Why We Never Let Our Babies Cry It Out

[From the archives]


We were not one of those let-them-cry-it-out families. You know what I mean: if babies won’t go to sleep quietly then let them do it noisily. There are a lot of baby books that advise this, saying the child will eventually learn to put themselves to sleep. Could be true, but we never bothered to find out.*

Both of our children wanted to be near a parent as they fell asleep. When still babies, I’d carry them and sing hymns and praise songs until they dropped off into slumber. Some nights that took a song or two, some nights it meant several. I remember when my son first started talking, he’d even make requests. “Love you Lord” would come sleepily from his little mouth, and I’d respond by singing:

I love you Lord and I lift my voice
To worship you, Oh my soul rejoice
Take joy, my King, in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear

Both our son and daughter eventually got to where they could fall asleep without us being at their side, of course. But I’m sure that the early assurance that came from our physical presence as they let go of wakefulness and dropped off to sleep stayed with them as they grew older and learned to do things without us.

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Our Heavenly Father’s Presence

God’s promised presence is like that too, a constant assurance that he is with us.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20.)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you … ? (1 Corinthians 6:19.)

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5.)

And in all of this there is music:

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:3.)

His comfort, his song, his presence.

I will rest in him with that lullaby on my lips.


When has God put a song (figuratively or literally) on your lips?


*I am not at all criticizing parents who followed that route, because I learned long ago that what works for one family is not an indication of what will work for others.

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16 Responses to Why We Never Let Our Babies Cry It Out

  1. Laura Droege says:

    Loved this! Thank God that he never gets tired of listening to us cry out to him in the middle of the night.

    We did have to let our second daughter cry it out, but she was close to a year old and still hadn’t slept through the night. Between getting up with her at least once a night and my heavy-duty, fatigue-causing medications, I was a mess. It felt a little cruel, but we’d figured out that what our little darling wanted wasn’t a bottle but company from mama and daddy and just-woken-up-and-grumpy big sister. So we played a hymns CD when she went to bed, the same one she got at nap time, and let her figure out that nights are for sleeping! Or, if she was really insomniac, she could listen to the hymns CD again and let God sing to her. (He has a better voice than I do, and he’s never sleep-deprived. 🙂 ) She learned, and she still wants that CD when she goes to bed.

    • Tim says:

      It sounds like you found the perfect way to deal with her bedtime needs, Laura. And I love your take on God singing to us; he truly does sing to us in a voice better than any earthly parent’s could ever be.

  2. Pastor Bob says:

    What a good comparison. We can learn form this (ALL who read this). I hear a good father, the world needs many more!!

  3. Ruth says:

    Such a hard thing to deal with! I did controlled crying with one son. Wait one minute, cuddle baby, say nothing, leave. Then two minutes, repeat, up to five minutes at the most, worked quite well, I was more upset than baby!
    Second son, white noise, vacuum cleaner outside door. Our neighbours thought we were very clean!
    Of course lots of cuddles and songs etc before, once settled, we were all so much better for some sleep. 20 months between babies, two csections,tiredness was a way of life.
    Love the way you managed your babies Tim, it certainly is a learning curve!

    • Tim says:

      Each child’s needs can be so different, Ruth. I love the way you found a second solution for the second child rather than merely replicate what worked with the first one.

      • Ruth says:

        My sons are so different in every way, they seem to have been picked at random from the hospital nursery! One is like his dad, totally, the other like my mum’s great uncles, together they show no similarities except for good heads of hair and even then one has prolific beard, the other a perfect goatee and mo he doesn’t have to shape, just trim!
        I know, trivia, but, I’m nuts about my fellas and behave like a new mother with a ‘ brag book’! And it’s still all new, after all, I’ve never been the mum of mid 20s adults before, such amazing fun and sometimes worry, so blessed! 🙂

        • Tim says:

          I know what you mean about the 20s, Ruth. Our son is 24 and our daughter will turn 22 soon. This is yet another great age to enjoy the kids!

      • Ruth says:

        Had one of those marvelous days that come now and again. Roar of motorbikes, two loud cheerful voices from the driveway….both sons on a sunny day ride….chatting away. Me looking from the front door and then standing between them listening to the talk, just looking and looking. These big loud lovely men were my babies just yesterday it seems, and now they are mature young men who are the delight of our lives.
        Later that night a phone call from younger son, bike stalled at major intersection and he is on his way to an important wotk meeting.
        So, neighbour with trailer, eldest son, husband with broken wrist go and rescue bike whilst mate picks up son for meeting, and returns him home, safe and sound.
        Son no. 1 tells friend he will keep an eye on dad-sure he will overdo things with his broken, pinned and plated wrist- and he did!
        Younger son ‘if they find a cure for old, you can still do housework!’, cheerful grin, and goes back to discussing various relatives…this came about because I told him my grandpa was born in 1893…..he thought that very cool!
        Probably should have posted this on your blog about your daughter moving, but, well, it’s here now. 🙂

  4. caramac54 says:

    You know I loved clicking on this post to read the rest of it! Feel free to come on down to Pacifica and be Baby Whisperer Tim for baby boy #2!

  5. Vashra Araeshkigal says:


    Sometimes God leaves me hanging out there wondering where His presence is and I actually have to lace my boots tighter and march farther to get a thing done “on my own.”

    And after almost 3.5 ***years*** of co-dependence thinly veneered as “concerned attachment parenting,” I decided to let the wee one cry/scream/or coniption fit it out…and I got the first full night’s sleep at. all. (NOT an exaggeration) in those 3.5 years. Took her about two nights to settle into the fact that I wasn’t coming back in to find out what she needed and she wasn’t going to die or lack of my direct physical presence once bedtime arrived.

    You can wonder how two nights of uncertainty “scarred her for life” if you wish, but *I* will go to *my* grave wondering how much stronger my waking relationship with her would have been if I hadn’t been guzzling coffee and energy drinks (raising my blood pressure and lowering my patience for all things Child). I’ll wonder how much damage I did to my heart with that blood pressure, how much damage I did to my brain with that sleep debt, and how much damage I did to my marriage by becoming perpetually exhausted as the one person on 24 hour call for all things Child all the time.

    I’m happy this worked for you, and it’s sweet that you found a biblical way to make it sound like the one and only right way to raise a kid, but seriously…there *are* child personality types who just flat need to be kicked out of the nest in order to learn to fly…or how to sleep. There are probably a few adults who do too… which is most likely why God answers some prayers with resounding silence and the illusion of apathy.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for the comment, Vashra. Did you read the footnote at the end of the post? In it I said; “I am not at all criticizing parents who followed that route, because I learned long ago that what works for one family is not an indication of what will work for others.” We found what works for us, and I never said doing otherwise would scar anyone for life.


  6. Ruth says:

    Sure Tim…sarcasm….a baby would look at you and not stop screaming….not! Babies know who they can trust, I’m sure they have a radar for that. Very glad for you that your dad is getting settled, such a gut-wrenching time when they have bad falls. Sounds like your dad, and mine are made of tough stuff. Your wife is definitely a great example of what a wonderful support, and person-in-charge, and emotionally capable person some can be. Such a blessing to read of the relationship you share, and how she covers you with a strong wifely, and motherly love. True equality and Christ honouring example to share with others as a wonderful witness.

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