Saturday, February 02, 2008

I'm not the only one....

I did some research, basically just googling "How long should I let my baby cry to sleep", and it seems that the general public agrees that at this age he is too young to learn how to self soothe. That he needs to learn that his needs will be met, including cuddling and love, when he cries so that he will learn that he can trust us. That this will help him grow up to be a strong independent child and adult. That he is way too young to 'manipulate' me by crying, as the people on the other side of this topic feel babies are doing by crying to be picked up. His brain isn't mature enough to even know what manipulating is - he just knows that all he can do is cry to tell us that he needs something.

Certainly there are arguments for both sides of this topic, otherwise it wouldn't be such a 'hot' topic in the parenting world, one that there are many many books out there about and a ridiculous amount of 'methods' available to 'teach' your baby to sleep. And obviously all of the methods work, or there wouldn't be so much information out there and so many books sold, etc. I think it's just a matter of what the parents believe (ie I need to help my child become independent by learning to soothe himself versus I need to help my child become independent by letting him know I will always be there for him when he needs me, even if it means losing out on some sleep myself).

I'm sure I'm not phrasing these things very well, so please don't think I am criticizing those who choose other methods of raising their children. What I am trying to say is that I feel it is a very personal decision based on what you feel is best for everyone in your family, especially your baby. I agree that an older child can try to manipulate you by crying, but I don't think a baby this young is able to do it. I can't bring myself to leave him to scream himself into a sweat-soaked, shaking and choking frenzy when I can spend less time putting him to sleep myself than it will take him to 'tire himself out'. I don't have the heart for the whole cry-it-out method. I knew that when I tried it with my daughter, but I thought perhaps it would be different this time, especially being on new medication for the postpartum depression, another topic I need to write about. The meds never worked before but this time they are making a big difference. I thought perhaps I would be able to handle the crying better this time because of that. And I can - when it's just a matter of not being able to drop what I am doing at the moment to run to him so I can let him cry for short times.... even as much as 20 minutes while I'm showering. But it seems that the medication can't change what I feel deep inside, that I need to do everything I can to make my baby happy. If this means not getting more than 1-3 hours of sleep at a time at night, then I'm okay with that.

Honestly, I feel like my son is doing great compared to how my daughter did. She basically slept on me or my husband in the rocking chair all the time until she was 3-4 months old. She started sleeping completely through the night around 8 months old. I rocked her to sleep until she was almost 1 year old, then she starting putting herself to sleep. She never napped in her bed, always on me or in the car until she got to be a couple years old, then she would either not nap or would nap in bed with me. After I hurt my thumb this past July she gave up her naps because I couldn't 'force' her to sleep in bed with me. I couldn't cuddle her or anything because I was in so much pain. But, ever since she started sleeping through the night. Since she started sleeping through the night, she has been a great sleeper. We got her a big girl bed when she was almost 2 and a half and she slept straight through the night in it since the first day. She is one of the most strong-willed, independent children I've ever known. She has never once had a problem with separation anxiety or anything. I have to assume that this is as a result of the way she has been raised. So I apparently didn't harm her by 'spoiling' her all her life.

Perhaps if we are still having trouble when he is 6 months old or so, we will revisit this topic. But for now, I'm going to stick with what I know works for us. Though I will try to be more flexible on letting him cry during the day... not until he falls asleep, but while I'm showering or making lunch or something. Because he slept great last night. He was so exhausted that I got him to sleep really easily and he slept for 6 hours the first stretch. Apparently letting him scream for an hour yesterday did do some good as far as tiring him out, but I don't have the heart to do that again. Then again, it could just be that he is sick and seems to be getting worse so is exhausted from that. I hope that I didn't make him get worse by letting him scream himself into a sweat yesterday.

Sorry for the huge post on this.... like I said, I may revisit the topic later. But I would still love to hear from more people about what did or didn't work for you, specifically what age you did the methods at too please....


1 comment:

Furrow said...

Oh, dear. I'm sorry you're having a tough time right now. I remember what a nightmare those first 6 weeks were for us. Zora had hour long cries (at least) every evening for quite a while. (You remember that, because you were a kind voice in the wilderness for me.)

I never did have the mettle to let her cry alone. Even now, when she hardly cries at all, I can't stand to hear her whimper for even a few moments while I do a load of laundry or go to the bathroom.

I've read in various places that women's ears are highly sensitive to the frequency of a baby's cry. That makes it really hard to to ignore them for long. However, I do know people who have used CIO without any visible harm to their children. I personally just couldn't stomach it.

I still rock Zora to sleep at night. It's become more of a ritual than a necessity.

Remember, I'm very fresh out of this hell, so I'm more than happy to lend support. Send me an email anytime, to vent or just to chat.