People often think this method of sleep training involves leaving babies alone to cry for as long as it takes before they fall asleep.
But “cry it out” simply refers to any sleep training approach – and there are many – that says it is okay to let a baby cry for a specified period of time – often a very short period before offering comfort.
The cry it out approach assumes that falling asleep on your own is a skill your baby can master if you give him the opportunity.
The idea is that if your child gets used to having you rock or nurse him to sleep, he won’t learn to fall asleep on his own. When he wakes up during the night – as all children and adults do as part of the natural sleep cycle – he’ll become alarmed and cry for you instead of being able to go back to sleep.
By contrast, if your baby learns to soothe himself to sleep at bedtime, he can use the same skill when he wakes up at night or during a nap.
Crying isn’t the goal of this sleep training method, but advocates say it’s often an inevitable side effect as your baby adjusts to sleeping on his own.
They say the short-term pain of a few tears is far outweighed by the long-term advantages: A child who goes to sleep easily and happily on his own, and parents who can count on a good night’s rest.
So, next time your baby cries, if you’re sure that it’s not hungry, thirsty or sick, let it cry it out and fall asleep on their own.