Cry it out Method: How Long is Too Long?

July 02, 2021

Cry it out Method: How Long is Too Long?

Perhaps parenting's greatest mystery is in answering how to get your little one to sleep all night. One way caregivers choose is the “Cry it out Method” to help sleep train their infants to allow families better rest.

Does The Cry It Out Method Work?

Parents all over the world are exhausted from lack of sleep as newborns wake them every couple of hours around the clock. This type of wake and rest cycle is completely normal.

After several months of very little sleep, depleted parents and caregivers sometimes turn to sleep training to answer their bedtime woos.

How To Do The Cry It Out Method

Possibly the most heard of as well as one of the most controversial methods to sleep train your baby is called the "Cry it out" method (CIO) - also known as extinction sleep training.

As the name suggests, the “Cry it out Method” involves many tears from babies and maybe a few shared tears from parents and caregivers alike. If all of this sounds overwhelming it may help you to have the ultimate goal in mind: helping your little one learn the essential skill of falling asleep on their own and soothing their self-back to sleep when she wakes during the night is completely obtainable.

The Cry It Out Method

At the very basics, the Cry It Out or extinction method, is a sleep training technique that involves putting your baby in her crib fully awake and allowing them to fuss or cry until she falls asleep without any kind of intervention from parents or caregivers.

That means you breastfeed or give the baby their bottle just up until the point they are sleepy but not fully asleep. Rocking to sleep or any other crutch to get your baby to drift off is also not used. The goal is simply to teach the baby to fall asleep on their own, outside of your arms.

One important note about this method of sleep training: the point is not to keep a baby from waking up during the night, nor is the goal for the baby to get through the entire night without a feeding. Breastfed infants might continue needing a feed up to age 1 and this method gives them the skills to soothe themselves back to sleep after a full tummy or a comforting touch.

Cry It Out Method For Naps

Naptime is often the best time to start this method of sleep training. Before you get started, make sure that baby’s not napping too much or too little during the day, since overtired babies have a harder time falling and staying asleep.

This is also the perfect time to be extra diligent about naptime/bedtime routine or you will need to establish a bedtime routine that does not involve feeding or rocking to fall asleep.

When To Start the Cry It Out Method

Look for your baby’s cues that she’s tired.

Some cues to look for include rubbing eyes, sucking of the thumb, pulling at her ear, or getting cranky at the same time every night.

Anticipating when your baby needs to sleep is crucial to the Cry It out Method, to ensure you get the baby in bed before she’s overtired.

Start your 20 minute nap time or 30 to 45 minute bedtime routine.

This helps your baby wind down and prepare for sleep. Suggestions for a good baby bedtime routine often involves a bath, final feeding, a book, lullabies, and maybe a massage.

Put your baby down in her crib every time.

No matter whether it is a nap or bedtime the crib always places your baby in the same place to sleep to establish the best routine.

Always put baby down while she's still awake.

The goal of sleep training is to give your baby the opportunity to learn how to fall asleep on their own, this requires your baby to be awake and not rocked to sleep.

Give her a gentle pat and reassuring whisper.

Then leave the room. This is the hardest part for caregivers and parents alike. Your baby will probably cry, maybe even quite a bit.

Don’t respond.

Heartbreaking as it sounds, following the Cry It out Method calls for you to let your baby cry. Your little one will get tired and fall asleep.

Be prepared to have a rough couple of nights or more.

This method does not work within one night; consistency is key. Use this method every nap and bedtime to ensure quickest success.

Cry It Out Method How Long Is Too Long

In the beginning, you may end up having to let the baby cry it out for 45 minutes to an hour before sleep comes. This does vary greatly from baby to baby.

Most parents who try the Cry It Out method find their babies cry increasingly less over the first three nights and their crying virtually ends somewhere between the fourth and seventh nights.

Eventually babies may simply fuss in complaint for a couple of minutes — or simply quietly fall asleep.

Cry It Out Method For Toddlers

When to let your baby cry it out depends on you and your baby. Babies are generally developmentally ready to be sleep trained at 4 to 6 months. By about 5 to 6 months, they can sleep through the night without needing to eat.

By 6 months, babies are wise to the fact that crying often results in being picked up, rocked, or fed but are also willing to learn and can sleep through the night with a little motivation.

Simple changes for the older baby's routine and in the way you respond to crying can lead to sleep success usually within three or four nights.

Does The Cry It Out Method Work

Each family is unique and what works for one family may not work for the next. As with any method, listen to yourself and baby and take time to speak to your pediatrician so you may talk through any thoughts or concerns.

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