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CIO and science

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
PLEASE NOTE: This is a very specific question on CIO—I am not going to let my baby CIO and I absolutely do not want to start a flame fest…

Does anyone know if there have been any studies done on the effects of CIO on babies/children?

Sleep is a big problem for us, and I have been hearing a lot on either side of the CIO issue. Personally, I can’t do it, but I am curious. I have read Ferber and Weissbluth (we were given the books), and I was impressed by the scientific evidence they presented on the facts of infant sleep.

However, when it came time to prescribe a solution to sleep problems (crying it out), no mention of the effects on a baby of extended crying were ever given. It was like, “science, science, science, OH, don’t worry, it sounds awful, but it doesn’t hurt them and they don’t remember it.” OK, I might buy that they don’t remember it (they wouldn’t remember your sticking pins in them, but I don’t do that either!!), but how do you know it doesn’t hurt them? How do you know it doesn’t cause psychological damage? I was kind of amazed that in all the books, such attention to detail is paid to the science of sleep—except for the “cure.” Even our pediatrician was like, “Your baby needs more sleep—studies have shown the kind of sleep deprivation she has can interfere with growth…oh, no, crying it out won’t harm her—we ‘just know’.” (To her credit, she didn’t support CIO over any other method of getting Camille more sleep—she was just giving us the info she had). I’d be very curious to know if it has ever been studied.

post #2 of 5
That is a very good question, lisawhip. I'm off to see what I can find but look forward to any other responses you may get.

post #3 of 5
Here's a study by Harvard researchers about the harmful effects of leaving babies in separate rooms and letting them CIO:


Also, do some searching for James McKenna, who's the leading researcher on co-sleeping. I'll bet you'll find some good stuff.

Did you see the issue of Mothering recently that was devoted to co-sleeping?

Let us know what else you find!
post #4 of 5
grrr, server error lead to double post!
post #5 of 5
CIO leads to the production and release of "stress hormones". This is what you need to look up: stress.

It's a very specific physiological condition, produced in the laboratory by a wide variety of conditions. It can be as "simple" as moving lab animals to a new cage every couple of days, or as extreme as giving mild shocks to animals. Such studies are largely driven by our society's growing concern with "stress", usually defined in the adult sense by the workaholic mentality so prevalent among people, coupled with our poorer states of health.

It has been well-established that stress causes the release of various hormones and other substances that have deleterious effects on health and organ function. It's very difficult to do a study of "CIO" because you essentially would have to take blood samples of children left to cry for long periods of time, etc...

AFAIC, CIO is "stress" in every sense of the word, but particularly I believe it definitely meets the physiological/experimental criteria. And the evidence is very strong that stress is NOT a Good Thing.
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