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Sleep Training - Should You Cry It Out?

What is the ‘cry it out’ method?

‘Cry it Out’ or CIO refers to a sleep training approach that advocates the letting a baby cry for a predetermined period of time before offering comfort. Pediatrician Richard Ferber, in his 1985 book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems presented a method that has become synonymous with cry it out, and we will be discussing it later in the article.

The Theory: -

Cry it out approach believes that falling asleep is a skill and that if the opportunity is provided, a baby can master it too. The idea behind it is that if a baby gets used to you rocking, singing, or nursing her to sleep, she will not be able to learn to fall asleep on her own, and will always need some external stimuli to go back to sleep. This might become a problem when a baby wakes up during the night, as she will need you to put her back to sleep. On the contrary, if the baby learns to soothe herself to sleep, she can do the same when she wakes up in the middle of the night.

Ferber Method: -

Ferber’s method is perhaps the most famous cry it out method.

First, wait until your baby is naturally ready to sleep. Then, put your baby in the crib when she is still awake but is sleepy. Say goodnight to the baby, pat her gently on the back and leave the room. If the baby cries when you leave, let her cry for a specified period of time. Go back to the room but do not stay longer than a minute or two, pat the baby again and give her reassurances. Leave again, even if she is awake and crying. Stay out of the room, a bit longer than the last time and follow the same procedure, gradually increasing the intervals of staying out of the room, returning only to pat and reassure the baby. Keep following this routine until the baby falls asleep while you are still out of the room. Increase the amount of time staying out each consequent night. According to Ferber, the baby will learn to sleep by herself by the third or fourth night.

Dos and Don’ts

1. Explore other methods. There are a number of other gentler sleep training techniques that can work well. Many parents like to keep cry it out as a last resort.

2. Make sure that the baby’s environment is sleep-friendly. Make the necessary changes in the feeding and sleeping schedule at least one week before the sleep training begins.

3. Make sure once you start the cry it out training, you follow it through. It is difficult for parents to hear their baby crying out loud and it takes a lot of resolves. You must be ready to face it all.

4. Both the parents should be on board with the decision and try to be each other’s support system.

5. Do not start the cry it out training when the baby is too young. You should try gentler approaches until the baby is 4-6 months old.

6. Don’t be inconsistent in your approach. Stick to your plan for at least a week or two before you try another approach. When trying the cry it out approach, you should also remain consistent in the manner you respond to the baby’s crying.

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