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The 'Cry It Out' Method Is a Part of 'Sleep Training' | Here's What Really Happens

The 'Cry It Out' Method Is a Part of 'Sleep Training' | Here's What Really Happens

The good thing about this method is that there is no long-term trauma for the kids.

Parenting is hard, especially in today's time. Earlier, kids were born and raised in big families, but now they are quite nuclear, which makes it hard for parents to raise their kids alone. 

It can get quite emotionally draining, especially because taking care of a newborn baby takes up almost all the time parents have, thus often putting a strain on their relationship, given how they suffer from lack of sleep as well. 

This is where sleep training methods for babies come in handy, especially one called the "cry it out" or CIO method, where children are left to cry it out for a period of time until they soothe themselves, instead of them relying on someone else to calm them down, according to Healthline

While the CIO method is quite common, it is also controversial. Some parents swear by it, although others say it's just mean and harmful to let a baby cry, per NPR

The mommy blogs and parenting books often mix up sleep training with "cry it out," said Jodi Mindell, a psychologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who has helped thousands of babies and parents get more sleep over the past two decades.



 

 

"I think unfortunately sleep training has gotten a really bad rap because it's been equated with this moniker called 'cry it out,'" Mindell said.

Sure, this method seems quite cruel. "You put your baby into their crib or their room, you close the door and you don't come back till the next day," Mindell shared. "But that's not the reality of what we recommend or what parents typically do."

There are several ways in which one is put to sleep. "All these methods are lumped together in the scientific literature as 'sleep training,'" Mindell said.

Basically, parents are advised to place the baby in their crib and soothe them by gently rubbing or patting their back. Then, they are to leave the room. If the baby begins to cry, then the parents must wait for some time before going back in to soothe them. 

Not every family will be able to follow a strict routine, it will differ for everyone. "So you just have figure out what works best for you, your family and the baby's temperament," she said.

However, sleep training strategies for babies under six months old are unlikely to work in any case, researchers have found, according to the BBC.

"The belief that behavioral intervention for sleep in the first six months of life improves outcomes for mothers and babies is historically constructed, overlooks feeding problems, and biases interpretation of data," one review of 20 years' worth of relevant studies put it. "These strategies have not been shown to decrease infant crying, prevent sleep and behavioral problems in later childhood, or protect against postnatal depression."



 

 

But, there is nothing to worry about if sleep training doesn't yield effective results with some toddlers. Because it doesn't work in about 20% of kids. 

"Your child may not be ready for sleep training, for whatever reason," Mindell says. "Maybe they're too young, or they're going through separation anxiety, or there may be an underlying medical issue, such as reflux."

The good thing about this method is that there is no long-term trauma for the kids, according to a 2016 study. But, do not expect any kind of miracle when it comes to sleep training. Like all good things, this also takes time. 

"I just think it's really important to not make parents feel guilty about their choice [on sleep training]," Dr. Harriet Hiscock, a pediatrician at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, said. "We need to show them scientific evidence, and then let them make up their own minds."

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/cry-it-out-method

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/15/730339536/sleep-training-truths-what-science-can-and-cant-tell-us-about-crying-it-out

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220322-how-sleep-training-affects-babies

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/05/21/peds.2015-1486

Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Thanasis Zovoilis

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