When To Stop Letting Baby Cry It Out
As long as you know your baby is in a safe sleep environment and isnt hungry, wet or sick, it’s okay to leave her alone to settle down on her own.
If youre concerned about her safety, peep in but keep any interaction brief. A video baby monitor can be reassuring.
Try to give the CIO method enough time to see if it makes a difference. Stick to a consistent routine for a full two weeks before giving up on it altogether.
Also keep in mind that a big change or stress in your babys life, like a move, new sibling, new babysitter, ear infection, etc., can render sleep training futile. Wait a few weeks until things have gone back to normal before attempting sleep training.
Cry it out isn’t for everyone, and it doesnt work for every baby. And that’s perfectly okay.
If CIO makes you extremely uncomfortable, remember that it isnt the only option. You may want to start with another form of sleep training, like the Ferber method of graduated extinction, to see if it works better for you.
New Study Says That Its Okay To Let Babies Cry At Night
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
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When my eldest was a baby, I remember feeling so torn when she cried during the night. Our pediatrician and my mother both said that it was okay to let her cry for a while and let her learn to go back to sleep. But as I listened to her cry, I wondered: Will this make her too stressed? Will it damage her emotionally? Will it ruin our relationship?
The answer to all of those questions, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, is no. Not only that, if Id done it , my daughter and I might have gotten a bunch more sleep.
To measure the effects on the babies, the researchers did something interesting: they measured the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the babies saliva. They also asked the mothers about their levels of stress. Twelve months later, they looked for any emotional or behavioral problems in the babies, and they also did testing to see how attached the babies were to their mothers.
We can get sleep and still have well-adjusted kids who love us. How great is that?
Your baby will be fine.
Surveyed Parents Report Cry It Out At Bedtime Usually Takes 1
After extensive research and reading countless sleep training books on how long it takes to cry it out, I decided to do a survey to see how long cry it out actually takes.
Most books say that cry it out takes a few days anywhere between 3-10, depending on the source. Each book also offered a different nightly screamfest timeline anywhere between 10 minutes and 90 minutes.
So, I surveyed a group of hundreds of parents to see their results. Heres what we found:
- Most babies screamed for about 45-60 minutes that first night. Most babies also woke up significantly happier and better rested the next morning.
- The second night was usually better crying lasted about 30 minutes.
- For some babies, nights 3-5 were the worst. Crying lasted between 45 minutes and 2 hours.
- Nights 6-7 the crying began improving until it completely tapered off, leaving bedtimes a much happier affair where the baby would lay down and fall asleep unaided and without a fuss.
- In most cases, crying it out was successfully done within one week.
Compared to other, gradual sleep training methods then? Letting your baby cry it out is a much faster option with dramatic results. However, its not for everyone.
If youd like to read more about how to do cry it out, Ive got a whole guide for you on how to do it without wanting to tear your hair out right here.
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Criticism Of Crying It Out
CIO critics sometimes point to a 2012 study finding that babies’ levels of the stress hormone cortisol remained high even after they stopped crying and went to sleep on their own.
But that study was small and had no control group to define what the study’s author meant by “high” meaning the babies in the study could have had elevated cortisol levels simply because their parents were putting them to sleep in an unfamiliar environment.
What’s more, the study looked only at the extinction, “pure” form of cry it out, where parents don’t go in at increasingly longer intervals to soothe their babies, but instead let them cry for a long stretch all at once .
The American Academy of Pediatrics published its own long-term, larger study in its journal Pediatrics advocating sleep training as healthy and important when it comes to babies’ development.
The research showed that babies sleep trained either using the gradual, Ferber method or the straight CIO method were not at a higher risk of emotional, behavioral or psychological problems by age 6.
Varying Methods To Success
Two different sleep training methods were employed in the Pediatrics study.
One-third of the group tried graduated extinction, which involves parents delaying response to a babys cries for longer and longer stints before going in to comfort them.
Another third used bedtime fading with the concept, in a nutshell, designed to postpone bedtime based on a babys level of sleepiness.
Bedtime fading, the Flinders researchers found, was nearly as effective as graduated extinction. Those babies fell asleep 12 minutes faster than the control group.
But that option, says Abu-Isa, is counterintuitive to what she recommends to parents based on her own childrens experience
Although Abu-Isa questions the studys small sample size, she agrees with the overall conclusion: Crying doesnt pose a danger.
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What Does The Evidence Say
Some babies begin to understand the 24-hour rhythm of day and night at around three months, while others will take longer. Their night-time sleep periods start to get longer but many will still wake and cry several times each night for months .
Young babies, in particular, are probably waking up because they need to feed, not because they are unable to self-soothe .
Research maintains that sleep training under six months of age does not improve sleep outcome for babies or wellbeing for parents . More recent research on sleep training is only on babies over six months old, because of concerns about the effect on younger babies. There is good evidence that sleep training methods can improve the parents mood or change how parents report their babies sleep patterns .
There is little research that looks at the effects of sleep training on babies beyond the effect on their sleep and whether there are any potential long-term effects on the babys wellbeing or development .
Tips For Settling Your Baby
- Once youve checked the basics theyre clean, dry, comfortable and fed consider if they just need to be close to you. Often, babies dont need anything ‘done’ for them, they just want to be held by the people they feel emotionally connected with.
- Hold your baby close to you and gently pat, rock or sway. Use a soothing, reassuring voice to let them know youre there. Sometimes the only way youll be able to settle your baby is to hold them until they fall asleep. See your child health nurse if your baby always needs to be cuddled to sleep.
- Take a walk outside and have a change of scenery this can help because its distracting.
- Try holding them in different positions in your arms. Offer skin-to-skin contact if theyre still very young.
- Offer a dummy if your baby has one.
- Give your baby a warm bath and a massage afterwards. Be sensitive to your babys cues some babies love baths and others dislike being undressed.
- Offer your baby a comforting breastfeed. If your baby is bottle feeding, they may need some extra milk.
- If your baby is younger than 3 months, swaddle them with a light cotton or muslin wrap.
- Put some music on, try humming, singing a song or reading to your baby. The sound of your voice may be enough to soothe them.
- Hand them to another trusted adult. Have a break from the intensity of your babys crying.
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Evaluate Your Own Emotional State
When your baby cries for hours on end, it is natural to feel responsible. Often, though, blaming yourself can get in the way of your ability to be calm, present, and responsive to your baby. The relationship with your baby is a partnership, so your emotions will make a difference to how your baby reacts. If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, angry, anxious, or detached, your baby may have trouble calming down.
About Newborn Baby Behaviour
Sleeping, feeding, crying. Thats what newborn behaviour is all about in the first few months.
Although your baby might give you some eye contact, crying is probably the main thing youll notice about your babys behaviour. For example, your baby will cry because they feel hungry, unsettled, wet or uncomfortable, or just because they need a cuddle. And sometimes your baby will cry for no obvious reason.
Babies are born with very different temperaments. Some are relaxed and easygoing, and others seem to be more intense. Some seem to move constantly, and others are quieter. Some are cheerful most of the time, and others are more serious.
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Hold Them To Soothe The Crying
In societies where babies are routinely slung around the body of a parent or sibling or grandparent all the time, babies hardly ever cry and certainly not for long. It may be that the diet in such cultures is different and goes towards such a difference. It may be the close contact, or a combination of those and other factors. Whatever, we do know that babies who are carried from birth until they are ready to strike out exploring the world cry less. Weve got out of the habit in our society of carrying small babies, so maybe now is the time to get back to using a sling and get into the habit of wearing your baby.
What If Your Baby Just Wont Go To Sleep
Bedtime can really be a struggle with babies, as any sleep-deprived parent knows all too well. Talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric sleep specialist if sleeping issues grow to the point where theyre interfering with you or your babys ability to be fully awake during the day.
In general, its suggested that sleep training can begin around 4 to 6 months of age.
Your child will eventually get past any troubles and learn to sleep, says Dr. Szugye. And that means youll be able to sleep again, too.
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Type Of Cry It Out #: Controlled Crying
- Description: You let your baby cry in small, controlled bursts before comforting them.
- How long to let your baby cry: Timing is up to the parent, though its usually done in 15-minute intervals that may fade or gradually increase.
In other words, just because a parent is using a cry it out method doesnt mean theyre using the same exact method. Each of these methods has different length times for how long a baby should be allowed to cry. Each of those lengths of time can be changed depending on your preferences.
But each of these methods still also has very similar results requiring about a week or so to see the best results.
If Within Five Minutes Your Child Is Not Finding A Way To Bring Them Into A Calmer State Then Their Zone Of Proximal Development Has Been Pushed I Think Beyond Its Limits Dan Siegel
“I can’t answer as a scientist,” says Siegel. “But intuitively, as a parent, as a therapist, as an educator, if within five minutes, your child is not finding a way to bring them into a calmer state, then their zone of proximal development has been pushed, I think, beyond its limits. And then you would want to give them support.”
The difficulty is that sleep training is based on the understanding that you are “rewarding” a child’s crying if you respond to them, teaching them that you will respond if they signal you so this is exactly what extinction-based programmes say not to do.
Researchers tend to focus on sleep training’s potential impact on babies which makes sense, since they’re the most vulnerable, helpless members of the family unit. But sleep training obviously affects the rest of the family, too.
It’s worth noting that it can go either way: some parents deeply regret using an extinction method with their little ones, for example, especially if it goes against their instincts. On average, the Canadian questionnaire found, parents tend to find controlled crying “quite stressful” for both themselves and their child. “You risk parents’ mental health by overriding their instincts, because I think that makes parents feel anxious about what they want to be doing versus what they end up doing . And then I think it’s really difficult to know what you’re risking on behalf of the baby,” says Ball.
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Bucknam And Ezzos Method
Robert Bucknam, MD, and Gary Ezzo who gave their book On Becoming Babywise the subtitle Giving your infant the gift of nighttime sleep feel that teaching your little one to self-soothe is truly a gift that will help baby in the long run. Ezzo and Bucknam say that babies between 7 and 9 weeks of age are capable of sleeping up to 8 hours a night. By 12 weeks, this increases up to 11 hours.
The CIO method here involves allowing 15 to 20 minutes of crying before sleep. Its also important to note that this method prescribes a specific rhythm of daytime sleep as well .
Not All Cries Require Immediate Attention
Not all cries are created equally. Some cries may need to be attended to immediately, while others can wait.
Learning which cries need immediate attention and which can wait takes practice and experience, as well as an intimate knowledge of your childrens particular cries.
Then once youve got several children, youre going to have to prioritize the cries and get to them as youre able to.
Example: When one child is crying because theyre hungry and another child is also crying because theyre hurt, Im going to help my hurt child first. The hungry kiddo can wait five minutes.
Furthermore, sometimes its okay to delay responding to a cry if you absolutely need a break. Its far better to endure a crying baby for a few minutes than to lose your temper, your mind, or both.
As a pediatric emergency department nurse, I saw scenarios far too often where frustrated and exhausted parents didnt take a break with heartbreaking consequences.
If you need a break, please put the baby down and walk away. Calm down, get help, and remember that not every cry requires immediate attention.
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Taking Care Of Yourself Too
To take the best care of your baby, you have to take care of yourself. If your baby wont stop crying, its OK to leave him or her in the crib or bassinet for a few minutes to see if he or she will cry it out . And dont hesitate to enlist help. Its important to remember that mothers who have recently given birth are experiencing the fourth trimester, when they are healing from the emotional and physical changes they have gone through. Sometimes you need a break, so ask your partner, a family member or a friend to step in so you can step out for a few hours to get a break.
And perspective always helps, Dr. Bristol says.
The fussy, crying stage wont last forever. It may not feel like it at 2 a.m. when your baby has been crying since midnight, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Looking to talk to a doctor about your baby? Find a pediatrician near you.
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Crying: What Is Normal
During the first few weeks of your newborns life, dont be surprised if your baby cries for up to two hours a day. This is normal. The crying will be spaced out, and it will add up, Dr. Bristol says. Its how they communicate. If theyre hungry, have wet diapers or have pooped themselves, theyll let you know by crying.
Be patient with yourself. As time passes, youll be able to tell the difference between the cries. The hungry cry will differ from the tired cry, and the tired cry will differ from the I need a diaper change! cry.
If youve tried feeding your baby and checking his or her diaper, consider other potential causes for the crying. Check your babys temperature, look for scratches on the skin or eyesbabies will scratch their eyes with their nails more often than you thinkand check to make sure the baby doesnt have a hair tourniquet .
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