Researchers out of Australia followed 225 babies and their parents to determine if crying it out is a tool that parents can use without guilt, or if there were any benefits or drawbacks to the practice. What they found was that not only does sleep training help a child sleep, but it also leads to less depression and emotional problems in their moms.
Many felt that the research sample size was much too small to make broad, sweeping statements about whether crying it out is acceptable, and that the research itself was sketchy at best. Only part of the parents in the sleep-training group chose crying it out (the others chose camping out, which means staying by your child’s bedside until he falls asleep), which greatly diminishes the results, and the parents were asked to rate their own baby’s stress level — it’s hard to imagine how objective they were. Who wants to admit their babies are having problems because of a choice they made?
A commenter on the ABC article wrote, “Babies don't cry for no reason. Even if the reason is simply that they need comfort, by denying their needs, we are giving them the message that their needs don't matter. Although this one study says that controlled crying or crying it out doesn't do any harm, there is a preponderance of evidence to the contrary.”
Most parents don’t turn to crying it out lightly. It’s usually out of desperation and a bevy of sleepless weeks that drive a loving mother to leave her baby to cry — in other words, letting a baby cry herself to sleep doesn’t make you a bad parent, and studies such as this one can make it easier for a mom to turn to this method.
“I used to be in the ‘crying it out is abuse’ camp,” said Kelly, mom of two. ”This was an easy claim to make when I didn't ever know one person who did this with their kids. Now that I know loving, attentive parents who have done cry-it-out with their children — most out of desperation — I no longer feel this way. Is it any wonder that mothers choose this route when it is touted by pedis and because of studies like this one? I am of the belief that a crying baby needs something. And often times that need is their mama.”
Many parents felt that this was yet another study in a line of research that always seems to contradict itself. “Eh, there are always going to be studies done to prove either side,” explained Charlene, mother of two. “It‘s an age-old debate just like breast and formula feeding that‘s never going to go away. Just do what you think is best. Neither way is going to harm a child.”
Lindsay from Texas wholeheartedly agreed. “I find it hilarious that one day it's OK to let your child cry and the next it isn't,” she shared. “We should do what is best for our children.”
Regardless of what research says, particularly one with such a small sample size, you should listen to your feelings and instincts when it comes to raising your child.
Did you do the cry-it-out method with your children? Did it work for you?
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