This morning my partner directed my attention to an article in The Age about new research on behavioural techniques to regulate sleep that claims it does not cause long-term harm. I thought in the interest of fairness I’d supply this link as well. It does in no way change my feelings on the matter, nor do I necessarily agree with everything. You can find the article here: http://www.theage.com.au/national/health/for-crying-out-loud-study-backs-baby-sleep-strategies-20120910-25ofv.html (And the debate rages on in its comment section.)
To no one’s surprise a large part of today has been spent discussing views on controlled crying. It’s an interesting debate with a lot of different viewpoints and I appreciate all the passionate opinions. I am well aware that I may have stepped on some toes yesterday. I do my best to express what are purely my own thoughts and feelings on what I think is best for my family. I am not trying to pass judgement on anyone else regardless of how I feel, but I also realise that people may feel criticised or even insulted. I have no doubt that this has worked for many, and I am also aware that there are differences between controlled crying, crying it out and camping out as well as variations of each. As I stated in my post, it is simply not for me or my family, but do feel free to share your opinions and experiences.
Here’s to a good night sleep for us all. (Like I had last night when Anakin went back to his old, lovely ways of two overnight feeds and no need for any settling.)
Another name for this post could be; About choosing a different parenting path to those of your own parents or friends.
I’m fairly sure every parent has been there at some point. That awkward crossroad when it becomes blatantly clear that on some issues your parenting choices, beliefs and preferences are wildly different to those of your parents, or your friends. And it is only natural that they are, as we are all different. Whether it’s a question of breastfeeding or formula, attachment parenting, night weaning, controlled crying or the billion other parenting choices we make, we all have our own views on what suits our family best.
I can only imagine how hard it must be to sit by and watch while your kids make what you probably think are horribly moronic mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that what they do is necessarily wrong. We all have our own ideas about what’s best for our own children. The best piece of parenting advice we were given, and the only one I really took to heart was this: “The people who know Anakin the best are you, his parents. You know what is best for your child.” Damn straight! We may be new to parenting, but that doesn’t make us parenting imbeciles.
So while I am sure we’re receiving rolling eyes and raised eyebrows in response to some of our choices when it comes to dealing with night feeds and sleep issues, know this: we are doing what we believe is best for our son and our family. Our choices suit our parenting style. You did what you thought was best for yours. Some choose to let their kids cry at night, some choose to force the night weaning more than we do, and the key word here is choice. My maternal child health nurse fed one of her 4 kids every 3 hours until the baby was 18 months old because she chose to feed on demand. There is nothing wrong with that. Some people choose to co-sleep. There is nothing wrong with that either.
I choose not to leave our son to “cry it out”. I choose to try a gentle, gradual approach to night weaning that takes time rather than tears knowing that I am willing to live with one overnight feed if my son still wants it. (When we eventually get down to one, that is.) I choose this knowing it may very well be a long lasting thing. And there is nothing remotely wrong with that either.
I should mention that the idea of “controlled crying”, or cry it out, doesn’t sit well with me. I really don’t believe it’s good for the baby or the parents. And I can’t believe the amount of pressure I’m getting from other people to leave my baby to cry or “sort himself out”. If it worked for you, fine, but it’s not for my son.
Jean Liedloff described a likely perception of a baby waking at night in her volume on anthropology, The Continuum Concept (Addison-Wesley, 1977):
He awakes in a mindless terror of the silence, the motionlessness. He screams. He is afire from head to foot with want, with desire, with intolerable impatience. He gasps for breath and screams until his head is filled and throbbing with the sound. He screams until his chest aches, until his throat is sore. He can bear the pain no more and his sobs weaken and subside. He listens. He opens and closes his fists. He rolls his head from side to side. Nothing helps. It is unbearable. He begins to cry again, but it is too much for his strained throat; he soon stops. He waves his hands and kicks his feet. He stops, able to suffer, unable to think, unable to hope. Then he falls asleep again.
(Quoted in Elizabeth Pantley’s No-cry sleep solution)
It’s heartbreaking and I actually cried when I first read it. Recent studies are finding that babies stress levels do not decrease after going through controlled crying as sleep training though it may seem that the baby is quietly self settling to sleep after a few days. I won’t reiterate everything I’ve read, but I’ll supply a couple of the links at the end if you’re curious. There is probably a lot more research that needs to be done on the subject, but I am finding what is out there more than enough to back up my belief that this method is not for me or my family.
In my opinion it is not natural to leave a baby to cry until it learns to settle. Babies cry for a reason. If you left your kids to cry and it worked for you, then that’s entirely your business. But I wish people would stop telling me it’s the only way to go because it’s simply not true. And you don’t need to be a parenting expert to figure that one out.
In the end it comes down to what works for you and what you’re comfortable with. A miserable baby with miserable parents are just that, misery in company. I’m still reading Pantley’s No-cry sleep solution and will be figuring out a strategy once I finish it and have time to discuss it with my partner. I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes. In the mean time we’ll keep trucking. With less sleep for me, that’s true, but a whole lot of loving arms and security for our son while we figure it out.
Some links on controlled crying for those interested:
Baby stress and controlled crying : http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/06/19/3528487.htm
The myth of controlled crying: http://parentingaustralia.com.au/newborn/care/39-controlledcrying
The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health, Position Paper 1: Controlled crying http://www.aaimhi.org/inewsfiles/controlled_crying.pdf
Science says: Excessive crying could be harmful: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/fussy-baby/science-says-excessive-crying-could-be-harmful
Getting baby to sleep through the night: correcting myths about normal infant sleep patterns: http://suite101.com/article/parenting-myths-about-sleep-a55923
Controlled crying- some facts and information: http://bawlingbabies.blogspot.com.au/2007/06/controlled-crying-some-facts-and.html