Monday, April 26, 2010

When Babies Cry it Out, Are They Really Learning Helplessness?

When our eldest was a baby we tried the advice in some parenting books to let her "cry it out" and learn to just go to sleep without being held. I was able to stand her crying for about 15 minutes, uttered an expletive that became famous in the family, and picked her up. End of experiment.

Now Penelope Leach, the favorite parenting advice source of the knowledge class, argues that crying it out is so stressful to babies that they can be scarred, even brain-damaged, by the high cortisol levels this experience induces.

I will be interested in how the scientific argument develops. As for me and my house, we will hold the baby to sleep. More fun for us, too, in the long run.

2 comments:

paul said...

We are having trouble with one of the babies in this regard (strangely, the other sleeps fine).

Did you have any issues with your children waking in the middle of the night and not going back to sleep without being held? How was this handled? How old were they when they started sleeping through the night?

We're currently trying to figure out what to do (and by currently I mean at midnight this evening when Joe awoke screaming, as he's done most nights for several months). I'm open to suggestions from those more experienced in the child-rearing arts.

Gruntled said...

Down beds for all.

http://gruntledcenter.blogspot.com/2007/03/let-em-sleep-on-floor.html