Controlled Crying: Answering Your Hardest Questions

baby controlled crying in crib

What is the controlled crying method?

When considering a sleep training method that involves crying, most parents are more comfortable with a controlled crying approach.

Controlled crying is a popular sleep training approach proposed by Dr. Richard Ferber back in the 1980s. This method aims at helping a child get him/herself to sleep without developing any long-term effects that could affect his/her health.

When using this, your toddler will fall asleep without you singing a lullaby or soothing him/her. This method seeks to make your child responsible for his or her sleeping habits.

With this approach, your toddler will not only go to bed with minimal hitches but also the wakes in the middle of the night will be minimal.

In this article, we will be discussing controlled crying and how it helps babies get themselves to sleep.

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It will change your baby's life!

What age can I start controlled crying?

Your baby should be at least six months old before trying controlled crying.

Why? Newborns tend to wake up often during the night for a diaper change and feeding.

Moreover, you have to ensure that the baby is in good health. A fever or other problems may cause restlessness and constant crying, thus compromising the effectiveness of the entire process.

Be sure to feed your baby well. Also, change any wet diapers to ensure maximum comfort while trying this approach.

Does controlled crying work? How?

The idea is to help a baby sleep without your comfort.

For it to be effective, try pairing controlled crying is often accompanied by controlled comforting. This combination serves as a way of checking on and reassuring the child.

In some cases, if the toddler persists crying, you may need to stroke his/her head or sing a lullaby to promote calmness.

All the same, you should leave the room while the toddler is still awake for sleep training to be successful.

  • Step 1: Leave.

The first step into practicing this approach is to leave the baby awake in the cot. Say goodnight to him/her and then slowly exit the room.

When you leave, expect the toddler to cry a lot since he/she is not used to the abandonment.

  • Step 2: Wait.

If the baby continues to cry, wait for at least 2 minutes before going back inside. Once there, reassure the child that everything is okay before exiting the room after just a few minutes.

  • Step 3: Check.

If more than 5 minutes elapse and the baby is still crying, go back inside for reassurance.

When you say goodnight and leave the room for a second time, give the baby 7-8 minutes before going inside if still crying.

Keep repeating this process and provide an interval of 2 more minutes each time you leave the room before going inside.

The longer you leave the baby during this new process, the more he/she will learn to sleep without your presence.

Is controlled crying safe for my baby?

Yes, it is safe for babies.

Controlled crying comes highly recommended by the NHS. This safe sleep method is a way of helping to address short-to-medium-term issues like maternal depression and infant sleep problems.

There was a follow-up study conducted in 2012 by the Offical Journal of the American Academy Of Paediatrics. The study explored the impact of this particular sleep training method. The research concludes this is a safe sleep training technique with no long-lasting effect on babies.

With time, the idea of sleeping alone is reinforced as your baby overcomes the shock of being abandoned.

However, there are a few things to check before beginning your controlled crying journey:

  • Ensure your baby is not hungry or thirsty
  • Double-check that your baby is healthy
  • Start with a fresh diaper

Also, consider if your baby has extreme separation anxiety. If so, then get ready for a rough time; your sleep training experience may be somewhat harder.

Why is controlled crying not working?

For most parents, controlled crying is likely to make them emotional because they have to listen to the child as he or she cries.

You will most likely cave in after the first trial. This is why we recommend that you seek support from your partner or a reliable friend.

This way, each time you feel like picking up the toddler during the training period, you can call someone who will restrain you.

Your friend or partner will also help when you are having a bad day. Don’t let your baby’s crying gets to you. If you relapse, your efforts will be ineffective.

Are you consistent?

There is no point in trying this on your today and skipping the schedule tomorrow. For efficacy, you need to make this new program constant. Your baby must get used to the changes.

You’ll achieve better results when the baby is sleepy and a little tired. Moreover, ensure that the child is not in distress before (or during) this sleep training process.

How long should controlled crying take?

Different babies respond differently to varying treatments. Controlled crying is no different.

There are some babies with no problem sleeping. For them, this approach will most probably last between 4 to 5 days.

In such a case, you will only have to tolerate hearing your baby cry for a short period before he/she is sleeping better alone.

However, some babies experience sleeping problems. If so, you may need to tolerate the crying for about two weeks before controlled crying starts working.

If this period is over and your baby still cries much without going to sleep, consider trying a new sleep training method.

For a personalized sleep training recommendation, contact your Pediatrician.

Benefits of Controlled Crying

One of the main advantages of practicing controlled crying is to teach babies a new skill. This means that the toddler will learn how to go to sleep alone without help.

Quick & Easy

Another benefit is that it is fast and effective in babies with regular sleeping habits. Some babies learn to sleep by themselves after only two evenings of controlled crying, while others may take a little longer.

Effective & Long-Lasting

Parents and guardians worldwide successfully sleep train their babies using the controlled crying method. Many claim this can reduce baby settling and waking problems. Babies learning this method sleep better short-term.

Is controlled crying damaging?

Controlled crying has some disadvantages.

One of them is causing distress for the parent. The drawback of this method is that you will have to abandon your kid and allow him or her to cry without you comforting him or her. Some people feel that this could cause babies problems in the future. However, none of this has been proven.

You might feel guilty.

It is hard for you to sit back and listen to the toddler cry without picking him/her up. You need to be persistent and courageous if you want to sleep train your baby successfully. This may be problematic for parents who wish to avoid feeling guilty for letting their baby cry.

Your baby may disturb others.

If you live with other family members, a crying child may cause a disturbance. If that’s the case, controlled crying may be unsuitable for you.

Emotional damage?

Due to the feelings of abandonment, some experts argue controlled crying may cause emotional problems later in life.

Nevertheless, this is unproven.

Controlled crying can make your baby sick.

The other drawback is that some babies might become ill after too much crying.