Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Baby's View of the Cry It Out Approach

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I know the pain of having an infant that will not sleep if they are not held or touched. The agony of not being able to get your older baby to go to sleep without rocking or nursing. But that doesn't last forever.... They're only little, sweet, and fully dependent on us for a limited period of time. So why shouldn't we do all we can to nurture their trust in us? Does it mean making sacrifices? It sure does. But that's part of being a parent. I'll admit to being so despondent that I tried the "cry it out" approach with my son for all of 8 seconds. That's it. That's as long as I could sit outside that door and hear him cry because he needed me. Those 8 seconds still haunt me over 9 years later.... That night, I thought about how it must feel for babies to experience CIO. Here's what I penned down....
bedtime is my favorite part of the day…  a time for dark, quiet, tenderness as she rocks me in the chair, humming softly.  her hand gently pats my back to the beat of her heart.  nuzzled in the nape of her neck, i can smell the sweet scent of her that surrounded me all those months while i was in her womb.  it is that scent that i can sometimes still smell on my blanket when she’s not near me. 
but tonight, something is different.
there is no rocking, no patting… no her.  she just places me down, alone in this crib.  what happened?  what’s wrong? i’m scared… where is she going?  terrified, i watched as she walks towards the door, her figure growing smaller, but my panic rising up in my throat.  the door is only shut for a few seconds before i cannot contain it within me anymore.  she must’ve made a mistake.  this isn’t how we do bedtime.  i let forth a cry, knowing that she’ll be right back for me.  she’ll hold me, pat me, love me. 
but it doesn’t work. 

why isn't she coming?  i cry out louder and louder.  and still she stays behind that door.  the cold darkness closes in on me as i wail so loud, my throat burns.  my little heart races as my mind struggles to figure out why i am alone. 

i need her.
i need her arms.
i need her smell.
her voice.
her touch.


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Unknown said...

Cry it out did solve my babies sleep problems. She did not sleep well in our bed, no one did. I tried it. I tried everything. She woke hourly, literally hourly, which meant that every hour I slept for about a half hour or less, usually sitting up in a chair. I got less than 4 hours of interrupted sleep a night for over 6 months. 4 hours was the most I got. I know that in America sleep is not respected, but it should be. Sleep derivation like that is serious. It is unhealthy and causes serious stress. Google the effects of family stress on an infants brain development and weight that against the possible effect of sleep training. Plus, she was a miserable baby. She was constancy fussy and uncomfortable. Simply put, she was exhausted. I agonized over it and decided to sleep train. A year and a half later, I am confident it was the right decision. There were immediate changes in her personality. She was more easy going, smiled more, and her body systems were more regular in general. A huge weight was immediately taken off of my body. I was a less stressed and better mom. You don't know what is going on in a babies mind PERIOD I hope you have not made anyone feel bad about the decisions they made for the baby that they desperately love, because your experience was different.

Miss Lindsey said...

What worked for my son (7 mos) was talking him through the bedtime process, "It's time for you to go to bed now. I'll see you in the morning. Hugs and kisses. I love you. Ok, I'm going to put you down now. Here is your blanket. Good night." I do this before every nap and his bedtime and he goes right to sleep on his own - it has worked amazingly well. I think many people don't give babies enough credit - if you tell them what's going on, they'll understand you!

Unknown said...

I think each mom really must do what is best for them. That might not be what was right for the next mom, or your friend, or your sister, or your own mother... but it mus be right for YOU. That being said, I was not a fan of the "cry it out" strategy, especially when babies are too little to know what is happening. It does cause so much stress on their little bodies, and they are only so little for such a short time. Now, that is not to say there weren't times later in the life that we had to go with this type of practice to break bad habits... but it was when they were no longer little babies and we knew we could communicate with them what was happening and what was expected.

And regarding Angela's comment above.... and when it comes down to anyone's situation and the choices they make as parents... We are all only capable of doing the best we can at any given opportunity, and sleep deprivation is rough. That is exactly WHY I kept nursing babies in bed with me. I don't think this post was intended to make people feel bad for decisions they have made... because if you are feeling horrible about letting your baby cry it out in the first place... then that is your gut instinct telling you you shouldn't be doing it! Perhaps that was the best choice for you Angela. However, moms who are told by others (as I was), to just let your baby cry it out when in their heart it feels wrong, shouldn't feel bad about that decision! Do what is right for you as a mother!

Amanda said...

It seems as though this post is intended to put down another parenting method. While the author is certainly entitled to her opinion, as a parent that went through major depression and anxiety that was largely fueled by sleep deprivation, it really upsets me to see such an emotionally triggering post. Parenting is hard. Few parents really want to sleep train, but we make the decisions that are right for our families. And sleep training certainly can be done in a loving way so that everyone gets the most benefits and the fewest consequences. I just hope that any new or unsure parent that reads this remembers that this is just a blogger's opinion certainly not a definitive post on how your baby would see this approach. We are all just trying to do the best job we can, let's support each other. All babies want loving families that are still happy to see them in the morning.

Adorned From Above said...

Oh my gosh, this is such great info. I feel so bad that I let my 27 year old cry, when finally out of desperation our pediatrition suggested that, because he wasn't sleeping. Though we didn't just leave him, we would go back in every few minutes to reassure him we were still there and loved him. My other children we would just put to bed awake, and never had that problem again. When they cried we would just go and get them, because they knew how to go to sleep on their own.

We have a link party called Wednesdays Adorned From Above Blog Hop and would love to have you share this and any other posts with everyone. It runs from Tuesday night through midnight Sunday. Here is the link to the party.
We hope to see you there.
Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

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