Are you having a hard time putting your baby to sleep? Does she need to be bounced, rocked, sung to, nursed, or constantly held in order to sleep? Does she wake up crying as soon as you place her her crib? The ‘cry it out’ (CIO) method is an option you’ll want to consider.
The CIO method is a popular one among parents because it gets results but not all parents are ready for it or agree with it. This method means that you put your baby down safely and comfortably to sleep and then you leave the room. Your baby will probably cry because they want you, because they feel they cannot fall asleep without you. After 5 minutes (which seems like an eternity for you, the parent) if they are still crying you should go back in and check on them. Reassure them that it’s okay by patting them and telling them that you love them but not picking them up or feeding them, and then leave the room again. You gradually increase the waiting time each time until they fall asleep.
In a few days they should be able to go to sleep on their own and then put themselves back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. If your baby is still small and in need of night feedings, do not use the CIO method until after they are fed. Their basic needs should always be met first.
Are you ready to let your baby cry it out?
After reading the Pregnancy & Newborn magazine article it just reminded me that babies are different and parents are different. The bottom line is that you’re the parent. You have to trust your instincts when caring for your baby and deciding what is best for them. Many people (including my website) will give advice, but you have to do what’s right for you and your baby.
I do believe in the cry it out method when the timing is right. My daughter was probably 9 or 10 months old when I used this method (with a slight modification… read below). It’s really not as bad as it sounds and I think it’s tougher on the parent than on the baby. I believe in kind but firm parenting and this is one of those times that you have to hold firm. If you continuously rock, nurse, pat your baby to sleep they will become dependent on it.
What if you’re not ready?
Just because you’re not ready for this method doesn’t mean that you’re never going to get your baby to become an independent sleeper and self soother, it may just take more time and patience. I suggest that you slowly try to wean your baby from their dependency. Here are some suggestions you can try:
- See if you can somehow keep your baby in their bed and get them to sleep. Still sing to them and comfort them but in a different way than holding them. Try rubbing their forehead or cheek in a slow rhythm, try the tissue technique, place your hand on the mattress and slightly bounce it, and then try to slowly reduce the amount of time you do these things until you hardly do it at all.
- If you must hold them, try to slow down the bouncing or rocking motion to a point where you’re hardly moving, even stop if you can for a few seconds, then put them down while they are sleepy but still awake. By slowing down the motion it’s not such an abrupt change when you lay them on a non moving surface.
I modified the cry it out method slightly
I modified it by picking up my daughter to reassure her that everything was okay. I knew that Dr. Ferber didn’t suggest picking her up but I felt it was the right thing to do. After I held her and rocked her and soothed her a bit I would put her back down while she was still awake. So even though I was helping to soothe her, she still had to ultimately fall asleep on her own. I was just helping her calm down because she would get so worked up from crying that I felt she would never calm herself at that point. She would still cry when I left the room at first, but she didn’t cry as hard. After the 5 or 10 minutes I would repeat the picking her up and rocking her and putting her down before she fell asleep and eventually she would fall asleep on her own. I gradually reduced how much rocking I did until it was no longer needed.
The cry it out method result is that you will gain sleep and your baby will learn a valuable lesson on how to soothe themselves. Our job as parents is to teach our children, to give them sets of skills to be independent and successful. One skill you can help them achieve is to self soothe which is invaluable.
One last thing I’d like to mention is that a stuffed animal or pacifier can be a huge comfort to your baby. My daughter loved her ‘binky dog’ which is both a stuffed animal and pacifier in one. That pacifier helped to soothe her and the dog attachment helped her to find it in the middle of the night. Check out my review on this product by clicking here.