It is no secret, new parents struggle to get enough sleep. Add on all the new duties that come with parenthood, and it can be really tough getting through the each day.
One major area that parents struggle with is getting their babies to sleep. Not only is it hard to get them to fall asleep in the first place, but to get them to stay asleep and aim to have them sleeping through the night.
If you're one of the parents who are struggling, then you might want to start sleep training your baby. There are various methods of sleep training that parents can try. Some people view the "cry it out" method as outdated and even controversial.
So, what is the cry it out method and should you use it for your baby? Read on to find out.
What Is the Cry It Out Method?
Firstly, it is not recommended you use this method for infants under 6 months old.
The cry it out method can also be referred to as extinction sleep training. As the name suggests, this is where you allow your infant to cry themselves to sleep.
This method is certainly not a good fit for everyone. Sometimes parents may find themselves using this method only a handful of times, when they are at their wits end. Others may use this method consistently for a few weeks until their babies has mastered the self settling.
There are 2 subtypes: total extinction and the Ferber method (graduated extinction). The Ferber method is also an adaption of controlled crying or controlled comforting method
With total extinction, you let your baby cry themselves to sleep completely, without any interference from you. This means that you put your baby in a safe sleeping environment, you leave the room and do not return. You let your baby cry themselves to sleep.
With the Ferber method, it's a slightly different approach. First, you start off checking in on your little one regularly and comforting them if needed. With each passing interval or night, gradually increase the period of time between going into the room.
Cons of the Cry It Out Method
You may think the cry it out method sounds 'easy' as a sleep training method, it's not without its cons.
On one spectrum, experts believe that picking up infants whenever they're crying reinforces this behaviour. And on the other, experts believe that by letting babies cry it out, this could cause attachment issues and other psychological damage.
Do note that you have to take into account other factors, such as how distressing it can be for you as a parent. Some people swear by this method, while others think it is cruel. It is very much a personal and situational choice. You need to choose what is best for you and your baby. Only you can decide whether the pros outweigh the cons enough for this sleep training method to be worth it.
If you are wanting to research this method more, we recommend you Google "cry it out studies". There are a raft of studies done that both support and disagree with this method.
Pros of the Cry It Out Method
It is reported to teach your little one to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.
They won't be reliant on your presence for comfort, which means they'll be more independent when it comes to sleeping. This allows you to not be trapped in a cycle where you have to keep attending to your infant throughout the night.
Numerous studies show that babies who learn to sleep independently and self-soothe tend to have less sleep problems and longer night time sleeps.
Baby Sleep Cry It Out Dos and Don'ts
Maybe you want to try the baby sleep cry it out sleep training for your little one. In that case, here are a few dos and don'ts you should keep in mind.
Don't Use This Method on Young Babies
In general, you shouldn't be using the cry it out method on infants younger than 6 months old.
When they're this young, they need to be fed on a pretty rigorous schedule, so if you don't attend to your little one, they might not be getting enough nutrition.
Make Sure They are Tired
There is no point putting your baby to bed if they are not tired. This will only prolong the crying period. On the flip side, make sure they are not over-tired. Knowing your baby's tired signs and having a bit of a sleep schedule will help ensure your baby falls asleep a short while after you leaving the room.
Do Check on Your Infant
Get yourself a good baby monitor so you can see what your baby is doing / ensure they are safe without going into the room. Once asleep it is a good idea to go in and check on them.
Do Have a Routine
Infants need consistency, so make sure you create a routine and stick to it.
It might be tough in the beginning, but once you get through a few nights, your little one will start learning what's going on. This will be comforting to them, which will make sleep training go easier.
Do Be Flexible Too
On the other hand, don't just stick to a routine just for the sake of it. If there's anything going on that's shaking up normal daily life (such as illnesses), then you might want to put sleep training on hold temporarily.
Don't Put Your Baby Down When They're Sleeping
One of the biggest mistakes that parents make is putting down their infant when they're asleep. This teaches them to fall asleep while in contact with you, which means they won't learn to fall asleep on their own.
What you should do is put your little one down when they're showing signs of drowsiness. This allows them to fall asleep on their own and self-soothe if needed.
Don't Try to Push It
For some infants, certain sleep training methods just won't work for them. And that's ok; you should know when to stop trying the cry it out method and move onto a different technique.
Be aware of your little one's sleep patterns. Try out sleep training methods based on that, and if they don't work, try not to take it too hard.
Is the Cry It Out Method Right for Your Baby?
After reading this article, you now have a better idea of what the cry it out method is. You also know the pros and cons, as well as the dos and don'ts of this sleep training method.
As the parent, you ultimately make the decision as to whether or not a sleep training method is right for your little one. Whatever you decide, we wish you luck! Hopefully, everyone in your household will get some much-needed rest.
Need some more help getting your baby to sleep? Then take a look at our baby sleeping bags and baby swaddles.
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