||Subject: Parents try "controlled
I have just read your article on when babies cry.
Until our son was about 10 months old, we never had a problem with
his sleep, (other than a dummy [pacifier] addiction at six months and I
encouraged the good old thumb because at least he can find that!) and
when he did cry he always was attended to.
Things got really out of hand at about 10 months, and he woke every
40 to 60 minutes. Until three weeks ago, my husband and I got up,
comforted or changed/fed every time he woke. Three weeks ago I (my
husband has been doing night shift at work) began (under supervision
from a local child sleep center) "Controlled Crying". It
"works", but I hate it. Yes, some sanity is returning to our
lives, but even still, I feel horrible. I never let him cry constantly
for more than 15 minutes. I read your article and burst out crying,
because what it says is what I believe.
He is a very happy child and is continuing to be so, have I done the
right thing? One part of me is losing a baby emotionally (not as many
cuddles - but more sleep for me), and the other is telling me that I
deserve some return to "normal" sleep patterns. I did not
start this "controlled crying" until I felt comfortable that
his behavior was not a result of pain, hunger, or a wet nappy. I did not
"cold turkey" him, his crying was 2 minutes cry, 2 minutes me,
then gradually lowering the time I was with him and increasing the time
I was away from him and never more than one hour a night. He now goes
off to sleep after his dinner and a bath without a complaint and a
maximum of two "yells" a night - no longer than 30 seconds in
duration. What do you think? Do I deserve reassurance? I am beating
myself up worrying that I could have harmed him.
Just recently I met a couple who are letting an 18-day-old baby just
cry and cry - I felt like slapping them - how could they do that? I
think I will print out your article for them. To me that borders on
My heart goes out to you as you as you try to meet your baby's needs
despite so much bad advice swirling about. But it's important to honor
yourself too – after all; you did the best you knew at the time. I
commend you for listening to your heart and continuing to question this
issue, despite the pressures of our society's sadly mistaken assumptions
about babies' needs. Babies are fragile, but they are also still
somewhat flexible in ways that toddlers and older children are not. That
is, they are more forgiving of our mistakes, more willing to "still
take a chance on love". The most important thing is to recognize
that it's not too late to turn things around in the trust department of
One point I'd like to make here, which is rarely mentioned by those
teaching these heartless procedures, is that even though a baby may not
be in pain, and may not be hungry or wet, he/she may still, and often,
be lonely! Loneliness is a real need too - and in many ways,
responding to the need for affection and touch is even more important
than physical care. In fact, touching brings about positive
physiological responses too. For millions of years, babies were carried
all day and snuggled with all night. The babies haven't changed their
needs; we've inexplicably changed our response, and in so doing, have
endangered our babies' most precious possession, their trust of those
they are closest to.
If you are not already using a family bed, I highly recommend this.
It is wonderfully beneficial for both babies and parents, and can make
night-time parenting much easier. It is far better to prevent (or
at least minimize) crying than to figure out how to respond to it.
Co-sleeping is completely safe as long as waterbeds are not used (babies
can't push themselves up away from the bed) and the parents are
attentive (not using alcohol, drugs, or prescriptions that affect
Two excellent books on this subject are Nighttime Parenting by
Dr. William Sears, and The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin. We have a
wonderful article by Tine, "An
Oversight of Our Culture" .
Also see my article, "Ten
Reasons to Sleep Next to Your Child at Night" and this advice reply.
For more on the importance of touch, see Ashley Montagu's
groundbreaking book Touching, and these web sites:
A comprehensive overview of babywearing, including health advantages
and psychological benefits.
The Baby-wearing Homepage: This is a commercial
site that offers excellent articles and other resources on this
I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you need anything further.
All the best,