When to Let Baby Cry It Out?

Training your baby to fall asleep on their own is a daunting task. You are not alone in worrying about when to let baby cry it out. If you can help him or her learn this skill, your nights will quickly become much easier! The actual method of “cry it out” or CIO involves certain steps and only allowing them to cry for a short time and then comforting them. Read on to hear more about this method of sleep training.

When to Let Baby Cry It Out

You may be wondering when a good age is to allow your baby to “cry it out.” The answer is actually entirely up to you as a parent and you will just know when your baby is ready. Early on, when babies cry they need something and have no other way to communicate their needs. You will need to answer those cries with food, diaper changes and cuddles. At some point, you will need to find that turning point in your baby’s life when it is the “right” time to allow them to try and fall asleep on their own. However, it is recommended that younger babies only be allowed to “fuss,” and not be made to cry too long.

The “cry it out” method can be started somewhere between 4 months or as late as 8 to 10 months of age. Waiting until the 10 month mark may be too long because baby has then adjusted to being put to sleep. 

A few very important notes to consider

  • Letting your baby cry it out is not for putting your baby into the bedroom, shutting them off and leaving them to cry for long periods of time.
  • Never allow your baby to cry it out when they need fed, changed, are ill or are in pain.
  • When your baby needs your attention, do not use the cry it out method. Instead, console them.

Understand Why Your Baby Is Crying

It is important to understand when to let baby cry it out and when your baby really needs you. You cannot spoil your baby. When babies cry, they are letting you know they need something. 

Here are some tips to understanding why your baby may be crying:

  • Hunger? Has your baby been fed? Crying may mean your baby is hungry. If you have just fed them and they still act hungry, they may be having a growth spurt and need feedings increased.
  • Wet? Your baby may need changing. Try changing your baby’s diaper and check for rash. Sometimes diaper rash may make them fussy.
  • Too Hot? Too Cold? If the weather is hot, try undressing them a little. If the weather is cold, try bundling them up a little more.
  • Discomfort? Check for things like diaper being too tight, hair wrapped around a finger/toe. Try making them cooler or warmer. As a last resort, try giving them a pacifier.

How to Carry Out the Cry It Out Method Correctly 

Between 4 to 6 months of age you will notice that once your baby is fed and changed, they slightly drift off to sleep in your arms. While there is no exact age, you will know when the time is right. Always consult your baby’s pediatrician for the best advice about the right time. If your baby protests this too much, give it a little time and try again at a later date.

Here Are the Steps to Take:

Step 1: Put your baby down in bed while relaxed but awake.

Step 2: Tell your baby goodnight and go out of his room. If baby begins to cry, allow them to cry for a certain amount of time.

Step 3: If your baby does not fall asleep, go check on him and rub his back. Talk gently and quietly and don’t turn any lights on. Try not to pick him up out of bed. Leave his room again, while he is crying and still awake.

Step 4: Increase the amount of time you wait each time to go back in and offer comfort.

Step 5: Keep going back, comforting, and leaving again until your baby goes off to sleep while you are away from him.

Step 6: Your child may wake up again after falling asleep. Feed and change then follow the above steps. Use the minimum of light and noise needed for nighttime feedings. Place your child back in bed slightly awake and leave the room. If he cries, go back in and comfort then leave the room.

Step 7: During the night, wait a little longer each time before going back into the room. Most parents say that by the 3rd or 4th night, babies are falling asleep on their own. It could take as long as a week. If it takes any longer, stop the training and wait a little longer before trying again.

How Long Should You Leave Your Baby Alone?

  • ŸNight one: Stay out of the room for 3 minutes at first. Increase to 5 minutes and then up to 10 minutes each time.
  • ŸNight two: Stay out of the room for 5 minutes at first. Increase to 10 minutes and then up to 12 minutes.
  • ŸNight three and beyond: Add time on to each interval and keep adding time. The length of time is up to you.

Tips on Success

Below are some tips for better implementing the cry-it-out method:

Establish a bedtime routine

Use the same bedtime routine every night. After feeding, give your baby a bath, read them a book and to these things at the same time every night.

Have a plan

This includes your partner and the rest of your family. Make sure everyone is on the same page with baby’s new sleep routine.

Make sure the timing is right

Timing is not good to begin the sleep plan if you are going on vacation, having houseguests or your partner is leaving town.

Stay consistent

Stick to your baby’s new sleep schedule and be consistent. You can stop the training if your baby does not seem ready. But if he is, follow through with it.

You may have a few rough nights

At first you may lose some sleep and have a few rough nights at first. Try starting on a weekend or holiday when you don’t have to work the next day.

Work as a team

If you get tired of consoling, have your partner take over. The crying may get to you so that may be time for a break and leave your partner in charge of checking on baby and vice versa.

Video: Five Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through The Night: