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The cry-it-out method is a very controversial sleep training methods, but if you’ve tried all other methods and nothing is working, you could see this as the only other option. The cry-it-out method is exactly what it sounds – you let your baby cry it out until he has no more energy to fight back. He will simply fall asleep when he is exhausted enough.

What is this method?

The method is simple. You let your toddler figure out the sleep thing for himself. Many parents are against this method, but others see no other option as everything else has failed. There are some dos and don’ts for this kind of training, as it can be hard for both the baby and the parent, especially if your child is very dependent on you.

How does it work?

The cry-it-out method requires you to have a nighttime routine in place that you do every night. Put your baby down in a drowsy state, tell him that you love him and to have sweet dreams – or whatever you’d like to tell him before sleep time –  and walk out of the room. The idea is that you let him cry until he falls asleep. Like we’ve mentioned before, this is a tough sleep training method and we don’t recommend this unless it is absolutely necessary.

Advice for cry-it-out

The cry-it-out method is one that we would only suggest if every other avenue has been explored. It’s tough on both parents and children.

It’s also important that you don’t go directly from breastfeeding your child to sleep to the cry-it-out method. It may be too tough of a transition on your child so create a strong foundation first before giving it a go.

Also, don’t do this alone. Find a support partner or someone who can take over for you if you need to step outside for a bit.

And a few other tips:

  • Don’t do this during a sleep regression
  • Don’t do this if you are trying to night wean at the same time
  • Stay firm on your night routine to avoid confusion
  • Don’t be inconsistent and send mixed signals to your baby
  • Don’t use the cry-it-out method with a young child. Wait at least until 6 months
  • Don’t do this for nighttime and naps – pick one and stick to it
  • Lower your expectations. This takes time

This method is rather controversial, but we have a few psychologists and doctors who have offered up some advice on the matter.

“Some argue that it is psychologically damaging for the infant—it disrupts secure attachment, for example,” says Douglas Teti, Ph.D., a professor of human development and family studies at Penn State, according to Parents.

“My perspective on this is that parental responding to an infant at night has to satisfy two goals: one is to respond to the infant to promote in the infant, over time, that the parent is there for them when needed. The other is to promote infant self-regulation, and in particular, self-regulated sleep. Responding to the infant is important across the board, but the nature of the response, and at what development period it occurs, need to be considered.”

As for the theory that children get distressed and suffer from digestive issues and damaged synapses in the brain because of the cry-it-out method?

“I think that’s ludicrous,” says Craig Canapari, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics and the director of the sleep medicine program at the Yale School of Medicine. “Honestly, it really wouldn’t make much sense if kids got brain damage every time they cry. They cry all the time.”

If you’ve used the cry-it-out method as a last resort, please share your advice and experiences below to help out other moms, who are struggling with sleep training.

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