I know this is a controversial topic, but I’m not writing about it to be controversial, or to get clicks. I’m writing about this topic because a couple of weeks ago it was something I discussed with a friend. We both averted each other’s eyes, and squirmed before ascertaining that each of us had done some form of controlled crying. Suddenly it was OK to talk to about it. And I realised that many of us don’t have the support of other mothers on this matter, so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring, and make the shocking admission: I let my daughter cry it out. *GASP* I know, what a monster!
Before you grab your pitchfork and make your way over I need to tell you one thing. It worked. Does my daughter now think nobody will come to her if she cries? No. Is she emotionally despondent? No. Does she settle better now? Absolutely!
Now, I’m not saying everyone should cry it out to solve sleep dramas. I’m saying that everyone should do what feels right for them. For us, crying it out was the solution to a problem that was escalating. We had no problem with missy actually sleeping. The issue was that little miss needed to be rocked in order to get to sleep. And you know what it’s like, once you find that sleep trigger you go with it. Then suddenly a little rock is turning into a half-hour routine that involves certain movements, postures and a back ache that won’t quit. Suddenly getting baby to sleep lasts almost as long as the naps, that now only go for one sleep cycle before another rock is required. We had created a rod for our crippled backs, and there was no getting away from it. So … we tried controlled crying.
I read all the blogs, all the materials, all the heartbreaking articles on the psychological damage I would be inflicting upon my child. Like all things parenting, I took some advice, I discarded others. I decided to wait until missy was six months before trying crying it out.
We had a battle plan. It involved letting missy cry for a minute, then going back in and patting her until she settled down, then leaving the room for two minutes, then three etc, until missy slept. I never got to more than two minutes. I couldn’t take it. But that’s OK, because that was my threshold. That was my version – others may be stronger. And it wasn’t easy. I sat by my missy’s door, my iPhone counting down the seconds for me (because two minutes feels like a long time when you want to go to your child), tears streaming down my face, before going back in and doing it all again for another two minutes. I never had to go in more than three times. And then … silence. Not just silence, but more than one sleep cycle.
It took mere days before all of a sudden my little sleeping angel was self-settling, and my husband and I could walk without yelping in pain. I prefer the term “sleep training” to “crying it out”, but it worked for us. And I have no shame in talking about it. And if my talking about it helps one parent feel a bit better about trying something to save their sanity, then my work here is done.