Are You Ready for Cry It Out?

Is Sleep training right for you?

So you’re thinking about cry it out? Maybe you’ve spent the past 2 weeks furiously Googling sleep training (which is probably how you landed here). You’re exhausted and miserable. Your baby is exhausted and miserable. And you’re wondering if cry it out is the answer for you. Well I don’t know if it is or it isn’t. Contrary to what you read on that gas station bathroom, convincing people to embrace cry it out not my raison d’être.

But I do know a lot about it. So before you jump into the CIO side of the pool you should consider this CIO checklist…

Are You Ready for CIO?

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  1. Baby is 6 months old or older.

    For younger babies you have many soothing sleep tools in your arsenal and you should use them with wild abandon. Also younger babies shouldn’t be expected to have mastered self soothing skills. You wouldn’t expect your 3 month old to master potty training, similiarly it’s not fair to ask them to fall asleep on their own either. With CIO, generally, older is better.

  2. Baby is chronically sleep deprived.

    If your baby is getting significantly less sleep than they should, then they’re probably chronically sleep deprived. And if so, I can guarantee that you are too.

  3. You have an object permanence problem.

    Cry it out is a technique to solve the basic issue that “baby can’t fall asleep on their own.” We each struggle with various flavors of this (nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, only will sleep with pacifier, etc.) but once your baby becomes old enough, putting your baby 100% to sleep will guarantee that they sleep poorly, wake often, and take short crappy naps all day long.

  4. You’ve tried everything possible and it hasn’t worked.

    CIO is the option of last resort. You’ve tried everything (made adjustments with scheduling, modified their sleep environment, have a consistent wind-down sleep routine, etc.) and still nobody is sleeping.

  5. Baby doesn’t have any medical complications.

    Colds, fevers, and teething will all exacerbate cry it out. Underlying issues like reflux may also turn CIO into a long prolonged mess (crying often irritates already inflamed reflux tummies). Which is not to say that reflux babies can’t and shouldn’t try CIO, but to be aware that (like everything else for refluxing babies), it may be a rougher affair than for a non-reflux baby.

  6. Baby is in a safe place.

    Ideally this is the crib, although co-sleeping parents can also use cry it out as a sleep training technique (more on this later). Couches, adult beds, or any other surface where they could fall and get injured are not OK.

  7. You are committed.

    Do or not do, there is no try. – Yoda (I’ll be writing more about this in a later post but Yoda sums it up nicely.)

  8. The vote is unanimous.

    This is not the time to have a marital squat or guilt-trip each other. If you and your partner are in vehement disagreement about sleep training, then you aren’t ready to do it.

  9. You’ll be able to maintain a consistent schedule.

    Sleep training is not something to launch into the weekend before you hop on a plane to Brussels. Find a time where you’ll be able to maintain a consistent schedule and sleep location for day/night sleep for a few weeks.

  10. Consider a night-vision baby monitor

    These are expensive items (ranging $100-$200) but if you’re going to try cry it out you are paying for piece of mind. Also they will help you resist the urge to peek.

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Did you answer “YES” to all 10 questions? If so we all wish you the best of luck: may be it be brief and effective. Check back in for more post on “how to” and “what to expect” for cry it out.

If some NOs snuck in there then you’re not ready for sleep training. And that’s OK. Keep it on the back burner and continue trying to make things better. Work on removing feedings from sleep, consistency of naps and bedtime, develop a soothing sleep routine that everybody enjoys, and start chipping away at the chronic sleep deprivation.

Anybody wrestling with this decision? Have any CIO stories to share?
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