Letting Your Baby Cry It Out: Yay or Nay?

Health & Wellness on 11.25.11
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Photo: Robert Banh/Creative Commons

I'd just snapped at my husband for the thousandth time in the eight months since our daughter was born and, trying to be a mature adult, I decided to forego telling him why it was all his fault and, instead ask why he thought we'd been arguing so much lately. It was like a 1000-watt light bulb went off above my head when he said sleep deprivation.

Our pediatrician had advised us to let our daughter cry it out when she was two months old. We tried, but our resolve usually withered like spinach on a hot pan after just a few minutes of hearing those sad wails. I never actually minded getting up with her and sometimes even looked forward to the extra sweet snuggle time. But once she had a couple of good nights, sleeping eight, nine and even 10 hours, I felt like I had won the lottery. I got a reminder of the sweet sleep I'd been missing, and it tasted good. Real good.

I'd thought myself to be immune to the side effects of not getting my eight hours.  My big "a-ha" moment happened when I realized the "mommy brain," the testiness and overall state of forgetfulness were all impacted by -- if not a direct result of -- my lack of sleep. (Well, I could only blame those hormones for so long.)

That, plus the realization that my short fuse and forgetfulness were fueled by a lack of sleep, helped me commit to letting my little girl, finally, cry it out.

I had heard of the Ferber Method, a technique introduced by Dr. Richard Ferber.  This was wildly unpopular with me when I first read about it, because it seemed so inhumane and cruel -- leaving the room while my daughter cried and returning at increasingly long intervals.

But here I am, following Dr. Ferber's instructions, because, apparently, this is ultimately what you have to do in order for baby to sleep through the night.  According to friends, grandparents, coworkers and even my Twitter followers who saw my bereft tweets that first night, it takes three nights. And it did. We're still working through it a little bit, but overall, it seems to have done the trick. She sleeps through the night more often than not and, when she does wake up, cries herself back to sleep much more quickly. My husband and I have spent so many nights talking each other out of going into her room to get her. It takes nerves of steel not to go scoop up that sweet baby, especially when you know breastfeeding her would put her right back to sleep.

For us, crying it out eventually worked. But, you have to decide what you can live with. Whatever method you choose, the best advice I have is to both be in it together and commit. No approach works the first night, and no method is guaranteed to work every night.

Did you let your baby cry it out?

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