A Question of Crying Versus Sleep
… hearing a baby cry or likes to let him cry because it always seem to suggest neglect and sadness. However, has it really ever occurred to us that, in certain situations, by attending immediately to a baby on hearing the first cries, we might just be preventing that baby from settling to sleep at the very moment that infants ‘sleep pressure’ is ripe for sleep? If you knew there was evidence to prove that leaving your baby to settle with some crying has no harmful effects and helps your baby to sleep better then would you be as quick to pick your baby up when (s)he cries? No one likes to hear a baby cry because it always seems to suggest neglect and sadness. However, has it really ever occurred to us that, in certain situations, by attending immediately to a baby on hearing the first cries, we might just be preventing that baby from settling to sleep? Crying is a way of communicating, not just for ‘sadness’ or ‘upset’ but also a whole range of other emotions such as irritation, frustration, being overwhelmed, anger, extreme happiness, pain, hunger and, YES, tiredness or even sleep debt.
FACT: It takes a healthy young baby (even under 6 months) an average of 1.08 minutes and 1.19 minutes of normal tired crying to settle to sleep successfully (The London Study).
Is allowing your baby to cry for up to 1 minute and 19 seconds the same as the evidence-based ‘sleep training’ method ‘Cry it out (C.I.O) or Controlled Crying (C.C.)? Certainly not, although these three letters C.I.O. have been thrown all over the internet like very offensive swear words, they have, in fact, been seriously misused and allowed us to forget that Gradual Retreat is also amongst the evidence-based methods. As professionally trained Paediatric Sleep Consultants, we should neither condone nor push a parent into any of the three main evidence-based methods. Why? Because it is simply not our place to choose a sleep training method for an infant in the place of the infant’s parent. Our job is to inform and support parents in their own choices. Is not the parent’s job to cherish and allow their infant to thrive both mentally and physically? Sleep is a big part of this process.
Study by Professor Marsha Wienraub from Temple University, Psychology Dept. Professor Wienraub explains: “families who are experiencing sleep problems past 18 months should seek advice.” So, what if you have left your baby to cry himself to sleep for up to 1 minute and 19 seconds? Does this make you a ‘bad parent’ with a damaged infant? Certainly not! What we are trying to say is there needs to be a middle road for young babies between scooping them up from their beds as soon as they shout making them even more tired because we are afraid it will all get out of control or be brain-damaging (to see study above contact us) proven to be untrue unless an infant was in a Romanian orphanage in the 1980s where the lack of nurturing was extreme. In our experience, most parents don’t wait that long to give their infant the wonderful gift of consistent sleep.
After all who can live without sleep? Not you, not me, as a Paediatric Sleep Consultant, and certainly not a developing infant!
Suzy is completely non-judgemental, respects your parental values and adapts her advice accordingly. If you would like to discuss your concerns, contact Suzy and she will help you choose the consultation package that suits your needs and your budget.