A Case for 'Crying It Out'

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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
Mar 2017
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Like any sleep training strategy, the Ferber method has its supporters and critics. Letting baby “cry it out” can make you feel like an inattentive parent. But how else are they supposed to learn?

Good news for parents looking to give it a go: About a quarter of infants who wake up crying are able to settle themselves back to sleep on their own, according to the  Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. And if you let them “autonomously resettle,” as researchers call it, they’re more likely to sleep for prolonged periods at night.

Sound too tough? The Ferber method works gradually — allowing for “controlled crying.” You can return to a crying baby’s room, waiting longer intervals to enter each night.

This particular study, conducted at the University of London, involved 100 infants between 5 weeks and 3 months old. And the results are promising for self-soothers: 67 percent of babies who could resettle themselves at 5 weeks old were sleeping for over five hours straight by the end of the study.

This could be the reassurance you need not to run to the nursery at every screech of the monitor. Even if you don’t want to go full-on Ferber, consider giving baby a chance to get himself back to sleep.

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