Controlled crying is a way of helping your child to sleep independently.
It involves comforting, settling and walking away for set periods of time so your child gradually gets used to going to sleep without your help.



  1. Start with a really good wind down routine.
  2. When it’s time for sleep, put your child into the cot and reassure him/her with ‘sleepy words’ and patting until calm but not drowsy (a quick check and console). Avoid picking him/her up after about six months of age but if your child is younger than this and getting too upset, you may need to pick up to calm before putting your child back down. Just make sure this is a quick, boring cuddle with no pacing or jiggling. If your child was standing, you would lie him/her down and repeat this a few times if he/she kept on standing, but then you would leave him/her standing, knowing your child understands how to lie down him/herself.
  3. Once your child is calm (but still awake) or after 1 minute, leave the room quietly.
  4. If your child begins to cry, wait for a set amount of time before going back into the room. Start with progressive 5/10/15 minute intervals or even 2/4/6 if need be (longer intervals will be more effective for an older child). For children 6/7 months + you could increase to 20 minute intervals starting at 10 minutes.
  5. For example, as the chart below shows, you would leave your child to cry for 5 minutes, and then go in and soothe him/her without picking up; just soothe with your voice and patting if he/she is still upset. As soon as he/she calms and is quiet, or after 1 minute, leave the room again and wait out the next time. interval of 10 minutes as per the chart, before repeating.
    (see table below).





  • Make sure your child is not hungry, he/she has been changed before starting and that the room is very dark
  • Use a clock or phone to time the intervals
  • Get your partner involved so you an get some rest, but make sure you are both being consistent with the technique
  • Do something to fill the time interval like make a cup of tea or listen to music using headphones
  • Note: you are timing periods of crying, not grizzling, so if your child stops crying for a bit, you would restart your timer as he/she is probably trying to go to sleep.
  • Can be used for day sleep as well as night sleep although it is normal for the process to take longer to see success for day naps.