Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Crying It Out

Sleep is such a hot topic these days among mothers of babies
and toddlers. We have nothing better to
do than to sit around judging each other for our too-soft or too-harsh
sleep methods. How can something as
simple and essential as sleep cause so much controversy? There are books written on the topic,
copyrighted sleep methods and a line drawn clearly in the sand that divides
those parents who choose to use the “Cry It Out” (CIO) method and those who
think said method is cruel and unnecessary.

A self-proclaimed sleep Nazi, I stand decidedly on the “Cry
It Out” side. My son was a good sleeper
until he reached about 18-months of age and developed a will of his own. He decided, at that point, that he would not
go to sleep without a fight and commenced screaming and crying when I laid him
in his crib. I have some major sleep
issues myself and need 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night in order to
function effectively as a human being, mother and wife. If I do not get this sleep at least most of
the time, everyone suffers when I morph into a raving lunatic with a short
fuse and a sharp tongue. Mama must have her sleep.

After some research on sleep problems and
methods, I realized that this sleep situation was a battle of the wills and it
was one I was determined to win. I read
that letting a child cry it out to get to sleep was an effective, non-cruel
method as long as the child did not feel abandoned. Equipped with my plan of non-abandonment, I slid on my boxing gloves and prepared for battle at my son’s
next naptime. I read him stories and
laid him in bed. He immediately stood
up, screamed and threw a fit. I turned
off the light, walked out of the room and checked the clock. After five minutes he was still crying so I
went back in, laid him down and left. I
waited another five minutes and repeated this action. Then, I added one minute to each interval after that. It took my son two very long, painful hours
but he finally did get to sleep. I won
the battle. That night my son cried and
screamed when I put him to bed but he gave up after less than ten minutes and
went right to sleep. The war was
over. He was sleeping again. Crying It
Out worked.

My son is four years old now and my daughter is nearly
two. Both of them sleep in their own
beds through the night. They are both
happy and healthy and, all things considered, relatively well adjusted. I do not think that my son bares any
emotional scars from one afternoon of crying in five to ten minute intervals and,
if they are there, they certainly pale in comparison to the emotional scars he
would bare from being disciplined, day after day, by a sleep-deprived


  1. The CIO method is NOT for wussies. We had sort of the same thing with our son, but he was getting out of bed just because. We couldn't just close the door, as he could open it up, so we had to use the double gate (He could climb over one gate). After 5 or 10 minutes of hysterical crying, he finally fell asleep. The next night, he went down pretty quick.

  2. 5-10 minutes. That's nothing girl! I went 2 hours. You're right. It's not for wussies. It's one of the hardest things I've done.