Controlled Crying // by Eps and Amy

Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Amy, a fellow mummy blogger who has been blogging for about three months over at Eps and Amy. She is a beautiful mother to her eight year old daughter and five year old son, parenting alongside her husband of ten years. She has written a guest post for me today, about how controlled crying worked for one but not both of her children! Make sure you check out her blog over at Eps and Amy.


From birth, both of my children have been awful sleepers.

Now I know babies are meant to keep you awake a lot - but by the time they are 6 months old they really should be sleeping much better. My children were still waking every hour for milk, drinking for half an hour, sleeping for an hour and waking again on repeat all night!

At my wits end, I went to the Health Visitor for advise, and they suggested controlled crying. I had read various reports about how controlled crying can be mentally and/or emotionally damaging to the child, but I talked it out with my husband and we decided to try a slightly more gentle method.

There are a few points you need to remember when trying any kind of controlled crying technique:

  • Do not attempt before baby is at least 6 months old, before this age they may very well need you every moment over night
  • Ensure your baby is not hungry, too hot or too cold.
  • Ensure your baby is completely safe in their cot.
  • If your baby gets too worked up (for example - red faced, sweaty or sick - stop and comfort them. We are talking tough love here, not no love.

The method we decided to use, was to leave our baby in her cot for 5 minutes alone. If she was crying after 5 minutes, we would return to her, but not pick her up or make eye contact. We would simply 'shhh' her while stroking her tummy or face. After 2 minutes - whether she was still crying or not - we would leave again. We would then leave her for 5 more minutes and repeat.

After the second period of 5 minutes we would increase to 10 minutes away, and 2 minutes shhh'ing, then repeat 10 minutes, etc. increasing to 15 mins, 15 mins, 20 mins, 20 mins...

Well the first time I tried it she was quiet for 2 minutes then started whining gently and by the 5 minute mark she was crying. When I went in she quietened down and after the 2 minutes wasn't crying. So I left her and she whinged for a few minutes then settled and was asleep. I thought "Wow that was so easy, and not heart wrenching at all".

So, the next night came round and I was all set to try again, feeling really positive. Unfortunately Bethany was wise to our plans and the moment I put her down she screamed and within 2 minutes had made herself sick.

Now some advise I have seen says to ignore the sick - wipe them with a baby wipe - and carry on, but I can't agree with that. Each to their own, but she's my baby and I'm cuddling her!

We did try a few more times after this, but controlled crying never again worked with Bethany, I spent the next 2 years cuddling and rocking her to sleep and eventually she worked out how to settle by herself.

About two months after Bethany learned to settle herself to sleep we had Jack, so well timed on the sleep front!

Jack, however; was even worse than Bethany at sleeping. No matter how much rocking or cuddling we did he just kept fighting the sleep. Come 6 months we decided to try controlled crying again, not expecting much success, but needing to try something.

We used the same 5, 2, 5, 2, 10, 2, 10, 2 method. With Jack we didn't even reach the first 5 minutes crying. He whinged for about 1 minute and was then asleep. This whole time we had been rocking him and singing too him and all he wanted was to be left alone to sleep!

To this day he likes to sleep in his own room, with nobody else nearby. When we go on holiday and the children share we have to put them to bed separately otherwise Bethany keeps Jack awake.

two in a bed

It can be a problem, when Jack is sick he just wants to be left to sleep alone but sometimes you need to be near by to keep an eye on them!

My advise to you is to try whatever method you want. It might work for your child or it might not.

Don't preserve if it is obviously not working for your baby, try something different and if something has worked - or not worked - for your first child that doesn't mean it won't work with the next.

All babies/children are different, you just need to find out what they need from you, even if that is to go away and let them sleep alone.