When Should I Let Her Cry It Out

Updated on February 22, 2010
M.P. asks from Doylestown, PA
31 answers

My daughter wil be 3 months 2/17. I work from home, I rock her to sleep now and sleeps n swing during day and co-sleeps at night. We still have her crib in our hoping we can have her sleep in there day/night. she is getting to the point where rocking is really getting her to sleep and cries when left alone in swing. I know I have let her CIO, but how long do i let her. I tried for about 5 mins other day,she was screaming her lungs out. could not take it anymore so I picked her up. If we decide to let CIO, how many days , do I never rock her. Please guide.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I loved the book Healthy sleep habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. I used it for both my children and it worked great.

Good Luck!!



answers from Philadelphia on

Read the "Baby Whisperer" swings and rocking is just overloading her system. You're giving her no chance to feel herself out, she is never without stimulation because you are cosleeping too. First get her off the swinging and rocking, because when she wakes up and that isn't there she will immediatly cry instead of knowing how to sooth herself.



answers from Allentown on

I agree that I think 3 months is also a bit too young for the CIO method. I used it for both of my girls. My oldest I waited until about 9 months and that was way too long to wait. Then with my youngest we started between 5-6 months and it was a much smoother transition. I completely agree and love the CIO method. I know people think it is harsh but I will put my kids up against any kids on going to sleep and staying alseep. I hear these people talking about these drawn out bedtime routines and night wakings and can't believe it. My girls are fantastic sleepers. Good luck and hang in there it is well worth it in the end.

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answers from New York on

Why do you feel you have to let her CIO? I think that method can work for an older baby who is better able to self-soothe, but not a younger one, no matter what the personality. I think you need to do what works for you and your baby. I personally was not able to let my son cry (I mean really cry, not fuss) for more than a few minutes. To me, crying means that he needs something. Keep rocking your baby or using the swing if it helps, some babies just need more soothing than others. But also start introducing other tools like an Ocean Wonders Aquarium or other type of music/mobile and a "lovie". Also, don't worry! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think she's too little for CIO.



answers from Pittsburgh on

The book by Dr Ferber is excellent, and I highly recommend it. There is a version of what you are calling CIO, although it is not recommended until around 5 months. You go in at intervals and rub your baby's back but don't pick her up. The intervals get further and further apart until she falls asleep. Buy this book, it really is worth the read. It saved my kid's lives and my marriage, several times!!!! ;-) I think it is called Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems. This may be the only time you have issues, but maybe it won't be! Good book to have on hand!



answers from Harrisburg on

We coslept and still do with our 3 yo. She's now to the point she wants to sleep alone. Why the CIO? Just curious? What's wrong with the co-sleeper? Is it not working for you? My baby was the same way with the swing. Some babies are high need. I read that in Dr. Sears and truly believe it to be true. My baby was. I swear by his Babywearing. Get one of those baby frontpacks and just carry her around. Pick her up when she cries and soothe her. She's too young to understand object permanence and letting her CIO will only create anxiety and distrust IMO. Are you trying to force a bedtime or let her fall asleep when she's ready? Babies will adjust to a routine on their own and sometimes just following that helps.

Good luck!



answers from Allentown on

Hi, I tried the CIO with my daughter when she was a bit older than yours and she could not put herself to sleep until she was 2 yo. I did things different with my son. And never let him cry. He was putting himself to sleep on his own by around 6 months old. I think letting my daughter cry taught her to be fearful of sleep time and it all backfired. Or maybe it was her personality, but I am so glad I got my son to put him self to sleep at a young age. I would just lay him down starting around 4 months old and if he cried or fussed go in and soothe him and leave again. I just kept going in a million times at first but then he figured out I would always come and he was not upset anymore and would go to sleep on his own. I read tons of sleep books and I would not try CIO until a baby is older, I think at least 5 months old. But there are other ways that might work better, just keep trying some different techniques if one doesn't work for your child.



answers from York on

Please listen to all the moms here who are advising you that 3 months is too young to cry it out. It's true. In a couple more months she will have a much better understanding of her world, and then you can give it a shot.
It seems like you may have a few problems that you could work on one at a time. You say you want to have the baby sleep in her crib eventually. Why not work on just that for now? You could still rock and cuddle her to sleep, and then try putting her down there. If you try to let her cio in a place that she doesn't associate with sleeping, she won't even know what you want her to do there, right? Give her time to learn to sleep in the crib. We started my son in the crib at about her age, and he slept much better there in his own room. It still took awhile to get him to sleep, and he still woke once or twice to eat, but his wake ups were much less frequent.
My son is almost eight months and has learned to get to sleep on his own without crying it out. We have had a consistent routine before naps and bed. We have worked hard to try to get him down for naps and sleep at about the same time each day. He really fought it and seemed to do anything to throw off the routine for months, but eventually we found the times that seemed to work best for him. At then end of seven months it has all finally clicked; we do the routine and he gives me that look like he knows what happens next. It's like a small miracle! Two weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought he could do this on his own!
Here's what we do for bedtime. We dim the lights all through the house and take a bath. Then we put on diaper and lotion and pj's. I give him his last feeding and then sway with him for about 10 minutes. Then I put him down in his crib. He cries a complaining sort of cry with lots of pauses in between and falls asleep for the night in about 5 minutes.
Before he could make himself fall asleep, I did the same thing. I still put him down in the crib and let him cry, but here's what happened. I'd listen for ten minutes as his cry became louder and faster and more panicked. Then after ten minutes I would pick him up and he would slow his cries, calm himself and fall asleep on me. Then I would put him down again in his crib for the night.
My baby never figured out how to use a pacifier or suck his thumb, so he had a hard time learning to soothe himself. Friends told me to let him cry it out. I tried it once. Atb six months, I let him scream for two hours. He never paused, just went hoarse and freaked out. It took 20 minutes of holding before he stopped crying and an hour of holding before he could calm his breathing. Some might say that I gave in too early and I should have let him keep crying. I feel that if my son had stopped crying on his own that night it would have been from passing out or sheer exhaustion, not because he had learned to soothe himself. Self soothing is the goal right? My advice: Listen to your baby's cry. If she's panicking and scared, don't let her cio. If she's just complaining and can pause or make her babbling sounds while crying, then she's ready to cio. I honestly think falling asleep on their own is a skill babies learn in their own time, just like crawling.



answers from Denver on

We each need to do what's best for our kids and your insincts are best. My pediatrician once told me (two kids ago) not to let them cry it out until they are at least 6 mos old - they just arent' able to soothe themselves, and crying means they need something, and they are building a trusting relationship when we respond in kind to them.

Try to start a nap/night time routine involving what is relaxing to her to signal sleep. Music, massage, books, singing. Repeat that routine each time before she goes to sleep. Also, I had luck with rubbing my daughter's back as she would cry a bit to fall asleep - but she would be in the crib and eventually grew to love it! It takes time.

Short answer - she's too young for cry it out.

Good luck.



answers from Phoenix on

No, you never have to let her cry it out. She's just a little baby and she NEEDS you. Leaving a baby to cry can be very harmful as it raises cortisol in their bodies, among many other things. There are many more gentle ways to do it. I highly recommend reading The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantly or The Sleep Book by Dr. Sears. Here are more resources for you:

A review of research on the negative effects of CIO: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/sleep-training-review-of-r...

Self soothing info: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/should-baby-soothe-himself...

Great info on sleep: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070100.asp

A harvard study on CIO: http://www.sleepnet.com/infant3/messages/534.html

The con of controlled crying: http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/pinky_mckay.html

Dangers of CIO: http://drbenkim.com/articles-attachment-parenting.html

Please visit Elizabeth Pantly's site for some gentle solutions.




answers from Philadelphia on

Some babies are more needier than others. Sometimes the Ferber method works. When my son was an infant his cradel was right by my bed and he would wake up and I had to rock him to sleep.When he was 3-4 months he continued to wake up 2-3 x at night(In his crib in his own room) and unless I held and rocked him he would not go back to sleep. I finally bought the Ferber book and tried but the cryingout (it never worked) it took a beating on me and I caved in.He would wake up continuosly for 3 years.After discussing this with my husband we finally started a family bed. Now that was 14 years ago and most of my friends were already doing that.I think the trend has changed.I can only tell you that when he would wake and saw us next to him he fell right back to sleep. This way we all got our sleep and were a much happier family.Just remember that what works for one child does not work for another. It is a personal desicion for you and your husband if you do not want the Ferber method.

Good luck, L.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I will say that I learned from experience that the cardinal rule of babies sleep routine is to PUT THEM DOWN AWAKE! They can be groggy but they cannot be asleep. I used to rock my older son to sleep and then gently put him in his crib when he fell asleep. Well, whenever he would wake up in his crib he would cry-because he did not know how to put himself to sleep. He was dependent on ME to do this for him by rocking. I did try CIO when he was probably about 6 months and it didn't work and I think because he just didn't have basic falling asleep/self soothing skills. And let me tell you, at 8 yo he STILL has trouble falling asleep by himself. Up until a couple months ago he was crawling in our bed when he would wake in the night. Now he sleeps in with his little brother. And when he wakes up in the am he is not able to fall back asleep-even though he is exhausted. He rises between 6-7 every day.

When I had my younger son I would put him to sleep awake and never had any sleep problems whatsoever. That one thing made all the difference I think.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I let my daughter CIO starting around 3.5 months, and looking back wished I had waited (I was just so exhausted from the bedtime routine that I went to CIO). My pediatrician had advised wait until 6 mos before starting CIO. Anyway, luckily, I think the longest CIO I ever endured was about 27 minutes. It is hard and I'd sit by the door and wonder if I was doing the wrong thing. And honestly, it probably took a couple weeks (off and on) before she'd go down reasonably. And honestly, getting her to sleep will be an on and off pattern for months. I think I heard you can expect sleep disruptions through the first 2 years? My daughter is now 20 months and 95% of the time goes down without a problem, but occassionally we do have a little crying when I put her down (I just walk out of the room), or randomly she'll wake in the middle of the night. (she did this evening at 10:30pm, don't know why, I changed her diaper, held her then put her back down while still awake). Good luck, it's hard.



answers from Philadelphia on

I would buy a vibrating boppy seat. They are great and make different sounds like the heartbeat. I would try to let her cry it out so she can learn how to self soothe and fall asleep on her own. Put her in the crib and leave the room. i would not let her cry more than 10 minutes. See if that helps. also make sure she is fed and well burped. You do not want her to have gas. If she is still crying make sure she is not having a gas issue or does not have colic. Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

I didn't think you were supposed to let them CIO until they are at least six months old.


answers from Williamsport on

Anything you are doing for her to help her sleep, are things you are teaching her to need for sleeping. With all of ours, we made sure the routine for THEIR sake, not ours, because we wanted to cuddle them endlessly and use props for our own convenience (my husband ditched the swing while I was out shopping for our first baby because I was always using it to make her sleep-claiming she just happened to fall asleep there) was to do a nice routine and put them in a comfy lovely crib with nice atmosphere, a full belly and a clean diaper and walk away. This taught them all very quickly that when they were "put down and left alone" it was time to sleep, and they soon loved being put in their crib.

She may not be quite old enough not to wake up hungry during the night (but soon if you feed her enough during the day), but otherwise, if you are ever going to let her become comfortable soothing herself aka CIO, the sooner the better so she doesn't get so attached to your help. Good job starting at 3 months! The crying is temporary and does not harm her-it helps make her tired.

It really helps you if you leave the room completely rather than lying by the crib listening to her scream. She will learn very quickly that you are hovering ready to rescue her. Set the routine, she will feel more secure when it clicks. It should take only a few days, but a week at most if you don't give in.

If you're going to give in, don't even try, because she will have trained you to respond to crying. Also, MAKE SURE she's as full as possible, and tired. A full baby is much more content. A tired baby will go to sleep.

Oh, just wanted to add-you may want to do this closer to 4-5 months when her belly stays fuller longer. Our kids all slept thru by 3 months, but that's not always the norm.



answers from Dallas on

You can start CIO method at about 7 months of age, any younger and it won't really work well.



answers from Philadelphia on

We sleep-trained our daughter at 4 1/2 months using the book The Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger. I'm sure you could probably find it at the library- it is a fantastic approach to CIO. My only words of advice for CIO is that you and your hubby need to very consistant and stick with it b/c the first couple of days are the roughest!
Right now your daughter has no concept of day/night and can't self soothe yet so she isn't ready to CIO. Just keep doing what your doing for now.
If you decide to CIO you can start after she reaches 4 months.
Good Luck! :-)



answers from Harrisburg on

I never let my daughter cry it out; please don't think that is your only option. I felt if she was crying she needed me for something. Have you read the No Cry Sleep Solution? It has many good suggestions in it. They way I worked through this was to first start with naptime. I would rock her or hold her until almost asleep and the put her in her crib. I did this for about 5 weeks at naptime only; I still held her a night and put her down while asleep. After about 5 weeks, she seemed to get restless when trying to sleep at night while I was holding her. This was my clue that she was ready to fall asleep on her own at night time, too. Yes it takes longer than the CIO method, but so worth it, in my opinion.

Also, do you swaddle your daughter? I swaddled mine until she was about 9 months old before she was ready to just be in a sleep blanket. And one last thing that I heard a mother mention once that I thought bordered on genius...babies don't like going from nice toasty mom to a cold crib so she laid a heating pad in the crib for a few minutes to just warm up the sheet, removed the heating pad and checked to make sure the sheet is not too hot for baby and then lay baby down. So the baby was going from toasty mom to toasty bed. :-)



answers from Harrisburg on

I think that 3 months old is too young for the cio method. Don't get me wrong, I am an avid believer in the necessity of the cio method. But, your daughter is too young for it. I agree with the other moms that you shouldn't do the cio method until at least 6 months. Right now, though, you can try to introduce other calming methods like the pacifier, a stuffed toy or a blanket. But if she is crying, she needs something. Sometimes that something is just being held.

As for the co-sleeping, I think you should start to introduce her crib to her. Start with nap times. Place some toys in her crib. Show her that the crib is an ok place to be. She is old enough to be sleeping in a crib.


answers from Dallas on

I have a 3 month old son (as of 2/11:)! I am a believer of the CIO method, but for older babies (6 mo+). Young babies don't understand why they're being left there to cry, they just know their needs aren't being met. My little guy wants to be held a lot. He also will wake up after I put him down, and it does get frustrating, especially when you have things you need to do. My suggestion is to find a time to work when someone can help you out with your daughter (either when your husband is home, or even find a p/t nanny). Everyone I know who works from home has said they still need some sort of childcare otherwise they can't get their work done. Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

I am assuming you are talking about Ferber's sleep method. Please don't refer to it as "crying it out." Ferber never advocates abandoning your child to cry him or herself to sleep. You mean to say that you want to teach your child how to learn to put herself to sleep on her own. You want to rid the negative association of falling asleep and being rocked.

With that said, you should read Ferber's book How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems.

In it, Ferber gives a guideline for systematically going in to soothe your child so she can sleep. For example, the first day he says (don't quote me bc I haven't picked the book up in about 2 yrs!) wait 1, then 3 then 5 minutes. The second day you stretch out the intervals so they are longer.

However, you need to know what to do and not to do, so that's why I urge you to read his book. Furthermore, having an understanding of WHY you're doing what you're doing is important too. Again, that's all explained in his book.

You might need to wait until your child is at least 4 months AND cleared by her doctor to start skipping nighttime feedings. Young babies need to eat at night. Using Ferber's method is not a good idea then to use with a baby who still needs to eat.

I used Ferber with my daughter and I swear by it. My daughter is now 2.5 yes old, and she's a great sleeper. I did this with her when she was 4.5 months. She was able to put herself back to sleep after about a week of doing this system. My son on the otherhand, sleeps like a dream. Never had to go in with him at night. He's now 14 months.

Good luck and read the book!


answers from Philadelphia on

Babies that young cannot understand the CIO method. If they cry they need something. You will not spoil her. Love her, cuddle her and hold her when she needs it, because before you know it she will be crawling and walking and won't let you hold her.
I did the CIO method with my daughter when she was 6 months old, and my son at 5 months old, but that was only at nighttime to get them to sleep on their own. When you do decide to do the CIO, depending on how strong willed your child is, it should only take a few nights. It will be gut wrentching for you but if your consistent and just let her cry, she will quickly learn that it is sleep time. My kids are all excellent nighttime and naptime sleepers. They all did the CIO at 5 and 6 months!



answers from Philadelphia on

If you are going to do cry it out, stick with it, because it isn't fair to your baby to start then stop. I didn't start teaching my babies to self soothe until they were between 5 and 6 months old. Have a nice soothing bedtime routine, put her in her crib while she is awake, but groggy. You could play music or some ohter white noise for her. When she starts crying wait a few minutes, check on her and talk to her but don't pick her up. When she settles, leave, if she starts ccrying again check in again but waiting a bit longer. Repeat the process until she is going to sleep on her own. It shouldn't take more than a few days for her to learn how to fall asleep. Just remember, at this age she probably needs to eat sometime overnight. You may want to ask your pediatrician if she is developmentally ready for this before starting. Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

I think the decision to let her "cry it out" should be based on your child's personality. For example, I have a 5 and 3 year old and they were completely different when they were infants. My 5 year old was very demanding. He would scream his head off for however long I would let him lay in his crib. So, it would take him longer to get to sleep if it let him CIO. I tried it about 2 times with him and he screamed so much until he was completely read and sweating. It was just not worth it. I could get him to sleep faster by rocking him or giving him a bottle. I was already exhausted half the time myself so that was battle I did not want to fight.

My 3 year old was sort of an easy baby (until he turned 2 years old!) Most of the time all he neeeded was the sound of my voice and me holding him to quiet him down. If I let him get himself out of sorts with the crying he would be awake even longer. What you want to do is create a calm soothing environment for the baby to sleep.
If I had it to do all over again I would not recommend crying it out. I think the babies should be held and comforted.
Hope whatever you decide works. Good Luck!


answers from Allentown on

Hi, M.P.

The first question I have is: "Why is the baby co-sleeping?"
The second question is: "Why have you put the baby in a swing?"

The baby has a need when she is crying. Letting her cry it out sounds unkind.

What fears are you having specifically?

Just want to know. D.



answers from Eugene on

First of all, you certainly do NOT have to let her CIO. There are definitely good reasons that some parents CHOOSE to go that route, but it is always a choice. It is okay, and often very enjoyable, to get a baby to sleep.
That said, I think 4-6 months is usually the earliest that CIO is recommended.
Unless it is causing problems to put her to sleep, i'd say wait until at least 6 months. A lot will probably change with her in the next few months, less naps, lots of physical developments and learning to eat solids.
Personally, i did CIO with my younger son at 13 months (needed to by 8, but it took me that long to be okay with the idea--i never thought i'd consider doing it). My older one co-slept, just like I planned. it was easier in lots of ways for me--easier when we travelled, didn't have to transition out of a crib.
But my younger one wouldn't sleep next to me by 6 months, and was waking every couple of hours. And he wouldn't nurse or rock to sleep after 2 or 3 months, i tried but he needed to lay on his own and move around before falling asleep (for bedtime anyway, he still nurses to sleep for naps when he's with me and he's almost 2.5y--but will lay down just fine for anyone else). With him, it was 2 wakings the first night of cio--10 minutes and 5 minutes and nothing by the 4th night. And it was more of complaining than crying. It was what he needed and he's happier for it.
My older one is 5, and while he'd still prefer to co-sleep (it's just him, he's a rather hypersensitive kid and this is a classic thing) he sleeps all night on his own, sleeps thru everything, sleeps anywhere. My younger one, the one that would be considered a "good" sleeper b/c he goes to sleep on his own and sleeps thru the night, only does so in his own room in his crib with the white noise machine on. And i'm not excited about transitioning him out of the crib.
It's more about figuring out what works for your child and for your family, as long as eveyone is reasonably well rested then there is no "right" way for babies to sleep.



answers from Philadelphia on

The answer to the question depends solely on your parenting philosophies and what you believe works best for your family.

We are not a CIO family. Others have already linked you to the pros and cons of the CIO method, as well as alternatives, and I hope you will take the time to look at this links. There is a ton of information out there.

FWIW< if you decide not to use the CIO methods, that does not mean that yoru child will never learn to put herself to sleep. My daughter is 28 months old and started putting herself to sleep at night despite the fact that she nursed down EVERY night until the last month. When she was done nursing and cuddling, she'd pop off, look at me and sign "all done" then point to her crib. She started doing this, on her own, before she was a year old.

Honestly, I couldn't bear to put her down at 3 months. I think she was 5 or 6 months old before it even began to cross my mind that I might have an easier time keeping up with life if I put her down to nap. If she wasn't in my arms, I was wearing her. She's one of the most independent children I know today.

This phase is short, although it doesn't seem like it at the time. Enjoy it mama.




answers from Kansas City on

I would just keep rocking her for now, and try to enjoy it while it lasts. She seems a little young for crying it out. I did that with my son when he was 1, and it was awful! I probably wouldn't got that route again. Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

I'm not personally a fan of the CIO method - too much has happened in my life, and I hold my kids every chance I get.

That being said, I'd ask your pediatrician if your daughter is old enough for CIO. At her age, she's still very much running on instincts and not learned behavior. yes, sometimes a cranky infant will cry and then fall asleep, but in my experience with 2 kids that's the exception vs. the norm.

It will be interesting to see what other parents recommend for this age.
Good luck.

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