Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Just let her cry"

There was a time, not so long ago in my life, when I was nearly as helpless as a baby.  It was a dark time in my life, when it should have been a radiant one.  I was pregnant, and joyously happy about it, but my body was not.  I was sick, and not in a "oh I don't feel so hot" kind of way.  It was a "if I didn't have big things to live for, I'd want to die" kind of sick.  Some of you may have experienced this too.  I could literally not even hold down a sip of water or a nibble of food.  Eating made me throw up.  Not eating made me throw up.  I would throw up stomach bile.  Anyway, the point is that I was VERY weak.  At 4 months pregnant, I weighed less than I did when I was 16 (and everyone called me stick girl back then).  My clothes were falling off of me, instead of becoming tight.  Every few days, I would be able to hold down maybe one meal's worth of food.  In case you are wondering, it is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and it typically does not respond to medical or natural treatments.  We tried anything that wouldn't be harmful to the baby, and nothing worked.  Despite the physical misery, the emotional scars I suffered at the hands of a loved one were far more profound.

I grew so weak that I could rarely leave the bed.  I needed support just walking the 10 feet to the bathroom.  I needed a shower stool and help getting clean.  Just raising my arms to wash my hair was an immense strain.  I relied heavily on my husband. 

My husband was loving during the day, but things would change at night.  He would leave me in the bed, tell me it was time to sleep, shut off the lights, and walk out.  I would say "But honey, I'm not ready to sleep yet" but he would ignore me.  It was confusing.  Sometimes, I'd be having a day where I felt I may be able to eat or drink something, and I would call out to him, asking for something.  Again, he would ignore me.  Sometimes he would poke his head in, but it was only to tell me that I needed to go to sleep and I was "fine".  I had times where I grew very depressed.  On top of being sick and miserable, I missed my husband's loving arms.  Sometimes I just needed to be held and comforted.  Still, he would ignore me.  I began to wonder why my needs were valid during the day, but not at night.  At times, he would leave the room far too cold or warm.  Sometimes I desperately needed to use the bathroom.  Sometimes the pain all over my body became unbearable.  Sometimes I was just very scared and lonely.  Alas, no matter what I felt or needed, my husband ignored me.

I longed desperately for my independance, and loathed needing another person for even the smallest things, but for the time being, there was nothing I could do but ask for enough help to at least keep myself and our baby alive.  I was so hurt and confused.  I would weep bitterly, alone in the dark.  One night, I overheard my mother in law talking with my husband.  She said "Just let her cry.  She has to learn.  Don't let her manipulate you, she doesn't really need anything.  Keep it up and you'll win eventually."  Win?  What exactly was he going to win, and at what cost?

Eventually, I lost all trust in my husband.  I would lie there in bed, hungry, hot, cold, hurting, and/or just plain sad and lonely.  I stopped asking for help.  I later heard my husband boast that he had finally "trained" me.  So now I was an animal.  Why did he get to decide what needs and feelings of mine were valid, and which were not?  Why was it okay for him to be my husband during the day, to love me, talk with me, and help me, but at night time all my needs were expected to suddenly cease?  I would never be able to fully trust or open my heart to him again.

In the darkest time of my life, my most beloved person failed to be there for me.  My needs were small, things that would take very little time or effort, but were of great importance to my physical and emotional health.  I was neglected.  You may even call it abuse.  Fortunately, it was a brief time in my life.  Unfortunately, there are countless more victims of this kind of neglect, and even worse.  They are even more helpless than I was.  They are babies.  Sweet, innocent babies.  They have parents that love them fiercely and truely, but fall victim to beliefs and advice that (usually) inadvertently put babies on a level even lower than animals.  Books and well-meaing friends or family tell tired new parents to "just let her cry".  This is often referred to as CIO (cry-it-out) or "controlled crying", although the already twisted concept of controlled crying is often further misunderstood and warped and becomes "I let my baby scream for 2 hours and eventually she threw up and wasn't the same for weeks after".

Helpless babies are expected to cease all "neediness" once a certain time on the clock comes around.  Their God/nature-given intincts to cry and express real physical AND emotional needs are ignored or written off as manipulation or just plain not "real" needs.  Why?  If a sick adult or an elderly person were treated in such a way, they would suffer in deep ways and the person responsible for their care could even end up in prison.

Why are babies treated as less than human?  Why would we WANT to teach our children that we won't be there for them?  Why should we get to pick and choose which needs are "real" and which ones are not.  Why should our job as parents simply end at night?  Just because they've been fed and changed doesn't mean they are "fine".  All they have is their instincts.  For all they know, a predator could be lurking and waiting to eat them!  They are programmed by God/nature to want to be near us for their own safety and for their proper development.  We know that human contact is essential to the developing brain of a baby, but we deny their natural pleas for such contact.  We lock them in the dark and even though we may sing, pat them, and say "you're okay, sweetie", when we walk out of the room and leave them in the dark alone they may still be cold, hot, uncomfortable, in pain, or just plain scared or lonely!  Why is that so wrong?  "Cry it out" or "controlled crying" is just neglect with a different name.

Scientists everywhere know the short and long term consequences of these so-called "methods", and they are vast.  Most parents also instinctually know these things.  Some parents listen to those instincts, and others listen to people like my mother in law who say "Just let her cry.  She has to learn.  Don't let her manipulate you, she doesn't really need anything.  Keep it up and you'll win eventually."  These people usually mean well.  They aren't setting out to harm a child, but that doesn't change the fact that they are.  Argue with me all you want.  Say "I let my baby cry it out, and he/she is fine".  I don't believe you.  I believe you broke your child like an animal.  I believe they gave up.  They didn't magically learn to "self-soothe", they just figured out that you suck at being a parent at night time.  YOU will be old some day, or you may find yourself in a helpless situation even earlier than that.  See how you feel if another person tells you what to feel, when to feel it, and how to express it.  See how you feel if they ignore your feelings and only meet the needs that THEY deem valid.  See how you feel if you are treated like less than an animal, someone that must be trained.  Someone that must lose, so they can win.  A baby has far less capacity to understand these things, so the next time your little helpless one cries out, remember that they cry for a reason.  Even just wanting to be held is a real NEED.  If you've ever seen what happens to those babies in foreign orphanages that never get held or talked to, you'll realize the incredible importance of human contact.  It's so simple.

I could go on for days with even a million more reasons, but I will leave you with a few resources, and a simple piece of advice.  Next time you hear "Just let him/her cry", think twice.  You'll never regret being there for your child.

Edit:  It was mentioned that I condemned CIO/sleep training without offering alternatives.  I guess my links below were missed?  Anyway, I'll add some more ;-)

Pinky McKay does an excellent job of summing up the very real damage that "controlled crying" can do.  This is a must-read on the subject!  Enjoy.

Dr. Sears is another great resource.  If you have a baby with sleep problems or just want to learn more about babies and sleep in general, give it a look!

The No-Cry Sleep Solution:

TONS of great articles about sleep:

Anyone please feel free to share more!  I'm pretty tired at the moment, but its hard to find time when I am both well-rested AND have the time to write :-P

***ALSO!  This is very important.  I want to make it very clear, for the sake of my friends that may be rather concerned now, that the above story is only half-true and was given a different spin for the purpose of making people think.  I was unfortunately very sick and helpless, but my husband would NEVER neglect or abuse me in such a way.  I did want to make people think though.  If any other helpless person (sick, injured, elderly) were treated in the ways described, people would be disgusted.  The fact that babies are often "trained" in such a manner proves that babies are still viewed by many people as lesser beings with invalid needs and feelings, even though the care-taker probably doesn't realize that is what they are doing. 

I would also like to add that when a parent is near their breaking point and has to put their child down in a safe space and leave the room briefly for the sake of gathering their sanity, that is VERY different.  This is essential to preventing a mental break in the parent and possible harm to the child.  Do not feel guilty if you've found yourselves in moments like these.  It is an entirely different situation than it is to leave a child crying, screaming, even vomiting alone in the dark on a regular basis for "training" purposes.


TD said...

Wow! Thanks again for another incredible perspective-shift! You really have a gift for this. :)

Mary Beth said...

I love how you tell first I was thinking how very horrible it was for your husband to treat you like this, honestly CIO did not cross my mind until i read further and glad to hear this is not how he really treated you. :) But this really makes you think, would love to forward it to some parents I know that do this to their babies.
And thanks for adding the part about a mental break and walking away. It's good to know I am not the only parent that had to do this on at least one occasion in those early weeks of my 2nd sons's amazing the scary emotions sleep deprivation and a screaming infant can bring out. Thankfully I learned it was most likely the onions I was eating that made him scream...and to take heed of the advice, sleep when baby sleeps :)

Lauren said...

Ahhh girl I love ya. Well done yet again! :)

Anonymous said...

I remember having a discussion with my mother about nightime parenting when I was a new parent. She is from the "old-school" way of thinking, and said she let me CIO. She even went on to say that I was often left to cry for hours, because in her opinion, I was just stubborn, and didn't want to go to sleep. Well, here I am now, 35, and I have some serious emotional issues. I have, what I believe to be an absolute inability to open up and truly love anyone fully, even my own kids. I am miserable in a marriage with an absolutely wonderful man, whom I should be head over heals with. I just feel this wall between me and everyone else, that I just can't figure out how to take it down. I've got other emotional/mental issues as well, all I'm sure are caused by her parenting style...
Addtitionly, and even more severe is how she told me that her older sister (my aunt) would let her son (my cousin) cry in his crib as well. Well, she is even less nuturing than my mother, so I'm sure her parenting was even more extreme...anyway, she said that my cousin would cry until he puked. She got tired of having to go in and change his sheets every night, so one time, she let him sleep in his own vomit. Well, he never cried till he puked again. However, this cousin has since grown up, and battled bi-polar disorder so badly that he got kicked out of the military, lost custody of his son, and is basically a homeless bum roaming the streets. The family all blames him for his "poor choices." I blame my aunt (who is now dead, so the point is moot really)...but I just thought I'd share our "family secrets" in case anyone out there reads this blog and is still considering leaving their child to CIO...

That Freebie Place said...

Dear Anonymous-
Thank you for being so brutally honest about your own experiences and others in your family. I believe you are right about the root of your problems because I've seen and read it countless times before. I know it must be painful, but your story could make another mother think twice and spare her child from a similar fate.

Sometimes I wonder how humans have departed so far from what should be natural to us. Most people would even treat a dog better than some people treat their babies. Ironically, they usually think they are being good parents and doing their child a favor.

I hope you can somehow come to terms with your feelings and experiences and have some healing. I believe that most people from the "old-school" like your mom who did these things really did so with the belief that it was best for their child. It saddens me that these so-called methods are still passed on to this generation of tired and confused parents.

I think one hard part about being an adult is coming to terms with the humanity and imperfection of your own parents. I struggle with it too at times. Having children doesn't mean that we suddenly become perfect people who always know the right thing to do. We can be heavily swayed by the voices of society and others in our lives. Sometimes we just don't know what to do at all and just wing it. And even parents can still be stupid and selfish sometimes, even though they love their kids.

We can do our best with our own kids, and we can try to educate and support other parents so that hopefully they don't resort to barbaric practices.

Anonymous said...

There is a very good video, on this site, showing the brain damage caused by distancing techniques such as CIO...

www dot whatmakesyoutick dot org

Maura Curry said...

Thank you so much for this.... It's beautifully written and so the reader goes on a journey with you. As a childless woman I have no clout. It's hard to listen to Mothers talk about the necessity of neglecting their child. I still say what I believe to be scientific fact; but, the question always is "do you have kids? no? Oh well if you did you would understand." No, I will never understand. But, I smile and suggest they at least think about it....

Anonymous said...

This post is just lovely. Thank you so much for writing.

Unknown said...

I love your perspective on these and making people think - why people can't think of babies as people just kills me. Another great resource is Dr. James McKenna - he runs the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab at Notre Dame -

Sadkitty said...

Another brilliant analogy! Is the white on black hard for anyone else to read though? Of course I will be reposting it on my Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Very well-written and insightful- it totally reinforces why we don't CIO in our family. It's also why we don't buy into the whole notion of "sleep training" and teaching babies how to "self-soothe". I wondered if you might have an opinion as to when and why CIO became so important and so popular. It seems to me that generations ago, mothers and babies were close to one another all day long- worn as the mother went about the days work, and co-sleeping in some form at night. I have some theories of my own, but if you have any, I'd love to hear yours. It just seems instinctual (to me, anyway) to respond when my little ones are crying/upset. I can't imagine ignoring that.

I'm excited to see more of your writing- I've added you to my faves!

Amy said...

I am looking forward to reading more from you...good job :)

Jannette said...

Thanks :]
I was put into a 'sleep deprivation unit' for me and my baby girl when she was only 12 weeks old, and being told she could handle 'control crying'. I was told she should be able to 'sleep through' from this age. I was told that I didn't have enough milk, that I held her 'too much', that I was distracting her by cuddling her and that I was 'spoiling her' by rocking her off to sleep on my shoulder. All the things I now do with my third child, and did with my second child, and have a wonderful sleep time with them both.
When they don't sleep well for whatever reason, we all have our 'bad days',..
I try everything in my 'toolbox' of mumminess from singing to boobs to cuddles and walking and rocking and soothing and flower essences and and and...and when I'm about to drop, I put her in the cot, and walk to the door and coo to her that I'll be back in a minute. Usually by the time I've got a drink of water and been to the loo, she's layed down and gone to sleep.
I feel awful that she's cried (more like yelled) at me, but to see her peacefully asleep is a blessing.

Makes the times she goes to sleep happily and peacefully from a breastfeed all the more beautiful :)

You're completely right about the fact that people who give the advice to CIO from scratch don't really mean harm, they just haven't seen it from the baby's perspective...because like you say, to some people 'baby's aren't real people'.

Wonderful writing! I look forward to reading more :)

lorien_i said...

What a great post! I was directed here from Kellymom. Thanks for writing this great analogy.

Laddu said...

Great post! I absolutely love it and have often used the same scenario in explaining why I didn't do CIO. I tried and felt every natural instinct in me rebelling like a wild animal trying to get free. I had to pick up my sweet baby and apologize and beg her forgiveness.

Jill said...

Wow....amazingly written! Thank you for getting this out there (as well as your circ blog) Looking forward to seeing more of your blog.

Guggie Daly said...

So many people skirt around this issue, and when it is out in the open, even then they use gentle words to describe this method of isolation, never calling it neglect and abuse.

But I would argue that the cycle of affirmation during the day and then isolation and neglect during the night makes it even more abusive than outright violence. This is the exact cycle of domestic abuse. The abuser creates a magnificent relationship, sometimes called the "up" cycle and then without warning lashes out with verbal abuse, emotional manipulation or physical violence.

It leaves the victim in constant chaos, unable to reject the love but unable to accept it unconditionally at the same time...wondering always when the axe will fall.

Perhaps CIO, Ferberizing and other forms of isolation are part of the reason domestic abuse is so rampant in America.

JenPB said...

This is a wonderfully thought-provoking piece that every prospective parent should read. I'd hoped to do a family bed, but wasn't sure my husband really meant it when he agreed to it. I tried (twice) to get our newborn to sleep in her own crib. But it just didn't make sense. I UNDERSTOOD why she cried when I put her down in her own bed after NINE PLUS MONTHS of living in the safety, security and warmth of my womb. Wasn't it bad enough she was outside? Why did she have to face the world alone ALL OF A SUDDEN!?

Fortunately, logic and reason won out over unfortunate societal norms.

Sarah Unangst said...

Thank you so much for speaking out for children who can not. I worked as a CNA for 3 years now and you are right, what sme parents do to their children would be completly illegal to do to an adult. I have a 15 month old daughter and another expected in 8 weeks. I am an attached parent and my husband and I have had the wonderful oppurtunity to NEVER feel shame or guilt on our parenting technique. My daughter slept in the same bed as me up until this week, and now her toddler bed is against mine so we can cuddle but Daddy and new baby to come will also have room. <3 I don't understand how any parent WOULDNT want the child they love so much to be completly happy... wether it be 10am or 10pm. Bless you for spreading this for so many to read and take in.

Tracey Jacobsen said...

I had an unplanned c-section after 26 hours of labor, and 4 hours of pushing. I was a wreck physically and emotionally, and needed far more help than I wanted to need (I couldn't even wipe myself the first day, and though I could stand in the shower, I couldn't do everything else.) It was dreadful...

My son has fussed a bit, and we let him cry once for 5 minutes because he was crying in our arms exhausted and couldn't be consoled despite our every effort... when he was tiny, I would wear him in his pack, rocking him back and forth, with the hairdryer or ocean waves on, so he wouldn't cry. Exhausting, yes, but I think I needed him to be comforted as much as he needed it back then. I have no regrets.

(PS. You have a talent with words)

Aimee Dagmar said...

God provided for every need a baby could have by placing him/her in the womb for nine months. The baby did not feel hunger. The baby did not need a blanket because the ambient temperature was perfect. The baby was rocked. The baby was never alone. The baby heard comforting voices. It is torturing a baby to place them on a firm still surface in a room away from the one they spent time with for the past nine months. -- Aunt Coco

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I have been trying to get my mother to understand. She thinks because I am getting up with my 11 month old daughter 2-3 times a night she is trying to manipulate me especially now that I am 7 months pregnant with baby #2. She let us CIO, I am one of five and all of us have varying degrees of emotional trama, I think I am the least impacted by the CIO I was sleeping through the night on my own before I was 2 months old, I am #3 of the 5, 30 years old the only one married, the only one who has been in a stable loving relationship( 7 years in June). 2 olders sisters pushing 40 never been in any relationships and just unhappy about themselves and are angry at mom for reasons they say they don't know or understand, and 2 younger siblings who have both had single relationships they have told me was to try to get away from our mother, little sis ended up pregnant and living at home and little bro ended up in debt and living at home. Mom got my little sis to let her son CIO, he is now 5 and seems to have the beginings of emotional and social problems. Except for the CIO and never being allowed to talk back to her we had a great childhood, she stayed at home we did art, read books as a family, bike rides, listened to music, dancing, pretty much anything we asked for but still the anger is there.

Anonymous said...

wow very sorry to hear you how lived though that nine months..... i could never do that to my wife and just thinking about it makes me feel awful for you

That Freebie Place said...

Dear Anonymous-
Thank you for your concern, but you should have read my whole post ;-)

Let me repeat an important part here!

"I want to make it very clear that the above story is only half-true and was given a different spin for the purpose of making people think. I was unfortunately very sick and helpless, but my husband would NEVER neglect or abuse me in such a way. I did want to make people think though. If any other helpless person (sick, injured, elderly) were treated in the ways described, people would be disgusted. The fact that babies are often "trained" in such a manner proves that babies are still viewed by many people as lesser beings with invalid needs and feelings, even though the care-taker probably doesn't realize that is what they are doing."

Anonymous said...

If I'd let my baby CIO, she would have died from the ( then ) undiagnosed heart defect. How many SIDS babies are really sick children, who die alone, in pain? ( you can read about my daughter at - it is the very first post )

Lisette said...

Ah, once again your eloquence shines through. Proud to know you!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Great blog! I totally agree with you.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know it had a name, but I got like that with my pregnancies. It was part of the reason I can't have any more children. I couldn't stop throwing up, and it endangered the babies. Nothing helped. Not B6, not anti naseau medicine, not suppositories. I tried crackers, and to this day I still won't eat Saltines. lol I can't tell you how many times I had to go in for an IV drip for fluids, because I might be able to hold down food once every five days. And it lasted almost my entire pregnancy. :P I sure don't miss those days!

Anonymous said...

my mom had 4 kids and got up in the night for 3 of us - who were ok sleepers, but with my brother, who didnt sleep very well at all, she followed dr spocks advice and put him in a crib on the other side of the house, and let him cio for 3 days. well, of the 4 of us, he is the only one who has emotional problems and has been diagnosed as bipolar.

Slinging mama said...

brilliant! and so true

Anonymous said...

What a great blog from an amazing perspective!! I am going start referring CIO believers this way!!

Anonymous said...

I am a first time mom and on the day my baby was born, I was holding her in my arms just admiring her and one of the nurses told me that I should put her back into the crib because I was spoiling her!! She was only a few hours old!

After I brought her home from the hospital, I noticed that she seemed to be spitting up an awful lot - sometimes entire feedings. I mentioned it to several nurses and also my doctor. They all brushed it off, saying she was fine, all babies spit up. Most of them responded with "This must be your first, right?"

Well 5 weeks later my baby woke up screaming and crying. My half-asleep husband told me to let her cry, maybe she would go back to sleep. Of course I could never just let her cry. When I picked her up I realized that her breathing was very rapid and shallow. She started coughing and choking. By the time the ambulance came she was turning blue. After a week of pure agony, wondering if she would be ok and endless tests, the doctors told me that she had reflux, and apparently she had started spitting up while sleeping on her back and some of it went back down into her lungs. If I had just let her cry she probably would have stopped breathing within minutes.

She is a happy, healthy 7 month old now. I've never used CIO, but she falls asleep on her own now. When she wakes in the night I always check on her. Sometimes she's a little chilly, sometimes she just needs a cuddle. She always gives me this huge smile before she goes back to sleep. She's not manipulative, she's a sweet little baby needs care both day and night. I will never regret taking care of her needs, no matter how small or what time it is.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I wondered if my baby should be sleeping better and if I should let her CIO. I hate hearing her cry and she spends nearly her entire day being held and nursed and spoken to. I love holding her. But at night, she has started to stay awake more and sleep significantly less. I didnt end up letting her CIO and now after reading your story, I wont ever employ that tactic. I will do my research and try other techniques to help my beautiful girl sleep sooner in the night. Thank you for making people aware of this. Even well intended, loving parents may not think of CIO as being negletful. I would never want my child to feel anything but love and comfort from me. Thanks again, your writing changed a life.

AMber said...

well said, if we treated our animals the way some people treat their children, we would be in jail.

Anonymous said...

I cared for my mother while she died in our home. She called for me around the clock, sometimes to ask questions, sometimes needing care, sometimes just wanting me to hold her hand or sit by her side. I never questioned that she actually needed human kindness in her time of need and confusion and dying . . . I can't imagine what kind of care they would have given her in a nursing home or hospital. Just think of the loving relationship you are modeling for your own children when you don't let your baby CIO, because they are going to care for you when you can't care for yourself!

Anonymous said...

I can tell from my experience that excessive CIO does damage children emotionally. I think letting them fuss for few minutes before they fall asleep is ok (even though my 8 m.o. son never just fusses and I never let him cry for more then few minutes or even seconds).
When I was a baby my parents co-slept with me and my crib was in their room till I was 2, but when my younger sister came about their beliefs had changed and they had her in a separate room, letting her CIO. When she was about 1 she developed the worst separation anxiety - my mom could not leave her for few seconds, she would just start weeping. It lasted till she was about 7. She would weep every time my mom left her at school, she would not talk to anybody but my mom, no teacher could get her to do anything and she did very bad in school. When she was able to describe her feelings she explained that her mind would just shut down anytime she is in a stressful situation. My mom (loving and caring) had gone through a lot with a fussy clingy child, blaming my sister for being so dependent and incapable. My sister is FINE (whatever that means) now, even though she lived with my parents until she was 28, she is afraid to travel by herself, go to different places, she is still very shy, she just would not talk when she is intimidated.
I was complete opposite - independent, outgoing, secure, happy, did great at school, moved to another country when I was 21 and took care of myself ever since.
I know that some of it has to do with personality too, but our personalities are formed by our experiences.

Unknown said...

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Anita Kaiser said...

Awesome post! Sending it out on my twitter and facebook profile since I think it's so very serious of a point. I am always in such a pickle since I teach baby yoga and often hear about mom's letting their babies cry it out - the line between sharing how deterimental it can be and being a suppportive environment for moms is fine!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. But I disagree on some parts. My son is almost two years old and is very capable of telling me exactly what he needs. But at night when he needs sleep he will play games with me like: "I want a green cup mommy"...I get him a green cup and he screams "no I want blue cup". I spend quite a bit of time at night tucking him in, reading a book, making sure he has what he likes to drink, turning on a night light, but when it comes time to sleep he still at his age whines before falling asleep. I have tried everything the only thing I can do is just tell him goodnight and leave. He has never ever since I have done this whined for more than 5mins. When he was little I always rocked him to sleep and got up when he cried. But since he has been able to talk and tell me what he thinks I have been letting him whine. I can't even say that it is crying because he is so tired he only has the energy to whine. He is at an age when all he wants to do is test boundries. Thats part of being a toddler. So I think that what you have written applies to babies and some toddlers but not all. And there is a fine line. I don't agree with CIO at all. But there where many times when my son cried and cried regardless of what I would do. Is he emotionally scared because of Sometimes babies cry thats just life. This was very informative though and I highly appreciate your view.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this story. I have a fourteen month old nephew and my brother does the CIO thing, but my sister-in-law doesn't. I strongly support her and we're trying to get him to see our side. My brothers and I where raised with CIO, children should be seen and not heard, and spanking. We all have emotional problems and some degree of PTSD. Thank you again and I love this blog.

Anonymous said...

I always thought about it this way. Why spend so much time telling them to take care of themselves at a young age, and then when they are teenagers and we want them talking to us we haven't established a comfort zone for them to come.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that people read your blog and change their minds about CIO. My youngest cried nonstop the first 6 months of her life. I have few memories of this time, which is so very sad, BUT, I whole-heartedly gave those memories in order to be there for her, regardless. I held her, rocked her, even slept on a mattress on the floor so I could bounce her as I tried to sleep. She needed the constant touch and movement to sleep herself. SO MANY people, including the pediatricians and my DH, told me to put her in her own room and let her cry, but the fierce mother bear in me couldn't do that. At 6 months of age, whatever caused her all the pain and anxiety seemed to disappear, and every day since then has been filled with smiles, joy, and the most intense imagination I've ever seen in a child. Even today, with my two youngest being 10 and 8 years old, my bed is open if they need me. I'd never thought of it from a long-term perspective, simply that I wanted them to know that I was ALWAYS there for them. That, and I love their snuggles!

Anonymous said...

I think everyone goes to extremes. I let both my kids sleep with me when they were really young. Even when my second one was a year and she had a hard night or need something she would sleep in my bed, but I believe that children need to learn to sleep in there own bed. I think parent’s need there bed to be there’s at some point. It is very important for husbands and wives to get some alone time and it should be in there own bed. My kids always crawl into my husbands and my bed in the morning and that is fine but I think there is a happy medium to letting you child sleep in there own bed. My three year old draws out bed time as long as she can, we let her whimper some nights. She doesn’t full out cry but if she wakes up in the middle of the night crying I will cuddle her to help her go back to sleep. I just think there is a happy medium.

Carla said...

Fantastic post...

I found this, which has a lot of great additional links.

Also this:'s/Cortisol and the Early Years.pdf


Danika Carter said...

Great post. Talking about it from the perspective of an adult really forces people to think about what they are doing.

I've never believed in CIO, have responded to every cry my 3yo has had, and I always get compliments about what a sweet, compassionate, well-adjusted little girl she is.

Anonymous said...

thank you thank you thank you for posting this. I've tried to put CIO into perspective for parents using it or considering it and your story is PERFECT for getting the message through to them! Parents have instincts for a reason! Our blood pressure shoots through the roof when our babies cry and we don't go to them immediately for a reason! God/mother nature knew what they were doing but society has made us believe those instincts are flawed.

SuSuseriffic said...

Loved it.
If you have not read the passage in 'The Continum Concept' book where it describes CIO from a babies point of view, you should.

Birth In Joy said...

Wonderfully written piece. I let my first child CIO, following the unsubstantiated advice of a book. My youngest three were NEVER under that horrible rule. My oldest and I don't quite have the same bond that I do with my others. I love him deeply, and there is definitely a bond there, but something just isn't the same.

Now, I feel I need to work overtime to create something that could have come so naturally if I'd only known better at the time.

THANK YOU for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

I love how you wrote this and totally agree! Thank you!

Michelle said...

Beautifully written. We let our first daughter cry but never more than about 15 minutes. Anybody that thinks crying even for a few minutes like we did needs to know they're wrong. It taught her that she has to cry and fuss for a long period to get what she wants instead of immediately. So now at 3 years old, she doesn't use her big girl words to tell us she wants more milk or needs to potty, she whines and cries, proving that if we had responded to her cries an infant she may have grown up knowing how to calmly ask for things. We will NOT being doing CIO for our youngest daughter or any subsequent children.

Kim Rangel (Ventura, CA) said...

Wow. Why are we so much more easily shown the simple truths of life through allegory. No woman in her right mind would want to be treated this way, yet so many "loving" mothers do this very thing to their tiny little babies. I had a friend who wanted to breastfeed her latest child, but she also wanted him to sleep through the night before he was a month old. That makes it very difficult for your breasts to know to make more milk, if they go 12 hours without any encouragement to do so. Needless to say, she quit nursing after 2 weeks. "We tried, but it didn't work for us." So sad.

If we would just listen to our instincts as mothers (and fathers), we would know that holding your baby when he/she cries is the most natural thing in the world. Who (as an adult) wants to be ignored when crying and upset? Why should it be any different with a helpless child?

Bren said...

Very well written. I wish more people understood the psychology behind CIO. They aren't learning to "self-soothe." It's "learned helplessness." And using extinction without understanding how to do it correctly and consistently has horrible results (ex. teaching a child that screaming until they throw up is the minimum they need to do for attention). I love the tips from Dr. Sears... guess thats hy Dr. Bob is our pedi.

Unknown said...

This is a relevant way to explain things and I love it. I am bookmarking it to share with anyone who questions my holding her for naps & co-sleeping as needed. :)

Luschka said...

Firstly, Hyperemesis Gravidarum... oh my.I ended up in hospital on a drip, because I was so dehydrated. 20 weeks, and I felt like I was dying. I felt like I wanted to die. It was unreal. I had an awesome birth experience, and for that reason will have another child, but I am terrified of the pregnancy.

Secondly, CIO - I started out that way. My mom recommended crying for up to 20 mins. But after my mom left, I did it once, and cried too! and I've never done it since, unless I've just needed a break. For all the reasons you mentioned. I said to someone recently that if I was lying in bed crying and my husband ignored me repeatedly, I'd probably leave him!

Anyway. great article!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully written piece! You truly have a gift for working with words! I read this to my husband, who also thought it was well put, though he gets uncomfortable with black and white views of attachment parenting vs what the "mainstream" parent would do. I hope that many expectant and new parents read your piece because it explains the reasons why CIO and sleep training are awful concepts and why babies really NEED their parents to actually commit to parenting them!

I am a breastfeeding counselor for the WIC program in Texas, and it is very common for my clients to think that holding a newborn too much will spoil him/her, and the clinic is always full of women who boast that their children slept through the night at an early age because the trained them by using CIO...while yelling at them and spanking them in front of's awful for me, because personally AND professionally, I disagree totally...but only so much is under my jurisdiction to give advice about, as I'm only there as a breastfeeding counselor. This would be a good place to send moms and dads to read about why the "mainstream" ideas of raising babies to "learn to take care of themselves" from infancy is just crazy. Little boys and girls grow to become functional, happy children and adults naturally and with love and nurturing in an environment of trust. It is incredibly important to provide an environment of trust for our children!!!! Thank you for your piece!

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is a wonderfully written, very relevant post and I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiments, however wanted to offer another perspective:

I had undiagnosed depression when I was pregnant with my first child which peaked after giving birth. My times where I had to put her down or break down were very frequent and the incessant crying left me sitting on the floor in tears, exhausted.

I still have depression, managed through medication and my experiences with my two children since this time have been wonderful.
Reading all these comments makes me very anxious and sad as I wonder how much damage I may have done my child unintentionally just because I was not capable. Please, add a message of hope for those of us who were ill-informed or not perfect! I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

Man, I am loving your blog, I have already commented on the circ (girl = boy tale) one - Fantastic.
This I love too!
I cosleep,
I am still cosleeping with my little boy he's 2.5 ..he has his room all set up ready for him to move into, but he's not ready.. His sister was ready at 19mths...
Its true what they say about boys you know ;)
As in they don't mature as fast as girls!!!

I love your blog..I was, I admit ready to weep for you and hope that you had left your husband and MIL - LOL !!!!

Anonymous said...

thank you for giving the baby's perspective on controlled crying ...... could you now extend this to the babies and young children who are institutionalized in long day care all over the world .... babies/young children deserve to be with their mothers ... and, as you know, dont have a choice or voice. On top of this - many mothers are told that their babies/toddlers "only cry for 5 minutes" once their mothers leave, that they are happy (competing for the love/affection from a carer who has 15 others to look after) etc etc and that they LOVE day care!!! If babies and young children were truly given a choice ... where do you think they would choose to be??? or rather - where do they DESERVE to be???!!!

Sabina said...

I did all the 'wrong' things. I held my baby every time he wanted me to hold him. I breastfed him to sleep for over 20 months. Oh hell, I breastfed him until he was 2 years old and simply stopped asking me. I let him sleep in my bed whenever he wanted to and to this day, though he is a big strapping lad of 3-and-a-half, he remains in my room, sleeping next to me in his bed. Not once did he cry himself to sleep. Not once did he have to just give up on me, to give up on our relationship, to believe that I simply didn't care.

True, he didn't sleep through at 12 weeks. True, I often felt like death warmed up in the mornings after those rough nights. True, it was a long time before he slept through the night. It was hard work, there's no denying that, but I don't regret a single night. Knowing that my son will trust me to be there for him, day or night, regardless of the 'pettiness' of his issue gives me a sustained joy that those nights of a few hours of extra sleep could not.

I hope people read this article and it rings bells for them. I hope some babies are saved from this practice and that some mothers will never need to harden their hearts against their own babies, won't have to shut down every screaming instinct in their bodies that are urging them and begging them to go and pick up their darling little children and make their pain go away.

Arsonzombie said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! As soon as I get home from work I'm gonna hug my wife and give big ol' kisses on the baby belly. Our son has about two months left in there, but I'm gonna start hugging early! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for this piece! I wish more people understood how damaging CIO is.
I have HG too, and throw up from about 6 weeks pregnant until I give birth. Fortunately, in Canada, we can get diclectin, an anti-nausea medication that contians B6 and an anti-histamine. It works fairly well for me, I still throw up, but not everything! I also use a homeopathic remedy, for me Tobbacum composite works.
My first daughter is 2.5 and I still feel terrible about the times she woke up crying when i was in the shower and didn't hear her right away.

We'd never use CIO, she slept with us most of the time since her birth, and then in her own bed at 20 months or so. (For half the night or more, then she comes in with Mommy) She is fiercely independent, and not scared of anything! So no, you don't have to 'teach independence' to a child. If they have a secure foundation with Mom and Dad, they are free to explore the world.

I cannot stand to hear babies crying. It literally makes me sick. It took me a long time to learn that I don't have to fix my daughter when she's crying. If I've tried everything, feeding, changing diapers, heat or cold, burping, etc. and she's still crying, I try to honor her need for expressing herself by letting her cry in my arms. Sometimes she needed to cry to release tension, and as long as I'm there for her, its ok, and is not letting her CIO. This has helped me relax a lot, I don't get so freaked out when she's crying, and I can read her cries to know if she needs something, or just has to cry a minute because she's over-stimulated or over-tired.

Mind you, this was when she was a younger baby, she began speaking and signing at 10 months (5 words) and spoke very well by 18 months! Now at 2.5, she'll say things like "Now Mommy, I know you're tired, so lets go to bed and I'll snuggle with you" (Oh, and she doesn't fight bed time, because bedtime has always been a special time to talk and cuddle)

I'm so happy I didn't listen to the advice I was given not to 'spoil' her by holding her or that 'she'll never leave your bed'. I'm 23 weeks along with #2 and I won't be following that advice for this one either!

Dana Seilhan said...

I'm not sure why that one commenter was talking about kids needing to learn to sleep on their own, that really wasn't on-topic. Besides, it's just a cultural norm, not a hardwired biological fact. Children need to sleep, period--it doesn't matter where they do it. If we were still living in grass huts, as a matter of fact, it would be dangerous for our kids to sleep apart from us. There's a reason little kids who sleep apart from their parents come into Mom and Dad's room to snuggle and it's not to be obnoxious.

I'm not married nor am I involved with my child's father (we live together but we have separate bedrooms--long story!), so that has never been a reason for me to kick my daughter out of my bed. But if I were still involved with him, the excuse that we need "alone time" really wouldn't fly. If that's an euphemism for adult fun, you know you can have that outside of the bedroom, right? We *were* involved off and on in the first few years of her life, even though at that point he was not living with me, and that's how we solved it. :)

Little children's sleep cycles are nothing like those of adults. Their brains are growing at a faster rate than they ever will again other than during puberty. That's going to cause wakeful periods where an adult in their late 20s or their 30s would normally be asleep. That is just the way it is... expecting an infant or toddler to sleep like they are thirty is like expecting a little kid who's never even been on a bicycle to drive a car. If you wouldn't hand the car keys to your six-month-old, give up on this idea of "teaching" them to sleep. In case you hadn't noticed, they manage it just fine.


Dana Seilhan said...

rest of my comment... went over the character limit, LOL...

One thing I'll say for co-sleeping: it's a boon for the nursing relationship AND it allows for more sleep for baby AND mom, at least in my experience. Forget all those weird nursing holds they teach you at the hospital. I started out sitting up in bed and laying my baby across a big pillow to nurse her when she woke up hungry, and after a while I said, "Why am I doing this to myself? She can nurse on the bed lying next to me." So I figured out how to do it, and it was so easy that lots of times I'd barely wake up to pull my shirt up for her.

The box the dominant culture has stuffed us into in regards to how we relate to our families is, shall we say, woefully inadequate. The solution isn't to rearrange yourself inside the box to make it fit better--it never will. Learn to think outside the box instead.

Oh, and I had a few times where I needed to put her down when she was a baby and walk out of the room for a few minutes. From about a month old until four or five months old she would go through a colicky period early in the evening. I was at a loss, but I knew doctors often dismiss the idea of treating colic and I figured she would grow out of it.

When she was four months old she developed a mysterious fever (which I initially attributed to her four-month shots) and constantly woke up screaming. After a very scary round of tests because she had had a tiny spot of blood in her diaper (they thought her intestines had telescoped), come to find out she had a bladder infection because the valves going into her bladder were faulty. As soon as they put her on antibiotics for the infection, the colicky periods went away. It was funny, her urologist said he saw a baby who could consciously feel their urinary reflux maybe once a year, and he didn't think that was her problem--but I think he's full of it. It was too much of a coincidence otherwise.

So if you've got a baby with issues like that, it will be worth your while to nag your doctor like crazy until they find out whether anything's wrong. Don't even assume it is a temperamental difference until you clear any possible physical causes. I've heard of people who are born with vesicoureteral reflux and don't get it diagnosed until they are grade school age or adults. That's a risk factor for end-stage renal disease later in life, so the sooner the diagnosis is made, the better.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. My child (11 months) will not sleep longer than a couple hours since birth. After 2 hours of trying to get her to sleep last night, I sat next to her crib while she cried herself to sleep. I didn't know what else to do. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I feel just awful today. I will never do it again. I just nursed her to sleep for a nap, but may just have to go and grab her back up out of her crib and squeeze her and tell her I love her, just so she knows. Thank you for the insight and the strength to stand up to the pressure of CIO.

Anonymous said...

I definitely feel that CIO affected me as a dyfunctional emotional being. My mother was raised in a very barren emotional environment and finds emotions difficult, and my father didn't do much better. He says that one of the best childrearing tools is a door that closes and is a proponent of "if they're fed, clean and warm, that's all you can do".
I'm trying as hard as I can, at great personal sacrifice, to do more for my kids.

That Freebie Place said...

"Anonymous said...

I agree that this is a wonderfully written, very relevant post and I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiments, however wanted to offer another perspective:

I had undiagnosed depression when I was pregnant with my first child which peaked after giving birth. My times where I had to put her down or break down were very frequent and the incessant crying left me sitting on the floor in tears, exhausted.

I still have depression, managed through medication and my experiences with my two children since this time have been wonderful.
Reading all these comments makes me very anxious and sad as I wonder how much damage I may have done my child unintentionally just because I was not capable. Please, add a message of hope for those of us who were ill-informed or not perfect! I'm sure I'm not the only one."

Dear Anonymous-
I was hoping my last paragraph would accomplish what you speak of. NO ONE is perfect, this we all know. And being sick with depression makes you one of those parents at their breaking point that I mentioned. If you have to separate yourself from your child to keep from harming them, then that is what has to be done! I am sorry you feel so horrible about it, I probably would too, but it is far better than ignoring the warning bells and having something tragic happen.

As for the parents who don't know any better, I realize the pressure from family/friends/society to "properly train" their baby can be strong. They can be made to feel guilty for responding to their baby's cries! I'm here to give them another perspective, and hopefully let them know that babies WILL learn to sleep and be independent when it is right for them, if they are given a secure and loving environment to do it in. You can't force your child to be independent before they are ready, any more than you can force them to walk before they are ready.

I guess I should say that my problem isn't with people who CIO because they just dont know any better. My problem is that it exists in the first place, that it is promoted and even warped into more extreme forms than the original "creators" of it intended, and the fact that many who DO use such methods are so fiercely defensive and won't even THINK OF examining their practices and considering alternatives.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I think I just found my new hero! Wonderful post and I agree wholeheartedly.

From someone who is stil feeding my 2 year old during the night (usually a few times), and doesn't feel like there is anything bad or wrong about this. :-)

Erin said...

I read this on a xanga-friend of mine, XxFirexBoltxX and loved it. You do a fantastic job of illustrating this point. What an interesting topic, i'll be reading more often

Amanda.... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

sounds like you are uncensored but the commenters are censored, how interesting

That Freebie Place said...

Anyonymous at 3:59-

Damn straight the comments are censore! (although for the most part, I don't have to exercise it)


Feel free to start your own blog if you don't want to be censored. I won't let my blog be cluttered with psychotic garbage.

Amanda.... said...

WOW i have been saying essentially that CIO is a form of Neglect/Abuse for years and i only get bashed. i even bring up the kids in foreign country orphanages.... you are very articulate and straight to the point thank you!!!

A Happy AP Mommy

The Morrows said...

Thank you so much. Another link you might include as a resource would be It's a message board, and while membership is required to read *all* the forums, the attachment parenting board (which includes sub-forums like nighttime parenting, where CIO is not supported and other options are discussed) and the gentle discipline board (tools for disciplining that do not include punitive measures) are open for the public to read. (Membership just opened again this week, and being a Christian is not required--it's absolutely the best resource I've found anywhere for attachment and gentle parenting.)

Cinda V said...

I don't believe in CIO, I think its horrible and I have read about how the baby eventually shuts down after being neglected. However, I'd love to hear your opinion on how to handle twins. Its not easy to take care of them for every cry, especially when they tag team nonstop all day. Letting them cry for a short period of time at night(longest was 45 minutes on a horrible night) can be the only way I can save my sanity. My husband doesn't really help much, mainly because as of right now I'm not working and he is.
I'm glad you mentioned Dr. Sears, I love him and he was a Godsend when my boys were in the NICU.
I nurse my boys and one especially thinks he needs to nurse 2-3 times a night, I know he might be hungry, but he seems to be more just in the habit of it. I wish CIO was a good option, I can only comfort two babies so many times. I was just wondering if you had any ideas or tips. I'm slowly losing my mind here(BTW my boys are 6 months actual 4 months adjusted and both weigh just above 10lbs.)

Carolyn said...

This post is fabulous!

I agree you are a great writer.

Rae said...

Wow...and this isn't a good wow either.

My response to this was "I hope she divorces the bastard." - and then I read the bottom paragraph.

Parents who let their children cry for hours on end without trying to solve the baby's problem could use a little advice, because your doing CIO WRONG!!

I let my baby CIO for 5 minutes. If she gets more wound up, rather than winding done to go to sleep, I think "huh, must have a wet diaper. or need a feeding. or need a cuddling." after having changed her diaper, fed her, and cuddled her, I then place her back down to sleep. She then usually 'talks' herself to sleep (gurgles, screeches, etc. she is an extremely vocal child).

Wren is an exclusivly breastfed baby who has slept through the night since she was 2 weeks old (very unusual, I have been told!). We - the hubby and I - coslept with her every night until she was about 3 months old, at which point we decided that she was big enough to sleep in her own crib - that and I also kept waking up to find my comforter on her face! (she wiggles more than I do when I sleep, and would grab the blanket and pull it up on herself)

There is a huge difference between people neglecting their baby and letting their baby self-sooth. Wren self-soothes herself to sleep by 'talking', rolling over onto her side, sticking her thumb in her mouth, and conking out for the night.

We do not let her cry - unless its the 'leave me the eff alone' overstimulated cry. Crying means there is something WRONG. Fix it, and the baby will go to sleep! Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Wow great peice. I have to say that I never had to go through the decision of CIO, my son was in a bassinet in my room until he was 5 months old. Then in his crib but I would rock him to sleep or he would fall asleep on me and wouldn't wake up when I put him in his cirb, I know that is rare and I know how fortunate I was to have this experience with my first child. I am now pregnant with my second and we'll see if I am as lucky again!! When my son was about 18 months we stopped bottles and sleeping was an issue for him suddenly so I would rock him until he was almost out and then put him in the crib, stroke his hair, and he was off to sleep most nights. When he wasn't I had a 5 minute rule, if he whined past 5 minutes I went in. He went on most night sleeping through the night and it was wonderful. And the nights that it went 5 minutes I watched the clock every second and it was painful, can't imagine doing it longer.

This being said we gave him his toddler bed at 3 (last year) and this for some reason started him on a thing where he wakes up gets out of his room and comes in my room. Maybe because he 'can' now or maybe it's because I am pregnant I don't know. But I walk him back in his room rock him for a bit and cuddle and he goes back to sleep. Now being pregnant this is getting more annoying but I plug onward because I know he needs me. If I can't get him settled my husband takes him downstairs and they sleep on the couch. My husband and I have never let Carter sleep in our bed but we tend to his every need and if Nick needs to go downstairs with him then that is what he does. But with the new baby this could cause problems so Carter may be in our bed in the future!

I consider myself lucky to have had such a good sleeper, even though he is getting up now I still consider him a good sleeper. I feel better knowing that being there for him when others told me to just let him go has let hime know that he can count on me no matter what.

That also being said, Carter has been diagnosed with a developmental delay for mainly speech but some emotional issues too. I know we have never deprived him of any love or support at home. He has always been in daycare which makes me think but he was always good there and never seemed to mind when I left. I would like to think his problems would be much greater had we had to do the CIO. Sometimes no matter what you do, your child has struggles. I jsut hope parents who read this and who have children with a delay don't think they are the cause for it.

mamaonthego said...

i really needed to read a post like this. my inner voice telling me that CIO isn't right for my daughter or myself feels validated!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your post! I wish I could send this to my sister-in-law who snarkly told me when we were camping last summer "she needs to sleep in her own bed".

I was co-sleeping with my daughter who was 8 months old. Which meant that I couldn't join the adults around the campfire at night. My brother's family (2 girls, 4yrs and 2yrs) and my cousin's family (A girl 3yrs and a boy 7 months) both threw their kids into their beds in the RV's and headed out to the campfire. I just couldn't do it. Even my dad thought I was being Mom thought I was doing what was right.

My daughter was in a strange parents RV...with strange noises around her. The one night a huge wind storm blew in and everyone was running around putting down their awnings and making sure their kids were ok. My daughter slept right through it because I was right there with her!

All I heard from both families the whole weekend was how I should CIO and get her sleeping on her own. I started to feel like I was a failure but then I realized that it just felt right to me to be there for my daughter.

I have never regretted co-sleeping with my daughter. Eventually she made her way into her own crib and sleeps fairly well. It's a good thing she's in her own crib because she moves like crazy in her sleep and needs to be "contained" so she doesn't fall out of bed! She's 14 months and I still monitor her closely and go and get her if she wakes up crying. Usually she needs something to drink, a diaper change or just a cuddle. I love it that she still needs me! I wouldn't have it any other way!

Megan R. said...

I was raised with CIO. I don't have any issues with bonding with people (my parents, my husband, my child, my friends) nor do I not trust people. I have an almost 15 month old son, and we used CIO to some degree with him. Now (and I do know your post was fictional), we didn't just leave him in his crib to cry and cry all night. But do we use CIO at nap time and bed time? Sure. He hates taking a nap, and likes to fight bedtime. We do bath, lotion, stories... the whole night time routine. He cries each night, for 5 or so minutes. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes less or not at all.

I personally don't feel like we are abusing him in anyway. He's happy, healthy, well adjusted, and doesn't have trust issues. I know CIO isn't for everyone, and I don't try to push it on those not interested. But I really don't feel like Im abusing my child in some way. I'm attuned to his cries, and there are times when he is sick, or hungry, or needs a diaper change and I certainly go in there and tend to him.

Everyone is entitled to raise their children as they see fit. But I just personally don't agree.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I felt unsettled when I read that your story was not true. Could you move the disclaimer to the top? I'm disabled and have been told "It's time for you to rest now", "Ok, you've been up long enough" etc and felt a real connection with the woman in your "story". I felt almost more patronized when I found out that the person I was identifying with didn't exist. I understand it was a literary device but it could bear with the disclaimer being moved. There are young mothers like myself who read this and are actually in this position.

Anonymous said...

I was a disturbed by the first part of your story and am glad that it isn't true.
I think you have made your points about baby's very clear without the extra story that didnt really happen. I think anyone with common sense, decency and a heart would know that you don't leave a baby crying like that. It is good that you have written about it to bring attention to how ignorance and old fashioned ways are no longer appropriate in this day and age. I believe a child can become deeply traumatized by these old techniques 'controlled crying' really I think it is ridiculous.Who knows how it could affect them as a teen or even older, I believe that type of trauma would remain in their unconscious and do harm to their emotional and physical well being in years to come. Any mother to be should read this. I am expecting my first child and when my child cries, me or my partner I will be there everytime. As it seems too obvious to me that a child can not tell you what it feels, so it has to cry as its only way to communicate, anyone that does not get that is completely ignorant.

UC86 said...

Excellent post. I loathe the CIO mentality. Rather than giving your child the skills to learn to quiet themselves on their own, it simply teaches them that they're on their own in this world (abandoned rather than independent), their needs are inconsequential, and that they can't count on you to help them in some of their darkest they emotional or physical.

I've always been fond of the well-known "Children Learn What They Live", By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D. Some questions that begs to be asked of CIO...what are they learning? Are they learning independence from what is tantamount to abandonment? Are they learning how much you love them? Or are they learning that their needs fit into your schedule when it's convenient?

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism,
they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
they learn to fight.
If children live with fear,
they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity,
they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule,
they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy,
they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame,
they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
they learn patience.
If children live with praise,
they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance,
they learn to love.
If children live with approval,
they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition,
they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing,
they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty,
they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness,
they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration,
they learn respect.
If children live with security,
they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness,
they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

melissa said...

thank you so much for such a pov shifting piece on cio. I wanted to ask your permission to translate this into italian and publish it on our website,
we have translated many articles by Alice Miller and Jan Hunt, as well as many others.
in italy
mamma di 7

That Freebie Place said...

Thanks! You have my permission :-) It is an honor! When you do it, I'd love to have a link to it.

Kaytie Willey said...

I am so glad that when my daughter was an infant i never let her cry it out, My motherly instinct told me to hold her and love her. She has always slept with my husband and I. People told us to train her, even the doctor. But i ignored them. and IM glad i did. She sleeps better with us, and when she is ready, she'll sleep in her own bed. She is 2 now. I nursed her until she was 18m when she decited to stop herself. I love the fact that you are advocating for babies. They are my passion and I look forward to reading more.

Krista said...

Thank you for posting this! This just reaffirms my stance with the whole sleeping and crying it out thing! I have three kids and I have ALWAYS put them to bed...either by rocking them, laying down with them. Never could I have let them cry! This was great!!! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

I'm choosing to post this comment anon, because I do not wish to make anyone involved feel any worse about their choices during early parenthood.

My sister-in-love "D" had her daughter very young. She was living with me at the time, along with my Brother, "M". D came from a very, very rough history - a bipolar mother who refused to acknowledge a problem, let alone manage it with medication, and an occasionally abusive but often just apathetic step father. D didn't receive much nurturing or affection. M just flat out didn't know what to do with himself or life, even though our parents are wonderfully caring and attentive, and always have been.

When Little D was born, D and M were overwhelmed, like any new, first time parent would be. Additionally, they were teenagers, so there was a healthy dose of additional hormones and immaturity.

Little D had been left to CIO a number of times. I held back, not wanting to step on toes, and really feeling that every parent has a right to choose their own methods without judgement.

However. And here's a BIG however.

When my milk came back in and I was fully lactating - leaking, spraying, engorged, the whole nine - and I had weaned my child two years prior, I knew it was time to step in.

Yes, you read that right. Little D was left to CIO to the point that it induced lactation in me, her paternal aunt, after my child had been weaned for two years.

Well, in a fit of upset one night, I took D aside and showed her just how serious the situation was. "How can you sit and ignore Little D like that? How does it have no effect on you whatsoever? Look at what it's done to me! If you don't stop letting her CIO, we're going to have some serious words. I don't care what time it is, where I have to be, what I'm doing, if I'm out or if I'm at home. From now on, come and get me if you can't handle things at that moment, but DO NOT LET HER CIO ANYMORE."

D opened up to me in that moment. Opened the floodgates, in fact. It was revealed to me just how much damage she had suffered at the hands of her mother. Hateful words like "If I had just ignored you more often when you were a baby, maybe you wouldn't be such a useless POS" and "You have nothing at all to be upset/worried/wanting for. Get over it. I babied you - you better not baby Little D, or she'll turn out just as useless as you and you'll regret her as much as I regret you."

My point, after all of that rambling, is that sometimes it's not so much a detachment from our human instincts, as it is being broken by the outside influences in our lives.

I'm very, very proud to report that D, M, and Little D are doing very well as a family. They have moved into their own home, cosleep, are learning that they love the ways of attachment parenting, and are a much healthier family unit.

Renee said...

I just look to myself when I hear people say that babies have to CIO or they won't learn how to go to sleep. I had to CIO and I totally suck at putting myself to sleep. I am 30 and I still lay awake for an hour or more on many nights. I stay up late because I know that I won't be able to sleep if I try to go before I'm exhausted so overall I don't get enough.
My friend told me that she was letting her 3 WEEK old CIO because it was good for him, it broke my heart. He's a great 1 YO now, but I wonder what issues he may have as he gets older.
I had another friend whose daughter was a few years younger than me. She was shocked that we started co sleeping when my daughter was 3 months old. We spent half my visit going over and over it instead of catching up and having fun. She told me how her daughter would CIO until she puked. She would clean her up and put her right back, in lie with doctor's advice. She had issues with her parents as well and was a young mom, so it's not surprising that she just went along with what they told her. She has also had a rough life all along and said that "don't I want my daughter to learn that life is tough and that you're on your own?" I know where she was coming from because of her background, but no! That is not why I brought a child into this world. I want her to know "Life if tough, but you don't have to be on your own, you will always have parents who love and support you!"
Every conversation we had after always included"How's the baby? Is she STILL sleeping with you?" I eventually decided to stop being friends with her because I don't need the negativity.

Anonymous said...

I would like to comment...

I believe there is a Happy-Med to this issue.

Yes, just letting a baby cry all the time and not attending to there needs is not good. However, you can't ALWAYS carry them around and cuddle them 24/7.

There are varios reasons why:
-You could have more than one child to care for and you can't jump to the babies needs right away, so yes, they have to cry some.
-You have done all you can and nothing is soothing them and you can't stop life to hold them while driving and whatnot.
-Yes, they can be "spoiled" in a way.. I guess the word "spoiled" needs to be replaced here... they can get so used to being held all the time that simple things like laying them down to sleep, or tummy time, or mom needing to go to the bathroom and whatnot become moments of inasinty. The baby is so used to being held, that as they get older, they can not keep themselves ocupied and do not learn how too soothe themselves.

There is also an age thing here too. A newborn can't be "spoiled" but over time, as they get older and needing to hit achievements, they need to 'grow-up' in a sence. How is a baby going to move into learning to crawl or roll or things like that if they are never put there to do that? And a baby/child that is "spoiled" to being used to being held ALL THE TIME will not be ok with laying on the floor to roll or crawl. Big Suprise here... Babies do not like learning to roll over! They typically start getting upset because to roll over, they get frusterated and eventually roll themselves over.

All in all.. I am not one to vindictively let a baby cry just to be an evil person, but I also will not constantly render myself or the rest of the kids/people needing me restricted.

That Freebie Place said...


Wow, your comment makes my brain hurt. Just because a child is parented in a way that doesnt involve CIO to sleep, doesnt mean that they are constantly held and never allowed to crawl, walk, explore, etc.

I've never left my daughter to CIO to sleep, and I carried her a lot as a baby, in a wrap. With an older child as well, this enabled me to care for them at the same time.

Despite what some would call "spoiling", she was crawling at 6 months, walking around and crawling up on the furniture at 7, and fully walking by 10 months. She's very active and independent (now almost 2 years old), and just because I didn't make her scream herself to sleep doesnt mean I held her back from learning normal things.

Amber said...

I would just like to add something here in regard to what the previous anonymous person posted. Not using the CIO method is not synonymous with being held all the time.

I do not let my son (11 weeks) cry it out (we co-sleep). That being said, he is not held all the time. If all his needs are met (fed, changed, cuddled etc) and I put him down in his swing, or on the floor for tummy time, he is perfectly content to babble to himself and look around. And yes there are occasional times when he starts crying and I'm in the bathroom, or we are in the car going somewhere that he has to cry for a minute or two (or longer in the car sometimes).

I would have to say I disagree with the comment that babies do not like learning to roll over. During tummy time a couple of weeks ago (so around 9 weeks old), he just rolled over tummy to back. No fussing, no crying. He wasn't frustrated, he just rolled over. I put him back on his tummy and he did it again. He has been rolling over tummy to back ever since. He has even started rolling from his back up onto his side. So obviously, not letting him CIO has not caused any detriment to his learning.

Anonymous said...

Eh. I have mixed feelings on this. I do not encourage or support true CIO, however I was never so miserable in my life as when my first child at 18 months was waking up 6 -8 times through the night. I was *always* there through his life to meet every need. I was an AP parent who nursed through the night and on demand during the day as well. I am about to have my 4th baby and I find myself becoming less and less AP as I go along.

I feel like the constant demand of meeting his needs (child mentioned above) as an older baby and toddler started habitual waking in the night that truly did not have a purpose. You can say all you want that parenting is a 24 hour job. I'm aware of that, but I think some of this is extremism that some AP parents invite by their own actions because they feel like being the best parent means meeting their child's needs at ALL costs even if it's making them miserable. I was miserable! Waking up that much through the night with a child that age takes it's toll!

There is definitely middle ground and there is NOTHING wrong with encouraging good sleep habits that do not involve getting up all night long to nurse a toddler. Allowing a child/older baby to fuss is different than CIO and I have found that my kids LIKE their own quiet space in the dreaded baby jail. I have also found that keeping bedtime consistent makes for the happiest family.

I think that each child has different needs. My 3rd child slept well from the beginning. At 3-4 months she was taking consistent naps 3 times daily and waking once during the night. It was bliss. I was well rested and a happy mother and I will do whatever it takes to encourage that same type of sleep habit in the next baby as well.


Poppet said...

Thank you so much for writing this - I've always known in my heart I am doing the right thing by responding to my son's cries (even when that means getting up almost every single hour because he's teething/not feeling well, etc, etc, etc), and now you've cemented this for me again. I cannot count how many times I've been told to "let him cry" and that he's just "trying to manipulate" me - and many, MANY times I've been tempted to cave simply because what do I know? I've only been a mother for 7 months, my son is a terrible sleeper and this controlled crying business seems to work for others! I'm glad I'm a stubborn wee thing!


Dutch Mama said...

Dear Anonymous,(supporter of the Middle ground :-) )

I fully agree with you. I am not pro-CIO either, but I do believe there's nothing wrong with a healthy cry. Really.
I do have a 7m old baby and he does need his cry to go to sleep. Harmful? Not at all. Helpful? Very much.

Woman Uncensored does mention 'training the baby, like an animal' as an argument against crying. But this so-called 'training' is nothing more than helping your baby to self-soothe. If this needs a bit of a cry, than that's perfectly fine. Of course it shouldn't be for hours and it should never lead to vomitting or ignorance. But learning a baby to self-soothe is very healthy and has nothing to do with training or animals.
When the time comes for a baby to learn to walk, are you going to prevent him from falling just because it hurts and they might cry? Of course not. You reach out and guide them through it. You comfort where you can, but sometimes it helps to let them sort it out for themselves. Sleeping is among those developments and yes, it does involve crying every now and then...!

Dutch Mama said...

Dear Anonymous,(supporter of the Middle ground :-) )

I fully agree with you. I am not pro-CIO either, but I do believe there's nothing wrong with a healthy cry. Really.
I do have a 7m old baby and he does need his cry to go to sleep. Harmful? Not at all. Helpful? Very much.

Woman Uncensored does mention 'training the baby, like an animal' as an argument against crying. But this so-called 'training' is nothing more than helping your baby to self-soothe. If this needs a bit of a cry, than that's perfectly fine. Of course it shouldn't be for hours and it should never lead to vomitting or ignorance. But learning a baby to self-soothe is very healthy and has nothing to do with training or animals.
When the time comes for a baby to learn to walk, are you going to prevent him from falling just because it hurts and they might cry? Of course not. You reach out and guide them through it. You comfort where you can, but sometimes it helps to let them sort it out for themselves. Sleeping is among those developments and yes, it does involve crying every now and then...!

Chris said...

You know how the news does that thing where they flash a commercial with oh no the world is going to end because of X today, so you watch the news to find out why and at the very end it turns out that X is really not a huge deal. You know how you feel wronged by the way they tricked you into watching all that boring crap just to find out it was a half truth?

This is how your post made me feel, it was a very cheap and in my opinion a wrong way to make a point. You could have told this same story under a what-if pretense and still had the desired effect without having everyone hate your husband for half this post. I am not sure about you, but I wouldn't want any negative feelings directed towards my wife, for any reason or length of time.

Aside from the questionable methods I feel the point that was made is valid to an extent. While a child may indeed make the connection that crying gets them what they want, until they can speak and tell us I think you would be hard pressed to know for sure if the child is really in need.

April said...

Did you read the books on "crying it out?" the one I look to is "Preparation for Parenting" by the Ezzos. Apparenty not. If so, you would know that it's not about "breaking" them. It's about establishing their metabolism and teaching that being alone sometimes is ok. My 7 month old wakes from his naps and begins playing in his bed. He TRUSTS that I will come and get him. AND I DO. He doesn't need to cry to let me know he is awake. When he does cry, I hold him and try to figure out what is wrong. I've observed kids that are raised on the attachment parenting method and I must say, I'd rather have a happy, well-rested child who doesn't expect me to respond to her every need than one who won't let me leave her side. I'd also rather see nursery workers at church smile when they see my kids coming than dread their 30 minute cries when they are left there. If you enjoy letting your child run your household, then fine. But there are those of us who want our kids to understand who the parents are.

Mary Siever said...


You are aware that Ezzo's methods have been shown to create babies who exhibit symptoms of failure to thrive and poor bonding issues, right? Perhaps not. Also sever dehydration has been an issue according to the AAP.

Research also has shown that babies who are well attached are more independent in later life. I can attest to that with 4 children I have practiced attachment parenting with. They have all adapted well to being left (when older) in our church nursery, as well, none are afraid of the dark. Of course my oldest is only 11 so there is a long way to go, but having allowed them to sleep with us until they were ready to move to their own beds has worked not only in their favour, but ours. None have bedtime issues. I am not fighting with children to go to bed or sleep. Nursing until they wean (well well beyond, eldest was 5.5 years, second was 4.5 years, 3rd is currently 4.5 and still breastfeeding and my baby is 10.5 month and nursing along side her sister) has benefited all of us, them with good health (not a cavity yet either!) happy, content babies and children. And wearing my babies, well I can go on and on about that. It's easier for all of us and it hasn't created over attached needy children, quite the opposite. My children are secure and comfortable in the world and with others.

Attachment parenting isn't about baby being in charge, it's about nurturing the mother/baby dyad that is crucial. Obviously with a society (in this western world of ours) rampant with attachment and bonding disorders (it's frightening the people who have no connection with others, no remorse if they harm another person) I am well aware that the research backs me up that I am doing the best I can to create well adjusted children who will develop into well adjusted adults.

Babies don't need to be taught to 'be alone', they need to learn that they are secure and loved. Being alone is for people who can understand the concept and that they are not being abandoned. Babies don't have that capacity without the experience. And distancing ourselves from our babies is a relatively new concept and one that is not shared by the majority of the world.

My children understand I am the parent and my husband is the parent and that we love them. It's not a race to show them who's boss. My job isn't to lord it over them, it is to love and nurture them.

So you can keep your CIO method if that makes for you and happy babies. I will keep my close, instinctive and attachment parenting style where my babies are well secure in the knowledge that I am here for them and that they are not alone. They are well adjusted and secure children who are able to love and find compassion for others. If we don't have compassion for our babies I don't know how they will learn that is important in life. They only learn what they are shown.

Wendy said...

April - I wouldn't swear by anything Ezzo has to say. As AP parents, we strive to raise our children with the right notions and common sense as to who are the parents. We are. We are the ones that provide love and security, and we are the ones who provide discipline when needed. Being an attached parent doesn't mean giving up parental right. Quite the contrary, it enforces them. You don't have to be domineering or tyrannical to be a good parent or have well behaved children. If you're gonna practice AP, you also gotta follow up. With love and respect, teach by word and example, what the role of the parents are and those of the children. AP doesn't mean kids are left to run loose and wild and dictate every move, that's not attached parenting. Dictating comes from neither sides, not from the parents and not from the kids. But I guess you have selective vision, which didn't allow you to read all the other AP here saying how well adjusted and independent their children turned out to be... sucks... that's too bad

SherwooD said...

Discussions on this topic makes me realize how socially conditioned some people are to "know" certain things. I can say this with certainty, because my own internal dialog is included- unfortunately. You have to step outside of the cultural scripts to actually hear how wrong and absolutely unjustified much of what people regurgitate as *common sense* is.

"She has to learn how to fall asleep on her own," oh, does she? "they are just manipulating you" maybe if you gave them the love they deserve they will not have to take passive measures to get the attention that they need, "He's testing you; you need to take charge" take charge of giving your child the attention that is his or her birthright, "attending to your child will spoil them, leading them to run the household" putting a child in a position of powerlessness really helps them to become a contributing member of the household, "crying is important for their lung development"- maybe but they do enough of that without being abandoned, "I don't want to have a child who expects me to respond to their every need," part of a child's need is to be taught how to do things for them self and confidence and self actualization to be able to apply what they have been taught that takes love patience and TRUST.

April said...

My research includes my 2 children along with 9 others in my distant family who are all PDF babies. Others' kids who aren't PDF babies. I choose the PDF method. That is my right just as it is your right to choose the AP method. I love my children. I rock them, sing to them, read to them, play with them just as you all do. But at naptime and bedtime I am able to lay them down and walk away knowing they will go to sleep and get a good night's rest. I feel so rewarded when I lay my baby in his bed for a nap and he smiles at me. And for the record, I would never let them cry for an insurmountable amount of time, nor would I let them lay in their own vomit. The "books" on PDF even tell you that the parent must assess every situation for what it is and use her own judgement. It's not as black and white as you all make it sound. But if you want to use the AP method, that is fine. But don't complain that your baby cries everytime you leave the room or that he gets in the bed with you every night or "he won't let me leave him in the nursery." My kids are healthy and loving and are the opposite of having a difficult bonding. If you were around babies and children of this type of parenting you'd see just how well they turn out.

Anonymous said...

Have you read this?

Anonymous said...

I would like to weigh in here about Gary Ezzo. I going to guess that the lady that loves the Babywise/Preperation for Parenting methods taught by Gary Ezzo probably chose not to breastfeed or did it for a very short amount of time. The Ezzo plan is not breastfeeding friendly. Breastfeeding on a parent-determined schedule (including a "flexible routine" as it is called in Babywise) may reduce a mother's milk supply and contradicts the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which has stated, "The best feeding schedules are the ones babies design themselves. Scheduled feedings designed by parents may put babies at risk for poor weight gain and dehydration." Although it is presented as authoritative, the breastfeeding information presented in Babywise is inaccurate and substandard (compare with the AAP Breastfeeding recommendations). Not only do I consider the Ezzo's methods bad for breastfeeding but just bad and misguided in general.

Are you aware there are brochures against Ezzo's method in doctors' offices? Here is a link to one:

Also are you aware that Gary Ezzo's own children do not even speak to him now that they are adults?

april said...

Anon: I looked over the site and brochure. It is full of false claims. You say you bet I didn't breastfeed: WRONG. You say breastfeeding doesn't go with PDF: WRONG! You say babies fail to thrive on PDF: WRONG! No matter what I read that criticizes PDF it won't change what I know out of experience as well as observation. Have you read Baby Wise? PDF does the opposite of cause low weight gain. By an infant getting a full feeding, he gets the foremilk as well as an ample amount of rich, high calorie hindmilk. The Ezzo's recommend breastfeeding for at least one year. PDF doesn't interfere with milk supply. If you informed yourself before making such accusations, you'd know.

Anonymous said...

April, yes I have read Babywise and I'm also familiar with Preparation for Parenting on which it is based. I even know about the training classes that are taught in some churches. I am a Christian and I know how easy it is to want to believe someone because they say the method is Biblical. But instead of blindly following a method just because it claims to be based on Christianity, I do my research. You say the brochure is full of false claims, how do you know they are false? Based on your quick response, I seriously doubt you had time to check all the professional references condemning Ezzo's methods and declare them false. So the American Academy of Pediatrics is WRONG? Dr. Sears and several other Christian experts are WRONG?

As for breastfeeding, I am very informed. Yes, babies are supposed to get hindmilk and foremilk during feedings. That is just a basic concept of breastfeeding. What does that have to do with Ezzo's method? The fact is with PDF, most women can not establish and/or maintain an adequate milk supply. Ezzo may recommend feeding for a year but I doubt a large enough milk supply would be able to be sustained following his methods. You don't say how long you breastfed on this method but I would be willing to bet it was over a few weeks or couple of months at the most. I personally have never known anyone that followed Ezzo's method to make it to a year. Breastfeeding should be on demand and that doesn't work with the PDF method and infants sleeping through the night without feedings. There are thousands of documented cases of failure to thrive associated with the Ezzo method. I'm afraid you are the uninformed one.

I find it disturbing that you say "no matter what I read that criticizes PDF it won't change what I know out of experience as well as observation." Just because you have yet to have a bad experience, doesn't mean they don't exist. Ezzo's methods are currently being investigated. And if you don't believe people have had problems associated with babies and failure to thrive here is a link to just a few of the stories ( . But I'm sure you will just say those people are WRONG because you have "observed" differently. The risks far outweigh the benefits you think you are receiving. For every Ezzo success story, there are ten nightmares. Sleep uninterrupted and not having your child cry for you in a nursery or occasionally climbing into bed with you is not enough for a person to risk this method and the damage it has shown to cause in the majority of babies. For the record, AP babies also are capable of sleeping through the night without sleep training and not crying in the nursery regardless of what you have "observed".

I know Ezzo's group encourages people to spread his methods around and loyal followers will defend it no matter what. It almost reminds me of a cult. I believe in trusting the common sense God has given me as a mother and this method goes against it in my opinion. You are entitled to your opinion but before suggesting this method to others (as Ezzo followers always do), you should at least acknowledge that there have been dangerous outcomes associated with it.

SuporterOfMiddleGround said...

I just wanted to add:

I think that I did not do a wonderful job with my previous post...

I did not mean to lead you all to assume I ment that if you do not jump to a childs meer fussing right away, you were a CIO parent.

I think that somewhere between letting yur baby cry to the point of vomitting or getting sick in any way... and strapping your baby to your hip 24/7 and never letting them cry a bit or getting some much needed mommy quiet time... there is an area that has both babies and mommies in a sane state :)

I believe in my heart that most all of us parents who ar reading this do honestly fall in that middle ground. Be it one side or the other.. we are all trying our best to do what is best for US and OUR KIDS. That is why you are reding this in the first place.. down inside, you are seeking knowledge and doing what you can to find all the information you can to make the best decision you can with your kids :)

I think the final arguement would lie somewhere around this; every person is different.. we all have different needs and feel differently about what we would like to see our children grow up to become. Same goes for each baby, they are all different and all have different needs. We as parents can "read" our children's cries and typically can know when they need something, or if they are just mad and letting the whole world know that they do not like that mommy (or daddy) have there hands full and just can't "play" right now :)

I know people will disagree with me still, and I know that people will judge me as a bad parent.. but that is ok, we are all human and it is in us to judge others. I know that my kids (7, 5 & 3yrs) are all doing very well and when others meet them, I get told so often how good my kids are and how happy they are. I know that growing up my entire life in a daycare home, I have seen how all different types of parenting treats different types of children... and the biggest lesson I learned is this: everyone is different and sometimes, it does not matter how hard a parent tries to be perfect, sometimes the kid will grow up and become the type of person they were born to be

*I emphasise the words I use "sometimes" and others like it.. I never overgeneralise*

Jamie said...

Thank you for a great persepctive on CIO. We were taught by our Church that Babywise/ Let Your Children Come Along the Infant Way/ The Ezzos are THE way to go. Thankfully we stopped when it felt wrong. My friends that do the method do have "easy" babies, but it worries me at what cost. In fact, research DOES show that crying is harmful. Crying is not good for lung development, as they tell you. The Ezzos also leave a lot out of the equation. They forget to tell you that when you feed more often, your hindmilk comes in much faster and you have less foremilk, that your milk supply will be better, and a million other things that are not actually true at all. They do, though, help you see your child as an inconvience you must train, instead of the wonderful blessing they are. If God wanted a baby to be independent, it would have been born walking, talking, and self-feeding. As I type this, I am nursing and holding a sleeping baby in my arms. Not because I have to, but because I WANT to. What a novel concept....

Christine said...

Thank you for this post, mama. I am overwhelmed with both sadness and appreciation. I was raised by CIO and I see many babies today who are. I am, however, in deep appreciation for your words and my own desire to be an informed parent over the years, which led my partner and I to a more attachment style parenting approach.

To many posters, I have had hyperemesis for 6 months and I didn't take this as a slap in the face when the author revealed that husband wasn't really ignoring her. And it is completely unfair to discredit her point because she created a false scenario. Even if the scenario did not happen to her in every single aspect, it does happen to women everywhere, therefore it should be taken seriously. I can't believe people are so offended by this detail. And she had hyperemesis! That alone is worthy of respect. How many of you mothers speaking defensively have had hyperemesis? I completely identify with what she's saying because I have been there. To think about the emotional aspect happening to a child makes me sick to my stomach. If she were to say in the beginning that parts of this story weren't true in her specific case, you would not have such a strong emotional reaction.

The author never said that letting your baby cry for 5 minutes is horrible and will cause brain damage and irreversible mental health problems. The people reading the post and angrily responding are putting words into the author's mouth and assuming the worst meaning possible based on things she never said! But I suppose it is much easier to defend yourself than to question if what you're doing is right, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence and research, not to mention common sense.

Obviously, there is always middle ground. The author is not saying that you are a bad parent if you let your baby cry for ANY period of time EVER in their ENTIRE life. It should be assumed that she means that you should try your best to be there for your baby and respond to them throughout the stages of infancy and childhood. And OBVIOUSLY infants do not stay infants, and as they grow older; their needs are not entirely needs anymore, as they were during infancy. A crying child's needs at 2 months vs. 3 years can be met very differently. And most of us moms who practice attachment parenting or who consistently respond to their baby's cries actually allow their babies to self-soothe for a minute or two. Babies can wake themselves up at night for many reasons, fuss for a minute or two, then fall back to sleep. This is normal human infant behavior. Babies who wake up, fuss, then scream and cry, however, should not be left to self-soothe. Even when babies self-soothe for a very short period of time, attached mothers will still be aware of what the baby is doing, so that if she notices that the baby's fussiness is escalating, she can soothe him/her before it develops into an intense cry. Letting baby cry (back) to sleep for 30 minutes versus 1-2 minutes without action has very different physiological consequences; one is normal, one is not. One creates a very abnormally high amount of stress hormone in the brain for the duration of the cry, tapering off slowly even when the infant is soothed, and one creates very little and quickly diminishes.

Christine said...

And to continue, Why do we believe the science when it comes to our health, yet we discredit research saying that prolonged crying is bad for babies? We'd rather trust a family, without medical training or understanding of infant neuroscience, to tell us that it is perfectly fine for babies to cry and that they need such strict structure. I truly believe in my heart and soul that God does not want our babies to be trained and left alone in a dark room to cry themselves to sleep. God did not tell me this, of course, but God through Jesus, taught us compassion and unconditional love. So we stop treating our helpless infants with love and compassion at nighttime? Like another poster said, if God wanted babies to be independent, they would come out walking, talking, and not really needing much from us as mothers and parents. I believe the Lord tells us to love and nurture our babies because they will be the next generation of Christians to guide their generations in following and learning God's word. I would rather err on the side of compassion than assume God wants me to ignore my screaming, scared baby.

Many of the mothers who are so upset about the truth behind the author's opinion (and researchers' opinions around the world) will look back 30 years from now and either A) feel guilty that they did not trust their maternal instincts given that the CIO method was found to be harmful to babies or B) shrug it off, saying that they did the best that they could in spite of current and accessible scientific evidence and common sense.

Here are some articles and links: (specific research studies cited on bottom of page) (cites specific research studies throughout the article) (cites references and studies on bottom) (everything is cites with specific references) (a cut and pasted article from the AAP)

Anonymous said...

Anyone even thinking of doing Babywise or anything related to it needs to read this ENTIRE article:

If you can still follow the Ezzo/Babywise method after reading these facts, then there is really something wrong with you. This needs to be stopped! And one of the worst things is this is being spread in our churches and by well meaning friends that think they are doing a good thing.

Unknown said...

This blog brought me to tears. My husband is always telling me to just leave our 3 month old to cry and he will be fine, that he has to learn we are not always going to go in there everytime he cries. I am adamantly opposed to this, I never leave him for more than a minute, if he is fussing that's fine but the desperate cries are a cry for help. How can an infant who has no concept that they are even a seperate person from you as yet be left alone to scream in a dark room?

The sleep deprevation we as mothers suffer can be torture at times but at least we know that we are doing the right thing by them which will set them up to be happy, well adjusted, secure adults who will then themselves be good parents one day.

It is all worth it and it goes so fast. Every moment with them truly is precious.

Anonymous said...

firstly id like to start by telling you that i admire your intention behind your story,however i am a mother of 8 children,my concern for this well meant story is that it is focused solely on the needs of a baby which any parent knows is not possible to meet every need,i have known friends go to absolute pieces in sheer desperation trying to conform to the 'Perfect Parent'stereotype by tending to babys every whimper.
There are so many arguements for and against this kind of theory but personally i adopted the leave to cry for 20 mins then check rearing of my children,and yes there have been days where they have got theirselves worked up into a stress,but how is a child going to learn how to deal with being alone otherwise,sometimes baby is just feeling fussy or bad tempered and at times like this a working mother with more than one child can seriously get into extreme depths of depression by keep pandering babys crying..
Anyhow baby is human,as humans we dont get all of our needs catered to,its healthy to expect this from our world, that is reality, babies should be given all that is within you to give but babies should not be put so high above your needs.. kids need to see you are human and the only kind of woman that i can think of that would bring a baby up this way is a wealthy or kept woman with plenty of help and support but not all women are privvy to that.
I spent far too many years in therapy being retrained out of believing that i HAD to be the PERFECT parent so this is just another prospective but hopefully something that should be shown to balance your theory out in this modern society of beliefs..

Anonymous said...

I love how you flip reversed it from a different perspective. My daughter is nearly 12 months old and I have never used controlled crying. I have put her down in a safe place and closed the door to get 5 minutes to breath and calm down but never ever left her for more than that. I love my daughter and would never ever leave her in distress. At first I thought what an evil husband to leave you like that but then when I realised it was about CIO I though oh my goodness! This is what people are doing to their children! My daughter already knows her own mind, she's got a massive personality and is really loving and cuddly which I just adore about her. But I think if I had gone down the CIO rout she wouldn't be the little cracker she is now and I stand by that belief. Brilliant blog :)

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic piece! I am totally against CC & CIO but I never thought of it from this perspective. It is so true!
I am a member of a parenting forum and a lot of the Mum's have resorted to CC. It breaks my heart to think of those tiny wee babies being left alone. Most of the Mums are young first timers and have been advised to do CC by the HV starting when their babies were 3 months old!!! One Mother was talking about her 9 month old and said "She's not a very cuddly baby" And I'm thinking well it's no wonder she's not cuddly if she's lost all trust in you!
Thank you for a thought provoking blog!

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Shannon said...

This is for those who think people who don't let their child CIO or who hold their child "all the time" are setting themselves up for spoiled children who can't take care of themselves.

I did not let my children CIO as infants. My oldest son slept in my bed with me until I got so pregnant with my youngest son he wouldn't fit in my small bed. At which point he slept in his toddler bed in my room right next to me. When my youngest was born, he slept in my bed with me while my oldest slept in the bed next to me. They had their own tummy time and play time on their blanket while I did things around the house, but otherwise I held and carried them CONSTANTLY.

When I got a bigger house and they had their own room, I had absolutely NO problems getting them to their own bedroom into their own bed. They didn't fuss or complain, they didn't try to get me to let them stay up longer. No crying. They'd lay down, get a bedtime story, get their hugs and kisses, and be out like a light.

Also, when I had to go back to work and leave them at daycare, there was NO separation anxiety...not even the first day. We gave hugs and kisses, I told them I'd see them when I got off work, and they go about playing. As opposed to many of the other kids who stood there at the door crying for hours on end when Mommy or Daddy had to leave. I knew those parents, and I can safely say with all certainty that those parents are the ones who practiced CIO.

Now, at 9 and 12 years of age, I am CONSTANTLY getting compliments about how wonderfully well behaved they are. So OBVIOUSLY a parent who doesn't let their child CIO, or a parent who does carry their child around and hold them lots and lots, is not automatically setting their child up for failure.

Anonymous said...

Your post was beautifully written and brought a tear to my eye. Very well said.

Anonymous said...

I hope you will write a blog specifically about Babywise/Preparation for Parenting/Growing Kids God's Way. Ezzo's horrible methods need to be brought into the light in only the way that you can :)

Anonymous said...

Another tidbit about the Ezzo method: "Jesus cried out with a loud voice ... 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?'." Amazingly, Gary Ezzo uses this text as justification for parents not to respond to their crying infants, noting that the Father did not respond to the cry of Jesus by taking Him off the cross. While admitting that Matthew 27:46 does not "prove" that parents should not respond to the cries of their children, the Ezzos still cite it as supporting their views.

Melodie said...

At first I thought your husband did treat you like that, as did most everyone I assume. And I was so glad I'd found someone who's been treated badly when they were emotionally at their lowest because I was too. Of course I'm happy that was story was fake. Everyone's should be if their husband is treating them with contempt when they need to be loved and supported. I suffered from panic attacks when I was pregnant and would get up in the middle of the night seeking out of my husband. My husband drinks at night and was completely useless at making me feel better. One night he screamed in my face sending me into such a state I wasn't sure I would recover. That was over 2 1/2 years ago and I still haven't forgiven him and I don't trust him the same way. He's apologized a hundred times, and I know it was a combination of the alcohol and his own being overwhelmed, but I can't really get over it. The betrayal of it all. Anyway, I really appreciated the analogy of the post, and I'm glad for your sake that it was not real whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

"If any other helpless person (sick, injured, elderly) were treated in the ways described, people would be disgusted. The fact that babies are often "trained" in such a manner proves that babies are still viewed by many people as lesser beings with invalid needs and feelings, even though the care-taker probably doesn't realize that is what they are doing." Babies were designated as sub-human by the US in 1973. On the other hand neglecting or abusing an animal garners more real prison time.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.
Sometimes I feel like the odd one out, the freak, because I don't let my children cry it out or use control crying. I have one child who slept through from 4 months with no training from us and at 2.5 years he is still a wonderful sleeper but on the rare occasions that he does wake or has trouble going to sleep I don't leave him to cry, after all he is only 2 years old and for all I know he has a headache or a belly ache or is scared of something that he can't communicate to us or perhaps he just wants a hug. My 14 month old is still up almost every night, I'm sure that food wise he doesn't need to be but a quick breastfeed and back to bed is far less stressful for everyone than leaving him to scream for hours to force him to learn to sleep through or more likely to learn we don't care and won't be coming to attend his needs. They are only little for a short amount of time, they only need this level of care for a short amount of time. Teenagers don't need to be cuddled in the night and don't wake for feeds etc. When things are tough I always try to remember that they won't still be doing this when they are 15, it will come to an end at some point and how much better is it that they start sleeping through of their own accord happy and secure in the knowledge that when they cry out a parent comes to their aid.

Anonymous said...

I see controlled crying as a feminist issue. To me the insistence that babies sleep away from parents is a cultural convention, created to keep men in the position of ultimate power in the household - their right to sleep with their wives is greater than the rights of mothers and babies to feel nurtured, safe and happy. Let's not forget that many mothers suffer through the process of CIO too, as they fight every instinct they have to ignore the desperate cries of their beloved baby, ultimately they are 'broken' too, and become a 'good girl', once again available sexually to their chosen mate. Who is in favour of controlled crying? Husbands and doctors (largely men). Does anyone else not see the inequality inherent in this practice??? Mothers: stick up for your babies and yourselves, and insist on viable alternatives to sleep co-sleeping, part-time cosleeping, bed sharing or bed swapping.

Liev said...

About Jesus crying out from the cross: God also had His son killed. Is that what we're supposed to do with our kids, too? Good to know .

Unknown said...

Wow awesome analogy. It's amazing how many people will say your husband should be in jail for treating you an adult like that but would think it's ok to treat an innocent baby that way. At least as an adult you could probably call a friend or relative for help or even the police and find a way to leave but a baby can do nothing. :( Great way to make people think!

Shana.from.Canada said...

Great post! I've often wondered if those "cry it out" parents would ignore a physically challenged adult or special needs child if it was inconvenient or not the right time of day. In our home, if baby cries, we pick him up. Just good ole mothering instinct. Can't help it ;)

melissa said...

Hi, I just wanted to give you the link to your blogpost-- we translated it and it is here:

thanks so much for letting us put it there!
xxmelissa from

Timbra Wiist said...

i love how martha sears puts it "a baby left to cry does not learn to sleep, he learns that no one is there for him" what a sad and simple truth. thank you for this dramatic but very heart wrenching and to the quick illustration. i think MANY would think twice and i'm thankful i can read this and know that i've NEVER put my babies through this.

Heather said...

I truly believe that babies cry when they have a need...and it's so frustrating when people want or expect you to shove a pacifier in their mouth and and make them stop - or place them in a crib in another room, shut the door and walk away. We need to pay attention to them and learn how to recognize and meet those needs. [I realize that this is quite often easier said than done.] Although, that said - I also believe there are "needs" they have, which they "need" to develop an ability to cope with or to control as they become older...just like we need to. I think at some point in their development and maturing process, it's not only ok, but necessary to gradually "let her cry". That way we can be there to monitor and support them as they learn to cope on their own - rather than jump at every whimper so when the time eventually comes to leave the nest they have become so dependant on us that they are unable to face any difficulties on their she appeared to have become in her fake story.

I thought it was odd that this blogger chose to make up such a strange and dramatic story to prove her point and make readers "think". Why not tell the truth, and let that speak for her case...that her husband cared for her and helped her through her needs. Also, it was odd because, we are not helpless and infantile - and her story portrayed her [in my opinion] as immature and self-centered, rather than actually needing help. And although I sympathise with her need for love and affection - I also kind of pitited the poor guy who was having to deal all day long with a clingy whiny self-focused woman - and then also expected to stay up all night paying attention to her. It's one thing for a baby...they grow up, plus they're so cute we forget all the misery that labor, and sleepless nights and constantly being pooped, peed or spit up on may cause us to feel.

I just felt like the post did more of a detriment to her viewpoint than proved it. It made me want to go to the extreme to ensure my children NEVER grow up to behave with such immaturity as adults...either like her, her husband or her awfully depicted mother-in-law! I was relieved to see it was untrue. [I'm not calling them immature - just her characters in the story.] Still, a strange and confusing way to make a point.

Bri said...

This is an amazing post. Bookmarked for later reference and obviously because I would love to see more posts of yours.

Anonymous said...

CIO is not as barbaric as you make it sound. At about 9 months I realized my son did not need his 4 am feeding, and I needed to be able to sleep through the night again. I had a 2 & 4 year old also, and was very tired and could not nap while he napped like I did with my first two children. My son's weight was great, and he was eating plenty of calories during the day. The first night I did not nurse him he cried of course, I patted his back and told him to go to sleep. The 2nd night, he cried for a few minutes, I reminded him no more nursing at night and patted him. The 3rd or 4th night he did not wake me up to nurse him, as he realized I really was not going to. The 3 nights of crying benefited our entire family. Moms who use CIO effectively are not ignoring their child's needs any more than moms who ignore the whines of kids who want candy for breakfast. We parents need to use common sense to train our children in many areas, including sleep. An extreme in any direction is unhealthy: NEVER let a baby cry results in older preschoolers waking up often during the night, as many friends of mine deal with. But making a 6 week old cry for hours in an attempt to "train" him/her is unhealthy and dangerous as well. Let common sense and mother's instincts prevail!

Julie said...

Having had HG and having had family tell my husband and I that I was faking you had me in tears.

CIO was never on my parenting list of things to try.

Caty said...


SusanJ said...

Oh don't tell me .. there are STILL people telling our young mums to let there babies CIO or do CC ??? !!! I thought that died out before MY babies were born !! I am 56 and my children are nearly 27 and 31.

My first, my daughter screamed all day and most of the night! She was only calm if she was either attached to my nipple or cuddled ... the second I moved .. she screamed. She slept 20 minutes in 24 hours .. for around 2 years !! I cuddled her day and night, she slept in our bed. We were told it was some form of colic, you could see her pain. Of course, my mum said to leave her to cry for a bit ... but we just couldn't do that to her! However... one evening ... I was almost 'dead' by this time .. we decided to see if she would settle. Two minutes .. is all it took. She was PUCE and purple in the face and could hardly breath and was spluttering...we cuddled her at once ... and she calmed down.

I have never understood how normal, caring, loving and intelligent people could think for one single second how CIO could be a good thing!! Both my children were afflicted with this - my son much less so. I actually got him down at 11 pm and only woken up three times in the night !! THAT was bliss lol!!! But ... as toddlers... they were in their own beds most of the time unless sick .. and they slept well. They also were never worried by me leaving them with my sister or at school.

My daughter has two now of her own .. and has never let them CIO .. and both of the little ones get off to sleep easily, and are not 'mummy only' children either. Her daughter is a little more 'clingy' but only a bit. I think that is her disposition.

BTW... I understood at ONCE with your story that you were doing exactly that... telling a story of how a baby might feel if left alone !!

Thank you for this great posting !

Margie said...

Hi, I would like to publish part of your "just let her cry" post in a book that I have written with 3 other co-authors. Would you give me permission to do that? I would be happy to share more information about our book with you privately. Please contact me either on Facebook Margie Deutsch Lash) or at Thank you so much!

Take care,
Margie Deutsch Lash, MSEd, IBCLC, RYT

Anonymous said...

Thank God I found this article!I have never agreed with CIO.And I thought i was the only one. To me its letting the most precious and important person in my life sit and cry and wonder why mommy wont comfort me. I think its borderline abuse.I feel like the child is tramatized when the only people in her life that she trusts leave her to scream till she passes out is just wrong. People have said to me "just put her down" and I cant do it and I always get "Oh your just a new mom" No I could never do that to my first second or third.As parents we are here to comfort and protect our children not cause stress.

State of Grace said...

wow, thanks for clearing that up about your hubby. I was ready to lynch him! maybe 'cause I'm a mom, or a nurse, or just because I have a pulse, I think that kind of neglect is 'burn in hell' worthy, whether or not I believe in hell we'll leave for another day. Glad you're feeling better!

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