Friday, January 1, 2010

Crying it Out - my personal rant

I'm continuously disturbed by parents who allow their children to 'cry it out'. For those not familiar, this is a method used for teaching babies to sleep. Baby is placed in the crib and kissed good night. Lights go out, doors are shut, baby screams. There are different variations that include parents coming back into the room after 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. Baby usually is asleep by the time they reach an hour. The second night takes 1/2 hour, the third night (or so) baby knows that crib means sleep and doesn't fight the process. Some parents actually stay in the room but will not take their babies out of the crib.

This method doesn't actually teach babies to sleep. It does teach them to submit. It teaches them that nobody will respond to their cries (and they wear themselves out and fall asleep). It doesn't teach them to sleep independently. It teaches them that they can't depend on anybody. It teaches them to fend for themselves.

Independence is healthy. Being unable to depend - unhealthy.

It's hard to be a parent. Especially so when there are lots of others that need us. Especially when there are so many deadlines, appointments, commitments, etc. You can see the results of a neglected house, but the long term effects of a neglected baby, while far reaching, are hard to pinpoint. It is normal for a baby to be fussy every now and then. Having a fussy baby should not allow us to become desensitized to our child's cries. Allowing a baby to cry it out does just that. It desensitizes our parental intuition. We crush our natural instinct to reach out and comfort a crying baby. When we crush our instincts and our intuition we fall down a slippery slope of self-denial, self-doubt and insecurity. We continuously question ourselves and our ability.

Being left alone to fend for ourselves carries on to our adult lives. We lose our faith in mankind. We feel that we can't depend on anybody. We don't know how to trust. We tend to do everything ourselves. We suggest that others are too busy. We consider ourselves capable through desperation. We become martyrs or victims. We use the pretense that "others won't do it as well," and then label ourselves 'perfectionists'. Where does all this lead us? We are essentially crying it out.

Let's make an attempt to regain our faith in humanity. Let's right this wrong. Let's allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Let's ask for help. Let's allow someone to help us for the simple reason that we ask them to.

Go ahead and pick up your baby for the simple reason that she put her hands up. Don't wait till she's crying. I certainly don't want to beg for help. Do you?


  1. I hope you won't mind my personal ranting either. It hurts me (literally) to hear you ranting the above because I find it lumps so many children and parents together with a terrible label of 'crying it out.'

    My question to you and to anyone else who rants like this: Have you done it? Did you have a child who was so unhappy to go to sleep, cried while being rocked, nursed, lulled in any possible way and then turned into a happy child once he was guided to figure out how to close his eyes on his own.

    As a parent of three who has done the proper method (after reading the entire book) three times I will strongly disagree.
    My children are happy children, extremely independent, and most of all happy to go to sleep.
    There is never crying at bedtime (after one or two weeks) There is happiness, peacefulness, and content children during the whole nighttime.
    My children sleep better than most I see around them. Very little nightmares and wake up rarely. When they do they can close their eyes and go right back to sleep on their own.
    When I do the ferberizing method I see clearly in days the quality of their sleep improving which makes them happier children when they are awake. There is never any guessing are they tired or not.

    Let's make an attempt to regain faith in our humanity. It is fine if you are a happy mom spending an hour with your baby every time they need to go to bed or sleep with them in your bed. But trust that there can be other ways-other opinions- healthy and smart ways- and know from a mom who HAS done it that humanity is fine perhaps even better off.

    I respect your blog and joined because I am into health in many ways. I hope you don't mind my ranting. I figure if you are 'brazen' enough to rant, you are brazen enough to accept someone else's.

  2. I have to agree with you Rivkie. I have done the 'crying it out' successfully with 4 kids and they have become such good sleepers who never have nightmares and are always happy to go to bed. They are well balanced, sociable, smart and happy children without fears and I really can't see any damage from letting them learn to go to sleep by themselves.
    Please feel free to respond....

  3. I really appreciate the opportunity for this dialogue. I have so much more to say... I will be blogging about this soon. Too many words for a comment.

  4. I read your article and was reminded of the "attachment theory" in psychology. What is incredible - to everyone's view - is that the babies (the studies were done with babies from 1/2 year to 1 1/2 yrs. old) whose cries had been listened to, whose wants had been supplied by their primary caregiver - 50 years later, these same children were tested to see how they were responding to life's difficulties. And it turned out, remarkably, that the children whose caregiver was always there, had responded to her or his cries, these children were proficient when life hit them with disasters - death, divorce, fired from job - whereas the children who had suffered when little because of demands not met ("crying it out?") LOOKED exactly like their counterparts - they held down jobs, they were "independent", no nightmares - but when disaster hit, they simply fell apart. They could not cope.
    This lesson taught me the great responsibility we have to our children - even as babies, the ramifications of how we treat them is going to be all of their lives. I think it was the Frierdiger Rebbe who said it succintly - when you slap your child, think: you are slapping an old, old man.

    Enjoyed your article immensely! It was very well written and well thought-out.

    Rachelle Even-Sapir