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Letting My Baby Cry It Out

The sad tears that tug at my heart strings.

All the attachment parents out there are going to hate me for this, but last week I let my baby cry it out.

I would like to preface this by saying that the decision to actually let her cry it out was kind of unintentional. Fern had always been a pretty good sleeper (she was sleeping 8-10 hours each night by the time she was 8 weeks old), but in the past three weeks that all changed. We started experiencing a pretty intense sleep regression, with Fern waking up every 1-2 hours. It was exhausting.

At first I thought maybe it was a growth spurt, but everything I read said that growth spurts usually only last a few days and we were going on two weeks of this terrible sleep cycle. She didn’t seem to be fussy after eating, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t anything related to digestion and she didn’t seem to show any more symptoms of teething than she’d already been showing before. We even tried switching her to an earlier bed time, but nothing seemed to be working.

I was pretty sure that what started out as a growth spurt had slowly just turned into a bad habit of waking up to nurse and snuggle all night long. My patience was starting to wear thin due to lack of sleep – 3-4 hrs a night just wasn’t cutting it – and one evening last week, I just needed a break.

I heard a rustling noise on the monitor which quickly turned into a whimper and then a full out cry. I was on the verge of tears myself and just needed a couple of minutes to gain my composure before going into her room to nurse. After about five minutes I felt ok and got up to head toward the nursery, when my husband said, “You’ve already let her cry for 5 minutes.  Maybe you should just let her cry for a bit and see if she can go back to sleep on her own.”

Find out how things turned out after the jump…

Up until that night I had always gone in to comfort her immediately when she started crying. Would she be ok if I just let her cry?

I reluctantly agreed to try letting her cry, but told my husband that I was setting a half hour time limit and wasn’t going to let her cry any longer than that. I hadn’t actually read anything about the cry it out method before since I wasn’t planning on using it, so I didn’t realize that you’re actually supposed to start out with 15 minutes and then increase the time each night. Oops.

It was pretty awful listening to her deep baby cries over the monitor and in the interest of full disclosure I was totally a weepy mess. I’d read about the evils of cry it out and in between sobs, I told me husband I felt terrible and was worried that Fern would feel like she couldn’t trust us or depend on us to be there for her because we were letting her cry. He assured me that wasn’t going to happen, but I was skeptical.

The clock ticked slowly on and I was fully prepared to rush in to Fern’s aid as soon as she’d reached 30 minutes of crying, but after 25 minutes the crying stopped. I freaked out worrying that she must’ve stopped breathing or something, so I peeked in her room and was met with the sight of a sweetly sleeping baby. I proceeded to check on Fern every hour or so and I definitely didn’t sleep any better that night, but in the morning when I heard her fussing I rushed in and was greeted by the biggest baby smile ever. It was like Fern had absolutely no recollection of the stressful events from the previous night. I breathed a sigh of relief.

The following nights have been great. The second night she never made a peep and the third night there was just a bit of fussing, but overall I think we just broke the bad habit and then she remembered that night time is for sleeping.

I’m definitely not going to get on a platform and say that the cry it out method is the ultimate sleep solution and that everyone should try it, but I know my baby and nothing else was working and this worked for us. Sleep and sanity has been restored to our household and it only took 25 minutes of crying, which is totally worth it in my book.

Did any of you let your babies “cry it out”?

How have you dealt with sleep issues?

•Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.

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