“Cry it out”, Ferberization, Gental CIO, Sleep Training; all terms that most new parents have probably heard. I’ve over heard them discussed with intrigue and other times in hush hush tones as if it was a taboo topic. For those of you don’t know what “Cry it out or The Ferber Method” is, it is a technique used to sleep train babies in which you allow them to cry for a pre-determined amount of time between reassurance and comforting. Essentially you are teaching them to learn self soothing. That is my quick explanation, you can read book after book about the details and science on both sides of the argument The cry it out method is not recommended in children younger than 6 months of age.
As a pediatric nurse of almost a decade I don’t make decision about my child’s health lightly. I read, I research and I of course consult my Pediatrician, who’s opinion I trust and value. Side note when you are looking for a pediatrician make sure that your views are aligned. If you have opposite schools of thought on important subjects like sleep training, antibiotics and vaccines; your doctor won’t be fully able to help you care for your child. I assure you my son is a happy and healthy baby. However, our night time routine had gotten out of hand. First we nursed to sleep, which worked great until it didn’t. We reached a point that he would fall asleep and the second I tried to lay him in his crib he would come awake and cry inconsolably until I was holding him again. Our bedtime routine turned into off and on holding and crying for an hour every night. When middle of the night feedings happened we’d repeat the whole thing over again.
I couldn’t do it any more, no one was getting good sleep and baby was fussy all day from being tired. So I made an executive decision, I would start having the baby sleep with me on a extra bed in the nursery. It worked, co-sleeping was the answer to our prayers. We started getting a good nights rest and who doesn’t love baby snuggles? Then it happened, I woke up in the middle of the night from being slapped in the face by a sweet tiny hand. My little guy was tossing and turning and fussing and just not resting. Surely we had just had a busy day and he was restless, and then it happened the next night, and the next. Suddenly co-sleeping wasn’t working for us anymore. My little guy needed his own secure space and I needed to rest so I could keep up with him during the day time.
I called my best friend (mother of 3), I called my mother (mother of 3), I called my Pediatrician. What do I do I asked them? They all said the same thing, stop sleeping in the nursery and it’s okay for him to cry. So I started reading everything I could get my hands on about “Cry It Out or The Ferber Method“. I had heard both sides of the topic and I wanted to do it right. It’s been a week, it’s getting better every day and we are all getting better sleep and baby is much happier throughout the day.
We have a bedtime routine we follow every night. Dinner at 5:30, followed by playtime till 6:30 then it’s bath, story, prayers and nursing. I put baby into bed awake and leave the room. If he starts crying, I allow him to cry for 10 minutes before I go in and check on him, make sure he is dry and all is okay. I usually hangout in the hallway and hold laundry, to be close by but still have some distance. If he continues to cry I allow it for 13 more minutes before I go in and soothe and check diaper again, the next time is 15 minutes. We have never made it to the third interval. Middle of the night feedings follow the same routine but rarely need more than 2 minutes of fussing. Naps are down to about 5 minutes and he sleeps longer than he has in months and is the happiest baby when he wakes up.
We aren’t having bonding issues. He knows I love him and he still wants to snuggle and play. He still smiles at me and he’s still happy when he hangs out with the sitter on a random day. While it is hard that first night, the results are amazing and I really feel like cry it out has been the best thing for our family at this stage. I know that cry it out has gotten a bad wrap over the years. There are claims that allowing a child to cry it out can have long term effects on their development and bonding. I discussed these concerns with my Pediatrician and am reassured that it is okay to allow my child to ‘cry it out” with me near by. I do however recognize that the cry it out or Ferber method may not be right for everyone.
Have you sleep trained with your children? Did you have a preferred method that you loved?