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Should I Let My Infant Cry it Out? The CIO Sleep Technique Debunked.

Updated on May 28, 2015

Will I ever sleep again?

8 children? They must be left to cry at some point....
8 children? They must be left to cry at some point.... | Source

Congragulations New Parents....

Welcome to sleepless nights full of tears (both yours and baby's), smiles, coos, and the enjoyment of watching your infant grow into a toddler.

Again Congratulations.

Now down to business and those important questions......

  • Will you ever sleep again?
  • Will you use the highly controversial sleep training method known to many as "Cry-it-Out" or the CIO method to get those much needed Zzzzzz's?
  • Will you be able to handle your infant crying in an attempt to self soothe?
  • Is it ok to let your infant cry?
  • Are you damaging your infant by letting them "Cry it Out"?

Let us explore what the cry it out method is, how it is intended to be used, if it ever works, and the many different opinions on whether "Cry it Out" is harmful to your new family member.

Cry It Out: Yes or No?

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What Does it Mean to "Cry it Out"?

The "cry it out" method, while popular and controversial is a vague explanation of what the cry it out method is.

The cry it out method should be tailored to a child's age as well as a parents tolerance level.

To let a child cry it out simply implies that a child is put to bed and left there to cry until they fall asleep indefinitely.

This IS NOT (or should NEVER) be the case.

Many variations of the cry it out method have surfaced since the idea's inception. Some parents have had luck while others find it doesn't work for their family. The most important thing to making anything work for one's family is an understanding of what all is entailed.

A typical bedtime routine could include....

  • Bath
  • Book
  • Song
  • Rocking
  • Pj's
  • Baby massage

Cry it Out Technique Example

  1. Carry out your regular bedtime routine, so that your child is comfortable and drowsy.
  2. Place baby in crib and say goodnight.
  3. Leave the room.
  4. Wait approximately 3 minutes.
  5. If baby is still crying return to the room, pat baby and utter soothing words.
  6. Do not pick baby up.
  7. Leave room.
  8. Repeat step 4 and 5 adding 2 minutes to each interval until baby falls asleep.

Should I Let my Infant "Cry it Out"?

Research seems to disagree.

All to often there is never a definitive answer when a controversial topic is presented. Of course there is supporting evidence to support both sides of the issue as there is with any issue.

To see supporting evidence both for and against using the cry it out method of sleep training keep reading.

After deciding what you believe to be the truth, ask yourself if your decision is the right one for your family, and if you can live with it either way.

When to Start Sleep Training or the Cry it Out Method

When you bring baby home it is not time to start sleep training. This time is time for everyone to adjust to each other and get to know one another. At this time baby is just experiencing the outside world and mommy and daddy are just experiencing baby. Sleep training can wait.

As mommy, daddy, and baby become more comfortable in a routine (which should be implemented as soon as possible - for everyone's sake) you can then decide what the right age is for you to attempt sleep training.


How Long is To Long For "Cry It Out?"

Hearing your infant wail is torture to any new mother or father. In fact so much so that anxiety levels in parents rise within seconds of hearing their infant cry.

How long should an infant be allowed to cry?

The truth....there is no scientific research that I was able to find supporting the exact amount of time that is considered to long.

Of course you shouldn't let your infant scream for 6 hours while you sit down stairs sipping wine, watching American Idol. I firmly believe that a good parent is a combination of common sense, knowledge, patience, and love.

Therefore any "good parent" knows that a a baby should not be left to cry longer than mommy and daddy are comfortable with.

When Not To Let a Baby Cry it Out

So you've decided to try the cry it out method with your newborn. Before jumping into the cry it out method there are a few important things to take into consideration. One very important thing to take into account before attempting this sleep training method is ensuring baby's needs are met prior to starting the self soothing cry it out method.

For instance, has baby been fed and changed? Is baby comfortable? Swaddled? All other "normal" bedtime routines accounted for?

If all of your newborns needs have been met and the cry it out method is something your going to try by all means. Again only after all baby's physical needs are met is it semi-safe (depending on who you believe) to engage in the cry it out method.

Dr. Richard Ferber, MD creator of the traditonal cry it out method shares many interesting infant sleep training techniques in his book as well as online.
Dr. Richard Ferber, MD creator of the traditonal cry it out method shares many interesting infant sleep training techniques in his book as well as online.
Dr. William Sears, MD. shares his advice on sleep training your infant as well as his research in regards to the cry it out method.
Dr. William Sears, MD. shares his advice on sleep training your infant as well as his research in regards to the cry it out method.

To Cry it Out or Not to Cry it Out?

Would you let your infant cry it out?

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Should Every Baby Cry it Out?

In this instance I would have to say no.

Parenting is NOT a 'one size fits all approach.

In some instances it is never OK to let an infant cry. If an infants needs are not being met or if an infant is sick it is NOT OK to let your infant cry for any period of time. It is then that the cry it out method begins to harm the infant/mother relationship.

As Parents....

It's important to realize that someone will always have a better way, your parents, your friends, cousins, uncles, neighbors, strangers, etc. As parents we do what works for us and our family and take in stride what the experts tell us.

My Experience Two Children Later

Personally I believe that that "truth" to crying it out lies somewhere between harming your child and helping your child.

Surely if all your child's needs are met and you are sure your child is not hurt or suffering in any fashion then letting your child cry it out is harmless.

However, common sense tells you not to let an infant scream indefinitely in an attempt to self soothe.

The cry it out method is used to deter a baby from needing constant soothing interactions to soothing themselves.

BOTH my children were allowed to cry it out to a degree.

Coincidentally BOTH my children were great sleepers from 6 weeks of age on. We would follow our bedtime routine, which included, bath, dress, swaddle, rocked, and finally put in their crib for the night.

The first few nights they cried a little, (more of whimpering) and then they would pass out. After about a week of this bedtime training they would simply close their eyes and fall asleep.

I'm almost certain that the routine we made at night signaled to my infants that bed time was drawing near and they were then able to "prepare" and understand what was about to happen.

What do you think about the cry it out method?

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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      My baby was never allowed to cry and cry and be ignored. My baby is now 24 years old and I'm very proud of her. She is not spoiled.

      I do not believe any baby should be ignored when they cry. There is always a reason for it and it is the parent's responsibility to figure out why.

      Imagine if you, as an adult, cried and cried and cried and the whole world (that includes your family, spouse, and closest friends) ignored you, never even stopping to ask why you were crying. Not caring why, just wishing you would stop being such a nuisance.

      Babies are not adults. They are in a strange and likely for them, scary place, and have yet so much to learn. Do not teach them that you don't care, that nobody cares, so don't bother asking for help. That is what they learn from the very beginning when they are ignored.

      I'm surprised to discover this is still an unresolved issue. Something people should think about before they decide to become parents. Thought provoking.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      This is something new to me, interesting. It is very difficult to see a child cry. I guess sometimes it is good to let them have a good cry. Difficult to decide.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      If it is safe and a normal situation, allowing a child to cry out is a good way to allow them to adjust to a routine. Sometimes they are just bored. Great share on this, although as a grandparent I would not be able to stand it. Yes, I would spoil them!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I could never stand to let my son cry it out, but i must admit, he was a spoiled baby. Your hub is interesting and helpful. Thank you for sharing...

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      I agree common sense and love sound like the perfect parenting combo.

      Common sense allows you to weed through the different studies, recalls, no-no's etc. and realize that our parents survived.......

      And love....well that's just self explanatory.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Florida

      We used a combination of cry it out, bedtime routines, and recognizing cues so the cry it out method wasn't as treacherous. I imagaine though when I'm spoiling the next generation I too may hate to hear them cry..... :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Common sense and's hard to go wrong with that combination. I allowed our son to cry until I had to intervene. LOL Usually at bedtime he would cry for ten or fifteen minutes, but once he realized we weren't going to answer his call he went to sleep...usually. :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Oh my! My next grandbaby is due this month and I do not like to hear my grandbabies cry, it makes me sad so, not to cry is my option...UNLESS it's a spoiled cry then they could cry it out. Then I'll spoil them some more. Haha!


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