Tired of researching?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.
Tired of researching?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.
Tired of researching?   Yes! I need help and more sleep.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Sarah says

    I’m curious what people are really referring to when they say “cry.” My LO is 6 months old and I feel like his cry is horrific (although I admit maybe I am biased). But he screams so hard with his back arched and flailing limbs. He sounds gurgley from all of the mucus and I just can’t convince myself that he is “fine.” I feel like it would be so much more doable if he was whimpering or “crying” like I have heard other babies. He has been an intense crier since day one to the point of even not taking in a breath and turning blue quite a few times while we were still in the hospital. But are all the methods and intervals the same no matter how hard the baby is crying?

    • Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site says

      Hi @ Sarah – Thanks for writing! Every baby is different, and all babies do have different cries! I was blessed with one very intense crier (sounds similar to yours!) and one baby who’s cries and temperament were much calmer and less intense. It is really up to you to decide on which sleep coaching methods to try, as well as a personal decision on intervals regarding checking on baby. Start gentle and slow, to minimize those intense screams, and if using intervals, start those very small/short, and do what you feel okay with! Every journey to sleep will be unique – so do what works for you!
      Let us know if you need assistance, and thanks for visiting!

  2. Norm says

    What about CIO during sleep regressions? Our 15 month old was sleeping through the night no problem, and now he is waking up every night crying. I wait a long time (30mins – 1.5 hours) depending on how in panic he seems vs just light crying/babbling but eventually go in there to check on him. He is not sick, doesn’t have a dirty diaper, sleeps with a water cup in his crib and has his blanket. I can’t figure out why he is waking. After holding him for a little I lay him back down and he goes to bed. How do I fix this and not make it worse / create a bad habit?

    • Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site says

      Hi @Norm – Thank you for writing, and sorry to hear that your LO is waking at night! If you have ruled out any health/medical reasons for this new waking, you may want to take a peek at his schedule. A toddler that is getting the right amount of sleep at the right times will tend to sleep better. Here is a link so our sample schedules:
      It may be a sleep regression, in which case you will want to continue what you are doing – give him time to settle back down on his own, and give minimal support needed to calm him, so that he still knows that he can fall back to sleep on his own. It sounds like you are putting him back to bed before he falls back to sleep, which is a good thing! If things do not smooth out, you may really benefit from an expert sleep consultant taking a really in-depth look and helping get to the bottom of the issues and then help solve them! Hopefully things will smooth out soon, but you can always check out our consultations packages here:
      Good luck!

  3. Laura says

    From experience, I can say that cry it out does not always work. We tried with our healthy 8 month old. She was waking up to 10-12 or more times each night either needed to be nursed (for comfort, not hunger), needed her pacifier put back in, or sometimes needing to be picked up and snuggled back to sleep. For naps and going to bed initially with her swaddle and pacifier she was able to fall asleep on her own with the little to no crying. Anyway, when we tried it, she screamed for 1.5 hours, then started dozing off for 2-5 minutes, waking and letting out a couple sobs before falling back to sleep for just 2-5 more minutes, and so on. At the four hour mark, I decided it would be unreasonable to continue, so I went in, picked her up and nursed her to sleep. Perhaps if I had been willing to leave her there to barely sleep literally all night she would have learned to put herself to sleep, but I felt that would be completely unreasonable. (By the way, we had also tried the “no cry” sleep solutions and gradual approaches with no improvement and we had tried to implement all the good sleep suggestion from day one.) Some babies just will not sleep well no matter what you do.

    The other question I never see answered is this: How long is it reasonable to let your baby cry? Most answers say something like, “Most babies will cry up to a couple hours the first night and less the following nights.” Well, what about babies who are not “most babies”?

    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Laura – so sorry you had such a rough experience!! 🙁 This sounds miserable. As to your question about how long to let a baby CIO – I think there are no firm numbers out there because no one feels comfortable “prescribing” a length of time that will work. If they had that, then I think parents would tend to treat those numbers as a “magic formula”, which of course it wouldn’t be. The truth is, some babies cry for 30 or 40 minutes the first night, and then are basically done with sleep training, and don’t struggle to fall asleep independently after that. Other babies, however, do what you describe – they cry for hours and hours, many nights in a row, and never really get to the point where they can put themselves to sleep independently. ”

      I think what you did is exactly right, and is what most parents do – you allow CIO to happen until you hit your threshold (for you, 4 hours), and then you re-evaluate. Now, I do think that 4 hours is definitely on the long side, so I don’t blame you at all for quitting at that point.

      If you’re still struggling w/ your baby’s sleep, could I suggest that you check out our consulting packages? They’re perfect for parents like you, who’ve already tried everything, and who could use a fresh perspective 😉 You can see all our consulting packages here:

      Best of luck to you, Laura!

  4. Cynthia Elmore says

    I have a question regarding cry-it-out. If I decide to leave my LO crying for 20 minutes interval before going in to console her, and if she ends up sitting and dozing off during the 20 minutes cry period, do I leave her to do so? She would sit and refuse to lay down. She is so sleepy that she dozes off and then would shock herself out of the dozing off when she is about to fall to the side. I do not know if I should go in then to lay her down even if it is no 20 minutes. Do I consider this dozing period as crying or consoling interval?

  5. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Heather Camilli – I would definitely say avoid CIO until your little girl is healthy again. I know it can be tough to wait, but when she’s ill, she likely needs more comfort and attention at night. And during illness, cries really can be a sign that she’s in pain and needs attention. So I would say hold off until her healthy is back to normal.

    Hope this helps! Thanks for commenting, Heather! 🙂

    @ Samantha – weaning from co-sleeping can be tough! Have you considered a consultation to help with this process? You can see all our consultation packages here: As far as general suggestions go, I’d say it might be best to share a room for a bit (while sleeping in separate rooms) and then gradually moving him back to his crib. You can read this article about weaning from co-sleeping: If you want some good, general sleep coaching info, you can find it in our free guide:

    Hope these resources are helpful to you, Samantha! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

    @ Stefan – thanks for sharing a bit about your experience! Yes, eventually the fussing will stop, I promise 🙂 Right now, it’s likely just a little habit he’s developed, but he’ll outgrow it. At least, that’s been my experience, and I’d say the experience of the families with whom we’ve worked.

    Thanks for commenting, Stefan!

    @ Amelia – thanks for sharing your point of view! Not all our readers would agree with you, but that’s okay; we like diversity of opinions here on our site. 😉 I will say that in our experience working with families, it’s true that some babies do naturally learn to do this, but others don’t – we’ve worked with families whose four year old are still up multiple times each night and don’t know how to self-soothe. Some children just need some guidance to get to the point of sleeping through the night without help from mom and dad.

    Thanks for sharing, Amelia!

    @ Lauren Marinins – yes, indeed – every child is different! One of our core philosophies here at The Baby Sleep Site. Thank so much for sharing a bit about the difference between your son and daughter, and highlighting this fact! Much appreciated. 🙂

  6. Lauren Marinis says

    I loved this article. I would like to add that not only is each family going to need a different sleep plan they are comfortable with, but each child will too! I learned this with my two.
    My first baby, now almost 4, had a tough time sleeping after the 4 month sleep regression. My husband and I decided to try Controlled crying with him, going in every 10-15 minutes to help soothe him. After the first two nights we realized us going in to soothe him was actually making it worse! We regrouped and tried CIO, putting him down and seeing how long he would cry. The first night he cried for 45 minutes then fell asleep (we planned on giving up after an hour). Second night, he cried for 20. Third night was 5. By the fourth night he would cry until we left the room but once the door was shut he was out!
    Our second child was a completely different story. We tried the controlled crying, then the CIO, both being complete failures (she cried so hard the first night we did CIO she made herself throw up 30 minutes in. Granted there was no second night.) We realized she needed a gentler approach. We use to rock her to sleep, so we started rocking her till drowsy for a week, then she mastered that. We waited a few days then rocked her standing up, then over her crib, then for a timed amount (the length of her bedtime song). Now we can sing her song, put her down, and she goes to sleep! And since she learned to self soothe, her night time wakings are down from 5-6 a night to just one. Every child is different!

  7. Amelia says

    It is not quite true that a baby needing help to sleep through the night is a parents fault. It is developmentally normal for babies not to sleep through the night. All babies will, at some point, learn this skill – not like riding a bike, more like learning to walk or crawl or talk – it will happen naturally with time even if you do not do CIO.
    Babies are natural learners and don’t need training.

  8. Stefan says

    Thanks for the really informative article. My wife and I had to do CIO recently with our 23 month old toddler. We needed a quick solution to what we think was the 2 year sleep regression. It worked in 2 days and we are now back to 11+ hours of sleep each night. He still sits up and cries for a min or two when we first put him in his cot but then he lays down and goes to sleep. It has been a week now since we first let him CIO. Will he ever go back to happily lying down in his cot with no crying?

  9. Samantha says

    This has been very reassuring to read. I have a 9 month old baby who could self soothe until 4months then after this 4month sleep regression needed me to feed and cradle him to sleep. He would sleep until 5am and come into bed with me, then sleep until 7am. This 5am wake up has gradually become closer to midnight with him refusing to go into his cot after me putting him down numerous times. I’ve been silly due to tiredness and brought him in our bed for about 8 weeks now. I’ve decided its time for sleep training as can’t face having a 2/3 yr old sleeping in our bed every night. He is very clingy so not sure if to try the gradual retreat method moving out of his room more and more each night or go straight to the Ferber method! I just know it’s for the best in the long run but can’t bare to think of how upset he will be. Any tips advice appreciated.

  10. Heather Camilli says

    This article was very helpful. So if my baby has a health issue, cry it out should not be an option for me? My LO is almost 10 months and used to get up once a night until she got sick. Now I have been dealing with sleep deprivation since the end of January. Anyone try crying it out with a sick LO?