Recent studies have shown that CIO, also known as “Crying It Out” can be seriously dangerous for babies. CIO is the method of sleep training in which babies are left to cry themselves to sleep, or “self soothe”, while parents check on them at regular intervals. Crying it out breeds abandonment and greatly damages the relationship between a mother and her child. It teaches her child that Mom cannot be trusted to come in when he is crying, sad, and lonely. It teaches babies that Mom is not reliable, and may not be safe. Despite the sorrow of this truth, CIO is practiced by many parents nationwide. But here is why CIO may not only be damaging your baby’s brain, but may also be putting him in danger of death.
Psychology experts write that when babies cry, their brains release Cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol is not only a stress hormone, but is also a toxic hormone that kills neurons. You know what that means– stress kills brain cells! A full-term baby’s brain is only twenty five percent developed at birth, and continues to grow and change rapidly throughout the first year of their life. Unfortunately, when babies are exposed to excess amounts of Cortisol, their brains do not develop properly. Studies released from Harvard and Yale universities show that babies who have experienced cell death as a result of exposure to Cortisol are more likely to develop conditions such as ADHD, anti-social tendencies, and poor academic performance later in life.
Furthermore, increased levels of Cortisol cause babies to fall into a deep sleep when they do eventually stop crying. This is why it seems like your baby is sleeping so peacefully after a session of CIO. However, your baby may not be as peaceful as she seems. Falling into such a deep sleep shortens your baby’s breath and greatly increases the risk of SIDS, also known as crib death or cot death. CIO, or sleep training, is literally deadly.
Human babies are hardwired to crave comfort, care, and human touch. Depriving an infant of the touch and care that they need will do much more harm than good. Sure, it may be easier to save the fifteen or even thirty minutes that your child needs to fall asleep at night. However, is that thirty minutes really worth risking your baby’s mental and emotional health?
Human babies thrive best when snuggled close to their parents. This means that practices such as cosleeping and breastfeeding are the best gift you can give to your child. But even if you are unable or unwilling to breastfeed and cosleep, please, do not leave your infant to cry it out alone in a crib.