First, I would like to preface this with the fact that not a single parent in the world wants to be told they're abusing their kids or setting them up for emotional and physical turmoil. This debate, for example, seems to encroach upon that territory. If you do not let your child cry at night, I respect it. If you do let your child cry at night, I respect it. As long as the child is being loved and properly cared for, these are your decisions as parents. I go with my gut on these things, and you should as well. Ultimately, you know what is best for your little ones.
For me, I was letting my daughter cry because she has recently started waking up the second her body is lowered down into her crib. Once she realizes where she is, she stands up and cries. Last night was the 3rd night in a row, and I don't want her thinking we're going to run in there every single time. My husband doesn't get to spend much time with her during the week as he works so many hours. Because of this, he thinks it's OK to spoil her on the weekends. I know he misses her and hates working as much as he does, so I've tried to be patient. Saturday, however, he rushed to her side as she cried in her crib and let her sleep in the bed with him. After about an hour, I put her back in her room and didn't hear a sound until the next morning. The following night was HORRIBLE. She cried and cried and cried. Finally, I brought her to bed but only because I could not physically stay awake any longer. Around 2am, I put her back in her crib.
Last night, I decided we should wait and see if she stopped crying. I hate letting her cry and can't stand her being upset, but I do NOT want her climbing into bed with us every night as she gets older. It's common sense to know if we continue allowing her to sleep with us every time she cries, this behavior will continue to repeat itself. As we let her cry last night, the cries turned to screams and gasps for breath. Yes, I want to comfort my child. I'm not a monster. It got more difficult the longer the cries lasted, so I thought would search and see what other moms were saying about the issue.
After reading some feedback, I began to feel even more guilty about letting her cry. I still didn't want to reward the behavior, so I waited until she had stopped for a few minutes and checked on her. She was still standing there... defeated... but standing. Since she had calmed down, and blank faces from internet posts had made me feel guilty, I picked her up and cuddled her back to sleep.
Should I have felt guilty though? No. I know my kid. People can say it's impossible for a baby to be manipulative, but my kid is very manipulative. I know in my "gut" that I should have remained strong and let her soothe herself. She's almost 10 months old. She's very smart and independent. It's OK. As I said, this is my personal story about my child. Your parenting style may be different and your child's needs may be different as well.
After reading the various arguments floating around, I've decided to construct them into 2 lists below. The first list is why women say we should let the baby cry and the second, why we should not let the baby cry. I've also included a few links you can check out for more stories and advice. If you've found this post via a search engine, please note I am not a doctor or medical professional. I merely research and summarize. :-)
Why It's OK (Supposedly)
- Baby needs to learn to soothe himself
- Baby won't develop the behavior of "controlled crying" in order to manipulate situations in the future
- Baby will learn to comfortably sleep in his crib
- Sometimes babies just cry
- Need to learn to cope with separation anxiety
- Babies cry because they need something (not feeling well, diaper, food, comfort, sleep, etc.)
- Emotional insecurity - Baby may not think the parent will be there when needed
- Baby may not feel loved
- Intense separation anxiety
- Some people think it is selfish.
- Baby will learn to associate the crib with fright and being upset rather than comfort and sleep.
For additional reading, click the links below.