A topic so controversial on mother message boards so as to be placed on their "Great Debate" boards along side Circumcision and Vaccination is whether or not to let a baby CIO or Cry it out.
Now, let me first say, that, at least for the purposes of this post, I am not speaking about when a parent is on the verge of losing it and prudently chooses to set the child down and walk away for a few minutes to regain control of themselves. In such a case, it is a prudent decision for the parent to do so so as to prevent any greater harm from coming to anyone even if it means the baby cries for a bit. I am also not speaking of an incrimental or gradual CIO method where the parent would leave the child and when the baby began crying, the parent returns to the baby, calms him and then leaves again.
I am speaking of when a parent makes sure as best as they can that there is nothing wrong with the baby and then leaves him in his crib and does not return even if the baby cries for over an hour. I've heard some parents let their infants cry for 3 hours or more, persistantly hoping the baby will just get the point, give up and go to sleep. I have heard mothers say that they use this method because their baby "deserves the opportunity to learn to sleep on their own."
Over the course of Cecilia's 10 months now, Cecilia has been anything but a great or easy sleeper. She has been attached to me since we brought her home, she fusses very easily, has been a very light sleeper making moving her almost impossible, has struggled greatly with teething, and indeed, has at times woken up 8 or more times a night. Indeed, it can be very tiring for her and me. I don't think I've ever had a Diet Coke with breakfast before simply to get the caffeine. Cecilia still sleeps in our bed, beside me. Some nights she is fantasic and will not wake more than once. Other nights it seems she is awake more than she is asleep. And more than one or two people have advised James and me to simply "let her cry."
It is however, a completly natural instinct to hold and comfort your child when they are crying. No parent should ever wish to see their child cry and, indeed, God has built us with an innate desire to wipe away all their tears. So it is reasonable that there should, indeed, be a very good reason, to simply ignore a baby's crying as well as our desire to calm that baby.
Personally, I cannot bring myself to do this for two reasons:
1. When God entrusts his innocent and completly dependent creation of a baby to me such that I become everything to that baby, yes, indeed, even becoming a representative of God to her and she is psychologically and intellectually incapable of intentionally trying to manipulate me but rather seeks only to fulfill her needs of nourishment and comfort, how can I morally and with justification ignore her cries? When we are sad or angry or in pain or lonely and we cry unto God, he is ALWAYS there. He never ignores us or abandons us or lets us wallow in sadness or pain so we can "have the opportunity to learn on our own," but rather he is always there guiding, comforting, enlightening, caressing, and wiping away our tears. As we are so gently and lovingly treated by Our Father, how could I justly choose not to strive to treat my daughter likewise?
2. Everyone, including her pediatrician, makes the defense, "they won't remember it." I grant you I don't know anyone who remembers such an event, but can anyone provide absolutely proof positive evidence that when a baby is left to cry and her whole world - her parents - ignores them, it has absolutely no negative consequences, especially psychologically? I am not saying there is proof positive evidence that it does cause harm, but without evidence to the contrary, shouldn't we always err on the side of caution?
I am certainly not saying not letting a baby CIO is easy. Heaven knows it isn't. There have been about 4 or 5 nights in the last two weeks where I have barely slept. But I simply cannot justify leaving Cecilia to CIO. I have been and will continue to work with her regarding her sleep (which has improved quite a bit I must say over the past month or so - The No Cry Sleep Solution has been helpful) but beyond that it is one more sacrifice my vocation calls me to make, as every vocation demands sacrifices.
I am certainly open to discussion on the topic, but I have explained my reasonings and would need those to be addressed before even considering such a course of action. Regarding any responses, please remember to be respectful and consider seriously my objections such that they be regarded in a thorough manner in any response. Thank you and God bless.