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Any science behind CC?

(25 Posts)
GGgowiththeflow Thu 14-Jul-11 10:14:37

I just wanted to ask if any of you have found any actual hard scientific evidence that CC is ok in the LONG TERM for babies. Yes, it seems great at the time when it works, but is it actually beneficial over all?

I know there are psychological theories that predict that CC could harm babies brains, however, to give the other camp the benefit of the doubt, (as I am absolutely sure they love their babies as much as anti-CC parents, and just use it as a technique they believe in) I wanted to know if there is any (evidence based) research out there that suggests CC is an inherently good thing for the baby in the long run.

Do babies need 12hrs sleep in a row? Do baby need to learn 'independence' before they can walk or talk? Is self-soothing an important life skill?

I am genuinely interested, as I am not always 100% confident in my own parenting methods and would just like some clarification on the pros and cons of different methods.

Fuzzled Thu 14-Jul-11 13:15:19

I know was a CC baby and I'm fine (barring issues from childhood which are unrelated).

Had no impact on my relationship with my parents as far as I can tell, and I can fall asleep anywhere/anytime and frequently do. grin

Chucklecheeks Thu 14-Jul-11 14:11:18

I was a CC baby too, and love my sleep and my parents even more! I do eat too much chocolate though but don't know if there is a direct link!

GGgowiththeflow Thu 14-Jul-11 15:26:35

Cool! nice to get your feed back!
My DH was a CC baby and he does have anxiety and self-confidence issues and a tendency towards mild depression at stressful times. His Mother is a genuinely lovely person and was a very nuturing mother. I know there's always more to things though.
More feed back welcome!

GGgowiththeflow Thu 14-Jul-11 15:39:14

my theory is that it works for some babies and not others and should not be used as a general rule of baby care - as my mother in law seemed to think it was. She did it with both her children, her first, my sister-in-law took to it like a duck to water, sleeping well from early on. My dh, however was totally different, they even admitted to putting booze with his milk in his bottle (!) because he wouldn't sleep through the night. (it was not frowned upon then apparently) She also had a hard time getting him to sleep during the day. Despite this she still advised me to "give him cuddles, tuck him in, and LEAVE him, he can scream the place down, but he has to learn it's bed time" about our little one.
I feel really strongly that parents should be encouraged to adapt to the character of their little one, to feel relaxed and able to be instinctive. If there instinct is that their baby likes to fall asleep in their cot, cosy and quiet, then cool! but this is not the only/'right' way, it's one way to suit a paticular child.

headfairy Thu 14-Jul-11 15:41:30

I'm not a fan of CC but purely because it feels wrong for me, nothing to do with any scientific evidence that it's wrong. However both my nieces were cc'd and they are both quite highly strung. But then so is my sister so I'm sure that's far more an influence than CC <hides fake child psychology diploma>

Fuzzled Thu 14-Jul-11 15:56:55

Oooh Chucklecheeks, I'm with you on the chocolate.
It's not our will-power, it's our history as CC babies, so we just have to live with it... grin

HumptyDumpty1 Thu 14-Jul-11 19:30:07

I was a CC child, I have self confidence issues and anxiety. I also had a distanced though close (iyswim) relationship with my mum which only got completely close when I fell preggers.

Could be completely unrelated and could just be a shy person!

Iggly Thu 14-Jul-11 20:01:31

Depends what you mean by CC. some might say it's leave them to scream for ages, others might go in and regularly reassure.

I've not asked my mum because I don't want to know the answer. But I do remember being very young and lying awake in the night, terrifies that there was a monster under my bed and didn't even bother calling my mum - maybe because I knew she wouldn't come?

I think using CC can work on babies who are ready. For example with DS, I've left him from about 14 months and he shouts for a bit then goes off to sleep. No proper crying. It wouldn't have worked when he was younger. Now he goes to sleep ok at 22 months despite waking 2-4 hourly for most of his life!

pyjamalover Fri 15-Jul-11 06:51:12

This website has a sort of review of the literature, it seems there are studies both ways but those claiming it is harmful seem to lack good scientific structure. It's obviously a difficult area to study.

In the studies that support the idea that babies who are allowed to "cry it out" will later have development problems, the researchers merely research how CRYING affects a child later in life-- in other words, they assume that a baby who "cries it out" will spend more of her infancy crying than a baby that is comforted when she cries.

However, as Richard Ferber and many "cry it out" experts detail, the point of using the CIO method is to stop your baby from crying in the future. Babies who are comforted when they cry will continue to cry any time they feel like it and want their parents to comfort them, so in the end they may cry more than babies under the CIO method, resulting in more developmental damage. I could not find a double-blind, controlled study that said that the CIO method caused more damage than the attachment method.

I personally think a few days/couple of weeks of controlled crying within the context of an otherwise loving and nurturing relationship is reasonable. What are the effects on a developing brain of overtiredness? What are the effects on the baby of the parent being a bit less patient as they are exhausted?

As with all areas of parenting emotion comes into it massively. I suspect plenty of parents refusing to do controlled crying because of the 'evidence' it is harmful also withold interventions with plenty of real evidence they are advantageous like immunisations.

GGgowiththeflow Fri 15-Jul-11 16:37:08


I will have a look at Richard Ferber, it'll be good to read stuff from that camp. However, i have a feeling i won't agree as from the way you synopsise it seems a bit squewed from my perspective.
I've followed what can be called 'the attachment' method of parenting and my ds doesn't cry very much at all. He's furniture cruising and falls over sometimes and will cry in pain and shock, and he fusses in the night when he stirs (I feed on demand and co-sleep , he usually wakes once in the night for a top up).
Other than that he very rarely cries and never for longer than a few seconds before i get to him. I need to have a look at the reasons Mr Ferber thinks these attachment parented babies would cry more. If their communication of need is responded to - why do they need to cry? And indeed, do they? or is this another myth in the great sea of parenting advice and 'expertise'? hmmmmmm

Zimm Sat 16-Jul-11 16:26:56

Guys - I think we need to remember the plural of anecdote is not evidence! So saying so and so was a cc baby is fine is not necessarily helpful. For me, I think of it in terms of evolution. Babies are not meant to be left alone to cry because the noise would attract tigers etc. There is even a theory that babies who are left to CIO do not fall asleep because they 'learn' to sleep but because their survival instinct kicks in and they 'play dead' so a bear won't eat them! When thinking about parenting it's worth remembering that for 99.5% of humans' existence as a species we lived like this and our babies are still born with string instincts that reflect these life styles.

Zimm Sat 16-Jul-11 16:34:50

Also there is a problem with ferber's theory. He assumes it is the crying itself that is harmful - not the reason for the crying. How can crying be harmful when it is a baby's primary method of communication?

GGgowiththeflow Sat 16-Jul-11 19:39:21

Zimm, I agree with you.

I really feel that parents shouldn't be given advice that works in the short term but has not been proven to be safe in the long term. the first 3 years of life are when the brain does the majority of it's developing and learning. We can't impose styles of parenting on babies which are mainly good for the parents.

babyhood and early infancy are the most important times for developing a happy, healthy brain. I know that successful parenting is about much much more than just how you get your baby to sleep but it is important that parents are making informed choices.

Why isn't there more long term research published? Why do we let books by nannies -who will probably have a professional and therefore slightly distanced relationship with the babies they care for (I've been a childminder and i know that you need to put in boundaries for the your own sake and the kids)- tell us how best to parent?

Maybe I've got an 'easy' baby? It hasn't felt easy! But to me being a parent is alot about making sacrifices and to me CC seems like it can be a way to get babies out the way so that the parents get time to themselves.....

We've had periods where my son has woken every hour at night- even every 40mins! but because we co-sleep, I've always managed to doze the whole time, while he feeds back to sleep, I've never had a sleepless night.

There, my real opinions have come out! I can't pretend to be on the fence any more!!!!

However, I do recognise that alot of mum's go back to work, which complicates matters (i gave myself a year, we live off barely anything) but i strongly believe that maternity leave should always be 1 year, to give families a chance to settle, a grace period, where the baby comes first.

I know it's not that simple, I'm an idealist, sorry for the massive post!

Funtimewincies Sat 16-Jul-11 19:50:41

Tricky. I was a cc baby, but my mum is very distant anyway, so would have had no problem leaving me to cry for a long time. I have no memory at all of being hugged by my mum or dad and she still has the ability to make me feel very small (I'm 36!). I've had problems with self-confidence and self-esteem but, as I say, I think that they're more to do with the wider parent/child relationship than just the cc. My mum just doesn't like me very much and I've sort of got used to it sad.

I used cc with ds1 (haven't needed to with ds2) but am a much more 'cuddly' mum and have a much more tactile realtionship with my dc.

I do, however, sleep well and can drop off anywhere grin.

SleepySuzy Sat 16-Jul-11 19:57:56

Funtime, everything you said sounds Just like me. I wish I knew how to get DD2 to sleep though without the boob.

TheSnickeringFox Sun 17-Jul-11 22:29:54

OP, have you read Why Love Matters? I find Gerhardt's arguments compelling and it's all evidence based. I found it an immensely reassuring read as I, like you, am taking an attachment approach with my ds (8.5mo) - co-sleeping, feeding on demand, never leaving to cry etc.

Interestingly it seems that my ds has a very different temperament from yours- he's a very sensitive baby and still cries fairly frequently, still prefers to be held the vast majority of the time. However I firmly believe that this is the right approach for us. I am a big fan of Zimm's approach too - what would our ancestors have done? What do people in remote parts of the world still do? Have you read The Continuum Concept?

(I too lack confidence in my parenting choices from time - can you tell that reading makes me feel better? grin)

GGgowiththeflow Mon 18-Jul-11 10:55:49

Thanks snickeringfox, I have read why love matters, and I found it compelling too. The fact that it's evidence based makes me feel more confident about my choices.

Although i have not done extensive reasearch, all i can find in terms of evidence for the CC, CIO approach (as advised by Dr Ferber and the 'baby whisperer') is that, yes, it works in that the babies fall asleep on their own but at no point is it explained why this is important for the baby's welfare, it is never explained why one long period of sleep is better than the same length with short gaps for a reassuring feed. I want to know WHY!!!?? Then I could understand that approach more. Why is it seen as a sleep 'problem'? And why do babies need to sleep on their own "your baby needs to learn how to sleep on it's own"....but tell me why? they never say why! where can i find out why?

My little one does like being held alot, and he cried alot last night!! I should never be too smug! But there is a very clingy phase between 7m-a year when they start to realise you are separate and can be apart from them and they want to be with you for safety, love, food, and crying lets us know we've gone too far away (even if it's just to the loo!) Sensitive is good! He'll probably be very empathic in future, and a cuddly person.

mnistooaddictive Mon 18-Jul-11 11:21:21

I think it depends what you mean by cc. I never left mine to cry for long periods but 10 mins. I doubt this does any harm. Crying repeatedly for long periods is not cc in my view but some would say it was.

TheSnickeringFox Mon 18-Jul-11 12:47:41

Yes, we are definitely into the clingy phase!

I found the best arguments about the importance of sleep in Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. He rates good, consolidated sleep way above attachment. In fact he basically doesn't believe that babies have nighttime attachment needs. He is an expert working in a sleep clinic and does his own research. He also recommends extinction (ie CIO) as the quickest method for teaching them to sleep. I found the book very uncomfortable reading.

However, while he is very convincing on the importance of sleep, I don't find him convincing at all on the relative lack of importance of healthy attachment. I'm also pretty sure that you can encourage both good sleep and good attachment through what we're both already doing - co-sleeping! I think that what co-sleeping babies do, wake up several times for very short periods to feed and then drop instantly back to sleep is actually consolidated sleep of the kind he says is so important. It's simply no the same as a baby who fully wakes at night and needs actively resettling.

Very interesting thread, thanks for starting it!

Parietal Mon 18-Jul-11 21:33:08

Here is an article by a developmental psychologist reviewing evidence on CC.

as a psychologist myself, I found Gerhdart v unconvincing. A lot of the claims are based either on rats or on extreme deprivation (eg kids in orphanages who get no human contact). I don't think there is much evidence that some crying in a supportive and loving home has long term consequences.

Zimm Tue 19-Jul-11 07:34:43

Nice to see a good, referenced debate here! I like the look of the continuum concept, I really wanted to co-sleep but got worried by all the HV's dire warnings about suffocation so we had an arm's reach co-sleeper instead. Do wish we'd done it though!

pyjamalover Tue 19-Jul-11 09:46:39

love that last paragraph in isabela granics article! it's so true, it seems like the biggest thing now but sleep training is actually only a small part of parenting, the boundaries we set when our babies aren't babies any more are going to be the biggies.

oh well will worry about that when the time comes!

MumtoF Thu 21-Jul-11 13:50:13

I think it depends on the personality of the child. Didn't do it for DS - he was a terrible sleeper and needed to be comforted to sleep. I ended up in his cot holding him and even fell asleep in there on occassion! He wanted to be cuddled to sleep from birth whereas DD likes to go to sleep on her own, cries because she is tired and wants to go to bed and will happily settle herself as soon as she is put down . This means that if she wakes up she cannot be comforted with cuddles so once she is calpolled or checked on once then there is no option but to leave her to cry as she actually gets more shouty if you go in and see her repeatedly. It is horrendous to have to leave her to cry but it seems to be kindest thing to do as she goes back to sleep most quickly than if we keep going in and checking on her. I always assumed that we would do the same with DD as we did with DS but it doesn't work for her. There is some evidence that once they do not physically need feeding in the night (i.e. around 9 months ish) then it is harmful to their development to encourage them to wake themselves for feeding as uninterupted sleep is key for brain development. DS still doesn't sleep through the night at 3.5yrs and will force himself to wake up to come and see us is often tired and grumpy as a result so I do think it is important to ensure that they can go to sleep and stay asleep.

AngelDog Sun 24-Jul-11 23:22:23

Just a note on Weissbluth: his book has been through several editions and the later ones say that co-sleeping mothers/babies can half wake / feed so that sleep does indeed remain 'consolidated' (as SnickeringFox suggested might be the case).

IIRC Richard Ferber also changed his views on whether co-sleeping was okay, in his 2006 edition of How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (although I've not read it myself).

I agree with Zimm's issue with Ferber in thinking that crying is necessarily bad. In the book Playful Parenting, the psychologist and play therapist Lawrence Cohen describes the emotional tension which builds up when children aren't allowed to keep crying until all their distress has been expressed. (He's not talking about sleep, but it could apply to children who need to cry to release tension to sleep.) I've not checked if he cites any studies for that assertion, but the book is very well-referenced.

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