Controlled crying, aka “teaching to sleep”

July 11, 2006

Well it works. Leave a baby to cry on their own for a while one night and all of a sudden the following night they are sleeping beautifully. It goes against all maternal instincts. And it has taught me that sometimes a parent has to learn not to give a child what they want, but try to give them what is best for them. If we give our children what they want all the time, we will create little monsters. To sit there for a whole hour while your baby cries is excruciating and harrowing. This is where logic needs to override emotion – logically we know the baby is not in pain or hungry. Logically we know he is just having a hard time getting to sleep and doesn’t yet know how to get to sleep on his own. He expects mum or dad to come in with the pacifier or the rocking because that’s what he’s always had. So we take the sleeping aids away and they scream. Eventually they somehow learn the trick to get their bodies to sleep. It’s like learning to crawl, walk or ride a bicycle. One day you are trying hard to get the act together and the next all of a sudden it comes together. Maybe it’s like that with sleep. My babies are little champions – and they are happy. We had one horrid night and it’s saved us many nights of waking and discomfort for them.

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2 Responses to “Controlled crying, aka “teaching to sleep””

  1. Biz Says:

    The Main Wounding Experiences: When a baby of this age is left alone to cry for extended periods, and is refused the holding and attention that she is calling for, this has profound and long-term consequences for her emotional make-up. She deeply absorbs the message that she mustn’t ask for what she wants or needs, her impulses to reach out collapse and she becomes resigned. She is not as yet equipped to cope with delayed gratification, and therefore experiences rigidly scheduled feeding, early weaning and “controlled crying” as abandonment and neglect. source :The Natural Child

  2. sonael Says:

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, I have thought a lot about the possible consequences of leaving babies to cry. I think the above comment is describing the consequences of long-term neglect, and is true for babies who are left alone for long periods or in institutions, there is no doubt. However, half an hour of crying does not amount to the same thing – particularly as controlled crying does involve coming into the bedroom every 5-10 minutes or so and stroking and comforting the baby. He always knows that you are there, you just don’t pick him up. For babies in a loving home, they are secure in knowing you will respond to their needs. They have no problem asking for what they want or reaching out because the normal situation involves a responsive parent. Controlled crying is only done for 1-3 days at a time and the actual crying does not go on long enough to have the profound consequences you are talking about. I have also seen many babies who have been through the process and are happy, assertive kids.

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