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Evidence Mounts Against Letting Babies 'Cry It Out' as New Research Says it Stresses Them Out

Cry it out

How much do you let research studies affect your parenting?

If you find it stressful — not to mention somewhat traumatizing — to try and let your baby cry it out instead of rocking or nursing them to sleep, you’re not alone.

New research out of the University of North Texas finds that babies left to cry it out are stressed even after they have appeared to calm down, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Babies left to “deliberately” cry themselves to sleep have hormone levels that indicated they could “remain just as ‘stressed’ by the experience as if they had remained crying.”

Plenty of parents let their babies “cry it out” in an attempt to help them learn how to fall asleep on their own and develop a sleep routine. Researchers in the study, which was published in the journal Early Human Development, measured how long they cried on successive nights, and while the babies cried for a shorter period by the third night, the levels of cortisol in their saliva remained high.

“On the third day of the program, results showed that infants’ physiological and behavioral responses were dissociated. They no longer expressed behavioral distress during the sleep transition but their cortisol levels were elevated.”

The lead author of the study said: “Although the infants exhibited no behavioural cue that they were experiencing distress at the transition to sleep, they continued to experience high levels of physiological distress, as reflected in their cortisol scores. Overall, outward displays of internal stress were extinguished by sleep training. However, given the continued presence of distress, infants were not learning how to internally manage their experiences of stress and discomfort.”

This is not the first study in recent months that suggests “crying it out” does more harm than good.

How much do you let research studies like this affect your parenting style?

Photo credit: iStock

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