Sunday, August 05, 2007

Crying it Out, for crying out loud!

Yesterday morning I overheard 2 young first time moms talk about letting their babies "cry it out." These 2 ladies decribed it as horribly stressful and painful to leave their babies alone in their cribs as they cried until they gave up and fell asleep. I didn't say anything to them. I liked these 2 new mamas and I didn't want to appear judgemental. I can say here though, that I feel bad for people who get old school advice from family and friends and ignore their own instincts.

I have met many mamas who do this but I've never heard one say, "Man. we had a great night last night, the baby screamed, we ignored her, and then we had tons of fun as our baby slept alone all tear stained and sweaty because, damn it! She's gotta learn to be independent and go to sleep on her own." Most mamas are very unhappy about letting their baby cry, they decide that their diaper is dry and that they must not be hungry, therefore they don't need anything, so, sleep! Everybody told them their baby would be spoiled if they were held often and cuddled or nursed to sleep. But, maybe the baby really is still hungry? Or just wants to be held? I think that the times in our life when we can ask for comfort and receive it are so short, why not make the most of it? The baby has only one method of intense communication, crying, and when they stop crying, after 3 or less nights of this treatment, they have usually given up, because their one method stopped working. That is kind of scary. And sad.

I think "crying it out" is pretty new in human history. For most of human's time on earth we have had no option but breastmilk, and like all other mammals, we gave milk early & often to our babies, sleeping beside them to give them milk all night. There are parts of the world that have never deviated from this natural approach. I can tell you from experience that babies in places like sub-Saharan Africa & South America rarely cry, they are held all day, fed on demand & sleep with their moms. Their needs are met. Sleeping close and nursing freely at night is not only instinctive, its biological. Breastmilk is digested quickly and for optimal weight gain babies really need to nurse often. For the mom, its important to empty the breast as often as every 3 hours at night to avoid breast infections, plugged ducts, abscesses. Yet, there is this crappy advice out there that says babies have to learn to sleep without a boob in their mouth. Or, if they are not breastfed, that they should give up the paci and sleep all alone in a crib. Breastfed and bottle fed babies can be held and loved and patted until the pass out blissfully, knowing they are loved, knowing their world is a safe place. The time is so short, the baby is more secure, the mama feels good because the baby is not crying.

If you can never be fully dependent when you're supposed to be how can you learn to be fully independent?


brunie said...

Dear Claire:
You are such an inspiration when it comes to mothering! You are so right when it comes to the natural craving of humans(any age) to being held and comforted. I still let Luna come and snuggle with me at night and it's so refreshing to wake up to her beautiful face. :)If I listen to "people" we both will be missing this wonderful experience!
Love the pics of the children, H& K, Madrina B!

clara said...

love to you Brunie!

You are too kind, its just about listening to babies, they teach us everything & we screw up plenty, but it all goes by so fast!

Elizabeth said...

I am glad to read that you are as appalled as I am. A couple of people have made it sound like the reason I won't do it is that Adriana is my first. It's somehow reassuring to know that a pro such as yourself ;) is also apparently a soft touch.

I hate when friends tell me that they let their babies cry it out. It seems like they want me to congratulate them, or give them some kind of positive feedback. I never know what to say. Like you, I don't want to be judgmental. And when they tell me that they and their husbands cried too, or that her husband needed to hold her down to keep her from going to her baby, and then say that she's glad she did it, I wonder how they can think this was positive or that it "worked."

I read one account where a woman said that she and her husband decided that their baby could go six hours without nursing for the first part of the night, and then could go for four more hours, and they left her to cry until those time limits were up. It seemed so unfair. How was the baby to understand that these times had been established for her? But what was the most shocking to me is that the woman said that the crying she had to listen to as a part of this sleep training was what put her over the edge with her postpartum depression, and yet she is still glad she did it and says she would do it again.

I try to tell myself that different things wwork for different people, but sometimes it's hard not to judge, isn't it?

Oops, sorry, did I just hijack your blog? I guess this entry just set me off.

clara said...

hijack anytime! :)

Elizabeth, I agree completely, I don't want to be a betch, but I am amazed when people do this, complain that it was horrible & then feel like something was accomplished. A baby was designed to be held and loved a lot, and we as mothers have instincts that kick in. Their crying is annoying for a reason, so that we respond. You are not alone in not CIO. I think you will find, like I have, that babies who are responded to, cry less and less & are very secure.

About Me

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I'm just a mom in the world. A crunchy Catholic mama of 6 trying to make sense of it all and stay positive. 5 boys here & 1 in heaven. One awesome man who I get to grow old with. I help new moms breastfeed. I`m happy. I don`t go to shows or dance clubs every night but I would if I could. Where`s the nanny? When I see her she`s SO fired! One of my boys is super sweet and sensitive, another one is a holy terror. I learn a ton from all of them daily. Like Nigella says, as any parent of small children knows,there comes a point in the day where you can`t go any further without a drink! I love cocktail hour. I`d like nothing more than to be with my family and some good friends surrounded by tropical plants drinking a margarita listening to the Eagles. I don`t care about trendy, I like that grungy 70`s vibe.