How Much Crying is Involved in Sleep Training?

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How Much Crying is Involved in Sleep Training?


Oct 2, 2019


Inevitably when we make change, guess what happens? Your child protests. Your child isn’t happy about it. You know why? Nobody likes change!! The easiest way for your child to show you they don’t like change is to cry. Your child is going to cry when you sleep train them. That’s simply put. 

Let’s imagine a line and on one end you’ve got the no cry sleep solution, and on the far side, you’ve got the cry it out method. These are the two extremes in the sleep training world. The no cry sleep solution teaches how you can gently train your baby to sleep through the night without tears. These no-cry methods can take up to about six to nine months to work, and if that’s the route you want to go for- do it! The other method is cry it out (also known as CIO). The true CIO is the extinction method. This teaches that you put your child in their bed, walk out of the room, close the door, and don’t come back for 12 hours. When used, it can take one or two nights to see progress.

My problem with CIO is that it’s not a plan. Unfortunately, I’ve recently heard many pediatricians suggest this method to families. In fact, as one client told me- her Pediatrician suggested that she “just put headphones on” to not hear the child cry. (That made my blood boil!!!) You see, suggesting that you do CIO is not a step by step process or plan to help your baby sleep well. It’s a statement with no understanding of sleep behind it.

Both the no-cry solutions & CIO methods do work for people. Both of these families ended up with kids who sleep 11-12 hours each night and have great naps. If that is you, awesome! But chances are, you are here because you are very nervous. You’re feeling apprehensive about how much crying is involved with sleep training. I want to walk you through what crying and sleep training really means. 

If you buy any of my courses I am not going to tell you to close the door for 12 hours with no intervention. I’m not the true cry it out method. I just don’t think that’s a real plan. But! I’m also not going to guarantee no crying. 

So with these extremes I am somewhere in the middle.

While we definitely want your baby to learn quickly how to sleep (who has six months to dedicate?!) it does mean there’s going to be crying involved. On the first night of getting started with our Sleep E-Coaching™ it can take between 45-60 minutes for your baby to fall asleep.

That doesn’t always mean the child is crying that whole time, but sometimes they do. In our different programs I walk you through Stay In The Room or Leave & Check strategies, depending on your child’s age and development.

There are of course outliers! Some children get in the crib, whine for a few minutes, roll over, and fall asleep within five minutes for the first time ever. I’ve also had toddlers who have only ever slept with Mom or Dad go to sleep in their own bed in 15 minutes and sleep all night…on night one!! There are then children who can take up to two and a half hours to choose sleep.

Night one is the hardest, I will never sugar coat that. Making change on night one is difficult. But you have to see measurable success BY NIGHT THREE.

Seriously! Within three nights you have to be seeing hope, success, light at the end of the tunnel, progress!

If you’ve been sleep training for weeks or months, that’s not what we want. Not only is that unfair to you, it’s unfair to baby! Sleep is complex! And my job as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant is to help you navigate the complexity of sleep training. While Sleep E-Coaching™ programs WORK and guide you through action steps, there are always elements of needing accountability and coaching.

What to expect with Babies

Within the first three nights of sleep training a baby you should notice:

  • Nightly reductions in how long it takes to fall asleep (EX: Night 1= 60 minutes / Night 2= 45 minutes / Night 3= 15 min)

  • They are eating efficiently and alert at bedtime routine feed

  • Night wakings are decreasing.

What to expect with Toddlers

Within the first week when sleep training a toddler you should notice:

  • Bedtime is becoming a lot more structured

  • They’re not fighting you on bedtime

  • Night wakings are decreasing.

Impacts of crying

So often I hear parents say..

  • “I’ve heard that your child should never cry out because they will have abandonment issues or trust issues…

  • “I’ve heard children are not ready to self-soothe until they are three years old.

  • “Am I damaging my child when they cry?


Your child is in a loving home. A protected environment. Protesting change happens at any age.

My favorite study on crying is from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This study talks about how after a 5-year study of children who had been sleep trained, there were no negative effects from their sleep training.

But guess what? There ARE negative effects if you don’t teach your child how to sleep well!!!

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.

I want you to know that YES, we can make sleep a thing, sleep is possible. The lifelong gift of how to teach your child to sleep far outweighs that one to two nights of difficulty. Anytime we make a change, it’s hard. 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 tough, and makes you nervous as heck and has you wondering why you did what you did. Sleep training is hard, but it should never be impossible. 

So perhaps you feel like you have a fork in the road:

  • Will you make change that means a better quality of life in a matter of days?

  • Or will you continue on with more crying in the long run because of nightly inconsistencies?

Let’s make sleep a thing, together!

Sweet Dreams,
Becca Campbell
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant

The following articles are here to support our process, and explain how sleep training is the most beneficial skill you can teach your baby:

Helping Babies Learn to Cope with Stress & Sleep Well

AAP 5 Year Follow Up of Benefits & Harm to Sleep Training

Sleep Linked to Better Cognitive Development



  1. Laura says:

    Thank you. Love the way you frame this conversation. As a former nanny, I’ve sadly seen way too many babies and kids not get adequate sleep and it’s really not good for them. They are unhappy, uncoordinated, distracted, and overly sensitive. In some cases it’s heartbreaking. Makes me happy to see someone like you who is helping families provide sound sleep for their kids.

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