Don't stand unmoving outside the door of a crying baby whose only desire is to touch you. Go to your baby.
The latest article from Time magazine on baby sleep has me upset. (Of course, it does seem that's what they're aiming for recently. Remember the skerfuffle they caused over the "scandalous" breastfeeding cover?) The thing with this particular article however, is that it goes a step further than just ruffling feathers, or causing a stir. I'm afraid it may take what many parents may be on the edge of doing, and give them that little push over. What am I talking about?
Crying it out.
Crying it out, or controlled crying, is the practice of leaving your baby to cry herself to sleep - usually at gradually increasing timed intervals - in an effort to "train" her to sleep on her own. Forced independence. There are myriad books and websites and doctors and parents and websites that will help steel you against your babies cries, encourage you to "be tough", and "not give in", leading you to believe that overriding your natural, instinctual NEED to GO to your crying baby, is the right thing to do... in order to "prevent spoiling your baby".
Have you ever listened to your baby cry, when you couldn't get to her? Maybe you were in another room, helping an older sibling, or driving your car. It's uncomfortable, physically difficult, painful even. If you're breastfeeding, your breastmilk may letdown, you start breathing faster, your heartrate picks up, you sweat, feel nervous, uncomfortable, unable to focus or settle down. You have those responses because you NEED to go to your baby - it's biologically part of your make up, that connection with your infant. She needs to communicate, just like you need to listen. She's not manipulating you, and you're not giving in, you're both just doing what you're supposed to do to help this tiny human thrive and survive. Without that inadvertant response, our species might be in danger. So, why does this Time magazine article suggest that it's OKAY to leave your baby to cry?
Because I believe as a society we've come to lose faith in ourselves as baby interpreters. We don't trust our baby's ability to communicate, nor our ability to respond. We don't believe that they'll learn how to sleep unless WE "do something" to get them there. And yet… we don't actively TEACH our children to talk. We don't TRAIN our children to walk. We trust they'll come to do that on their own. I believe it is time to start trusting that our babies will learn to sleep just as they learn to walk and talk - with gentle encouragement, empathy, guidance, honor, and love.
It comes down to trust. It's time to start trusting yourselves again, parents. Trust your baby. She knows how to communicate, and you know how to listen to her. You know deep down what FEELS right. Honor that feeling, don't ignore it! You WILL learn each others' language, and baby WILL sleep; it doesn't take training or timers or turning a deaf ear.
Believe me: this short time when she's not sleeping as much as you'd like…It WILL be gone in a flash. And you will feel SO GOOD to know you LISTENED to her when she cried for you, that you HONORED her feelings, that you TRUSTED yourself AND her. Don't let "studies" sway you.
You want to go to your baby. So, go to her.