This post is all about how to to get your baby to sleep through the night in 30 days…guaranteed!
There are a number of “sleep training” methods out on the market. All with big promises, all with the end goal of getting your baby to sleep independently through the night. Almost all of them involve some form of “crying it out.”
I’ll go ahead and step out on a limb and tell you my “stance” on the topic: I don’t believe in crying it out. For my babies. Or for yours.
I know this is so not the politically correct way to approach this. I should say, “Crying it out doesn’t work for my family, but if it works for yours…well, that’s great.”
But I can’t say that.
To be honest, I think leaving a baby to cry it out is pretty heartless – especially in the “we’ll-just-close-the-door-and-turn-off-the-monitor-and-he’ll-learn-to-sleep-by-golly” sense of the word.
There are obviously varying degrees of “crying-it-out.”
*** I should point out here that there IS a difference between “crying-it-out” and letting your baby fuss a bit to settle down before sleep. Most babies do cry when they get tired and it’s not necessarily the end of the world to let them cry a bit, on your shoulder or while you pat their back gently in bed…but I don’t consider that “crying-it-out.”
Crying-it-out, by its typical definition (letting your baby cry inconsolably without attempting to comfort him/her), has some pretty scary implications, in my opinion:
For starters, I don’t like the “lesson” it teaches the baby – which is, “If I cry, no one is going to come.” I don’t know about you, but I want my children to know that I AM going to come, that I WILL be there – to comfort and to console, day or night, no matter how tired I am or how inconveniencing it is for me.
I always cringe a bit inside when a new parent proudly exclaim, “She sleeps great. It just took three days. She cried for an hour straight for three nights in a row and now she goes to sleep…just like that.”
“Of course, she does!” I think, sadly, “because she gave up. She gave in. She came to the point where she thought, ‘my parents aren’t coming…no matter how hard I cry’.” That just breaks my heart.
Secondarily, I think crying it out takes advantage of a baby’s lack of voice. After all, what if a child or an adult were screaming from the other room, “I need you! I need you!“? Would you just turn to your spouse and say, “Turn down the volume on the monitor, honey. We can check on him/her in an hour”? Of course not! But since babies can’t use words, we somehow think it’s okay to leave them in their anguish.
Thirdly, “crying it out” ignores the fact that many babies physically require attention in the nighttime hours. Many babies – perhaps most babies – need to be fed, changed, burped, and/or held at night in the early months and…dare I say it?…years. Crying is how babies express their needs. Parental responsibilities don’t end promptly at 8 p.m. and start again at 7:00 a.m. the next day – as much as we might like that to be the case. There is no “off” switch when it comes to parenting. Even if you’re exhausted to the bone. It is in those moments when our character is truly being honed – are we patient and gentle and compassionate even when it is inconvenient? That is, after all, when it matters most of all. I am grateful – usually in hind sight, I must admit – for those times because they make me a better person.
Finally, crying it out causes mamas (and papas too) to squash out their natural parental instincts…and perhaps their “human” instincts too. It’s not “normal” to just listen to another human being in agony and do nothing – as a parent or as a global citizen.
If you’re the type who likes to hear “expert analysis” on these kind of topics, consider the words of the following sleep experts:
”Letting your baby cry it out makes as little sense as closing your ears to your screeching car alarm while you wait for the battery to die. It…goes against every parental instinct.” – Dr. Harvey Karp, The Happiest Baby on the Block
“I [am] convinced that [crying it out] is a simplistic and harsh way to treat another human being, let alone the precious little love of [your] life. To allow a baby to suffer through pain and fear until she resigns herself to sleep is heartless…“ – Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution
If that’s not enough, perhaps a little bit of science will convince you: a number of studies have shown that excessive crying can be harmful to babies.
So that’s my point-of-view, controversial though it may be.
YOUR TURN: What’s your “take” on the Cry-It-Out method…and why?