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rock a crying baby, or let ‘sleeping’ babies cry?


When I was growing up, my mom had this wall hanging that (i think) my grandma had crocheted for her.  I think of it a lot as I’m doing the daily chores and Astaire is tugging at me because it said:

Cleaning and Scrubbing can wait til tomorrow,

for children grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep,

I’m rocking my baby- and babies don’t keep. 

That little poem could not be more true.  Our babies don’t stay babies forever.  They grow up so fast all by themselves, and yet it seems that parents are forever trying to push them to do it even faster.  Why is it that we want them to be grown so fast?  Why is it that we fret so much when they aren’t sleeping through the night by 6 or 8 weeks old? I personally think it’s because we need them to fit into our ever changing fast paced schedules, and so we need them to hurry up and adjust to being a part of the family, instead of the family adjusting to having a new baby.

Lately my heart has just been breaking as I see and hear from so many new moms about how their babies aren’t sleeping as well as society they thinks they should be, and how they just had to do something.  Mostly because I know what something means.  I know that something means that they have resorted to reading a book, and taking instructions rather than going with their natural instincts as a mother, and they have let their babies sit alone in a room and cry until they have given up all hope on being comforted and they’ve just stopped crying.   Because that’s what happens.  It’s not that they finally wear out and fall asleep, it’s that they realize that the only form of communication they have with their caregiver…is no longer effective.  So they give up.

Let me stop here and say, that I have tried the Cry it Out method only one night.  After about 11 months of Astaire doing a cycle of a few weeks of sleeping through the night and then a month or two of waking a few  times a night and needing to either be nursed or rocked back to sleep, I was tired and feeling pressured to find a solution.  One night I just felt as if she was “being defiant!” but in reality, I was just fed up and exhausted.  I put her to bed and she cried…I left her in there for 2-3 minutes to see if she would settle and she did not..so I went back and comforted her and tried again, this time telling Josh that she was just going to “have to cry” and that  I just could not take it anymore.  I went about, trying to busy myself to shield my ears from her cries.  Because, let’s face it parents- that is what you have to do.  If you are doing the Cry it Out method, you must turn the nurturing side of you to off.  Her cries went on and turned desperate and scared after only about 6 minutes.  Something snapped on the inside of me and I realized-

I am not doing this! I don’t believe in this…this goes against everything I stand for as a parent.  I love my daughter more than to allow her to be left in a dark room by herself thinking I am not going to come when she cries for me.

When I went and picked Astaire up she clung to me like a little baby monkey with her arms wrapped tightly around my neck.  She was crying so hard that even after I had rocked her to sleep, she was still unable to catch her breath.  In case you didn’t read that right…While sleeping, she was still unable to catch her breath!  I could do nothing but apologize to her over and over again…and repent to God.   I felt horrible for even allowing myself to be influenced by my exhaustion, by friends, by society’s standards for my child.

Recent studies have shown how prolonged crying in infants causes increased blood pressure in the brain, elevates stress hormones, obstructs blood from draining out of the brain,  decreases oxygenation to the brain, unstable temperatures, and even heart arrhythmia’s.  We want to put our children through this all for a good night’s sleep??    Source

Astaire did not begin sleeping through the night until around 16 months.  When she did I welcomed that full night’s sleep with wide open arms! But she did it all on her own, when she was able to do it.  Even this week, she has been having some night wakings, and some strange patterns, but I have to remember that she is still small, and most like having a growth spurt.  The difference now is that she can talk and not just cry.  In fact a few nights ago she woke at 2 am and asked for a snack!

Still the fact remains  Her world is constantly changing and scary….her dad and I are the only things that remain constant and safe.  If she needs me during the day or during the night, how I respond should remain the same.  If she cries in the day, I immediately respond to her.  So if she cries for me in the night, I will continue to do the same.

If you are struggling with sleep issues and looking for answers, I would recommend starting with the following links:

Attachment Parenting International

Ask Dr. Sears

No-Cry Sleep Solution by Dr. Elizabeth Pantley

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9 responses to “rock a crying baby, or let ‘sleeping’ babies cry?

  1. Amanda May 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I am going through this right now. The sleepless nights are wearing on me. Last night it felt like I had a newborn. He was up every hour or two and only breadtfeeding would put him back to sleep.

  2. Jolanthe May 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Exactly! I love the poem! Love! love! looove! I try to quiet the voice of society myself… I watch my words and don’t even say ‘ I can’t wait till she…..’ (fill in the blank with a milestone) no…i wan’t to enjoy EVERY day! And yes, if that means dust is taking a nap on my shelves…. So be it! Thanks for sharing Tayla!

  3. jess May 12, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    This is quite interesting to me! I am actually on the other side of the fence here. Lyric was in an incubator for 2 months when she was born (which is probably the real reason she puts herself to sleep), so coming home I would lay her in her bed and walk away- no crying, no fuss, no problems. I never thought any different as to how to put her to bed. Now that she is older I can tell a difference when she is whining in bed and when she needs me. I am SO THANKFUL!!!! I have always gotten good sleep (unless the sickies invade our house). This actually scares me now that little man is on the way! haha :) I might be coming back for these resources! Thanks!

    • Tayla May 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      Jess, what you said is a very important point. There is a huge difference between “fussing” and “crying”. I definitely allow Astaire a minute or two of fussing if she needs it to settle…especially if she is just stirring in the night or if she is just putting up a little fight (especially at nap time) about not wanting to go down. The difference is that the usually stops by the time I have hit the bottom of the stairs, and the crying has escalated by the time I get there….every mama knows the difference for their baby.

  4. grandma May 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I can’t believe you remembered that wall hanging. I still have it and now it’s going to go to you. It was actually needlepoint.

  5. toasty redhead May 14, 2011 at 4:55 am

    I never thought of it that way, well put!

  6. angelsofbabysleep May 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I’m going through the same issues. Thank you so much for this post. It feels good to know there are other mothers who believe in their nurturing instinct. Everywhere around us, we hear about how a baby SHOULD be sleeping through the night. Big deal! Every baby is different and some don’t sleep 12 hours in a row. Some only 2 or 3 hours even if they’re 13 months old, like my son. I know that eventually, that will stretch to longer hours. In the meantime, we get to cuddle and that’s just for a little while before he’s all grown up!

  7. The Mommy May 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    “even after I had rocked her to sleep, she was still unable to catch her breath.”

    This broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for this very well-written and beautiful post.

  8. Anna May 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I have only allowed my baby to cry it out 1 night (influenced by a book). He cried for 30 minutes and then went to sleep. I still feel bad about it. Even after he stopped crying that night, I didn’t feel like it was a success. To make matters worse, not long after this episode of crying I discovered he is starting to teeth and right before bed he seems to be in the most pain….

    Someone said to me that a “baby is only a baby for a short time. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy rocking your baby.” I do enjoy rocking him to sleep! I actually think it’s sort of therapeutic for me! And now (when he’s not in too much pain from teething) it usually only takes a few minutes of rocking and he’s out! (To be honest, sometimes I keep rocking him even after he’s asleep because I enjoy it so much :)

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