To leave my 4 month old ds to cry?

(98 Posts)
YorkshireDeb Fri 01-Feb-13 13:12:51

Night times are pretty hard work at the moment. My ds tends to wake up 5-6 times a night. He usually just needs a cuddle & his dummy to settle back down, sometimes he takes a teeny amount of milk (1-2 oz). I can deal with the lack of sleep at the moment but will be back at work in about 6 weeks & don't know how I'll cope if he's still doing it then. So - is now the time to start letting him cry it out? Or using the pick up put down method? My heart tells me it's so wrong to sit there listening to him cry & do nothing. But my head tells me if I don't tackle it soon he'll turn into a little sod who cries if he doesn't get his own way. X

Osmiornica Tue 05-Feb-13 18:24:01

"Posters - I did have a bad sleeper d1 was horrendous and still wasn't sleeping through when ds2 was born. It affected me, him, and my relationship with dh and I wasn't go to let it happen again. "

I also had a terrible sleeper which is why I also decided not to let it happen again - I decided to cosleep with my second and yes, she did wake in the night but as she was in bed with me I have no idea how often as I would just wake feed then fall back to sleep - no stress unlike with the first when we thought we should put her in her own room at 6 months when she just wasn't ready.

My children are perfectly independent and I didn't make a rod for my own back and they didn't end up being permenantly attatched to me.

Even the health visitor who advocated CIO on DS1 acknowledged that babies might need to feed during the night up to the age of 6 months. I don't think anybody should be expecting a 4mth old baby to stop feeding at night. You are lucky (not a good parent, it is luck) if they do sleep through before then but it isn't at all surprsing if many of them do still need to feed especially when at 6mths their feeding could go awry with the introduction of solids.

This article pretty much sums up my view on the subject. I deeply regret trying it on DS1 and I refused to do it on DS2 (thankfully DH was in agreement). As I said earlier on in the thread, with DS1 it wasn't a permanent solution anyway, so why would I do it again? All that anguish for nothing. sad It wasn't even true that a well rested baby was a happy baby as my HV kept telling me. DS1 used to ignore me after I left him to cry. He was miserable in a way I hadn't seen him miserable before we tried to leave him - he was far happier being responded to.

And another myth that I don't think this article tackles, is that it is good for the mental health of the parent to get the baby sleeping through the night. In an article supporting CC it admitted that extra sleep made no difference - parents of babies who slept through the night are no more or less likely to suffer from mental health issues or to be any more or less happy than those whose children didn't sleep through. So, if you aren't doing it for your own mental health, which is often the reason parents give, and you aren't doing it for your baby, because they aren't getting anything out of it other than a lot of upset, then why would you do CIO at all with all the anguish it causes? confused

Babies learn to self sooth by themselves when they are ready. Much as I hate the use of the 'my child did x,y or z' as 'proof' of anything, I will just say that like almost all children, my two did eventually learn to sleep through the night all by themselves. They didn't need me to neglect them to learn how to do that and DS1, after the failed attempt at CIO finally slept through at 10 months and DS2 who had not sleep 'training' at all slept through at 8 mths. With DS1 was even a very dramatic switch from waking 4 or 5 times a night to not waking literally overnight. Miracles do happen.wink

I don't get why we in the Western world want to throw out the evidence of centuries, and from the rest of the world that babies aren't meant to be independent and self contained. They are meant to need our company and flourish on our responsiveness and care for them. Why have we suddenly got the idea their dependency on us as parents is a bad thing? It makes no sense to me.

And just for the record, I didn't have any balls of blubber at 4mths, 6mths or any of other time. I had 2 healthy, happy, chubby babies who grew just how they should have been growing. Calling a child a 'ball of blubber' makes you sound like you don't like children very much at all.sad

Thumbwitch Sat 02-Feb-13 11:07:47

YorkshireDeb, my DS2 is a week shy of 4mo and only wakes usually once or twice in the night, but that, I believe, is because we do co-sleep. Just me and DS2 - DH sleeps in the other bedroom. DS2 usually falls asleep around 9pm, when I put him to bed - I usually end up going to bed around midnight, and sometimes he'll wake then, sometimes an hour later, have a quick feed and then go back to sleep. He may then wake again around 4am but as often as not he's going through until 6/7am before he wakes again. We've had a couple of really muggy nights (we're in Australia) when he's been awake every couple of hours but that's understandable - it's very hard to appropriately cover him, given the ambient temp, and he gets thirsty as well.

But please note that he has, as often as not over the last couple of weeks, gone through from 12/1am until 6/7am. That qualifies as sleeping through, and while I'm not at all boasting about it, I am saying that I believe the co-sleeping helps with that because he knows I'm there.

Co-sleeping is perfectly safe if done with all the relevant safeguards, by the way. I don't drink, don't smoke, don't take drugs; it's just me and DS2 in the bed; no duvet over him, no pillow near him; I sleep with my arm out above his head so that I cannot possibly roll onto him; he cannot fall out (he's not rolling yet anyway); and I did it with DS1 with no problem until he was 5.5mo when he moved out to the cot because we were starting to interfere with each other's sleep.

Good luck, however you decide to deal with it - but I would agree with the vast majority that he's just too young to ignore his needs at this stage.

YorkshireDeb Sat 02-Feb-13 10:36:24

Sounds wonderful mrsbunnylove. X

JesusInTheCabbageVan Sat 02-Feb-13 10:21:29

Add wine and simmer slowly.

mrsbunnylove Sat 02-Feb-13 10:17:03

recipe for a beautiful world:

ingredients -
babies
loving parents
extended breastfeeding (to four, or six, or eight years, whenever they stop)
co-sleeping as above

method -
mix together and hug gently for many years
return to base for hugging etc for decades.

outcome -
beautiful young people. who get together and make more...

and no-one, no-one at all, ever, no matter how young and vulnerable or old and lonely, has to cry until they sleep.

Mosman Sat 02-Feb-13 10:09:57

If you know he's not hungry/wet/dirty/cold then put the dummy in his mouth and tap gently on the end of it to sooth him back to sleep without picking him up, but doing nothing shouldn't be an option tbh.

Fairylea Sat 02-Feb-13 10:07:43

Feeding and comfort are closely interlinked for babies. A baby waking looking for feeding also wants comforting. And vice versa..

Waking for comfort is just as good as anyfor seeing to your baby.

SirBoobAlot Sat 02-Feb-13 10:05:07

You're vile, Karolean, and I feel sorry for your children if that is the level of affection and awareness you have for them.

Karolean I agree with you that the research into CC/CIO being 'harmful' for babies is poor and inconclusive. But one of the reasons it's not advocated for babies under six months is because they still might definitely need feeding during the night, especially around the four month mark.

I'm not one to make a blanket statement that letting a baby cry is evil or cruel as every family's situation is different, every parent's ability to cope is different, but I do think that all other avenues of sleep training need to be exhausted before any kind of intervention involving crying is attempted. You also need to enter into it fully aware that it might not work, and the affects might not last, leaving you to have to repeat it with every cold, teething episode, illness....no thanks. Too devastating for all concerned. Safe, part-time co-sleeping is how we're managing it now, and from having initially being terrified by the danger of it and completely against it, I now love it and will probably be quietly sad once he's sleeping full-time in his cot.

(Ball of blubber? Really? sad)

JesusInTheCabbageVan Sat 02-Feb-13 09:27:43

Karolean jesus. That's too harsh. You can't just make a sweeping statement like that - ANY baby who is still waking at 4 months is doing it for no good reason. Anyway - isn't needing reassurance a good reason? What about thirst, or illness, or as-yet-undiagnosed health problems? 'Blubber' is no protection against any of those causes of crying.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Sat 02-Feb-13 09:25:06

Oh Karoleann, you just need to stop. The things you are posting are so ill informed.

You are making absolute statements you can not possibly back up - how on earth can you possibly know why 'any baby' is waking up? A paediatric sleep specialist wouldn't know that until they had conducted considerable information gathering and met the baby in question.

Kalisi Sat 02-Feb-13 09:19:11

I'm assuming karoleann that your babies were left to CIO in a moses basket next to you?
Seeing as you are so quick to quote the "safety guidelines" against co-sleeping, I'm guessing you must have followed them to the letter and also insisted on having them in a moses basket in your room for the first 6 months? Must have made the process very difficult for you hmm

elizaregina Sat 02-Feb-13 08:59:09

"but at 4 months the majority of babies are big balls of blubber"

confused

Iggly Sat 02-Feb-13 08:57:40

at 4 months the majority of babies are big balls of blubber
What a horrid description.

And re night feeds - again you're wrong.

Karoleann Sat 02-Feb-13 08:25:59

the house and sir boob - have you actually read any of the references she cites as evidence? There's no mention of controlled crying in them at all. That author hasn't done any research of her own.

Interestingly her first article she cites:
Blunt Bugental, D. et al. (2003). The hormonal costs of subtle forms of infant maltreatment. Hormones and Behaviour, January, 237-244.
Has a lot of evidence on how maternal stress post and prenatally can have an affect on the neuronal developement of a baby. Lack of sleep and a grumpy tired baby aren't going to help your stress levels.

I do not in any way advoate letting a little newborn cry, but at 4 months the majority of babies are big balls of blubber and do not (usually) need feeding in the middle of the night.

Any baby who is waking 5-6 times in a night is waking during the lighter sleep phase of their sleep and just needs help to self settle.

A 4 month old has very little concept of itself as a person, complete levels of conciousness don't come til nearly 18 months. At 4 months they do not have the understanding to think mummy isn't coming if they are crying, they just learn to self settle, they still do cry when they need something.

I think its much worse to do it later, when they are older and they have a much greater awareness of who they and you are.

Lyrasilvertongued Sat 02-Feb-13 01:32:22

If you don't fancy co-sleeping try a crib/hammock next to the bed. DD has started waking again through the night after a few weeks of sleeping through, but doesn't need fed, just a small stroke of the cheek/swing of the hammock/replacement of the dummy (!), enough to know she's safe and not alone really. Takes me seconds to reach over and re-settle her and she and I fall back asleep straight away. Not ideal to have disturbed sleep but much better to know she's happy and feels loved than worrying about her and I usually manage a nap in the morning when she's having hers if I'm really tired

SirBoobAlot Sat 02-Feb-13 00:22:49

Have seen that article before. This is one of the most chilling bits:

What does 'crying it out' actually do to the baby and to the dyad?

Neuronal interconnections are damaged. When the baby is greatly distressed,it creates conditions for damge to synapses, network construction which occur very rapidly in the infant brain. The hormone cortisol is released. In excess, it's a neuron killer which many not be apparent immediately (Thomas et al. 2007). A full-term baby (40-42 weeks), with only 25% of its brain developed, is undergoing rapid brain growth. The brain grows on average three times as large by the end of the first year (and head size growth in the first year is a sign of intelligence, e.g., Gale et al., 2006). Who knows what neurons are not being connected or being wiped out during times of extreme stress? What deficits might show up years later from such regular distressful experience? (See my addendum below.)

Disordered stress reactivity can be established as a pattern for life not only in the brain with the stress response system (Bremmer et al, 1998), but also in the body through the vagus nerve, a nerve that affects functioning in multiple systems (e.g., digestion). For example, prolonged distress in early life, resulting in a poorly functioning vagus nerve, is related disorders as irritable bowel syndrome (Stam et al, 1997). See more about how early stress is toxic for lifelong health from the recent Harvard report, The Foundations of Lifelong Health are Built in Early Childhood).

Self-regulation is undermined. The baby is absolutely dependent on caregivers for learning how to self-regulate. Responsive care---meeting the baby's needs before he gets distressed---tunes the body and brain up for calmness. When a baby gets scared and a parent holds and comforts him, the baby builds expectations for soothing, which get integrated into the ability to self comfort. Babies don't self-comfort in isolation. If they are left to cry alone, they learn to shut down in face of extensive distress--stop growing, stop feeling, stop trusting (Henry & Wang, 1998).

Trust is undermined. As Erik Erikson pointed out, the first year of life is a sensitive period for establishing a sense of trust in the world, the world of caregiver and the world of self. When a baby's needs are met without distress, the child learns that the world is a trustworthy place, that relationships are supportive, and that the self is a positive entity that can get its needs met. When a baby's needs are dismissed or ignored, the child develops a sense of mistrust of relationships and the world. And self-confidence is undermined. The child may spend a lifetime trying to fill the inner emptiness.

Caregiver sensitivity may be harmed. A caregiver who learns to ignore baby crying, will likely learn to ignore the more subtle signaling of the child's needs. Second-guessing intuitions to stop child distress, the adult who ignores baby needs practices and increasingly learns to "harden the heart." The reciprocity between caregiver and baby is broken by the adult, but cannot be repaired by the young child. The baby is helpless.

Caregiver responsiveness to the needs of the baby is related to most if not all positive child outcomes. In our work caregiver responsiveness is related to intelligence, empathy, lack of aggression or depression, self-regulation, social competence. Because responsiveness is so powerful, we have to control for it in our studies of other parenting practices and child outcomes. The importance of caregiver responsivness is common knowledge in developmental psychology Lack of responsiveness, which "crying it out" represents. can result in the opposite of the afrementioned positive outcomes.

The 'cry it out' approach seems to have arisen as a solution to the dissolution of extended family life in the 20th century. The vast wisdom of grandmothers was lost in the distance between households with children and those with the experience and expertise about how to raise them well. The wisdom of keeping babies happy was lost between generations."

Basically - whilst you may think they should be left to cry because they need to sleep, babies don't know that. They don't know that's why they're being ignored, they just know that the person they trust the most isn't responding to them. So they learn not to trust people.

Heartbreaking, really.

ClippedPhoenix Fri 01-Feb-13 23:14:15

All babies are different and all their needs are different, therefore if a baby cries then that's the signal for mummy at that age and to ignore it is ridiculous and cruel.

For those who like a bit of evidence this article is interesting.

Zappo Fri 01-Feb-13 23:04:25

We are not talking about the little cry they do before they go to sleep. Believe me mine screamed and screamed as she fought sleep when tired with me dutifully walking back and forth with her in sling or pram till she dropped off.

Most babies cry a lot when they are tired. Crying is a release and not a bad thing in itself. Crying in arms/parent's presence is not an issue.

We are talking about proper sleep training for a 4 month old to get them to sleep through at night.

DD1 would cry a bit before going off in her moses basket but I would put a soothing piece of music on and stay in the room where she could see me ( until I discovered slings)

What most people on here won't advocate is leaving the room and letting them cry at a young age.

SirBoobAlot Fri 01-Feb-13 23:02:38

Couldn't agree more, HouseofMirth.

But Spice17 it's not what's best for the child is it? It's what's convenient for he parent.

I am glad people will judge and speak out against parents who promote a practice which is proven to cause long-lasting damage to children.

5madthings Fri 01-Feb-13 22:58:29

spice what you describe is very different from leaving a baby to cry, my ds4 had a grumbky whingey noise he made if I tried to comfort him when he did it he would get cross and upset. He literally did it for a min or two as he was going to sleep. He us now four and still sometimes makes the same noise as he sucks his thumb to go to sleep, its obviously comforting for him.

elizaregina Fri 01-Feb-13 22:57:35

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