Cry It Out, Ferberizing, Controlled Crying, or No Cry Sleep Training: What’s The Difference?

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Crying during sleep training is a touchy subject, but it’s one that’s worth addressing. Why? Because most parents aren’t aware that crying during sleep training is a spectrum.

Many families who are new to The Baby Sleep Site® mistakenly assume that sleep training is nothing BUT crying….heartbreaking, seemingly endless crying.

However, while a very small percentage of parents are okay with nonstop crying, the vast majority aren’t.

Most of the parents with whom we work accept that there will be some fussing during sleep coaching (even the gentlest methods may produce a bit of fussing), but they want to minimize crying and offer their babies soothing and comfort during the sleep coaching process.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to sleep train that will put you between ‘nonstop awful crying’ and ‘soothing baby back to sleep every time he so much as makes a peep’. And we’re going to explore those further in today’s blog post!

Cry It Out Ferberzing Controlled Crying Sleep Training

What Is Cry It Out?

The definition of cry it out tends to vary, depending on who you ask. True cry it out, also known as extinction, involves laying your baby down at bedtime and then letting him cry himself to sleep. However, many (MANY) parents who’ve used cry it out (also called CIO) will tell you that they do check-ins with their baby, and don’t simply shut the door at bedtime and then re-enter the room the next morning.

It’s important to remember that cry it out is NOT intended to be a replacement for parenting and caring for your baby. You shouldn’t leave your baby to cry it out in his crib if he has a wet or dirty diaper, if he is ill, is in pain, etc.

In other words, parents who use cry it out responsibly allow their babies to cry at the start of and during sleep, in order to learn how to fall asleep independently, but they also make sure their babies are well-cared for and nurtured.

What Are Ferberizing and Controlled Crying?

Surprise! Ferberizing and controlled crying are actually the same thing. 😉

With Ferberizing and controlled crying, you essentially allow your child to fuss and cry at bedtime or at the start of a nap (or after a night waking or a too-early nap waking), but you plan to check in with your child at regular intervals. What’s nice about this one is that it gives your child plenty of space to practice self-soothing, but it also allows you to provide soothing and comfort, and to reassure your child. Even better, since you set the intervals of consoling, you can offer comfort as often as you’d like. Most parents start with relatively short intervals at first (going into the room every 3 to 5 minutes, for example) and then gradually extend the intervals as sleep training progresses.

What Are Some No-Cry Sleep Training Methods?

I should mention again that it is virtually impossible to sleep train without at least a little bit of fussing on your baby’s part. You can keep the crying very minimal using gentle methods, but if your goal is zero crying know that may not be achievable.

Two of the gentlest sleep coaching methods include Fading and Pick-Up-Put-Down. You can read more about these methods in our sleep training cheat sheet. With gentle methods like these, you work to teach your baby new, healthy sleep habits while supporting her throughout the entire process.

Cry It Out, Ferberizing, Controlled Crying, No Cry: Which Sleep Coaching Method Is Right For You?

It can be tough to select just the right sleep training method for you and your baby. The choice about how to approach sleep training is a deeply personal one and requires you to understand and account for your baby’s temperament as well as your own parenting style. Keep in mind, when choosing a sleep training method, that the best method is one that works for your baby AND FOR YOU. Most parents forget that second part. Even if you are positive that a gentle sleep training method is what your baby needs if you can’t sustain that approach and stay consistent, your sleep training plan is bound to fail.

Resources to Help You Choose a Sleep Training Method

These resources can help you determine which sleep coaching method is the right fit for both your baby and you:

A few pointers to remember, as you choose a sleep coaching method:

  • Gentle methods tend to take longer to produce meaningful results, so prepare to be patient if you opt for a gentle approach.
  • Staying in the room at bedtime works great for some babies, but for others, having mom or dad nearby is actually more upsetting. If you plan to stay in the room during sleep training, try it for a few nights, but be flexible: if your presence is more upsetting than soothing, it may be better to stay outside the door.
  • The pick-up-put-down method can be a great gentle sleep coaching method, but some babies actually get more upset by this method – all the “manhandling” is upsetting instead of soothing.
  • You can start your Ferberizing with short intervals, but don’t go much shorter than 5 minutes; intervals shorter than that don’t allow your baby enough time to practice self-soothing.

Cry It Out, Controlled Crying, Ferberizing, No Cry Sleep Training….Let Us Help You Make Sense Of It All!

Solving your baby’s tough sleep problems may feel impossible…you may wonder how on earth you’re going to get from sleepless nights and erratic naps to better rest for your whole family. But progress IS possible – especially if you have the right help! One of the easiest and fastest ways to solve even the toughest baby sleep problems is to try a personalized consultation from The Baby Sleep Site®. Your consultation will allow you to work one-on-one with an expert sleep consultant. Your consultant will craft a Personalized Sleep Plan® just for your family, walk you through each step of implementing the plan at home, and then will support you throughout the process.

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to log in and get started right away – it’s that simple!

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8 thoughts on “Cry It Out, Ferberizing, Controlled Crying, or No Cry Sleep Training: What’s The Difference?”

  1. Hello! So, I’m having issues sleep training my 8 month old baby. For the past 8 months, I usually breast fed him and he would fall asleep. He would still wake up about 3 times during the night, and I found it easier to just breast feed him as he would fall right back to sleep. At this point, I want him to be able to fall asleep without me having to breast feed him as it has taken a toll on me being that I am the only one who can put him down to sleep at night. My husband and I have tried having family members babysit for us so that we can go out and have some “adult” time, but it they struggle putting him to sleep and usually end up calling us that night as the baby cries non stop. Can anyone provide me with suggestions?

    • Hi Tired Mother! Thanks for writing, and hang in there! We’ve all been tired mothers here too, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! This link should help you get started, so you can make a plan: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-training-baby-guide/
      Then stick to your plan and be consistent! We’d love to help you with this! Please contact us for more info on our consultation packages and which one might be the best fit! Good luck!

  2. How long should i wait before entering the room and putting him back in bed my son is 25months i have tried everything to help him but all he does is cry and scream both my older children didn’t have a problem with sleep time or being left alone for small amounts of time my son wont leave my side for more than a minute if im not in the room with him

    • Hi @Helen, thanks for writing to us. I am so sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with your son’s sleep. How you approach it is going to be totally up to you and the plan that you make. This age is more challenging since separation anxiety is peaking (I understand, my son is a little younger than yours and is obsessed with me too and I’m dreading him turning 2) but it will also be a skill you’ll need to help him learn, and there are so many ways to go about it. I do think that it sounds like you would benefit working one-on-one with a sleep consultant that can help create a specific plan that works for you and the temperament of your child. If you are interested in working with one of our consultants and them creating a custom sleep plan for you, you can read more about that here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
      They can look at a full sleep history and work with you step by step through this separation anxiety. Hang in there and let us know if you have any other questions. If you’d like to talk about this directly, email us anytime at contact@babysleepsite.com. Hope this helps!

    • @Caroline, Thanks for using The Baby Sleep Site as a resource for sleep! Generally, the 3rd nap is more of a catnap, so using CIO may just take too long and by the time the baby is asleep, they may need to wake up again to not sleep too close to bed time. Many babies phase out of the 3rd nap as early as 7 months. When my baby needs the 3rd nap but is fighting me on it, I will often wear him in his carrier or go on a walk to encourage a short nap to help him make it to bedtime (and if he doesn’t nap the fresh air is always nice and calming). If it doesn’t work, we move bedtime up to prevent him from getting over tired. Thanks for commenting!

  3. The best thing for us was learning that it is normal for babies to wake at night and is actually evolutionarily programmed into them. It is only our culture that has everyone obsessed with sleep and sleep schedules. NO NEED FOR SLEEP TRAINING! Forcing sleep only creates stress for everyone. Once we started cosleeping, our lives changed. No one cared anymore how many times baby woke up at night because it was no longer a giant ordeal and we ALL slept great without forcing any unnatural, uncomfortable methods.

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