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29Sep 13

Letting your baby cry it out

First-time parents often cannot resist rushing to their baby’s side when he or she starts to cry. This is good! After all, crying is a baby’s first form of communication. A child’s tears tell mummy and daddy that “I’m hungry”, “I need a new nappy” or “I feel ill” in place of speech.

But when it comes to sleep, sometimes letting your child cry for a bit before offering comfort isn’t such a bad idea. This can be tough for new parents, but the Cry It Out technique is important for babies to learn how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. Many paediatricians and sleep experts such as Richard Ferber, author of the book Solving Your Child’s Sleep Problems, say that crying is often an unavoidable part of baby sleep training.

Letting your baby cry it out

Letting your baby cry it out

Sleep training

Just like learning to chew, crawl and talk, learning to fall asleep is a skill which babies need to master by themselves. By rocking your child to sleep or letting him fall asleep while nursing, he or she won’t learn how to fall asleep on their own. As a result, when your baby wakes up, he or she will cry instead of go back to sleep.

Although crying is not the goal of this exercise, many experts argue that the long term advantage of being able to fall asleep by themselves outweighs the discomfort for parents and baby when a baby is left to cry it out.

Cry It Out technique

To use the Cry It Out technique, it’s important to have a regular bedtime routine, such as dinner followed by playtime, bath time, story time and finally bedtime, so that your baby knows what is going to happen before bed. Once in bed, say goodnight to your child, and if he or she begins to cry, let your baby cry for a few minutes. Then, go back into the room and comfort your baby, but leave the light off and speak in a soothing voice. Do not pick your baby up, and leave again while baby is awake even if he or she is crying.

If he or she continues to cry, stay out of the room for a bit longer than the previously, then repeat the steps above. You should follow this routine until your child falls asleep solo.
If baby wakes up again in the middle of the night follow the same routine, with the same intervals you used earlier that night until baby falls asleep again.

According to Ferber, you should increase the amount of time in between comforting every night. On the first night, try to wait three minutes before comforting when your baby first starts to cry, then five minutes, then ten minutes for the rest of the night. On the second night, go for intervals of five, ten and 12 minutes. On the following nights, make the intervals proportionately longer each time. Your baby should be able to go to sleep on his own by the third or fourth night, at maximum by the end of the week. If your baby still does not respond to the method, try again in a few weeks.


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One comment

  1. Sorry, I don’t agree! My boy is a year old and I never let him cry out without holding him and trying to make him feel better. He hardly ever cried and when he did he would stop when I held him. I soothe and walk him to sleep and it doesn’t take long for him to sleep. When I don’t soothe or walk him he falls asleep by himself in my arms.

    No! hearing your baby cry on their own, does not outweigh anything. Babies should be held reassured and loved!


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