Sleep Training and Controlled Crying

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Who knew sleep training was such a controversial subject?!
We are all friends here so I thought why not have a little chat about it? I think you are either on one side or the other and whichever side you choose, you will defend your decision to the hilt! And so you should. I genuinely believe that Mama’s know best and whatever way you decide to sleep train your baby will be what is best for you and your baby. No one else knows your baby like you do.
I’m here to tell you about what worked for us. We did follow the controlled crying method. Rosalie was exclusively breast fed. She had started to sleep through the night from quite early on at about 3 months old ( I know I’m lucky!) I would give her a last feed at about 7pm and she would sleep through until morning. Rosalie would fall asleep whilst feeding and I would simply transfer her to her cot. This worked for the first 10 months of Rosalie’s life but as she got older, it became harder and harder to transfer her to her cot without waking her. Rosalie didn’t know how to fall asleep on her own and I knew we had to do something. You can read more about how I sleep trained Rosalie in the blog post I wrote at the time.
Controlled crying is when you put your baby down to sleep, you say ‘night night, I love you, it’s bed time now’ and if they cry you leave them room and wait a short amount of time before going in and trying to settle them again. I would lay her back down, tuck Rosalie in again, stroke her face, keep shushing and telling her it was night time and she needed to go to sleep before leaving again. You do this after a few minutes at first and gradually extend the time between your visits.
The MOST important thing whilst doing to controlled crying is to not get your baby back out of the cot. Whilst researching sleep training methods I read an article that said if you let your baby cry for 2 hours and then pick them up you have taught your baby that if they cry for two hours mummy will come and get them. I imagined my little baby thinking ‘I’ve just got to carry on crying!’ This really helped me to not pick Rosalie up when in my mama heart that was all I wanted to do.
I filmed a video of Rosalie’s sleep training as we did it. In the video I say we are doing the cry it out method but actually I have since learnt that is something different. We actually did controlled crying. That first night was pretty hideous. She was hysterical for nearly 3 hours. In the end I just sat in Rosalie’s room next to her cot reading her stories, fighting with myself to not pick her up and give her a cuddle, eventually she fell asleep. The next night was a lot easier and by day 3 Rosalie had fallen asleep in under 10 minutes. We were amazed!
The thing with controlled crying is that it is a horrible experience to go through but it works quickly. You get results. Your baby learns to fall asleep on their own in a matter of days. Sleep is so important for a happier mum and baby and I was prepared to take a few horrible nights in exchange for a healthier and happier baby. I would do controlled crying again if I have another baby.
Did you sleep train your baby? What are your tips for getting your baby to sleep?
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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Just Motherhood
    21st April 2016 at 8:25 AM

    We didn't attempt controlled crying with Archie. I exclusively breastfeed and co slept it's what I wanted and felt most natural and comfortable for our family routine. I completely agree with what you said that it is completely up to each parent and how they attempt to 'sleep train' their baby. We all have to find ways that work for us, parenting is different for everyone xx

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      21st April 2016 at 8:40 AM

      Exactly I'm so glad you agree. As a mother you know what is right for you and your baby xx

  • Reply
    Blogging Mummy
    21st April 2016 at 8:29 AM

    We are so lucky with both of our boys. They both sleep like a log. My 1st used to go to bed at 1930 and slept right through till 10 the next morning. We would lie them both in their cot and they would fall asleep with no crying within about 5 minutes. I know we are both extremely lucky though.

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      21st April 2016 at 8:41 AM

      Wow! That's amazing! You were blessed by the sleep gods for sure xx

  • Reply
    lifewithmrslee
    21st April 2016 at 8:41 AM

    Great post. I think people get easily confused between controlled crying and cry it out. I did attempt controlled crying a few times with Bella but I gave in too soon and I so wish I stuck it out at an earlier age as it gets much harder to sleep train the older they get. I will definitely use the technique next time though xxx

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      21st April 2016 at 8:54 AM

      I definitely agree. I think at 10 months old Rosalie was a little too old and so it was harder. I wonder if there is a perfect age. Definitely not recommended until baby is at least 6 months old Xx

  • Reply
    Harriet from Toby & Roo
    21st April 2016 at 1:05 PM

    It's a big bug bare of mine how aggressive and judgemental people get over this – not unlike breast-feeding v formula feeding. I think every decision a parent makes is done to whatever they think will work best for them and their family. I did leave Reuben to cry but it never felt right with Toby or Edith, I do leave her to grizzle and if she whinges for 10 mins or so I let it go on until I feel she is really needing something. I did get to the point, after reading gentle parenting magazines and blogs, where I felt like a bad mother if I left her to cry, I didn't have the courage to just say, it works for us and thats that. I guess I do now, I feel that sometimes we are too busy worrying what other's will think that we are stuck in a rut. H x

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      21st April 2016 at 1:33 PM

      I completely agree. It's interesting that it worked for one and not the others. Just goes to show that every baby is different and as their mama you will know what is right for them xx

  • Reply
    oana79
    21st April 2016 at 2:32 PM

    We did some sort of controlled crying, Emma was a good baby and loved her bed but on some nights would have got overtired and the only way to get her to sleep was to let her cry it out! It sounds cruel but nothing else worked for us.xx

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      23rd April 2016 at 8:32 AM

      I always think you know what will work for you xx

  • Reply
    Rebecca U
    21st April 2016 at 5:30 PM

    We generally did controlled crying and I kind of wished we'd started sooner – it took one night and then they both slept through! x

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      23rd April 2016 at 8:33 AM

      I feel the same!! All those nights wasted, ha ha! X

  • Reply
    Zoe Forde
    22nd April 2016 at 8:27 AM

    I wasn't familiar with the controlled crying method before your post. Really does take some getting used to and must be hard at first!

  • Reply
    Cardiff Mummy Says
    22nd April 2016 at 8:54 PM

    Good on you for writing about this. It is such an emotive post. We did a little bit of controlled crying – for a couple of nights with each of our three children. It was horrible hearing them cry, even though it wasn't for very long, but it worked within a couple of nights. All three of them sleep soundly from 7pm to 7am. I have suffered insomnia since I was a child so I was really keen not to pass on bad sleeping habits to my children, so I did so much research around sleep and was confident in my decision. I think self-settling is such an important skill for children to learn. x

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      23rd April 2016 at 8:36 AM

      I completely agree with everything you have said. I believe it's so important for babies to learn how to fall asleep on their own xx

  • Reply
    Sarah - This Mama Life
    23rd April 2016 at 7:16 AM

    We did controlled crying from about 12 weeks old and Isla still is a really good sleeper. We could just be lucky that that's the ways she is, but I also believe a lot of it comes down to routine. Set bed time. Having a bath. Having some stories. Keeping the lights down low. Saying night night and then leaving the room. Every baby is different but it worked for us. Great, informative post lovey x

    • Reply
      Sarah Cantwell
      23rd April 2016 at 8:37 AM

      I definitely agree. A good bedtime routine is so important! Xx

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