Sleep Training: Today’s Moms

Todays Moms

I’m reading Today’s Moms to review and I had to put up this post before I’ve even finished (a more thorough review will post later).  I just had to get some other parents’ input on this subject.

The seemingly epic battle is to cry it out, or not to cry it out.  Parents in both camps get pretty fired up on this subject, and I’m no exception.  I do believe that it can be discussed with courtesy and respect, though, so please keep that in mind if you share your story or input.
I’m pretty adamantly against crying it out, especially before the age of 6 months.  Something new that I hadn’t seen before was the reference of 12 pounds as the acceptable benchmark to start crying it out (p. 66).  Both of these benchmarks seem a bit arbitrary to me.  I can’t quite wrap my head around what’s so different about a four-month-old and a six- or eight-month-old, with respect to sleep training.
Yes, the older our precious babies get, the more they learn to be not-so-precious and do things like try to manipulate us.  “If I cry, they will come.”  I’m all about taking a stand against that during the day, and in a safe manner (when it’s crying to whine and not due to need).  But at night?  Not so much.
All I can think of is a baby, likely alone in their room, crying for someone to come and comfort them.  My daughter is a few days shy of being nine months old, and she’s just starting to sleep through the night, from about 8pm to 6 or 7am.  Until now, she’s had the pleasure of feeding on demand 24/7, which means that if she wanted a three minute snack-n-suck at 2am, she got it. I’m not saying that wasn’t frustrating and it didn’t suck – it absolutely did.
But even at my most desperate and tired moments, I have to remember that this time is fleeting, as cliche as that sounds.  That not a lot of kids are still having multiple night wakings after the age of one or two.  That I can manage the sleep interruptions as long as she needs me to, until she’s ready to sleep through on her own.  Sure enough that time came.  It would’ve been freakin’ sweet, had it come about three months ago, but honestly – I’m not much worse for the wear, either way.
My main beef with cry-it-out is the message it sends to the baby.  This quote from Today’s Moms really sums it up:  “She cried the first night for fifteen minutes…the second night for five…and then she gave up.  She figured if no one’s coming, might as well not bother, and by four months, she slept through the night.” (p. 70)
That makes me ache inside.  Especially when it’s just a four-month-old (still so new to the world!), but even age aside…that message just seems horrible to me.  “…if no one’s coming, might as well not bother,…” – that’s just heartbreaking to me.  When it’s spelled out that way, is that the message we want to send our babies?  That they’re crying and in need of comfort, but they might as well not try because we won’t come, anyway?  It’s a tiny baby, for pete’s sake!
The other thing that’s always mentioned alongside crying it out is how unbelievable painful and difficult it is for the parents.  Is it really wise to engage in parenting methods that make us cringe, make us cry, make us feel absolutely awful?  How is that good for us or our babies?  The notion of setting a timer and resisting the urge to tend to our babies is unnatural and painful.  But it’s worth the pain for both parent and child to get more sleep?  I guess it might be for some, or rather, that is must be for some, but again, I just can’t wrap my head around it.
I’m getting a little fired up here.  I think I’ve articulated my beef with cry-it-out.  Babies will sleep through on their own soon enough – is it worth sending that “don’t bother crying, I won’t come” message to get uninterrupted sleep a few months earlier?  I just can’t see how anyone justifies that.
So do tell, I’m sure we’ll have a lot of different opinions on this – what’s your position on sleep training and cry-it-out?