You may be wondering which of the two methods mentioned in the title of this article is the best one to use when trying to “sleep train” your child. I am not an expert on the matter by any means, however, I can offer a little insight into the two methods and some first-hand experience.
The ‘No Tears’ Method
This method of sleep training was popularized by Elizabeth Pantley’s book The No-Cry Sleep Solution. First, I have to say that I dislike the name of this method simply because it implies that your child will not cry while you implement it. This is misleading. Babies, like many adults, thrive on having a set routine they can expect and count on. This means that any time you disrupt or change your child’s routine you should expect for there to be resistance on their end. For most children, that can be at least some degree of crying because it is their only way of communicating their frustrations.
That said, this method is meant to create the least amount of stress for your child while learning to sleep on their own. This means that you must be willing to do pretty much anything it takes to keep your baby from crying and to encourage them to go to sleep – whether it is rocking them, feeding them, co-sleeping with them or any other positive form of physical bonding.
My daughter was having a lot of difficulty getting her daughter to sleep and the ‘no tears’ method did not work for her for a variety of reasons, but the main reason is a simple one. After about two months of trying all of the tips and tricks she could find on every single way to implement this method, she was exhausted and my granddaughter was waking up more often instead of less. We know parents who have tried this method and had it work out great for them but my daughter can not say the same.
The ‘Cry-It-Out’ Method
As the name implies, with this method you are not aiding your child by rocking them to sleep or anything else. Instead, you put them in their bed and let them go to sleep on their own – even if that means they cry until they fall asleep.
There are a couple of ways to implement this approach. The best way, in my experience, is through something called “controlled crying.” This means that you put your child in their bed and leave the room. When the crying begins you wait five minutes and then go in to settle them back down. You are supposed to do this at increasing time intervals for however long it takes them to fall asleep.
This method might sound old fashioned, but it did actually work for my daughter. After a week of trying this out, my granddaughter was going to bed a lot easier and staying asleep for a lot longer. While this approach may not be for everyone, it can work for some children.
Update – December 2015
One of my readers Stephanie has also suggested the tips on this site – http://www.coliccalm.com/baby_infant_newborn_articles/sleep-deprivation-and-colic.htm. It has some very good information with balanced viewpoints on various methods.
The important thing to remember is that your child is a unique individual. What worked for my daughter may not work for you and your child – and it can even vary with each of your own children. Until you find what works best for your family it is going to be all trial-and-error, but patience and consistency is key no matter what method you choose.