Photo by Kate Parker
There’s no denying that there are lots of different types of parents in this world. There’s the strict parent. Then there’s the hippie parent. Perhaps you are a fan of attachment parenting. Or maybe you are more of a praise parent. Whatever type of parent you are there is one debate that has divided many mothers and fathers for years and will no doubt continue to do so for a long time to come. And that is the Cry It Out Method.
Often known as The Ferber Method, “cry it out” was devised by Dr Richard Ferber and is a sleep training approach that allows a baby to cry for a specified amount of time before being offered comfort. Despite being considered a controversial choice, it has been found to be a successful way of getting your little one to sleep throughout the night. So is this the right way to go? Is leaving the most precious thing in your life alone in a room in obvious distress without going to them really the best approach to take? Whether it is or it isn’t many parents find it difficult for a number of different reasons.
Anyone who is a fan of attachment parenting would argue that this method of sleep training can cause many problems later in life with some experts even going as far as to claim that leaving your child to cry on their own can cause problems such as panic attacks and even post traumatic stress disorder. Others argue that not only can it be harmful to the parent-child relationship but that it can result in a detached baby who does not eventually stop crying because they have learnt to self-soothe but rather because they have given up hope of being comforted. But can the cry it out method really do this much harm? Is a child really going to be so deeply affected by a few nights of tears?
Picture this. You’re the parent of a 1 year old. A 1 year old who has never slept through the night. An entire year of getting up regularly with your little one has taken it’s toll. Not just on you but on your relationship as well. You’re exhausted. You’re grumpy. You start to feel that the time you spend with your child is becoming affected because you are too frayed around the edges to give them the proper attention they deserve. You start to worry that you are growing apart from your partner. You start Googling sleep experts. You look into different methods of sleep training. You decide to try the cry it out method. And for you, like many others, it works a treat. A few nights of tears (both yours and the child’s). Some gradually shortened periods of times spent leaning against a radiator outside their bedroom listening to the cries become more muffled and eventually fading to sleep. A few nights spent clock watching and literally counting down the minutes till the book says you can go in and give them the cuddle you so desperately want to….
And if it works? Have you really caused later mental anguish for your child? Have you really damaged your relationship with your little one for the considerable future? Like most parents we all just have to make that judgement call for ourselves. Like this whole crazy world of parenting we all have to do whatever we feel is right and natural for both us and our child at the time. And there will always be arguments for both sides.
I guess the trick is to work out what is exactly right for you.