'Sleeping Through the Night' Is a Cruel Myth Created by Smug Parents

baby cryingIf you think your baby sleeps through the night, I hate to break it to you, but you're wrong. Unless you've spent an eight-hour stretch looking at your kid and baby didn't wake up once. (Nobody does that, right?) Babies wake up. Some cry. They may self-soothe themselves back to sleep unless they have a diaper or are hungry. But if they cry and you let them cry, it's a bad idea.

Besides the emotional, mental, and physical issues it can give your baby, crying it out doesn't really work in the long run. And we all know babies aren't a short run kind of deal. They are with us for life. What we do or don't do now can screw them up for the rest of our eternity, so why not suck it up and get it right at the start?

I'm all fueled up talking about CIO after reading a super smart post by mom Sarah Ockwell-Smith on her blog Baby Calm. She calls it "controlled crying" and while I think that does sound slightly less harsh than crying it out, she (like me) believes it's a dangerous thing.


So many of us think that by letting our kids wail their lungs out, they are doing them a service. These parents must have stock in the ear plug business, have soundproof rooms, or live in the West Wing of the house while the baby sleeps in the East. Controlled crying is about as good of a service as prostitution. It may be satisfying once you get the hang out it, but you'll have to live with the guilt and repercussions forever.

(Special note: I do not condone prostitution. And no, it's not really like hooker-dom. But both are bad, so maybe kind of it is.)

Crying is crying is crying. It's only a good cry when you are purging tears over a guy who dumped you and you stop the waterworks when you realize you are better off without him. Babies don't have that kind of life yet, so good cries just don't exist. On that super smart blog Baby Calm I was telling you about, Sarah reminds us that waking up in the night is good for your baby. Yep, good! Necessary! We've talking about how everything you think you know about sleeping through the night is wrong and this brings it home. Waking up is vital -- it can protect your child from SIDS, keeps them eating when they need to eat, and regulates their body. The dangers of crying it out are well documented. Yet many still do it because they think it works. Sarah reminds smug parents who boast how their kid cried it out for a little while and then wham-o they had a perfect sleeping baby that they may be in for trouble in the near future. It can lead to your child feeling helpless, and therefore have poor mental, emotional, as well as physical health. Stress is bad. BAD bad. It sends people to early graves. Why practice controlled crying when all it does is stress out your baby and you in the process? And your sleep trained child could return to nighttime wakings when around 9 to 12 months old. So. Not. Worth. It.

So what should a tired parent do?

Stick it out. I know it's tough. I have twins. Sleep is rare. But you can do it! Be by your baby's side when she needs you. You won't be up every three hours for the rest of your life ... until he or she is a teenager and out with the family car and it's past curfew. Your baby will grow and sleep patterns will change. And in the meantime, if you've been up all night because your baby needed you and cried a lot, you can have a cup (or three) of coffee and get through it the next day. Or tea if you prefer. Which is something your baby can't do (can you imagine coffee in a sippy cup or the stains from spitting up!?). Letting your baby cry it out gives your baby the worst night sleep ever. Remember the last time you cried yourself to sleep? Next day: Headache. Puffy eyes. Bad news. Your baby doesn't need that. And you love your baby too much.

Do you still believe in sleep training? What changes would you make to your child's sleep patterns? How do you cope with your own sleepless nights because of baby's wake-ups?


Image via Chalky Lives/Flickr

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