A lot of the time on my blog, I sit on the fence and try not to be too controversial (I'm really not a fan of drama). However, the ‘let babies cry it out’ attitude and method is something I feel so passionately about, I felt I had to commit virtual pen to paper to share my thoughts.
First off as a disclaimer – this is only my opinion I’m expressing, everyone is free to raise their children how they see fit, I’m simply expressing my opinion against this method.
The ‘cry it out’ (CIO) method has been popular among new parents for some time. I won’t name names, but when Squidge was only 5 weeks old I was told I was spoiling him by picking him up when he was crying. I was shocked that someone would think a mother picking up their crying newborn baby was ‘spoiling’ them… spoiling them with what, love? It felt like the natural thing to do, ignoring him would have been unnatural. A few of our friends who are parents also suggested the CIO method when Squidge was struggling to sleep at night.
Fundamentally letting a baby CIO is both highly distressing for the parents, and the baby. It’s not something we’ve done with Squidge and certainly wouldn’t do with our next child. That’s not to say you need to go running to them the second they make a sound – from experience we know Squidge’s cries, and often when they’re more whiney he will naturally settle himself and isn’t crying out for us. On those occasions, we’ll wait a moment to see if he sounds like he’ll settle, if not we’ll go straight in and comfort him. But I stress, they are whines, not cries. If he cries, I go to him.
There’s been studies published recently that talk about why the CIO method is so detrimental to a baby. They learn that no-one will come when they cry, whether they’re crying through fear, nightmares (babies start getting nightmares when they’re just a few months old) or needing comfort with a cuddle.
It also hinders their brain and emotional development. The study found that babies who were picked up when they cried weren’t as clingy and were emotionally healthier. They found that adults who’d been let to CIO as babies had more social anxiety, a poor memory and physical symptoms such as IBS. A study published in 1994 also discovered that babies who were picked up when they cried grew up to be more independent than their counterparts who were let to CIO.
The dangers of letting a baby CIO:
- The synapses in the brain can be damaged (leading to issues in adulthood - anxiety) which can also affect intelligence
- A baby being stressed can cause damage to the vagus nerve, potentially leading to digestive disorders when older
- Babies can develop mistrust (if no one comes when baby is crying), which can lead to self-confidence issues
If you don't let your baby CIO your baby is more likely to be:
- More intelligent
- Emotionally balanced
- Happier and healthier
I know how hard it is with a young baby, it’s beyond exhausting and your arms ache from holding your little one, so any few minutes you can steal for rest you do. But I urge you not to let them cry it out. If your arms are tired, put on a sling so you can go hands free, even just for in the house (Squidge would love being wrapped up in a sling) - they'll thrive on the contact.
You can read more about the study here by Dr Narvaez.
I feel so strongly about this, going to a crying baby feels right because it is right!