Critics of “cry it out” (CIO, also known as the 𝔢𝔵𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔠𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫 method) argue that babies learn that they cannot trust their environment and caregivers, since their crying is unanswered 💔💔.
“Cry it out” (CIO) — or sometimes “controlled crying” — is an umbrella term used to describe several different methods that involve letting a baby cry as they learn to fall asleep on their own.
It’s hard to evaluate the long-term effects of CIO – or any other sleep training technique—because there are a host of other factors that influence infant and child development, both physically and psychologically. Because the crying may signify that the baby is experiencing stress. Excessive stress-induced crying may be linked to brain changes during a critical growth period.
Not sleeping through the night is normal for newborns & babies
Not sleeping through the night is biologically normal for the first year or two, and frequent awakenings may help to protect against 𝔰𝔲𝔡𝔡𝔢𝔫 𝔦𝔫𝔣𝔞𝔫𝔱 𝔡𝔢𝔞𝔱𝔥 𝔰𝔶𝔫𝔡𝔯𝔬𝔪𝔢 (𝔖ℑ𝔇𝔖). Typically, older babies awaken less often during the night than newborns do, but this can vary according to developmental stage.
Generally, any method of sleep training should not be considered before 6 months of age. The stomachs of newborn infants are very small, so it’s simply not possible to meet your newborn’s caloric needs without some nighttime feedings. Eventually, babies will learn to sleep through the night, but when this happens is different for every baby.
Is “cry it out” harmful 🤔
Mounting research suggests that some forms of sleep training work well and are not linked to negative effects. For example, modified CIO approaches – such as gradually delaying responding to an infant’s cries, or “bedtime fading” which involves delaying the infant’s bedtime by 15 minutes each night to compress the child’s sleep into one block – seem to be viable alternatives for many families.
If still in doubt, you can work on better sleep habits with your baby without subscribing to any specific method of sleep training. Here are some tips:
- DO let your baby fuss a bit and consider using a pacifier to help them settle;
- DO keep a consistent bedtime routine each night and place your baby in their crib drowsy but awake;
- DO work to understand what’s developmentally appropriate to expect from your child when it comes to night wakings/feedings;
- DON’T fret if the methods you’re trying aren’t working.