I'm beginning to train my baby to fall asleep on his own and sleep in his crib during the day. Sometimes he gets upset with being in his crib while he is awake and will cry. I stand next to the crib and rub his head and "shush" until he falls asleep. This seems to work well.

However, this seems to go against my original idea of having him fall asleep on his own.

Some books / websites suggest letting the baby "cry it out" for 10-15 minutes and soothe themselves to sleep. I just don't have it in me to let him cry for 30 seconds, let alone 15 minutes. Does this method work? Do you agree with it?

asked 19 Nov '09, 16:44

DazedandConfused's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

edited 28 Apr '10, 01:01

Scott's gravatar image

Scott ♦♦


It sounds like you're doing a great job. How long does it usually take for you to stand there with him? If it's only a few minutes and it doesn't bother you, then I think you're successfully having him sleep on his own.

(19 Nov '09, 19:58) Fun2Dream

Thanks :) Well, sometimes it takes up to half an hour! ...But I don't mind, he's so sweet.

(21 Nov '09, 15:33) DazedandConfused

Crying it out works because your child essentially gives up trying to summon you for comfort. This article gives a good overview of the Ferber method and its alternatives—I especially like it because it cites actual research. Points from the article:

  1. The Ferber method is NOT appropriate for young babies
  2. The Ferber method is NOT appropriate for kids who have a conditioned fear of being left alone in their beds or who have a conditioned vomiting response
  3. The Ferber method is NOT appropriate as a treatment for most child sleep problems
  4. The Ferber method does NOT teach kids how to fall asleep

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the most clearly effective approach (i.e., the method with the strongest empirical support) is Extinction with Parental Presence, a method that does NOT involve leaving children alone.

The bottom line
The Ferber method can be an effective way to reduce nocturnal crying, protests, and requests for parental soothing. But it’s not the only effective method available.

And this one presents a decent case for why it's not a good idea. A choice quote:

Harvard Researchers who examined emotional learning, infant brain function and cultural differences claim that babies who are left to cry themselves to sleep suffer long-lasting damage to their nervous systems. The researchers claim that this makes these children more susceptible in later life to anxiety disorders, including panic attacks.

We tried cry it out briefly with our first children because we were desperate. We ended up doing co-sleeping and other attachment parenting techniques to great success.


answered 19 Nov '09, 17:44

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edited 28 Apr '10, 00:59

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Scott ♦♦


+1 for the references

(19 Nov '09, 17:47) Rich Seller

+1 for sharing experiences.

(19 Nov '09, 18:20) Emi

The thing that was helpful for me to remember was that they weren't going to be co-sleeping when they're 15 (or even 5). In other words, this was just something they needed in babyhood.

(19 Nov '09, 21:25) bbrown

In our case:

  • It's really hard.
  • It really worked.

If I remember correctly, our process went like this:

  1. Feed and change right before bed.
  2. Put to bed (sometimes she just went to sleep, but if not...)
  3. Wait for 5 minutes of crying (usually she would calm down before we got to 5 minutes)
  4. Go in and offer milk again. If she wants some great, if not ok.
  5. That's it. You've done everything you can, all needs are met. Don't return. If you do, you make it much harder the next time.

The only exception was when there was an obviously different cry (like you forgot something). When you're that tired, you can be really dumb and forget a lot of dumb things. Once it was forgetting to feed her! We put her to bed, she screamed, we looked at each other and went, "what did we forget? ... Feeding her!" :-) I figure, if she really needs something, you need to be there to attend to it.

As she got older, things changed. No more feeding before bedtime. However, you get into teething. We found that she could be relatively happy before bed, but then scream when you put her to bed, and we figured maybe the pain was bearable while she was occupied, but hurt more when she was just lying there in bed. We would go in and give her some pain reliever, keep her up for another 15 minutes to let it kick in, and then go through the process again. Your Mileage May Vary.

More Info:

We didn't start until she was 7 months. My wife was told by a Public Health Nurse (not directly, someone else asked at a group she attended) not to attempt crying it out at night until at least 6 months as the baby likely needed to eat if they woke up in the middle of the night. At the point we decide to try this, she was only waking up once a night and was no longer eating more then 1-2 ounces of her bottle.


answered 19 Nov '09, 17:12

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Scott ♦♦
accept rate: 10%

edited 28 Apr '10, 00:42


It depends what you mean by "do you believe in crying-it-out?". It does work, I've tried it.

Do I think it's necessary? No. I think there are other ways of teaching your child to fall asleep on their own. They take longer and require more work, but they do exist. I found the book No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley had lots of helpful alternatives to try. Not every idea will work for every family, but most families should be able to find something which works for them.

Do I think it's cruel? Yes, I do. I don't think babies understand why you're not responding to their cries. I don't think babies are deliberately manipulating their parents; I think they are too young to do that. I believe they are trying to communicate in the only ways they know how. If you don't respond then I think they learn not to rely on you and not to trust you. Babies brains are making loads of connections, so what you do will affect how they develop.

Tiny babies are incapable of comprehending why they might have to wait, but if your baby knows his needs will be met when he cries, he will learn that he is not alone - he is loved, he can influence the world, and the world is dependable (all important lessons).

From Baby Calming by Caroline Deacon, she references Desmond Morris, Dr Harvey Karp, Sheila Kitzinger, Barry Lester, T Berry Brazelton and J Kevin Nugent for that chapter of her book, but she doesn't specify where that particular evidence came from.


answered 19 Nov '09, 21:33

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Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

edited 20 Nov '09, 10:01

See edited version - that good enough, or do you need me to find the original research?

(20 Nov '09, 10:02) Meg Stephenson

@Meg Stephenson: That's perfect, thank you! :-)

(20 Nov '09, 11:31) Scott ♦♦

I didn't believe in this stuff before having kids. Fortunately my wife was there to talk me round. Elder daughter now sleeps on her own - though she likes us being there when she's going to sleep. Youngest still co-sleeping. What is striking about both of them though is that they LIKE sleeping, and ASK to go to bed when they're tired.

(18 Jan '10, 12:59) Benjol

My son cannot fall asleep in his bed without fussing. Even if we manage to get him so fall asleep in our arms, when we transfer him to the crib, he wakes up and fusses. If we try to stand there and soothe him, he stands up and wants us to pick him up. We have to let him cry it out if we want him to sleep.


answered 19 Nov '09, 18:02

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accept rate: 8%


Our daughter was the same. We found if we tried to pick her up and comfort her when she was overtired she would just cry more. If we sat in the room and rubbed her back, she would get more worked up. If she let herself work it out on her own (once all other needs were met of course) then she would settle down and fall asleep.

(20 Nov '09, 02:51) Tammy ♦♦

Every baby is different, and even every day is different for each baby.

One of our kids would never take a pacifier, wouldn't transfer once asleep, and would cry for longer than we were willing to let him cry before falling asleep. We did co-sleeping for many months with him.

Our most recent child also won't take a pacifier, will transfer, and if sufficiently tired will fall asleep by himself with little to no crying. Still, if he cries for more than 5-10 minutes I prefer to get up and walk him to sleep than let him cry.

More specific to your situation, try several different things. We had kids that would fall asleep faster with no rubbing/singing, and we had some that wouldn't fall asleep without that comfort. It's ok to let a baby cry for a long time once or twice to see how long it takes, and what kind of crying they do. Once you find a 'groove' try keeping to a schedule to see if your baby prefers set times.

After some experience you can tell if the cry is simply unhappiness and exhaustion, or if it really is distress, and you'll be able to make better choices that fit BOTH you and your baby.

Remember that this isn't a one way road, and though you should be willing to make sacrifices you shouldn't start patterns that are detrimental to you.

Keep in mind that the child will grow quickly enough, that a year is a blink of the eye, and you will never miss folding the laundry, but you will miss holding your baby. Keep things in perspective, balance both your needs, and you will be fine.


answered 20 Nov '09, 01:18

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Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%


+1 @Adam, Each of my kids has been different, from my oldest who, as long as you rocked him to sleep, would go down for the night easily from the time he was about 10 months old, to my second son and daughter who were those "I will scream for as long as it takes!" bablies (my daughter for longer than my son). My youngest needs to make a formal protest when he's put in his crib that lasts about 30 seconds and his older brothers translate as "You people suck! I'm not going to sleep! Man I'm tired, zzzzz...". :)

(02 May '10, 16:08) Neen

At first I didn't but in the end it was the best thing I could have done for all involved. Its a very difficult thing to go through but its worth it in the end. We tried it around the 6 month mark and it was a good time for us personally but you know your child best. Once you have met all their needs and are confident that there is nothing more you can do then its all you have left really.


answered 19 Nov '09, 21:04

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accept rate: 8%

That's what I would of said too. If you asked me before I was a parent I would of said, no way would I do this. The reality was that it was necessary around 7 months when we realized that she was getting up not to eat but out of habit.

(20 Nov '09, 02:54) Tammy ♦♦

Do you think starting it at 3 months is too young?

(23 Nov '09, 20:44) DazedandConfused

I think 3 months is a bit early to enforce a cry it out approach but sometimes thats all there is left. Sometimes you have done everything you can think of and the child is still upset. At that point you are out of options.

(24 Nov '09, 01:14) dreamerisme

What I believe is that whatever you do, you need to love your child while you do it. There are plenty of data that back this up, "Roots of Empathy" by Mary Gordon and "The Philosophical Baby" by Alison Gopnik being 2 examples.

If you think of crying it out in these terms: Crying is the only vocal communication that a baby has until about 24 months of age. If you never "let" your baby cry, then you are not letting them develop that form of communication. As many have said before me here, there are different "cries", and you soon may find out that some of them are just expressions of that weird time that they don't understand that is the falling asleep phase.

Remember, that we are parents. If them crying for 5 minutes a night before bed is what is letting them sleep a solid 8 hours, then we know that that is what is best for them, and we should be weighing that, not just rigidly adhering to philosophy. Compromise is as important as a solid parenting technique when it comes to raising children, I say :)


answered 20 Nov '09, 07:06

DarwinsMom's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%


-1 Who suggested that any baby could be prevented from ever crying? Many suggest that parents should respond to that communication, which surely encourages more communication, more than ignoring it. How anyone could actually prevent crying is beyond me.

(20 Nov '09, 12:31) Meg Stephenson

Also, "Crying is the only vocal communication that a baby has until about 24 months of age". Really? What about laughing, babbling, gurgling? By 24 months of age many children are even speaking in sentences. And if you take into account non-vocal communication, most babies are smiling by 6 weeks and go on to develop pointing, clapping, waving, the list is long.

(20 Nov '09, 12:43) Meg Stephenson

My 5 month old is suddenly refusing the dummy. He wont sleep in my arms (but he never has). I'm trying the CIO method with him because it seems like the only thing I can do. But he has been crying for just over an hour. I know he is exhausted but it seems like he doesn't know how to get to sleep without the dummy. I don't know why he wont take it. I've made sure that all the boxes are ticked...fed, nappy, burped, etc. I don't know what do do...any suggestions?


answered 15 Jul '10, 23:47

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Baby Zac
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Hi Baby Zac, if you're looking for answers, it's best to use the "ask a question" feature to do so instead of posting as an answer.

(16 Jul '10, 00:34) Kiesa ♦
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Asked: 19 Nov '09, 16:44

Seen: 9,145 times

Last updated: 15 Jul '10, 23:47