Sleep Training Without Crying it Out

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How to Teach Your Baby to Sleep Without CIO

Have you heard the only way to teach your baby to sleep through the night or even sleep longer is to have them cry it out (CIO)? Let me assure you that you CAN do effective sleep training without crying it out.

In this article, you will learn valuable sleep training tips from a specialist who has helped hundreds of families finally get a good night’s rest!

Gentle sleep training absolutely is possible, and we will help you get there!

sleep training without crying it out

**This post probably contains links to items that I own and love and am confident will benefit you immensely. Please read full disclosure here.**

Are you struggling to teach your baby to sleep without crying it out?

Sleep training is tough. It is heart wrenching, hair pulling, kind of difficult.

Or does it really have to be?

When I was a new parent a decade ago I had no idea anything about children and read a ton of baby books and listened to “the experts” because I wanted to do everything right for my new little human.

At that time, it seemed according to the books I read, the people I spoke to, and my child’s pediatrician that “cry-it-out” (CIO) was how you taught your baby to sleep.

It just was.

That teaching them to sleep on their own in their crib at four months by allowing them to cry until they fell asleep was the way it must be done.

For those unfamiliar with the CIO method click that link to learn more about it.

If you want the succinct version: you place your baby in their crib after their bedtime routine and let them learn to soothe themselves to sleep. They will cry. How can they not when they have always been soothed to sleep?

You check in on them and pat and give them words of love and reassurance periodically, leaving longer and longer between the check-ins.

Eventually, they fall asleep.

Hopefully, the time of tears gets shorter and shorter each night until it disappears.

But what if cry it out doesn’t work for you? Can you sleep train without cry it out?

  • Maybe you are completely unwilling to try it, but still desperate for sleep.
  • Maybe you DID try it. And whether the sound of fear while you abandon your baby from your previous soothing them to sleep while they adjust to learning to do it on their own cold turkey struck a nerve in your heart you couldn’t ignore.
  • Or perhaps you DID sleep train using cry it out already, but it stopped working.

What no one tells you about CIO, is that even if you can make it through nights of the horrible sound of your baby upset while they learn to sleep on their own is every time your baby goes through a mental or physical milestone, every time they get a cold, or whenever they teethe, they might completely regress and you’ll have to CIO all over again.

Can you do effective sleep training without crying it out?

You will be ecstatic to hear that crying does not have to be a part of sleep training at all! Or at least it doesn’t have to play a large role.

For lack of more effective communication skills babies will cry somewhat when they encounter change, however you can minimize the tears and also fully support your child through the sleep training process and still have an effective outcome. There are multiple gentle methods of sleep training that can help your baby to sleep through the night.

First, let me clarify what getting your baby to sleep through the night actually means. According to doctors, “sleeping through the night” for anyone under a year is defined as sleeping for a five-eight hour stretch at a time.

So sorry if that disappoints you mama.

There are few babies who will literally sleep through what we as adults think of as “through the night,” but you don’t have to be waking any two hours anymore either.

I’m sure you’ve heard your family or friends bragging about how their baby slept through the night by five months.

Realistically, most babies on their best nights sleep about five hours at a time. Meaning they wake twice, and those are the BEST sleeping babies.

But few babies can be expected to stay full that long with such tiny stomachs and a mostly liquid diet.

However, you can teach your baby to “sleep through the night” in baby terms, AND to sleep alone, AND to fall asleep without assistance.

All without making them cry.

But how?

Chances are if you are here you are beyond exhausted. Your nights are long and your days feel even longer. You are so tired that you tried to answer the remote and almost toasted the phone.

Why I want to help you learn how to teach your baby to sleep.

I am not a sleep expert by any means. In fact, I’ve found that getting my children to sleep has been my greatest struggle in motherhood thus far.

I’ve tried cry-it-out. I’ve also tried soothing to sleep for years. All of my children have learned to sleep eventually. But now I have a new baby, my third.

I took an amazing course that is teaching me how to get my baby to sleep well and through the night, in a gentle way which is what this mommy needs. It was such an amazing course that I had to get in touch with the author and interview her for you guys.

Jilly is absolutely brilliant with sleep-training babies! She offers multiple successful sleep training programs and has helped thousands of exhausted parents.

If you are anything like me and getting your child to sleep is like speaking a foreign language, you just might want to invest in her one-on-one help as I did with the full program 21 Days to Peace and Quiet which has multiple proven successful methods for different child and parent personality types

How to Do Effective Sleep Training Without Crying it Out

Please welcome an amazing sleep training expert, Jilly Blankenship to Vigor it Out to help us learn how to get our babies to sleep through the night without leaving them to cry it out.

Can you tell us about your background and experience with children’s sleep?

I’m a pediatric nurse and lactation consultant. For the last decade, I’ve helped parents learn to take care of their new babies. Before I became a mom 4 years ago, I thought I knew quite a lot about babies. But I soon realized I had no idea how much sleep deprivation would wreak havoc on every area of my life.

Getting up throughout the night with my baby drained my energy. I spent every day feeling overwhelmed and irritable and I was arguing with my husband a lot.

Luckily, I knew that lack of sleep was the culprit and that if I could get my baby sleeping better, then our whole family’s situation would improve.

The problem was, all of the sleep training methods I could find seemed to be one-size-fits-all. I needed quick results because I was at the end of my rope. But my daughter is sensitive, so cry-it-out wasn’t a good option for her.

I sat down with my husband and we came up with the perfect plan for our baby.

  • We wanted to help her sleep well in a way that worked with her temperament.
  • we combined specific elements from different approaches
  • and creating a customized sleep training plan just for her.

Our whole family was sleeping through the night in less than one week. My husband then said to me “You have to help other people do this. You’re a nurse, you know the sleep science. Look how much better off our family is now that we’re sleeping well.”

He was right. And that’s how Baby Sleep Made Simple was born.

What does self-soothing mean and when can babies be expected to learn this skill?

Self-soothing typically refers to babies being able to soothe, or settle, themselves to sleep. Rather than needing to be fed or rocked, they can be placed in their cribs awake and fall asleep without any help.

Sounds like a dream, right?

Most newborns don’t have the ability to settle themselves to sleep. Some can manage it sometimes and others can never do it! It’s completely normal if you have to help your newborn fall asleep every day. I believe that it’s ok to help young babies fall asleep by feeding, rocking or holding.

Your baby’s brain goes through a big development around 4 months old. (It’s called the 4 month regression.) You can learn all about the 4 month sleep regression in this video.

Part of this development involves a change in your baby’s sleep patterns. It’s at this age where most babies are able to begin learning self-soothing.

It is best to teach baby to self soothe to sleep after 4 months old.

I have a program where I help parents teach their babies to settle themselves to sleep. It’s called 21 Days to Peace & Quiet, and it begins at 5 months old.

The reason why is we want to be sure your baby has passed through this 4 month-old developmental phase. That way, we can be confident she has the ability to learn self-soothing.

This doesn’t mean that babies suddenly begin self-soothing on their own at 5 months.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Instead, I’ve learned by working with thousands of families that the majority of babies and toddlers need to be taught this skill to self soothe.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact age where children start sleeping independently. I’d say it rarely happens before age 2 without any direct guidance from parents.

It’s important to note that if you help your child fall asleep and she sleeps well, then I don’t believe you have to change anything.

But, on the other hand, if your child can’t settle easily for sleep, and is at least 5 months old, then it could be time to help her learn independent sleep habits.

Check out 21 Days to Peace and Quiet NOW if it sounds like exactly what you need!

My newborn will only sleep ON ME. How can we break this bad sleep habit in baby with letting them cry it out?

This is a common struggle for newborn parents. We hold our newborns for sleep in the early weeks because it feels so natural. And sometimes it’s the only thing that works! But problems can arise weeks later when we start feeling trapped under a sleeping baby for hours every day!

I believe that it’s ok to use sleep props to help young babies nap. As long as you supervise your baby’s naps, feel free to let baby nap in:

  • the swing
  • vibrating chair
  • baby carrier
  • stroller.

Motion helps most babies sleep deeper and longer. So use it to your advantage! This is an easy way to get baby happily sleeping somewhere other than your chest.

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Where do I even start with sleep training without crying it out? I’m losing my mind.

When teaching babies and toddlers to sleep well, we always begin at bedtime. The way that your child falls asleep at bedtime is the way she will need to fall back asleep each time she wakes in the night.

So the first step is getting your baby comfortable falling asleep on her own at bedtime.

  • Begin and stick to a bedtime routine
  • Find the RIGHT bedtime for your child’s age
  • Follow a strict napping schedule with the right awake times for your child’s age
  • Set their room for sleep (think blackout curtains and white noise)

These tips alone can drastically alter your baby’s sleep for the better.

Remember, it’s never too late to teach your child to sleep well. And if you prefer a gentle method, separate out the essential steps and go slowly.

At what age do babies no longer need to feed at night so I begin sleep training without crying it out?

The majority of babies can be night weaned between 6-9 months old. Every baby is different, so it’s best to ask your pediatrician about the right time to stop night feeds.

What’s great is you can still teach your baby to self-soothe and sleep independently before fully night weaning. When we teach babies to settle themselves to sleep, their night wakings decrease right away! They only wake in the night when they’re truly hungry.

How can I gently teach my baby to self-soothe? 

If you want a gentle way to break your baby’s dependence on you for sleep, the trick is to go slowly. Start off by writing down all of the ways you help your baby fall asleep.

An example might be: I feed and rock my baby to help her fall asleep.

Next, decide which element you’ll wean off first. In this example, I’d recommend weaning off feeding while continuing to rock your baby. So you’d feed your baby a bit less each night, while continuing to rock. After a few days, your baby wouldn’t need to be fed to sleep. That’s a win!

Your next goal would be to rock baby less each night and get her comfortable going into her crib awake. You could:

  • pat her bottom
  • rock her body gently side-to-side
  • put your hand on her chest to help her accept falling asleep in the crib

After a few more days, baby would accept being put in her crib awake. Another win!

The last goal would be weaning off your hands-on support. Many parents sit in a chair in baby’s bedroom and sing or talk intermittently to help baby settle. As long as you focus on doing less comforting each night, you’ll get there!

This is essentially how you can do sleep training without crying it out, slowly and progressively.

Wrapping Up Sleep Training Without Crying It Out

Though you are exhausted. Though you might feel confused about how to best approach sleep training or if you even can without abandoning your baby to cry:

You now have some serious stepping stones to put into place to start teaching your baby to sleep more independently in a gentle way.

Get complete control of the sleep problem right now and join me in the 21 Days to Sleep and Quiet family… get the premium or essential package and I’ll see you in the exclusive Facebook support group where you can get help from sleep training experts any time! It’s amazing and has helped me on so many rough nights!

jilly blankenship of baby sleep made simple teaches breaking bad sleep habits and sleep training a 1 year old You can find more information on Jilly’s sleep programs here.

Plus, Jilly answers baby sleep questions live every Tuesday on Facebook. Follow her here so you can join in!

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