How Much Crying Is Involved in Sleep Training
Inevitably when we make change, guess what happens? Your child protests. Your child isn’t happy about it. You know why? Nobody likes change, and the easiest way for your child to show you they don’t like change is to cry.
Every parent has apprehension about having baby cry. I hear this daily from parents. Recently I was chatting with a parent about their nervousness to begin any type of sleep training. While I can never twist anyone’s arm to begin sleep training, I do need to inform you that YES. Your child will cry. But what do we do about it? How much crying IS involved in sleep training?
First, let’s imagine a line. On one end you’ve got no cry sleep solution, and on the far other side, you’ve got the cry it out method (also known as extinction).
EXTINCTION METHOD ————————————————————————————— NO CRY SOLUTION
These are the two extremes.
NO CRY SLEEP SOLUTION
This method talks about how you can gently train your baby to sleep through the night. These methods can take up to about six to nine months to teach your baby how to sleep well. If that is what you want, go for it! I’m not here to twist your arm one way or the other.
The other method is talking about cry it out. I want to set the record straight, again, that cry it out, the true extinction is that you walk out of the room, close the door, and say, “See you in twelve hours.” That’s the true Cry-It-Out!
While this is a strategy that works for some, it’s not for everyone. I’ve heard many pediatricians suggest, “Just do Cry-It-Out” to my families. They suggest you should just put on headphones and let your child cry. What kind of plan is that?! It’s not!! It’s not a step by step process or plan to help your baby sleep well, just a statement made in passing after hearing, “My baby doesn’t sleep.”
Now, I have met people who have done the no cry sleep solution and that worked for them. I’ve also met people who’ve done cry it out and that worked for them. These families ended up with kids who sleep 11-12 hours long and had great naps. If that is you, awesome!! But chances are, you are here reading this blog because you are very nervous.
You’re feeling apprehensive about how much crying is involved with sleep training. And I want to walk you through what to expect.
I’m not going to say….”Just do CIO”
First of all, if you buy any of my courses, if we work together one on one, I am not going to tell you to close the door and see you in 12 hours. I’m not the cry it out method. We are not about to let your child be behind the door and you not do anything for 12 hours. I just don’t think that’s a plan!!
Also, I’m not here to guarantee no crying. I can never guarantee that. In fact, if anybody has ever told you they can guarantee your child is not going to cry when you make change…I would be verrrry skeptical.
The easiest thing in the world for your baby, even toddler and preschooler, is open up their mouth and cry and whine. Ya’ll, my 4-year-old cries when she cannot wear her princess dress… so I just don’t think it’s possible to sleep train without making your baby upset about the changes.
Looking at these 2 extremes, I put myself somewhere in the middle.
While we definitely want your baby to learn quickly how to sleep, it does mean there’s going to be crying involved. I tell my families on the first night of getting started with E-Coaching™, I can call an average for your baby. Babies 4-16 months old, it can take about forty-five to sixty minutes for your child to choose to go to sleep for bedtime. That’s about the average! That doesn’t always mean the child is crying that whole time, but sometimes it does.
However, I have had outliers. Children who get in that crib, roll over, and fall asleep within five minutes for the first time ever, and I’ve had all the way up to two and a half hours.
Night one is the hardest, I will never sugar coat that.
Making change on night one is difficult, but you have got to be seeing measurable success by the 3rd night in!! I will shout this every day of my life as a sleep consultant! If you have a baby you are sleep training, and you are on night three, you’ve got to be seeing measurable success. Somewhere in these past three nights, you’ve got to be seeing the light and the hope that this is working.
If that’s not you… you’ve been sleep training for weeks or months, that’s not what we want.
You might not be the right method if it’s taking more than 3 nights for something the click. Or, you might need someone professional to step in and say, “Hey, you don’t have the whole puzzle together here. Let’s fix it” Sleep is complex!
I’ve definitely had families reach out who are doing E-Coaching and say, “Hey, I’m on night five and this is what’s happening”, and I’m like “Woah! You’re not doing it correctly, we need to refocus.” That’s the element of personal coaching. That’s the element of me being able to say here’s what we need to fix, and here’s what we need to do. A majority of the time, when you get into E-Coaching and you follow a step-by-step plan, you’ve got a kid sleeping through the night because you have a plan, and that baby was ready!
You’ve got to see measurable success. You’ve got to see by that third night this is working.
I also want you to know that if you have a toddler, we’re not going to see the light on the third night. You’re going to be working, working, working, and within that first week, you need to be seeing that things are looking so much better.
Wins for toddler sleep training in the first week look like:
Bedtime is becoming a lot more structured.
They’re not fighting you on bedtime.
Their night wakings are going down.
>>As we get to the pre-school age, it’s definitely a three to four-week process of undoing years of habits, but at the same time, not matter the age, four months to four years old, your little one is going to protest.
Digging into crying + effects on baby
So I’ve laid out what is involved and how we should measure success, but what about crying? Here’s what my clients say…
“Becca, get real with me about what crying does to my child. Because I’ve heard that your child should never cry out because they will have abandonment issues or trust issues.”
Let me tell you that is not true. In fact, I’m linking my top 3 articles here:
My favorite study is the 5 Year Follow Up from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It talks about how after a 5-year study with children who had been sleep trained, there were no negative affects from their sleep training. But guess what?
There are negative affects if you don’t teach your child how to sleep well.
You maaaay already know this, but broken sleep is the worst. Broken sleep causes so many issues to your health, to your marriages, to the way you feel day in and day out. You’re more susceptible to getting sick, you are absolutely at your wits end when it comes to dealing with things the next day, it’s difficult.
You’re looking at a fork in the road: Keeping on with the broken sleep, or making change in a matter of nights.
Let’s make change!!!
I know that it’s doing to be met with protest. Probably not just by baby, but maybe by you too. Remember, we’ve got to see those night 3 results. We’ve got to see that it’s working and it’s clicking… or you can continue down your sleep deprived path and have a lot of negative repercussions.
A few years ago, I had a mom call me, and she said, “Becca, that’s it! I am ready to work with you because I’ve got shingles.” She said it’s been months of sickness after sickness after hospitalization and finally shingles. She’d had enough. We were able to completely change her situation, give her health back… because sleep is the foundation of your health.
I want you to know that yes, we can make sleep a thing. Sleep is possible. I’m not here to twist you arm. I’m here when you’re ready.
There is going to be protest and there is going to be pushback from your toddler or preschooler, but the lifelong gift of how to sleep far outweighs that one to two nights of difficulty.
Anytime we make change, whether that’s going to the gym for the first time, where you’re going to sweat, or making a career change and that first day is really difficult and makes you nervous as heck and makes you wonder why you did what you did. Sleep training is hard, but it should not ever be impossible.
Deep sigh, deep breath! It’s not ever easy to talk about crying. In fact, any time I ever go into a family’s home and we start the sleep training process, it’s not easy for me to hear your child cry. What is always such a relief is when your child for the very first time puts themselves to sleep at bedtime! It is an amazing feeling to know that they did it! They were in control! They drove themselves to sleep!
Ready to take those action steps?
Sleep is a thing, let’s make it happen!