Babies cry to communicate and they can cry for many different reasons, such as being hurt, scared, hungry, or expressing displeasure in a change. If your baby is used to falling asleep being curled up in your arms and then you work to get them to fall asleep in a crib, they will probably cry to communicate their displeasure to you.
The difference is how you handle the crying. Do you just leave them in their room to let them work it out themselves? This is typically what people envision when they think of sleep training and it is the “Cry It Out” method of training. It can work, and some parents choose to do this. Most parents who come to me want a gentler approach, or have tried cry it out and found that their child can cry for hours and that they cannot handle listening to all that crying.
I normally recommend a gentler approach where the parents stays in the room with the child. That way if the child bumps their head or gets a leg stuck or has a dirty diaper, the parent knows and can assist them. The parent can also talk to the child to let them know it is bedtime and they need to go to sleep. And if the child gets really upset, the parent can always pick the child up and calm them before putting them back into the crib.
Before I recommend any method however, I always find out how the parents feel about training and I look at schedules and other variables in the child’s life. I do not believe there is any one size fit all sleep training method, and that’s where hiring a sleep consultant really helps!
By Michelle Winters