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Does letting your baby “cry it out” cause harm?

Here’s a link to a post that was being share on one of my therapist email lists recently.


For us “old moms” it can be upsetting to wonder if we caused damage by letting our children cry.  I can’t remember too many events where that was true, but one in particular stands out.  I remember our oldest being about 8 months old (yep, separation anxiety time) and having trouble all of sudden settling in for the night, night after night.  One night we tried the “cry it out” method, and it was too hard.  Our brains are wired to respond to our babies cries.

The post link was attached to this message, which I am quoting without permission, since it has some good information in it:

Thought I’d pass along this brief news article [first published in 2006] because for a number of years even Ferber himself (the ‘father’ of sleep training, controlled crying and leaving a baby to ‘cry it out’) stated he would NOT repeat this with his own babies given what we now know to be true about the physiological, psychological, and emotional damage that CIO has on infants, children, and human development. Unfortunately, the ‘controlled crying’ bandwagon that Ferber started many years ago (maybe even with good intentions?) has continued to roll out of control and parents are regularly given this very detrimental advice to ignore their baby’s only means of communication – her cry. We know there are cultures where babies’ needs are met ’round the clock, and as a result, they rarely ever cry. Why shouldn’t this be the case for our little ones as well? Let’s not do them any more harm. I would have to agree with the author’s final statement — there likely will come a day when we understand just how much damage we do to our babies, their neuro development and social attachment (and future children, adults, damage to even society in general) — that we will come to see crying-it-out as another horrifying form of child abuse.

Please read it and let us know what you think.

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