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Should You Let Baby Cry It Out?

Once a baby is old enough, usually around 5 months of age, they are considered old enough to be able to sleep through the night.  At this point, some pediatricians may recommend letting baby “cry it out” in order to help them learn to sleep all night without waking.  This, in fact, was the advice my pediatrician gave my husband and I when our son turned 4 months old and was still waking often at night.  However, I was unsure of many things before trying this method.  Will it really work?  Will it be bad for my baby? 

Will it really work?  To answer the first question, yes, the cry it out method really does work for some people.  But by no means does it work for everyone.  I’ve heard both sides: some parents swear by it, while others say they tried it and it simply would not work for their baby.  So how do you know if the cry it out method is for you?  Letting baby cry when everything inside tells you to soothe them is extremely difficult and heartbreaking.  And on top of that it can be very frustrating and tiring as it will cause more loss of sleep for the first few days of teaching baby.  If you know you can’t handle it emotionally or physically, this method is probably not for you.  I fall into this category.  We thought about letting our son cry it out, but I found it simply wasn’t worth the emotional and physical exhaustion.  But for parents that can deal with a few rough nights, it just might be a great option for you.  There are a lot of books and methods out there that help support the cry it out theory, and for many people it has been a viable option in getting baby to sleep well through the night.  One book that I’ve personally read and applied some of their methods is the Sleepeasy Solution.  This book is a variation of the cry it out method that encourages a parent to do “check-ins” on your child every 5-10 minutes until they settle to sleep.  I liked this idea more than just leaving my child on their own until they cry themselves to sleep.  We used this book to teach baby how to fall asleep on his own, and it worked great.  However, the method did not help our son learn to sleep through the night, although it has worked for many people and gotten excellent reviews. 

Will it be bad for baby to let him cry it out?  There has been no scientific evidence that allowing a tired baby to cry until falling asleep is harmful to them.  My pediatrician recommended it, and many others do.  Leading sleep experts recommend it as well.  However, a parent still needs to be sensitive to their own particular situation.  Just because a majority of experts say it is fine to allow a baby to cry it out doesn’t mean that it is the best for you and your baby.  Some babies will scream and cry for hours and will have great difficulty learning to fall asleep.  I’ve heard of some babies screaming until they throw up or pass out.  And some babies will wimper a few minutes and fall fast asleep.  Never trust a book, or even a doctor, over your own instincts.  If you think your baby can’t handle crying it out, by all means don’t do it.  But if you feel that some crying is tolerable and baby is learning quickly, a little crying definitely won’t harm baby in the long run. 

After considering our options, I decided it was easiest and best in our case not to adopt the cry it out method completely.  Our 7 month old still wakes at night, but it settles back down quickly after feeding and sleeps well.  He is happy and well rested because of it.  To us, it isn’t worth having a few terrible nights of crying and no sleep.  He will sleep through the night when he is ready.  Although I am certainly not against parents who adopt the cry it out method, I found an interesting article warning against such methods called Just Let Her Cry.

When making the decision whether to let baby cry it out or not, just make sure you consider all the factors first and do what is right for you and your baby.  Best of luck to those who try cry it out, and also to those who don’t.  Here it to a happy, healthy, and well-rested baby no matter what!

Are you for or against letting baby cry it out?  Has a particular method worked well for you in teaching baby to sleep through the night?

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