OK, I get it. You are sleep-deprived and beyond exhaustion. Your baby is obviously the only one in the whole neighborhood who hasn’t learned to sleep through the night at 1 month. You start thinking, “Nothing works. Should I let my baby cry to sleep?”
If you are here, then you must have already asked Google the same question. Well, even Google is asleep in the wee hours, but I am here to answer for him.
In a nutshell, the cry-it-out sleep training method (also known as controlled crying) was first introduced as a notion in 1913. Yup, that’s about a hundred and four years ago. It is the same concept that promotes “extinction”. And that’s the process during which you let your baby cry to sleep. Alone. Without. Any. Comfort.
Now, let’s be clear about this: it’s one thing to involve SOME (controlled) crying in the sleep-training process and a whole other thing to leave your baby alone and let him cry his guts out before he falls asleep out of exhaustion, frustration, and stress he can’t handle.
I will be honest with you, I am against letting your baby cry to sleep. Here’s why:
- It’s against mommy instincts
Motherly instincts are a powerful weapon nature has given us to protect our babies and know what’s best for them without giving it too much thought. Well, listening to the sound of your baby crying in the other room is unbearable for all mothers (for a reason). I doubt if even one mother can honestly say she feels OK when her baby is desperately crying (alone) for whatever reason.
- It increases the risk of SIDS
Crying is a physical action that evokes physical responses in the body. First, the level of stress hormones hits the roof. Then, the baby’s heart rate increases (understandably). All this is followed by an increase in body temperature and, respectively, blood pressure. The result? The baby may overheat and even vomit as a response to the great distress his body is experiencing, posing a potential risk of SIDS.
- It undermines trust
Do you know what one of the most important things a baby learns (or fails to) is in his first year? He learns how to establish trust (in the world, in his parents and caregivers, as well as in himself). What does a child need during his first year to learn that the world is a safe place? He needs his needs to be met with care, love, and support. When you let your baby cry to sleep, you are basically ignoring his needs, undermining his self-confidence and reassuring him a destructive sense of mistrust.
- It negatively affects breastfeeding
As a breastfeeding mom living in the 21st century, I am quite aware of the numerous challenges breastfeeding has. You should cope with your baby, work, house chores, stress, sleep deprivation… it majorly sucks. But breastfeeding in the 21st century is possible (unless there are health issues with the mother or baby, of course).
Unfortunately, letting your baby cry to sleep negatively affects breastfeeding, creating the so-called “low supply” belief. See, breastfeeding works pretty much like trade – on a supply and demand basis. When you ignore your baby’s needs (letting him cry it out), you practically lie to your body that your baby needs less breastmilk. In response, your body produces less breastmilk, damaging your breastmilk supply in the long run.