Letting baby cry it out causes brain damage?

My 3.5 year old took forever (or what seemed like forever) to sleep through the night, and an eon longer than that to start going to sleep without being held or having his back patted. Once we finally had him on track, he was hospitalized for his asthma, which sent us back to square one.

My 1 yr old hates to sleep. She is so super alert all of the time that it is near impossible to get her to sleep during the day or at night…in fact, we have all but resigned ourselves to letter her nurse, be rocked or pushed in the stroller until one of those 3 no longer works.  I'm a big believer in the methods of The Baby Whisperer (Tracy Hogg) but, with a second child and no nanny I've been more going with the flow out of necessity this time around.

All that said, letting our kids cry it out has occurred to us with each kid and taken off the table almost immediately.  Not only don't I think I could do it, but I don't believe that it's the best thing for the parent, the child or the parent-child relationship. In fact, even Dr. Richard Ferber, whose name has become synonymous with crying it out, modified his views somewhat and no longer believes that his method is best for all children.  I do, however, know many people whom I consider to be good parents who have employed some form of 'cry it out'–whether because they believe it to be best or because they simply reached the end of their rope.

Dr. Penelope Leach, a  British psychologist who wrote the well-known book, Your Baby And Child: From Birth To Age Five, just came out with a  new book, The Essential First Year – What Babies Need Parents to Know, in which she cites research that claims that babies who are left to cry by themselves tested with a higher amount of the stress hormone cortisol which can potentially affect brain development. 

Is science now on the side of the huggy nurturers?  I'm sure that Dr. Sears and his attachment parenting folks are grinning from ear to ear…and I'm feeling a little bit less like a sucker.

3 thoughts on “Letting baby cry it out causes brain damage?

  1. Well on this subject I can tell you that my mother fired a babysitter because she came to pick me up and found me crying my head off. She asked how long I’d been like that and they said “all day”. Babies need comfort, especially when they’re upset. If she’d left me with that babysitter I would probably be a sociopath.
    Also, I’m not sure how to subscribe to your comment feed because when I click the link all I get is a page of source code. You might want to give more instructions, or a better link.

  2. It’s amazing to me why some people choose to be babysitters–if you’re planning to ignore the child that you’re watching, why not find another line of work?!
    Regarding the comment feed, have you tried deleting your cache and then subscribing again? I tried to do it myself and had no problem. If you email me particulars, I can try to get an answer from typepad for you 🙂

  3. On the flip side to the CIO debate- There’s some new research about maternal affection that shows babies who got the most affection in infancy (the study called it “excessive affection”) ended up with less anxiety and mental disorders as adults. AP is sooo worth it!

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