The Cry it Out Method: Yes, No, Maybe So?

Sleep.

I’m not talking about naps, y’all. I’m talking about baby goes to sleep at bedtime and I get my night back, sleep.

A sleeping child is a glorious sight!

A sleeping child is a glorious sight!

I am definitely not an expert on baby sleep. Everything I have learned about baby sleep came from advice from friends and family, trial and error, and the Internet. I didn’t read any parenting books before Baby was born, and, well, I was screwed once he got here. Who has time to read books with a newborn in the house? The Internet explained to me that there are three main camps in the baby sleep training world: the “cry it out” camp, the “no cry” camp, and the “oops, I never trained my baby to sleep, now what?” camp. I find myself stuck in the third camp. My baby is 13 months old, and we are finally working on a bedtime routine that involves more than nursing Baby to sleep every night. Seriously, every night.  For 13 months. As he has gotten older and more interested in the world around him, it has become a very long and drawn out process to nurse him to sleep. We are talking about an hours long process. Our goal is for Baby to be awake when we put him in his crib so he can learn to fall asleep on his own.

Just let him cry it out. I hear this piece of advice often. Several of my coworkers and close friends Ferberized their babies with great success. They endured several nights following Dr. Ferber’s advice of letting their babies cry it out with intermittent comforting and came away from the process with happy, sleeping babies. One friend went so far as to say her toddler loves his crib and reaches for it when he is sleepy. That kid pretty much wins at life.

Crying it out is not an option for us. I can’t do it. I get all anxious and uncomfortable when my baby is left alone crying in his room. I have tried to leave him, and I have failed. I know many moms who swear by the cry it out method. I have read countless blogs from moms who justify this method by saying their babies are happier and more well-rested now that they know how to sleep. Still, that method does not feel right for my family. I think my reluctance to use cry it out stems in part from the fact that I work away from home every day. I really want to comfort him and let him know I’m there for him, and I want him to be comfortable falling asleep on his own.  

We are working on a no-cry solution for our little one. After conducting a ton of late night internet research, my husband and I devised a routine that we try to follow every night. After dinner and playtime, we bathe Baby, read a story (or 3), sing a couple of lullabies while Baby nurses, then it is bedtime. We put Baby to bed drowsy, but awake. We have to pay close attention to Baby’s sleep cues so we don’t miss the window of opportunity to put him to bed before he is overtired and angry.

After about a week, Baby seems to be getting the hang of it all. There were a couple of nights where my husband returned to the nursery to soothe Baby by rocking him, but we are fortunate that Baby has been receptive to this new routine. The only catch is that I cannot be the person to put Baby in his bed. If I try to put him in his crib awake, he will scream until he gets to nurse again. I am hoping that with a little more time Baby will let me put him to bed without flipping out. Nevertheless, I am no longer stressed about getting Baby to fall asleep at night. I was extremely worried that we waited too long to teach our child to sleep. I suffered mild panic attacks thinking that I might need to spend several hours a night nursing Baby to sleep over the next several years. Thank goodness I was wrong! I feel like I have won the baby sleep lottery.

I am addicted to internet research, so I thought I would share a few of the resources I found helpful when I was reading up on the topic of baby sleep:

BabyCenter, Baby Sleep Training: The Basics
Dr. Sears: 31 Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep and Stay Asleep
Kelly Mom: Sleeping Through the Night
“I Read All the Baby Sleep Books,” Ava Neyer
The Baby Sleep Site
The Sleep Lady
Magic Sleepsuit
Psychology Today
La Leche League International:Nighttime/Sleep Issues

Books that were recommended to me by other moms:

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, Dr. Richard Ferber
The No Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, Elizabeth Pantley
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Dr. Marc Weissbluth 

Did you sleep train your baby using the cry it out or other method? What worked for your family?

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