About 4 months after her son was born, a friend reached out and asked, “Do you think CIO is the best sleep training method?”
I’m sharing my response below because my friend found it, “so amazingly helpful and makes the most sense of anything I’ve read thus far!”, and I hope it can help you.
Here’s my answer:
CIO is a loaded term. Yes I think babies should be allowed to speak, and to express their objection to change. Their only language for feeling frustrated, pissed, or uncomfortable (because they can’t find a comfortable position)–is crying. Do I think babies with genuine needs should cry for hours and hours without responding, or cry and cry until they vomit (some people think this is what CIO means)? No. Do I think randomly timed checks (5, 10, 7 mins, etc.) makes any sense at all? Nope.
We watch babies. We observe and hear them. We study their body language and listen to their voices. Unlike the parents, we can objectively see the difference between habits and needs and help loving parents understand these things about their baby.
Does your baby NEED a pacifier to fall asleep? No, that’s just a habit. If his arm gets stuck in the crib, that is a real need, and requires a response. If your baby wakes 45 minutes after falling asleep, does he NEED anything besides sleep? What is his body language and voice telling you? Is he doing that thing he always does when he’s tired and trying to fall asleep?
For sleep training, we wouldn’t go in and out of the room randomly just because a book said to do so. We carefully observe his behavior and ask ourselves, what is his body language telling us? Does he look like he wants to go back to sleep? Should we go in and “help” him, or give him more time and space to find a comfortable position?
So, to answer your question – much depends on your definition of CIO. I believe in a “less is more” approach, and try to hold parents back a little bit further to see what their baby is capable of, before reacting to every sound or following some prescribed method.
It is really hard to do, but sleep training can be done quickly and easily as long as you have a solid plan and support!