When babies are old enough for cry-it-out

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When babies are old enough for cry-it-out

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Sleep questions are some of the most common questions that I get in my office every day. In fact, for many parents, they really stress even during the pregnancy about when they're going to be able to have that full night's sleep once again. Some moms are already rearing up to go back to work when their babies are 2-3-4 months old, and they really know that that sleep for themselves is really important. There are a lot of different techniques to get your child to sleep through the night. The one that I find most effective is the crying it out method, but I understand that not all moms are like me, have that tough mom mentality and can endure the crying. If you're someone who thinks that they can, when your baby is between 4 and 6 months old, that's usually the time when developmentally they have the skills to sleep during the night, when they know how to eat enough during the day that they don't need to feed during the night, and when they know how to soothe themselves so that should they wake up in the middle of the night they don't need you to put them back to sleep but they can actually fall back asleep on their own. The method that I think works the quickest is the crying it out method. Usually if it starts out between 4 and 6 months of age, it takes between 3 and 4 nights to do. That first night can be the hardest. You hear your child screaming and crying. You're so used to running to them whenever they cry. So it can be really hard to sort of ignore that. But if you and your partner are on the same page, you can rely on each other for a source of comfort. Watch the clock. It takes the focus off the crying and it puts the focus on the clock. You can see how long it takes the child to ultimately fall asleep. The second night can be as long as the first night. Sometimes it's shorter. But usually by the 3rd night, that interval has cut in half if not a third. So for babies who cry an hour and half on the first and second nights, by the third night they can be down to 20 or 30 minutes. And most babies by the fourth night will have learned in that short amount of time that night time is for sleeping and that they have the tools themselves to be self reliant and to fall back on their own.

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Alanna Levine, MD

Pediatrician & Author

Dr. Alanna Levine is a New York-based pediatrician and a mom of two children.  As a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Levine frequently appears on television and in print speaking about breaking medical news and common parenting topics.  Dr. Levine is also a contributor for BabyCenter.com, on the board of advisors for GetSweaty.com, and on the executive committee for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media.Dr. Levine sees patients at Orangetown Pediatric Associates in New York and is on staff at Nyack Hospital and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.   She completed her internship and residency at the Mount Sinai Hospital, received her medical degree at Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel, a master’s degree in medical sciences from Boston University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin.

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