Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why We Don't "Cry It Out"

This post wasn't designed to step on anyone's toes, but to explain why I made a specific parenting decision regarding a topic we hear/read about often. 
When I started this blog, I promised to write about real things.
My hope is that by being transparent, I can encourage other mommas to feel secure in their own decisions.

You walk into your bedroom to settle down for the night and find your husband crying. He says he needs you.  What do you do? Say, "Oh, see you later!" and shut the door?  No, you'd be kind of a jerk if you did that. In marrying him, you signed up to take care of his feelings--to make him feel secure, like he matters. You ask what's wrong.  You put your arm around him. You try to help him calm down. You stay as long he needs you.  Leaving him to hurt alone would go against your wifely instincts.

You walk into your bedroom to settle down for the night and hear your baby crying in the next room--what do you do? Say, "Oh, let her cry," and get in bed? Not me--I just can't do that.  In growing and birthing her, I signed up to be her protector, her comforter.  It's my job to take care of her feelings--to make her feel secure, like she matters.  When she cries, I pick her up. I tell her I'm here and it's okay. I offer her my breast and hold her as long as she needs me, sometimes longer (momma needs the snuggles sometimes, too!).  Leaving her to hurt alone would go against my motherly instincts.

If I'd feel wrong leaving a grown man alone in his fear/pain/suffering, how could I feel okay doing so to a baby, whose needs are even greater? Even if she just needs to be held by someone she loves, is that not valid? The world is a new, scary place.  And crying is the only way Edie can communicate negative feelings. If I don't listen to them now, how can I expect her to grow up feeling secure enough with herself to share them with me/her future friends/her future spouse? How can I expect her to become independent if she learns she has no way to get her needs met from the beginning?

I understand, in theory, why many parents believe the "Cry It Out" method fosters independence earlier on.  None of us want to raise a spoiled brat, I get it.  But before baby is old enough/articulate enough to say, "I'm screaming/crying because I want a pony and I don't have one!" I think it is our duty as parents to hear our children out and meet their needs. And babies NEED their mommies.  Since Edie was diagnosed Failure to Thrive because of her tongue tie causing poor weight gain in the beginning, I did a lot of research on the matter.  I read over and over again that babies in orphanages are often labeled FTT--not because they aren't fed, but because they aren't held enough. They aren't picked up when they cry--they're detached and grow up insecure as a result. 

And why is it such a bad thing that my baby NEEDS me? She's a baby--she came from my body recently, I am the most familiar thing she knows.

Studies actually show that babies who are cared for when they cry turn into MORE independent children/adults.  

The way I look at it is all babies are born VERY needy--they really can't do anything for themselves! As a baby's needs are met, she has less needs, and as a baby's needs are ignored, she'll continue to have lots of needs (but won't know how to express them in a healthy way because her means of expression was ignored).

And I don't know how many mommas I've heard say teaching their baby to self-soothe is the hardest/most depressing thing they've ever done.  There's a reason! It's our instinct as a mother to come to our child's rescue. Why are we trying to harden our hearts against our nurturing nature?

So when Edie cries, I pick her up. I believe she needs to feel attached to orient herself with the world, especially considering that, as of now, she was attached to my body for longer than she's been outside of it. I believe in having tough skin as a momma bear, but against harmful things that could cause my babe pain, not against her feelings.  I plan to keep my heart soft when it comes to those.

So when people tell me I'm "babying her," I think, "Well yeah, she's a BABY." Soon enough she won't be, and she won't ask me to treat her like one.

A few sources:

Dr. Sears

Dr. Sears


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1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Your unapologetic view on this is so refreshing and it MATTERS. You're right - babies are BABIES, and we were designed to take care of them, not abandon them when they need us. Just wanted to encourage you in this decision, and your courage to take it to the platform of your blog. So proud of you for using it to encourage others!

    Side note: in my ignorance (and if I'm being honest - selfishness and hard-heartedness), we cried it out with our first and while I got more sleep, I don't believe it has done her any favors in toddlerhood. Since my second has been born, I've read so much more on the myth of self-soothing (babies are completely incapable of soothing themselves - they lack the physical ability to) and allowed myself to empathize with my crying son. Never will we cry it out again! As mamas we signed up for this job and nurturing them is part of the wonderful burden that is ours.