My son was five months old when I first researched the “Cry it Out” method. He was sleeping six to eight hours through the night and taking two to three naps a day (none of which made it past the 30 minute mark). I was rocking and singing him to sleep and sometimes this took me 45 minutes to an hour to do. Running on very little sleep and virtually no down time, I turned to the internet for help.
Almost everything I read pointed to the “Cry it Out” method. Babies learning to self-soothe, falling asleep on their own, sleeping for 10 to 12 hours through the night and taking hour long naps sounded like paradise. Desperate for some solace I dove into these writings to discover how my son and I could attain this utopian-like state.
The “Cry it Out” method tells you to lay your baby down for bed or a nap and to walk away and let them put themselves to sleep. The idea is that the first time it could take 30 minutes of straight crying before your baby finally gives up and gives in. The next night or nap you are supposed to do the same thing and theoretically your child will cry for 20 minutes. And so on until all you have to do is lay them down and they go straight to sleep.
I was not fond of the idea of letting my son sob for 30 minutes while I sat somewhere and waited for his cries to cease. But again, I was desperate, and so that very day at a scheduled nap time I just laid him down in his crib and walked away.
35 minutes later he was still crying. Distraught and with my nerves thinned from having to listen to him cry for so long, I went and got my son and spent an additional 45 minutes rocking him to sleep for what would be yet another infamous 30 minute nap. I gave up after that first rough try.
By the time my son was eight months old we were both sleep deprived. Then, one night on a purely chance happening, our lives forever changed.
It was a rare 100 degree day in San Diego and our townhome had no air conditioning. Night rolled in and after an hour of trying to put my son to sleep my husband politely suggested I just lay him down. The temperature in the house was causing my son to sweat on me and vice versa and my little guy could not get comfortable. Weary and exhausted I gave in to my husband’s idea and tried the “Cry it Out” method one more time.
My son cried for a good 30 minutes before finally succumbing and falling asleep. Worn out and feeling like a bad mother I went to bed early anticipating my son would wake me up in the middle of the night (as he had started doing) and I would have to put him back to sleep.
Boy was I surprised when my son woke me at 6:00 a.m., not midnight. Excited and revived I tried it again that very night. 25 minutes and he fell asleep. The next night? 20 minutes. The next? 15 minutes. We did this every night until my son barely made a whisper when laying him down.
The best part about this “Cry it Out” method was it worked with naps, too. And if he tried waking me in the middle of the night I started letting him cry himself back to sleep.
And so, after many months, one long week of crying (both of us) equaled sleeping the way were both always meant to do. He started giving me 12 hours at night and two, one hour or longer naps a day. Our lives were transformed and you could tell this new way of life was much healthier for us. We were happier and had energy. If it wasn’t for the “Cry it Out” method I might have gone insane. I believe in its power and am grateful for having given it one more try.