Baby Hints & Tips

Controlled Crying

There often seems to be a lot of confusion about what ‘controlled crying’ is (as opposed to ‘crying it out’ and ‘attachment settling’).

This article by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute provides a really good explanation of the differences between controlled crying/comforting, camping out and crying it out.

A summary of their research into the long-term effects of controlled crying which supported it’s use can be found here, and the full paper here.

controlled crying For the study, controlled crying was defined as:
“A technique for teaching babies to go to sleep by themselves. It involves a pattern of reassuring your baby while baby is settling for sleep, with a gradual reduction in the number of times you check on baby.” The authors recommend that it should only be used with babies 6 months+ (the ‘safe’ age tends to be an area of contention) and it does NOT include walking away and letting your child just cry themselves to sleep.

Dr Wendy Middlemiss’ research, which raised concerns about cortisol levels, was based on a study where mothers used the Cry it Out method, which involved leaving their child to fall asleep without any intervention. The increased coritsol levels were linked to prolonged distress. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is just ONE option that you can choose from when settling your baby. If it doesn’t seem to fit with your parenting philosophy, then have a look at our info on Attachment Settling.

(Disclaimer: All information provided should be used in conjunction with safety guidelines such as those from SIDS and Kidsafe. The hints and tips listed are from website users not that of the website owner and a doctor should be consulted before relying on the information found here. Go to Sids and Kids for more information on safe sleeping. Refer to Kidsafe for information on household safety and on car restraints. Take this information into consideration in conjunction with the following practical advice from parents.)

If you used Controlled Crying, how did you approach it? Did you use any books/references? How well did it work? How old was your child and how long did it take?

  • We followed the SOS settling guidelines and loosely followed the routines. Started when our bub was 9 weeks old. We went from a baby who didn’t sleep during the day and constantly screamed to having 3 x 40min naps a day in less than a week.   Yolande
  • I did not do any sort of control crying until my baby girl was 10months old but now that she is i tried the super nanny technique where you kiss baby, tell them you love them, put them into cot and sit in front of cot facing away from them so there is no eye contact but they know you are still there. My baby after the first time only took about 15-20mins to lay herself down and go to sleep and i never ignored her if the cry was turning into a distressed cry. After that the amount of time she cried got shorter and shorter and now i don’t sit anymore in front of the cot i kiss and cuddle and then walk out and she lays down to sleep within 2mins. MY personal belief and experience is when they are still under 8-9months leaving them to cry doesn’t work but all situations are different and every baby is different so whatever works for each parent is whats best   Ava
  • I used the book ‘on becoming baby wise’ by Gary ezzo to teach me what a baby’s routine should be. I started at 6 weeks with my first daughter and 3 weeks with my second. Babies quickly learn that when they are in their cot it is time to sleep. The crying lasts for 15-20mins the first couple of days but by day 3-4 it only lasts up to a couple of minutes. Within a couple of weeks crying at bedtime is rare. My babies are happy, they know what to expect and they get enough sleep to grow and learn. I can be a good mum because I get sleep and time with my husband. Control crying works for us   Joelene
  • Having a routine is a good start. Then, when it is time for nap or bed, make sure there is nothing wrong, clean nappy, full tummy, not teething or sick or having a belly ache. Cuddles for a few mins, kiss, down in cot with dummy. I go in 2, 3, 4 and 5 mins. If she is just whinging I give her the dummy and walk out again. If she is crying I pat and shh until she calms. If she is really upset then I stop the timer, go in and comfort her until she is calm and start again. My reason for doing it is because my 5 month old thought it was a great game to spit the dummy out and make me replace it 50 times. It took 3 naps and now I usually don’t have to go back in at all if she is put down at the right time.   Skye
  • I started controlled crying from a few weeks old only took a few days… i didnt follow any books or anything just done my own thing… tired signs i would always put my baby to bed awake and he lays there has a grizzle and goes straight to sleep…   Sarah
  • I did it for my dd when she 6mths i put her to bed at 8:00 and she started crying, i let her cry for about 10mins she wasnt hysterical just wingeing, i went in didnt speak and rubbed her belly just to let her know i wasn’t far away then left she cryed a bit more but left it for 15mins befor going in, as the night went on the times i went became further apart, by 10 she was asleep and she slept through to about 6am this went on for about 3 days by the fourth day she went to bed fine, cus she learnt i wasn’t to far away if she needed me   Rhiannon
  • We started controlled crying/ self settling with our DD when she was 6 weeks because she rarely needed our help. We found the grow bags to be fantastic! They still have a little freedom to move but they can’t get their hands out to play with their dummy (although my DD still tries!). We found putting her in the grobag, tucking her blanket in nice and tight and giving her the dummy helps. Then we just leave the room and wait three minutes. If she works herself up in that three minutes, go in after the time and give back the dummy. We find she is so desperate for it after spitting it out that she takes it and falls asleep instantly. She’s now 4 months old and rarely has a big sob before sleep! Good luck Katiee
  •  If you have the book SOS it would help you. But the general idea is do your night routine, and put to bed walk out. Wait at least 10 minutes minimum before you go back in to resettle. Hannah
  • I did cc with my ds, hard work but worth it. Put bubba to bed, settle then walk out. When he cries wait 1 min then go, settle no eye contact, rub back, shhh you’re ok. Walk out, wait 2 mind repeat, 3 mins going up to 8 min breaks then every 8. Nicky

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