So the whole method of letting a baby cry it out has really become pretty controversial. Google it and you will find one article titled “CRY IT OUT KILLS BABY’S BRAIN CELLS” and the next will be titles “CRY IT OUT IS HARMLESS AND A GREAT TECHNIQUE TO TEACH BABY HEALTHY SLEEP SKILLS”. In my personal opinion, cry it out should be a last resort or only used if you are having some major sleep issues with you baby.
In this post I am going to describe why we chose to use cry it out, how we did it and if it worked!
Of course I am no expert and every baby is different. Do your own research and play to your own child!
Why Cry It Out (CIO)
At about 2.5 months of age all of a sudden Nora started sleeping 10 hours though the night. I’m talking, we rocked her to sleep, put her down at 8:30 and she did not wake up until 6:30. Not to eat, not crying not anything. It was fantastic and we thought we had it made! Well, we did have it made for a while. For four glorious weeks our little angel slept that way. She even did it in Kansas in an unfamiliar room and a few times after being put to sleep by Mimi and not mommy!
Then one night I went to rock her like I always do and put her in her crib and 30 minutes later she was awake and crying. I went and put her pacifier back in and she was good for another 30 minutes until she cried again. This would go on for about two hours until finally she would give in and go to sleep. She also began waking up at 1:30 and 4:30 every morning. She wasn’t hungry because we could easily bink her or rock her back to sleep but like clockwork, she was up at those times. I am assuming this was the infamous “Four Month Sleep Regression” but who really knows! This went on for about three weeks and I began dreading putting her to sleep. She would take forever to fall asleep and then once we got her down the cycle of continuous waking/crying began. Finally after moving bedtimes, changing bedtime routines, changing sleep environments and other bazaar ideas, Collin and I agreed it was time to try the controversial “Cry It Out.”
How We Used CIO
I began by reading every article ever written on the topic (or so it seemed) and asking for advice from my momma and sister who were both big CIO advocates. After weighing our options and considering our unique gal, we chose to go with the “Total Extinction” method. Basically this means you lay them down and then don’t go back in the room at all. There is another method where you console your child at increasing intervals, but that seemed like a tease to us. So one article I particularly liked said that on average most babies between 4-6 months would catch on in 3 days. It also said that most parents reported crying times of 1 hour the first night, 20 minutes the second night, 10 minutes the third night and less than 5 minutes after that.
So night one arrived and I did just what the research said. I went through a bedtime routine, chose some particular words to say each night as I laid Nora down awake and then I shut the door and left. She was drowsy but still awake and she had a pacifier in her mouth. When I shut the door and walked to the living room she didn’t make a sound and for about five more minutes she was quiet. I thought in my head that my baby was a rockstar and just immediately went to sleep! Well at minute five, the pacifier was out and the crying began.
On night one Nora cried for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Was it terrible? Yes! Did I hate it? Yes! Did everything in me want to go and scoop her up and rock her to sleep? Absolutely! Did I feel like a bad mom? Heck yes I did! But, The Hubs helped me stay strong and we just watched a movie loud and I checked on her periodically to make sure she was still safe.
The crying started out as just light fussing for about 5 minutes. Progressed to real tears for about 10 minutes and then to wailing for about 20 minutes. After those 35 minutes it was on and off silence then crying for a while. Then at the 1 hour mark it turned into calm little (heartbreaking) tired whimpers. When I heard those I felt the most like a bad mom. But, 10 minutes later the sounds stopped altogether and I went to check her and she was sound asleep! In that moment I felt victorious! That night she slept until 6:00am without waking!
Night two, same bedtime routine and trigger words. Laid her down and she immediately began crying. But, amazingly out little textbook baby only cried for 20 minutes and then she was out like a light. She woke one time in the night at 1:30 and whimpered herself back to sleep!
Night three she cried only 15 minutes and did not wake up during the night.
Night four, 9 minutes and woke up once but cried herself back to sleep in 5 minutes.
Now each night when we put her down, she cries anywhere from not at all to 10 minutes and then puts herself to sleep. If she does wake up in the middle of the night, she can now put herself back to sleep. No pacifier or rocking needed!
The first night was brutal and I almost didn’t make it, but now I am so glad that we taught her that skill! She does so much better at night and it makes the whole family happier! And she still wakes up and gives us the biggest smiles! CIO isn’t for every baby or every family but it worked amazing for us and has made nighttime so much more restful!