After All These Years We Learn Crying Out Loud Sleep Training Is Not Harmful!

old baby and child care book

Parenting is a process, not an event!

If you’re a parent, you realize you’re in the throes of the process, almost as soon as your child is born, but for sure you know it after a few days at home with your newborn. As the days and months drift by, you question every small and big decision about how you are raising your child – you wonder aloud if you are a good parent. You call your parents, you chat with your friends and neighbors…you call the doctor all in an effort to assure yourself that what you are experiencing is usual and customary.  Most will offer the same advice…”don’t worry…you will live through this stage!”

Sleep is important, for baby and parents…

If you have ever suffered from sleep deprivation, then you know it can lead to many problems, including: depression, accidents, abuse and even obesity. So getting a proper amount of sleep is important for each parent. But how do you teach your baby how to go to sleep? Remember sleep is very important for the child’s health, as well. So how do you balance your needs and the baby’s needs?  If you pose this question to 10 of your closest relatives or friends, you can be sure you will get ten or more solutions.

Baby sleep training in the news…

If you are wondering why we chose this topic today, it is simple.  The news this week has been filled with numerous articles about the results of a new study published in Pediatrics which concludes, according to the TIME Heathland article:

“…strategies that let babies cry it out for limited periods while teaching them to
sleep on their own can help families sleep better in the short term without
causing long-term psychological damage in kids or weakening the bond between
babies and parents.”

We thought it was important to write about this news, because often when parents participate in a Family Program while their teenager, young adult or even older adult child is in treatment for addiction or other mental health issues it is not uncommon for a parent to question every parenting decision they made along the way. Remember the process? Parents look for answers for why their child is sick and suffering, it is what parents naturally do.

Relying on the advice of experts…to “ferberize” or not?

Depending on how much you, as a parent, have read about how to help your baby fall asleep on their own will determine if you have ever heard the term “ferberize.”  To many it is known as the Ferber Method and was introduced by Dr. Richard Ferber, the basis of which can be traced as far back as 1895 when Dr. Emmett Holt offered the “Cry It Out” (CIO) approach.

In 1946 Dr. Benjamin Spock published his first edition of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. His 7th edition was published in 1998, a few weeks following his death. Parents of many generations parented following his advice; we know this because throughout the 52 years that it was published it was the second-best-selling book, next to the BIBLE! (The photo shown above is one of a very dog-eared copy of Dr. Spock’s guide, published in 1976.) In the 1976 edition, you will find Dr. Spock’s advice concerning sleep training on page 227. It is basically the “cry it out” method.

“The cure is simple: put the baby to bed at a reasonable hour, say good night affectionately but firmly, walk out of the room, and don’t go back.  Most babies who have developed this pattern cry furiously for 20 or 30 minutes the first night, and then when they see that nothing happens, they suddenly fall asleep! The second night the crying is apt to last only 10 minutes. The third night there usually isn’t any at all.”

If you should try Dr. Spock’s suggestion, you will find it does work; however, over the past few decades, many other pediatric experts have weighed in on this topic: Dr. Penelope Leach, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, and Dr. William Sears, to name a few.

NBC Nightly News video report on the new study…

If you are having trouble viewing this video, you can see it here.

“For crying out loud, you know I love you…”

Again, if you ever tried to get a tired baby to sleep, then you will remember all of your techniques. Techniques like: nursing the baby till he falls asleep (usually you are asleep before the baby, and then you struggle with how to get the baby into his crib without waking him); walking the baby until he falls asleep (exhausting for you, the walker, and again you need to slowly walk into the bedroom and place the baby in the crib, hoping the phone doesn’t ring and wake the baby); or rocking the baby while you play a familiar song that the baby eventually associates with sleep.

Do you have a favorite song that you used with one or all of your children? Since it is Friday, we thought of sharing one from the musician and actor Meatloaf (Michael Lee Aday). While his career tells an amazing story, many don’t realize Michael is the child of an alcoholic and over the years he has had to deal with his use of cocaine and mental health issues including social anxiety. But having said this, it was one of his songs that your author played to rock her baby to sleep, until she opened her copy of Spock’s Baby and Child Care and turned to page 227.

Today, why not take a break (8:52 minutes) and listen to Meatloaf singing “For Crying Out Loud”. The words are poetic and powerful and remember “when you’re crying out loud, you know I love you…”

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Do you believe in the “Cry It Out” process?

We would love your thoughts on this topic.  Remember, parenting is a process…a journey quite like no other.

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