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The Great Cry-It-Out Debate

Let your baby cry it out? Pick him up with every whimper? Let’s separate fact from fiction in the Great Cry-It-Out Debate.
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You can’t spoil a newborn with too much responsiveness. Newborns need to be picked up when they cry and fed when they’re hungry no matter what the hour is. But is it okay to let a four- or six-month-old cry himself back to sleep at night?

The truth is, there’s no harm in always responding. Making sure your baby doesn’t have a poopy diaper, fever or a foot caught in the crib bars is always a good idea. There’s also no evidence that any kind of harm comes from letting a healthy baby older than four months of age cry a bit in her crib before she goes to sleep at night.

At some point, usually between about four and six months, a baby will become capable of sleeping through the night without a feeding. Once your baby has slept through the night without a feeding more than twice, you’ll know the wake-ups are not from hunger, but for another reason: habit, a dirty diaper or just being awake and wanting to play instead of going back to sleep.

If your older baby cries at night, check on her as quickly and quietly as possible. Solve any problem quickly, with only night lights on, and then give the baby a chance to fall asleep on her own. This reassures her that you’re there, but sends the message that nighttime is for sleeping.

Sandy & Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations Baby Sleep Guide: Sleep Solutions for You and Your Baby. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble.

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