Is Crying It Out The New Spanking?

Bedtime isn’t just about sleep anymore. Increasingly, how you handle your child’s sleep needs is being seen by researchers (and other parents) as a referendum on your overall parenting skills.

Those of you letting your little ones cry it out won’t be earning any extra credit.¬† The debate about the best way to put a baby to bed still rages, ranging from fierce advocates of cosleeping to devotees of Ferber. But more and more, scientific research sides with the snugglers.

The Globe and Mail sums up several recent research studies about infant sleep and finds the consensus leaning¬† towards a no-cry approach to baby’s bedtime.

In a study that found emotional availability mattered more than routine at bedtime, parents got demerits for failing to respond to their child’s cries. The more emotionally available a parent was – ie: the faster he or she responded to the baby’s cry with affection – the better the babies slept.

Douglas Teti, the Penn State scientist who headed the study, said he see bedtime as a good indicator of parenting skill.

Bedtime heralds the longest separation of the day between parents and their children. I’ve always been curious about how well or poorly parents prepare their children for that separation, because I think that could be a pretty important index of parenting competence.

The news that babies sleep better when they’re not crying it out is good for British parenting expert Penelope Leach, whose new book claims that cry-it-out sleep training can cause lasting damage to infant’s brains and harm the relationship between mother and child.

It’s bad news for the Ferber camp and it’s supporters, though. Many families still embrace some form of cry-it-out sleep training. For some parents, it can be a bit like ripping a band-aid off fast instead of peeling it back gently. You need sleep. Your kid needs sleep. If the fastest way from frequent night waking to a good night’s sleep goes through some rocky emotional territory, at least you’ll all be able to sleep off the stress in a week or two when it’s over.

So while the approach has it’s fans, they’re in many cases becoming quieter. Like those who still support spanking, they realize that their tactic opens them up for public criticism, even if it works for their family. Will cry-it-out sleep training become a dirty secret as more scientists speak out against it?

Did this method work for your family? How do you get your kids to sleep?


Article Posted 6 years Ago

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