Using Babywise Without Doing Cry It Out

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Babywise and sleep training. How to use On Becoming Babywise method without using cry it out for sleep training.

Mother holding a crying baby

I have had various questions over time about how to implement Babywise without doing cry it out (CIO) with baby. I thought this warranted a post for easy reference.

You can certainly use Babywise without having your baby cry it out (CIO). Parents have various reasons for wanting to do this. Many have a baby with reflux and crying really aggravates it. Their child cries and ends up throwing up. For some babies it also causes the acid to move up the esophagus, causing more pain. Some parents live in a place where neighbors can hear baby easily and they don’t want to disrupt neighbors. Other parents simply do not want to do CIO. And let’s all remember, no where in Babywise does it say you must do CIO.

Whatever the reason, you are not without options. There are plenty of parents out there to take what they want from Babywise and leave the rest. If this is what you choose to do, that is fine, but let me just caution against having expectations of achieving the results of Babywise without implementing all of Babywise.

Babywise doesn’t say you must do CIO, but it does say baby needs to learn to sleep on her own. CIO is the a very fast way to achieve that (though not the only). Just keep that in mind. See this post for more on that idea: Other Parenting Books. And it makes sense–a baby won’t be able to sleep all through the night unless she is able to fall asleep without help from external forces.

My favorite no-cry sleep training method can be found here in Sleep Training: The Four S’s. I used this method with my third and fourth babies and love it.

Here are a couple of ideas for you if you want to follow Babywise but don’t want to/can’t do CIO:

  • Work to teach your child how to self-soothe. The purpose of CIO is for your child to learn to self-soothe. That is the why behind the action. If you can’t implement the how, think of a different how (see this post for more on why vs. how: Why vs. How ). One idea is to read and implement the Baby Whisperer’s method for teaching to self-soothe. (see this article for a bit on it, my confusion, and be sure to see the readers comments for clarification Baby Whisperer: Sensible Sleep ). If at all possible, I would work to get your baby to self-soothe. With that ability, you can implement Babywise with no problem.
  • Do the eat/wake/sleep cycle. If you are willing to CIO but not yet, or for whatever reason don’t want your child to self-soothe, you can at least do the routine. One word of caution is that you probably won’t get long naps and sleeping through the night will probably take longer and/or be hard to attain. The cycle is a good start though. I started Brayden on this cycle a few weeks before we started CIO, and that alone made a difference for him. As your baby gets older, there are a lot more theories and practices that can help you in your parenting, such as independent playtime. You might get lucky and have a child who can learn to fall asleep without CIO.
  • Finally, and most importantly, if you start young and have a good routine, there is an excellent chance your child will not need CIO. I hate CIO as much as the next person. It isn’t fun. I was diligent and consistent with my third and fourth children and they didn’t need an extended CIO period (not to say the CIO never happened, but it was only a couple of naps overall). See these posts for more on how I did this: Sleep Training: The Four S’s and Optimal Waketime Lengths.

Babywise and sleep training. How to use On Becoming Babywise method without using cry it out for sleep training. Babywise was written by Gary Ezzo.

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Reader Comments/Thank Yous:

  • Carey said…
    I never did CIO and my son still slept completely on schedule, sometimes even ahead of schedule (had many 10-12 hour stretches at night early on). Just followed BW other than that and it worked.December 7, 2008 6:24 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Thanks for sharing that Carey.
    December 11, 2008 4:28 PM
  • Notes from the Holler said…
    Wow — this post is just what I needed! Thanks so much for clarifying that BW doesn’t necessarily equal CIO. :o)
    December 8, 2008 2:34 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    You are welcome Notes 🙂
    December 11, 2008 4:28 PM

Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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1 Comment

  1. Kaitlyn
    July 19, 2013 / 1:09 AM

    Hi! My son will be seven weeks old on Saturday. We're attempting to get him on a schedule as of this week, but he's been waking up 30 minutes into his 1 1/2 hour nap and crying for the remainder. This makes feeding a very sleepy time for him! He likes the swing 60% of the time, but ultimately we want him to be able to sleep on his own without any props. Any suggestions on how to get him to self-soothe? I read your suggestion for the Baby Whisperer and was wondering if you had any other ideas on how to help them self-soothe that don't involve leaving him to cry for an hour. Thanks

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