Should you use 'Cry it Out' Method?
One of the main questions we get from parents is, should I make my baby cry it out to get them to sleep, or is it harmful? So today, I'm going to be talking about the 'cry it out' method topic on a baby.
Some of the research shows that it is harmful to your baby, to make them cry it out, particularly in the first six months. There are many things that can happen that are harmful from letting your baby cry it out, but I'm going to talk about two really of the most common things that can happen. One thing that can happen is that a baby becomes very emotionally detached or goes into a depressive state. When a baby is in distress, first they cry, then they cry louder, then they scream, and then they go silent. Many parents believe that going silent means, they've been successful in getting their baby to deal with frustration and go to sleep. The truth is that that's not the case. What's happened is the baby has given up and realizes that their mother is not there, and no one and nothing in their environment will be there now or in the future to comfort them. And then they get into a very kind of depressed and almost detached state. And sometimes what we call a defensively independent state. Where they think that since the environment's not going to meet their needs, they'll have to meet their own needs. And we don't want that because that isn't the emotional security that is the foundation for all those good things for the rest of their lives.
The second thing that can happen is they become hypervigilant, or very anxious, meaning when you leave a baby in distress, who can't handle it, and the right brain can't handle it, and they produce cortisol or the stress hormone. And cortisol is not a healthy thing, either physically or emotionally. If a baby experiences cortisol excessively or chronically, they go into what we call an anxious state where they expect that the environment is not going to meet their needs, become fearful, and remain in a nervous and hyperactive state.
We really don't want to let our babies cry out, but we do want to comfort them, particularly in the middle of the night, that doesn't mean that your baby will never sleep on their own. Depending on the baby, each baby is an individual, but it does mean that you do have to respond to their distress in the middle of the night because it's fear. So if you use your empathy as a parent, then you understand that your baby isn't just screaming at you because they're angry. They're scared. So you're basically trying to silence a frightened baby. So please comfort your baby at night. They need it, and in the end, you're doing the right thing not only for them but for you.