I am new here, so please forgive me if this topic is out of place. But I wanted to basically ask the question, "WHY do we need to rely on faulty science to "prove" CIO is wrong, when it's obvious from the reaction we have to our babies crying?" Let me elaborate.
A few months ago I had a conversation with my sister about CIO. I said that the science shows that crying causes stress hormones that result in brain damage, attachment disorders, ADHD and that a study from Harvard showed that it was harmful to babies. My sister, a pediatric neurologist, laughed and ask me if I had even read the research. Since CIO being wrong was so intuitively right to me, I never actually bothered seeking out these studies. Very unusual for me as I have a doctorate in biology and am normally a journal junkie.
So I went and searched for the literature...and frankly I was shocked and disappointed. I'm sure going into details debunking every piece of so-called scientific evidence would be frowned upon here, so I won't bother unless someone is interested (it's besides the point anyway). I felt like a fool. Instead of parroting studies I heard about from various sources but never actually looked into, here is what I wish I would have said when she asked why I wouldn't do CIO to help DS sleep:
"It causes me physical pain to hear my son cry. I sweat, my heart races, there's a buzzing in my head and I want to scream. It feels wrong to go against this biological instinct."
"I can't imagine my son understanding why Mommy doesn't love him at night, but does during the day. It feels wrong to turn off my responsiveness just because night has fallen"
"I don't want my son to scream every time we approach the bedroom and have a negative association with sleep like your kids do. It feels wrong to condition him to fear and hate night time"
"If my son is crying, that is time spent not sleeping. Quickly attending to him ensures he goes back to sleep faster and sleeps more, which is better for his brain development. It feels wrong to deprive him of sleep so I can teach him a lesson".
"An alarming percentage of the time when he cries, when I pick him up he has a burp stuck, is too cold, and once had a fever. I wouldn't have caught this if I had ignored him or just tried to console him with a quick word. It feels wrong to not make certain my son is comfortable and healthy when he cries out."
Why is it that our instinct as mothers, and common sense, is not enough to defend the refusal to CIO? Why does Mothering have to rely on unsound inferences that seem logical but don't hold up to scientific scrutiny? What's wrong with a holistic defense? Isn't it enough that every mother hates to hear her baby cry, and that itself is perfectly good reason alone to not do CIO?
My postcolic son (the kind Weissbluth thinks needs extinction to order for them to get any sleep) nurses to sleep about 75% of the time. I feed him whenever he shows me hungry signs, even if its only been 2 hours. I lay down with him for naps a lot of the time. So many "bad habits". And you know what? I taught my son to sleep 11-12 hours a night. He dropped night feeds on his own this past week. I pick him up whenever he cries until he's calm, and I put him back in his crib where he falls asleep, comforted and secure in knowing I'll be there when he needs me. I think the final reason not to do CIO is that it is perfectly possible to teach your baby good sleep habits without it, and so it is wrong to choose a path of crying and distress when other gentler paths are possible.
I would like your thoughts on this, a holistic defense of no-cry nighttime parenting. Or a mod can delete this if it's not allowed, with my sincerest apologies!
Moderately crunchy breastfeeding babywearing no circ fully vaccinating mama to DS born May 2011
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
I totally agree with you that CIO feels intuitively wrong, and our instinct as parents counts for so much and does not need to be backed by research.
Other than that, I like to say "How would you, as an adult, feel if you were distressed and crying and your partner ignored you for a set period of time, then walked into the room, patted you on the back and walked out again?".
Also I think of how a baby has limited means to communicate their fears, crying is their way of saying "help me, I need you".
Also, from a survival point of view, babies were designed to stay close to their caregivers. Nighttime is a vulnerable time and it makes sense that babies want reassurance that their caregivers are close by - either by way of rocking/movement or having a warm nuturing breast nearby.
I don't belive that babies were simply meant to be left on their own to cry. All the evidence shows that crying has a negative impact on their vitals - heartrate, blood pressure, stress hormones etc.
Also, how about "you would not leave your baby to cry for lengthy periods during the day, so why is it OK at nighttime?".
That's exactly the reasoning I used with my husband whenever he started pushing CIO: "No, it makes me hurt and feel ill, so I will not do it." That has changed in the past few months as DS has been definitely learning how to be manipulative (he's 27 months now), but we're still using CIO only loosely--when he's upset, there's always someone responding to him basically lovingly or near him, no matter how annoyed we're feeling. He always still knows we're there and paying attention, and often we'll be sitting right next to his bed, even if we're not actively picking him up to snuggle (which has turned into one of his delaying tactics for going to sleep, argh). It helps that we share a room with him, mind you--the blessing/curse of living in a small cabin with a loft bedroom . . .
I have seen some great articles about this issue and hope someone chimes in with a link for you.
My main defense against CIO is like this: if I was hysterically crying, how long would I want someone to let me CIO before coming in to console me? No different with babies. Do unto others, you know?
I have learned to not discuss my anti-CIO with anyone because I just don't care to defend myself. I don't give a rip what anyone else thinks about it, though I'm glad DH is on board.
Good luck, mama.
I got tired of my signature, but I still love my children and husband and miss my little brother.
Throughout evolution, a crying baby was not only a threat to it's own survival, but to the entire group of hunter-gatherers (usually 10-30 people). Cries would alert predators and intruders. That may be why people are so disturbed and stressed to hear a baby's cries. It's instinct to quiet such cries.
I haven't been directly challenged on my refusal to use CIO (by anyone who matters) yet. When I am, I'm comfortable stating that she's my daughter, I'm her mother, I don't want to hear her cry (yes, it's also about me) and I will find others way to help her achieve the milestones she should reach - like putting herself to sleep/back to sleep.
I've been told to "put the baby down" and so forth. Too bad. She's MINE. I don't share well, and I've never been known for my propensity to take advice. She's fat and getting fatter, happy, smiling, laughing and babbling, sits with minimal assistance, pushes up when on her tummy, makes eye contact, follows the sound of my voice... and you know what? She goes to bed at 8pm and sleeps until 7am with a feeding or two and no screaming about it. And she's learning to put herself to sleep and then back to sleep pretty reliably. She's 3.5 mos. old. So I'm feeling pretty OK with my decision to never let her CIO.
Thusly goes my defense against CIO supporters. :-D
And on 09/23/2011, we were three; husband, daughter, and me!