Is Cry It Out Cruel?

Is CIO cruel?

The other day I had a mom ask me, after attempting Cry it out (CIO) herself, if I thought CIO was cruel. If you've ever attempted CIO (or read about it or heard other mom's talk about it), you're likely to have this same question at one point or another.

No one likes to hear their child cry (unless maybe said child just randomly whacked their brother and got a return whack back) and no one enjoys ignoring their child while they are screaming. There's something about a baby's cry when they are out of your presence--the impact is ten fold. Even when my husband has the baby in the other room and she starts crying I immediately think--what have you done to her, you fool! Stop her suffering!! My emotions can get a little out of hand when crying and a child are involved, especially if I can't see the child.

Ok, so I've established that leaving a child to cry alone (or, even in your presence) is hard stuff. It's no fun for baby, and it's no fun for whoever is hearing the crying (or knows it is going on but has their pillow stuffed over their head while they hum a desperate, happy tune). It's no wonder with this information along with all the other harmful info regarding cio out there (which I think is rubbish), many people will pretty much attack any person that talks of doing or talks about having done such a 'criminal act'.

BUT, I am not one of those people.

While I don't think CIO is for everyone, I think it's a good option for some people.

The fact is, baby needs sleep. And so do you. A lack of sleep isn't good for baby's health and it isn't good for yours. You are not selfish to want your baby to sleep well, and you aren't selfish to want to get some sleep yourself. You need it! And your husband, other children, marriage and work etc will likely suffer if you don't have it either. Baby's sleep (or lack of) involves so much more than just them. It involves every aspect of your life as well as you family's life.

And that means that sometimes, CIO may be the solution to get this sleep, for baby, and for you. But it isn't something to jump into. You don't just plop your 8 month down in their never used, dusty crib, shut the door and cross your fingers. CIO should only be done after you've consider some things first:

Some things to consider before starting CIO:
  • Have you set your child up for good sleep first? Is your child on some sort of a routine, are you avoiding over tiredness, do you have a pre-sleep routine? More on that on this post. These suggestions alone will be enough for some babies, especially younger ones, to sleep well. Or it will at least, hopefully, reduce some crying.
  • Have you tried other, more gentle methods first? Not every gentle method is for everybody. Everyone has their own life situation that may make one sleep training method easier than another. If you are starting work in 1 week, you probably don't have 2 months to do a slow and gentle sleep training method.  Maybe the side effects from a lack of sleep are tearing apart you marriage and you need a fix asap. You may have health issues that make a good amount of sleep, early on, very important. People can also personally handle different types of sleep training methods. We are all different. Just because one person can handle attempting to gently put their child to sleep 30 times per night for weeks or months on end or another can handle doing pupd for weeks, it doesn't mean that another person can emotionally or physically handle this. Maybe you've tried every no-cry methods and they've failed. The list goes on. What I'm trying to get at is that people all have very different reasons for doing what they do, and to think that we understand their situation 100% is pretty silly. Just because something works well for us, it doesn't mean it will for someone else.
  • Is your baby old enough to start CIO? At least 3-4 months old. I think short spurts of crying is fine earlier than that, as you can read about here.
  • Are you ready to totally commit? Here's a check list of things to consider before starting any sleep training.
  • Are you sure you can be consistent. A lack of consistency  just equals lots of crying for no reason. And that isn't cool.
  • Is right now a good time to start? Now, there isn't any totally awesome, absolutely perfect time to start sleep training. There will always be little things that crop up that will make you think, oh, right now isn't the best time, we'll try next week. I'll admit this mindset even happens with me when I think of making some sort of change with my children. So, as long as baby isn't super sick, you don't have guests visiting in two days or something else extreme isn't going on, you should probably go for it.
Doing what seems best for our child, ourselves, and our family, isn't always easy, but it may still be the best decision. Yes, leaving a child to cry can feel cruel at times, but when you look at the outcome, it may be well worth it for your child, and in my opinion, possibly in their best interests, not to mention yours.

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