Kids & Sleep: “Cry-It-Out”

Today, lets talk about what to do now that we know why children should have a nap schedule, how to chart baby’s routine to figure out when they should nap, and how to set up their environment: methods to get them to learn to sleep on their own.

I know there are tons of different methods to getting your baby to sleep on their own and learn to self-sooth. You can use many different comfort ideas from the environment post but a method that's worked for us is "crying-it-out". Before you go to ranting on me about my inhumanity hear me out.

After you've made sure that baby's needs have been met and your sure of their sleep routine use these steps to help them learn to fall asleep on their own {Make a routine of exactly how you do it}.

There is the original "Cry-It-Out" Method but our pediatrician suggested the 5 minute rule so this is how we do it for nap time:

  • Tell baby/child it's nap time
  • Carry them to their bedroom
  • Turn on ceiling fan and turn off all lights
  • Turn on music
  • Rock and snuggle for just a few seconds
  • Place baby, Still Awake, in the safe and comfortable sleeping environment
  • Provide comfort items that are age appropriate
  • Say "night night" and walk out of the room

IF baby cries:

  • Wait 5 minutes
    {if they're still crying}
  • Go into the room and check to make sure they are safe
  • Have clean diaper
  • Lay them back down if they are standing
  • Cover them with blanket {if they have one}
  • Pat them on the back for a couple seconds
  • Say "night night" and walk out of the room
  • Wait 10 minutes
    {if they're still crying}
  • Do the same routine again {try not to pick up the child or even tough them if possible}
  • Continue this adding 5 minutes each time

We have rarely made it to 15 minutes of them still crying unless they end up having poop or something. This shows the child you are attentive to them but assures them you mean it when you say it's time for nap. I'm not gonna lie: it's super hard!!! But when we were consistent with doing it the crying got less and less and eventually subsided all together. We've tried other methods like rocking. Our kids ALWAYS woke up when we tried to lay them down no matter how long we rocked.

Good luck! Have any of you used this method or a variation of this? Share your successes or even failures with napping.

This is the 3nd in a series I'm doing on Kids & Sleep. You might also want to read

 Why Should Children Have a Nap Schedule,

Charting Baby's Routine, and

Environment .

{These may change a little based on comments and questions as we go}

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  1. I was wondering if you would mention this method! We used it with Addie for bedtime. However, she would sometimes cry for an hour (except for our check-ins every 10 minutes). I resorted to rocking her to sleep, but now I have gone back to the cry-it-out method. It can sure be difficult some nights!

    • I totally agree that it’s super hard!!! When we were consistent with doing it the crying got less and less and eventually subsided all together. When we tried rocking, they ALWAYS woke up when we tried to lay them down no matter how long we rocked. I know it works for some people though.

      • I know! That’s how she is. Richard will rock her for an hour and half and the second her head hits the mattress she is wide awake! Its so much easier when she just falls asleep on her own in her bed!

      • I know. I’ve been told that the best for them too. That way they learn to do it on their own so when they wake in the middle of the night they can back to sleep on their own.

  2. We were trying to keep my daughter on my husband’s sleep schedule so that he could be home with her while I worked, which meant she wasn’t going to bed until late. But since I was the one that had to stay up with her (because hubby was at work), I had to get her onto a schedule that would at least let me get enough sleep to function. So I picked a time that would be early enough for me to get enough sleep, but late enough that she’d sleep in for my husband. And it only took two nights of doing this for her to stop crying completely. And she only cried for 15 minutes the first night.

    With that success under my belt, it was a lot less stressful a few years later when I needed to do the same with my son. Plus, I already had a good night routine in place with his sister, so he learned to recognize the good night song as a cue for sleep much earlier than she did. Every once in a while, we’ll have issues with bedtime or naptime, but usually he’s easier to get to sleep than his sister is. She’s always wanting one more hug or one more story or one more song. As long as his diaper’s clean, he’s gotten hugs from both parents, and he’s got his water, the boy is usually out in about two minutes.

    • Debra, thanks for that encouragement! I know this method works for most that use it. That’s so smart to set their sleep schedule to match your husbands. Children are so mold-able! I totally agree that the 2nd {3rd and so on} child is usually easier to sleep-train. I think it’s easier for parents who’ve done it before as well as the child who is seeing more cues from older siblings. Thanks again for sharing your success with the “cry-it-out” method!


  1. […] I’m doing on Kids & Sleep. Stay tuned for Charting Baby’s Routine, Environment, and “Cry-It-Out”. {These may change a little based on comments and questions as we go} Pass it on: […]

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