20 Aug

The Cry It Out Method Is Not For Grandparents


KB in the NICU,
a little unhappy about the bath

Grandparents don’t like to listen to their grandbabies cry. Ever. I can understand this. I don’t particularly like to listen to my daughter cry either, and it’s very hard to practice “tough love.” It is especially hard when the first month of your newborn’s life is spent in the NICU. All you want is to bring that baby home, hold her, and never let her go.

My husband and I never really discussed a “sleeping method” before we had the baby. My stepson was like the perfect sleeper, or my husband couldn’t remember anything that he did–not sure which. So, I thought we would do what the people did that I was a nanny for before I had KB–Ferberize her. Are you familiar with “Ferberizing”? It’s basically a step back from cry it out. Your baby cries a bit when you lay her down to sleep, then you go in after 5 minutes and kiss her or sing or something to let her know you haven’t completely abandoned her. Then you leave and wait 10 minutes, and so on. Finally, the baby will fall asleep; and eventually, in theory, you won’t have to do this every night.

It sounds great. I know it works. But here’s the kicker. . .

The book never mentions how to handle “Ferberizing” or any form of “cry-it-out” when you are living with the grandparents.

Yes, from the day my daughter came home from the NICU, until she was almost 10 months old, we lived with my parents. (The same parents who were the subject of the Grandparent Syndrome.) My husband had been transferred to St. Louis, which was awesome; but we hadn’t sold our house in Mahomet, IL, which was not so awesome. So, when my daughter was about four months old & we still lived with my parents, I decided to try “Ferberizing.” Anyone want to guess how long we (meaning my mom and I) lasted?


KB asleep in my arms
After her baptism

One day.

I can offer a bunch of excuses and reasons: KB had acid reflux and had to be held upright 20 minutes after she ate, in which she usually fell asleep.  My husband wanted to see her and hold her when he came home from work–and she usually fell asleep. And so on. . .

But the biggest thing was that my mom said, “I can’t stand to hear her cry. You can’t do this here.” Plain and simple. If I was living under her roof and she was doing me a HUGE favor, which she was, then I couldn’t Ferberize.

But here’s the truth…

I didn’t really want to do it anyway. I liked to hold my daughter. I liked to snuggle with her before she slept. I liked bedtime to be one of peace and love, instead of screaming and tears. I know, I know you cry-it-out supporters will tell me that it only lasts for a while, and then bedtime is wonderful. But I think bedtime is wonderful now. And even at 2 1/2, we still like to snuggle to sleep. But I know she can go on her own–she did it twice last week. So. . .

This time, being a part of the Sandwich Generation, with a mom who used Dr. Spock for everything and can’t remember anything I did because I was “perfect,” paid off. I love bedtime, and KB–well, what child really does?

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  • That is so sweet that you guys still snuggle, Sandwich Lady. I totally understand the situation you were in with your mom, because when my MIL was here for six weeks, she had a tough time letting Ari cry it out for bed time. Normally, it would just be for 1-5 minutes, but she would always say something like, “We gotta go get her.” And then Ari would just zonk out. LOL!

    • Aw thanks, Spirit Lady. :) I also am a firm believer that you have to balance what is best for your child with what works with your (the parents’) personality and life-style. So, my personality is just not suited to cry it out. I did buy: The No-Cry Sleep Solution and found it somewhat helpful. I also decided to go with my gut (imagine that!) LOL Anyway, I’m glad to see that Ari and Xander’s grandma is similar to my mom. :)

  • My oldest was easy..he just went down – no issues. My girls…well then needed a bit more loving. Today (and everyday) they sleep together, holding hands and snuggeling. One day they will want their our space, but for now, it’s the sweetest thing to see in the morning when I go in to wake them up.

    • That is really cute. YOu should snap a photo! :)

  • It hurts my heart to hear a baby cry – I want to pick the baby up, find out what’s wrong and fix the situation. I was like this with my own children, and I’m still like that with my grandchildren.

    With my own kids, only the oldest had trouble going to sleep. There were many nights that we’d sit in the dark, me rocking her in the chair, and we’d both be crying – I felt so bad about not being able to make her content.

    But if I am visiting my children’s homes, I follow their rules – if they don’t want the baby to be picked up, I don’t do it…and it’s hard, this forced inactivity.

    Babies cry to communicate – I think it’s only right that we listen.

    It’s a totally different story if they’re toddlers and having a tantrum – I don’t coddle and comfort them then.

    • Yes, completely agree, Kim. When she carries on as a toddler, I try to ignore, sit in time out, etc. (Die of embarrassment in the middle of Target.)

      Right, in my mom’s house, I had to follow her rules. . .:)

  • My mom could not stand to hear my daughter cry, either. “Go get that baby!” she’d say if I was talking on the phone with her and Cali’d been crying for over ten seconds. “Well, at Grandma’s house we’d just snuggle and watch shows until we fell asleep,” she’d say when I explained I was letting her cry it out. (with the five, the ten, etc.)
    I seem to remember her telling me that when I was a baby, she’d put me in my room and shut the door while I cried myself to sleep. Hmm…

    • Rose:
      Yes, it’s the Grandparent Syndrome. :) HA! :)

  • I know when I’m a grandma, and that time is closer than I think, I will be a mush head and be able to enforce nothing that I was determined to enforce as a parent. I think we learn that love, hugs and snuggles are precious and fleeting and rarely “damage” or spoil a child.

    • Julie: That is a very smart statement: love, hugs, and snuggles. You could put that in a Hallmark card!

  • I’m with Kim. It hurts me to hear a baby cry. But that said, my daughter was soooooo easy with bedtime and naptime. She loved sleeping and still does. Most times she’d put herself to bed. The only condition for naptime was she wanted her lunch first. That was a must!

    • Baby Boomer Lady:
      My mom says the same thing about me. So what happened to poor KB? :) LOL

  • So funny, so true. I can’t complain much, as my babies all slept through the night by 8 weeks old (don’t hate me!). Still, I relate to grandparents relaxing the rules. I suppose that’s a right they can enjoy, at least when the grandkids are under their jurisdiction. I draw the line at being undermined by my parent or grandparent in front of my older children. This has been a greater issue in my family: eating sweets to excess before mealtimes. I’ve grown in boundary setting techniques, and most of my extended family has respected my wishes. I get the Grandparent Syndrome, but every once in a while it needs to be confronted.

    • Oh yes, I agree, Sarah! I think the grandparents are a little easier to control when they are dealing with the older kids. . . :)

  • […] whether or not you should or should not try CRY IT OUT with your child. I’ve written about that topic before here. But it’s about being a part of the Sandwich Generation and listening to your gut–with […]

So, what do you think?