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Talkback: Leaving a baby to cry could be harmful



       I totally agree with Penelope Leach,  David Coleman who is also an "expert" mentioned this in his programme 21st century babies.  How can it be ok to leave a child crying alone, his point was that the child does not learn to settle itself, but rather learns mammy/daddy has left me, I am alone, scared and falls asleep through sheer emotional exhaustion.  We tend to our child when they are crying or distressed which is their only way of communication when they are small, so why think it is ok to ignore this distress at nightime/naptime?  I have personally never did this with my three children, but was minding my husbands niece recently and her parents insisted I had to carry out this leaving her to cry herself asleep method, she cried and cried eventually, near to tears myself, I went into her she was standing up in her cot and putting her arms out to me, she was gagging, sweating and trembling, I cuddled her and rocked her in my arms within two minutes she was asleep.  Now when her parents got home I told them how I got on and they told me that at nearly two she has done this each night since she was weeks old, how can anyone face doing this to their baby each night???  I think you should fit your routine around a baby and not the other way, but that is only my opinion!!

  • I didn't leave my baby to cry and it resulted in a very stroppy and bullish toddler that we are now having to change his behaviours.  My next is due and I will be a lot less quick to rush in the second he/she cries after 6 months.  I do think pre-6 months is too young to be going down the controlled crying route though.
  • it's funny to read this today as just the other day I was reading an article about the difference between controlled crying and cry it out.

     It makes sense to me that you may need to do a little controlled crying with your baby to teach him how to sleep at night. Just like he might need a little controlled crying when he wants sweets and he can't have them. Or when he wants to climb the stairs alone but it's not safe.

    To me, controlled crying means allowing baby to have a whinge because he's not happy about the boundaries we (parents) are setting. But if he is becoming distressed, we settle him, and then start again.

    That's different to saying night night and then leaving your baby to cry for hours in a dark room, alone.

     I got a lot of baby sleep advice from a baby sleep forum. It was all free and there was no-one saying you should do it this way or that way,only what works for me and my baby.

  • I actually agree with you MilsyMoo. My definition of "cry it out" certainly sounds more like controlled crying that you described above. We certainly did and do go to her if/when distressed but I do believe there is a difference between her being distressed and being grumpy because she's not happy being in bed/refused a biscuit/taken something off her etc. I've never gone in when she's been crying to find her standing up screaming, and would certainly hope that I never do. We persevered for a couple of weeks, playing dreamshows and popping in every few minutes but as I said above she now goes to sleep without a murmer the vast majority of the time.
  • I agree with Penelope and illy.  That leaving a baby to cry can cause long term anxiety.  When a baby crys it's their only way of communicating and there is usually a reason behind it.  If you leave a crying baby they just think "where's my mummy, where's my daddy, why I have I been left alone?"  and eventually it will get to the point that every time you leave them they will become more and more axious and probably cry even more.   I have a one year old daughter who does sometimes wake up crying.  If i go in to her we have a little cuddle, I tuck her in and she's asleep within minutes (the nights when she wakes up usually coincide with when I have been at work all day and haven't seen that much of her). People told me that I shouldn't do that and I should just leave her to cry and I have tried that  two or three times but when I did she cried and cried until she made herself physically sick (I had to spend the wee small hours changing bedding and jim jams - mine as well as my daughter's).  When i went into her room she was sat up in her cot with her arms outstretched towards me, she was so distressed, and when I picked her up she held onto me so tight.  I don't have the heart to do that again and I don't see the sense in letting her cry so that nobody gets any sleep.  Babies see the world differently to us and to them waking up in the middle of the night in a dark room is probably scary.  Sometimes they just need a little bit of reassurance, just to know that there's nothing to worry about and that you are still there.  Surely that's not too much to ask is it?  We all need a little bit of reassurance and a cuddle sometimes don't we?
  • Yes,

    I agree that letting a baby cry isnt the best. I have 3 older children and I let them cry it out. It cause more stress in my life as I always felt bad. Then I had a baby 17 months ago and she sleeps with my husband and I and she wakes in the night. I just speak to her and she lies back down and goes to sleep. I do feel this is a better way. The banker noted that she is a very confident baby.

  • Wow, way to make you feel guilty. Heather is almost 17 months now but we definitely let her "cry it out" when she was tiny, knowing she was fed, burped, clean etc. We felt she cried then because she was tired and on her own. It was the only way she would sleep in her cot. After a while she just started going to sleep with only a small murmer and now we hardly hear from her... apart from what we call "the 10pm squawk" where she'll sometimes grumble/cry for about a minute and then nothing till morning. We didn't expect that having a baby wouldn't change our lives, but we did favour the routine side of things although I know it doens't suit everyone. 

    At the moment Heather is a happy, confident child who cries very little (odd tantrums aside) - she is in no way anxious at the moment so I'll hope it stays that way!

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