I just read something that really annoyed me. Someone on Yahoo Answers asked how long they should let their baby cry after they have put them down for sleep, wondering if one, two, or three hours was ok. There were 9 answers. 8 of them appeared to be from the same person who wrote answers like (I did not correct their spelling, grammar or punctuation purely for your enjoyment):
“Uh I'm all for self settling and letting baby cry for a few minutes but an hour? Give me a break. This has to be a bull**** post, no mother would let their child cry that long surely! If this is for real you really need to get him up and comfort him. If he cries too long he'll just get so worked up he'll never goto sleep.”
“thats disgusting an hour?? i hope this is fake...i dont let my baby cry it out. i had him for a reason.”
And my favorite; “Shame on you for letting your helpless baby cry for over an HOUR!! Your sick and twisted. You shouldn't even let a baby cry for 1 minute!!”
The person who answered this post not only set out to make the curious parent feel like a monster, but has no clue how to raise a well adjusted, happy baby. “You shouldn't even let a baby cry for 1 minute!!”? Really? Is it even possible to pick your child up before they’ve cried for a whole minute every time? I’m pretty sure it’s not. A baby will not spontaneously combust if it cries for more than a minute. He will not grow up feeling neglected and unloved.
I am so happy for you that you have a child that must not cry very much, lady. That you must never have felt that deep frustration and anger I have felt after listening to my poor child scream for hours, trying everything when nothing worked. I am no expert, (I cannot stress this enough) but if this is the parenting style you choose to continue, your child will no doubt be an obnoxious spoiled brat. A well adjusted adult will be able to soothe himself after a disappointing day. He will understand that sometimes we don’t get our way and be able to deal with that. A child who is comforted for every little thing will not grow up to be a well adjusted adult and a parent who drops everything at the sound of a whimper will be stressed and tired.
Lilly had a lot of trouble sleeping for her first two and half months. She cried and cried all night long for several nights in a row. We changed her, fed her, checked to see if she was hot or cold or uncomfortable in any way, made sure she wasn’t sick. We tried swaddling her (which she actually HATED) and changed her position in the crib. We rocked her, read to her and gave her several drops of Mylicon. Nothing worked. Eventually Andy and I had reached a level of frustration and anger no person should experience, but a level I am sure every parent reaches at some point. The doctor had told us not to let her cry for more than an hour at time. “But WHY?” we asked. We asked several parents and pediatricians and not one gave us an answer that was better than “You just shouldn’t!”
We decided that if they couldn’t give us a legitimate reason why we shouldn’t let her cry after we had tried everything else, we would let her cry it out. The next time we got to that point, that point where we could have screamed in poor little Lilly’s face, that point where instead of screaming in Lilly’s face we screamed at each other, slammed doors, and threw, with great force, any object that might have gotten in our way, that instead we would put Lilly in her crib, close our bedroom door, and let her cry it out. At this point it seemed absolutely necessary for all of our well beings that we just walk away from the baby in the crib. We aren’t bad people, we aren’t monsters, we love our little Lilly Belle with all our hearts, but several weeks straight of sleeping no more than an hour or two each night and working all day has a very scary effect on people. We weren’t ourselves.
The first night we left Lilly to cry, she cried for at least two hours before she finally fell asleep. We were scared and nervous. The crying just didn’t seem to let up. Should we go to her? What should we do? But we decided that we would just wait it out no matter how long she cried.
The second night she only cried for an hour. For a couple more nights after that she cried for an hour before falling asleep. Then, one magical night, she fell asleep after crying for only 20 minutes! I remember that feeling of relief and our celebratory high five. We fell asleep and the next morning we didn’t wake up until . We turned Lilly’s baby monitor all the way up and didn’t hear a peep. OH GOD! She must be dead we thought. We raced upstairs and I put my hand on her chest. “She’s still breathing” I whispered to Andy feeling a little confused. We very quickly and quietly tip toed out of her room and closed the door. We were in complete disbelief! She slept all night long! She didn’t cry once! Will she do it again? She did. Every night she cried for about 10 minutes and then fell right to sleep!
Lilly is now 19 months old and she likes to go to bed. She enjoys hugging her little blanket. We put a couple of books in there and she has a soother that lights up and projects pictures onto the ceiling, which she knows how to turn on herself. Sometimes we peek in on her and find her reading her books by the light of her soother. She knows when she is tired to put the books down and go to sleep (how she learned that part, I have no idea). Most nights we put her down and don’t hear a peep out of her. Sometimes she cries for a few minutes, but she knows how to soothe herself and how to entertain herself and these are invaluable skills for a one and half year old, or for any age for that matter. They have kept both Andy and I sane and happy people. Allowing her to "cry it out" was the best thing we ever did (other then have her in first place!)
Lilly knows we love her. We shower her with hugs and kisses and tell her we love her at least twelve times daily. She is happy and not the least bit neglected. I think we did the right thing. It was right for us. Not everyone can handle all that crying and screaming from their poor helpless infant. Many people have more patience than we did. Good for them. But I am here to tell you that if you are like me and like Andy and you can’t take it anymore, it is OK to let your child cry it out! They will not explode, or die, or grow up to feel neglected (at least not when they grow to 19 months, we have no experience past that time-yet). In the end you will be helping them learn to self soothe, an important life skill.
Below: A few of Lilly's crying moments... and a sleeping one!