Cry It Out (CIO) is a sleep training method used in parenting where a baby is allowed to cry for a specified period of time before receiving any comfort from the caregiver. The goal of this technique is to teach the child self-soothing skills and to fall asleep independently. It is a controversial method, as some believe it may have adverse emotional effects on the child, while others see it as an effective way to establish healthy sleep habits.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Cry It Out method is a sleep training technique that involves allowing a baby to cry for controlled periods of time before providing comfort.
  2. Supporters believe it helps babies learn to self-soothe and sleep through the night, while critics argue it can lead to emotional distress and attachment issues.
  3. It’s important for parents to research and consider their own parenting style and their baby’s temperament before deciding to implement the Cry It Out method.


The parenting term “Cry It Out” is important because it refers to a commonly debated sleep-training method aimed at helping infants and toddlers learn to fall asleep and self-soothe on their own.

Advocates of the Cry It Out method argue that it encourages independence and healthy sleep habits, ultimately fostering the child’s ability to settle themselves and maintain a consistent sleep routine.

Critics, however, claim that the method can cause distress for both the child and the parent, possibly leading to attachment issues and slower emotional development.

Understanding the Cry It Out method is crucial for parents to make informed decisions regarding their child’s sleep training and overall well-being, taking into account individual needs, family dynamics, and expert advice.


The Cry It Out method, also known as the Ferber Method, is a sleep training technique that parents use as a purposeful approach to ensuring a better and healthier sleep routine for their babies. Primarily, its purpose is to aid a child in learning how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own without the need for continuous parental intervention.

By doing so, this approach ultimately fosters independence and self-sufficiency in a child’s sleep habits while allowing parents to achieve a more balanced and uninterrupted rest themselves. The technique involves parents allowing their child to cry for gradually increasing lengths of time before offering consolation or intervening.

This is typically done in a controlled and methodical manner, with set intervals to check on the child and ensure their well-being. The Cry It Out method is used for babies who have reached an appropriate age, usually around 4 to 6 months, when they possess the physical and emotional capacity to self-soothe and no longer require nighttime feedings.

It is worth noting that some controversy exists surrounding this method, with opinions ranging from those who claim it to be an effective sleep-training tool to opponents who argue it can lead to long-term emotional harm. Nonetheless, each family should make their own informed decision in order to establish the most suitable approach that aligns with their values ​​and children’s needs.

Examples of Cry It Out

The “Cry It Out” (CIO) method, also known as the Ferber method or controlled crying, is a sleep training technique in which parents allow their baby to cry for specified periods of time before offering them comfort. Here are three real-world examples that illustrate the use of this parenting term.

The Busy Working Parents: A couple with demanding jobs decides to use the CIO method to help their 6-month-old baby develop healthy sleep habits. They set up a routine with bedtime rituals and then let their baby cry for five minutes before entering the room to reassure her with a gentle pat. They gradually increase the interval to 10 and then 15 minutes, until the baby learns to soothe herself and fall asleep without being rocked or fed to sleep.

The Sleep-Deprived Mom: A single mom of a 9-month-old baby feels overwhelmed by her baby’s constant night wakings due to sleep associations. She discusses with a pediatrician, who then recommends the CIO method. The mom then starts by letting her baby cry for 3 minutes at first, before soothing him, and gradually increases the time that she allows him to cry. Eventually, the baby learns how to self-soothe and sleep through the night.

The Family with Multiple Children: A family has an infant and a 3-year-old who share a bedroom. The parents realize that every time the infant wakes up crying, their toddler wakes up too and struggles to go back to sleep. To minimize disruptions for the entire family, the parents turn to the CIO method for their infant. They implement a sleep training plan with increasing intervals of crying – 5, 10, and then 15 minutes – until the infant starts to sleep through the night, allowing the whole family to get a good night’s sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions: Cry It Out

What is the Cry It Out method?

The Cry It Out method, also known as the Ferber method or controlled crying, is a sleep training technique that involves letting a child cry for a predetermined amount of time before offering comfort. The goal is to help the child learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently.

At what age can I start using the Cry It Out method?

It’s generally recommended to wait until your child is at least 4 to 6 months old before trying the Cry It Out method. This is because, by this age, most infants have developed a regular sleep-wake cycle and are physically and emotionally ready to begin sleep training.

How do I implement the Cry It Out method?

To implement the Cry It Out method, start by establishing a consistent bedtime routine with your child. When it’s time for sleep, place your baby in their crib while they’re drowsy but still awake. Leave the room and let your child cry for a set duration before returning to provide comfort. Gradually increase the waiting time between interventions as your child learns to self-soothe and fall asleep independently.

Is the Cry It Out method harmful to my child?

Research suggests that short-term use of the Cry It Out method does not have any long-lasting negative effects on a child’s emotional, cognitive, or physical development. However, it is important to ensure that your child’s needs are met and that you are responsive and nurturing during their awake hours. If you are concerned about your child’s well-being, consult your pediatrician for guidance.

What if the Cry It Out method doesn’t work for my child?

Not every sleep training technique works for every child, and that includes the Cry It Out method. If you find that this method is not helping your child learn to sleep independently, consider trying an alternative approach such as the “no-cry” sleep solution or seeking the guidance of a pediatric sleep consultant.

Related Parenting Terms

  • Self-soothing
  • Sleep training
  • Ferber method
  • Graduated extinction
  • Consistency in bedtime routine

Sources for More Information

  • WebMD – A trusted online provider of medical information, WebMD covers topics related to parenting and the Cry It Out method.
  • Parents Magazine – A leading resource for parenting advice, Parents Magazine offers articles and expert opinions on a variety of parenting topics, including sleep training and the Cry It Out method.
  • BabyCenter – BabyCenter is a leading resource for new and expectant parents, providing practical advice and guidance on the Cry It Out method among other parenting topics.
  • National Sleep Foundation – As a research-focused organization dedicated to sleep health, the National Sleep Foundation has expert-backed information on the Cry It Out method and its effects on child sleep patterns.