The cry-it-out sleep training method is pretty tough for most of us to get through. We do it when we’re desperate, when nothing else will work, when it’s the middle of the night, when we need to go back to work, when we want to regain our grip on reality after toughing it out through those maniacal newborn months. We do it so our babes get the sleep they need for those developing brains. Sometimes I’ve veered toward the so-called extinction method: Say goodnight, shut the door and don’t return until morning. Other times, I’ve turned to the more Ferber-style of CIO: check, console and slowly back away. There’s lots of debate about whether cry-it-out (CIO) is some kind of cruel torture, but it usually seems to come from those who have never really tried it or read much about it—and who curiously seem to need WAY less sleep than me. Here’s the thing: My kids also cry when I place them in the car seat, but I still do it. They cry when they get a shot at the doctor, but I don’t stop taking them. Sometimes they cry when I drop them off at day care. And sometimes, when it’s bedtime, they cry, and I put them to bed anyway. You’ll also, frankly, start to realize that it’s not the end of the world if a baby cries. Fear not, my kids are cuddled and coddled when need be. When they cry in the middle of the night, yes, I run to them and comfort them, because it’s unusual. No, I’m not luxuriating in some sort of 10-hours of uninterrupted parent sleep-fantasy. My kids like to wake before 6:30 a.m. most days, and they’re far from perfect sleepers (who isn’t?). But for the most part, they’ve both slept through the night from a young age after short CIO stints that have returned their mommy to a more pleasant, functioning parental figure. Still there was one component to sleeping training that no one really told me about before I embarked on cry-it-out with my first baby: It’s not a one-time thing. Oh the sleep consultants will tell you statistics about how if you’re consistent (“please, whatever you do, be consistent!”), this takes a mere three days, a week at most and never shall that babe fuss at bedtime again. But the moms I know, including myself, would call BS on that one. Now I like to think of CIO as more of a philosophy that you will repeat over and over again when needed. There’s maybe CIO when they start to crawl, when they learn to pull up, on vacation, after vacation, when they transition to their own room, to the big-kid bed, new PJs, new fill-in-the-blank. The good news is that none of these cries will likely ever feel as painful to either of you as that first foray into sleep training. They will likely be shorter in duration, and as your kid gets older there might even be (gasp) a discussion together about what’s going on; you may try to reason with them! Even by toddler age, there might be compromises to be had, such as a makeshift bed on the floor instead of the scary new big-girl bed that is causing her not to sleep, or a fourth storybook to ease the way to nighttime slumber a bit more. You’ll also, frankly, start to realize that it’s not the end of the world if a baby cries. Sure, I comfort and nurse and let them fall asleep at the boob (another type of parenting fail, apparently), but when they’re fighting sleep and nothing else will do, yes, I’ll walk away again. For me, the alternative—kid and me, awake all night—is even more painful than a repeat of cry-it-out.

By: Rose Gordon Sala from