“Cry It Out”: New Study Suggests it's Best
Do you let your kids cry it out? It may be tempting to run into their room to soothe them back to sleep, but a new study from Temple University and published in the Developmental Psychology journal suggests that letting them self-soothe may be the best option for new parents.
Parents of more than 1200 infants were asked to report their child’s waking habits at 6, 15, 24, and 36 months. By six months of age, 66% of babies were reported to wake up once a week, while 34% were waking up seven nights a week. The second set of children, labeled “Transitional Sleepers”, reduced the number of wakeful nights to two nights a week at 15 months and once a week by 24 months. These Transitional Sleepers were more likely to be boys, rated higher on irritability and distractibility, experienced infant illness, and were breastfed at 6 and 15 months. The mothers also played a role because they were more likely to be depressed and have a greater maternal sensitivity.
Marsha Weinraub, co-author of the study, encourages parents to let their children fall asleep on their own so that they learn how to self-soothe. Running in to check what is wrong or breastfeeding them to sleep may not provide the best options for their learned sleep patterns. "The best advice is to put infants to bed at a regular time every night, allow them to fall asleep on their own and resist the urge to respond right away to awakenings," she says.
As a mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl), I agree with this study, but not completely with the advice. My daughter, now 20 months, has been sleeping through the night since she was 4 weeks old, however I did breastfeed her. I did the same with my boys, and although my oldest (now 7 years) has always been a good sleeper, my youngest son has not. Dealing with health issues, developmental delays, and sleep disturbances he has rarely slept through the night, even after 4 years. It just isn’t possible to let him “cry it out”. Instead, we focus on what does work: schedules, soothing routines, and even the occasional sleeping with mom and dad. The truth is, every child is different and parents need to find out what works best for their family instead of completely relying on a university study.
What do you think? Should parents let their children cry it out? What worked with your kids?