Tag Archives: ferber method

Is CIO Killing Your Baby?

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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.  

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Sleep Training Is Bad News For Babies

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I doubt that any of my readers question my negative feelings towards sleep training and Crying It Out (CIO) for babies and toddlers. As a new year dawns and new parenting books hit the shelves, the question of whether or not to CIO is on the minds of every new parent. The question goes far beyond whether or not you have the heart to let your baby cry. It must also be pointed out that CIO can cause serious developmental and social problems not only during babyhood, but also during adult life.

As Heather Turgeon said on her webpage,

Ignoring baby cries during sleep training is linked to all kinds of problems later in life — ADHD, antisocial behavior, lower IQ. At the root of these claims is the idea that the stress of crying and the absence of a responsive parent release intense levels of chemicals that alter a child’s brain development. But is there scientific evidence to back this up?

She also went on to say,

…stress hormones like cortisol, released during intense crying, damage nerve cells in the brain, leading to unhealthy attachments and psychological disorders. …a repeated pattern of unmet needs disrupts a child’s stress-regulating systems and can alter the way her limbic structures process emotion.

There is more than enough evidence in recent studies to show that, yes, extensive crying is bad for babies. And while the Cry It Out method may suggest that mothers pop into the baby’s room regularly to let the infant know that their provider is still nearby, this presence is not constant enough to reduce stress and provide the relaxation that is necessary for inducing a gentle sleep. Heather Turgeon went on to say,

infants who cry excessively have a higher incidence of ADHD, antisocial behavior, and poor school performance.

The full article can be read here.

Many of the cases cited in anti-CIO articles are extreme and do not fit the norm of most parenting methods. It is important to note that most parents who choose to practice a Cry It Out method of sleep training are responsive to their baby’s needs, within limits, and do not allow the child to cry to the point of physical harm. However, there are some books which encourage allowing an infant or toddler to vomit and continue to cry, as a way to ‘show the child who’s boss’.

It is my opinion- and it is only that, opinion! -that sleep training is dangerous for babies and toddlers. As a mother of two, I have faced many a sleepless night. But as I began to understand that my expectations for a full night’s sleep were unreal, I began to find what works for Baby, not just what works for me. Like many mothers in this country and even more international mothers, I cosleep. We are a bedsharing family who provide warmth, love, and nurturing to our children at all hours of the day and night. As a result, we have been sleeping better than ever! I strongly believe that practicing CIO can lead to lifelong physical, psychological, and psychosocial problems for your child, and that a more natural, attached method to ‘sleep training’ is preferred.

Parents, instead of trying to conform Baby to your schedule, why not see what ways you can adjust YOUR schedule to Baby’s? The rule of thumb is compromise. We as parents must meet our children in the middle to encourage happy, healthy development and a peaceful home for all.