The Dangers of Letting Your Babe CIO

A baby's cry is not a sound, it's a signal. They don't cry to annoy or irritate you, they cry because they need something. Sometimes a baby just needs to be comforted, sometimes their cries mean they are hungry, uncomfortable, too hot, or even in pain. These are only a few reason why your baby might be crying, they could be crying for many other reasons.
Now, when I see mom talking about how great the CIO (cry it out) method is and telling other moms they "need to do it" and that their "baby needs to learn good sleep habits", well, that just makes me cringe.
Trust me when I say I wholeheartedly understand the need for sleep or the frustration that a baby's crying can bring. Having(and dealing with) PPD and even cancer and a baby has caused me many sleepless nights and tired days.
Before I get into the whole CIO method and why I dislike it so much, I want to talk about mamas giving other mamas this terrible advice. Let your baby CIO. These mamas telling other mamas to let their baby CIO, or that their baby needs to CIO to learn good sleep habits, have no emotional attachment to the baby of the mama they are telling to CIO! Just because they did it with their kids and their kids are perfectly happy, doesn't mean every mama should do it. Would you take someones advice if they said to just let your kid do drugs? That they need to do drugs to learn? I highly doubt it, so why would you listen when a mama is telling you you need to do this. TO CIO or not CIO is a highly personal decision and choice. I'm not going to tell you that you are a terrible person for CIO, because you aren't, but I can, and will, tell you why I think CIO is not a solution.
This excerpt from askdrsears.com is wonderful:
The cry is a marvelous design. Consider what might happen if the infant didn't cry. He's hungry, but doesn't awaken ("He sleeps through the night," brags the parent of a sleep-trained baby). He hurts, but doesn't let anyone know. The result of this lack of communication is known, ultimately, as "failure to thrive." "Thriving" means not only getting bigger, but growing to your full potential emotionally, physically, and intellectually.

"Cry…" Not only is the cry a wonderful design for babies; it is a useful divine design for parents, especially the mother. When a mother hears her baby cry, the blood flow to her breasts increases, accompanied by the biological urge to "pick up and nurse" her baby. ("Nurse" means comforting, not just breastfeeding.) As an added biological perk, the maternal hormones released when baby nurses relax the mother, so she gives a less tense and more nurturing response to her infant's needs. These biological changes – part of the design of the mother-baby communication network – explain why it's easy for someone else to advise you to let your baby cry, but difficult for you to do. That counterproductive advice is not biologically correct.
 I have heard people say that "crying is good for baby's lungs", as if they need to cry to develop their lungs? A baby's lungs develop in the womb. If they didn't then all baby's would have some serious breathing problems when they were born. Crying does not help develop their lungs, nor do they need it. The belief that crying is good for the lungs is not physiologically correct.

Again. askdrsears.com couldn't say it better:

What actually goes "out" of a baby, parents, and the relationship when a baby is left to cry-it-out? Since the cry is a baby's language, a communication tool, a baby has two choices if no one listens. Either he can cry louder, harder, and produce a more disturbing signal or he can clam up and become a "good baby" (meaning "quiet"). If no one listens, he will become a very discouraged baby. He'll learn the one thing you don't want him to: that he can't communicate.
Baby loses trust in the signal value of his cry – and perhaps baby also loses trust in the responsiveness of his caregivers. Not only does something vital go "out" of baby, an important ingredient in the parent- child relationship goes "out" of parents: sensitivity. When you respond intuitively to your infant's needs, as you practice this cue- response listening skill hundreds of times in the early months, baby learns to cue better (the cries take on a less disturbing and more communicative quality as baby learns to "talk better"). On the flip side of the mother-infant communication, you learn to read your infant's cries and respond appropriately (meaning when to say "yes" and when to say "no," and how fast). In time you learn the ultimate in crying sensitivity: to read baby's body language and respond to her pre-cry signals so baby doesn't always have to cry to communicate her needs.
What happens if you "harden your heart," view the cry as a control rather than a communication tool and turn a deaf ear to baby's cries? When you go against your basic biology, you desensitize yourself to your baby's signals and your instinctive responses. Eventually, the cry doesn't bother you. You lose trust in your baby's signals, and you lose trust in your ability to understand baby's primitive language. A distance develops between you and your baby and you run the risk of becoming what pediatricians refer to as a doctor-tell-me-what-to-do. You listen to a book instead of your baby. So, not listening and responding sensitively to baby's cries is a lose-lose situation: Baby loses trust in caregivers and caregivers lose trust in their own sensitivity.

All babies have needs. Some have more needs than others, some babies sleep through the night from the beginning, some babies never sleep through the night no matter what you try. Being a parent is hard work, especially if you do have a high needs baby, but no matter what kind of baby you have, they need you! It's tiring, yes. Sometimes you feel frustrated and like you need a break, but it WILL get easier. Remind yourself that this is a baby you're talking about. Prior to life outside the womb all they knew was you. They are not trying to hurt or stress you out by crying, but they do NEED you when they are.

Co-sleeping has worked amazingly for us. I get a lot of much needed sleep. I still don't sleep enough, but that's the life of a parent. Co-sleeping doesn't always have to mean bring your baby in your bed, you can sidecar the crib to your bed, have a co-sleeper, or even just the crib in your room. Being in the same room as mama might even calm a baby that cries a lot through the night, knowing that you are near is comforting.

Keep in mind that there have been NO scientific studies showing that crying it out helps teach babies to sleep, it only teaches them that no one is going to respond to their cries. Eventually they learn that no one is going to come so they stop, it's not because they learned how to sleep!

Harvard researchers, Michael Commons and Patrice Miller, say that when children are left to cry for long intervals, their little brains are flooded with a harmful hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone. The longer a baby is left to cry, the higher the level of cortisol is in their brain. It only takes 30 minutes for cortisol to reach toxic levels. These high levels or cortisol can cause attachment disorders and can lead to more incidences of PTSD and panic disorders.

Come on, even Baby Center has an article about the dangers of CIO. BABY CENTER! You can't get much more mainstream than that.



kristin said...

Great article! I'm having the hardest time with my almost 8 month old only being able to fall asleep in my arms/boob. No CIO for us!
I think you meant to say Baby Center has an article on the dangers of CIO not co-sleeping (although they probley have one of those too :)

Jessica Lyn. said...

thanks for catching that! co-sleeping isn't dangerous!! haha

Tami Pearson said...

so glad you posted this! i read somewhere that even dr ferber (the guy who popularized CIO) said he wouldnt use the technique on his own kids. thats pretty messed up!

i highly recommend elizabeth pantley's no cry sleep solution. dr. sears wrote the intro to it :)

Avin's Momma said...

I hope you don't mind but I included a link to this post on my blog http://avinsmomma.blogspot.com/2010/04/cio-cry-it-out-helpful-or-harmful.html

Thank you for sharing such great information!

FandK said...

I couldn't agree more...our little one slept for 2.5-3 hours at a time until 4months and then was up every hour...but I never let her CIO, it broke my heart, so when she cries I go to her. We did put her in her own crib, which in the end allowed all of us to sleep better, but even now at 9 months when I hear her cry, I get up and go to her. Sometimes she's just disoriented or her blanket is off (yes, she sleeps with a blanket, always has)...but she knows I'm always there. She is THE happiest baby and now sleeps 13hours overnight, getting up twice in that time to nurse, which I think is great (we get a 6-7hour stretch). We will never do CIO and our child does sleep well qne she is a giant (31.5inch, 25lb), super smiley girl. Parenting The Early Years Magazine has a great article this month about snuggling your baby and its benefit to thier immunity.

ches said...

I've had that advice given to me too, but I can't let my baby cio. Good thing too, after reading this.

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