Decoding the Cry It Out Method: Unveiling Science, Perspectives, and Parenting Insights
I went online tonight to explore a widely-read blog's take on the cry-based sleep training method. As it was a science-oriented blog, it diligently presented the facts, affirming the effectiveness of this approach when age-appropriate.
However, the reality is that many individuals who engage with blog content often skim through, focusing primarily on headlines before sharing their comments and opinions.
The conversation in tonight's comments section echoed a familiar discourse for me. It's intriguing to observe the assumptions people make...
Regarding the blog's headline question, "Are you open to using the cry-it-out method for your baby's sleep?"
This is a familiar response people have to this question, and I couldn't agree more! Crying is communication, but it's not always distress!
Have you ever cried from happiness? Relief? Anger? Frustration? I'm not saying your baby is crying from happiness at nap time or bedtime, but why do we assume every cry from a baby is distress?
The reason could just be that they're tired!
If we look at a baby who is happy all day, happy when you leave the room during the day, displays signs of a healthy attachment, has no separation anxiety, is well-fed, has no illness or pain, and is always rocked to sleep....
We put them down awake without rocking at their usual bedtime.
We know they're tired, they've gone to bed at this time all week, we know all of the above about the situation, and now we can choose to look at the crying baby put to bed awake, either they're randomly distressed, or they're tired and annoyed we're not rocking them to sleep like yesterday.
The cue is crying; looking at this cue within the context above, why would we assume the baby is randomly distressed?
Now if you've ever done sleep training with us, you'll know we always offer options that include allowing parents to stay and provide emotional and physical support; this doesn't mean your baby won't cry. They're likely still tired and frustrated.
Security and attachment builds day in and day out, interaction after interaction, serve and receive with your baby. It doesn't need 100% perfection; research shows parents with secure attachments are only attuned to their baby around 30% of the time!
It takes more than a little crying ro grizzling at bedtime to break an attachment.
The comment, though from this pic above that really grabbed my attention was the assumption your baby is scared.
Again thinking about this within context, your baby isn't scared when you leave them on the play mat to go to the bathroom, or you head into the kitchen to make food and they can't see you, but suddenly they're scared at bed time...
Cues within context people! We have to be a little pragmatic when contextualising what might be happening.
Here we have a list of reasons your baby is scared. They don't know much about the world, but they somehow know enough to be frightened of something they've never experienced...
They don't know much but know enough to know the dark is scary.
As adults, we know the dark itself isn't scary; what's scary is what we can't see in the dark, harmful people and boogie monsters. Things we have read about, seen on tv, and experienced.
Your baby isn't scared of the dark at sleep time, they know when you turn the light out, it's sleep time, and if you're not doing the usual sleep association they are used to when they're tired, they cry.
Back to the comment in regards to they don't know how long you'll be gone. Again if you think your baby is experiencing separation anxiety, look at how they behave when you leave in the day to move to another room. At this time they also don't know how long you'll be gone, but if they don't cry, then now knowing when you'll return isn't the reason they cry at nap time or bedtime.
If your baby sleeps with a dummy, and doesn't cry despite being alone... then you decide to take the dummy away and put them down awake and leave for a few minutes.
Are they now crying because they are alone?
Or because you took away their sleep association and they're tired and annoyed? Maybe frustrated?
When you come back after say 3-5 minutes, they are still crying. According to the comment above, we should then know if they need reassurance or something else. Just based on the fact they're crying in bed.
The good news here is that Harvard researchers actually think emotional tears flush stress hormones and other toxins out of our system). Offering health benefits! So, preventing your baby from crying isn't necessarily aiding them when overtired.
As for the snarky comment in regards to separation anxiety, the assumption is obviously incorrect, read more about separation anxiety HERE.
And finally, our commenter tops everything off with learned helplessness.
The belief that your baby didn't figure out how to fall asleep unassisted, they just learned that only in select circumstances at select times in the day, you won't respond so they "give up."
Anyone who has sleep trained will know that often we keep a feed or even 2 overnight because your baby still needs them. Are we actually believing that your baby has learned helplessness at bedtime, they stop crying because they know you won't come...but then when they're hungry at 2 am, they know to cry now because you will come and feed them....
This theory while it pulls at heartstrings and lays the guilt on parents who sleep train, doesn't stack up.
Parents know after they sleep train and their baby learns to self-settle to sleep, they still wake up and cry when sick and needing help, or if they're in a new location or cold. So they haven't learned to be quiet because no one will come, they've learned to fall asleep unassisted, they still use crying as a way to communicate, and you haven't damaged your child with sleep training.
These arguments this woman put up are so predictable, they're almost boring. Everyone who is opposed to this style of parenting has the same arguments.
Choose not to sleep train, choose gentle sleep training, or choose cry it out method.
Do what is right for you and your family, but don't let these arguments that with a little context and pragmatism make no sense.