We hear the term “cry-it-out” a lot when it comes to sleep training, and it doesn’t always have the nicest connotation. Many new parents tend to think it involves placing their newborn in the crib, closing the door, and leaving their precious new baby alone until 7:00 rolls around. For anyone under this impression, I can happily tell you that isn’t the case.
I personally don’t use a traditional cry-it-out approach in The Sleep Sense Program, but I feel like the term itself needs a little clarification so that everyone has the facts they need to decide for themselves if it’s the approach they want to take.Rather read than watch? Click here.
I would say that one of the most popular search questions on Google is what does cry it out mean?
Now, if you’re a new parent, and I can remember back to when I was a brand new parent and I’m having these challenges with my son, he’s not sleeping great at the time, and I’m just sort of throwing out little feelers to my friends and family about it, like he’s not sleeping great. He’s five months old now and we’re up multiple times during the night.
And every once in awhile I would get an answer, “Oh, just let him cry it out.” And I heard this from this friend and this mother-in-law and this even doctor or nurse, this idea of letting a baby cry it out. And when you hear it and you’re a new parent and you hear just that sentence, it’s a weird thing, right? You’re thinking, just let him cry it out? I’m just gonna leave him in his crib to cry? Why does that solve the problem? Why is that the answer?
I mean, there’s so many questions that arrive when you think about let your baby cry it out. So, I’m glad you’re here, ’cause I’m gonna tell you what this means and why people say it.
So, when babies aren’t sleeping well, it’s because they have a prop dependency on something external. For example, nursing to sleep, bottle feeding to sleep, being rocked to sleep. All of those little external helpers are what now your baby believes that he or she needs in order for sleep to come and in order to get back to sleep in the middle of the night. I need all the things that help me get to sleep in the first place.
I mean, we all have strategies around sleep that we’re very protective of. So when your baby has a prop dependency, they’re gonna wake up one, five, 10 times a night, who knows, and need help getting back to sleep. And that’s what’s hard and frustrating as a parent. Months, even years later, this is still happening.
So the only way, and I’m just telling the truth, people. I’m a truth-teller. The only way to get your baby to sleep well is to teach them how to do it without all this external help. So they have to say goodbye to something and figure out a new way, a better way, and that’s hard, right?
Think about all the times you’ve tried to make a positive change in your life, break a bad habit. It’s not easy. We don’t just jump into this with arms wide open and embrace change. We just don’t do it.
So there’s really no way to convince a baby or a toddler or even a child that they don’t need those things anymore and it will be really easy if they just please now do it this way. Okay, that makes sense, right? Making changes to anyone’s sleep habits is gonna be met with some sort of protest on their part. So the idea that a baby will happily do this without any upset, that doesn’t make sense, does it? No, it really does not. They don’t know how to do this yet, so that’s gonna be a little anxiety-causing.
Now, that’s where the crying part comes in, because usually the expression to the change is crying. I don’t know how to do this without the help. This is uncomfortable for me. I’m gonna cry. Now, where people usually get hung up around this. They usually get that part, right? You can get where I’m coming from. But then the problem arises with what do you do with this crying baby now, right? Until they figure this out, what do you?
Now, I wanna tell you that The Sleep Sense Program does offer an option where you don’t have to go anywhere, and that tends to be sort of the sticking point for a lot of parents, is I don’t wanna leave her to cry. It just doesn’t feel good to me. And I get it. I absolutely get it.
So you can be there, and you can be the cheerleader and the support system and you can sit on the sidelines and kinda help her and cheer her on as she figures out some new strategies, but beyond that there’s not a ton else you can do, because it’s about skill development. It’s about learning something. And we can’t learn it for her. She’s gotta do that part on her own.
So, that’s really, in my opinion, what crying it out means, is allowing a child to cry for a few nights as they learn a new way to get to sleep. The crying has nothing to do with sleeping through the night. Okay, nothing. It’s a side effect, really. It’s an expression of displeasure or not being clear how to do something yet. And once they figure it out, guess what? The crying stops.
There’ll come a day where your baby will, I promise you, happily go to bed, and that is a beautiful day.
Thanks so much for watching. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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