Anyone who starts reading a blog about baby sleep is probably sleep deprived. It’s amazing how different the world looks on broken sleep! You’re also probably reading this as you’re considering sleep training your baby. You might have tried a few methods but they didn’t work, and so you are looking into controlled crying.

In this blog post, parenting consultant and former midwife Rachel Fitz-Desorgher talks us through exactly what controlled crying is, and how to do it safely, and successfully!

Controlled crying allows the baby the space and opportunity to be alone for safe periods of time so he can discover a self-soothing strategy – so it requires some tough love! It also gradually removes all other soothing strategies. Here is a step-by-step guide to the controlled crying strategy

1) Put your baby into their cot and leave the room.

2) As soon as your baby starts to cry (proper upset cries, not annoyed protesting noises), set the clock to 5 minutes. If they’re still crying after five minutes, go in and pat your baby in their cot (or you can lift them up and pat them – you choose) until they stop crying. Once they’re calm, put them back in the cot and leave the room.

3) As soon as your baby starts crying again, set the clock for seven, eight or ten minutes and repeat the process. 

4) Gradually increase the length of time your baby is left at a rate that suits you, up to a maximum of no more than 30 minutes (or less if you can only bear, say, 15 or 20 minutes).

5) Once the maximum is reached, repeat that length until your baby is asleep (so: five minutes, eight, 10, 15, 20, 30, 30, 30, 30, for example).

6) Repeat the process, from the beginning, whenever they wake up during the night.

7) The following night, or a week later, you can choose to start with a longer period of waiting.


Many parents find that this method is more successful if they have a baby who finds having a parent in the room too distracting from the process of nodding off. It also allows for more flexibility so that parents can do what they can tolerate. They can reassure themselves that their baby is fine.


Waiting for even five minutes of crying can feel like torture and many parents simply cannot do it. Often they find that they can tolerate doing it a few months down the line, even if the first time was too tough all round.

This can be the fastest technique, but just remember to only use these strategies if you and your partner feel it is right for your household.

If this one doesn’t work out, there are other strategies you can try such as camping out and the shush, pat method.