Letting Babies Cry it Out?

I heard on the news that a new study in Pediatrics advised parents that it was okay to let babies cry it out when putting them to sleep.  It always fascinates me how one study will always contradict another one.  I remember reading somewhere that letting babies cry it out will kill some of their brain cells and leave the baby feeling unloved and unwanted.  As a parent, you just want to do what is best for your kid and sometimes these contradictory studies leave you back at square one.  That is why as a parent, sometimes you just need to follow your gut. 

Lia, a few days old.
When my first was born, I spent the first month holding her every time she cried because I could not bear the sound of her crying.  My heart would literally ache.  By the end of the month, I was exhausted and depressed.  My baby would not sleep on her own unless I held her so I would walk around with her in a baby wrap.   I was sleep deprived and my back was hurting all the time.  That is when my sister-in-law sent me a book that saved me, On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo. 

It was not easy following what the book prescribed, but by then I was desperate.  The book recommends that a baby be left to cry to go to sleep.  Julio and I talked about it and decided it was the best course for us.  Those first few days were very hard and Julio literally had to hold me down and reminded me that it was for everyone's well being, including our daughter's.  The first time she cried for 45 min before she finally went to sleep.  After that, it progressively got better and after about 2 weeks, she would fall asleep by just laying her down in her crib.  By month 3, she was sleeping through the night and was consistent with her nap times.  I finally was able to get some rest, was in a better mood, and had more energy to not only be with her, but to do everything else I needed to do.  My daughter, now five, still sleeps about 11 hours at night.

And then my second was born.  I tried following the books advice, but this baby has been very stubborn.  After several times of letting her cry for over an hour, I realized that the Baby Wise method would not work for her as easily at it had for her sister.  This little one would reach a point where I could tell she was very stressed and would sweat profusely.  My gut told me it was not right for her so we modified our approach.  We would only let her cry for 15 minute intervals and then pick her up and lay her back down.   She would also do much better falling asleep on her own in the mornings, but was worse at night.  Therefore at night sometimes I would just let her fall asleep in my arms.


It took a lot more work with her, but she also did sleep through the night by three months.  Now at almost 6 months, she sleeps great but we are still struggling with her bedtime routine. Getting her to actually go to sleep without crying or fussing has been a whole other matter and something we continue to work on.  Thankfully, when she cries it is usually no more than for a few minutes.

With both girls, I feel confident they get the sleep they need and are well rested.  Overall, their demeanors as babies has been great and people's have always commented with both, "what a happy baby."  I do believe that good sleep has a lot to do with it.  That being said, I have met children of moms that never let them cry and they still have wonderful children (and I have met others that have let them cry and the kids are are uncontrollable).  I am sure it is a variety of factors that will play into how your child will turn out to include their own distinctive personalities, how you discipline them, how much time you spend with them, how often they are hugged, kissed, and told that they are important.

Should you let them cry it out?  Follow your gut instincts.  No one knows your baby like you do.  Also, evaluate what it is that you can handle.  Every mother is different.  I cannot function if I am sleep deprived and Julio saw me cut someone off the road that I didn't see because I was just so tired.  I put myself but most importantly my two girls in danger.  I function better and I am a better mother if I get my sleep and therefore letting them cry it out worked because it got them sleeping through the night relatively quickly.

I am a firm believer that as long as you love your child, spend quality time with them, pray for them, and discipline them when necessary, they will be fine.  Mistakes are inevitable, but none of us are perfect.  In the end, only God can truly supply their every need.

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