Monday, May 14, 2012

The Low Down on Sleep Training

In December, the social media world of parenting went ablaze after the blog post, “The Dangers of Crying it Out” was published on Psychology Today’s website. In her post, Dr. Darcia Narvaez warned of the dangers of traditional sleep-training methods, such as the popular practices of crying it out, also known as extinction. I sleep-trained both of my daughters, and yet it took a good month for me to be able to finally sit down and read the piece. The problem? Lingering guilt about my decision to let the girls cry it out. Would this article prove that I had done irrecoverable harm?

Both of my girls were lousy natural sleepers. The firstborn was one of those kids who took exactly 45-minute naps and woke up cranky and inconsolable for the next 30 minutes. Up until nine months of age, she was a frequent night-waker ready to start the day at 5:45AM. At this point, I decided to stop all nighttime feeding, hoping that this would solve the majority of the wake-ups. The babe was a healthy weight and given plenty of love and affection in the daylight hours. She needed to sleep, and I needed at least 10 hours a day for my body to belong just to me.

On the advice of my pediatrician, I read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and eagerly adopted author Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s views on the importance of sleep for the welfare of the child and family. Using the extinction method, in which the baby can cry it out indefinitely at night and for an hour during naptime, the baby was sleeping through the night within a week. Yes, it was agonizing, but I don’t remember those particular cries. (My firstborn was a colicky baby and cried a great deal, no matter the situation).

Read the rest here at

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