Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why the "Cry It Out" method is stupid.

If there's one thing I don't understand, it's when people advocate "cry it out". I don't just mean at bedtime; I mean anytime my baby cries. "Oh, she's fine. She'll learn. She's okay. She doesn't need anything." Drives me crazy! Here is why I don't ever let my baby cry it out:

When I was going to school for Early Childhood, we learned about Erikson's developmental stages. Our teachers made us realize how important these were. For infants, there is the stage of Trust vs Mistrust. It means that babies should be held, responded to, and comforted as much as possible to learn that their caretakers, their environment, and their world are worthy of trust. Babies who are respected and responded to are secure and view their world as dependable and reliable. 

I've had experience in day cares since I was 17 years old, and I worked as a teacher in several infant rooms since then. Time and time again, it was obvious that the rooms where the teachers were affectionate, responsive, and sensitive, the babies were happier. In NYS, the ratio of babies to teachers is 4:1, so unfortunately, yes, they still cried. But only when they had to. 

Probably the biggest reason I cannot let my baby cry it out is because of my years spent in day cares. There were many times where I had no choice but to let babies cry while I fed or held another. It tore at my heart. They would be on the ground or in the crib looking around, crying, waiting for someone to hold them. Unfortunately, there were days when I had to make myself not care. Just to get through the day and stay sane. But like I said, I had no choice...sometimes I would be alone with four babies. Othertimes, there would be a teacher with me, and we'd have eight babies! 

Now I'm a mother of one child, and I'm so blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. I consider this my full-time job, so I try to do it well. When my baby was first born, I held her all the time. People would say, "She'll never want you to put her down." (Just a side note - she is almost 8 months now and loves to play on the ground with her toys. She can entertain herself for a very long time. Sometimes she even wants me to put her down because she'd rather be independent.)

Other people would say, "Sometimes you just have to let them cry." This made me so sad. Why, when I have nothing else to do, when this is my job, when I want to pick her up, would I ever let her sit there (or lay there) by herself, crying? Some people said, "It's good for their lungs." ...But what about their little brains? What about all the stress hormone, cortisol, that floods their brains when they're crying? What about their elevated body temperature and increased heart rate? What about the sad or scared look on their faces when no one picks them up? 

Now, I understand sometimes you have no choice. There are times when my husband isn't home and I just need to shower. Sometimes she cries. There are times when I have to put her down while I switch the laundry, drain the noodles, put on my make-up, brush my teeth, whatever. And there have even been times when we're both exhausted at the end of the night and all I can do is lay down and cuddle with her while she cries. 

But that's different. I'm not trying to "train" her...which is what I feel the whole "cry it out" method wants to do. "Show her who's boss. You be the one in control. She can learn. She's fine. She's okay."  

No, I'll show you who's boss. I'm the mom. I'm in charge. She's my baby. Now let me have her back. Thank you!



Iluska Ikeda said...

I completely agree Maggie, especially about people telling me I should put her down: "why, when I want to pick her up, would I ever let her sit there (or lay there) by herself, crying?" You took the words right out of my mouth there. When she was little I would sometimes go two or three days with no shower because I couldn't stand her crying (maybe I went overboard; that's a different story though).

Naomi isn't so little anymore, but she still asks to be in my arms frequently and I very rarely say no (only when I'm cooking and it's hot, so it's dangerous). People still say that to me - you're spoiling her, she will never want to leave your arms, blah, blah, blah.

As a matter a fact, I love having my little girl in my arms, so why wouldn't I do it when both of us want it?

Third Eye Photography Idaho said...

Can I just say that I completely agree with you on this topic. I have always, ALWAYS carried my little girl around with me everywhere. I would even put her in my sling when I needed my arms free. To date, my 2 year old is probably the MOST independent toddler you'll ever meet.