The Pros and Cons of the “Cry It Out” Method for Getting a Baby to Sleep

The Pros and Cons of the “Cry It Out” Method for Getting a Baby to Sleep | Baby Chick

The Pros and Cons of the “Cry It Out” Method for Getting a Baby to Sleep

When I first became a mom, the importance of good sleep wasn’t even on my radar. I remember someone buying me the book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr. Marc Weissbluth and telling me that the book had saved her life. I remember feeling like that statement seemed a bit dramatic as I thought to myself, “What’s so complicated about sleep? Babies just eventually learn to do it. Right?”

Ha ha ha. No. (Not in my case.)

Fast forward 5 months later to a crazy, sleep-deprived version of me who had a baby waking up multiple times in the night to nurse. And who was unable to nap or go to bed on his own without a complicated and semi-ineffective routine of bouncing and nursing. I remember opening up “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” (HSHHC), the same book I had earlier disregarded, in desperate need of some help.

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But as I read through it and realized Weissbluth’s method involved letting my son cry, I was mad. Actually irate. What kind of idiot thinks it’s smart to let a baby cry to sleep?! So I shelved the book and talked trash on it for the next few months until I once again reached a sleep-deprived breaking point. This time I decided it was time to give it a whirl! And when I officially followed through with it (and lots of prayer), my son started sleeping better than he ever had!

As I have continued to have children who have struggled to be good sleepers, I now more than ever see the benefit in encouraging good sleep habits from a young age. For the sake of mom but, more importantly, for BABY!!! (In the last 6 months, I have personally known four babies that were waking 2 to 6 times a night start sleeping 10-12 hour periods after using this method as well as falling asleep on their own!)

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baby sleeping

So Just What Is “Cry It Out”?

The Ferber method involves a parent going in to comfort baby without holding them and progressively adding in more length between comforts. Weissbluth’s method suggests that after the baby is 5-months-old, they are old enough to learn to self soothe. So in the most basic summary of it, Weissbluth’s method says:

  1. Parent develops a soothing bedtime routine where all needs have been met. Baby is clean, freshly diapered and fed.
  2. Parent lays baby down awake even if almost asleep.
  3. Parent leaves room and lets baby cry without going in to reassure. (He believes that by going in to check on or comfort baby you are actually teaching baby that if they cry long enough, you will come instead of teaching them to self soothe and fall asleep.)
  4. At naptime, Weissbluth states that if baby has cried up to an hour, parent can go in and get baby but not soothe them to sleep. Instead, hold baby off until their next nap time. This way baby begins to develop a schedule and realizes that parents will not come and soothe the baby if it fights sleep.
  5. He also states that up until 9 months old, a baby may still need 1-2 feedings in the night and does not prohibit parent from feeding baby in night.

***Disclaimer: Please know this is a paraphrased summary of HSHHC. In order to actually utilize his method, you should read the book. It offers a wealth of knowledge on everything related to baby’s need for sleep, the research backing it and tips for helping every age of children learn to sleep.

So now that you’ve heard a summary of Weissbluth’s method, here is my list of the pros and cons!

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The Pros of Cry It Out

  • It’s not complicated. The baby cries and learns to self-soothe.
  • Research backs that it works.
  • Even though it feels like listening to crying is actually a year of your life, it normally works within a few days.
  • It can take a horrible sleeper and convert them into a quality sleeper, which Weissbluth teaches can affect their mood and development into childhood.
  • Helps stop bad sleep habits from forming while the child is still contained in a crib.
  • Helps a desperate, sleep deprived parent and let them rest.
  • I know more babies that it has worked for than any other method.

The Cons of Cry It Out

  • You have to listen to your baby cry! And nobody enjoys that.
  • Your baby may cry longer than other babies, and it can feel painful. (Some take 15 minutes of low-key crying and they are asleep. Some intensely cry for an hour the first time.)
  • If you progressively form bad habits again (nursing them to sleep and laying them down), you may notice you have to do the process again.
  • It may not eliminate all crying. Once your baby has begun sleeping, they may immediately sleep and never cry again. Or your baby may have to cry for a few minutes before bed each night or at nap to sleep.
  • There is a possibility that it may not work for your baby.

I am not promoting this method for everyone. Some people have no problem getting up with their child throughout the night and the trade-off of sleeping versus letting a child cry is not worth it. And for that person, this method IS NOT for you. But, for the person who IS struggling to survive on no sleep that has a cranky baby that isn’t taking good naps or sleeping at night, I would suggest trying this method.

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And here’s a final reason why from Mary who recently used it: “Cry it out was like ripping off a band-aid. We could have dragged out sleep-training for months, but my ability to work was suffering. Not to mention, baby didn’t know how to transition back to sleep through sleep cycles so he was only taking 20-minute naps, which left him exhausted! We were ALL exhausted day and night. It wasn’t easy, but by night two, our baby slept through the night. We were all rested and happier. It’s just like taking off those training wheels for the first time. It’s scary, but the ability to get a good night’s sleep is so important for baby.”

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About the Author /

Quinn is a wife, boy mom (x’s 4), blogger at Sanctification and Spitup, host of the Renew You Podcast and licensed marriage and family therapist. She loves to encourage others in relationships through her speaking, writing or podcast episodes.

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I'm seriously needing some of these things tonight to start a new week. Hoping you mamas get some self care time too! 💕⁠
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Instagram post 18073051357163780 When it comes to clamping the cord, our mottos is "what's the rush?" The blood volume in the placenta and cord at the time of birth is BABY'S blood. It's simply mid-circulation in the placenta at the time of birth. It just makes sense to leave it be and let it finish its job.⁠
No, the blood won't drain out of baby and go backwards into the placenta.⁠
No, your baby is not more likely to get sick from jaundice.⁠
Yes, your baby will still be getting oxygen while they figure out breathing, especially important if they need resuscitation.⁠
Yes, your baby will have better iron levels for the first year of their life.⁠
Look at how thick and engorged this cord still is at 4 and 18 minutes after baby was born. Just imagine how much blood baby would have lost if the cord had been clamped immediately, or at 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or 3 minutes! The placenta was expelled immediately before the 18 minute photo was taken. The pulse in the cord could still be felt even AFTER THE PLACENTA HAD BEEN DELIVERED! The cord was finally clamped and cut more than an hour after birth at 73 minutes. ❤️⁠
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Informative post and words by @bundleborn⁠
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Here are some tips to combat isolation:⁠
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1️⃣ Get outside when possible.⁠
2️⃣ Video chat with friends/family.⁠
3️⃣ Join a virtual group.⁠
4️⃣ Invite someone to come over.⁠
5️⃣ Find a local mom's group.⁠
6️⃣ Listen to the radio or a podcast (it's interesting how this can make us feel connected with others)⁠
7️⃣ Run an errand--even grabbing a coffee via drive-thru can feel good.⁠
8️⃣ Get to know your neighbors.⁠
What would you add to the list?⁠
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Flying on a plane with your little one for the first time can be terrifying. Are they going to cry the whole time? How will they handle the airport, the turbulence and the landing? Well we have some tips that will help prepare you for your flight with your kids. Here's what to do to have a more enjoyable experience 😊 {Link in bio!}⁠
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