When to Let a Baby Cry It Out and Why

The “cry it out method” is what many parents swear by, but does it really work? While this type of sleep training can be uncomfortable to listen to your child crying all night, this is the method of choice for parents that hope to help their child go through sleep training.

Babies operate on entirely different sleep schedules than their parents. Whether they wake up crying at 2 a.m. or fall asleep in the middle of the day, most of a newborn’s life is spent sleeping or eating. However, by the six-month mark, parents should start introducing a sleeping routine of sorts to help ease their baby into a sleep schedule.

Transitioning your baby into a new sleep schedule is what sleep training is all about. Through your methods of choice, you’ll find the most effective ways to have your child sleep through the night. One of the most popular methods is letting the baby cry it out. While this method requires a bit of tough love, parents that can stick it out will help their child fall asleep by themselves.

What “Crying It out” Looks Like

Babies communicate primarily by crying. As you prepare to practice sleep training to get everyone in your home on the same sleep schedule, you might be wondering when to let your baby cry it out. While allowing your child to keep crying until they fall asleep, practicing this method with your child needn’t be a very difficult experience.

Parents should realize they are likely experiencing more discomfort with the cry it out method than the baby. While the crying may be uncomfortable to hear, this is just your baby’s way of trying to speak to you.

Wondering when to let a baby cry it out? Take the following steps:

  • Put your baby down in their crib.
  • Gently pat their back and tell them you love them.
  • Leave the room shortly after you say goodnight and this will be when to let your baby cry it out.
  • Wait five minutes, letting your child remain alone if they start crying.
  • Once five minutes have passed, go back inside and repeat this routine: give them a pat, say “goodnight”, and leave.

With this routine, parents will learn when to let a baby cry it out. After the first five minutes, they should extend the time they leave their baby alone every night. To make it easier to bear with these moments of crying, parents should time them.

Whether it’s five minutes of crying or 15, most parents hate to think they’re responsible for their child’s tears after they learn when to let a baby cry it out. However, this crying won’t hurt the child or scar them for life. Though this is a tear-jerking process, the baby will ultimately learn how to sleep on their own.

When to Let a Baby Cry It Out

Newborns will sleep most hours out of the day. Parents can expect to be up at all hours of the night as they adjust to being the parents of a new baby. By month five or six, babies are ready to stop the night feeding and crying that goes along with this.

However, most babies at this point are already used to Mom and Dad responding to their tears with cuddling, feeding, and spending the night with their parents.

Parents wondering when to let a baby cry it out need to address these clingy habits around six months into their newborn’s life. Instead of responding to the baby’s crying with picking them up, feeding them, or rocking them, parents must introduce the new routine. For most babies, crying it out can work in three to four nights, though some need more time to adjust.

Should You Let a Baby Cry It Out?

While crying it out has proven to be effective, some parents worry about how healthy this method is. Though some studies have pointed out that crying it out may affect babies’ stress levels, parents that implement this method through longer intervals each night will find this method easier for both the baby and parents to experience.

However, there are multiple ways to train a baby that doesn’t involve deciding when to let a baby cry it out at all. The purpose of sleep training through letting the baby cry it out is to teach them to self-soothe. Whether parents intentionally stay away through their child’s tears or work to be a little less hands-on after every whimper, parents must work to encourage their child to nod off on their own without the parent present.

Alternative Gentle Sleep Training

Sleep training needn’t be a tear-filled event for parents. For some parents, the answer to “When to let a baby cry it out?” is never. Whatever your choice is, all parents will eventually need to have a working sleep schedule in place for their child.

While newborns aren’t born with a sleeping schedule, parents can work to prepare their baby for the inevitable sleep schedule by deciding when to let a baby cry it out. By using the following few best practices for putting their newborn to bed, parents can get started with alternative sleep training methods.

Try a Faded Bedtime

Sleep training operates on the theory that children will go to sleep more readily when they are guided through a routine of predictable and quiet bedtime rituals. When determining when to let a baby cry it out, it’s important to choose a time when your child is already feeling drowsy.

Through proper sleep training, infants begin to associate a bedtime routine with the feeling of drowsiness. This gentle approach to a faded bedtime starts with noting your baby’s current sleeping patterns. Parents should monitor what time their baby goes to sleep naturally and work to establish a routine that leads up to this time every night. This routine should include about 20 minutes of pleasant and calming activities that comfort your baby until it’s time to go to sleep.

Since baby is already used to falling asleep at this particular time, you’re less likely to experience any trouble. As your baby grows accustomed to this routine, start setting the bedtime earlier every couple of days. As this is a shift in what your baby’s natural bedtime is, you may experience some resistance and this can be an instance of when to let a baby cry out.

Leave Room for Parental Presence

Parents worried about when to let a baby cry it out can take a slightly different approach to this method. Instead of leaving the baby to cry on their own, they can limit the amount of time they’re spending with their child at bedtime. As parents usually lay with or stay with their child until they fall asleep, when it’s time to start sleep training, parents can start progressively spending less time with them.

Start this method by going to bed as you normally would with your baby. The next few days, spend less time comforting your child and leave a few minutes earlier than you have in the past. With these gradual changes, your baby will be weaned from the expected rental soothing ritual and create their own soothing methods.

Conclusion

During this method, parents may wonder when to let a baby cry it out. As this process is about weaning the child off of parental attention, some parents like to return to the room before the baby begins to cry. This can help teach the child that their parent is always going to return after leaving.

There are many ways to approach sleep training. While there are parents that swear by the cry it out method, there are others that opt for less tear-filled approaches. Whichever method you choose, the most important part of your child’s sleep training is ensuring that they are well rested each night.