I admit it. “Cry It Out” helped my baby sleep through the night, my husband and I feel like humans again, and our household become a happy place. And even though a new study found no adverse stress responses for the baby or long-term effects on parent-child attachment, I still feel guilty. Why?
Maybe it’s the name.
“Cry It Out” isn’t bad parenting, it’s just bad branding.
It’s time to rename “Cry It Out” and do away with the guilt that goes with it. Here are a few suggestions from one mom who’s been through it:
The Less Crying for Everyone Method
What the term “Cry It Out” doesn’t take into account is that before you sleep train, your family is probably crying it out already. Your patience is gone. Your sanity is gone. You go to work like a zombie and come home dreading another hellish night. Your baby cries. You cry. Everybody cries.
For us, after three days of “Cry It Out,” our baby ended up crying way less and we ended up crying way less too. The guilt in my head was worse than the process itself.
The Only Thing That Worked Method
Fun fact: people who sleep train probably tried EVERYTHING else.
We introduced a lovie. We rocked him to sleep. We shushed him to sleep. We let him sleep in a rock n play. We bought blackout blinds. We used a white noise machine. We brought him to our bed. Then we waited for it to get better. We waited till the baby was 5 months. Then we waited till after teething (another month). Then we waited till the baby was weaned at night.
Sleep training was our last-ditch effort.
Sleep training was to train us parents – not our baby. It stopped us from going in immediately and allowed him to fall asleep on his own. During sleep training I found out the one who was messing up his sleep juju was me.
Contrary to how it sounds, “Cry It Out” is not a passive endeavor. A parent doesn’t just pop in some ear buds and go back to sleep while the baby cries for the next six hours. In reality, the parents time intervals and stare into the baby monitor waiting to go in to the baby’s room.
The method we used had us go in every 5 minutes. It was the longest 5 minutes ever. I remember thinking that “Cry It Out” must refer to the parents staring into the baby monitor agonizing if they are doing the right thing.
Let’s give “Cry It Out” a cool, friendly made up name like Roomba or Siri. So how about Zwaaahhhh?It stands for the sound you make the first morning the baby actually sleeps through the night. If you’re like me, it will be the first time you’ve slept for 6 hours straight in 6 months. My husband and I were so dazed and amazed and elated that we looked at each other and the clock like “Zwahhhh????”
The Totally ‘80s Method
Five months in, my mom let me in on a secret – when I was a baby there was no monitor next to her bed. That meant she couldn’t hear every single peep that came out of my mouth. To my sleep deprived self, this revelation was akin to “I see dead people.” My parents were doing “Cry It Out” without even knowing it. From then on I turned the monitor sound off and pretended it was 1982. I could still hear the baby in the next room – but it didn’t sound like he was propped up on my nightstand screaming in my ear. It was a strategy that bolstered my sleep training game.
The Mind Your Own Business Method
When I was a new parent, sleep was the #1 conversation starter. In the same breath, I heard, “Congratsssshow is the baby sleeping?” (Spoiler alert: The baby wasn’t sleeping.) Then came the sucker punch, “Are you going to do “Cry It Out?” There was no good answer.
Some babies pretty much “sleep through the night.” To those amazing babies: I salute you. But to their well-rested mothers, I ask that you not judge your cracked-out sisters. We, the sleepless moms, are looking for solutions like we’re grasping for fallen pacifiers in the dark – blindly but with purpose.
Every baby is different. Whether you’re co-sleeping, night nursing, rocking your baby to sleep, or sleep training, we should all be supporting parents who are doing what leads to a happier baby and a healthier household in the long run.
So the next time someone asks you if you let your baby “Cry It Out”, just say, “Nope, we used the _________ method.” I’m sure you can think of a few choice words to fill in the blank.