By Pam Stone, co-leader of API of Merrimack Valley, New Hampshire
**Originally published in the Summer 2008 AP in a Non-AP World issue of The Journal of API
All babies cry. And all parents are continually striving to find the best way to respond to those cries.
Unfortunately, there is an abundance of misguided information about how to best respond to a crying baby; sometimes friends, family members, and even health practitioners may push advice upon parents that has not been well-researched.
Babies are born with brains that are only 25 percent of their full-grown size. Ninety percent of post-birth brain growth occurs in the first five years of life, influenced greatly by each interaction between the child and his caregivers. Brain connections are formed based on life experiences, particularly emotional experiences. If a child is not consistently comforted when in distress, his brain will not form the vital pathways that will help him learn to manage his own emotions and impulses. This can have a lasting impact into adulthood.
A baby signals distress by crying. Even a toddler who can speak has not yet gained the cognitive ability to translate strong emotions into words and therefore communicates distress by crying. This is a natural, normal form of communication for these young children. However, finding an appropriate response to crying in infants and toddlers is elusive, at best, for parents seeking advice from misinformed, yet well-intentioned, sources. Two commonly prescribed approaches include: ignore the crying and encourage the crying.
Ignore the Crying
There are those who would tell the parents to ignore their baby’s cries. Proponents of this practice argue that the baby must learn early not to expect his parents to “cater” to him. They believe that he must learn quickly to self-soothe, or else he will manipulate the parent into unjustly serving him throughout his childhood.
This advice often begins shortly after birth with “cry it out” methods of sleep training, and continues into early childhood with instructions to “just ignore” tantrums or to punish strong emotions. Parents who follow this wayward advice claim that their babies sleep through the night at a very early age, demand very little attention, and are “independent” as toddlers. In fact, research has shown that children left to “cry it out” actually sleep less in the long term.
AP vs. Cry It Out
The Ferber Method is one of several approaches to parenting that encourages letting babies “cry it out, often in increasing time increments,” as a form of sleep training. The idea is that the child needs to learn to become independent and to self-soothe in order to go to sleep alone. “Crying it out” advocates maintain that the child benefits from a full night’s sleep as much as the parents.
API does not support any “cry it out” method. We maintain that it is essential to the child’s emotional health that parents attend compassionately to their crying child.
Babies will not learn to self-soothe through an early push into premature independence. Brain research concludes that babies who stop crying because their cries go unanswered continue to experience activated pain centers in their brain, and their levels of the stress hormone cortisol remain elevated. In other words, they don’t stop crying, they
simply switch to “silent” crying. Rather than learning to self-soothe, they remain stressed and give up hope that their cries will be answered.
They only appear independent because they have learned to distrust. Later in life, this inability to turn to others for help with emotions can lead to reliance on alcohol, nicotine, or other addictive or self-destructive behaviors.
The infant brain is very vulnerable to stress. During prolonged bouts of crying, cortisol can reach toxic levels, pain circuits are activated in the brain, and there is an agonizing withdrawal of opioids, the chemicals that promote positive feelings. These children are quite literally miserable.
Children who experience intense uncomforted distress can develop a shrunken hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in long-term memory and verbal reasoning. Combined exposure to cry-it-out as a baby and a child childhood of strict discipline leads to an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, stress-related physical illness, and alcohol abuse.
Babies do not have the brain function to allow clearly defined thoughts and intentions. They cannot be deliberately manipulative. They cry simply to communicate an unmet need. Allowing the cries to go unanswered interferes with the formation of a secure attachment bond with the parent. The type of attachment formed is based on the child’s perception of the parent’s reliability in providing comfort, support, and security. In a secure attachment, children have a predictable and safe bond with their caregiver.
When the attachment is insecure, a condition found in approximately 40 percent of toddlers in America and England, the child is less emotionally robust and more vulnerable to separation distress. These children are generally insecure, are more likely to be emotionally unstable, have difficulty in expressing and managing feelings, act out in unhealthy ways, and tend to be insensitive to others who are stressed. They are at greater risk for hostile, anti-social, or difficult relationships with other children and later with other adults.
“Insecure Attachment” Defined
Attachments refers to a child’s quality of connection to a parent, not a parent’s feelings about the child. Here are the key characteristics of each attachment type:
- Secure attachment: Children respond happily to interaction or reunion with parents, greet parents actively, explore the environment around them while knowing where the parents are, seek contact with parents when distressed, and exhibit trust in their parents’ responses to them.
- Insecure attachment – resistant/ambivalent: Children become anxious and seek parents but then struggle to get away, are reluctant to explore the environment, become upset easily, and exhibit frustration with their parents’ responses to them.
- Insecure attachment – avoidant: Children avoid or ignore a parent’s presence, show little response when parents are close by, display few strong emotional outbursts, and may avoid or ignore a parent’s responses toward them.
- Insecure attachment – disorganized: Children are not predictable in their behavior, seem unable to cope easily or be comforted when stressed, and show evidence of fear or confusion around a parent.
About 55 to 65 percent of children tend to fall into the “secure” attachment category, while about 10 to 15 percent tend to show an “insecure-resistant/ambivalent” pattern, 20 to 25 percent show an “insecure-avoidant” pattern, and 15 to 20 percent show an “insecure-disorganized” pattern.
Clearly, both brain research and psychological research suggest a strong contraindication to ignoring a baby’s cries.
Encourage the Crying
There are others who would tell parents to encourage their baby’s cries. Proponents of this practice argue that babies cry for two reasons: to communicate and to heal. After parents have ruled out any identifiable need, they are told that the baby is crying to heal from some trauma or distress, perhaps even from the prenatal or birth experience. They believe that the baby must cry and rage to release tensions, and that any attempt to soothe the baby will prevent this release. They believe that crying is a physiological response to stress – the body’s natural way to keep us balanced chemically – and that soothing will hinder the body of its natural stress release.
They advocate holding a baby while he cries but caution against any behaviors that may comfort the crying, such as jiggling, patting, rocking, singing, swinging, repetitive noises, comfort nursing, and pacifiers. They believe these behaviors may become “control patterns” that prevent the release of needed tears. They believe that a baby’s crying, raging, kicking, and thrashing represent emotions that must be fully released or else they will be carried over to future crying sessions or perhaps even to adulthood. They suggest there is a quota for tears that must be met in any given day in order to achieve emotional stability.
AP vs. Let ’Em Cry
Stress-Release Crying is one of several approaches to parenting that advocates encouraging children to cry as a way to release pent-up stress in order to heal and release strong emotions. Parents are to hold their infants and let them cry, and not try to calm the baby with distractions such as toys or pacifiers.
While API agrees that the parent should recognize and empathize with the crying child, we also believes parents should be available emotionally and physically to help soothe the distressed child.
The fundamental flaw with this advice is that it assumes the parent will always be able to identify the needs and discomforts of the child. Unfortunately, this is unrealistic and unwise.
Imagine that a baby is trying to communicate “The seam on my sock is irritating my toe.” The parent is unable to identify the need using her mental checklist, so she holds the baby without comforting behaviors, smiles at him, and says “You’re doing a great job crying” and “You’ll feel much better after you cry.” She might even just smile at him and not say anything, so as to not discourage the crying. Of course, the baby will quickly become enraged but not because of any unspent tears over previous trauma. Rather, he will be agonizingly distressed with frustration about the inappropriate reaction from the parent.
This advice further fails to recognize that a baby’s brain is not capable of self-soothing, and it ignores the dangers of prolonged crying. While the approach does advocate for staying near a baby who is distressed – which is helpful because close body contact with a calm adult helps regulate a baby’s bodily arousal system – it restricts the caregiver from using other key comforting behaviors.
If the close contact alone is not enough to soothe the child, or if the parent’s attempts to escalate the crying are effective, there will be further release of potentially damaging cortisol in the child’s brain and there will be no release of calming opioids. The child’s emotions may spiral out of control, leading to feelings of anger and rage and potentially toxic brain chemistry.
In its most extreme application, proponents of these practices suggest that sometimes children need to be held tightly while they cry, so that they have physical resistance to push against while they work through their emotions. This approach has haunting similarities to a controversial therapy practice used to treat attachment disorders, called “attachment therapy” or “holding therapy.”
AP is NOT Attachment Therapy
The term “attachment therapy” is used to describe controversial practices such as forced-holding therapy; techniques to provoke carthartic emotional discharge; and other coercive, restraining, or aversive procedures. API does not support the use of attachment therapy, which we find to be abusive. Attachment therapy practice are not consistent with the Eight Principles of Parenting.
API joins the American Psychological Association in endorsing a 2006 report by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, which contraindicates these therapies, saying in part: “Treatment techniques or attachment parenting techniques involving physical coercion, psychologically or physically enforcing holding, physical restraint, physical domination, … are contraindicated because of risk of harm and absence of proven benefit and should not be used.”
On the other hand, it is certainly not healthy to encourage a baby or child to “stuff” his emotions. Children feel real and intense pain over events that adults are able to put into perspective through a background of experience and context. Telling a child it is “not a big deal,” or insisting that he “stop crying” when he is clearly upset, has unfortunate consequences related to how he manages feelings into adulthood. Bribing a child to stop crying can lead to unhealthy emotional behaviors. If each time the child cries he is given a cookie to “make it better,” then cookies become the mechanism to suppress powerful emotions rather than learning to effectively manage them.
For more information on the connection between childhood obesity and eating food for emotional comfort, read “Solution in Childhood Obesity is in the Parents’ Behavior” in the AP News Desk section of this website, or click here: http://theattachedfamily.com/membersonly/?p=1199.
There are times when a child is sad or upset and needs to release emotions through crying. In these instances, it is possible to accept and empathize with the emotions, helping him put feelings into words and comforting the distress, without either encouraging or discouraging continued crying. This emotion may surface at the time of the event, or some time later. Emotions from events that occur when a child is separated from his parents may not surface until after they are reunited, and may be triggered by seemingly unrelated events. While children do need to release these emotions, they should be in control of when, how, and for how long they cry, and they need to know that a warm, compassionate parent will help to soothe their distress.
Once children begin to release their emotions and their brain becomes flooded with stress hormones, they are developmentally unable to bring themselves back into balance alone. Babies need to be held and comforted when they cry. Each time they are assisted in this process, their brains form pathways that will serve them through the rest of their lives.
If a child is raised in an environment where crying is discouraged or punished, then he may need help in adulthood learning to connect with and to express emotions. Babies, however, do not need encouragement to cry. It is an instinctual reaction to an unmet need and a basic way of communicating.
Comforting is a natural and instinctual parental reaction to crying, and it is healthy both for the child’s brain development and for the parent-child attachment. Encouraging or provoking crying runs counter to current brain research showing that children need parents to soothe them through their intense emotions.
Harvard Study: AP is Best for Crying Babies
A 1998 Harvard University study indicated that parenting methods that allow babies to cry without attempting to soothe are detrimental to normal child development, and that a better approach to crying is to keep the baby close, console quickly, and co-sleep.
In their research, Michael L. Commons and Patrice M. Miller discovered that children who were raised by parents who didn’t console their cries were more likely to develop post-traumatic stress syndromes and panic disorders as adults. The study showed that not responding to crying produced high stress levels in infant brains, causing permanent damage to the future adults’ ability to manage the effects of stress.
Commons and Miller found that American childrearing practices are influenced mainly by fears of children growing up dependent and insecure. The research showed that attachment-promoting behaviors between the parent and child, including responding quickly and appropriately to crying, has been proven in other cultures to be effective in raising children to become empathic, nonviolent adults who are capable of having emotionally healthy relationships.
The AP Approach to Crying
Fortunately for parents and babies alike, there is a warm and compassionate middle ground between ignoring and encouraging crying. Parents who practice Attachment Parenting (AP) are familiar with this ground. It involves recognizing and empathizing with a baby’s emotions, and patiently working with him to uncover the unmet need causing the tears. If a parent is unsure why a baby is crying, she can continue to explore potential causes while comforting him in a way that accepts his emotions as genuine and acceptable. The parent can allow her baby to express emotion without denial or provocation, while soothing him in a way that teaches his brain healthy forms of emotional regulation.
For More Information
The Fussy Baby Book by William and Martha Sears
The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland
Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhardt
The hormonal system of a distressed child is regulated through physical contact with a calm parent. Being in close proximity to a parent whose hormones are in balance helps the child’s body suppress stress hormones and release calming ones, allowing his body to manage the reaction to his emotions. This is a physical response within the child’s body that requires closeness to a parent.
Being in close proximity to a parent whose own hormones are regulated helps the child’s body to control the release of stress hormones and to release the necessary pleasure hormones to calm him. Experiencing this each time the child cries helps his body learn how to manage his emotions.
If the parent is stressed, she will be unable to provide a calming presence for the baby. It is important that she find a way to restore personal balance as quickly as possible. If the baby’s cries cause the parent to feel frustrated or even raging, she needs to examine the reason and take action to heal herself. If her reaction stems from unresolved issues from her own childhood, she should consider seeking help from a parenting counselor. This would help the parent to give the child a loving and normal response.
Crying is a natural and normal form of language for babies. It is how they communicate their needs. It is necessary to a child’s normal brain development for his parents to respond appropriately to his cries, neither ignoring nor encouraging crying but instead recognizing a baby’s emotions, empathizing with him and providing comfort. This is the approach to soothing a crying infant that can best ensure emotional health in his childhood, adolescent, and adult years.
Research on Responsiveness to Crying
The research favors AP. Here are several of the studies that demonstrate the benefits of parents responding to their children’s cries:
- Mothers who accurately perceive the urgency of their infants’ cries respond appropriately, and their infants tend to have higher cognitive development and language acquisition scores. The mothers who respond to their infants’ cries inconsistently are found to have lower self-esteem and lack social supports. (Lester et al, 1995)
- Mothers of securely attached infants tend to be more sensitive, reliable, and accepting of their infants. (de Wolff & Van Ijzendoorn, 1997)
- The synchrony or asynchrony of interactions between parent and infant determine security of attachment. Mothers who are inconsistent, intrusive, and over-stimulating are more likely to have insecure attachments with their babies. (Isabella & Belsky, 1991)
- Toddlers who have insecure attachments with their mothers and are inhibited in their behavior exhibit higher cortisol levels in stressful situations. (Nachmias et al, 1996)
- Parental warmth and positive expressiveness with children is strongly correlated with children’s development of empathy and social functioning, especially in older children. (Zhou et al, 2002)
- Mothers whose behavior toward their preschool children is responsive, non-punitive, and non-authoritarian are more likely to have children who exhibit pro-social behavior. (Zahn-Waxler et al, 1979)
- If a child’s need for comfort is not met by an emotionally responsive adult, the child’s nervous system can, over time, remain in a hyper-aroused state. (Graham, et al, 1999)
- Uncomforted stress can lead to a host of physical ailments later in life including eating and digestive disorders, poor sleep, panic attacks, headaches, and chronic fatigue. (Fields, 1994)
- If left to cry alone in childhood, the growth of the higher level brain functions that regulate anti-anxiety chemicals in the brain are impaired. Without therapy in later life, this may result in clinical depression. (Hariri et al, 2000)
25 thoughts on “Crying and Comforting”
I have a degree in early child-hood development and over 10 years of child care experience as well as being a mom myself and have to say that this article is not an educated one at all. It is based on what seems and or feels right and although I do believe in taking a natural approach in motherhood, I also know that it is my duty to begin teaching my child independence in a gentle and nurturing way in a method that is backed by both the American Pediatric Society (those people who have gone through 8 + years of school) and psychology APA.
This article makes parents who utilize the cry it out method (even in the appropriate developmental time frames) seem barbaric and that in itself is not right. The “cry it out” method never suggests that a parent just leave their children to cry but teaching a child to self soothe is vital to a child’s healthy emotional stability for later in adult life as well as early childhood. You also unfairly mis-stated the Ferber method without even granting readers the ability to read it from your article.
Lastly, this article touts many things that lands poor frustrated parents on Super Nanny. Although I am sure your intentions are to get parents to be more nurturing and in our society we need some of that self-less parenting. I personally utilized skin-skin until my daughter was around 5 months old to which I walk around the house with her tightly wrapped to me. I use the Ferber method because of the education behind it as well as other methods combined.
New parents- After 6 months it is not wrong to allow your child to cry it out a little if you have spent the first 6 months running to your child’s every whim. Ferber recommends you respond to EVERY cry but not to pick the child up during bedtime hours if the child is fed, dry and clean.
Horrible habits are started out of ignorance and I hope that parents will use this article to make sure they are meeting their children’s needs but also utilizing educated articles to make sure they are really meeting their child’s emotional and psychological needs so that they can be functioning adults one day.
This is a very useful and helpful article. I get harped on by some loved ones about my approach to my son’s crying and temper tantrums. Now I know that my insticts are the right ones and I also know things I can say to disarm their argument. Thanks for this!
I’m a big non believer of crying out method on the name of having displine and independece in children. Most of the time it is a way to give parents their own free time to have fun.So, they just do not let baby remain a baby. Just look around and see the growing number of problems that we have in teenagers today.No reaserch can prove for sure that many of those problems have their roots back to their childhood – the way they were cared and treated by parents.
Dr. Ferber himself in an ABC news on line article is quotes as saying “ferberizing” is actually “a great misunderstanding of what we try to do.” “I don’t think I’ve ever recommended a ‘cry it out’ method,” he says. “Crying is not a very happy thing. We don’t want to see children crying, we don’t want to see babies crying.” http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4263379&page=1
Harvard researchers Michael Commons and Patrice Miller say that when children are left to cry for long intervals, their little brains are flooded with a harmful hormone called cortisol. Michael Commons puts very simply in the same ABC News article, “There’s nothing wrong with having them cry it out if you want to risk brain damage,” Collins says. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4263379&page=1
It is just common sense. If you can sooth your infant why not, crying is not good for babies in any amount. Just do the reading….it is unnatural to not respond to your child cries. Please read this wonderful study on breastfeeding and less crying by the World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/evedence_ten_step_eng.pdf.
I’m am quite surprised and dismayed that you could view the vast body of research supporting this article and then recommend to parents that they begin cry-it-out at the age of six months. In an interview with ABC News in February of 2007, Dr Richard Ferber himself said “I don’t think I’ve ever recommended a ‘cry it out’ method. … crying is not a very happy thing. We don’t want to see children crying, we don’t want to see babies crying.” He further says that his crying time chart was meant to be a “last-ditch method to break specific and severe bad sleep habits”. Even Dr. Ferber himself would never advocate subjecting a normal, healthy six month old baby to his method.
Neurobiologists, psychologists, and medical doctors alike continue to line up against any practice of allowing a baby to cry. Dr. Penolope Leach told the DailyMail in the United Kingdom that ”the reason babies raised on strict routine regimes go to sleep, usually with less and less crying, is because they are quicker and quicker to give up. Their brain has adapted to a world where they are not responded to. That kind of early-induced anxiety may relate to anxiety right through adult life.” Likewise, according to the National Post’s article entitled “Cry-It-Out May Damage Baby’s Brain”, Dr Margot Sunderlund has stated that “allowing a baby to ‘cry it out’ when they are upset will probably be regarded as child abuse by future generations”.
The author of the blog “PhD in Parenting” offers these ten reasons why CIO is “not for us”:
Cry it out can cause harmful changes to babies’ brains
Cry it out can result in decreased intellectual, emotional, and social development
Cry it out can result in a detached baby
Cry it out is harmful to the parent-child relationship
Cry it out can make children insecure
Cry it out often doesn’t work at all
Even if cry it out does “work”, parents often have to do it over and over again
Cry it out is disrespectful of my child’s needs
Deep sleep from cry-it-out is often a result of trauma
Our world needs more love
I am confident that you are a mother who strives to offer your children emotional health and security. I urge you to review the body of research again, and to listen to the quiet voice of your human instinct when interpreting the cries of your baby.
nurturing a child is not a horrible habit but unfortunately is seen as one in our modern society. Letting babies cry it out is actually a new habit invented in the 20th Century to support our changing lifestyles. extended family fragmentation, both parents working etc.Independence actually comes when a child is well attached (safe, routine, calm hosue hold, helpful rules and boundaries).
There is now 20 years of excellent research on the neurobiology of trauma. Everyone needs to read a bit of Dr Bruce Perry’s work.
I agree with Pam and attachsw on this.
If you’ve let your toddler cry-it-out some, but only rarely, can this damage the bond you have? I feel like my daughter, 20 months, is sometimes too shy or clingy and worry it’s because I’ve let her cry on occasion. It breaks my heart to think I may have caused her emotional harm.
Please do not worry that you have caused your daughter emotional harm by letting her cry once in a while. Michael Commons theory about crying causing brain damage is absurd. It is a theory, not a fact. Babies have been crying since the beginning of time. It is their way of communicating. I do not believe in letting a baby cry it out (which I will define as letting a baby cry continuously without attempts to comfort her.) Babies cry for a lot of different reasons. There are tired cries and hungry cries. Toddlers even cry out of frustration or anger at times.
I think it is wonderful to try and keep babies from crying by addressing their needs but sometimes they are going to cry anyway even while being soothed. I don’t think that causes emotional harm. If you are comforting her while she is crying then you are supporting her feelings.
It is a wonderful goal to want to keep your child from crying all the time but not realistic. Toddlers especially can be allowed to cry if you are trying to set a boundary and they are just angry about it. I remember my sister telling my son one day “Well okay, you just go ahead and cry about it them if you have to. I’ll be right here.” And she went on sweeping while my son pitched a fit right in front of her. He had wanted to play with something dangerous in the kitchen and she had taken it away. I don’t think he was harmed by that incident, do you? She had tried to comfort him and he was still angry at losing his “toy”. She stayed present and that is the important part.
I’m a new mother with a six month old. I am fairly disciplined and went into this pregnancy thinking I would be a cry it out mom, and I would make my daughter independent. As things progressed, she was born and I was anti- co- sleeping. This was mainly out of fear. My newborn just looked so helpless and I couldn’t forgive myself if I rolled on top of her. I was also glued to the sleep monitor . So I bought a cosleeper that put her in a crib within an army’s reach of me. As she got older, she’s had bouts of erratic sleep. I should start by saying that she started sleeping through th night at 7 weeks without any co-sleeping. But when she hit her milestones, we would have bouts of horrible sleep waking up hourly, crankiness, etc. Out of frustration, I would pull her into bed with me. She would calm down quickly and settle into sleep. Then I discovered the joys of nursing while laying down!! Now when we have these bouts – I co- sleep without a second thought. My little one is capable of sleeping anywhere I put her, but sometimes she needs some extra soothing next to me. I don’t feel guilty about that. Ultimately after obsessively reading about different parenting methods – I threw all that advice out the window. I just do what feels natural and instinctive. If I need to give her the breast to help her sleep I do it. If she needs to sleep with me – so be it. To be honest – she’s a happy and very adventurous little baby. We keep her stimulated and she isn’t terribly clingy – but when she wants some affection she wants it! I am nervous about cosleeping when she can crawl but I will cross that bridge when I get there. We’re going to be moving her to her room soon, but I will still pull her in bed with us when she struggles to sleep.
I really don’t buy into the idea that babies need to be taught independence at such a young age. I feel like they need to be taught coping mechanisms. For example, when my little one is in melt down mode, I’ve taught her to take my hands (or using something to prop up on) and stand up. She immediately smiles with a sense of accomplishment once she’s done it. It doesn’t mean I won’t coo her if she needs it, but it gives her one more tool to use to cope.
I honestly feel like we need to just follow our instincts rather than obsessing too much about what the ‘right’ method is. You know what your kid’s cries mean. Deep down you know if they need soothing or not. We shouldn’t let some research destroy that instinctual parenting. I’ve never seen a kid that was ruined from being loved too much – but I have seen plenty ruined from not enough.
question: Our 9 month old son, who has been AP since birth, started screaming 2 days ago, out of joy, while playing, just sitting around. He’s dry, fed, rested, and in good health. It is ear piercing, window shattering screams, 2 a minute. I have ear plugs in now. I am trying really hard not to give a grimaced reaction to him out of displeasure, but it is really hard. His vocal cords sound like they are being taxed. His entire body tenses, his face goes red, and then he has to catch his breath.
Is this just a stage? Should I engage with him in a normal way, like he was just having a regular reaction to his toys, the cat, food, etc.? Could this be a food reaction? He’s breastfed with a couple of light meals a day of fruit and veggies.
Thanks, Frazzled in London, Canada
It’d be good to check with his health practitioner if you’re concerned.
I have a question regarding my almost 11 month old daughter. She is a highly sensitive baby and has never slept more than a few hours at a time. She starts in her crib and we co-sleep after her first night waking. The issue is she now awakens every hour to comfort nurse back to sleep – this has gone on for several months. She never gets a solid stretch of sleep and I am very concerned that she is extremely sleep deprived (as are her parents). I suspect this contributes to her cranky behaviors during the day. She also yawns and rubs her eyes throughout the day even after waking from a nap. I worry this could be detrimental to her development and am considering sleep training. I have always been against cry-it-out, but feel I have no other options. I have tried the No Cry Sleep Solution and it did not work for us. She has not attached to a lovey or any object but the breast. I am so torn with scarring her emotionally with cry-it-out or stunting her developmentally because she is not receiving the sleep her body needs. Any advice is appreciated.
I mixed the no cry sleep solution with Kim West ‘Good night, Sleep tight’ when my twin girls were driving me insane with night nursing! We managed to finally get good night sleep and much improved day sleep. Good luck to you.
Katarina, I chuckled when you wrote “I would make her independent”. Isn’t that what parents in modern society think? That they can force independence on their children. It’s also one of the biggest problems with our children,these days-children who are forced into independence to meet with their parents needs. Shouldn’t it be the parents who shift their lives to meet the needs of the children? That’s the beauty of AP,the children get to gain independence at their own pace,and through that,far more confidence than any child who has it forced upon them,most often,far too early,could ever have. I’m so happy for you that you found this better,more caring,loving, instinctual way of parenting
From personal experience, I can agree that there is no need to break a baby’s heart by ignoring them.
As an infant, our daughter was especially fussy at night. Our first child slept well, but our second seemed to be waking up at the same time and was screaming herself into throwing up. I could never stay away for long, but wondered if this was part of our emerging pattern with our daughter. I thought this way because of the notion, which was in the news at the time, that babies should be sort of boot-camped with silence and avoidance from their parents if they cried at night. Eventually we realized that the pattern we thought was bad parenting was actually a digestive disorder coupled with a food allergy, which her doctor confirmed. When what she ate hit her intestines, about the same time in the middle of the night, she was in a lot of pain, hence the crying. It would have been heartless, in retrospect, to not attend a sick baby. I remember a granny saying, “You can’t spoil a newborn”. So, although I know older kids can work you with a dazzling aplomb of manipulations, please listen and respond to your newborn.
My siblings and I were raised by parents who I am sure used the let them cry and do not run to them everytime as infants as everyone in my family is plagued with drug and alcohol dependence, depression and anxiety and insecure. My cousin and uncle also both committed suicide.
I cried a lot when I was an infant, I only wanted my mom to hold me, but no one else, so if she’s gone for a period of time, I would cry for the entire period of time, no matter who’s holding or comforting me. Later on, when I start to have long-term memory, around 5 years old, I also cried a lot, and got punished by getting kicked out of the house and stand in a dark hallway by the stairway. After few times, I would just go downstairs and play outside alone, then went back just so I won’t get punished again if my mom finds out I was gone. And i remember clearly that there’s one time, when I accidentally hit my head from jumping on the sofa, i cried at first for the physical pain, then later for yearning for anyone to comfort me. I cried for three hours straight, but no one from my relatives and my mum herself approach me, I remember how they were just ignoring me and laughed at how stupid I was. After that, i stopped crying in front of anyone. I believe these were few of the key reasons why I turned out to be a INTJ personality. The article is great, ironically feeling comforted after reading it : )