I know many parents are firmly against the “cry it out” method on the basis that it causes emotional scars and whatnot. Personally, I don’t agree with that logic (even though the famous Dr. Sears would disagree with me…but I disagree with a lot of his advice. Anyway…). My parents used this method on me and I have no emotional scars from it. In fact, I think I have a darn good relationship with them–maybe better than what most people my age have with their parents–so this emotional scarring logic makes no sense to me 😛 Anyway, moving on…
I think the method is something you have to approach carefully. It doesn’t work for every baby. Nor should you use this method one one who is younger than 4 months old. I think there’s also some misconceptions about it. Some think that you let your baby scream bloody murder until he stops. Actually, that’s not how it works at all. This article on BabyCenter really helps clarify some of the misconceptions. According to the Ferber method, you start gradually. You leave for three minutes the first time and then come back in and pat your baby’s back, telling him or her it’s OK. The time is gradually increased over days.
For us, we haven’t had to use this method at night. We’ve been blessed so far in that Thomas knows his bedtime routine (bath, bottle, book, bed) and generally puts himself to sleep within one cycle of the musical seahorse. There have been some nights where he’s fussed a bit going to sleep and I’ve done the method and he’s generally out within 15 to 20 minutes for the whole night.
However, I am trying this now with his naps. He is one tough cookie when it comes to getting him to take one; he fussses and squirms like none other when he gets sleepy. He also doesn’t sleep much longer than 30-40 minutes per nap. (I will take the short naps since he sleeps 11 hours every night). But four times a day, it’s a struggle. He used to sleep in his bouncer but he’s at an age now at almost 6 months to be sleeping in his crib. And the crying starts.
We started transitioning to the crib this weekend at my parents’ house because there was just too much activity to sleep in his bouncer in the living room. It’s been difficult. The first few times, no matter how much I tried holding, rocking, shushing, he squirmed and fought harder than ever. So the day after Thanksgiving I decided to just let him cry it out, since he was already doing that anyway. I patted his back, then disappeared for a few minutes while he fussed. So far, it seems this is what it takes to get him to finally fall asleep. He fusses and cries, squirms and turns over in his crib about a dozen times, and then finally zonks out.
Anyway, I’ve only been trying this a few days now, so it’s yet to be determined if this will ultimately work for us. I am certain that Thomas is just going to be one of those children that fights the nap with everything he has, but if letting him fuss a bit to get him to sleep is what it takes, I’m all for it.