Apparently babies, sleep training, sleep deprived parents and the "cry it out" method are back in the news with a sensational headline on CNN.com: "Should Babies Be Allowed to 'Cry it Out?' As if we don't have enough to argue about on the Internet when it comes to parenting. "Do this, don't do that, can't you read the forum, blog and news story comments?" Alas, the question is out there, so what are tired parents supposed to choose?
I'm probably not the best person to ask this question as I was the envy of more than one friend. Both of my boys magically started sleeping through the night around three months of age. We never had to ask the hard "what kind of sleep training and/or methods should we employ" question with either of them. Just about the time we were about to go batty from sleep deprivation, they started sleeping. I didn't argue. Neither did they. My friends, however, glowered at me through sleepy, bloodshot eyes. I still usually only admit this in whispered, hushed tones for fear of hateful looks and scornful comments. Then I dance the dance of a mom who gets sleep at night and really don't give a rip.
Our youngest sleeping next to my husband just before the kid started magically sleeping and sleep deprivation lifted.
But, reading the CNN article, I'm not sure I am 100% behind the thought process.
Noting that sleep deprivation can exacerbate maternal depression, Temple University researcher and professor Marsha Weinraub concluded: "Because the mothers in our study described infants with many awakenings per week as creating problems for themselves and other family members, parents might be encouraged to establish more nuanced and carefully targeted routines to help babies with self-soothing and to seek occasional respite."
Remember just above when I said that both of my boys were amazing, blissful, supersleepers? Yeah. Well. I also had some deep, raging, absolutely awful postpartum depression -- with both boys. It didn't matter that I was getting eight hours of sleep at night. It didn't matter that I had the most cherubic, chubby cheeked older son and the smile-iest, happiest second child. My depression wasn't alleviated when they started sleeping. In fact, my real slip into the deepest, darkest days came around five months of age each time, after getting normalish-sleep for two months.
Now, I'm all for helping moms, especially moms struggling with postpartum depression. I understand that sleep deprivation does not help moms battling PPD. Or, you know, moms trying to function in general. Yes, more sleep for more parents is good. If getting the baby to self-soothe back to sleep is what it takes to get a mom through her depression, then do it. But don't let one study -- which admitted to not following up with moms' stress levels after the sleep training -- and one article on CNN make you believe that sleep training or "crying it out" will magically make your PPD disappear. Instead, listen to your body and your baby and trust your gut. Do what is right for you and your family. And, by golly, please don't read the comments on CNN, because boy howdy.
And now, let's open the floodgate: Do you believe in crying it out? What method worked best for your baby? Be sure to discuss the topic politely!
More from parenting