"Cry it out' method and long term sleeping habits

Lynlee - posted on 07/16/2009 ( 9 moms have responded )

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I'm interested in how using 'Cry it out' or 'controlled crying/comforting' methods affect babies and toddlers sleeping habits in the long term. Did/do you use either of those methods to get your babies to sleep and how do they sleep now that they are older? Would you use the methods again?

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Ashley - posted on 07/18/2009

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I did do CIO with my daughter at 10 weeks (she would fight sleep when we rocked her). The crying only lasted a few days and she never went longer than 25 minutes of crying before falling asleep. She's now a little over 8 months old and goes down without a problem. Sometimes she does cry for a minute after I leave the room, but then she goes to sleep. As soon as I recognize her tired signs I take her to her room hug her in front of her crib while I sing a quick song and quite often she is trying to wriggle out of my arms reaching for her crib. And when I put her down she smiles at me. I would do it again in a heartbeat with my next one. I also met with an infant sleep expert because I wanted to make sure I was doing the method right and she would not suffer any long term effects and she told me 2 things that really helped: the first is
1. babies cry when they are tired and trying to go to sleep because it is their winding down process. Most adults have a routine they do before bed (wash their face, brush their teeth, read a book, etc.) babies can only cry to wind down.
2. the second is, babies are the only one's that can make themselves go to sleep. We can rock them forever but ultimately they decide when to shut their eyes and give in to sleep.
Anyway, my kid is a great sleeper now and has been ever since we let her do it herself.

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It's intersting to me what a controversial issue this is. My husband and I read Babywise while I was pregnant, and really agreed with the philosophy behind it. Basically the book teaches that the goal of parenting is to get your baby to become a contributing member of the family, not the center of the family. In other words, the baby is a welcome member of the family, but shouldn't control the entire family's schedule. We didn't want our baby to grow up thinking "it's all about me," so we made decisions from day one to accomplish the goal of training him carefully to be an unselfish child (and later an unselfish adult). One of those decisions was to put him in his own bed from day one. We put him down AWAKE after his final feeding, and he goes to sleep on his own. If he has a genuine need (hungry, wet, etc.) we of course meet that need. We also encouraged full feedings (no "snacking") right from the start. This was NOT easy at first (he was very sleepy), but it has paid off big time! He is now just over two months old, and has a very predictable schedule. He eats every three to three and a half hours, and sleeps an average of 8 hours per night. He has never slept less that 4 hours at night, and that was only in the first week. He quickly was going 5-6 hours per night. He is also one of the happiest and most content babies I have ever known! :) We would of course recommend balance in any approach. We took what was valuable from Babywise, but also learned to make wise decisions on our own (not simply following someone else's method without thinking through it carefully). I have found that people really disagree with the idea of putting your baby on a schedule, but we believe that it is really best for the baby. (How they feed as babies actually shapes their metabolism, and how they sleep affects brain development, among other things). I think people get the impression that you just let your baby scream while you ignore them. That is NOT the case at all! It is simply about being the parent and being the one in charge of the home and the family's schedule, not the other way around. I have seen parents go through horrible battles with their toddlers because the child has been trained from day one that it's all about them. Then try to tell them "no" in the future! It's not going to work. Babies are learning and being trained from the very first day you bring them home from the hospital. Training them carefully pays off for everyone! I would recommend "Babywise" wholeheartedly, and plan on using this method with all my babies. I will add that there are definitely situations where babies need to be fed more frequently. There are always exceptions to any rule...but for a healthy baby who's a good birth weight, this is a great method.

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Ania - posted on 04/29/2012

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It is amazoing to me that there are people who think that their kids sleep 12 hours a night and 3 hours during the day because of the sleep training. It is not because of sleep training it is because of this particular childs needs. My son never needed so much sleep. at 15 months he would sleep 11h a night and 1.5 during the day for a nap and he was perfectly happy and rested. Also I believe that babies should be fully dependend on their parents and rely on them to help them fall asleep They are inconvinient in many ways but that does not last forever. When my son cried and needed me at night I was there every time. I was exhausted, but I was there and believe me that did not create sleep problems. They go through so many growth spurts and brain changes during the first year that it is only normal that they want their mom to ease whatever they are going through. Some goes through these changes smoother than others and thats all there is to say

Ania - posted on 04/29/2012

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I don't think they have serious effects. every method as long as you are consistent works. I tried to use CIO out of desperation because everyone told me that babies should sleep through the night by 4 months, but after better research I noticed that every baby isdifferent and they learn how to sleep on their own timeline and you should not force it. My son finally started sleeping better when he turned 12 months. Now at 2 he is a great napper he is a great sleeper. I always made sure he had early bedtime and number of naps that was appropriate for him. Routine was the key and not really specific method

Nikkia - posted on 04/27/2012

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This comment is meant for the parent who doesn't like the term "cry it out" but has seen or heard it's success and is willing to try something that is similar, but Self-soothing just sounds better... Both come from a positive and loving perspective, but I ABSOLUTELY HATE the term "Cry it Out"... :) "cry it out" just sounds harsh to me, and i think it gives what I do a bad connotation. I use "Self-Soothing" and YES, it is basically the exact same thing. (I think... my neighbor called what I do "cry it out", and I was a little offended, because that isn't how I see what I do.) It is letting your child cry for a pre-determined amount of time, when there is NOTHING that they need. I am a MAJOR advocate of this, because It is giving your child the opportunity to learn HOW to Soothe themselves. ALL 3 of my kids have been parented with this "technique" if you want to call it that... For me, it wasn't something I read in a book or online, it was simply common sense. I didn't know there was a name for it until my neighbor said it. There are people who find this cruel, and I think what they don't understand is that You don't make your baby cry if there is something legitimately wrong... If they are hungry, feed them. If they are dirty or wet, change them. If they are lonely, hold them, but when it is bed time, and all of their needs have been met, lay them down while they are still AWAKE (so they learn how to fall asleep on their own) and walk away... Yes, they might be upset at first, because they want you, You give them 5 to 10 minutes to see if they will calm themselves. If not, you go check on them to make sure there is nothing wrong, and if they are simply crying to be held, talk soothingly to them as you lay them down, assure them they are ok, and walk away. They will learn very quickly how to be ok by themselves. YOU will also learn how to read your children's emotions and needs, because you will learn how to analyze their cries. And if you start this young enough, your kids will adapt to this easily. From Birth, my 3 were used to falling asleep without me, but when they hit about 2 months and WANTED to be held to go to sleep, It usually only took about a week for them to get used to not getting attention every time they cried, and they stopped doing it...(Unless I started giving in all the time, in which case, they had to be re-trained, which took a day or two...) They mostly only cried for legitimate reasons after they learned that I wasn't going to hold them when they ONLY WANTED attention. My children are all very well behaved, independent, and loving little girls. They have no attachment issues or problems making friends or adjusting to new situations. We can go to a new place, and they don't cry when I leave the room. (They go thru phases where they do, but if you calmly and lovingly assure them that they are ok, and have the people distract them, they are usually fine) THEY DON'T need me for their happiness. They want me, but I am NOT always at their beckon call... I am not controlled by them. I think that this teaches them LONG TERM things they will need to be successful people. They learn that it is ok to be alone. That they can find happiness within themselves. They learn independence, and they also learn that I am not their personal slave. They do not ALWAYS get what they WANT, but their NEEDS are ALWAYS met. I am there for them if they need me. Basically, they are a BIG part of my world, but my world does not revolve sole-y around them. For all of those people who think it is mean to make your child cry, let me ask you... Would you give your 5 year old EVERYTHING they ever asked for, or would you sometimes tell them no if you do not think they need what it is they want? It is no different. It is simply starting early... Teaching them from day one that they don't always get their way, and teaching them that THAT IS OK! When our babies were first born, we were mostly at their command... When they cried, it was because they DID NEED something... That is how most infants work, but after about 2 months, they start to develop wants... not just needs. They will cry for more reasons than just poop or food... And during the day, It is ok to hold them and soothe them and love on them, and rock them and sing to them and all of that that they do want/need in order to bond, but at bed time or nap time, I will check their basic needs, make sure there is not something they NEED, and let them Self Soothe. All 3 of my kids have slept thru the night before they were 3 months ON THEIR own without me needing to rock them or sing to them or whatnot... (8+ hours) They did not cry when I left the room, they just knew that it was time to sleep, and if they woke up in the middle of the night, they would play contentedly in their crib and fall back to sleep... The only exception to this is my youngest who when she is teething will cry as I leave the room, but will calm herself down within a matter of a minute or two. I personally LOVE this. I love that they are independent and content to be without me. It has not only helped me be a better parent, because I have been less stressed, but I have also had 3 content, independent and loving little girls. I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about WHAT "cry it out" is... It is not neglect... At least not for me... It is a practical, loving, and I believe very beneficial approach to your children... And in my opinion, a way to teach them valuable things at a very young age... Starting them out the way you will parent when they get older, so that when they are 2 or 3 years old, and NOT getting their way all the time, they are already used to it... I think that parents hear "cry it out" and think that it is making your kids cry even if there is a need... That is not what it is... When they need comfort and soothing, you give it to them, but when they want attention, and they have already had a large amount of your attention the whole day, they don't NEED it... It is a want, and Not all wants need to be fulfilled, which is another of those really important LIFE lessons... (What I do, is very similar to the Babywise technique, which I read after I had my second baby, except a little less structured, because I am in general, not a structured person, nor is my husband.) We do what works for us, but if this doesn't work for someone else... I guess they do what feels right to them. I freely admit that I could be wrong, but this is what feels right to me... That is what parenting is all about, but I can tell you that Self-soothing/Babywise is a much less stressful approach than holding your baby every time they cry... I have a friend who does this, and I can tell she gets really frustrated a lot, but she was adamantly against "cry it out", although I think she is starting to see the benefits of it, and might start using a form of it with her second baby. My oldest is 3, then 2, then 11 months, and I am pregnant with #4, and people are constantly saying that they don't know how I do it... I tell them it isn't that bad... I am not constantly stressed out, or resenting my children... Ok, so I am a little stressed, because having a preschooler, a toddler, and a pre-toddler is chaotic, but I don't have the added stress of having a baby strapped to my hip, or crying every time I am not holding them. I am still fairly free to do the things I like or that are important to me, without my children preventing me from doing so... I am definitely looking forward to implementing this "technique" on the little life that is growing inside me right now. Hope this helps... Oh. I was also going to say that my older two share a room, so they will play in their room before bed, but will fall asleep without intervention most nights... and whenever I lay them down separate, they usually will fall asleep without any issues.

Ashleigh - posted on 07/23/2009

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I would have love to rock my son to sleep, but he would never let us. I dont beleive in CIO for the first 6 months, that's when they really need you and need to bond, but after that, they don't need to wake up during the night to feed, it is a comfort feed not that they are actually hungry. We are the ones that have taught them its okay to continuously wake up at night, so that is the only thing they know of. All children are different, I don't think I could have done anything different with my son (he wouldnt let us put him down if he ever did fall asleep in our arms etc.) I think it just really depends on the child.

Leah - posted on 07/22/2009

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I am not a fan of that method, just because during the first year a baby is bonding and needs to feel secure! I rock my son everynight this gives us time alone to bond. I often sing to him, cuddle with him, and this is also the time I pray with him. I am a christian, but I guess you just have to do what works for you and what is comfortable for you.

Sara - posted on 07/18/2009

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We used the Ferber method when my daugher was 5 months in combination with a strict bedtime routine. She now is 9 months and sleeps 12 hours straight at night. She does wake, but she can put herself back to sleep. I would definitely use this method with my next one.

Ashleigh - posted on 07/17/2009

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I completely agree with Amy. I did sleep training with my son (who is 15 months old now) and he is amazing with his sleep. I put him in his crib now and he waves and blows me kisses, and then talks quietly until he falls asleep. He sleeps from around 7 or 8pm until 8 or 9 am, with no waking up in the middle of the night. He also usually takes a 3 or 4 hour nap during the day, all thanks to the sleep training. I don't think sleep training is for all babies, but my son had severe colic until he was 7 months old, and never knew how to go to sleep after the colic. I beleive that routine is one of the most important thing with children, as that is how the world operates also. I like that Amy said she didn't want her child to grow up thinking it's about me, which sadly is what most parents do now a days. Some people may think i am strict with a routine/sleeping schedule, but I find his behaviour has improved so much since doing it, and it is sooo nice to sleep without having to get up ;) haha! I think I would use the sleeping method I did again for sure, especially seeing how my son is with it now.

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