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Cry It Out Defined and Age to Do It

Cry It Out Defined & Age To Do It

If you are unfortunate enough to consider letting baby cry it out (because let’s face it, none of us PLAN to let their baby cry it out when they are still in the womb or anything! It’s typically the last resort for most of us.), many people want to know when it is okay to do it. Some people would answer “never” and that is their right.

Here at The Baby Sleep Site®, I understand that all situations are unique and what works for you might not work for others and what works for others might not work for YOU! I am here to help you develop the plan that will be most likely to succeed based on your baby’s temperament and personality and your parenting style and philosophy. If your philosophy goes against cry it out, simple DON’T DO IT (it won’t work anyway).

First, let me define what I mean by “cry it out” because it means different things to different people.

What Cry It Out Isn’t

  • Cry it out is not replacement for feeding when baby can not comfortably sleep all night without food.
  • Cry is out is not meant to be used when baby is hungry, wet, very sick, in pain, etc.
  • Cry it out does not mean throwing your baby into a room, closing the door and ignoring baby forever and ever.
  • Cry it out is not replacement to parenting when baby needs it.

That last one some would say is always true, but I disagree, but we’ll get to that.

What Cry It Out IS

That’s it! Sometimes it’s just about setting limits that you will not nurse all night or replace a pacifier 10 times per night or rock your baby in the rocking chair for 3 hours and then every 2 hours after that (like my son wanted me to do). Those are all sleep associations that sometimes need to be broken (and not replaced with a new one).

The act of crying does nothing to teach baby to sleep and it won’t change his personality. Cry “it” out is simply letting baby find his own way to fall asleep and allowing him to cry out his frustration about not being able to get that pacifier replaced for the 10th time. None of us get better at something without practice.

OF COURSE, some parents can nurse all night and it works great for them. Others can rock their baby for 10 minutes and he sleeps all night. But, many of us are simply not that lucky. If baby cried being in the car seat, would you take him out while driving because he was crying?

It is hard for many of us to break habits, but the longer you do it, the harder the habit is to break, right?

Cry It Out – What age?

So, what’s the right age to allow baby to cry it out? Once again, this answer will vary. I try to empower parents here on this site. You know your baby best! At some point you know that your baby is very capable of putting herself to sleep, but prefers you to rock, bounce, nurse, etc. her to sleep. There is not going to be a magic age, but one day you will realize what baby once NEEDED to fall asleep, now she simply WANTS it. That is the key to finding the “right” time. You are simply at your wits end and just can’t do “it” anymore.

Having said all that, if your baby’s temperament is “easy”, sometimes all it takes is for you to just get out of the way a little bit and allow baby to fuss for 5 minutes or less. In addition to this fussing for newborns, there are a few other gentle ways you can help your baby build healthy sleep habits. We outline newborn-friendly sleep coaching strategies, including sample sleep-inducing routines, in our e-book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep. In addition, we offer special newborn-focused Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are tailored to guide your newborn to better sleep in a gentle, safe way. The ideal age for formal sleep training is usually before your baby can sit up and stand, since that tends to complicate things, but we work with babies and toddlers at a variety of ages up through 3-4 years old and it’s never too late to establish healthy sleep habits.

How to Cry It Out

There are NUMEROUS variations to the cry it out method and it’s important to be responsible about it. It is unfair to just “snap” one day, let him cry and then go to him the next day, on/off, on/off. You need to make A PLAN. I also never recommend to allow baby to cry it out when she is still swaddled, because they need to find a way to self-soothe by finding their fingers/thumb. Also, you should ensure your baby does not have any health problems by visiting her pediatrician before starting any formal sleep training method such as cry-it-out. If your baby changes sleep patterns abruptly, it can be an ear infection or reflux or another issue, so those should be ruled out, first. Generally, if your baby has had “sleep problems” for several weeks / months and there have not been health issues, that is when you may want to consider the cry-it-out method.

Cry It Out? Or Not? Either Way, The Baby Sleep Site Can Help!

Regardless of which kind of sleep training method is best for you and your family – from very gentle to cry it out – you can teach your baby to sleep soundly at night. And we can help you do it. We have helped thousands of families around the world with their babies’ sleep challenges, and we can help you, too! Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.

Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.

Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

bss_ebook_freeguide_leftWant FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night! The guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in it as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your baby is waking at night – and what you can do about it.
Click here to learn more about how to get your free guide.

A better night’s sleep could be just a few clicks away. So don’t wait – download now, and start your journey to better sleep tonight!

Need Baby and Toddler Sleep Help? We Have the Resources You Need!

bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.

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What does Cry It Out mean to you?


  1. Jennifer says

    I have two girls, ages 10 and 11, and one boy who is 7 months old. We used the Ferber (check and console) method on both girls as infants. We were very consistent from the beginning (at 4 months with the oldest girl and at 3 months with the youngest girl). Both girls have been great sleepers since they were infants (after the sleep training). They are very affectionate, smart, HAPPY, and well-behaved. Giving them (and myself) the gift of sleep was one of the best decisions I made as a parent. In my opinion, my girls are more confident and independent because of it.

  2. Stephanie says

    My husband and I planned on using CIO before our daughter was even born. It was important to us that she develop the confidence and security to fall asleep on her own by self soothing. She coslept in our room in a bassinet until 3 months, at which point she started taking naps in her crib in her room. Her 1st full night in her crib in her room was at 4 months. She cried for about 18 minutes, then gradually less each night. By the end of the week she squealed and rolled over. We made sure that she was awake when we laid her in the crib by gently burping and kissing her goodnight. It’s definitely hard to hear your baby cry, but I knew she had a full belly, dry bottom, and comfy bed. And I knew that teaching her the art of sleep would be priceless to her health. My healthy and happy thriving 15 month old (who is still nursing) has been sleeping through the night since 6 months old, ode to 100% commitment to Sleep Training and CIO. Best advice I ever received and give!

  3. Misty says

    Help!! I have a beautiful 8.5 month old baby girl who does not sleep well at all! She wakes anywhere from 3-6 times a night. We have a good bedtime routine and she will generally go down ok at night. I am an exclusive pumper so she is breastfed and she also does really well with eating solids (she does baby-led-weaning) and has lots of fresh fruits, veggies and meats. She will usually only last 2 hours between waking up, when she wakes up the only thing that will put her back to sleep is a bottle. I know it’s probably teaching her that if she cries, she gets a bottle so we are reinforcing a bad habit but I have a very very very hard time letting her cry! She also has a terrible temper on her and will throw a HUGE fit if she doesn’t get her bottle! Any advice on weaning her from the bottle or other tips?


  1. […] Babies might not do it every sleep cycle, but they do some. You do not need to allow your baby to cry-it-out, but for most parents any amount of crying feels a lot longer than it is. Many parents […]