Is Crying it Out Dangerous for Kids? is a very good article. Letting young children “cry it out” has always gone against my sense of mothering. I am thinking particularly of babies and really young children. I used a method with my own children that really seemed to help. It is hinted at in the following quote from the article:
“I’ve always believed that there are many solutions to sleep problems, and that every family and every child is unique,” he said in an interview with BabyTalk. “People want one easy solution, but there’s no such thing. I never encouraged parents to let their babies cry it out, but one of the many treatment styles I described in my book is gradual extinction, where you delay your response time to your baby’s wakings. I went to great pains in the second edition to clarify that that treatment is not appropriate for every sleep issue, of which there are many.”
When my children were infants, I kept them in a bassinet right by the side of my bed. If they stirred in the night, I could put my hand on them and soothe them immediately. I learned to do that because I kept having to get up with my oldest being in a crib on the other side of the room. Being able to touch them immediately saved both of us a lot of energy at night.
As they got older, waking up in the morning became an issue. I wanted to teach them that they did not really need my immediate attention, so I gradually transitioned them over. As soon as I heard them, I would call their name and talk to them as I went to them. They learned to associate my talking to them with my soon coming presence.
Then I moved on to immediately talking to them, but gradually delaying my appearance more and more over time. It didn’t take long before they would wake up and not even call for me. They would just play in their crib, confident that mom was there and would come soon.
Crying is a sign of distress. It does not matter whether that distress is from a diaper, an empty tummy, a gas bubble or even just plain loneliness. It is still distress. Ignoring a person in distress is just plain cruel to me. Yes, it can be hard work and yes we may need help…especially if the baby is colicky, but please do not just walk away and ignore their cries!
Babies come from an environment of 24/7 soothing and met needs. They are never cold, hungry, in pain or lonely unless something is wrong. They come out and we tend to put them in clothing that is nothing like the feel of the watery womb. We isolate them into beds away from the presence of mom and her heartbeat. The surface they lay on is solid not soft. Now they can get hungry, lonely, cold, experience pain. Now they can stretch out, which is nicer than being squeezed inside the womb. However, it also means there is nothing there to touch that is of a comforting human nature. The baby used to be able to touch mom anytime he or she wanted.
Yet, considering the environment from which the infant came, we somehow think that they should be able to just instantly adjust to clothing, being too hot or too cold, being hungry, being lonely, having gas and all the other things that are new on top of never needing to just be held? I am an adult. I have been used to my environment for a good many years, yet there are times when I am weepy, times when I just wish to be held and comforted. I hate the thought that I cannot have those needs met…that someone would just walk away and ignore me because they do not understand what it is that I need. How sad that we do that to our children.