Before I had the baby, I was pretty sure I was anti-cry-it-out. I just couldn’t imagine sitting there listening to my little baby scream and cry and not be doing anything about it. But I realize now you really have to try everything to see what works for your family and situation.
It took us a long time to start sleep training Baby H. I wanted to wait until he was old enough to start making patterns in his sleep, but then we hit a huge road bump with him needing to wear the DOC Band. That forced us to quit swaddling because he had to be kept cool while wearing it (since it makes babies overheat easily, he could only wear a onesie and no socks or other layers). Pair that with what is called the 4-month sleep regression and our nights were miserable.
We started trying to help him learn to fall asleep on his own without being rocked, but we just weren’t getting anywhere with him. He fought sleep so hard and screamed every time he was put down in his cradle. We would have to lay him down while we got ready for bed, but he cried the entire time, and we would give in and rock him.
Then the DOC Band came off and just before he was six months old we moved him to his crib in his own bedroom. We figured we all would get better sleep if he didn’t wake us every time he stirred and us not being in the room would help him learn to self-soothe. We would hear him on the monitor when he was really awake, but him rolling over and resettling wouldn’t mess up our sleep.
This was great in theory, but we still struggled with getting him to sleep in the first place. He would be calm in our arms, then scream when put down. That whole put your baby to bed drowsy but awake is not for the weak! We would sit next to him and pat him and try to comfort him for sometimes an hour before he would fall asleep, but then we still needed to make lunches and set the coffee pot and take showers.
It was getting to be too much and one night we just decided to leave him crying in his crib while we made our lunches and packed up the kitchen. I felt awful to do it, but we had so much to do, and it was so late already. By the time we were done, he was quiet, and when we went into his room to check on him, he was fast asleep.
We quickly realized that our presence in his room kept him crying longer because he knew we would give in and pick him up. If we left the room, he realized he wouldn’t be getting that, and he just went to sleep. So we started putting him to bed, saying goodnight and leaving the room, and he was always done crying and asleep by the time we turned on the baby monitor in our bedroom.
Now Baby H has gotten to the point that he is calm when we put him down in his crib and doesn’t cry at all! I repeat, he doesn’t cry! I just put him down, and he smiles up at us and then starts looking at his mobile. Just like that! This amazing progress took about a month or so (our travel in July threw everything off, and we had to start over again).
Now I’m using the cry-it-out method to night wean since the pediatrician at his 9-month appointment said he does not need to be eating at 2-3 AM anymore. When I used to go and feed him in the middle of the night, it would take another hour to get him back to sleep. Now I don’t rush into his room just because he wakes in the middle of the night, and it only takes a few minutes for him to return to sleep.
So even though I wasn’t a fan of cry it out and trying that method made me feel a lot of guilt, it was the only way that ended up working for us and our infant. Talk about a mommy lesson learned. I know cry it out isn’t for every family or every child, but I can see why a lot of people swear by it now.
What sleep training method did you end up using with your child(ren)?