Letting Your Baby 'Cry It Out' Doesn't Make You a Bad Parent

Rant 72

Babies cry. It's a fact. Next to pooping and sleeping, it's what they do best.

Why they cry can be anyone's guess. They could be wet, hungry, tired, scared, confused, sick, or just need some attention. They can't talk yet, so crying is the closest thing to a language they have.

For the most part, it works. You hear your baby cry, you quickly try to figure out what's wrong and rectify the problem. Crying baby = bad. That's what we're instinctively taught.

But at what point do we stop listening to our instincts? When babies cry all night long unless you're holding them, should you be comforting them or do you need to give them some tough love?

When our oldest son was a baby, he was a terrible sleeper. I'd easily give him an F. My wife was very into breastfeeding so she'd end up nursing him almost the entire night. We'd put him in his crib and maybe he'd last an hour. Things got so bad at one point that he literally woke up every 45 minutes. That's just not healthy for anyone.

The baby would be tired and cranky. My wife would be beyond exhausted the next day, which doesn't do her or the baby any good. And I'd be wiped too as I headed off to work. Though at least I could pass out under my desk when the boss wasn't around.

No, something had to be done. And when my wife and I started discussing the Ferber Method, we knew it was time to give it a shot. Ferberizing involves putting your baby down for the night and letting him "cry it out." It's done slowly over a few nights.

I still remember that first night of just letting him wail for five minutes in his crib as my wife and I sat on the living room couch staring at each other. Believe it or not, five minutes is an excruciatingly long time when you're listening to your child scream bloody murder.

As soon as the clock hit five minutes, my wife BOLTED down the hall to pick him up, comfort him, and put him back in the crib. Then we'd wait 10 minutes and repeat, adding five minutes on to each round. I think we got up to 30 minutes that first night before he finally fell asleep for good that night. It was certainly a long night.

The second night was slightly easier. It was still painful to sit there listening to him cry, but by the third and fourth night, we saw a massive improvement. He'd still cry but only for about five or ten minutes and then fall asleep. We were shocked. It actually worked.

Now it wasn't a perfect science and he didn't magically just sleep through the night from that moment on. But going from waking up every 45 minutes to falling asleep in 10 minutes and sleeping for a few hours at a time was a big win in our book!

Ferberizing truly taught us the phrase, "This will hurt me more than it will hurt you." It was extremely hard to do -- you need incredible patience and a strong will not to run into your baby's room the second he or she starts crying.

It may sound completely cruel on the surface. Your baby's crying and you're just ignoring him? He may think you've completely abandoned him, the poor thing. He could be terrified! Yeah, all that ran through our minds too. But we realized that letting your baby cry it out does not make you a bad parent.

If you run to your kids every single time they start crying and simply comfort them, how are they ever going to learn how to soothe themselves? Sure, every kid is different and will learn this on their own at their own pace. So it's up to you whether you want to try the cry it out method or not.

All I know is that when this kid becomes a teenager who sleeps until noon every weekend, I cannot wait to wake him up at 7 a.m. just for kicks.

Do you let your baby cry it out at night?

Photo via David Quitoriano/Flickr

baby first year, baby sleep, cio


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purpl... purpleflower514

I let him cry to see if he falls back asleep in his own but i can tell if that will happen in the time it takes to use the bathroom (sometimes he falls back asleep before I even get to my bedroom door).

You do realize you are going to get many angry hens screaming at you over this post, right?

three... threeforme157

It might not make you a bad parent but I think it makes you a selfish parent.  Obviously the baby needs something and just because you are tired you think that baby should just give up.  Would you ignore your baby's cries during the day?  Infancy is such a short time and obviously they will eventually sleep through the night.  Suck it up and stop using methods as an excuse to ignore the cries of a baby who needs something.

ashjo85 ashjo85

I never used a "method", but I'd listen to the cry. I can tell the difference between a hysterical cry and one that's just fussy. When our son gets into the hysterics, he's simply too wound up to soothe himself, and we'd calm him a bit. Eventually, he'd fussy cry, and that's when we'd give him the time. And it seems to work just fine. He's a happy little dude!

jalaz77 jalaz77

There are cries I will check on and there cries I let them figure out. Guess what? The ones that needed checking, needed something, the cries I ignored always ended up falling asleep. Screaming til their voices are wearing isn't something I did and I doubt most parents do. It's all about learning your child's cry.

Pinkmani Pinkmani

What worked for me was going for a 15 minute drive. Knocks the kid right out!

Wheep... Wheepingchree

I think that is bullshit.  Having a baby isn't supposed to be fucking convenient.  It really makes me mad to think about your baby "wailing" and "screaming bloody murder" for THIRTY FUCKING MINUTES.  In my not so humble opion, that does make you a bad parent and I could give two shits if anyone thinks that's being judgemental.  Having a baby can be rough in the beginning, fucking deal with it, rather than subjecting your poor child who just wants love and comfort to being told they're a fucking inconvenience.

nonmember avatar Maggie

Each kid is different, as well. My first son needed to be rocked to fall asleep for a year and a half. We had to let him learn how to soothe himself by crying it out. My second didn't sleep more than two hours at a time until we put him in his crib by himself (at 7 months). He fell right to sleep on his own has slept through the night since then. The Ferber method works for some kids and not others. Being a good parent isn't about doing what is popular or fun; it is about doing the right thing for that individual child.

miss.... miss.sarah

How dare you people judge? You have absolutely no idea what goes on behind closed doors in another home. How about you seriously take your own inventory before you start casting stones. If you want to AP until your child is a teen that's great but it certainly is not for everyone. Also being a parent is about making decisions best for your child. Considering a child's brain develops as it is sleeping then I would say a good parent ought to be concerned about their child waking up every 45 min.. Also if a severe lack of sleep  is affecting your ability to parent then you absolutely need to remedy that. Making time for yourself as a parent directly benefits yourself AND your child if you can't see that then it sounds like a personal issue. 

laure... laurenemb

Wheepingchree calm it down, especially with the harsh language. Ferber is a perfectly acceptable method and not akin to child abuse. It's just different parenting styles. Both Ferber and attachment parenting methods have science behind them and both are accepted and promoted by top pediatricians. It's not for you - that's fine. It was for him.

Sierr... SierraLynn

We did this exact thing with our oldest AMD our now 6 month old. Only, for us it took about 2 days for each. And neither cried all that long to begin with. There came a time that the babies were waking up only out of habit. Wouldn't eat and just wanted to be held and played with. So we decided to help baby learn how to self soothe and go back to sleep.

@wheepingchree, you need to slow your damn role. It does not make anyone a selfish parent or a bad parent to let your baby for little while. Did you know babies cry to get out extra energy built up? Something that may possibly help the baby sleep? They didn't start off at "30 fucking minutes of ignoring the child". It's starts at 5 and time is added. And as another poster said, many parents know the different cries their baby has and which ones are something is wrong, or which one is just crying.

That's the thing with cry it out. Santctimommies think its just straight ignoring your child for hours on end. No, its a process with time limits and if you truly feel as if something is wrong, then go in and see whats going on.

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