Thou Shalt Not Write About Letting Babies Cry
Oh yeah, I’m going there.
You know, for as much as I like to tell readers that I’m honest about the good and the bad, there is one subject on this blog I just avoid as much as blogging about religion- SLEEP TRAINING.
It’s time to cut the crap and drop this veil of secrecy that forces me to direct message and privately respond to questions about letting my baby cry herself to sleep. F all of this.
My one year old? She cries. Sometimes for long stretches. Sometimes while I lay in my bed, wide awake, fully aware that she is pissed as all hell that I am not there to pick her up and play peek-a-boo at 3 in the morning.
And I’M OKAY WITH THAT.
You don’t have to be okay with that, but you shouldn’t really care about that because, you know, I’m not making you make your baby cry herself to sleep. Just mine.
Oh, some of you may be disgusted by this admission. There are studies, I’m sure, that you will link me to. You may think I’m a bad example of a mommy blogger for encouraging such a parenting technique.
I’ve never claimed to be the perfect example, but I’ve always prided myself on my transparency… and this is something I should just quit trying to dance around.
I’m not writing about this to say what I’m doing is “right,” but please don’t view this as a plea for help, and for the love of GAWD no book recommendations. I’m barely getting enough sleep to operate a moving vehicle these days. Unless you’re going to volunteer to come over here and re-enact the book with puppets and flash cards in short, attention-grabbing bursts, I just don’t have the time or the energy. (And I read plenty of books when Kendall went through all of this 3 years ago.)
Letting her cry was not our first choice. It’s not like I enjoy it. We’ve tried “gentle” techniques, but everything “gentle” just pisses her off more. It’s come to the point where it feels like the most fair compromise is one that equals her being pissed for a shorter time period (which is totally what happens when she’s left to cry on her own versus us hanging out, patting her back, but refusing to feed her) and lets me get 4 or more consecutive hours of sleep.
I’m trying not to go into defensive mode here because I don’t feel like I need to defend this choice. I’ll just add that she’s a YEAR old, not a week old. She does NOT need to eat every 3 hours anymore. She does not have an ear infection or any other ailment. She just needs to figure out how to sleep… and no, we’re not co-sleeping. It’s not an option for us. No, we don’t just leave her in there to cry all night, but it’s more of a judgement call thing than a every-5-minutes thing.
What it’s really boiled down to is that my children need and DESERVE a functioning mother during the day. I can NOT function without sleep. In fact, I’m confident the lack of sleep the last year has been a huge contributing factor to my postpartum anxiety, and the days following a few measly hours of sleep are awful, even with medication and a gallon of coffee.
Honestly, I don’t think babies need to be soothed every time they cry. Sure, when they are younger than 6 months, or they’re sick or hungry, yes, they should be tended to quickly. But, sometimes they’re just annoyed or pissed, and that’s okay. They can feel that way. Those are emotions they can navigate on their own sometimes.
That’s MY philosophy, one that I’m comfortable with, knowing what I know, and having been through this parenting thing more than once now.
It doesn’t have to be your philosophy, but please don’t equate me letting my 26 lb one year old cry and throw tantrums in her bed at 3 in the morning because I won’t feed her magic-sleepy-milk for the 2nd time in 3 hours to child abuse.
And for those of you in a similar situation, the only advice I can give is to go with your gut. Sure, read books if you have the time, but mainly, read your baby’s cues and what feels right to you.
I truly feel that most parents are trying really hard not to screw up their kids, and I’m sure very few take the decision to let their baby cry in the middle of the night lightly. So can we please stop demonizing educated parents who feel like this is their only option?
Edited to add-
People, people, PLEASE understand the difference between me letting my ONE YEAR OLD cry for UP TO 10-15 minutes at a time and letting a newborn scream for 8 hours, hyperventilate, choke on their vomit, kill their brain cells, etc.
I thought I made it clear when I clarified twice that she’s A YEAR OLD, that I think any baby under 6 months should be tended to quickly, or any baby who is sick. I didn’t think I’d have to spell. that. all. out. But I guess I do because so many are assuming I’m advocating locking a baby of any age in a dark room to scream incessantly, regardless of circumstance.
So, let’s all be clear that that is not my stance.
Just as I advocate and practice safe co-sleeping (though we don’t do it any longer), a parenting choice that many jump to conclusions about and demonize, referring to parents who do it as “uneducated” and “lazy,” I also practice “safe” and responsible sleep-training, which is obviously another polarizing parenting choice people are quick to jump to conclusions about.
If you are the mother of a newborn considering leaving your baby in her cold, dark room for 8 hours to scream and cry while you’re drinking and watching a Lost marathon on Netflix, then I encourage you to do more research than just reading my blog post and taking what I have to say as medical and professional advice. (That disclaimer was actually necessary because I’ve had several people tell me I just encouraged that behavior by posting this blog. I’ll also be sure to make a disclaimer that parents shouldn’t co-sleep with boa constrictors and meat cleavers in their bed the next time I talk about that… just so I’ve covered all my bases.)