Crying It Out is teaching your little a-Hole to deal with shit

Dear Baby Sideburns

Our eight month old still wakes us up constantly through the night. I was thinking about letting him cry it out but my friend says that’s mean. What do you think?


Dear Katie,

Beep beep beep beep beep beep. You know what that’s the sound of? That’s the sound of my bullshit’o’meter going off. Unless your “friend” is going to

come on over to your house at all hours of the night to change Mr. Poopie Pants and sing him every verse of Bye Bye Miss American Pie because he screams bloody murder if you stop in the middle, tell your friend to keep her sleep training opinions to herself.

Parents who use CIO (Crying it Out) are not mean. You know who’s mean? That adorable little love-muffin who gets his kicks out of waking your tired ass up like 9,000 times a night. And what does he care if he doesn’t sleep at night since he can just sneak in a bunch of cat naps in his car seat the next day while you’re walking around like a zombie on the set of the Walking Dead.

I mean I know I’m not the sleep-training expert or anything, but letting your baby cry it out is basically teaching them how to deal with shit on his own, which is kinda an important skill in life. Otherwise they grow into one of those douchbaggy adults who has to call his Mommy to wipe him every time he makes poopies at the office.

Does CIO feel mean? Yes. It’s gonna suck ass and the torture of listening to your kiddo scream for 20 minutes (feel like 20 hours) is gonna feel worse than being waterboarded (not a scientific fact) and you’re totally gonna want to go in there and you’re gonna ask your hubby stuff like, “Do you think he’s okay?” and “What if he pooped?”

But here’s the one thing you have to remember. Sorry, two things. One, STAY STRONG!!!!! It sucks but you can do it. And two, you are teaching your kid to self-soothe, so that one day when the vending machine eats his quarters he’s able to deal with it and doesn’t freak out crying and screaming and calling for Mommy and Daddy because he doesn’t know how to calm himself down.

Hope that helps!


Baby Sideburns

There are 36 comments for this article
  1. Jen P at 9:10 pm

    When mine was in that age range, we started it. Of course, mine would have been more effective if we also didn’t have his crib in our room (small house) and he could wake up an hour after I went to bed to gorge on my all-night buffet. We have a bigger house now and he has his own room and from night one here, he slept through the night. Dunno if it’s because CIO was effective or that he doesn’t have the food temptation 3 feet away, but if he wakes up whimpering now, I have a 2 minute rule before going to his room. It works.

  2. Jaime at 9:35 pm

    Totally agree. When my daughter was little ( now 4) we debated cry or give in. I told my husband we have to let her cry it out. I watched on the monitor very closely as she holds her breath when she cries so I was nervous but she did it and we were grateful we did. Best decision we made.

  3. Dawn at 10:01 pm

    When my first son was born, that was the only way he would go to sleep–it was part of his routine to CIO. If we kept running to him and rock him to sleep every time, we would’ve been up all night! If he was still crying 30 minutes later, then we knew he needed something and we’d get him.

    Our friends thought we were mean, but we were just trying to stay sane!

    Ever since he started sleeping in a bed, he’s never had trouble falling asleep–without crying!

  4. Kelsie Fuhfuhfuh Pulsipher at 10:11 pm

    CIO is the best thing I ever did for my now-almost-two year old son. I thought it was mean and cruel at first, but when our pediatrician suggested it (after us mentioning he was no longer content to be rocked to sleep at six months old), we went for it. I’m really glad we did; all of your words about self-soothing make me feel really good about my decision, because that’s what he does now. And like Dawn said, if he’s still crying after 30 mins, he’s actually crying for a reason.

    • christine at 10:43 pm

      That is so horrible that you ladies think that way a baby doesn’t self soothe imagine you being left alone to cry and no one ever comes a baby needs tender love amd care if you didnt want the responsibility to be a mother then you should’ve thought about it before having kids!!

      • Katie at 12:13 am

        No one left anything in their comments about leaving their baby alone and never going to soothe them. It might surprise you to know that I am a very caring and loving mom. This has nothing to do with not wanting the responsibility of being a mother.

      • katy at 8:53 pm

        I.feel bad for you chick, your life must suck b***s

        • Jessica Marie Hitchens at 11:52 am

          Mine doesn’’s amazing.
          .with a kid who isn’t perfect..she’s 4..BUT…shes pretty close. She knows her parents and caregivers are always there and trust fully in my care for her. She’s very secure, with a very high self esteem, and can now self sooth when she needs, but also knows she can come to me if she needs.

          All this because I parent using science, and science says crying it out is harmful to your babies emotional well being.

      • Kelly at 7:06 pm

        Where did you see any of these mother’s stating that they just ignore their child and let them suffer? Several previous posters gave the specific timeframe in which they would go to check that nothing was actually wrong.

        And honest question, what do you think is going to happen when a child you’ve raised to expect immediate attention at the slightest whimper of discomfort? How do you think little precious will handle a nightmare when they’re at a sleepover, or living on their own? What about when something breaks in their first home and mommy or daddy aren’t *right there* to help them figure out how to handle the problem?

        If you pay attention to a child’s cries, you can tell different crying sounds signal different things. If you know the difference between “I’m wet”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m in danger”, and “I’m bored”, its very easy to determine when its appropriate to end “self-soothing time” and address an actual problem.

        No need to run around internet comment sections and judge moms you’ve never met when you didn’t entirely understand what they’d said in the first place…

      • Lindsey at 1:00 am

        100% agree with you Christine- CIO is barbaric. Do primates in the wild do this? No. It’s not natural or instinctual to abandon your child. I have 4 kids and could slept every one from infancy, it can work just fine.

  5. Katie at 12:07 am

    We have done it with both of our kids. After a little while of full blown crying and snot running we would give the binkie, rub their back and tell them I love you. It only lasted like 2 nights or so. I can’t remember actually leaving them for a straight 30 minutes. Its possible. It’s not easy to hear your baby cry, but it’s worth it in the long run! I have two amazing sleepers. And the oldest one is amazing at handling life when the vending machine eats his quarters!

    • katy at 8:55 pm

      I did cry it out after he was 6 months old. Hee still fuss for a minute (9 months) but is usually asleep within a few minutes.
      I used to be really nervous but then I just learned to let it go and trust my instincts

  6. Alura at 9:45 pm

    Crying it out is developmentally harmful. If you need to use some level of crying it out to keep everyone in your family (including you) sane and happy in this awful world that puts us on schedules, that is fine, it’s what you gotta do, but do not be deluded that it teaches self-soothing. It has the opposite effect.

    “The fact is that caregivers who habitually respond to the needs of the baby before the baby gets distressed, preventing crying, are more likely to have children who are independent than the opposite (e.g., Stein & Newcomb, 1994). Soothing care is best from the outset. Once patterns get established, it’s much harder to change them.”

    • Sarah at 10:58 pm

      Alura, I think everyone who has studied some form of CIO knows that you shouldn’t start until at least 4 months or until you have established that you will always meet their needs. I have 2 children who I used that method with. They are excellent sleepers and I know the difference between a “I just don’t want to go to bed” cry and if they truly need me. Everyone needs to realize babies don’t think like adults so all of this how would you feel stuff is rediculous!

    • Lindsey at 1:03 am

      Finally some sense posted, CIO is awful.

  7. Michaela at 11:03 am

    First child: I didn’t think I could handle CIO and, because of my living arrangement, I couldn’t keep him out of my room for the first 18 months of his life. The one and only time I attempted CIO with him, I hadn’t yet realized his dairy sensitivity, so he cried for 4 minutes and puked his freshly swallowed milk all over himself and I made myself a plaque that said “Worst Mom Ever” and hung it over my bed to remember how I made my kid puke himself silly because I wanted to close my eyes for 32 seconds without interruption. Fast forward another 18 months and he’s still waking up 4+ times a night – more than his new lil bro even. I think I suffered from actual, real amnesia because I still can’t remember how I survived all those years, much less, how I managed to wear shoes or drive or shower (in hindsight, that one may have actually not happened).

    Second child: F*** this Sh**. I can’t be a walking zombie for another 5 years. I tried moderated CIO (which is actually what nearly every mom means when she says CIO, but for some reason, she feels she must clarify that she isn’t actually wantonly abandoning her child to scream hysterically for the next 12 hours while she sips mimosas and laughs maniacally). I had to literally time myself with a stopwatch because I couldn’t convince myself to wing the ten/fifteen/twenty minute intervals. A couple semi-rough nights later and I had a kid who developed an early and strong love for slumber. At 3, he is still a better sleeper than his 6 year old bro.

    My advice to any sleep deprived ma will always be for a little push-back on Sir Sleep-No-Mo. Sleep training is something we all have to learn. It can be done gently and effectively.

  8. Stacey at 12:51 pm

    Using CIO is selfish on the parents part. Yes, let’s teach our babies to cry themselves to sleep alone.

  9. Natesmom at 10:38 pm

    CIO works amazingly!! My 7 m/o has been sleeping so much better since we implemented it at 5 months. I went back to work at 7 weeks and my 4.5 months I was a zombie. Then came the sleep regression at 4 months. It was AWFUL. Cut to a month and a half later and he still wanted to wake up 6-7 times a night so I tried CIO and after a week we were down to three night feedings. Two months in, we are down to 1. For those who naysay it, it’s not to be done before 4 months and I used a method mentioned above to know what the cry stands for. It really worked. He’s never cried more than 6 minutes unless something was wrong and, listening to the cry, I am able to fix t and then he sleeps. Of course every baby is different so that may not work for everyone. It worked miraculously for us!

  10. Jennifer Twisdale-Serrano at 3:30 pm

    it kinda depends on the kid too. my youngest is currently 8 mos old also, and wakes thru the night. but this is a child who, from birth,almost NEVER cried for anything. So i know that if she’s crying, she genuinely needs something. Usually i can just nurse her back down easily. Occasionally a dirty diaper. If she’s fussier than those two things will fix, then she’s likely sick. My son on the other hand, liked to be left alone. He would cry for a bit, but you’d make yourself crazy trying to figure out what he wanted or how to make it stop. Cio worked for him.

  11. amy at 12:02 am

    I don’t think any of us need to knock each other for our choices. We used attachment parenting and co-sleeping. It is what worked for us. Use what works for you and your child. Plain and simple. Moms are hard enough on ourselves, we don’t need to be hard on each other.

  12. Liss at 5:42 pm

    Ok, you know what is mean…parents judging other parents for the method in which they parent!! There truly is psychological evidence supporting cio and running to them. What I will say is that in dealing with my 3 children is that children are not created equal. My son, he would not fall asleep unless he cio, no matter how long I rocked him or held him or patted his back the kid would not sleep until he cried himself to sleep. My next child was devastated if we would lay her down awake, but would fall asleep in just 5 minutes of rocking and stay asleep until her next feed time. Our third was much different as she had medical complications but she was a mixture, sometimes she fell asleep by me rocking her and sometimes she’d want down and talk herself to sleep.
    I believe we have to treat children as individuals and the only cruel thing to do is to work against what is natural to your kids. As parents we all try to do what is best for out kids….anyone judging someone else for choosing something different than you is small minded and should keep their opinions to yourself. Be supportive or be quiet!!

    • mom and teacher at 8:18 pm

      This cracked me up. Sleep has been proven over and over to have the most impact on a child’s development much more than what they eat, yet all you ever hear is about the miracles of breast milk. Both my kids slept through the night by two months and when they cried we knew something was wrong. It took discipline and consistency. We have never fought with them over bedtimes or naps because the expectation was always there. As a teacher I have no idea which kids drank formula or breast milk but I guarantee I can pick out the ones whose parents couldn’t handle cio.

      • mom and teacher at 8:01 am

        Just in case I wasn’t clear:I am completely in favor of cio when done with love and common sense. In the past we didn’t have such child-centric lives. Each year the ten and eleven year old children I teach become more and more entitled and reliant on their parents for everything. I have some whose parents insist on packing their backpacks before school and checking them after school. Children are no longer empowered to speak up for themselves, but are encouraged to cry to their parents after school so they will “fix it” Fifth grade boys would have been horrified to cry in front of their peers in the past (even for valid reasons like a death) now they boo hoo and blubber if they lose five minutes of recess.

        • Leslie at 8:40 pm

          Wow: how judgmental a teacher are you? My oldest girl is graduating from grade school, never CIO, has managed all her homework and scheduling since 3rd grade, and handles disappointment without ‘boo Hoo’. To attribute independence to CIO is reductive: many factors lead to independence and resilience. And the comment about boys? I’ll just leave it there, but it is 2016.

  13. miriam at 10:23 pm

    I’m sorry, I’ve been working in early childhood education for 11 years, and specifically with infants (ages 6weeks to 18 months) for four years. I completely disagree with this post. I feel like it is very traumatic for infants to not get their needs met. Most things they do is unintentional. Some infants are more insecure than others and the key to getting them to sleep well, not be clingy, and learn confidence is to meet all their needs as infants so their insecurities do not become overwhelming anxieties.
    And just so everyone knows I have a nine year old, five year old, four year old (the five and four year olds are only eleven months apart ? oops) and an eight month old. All boys who are very (and I mean very) active. I teach 15 four and five year olds all day before going home to my own (talk about second shift). My eight month old still wakes up twice a night to eat and I drop off at three different places (preschool, daycare, and sitters in three different areas of town, morning trek is 1 1/2 worth of driving around and in and out of schools) before clocking in every morning at nine, (which I make sure to get there by eight forty five to make coffee), my point… trust me, I know what its like to be exhausted!!! However, if you chose to have kids you chose all the territory good and bad, difficult and easy, convenient and completely inconvenient. Please meet your babies needs. I know a lot of parents who throughout the years have done the Ferber method, and let the “cry it out”. Crying it out is ok (in my opinion) only once they’re old enough to be taught that just because you do not respond to their crying doesn’t mean you do not love them, but that there is a better way of expressing themselves. The infants who’s parents practice these theories always have the babies who are extremely clingy, anxious, very insecure, and screw upon waking up because they are being taught from infancy that their needs won’t be met until they have cried for an unnecessary amount of time. However, when their needs are met within a timely manner, they learn that if something is wrong or they need anything they will be helped leaving them more open to want to explore and work on their cognitive development instead of anxiously waiting to be left alone again. And before anyone brings it up. My last son is the only one who has continued to wake up this long. All the others (god bless em ?) slept through the night from between 2-3 months. Just meet their needs, they will out grow waking up in the middle of the night, one day you’ll have real problems. Enjoy their innocence and the simplicity of their basic needs. You’ll miss it one day.

  14. Steph at 10:13 am

    I agree with Miriam. A baby crying it out is a shitty, selfish, parent thing. I have 6 kids, never did cry it out because I decided to listen to my baby. You carry them in your warm, comforting womb for 9 months, and then decide a few months later, they should be alone in their cries? No way. So YOU can feel better the next day. Nice.

  15. Christi at 7:52 am

    My Only problem with this is that there is a huge difference between totally abandoning them and doing gradual extinction. Its also basically child abuse if you do it before 5 or 6 months of age.

    There is no blanket rule, one size fits all when it comes to CIO. Use your intuition, don’t be selfish either. You need to put your childs needs first and if CIO is the way you need to go, it won’t take long to google and read about a few different methods so that you can do correctly!!!!! And if you don’t want to let your baby cry, DON’T! Ive had friends that basically got bullied into CIO, they let their baby cry for 2 or more hours then gave in. That really bothers me. Nothing was accomplished but torture for everyone.

  16. Jamie at 1:15 pm

    You are objectively, and scientifically wrong in every way. Baby brains do not function the way older children’s brains do. It is a generally accepted fact that crying it out damages an infant for life. All the studies saying crying it out is harmless have been discredited. “When the baby is greatly distressed,it creates conditions for damge to synapses, the network construction which is ongoing in the infant brain. The hormone cortisol is released. In excess, it’s a neuron killer but its consequences may not be apparent immediately (Thomas et al. 2007). ”

    “The fact is that caregivers who habitually respond to the needs of the baby before the baby gets distressed, preventing crying, are more likely to have children who are independent than the opposite.”

    • Dr. Kermit at 12:15 pm

      Jamie, you are actually incorrect. A number of studies have demonstrated safety and effectiveness of graduated extinction (one type of sleep training). For infants with difficulty going to sleep and falling back asleep during night wakings (which we all have between sleep cycles), research has shown graduated extinction to work well at teaching infants to connect sleep cycles and fall asleep independently. There are no negative outcomes in either the short or longer term for behaviour and mental health in the child, and some evidence even suggests *stronger* parent -child attachment. It also helps reduce symptoms of maternal mental health problems. There is zero research demonstrating any harm from sleep training. The very vocal anti-sleep training bloggers frequently misrepresent research they cite (often using studies of neglected Romanian orphans to claim harm from sleep training) , and never have any actual expertise in pediatric sleep. Behavioural approaches to sleep problems in infants are well established and well accepted by pediatric and sleep scientists and clinicians. A note to those who reference Psychology Today – it is not a scientific journal.

  17. Avigail at 6:41 am

    Forget the studies! For every one that says it will turn your child into a psycho killer to do CIO, there’s another study that will counter it saying if you DONT do it, your child may die from sleep deprivation and grow up to be a loser. I myself do not do CIO. For my first I did some very very mild form at 1 year because he was very high intensity and high need and even though people warned me if I don’t do it, he will never learn to sleep, that’s just not true! When he was ready he slept just fine: and the fact that my milk started to run out truly did leave him hungry before we realized and started formula, attributing to a legitimate reason for his frequent midnight snacking. My second baby is 4 months old now and she was born sleeping like a champ, totally easygoing and low intensity and low need. She will do great with a mild form of CIO (I would come to check on her and give reassurance and comfort every few minutes and increase the time away). I’m not sure when I will do it but def much younger than with my son. 2 diff kids, 2 diff needs, 2 diff approaches. Do I agree in full blown CIO at young ages? NO, but I’m reasonable enough to u understand everyone’s circumstances are different and as long as the doctor says it’s ok, if that’s what you need to be a good mother during the day, better CIO than screaming at your family all day and falling apart. Karen, you make me laugh all the time and I love you but to assume a baby who doesn’t CIO will grow up to be entitled and spoiled is ridiculous. There’s a whole lifetime of raising children and I don’t believe love and comfort at night for a tiny baby would be the reason someone’s kids turn out incapable spoiled brats. I second that to all readers from BOTH sides of the argument. No ones kids who cry to sleep will grow up to abuse animals and their spouse from a few nights they cried in infancy as long as the home is an overall loving one! We are all doing the best we can. Everyone should stop being so harsh on other people and tbemselves.