Let me just get to the point, you should never let your baby cry it out! Watching or hearing your baby cry and you do nothing, that’s crazy!!! Ok now I have that off my chest so we can go into detail into this topic.
Crying it out also known as Ferberizing, named after Dr. Richard Ferber is a method used to “help” a baby fall asleep. He introduced this method in his book back in 1985. Basically you put your baby down into their crib and let them cry their little heads off until they eventually fall asleep. He says to check on the baby but only at intervals, something he calls “progressive waiting”. Wait let me get this straight, you want me to let my baby cry for 5, 10, 15 minutes and do nothing??? Not my idea of helping my baby go to sleep. Sure my baby will eventually fall asleep…from pure exhaustion!
Here’s the real deal, crying it out leaves emotional scars. Studies have shown that frequently leaving your baby to cry can cause long term problems such as anxiety, relationship problems and damage to intellect. According to the Psychologist Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Collaborative for Ethical Education at the University of Notre Dame “letting babies get distressed is a practice that can damage children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We know now that leaving babies to cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated persons who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation.”
There are true dangers to to this horrible method. Our baby’s only way of communication is through crying. Whether they are hungry, tired, wet, or scared, they will cry. Now if they are communicating that need to you, and you are not responding, how can they possible trust you? How can a baby possibly trust someone that leaves them alone and afraid every time they have to go to bed. Ever notice your baby’s cry gets stronger and louder? That’s because when they cry, and you don’t respond, they go from anxiety to sheer panic…now you really want to leave your baby like that?
Did we forget Erikson’s FIRST stage of development, Trust vs Mistrust? I emphasize first because remember his theory, each stage builds on the successful completion of the previous stage. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future. So If a baby doesn’t trust his mommy then why would he be expected to trust anyone else in the future.
Crash course on Erikson’s first stage provided by wikipedia :”The first stage of Erik Erikson’s theory centers around the infant’s basic needs being met by the parents and this interaction leading to trust or mistrust. Trust as defined by Erikson is an essential truthfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one’s own trustworthiness.The infant depends on the parents, especially the mother, for food, sustenance, and comfort. The child’s relative understanding of world and society come from the parents and their interaction with the child. If the parents expose the child to warmth, regularity, and dependable affection, the infant’s view of the world will be one of trust. Should the parents fail to provide a secure environment and to meet the child’s basic needs a sense of mistrust will result. Development of mistrust can lead to feelings of frustration, suspicion, withdrawal, and a lack of confidence.” Need I say more?
Here are some gentler methods of sleep training.