Baby Basics

Should I Let Baby Cry It Out?

I heard letting baby cry could help her sleep through the night. Is this true?  

If there were a simple answer to that question, bookstore shelves wouldn't be packed with advice guides on the subject! A two-sentence summary of the issue: Proponents of the “cry it out” method say suffering through a few nights of listening to your little one wailing is essential to helping her develop good sleep habits. Opponents say that it’s cruel to let a baby cry in the dark.

Richard Ferber, MD, is perhaps best known for his method of sleep training — often called “Ferberizing” and sometimes referred to as “cry it out,” which he says is a misnomer. He explains:

“There are habits behind certain sleep difficulties, and changing those habits may initially be associated with a few nights of frustration. For example, a child may need parents’ involvement — to rock, rub, feed or replace a pacifier — at bedtime and at each of multiple nighttime wakings... If a parent refuses to provide the expected intervention, there may be increased upset for a few nights, but then, once the child learns to sleep without such interventions, the wakings become short, interventions become unnecessary, and crying disappears.”

Our advice: Do what feels right for you and your partner, but rare is the baby who learns to sleep through the night without shedding some tears (and maybe a few blood-curdling screams). So if you’re at your wit’s end with night wakings, some sleep training might be a good idea. Before you decide to let baby cry, talk it out with your mate. Sleep training will only work if you’re both on board.

Plus, more from The Bump:

When Will Baby Start Crying Less?

How to Sleep Train 

Basic Bedtime Routine 

By The Bump Editors