Should I let my baby cry itself to sleep?
Posted by: Sue Atkins
I receive many questions for my The Sue Atkins Parenting Show Podcast about babies & sleep:
Is letting your baby cry itself to sleep at night cruel and unnatural or no big deal?
What is best for your baby: crying itself to sleep, controlled crying or being soothed on demand?
I find almost nothing arouses as many polarised opinions amongst parents and experts as this topic (apart from smacking/spanking)
Last week a study from Philadelphia University was reported by the Daily Mail as advising mothers to let babies ‘self-soothe’. In fact it really documented the natural development of sleep patterns in more than 1,000 babies from the ages of six to 36 months.
When I work with parents who are having sleep issues – as I did on “This Morning” a few months ago I always start by looking at their routines for slowing down the day and creating soothing and slow routines that are consistent. I also encourage parents to get into a relaxed, positive & confident mindset themselves first, as kids unconsciously pick up on your mood intuitively too.
Babies are very different to toddlers or older children as babies should never be left to cry as they are too young to respond to behavioural training anyway.
Controlled crying (where your baby is left to cry for longer each night, although you go and pat them between sobs), has been shown, in many studies of research to cause undue stress in babies as they produce more cortisol, a hormone that can harm their developing brain.
Babies whose needs are not met develop anxiety & this feeling can stay with them right up into their adult life.
My simple advice is to put your infant to bed at a regular time every night, & help them to feel safe, nurtured & loved, & over time they will fall asleep on their own.
Trust your intuition, don’t be over anxious and learn to relax, as your child picks up on your vibes more than anything else.
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