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7 Ways to Survive Cry It Out

Photograph by Twenty20

It's not easy to listen to your baby or toddler wailing, but if you've determined that cry it out (CIO) is what's necessary to solve your kid's sleep issues and ensure everyone wakes up rested, then there are a few things you can do to make the night (or nap) a little less painful.

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1. Be resolved

Don't go into CIO unsure of your commitment to it. If you do, you'll crack early on, which is only going to make this process longer. Remember why you're doing this. It's likely because you're exhausted, your kid is exhausted and you're out of options.

Assemble your reinforcement materials (see below), and remind yourself that in the morning, that beautiful kid is going to smile right up at you as he or she does every morning. (They will, I swear!)

I still remember emailing a couple of my girlfriends midway into a CIO-night with the subject line: "I might be a bad mother."

2. Use ear plugs or headphones

Listen to very loud music or tranquil meditation tracks to send you off to slumber (or at least distract you enough until your baby falls asleep). Headphones are a great way to go for cry it out in the middle of the night when you're trying to coax your child into giving up his frequent wake-ups. Peek at the video monitor if you have one (a great tool for CIO!), so you can see they're OK and then plug in those headphones.

3. Turn on a good movie that you can't tear yourself away from

It'll help you resist the urge to open that door. This works when your kid cries as soon as they're deposited into the crib. Remember, as long as you've fed them, changed them and provided your usual routine of books, snuggles, a bath or whatever it is, you'll feel better about letting them learn how to settle into sleep on their own.

4. A gift for your neighbors

If you live in close proximity as we do in New York City, this will absolve your neighbor guilt. A bottle of wine or box of cookies with a little note tucked in thanking them for their patience will go a long way with a neighbor who is unwillingly participating in cry it out with your family.

5. Willing partner

The night(s) will go smoother if both parents, or whoever lives in the household, agree that it's time for CIO. If one of you disagrees, that seed of doubt will likely take down the whole operation, resulting in a lot of extra stress and yelling stupid things at each other at midnight.

6. Supportive friends

Cry it out remains controversial despite scientific studies that support it. We all parent differently, but some will have very strong opinions on this one. Be sure to arm yourself with a few supportive friends for your nights of CIO.

I still remember emailing a couple of my girlfriends midway into a CIO-night with the subject line: "I might be a bad mother." The thing is my daughter was so overtired that there was nothing else I could do for her. Nursing didn't work, holding her didn't work. She didn't need or want me. She wanted very badly to go to sleep and to get there, and she was gonna cry about it. They immediately wrote back with words of encouragement.

7. Check into a hotel

I also know parents who have even traded nights in a hotel or at a friend's house when they expect it to be a difficult night. This eases the burden a bit while keeping the baby's routine going for those three nights or so, when it's usually the worst part of cry it out.

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If you're wondering what the heck cry it out is, how to do it, or when to do it, you can try any number of sources, including the popular Dr. Marc Weissbluth. I also frequent the Troublesome Tots Sleep page.

Remember, some kids might only cry a few minutes. My own babies frequently cried for five to 10 minutes to get themselves to sleep. I don't consider that crying it out; it's just their way of settling in. When a sleep issue arises, though, kids might cry for an hour-plus, which isn't easy for any parent to listen to, especially mom.

And please don't try cry it out if you suspect your kid is battling an illness like a cold or ear infection. It's always worth talking to the pediatrician before embarking on something new, too.

Image via Pixabay

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