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Just say no to CRY IT OUT (aka CIO)

March 2, 2009

I am an advocate of getting babies to sleep better, and to fall asleep on their own. However, I am not in support of CRY IT OUT (CIO) Sleep Methods.

A quote I found regarding a Harvard study says

Parents should recognize that having their babies cry unnecessarily harms the baby permanently. It changes the nervous system so they’re sensitive to future trauma.” – Dr. Michael Commons, Dept of Psychiatry, Harvard (found here)

One article I found I could relate to is found on PhD In Parenting found here: http://www.phdinparenting.com/2008/07/05/no-cry-it-out/

She wrote:

1. Cry it out can cause harmful changes to babies’ brains

Babies cry. They cry to let us know that they need something. And when we don’t respond to those cries, it causes them undue amounts of stress. Science has shown that stress in infancy can result in enduring negative impacts on the brain. Prolonged cries in infants causes increased blood pressure in the brain, elevates stress hormones, obstructs blood from draining out of the brain, and decreases oxygenation to the brain. Excessive crying results in an oversensitive stress system (likened to a faulty burglar alarm in one book) that can lead to a fear of being alone, separation anxiety, panic attacks and addictions. Harvard researchers found that it makes them more susceptible to stress as adults and changes the nervous system so that they are overly sensitive to future trauma….

Please go to her website and continue to read the article and the follow up to that post as well.

For us, naptime was the biggest struggle. I read and appreciated the way that The No Cry Nap Solution, written by world renowned parenting expert, Elizabeth Pantley, helped us get our toddler to nap, and eventually sleep without the harsh CIO trauma. Here is an excerpt from the book:

The Nap-Resister: When Your Child Needs a Nap but Won’t Take One

Daytime naps might last just a few short hours, but they can affect all twenty-four hours of a child’s day. Naps can improve a child’s mood and reduce fussiness, crying, whining, and tantrums. Studies show that children who nap daily get sick less often, grow taller, and are less likely to be obese when they grow up. Naps enhance attention span and brain development. Naps can also help make up for any shortage in nighttime sleep. Even a one hour shortage in overall sleep hours can have a negative effect on a child – compromising alertness and brain function, and increasing fussiness and fatigue.

There are many ideas for helping a child to take a nap, but the best idea in the world may not work for you if the solution doesn’t address the reason that your child won’t nap. There is not just one reason that babies and young children refuse to nap – there are hundreds of different reasons. Before you decide on a solution you need to understand your child’s motivation.

This really hit home with us. Our toddler resists naps like the plague. When she would not nap, it literally made our entire household a war zone. It was especially difficult because in order to nap at all, she must either be in the carseat, nursing in my arms the entire time, or while she was very young, in the swing. It was never as easy as take her in the room, set her down and out she goes. The book addresses all these issues, and for us, the solution as well as the “Big PPO” made nap and sleep time much easier. It doesn’t happen in a day, but it’s worth reading and working though.

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