crying it out and brain development

Tara - posted on 08/02/2010 ( 31 moms have responded )




After reading all the posts from moms who use the CIO method for sleep training, I was appalled at the number of people who believe that their children should be left to cry if all their physical needs have been met.

The following is research done on the effects of crying it out in infants. This is research people, Harvard, Yale etc.

So many people will say, "I did it with my other kids, my mom did it with me.... I'm fine, my kids are fine, etc."

But the fact is the way our brains form in early life is largely affected by our attachment to our caregiver. There are physiological not just psychiatric changes that occur when babies cry for extended periods of time. This is true regardless of what kind of parenting they receive the rest of the time.

"Science tells us that when babies cry alone and unattended, they experience panic and anxiety. Their bodies and brains are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones. Science has also found that when developing brain tissue is exposed to these hormones for prolonged periods these nerves won�t form connections to other nerves and will degenerate. Is it therefore possible that infants who endure many nights or weeks of crying-it-out alone are actually suffering harmful neurologic effects that may have permanent implications on the development of sections of their brain? Here is how science answers this alarming question:

Chemical and hormonal imbalances in the brain
Research has shown that infants who are routinely separated from parents in a stressful way have abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as lower growth hormone levels. These imbalances inhibit the development of nerve tissue in the brain, suppress growth, and depress the immune system. 5, 9, 11, 16

Researchers at Yale University and Harvard Medical School found that intense stress early in life can alter the brain�s neurotransmitter systems and cause structural and functional changes in regions of the brain similar to those seen in adults with depression. 17

One study showed infants who experienced persistent crying episodes were 10 times more likely to have ADHD as a child, along with poor school performance and antisocial behavior. The researchers concluded these findings may be due to the lack of responsive attitude of the parents toward their babies. 14.

Dr. Bruce Perry�s research at Baylor University may explain this finding. He found when chronic stress over-stimulates an infant�s brain stem (the part of the brain that controls adrenaline release), and the portions of the brain that thrive on physical and emotional input are neglected (such as when a baby is repeatedly left to cry alone), the child will grow up with an over-active adrenaline system. Such a child will display increased aggression, impulsivity, and violence later in life because the brainstem floods the body with adrenaline and other stress hormones at inappropriate and frequent times. 6

Dr. Allan Schore of the UCLA School of Medicine has demonstrated that the stress hormone cortisol (which floods the brain during intense crying and other stressful events) actually destroys nerve connections in critical portions of an infant�s developing brain. In addition, when the portions of the brain responsible for attachment and emotional control are not stimulated during infancy (as may occur when a baby is repeatedly neglected) these sections of the brain will not develop. The result � a violent, impulsive, emotionally unattached child. He concludes that the sensitivity and responsiveness of a parent stimulates and shapes the nerve connections in key sections of the brain responsible for attachment and emotional well-being. 7, 8

Decreased intellectual, emotional, and social development
Infant developmental specialist Dr. Michael Lewis presented research findings at an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting, concluding that �the single most important influence of a child�s intellectual development is the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her baby.�

Researchers have found babies whose cries are usually ignored will not develop healthy intellectual and social skills. 19

Dr. Rao and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health showed that infants with prolonged crying (but not due to colic) in the first 3 months of life had an average IQ 9 points lower at 5 years of age. They also showed poor fine motor development. (2)

Researchers at Pennsylvania State and Arizona State Universities found that infants with excessive crying during the early months showed more difficulty controlling their emotions and became even fussier when parents tried to consol them at 10 months. 15

Other research has shown that these babies have a more annoying quality to their cry, are more clingy during the day, and take longer to become independent as children 1.

Harmful physiologic changes
Animal and human research has shown when separated from parents, infants and children show unstable temperatures, heart arrhythmias, and decreased REM sleep (the stage of sleep that promotes brain development). 10 12, 13

Dr. Brazy at Duke University and Ludington-Hoe and colleagues at Case Western University showed in 2 separate studies how prolonged crying in infants causes increased blood pressure in the brain, elevates stress hormones, obstructs blood from draining out of the brain, and decreases oxygenation to the brain. They concluded that caregivers should answer cries swiftly, consistently, and comprehensively. (3) and (4)



Sara - posted on 08/02/2010




I'm sorry, Tara, but I just don't think that there is any reliable research available on this topic to make a case one way or the other. A lot of the studies cited by Dr. Sears and others uses data from children who are abused and neglected. The research is actually about how trauma, chronic neglect, or abuse affects a small person. No doubt, if ignoring distress were your every day parenting philosophy this would apply, but sleep training against the background of caring, responsive parenting, does not.

The link you provided to Dr. Sears with the list of studies showing CIO is harmful...there are too many to explain each here, but for example, one states that infants who cry excessively have a higher incidence of ADHD, antisocial behavior, and poor school performance. When you look at the original study, though, the crying clearly has nothing to do with sleep training. The study shows that extra fussiness and subsequent crying (regardless of what parents do in response) might be a symptom of an underlying problem that could come up later in life. Sears quoted another study as showing that crying early on makes a child fussy and emotionally unbalanced. Again, the actual study says that babies who already cry a lot might be showing early signs that they are slower to develop emotional control. None of the Sears studies listed shows negative consequences as a result of a structured sleep training program.

Letting a baby cry while she learns how to fall asleep is not for everyone. You may have a philosophical issue with it, you may think it's not the right fit for your child, or maybe it just plain feels wrong to you as a parent. If this is the case, follow your gut and find your own path to restful nights.

But when science is used as a platform for criticizing sleep training -- citing the names of brain regions and neurochemicals -- it's misleading at best, and frankly feels like fear-mongering at worst. There will always be heated debate around this issue, which I think is healthy in some respects – we should be able to vet out and discuss our parenting dilemmas with each other. But remember we're talking about opinion and personal choice. Until there is more substance on this issue, let's leave science out of it.

Sara - posted on 08/02/2010




You are free to have opinions on the topic, obviously...if it's not for you, it's not for you. But, I have done a lot of research about this -- since I find myself in the position to constantly defend my own choices -- and from what I have seen, there have been no actual, longitudinal studies to support that CIO is good or bad. That is a fact. Scholarly articles are simply opinions that people extrapolate from research, not a conclusive research study in and of itself. A scholarly article doesn't prove anything.

Rosie - posted on 08/02/2010




have you left your crying kid at a babysitters? did they cry for more than 10 minutes? has your child ever cried for long periods of time with no reason that you could figure out, or were they just mad because they didn't get their way? if any of these experiences have happened to you they involve more crying than any of my 3 boys did from CIO.

mothers know when a child is in distress, or if they are just whimpering cause they're tired. sleep training my infants took approximately a little less than a week, and i can probably bet that they have cried less than any other infant who isn't using CIO.

not to mention that there have been no actual studies on this, and everything that you referenced were deduced from kids who cried longer than 30 minutes-probably 3 times longer than most CIO parents would ever leave their infant to cry.

i have a wonderful bond with all 3 of my boys!! there is no attachment issues at all!! i find it somewhat comical that people who have no clue how to use CIO, seem to think that our kids are brain damaged. emotional detached robots. give me a break!!

Krista - posted on 08/02/2010




Common sense tells me that letting a baby whinge and fuss for a few minutes after going to bed is not going to be detrimental to their brain, as long as their needs are met during the day and if they wake up in the middle of the night and cry out. Most of those studies are talking about prolonged, excessive crying, which is a different matter altogether.

Sleep training to me is simply teaching an infant that they can not trust you. That despite their attempts to make you understand their need, you have failed them. So when they give up and stop crying it out, parents are thrilled and proud, when in reality (to me and many scientists) that part of their brain just gave up, they did not get the need met and so the part of their brain that builds trust is damaged slightly every time.

That's utter crap. Sleep training, is establishing routines so that a child knows that it's time to go to sleep. It's creating a restful, quiet setting for sleep. And it is teaching the child to rely on positive sleep associations, such as a dim room, or their favourite lovey or blanket, and to NOT rely on negative sleep associations, such as being rocked or held or sung to. This is so that if the child wakes up in the middle of the night, and doesn't necessarily need a diaper change, or comfort, or something to eat, he can get himself back to sleep. If he does need to be fed or changed, or just wants his mommy for some comfort, then he'll cry, and you go to him. Pretty straightforward, no?

Sometimes a baby whinges because he's sleepy as heck but doesn't want to go to sleep just yet. Letting him fuss it out for a few minutes is not failing him or ignoring his needs, and it's goddamn insulting of you to say that.

Sarah - posted on 08/02/2010




I used my own little version of CIO with both my girls and they're both fine! (hahaha)

In all seriousness though, CIO is given a really bad name because the minute people hear the phrase, they assume it's a teeny baby left to scream their heads off for hours on end. That's not what CIO is!

It shouldn't be used on babies under 6months for a start.
Also, I've never left either of my girls screaming blue murder for hours. Someone else on COM's once described it as "Whinge-it-Out" and I think that's good way of putting it.

People using CIO incorrectly is a bad thing. People using it correctly with COMMON SENSE is completely different.

Both my girls go to sleep in their own beds with no problems. They're intelligent and happy and healthy. I really don't think that letting them learn to self soothe a little bit has done them any harm at all.
I wasn't ignoring their needs, they needed to sleep. No amount of rocking or cuddling was going to get them the good nights sleep they needed.

Fair play to those of you that haven't used CIO, that's good for you and your family. I did what was best for my girls and my family, so it's all good! :)

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Tara - posted on 08/06/2010




Thanks Jill,
At no time did I say to anyone here that they are harming their child. CIO in my opinion goes against our instincts.
A newborn up to 6 months should never have to cry unless absolutely nothing can be done such as in the car. Crying in the animal kingdom is a distress signal. Babies have needs far beyond physical needs. Their need for strong attachment is paramount. To me this need is not being met if a child has to cry until he falls asleep. Whining on the other hand is different. I never stated that whimpering or whining or grizzling before drifting off to sleep causes slower brain development. It was crying I was talking about.
Someone mentioned that they weren't about to cuddle their baby just because their baby wanted it. Someone else said they used CIO from birth and it was awful listening to them cry, but it worked out great cause it only took a few nights. For that baby, those few nights were spent having their brain flooded with cortisol. It causes tense muscles and headaches.
Just not right in my opinion for anyone to do that to a baby. Again a baby, not a 9 month old who whines or whimpers for 10 minutes before bed.
Crying is a distress signal. That is my bottom line.

Jill - posted on 08/06/2010




I agree, Tara. Especially when parents say how hard it is to listen to their babies cry. If your instincts are fighting it, listen to them. Babies cry because they need us. They do not just howl for nothing. Needing to be held is a real need. It makes me feel ill to think of helpless babies being left alone to cry it out. No, they don't know what is in their best interest. That is why they have parents to care for them. Listen to your heart.

Lucy - posted on 08/06/2010




Because both of my children have suffered with night terrors, I have done a lot of my own research into the issue of sleep problems and different forms of sleep training.

I have come across the research cited at the beginning of this thread (among others) and have to say that here, it is taken out of context. This research is about families where the children are left to cry MOST of the time, day and night, and many of their basic needs are NOT being met. These studies are not exploring the benefits or otherwise of CIO.

I never had to use CIO with my kids, as they are both naturally great sleepers (aside from the night terrors) but I have known friends and family members who have used it. Nobody I know using the method has ever left their babies screaming or distressed. They just cuddle them, settle them into bed and then wait outside the room for a couple of minutes whilst the baby grizzles a bit. Then they go back and settle them again, then leave them for a bit longer, then a bit longer each time until baby is self soothing and happily dropping off to sleep.

Nobody who supports CIO seems to be promoting the idea of allowing a child to scream uncontrollably for hours. This is neglect, and is what the research refers to, not the CIO method.

[deleted account]

The research above reads as though those parents are neglecting their children. I use CIO with my son, we began when he was about 3 months old BUT we set a limit of 5 mins crying/ whinging then if he was still going we went in and picked him up cuddled and calmed him then ressettled him in his moses basket. We rarely have to resettle him generally he is asleep after a minute or 2. We began CIO because he was not going to sleep with me rocking him and singing to him and when he did go to sleep as soon as I put him down he woke up again so we decided to leave him to see if he settled himself - he did, so he just wanted to go to sleep he did not want the fussing I was doing! Now at 9 months old he has a 30 minute time limit but NEVER gets to it if he cries/ whinges for 10 minutes we are having a bad night.

There are differences between leaving your baby crying uncontrobably and letting your baby whinge before bed, when my son is distressed or in pain I go straight to him, generally if he wakes up in the night he whimpers not cries for a couple of minutes if he cries I go to him.

Tara it is really offensive for you to claim that sleep training is teaching my son not to trust me, my son trusts me and KNOWS that if he NEEDS me I will be there but he needs to whinge on his own in his cot for a couple of minutes to go to sleep because fussing does not help him go to sleep - unless of course you would rather I let my son stay up so late he was so exhausted that he falls asleep on me (as he did the other night when we attended our BIL 40th birthday meal and had 10 minutes sleep all day) - doing that IMO would be neglectful not letting him whinge it out for 5 mins. I know my son and his needs, when I have my next child I will judge their needs and play it by ear.

Shelley - posted on 08/02/2010




I used the cio method with both my girls from birth they both slept throught the night at 8 weeks. They have reached every developemental milestone at or before the time that different developemental checklists specifies.
and i believe my life has been easier because of it and i have never had a sleep issue with my kids.

Jenni - posted on 08/02/2010




I did CIO (or rather the ferber method where you go in and give them reassurance every 5 mins... 10 mins... etc.) with my son. As a new mom i was desperate for sleep... 6 months of waking every 45 mins was killing me... and to be honest i was clueless on what to do... i tried reading books, had him on a schedule, tried "shhh-pat", rocking etc. nothing worked for me... so against everything i swore i wouldn't do i gave into trying the ferber... i did feel guilty hearing him cry w/o me there to comfort him and would never let him cry for more than 30 mins. It was hard but it worked after about 2 weeks and he has been an amazing sleeper ever since (he is now 2 yrs old, just put him in a toddler bed tonight and it went very well he didn't get up once and actually asked me to go to bed tonight so he could sleep in it)... my son is very loving towards me and others and very intelligent... now i'm not professional but i don't think it has affected him...
my new daughter on the otherhand is an amazing sleeper and i will definitely not have to use ferber with her. she simply drifts off sucking away at a paci or her fingers. both my children were/are collicy too and when she is having a bout i let her cry in my arms and eventually she'll drift off in a deep sleep. If i dont let her cry and nurse her or rock her to sleep she wakes up 10-15 mins later like my son use to ready to cry all over again... i wish i had let my son cry in my arms rather than pacifying him when he was fussy... i would have had a much easier time with the whole sleep thing. wish i knew then what i know now!!!
if i were to go back though i think i would have stayed in the room with my son instead of going back every 5 mins. at least to have my presence as reassurance. i think ferbering is a little two far one way and there can be a middle grround.
I do believe however that alot (and im not saying all) anti-CIO's didn't have collicky or difficult sleepers, or maybe they had better instincts on what to do to get a baby to sleep! lol

*Lisa* - posted on 08/02/2010




The thing I don't get about all of these studies is that CIO method usually takes about 2 - 3 nights of about 20 mins whinging MAX. How is that permanently damaging babies brains?? That's about 1 hour of crying all together over 3 nights. My 11 month old son cried for over an hour the other night while I was holding him which is much longer than he has ever cried during CIO...
I agree it's not for everyone and some people have horrible experiences attempting the CIO method, but everyone is different, all babies are different. Some will respond to it, and some won't. I think it's up to you as a parent to chose what's best for you, and have a little empathy for other mums who are doing their best, even if it's not how you would choose to parent.

Lea - posted on 08/02/2010




Love and affection including comforting is a real physical need. Babies are not houseplants. You shouldn't leave your baby alone except if you have truly have lost all your patience. The cry-it out method works in stages, and if it is going to work it does within a matter of days and crying it out does not go on long term.

Caitlin - posted on 08/02/2010




This again? There is no way that a study can be fully accurate unless the babies are FORCED into different sleeping patterns (so the 20 babies in Group A are left to cry it out indefinately every time they wake up at night, no matter what, Group B is left to cry exactly 8 minutes each time and Group C is attended to right away) and then you follow those babies for the next 10-15 years, and EVEN THEN the kids experiences and other parenting will affect the outcomes.

My first daughter had a heck of a time going to sleep, I started "sleep training" at about 8 months, and when she cried a fussy cry, i'd let her cry 5 minutes and revisit.. as long as it took, i'd go in every 5 minutes to tuck her in, check everything was okay, and kiss her goodnight. It took about 3 months for her to get it, but on the other hand, we had medical issues to deal with that made it take longer. My second.. no need to train her, she blew me away, sleeping through the night from 6 weeks (occasionally woke up for a feed partway, but maybe only 1 time a week) I didn't think it would ever be this easy, she's 5 months old now, and goes to sleep a few minutes after she is put down every night and wakes up once or twice to shift a bit, but goes back to sleep without needing my help..

Joanna - posted on 08/02/2010




I did CIO when my daughter was just about 7 months old. I checked on her after 5 minutes of crying, then 10 minutes of crying, and then by that time she was asleep. That was the first day, and she slept through the night, only waking once and crying/whining for a couple minutes before falling asleep. She woke up happy, instead of before when she'd be up a few times a night and wake up cranky. And then one more night of the 5 minute/10 minute/asleep pattern, and that was it. She went to bed on her own, willingly, slept all night, and woke up happy.

It was PERFECT for us. I can see how babies who are younger and left to cry for half hour or more might have issues. I have issues myself when I hear about parents doing that to newborns, because they need their parents comfort. But when they are getting older and they have built up trust in their parents, and you still let them know you are available to them by checking on them frequently, I don't think it can hurt them.

Now my girl is almost 3, and I know her cries. I can tell if she will fall back asleep right away (sometimes she wakes up and whines while trying to find her pacifier - I know that sound). I can also tell right away if she has growing pains or has had a nightmare, and would never leave her to whine/cry in those situations, I get up right away. And she is a great child, she is not anti-social, she has manners, and has no learning issues (my family considers her a genius, but don't all families? lol).

Becky - posted on 08/02/2010




I'm not a fan of the cry-it-out method myself, but I will say, I have used it a few times when my son wakes up as soon as I lie him down and starts to fuss. He's fallen back to sleep within a minute or two. Had it been longer, I would've gone back in to him.
While I don't disagree with this research (and I've actually heard Dr. Perry speak in person on a couple of occassions), I do not think it refers to the common CIO practices of letting them fuss or cry for a few minutes, going in to soothe them, letting them fuss for a few more minutes, etc, until they fall asleep. (Ferberizing) In fact, while I have a hard time doing it myself, I don't really think it damages a child's attachment, as the parent does go back in to check on and soothe the child, thus proving that they will respond, without allowing the child to rely on them to fall asleep.
I do know of people who have just let their children scream for hours or more because they won't go to sleep, and I do think that type of CIO could be damaging to a child. But I do think the emotional and psychological damage these articles refer to is far more likely in cases of neglect than in normal, careful sleep training! But, a parent has to know their child too. CIO will not work for some. It didn't work for my nephew, and it wouldn't have worked for my oldest son. They're both too strong willed and honestly would scream for hours. It might work for my younger son, but I just don't have the heart to follow through with it.

Stifler's - posted on 08/02/2010




I disagree. Most people I know use the putting them down in bed when they are drowsy but not asleep then letting them whinge until they settle method and I it hasn't had any adverse effects on their socialisation or attachment issues. Putting a screaming child down and letting them cry it out can take hours because they're obviously not tired or in pain and hardly anyone does that unless they are really really frustrated.

Jodi - posted on 08/02/2010




I am in agreement with Sara. The article you have quote is not even CIO research.

I just found some information for you to put some of it in perspective:

Ok, I know, only an opinion piece, but read it, and then check out the original studies for yourself, and you will find that this is NOT reliable CIO research.

I am not against CIO. I have been lucky in that my children have caused very little bedtime fuss as babies, so I didn't have to really use it, but I don't see the problem if it is used properly. What I am against is people who judge others harshly for using the method just because they don't agree with it. I think it is great that you have an opinion on the matter, and that you are choosing not to use it, but that article is not fact.

Lyndsay - posted on 08/02/2010




I think there is a huge difference between parents who allow their baby to cry for 5-10 minutes at a time over the course of a few days and parents who shut the door on their screaming child for hours at a time indefinitely. The first situation encourages self-soothing and indepdence, the second situation is neglect.

Ez - posted on 08/02/2010




You all know I am anti-CIO. I absolutely think it ignores a potential emotional need by claiming that when a baby's physical needs are met, they're 'fine'. I also agree with Tara that it doesn't necessary teach babies to self-soothe, but rather to just not bother making a fuss because nobody is going to come.

In saying that, I can certainly see the distinction between a baby having a sleepy little grizzle and full on crying spells.

Edited to add: Studies explaining the detrimental affects of CIO are certainly out there, but my opinion on this is almost completely based of my instincts. No amount of positive CIO studies would make me use it either.

Krista - posted on 08/02/2010




No, that makes sense, Loureen. If your baby is crying to the point where you feel like you want to do something FOR them, then yes, of course it makes sense to do whatever you can to comfort them. When Sam was going through a bad teething spell, he'd cry and wail, and of course I'd rock him and hug him. For awhile, I was sleeping on the floor next to his crib, because he was so distraught with pain that he wanted me there next to him in order to go to sleep. But under normal circumstances, if he fusses a bit before going to sleep, there isn't that awful "Oh god, my baby needs me and I'm ignoring him" sense of anxiety. It's more of a case of "Aww...poor little mite. He'll drop off soon -- he's had a big day."

Charlie - posted on 08/02/2010




I tend to agree with the study however i think the difference between a fussing baby and a genuinely upset baby needs to be clear .

I do not think leaving a baby to fuss is detrimental the heading after all says EXCESSIVE crying and that i can imagine would have effect on a childs mind and body , personally i cannot let my boys cry it goes against all my instincts to not hug them tight when they are upset .

Hearing my boys cry and especially Harry who is colicky makes me feel upset and stressed i have no doubt my cortisol levels are rising which makes me think if this is what its doing to me , what is it doing to him ?

Amie - posted on 08/02/2010




I used CIO. Something I was adamantly against, until I joined CoM's and listened to what the other mom's using it were doing.

I, like many, took CIO at face value and didn't bother looking farther into. If I had, I would have noticed a lot sooner that what I've done with all 4 of my children was CIO. They are all fine, they are all very sociable, it is rare that they have night time issues.

Even when doing CIO with them though they didn't sleep through the night. Our youngest especially, did not sleep through the night until she was a year old. Even though she went to bed perfectly fine at bed time. Well I can't even say that as full truth, there are still nights she wakes up. She's 16 months old. I'll hear her fussing in her room, I'll go look in and what I see is her moving around, finding a new comfortable position and going back to sleep.

If any of our children need us, they know we will be there. A parent knows the difference between their babies cries. Common sense, that Sarah mentioned, plays a huge role in this. If your baby will not settle right away and IS screaming like a banshee, something is wrong. A CIO parent, who is using it responsibly, will not let their child just have a fit in the name of sleep training.

We used it to get our children used to a routine, which is also vital for their development. All of our children, depending on which one, sleeps between 9-12 hours a night. Our youngest still has one nap a day occasionally. She is already moving away from that because she most often sleeps a solid 12 hours at night.

Jessica - posted on 08/02/2010




I agree with what some of the others said... I think its hard to say what will work for every family and baby because as we all know, they are all different. I think it really can work for many people, as long as you know your child well enough to be able to judge whether its doing more harm than good, and you use common sense. I've talked to a lot of moms online who honestly do everything they can to meet their baby's physical and emotional needs, practice attachment parenting in many other ways, but are just at their wit's end with lack of sleep. I really do think it can get to a point where it is just better for everyone to do some sleep training... and I'm talking at least 6 months or older... and for most babies it isn't going to take more than a few nights. That, in the grand scheme of things, I don't think is going to have a lasting effect on a child. What upsets me is when I read about parents letting their 6 week old CIO, expecting them to sttn. That makes me so sad and I just want to slap the parents.

All that said, I can't say I've ever used CIO with my son. I just couldn't do it, even though he was a TERRIBLE sleeper. But after 6 months he started sleeping better on his own... and by 9 months he was sttn regularly. The only things I did that *may* have had an affect were:
moving him to his own room instead of ours (it got to the point where we were just waking each other up)

starting a sort of bedtime routine- bath, rocking and nursing, every night

night weaning- I could tell he didn't need it anymore and he was just waking up out of habit. I put it off because he nursed for less than 5 minutes and was out again, and I figured it would be a struggle to wean him. For a little while he still woke up at night, and I went to him but didn't nurse him... soon after that he stopped waking up at all.

Sara - posted on 08/02/2010




Exactly, Sara. And let's not forget the real goal of CIO is reduce crying. So, it's not a baby screaming it's head off for hours. I think we can all agree that is not a good solution to helping your child sleep.

[deleted account]

"There are physiological not just psychiatric changes that occur when babies cry for extended periods of time."

I think that is the key. EXTENDED periods of time. Not whimpering quietly for five minutes until they fall asleep.

Brandy - posted on 08/02/2010




Sorry, that was kind of all over the place. LoL. I had a few interruptions.

Brandy - posted on 08/02/2010




Tara, I completely agree with you on this one. I don't believe in CIO and I don't believe in sleep training. Both my babies have made their own schedules. My daughter was a premie, so she took a bit longer to start sleeping through the night because she had to be fed about every 2 hours for the first 3 months and was 9 months old the first time she didn't wake up once from 9pm until 5am. My son has been sleeping through the night since he was 2 months old and usually only wakes up for a feeding if he is having a growth spurt. All the studies aside, I just really didn't see a use for it. I had all my friends telling me to let my daughter cry, saying she was going to be so clingy and have me wrapped around her finger but she has always been so independant and she is 2 now and hardly ever whines or cries about anything. Maybe that's just because her speech is very well developed and she can communicate well. I don't know. I'm pretty sure that no matter what you choose, people are going to judge you, even the people who you never expected to. My friends judged me for not using CIO with my daughter but I just thought that waking up constantly and getting no sleep was part of being a mother. And with doing this constant feeding, I was still only able to keep her in the 40-50th percentile so obviously she needed it. I just don't see any reason for a little baby to be crying by themselves. I have a hard enough time keeping my mouth shut when friends are doing it with their kids when I'm around, I couldn't imagine doing it with my own.

Tara - posted on 08/02/2010




Not all of the studies cited are from cases of abused or neglected children, if you google the actual studies you can read the scholarly articles that were footnoted in the original post.

There are many parts of our lives that are largely influenced by our limbic brain, this is essentially our old brain, the part of us that was laid down in early infancy and childhood. This part of our brain can be changed and altered by a lot of different experiences and lack of experiences.
This part of our brain is responsible later in life for how we interact with others, how we feel and give love, how we trust and develop trust etc.
You can't simply leave science out of the equation when there is so much that has been learned about how we process information and how that contributes to who we are later in life.

Sleep training to me is simply teaching an infant that they can not trust you. That despite their attempts to make you understand their need, you have failed them. So when they give up and stop crying it out, parents are thrilled and proud, when in reality (to me and many scientists) that part of their brain just gave up, they did not get the need met and so the part of their brain that builds trust is damaged slightly every time.
This is certainly a touchy subject for many people. But something I feel strongly about, can't do the live and let live, to each their own etc. on this one.

Lindsay - posted on 08/02/2010




OK I am going to have to agree with everything that Sara and Sarah have already said.

We used a version of CIO in our home and to be honest, saw nothing but positives that came from it. I do believe the name can be misleading as if you take it to mean literally what it is, it sounds very harsh. With both of my kids, we started early on placing them in bed when they were nearly asleep but not yet asleep. Then if they fussed for a few minutes before actually drifting off to sleep, we would let them "cry it out". Now that they are nearly 4 and 5, I've yet to see any damage done from our "sleep training". Instead, I have kids that drift to sleep easily at night without a fight.

People need to use common sense. When I hear of someone suggesting or referring to CIO, I don't think of babies left alone for hours on end crying until they pass out or throw up. If that's what someone is doing, it's not sleep training, it's sick and neglect. As far as people taking a common sense approach to helping everyone in the house get a night's rest, I see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

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