The age-old debate: let your baby “cry it out”?

You may be sleepy when the baby isn’t. On the other hand…

The folks at Zero to Three have jumped into the fray: soothe your baby when s/he starts crying after being put to bed, or is it a developmental skill to teach themselves to fall back asleep?

Well, a bit of both.

First, babies don’t tend to fall into the “day awake, night asleep” pattern until they are four months old. You may need the sleep (almost assuredly) during this time, but you can’t force a baby into a pattern for which s/he isn’t ready.

On the other hand, Zero to Three reports, you can help babies learn to fall asleep, and “crying it out” – done thoughtfully – can work well.

For example:

  • Graduated crying-it-out. Parents put their baby down (after a bedtime routine) and let the baby cry until s/he falls asleep. Parents check on the baby, waiting longer and longer periods of time before going in the room, starting at 2 minutes and gradually moving up to 30 minutes. (Experts recommend parents not pick up or talk to the baby when they go in the baby’s room.) This routine repeats until the baby falls asleep independently.
  • Bedtime fading: Parents shift a baby’s bedtime later by 10-15 minutes each night so the baby is tired at bedtime. When the baby reaches a point where he falls asleep soon after being put down, that becomes “bedtime.”

Both methods work better than random efforts, according to research. And babies were less likely to wake during the night.

The entire (but short) article offers other insights and footnotes about sleep training.

Your Thriving Child
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