Sleep Training and Trust


Can your child ever trust you if you did cry it out with them as a baby? What are the real impacts of sleep training on trust and the parent/child bond.

As you read either of the Baby Whisperer Books (Secrets of the Baby Whisperer or The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems), you will notice that Hogg often says to not Cry It Out (CIO). Hogg claims you will break the trust between you and your baby. In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Hogg even says that if you try CIO, you will have to go to extreme measures to earn the trust of your baby back.

When I first read this a few months ago, I admit that I started to panic! Were my children ever going to trust me? What had I done!

I have heard from other Babywise moms that they felt the same way when they read this passage.

This panic really was brief (maybe a minute or two at most). I let reality talk to me. Brayden trusts me. Kaitlyn trusts me. We have never had any trust issues. We have never had any bonding issues or attachment issues. My husband’s mother did CIO with all four of her children, and so far as I know they all trust her.

There is a lot written out there on both sides of CIO. Some say it creates problems physically, mentally, or emotionally. Others say there are no problems. You will find passionate arguments on both sides of the fence.

That is nice to read what people think (and you are doing so now), but be sure to look at reality. Chances are you know a family that has done CIO with their child(ren). Look at them. How are they? How do they behave? How is their intelligence? How is the relationship with the parents? What are the real-life results that you can look at evaluate for yourself?

I think I was blessed to have Brayden first. I first tried rocking him to sleep. He wouldn’t sleep. I guess most babies will sit happily in your arms as you put them to sleep; not Brayden! He screamed and screamed. In the end, we decided to try CIO. I figured he could scream for 20 minutes while I rocked him and I could feel frustrated and exhausted or he could cry for 20 minutes in his bed and I could feel sorry for him instead.

Well, he usually cried for less time in his bed than he did when I was holding him. He started sleeping better all around almost immediately. When I got him up from naps or in the morning, he greeted me with a smile! Before doing cry it out, he woke up crying.

He was happier. He was better rested. Things were much nicer. Over time, the amount of crying before naps decreased. After two months, he never cried before a nap or bed again!

Oh, it was hard. There were days I cried along with him. I have heard some moms who do not CIO call moms who do “lazy.” These moms have no real notion of what it means to CIO. It zaps your energy. It drains your emotions. When Kaitlyn was in the heat of CIO, I once addressed envelopes backward (return address on the right side instead of the left and stamps on the left instead of the right). It is no picnic.

When Kaitlyn was born, I knew I wanted the same great sleep habits for her that Brayden had. This time, we would start sleep training from the beginning. Overall, it was easier and faster. She didn’t have bad habits to break, just new habits to learn and form. But it was still hard.

With McKenna, we didn’t have to do CIO for so very long. She went down awake for every nap, but didn’t cry! Eventually, she did start to cry before naps. After a few days of mild CIO, she goes to sleep without a problem.

Sleep training and trust pinnable image

I recently had a mom ask me what I thought about the trust issue and CIO. I had a lot to say (by the way, the question was just for my thoughts on trust and CIO; she had done CIO with her child and planned to do it with future children, but wanted to know my thoughts). Here is what I said:

“I don’t buy into the trust issues and CIO. Why? Because Brayden and Kaitlyn both trust me. They both love me. They both hug and kiss. They are both really smart for their ages. They are both far advanced in every area (by advanced I mean ahead of what they “should” be doing at their ages). So my reasoning for not believing it is that I have two children who show no signs of issues and both did CIO [I can now add three children].

When I recently read The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, she talked about CIO breaking the bond of trust with your child. For a moment, I panicked. Then I let reality talk to me and point out that my children love and trust me.

I really think that following Babywise will teach your children to trust you more, not less. If you have someone who is supposed to lead you through something, are you going to trust them more if they take the lead and teach you what to do and when to do it, or if they step back and watch for you to tell them when you are ready for something…and you have no idea what that something is?

Babywise children don’t need to “demand” their meal to get it. They get their meal regularly and predictably. That is something to trust. They don’t need to become really irritable in order to get a nap. They get their naps regularly whether they want them or not :). That is a situation they can trust. Life is predictable. Mom and Dad know what they are doing and take care of the child’s needs even if he doesn’t demand it.

Also, if you are a religious person, I would look to what you know of God and trust that emulating Him is the best way to parent. He doesn’t coddle us. We face experiences that are hard, and when we look back on them, we see that we are now stronger and the experience taught us a lot. He sets boundaries. He leads the way; He doesn’t wait for us tell Him what we need. We have no idea in the eternal scheme of things! Anyway…that is just a bit of my thoughts. I think I will write a post on it so I can ramble even more ;)”

It has been almost five years since I first wrote this post. Let me say these things about my children.

Brayden is now 8 and in third grade. He is one of the youngest children in his grade. Despite being a young boy, he is in the gifted and talented program at school (I say that because there are plenty of people who assume young children will not do as well academically). I would say his intelligence has not been hampered by his CIO as a child.

He is confident, he is happy, and he is successful at all he does. He is a hard worker and an independent thinker. He has lots of friends at school. We enjoy a happy parent/child relationship with him. I have zero regrets or concerns over the CIO he did as a baby.

Kaitlyn is now 6 and in first grade. Gifted and talented program doesn’t start until third grade here, but Kaitlyn tests are even higher than Brayden’s were at this age in most areas. She is extremely smart. She is also extremely sweet and empathetic. She is a good friend to all and a great helper.

Kaitlyn has many passions and she gives all of her effort into something until she has it as perfect as she wants it. She is the type of person who is really good at everything she does. She is a sweet sister and a joy in our home. We also enjoy a great parent/child relationship with her. And like Brayden, there are no regrets over the CIO she did as a baby.

McKenna is 4 and in preschool. She is doing very well there. Despite being a busy child with a strong personality, she is a joy to her teacher. She always steps in to help and is especially helpful in helping difficult children decide to behave. She always looks to the bright side of life and is always laughing. Again, we have no regrets with her.

Brinley is our fourth and is 18 months old. She had a similar sleep experience as McKenna with very little crying before naps, though it has happened on occasion. The fact that we are still willing to do sleep training with our fourth child shows you that we believe in the importance of it.

2019 UPDATE: Here I sit with my oldest being 14. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change anything. I would sleep train my children all over again. My three older children have all been put into the gifted and talented program. Brinley is a couple of years away from that. They are all thriving and happy. They are all kind and considerate. 


I don’t know that I need to ramble on more about that. It is all there for you to think about. If you are considering CIO or second-guessing CIO, you might want some sources to look to for guidance. Perhaps you would like real data. I think that is great. I think it is great to have a firm foundation to stand on so when the CIO eats at your emotions you can stand strong and know what you are doing will ultimately be good for your child.

Great Sleep Training Books

The Contented Little Baby
Mom’s On Call
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
The Wonder Weeks
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom Book of Logs
The Babywise Mom Nap Guide
On Becoming Babywise
The Contented Little Baby
Mom’s On Call
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
The Wonder Weeks
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom Book of Logs
The Babywise Mom Nap Guide
On Becoming Babywise

I have several posts on CIO. They will help you do it effectively! They will help minimize the crying. There are other resources for you to turn to:

When deciding if you want to do CIO, please look at those you know who have done it. Perhaps even look at those you know who haven’t done it. What does life look like for these people? Is that how you would like life to look like some day? If so (in either case), what do you need to do to emulate that? If the answer is CIO, press on! It is hard. It will take a lot out of you. But in the end you will have a child who sleeps well. Best of luck!


Sleep Training Tips and Info

These posts will help you sleep train your baby with confidence. Learn how to sleep train in the method that best suits you and your baby.

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