Does Cry It Out Work?

– Written by JoAnna Inks 

Does cry it out work?

So many families come to me each year and ask me if “Cry It Out” works? They tell me they’ve tried almost everything to get their baby to sleep, even “Cry It Out,” and nothing has worked.

I say they’ve tried almost everything because they haven’t tried working with me! But, more on that in a minute.

Nothing makes me more sad about a parent’s sleep journey with their child than when they report to me that they’ve tried to cry it out for 3 weeks, and it hasn’t worked! That’s a lot of upset for both baby and parents with NO results. Ugh!

I’m happy to report that these parents have tried EVERYTHING except working with us! But I’m getting ahead of myself. More on that later…

It makes me sad when parents tell me they’ve tried “Cry It Out” for 3 weeks, and it hasn’t worked. That’s a lot of upset for both baby and parents with no results.

Parents have shared with me how traumatizing their previous attempts to teach their baby to sleep have been. It can be challenging for a family that’s been through this to understand that there’s another way – a way that will 100% work for their baby. Every baby can learn to sleep through the night and take long, restful naps.

When a family trusts me with their baby’s sleep, it’s not something I take for granted. It’s an honor, and it makes me think about why these families have had such poor results when they’ve tried other methods.

I have a hunch I know why. Today, we will discuss 3 reasons that “Cry It Out” doesn’t work and 1 thing that does.

Mom on a yoga ball holding a sleeping baby, cry it out

You’re still “helping” your baby to sleep

Most families decide in desperation to try “Cry It Out.” Thinking this is the only way.

The decision is made that starting tonight, their baby will go into the crib and cry themselves to sleep.

The massive problem with this is that NO other changes have been made to the baby’s schedule, feed schedule, or routine.

The parents do their regular routine, almost always helping their baby to drowsy or sleep. Then, the baby is placed into the crib. Sleep pressure has now been taken off, and the crying begins – and on and on and on and on and on and on and on it goes until the baby either falls asleep or the parents cave and rock their baby to sleep.

There’s always a night waking because these babies have no idea how to sleep through the night, and parents offer to feed them. The feed again gets the baby very drowsy or even to sleep, and the baby is put back into the crib, and the crying starts again.

This scenario can continue for weeks. Hence, the panic calls to me for help!

If babies don’t learn to do the entire journey from awake to sleep on their own, they will NEVER become great sleepers. Any “help” from you on their journey to sleep results in massive protest – so much more than is necessary when teaching a baby to sleep.

If you’re not letting your baby do the entire journey from awake to sleep on their own, then the crying will go on for weeks, guaranteed!

Post-it note that says "be consistent". Consistency is important when not crying it out.

You’re Not Being Consistent

Consistency is crucial when you’re teaching your baby independent sleep skills.

If baby cries it out at bedtime and then you bring them into your bed in the night – that’s confusing for your baby.

Where do you want your baby to sleep? Okay, then be consistent about that place so baby knows where they sleep every night and for every nap.

Babies crave consistency and an age-appropriate schedule. Magic can happen when you add these two things to teach them to sleep well.

Baby crying it out in the crib

It’s Not The Right Approach For Your Baby

If you’ve been doing “sleep training” for weeks and it hasn’t worked, STOP.

It is time to consider a different approach better suited to your baby’s needs.

What Approach Would Work For Your Baby?

Great question!

“Cry It Out” does work! It’s not what I teach to most of my clients, but I get a few requests for “Cry It Out” plans from families every year. It can work when we make changes to the entire 24-hour feed/sleep schedule. So many things have to change to make this successful; that’s what people miss about this method.

Most families I work with are looking for an alternative to “Cry It Out,” and I don’t blame them. Crying it out isn’t necessary to teach your child to be a fantastic independent sleeper.

Now, don’t think there’s no upset when you change a baby’s sleep environment. Anyone who tells you you can do this without tears isn’t telling you the truth. Humans are VERY protective of their sleep environment no matter their age, and change is HARD!

Sleep is a skill, just like swimming or riding a bike. So, “sleep lessons” are the way to go.

Baby sleeping in crib

What Does That Look Like?

First, you need an expert to get to know you and your baby. Next, you need a clear, consistent plan that takes into consideration your baby’s age, temperament, and your parenting style. If you do these things, the results are life-changing for a family.

The good news is that there isn’t just one way to teach a baby to sleep. There is a way that will resonate with you and your baby. This is how I guide my families on their journeys to great sleep. We come up with a gentle sleep plan that WORKS for their family.

Every family’s journey is different. No two babies are alike. This journey will be all your own. And I’ll make sure you’re comfortable with the process.

My goal is always the least amount of protest with the fastest results.

What approach is right for your family? Could you schedule your complimentary discovery call today?

I’d love to learn more about your baby’s sleep challenges and share how I can help your family.

Schedule your complimentary discovery call!

Here’s to a well-rested family,

JoAnna's Signature
Picture of JoAnna in nature holding a cup of tea.