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We're the Terrible Parents Who Let Our Baby Cry It Out At Night


Crying It Out (CIO) -- I bet you already have an opinion as you read those words. When you throw out a phrase like Crying It Out, you quickly discover that people are in one of two camps. One side of the argument says employing CIO is child torture. It is a negligent decision -- just short of child abuse -- made by heartless parents. The other side says it is a perfectly acceptable form of training your child to sleep.

I fall into the set of parents who let their child CIO. I happily used this method of sleep training and I have no regrets. Loudly, I will sing the praises of crying it out, and you will not change my mind. Comment away on what I horrible mother I am, I will not be persuaded.

Here is why we used CIO:

Academically, there is nothing harmful about letting your baby CIO. The Mayo Clinic says “Crying won't hurt your baby — and sometimes the only way to stop a crying spell is to let it run its course.” This study, reported by the America Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found no long term harm from using sleep training techniques. In fact, studies show that the short-term benefits are EVEN BETTER for Momma and baby when sleep training is used. The AAP found that “The improvements to children’s and mothers’ sleep and mothers’ mental health were still evident as late as age 2…” If there is anyone who needs sleep and any help they can get with their mental health, believe me, it is mothers whose children are under two! As the mother of a 20-month-old, I promise you this is true!

Personally, sleep training was the best choice for our family. In the first week after our son was born, my husband and I realized that we are TERRIBLE at functioning long term on very little sleep. We were exhausted, cranky, desperate for sleep, and definitely not making the best decisions we could for our son. All decisions at that point in life were based on how we could get just ten more minutes of sleep… or maybe just five. Five would be nice, right? Right. By eight weeks we were falling apart. I was literally falling asleep in church (and when your husband is one of the pastors, this is especially mortifying!). I did not trust myself to drive. We had no clean clothes. We were only eating because our friends graciously brought dinner to us. Sleep was our top priority.

As I talked to other moms about this, I noticed a trend. Moms a generation or two ahead of me used sleep training techniques, too. A friend of mine told me that she went an entire year with barely any sleep because her daughter just would not sleep. When she finally told her mom what was going on, she was advised to let her 1-year-old CIO that very night. Another friend of mine, who has seven children, told me she let her kids CIO. She said she did not want to at first, but realized that if she was ever going to sleep again—that if she wanted to be a compassionate mother instead of a drained zombie, seeking out sleep at all cost—she was going to have to let her kids cry.