January 3, 2012

Cry It Out: The Method That Kills Baby Brain Cells?

So I ran across this article Here :
I know. A dramatic headline. Made you look. But it's not fiction. It turns out that the "Cry It Out" method of baby sleep training, where you ignore that your kid is screaming, crying and turning 40 shades of purple so that she can break herself out of the habit of being spoiled and cuddled to sleep, does more harm -- way more -- than good.
In her recent piece for Psychology Today, Darcia Narvaez, an associate professor of psychology at Notre Dame, writes that when babies are stressed, their bodies release cortisol into their systems -- a toxic hormone that kills brain cells. Considering their brains are only 25 percent developed when they're born full-term and grow rapidly in their first year, killing off baby brain cells is a huge no bueno. Narvaez notes that studies out of Harvard, Yale, Baylor and other prestigious institutions show that said killing off of baby brain cells can lead to the higher probability of ADHD, poor academic performance and anti-social tendencies, and that human babies are hardwired for hands-on comfort and care.
"Babies are built to expect the equivalent of an 'external womb' after birth... being held constantly, breastfed on demand, needs met quickly," Narvaez writes. "These practices are known to facilitate good brain and body development. When babies display discomfort, it signals that a need is not getting met, a need of their rapidly growing systems."
Um, remember that scene from the True Hollywood Stories: Rick James episode on the Dave Chappelle Show -- the one where Rick James is grinding his feet into Eddie Murphy's couch? Yeah. *insert an image of Denene doing the Rick James foot stomp into the couch thing here* In your face, Nick Chiles! For the record, I argued and fussed and fought with my husband over "Feberizing" our Mari. The infant self-soothing technique, invented by Dr. Richard Ferber, requires parents to let their babies "cry it out" for a predetermined amount of time, in increasing intervals, before they comfort them -- and even then, comforting involves talking to and rubbing the babies; picking them up or cuddling them is forbidden.
Now, it's been 12 years since we tried this "cry it out" thing with Mari, but I promise you, I can still hear her screaming in her crib in the next room. My breasts would throb at her every whimper, and every second on the clock would feel like an eternity while I waited for my chance to go in and pat her on her stomach, rub her arm and cheek and tell her, "it's okay, baby--Daddy promises you won't die from crying."
But I was. It just didn't feel right to let my child scream and holler and thrash by her little self in the dark in her crib when I knew full well that a little rocking in her glider, maybe a song and a sweet nuzzle of her cheek would send her off to dreamland. Granted, some nights that meant multiple rocking/singing/nuzzle time, but, to me, it was a small price to pay for feeling like I was mothering my baby and helping her feel like her mommy was there. Always there.
Of course, plenty other parents think differently about it and that's their right. We all do what we think works for our kids, our families, our lives. Not gonna point fingers at y'all. But I will point them at the hubs. When I showed this Yahoo Shine story chronicling Narvaez's anti-cry-it-out research -- and an interview in which Ferber actually backs off his own method--to Nick, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "It ain't fun for the baby, but that shit worked. Everybody got some sleep. You going for two years with only three hours of sleep at night isn't healthy either."
I think he might have said those exact words to me the first time I left Mari in her crib. Still, as much as his reasoning made sense, it just didn't feel right to me -- her mother. And when Nick told Mari we did this to her when she was a baby, she was incredulous: "What? You use to let me cry? You didn't come get me? You just left me there by myself?!"
That was Daddy, baby!
Yeah. That Ferber training didn't last long in our house, and I don't remember even trying it with my Lila. (Which might explain why our daughters' nighttime routines were a little worthy-of-a-Broadway-production hectic for longer than they should have been. But whatevs.) My babies and I benefited greatly from our nightly bonding sessions and co-sleeping arrangements, and I'm glad I did it for as long as I did.
Now that we've got this babies need to cry it out business out of the way, I've got some ideas on what researchers need to look into next: I'm waiting for the study to show that beating your kid like she stole something in what is supposed to be a friendly game of Go Fish and Checkers causes brain melt. I'm looking at you, Nicholas Chiles. I'm looking at you.
This post originally appeared on MyBrownBaby.com.

I have not read it fully as of yet, and would like to read the original posted here.

But I would like to start a discussion. This time I ask the people who comment to keep it classy, kind, and cool. I would love to know what your thoughts are.

From just reading the title.....I am not sure. But........A Mama knows when it doesn't feel right to let your baby cry for too long.

I will post back shortly with my thoughts.  Please feel free to comment.

XoXo-Andrea Carla


   While I do not agree wholly with letting your child cry it out...I do not believe in just letting your child scream for hours on end. I have a hard time controlling myself to not snatch my baby up when he is getting tests done at the Dr. and is screaming......or when Papa Bear is trying to soothe him and Baby Bear just isn't having it. So I am certain that my will power would be zero to just let him cry it out. And I have really thought about it too. After a year of getting up about every 2-3 hours every single night.....I am physically and mentally exhausted. I have had several friends tell me to just let him cry it out and he will learn on his own I am not coming, and will get over it. But since Baby Bear is so small to begin with and he cannot eat very much at a time....we struggle to get even 3oz at a time in him.....I know that he isn't so much waking out of habitt, but more because the little guy is a starvin marvin.

   I do however believe in not rushing to them at the drop of a hat. Any Mama can tell what her babies cry means. So when baby bear starts to do his fuss/crying when he bangs his toe, or smacks himself with a toy he is playing with....I don't jump and scoop him up off of the floor. I talk to him soothingly and tell him to come to me to get a kiss to make it better. By the time he crawls or cruises over to me....He has pretty much gotten over whatever it is that caused the pain.

    I have a friend who's first child was not a fan of going to bed. This little girl would scream and scream her little lungs out each and every night for almost her first year. And poor Mama was trying everything! She asked her doctor for help, she read books, ask other Mama's for advice....finally I think when she was at the end of her roap they both found a routine that worked for them. I do not see that as letting your child cry it out. Rather baby wasn't sure what she wanted....and Mama was doing her best.

   So I say a little crying isn't so bad.......but turning several shades of purple I don't think is such a great idea.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this

-Mama Bear


  1. I never believed in letting my kids cry it out, but I read a thing by Dr Sears that said they didn't NEED to eat at night past about 8 months of age. Both my kids started sleeping through the night at 8 months because ONE night I didn't jump up and feed them the second they stirred and they cried for about a minute, and then soothed themselves back to sleep. And that was it, they slept through the night without waking from then on (Unless there was a problem with illness or teething. They just stopped waking up to eat at night at that point.)

    It worked for us, and I don't think any brain cells were lost in the process (they are both in Gifted Education at school) I just think that there needs to be balance in what you do, and it needs to be right for you and your baby. Some babies NEED to eat as much as possible and don't self sooth no matter what, and would loose confidence that someone will come get them if needed, if not picked up ASAP. Other babies are fine not eating at night after a certain age and just need the opportunity to figure that out.

    That being said, I am only taking about older babies at night, during the day I always picked my kids up as soon as they cried and I believe that that taught them self confidence because they learned that if they were content they need not cry, because if they did need me I would come.

  2. I love that Catherine, Very well said.

  3. i think it depends on the kid...one family in my home ward who i babysit for, their 3-year-old has a super high metabolism but rarely eats all her food...her parents have told her numerous times that if she doesn't eat all her dinner then she doesn't get milk at bedtime...if she doesn't get milk or finish her dinner, she'll wake up in the middle of the night shaking cuz her body doesn't have enough calories...so i think it definitely depends on your kid, my suggestion would be to really get to know them...don't deny any problems he has or put any problems there that really aren't and then decide what to do based on your kid personally, not anyone else's...does that make any sense? just my POV :)