Viewpoint: CIO is Bad for Babies

Suzanne Murray

cio crying it out is bad for babies sleep

photo by ivansmom07

There's a lot of discussion on CafeMom about CIO or Crying It Out. Some moms find it very useful for getting their little one to sleep. Other moms think "it's so stupid."

Just what is CIO and why do moms have such strong feelings on the subject? I'll be talking to two moms—one who uses CIO and one who doesn't—to get their takes on this method of getting your baby to sleep at night.

Today, meet ivansmom07 and see what she has to say about CIO.

Cafe Suzanne: What is CIO or Crying It Out?

ivansmom07: CIO is a 'sleep training' method that requires a child to be left to cry in order to fall asleep. It can mean crying for increments of 5 or 10 minutes at a time, or simply crying until the child falls asleep.

Cafe Suzanne: You're the group owner of CIO Alternatives so I'm guessing you don’t practice CIO. Why not?

ivansmom07: It wasn't a method that worked for my son or one that I felt was healthy. I don't have the heart to hear him cry. I associate his cries with a need. Babies cry as a way of communication. When they are crying, it is their way of saying they need something. Whatever that need may be, it's my duty as his mom to fill it.

Cafe Suzanne: So you have tried CIO?

ivansmom07: Yes, once. It was horrible.

Cafe Suzanne: Why do you think CIO is harmful to babies?

ivansmom07: When a baby's cry goes unanswered, the baby learns mistrust. The baby learns that its needs will not be met, and eventually learns there is no need to alert anyone of the pain or hunger he might be feeling. Obviously, age plays a factor in this. You need to respond to a crying two-month-old quicker than a two-year-old. Studies show that when we do not respond to a bay's cry, this causes undue amounts of stress. Another study showed that persistent crying episodes in infancy led to a 10 times greater chance of a child having ADHD, resulting in poor school performance and antisocial behavior.

Cafe Suzanne: Does CIO affect moms too?

ivansmom07: A mother's intuition is a powerful thing. When you train her to ignore it, she's going against every motherly instinct she has been given. CIO trains the mother to ignore her baby who is crying out to her and only responds by tuning into the clock. Her natural, instinctive reaction should be to respond to her baby. I believe that CIO defeans mom's ears to her baby's cry. By shutting out the cry, she is shutting out her physical and emotional need to respond to it. This can affect a mother's response to her baby during the day. The most important thing we can do is read our baby. When we tune into our babies, our jobs as parents becomes easier. It's natural to follow our hearts, our motherly instinct. This goes for everything from CIO and beyond.

Cafe Suzanne: What are some of the alternatives to CIO?

ivansmom07: Co-sleeping, bed sharing, rocking, holding, and setting up bedtime routines. Baby doesn't have to fall asleep in his mom's arms if that's something that a mom is worried about. But when baby is comfortable and secure before he's laid in bed, he will find it easy to fall asleep comfortably and securely.

Cafe Suzanne: Why are these alternatives better for the baby?

ivansmom07: Babies learn to associate sleep time with a happy wind-down time when he does not have to cry for extended periods of time in order to go to sleep. It also makes the transition from either family bed or crib to their own bed easier. They feel more confident when they go to sleep so having a new bed isn't scary for them. In the long run, it can also make for a more secure and independent child.

Cafe Suzanne: Why are these alternatives better for the mom?

ivansmom07: It's peaceful for everyone involved. The relationship a mom is building from the beginning with her baby is something that can be treasured for years to come. It's all about security and trust. Moms will know that her baby trusts her and she'll find that in the long run (teen years) it will be much easier for her children to come to her with problems—drugs. sex. I know it's wild to think that far ahead, or to think that one simple thing will make that much of a difference, but it's about building trust and security and that starts early.

Cafe Suzanne: What advice would you give someone who has a baby that just won’t go to sleep?

ivansmom07: Be patient. Hang in there! Time has been the only true and tested long-term sleep solution.

Cafe Suzanne: Are there any books you recommend?

ivansmom07: The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley; The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp; and Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears.

For more information on alternatives to CIO, check out the CIO Alternatives group.

Stay tuned to the Baby Buzz to see what a mom who uses the CIO method has to say.

Have you ever tried the CIO method to get your baby to sleep? Did it work? Did you like it?

Read More