So, I know this is basically a super hot button topic and that my ideas probably don’t align with many, but it’s something I’m wanting to write about.
Crying it out is basically to allow your little one to weep until they are soothed or exhausted and fall asleep.
There are plenty of blog posts about it, mostly about how bad it is. However, I haven’t found many actual scientific or research based papers published that say the same thing, in fact most say it’s fine in moderation.
The most popular idea seems to be that it causes your baby unnecessary stress that will inconceivably damage them in some way. That you are essentially breaking your babies mental state and honestly the way some moms talk about it, like you are setting them up to be possible maniacs or bad seeds.
So before I state how I feel about the cry it out method, let me be clear about something, I am absolutely 100% positive, that leaving your baby to cry for hours on end without comforting or caring for them in any way is absolutely cruel and unkind and yes will probably lead to some stressed out babies. It should also honestly lead to you having your children taken away.
However when I and I feel most people talk about crying it out, that’s not what we are talking about. Crying it out, at least to me, simply means that after I’ve ensured that my boys are clean, fed, burped, and have been given tons of love, and its in fact time for a nap because I can see how hard their tiny bodies are fighting it (or not because let’s be honest, this new world around them is exciting and sometimes they don’t even realize they are exhausted), it’s time to lay them down to sleep. But if they don’t want to sleep right away, that they will lay there for a short while to see if they can self soothe themselves to sleep or at the very least to see if their tiny, over exhausted, little bodies have exhausted themselves to the point that they can’t do anything but fall asleep. This will involve checking on them every so often if they aren’t going down, to reassure them and ensure they don’t need anything.
I have two boys less than 8 weeks old right now, so I can’t say for sure how this goes for older babies, but I can say for sure how I know it goes for my boys.
Sure, in a perfect world I could just cuddle them all day long and life would be perfect, but that’s not the case. In the real world, I am a stay at home mom with two newborn twin boys, who has just moved over 2000 miles away from any friends or family and who’s partner not only works but goes to school. Since my partner is out of the house most days from 1230pm-630pm and again from 1030pm-930am, that means the 7 hours he is home is basically spent trying to eat or sleep and therefore the only interaction he has with our boys is basically to quickly cuddle them.
So in my world, and my boys world, I am the sole caregiver of them and the house. I don’t have family or friends to help and that is just how it is. The day after I got home from the hospital I was caring for them, cleaning, cooking, and going about my regular pre birth life, of course a bit more slowly. So for me, and a lot of moms who stay at home and/or work, cuddling all day long and constantly focusing on baby (or babies) is not an option.
I cannot sit with both of them and constantly reassure them until they fall asleep attempting to ensure neither of them sheds a tear. Most moms in the world regardless of how many kids they have cannot do this. And eventually your child is going to need to be able to go to sleep without you constantly pacing your home as you cradle their little bodies, singing their favorite song, while ignoring your need to pee and your overall state of exhaustion.
So, for nap time or bed time (of course for me, with the boys being so young, essentially every time is nap time), I go through their routines, lay them down, and walk away. Sometimes one cries, sometimes both cry, and sometimes no one cries (these times are of course the best times). However if crying does happen, this is ok, I’ll go about doing the other things I need to do, maybe pee, or feed myself, if not cleaning or cooking dinner. However if about 15-20 minutes go by (30 max if maybe I’m trying to get dishes done or shower) and someone is still crying I’ll go back and check on them. Are they clean still, did they maybe not get enough boob time before and decided they need more to be full, is there a hidden burp? If all is fine, they get some love, some reassuring words, and it’s back to bed. I keep this routine up until both are asleep or at least are calmed and no longer crying.
If it isn’t nap time yet, or the boys just got up and we are inconsolably fussy I also employ this method. If my loving you and cuddling you isn’t stopping the crying, and you aren’t wet, hungry, have any obvious injuries, or gassy, I’ll hold out for as long as I can cuddling and trying to console. However with two little guys, after a few hours of tandem crying that isn’t soothed by anything, it definitely starts to wear on you, so down the boys go since the only options are either a) simply they are unhappy and want to fuss or b) they are tired and in need of sleep. They get put down, I walk away, attempt to get other things done, and check on them like any other nap time.
Now let’s be clear, I’ve managed to stay relatively stress free, and have yet to get truly overwhelmed with my boys, but I also know at 7 weeks, I haven’t gone through some of the hardest experiences yet. I’m still waiting on sleep regressions, teething, and other wonderful moments in life with them that I imagine I’ll want to possibly rip my hair out for, and more luckily on my behalf, I haven’t yet experienced any real ppd. So I know that I have a lot more to experience, but up until now, being a solo mom in a new place with minimal help or adult interaction is going shockingly well. I truly believe this is because I don’t go crazy trying to ensure that my children don’t cry or stop crying if they are.
It’s ok for Mommy to take a break. It’s ok to walk away, get a drink, get a snack, take a shower, sit in the cabinet eating pop tarts and the cookies you have hidden away. It’s ok to cry for a little too. It’s ok to not be there for them 100% of the time physically. You letting your child cry it out (again as long as you aren’t simply ignoring them for hours on end) probably isn’t going to turn your child into an evil, mean, anxious, and/or an ill adjusted adult. They won’t call you twenty years from now cursing you for it. They won’t ever recall the twenty three minutes you let them cry for on August 8th 2015. In fact letting them cry it out is going to be harder on you than it is on them.
For me I think the hardest thing is hearing my babies cry, but I also understand that I need to take care of myself from time to time and torturing myself trying to figure out why my overly tired baby isn’t going to sleep while being on a sensory level, stimulated by me trying to console them for multiple hours isn’t helpful for anyone. I’ve found that if I just let them go through it, because they are frustrated, that I end up with very pleasant, happy, and smiley rested babies and I also feel better because I took the time to focus on something else for a little.
Remember Moms, we are still our own individuals first and foremost and no one in our home can properly or peacefully function or live if we ourselves are exhausted, cranky, anxious, or unhappy. Remember to take time for you and to walk away when you need to. Our children will still love us and they will probably be happier after too.
Happy Mom, happy home, happy family.