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Why I Don’t Use “Cry It Out” Of Any Kind To Help Families Sleep

Babies hate it and parents hate it too. It feels wrong because it goes against all of your maternal instincts. And yet, it seems like everyone around you is urging you to just “get through” a few hard nights while implementing some sort of cry-it-out method, saying that your baby will suddenly become a professional sleeper after a few trying nights. Except the reality is, it’s not really that easy, and it doesn’t actually work as advertised. Understanding your baby’s development affects how you prioritize and decide on methods to help them sleep better. 

With so many options out there and everyone raving about the one they chose, what’s really best for you? In this blog I’ll explain exactly why I do not use cry-it-out methods in sleep coaching. I believe that long-term sustainable solutions, are what really strengthens your bond with your child and promotes healthy sleep. Read on to find out why I believe that and what are the alternatives that actually work. And guess what? There are many alternatives that work just as well but without the stress of cry- it-out. . 

Sleep Struggles 

As a new mom you are VULNERABLE to predatory marketing tactics. You are new at motherhood, your brain is changing, you have a new baby AND you are sleep deprived as if things weren’t already foggy. A perfect time to sell you stuff you don’t need. Cry-it-out approaches tend to be rigid, and most parents report them being difficult to follow because…well…leaving your baby to cry goes against all of your parental instincts. Traditional sleep training is typically a one-size-fits-all approach, ignoring your baby’s unique needs, personality, and developmental stages. Because they are one-size-fits-all and rigid they can be emotionally exhausting, and difficult to implement, not only for your baby, but for you too. This is because, every baby and family is different and a “perfect schedule” for one baby, is the cause of sleep problems for another.

The Unseen Risks of Cry-It-Out Methods

If you’re a breastfeeding parent, then cry-it-out can be even more difficult to implement and potentially harmful to breastfeeding success. If you tried cry-it-out sleep training and it just didn’t work, the reason it didn’t work is not because you did it wrong, it’s actually because the method is designed without your breastfeeding needs in mind.

For example, Expecting a 3-month-old to sleep for 12 hours straight? Breaking news: this expectation goes against with most mom’s supply regulation needs and conflicts with your baby’s biological feeding reality. Babies need to feed overnight for a variety of reasons other than nutrition – such as maintaining or regulating supply, alleviating discomfort and for connection too. Nighttime breast milk even has melatonin in it to promote sleep and breastfeeding itself releases hormones that help both mom and baby go back to sleep more easily! The problem is that the standards that cry-it-out sets aren’t realistic or ideal for breastfeeding families. Want to learn how many wakes overnight are normal, based on normal biological development and breastfed babies? Get the free normal baby sleep guide HERE!

Cry-it-out methods don’t only cause potential breastfeeding issues by preventing the needed supply regulation, but they can also turn your nights into an emotional rollercoaster. When your little one wakes and cries, it’s not just random noises they’ve decided to start making- it’s their only way of communicating with you, they’re trying to tell you something important. And ignoring it based on a program isn’t always the answer your baby (or you!) is looking for.

Do you ever feel the need to rush to your crying baby but the program tells you not to? It’s like a fight between your instincts and the sleep training program. Spoiler alert, your parental instinct is there for a reason – to guide you in the right direction! Cry-it-out methods can interfere with your journey of tuning into these newfound instincts by adding “expert” voices (or as we see it – noises) to your already foggy postpartum reality. You’re asked to stare at the clock instead of tuning into your baby’s unique signals and your own innate wisdom. Why? Because that’s what the program says. But what’s really behind your baby’s cry? What is causing them tears? You won’t know that from cry-it-out methods which tell you to shut the door if your baby is fed and dry. Spoiler: they are humans and have needs beyond the physical basics.

Does Cry-It-Out Work?

Let’s debunk a famous myth: cry-it-out-methods work and they only require a few hard days…then you have a baby who sleeps! The reality? Research says sleep training fails for 20% of families (That’s 1 in 5 babies), no matter the method used. But did you know, that even when it “works”, it doesn’t actually make babies sleep any better, it simply results in parents sleeping better.  For babies, the research shows that you might get an extra 8 minutes of sleep at most. To me, this seems like a lot of crying babies and not a very good success rate for a method that is being recommended to everyone. Cry-it-out wasn’t even meant for everyone in the first place.

Even it’s creator, Dr. Ferber says so. These methods are not recommended for babies under 6 months, and they’re not for babies with any medical conditions, developmental challenges or trauma histories. It is also not recommended for babies who are in foster care or have a history of neglect or abuse.

Let’s also address the big issue; cry-it-out can create negative sleep associations, I mean, the method requires crying, alone, in the dark, without response. But wait, there’s more! Cry-it-out lacks solid evidence for long-term effectiveness. No, really, it is not currently possible to assess the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive consequences of this method. Despite some people claiming that cry-it-out methods don’t have any negative consequences on your baby’s emotional and cognitive development, there is no effective way to actually accurately measure how it impacts emotional and cognitive development or relationship with you. 

But here is what I think is the MOST shocking when reviewing the research. Did you know that research on baby sleep methods shows that establishing consistent routines can be equally as effective in promoting independent sleep as cry-it-out methods? Yes you read that right – you can accomplish the exact results by consistently offering your baby the opportunity to fall asleep on their own – by simply incorporating falling asleep on their own, into your regular routine. Mind blown or what?!

Ditching The Cry-It-Out Methods

So, you’re probably wondering, what’s the alternative? Turns out, you don’t need to let your baby cry-it-out to get some sleep. Personalized approaches, consistent routines, and understanding your baby’s unique needs works equally well and doesn’t require you to go against all of your parental instincts!

One of the things that I offer at Talkin’ Sleep is an alternative; we don’t use any cry-it-out methods. Instead, we offer personalized approaches that cater to you and your baby’s needs. We focus on getting towhy your baby wakes up (or takes a really long time to go to sleep, or wakes earlier than the rooster) and resolve that issue. Guess what happens when we get to the reason why and resolve it? You got it – wake reduces and sleep becomes easy! I help you set realistic expectations and learn what is normal vs not normal for your baby so you don’t constantly feel like you’re failing. Ready to get started with a confident sleep journey? Get Baby Sleep Essentials course HERE.

Join The Chat! 

Now it’s your turn! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried cry-it-out methods. How did that work out for you? Do you think it’s effective? Let’s keep the conversation flowing! As always, you can reach out if you have any questions or feedback; hello@talkinsleep.com

Are you following us on socials yet? We’ll be discussing this topic over there too. Make sure to follow @talkin.sleep

Are you looking to help your baby sleep independently without any cry-it-out methods? Then it’s time to join, Baby Sleep Essentials Course.

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Why I Don’t Use “Cry It Out” Of Any Kind To Help Families Sleep

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