Fearne Cotton: How controlled crying stopped our sleepless nights for good

“We did it for 3 days militantly and it worked”


When Fearne Cotton paid tribute to husband of 3 years Jesse James Wood in an anniversary-commemorating Instagram recently, she particularly thanked him for his support during the years of sleepless nights ? ?


So when we got a chance to catch up with Fearne ?, we wanted to ask how she managed to settle son Rex, 4, and her 2-year-old daughter Honey Krissy into a happy sleep routine.

Fearne told us during our chat that she and Jesse opted for a (sometimes controversial) technique called controlled crying, from around the age of 8 months.

(Controlled crying basically involves letting your child cry for very brief (but usually increasing) moments in their cot at night, in order to help them learn how to self-soothe.)

“There’s one thing you can do – you don’t have to, but it’s worked for us – and it’s really hard, which is letting them cry it out,” Fearne shared.

“If you put them down in their cot [while they’re still awake], when they’re really tiny at around 7 or 8 months and walk out and they start crying, you do the controlled crying.

“So, you walk back in 5 mins later and don’t get them up but go it’s ‘OK, mums here’ and walk out, let them cry and do it again.

“We did that militantly and within 3 days, they sleep through. That happened for both of our kids.

“The most important thing was just remembering that it wasn’t gonna be forever, but for us being quite considered in that approach definitely worked.”

Now, we know not everyone agrees with controlled crying as a way to make sure little ones learn to sleep soundly.

While some parents swear by it, others aren’t keen and think it’s wrong not to comfort a crying baby straight away.

Here at MFM, you already know what we’re going to say: it’s each to their own when it comes to these big parenting decisions. You need to find the way that works for your child and for you – and controlled crying can be done with great love and care. 

We certainly wouldn’t judge anyone for giving it a go ?

And, despite a couple of sleeping hiccups for Rex and Honey Krissy (lots of toddlers go through tiny sleepless phases, don’t they), Fearne says this technique really made a world of difference.

“It’s all fine now – they go to bed at 7 and I see this as normal but some people will absolutely shudder at the thought, Honey wakes up at around 6am and Rex around 6.30am or 7am. That to me is doable,” she adds.

“If it’s 5am anything, like 5.59am, I literally cannot cope and don’t know what to do and want to punch myself in the face. But 6 onwards, we’re A-OK, and everything in the world is good.

“I just feel we’re now coming out of that vortex of absolute craziness of having really young kids.”

Above all else, we’re always interested to hear other mums share their sleeping tips and stories – as there are always new little tricks popping up that continue to surprise us.

Just like this amazing story we read about a banana sending a restless toddler into a deep slumber almost instantly ???

We spoke to Fearne at the launch of her new kids’ clothing range with Boots Mini Club, out Wednesday 30 August

Images: Instagram/Fearne Cotton

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