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To ask what exactly defines 'controlled crying' and what the alternative actually is?

(167 Posts)
goldiehorn Thu 17-Jan-13 13:58:55

I always assumed 'controlled crying' was when you leave the baby to cry for a few minutes, then go in and see them, then go out again and leave them for a little while again and then go in again and so on.

Whenever I see controlled crying threads, there is always someone who comes on and says its cruel and they would never do it. Does this means that people really go into their child as soon as they start crying and soothe them?

Also, people often say, 'dont do controlled crying, do the baby whisperer/no cry sleep solution.' From talking to people I have picked up that these are when you go in and shhhhh/pat etc. But dont you still have to leave them to cry for a little bit before you go in and soothe them?

It seems to me that surely you either you go straight to them at the first cry, or you are doing some form of controlled crying. What are the middle solutions?

(Just interested as with DS, we have always let him cry for a few minutes to see if he will self settle, and then gone in to him. We have not had to do any sleep training as such as he is a very good sleeper, but have been talking to friends about the whole sleep thing, and am basically just curious).

goldiehorn Thu 17-Jan-13 14:00:30

That should say 'he is a very good sleeper the vast majority of the time ' grin

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jan-13 14:03:33

i think it's more to do with the fact that you can't pick them up - that you are supposed, at best, go to them and say "you're alright, nan-night" then go again.

which surely would make the baby more upset? ("i'm really upset and lonely, and all she's done is go yep, you;'re still there, shut up - i want a cuddle!")

KerryKetosis Thu 17-Jan-13 14:05:42

I think that's a really good question Goldie.

Some of the controversy seems to come from mistaking CC for Cry It Out which as I understand it, means leaving the baby to cry themselves to sleep? Whereas, like you've said CC involves going in to soothe intermittently.

We've used CC fofr DCs 1 and 2.

DC 3 is now 7 months and we're kind of doing a 'lite' version of CC, not leaving her for very long but trying to allow her to have a go at settling herself.

FWIW I think being able to self-settle is a really valuable skill that we can help our kids develop. It's particularly evident to me with DC3 as she has entered a family where there are other children with needs too - Sometimes I'll be in the middle of doing something with other kids and I can't respond to her instantly like I could with PFB.

<dons hard hat>

Grapesoda Thu 17-Jan-13 14:06:37

You're right in your definition of cc. It's a technique described originally by Dr Richard Ferber. It used to be termed "ferberising" your child[sceptical] and it's still quite popular although recent studies have shown that children left to cry produce unhealthily high levels of cortisol.
There are alternatives. Written about most recently by dr William Steer and also by Elizabeth pantley's in "the no cry sleep solution" the sh pat thing is something in between I guess, by Tracey Hogg.

Grapesoda Thu 17-Jan-13 14:08:39

Didn't really mean sceptical, just wanted a little frowny emicon

goldiehorn Thu 17-Jan-13 14:11:09

Grapesoda would you be able to summarise 'the no cry sleep solution' and how it is not a form of controlled crying? I have never had a chance to read it.

Kerry I think you may be right that some people take controlled crying to just mean a baby cries itself to sleep?

BertieBotts Thu 17-Jan-13 14:12:49

I agree with you that a lot of sleep training is just slightly different versions of the same thing, if you're leaving the baby to cry or going in and "comforting" them (which isn't really comforting to them at all if it's not what they want, is it?) and then leaving again.

However I don't agree with any of it, yes I would go and pick my baby up as soon as it cried, in fact preferably before, because I believe that cry is a distress signal (what else could it be?) I would also not leave them if they were unsettled, which is what CC and variants advise. If I wanted to leave again then I'd settle them before I left.

Obviously there are times - say you were in the middle of cooking for example - when they cry and you can't just drop everything and tend to them straight away, but if I was doing something that could easily be interrupted I wouldn't hear them cry and think "Oh - right - better wait exactly 2 minutes before I respond to him just in case he thinks I'm going to come every time he calls!" Babies are supposed to think that you'll come every time they call! I don't get what delaying your response for 2 minutes or 5 minutes or whatever really achieves apart from them getting really worked up by the time you get there.

BlueberryHill Thu 17-Jan-13 14:15:34

Kerry, I'll don a hard hat with you, that is what we did with ours, or at least our last two. We didn't leave them long plus we had other children to see to also.

BTW the last two were twins so when I was looking after them through the night I couldn't hold /cuddle them both to sleep at the same time or separately, I would never have slept. Mind you I was lucky in that they were both pretty good sleepers.

tilder Thu 17-Jan-13 14:15:50

The cortisol issue is connected to cases of neglect and leaving to cry for extended periods of time on a regular basis. Several of the no cry books also draw on research done in Romanian orphanages.

So yes, its not good to leave a baby to cry a lot or for long periods. But a bit here and there is normal and if it were a problem then we would all be screwed.

I agree, learning to self settle is important as is having a good nights sleep without frequent wakings.

Mosman Thu 17-Jan-13 14:16:12

There was nothing controlled about the crying that went on in our house.
We tried the whole pat, reassure, put dummy back in thing with the first two, none of it worked until THEY were ready. The stress levels for all concerned went through the roof and it was my corstol levels I was more worried about.
In the end we just cuddled them to sleep for two years. It was no great hardship, 20 mins of lovin and they were happy and out like a light.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 17-Jan-13 14:20:18

No cry sleep solution is quite good, and does point out that expecting your child to never cry is unreasonable, and that sometimes the best option might be to stay with your child while they cry but not do what they are crying for (say you are stopping breastfeeding, you can cuddle with them and reassure them that everything is alright even though you know they are crying because they want boob) it's not one method, it's lots of different ideas, more about routine etc, and managing expectations. I found she was right that it took about a month to break DS'a night waking habit properly.

Anyway, all the cc is damaging stuff that will get posted in response to this is a load of bollocks.

goldiehorn Thu 17-Jan-13 14:21:04

And after that did they just settle themsleves Mosman ? I think a lot of parents worry about making a rod for their own backs but quite a lot of the cuddle to sleep parents say that their children just learned it by themselves.

BlueberryHill Thu 17-Jan-13 14:21:43

Bertie, I would always settle a child before I left, if that was a pat and a ssh fine, it they needed to be picked up and cuddled I would do that. However, I did let them try to settle themselves, I didn't usually go in straight away but I didn't do the time thing, I just listened to them, if they were getting worked up I went in straight away, if they were grumbling and settling, I'd leave them a bit longer. I don't think that letting them get really worked up is useful either plus it would wake the other twin (I wanted to avoid that at all costs). I didn't follow a set pattern, just played it by ear.

brainonastick Thu 17-Jan-13 14:21:46

Our version (I think from the Toddler Taming book), went...

cry 2 mins
go in and comfort (including cudding!), put back down to sleep with a firm 'night night'. Walk out whilst screaming started again....
cry 4 mins
go in... repeat...
cry 6 mins
go in... repeat
cry 8 mins...Oh no, didn't make it to 8 mins, they've gone to sleep

I don't think that is too barbaric?
I would never leave a child to 'cry it out'

KerryKetosis Thu 17-Jan-13 14:24:18

I think it's also important to consider that each child is different.

The thing is we were at the end of our tether with PFB by the time we got to CC. You know when they'r little tiny babes and just a we cuddle works to send them off? But then they grow out of that and you go to walking up and down, or putting in the buggy, or going for a drive hmm or taking them into your bed or whatever.

By the time we did CC (9 months) none of these things would settle him and he just cried and cried whatever we did. They were really dark times for me at least.

Then we did CC and in two nights he knew how to get to sleep.

Unlike lots of other babies I hear and read about, none of my babies liked coming into bed with me - the little gets, I would have love it!

KerryKetosis Thu 17-Jan-13 14:25:58

No Cry Sleep Solution didn't work for us either - nothing changed.

N0tinmylife Thu 17-Jan-13 14:28:34

I'm glad you have asked this question, I had wondered that. I hadn't discovered MN when DS was tiny, and just made it up as I went along.

If he seemed like he needed a cuddle, he got one, if he was just fretful because he was tired I would leave him to it, and he'd go off to sleep after a little protest. It worked really well, but I think that was because he was a basically laid back child who liked to sleep!

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 17-Jan-13 14:29:57

Both of my DC have had a clear 'grumbling' cry as well, just a few moans and they drift off to sleep. DD cried in her sleep (then babbled and now talks in her sleep) and DS is a light sleeper who cycles through the 'grumbling' patch every hour all night.

Part of the sleep solution for them has been leaving them to cry long enough to get to know this about their sleep habits and that my particular children are best left be unless they are properly crying. Or have been crying for more than a few minutes.

Mosman Thu 17-Jan-13 14:31:33

All four of mine are great sleepers as a result and we had none of the set backs of having to start all over again every time they were Ill or teething or staying out late.
I know I'm a bit hippy about all this stuff but honestly the CC routine seemed to take a lot bloody longer than my sitting them on my lap and cuddling them until the nodded off, just before they were asleep I'd move them into the bed and that was it until 7 am

KerryKetosis Thu 17-Jan-13 14:32:44


that's a good point too, you can sometimes tell can't you? Like it's a kind of shouty, cross cry just before sleep. rather than a hungry cry or whatever.

I've been up to my baby about 10 times last night. The worrying thing is when you here the 3am chattering, "HIYA! HIYA! DADADADADADADADAD" type thing grin

Then it's, oh god, she's just wakeful now and wanting to play!

KumquatMae Thu 17-Jan-13 14:39:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

N0tinmylife Thu 17-Jan-13 14:39:55

KerryKetosis, exactly that. I know what you mean about the 3am thing. DS was brilliant as a baby, but a few weeks ago, aged 5 decided he wanted to get us up 4 times in one night because, there were monsters, he heard a noise, needed a wee, and the best excuse, he was "bored" of sleeping! grin

EasilyBored Thu 17-Jan-13 14:40:08

We have done a bit of CC when nothing else seemed to be working. DS is generally a good sleeper, and pretty much sorted himself out and started sleeping through from about 8 months. We've always tried to put him into his bed when he is awake, so that he's not started to wake up and find himself in a different place. We put him down, he rolls onto his stomach and we stroke his back for half a minute or so until he is settled. If he wakes during the night he generally has a mutter to himself, shuffles round his cot and goes back to sleep.

When we did CC, it was because he would only go to sleep while being held, and would wake up screaming hte minute you tried to put him down. Co-sleeping did not work , he just thought it was a game and when he would finally sleep, he had to be lying directly on top of me and I could barely breathe. So we put him in his cot, said 'it's sleepy time now DS' and stroked his back till he was calm, left and he started crying for 2 minutes, go back in, lay him down again and repeat 'it's sleepy time now DS', leave for 4 minutes etc etc, never got past 10 I don't think. And the crying wasn't a distressed wail, it was intermittent and tired and grumpy.

I don't go get him the first second he cries, I listen to the type of cry - sometimes it's a half asleep wail, then back to sleep again, sometimes it's an 'I'm awake and it's up time COME AND GET ME PARENTS!' and sometimes it's a 'my teeth hurt, I need a cuddle' type cry.

Putting yourself to sleep is a skill, and some babies are naturally 'good' sleepers and some need little sleep.

VisualiseAHorse Thu 17-Jan-13 14:47:22

I did CC with LO at about 5 months - I would cuddle him when going back in though. Took 4 nights, no more than 15 minutes crying. By the 4th night he just grumbled for 2 minutes then fell asleep. Younger than people recommend, but I was having psychotic episodes partly due to lack of sleep.

Best thing I ever did. He still woke during the nights for feeds, but mostly went back to sleep straight after feeding. Since he was 7 months he has slept 11-12 hours per night.

Sometimes, now at 9 months, he might wake in the night for a cuddle, or I bring him into our bed, but he knows that night-time is for sleep. No more 4am parties!!

I would never do the cry-it-out thing unless very very desperate.

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