Crying it Out: The Positive Results


Last night at 4am, my sixteen-month old woke briefly and began to cry. This is very uncommon for either of my children as they have both been excellent sleepers from just a few months of age. We checked on him through our video monitor and allowed him to cry for just a minute or two, as he relocated his pacifier and drifted off to sleep for the remainder of the night without either of us ever entering his room. While we do always strive to provide both of our children with comfort and security at all times, we often allow them to find ways to soothe themselves rather than immediately rushing to their bedside. In situations such as this, my children have been giving the opportunity to “cry it out” which has provided our entire family with lasting benefits.

If you’re reading this, then you’re likely a parent who probably already has his or her preconceived ideas (one way or the other) about letting your babies and children “cry it out.” Before I go any further, let me clarify that while both my children have “cried it out” from time-to-time, we have always tended to them immediately when sick, hurt, or under any other abnormal situation. No matter what the circumstance allowing your children to “cry it out” is never fun. It takes a toll on me as a mother and is always difficult to bear. My husband and I typically end up huddled around the baby monitor plotting our strategy. However, “crying it out” despite its numerous negative connotations can actually result in very positive and lasting results in teaching children to self soothe, develop independence and establish healthy sleep habits.

Once my children were of an age where they had established that they could consistently sleep through the night, “crying it out” became a part of our lives as we felt it important for our children to learn to sleep well independently. As my children get older with my youngest being in the toddler stage, once we realize he is crying solely for attention when it is time to sleep, we default to a reasonable “cry it out” period. Most times the baby is asleep before we sleepily walk across the house to check on him. Yes, the nights of listening to them wail briefly were hard but we always watched them carefully on a video monitor and listened closely for sounds of distress. Many times, we entered their room thinking we’d effectively soothe them only to end up holding a baby who wanted to play in the middle of the night and who would cry each and every time we returned them to their crib. Our children thrive on a good night’s sleep as do we. Adequate, independent sleep for our entire family is routine in our home. A restful night and naps for our children greatly decreases their crankiness and allows my husband and I to better preform our occupations in life and our job as parents. At bedtime, we enjoy a family routine of story time, song and some snuggles then it is lights out for both kiddos who easily fall asleep alone in their own beds giving my husband and I time to catch up on chores, watch TV or spend quality time together. A few nights of crying for mere minutes has given our children the ability to fall asleep on their own and sleep through the night early on in life.

“Crying it out” certainly isn’t appropriate when your child is sick or if there is an actual cause for crying. While not fitting for all circumstances, if you can recognize when your child is simply crying for attention, allowing them to “cry it out” will yield positive results for both parents and baby. “Crying it out” surely won’t eliminate all sleepless nights, but it has given our children the important skill of independent, healthy sleeping habits — a life-long gift.

Jennifer is a native of Houma, LA, but moved to Baton Rouge nearly 10 years ago to be with the love of her life. She and her husband are proud parents to a spunky five-year-old daughter, Kendall, and curious two-year-old son, Keller. Jennifer works part-time as Speech Therapist treating the adult and geriatric populations. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking food from scratch for friends and family, shopping, exercising, volunteering in the community and exploring the wonderful world of wine! Jennifer believes that love is shown through food (as most Louisiana natives do) and enjoys filling the tummies of those for whom she cares. Jennifer is a member of the Junior League of Baton Rouge. Jennifer and her family are proud residents of the Baton Rouge area and love the culture and fun our community has to offer.


  1. Cry it out gets such a bad rap, mostly because of the way it was first proposed on how to do it…putting the baby in the room, shutting the door and getting her up the next morning. I don’t believe in, like you, letting a baby cry all hours of the night without checking on them and making sure they don’t ‘need’ anything. But I am OK with letting a child figure things out on their own with lots of supervision. Just like when you teach a child how to ride a bike, you are not going to let them go ride in traffic. It will be with close monitoring, lots of hand holding (rather bike holding) initially and then finally letting go when you think they are close to mastering it. I also believe that when parents try the ‘cry it out’ technique proposed many years ago, mainly out of tired desperation, they and the child will almost always fail. This is secondary to parents hearing somewhere that it works and then trying it without setting up the proper framework beforehand. My recommendation, as a pediatrician, sleep consultant, and most importantly mother, is to get your child sleeping well, eating well and then eliminate yourself from soothing them all the way to sleep, gradually and meticulously. This way you will have blissful sleep for all involved with very few tears…just like Jennifer! Thanks for the great post!! -Dr Vyas


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