BIOBaby: Cry It Out

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog It Out, Baby

There are reasons being a parent is the hardest job in the world:

– It’s hard without any real instructions. I don’t care how many books you read by doctors and other experts, there are never any cut-and-dry answers. Well, besides the obvious “don’t put your baby in the microwave” or “don’t drown your children in the tub.”

– All kids are different. What worked for Kali may not work for Jack, and what worked for either of them may not work for any of yours.

– The rewards are massive.

As I follow many bloggers who happen to be Moms (I hate the term “mommy bloggers), I’ve come across one phrase over and over – “cry it out.”

“I don’t let my kids cry it out.”

At first I thought this meant that they don’t let their kids cry at all. But as I did some research and read several blogs, I found that they are referring to the method of letting your child cry themselves to sleep.

Jack has “cried it out” twice. He was about 5 or 6 months old and for two days he just gave me a fit at nap time. (I’m a firm believer in scheduled naps, by the way.) Normally, he’d go right to sleep while nursing or by being left alone on the bed. (And by alone I mean, no rocking or patting. I remained on the bed with him.) But one day he just wasn’t having it. And I tried EVERYTHING.

I knew he was tired, but it was like he was fighting sleep. He cried and cried no matter what I did. Donny and I had decided while I was pregnant that we weren’t going to start bad habits that we couldn’t stick with. We based this decision on 1. successfully raising Kali with the same methods and 2. watching other parents. We did not want to be those parents who were slaves to the child. You know what I mean. The poor child won’t sleep unless someone is holding him at a 45 degree angle, standing on one foot, and singing Ave Maria in C sharp.

The first day, I put Jack in the pack-n-play next to my bed and he cried for maybe two minutes. Then he laid his head down and went to sleep. The next day, I did the same thing and he cried for maybe one minute… and then went to sleep.

Did I feel good about it? No. Mothers don’t like hearing their babies cry. That being said, I don’t know that I’d try the “cry it out” method again, especially when we decide to transition him from co-sleeping to sleeping alone in his room.

Like spanking, it’s just not for me. Advocates against the method probably see little difference in what I did – rocking the pack and play, cooing at him, until he stopped crying and fell asleep – and leaving the crying child in his crib with the lights out to fall asleep alone. And that’s okay. We’re all just doing the best we can, when we can.

Here are some interesting blogs on the subject at phdinparenting.com:

Cry It Out (CIO): 10 Reasons Why It Is Not For Us

Cry It Out (CIO): Is It Helpful or Harmful?

Next week we’ll discuss “crying it out” in other situations.

But for today, what do you think of the “cry it out” method when trying to get your child to sleep?