Will Cry It Out Lead to Prozac For Your Baby?

When Psychology Today released an article recently about the “Dangers of Crying It Out” I felt it necessary to discuss this important topic.

When I think back through my life, if I focus just on the negative things in my life, it can feel depressing. I think back to how my parents were divorced when I was eight or when my mom left after a nervous breakdown, and I went to live with my Dad when I was 12. I think back to being called names because of my racial background or to my (mostly verbally) abusive relationship back in college and wonder what I was thinking. Or, I get sad when I think about my sister dying from Breast Cancer right before I married my husband. Less than a year later, my husband’s sister died…in our house, no less. Just this past summer, one of my older brothers died from a rare blood disorder that led to cardiac arrest. These are just a few things that have had an impact on my life and who I am, and I sometimes wonder how I have become and remain a fairly optimistic, happy person.

I am sure many of you have had your share of stressful and negative things that have happened to you or your family, too. :( If I wrote an article that said if all of these things happened to you, you would be clinically depressed or on Prozac, would you believe me? This is a lot of sadness in one life, I think. But, what about all the good things, too? We can’t just focus on the negative, can we?

I think back to my family trips with my four siblings. I remember my brothers telling me about trying to catch a squirrel for me on one of our trips. :) Although my mom did need to leave when I was 12, it was both the best and worst day of my life, because I think she did the right thing. If she couldn’t care for us, it was better for her to leave. And, she lives with that guilt every. single. day. My Dad was a rock. He showed me the importance of school, taught me that a woman can do anything, and kept me on the right path. When I went away to college, I had a BLAST of fun with friends! I was able to live life to the fullest, went on girl trips, laughed til our sides hurt, and did all kinds of fun, youthful things! And, if it weren’t for my disaster ex, I never would have met my current husband whom I’ve now known for over 10 years (that was one good thing that came out of “911”) and we’ve been married for 7 years with two wonderful boys. I could go on and on about all the great things in my life. Not to mention this website and how rewarding it has been to help so many other parents with something I’ve become so passionate about!

What does this have to do with sleep and cry it out?

My mom told me that she breastfed me, but she also did let me cry it out, though she did not use that phrase. Maybe it wasn’t called that “back then.” LOL- I was her fourth child. I’m sure she couldn’t spend eons to get me to sleep. Of all the things in my life, having cried it out as a baby really doesn’t seem that significant. From each negative thing, there has been a lot of positives to go with it. I would say I’m a very well-rounded, educated, down-to-earth, mentally sound individual. I don’t battle with depression and I’m not unable to cope with life’s stresses.

Back to the “Dangers of Crying It Out.” One article suggested your baby won’t be as smart or will suffer from a lifetime of anxiety. Another article speculated that maybe we have a “Prozac Nation” because of cry it out and, overall, lack of nurturing from parents.

One thing that is thoroughly frustrating to me about these blanket statements is they never define what they’re truly talking about. In my experience, we all have a different definition of “cry it out.”

Are you talking about 10 minutes of crying at bedtime or 3 hours straight of crying alone? Any amount of crying? Does fussing count? Does it mean that the parent has to also NOT nurture the baby during the day, too, for it to be dangerous? What about a mom who breastfeeds ALLLLL day, literally, and wants a 30 minute break to eat dinner only to have the baby cry even in Dad’s arms? Will her baby be harmed for life? What if your baby is crying laying next to you in bed or in your arms? Is colic dangerous given it’s a lot of crying, even if you are doing everything in your power to stop it? If you are in a car accident, trapped in your seat, and your baby is in the back of the car crying for 15-20 minutes while the paramedics arrive, get their gear, etc. to cut you out of the car, would your baby be damaged FOREVER? That would be a very stressful situation, indeed, and according to these articles, the levels of cortisol would increase and damage your baby’s brain. Or, perhaps the real questions is: Is it the parent’s intent that matters?

Here’s the thing. I understand why people would not want parents to ignore their baby’s cries forever and ever. That is neglect. But, to tell a suffering family that sleep deprivation or not, you can’t let your baby cry AT ALL is equally “dangerous.” We see the effects of sleep deprivation everywhere. Other articles from Psychology Today discussing the ramifications of sleep deprivation: air traffic control, behavior problems, and poor decision-making just to name a few.

There is fear on both sides: what will happen if you don’t sleep train and what will happen if you do. I am not suggesting all babies or people would react the same way to sleep training using a crying method just like I’m not blaming others if they haven’t coped as well to life’s stresses such as mine above. And, I’m not even suggesting most families should use cry it out. In personal consultations, it is rarely even the first or second suggestion we have for a family. But, it’s not off the table completely, depending on the situation, either. I have parents running stop signs for goodness sakes, with their baby in the back! Sleep training is not for a cushy lifestyle or just to make it easier for the parents. Sleep problems have been shown to be a precursor to depression and as dangerous as driving drunk. Parents come to us for help because they are truly concerned that their children are not getting the sleep they need.

So, when Ms. Alphonse poses the question “Could a lack of nurturing (because of crying-it-out) explain our ‘Prozac Nation?'” I take offense to it. First, to label a large group of people and blame one aspect of parenting is extreme. A parent who does cry it out is not necessarily a non-nurturing parent! Second, I don’t doubt for a minute that many people suffering from depression had parents adamantly against cry it out, just like many probably had parents who did use cry it out- especially since clinical depression can often be genetic. Our lives are too complex to blame just one thing as defining our personality. As my very brief account of my own life above illustrates, we are all made up of many events in our lives and to point to one thing our parents did or did not do as what makes or breaks us does an injustice to the many sacrifices parents make on a daily basis for their children. Third, a person who is on Prozac is not a bad person. They may need help dealing with depression, which they may have been born with or life’s craziness led to a difficulty in handling stressful situations. We should all try not to judge or further stigmatize others for needing some help. I applaud those who can take that step rather than try to deal with these types of things on their own. What a much happier life they probably lead with, rather than without, these medications. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t need medication with some of the things I’ve had to deal with!

And, to Ms. Narvaez who tells me the dangers of crying it out and how to grow a smart baby, I tell her that I did let my son cry it out (though my definition may not be yours), I did put him down, sometimes, he wasn’t a calm baby, and as a Kindergartener, he is reading on a second grade level (but can read sight words through third grade, at least) and doing math above second grade level (actually, what they told us was that they haven’t found his ceiling, yet). I did breastfeed, but I would bet a lot of money that there are many pretty smart people who got formula. I have wondered if his intelligence is a major influence in how difficult sleep has been for him. Maybe he can’t turn off his brain and sleep! 😀 I do know that sufficient sleep has been instrumental to his ability to learn, retain what he learns, but most importantly, his happiness (when he was a baby and now). His younger brother, whom we never let cry it out (just different temperaments!), will likely read when he’s four years old, too, but we can tell he may need to “work” a bit harder in school. It does not seem to come as easily nor is he as inquisitive to ask a lot of questions like his brother. They both have the same parents and got the same breast milk, they are just different.

I am in no way a doctor or psychologist, so take what you will from this. I am a mom who does not like the guilt trips that all these doctors (on both sides) give us new moms! I do not like extreme viewpoints that paint a broad picture without looking at the individual family’s situation. I do not believe that if you don’t sleep train, you are doomed to have a spoiled baby. In many cases, you can successfully establish healthy sleep habits while co-sleeping and/or without cry it out. I also believe that, within the right parameters, that controlled and temporary amounts of crying (along with a lot of nurturing!) is sometimes necessary for the greater good, health, and happiness of the family. As responsible parents, we limit crying as much as humanly possible and I have helped far more families sleep train without crying it out than with it.

Regardless, I know that we all do as best we can with our kids, we will make mistakes, and no matter what happens in their lives, I know that my boys will be who they will be because of all the experiences they have as they grow up, not because of one decision I made in a very short amount of time in their lives. I influence their lives, but I do not control it.

What do you think? Do you think our ‘Prozac Nation’ comes from crying it out?

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  1. Pippy Addis says

    I think it is ridiculous to even try to blame depression on crying it out. Depression is an imbalance in someone’s chemicals in their brain or maybe they can’t cope with some sort of tragedy in their life and they need to be on medication to help them feel better. I let my son cry it out since he was younger than the recommendations because I felt that it would help him to become a bit more independent when he is older. He is the happiest baby and coolest baby anyone has ever met. You know why? Because he sleeps well. If he has depression when he is older, I can guarantee that it is because all sorts of our family members have had it, and not because he cried it out and I let him cry for 10 minutes in his crib sometimes. These articles are ridiculous. I

  2. Hbar says

    It actually sounds like the writer’s personal feelings about parenting:attachment parenting she would like to promote rather
    than a science based article.One more way to try and push the babywearing,breastfeeding until they are 3,co-sleeeping,etc..
    I have bought the magazine before but will skip it from now on,thanks.

  3. says

    Thank you for posting this article. I found that Prozac/CIO article to be offensive. She painted with broad, irresponsible strokes. Most parents I know want to be good parents and do everything they can for their children. Having the nerve to suggest that allowing your kid to cry not only indicates that you are selfish and non-nurturing but also that you are setting up your child for a lifetime of anxiety is infuriating. Very irresponsible and just wrong.

  4. Misty says

    I have been diagnosed with depression and truly when I don’t get enough rest it gets out of control, even the medication won’t help me then. I used to just sit there and sob and sometimes we would cry together because I couldn’t think of anything else to do to get him to sleep. How great of a parent could I be in that situation? I was so tired I couldn’t even think. I had to learn to let my son cry it out sometimes, maybe 10-15 minutes, no more. It has greatly helped him learn how to get himself back to sleep! I used to rush to him every time he wimpered and wondered why he couldn’t sleep and therefore I couldnt sleep lol. Now he sleeps 9 hours at a stretch instead of waking every 1-2 hours. I am now able to manage my depression and be a better mommy and my son is so much more happy during the day because he isn’t tired all the time either. I think it is ridiculous that someone could think that leads to depression. NUMEROUS studies have shown that a lack of rest leads to obesity, depression and an inability to focus and I would think that would be true for both adults and children of all ages. As Nicole said there is a huge difference between sleep training/tried everything type cry it out and neglect. I know this is lengthy but as parents there is enough to worry about and for us it was a win win solution.

  5. monica says

    Well said!

  6. Sasha Hess says

    Hi, I’m a mother of 2 children, 3 and 1/2 year old girl and 7 months old boy. My first child had slight sleep problems but was very responsive to “no-tears” sleep training as promoted by Elizabeth Pantley and by 6 months old she slept through the night without any crying (she actually used to cry more trying to fall asleep in our arms). My baby boy is being “sleep trained” as we speak and yes, we had to resort to some crying, only after 6 months, as he reached 20 pounds and I wasn’t physically able to rock him to sleep anymore. Saying all this, I still think that your response here is a slight over-reaction to the mentioned articles. I’ve read all three of them and yes, the author clearly promotes attachment parenting, but otherwise has very clear arguments for her cause. I don’t think that she at any point meant that if a baby cries for 5 to 10 minutes, it will immediately be damaged for life or that his parents are not nurturing. I believe what she meant was the group of people who promote the true “cry-it-out” method = letting babies literally cry themselves to sleep, even if it takes hours. This is when the stress response she talks about kicks in and all the rest follows, especially if this happens every day, and in very young babies. And I’m sorry, but NONE of these articles accused any parent of child neglect when they HAD to let their baby cry, such as in the above mentioned car accident. That is ridiculous. Please, read the articles one more time. They actually provide a lot of good information, interesting historical perspectives and references worth looking into.
    Sleep tight, Sasha

  7. Shira says

    To echo another poster, well said, Nicole. I really like this article of yours. We just hope that most folks don’t believe everything they read but rather think for themselves.

  8. says

    @Pippy Thank you for sharing your story!

    @Hbar Thank you for your comment and sentiment!

    @Lauren I agree! Thank you for commenting.

    @Misty That is so great that you are able to manage your depression, now! Sleep deprivation seems to really exacerbate those feelings, even when you haven’t been officially diagnosed, I think. I’m so glad you were able to find what worked for your son and your health, too! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    @Monica Thank you! :)

    @Sasha You would be surprised just how many people will read those articles and let it keep them in a sleep deprivation abyss, so that’s why I feel very strongly about them. Your interpretation of the article says that she doesn’t mean 5 or 10 minutes of crying, but I promise you others will NOT read it that way. That is why I believe they should be clear about what they mean, but they imply ANY crying is damaging. At least that’s how I read it. I talk to so many parents every day and I know that many simply have a different definition of what “cry it out” means. An article like that can never say “Well, 10 minutes of crying would be okay.” The point is that every situation is different, so you can’t paint a broad picture and imply that a parent who does “cry it out” is neglectful or that the baby will be harmed beyond repair and affected the rest of his life. It simply can’t be so cut and dry. Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you’re finding what works for your situation and children!

    @Shira Sadly, articles like this will stop a lot of parents from doing anything to help their babies sleep better for their baby’s sake or the family’s. :( It’s not that they don’t think for themselves but that the articles promote fear and who wants to chance their baby’s health and well-being? Thank you for your comment!

  9. says

    @Sasha You know, I WAS one of those parents who did the all out extinction (awful name) method cry it out, and I let my baby cry for over an hour the first few nights. Not only that, I did it EARLY, he was only 4 months old at the time. And I don’t hesitate to say I would do it again.

    My baby wasn’t sleeping! He went from a happy alert bubbly pink cheeked beauty to this tragic constant crying child, rubbing his eyes and staring into the distance. In a matter of weeks. Nevermind that I was a mess, my baby was being seriously and obviously affected. I couldn’t rock him to sleep because he woke up as soon as I set him down. I tried putting him down “sleepy but awake” and he screamed. When I picked him back up he reverted to alert and ready to play, there was no soothing him back to sleepy to try again.

    This kind of article is absolutely harmful, and it’s also idiotic. The people who are reading aboutw which sleep training method works best are not the parents who will neglect their children and ignore their needs. They are the parents who want what is best for their kids and will do everything in their power to meet their needs. And as heart breaking as it was to stand by and listen, what MY baby needed was to cry. Because that’s how he finally got to sleep.

  10. monique says

    Nicole, thank you for sharing your own personal story and for writing this article. This is so well written I read it all the way through. I too believe it is so important not to paint all mothering decisions with a broad brush. We try so hard as mothers to do the absolute best for our children and there are those that have such extreme opinions of how to parent even though every child is an individual.

  11. says

    Nicole – it’s a shame that people have to go to extremes. My son had sleep issues, night terrors, etc. The most I could let him cry without it distressing me was 10 to 15 minutes and mostly we responded right away, but the sleep deprivation was awful for me. He seems fairly well adjusted now and he does well in school.

    I think much more research has to be done, but I tend to think that if you can find alternative methods to crying it out and it works, you should do that but if you can’t and otherwise during the day you are attentive to the baby, you have to do what makes sense for your health/sanity. We have all read stories about insane, sleep deprived parents!

    There are no easy answers in raising kids and there are larger societal issues like overwork, genetics, & unrealistic expectations that have more proof to lead to depression.

  12. says

    @Meagan Thank you for sharing your experience! I had a similar experience with a baby who “needed” to be rocked and then woke up right when I put him down. Without sleep, he literally is a different boy, even today. He desperately needs his sleep!

    @Monique Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked the article. :)

    @Aruni Thank you for your comment! I completely agree.

  13. Zamina says

    So ridiculous!! Have they thought to research the effect of poor sleep during the early years affecting mental health when older?! How we end up banking anxiety and stress from sleep deprivation. I watch my poor nephews and nieces being dragged around by their parents only to have their sleep needs unmet or at best met poorly and they are moody and cranky. Learning and development is a challenge for some of them. But the ones who naturally sleep easier, out perform the others. It’s pretty obvious.

    I don’t advocate crying as a first preference to helping my daughter sleep, but I do know that if I never let her have a whinge, and i mean ONLY a whinge, she would not have proved to herself that she could learn to wind down without the boob in her mouth. Now she is the least tired of her cousins, meeting her milestones early and a super chill and happy baby.

    ‘Prozac (or any other form of mental health drug) nation’ probably has more to do with doctors getting fat kick backs/incentives from big pharmaceutical organizations rather than all their patients really needing them. Blanket prescription does not adequately meet the needs of their patients, but it does makes doctors lots of money.

  14. Shauna says

    I have two wonderful daughters, one 3 and the other 18 months, who are very different. Both of them have a huge genetic timebomb–schizophrenia, OCD, anxiety, depression on their father’s side of the family. The 3 year old was HORRIBLE to get to sleep as a baby and toddler. She was 2 1/2 before she was able to go to her bed on her own and get to sleep and that is only with the mobile and about 10 stuffed animals. I tried Pantley’s method, Ferber, and cry it out to no end, because I was at my wit’s end……and none of it worked She was the one who would cry for an hour and for whom my very presence in the room was too stimulating for her to settle. I gave it up very quickly. She has been to play therapy with clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression, at 3 years old. The younger one put herself to sleep as a newborn and aside from the normal developmental hitches, is back to getting herself to sleep after rocking for 5 minutes and she now cries for maybe two minutes when I put her down due to the insult of it all. I never had to do “Cry it out” with her, just pat her back for a bit. Do I think cry it out hurt my older daughter? No, I think I had to try it because of how difficult she was right from birth, and I think that’s what the study might be missing—–kids are born predisposed, with their own temperaments right from the start. (I could have told you with my older when she was 2 days old that she was anxious but no one would have believed me). The same temperamental traits that lead to depression and anxiety are the same traits that make it hard to sleep–difficulty in soothing oneself. Inability to turn off the internal chatterbox and relax in the moment. Those are the kids whose parents did everything they could to help them regulate themselves,including cry it out, and they are the same ones who need medication (and proper sleep) to regulate themselves as adults. I agree, stop blaming people. We all do the best we can…

  15. JD says

    I think a simple Google search on this researcher (on whom the article is based), will show a definite bias. Especially when you learn that she tries to blame her upbringing on her poor memory and social anxiety. Insert *eye roll* here.
    Instead of blaming everything on everyone, how about we try some personal responsibility instead?
    I’m curious to know if this researcher has any children of her own. 😉

    Until you’ve been up all night, started your day at 4 am and are still required to talk in sentences that make sense for several days, I don’t think you can judge what a parent does for the best interest of their family. 😉

  16. Morgan says

    If I had read this a couple of months ago I would immediately think it was ridiculous. But, about a month ago I had my own personal experience that leads me to believe there may be some truth in this. At my son’s 6-month check-up the doctor walked in and my son was passed out in my arms while I was rocking him and my eyes were bloodshot and watering. Her first question was has his sleeping gotten any better. No… in fact, he had woken up 9 times the night before. She told me I was going to have to let him cry it out and that he didn’t need to eat during the night.

    That night exhausted and emotionally drained I let my baby cry it out. It took 31 minutes of us both crying, but he did fall asleep. At 2 a.m. he woke back up and I (listening to the doctor) did not feed him. I would just go in and tell him it’s ok, give him his pacifier and blanket and leave… every 30 minutes… for 2 hours.

    The next day when I picked him up from daycare the teacher said she didn’t know what was wrong with him, but he just seemed so sad all day. Instantly my heart broke in a million pieces. I knew it was from the crying the night before. My heart hurts still picturing his little face when I picked him up that day. Sad, rejected, hurt. He looked as if I had beaten him for weeks. He relied on me for everything and I had let him down.

    After seeing the effects of just that one night of crying it out I can definitely see how it would be possible to have a permanent effect on a baby’s emotional state.

    I told the daycare teacher what I had done the night before and she said she completely disagreed with the doctor. Since then if he’s hungry in the middle of the night I feed him. He’s now almost 9 months old and still wakes up once during the night to eat. Other than that he’s a great sleeper and napper. He’s just hungry… and that’s fine by me!

  17. says

    @Zamina Thank you for your comment! I’ll stay away from the doctors and kickbacks comment, since I’m not privy to much information related to that. 😉 I agree that some children with behavior problems or difficulty at school likely need more sleep in a lot of cases.

    @Shauna I agree that the person’s temperament and what they are pre-disposed to is not taken into consideration nearly as much! I happen to have difficulty turning off my “chatter” too but it doesn’t affect me in that same way. I’m just a “thinker” I think. I’m glad your daughters are sleeping well, now! I hope it is helping your older daughter deal with her anxiety and it is easily managed. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    @JD I would be curious about how many of these researchers actually have children! :) Thank you for commenting!

    @Morgan I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience! :( This goes back to different definitions of cry it out, again. I would have wholeheartedly disagreed with your doctor, too. When I work with families I separate self-soothing from night-weaning almost every time! I would have told you to work on bedtime (not necessarily with cry it out) but tended to him at every other waking, including feeding. Once a baby knows how to self-soothe or change expectations about being PUT to sleep, many times, they begin to wake just for true feedings and 1-2 feedings are normal at 6 months! Doctors are quick to say babies don’t need to eat at night, but going cold-turkey is not often the best way. Here is my article about my feelings on night feedings: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/night-feedings-by-age-when-do-you-night-wean/ . Sleep training and night-weaning are not the same thing, in my experience, and should be treated separately. I am confident your son will return to his happy self and I’m glad you are feeding him again at night. Good luck!!

  18. Melissa says

    Before I became a mother, I thought I’d be an attachment parent. I thought about how peaceful and happy my child would be and thought I’d be good at breast feeding, baby-wearing, and co-sleeping. I figured my child wouldn’t cry very much and she’d be “zen” like her mama. And then… It turns out that I hate breast feeding (even though I do it). My daughter got too heavy for me to carry all day in a carrier at around 4 months old when she was 16 pounds. I’m an incredibly light sleeper and wasn’t able to sleep in the same bed with her. And last, but definitely not least, my daughter had colic. She’d scream for hours on end and there was nothing I could do to soothe her. I’d read all of the articles about how CIO was damaging to babies and, as a result, hated myself for not being able to “fix” her. When the colic finally subsided, the sleep problems began (or maybe I just started to notice them). Every nerve in my body was worn down after 6 straight months of constant crying – no, screaming – and I couldn’t take not sleeping anymore. So, I did a modified CIO, and it worked in one night. And, you know what? My daughter screamed less that night than she ever did during a colic fit.

    So, if my daughter has brain damage or depression or any one of the other things CIO is associated with (and I’m not denying the research – I do believe that a statistical link exists), is it my “fault”? Is the fact that she had colic my “fault”? I don’t think so. I’ve found that motherhood is full of guilt, a lot of which is placed on us by other people. I’ve also learned that children are resilient – I think for a good reason. It gives us time to figure out how to do the right thing for our children without feeling like one act is going to damage them for the rest of their lives. I’m not willing to feel guilty anymore about being the mother I am and the way I choose to raise my child. Each of us has to find our own best path, which takes trial, error, and success. Cheers to all of the parents who are able to find their path and do what they can do to help their child be happy and healthy.

  19. Trina Bagnall says

    I think every child is different. Crying it out may seem fine for some babies who don’t cry for very long, and end up going to sleep. For other babies, crying it out means hours of crying, refusing to sleep, and becoming hoarse. These are two of my children. Yes, I tried crying it out. I tried everything to get my son to sleep. I’m on my third child now and she fusses a bit before naps sometimes, but usually just lies down and falls asleep in her crib. My son wouldn’t even sleep in a crib no matter how many times I tried to get him to. Each child is different. Could crying it out have a relationship to prozac? If the child cries for long periods of time until he or she is so spent, she falls asleep by default? If so, then sure. I would suggest that child has something going on, an underlying health issue, food intolerance, heavy metal toxicity or something that is causing him or her to be so devastated when left alone. If the food issue is not fixed, then fast forward to an adult with depression. Food intolerances and nutritional deficiencies cause emotional problems at any age.

  20. Collin Rogers says

    @Zamina I think you hit it on the head. “Depression” is probably over diagnosed and “Prozac” over prescribed. Doctors are courted by the drug companies and if not receiving kick-backs directly, I know for a fact they are invited to all-expenses-paid resort weekends for “education” all paid by the drug companies. I think that is why so many drugs are prescribed more and more every year.

    We have a very energetic child and many would probably say he has ADHD, but the biggest factor we have found with him sleeping or being calm and focused generally, is to “run it out” every day. If he gets at least 30 minutes of solid exercise (running and climbing at a playground, for example) he is a gem all day and sleeps “like a baby”.

  21. says

    @Trina I agree that all babies are different and the key is to find the right approach for that child, not necessarily the parent, that will achieve the healthiest outcome. For everyone, the solution will not be the same. Thank you for commenting!

    @Collin That’s great you’ve found what works for your son! Outside and physical play is definitely a good thing. Thanks for sharing and commenting!

  22. Vanina says

    I just wonder… would you let your friend/husband/mother/sister cry alone if they feel bad for any reason? Would you let them cry to “get used to it” or “for their own good”? Or would you try to do your best to comfort them or at least be there to hug them in silence if what they need is to cry?

    So, why would you do that to your son?
    Because it’s a baby and you’ve been told babies “cry”?
    Your baby needs YOU.

    I truly believe that letting your baby CIO is helping him to experience his first sense of abandonment, because YOU, the only person he knows the most, the only person he trusts, doesn’t hear his call. So, nature is wise. If you don’t come to him the first night, the second night, his self preservation instict will make him stop crying, because is useless and it hurts! But it’s proven that high levels of cortisol are still generated even when the baby doesn’t cry anymore the following nights.

    My baby is 15 months and is not “a good sleeper” if a good sleeper is a baby that sleeps through the night at this age. We decided to co-sleep because we just think is what a baby needs, physical contact, as any mammal… Just take a look at the nature and you’ll see ALL babies sleep “sticked” to their moms. What makes you think a human baby is different? And not only the human babies… think about you. Do you like sleeping alone or do you enjoy cuddling with your husband at night and feel him next to you if you have a night waking?
    I think CIO is simply unnatural. Like it or not, we are parents both day AND night and it’s proved in several sleep studies that sleep is a complex process that matures by the age of 6, when a child sleeps mostly like an adult. So until then you can expect a child to wake during the night.
    I know it’s exhausting, but I prefer to respect my child and be there for him rather than training him to do something he already know how to do… his way. Or how was he able to sleep in your womb when you were pregnant? Who “taught” him to do that then?
    Call it attachment parenting if you wish. I prefer to call it just “parenting”.

  23. says

    @Vanina Very good points and once again I think it goes back to the definition of cry it out. Co-sleeping does seem natural, but really just doesn’t work for everyone. To be honest, I *don’t* like to be “crowded” and sleep right next to my husband. It might be okay to start the night that way, but then I need my space. I get very very hot when I sleep. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t co-sleep with my parents. I’m not sure. My husband doesn’t like sleeping RIGHT next to each other, either. We have a King-size bed, too, because he’s a tall/big guy. My eldest son, on the other hand, loves to sleep right next to us and he would be a big-time co-sleeper, if it worked for us. We let him come in during nightmares or when he’s scared (mostly we go to his room), etc. My younger son, however, needs his space and has since he was young and does not like to sleep right next to us like that, unless sick. I can’t, in good conscience, sacrifice my sleep to give my son the constant contact. I just would not be a good mom during the day without SOME sleep at night. Elbows in my throat and feet on my back just simply don’t lend to a good night’s sleep. He is a tall 6 year old boy now. He has had to learn that sometimes he gets what he wants and sometimes he doesn’t and we are very careful to let him know that he can depend on us when he’s scared and that is an “exception.” It’s tricky, no doubt.

    So, back to a baby and crying. One thing to keep in mind, in my opinion, is projecting your feelings on the baby. A baby does not always cry out of fear or sadness. If you are rocking him to sleep and every time you put him down, he cries, perhaps he’s tired. Perhaps he’s frustrated that you’re not rocking him. But, it does not mean that you have left him for good and he’s sad. What if you are RIGHT there next to him NOT rocking? Frustrating, yes, but you have not abandoned him. There are MANY different ways to teach a new skill and many different definitions of “cry it out.” And, yes, perhaps that baby is sad that you are changing your routine of rocking him to sleep. And, my son may cry that he doesn’t want to go to school. It doesn’t mean they get what they want every time they cry. All families need to decide when their baby learns that and maybe it’s not 6 months and maybe it’s when they’re two, but each family needs to weigh the pros and cons of what they’re going through on a daily basis and the level of crying they are hearing. It is just not cut and dry. We ALL learn we can’t have our way all the time. It’s just a question of when.

    We are all “parenting” but we all parent in different ways and what works for you simply won’t work for every parent and not for every baby, either. Some babies don’t even like co-sleeping. Thank you for commenting and joining in on the discussion! It is most appreciated.

  24. says

    @Vanina It always amazes me that someone who has never met my baby knows his needs better than his mother.

  25. says

    @Meagan Edited: Oops, I see now that you were addressing that Vanina knows your baby’s needs and my first reply was not appropriate. I agree that we can’t know what goes on day in and day out of each other’s lives, so all of us need to stop judging others for the decisions they make for their own babies and make blanket statements that what one person does will “ruin” their baby. I agree that not all babies need the same thing, including co-sleeping. Thank you for commenting! :)

  26. Melissa says

    I did CIO when my twins were 6 months old. We tried the no-cry methods and had no success. They were waking 12-14 times a night EACH and taking one 20-minute nap per day. Have you ever been so tired that all you do is cry? Have you ever felt your PPD spiraling out of control? Have you ever fallen asleep while driving with your children in the car? Those are real and they happened to me.

    My son never smiled. He never laughed nor giggled. I thought he wasn’t a happy baby. What I failed to see is that he was unhappy because he was tired. I wasn’t respecting his need to sleep. To me that is bad parenting because I was allowing him to become so overtired that he was miserable. My body hurts when I am tired and I can only imagine how his little body felt. When he was finally sleeping (waking 3 times a night) he became the happy child he is today.

    BTW Vanina my 17 month old hates cosleeping. I tried to put her in my bed when she was sick and she cried harder. She kicked and punched me until I put her back in her space.

    Parent your child, not a method.

  27. JD says


    You use the word ‘training’ like it’s a bad thing, but really as parents we do a lot of that. Training is a form of teaching and I see nothing wrong with that.
    When you teach a child to say “thank you” when they receive something, you are essentially ‘training’ them to have a certain response to a certain situation.
    Sleep training and its many forms is very similar to that. You are teaching/training a child to be independent and self soothe during sleeping hours. A certain response to a certain situation.

    Abandoning is not the same thing. Most well adjusted, sane, hardworking, loving parents do not abandon their child. My guess is that they use CIO as a final resort because they LOVE and RESPECT their child so much that the realize that quality sleep is very important.
    CIO was very hard for the parents that I know, but yet they chose to do it to help their little ones get the sleep they need.

    You yourself say that you don’t have a good sleeper and yet you co-sleep.
    I could easily spin the very little I know about your situation and say that you are not helping your child learn how to sleep independently. But that would be silly of me, because I’m sure you’re doing what you believe is best for your child….just like the rest of us. :)

    At some point he will learn to sleep in his own bed.
    You will teach/train him that that is the appropriate place to sleep.
    What will you do when he cries and wants to stay with you?

    Will you let him experience ‘abandonment’ or teach him ‘independence’?

    P.S. When using an animals to humans comparison, please remember that some animals eat their young. 😉

  28. Vanina says

    @Nicole I understand your point about the co-sleeping but the difference -I think- is that you or your husband are adults and have your own preferences regarding the way you sleep which you have been choosing (and maybe changing!) during the years. I also understand even your boys now may prefer to co-sleep or not. But a newborn or a young baby works differently and has other needs. I know sometimes is not the most “comfortable” situation in terms of space, but I think it’s worthy. A newborn needs full contact with his mom (literally ALL the time if it was possible), in order to recreate the feeling of pleasure, protection and security he felt in the womb. Some authors are even referring to the first year of a child as an exterogestation. The point is to decide as an adult responsible for that child if it’s possible to be emotionally and physically available for the baby as he truly needs. It’s a hard path to go through, I know. And everyone does the best they can.

    About the CIO issue, I think that it’s not the same if a baby cries, than if a 2 year old, or a 6 year old cries. When they can express through the language, the crying situation can be controlled in a different way and you can even negotiate, as in the example of your kid crying because he doesn’t want to go to school. But in the case of a baby, whose only tool to express discomfort is crying, I believe it’s something to take care of without fear of being “parenting a monster who will dominate you”. Yes, I think a baby should be comforted every time he cries, and if he needs to cry anyway to express himself, to release energy or whatever the need is, the adult in charge should be there to support him and just be with him, holding him and helping him go through that stressful moment.

    @Melissa In any case, co-sleeping is one form of sleeping, but I’m not saying that the options are co-sleeping or CIO. I’ve got many friends that do not co-sleep and would never let their babies CIO. So I’m not parenting a method. I choose to co-sleep and absolutely respect those who doesn’t. But I don’t agree with CIO. I don’t see how letting your baby cry can teach him any good thing.

    @JD Probably it’s an irrelevant “semantic” detail, but the word “train” linked to parenting doesn’t sound good in my head.
    I don’t say my baby is a bad sleeper. I say it’s not a good sleeper if that means sleeping through the night. I know she’ll do it when she’s ready, the same as crawling, walking or reading. And when she’s ready she’ll leave our family bed to sleep in her own room. They grow up! If it wasn’t that way, then don’t use a pacifier, don’t breastfeed, don’t use diapers because some day you’ll have to take that all off. And if once she goes to sleep on her own she needs to come back some nights, we’ll be happy to receive her and be there for her as always.
    I think the problem is we want them to be independent before they’re ready to because it’s convenient for us. Would you expect a 2 month old to walk? A 1 year old to speak your language perfectly? So why should you expect a (you name the age) to sleep through the night when his nervous system is not mature enough?
    I can assure you that independence comes after feeling security when they need it, and letting them CIO is quiet the opposite from my personal point of view. It’s like saying “You’re on your own now. Figure it out!”. I think not many good things can come out of that experience AT ANY AGE.
    Animals who eat their young are rare cases. Most of them act in a protective and caring way. I believe you understood the point.

  29. says

    @Vanina I think you are confusing convenience with survival. Some of us, for example, have to drive on occasion, and if we do that frequently on an hour per night of sleep, eventually something really terrible is going to happen. Even if we are somehow able to spend the entirety of our baby’s infancy without leaving the house, generally total sleep deprivation does not make for ideal, or even passable parenting.

    And that’s not even considering the BABY’s health and wellness. You seem to believe that the worst thing a baby can suffer is crying alone. Personally, after seeing my son in the morning after being rocked to sleep every hour on the hour compared to my son sleeping in solid chunks after one hour of crying at bedtime, I disagree about which is worse.

    Co-sleeping worked for you? Fantastic. No cry worked for your friends? Super. Cry it out worked for my baby. I still feed him twice a night without complaint, I go to him and comfort him if he wakes up and needs comfort. It has nothing to do with convenience or putting my wants before his needs. In fact, I miss rocking him to sleep. But I don’t do it because it’s terrible for his sleep. I KNOW my baby and I know what he needs. You don’t.

  30. says

    @Vanina You have some valid arguments in theory, but in practice, it just doesn’t always work that way. I have had two recent clients tell me they felt ABANDONED by the Attachment Parenting community because they simply could not get any “no cry” anything to help with their baby’s sleep and they CANNOT function the way they are going. I understand a lot of people think it’s for convenience, but many times families cannot function at all day to day. It simply sounds like you’re having difficulty putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and I don’t blame you. If someone told me that I would be in an abusive relationship at some time, I would have said “no way!” but until you’re there, you don’t know what you’ll do. And, I don’t disagree with you that newborns need a lot of attention, affection, and care. The point where we diverge is deciding for everyone at what age more independence should occur. My boys didn’t crawl until they were 10 months old. Families have told me theirs crawled at 6 months. Is it wrong that they “let” them crawl at 6 months, even though average might be 8 months? Of course not. Their babies were ready sooner. Similarly, you can’t say that NO baby is ready to sleep independently at 6 months, just because yours doesn’t. It doesn’t mean she can’t, she just hasn’t. If a parent picks up their baby all the time, he may not walk until he’s 18 months. Does it mean he CAN’T walk sooner? No. Parents are just doing what they feel is right for their baby and their family. So, just like we don’t say you are doing wrong by your baby by co-sleeping past a year, you should not pass judgment that others need to take a different path for their family.

    And, for the CIO issue, would you consider it CIO to hold your baby while she is crying, but not nursing to sleep? Some would and others wouldn’t. Again, the CIO definition is blurry. There are some, and maybe even your friends, who allow crying, but stay IN the room with them. Are you saying that is okay, then? Because, you said a parent should be there to support them. Again, that’s what this article is about in terms of the “research” not being clear about what they’re talking about and scaring people into staying in their sleep deprived states by making a blanket statement implying that ANY crying is harmful.

    In regards to “training” I always find it amusing that it’s okay to potty train, but not sleep train. It’s really just a bad way to say “teaching.” In some parts of the world, I think they say “toilet learning” and I have used “sleep coaching” on numerous occasions to try to get away from the now stigmatized word.

    Thanks again for the great discussion! I think it’s important and useful for others making their own decisions for their families. I doubt we’ll ever agree, but it’s good to talk it out with another intelligent and well-spoken mom without it getting nasty! :)

  31. Dana says

    I think what a lot of these proponents of NO CIO EVER fail to recognize is that there are huge ranges on the emotional spectrum of a human, and crying for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, even an hour for a few nights is not going to damage a child for life. This is exactly the same as when they tell you ANY alcohol during pregnancy will damage your fetus. “They” base this claim on “studies” which show its true, but if you have any education in statistical analysis you will see that they define “moderate” drinking as 1-3 drinks PER DAY. To me, that is way more than moderate. Everyone has their own definition.

    I personally think that the short amount of time it takes most babies to learn how to sleep thru a CIO method (usually a few days to a couple weeks at the most) is much less damaging than a couple of years of fragmented sleep every.single.night. My son was sleep trained (yes, trained; changing the term doesn’t change the meaning) at 7 months and is a happier, healthier baby because of it. Before we took the leap he was fussy all day, wouldn’t nap, and wanted to be held constantly. Now that he sleeps well at night, he wakes up smiling and playing in his crib, he takes 2 hour naps and explores on his own. Once he went through the method he suddenly hit three huge milestones all at once. Crawling, sitting up by himself, and standing while holding on to something. And, yes, I breastfeed.

    My baby cries when he is in his car seat and doesn’t want to be. Should I take him out so I don’t damage his brain? No way. I don’t understand how crying = damage can apply in one situation but not another with the same parents involved who love and nurture their child. We are not talking neglect here, that is a different matter, and I find it pretty insulting to suggest that CIO always = neglect, or laziness, or selfishness. I think a lot of parents who choose this method have thought about it hard and decided that it is best for their child’s health.

  32. Mahua Mandal says

    From what I’ve learned (as a public health researcher) depression is largely a result of genetic-environment interaction. People don’t have major depression due to ONE factor. Using CIO certainly does not cause depression. Neglect IS a risk factor – but CIO is not neglect. It’s ridiculous to say or imply that. And, yes, some babies continue to need to be fed once or twice until they’re a year or even older. But, others wake up b/c they’ve just gotten used to it (like my boy). If a parent is not comfortable with CIO and has chosen not to use it (or, if they are one of the lucky ones who either had a baby who got sufficient sleep for his/her age, or was successful with other methods), then that’s their decision. If a parent has chosen some from of CIO, well then, that’s their decision too. Just like it’s ridiculous to chastise or guilt-trip Moms who don’t breastfeed, or those who decide to/have to continue working outside the house, etc., it’s ridiculous to say that one night-time parenting method is better than another. Do what’s right for your own child and family, and don’t worry what others are doing. Most – if not all – parents who visit this website obviously have their babies on their brains a lot, and are trying to do the best for THAT baby and THAT family. After I night-weaned my baby at 14 months (and Dad offered water when he woke, but we did let him cry, sometimes for more than an hour in the beginning) my boy was SO MUCH HAPPIER. Much more alert during the day, more active, many more smiles and laughs. Hearing him cry was hard, but I knew at that point that he didn’t need to eat at night anymore, and wasn’t even hungry or thirsty (since he would just suckle, rather than actually feed, when I nursed him). Did I like hearing him cry? No way. I hated it. It was hard. What kept me from “saving” him” ? I knew he needed to sleep more than 4 hours at a time by that point (well, he needed to that before 14 months, but we had a lot of backsliding since he’s an extremely inconsistent baby). Now, when he wakes at night, we know something is wrong. We tend to him quickly. We comfort him, offer him water, check his diaper, etc. But, his cries are more distinguishable, and – b/c he generally sleeps well – we know if he is waking and crying there is a specific reason (not because he’s gotten used to waking at certain times, as before). Each of us parents know our babies the best. Better than any other adult, even those that are sleep or child “experts”. So, if someone tells me I’ve damaged MY baby by letting him cry some at night, well….I’ll leave it to my fellow readers to guess what my reply would be…

  33. says

    @Dana Very well said. That is a good analogy with the drinking. I didn’t drink any caffeine my whole pregnancy with my first, but with my second, I drank one cup of coffee a day (when you have two, you need a pick-me-up sometimes haha!). Their personalities are opposite than you’d think if you based it on caffeine alone. 😀 And, my eldest cried every car ride for his first year (until he was turned around). I sat in the back for most car trips, but could only keep him happy for 10-15 minutes and then nothing would keep him from crying. I definitely was not about to turn him around early or let him out of his car seat! Thank you for your comment!

  34. Vanina says

    @Nicole I was actually a client of yours several months ago because as many of the moms who discovered this site, I was worried, doubtful and tired due to the lack of sleep of my little baby. Later on I kept on reading and searching and I found that it made more sense to me the fact that sleep is a process that will mature in time and I preferred to respect the own natural timing of my daughter. So I know about lack of sleep and I know what I’m talking about. And most of all, I think I can put my self in someone else’s shoes: my child’s.

    To continue with your example, my daughter crawled at 13 months! And for sure I think that she didn’t do it before because SHE COULDN’T. She did it when SHE was ready, when she could figure it out. She’s 15 months now and she doesn’t walk yet. Of course there are babies that crawl at 8 months and others that walk before they are 12 months, but still these are not skills you teach them! They do it when they are ready, each one at their own time. So from my point of view sleeping is the same thing.
    Sleeping is a vital need, like breathing. And babies’ sleep in immature, like they are!

    About CIO, of course I think it’s not the same to hold your baby while she’s crying than to leave her all alone. It’s clear that sometimes, no matter what we do, they cry and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But I don’t think crying is the way to teach/learn anything. I think is disrespectful to a baby and to any person.

    And besides the respect matter, I think there’s also a “guts” thing. Something inside you that tells you when something is just wrong.
    Among all the books I’ve read regarding baby’s sleep, I read a very famous and controversial one (“Duérmete, niño”) written by a Spanish doctor who mostly recreated the Ferber’s method. In that book, he suggested that if the crying of your baby bothers you at the point that you could break your “consistency”, you could use a headset and listen to music during the process. COME ON! If a mother feels in her guts that all this crying is affecting her and her child it’s because there’s a connection and a preservation instinct that I think should be always listened and followed.

    I’m not part of any Attachment Parenting community. As all of you I’m a mom who tries to do her best for her child. And personally don’t like those “labels”. But I know parenting ideas and practices divide people, sometimes even more than politics, religion or sports…

    Thanks Nicole for your respectful way of sharing your thoughts and for allowing this space to exchange ideas and experiences. Even though I don’t agree with sleep training, I usually read your articles because they are full of interesting information and I enjoy your writing :)

  35. says

    @Mahua Thank you for sharing what you have learned about depression and for your personal story! That is so wonderful your son is so happy, too! :)

    @Vanina I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to imply you didn’t know what it’s like to be a tired mom! 😀 I meant I know it’s hard to imagine how it can be “bad enough” that you’d let your baby CIO. I get a LOT of emails daily/weekly/monthly and send literally over 100 emails a month or something. I think it is different for families who look at their baby and see suffering. Red-rimmed eyes. Bags under the eyes. Unhappy. Won’t play. Cranky. Toddlers with behavior problems. Parents that fall asleep at the wheel. Parents about to lose their jobs. Parents who say their marriage is on the rocks. Sleep problems/deprivation affects everyone so differently, babies and parents alike. That’s all I meant. And, so many times, it seems like the choice is continue on the path you’re going or CIO and that’s just not true, either. There is often a middle ground.

    I agree with you that not all babies can “learn” to sleep at the same time. But, I disagree that all of them will do it when they are ready. I work with families with kids of all ages, including 3 year olds, still waiting for their “baby” to outgrow their sleep issues. Imagine all that lost sleep for both parents and child in THREE years! Many times, it’s not that they CAN’T do it, but they just don’t know how or what to do without their current routine. It doesn’t mean a baby or toddler can’t learn a new routine. They just haven’t had to. A lot of times it’s expectations, too. They expect a bottle or breastfeeding to sleep and so they “need” it. It doesn’t mean they can’t learn to sleep without it, they just expect it. Changing expectations is not impossible, but does take some time, direction, nurturing, and follow-through.

    Babies and our children do not have the wisdom to know if something needs to change. We do. And, I’m not saying your situation needs a change at all, if it works for you. All I’m saying is that if there is a family who has a 6 month old and they do CIO (whatever that means to you because I guarantee some would say it’s CIO to let them cry in your arms, too), don’t be quick to assume the 6 month old is not ready. Sure, maybe sleep won’t be perfect, at that age, but it doesn’t mean it’s “normal” to wake up 10 times a night for a pacifier, for example, either, right? There are “normal” waking up in babies and then there is excessive.

    I can actually get by a lot less sleep than average, but waking up every 1-2 hours DID ME IN. I could NOT do that any longer. And, even if I could, I was not the mom I wanted to be. Short-tempered, wanting to lay on the couch all day, unable to engage my kids in the way I wanted to spend awake time with them. With my youngest, he actually wasn’t a perfect sleeper. His waking was manageable and so I never even “worked” on it. I guess we all have priorities. Some of us prioritize the baby’s sleep over our own, no matter the consequence. Some people prioritize daytime activity. Some people prioritize the baby’s happiness during the day. If you don’t have those tough choices to make, it’s a lot easier, but some of us do have to make those tough choices.

    As far as CIO being respectful or not, that’s a tough one. All crying is not for the same reason and some babies actually cry more/longer with a parent in the room NOT doing something. Every baby’s temperament and preference is different, in that regard. Some temperaments are simply more persistent and demanding and if a baby were hungry, that would be different than demanding to be held in a rocker all night. Again, it would depend on age and reason for crying. A toddler crying “I want cookies for dinner!” if it went on long enough, I probably would leave the room to let him have his tantrum (my son is very persistent and had looong tantrums). I think it also depends on how consistent your routine is and whether you’ve set expectations. I don’t think it’s fair to co-sleep for a year, for example, and then just put your baby in a room and shut the door. You haven’t set any expectations or changed routines. But, once the routine is set, expectations are clear, he’s had some transition time, and you know he is just exerting his will, I think you have to draw the line somewhere. To squelch crying at any cost is to deny them from emotional expression. I would argue we don’t want them to bottle up their emotion, either, but I don’t think we can stop them from EVER being upset. It’s actually okay to be upset, in my opinion, to a certain degree. Every baby and family will just have different lines and different methods of handling them. The baby’s temperament is a huge factor, too, in my opinion.

    Thanks again for the great discussion! :)

  36. Matea says

    Hi Nicole,

    I agree with you that a single cry-out will probably not have an impact on an average child. Also, when reading your guide for sleep-training, I did not notice any cry-out technique.

    Every person is different and reacts different to the events in his or her life. One can get depressed because he / she made a major mistake, another one would take it as a lesson and become a better person.

    I think one-formula-fits-all simply does not exist. For example, most of the sleep-training experts talk about how a child/baby that was co-sleeping will have hard time to make their child to sleep on his/her own. My daughter was co-sleeping first 10 months and when I got very bad cold I put her in her bed. She slept without any crying or complaining from her first “solo” night onward. It was completely natural to her.

    The questions you pose above are best answered in a book called “The Science of parenting” by Margot Sunderland. She explains the brain development, and how we (parents) can grow a child that is psychologically well adjusted, balanced, and emotionally healthy. I like this book. It is also much more comprehensive than the articles you mentioned.

    Every parent tries his/her best. Maybe we just do not have enaugh time for our children, because our daily life rhytm gets faster and faster, and working hours longer. It might be that we are much more stressed than parents in 70’s and 80’s (a child can very well feel when we are stressed). Some say the air pollution and the chemicals in the food contribute to the disseases and disorders as well.

    I would never cry-out my daughter, but I can understand that for some parents this works very well. One-right-formula for the parenting (and sleep-training) simply does not exist 😉

  37. says

    @Matea That is so wonderful your daughter transitioned so easily! I wish all of us had that experience! 😀 There may not be a website, but at least sleep would be much less of an issue. Thank you for your comment and I’ll have to check out that book. Sounds interesting!

  38. says

    I have so many mixed feeling about CIO. I’ve used it, quite frequently, with my daughter who is now 17 months old. I was never able to be consistent, some nights I just couldn’t take it! I never let her cry more than 45 minutes straight. For a while I though it worked, she would even fall asleep on her own. Most nights she would whimper for about 5 minutes and then drift off to sleep. I thought I had in the bag, but as she got older we somehow slipped back into some bad habits. I can’t bear to use the CIO method anymore, it’s too painful to listen to her scream, so now I rock her until she falls asleep and put her to bed. She also tends to wake up at night and cry. Sometimes she falls back asleep within minutes, other nights her cry’s turn into screams, and there I am, rocking her back to sleep. I know this is bad, but I’m not sure what else to do. I try to be consistent with a routine, but somehow I’m missing something. She fights me every night, even when I’m rocking her, sometimes it takes all my strength and patience to get her to relax. She even pulls her own hair to stay awake. Like you said in your guide, giving baths to some children can sometimes have the opposite affect, and my daughter is one of them. So instead we put her pajamas on, brush her teeth, and then cuddle in to the rocking chair to watch some TV. I’ve tried reading to her, but she’d rather chew on the pages. She’s very independent and extremely smart, in fact she was crawling at 7 months and walking at 9 months.

    If you have any advice for me, I would greatly appreciate it!
    Thank you so much for your insight.

  39. Katie H says

    Thank you so much for posting this response to the Psychology Today article. My friend, a Pediatrician, posted it on her page and it rubbed me the wrong way for some reason. It appeared to be written in a very biased way- the tone and the word choice I felt were too broad sweeping and alarmist. And even though I have never done CIO with my son, I felt accused. It seems with this debate we always go to the extremes when really there is so much nurturing middle ground with sleep training. I too am so sleep deprived I’m forgetting words for common household items, dreaming when I close my eyes for even two seconds, beginning to be clumsy-dangerous when driving, etc. The pressures of attachment parenting, wearing the baby 24-7, co-sleeping, never letting the baby make a peep, is very difficult for mothers who have colicky babies or babies who don’t ever self soothe. And to imply that mothers who want more sleep are a product of a non-nurturing society that manages their children as an inconvenience is a bit harsh. Of course I don’t think a baby should bend to my adult schedule. But should my baby control every single aspect of my life and every single minute after those first few important months/ maybe a year? I don’t know. A lot of mothers who judge others about CIO methods have babies that sleep fairly well, or they have nannies or housecleaners, etc. I just wish we could give all mothers a bit of a break. The science is important and we need to study and read it, but I’m disappointed in the Psychology Today article, and I’m glad you commented on it here.

  40. says

    I think it’s dangerous for the medical/psychology field to treat crying like a disease, instead of a natural part of life.

    What happened to following your instincts and intuition, and turning to experienced parents (like you) for helpful advice?

    I also wonder if it’s psychologically healthy to protect your kids from ever feeling any kind of negative emotion. How are they supposed to cope as an adult if they were never able to express sadness, loneliness, anger, etc, as a child?

  41. Lauren says

    I think it’s ridiculous that “crying it out” would lead to children being depressed. Quite frankly, I let my 19 month old daughter cry it out all the time, and she’s a clever little girl that is intellectually way ahead of children her age. Not to mention that even though I chose this technique (which is Freudian theory, also called the Ferber Method) but that doesn’t mean that I am not constantly nurturing my child. She is quite happy, always satisfied, and anyone who thinks that this method leads to depression and is the cause of their adult problems needs to rethink it. This isn’t the case. One instance in your life is not the primary cause of your anxiety. Sorry, but this isn’t just another excuse that you can use to blame your existence on.

  42. Debbye says

    @ Tasha- Thank you for writing, and I am sorry that you continue to struggle with sleep. It sounds like you’ve a few things working against a good nights sleep. :( She sounds like she has some sleep associations in that your daughter is relying on you to help her back to sleep, and you may also want to work on finding a routine that your daughter likes, possibly making bedtime and when and where she sleeps a more positive experience. Because it seems like you have working at this for so long now, and tried various things, you may benefit most from personalized help in the form of sleep consultations. you can read more about our services at: http://www.babysleepsite.com/services/
    Our sleep consultants will be able to give you a specific plan to follow once they have ALL of the information.
    Good luck and I hope things improve VERY soon!

    @ Katie H- Thank you for your comments. And I agree- If anyone deserves a break and some compassion, it is mothers of little ones!
    Good luck!!!

    @ Trisha- Thank you so much for sharing! Great points! :)

    @ Lauren- Thank you for reminding us that we can be nurturing parents at the same time as sleep training. :)

    @ Mahua- Thank you for the link! the title sounds very harsh!

    Thank you all! And please continue to read and research and do what is right for you and your family! :)