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The Baby Whisperer - Controlled crying - 6 October

Controlled Crying - The Baby Whisperer's view

No one likes to listen to a baby cry and when desperate parents are looking for answers on how to deal with an unsettled baby they will often get the advice to leave their babies to cry: "The Controlled Crying Technique".

While this style of settling can work and help some families, it can upset and unsettle other parents and their babies, which is why it is important to know how to use this technique correctly.

The term I use for settling babies, a gentle controlled crying approach, is 'Supervised Settling', an in-and-out of the room method that involves a little controlled crying. I believe it works by guiding and teaching a baby that their bed is a place of sleep and to be happy there. 

When you are leaving them to cry or complain you are listening to the type of cry your baby is making, before then entering the room and using a settling technique to reassure them and sometimes settle them to sleep.

It is all about how long you leave them to cry/complain and how long you spend in the room settling them that gives the baby trust you are coming back and that you are there for them if they need it but at the same time you know they need sleep.

By going in and out of the room, leaving them to cry and entering again to calm them, you are teaching them they are ok and that you are always there but it is sleep time.

It can take 3-5 days to stop the habits from the past when you know how to do this correctly. In some cases I have seen babies self-settle later the same day a mother had first used the Supervised Settling technique at a morning sleep.

The Controlled Crying form of settling is effective when you use it correctly and I suggest you get full guidance read a method or plan before using it. It is also important to have a settling technique like bottom tapping or back rubbing to help calm and reassure them if they need your help to stop crying or to calm.

The Baby Whisperer's tips

- Ask for help; seek advice on how to settle your baby using the crying out method.
- Learn an effective settling technique.
- Ensure you put your baby to bed without them being over-tired; ask advice about how long your baby should be awake for.
- Ensure you believe in what you are doing as your baby will be aware of the confidence you have.

Where to go for further info - for settling technique and explanation of "Supervised Settling' - contact Sharlene for a home visit or consultation.
Your local plunket nurse or doctor
Sleep websites - look up 'Controlled Crying'.  These talk you through various versions of 'Controlled Crying'.