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The Science-Backed Method: Allowing a Baby to Cry Itself to Sleep for Optimal Rest and Development

Table of Contents

What is the recommended age for letting a baby cry itself to sleep?

The recommended age for using the cry-it-out method, or letting a baby cry itself to sleep, varies among experts. Some suggest waiting until the baby is at least 6 months old, while others recommend waiting until they are 9-12 months old. The reason for this is that younger infants may still have nighttime feeding needs and may not be developmentally ready to self-soothe.

It’s important to consult with your pediatrician before starting any sleep training method, including cry-it-out. They can provide guidance based on your baby’s individual needs and development. Additionally, it’s important to consider your own comfort level and parenting philosophy when deciding if and when to use this method.

Are there any potential risks or negative effects of letting a baby cry itself to sleep?

While many parents find success with the cry-it-out method, it’s important to be aware of potential risks or negative effects. Some studies suggest that prolonged crying can increase stress levels in infants and lead to elevated cortisol levels. However, other research suggests that short periods of crying during sleep training do not have long-term negative effects on babies’ well-being.


It’s also important to note that every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Some babies may become more distressed by crying alone and require alternative methods of soothing. It’s essential to monitor your baby closely during the process and adjust your approach if needed.

How long should I wait before intervening if I decide to let my baby cry itself to sleep?

The amount of time you wait before intervening when using the cry-it-out method depends on your comfort level as well as your baby’s temperament and age. Some parents choose to start with shorter intervals, such as waiting 2-3 minutes before going in to comfort their baby. Others may feel comfortable waiting longer, such as 5-10 minutes.

It’s important to remember that the goal of cry-it-out is to teach your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep independently. If you consistently respond immediately every time your baby cries, they may not learn this skill. However, it’s also crucial to trust your instincts as a parent and respond if you believe your baby needs you.

Strategies for implementing the cry-it-out method:

  • Start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the time between checks.
  • Use a consistent bedtime routine to signal sleep time.
  • Ensure your baby is well-fed, dry, and comfortable before starting the process.
  • Create a soothing sleep environment with dim lights and white noise if needed.

Can crying itself to sleep help babies develop self-soothing skills?

The cry-it-out method can help babies develop self-soothing skills over time. By allowing them to experience some level of distress but still providing a safe and secure environment, babies can learn how to calm themselves during nighttime awakenings or when transitioning between sleep cycles.

When using the cry-it-out method, it’s important to remember that babies need support in learning these skills. This means providing comfort during daytime interactions and responding promptly when they are genuinely distressed. By doing so, babies can build trust with their caregivers and feel secure in their ability to self-soothe at night.

Tips for helping babies develop self-soothing skills:

  • Offer comfort during daytime interactions.
  • Promote independent playtime to encourage self-soothing during wakeful periods.
  • Respond promptly when your baby is genuinely distressed.
  • Provide a safe and secure sleep environment.

Are there any alternative methods for helping a baby fall asleep without letting them cry it out?

Co-sleeping or room-sharing

One alternative method for helping a baby fall asleep without resorting to the cry-it-out method is co-sleeping or room-sharing. This involves having the baby sleep in close proximity to the parents, either in the same bed or in a crib next to the parents’ bed. This allows the baby to feel secure and comforted by their parents’ presence, which can help them fall asleep more easily.

Gentle sleep training techniques

Another alternative is using gentle sleep training techniques that involve gradually teaching the baby to self-soothe and fall asleep independently. These techniques focus on providing comfort and reassurance to the baby while gradually reducing parental intervention during sleep time. Examples of gentle sleep training techniques include pick-up-put-down method, fading method, and chair method.

Pick-up-put-down method:

This technique involves picking up the baby when they start crying, soothing them until they calm down, and then putting them back down in their crib. The process is repeated as necessary until the baby falls asleep.

Fading method:

The fading method involves gradually reducing parental presence during bedtime routines and allowing the baby to learn how to fall asleep on their own. This can be done by slowly decreasing physical contact or staying in the room for shorter periods of time each night.

Using these alternative methods can help promote healthy sleep habits for your baby while minimizing distress and crying.

What are some signs that my baby may be ready for the cry-it-out method of sleep training?

When considering whether your baby may be ready for cry-it-out sleep training, there are several signs to look out for:

Consistent bedtime routine

If your baby has a consistent bedtime routine and is able to fall asleep relatively easily with minimal intervention, they may be ready for cry-it-out sleep training. This indicates that they have already developed some self-soothing skills and can handle short periods of crying.

Age and developmental milestones

Babies typically reach developmental milestones, such as increased mobility or improved communication skills, around 4-6 months of age. These milestones can indicate that your baby is ready for more independent sleep habits and may be better equipped to handle the cry-it-out method.

Parental readiness

It’s important to consider your own readiness as a parent before starting cry-it-out sleep training. If you feel comfortable with the method and believe it will benefit both you and your baby in the long run, then it may be an appropriate time to give it a try.

Remember, every baby is different, so it’s essential to assess their individual needs and readiness before implementing any sleep training method.

How can I ensure that my baby feels safe and secure while crying itself to sleep?

While the cry-it-out method involves allowing your baby to cry themselves to sleep, there are steps you can take to ensure they still feel safe and secure throughout the process:

Create a soothing bedtime routine

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can help create a sense of security for your baby. Include activities such as bath time, reading a book, or singing lullabies. This routine signals that it’s time for sleep and provides comfort during the transition.

Provide comfort before bedtime

Before putting your baby down to sleep, make sure they are well-fed, dry, and comfortably dressed. Offering cuddles, gentle rocking or swaying motions can also provide reassurance before placing them in their crib.


Swaddling can help recreate the feeling of being in the womb, providing comfort and security for your baby. Ensure that you swaddle them correctly, allowing for proper hip movement and avoiding overheating.

White noise:

Using white noise machines or apps can create a soothing environment that masks other noises and helps your baby relax.

By incorporating these strategies into your bedtime routine, you can help your baby feel safe and secure even during the cry-it-out method of sleep training.

Is it normal for babies to cry excessively during the initial stages of sleep training?

During the initial stages of sleep training, it is common for babies to cry more than usual. This is because they are adjusting to new sleep habits and learning how to self-soothe without relying on external assistance. However, excessive crying can be distressing for both parents and babies. Here are some factors to consider:

Gradual approach

Implementing a gradual approach to sleep training can help minimize excessive crying. Start by gradually increasing the time between comforting interventions or reducing parental presence in the room over several nights. This allows your baby to adapt more slowly and may result in less overall crying.

Comforting techniques

While using the cry-it-out method, it’s important to offer comfort during designated intervals. This can involve going into the room briefly to reassure your baby with gentle touch or soothing words without picking them up. These brief moments of comfort can provide reassurance while still allowing them to learn self-soothing skills.

Remember that every baby is different, and their response to sleep training may vary. If you have concerns about excessive crying or if your baby seems overly distressed, consult with a pediatrician or sleep specialist for guidance and support.

Can using the cry-it-out method affect the attachment bond between me and my baby?

Using the cry-it-out method of sleep training does not necessarily have a negative impact on the attachment bond between you and your baby. The attachment bond is built through consistent and responsive caregiving, which can still be maintained while implementing this method. Here are some considerations:

Consistency during wakeful periods

Outside of sleep training, ensure that you provide consistent and responsive care to your baby during their awake times. Engage in activities that promote bonding, such as playing, talking, and cuddling. This helps strengthen the attachment bond and reassures your baby of your love and presence.

Responsive comforting intervals

During the cry-it-out method, it’s important to offer comfort at designated intervals. This shows your baby that you are still there for them even if they are learning to fall asleep independently. By responding to their needs during these intervals, you reinforce the trust and security they feel with you.

Remember that each family’s situation is unique, and it’s essential to choose a sleep training method that aligns with your parenting style and values.

Are there any specific strategies or techniques I should follow when implementing the cry-it-out approach?

When implementing the cry-it-out approach for sleep training, there are several strategies and techniques that can help make the process smoother:

Create a consistent bedtime routine

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine signals to your baby that it’s time for sleep. Include activities such as bath time, reading a book, or singing lullabies. Consistency helps create predictability and prepares your baby for bedtime.

Avoid stimulating activities:

Incorporate calming activities into the bedtime routine while avoiding stimulating activities like screen time or rough play.

Dim lights:

Lowering the lights in the room can help create a calm atmosphere conducive to sleep.

Set clear sleep cues

Use consistent sleep cues, such as a specific blanket or stuffed animal, to signal sleep time. These cues can help your baby associate them with falling asleep and provide comfort during the process.

Pacifier use:

If your baby uses a pacifier, consider allowing them to have it during sleep time. However, be mindful of weaning them off the pacifier when they are older to avoid dependency.

Sleep environment:

Ensure that the sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains or white noise machines to create an optimal sleeping environment.

Stick to a schedule

Consistency is key when implementing the cry-it-out method. Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time for your baby. This helps regulate their internal clock and promotes better sleep patterns.

Remember that every baby is unique, so it’s important to adapt these strategies based on your baby’s individual needs and temperament. Additionally, always prioritize safety and consult with a pediatrician or sleep specialist if you have any concerns or questions about implementing the cry-it-out approach.

In conclusion, allowing a baby to cry itself to sleep can be a controversial topic with varying opinions. While some argue that it teaches self-soothing skills and promotes independence, others emphasize the importance of responsive parenting and meeting the baby’s needs promptly. Ultimately, parents should consider their own values, consult pediatric experts, and make informed decisions that prioritize their baby’s well-being and emotional development.

Is it OK to let a baby cry themselves to sleep?

If your baby is well-fed, has a fresh diaper, and shows no signs of being sick, you can allow them to cry until they fall asleep. This may be challenging for parents, but it could be the most efficient method for teaching your baby to sleep through the night.

How long should you let a baby cry it out to sleep?

What is the duration for letting a baby cry it out? With the cry-it-out approach, you allow your baby to cry until they eventually fall asleep, which they will. The duration of this process can vary, with some babies protesting for 25 minutes, others for 65 minutes, and some even longer. It is crucial not to set a specific time limit on this method, as that belongs to a different sleep-training approach.

What age can you let a baby cry it out?

An alternative to the “Cry it Out” sleep training method is the Wake-and-Sleep method. Contrary to traditional sleep training, where babies usually start at around 4 months old, with this method, it is possible for babies to sleep for six hours straight within their first few weeks.

How long is too long to let a baby cry?

Self-soothing is a technique that many parents start using around this age, where they pause before responding to their child or allow them to cry during bedtime without immediately comforting them. This helps teach children to sleep independently. However, it is advised that babies should not be left to cry for more than 10 minutes without parental attention, even when using this method.

Can leaving a baby to cry damage brain development?

A group of researchers studied 178 infants and their mothers over a period of 18 months. They observed how parents responded to their baby’s crying, whether they immediately intervened, let the baby cry it out a few times, or did so often. The researchers concluded that these different approaches had little impact on the baby’s development by the time they reached 18 months of age.

Is it OK to let a baby cry if nothing is wrong?

If your baby doesn’t appear to be ill and you have made every effort to comfort them, it is acceptable to allow them to cry. You can attempt to leave your baby in a secure location, such as a crib, for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. It is common for babies to cry before they are able to fall asleep, and they may do so more quickly if you leave them alone.

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