New parents often wonder how long they should let their baby cry at night before picking her up. There is the idea that responding immediately will spoil the child and the idea of letting an infant cry helplessly for her mother is heartbreaking and difficult for any parent to enforce. So, what’s right and how long is enough to leave an infant crying helplessly? There are actually quite a few different methods that experts propose to help with this situation and they range in extremes.

For example, there is the “cry it out” method that simply lets baby cry by herself with mom or dad periodically checking in to offer comfort but never picking the baby up. This particular method recommends that the parents extend the amount of time between each visit to baby so baby is alone for progressively longer periods of time until she finally learns to sleep on her own.

Then, there is the approach that infants need instant reassurance and letting them cry until they give up causes psychological damage and can actually cause baby to lose trust in his parents. Some parents find the idea of lettering their newborn cry helplessly unacceptable and will pick their baby up immediately.

You can’t spoil an infant under six months old by holding him or picking him up at the very first whimper. In fact, this can actually create a stronger relationship between mom and baby that will allow baby to become more independent faster due to his confidence that mom will always be there.

So, the answer to your question about how long you should let baby cry at night is this: however long you are comfortable with. If you can’t stand to let your baby cry for more than five seconds then pick her up right away and offer comfort. If you prescribe to the idea that baby’s should be more independent and learn to self soothe and can handle listening to baby cry helplessly for extended periods of time then you may want to try the Ferber method. Every family is different and has different needs. As a result, parents should use the method that works best for them and their child.