in a while.

62 Comments. Leave new

Absolutely not. No.

The recently exposed correlation between these methods and post natal depression for parents and potential emotional damage for children is striking. They are based on inappropriate cultural expectations that don’t fit with infant behaviour and needs. This blog summarised nicely:

https://wokemamas.com/2017/09/16/burn-your-baby-books-study-reveals-link-between-attempting-strict-routines-and-postnatal-depression/

At about 18 months we attempted CIO with S. It was one of the worst periods of my parenting life. Not doing it again. Turns out she felt frightened and uncomfortable in her cot, the minute she had a proper bed problem solved. I imagine being left to cry in her cot, even when she could see me, must have been as terrible for her as it was for me.

Some littles might grizzle a bit and be fine with this. It wasn’t right for Miss scream for an hour, vomit, repeat, even as a toddler.

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Very interesting article! I had vaguely read in the news the link between PND and reading baby routine books, I do have to question whether the relationship is causal though, ie do those books cause PND? Most likely no, it may be for instance that if you are heading that way you may be looking for answers or support or help for the feelings you are having as a new mum. I can’t speak from personal experience, though.
I have read one baby book called ‘baby secrets’ and the tips I got from it as a new mum we’re invaluable. Not about sleep training, but about how long baby should be awake for in the day to avoid overtiredness, this was so helpful! Nobody told me before he arrived that if my baby was tired in the daytime he might not just go to sleep by himself haha!
Also just to say that I have been incredibly lucky, our little one has put on weight incredibly well and has been sleeping through the night for weeks now (from about 7 weeks and he is now 13 weeks). We know this isn’t ‘it’ as we have sleep regressions and teething to come, but just to say that sleeping through isn’t unobtainable when they are that little, and we have done zero sleep training. We may feel the need do do some sort of mild sleep training down the line (never say never with mumhood is what I have learned) but I feel determined that my baby’s needs should always be met. I can’t bear the thought of allowing him to cry. I understand not going in immediately if he whimpers slightly but quite honestly I would rather be up every hour of the night helping him settle than let him cry by himself in his cot. What a lonely experience for a little one.
Xx

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Just to add- I think this is problematic as it’s once again one of those luck as virtue things. Like when people go on about “oh I didn’t even have paracetamol in labour” (and I didn’t!). Some babies are easy sleepers, some not. It’s luck. Nowt to do with you. Once you realise that it is very liberating.

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Yes! M has slept through since about 6 weeks and now at 7 months is waking due to teething a couple of times a night and we have realised how truly lucky we have been!
If people ask about his sleeping and we say he sleeps through the general response is “ooh well done!” I’m very quick to tell people it had nothing to do with what we were doing as we didn’t have a clue what we were doing and certainly had no routine or anything until recently!
The drug free labour brag bugs me too – although probably because I’m still bitter about my labour experience – ha!

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I definitely hear you on the labour and sleeping front, in that our little one sleeps well (for now!), and I only had paracetamol (and gas & air right at the end) for labour. I’m at the point where i am selective about who I tell as I get ‘congrats’ for both, which I find problematic. In both cases I basically facilitated a process that was way beyond my control, maybe things I did in labour helped me avoid more drugs but similarly everyone’s labour is very different! The same with the sleeping, it is pure luck, and although perhaps some things we do help our baby along a little bit, it’s likely he was always going to be a good sleeper at this age. And he definitely was not for weeks 3-7 and there was zero I could do about that haha! In both cases I have friends with babies who I know if they were mine would definitely not be sleeping through, and friends who have had labours which definitely required more drugs to get through. I think motherhood can be so tough that we shouldn’t be rewarding certain idealistic standards but instead just congratulating each other for getting through it and doing the best job we can. Xx

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THANK YOU. I love the phrase luck as a virtue – so true.

I also agree with everything you’ve said. I was ambivalent about CIO until I actually had my own baby, and then the REALITY of leaving him to cry himself to sleep was just ridiculous to me. It makes me furious that the Gina Fords of this world exploit parents’ fears and worries to the extent that they feel they have to do this sort of sleep training because babies should be sleeping through the night. It’s just preposterous and so unfair to sleep deprived parents everywhere. But jeez the pressure to get your baby to sleep through the night (I hate that phrase. See also “self settling”)

I had a terrible sleeper. He’s 19 months and he’s getting better and everything Gina Ford threatened me with is bollocks and hasn’t happened. Burn the sleep training books, people.

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Just reading this and Lucy S, as always I completely agree with you! My first slept like a dream, totally felt proud as if it had something to do with me. Second, at 18 months, is still a nightmare! Am currently on commuter train to work trying to keep my eyes open after yet another bad night. Oddly the good sleeper is a hyper, spirited handful of a child by day; the bad sleeper is a very easy, chilled child. You get what you’re given!

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I have never left my babies to cry it out for more than 10 minutes, and I wouldn’t have the heart to do it if they were getting more and more agitated. However, with both of my boys I have sometimes put them down in their cot and they have cried as I left the room. I just wait for 5 minutes, and that is normally enough time for them to settle and go to sleep. But I think that because I have been relaxed about doing this from the start, they haven’t developed sleep problems which need drastic measures such as Gina Ford etc. I feel sorry for the babies that have been rocked /fed to sleep every night and then when they reach 6 or 9 months their parents suddenly get strict with them and leave them to cry it out for however long it takes.

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Following this post and comments to come back once my baby is here! The sleep training method intrigues me as it seems so mean to let the baby cry out but then my mom
Swore by letting us self soothe and didn’t have any problems with any of us 3 girls sleeping. I know now that my methods will differ to my moms on some level I also take heed of research on most matters and will allow to play a role in our decisions.

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Most definitely not for me.
I remember being told by health visitors and reading in parenting books (all since have been binned – no baby reads the book right? And it interesting the recent studies about the link between them and PND) about the theory babies “should” be able to sleep though from 6 months as they are able to go longer without feeds. Not only is it not based on any kind of a scientific evidence it also sets a completely wrong expectation about infant sleep.
To me it’s also along the lines with the messages about feeding / rocking/ soothing to sleep being a sleep “problem” to be fixed. It’s total codswallop. I really believe that being able to teach a young baby or child to self sooth is a myth. There are so many reasons children wake during the night – hunger, thirst, fear, in pain, too hot, too cold, feeling ill etc etc. It takes a long time for a child to be able to rationalise the reason why they waking and do something about it themselves if they can – that is the developmental milestone of truly being able to self sooth which is why I wouldn’t cry it out with my toddler as I don’t believe self soothing can be taught by leaving a child to cry alone.
I found a lot of interesting research via Sarah Ockwell Smith on infant sleep which helped me enormously to ditch the books and advice and to start to trust my own instincts.

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Absolutely not. I let my son cry for a few minutes before going in once he was older, and often it was a ‘sleep cry’ but I couldn’t do CIO. I fed him to sleep for a year and we coslept part of the night for 6 months. I’m doing the same with my daughter. I believe this is natural and babies needs should be met. There’s so much pressure and emphasis on sleeping through/self settling etc that it makes mums (particularly first time mums) feel inadequate and resort to things like this.

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Im a big fan of not letting babies rely on being fed or rocked to sleep. It’s not something I’ve ever wanted to get into. With my eldest, at around 8 months when I knew he wasn’t hungry and he didn’t need a bf in the night We did do cry it out – he needed to break the habit- he didn’t scream but did cry a little the first night, second night more of whinge and then 3rd night he slept through ever since. It was hard – those maternal heart strings are tight but I had to do it, for him and me.

My second, now 7 months has slept through since 10 wks. I didn’t do CIO with him but I never rocked him or fed him to sleep – apart from when newborn of course and they sleep at a drop of milk 😊 Even now I put him down and he will have a grizzle or a 1 minute cry but settles himself. There is no way on this earth I could cope if I had to sit in my babes rooms for an hour holding their hands to sleep. I TOTALLY get why some people do and we’ve been MEGA lucky with our boys cso I’m not judging anyone at all it’s just not for me.

On the other side, when they wake in the morning or from naps I’ve never rushed to get them up and this massively helps – I can have a shower and get ready whilst they’re murmuring in their cots. Though the 2 year old does yell ‘breakfast’!! We did that from the get go with both and they know now not to expect to be picked up straight away. Obvs if they’re upset we do.

At the end of the day all babies are different and we all parent differently and as long as both babies and their parents are happy that’s the main thing isn’t it?

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Ah all these responses are so comforting to read! My 3 month old daughter needs to be cuddled to sleep every night and I’ve been really worrying I’m doing something wrong. Once she goes down she’s great, but she likes to be in my arms to get there. I don’t mind at all but the problem is that she is the same for naps… and only likes to nap for about 30 mins at a time if I put her down. Is this normal/ anyone have any tips to help me get her to nap longer? Already use sleep associations such as white noise and cuddly blanket xxx

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My 18 month old still only naps on me after breast feeding. If I put him down he’ll wake up straight away pretty much. He’s always been this way – he’ll nap on a mattress at nursery – which was one of worries about him starting as I though he’s never nap there- but if he’s with me he only naps on me. So for us it’s its completely normal. I’ve got used to making sure I’ve got everything i need in arms reach and watching Netflix with the subtitles on!

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And cuddling your baby to sleep cannot be wrong – you’re doing a fantastic job!

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Thank you so much xx

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This is completely normal. Babies need their mums and they need to feel secure. Your arms is where she feels most comfortable. Enjoy the cuddles!

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Thank you so much! Got her to sleep for 20 mins and now trying to get her to do another 15 or so in my arms… as long as she doesn’t get overtired every day is a win! Xx

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Totally normal, I vowed with my second not to let her have all her naps on me because I knew it would be tricky with a toddler to entertain, but baby had other plans. If I can put her in her cot asleep it’s 30mins tops so she’s sleep deprived by the end of the day. My eldest was the same until 6 months when she suddenly liked her cot in the day so fingers crossed it will happen!

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Thank you! Ivy is exactly the same, will sleep for hours in my arms but 20/30 on her own. Even when she’s in my arms I have to work hard to get her not to wake after 30 by rocking and shhing etc so I wonder if some babies just have a 30 min sleep cycle. Luckily we don’t seem to have the same issue at night xx

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I had a cat napper during the day but a good sleeper at night. Her naps did get longer once she cut the frequency down but in the early days 30 mins was considered a good nap. In the end I just went with it and accepted that I was never going to be one of those mums that got loads done in nap time xxxx

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Know exactly how you feel! If I do manage to get her down I run around like a mad woman trying to wash up etc! To be honest I didn’t want her to have a massively rigid routine where she just sleeps in a dark room at certain times because I like to get out a lot, so maybe her catnapping works for us for now xx

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I hear you Ellie, my 5 week old does not like to be put down. He will sleep for hours in my arms but wakes the moment I put him in his crib. On the rare occasions he does it’s go, go, go with all the house work. Even if it’s 11am I’ll be prepping dinner for that evening.

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Ellie, you’re doing a fantastic job – babies come in all shapes and sizes and have very varied needs (despite what many books will tell you!). Yours sounds very similar to mine and I remember stressing a lot about the shortness of his naps (usually 20 mins unless I stayed with him tapping his bum!) – but he’s now 19 months and I usually have to coax him to wake up after 1.5 hour for his day nap! I now wonder why I worried so much about his sleep.

I found Sarah Ockwell Smith’s Gentle Sleep Book really helpful, mainly just for making me feel more confident that I was doing what my son needed.

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Argh I just wrote an essay but clicked post & it’s disappeared 🙈

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Nope, I don’t agree with cry it out at all. I read a mixture of books when we had our daughter and took the elements I liked from each – ie we always put her down relaxed but awake so she would fall asleep on her own and not be suddenly shocked to wake and not find us there and to listen to the cry – my daughter (now 18 months) has two very different cries. A whinge which generally tails off and a proper cry which means she’s upset and escalates in volume – if it’s the latter I’ll go into her straight away -she normally just wants a little reassurance or has lost her dummy. Other than a sticky period over the 18 month sleep regression phase she has always slept brilliantly and I think that this is in part to us listening to her needs and having a relaxed bedtime.
Also- they are babies for such a shor amount of time, if they want cuddling to sleep – cuddle them – they won’t want it forever!

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I love RMF always have, but I’m just not sure this is a very fair article encouraging mums and dads to comment on. Anything where you have to ask people to be respectful means you know it’s going to cause feelings of negativity. Sleep is the biggest hurdle most new parents face, it’s very emotive but also a very personal journey for each family. I think this is going to be quite a one sided discussion because anyone who did CIO or any method or variation of this isn’t going to post for fear of feeling vilified.

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Thanks for your comment. At the risk of putting myself out there, my parents left my brother and I to cry when we babies. Although I have my insecurities, I don’t think I wasn’t damaged emotionally as a result! And I’m pretty sure my brother would say the same.

We’ve built up the loveliest community here at RMF but occasionally the odd individual does spoil it for everyone else, hence the request for everyone to remain respectful.

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We did a form of cry it out at 10 months with my eldest. She’d had a dummy from 5 weeks and I wanted to get rid of it before nursery as I was worried she’d end up with it all the time. I was also having to put the dummy back in her mouth multiple times a night worse than when she was a new born. So we went cold turkey and naps were tough for a few days. I cried, she cried, we went in and cuddled but that seemed to make her worse. After a couple of days of crying it turned into a grizzle and within two weeks she was going for naps like a dream. So I don’t regret it and with my second who also has a dummy I’d do the same. Ultimately I don’t know how else you get rid of the dummy with a baby you can’t reason with? Tips welcome!

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Any mother should do whatever is right for her and her children; every baby is different and every mother is different too.

as ANON posted above, there’s potentially a risk here that people who do use CIO, or similar techniques, won’t feel able to post here. But at risk of being targeted, I’ll stick my neck out to say that for me there is a difference between leaving a baby to cry and leaving a baby to moan/shout (although I once had someone who was very anti-CIO tell me that babies only make noise when they are unhappy hence my anonymity as I can’ be dealing with aggro today…)

For me it is key to put a voice to your baby’s whimpers and try to understand what they are saying, not just assume that they are in need; if your husband/friend was shouting angrily at you, you probably wouldn’t rush into a room with them would you?

From about 8-10 weeks with both of my little ones I would put them down in their cots, awake but sleepy and they would moan/shout for a few minutes, sometimes getting a bit louder before suddenly dropping off to sleep. But if it ever became an urgent “i need my mummy/a feed/etc” type cry I would be straight in there to comfort and this sometimes meant rocking/feeding to sleep. This only lasted a few days before my eldest – who is the happiest little girl I know – got “it” and would drift off happily without a whimper when I put her down, telling her she was having a nap.

For me, that is much more preferable that rocking to sleeping than having a struggle further down the line; I’ve got several friends who still have toddlers (2+) sharing a bed with them, or need to be cuddled to sleep. That might be right for them but it would send me absolutely spare.

Interestingly though, my daughter was quick to sleep through the night – 12 hours by 4 months), but my now 4 month old boy woke 4 times last night and I am beginning to think that it could be in part due to me being much quicker to rush to him when he wakes at night (he had sepsis at seven weeks old so I am completely neurotic about him).

Ultimately though, I am happy going to him in the night when he wakes and I am happy letting him whinge for a bit in the day, because we’re all happy and it is working for us. That is what is important.

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No anon here. I’m always one to stick my head over the parapet. Most people I have spoken to have done some form of sleep training whether it be EASY or CIO in some form or another. I think to say “are you pro or against CIO” is a little dramatic to be honest RMF – CIO or any form of sleep training is based on your own experiences and definition of it. It does shout a little of “desperate for page clicks” to me I’m afraid.

In terms of an answer, my daughter slept through from 6 weeks to 4 months and then we hit the sleep regression HARD. We did some light sleep training when she was about 10 months and we night weaned before I went back to work. We had always left her to grumble to sleep – putting her down awake and she would groan for a bit and roll on to her side and suck her thumb to self soothe. Big fan of self soothing here. She sleeps like THE DEAD. I mean, she would sleep through anything. Sleep training wise we did 5 minute intervals. First night she cried for 40 minutes, slept through second night and beyond.

We did nothing different with my son. He was also fed back to sleep in the night. He will now wake at the drop of a needle, won’t nap during the day and is a ball of energy. He slept through super early and would drop asleep anywhere as a tiny but that’s changed! He’s in a phase at the minute (growth spurt maybe? Walking hunger spurt?) where he wakes up super hungry about 5.30am and is screaming for a banana. Nightmare.

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Wouldn’t do it with a newborn or a very young baby but think it’s fine from 5-6months, though appreciate it’s not for everyone. We did it from 5 months and it was awful at first but we watched from the monitor/went in from time to time and within a week my daughter went down to sleep no problems and learned to self settle, her sleep and our sleep improved as a result. She’s been a great sleeper ever since and on the odd occasion where she cries now it generally means something is up so I go and settle her.

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I think it’s a hard thing to judge especially from those who have good sleepers. It’s easy to say you’d never do it when you haven’t experienced a baby that wakes every hour for months. Not to say I agree with CIO but there are many reasons why people resort to it.
My daughter still wakes at least 3 times a night at 15 months. I feed her back to sleep as this is the best way to get the most amount of sleep but when she is very upset and feeding doesn’t work she don’t even let me hold her. So what can I do? She’ll head butt me and fling herself around. I have to put her down and let her try and settle down.
I think we would all prefer to go down the gentle sleep training techniques but they don’t work for all babies.

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My view is that you should do what ever suits your family and child. If you feel that co sleeping (safely) or rocking and feeding your child to sleep is best or think that controlled crying is best then go ahead get on with it. Don’t apologise for your decision or judge someone else for making a different decision. X

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This is always so topic and what I now realise 15 months into our journey is that every parent will do their best to muddle through as best they can, we all have different parenting techniques and all babies are different. I got myself terribly stressed because I didn’t want to cope with the sleepless nights when I was back at work. Our baby was very difficult to get to sleep through the first 6 months and I constantly compared myself to others = stressed out mum and tired grumpy baby! We did persevere and I made sure that every night he went down in his cot, we slowly introduced letting him cry for a bit and then we would go in and soothe him. This went on for weeks, I would spend hours, feeding and getting him to sleep only for him to wake up 30 minutes later and we would start again… exhausting! I would say this went on until he was about 11 months old and so it took a lot of perservering! He now is put down for his morning nap and goes straight to sleep and at night time he sleeps through the night. Ultimately what worked for us was a mixture of methods and sticking to a routine. He is like clockwork now. He knows the time when I don’t! I also found that going back in to soothe made the whole situation worse and that when I left again the crying would be much much worse which is heartbreaking.

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Like Catherine said – I think it’s easy for me to say we wouldn’t do it when our boy currently sleeps so well and always has done… I know MIL used CIO the one night she babysat him and he lasted 10 minutes before he fell asleep, and hubby did it a little in the evenings but only ever 10 minutes at a time and it was more grumbly whining than proper crying to be honest.
One night we said we would do it and I lasted about 2 minutes before going in!!
We did used to rock/feed to sleep but he is now out of that habit (we started a proper nighttime routine at 6m) and goes down awake but very sleepy.
If he wakes in the night – more frequent now with fireworks and teething, he just needs a cuddle from Daddy for a few minutes to go back down.

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I think either way is fine – people know their own babies and the difference between a hysterical really upset baby and one who needs a bit of a cry to wind down and get off to sleep.
I was definitely more relaxed with my second about breast feeding him to sleep and enjoying those lovely sleepy cuddles etc. However I would also let him cry for a while if he wasn’t settling. If the crying got louder and more insistent rather than tailing off, I would go comfort him and try again. Its all down to the individual however I DO tend to generally believe that many babies need to be taught to self soothe and this usually involves a little bit of leaving them to cry……

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Controversial I know, but I’ll happily admit to doing “cry it out” with both my children. It’s fine for those with children who sleep for more than an hour at a time to decree it as cruel/child abuse/ causing PND; but until you have had that difficult baby you will never know. My first daughter was a nightmare, she only slept attached to the boob and rarely managed more than an hour or so at a time. We tried EVERYTHING- special holds, swaddling, white noise, all sorts of blankets and cushions that promised the world and nothing worked. As a couple we were broken- I didn’t trust myself to drive I was so tired and I fell asleep in random places (a bench in a shopping centre was a bit embarrassing!). Our daughter grew angrier and more grumpy and it took my Mum to tell me that “no baby died from crying” to shake some sense into me. It was not easy. We were not doing it because we didn’t care- we were doing it because we did care. It did not happen easily and there were tears from all 3 of us, but by 1yr she was sleeping through the night. We learnt her crys and what was anger/tiredness and what was pain/something wrong.

My second daughter was a lot easier. She slept far better from the start and although not an all nighter till age 1, she at least gave us 4/5hrs, so there wasn’t really the need for cry it out. She still cry’s occasionally for 5 minutes after going down, but was nothing like her sister.

I’m sorry- but the comment at the top about PND makes me really angry. I have seen friends literally on their knees sobbing with babies who didn’t sleep. If anything is going to exasperate PND symptoms it’s lack of sleep!

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I so agree with this! Our boy was a brilliant sleeper as a newborn, then the 4.5 months sleep regression hit. And it hit hard. He would only sleep a couple of hours at the most, and only being held. We tried everything, co-sleeping, white noise, feeding to sleep, rocking (sometimes for hours). By 11 months we were broken, we were both working again full-time and struggling badly. We had no time whatsoever just the two of us as he didn’t stay down for more than 15 minutes at the time, our relationship suffered badly, so did our health as none of us felt rested (including the little one) and we were so tired that on days off, we were napping in turns to catch up a little as we didn’t feel it was safe looking after him so exhausted.

We eventually called in a sleep consultant and her program included some form of crying it out. Whilst we hated it, the first night he cried on-off for nearly an hour, but only woke once in the night. The second night it took 20 min to settle and he slept through. And has ever since (unless he is ill of course). We have learned the difference between anger and upset/pain cries and will react accordingly.

I think it’s pretty damaging and harsh to bring out that type of research – I’m sure no parent wants to harm their baby permanently and the guilt is endless as it is. It’s a similar debate as the breast vs bottle and I’m not sure if it really is a topic that can ever be discussed properly balanced as there is so much emotion attached to it.

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I’m sorry if those comments were triggering for you- I actually agree about exhaustion and found the continual exhortation to cry it out very upsetting- my instincts were undermined at every step by pro CIO health visitors (not easy with PNA) and I found that research incredibly validating and supportive.

It’s a developing scientific question, to be assessed by people not making money directly from desperate parents but in a peer reviewed research context.

During our attempts to CIO I waited and waited reading stories like yours- after 3 nights, after 30 minutes. It never ever got better for us until the underlying problem was solved.

We are all different. Interesting how the discussion has come full circle from one point of view to another.

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I TOTALLY agree with you on all of this! As a first time mum with a baby that doesn’t sleep I’ve been well on the edge of PND from the exhaustion and therefore the anxiety the sleeping (or lack of) has bought me. And actually we tried CIO and my baby hasn’t been one of these ‘after three nights they’ll have it nailed and be sleeping through’. He breaks that rule. CIO is often the desperate measure taken by desperate parents who are actually looking for support. Being up once or twice a night and saying ‘id never let my baby scream’ is very different to some parents who might be getting up 6+ times a night! Everyone deserves to enjoy being a mother but sometimes exhaustion makes that tough, so if CIO works for you and gives laughter back to tired parents then it’s ok in my eyes. They’ll still wake up in the morning smiling at you and you can smile back rather than cry with tiredness 😂

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I commented earlier on my own personal view on CIO for me and my toddler but I think the key for me is empowering mother’s to trust their own instincts when making decisions for their babies and themselves. And the mum’s wellbeing and mental health must always be considered along side the child’s and as equally important. Whether that is sleep training, co sleeping, feeding to sleep, putting down awake etc etc. There are so many different ways to parent and each mother/child relationship is unique. I think it’s been interesting reading so many different experiences, what has worked and what hasn’t in different circumstances and relationships. I think re reading the article it could’ve been worded better “is it ever ok to…” already puts a connotation that what ever you asking is not okay. I certainly bit the bait. But I think reading the experiences are the interesting thing here – so more of what can you do when your baby/toddler won’t sleep question I think is better balanced. I’m thinking back to when I was a new mum convinced I was doing everything wrong, what would I liked to have read or heard? Reassurance that I do know what’s best for me and my child, that there is not 1 way to parent and if you aren’t doing that you’re a failure and that there is a huge amount of support out there however you chose to parent.

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This is such a great comment! I couldn’t agree more Sophie!!

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I’m not a fan of CIO and I wouldn’t do it to my child. To be honest I was skeptic about any sleep training method because I have the worst sleeper in the history of babies but I heard a lot about guide “How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone” by Susan Urban. Her method is without CIO so that convinced me. After 4 days my LO sleeps like an angel (nights and days). I still can’t really believe it but it looks like we did it. I even got rid of night feedings so that’s just fantastic!
So I wanted to encourage everybody who is interested in sleep train a baby to, first of all, try Susan Urban’s method and follow her instructions ( I found the guide here: http://www.parental-love.com ) and I bet any other method especially with CIO won’t be necessary.

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I know this guide and I love it. It contains the best method out there and it works without any drama. I sleep train my son with this guide and I will follow it again for sure when my second baby will be with us which is very soon because I’m 8 months prenatalne 😉 so to sum up: CIO Noooo and S. Urban’s guide Yes Yes Yes

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I purchased it yesterday, read it in no time at all because it’s short and I like that this instruction manual was short and sweet. I was able to read it quickly and get started. Really nice step-by-step instructions. We already see the results after only one night 🙂 I’m loving it! Thank you Nancy for sharing this resource!

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My daughter loved this. This book is a god send for getting your baby to sleep. Thanks so much

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Agreed! I used the method from Urban’s guide and I’m loving it. My daughter was like the worst sleeper in the history of babies and now she is able to fall asleep on her own in HER CRIB! amazing! Big recommendation

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Coming from a psychological background I can’t get past the research on cio and so I would never do it with my son. And while he was an excellent sleeper as a newborn (we thought we were so lucky!) around 7 months when he started crawling he was waking more than 10 times a night and this continued as multiple wake ups for several months – so I don’t agree that only people with babies who sleep well are against sleep training. The examples of cio stories online just break my heart – it’s one of the parenting issues I feel most strongly about and while I try to understand that everyone has to make their own choice I really struggle to see the other point of view.

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We did CIO with our wee boy as he was a dreadful sleeper for the first 5 months. Our purpose wasn’t to get him to sleep through at that point, just to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time and to go down without hours of crying with us in there with him anyway. He’s now a champ at both naps and sleeping through at almost 2 and has been since 8-9 months old. I’m 7 months pregnant with our second and will do it again if necessary. Yes it was torturous for a couple of days, but the total amount of crying for those days was way, way less than it would have been had we continued the way we were for who knows how long.

With regards to PND and reading baby books, I had PND and didn’t read a single book, my sister didn’t have PND and read every book going!

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I have two terrible sleepers: now 3.5yo and 1.8yo. At her worst, the oldest took up to 2 hours to go to sleep, woke every 45 minutes all night every night. We called a sleep consultant, who essentially recommended Controlled Crying, ie going back in gradually increasing amounts of time. 4 months later it just didn’t work. She never consistently settled or slept and her behaviour during the day suffered.

Second baby, we swore we would put him down more, not resort to sling/feeding to sleep etc etc. But he had other ideas and simply wouldn’t settle. We shouldn’t really have been surprised as neither of us were good sleepers and both very strong personalities.

Our babies both go 0-100 at the drop of a hat, none of this “moaning” or “shouting” referred to upthread. They still don’t sleep through or self settle. It’s tough, there are days I can’t remember my name, my husband and I are used to conversing largely by text from different rooms now. This will pass, it will seem the blink of an eye and we will be alone wondering when our kids are coming in from the pub!

We all do what we need to survive these tough dependent years but I do wish there was more robust evidence to support our decisions so these conversations could be stopped and parents can be more empowered.

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When I started reading these replies and people’s opinions that they didn’t agree with CIO I felt guilty that we had recently done some sleep training and that I wasn’t ‘responding to my baby’s needs’. Maybe I would think the same if I’d had had a baby who slept through since they were weeks old (what a dream). Before we tried it I would hear other people talk about how their babies would sleep and i would have a little cry to myself. What was I doing wrong? When my daughter was 8 months and I’d had no more than 4 hours sleep at a time since she was born I said enough was enough. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as torture…..because it is torture. And no she wasn’t rocked or fed to sleep she was put down drowsy and settled herself to sleep but then would still wake every few hours in the night. We ruled out everything until I realised it was a problem with settling herself back to sleep so and after a lot of tears and soul searching we bit the bullet and did a form of controlled crying (going in to reassure and check they are ok whilst trying to settle but leaving after a few minutes and then waiting to go back in) There were two difficult nights but by the third night she moaned a bit but settled herself and it was the first night in 8 months I hadn’t gotten out of bed. And it continued like this for the rest of the week, one night she slept for 11 hours. Since this I have felt like I can be a better mum and I have far more patience because I am well rested. She is happier as she’s no longer tired and now sleeps brilliantly for her naps too. I think any other mums considering this don’t let others opinions sway you – it needs to be your decision. I agree with ANON, sleep is a very personal journey and there is enough judging and Mum guilt around as it is – this post could have definitely been worded better rather than agree/disagree debate.
(O and my mum said she did it with me when I was a baby and I definitely don’t feel psychologically scarred by it!)

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This is really interesting reading everyone’s comments. I didn’t feel that CIO was right for me and my baby but I would never judge anyone that has done it. You have to do whatever you feel is right, and what works for one may not for another. A few of my friends have done it successfully and their babies all seem very happy to me!

I cuddled my baby to sleep every night and for every nap for the first 6 months and was CONSTANTLY told I was making a rod for my own back and that he would never be able to sleep without me. At 8 months he now settles himself to sleep every night and for each of his naps, and will self soothe whenever he wakes (providing he’s not hungry or wet etc of course!) I’m so pleased I got to enjoy all those sleepy cuddles when he was a newborn, I would absolutely do it again the same way with my next bubba!

I think as a new mum it’s nice to listen to all the advice and information out there, but ultimately I think you have to decide for yourself what you think is the right way. You know your baby best after all!!

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Just putting it out there that it’s not just Mummies with great sleepers who are against CIO… I have two terrible sleepers and honestly appreciate how desperate it feels when you are so so sleep deprived (my second didn’t sleep longer than 45 mins until he was about 15m!), but I still wouldn’t dream of ignoring their cries. ‘Mum knows best’ just silly isn’t a good enough argument when there is evidence out there that something is harmful! 🙁

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Sleep training was by far the best thing I could have done for my son. Hands down.

The phrase cry it out is dated, and in turn another weapon in the army of parents who judge if you dare try and regain some sleep, and sanity, while helping your child learn to settle.

I spent the first six months of my sons life rocking him to sleep, which while lovely, meant that whenever he woke he would need the same thing to happen in order to be able to go back to sleep. Sometimes five or six times a night. He was not a naturally good sleeper. The result – a frustrated baby who wanted to sleep but couldn’t, and a frustrated mummy who needed to sleep but couldn’t.

We used the cry and console method where for one night (quite literally) my son moaned and cried for 10 minutes – I went in and comforted him after that for 60s, and three minutes later he was fast asleep. He now goes down beautifully for naps and bedtime, and sleeps through with no interruptions. I can honestly say he’s a much happier baby for it.

A big bug bear of mine on this topic (as I had a similar discussion about this on a Facebook parenting page) is on the articles and “research” often shared by anti sleep trainers. All are biased, from sources naturally encouraging of more attachment style parenting (which is absolutely fine if that’s your choice) and with no medical or scientific accreditaiton whatsoever. It scares new mums and means they avoid trying some gentle sleep training, even when in reality it’s what they would like to do.

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Best advice I ever got when my wee boy was born is that Good or bad everything is a phase. I was very smug about my good sleeper until he hit 4 months and stopped. At 9 months we’ve been through various phases but never regained the same level of sleep. He sleeps in my bed a lot now, not because I’m some earth mother who chooses to cosleep but because I’m exhausted and it’s the only way I survive. Incidentally neither of us sleep well when he’s in with me so it’s not a solution.

I let him grizzle but not get really upset. If I thought CIO would workout might try it but in my experience when he cries he gets more and more worked up and won’t sleep at all. Occasionally he sleeps, mostly he doesn’t, we are all just doing our best to get by.

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CIO felt wrong to me and my baby. But that is kind of the point. Myself and my baby are a unique pairing and what feels wrong to us would be absolutely right for another parent/baby unit.

The list of parenting approaches goes on and on. All we can do is be mindful of research, educate ourselves on our choices and then follow our gut.

All the comments made on here are clearly made but such loving parents who are interested in keeping their sanity and patience so that they can be the best parents for their child. Our approaches may all be different, but it’s clear to see that love for our little ones is what we all have in common.

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Nancy, you were right! susan urban’s guide ‘how to teach a baby to fall asleep alone’ is awesome! Great techniques. Very quick read and really helpful. I would recommend to any mom trying to get her baby to sleep better.

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Such a delicate subject. I am a fan of the whaterever works for you technique. I have two girls. My first was a fairly average sleeper, she first started to sleep through the night quite early on and we had bouts on and off of broken sleep. She did always require rocking to sleep though. I was never too worried about this as she wasn’t too bad in the night. Although I must say the pressure to get her to self soothe was pretty intense!! She was and is a cuddler, that’s not to say we didn’t leave her to cry on the odd occasion when she was just too worked up and even after hours of rocking sleep was not in sight. However we did run into trouble this time last year (age 3) she suddenly stopped wanting to go to bed alone and refused to let us leave the room, she would wake in the night screaming and having complete meltdowns over the fact we were not still sat where we were when she had fallen asleep, at 3am!! Some nights she was up pretty much all night screaming and acting uncontrollably. After 3 months we were completely broken and desperate (I was also 6 months pregnant) so we contacted a sleep therapist, we decided to try a softer minimal cry approach, but it was just not working, we ended up having to going hard. Now if you think listening to a baby crying is hard, try having your toddler shouting I just want cuddles and making themselves sick. It was the hardest and most distressing thing I have ever had to do. But after only 3 nights she had managed to relax at night and if she woke she could get herself back to sleep. She was a different child in the day and our lives were completely transformed. I am now finding we are back in a similar cycle and after speaking to a specialist is has come to light that she is going through a growth/developmental spurt which has knocked her. We are not finding the same technique works this time as she’s much older but are trying something new and hopefully less stressful all round.

I know that approach is not for everyone and I never thought I could have done it, but when your falling asleep at the wheel heavily pregnant and you have a constantly cranky toddler something has to give.

As I said you have to find a solution that works for you and sometimes that takes a bit of trial and error. Surely we all just want the same thing, to sleep and be happy.

X

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We did the controlled crying method and it worked by the third day. Our baby needed to be in a state of perpetual motion which meant we were having to take turns to go to the loo etc. It was getting ridiculous. We catered to every cry under three months but at about 4/5 months, my husband (a softie) was working away for the weekend and I have a bit more willpower. I started first with 5,10,15 minute increments. It took him 45 minutes to get to sleep that first night. The second night he was asleep in 20 minutes and the third night he didn’t even make it to 5 minutes before he was conked out. He is the smiliest, happy little boy and sleeps through the night (he previously woke every two hours). I do think it’s harder for the parents having to listen to the cries. But everything I find in parenthood is a balance. Yes it might do some kind of pyschological damage but having parents who are burnt out and neglectful will do that too. Just in the way that breastfeeding is best but if it drives a mum to despair is it worth it? (I breastfed btw). Every decision we make as parents will affect our child in some way but I believe getting stressed about every study and bit of research could potentially do more damage as like my midwifes in the hospital all had a different opinion and so finding the ‘true’ answer is almost impossible . I am not one to disregard scientific research at all but parenting isn’t a black and white situation, there are so many factors at play when raising a child that it’s not always possible to choose the very best option in any isolated issue when taking in the big picture. I think it works for some kids and not for others but I don’t believe as parents we need to shield our kids from crying at all times.

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lynda chambers
1st December 2017 4:56 pm

Initially, I tried the CIO method, but after a month I found that it won’t work. After reading comments here I thought maybe Susan Urban’s guide ‘how to teach a baby to fall asleep alone’ is worth to try. It’s short but concrete. I chose the HWL method and got it. My youngest has already learned how to peacefully fall asleep and it’s one of my greatest successes.
Thanks Nancy for sharing the source 🙂

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As a psychologist who specialises in children’s behaviour and a mother of a two year old, I have to say that CIO is really not for me. Number one being the amount of scientific evidence that proves the emotional damage that results when children do not have their emotional needs met. There is concrete scientific evidence that shows when a baby or toddler is left to cry themselves to sleep, their stress hormone goes through the roof. That stress hormone doesn’t come down when they fall asleep, it’s stays elevated. I see the impact of this pretty much every day; children with anger issues, confidence issues and attatchement problems who don’t know how to express their emotions, and I would say 90% were left to cry to sleep. Now, I’m not saying that every child who has been left to cry will experience issues, but you can’t argue with science. Childhood is an incredible important part of development, and as a society we have made the normal abnormal- babies crave being close to their mothers- it’s an animal instinct. Yet we expect babies to “sleep through”in their own bedrooms from 6 months. I liken this to breast vs formula. It’s a scientific fact that breast milk is far better than any formula and is the best thing for your baby. You can’t argue with it. However, we recognise and respect that it’s the right of the mother to decide what is best for her, her baby and the circumstances. It’s the same with this argument, I just wish people were encouraged to trust their instincts more, and had the right information when making a decision about trying CIO. For info, my 2year old still doesn’t sleep through the night, and is still in bed with me, and has always been a terrible sleeper. There were dark times, very dark, but I clutched at the phrase “this too shall pass”.

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