As a new parent, you’ve probably heard of letting a baby cry it out. You might initially think that you could never let your sweet little baby cry without you. Or maybe you’re the type that knows, you need your sleep and so do they. If you aren’t sure if this method of sleep training or any form of training is right for your family, read on to learn more.
What It Means to Cry It Out
Crying it out is a term that refers to a method of sleep training where you let your baby cry, call out for you, or fuss for a period of time before going in to console or feed them.
Parents and pediatricians often recommend this method if a baby has a hard time self-soothing themselves to sleep. This practice helps the baby learn how to fall back asleep without you during the night. While it may not be for everyone, this method often results in more sleep for you and your little one in just a few days.
How Does Sleep Training Work?
Now you’re probably asking yourself, how does letting your baby cry it out actually work? You start by making sure all of your baby’s needs are met. You want to make sure your baby isn’t crying and waking for another reason. If you’ve established your baby isn’t sick, sitting in a dirty diaper, or otherwise uncomfortable, it may be time to give this a try.
To start, when your baby starts to cry or call out for you, you go into their room, console them but don’t pick them up. After a few moments, you leave the room. If they begin crying again, wait for a few moments or longer, however long you’re comfortable. Ten minutes might be a good amount to start with. You go in and console them again without picking them up. If they cry again after you leave, you wait for a little longer this time before going back. You repeat this until they fall asleep. Stick to this routine every night until they sleep through the night. Before starting this or any sleep training method, consult your pediatrician and make sure your baby is an appropriate age to try this method.
Sleep Needs by Age
Babies sleep a lot differently than adults. Newborns especially need a lot of sleep. They will often sleep between eight to nine hours during the day and eight to nine hours at night according to Stanford Children’s Health. During the day and at night, newborns will wake up to eat every two to four hours. By around three months your baby will be able to go longer stretches without eating at night.
By six months most babies will sleep for longer stretches between six and eight hours a night. As babies and toddlers age, their sleep needs decrease during the day and they will sleep longer at night. From three months until around two years of age, your baby or toddler needs around eleven hours of sleep a night.
Sleep Regressions Will Happen
It’s important to note that babies will often wake up randomly at night even after they have been continuously sleeping through the night for weeks or even months. Teething, potty training, illness, or separation anxiety can all cause sleep disruptions in children who had previously slept through the night.
After one of these instances, your child may continue to wake or have trouble falling asleep for days or weeks after an illness for example. You may need to do a couple of days of sleep training to get them back on track again if this is the route you’ve chosen to go. Know that whatever route you go, getting enough sleep is vital to a child’s health, growth, and well-being.