Saturday, December 15th, 2018

Crying It Out = Worst Choice For Baby?

Published on March 10, 2014 by   ·   7 Comments Pin It

CIO – ‘Crying It Out’, or CC – ‘Controlled Crying’, are methods used by parents to train their babies to sleep, by leaving them to cry, alone. Ignoring their call for help because they’re uncomfortable, hungry, lonely, or just need a nappy change. By ignoring them they eventually learn to give up or give in to the idea they’re not getting what they need. Crying will wear them out and they’ll fall asleep, just as the parent wished. So yes, it may ‘work‘ but it’s the best choice for the parent, NOT the baby.

I understand we all feel desperate for sleep, at some point, if not many points throughout the first year, however, it’s completely natural for most babies to wake up frequently through the night, well into their toddler years and possibly beyond. I strongly feel that when you take on the role as a parent, you also take on this responsibility to be there for your baby (/toddler/child/teen) when they NEED you. Don’t get me wrong, in fact ask my family, I’ve certainly dished out my fair share of complaints about being sleep deprived! My two year old boy has woken every 2-3 hours, since birth, and I can count on one hand how many times he’s slept a few hours longer! Many people have told me to look after myself and a little crying “won’t hurt him.”

Crying It Out = Worst Choice For Baby?

Image via

Image via

To all those well-meaning people, yes it will hurt him, here’s why…

When we are stressed our body automatically produces higher levels of Cortisol, the stress hormone, causing chemical and hormonal imbalance. In a baby, this is very dangerous and can cause major developmental issues. Dr Sears says ‘Research has shown that infants who are routinely separated from parents in a stressful way have abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as lower growth hormone levels. These imbalances inhibit the development of nerve tissue in the brain, suppress growth, and depress the immune system.’

Another major reason for parents to use this harsh form of baby training is the fear of them being too dependent on you. ‘Letting babies get distressed is a practice that can damage children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We can confirm now that forcing “independence” on a baby leads to greater dependence. Instead, giving babies what they need leads to greater independence later. ‘ –Psychology Today. If a baby is constantly unsure as to whether his mother or father will actually listen and respond to him, he’ll be more likely to want his parents more often and for a longer time, for fear of being left alone again.

Babies cry to communicate, not manipulate, it is their only form of communication.

By responding to them, they feel understood.

Alternative ways to help baby sleep:

  • -Rocking, singing, cuddling, babywearing, breastfeeding your baby to sleep or back to sleep.
  • -Safe co sleeping by room/bedsharing helps to regulate their breathing and being close is comforting.

These will NOT create ‘bad habits’!! Trust your baby to grow and develop naturally and when they are ready, they’ll no longer need you to comfort them through the night. Instead of obsessing over the lack of sleep, remember our children are a blessing, not an inconvenience.

Follow @gentle_parenting on Instagram to be involved with a world-wide community of like-minded parents. They’ll be conducting a ‘photo-a-day’ challenge through the week of 13-20 march 2014. Share your attached parenting/ gentle parenting photos with the following hashtags on instagram to join in this lovefest – #GPweek2014 #NormalizeGentleParenting


Kirsty Soo lives in Melbourne, Australia. She’s a SAHM to a 2 year old boy, 6 days a week and a hairstylist one day. FB: Kirsty Soo IG: @Gentle_Parenting Twitter: @KirstySoo This is her first piece for GirlieGirl Army.

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Readers Comments (7)

  1. Courtney says:

    Very inspiring and fits around my instincts to help my baby and mother her how she needs it, great article!

  2. Delia says:

    CIO is disgusting. It’s for lazy selfish parents.

  3. Wendy says:

    It’s a shame people still do this. Really tragic that it’s still considered an option and even promoted by doctors when it’s so clearly torturous for the kids. Even Ferber recanted before his death!!

  4. kirsten says:

    makes perfect sense when pregnant we are all told stress is bad for the unborn baby why would it be any different when they are born?

    my son wakes any where from 2-5 hours apart over night feeds and goes straight back to sleep no crying involved at all he only cries when something is bothering him like reflux or teething or going through developmental changes/about to learn a new skill.

    i hate it when people say babies are cunning or manipulative or they want attention(as if they shouldn’t get it) babies want their mums (or dads) and they should get their undivided unconditional love and attention

  5. KS says:

    Completely disagree with all of this. I have done controlled crying and CIO with both of my kids. Took two nights of crying down to sleep for both boys to be sleeping through the night. My oldest is now four and sleeps 12 hours a night. I can assure you that he does not remember those two nights as a baby where he cried a little on his own in order to get to sleep. He was not hungry. He was not too hot or too cold. His diaper was dry. He just wanted attention. He had my attention all throughout the day. Nighttime is for sleeping. The greatest gift I could ever give my children is the gift of sleep. My four year old and I are extremely close, we have an amazing bond. Certainly hasn’t affected him now in any way, other than that he is so happy because he knows how to sleep well! The methods you have suggested to put your baby back to sleep are indeed creating bad habits – which is why your two year old still wakes every two-three hours at night! Do you think that’s good for your child?? They are not getting a proper night of sleep, it’s actually worse then a couple of nights of controlled crying or CIO in my opinion. There is no reason why a two year old should be waking every two to three hours. I have a four year old that is proof CIO is not in any way detrimental to his health, development or independence.

    • Truth says:

      KS: You have no idea if your CIO actually was detrimental to his mental state, as it wouldn’t show up til YEARS later. AKA: the globe on prozac. Get a clue – this was for you – not for him. For your convenience. For your sleep. But that baby needed his Mommy when he cried that day, and you gave him silence. I find that cruel.

    • BYM says:

      KS you can’t argue with scientifically proven facts! The act of allowing a baby (that naturally NEEDS to wake frequently) to CIO should be illegal IMO! It’s cruel and neglectful- borderline abusive! Hopefully when people know better, they’ll do better.

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