Don't let your baby cry it out!

The following is an e-mail conversation I had with someone about crying-it-out.
Her questions and comments, which appear in italics are followed by my responses. Enjoy!

Although, I am going through a great deal of "sleep problems" with my 18 month old, I have to say, that if I have to, I will let her cry it out. From what I have heard, Dr. Spock himself, said you should let your child "cry it out".

The only "baby Dr." I believe in is William Sears and his view on attachment parenting. It is a Must read for all new parents. He condones parenting by instinct; letting your mothering instincts take over. The reason it is so hard to let them cry it out is because your body goes through a series of physiological changes when you hear your baby cry (Well that is if you are breast feeding, otherwise you body goes back to its pre-pregnancy state believing you "lost" the baby). By nursing you keep the natural hormonal process working and when you hear your baby cry you experience letdown of your milk and an overwhelming urge to pick your baby up. If you train yourself to ignore your baby's cries, you break that bond and your body stops responding in that way. The baby also stops crying because he has likely given up hope of anyone coming to his aid. He loses trust in his mother and may suffer a loss of self esteem. He has not learned to comfort himself, he has only learned that he is not worth being responded to.

If you don't let them cry it out then they will have a difficult time learning how to put themselves to sleep.

A child of that age has not the capacity to feed himself, change himself or take care of any of his own physical needs, why on Earth should he be expected to be able to comfort himself?

Locking a child up and letting the child throw tremendous tantrums is not good, in my own opinion on.

Exactly. There is no more beautiful and natural way for a child to drift off to sleep than with the comfort and security of his mother's breast.

My mother has told me to let my daughter just cry it out. I too thought it was cruel at first.

Back then they also thought that formula was best! They were wrong about that too. And what about those "wonderful, modern" machines that they devised in the fifties so that "baby need never be touched by human hands". Until they finally realized that infants wither and die without human touch. What about all those Soviet children that were left on their own, crying in their cribs without proper attention? Now these children, who were adopted into this country have all sorts of horrendous emotional problems and learning disabilities. Babies need nurturing and it is not spoiling them to provide it. Spoiling means "ruining" and you cannot ruin a child with love and affection, you ruin him by ignoring his needs..

But, really, she did start to learn how to put herself to sleep. Tending to them every time they cry only makes them want to "cry out" more, and then, the parent would be waking every second of the evening just to tend to the child.

Not so. Demmi wakes about twice a night to nurse for about 5 minutes. It takes no effort on my part to do so. On her first waking I pick her up from her porta-crib next to my bed, and lay her down between my husband and myself and she nurses back to sleep. There is no feeling more incredible than sleeping with your baby. The feelings of love and closeness that it promotes are beyond description. And to wake up next to that little face smiling up at you in the morning... I couldn't imagine a better way to start the day!

I do believe that being hyperactive and extremely intelligent has a lot to do with some children not being able to sleep properly. The intelligent children as well as the hyperactive have a difficult time shutting down their brain. So, they end up staying awake.

All the more reason to wind down gently in mama's loving arms with a soothing lullaby, that delicious mommy-milk, and the warm, cozy familiar scent of Mama.

As for it being part of allergies, well that could be possible as well. After all, my daughter had a milk intolerance the first couple of months of her life and had cramping pains, and was throwing up all the time. So, yes, I suppose allergies can have something to do with not being able to sleep.

Sure, and this poor child doesn't understand what is happening to herself. That is the child that needs it even more!

My daughter has given up her naps altogether. Oh well. She spends two hours talking to herself and playing. I believe it helps develop her vocabulary, so I'm not going to discourage her when she isn't able to sleep.

That is wonderful if she is content to be with herself! Demmi can amuse herself endlessly too. Anyway, you can't force a child to sleep when they are not tired. You must take their cues and let them nap as nature calls them to. Many children go thru a cranky stage at some point in the day when they are over-tired. Or they have so much pent up energy they are bouncing off the walls from too much sleep. The problem is that parents impose sleep patterns on the chlid for their own needs without a concern for what is right for the child. You would have a difficult time trying to function on someone else's sleep cycle so how can you expect your child to conform to a schedule of your choosing? I never experince these out-of-control behaviors with Demmi because she sleeps when her body tells her to, not when I tell her to. She is such a secure and confident, outgoing, loving, gentle, affectionate, generous little toddler. I never knew a child could be this wonderful! She makes me so incredibly proud.




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