Controlled Crying - is it right for you?

Controlled crying is a hugely emotive topic amongst parents, sleep professionals and medical practitioners. Everyone seems to have a view ranging from "I could never leave a baby to cry" to "I don’t see anything wrong with it". We asked Maryanne Taylor, an experienced child sleep consultant from The Sleep Works her advice.

As a sleep consultant, I am often asked my preferred approach to sleep training techniques, or if I advocate controlled crying. My view on this is simple: there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to helping a child sleep. 

While controlled crying may suit some families - and their preferred beliefs on how to help their child with their sleep - it does not mean that it will suit others in the same way. When it comes to sleep training, I believe it is essential to consider all elements which may be contributing to the sleep issue and, on that basis, decide which approach parents feel most comfortable with, taking into consideration their parenting philosophies and the personality of their child.

For example, some children respond better with a parent reassuring them in their room, while some will get too distracted and stimulated by a parent in their room.

So, if you have decided that controlled crying is the way to go for you and your child, note these tips to ease the process as much as possible

Psych up While the process should not take longer than a week, you may have a few difficult nights on the way - being mentally prepared is important.

Choose the right time Start when you have a clear week ahead with no significant changes to your child’s daytime or night-time routine on the immediate horizon.

Fill up the daytime sleep tank Try to make sure your child has slept as well as possible during that day so they are not starting the process already over-tired.

Night night, sleep tight Have a structured, soothing and low-key bedtime routine to help your child wind down before putting them into their cot or bed. 

Drowsy but awake Make sure your child is still awake when they go into their cot or bed, as the aim is to encourage them to be able to settle themselves to sleep in a familiar environment.

Be consistent This is the single most important element of this (and indeed any sleep training approach). Keeping consistency and seeing the process through will keep your child’s (and consequently your!) frustration levels to a minimum, which will make the process easier all round.

Ultimately, when you change a child’s habit in terms of sleep, they are likely to initially protest the change until they get used to it and feel more confident at settling themselves to sleep. Your role in helping your child do this is simply to reassure them that you are still there, without actually doing it for them.

And what if controlled crying is definitely not for you? Come and visit us next week for Maryanne's suggestions and tips for alternative methods and approaches.

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