In my travels I have come to realize that parents are a bit confused about what cry-it-out means. Cry-it-out is not a method in itself. There are so many different types of sleep training methods that use cry-it-out but there are so many different ways and variations of it. Cry-it-out simply means that with whichever method you have chosen to use for your sleep training process, that there will inevitably be some crying involved.
There are 3 major training methods that all use a form of cry-it-out. The first method is the Pick up/Put down method. This is when you pick up your baby every time they cry and put them down when they stop. The second method is gradual distinction. This is when you start off on the first night by being right at your babies side, patting and shushing him till he falls asleep. Then each night after that, you move further away from the crib and shushing progressively softer and less often. The third method is Guided Training. This is when you check on your baby for a few minutes and then leave, returning into the room at greater intervals to console your baby. An example of this is you would check on your baby in 5 minutes and then in 10 minutes etc.
Each method of training involves crying. Each method also involves the parents offering consoling at some point to their baby. The crying is NOT because your child is being neglected, starved or abandoned. They are simply being given the opportunity to figure out what your baby needs to figure out to fall asleep. Some babies may discover their fingers where as some may stare at a light on the ceiling. Allowing your baby the opportunity to learn how to soothe himself is vital to learning great sleep skills. If you are a parent that is not happy with your child's sleep habits and feel that training of some sort is necessary for the happiness of your baby and your family, then it is important that you find the right method for you. If you are a parent that is content with your baby's sleep habits, then there is no need for change as your family is happy.
In retrospect, it is important to understand that a crying baby doesn't mean bad parents. This is quite an unfair statement. Allowing your baby to learn how to self soothe, which involves some crying, is a very hard thing for a parent to do. If you have a family member or friend who is currently sleep training their own baby, please remember this and offer them your support, not grief.
President & Baby Parenting Coach
Precious Moments Babeez 416-508-4406