Monday, April 15, 2013

Why letting your baby cry it out is not God's way.

I have written this post in my mind a hundred times. I have taught this post to many classes over and over again.But I have never put it here. Mostly because I feel like when I "teach" this to a class, or I talk to people one on one, they can hear my heart, and see my tears. And in the world of technology that is often times lost.

But a few days ago I watched a video posted on Facebook of a nursery door, and the cries of a sweet baby could be heard coming from behind the door. The caption read, "It's going to be a long night."
I had to say something. So I wrote, "Don't do it!"
You see we did it.
I know it "works".
But since then I have cried many tears as a result. I let our baby cry it out because I thought I was doing what was best. Because that's what I was taught by well meaning people. Since then I have learned the long lasting effects of letting our babies "cry it out" . It effects their brains, their hearts, and their attachment long term.
( I'm horrified at myself when I remember the Christian circles I walked in then and how we looked down upon those who chose to have their children control them, be the center of their marriage, or who just wouldn't be strict enough to teach their babies to sleep. To you, I am so so so sorry.)

All of this was racing through my mind Sunday night after I saw the Facebook post. Yet I knew I couldn't express my heart, my sorrow, and the science behind why we will never let any of our babies "cry it out" again, on a Facebook news feed. In fact the comments started rolling in.
"Baby manipulation, don't give in!"
"It's the hardest thing you'll ever do, but its worth it."
"Hard to do, but something that has to be done."
"It's harder on you than it is on her."

All friends, just trying to encourage another sleep deprived friend on this incredibly tough road we call parenthood. I know I've said all those things and more before.

But I was wrong. And I'm so sorry.

With our first baby we took "the class". We worked "the schedule". And as the time drew nearer and nearer to the six week mark I knew, we HAD to get him to sleep through the night.
I remember my entire body breaking out in a sweat. I remember my milk coming down, I remember David holding my hand, physically holding me in the bed so I wouldn't "break". Setting the timers so that I would know when I could get up and comfort him. And crying as I listened to him wail.

I often think that in America, from the very beginning of motherhood, we are taught to ignore our maternal instinct or our gut. Whether by medical "professionals" or well meaning friends, or even parents. And that's exactly what we do when we let our babies "cry it out". We ignore our gut. My body was screaming for me to go get my baby, my heart was crying to stop his cries, but I thought I had to do what I "knew" was best. When people comment "it's so hard" or "it's harder on you" that is us acknowledging that it feels so so wrong to do this.

So here is what I have learned.

Babies have needs. They weren't born manipulative, or selfish. They're not trying to mess up your marriage or your family system. They need YOU.

As you can see in my great drawing, a baby has a need, they are hungry, they express that need, they begin squirming, chewing their hands rooting, crying, you meet that need. You help them calm down. You hold them, you feed them, you rock them, you shush them, you bounce them. We do this hundreds of times each day. This cycle, that repeats itself over and over again, is the basis for trust, self-worth and efficacy.

You can also see on the outside I wrote "excitatory nt's" and "inhibitory nt's". This stands for excitatory neurotransmitters (for example norepinephrine, glutamate) and inhibitory or calming neurotransmitters (for example GABA or seratonin). These are the chemicals that are released in the body and brain during the right side of the cycle (the red side) and the left side (the blue side). On the right side, when our children are hungry for example, they begin to cry, their brains are flooded with stress hormones, these are the things that make their hearts race, their screams get louder, their faces red, their pupils dialate. These are the same neurotransmitters that flood the brain in fight, flight, or freeze mode. This is a stress situation.

But then we come.
We feed them, we rock them, we shush them. This is how we teach our children to calm down. This is how we build the foundation of mental health and self regulation, and trust, and self worth.
(Did you know that the largest, percent-wise, area of growth in a woman's body while she is pregnant is the synapsis in her brain for hearing?! We were created to HEAR OUR BABIES!)

When we do not respond to our children's cry the only thing we teach them is that their voice does not matter to us. That we will not hear them. They will stop crying. I promise. And you will have a full nights sleep around six to eight weeks. You will.
But it will be at a cost.

There are several studies I could talk about here. Ones where they put baby monkeys in a separate cage at night and didn't let their moms feed them. The monkeys became psychotic, they had less brain connections than those who were raised with their moms attending to them when they cried. Or others of gagged orphans, or babies who were not held when they cried.

But there is one I want to talk about, the research by Provence and Lupton. They found that within 30-60 days of an infants needs not being met when they cry, they will stop crying.
It doesn't mean they don't have the need.
It doesn't mean that we have "trained" them how to sleep.
It means we have taught them that their needs do not matter to us. That we will not come. (And the psychological research that has been done as a result of this message being sent to our children was done by Megan Gunnar at the University of Michigan, and it is so great, I don't want to talk about it here in fear of making most of us feel awful.)
But they stop crying. And we get to sleep.

Yet their little bodies still have the needs, those didn't go away when we stripped them of their voice. They're still hungry, or just a little scared, or cold, or hot, or wet.

Their brains are not developed in a way yet for them to possibly calm themselves. Not until three YEARS is this even physiologically possible, and truly this portion of the brain doesn't fully mature until around age 30!!

So whats happening to all of our babies that we've "trained" to sleep through the night?
Remember this.

Our babies are living on the right side of this chart. Their brains are being flooded with all those stress hormones, which act like bleach to the brain when they get too much without the calming neurotransmitters flooding over them. They are actually designed to almost paralyze the upper portions, the learning, expression, attachment, parts of our brains so that we only use our fight fight or freeze, base area.
Studies show, that although a baby who has been "trained" to sleep through the night, will not cry (and even sometimes, they won't show the physical signs of being awakened), their brains will still flood with these stress hormones. Their pulse will increase, they will begin to sweat, etc. But because they believe that their voice does not matter, they will not cry... This is still happening even thought we've taught them that we won't respond. So they live on the right side.

We don't want our children living in this place.
I know none of us want this. None of us hope that we paralyze our children's brain and incapacitate it to function properly or lack cohesiveness. None of us hope to risk our attachment and trust that we have with our babies. None of us want to negatively effect our children's self-worth. No one wants to shake the foundations of mental health and self regulation for our children. And yet by letting them "cry it out" we do.

If I could change anything, out of the millions of mistakes I've made as a mom, this would be the one.

There are lots of resources out there.
Here is a great, all around one. If you're looking for more. Let me know.

I would love to hear your comments and such. But let's keep it constructive. I know for some reason this is a dividing line for people. But I just want to remind you, I am not a scientist. I am a mom with five kids ages 6 and under. I am in the trenches! I get it! It's so so hard!

(I will follow this up with some strategies for those of us who have already made the mistake, ways to repair attachment and heal the brain, because there is hope.)

(Thank you Karen for your moral and educational support on all this. I hope I did it justice.)


  1. I love you and this is amazing and brave of you. Thank you for sharing your heart. Can't wait to see what you say next...
    I think I have some work ahead of me

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I feel so good hearing that. My husband & I are Asians and our upbringing is to keep our babies close to us till they are older. I always struggled with what everyone was saying versus wanting to attend to their needs. I am glad I chose the latter-to attend to their cries because they do have needs and cannot express it in language yet. My 3 kids are growing up. They are age 17, 15 & almost 9 years old. They are well adjusted, confident and we are a very closely-knitted family of 5. We do love spending our time together as a family.

  3. Thanks for posting this. Very true and important information.

  4. Thank you Amanda! I let my oldest cry. And not as often with my second. And with Jo I've been rocking him to sleep most nights. He's only woken up about 4 times in the night when he was sick. This is so powerful to read and breaks my heart. I wonder if any connection can be made with night terrors & letting babies cry it out... I bet so. My oldest has the most bad dreams. Hmm.

  5. When my oldest was born, Baby Wise was the big rage and I felt major pressure to follow it, yet my heart said no. Unfortunately my baby was colicy and although all I wanted to do was hold him, I thought I was suppose to put him down. My next three babies slept with me (unapologetically) until they were almost a year old.
    I do have to say though that at that point I did let them cry it out and it took them about three nights to stop crying. I have yet to see any lasting effects in them. They all came back to our bed (even my oldest because by then I was sure Baby Wise was Baby Evil) around two or three and spent the second half of the night sleeping with us until they stopped six months later on their own. This was not something we asked them to do, it was just what they all did naturally. What I've learned is that kids grow up fast. Why shove them into their own corner while they're so small and sweet - LOVE every minute of it! Nurse them, sleep with them, and tell your critics to go away!

  6. Amazing! THANK YOU for writing this article. My siblings & I slept with our parents when we were little and were never made to cry it out. I do not have children of my own yet but I work in the mental and emotional health field, & yes, I see the far reaching effects of needs not being meet in early life. Thankfully, there is healing for those who seek it.

  7. I am currently a Child Development Major at TCU. This is everything I am going to school to learn. It's so hard for me to explain to people why I have learned that "crying it out" is a detrimental option for a baby (they brought it up one time in Modern Family and I cried over it). It breaks my heart to think of the numbers of children who were raised to just cry it out... And we are baffled at the rising rates of suicide, the emergence of self-harm in the lives of teens, and the countless other ways that children cry out to be heard by our parents or hear that they still matter and are important... It breaks my heart.

    1. Well I have "studied" under Dr. Purvis for many years now. And recently went through the TBRI for professionals training, and I teach Dr. Purvis and Dr. Cross' amazing research and intervention throughout the adoption and fostering communities of colorado. My husband always teases me that if I run away the first place he;s going to look is at TCU:) You are a very blessed lady to be studying there, soak it all up!

  8. Are you specially talking about the 0-8 weeks or all ages?

    1. I am talking about all ages. And I posted today much more information if you're interested!

  9. The title says that it's not Gods way, i would love some scripture to put with this.

  10. Katie, I believe God created us human beings, from the beginning. And so he created our brains and souls and all of us. And so through the science, I hoped to show you that God didn't create us to be alone. He is the one who made our brains, the ones that don;t function properly when we leave our children alone to cry. Even to Adam, he said, it is not good for you to be alone. We all need comforted. And He promises that when we cry out, he will answer. That when we knock, He will open. If we seek we will find Him. Our God is a very attentive God who doesn't leave us alone in our times of struggle. He weeps with those who weep, and He comforts those in mourning.

    1. Thank you for your reply.
      I was a little uneasy after reading this yesterday because it left me feeling like "if I let my baby cry, that makes me a bad mom". I just read your post from today (my first info on the Ferber method) and feel much better. I have chosen to keep my babies with me for the first 3-6 months and they have not had any trouble transitioning when it came time. My youngest is 8mths and it has been very difficult at times because he has cried more than my older 2 combined X2... His Dr thought maybe he had reflux or colic but she ruled those out and was at a loss as well. Even with his excessive crying he has no problem being laid down in his bed and going right to sleep (we just feed several times a night :0) I say all this just to say that, there have been times that all his needs are met and yet he just cries. Holding, rocking, singing, praying or whatever else I could think of didn't help. I have relied on "my gut" a lot along with prayer and taking shifts. There have been times that I had to put him down and walk away for a break so that I did not hit my breaking point. And that's ok. I know (after reading your post today) that this type of situation is not really what you were talking about. I agree with you that babies especially should not be left alone in their time of need and that God created us to need companionship.
      Sorry for the long reply!

      Thank you for your thoughts :0)

    2. I'm so sorry you have a crier. We all need to take our breaks! Trust me. I always tell people to learn as much as they can and then pray everyday for supernatural wisdom and creativity!

  11. At my daughter's 2 week checkup, the doctor told me it was time to start letting her cry it out so she can learn to fall asleep on her own. You make so much sense though. fortunately she is a really good sleeper so we haven't had to deal with if we are going to let her cry it out too much (two months old now). But when she does have a hard time, I haven't let her cry for too long because I can't handle the I know why...I am wired to respond to her needs. I don't think I let my son (6.5 years) cry it out very often either.

  12. Thank you SO MUCH for this post. I, too, was originally a "let them cry it out" mom with our first son, who we adopted at birth. That was THE way to do it in my close circle of Christian friends. Then we adopted three kids from a very hard place (at one time) and I did my homework (and am still doing it!). All I have learned about attachment has made me realize how "let him cry it out" was NOT a good idea. I'm so thankful for the way you brought this issue to light with clarity! (P.S. I found your blog because I was at the Embracing Orphans retreat a couple weeks ago, but got there late and was sick most of the time so I wasn't very social!)

  13. Brilliant...I never could bring myself to do it. You are a courageous woman with a big heart, this post will let so many young women off the hook. Be blessed

  14. What a refreshing ( and scary too) article. My kids are in their thirties now and I was taught to "make" them sleep through the night early on. I learned by the second one that nursing doesn't work very well if you start doing that before six weeks.
    During our regular well baby care visits our pediatrician used to recommend a book to read- Two books he recommended kind of reiterate what you are saying - "A Mother's Touch" by Elisa Arndt and " A Mother's Time" by same author.
    I think we are so busy during the day these days and don't take time to rest when we should, that it's hard to think of the nightly staying awake to soothe our baby concept. But I agree that God created us to be moms and to be nurturers of our babies and children.
    Thank you for putting this subject into perspective, it's makes sense.

  15. Ok, so here is my question. We were blessed with two kids who were pretty good sleepers, so in full disclosure, we never were really pressed to make some decision. Except would you say there is a difference in letting a child cry it out and letting a child fuss it out? What I mean is out adopted daughter who was born addicted to a whole bunch of junk didn't sleep through the night until about a year old. But she didn't necessarily cry in the middle of the night, but babble. I didn't ever rush into her during those times because typically I'd hear her stir for a minute or two and my popping in to check on her then woke her up fully. So we invested in a monitor with a TV screen so I could easily discern the difference. And now at 3 and a half, we hear her middle of the night sing-alongs or that she is feeding her stuffed animals and I don't but in. So that's different, right? I do however, tell her that she doesn't need to come into our room in the middle of the night to tell me she has a dry pull-up. That Mommy and Daddy are sleeping and she is welcome to wake us for bad dreams or accidents or if she is sick, but that she needs to wait until the sun is up to tell us that her pull up is dry. This is a different category too, right?

    1. You've made me giggle. Yes I agree with you. Stirring is very different, as we all stir in the night. The Ferbering method though is about full on crying when they are hungry or scared or lonely, whether they throw up, or are sick, or whatever. You just them cry. I let my babies stir. And my husband lets me stir:)
      And I would definitely be sending my 3 year old back to bed with that news;) but also try giving her a protein snack at bed time. Often times children's whose brains were deprived of nutrients and such prenataly will not sleep through the night due to this lack of nurturance from the beginning. So try a peanut butter sandwich or apple, or some turkey slices or chocolate protein shake... That might really help her. And also some melatonin. (Check with your doc on dosage amounts.)

  16. First of all 6 weeks is MUCH too early to cry it out at any time, much less to get them to sleep through the night. Babies don't have the capability to calm themselves until 3.5-4 months, and certainly shouldn't be expected to sleep through the night at 6 weeks. Multiple feedings overnight are still definitely warranted if the baby needs them. No need to wake a sleeping baby (lucky you!) if they are sleeping through the night, but anything I've ever read or researched (which is a TON) says 6 weeks is too early. Of course there are two sides to this battle, I happen to be on the other one that feels BABY (and toddler, and child etc) needs a good night of sleep starting at a certain age, for health reasons as well as to learn how to sleep. I most definitely do NOT do it for my own selfish reasons. Each family weighs their own decisions based on what they feel are important needs, and I in no way feel my children are less loved, or feel less loved, because they have had to cry a couple times in their lives at bedtime. I'm going to respectfully disagree and hope that other mothers who make a different decision than this don't feel upset or ashamed. Motherhood is tough enough without the mommy wars.

    1. I agree. No mommy wars:) thanks for your input!

    2. I agree with Anne! Thank you Anne for speaking up. I think it is sad that you are saying that crying it out is "not God's way". I am a God fearing, God loving mother and I have also let both of my beautiful and most wonderful children cry it out. I have talked to many pediatricians and read a ton of research on the topic as well. It is so easy to find research to back up anyone's side...and that's fine. I'm not saying your way is wrong, but I am appalled that you are going to say that something that I have done with my children is "not God's way". I am saddened at the number of moms using the internet to decide what is best for them...and the feeling of shame that they will feel when they read your title. I 100% stand by what I have chosen to do with my children. My relationship with my kids is deep. It is strong. It is not any less than it should be because they cried it out! It's OK that we do things differently, and I'm not trying to start a "mommy war" simply because I disagree. It is OK to have different parenting styles, but I will never say to you that your way is "not God's way". I just suggest that you change the title of your post because it shames moms that choose to do something different from you. My kids are extremely healthy and happy and extremely loving, compassionate, sweet and kind. Crying it out has not had any negative effect on them!

    3. I'm pretty sure she's just using word play on the book title "raising kids gods way" by Gary Ezzo. ... A book that insists cry it out is THE biblical parenting method.

  17. Thank you for sharing. With my youngest baby (of 5) just born this past year, I have really asked and prayed to God about this very thing! I also let my other babies cry it out, and was "proud" about how "well" my babies slept. I began to really seek the Lord about what was "RIGHT". Gods word says: the "wisdom of the world is foolishness to Him". Science is always changing, but God made babies, and made us to care for them, and HE KNOWS what they need. This is what I feel He revealed.
    I really began to feel Him sayiing "GO GET YOUR BABY" as she would cry and cry and cry (as I had let my other children do before) and I would pray and pray and pray because I didn't know what to do. Im not a mom who lets my kids rule my house, I'm mom and I'm in charge, :o) but I also absolutely want to balance discipline with LOTS of LOVE, GRACE, AND NURTURING.
    I also realized that God made babies to want to nurse and be close to us. Every baby is born this way. The nurse to sleep, they constantly suck (even in the womb) etc. They want to be held, cuddled, touched, soothed, rocked. IT IS UNIVERSAL! That is the way God made babies.
    In the same way, every Mom wants to hold their baby, rock them, soothe them, it feels "RIGHT" and Natural.
    However, wordly "wisdom" now tells us not to do this. Its completely going against both our babies design and our intuition.
    We also live in a society that is so busy, so schedule oriented, and sometimes so focused on what is the most convenient that we now use rockers instead of rocking our baby, we now use videos to entertain our babies instead of entertaining them, we use food pouches and finger foods and spoons as soon as possible so they can develop coordination skills instead of looking them in the eye and feeding them ourselves, we use bouncy seats instead of bouncing them, we use everything that is convenient but replaces our personal involvement with them. It's EASIER for us, but what are the long term consequences of that? (Guilty of all of these by the way!!!)
    We are so focused on making sure they are independent, but who said that was okay or right? Why has this become the "RIGHT" way, when there is nothing scripturally to confirm it. If anything, our Father, responds to us much differently.
    God loves our dependence on Him. He is such a nurturing loving Father. When we cry out to Him we wait, expect, and hope for a quick response. We actually feel abandoned when we don't feel He is answering. We question how He could love us when He doesn't respond in a timely manner. When we feel lonely, we feel loved by Him when He sends someone to give us an encouraging word, or serve us in some way. Its those wonderful ways He reaches down to show us He loves us, where we see that He is a good God, trustworthy, and we see that He really does care for us.

    How can an infant understand our delays? How can they understand why were not coming? They aren't even old enough to know what it is we are doing, where they are, if they are safe, that were in the room next door, nothing. All they know is that they are scared, hungry, hurt, tired, etc. and we are no where to be found. How scary is that for a little baby!!! Crying is their only way of communicating to us and helping us to respond.

    Parents, please think about the way that God responds to us as a Father. We really need to not think of "worldly wisdom" in parenting, we need to ask God what He has to say. HE KNOWS!

  18. I think that in all things there is balance. I've heard both sides of the issue and have experienced both with our 8 kids. What can get overlooked in this is that sometimes distress can come from over stimulation or over-tiredness. I've seen mom's dead set against "those horrible cry it out parents" give their little ones everything they felt they needed in terms of eye-contact, feeding, ,rocking, etc... and overlook a very simple need to sleep. If a baby's overtired, they often cry. That baby would need some time to cry on their own to get the sleep they need (maybe 3-5 minutes at a time). I agree it's hard to hear crying and so often as new parents we got the answer to that cry completely wrong (how often as a dad did I do everything and forget to check the diaper?). I don't believe that letting a baby cry for a reasonable amount of time needs to be a harsh or cruel, attachment inhibiting choice if all options have been covered and it's done sensibly and in short amounts of time. It's interesting that I'm reading and responding to this today as am on a break where we are training staff on attachement theory. Kids learn attachment all day long through looks, responses from mom, feeding times, play, cooing, etc... Having a few cry minutes while trying to get to sleep (again only short 3-5 min perhaps) is not going to damage your kid - it may be giving them exactly what they are asking for through that cry. Over time we learned as parents to know one cry from another and when that certain cry came from the crib that said - distrress - no program or schedule mattered. On the other hand we let our babies cry out those - "I'm exhausted and you kept me up too long" cries until they got the rest they needed. One tip for anyone who does consider anything like babywise is to be wise with your baby and sensitive to their personalized needs while establishing schedule. It's not wise to let a baby cry for 30 minutes because a book says to. It's also not wise to grab a baby out of crib at every whimper.

  19. Allan, I totally agree. I hope you have looked at my follow up article. Here:
    I agree there is balance is everything!
    Thanks for your input!

  20. When people ask my husband and me if we sleep trained both of our kids, we'll say we did a combination of things we learned from Baby Wise, Happiest Baby on the Block, and God-given instincts for our kids. I think it's precarious to adopt 100% anything any book tells you to do for your children without thinking, discussing with your spouse, and praying for the Spirit to lead. Science and expert opinion is always changing. It is said that Dr. Spock recanted later in life many of the things he said in his books. I'm not an expert of course, but I would never ever recommend allowing an adopted or foster care child to “cry it out.” As an amazing mom who adopted four young children once told me, every child who is an orphan or in foster care is special needs to some degree. So adopted children, special needs, and children in foster care are a completely different story to me. And every child, biological children included, is different from the next. But since we did sleep train our biological children and they were sleeping through the night by four to six months, it saddens me to hear another Christian mom make the blanket statement that “Crying it out is not God’s way.” In reading this blog post, I really had to grapple with the assertion that I had done permanent damage to my children by spending a few weeks helping them learn to fall asleep on their own. We put our babies down when we knew they were TIRED, had full tummies and clean diapers, and not sick. Sometimes it took them anywhere from five to 15 minutes to fall asleep. We would go back into their room, rock and sing to them, and lay them back down. After a few weeks, both were falling asleep on their own. Our 4 ½ year old son is active and independent. He’s always on the go. We joke that he’s not a snuggler--and he’s not really a snuggler--but he’s a very sweet and smart boy. He’s affectionate and gives quick hugs as he’s running off to hunt a lizard or play legos or read a book. If you blink, you could miss one of these quick displays of affection. After reading this blog post, I actually found myself worrying, “Maybe sleep training made him independent and not inclined to snuggle!” As if the entire rest of the day I spent with him, loving him, responding to his every need, teaching him, and being affectionate with him suddenly could be rendered moot because of a few weeks of sleep training. As if a person is anti-attachment parenting just because they’ve chosen to help their little one be able to feel secure in their own room and bed and fall asleep on their own. Our 20-month-old daughter is the exact opposite of her brother. She is a total cuddle bug. So I had to reason with myself, “Okay, if what this woman is saying is true for your kids, why would K be so affectionate?” I guess only time will tell if my children will grow up to be sociopaths because I sleep trained them. ;) In all seriousness, it saddens me to think that another parent reading your post would feel ashamed because of the choice they made to sleep train. In our world that is rife with advice, experts, and even a competitive or condescending spirit among parents who should be there to support and encourage one another, it would be lovely if advice from other Christian moms would be presented in a humble and non-judgmental way. To me, it’s such a strong statement for you to assert that a parent’s choice is not God’s way. I am a researcher. I read the expert (and not-so-expert) opinion on both sides of this topic and my husband and I made a decision we felt was best for us and our children. I've seen the extremes on both side of this argument. I once had another mom tease me by saying, "You CAVED!!!" when I told her I went into my son's room to feed him in the middle of the night. I felt he was hungry. Sue me. Sleep training may not work for every parent and child. It’s fine to read the books, but it seems wise to me that parents earnestly evaluate the advice, pray, and go with their God-given instincts.

  21. There is a huge difference between "crying it out" and complete neglect. Your "scientific evidence" and argument don't even consider the many waking hours that us "selfish" moms attend to our baby's needs and cries. I don't think it's fair to assume moms who let their kids cry for a few minute when they need to sleep are guilty of abuse.

  22. Some people may wonder how we can tell what the baby is really feeling, since they don't *remember,* but I just wanted to say that I've been going through healing for a while and have gotten in touch with "memories," I guess you can say, of my early childhood. They are not really memories, but more like feelings, word thoughts and impulses, that if I allow myself to experience, it brings release and healing.

    Here is an example. Have you ever seen a child cry so hard that they actually stop breathing for a moment before they finally suck air back in? One time, I was crying and getting in touch with a "younger part" of myself. At first I felt like holding a stuffed animal. I felt so alone and sad, and I just wanted to hold something soft. But I felt like I went "younger" and all I could do was lay on my back and thrash my head side to side while raising my arms for "someone." The cries were so strong that I just had to keep pushing out the cry until I literally had no more air. I could feel what "the baby" was feeling. I felt very strongly that I needed LOVE more than I needed air. (Forgive the all caps; it't the only way to give emphasis). I needed it like my very life. I needed it more than life. I needed somebody to COME GET ME to COME BACK. And I was helpless there, just NEEDING. I've never felt feelings more real than in experiences like this, and I am thankful for them. It has helped me to understand what love is and to even be able to love more. Love is BEING THERE. Love is TOUCH. Love always comes back. Love doesn't leave you. I have learned this through experience. I am deeply grateful.

    Going through these things has gradually changed the way I parent. I let my first one cry it out, though I was very conflicted. I really wanted to do the right thing. With this second one, I cannot bare it anymore. She gets loved to sleep every night (nursing and rocking) and then she comes to bed with me when I go to bed. She nurses when she wants to, and my heart feels so full. I love every moment I can attend to her. I have come to learn that love isn't just not doing the wrong things, it's EVERY MOMENT you can be there and express that love. Children need love like they need air. The more of it they get the better. I apologize if this offends anyone. I wasn't sure if I wanted to write it, but I figured my experience is pretty unique, so why not put it out there. Some people will probably appreciate it. Share and re-post as you wish - Bethany H.

  23. I commented above about reliving early childhood experiences. Something came to my mind after I posted it, something I had forgotten. One of periods in which I was grappling with letting my first child cry-it-out, a very comforting song came on the radio. It was "Esther" by Esterlyn. It had a line in there that said, "He holds the children throughout the night," and ironically I took it as a "sign" that God was giving me his approval on the crying it out, giving me his comfort and reassurance that he would be there with my child and make it okay.

    It wasn't until a year or so later that a better interpretation occurred to me. I do hope and believe God was there for my child, but why not ME be there for my child?? If we as parents show the love of God to our children, what are we showing them by leaving them feeling such aloneness and terror?

    I think some people become defensive when someone says you might be doing or have done something wrong as a mom. And I get that, because as a mom being a "good mom" is the most important and deeply felt thing. But God has helped me to see that I am a "good mom," no matter what, because I'm doing my best and there is grace for my mistakes, not only for me, but for my kids. I have made a lot of mistakes, and keep making them, as I'm working out a lot of anger issues, but I've had to get comfortable with being weak and start to realize that my children are in good hands with their heavenly father. I don't think for a moment that children who had to cry it out--whether from good intentions or not--will have some sort of life-long handicap, especially when trusted into the hands of God. But at the same time it doesn't do any good to pretend something is okay when it really isn't. A long time ago when someone was sick, they "bled" the person. EVERYONE believed in it, especially the doctors who wanted to heal people. But it wasn't helping like they thought; it was hurting. I imagine they would have been defensive too if someone tried to tell them the truth. - Bethany H.

    I just looked up the lyrics to that song ("Esther" by Esterlyn), and here I will post them:

    He heals the broken hearted,
    He binds their wounds,
    He is Love,

    He finds those forgotten,
    Those who've been abused,
    He is Love,

    He knows your name,

    A Farther to the fartherless,
    A healer of the brokeness,
    You make, beauty from the ashes,

    A helper to helpless,
    A fighter for the hopeless,
    You Love, those who are alone.

    He comforts the lonely,
    He hears their cry,
    He is Love,

    He holds the children,
    Through out the night,
    He is Love,

    He knows your name,

    A Farther to the Fatherless,
    A healer of the brokeness,
    You make, beauty from the ashes,

    A helper to the helpless,
    A fighter for the hopeless,
    You Love, those who are alone,

    Give us your Heart Lord,
    Help us Love, the unseen,

    And give us your eyes Lord,
    Help us Love, those in need,

    You're a Farther of the Fartherless,
    A healer of the brokeness,
    You make, beauty from the ashes,

    Your a helper to helpless,
    A fighter for the hopeless,
    You Love, those who are alone,

    He knows your name,
    He knows your name

  24. It looks like you did a lot of research and have the personal experience to prove this. I am absolutely on your side, though I am not yet a mother. I'm a 24-year-old preschool teacher and a nearly-graduated Child Development major. All my studies agree with you as well. I would like to see some of your sources though, if possible. This is an issue I'm currently studying and about to write a paper on, so any research would be great to have! Sadly, I can't site a blog.

  25. oh how i loved this post, amanda. God gave mamas gut feelings for a reason. i believe so much in not a "specific" type of parenting, but to follow what God has put in my heart and not to go against it no matter what any "professional" recommends.

  26. I love the line that says, "When we do not respond to our children's cry the only thing we teach them is that their voice does not matter to us.". We really need to respond to our babies when they cry because they need affection as well. Even if they're not really aware of what's going on, they still have feelings and emotions too.

  27. First of all, as a father of four young children, I wanted to establish the fact that I am grateful for your insights and that you put them down into words on your blog. However, I agree with Dawn. Is there any way you can edit this blog and add sources? (e.g. citations for "the largest, percent-wise, area of growth in a woman's body while she is pregnant is the synapsis in her brain for hearing", and the other "several studies" you mentioned.) I know this blog entry isn't being turned in to be graded, but as a college professor, I would have marked you down considerably for failure to cite your sources. It is very important to support and validate your claims.

  28. Great post, what you said is really helpful to me.I agree with you anymore. I have been talking with my friend. Keep up with your good work, I would come back to you.

    How To Make Babies Sleep

  29. Oh wow! What a wonderful post! Thank you for being BRAVE and speaking the truth. A friend posted your blog on Facebook. :) Glad to find it! We have 8 children, some home grown and some grafted into our family through adoption. :)
    But crying it out.... oh my, just couldn't ever do it. We made plenty of other mistakes along the way! :) Our oldest is 35 and youngest 13. We have 11 grand babies now and life is full of adventure!

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  32. Thank you so much Amanda! This post is wonderful it is nice to see others in the world that feel the same as myself and my husband. We had our LO 2 months early so she was in the NICU for 3weeks which we had to follow the Hospital rules, very hard for us. But we are a family that does not believe in CIO, we believe in Love and Patience with Gods Support and Loving. LOTS OF CUDDLES!!!! LOTS OF KISSES!!!! LOTS OF LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE AND COMFORT!!!!

  33. Thank you for your brilliance with this. I have had this argument with my brother and sis-in-law and I realize it's not my place. I'll just be there for their son as he grows older. My son is so self-assured and he trusts the world and the universe. I NEVER let him cry it out. It just sounds silly to even say that. Thank you thank you thank you. I shared it with a friend on FB who was posting that he couldn't sleep because his one year old was screaming in her crib "refusing" to go to bed. If you can't be there for your baby - don't have a baby.

  34. I love your opinion here. But I have two critiques--Your title would lead one to believe you just spoke on behalf of God. I don't think there is any scriptural foundation for you to make the claim that this is "God's way" one way or another.

    Secondly--I felt SO much shame reading this post. If I were a father/mother who did allow their child to cry it out--I would feel incredible amount of undeserved guilt. I think you could have accomplished this by simply being FOR this method, with no need to shame yourself or others for choosing a different path.

    And thirdly--the research you cited was hardly scientifically referenced. You paraphrased and didn't actually link to any scientific data to back up your claims.

    Sorry, but I highly disagree here.

    Let's all be very careful when we claim to speak on behalf of God.

    1. Sorry--typo--I had three critiques. :)

    2. Sylvia RN MSN NP-CJuly 3, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    3. Sylvia RN MSN NP-CJuly 3, 2014 at 8:33 PM

      More on God's perspective on "Cry it out":

    4. Sylvia RN MSN NP-CJuly 3, 2014 at 8:33 PM

      Studies showing negative effects of "cry it out" on infants:

  35. Sylvia RN MSN NP-CJuly 3, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    Thank you SO much for encouraging mommies to be gentle and responsive! Before I had kids, I thought that I would one day let them "cry it out". Then we had my daughter and I wanted to respond to her no matter what. We ended up giving in and trying CIO one time when my daughter was 6 months of age, and her crying broke my heart... We've never done it again since, and she's now 3.5 (great sleeper) and have a 2 year old that we've never done it with. I also fully believe that God responds to our cries no matter what- we should also respond to our babies. They are "the least of these" that Jesus talks about- whatever we do to them, we are doing to Jesus!! Thank you for sharing!!!
    This blog also has a great Christian perspective on cry-it-out!

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