The surprising truth about letting your baby cry it out

Can letting a baby cry actually harm them?

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  • Having babies means having to learn a lot of new things all at once, such as feeding the baby, washing the baby, changing the baby, etc.

  • What a lot of parents have to go through the first couple months of their little ones' life is a lot, and there is a lot of trial and error.

  • One of the most common problems that new parents are faced with is letting, or not letting, their children "cry it out." This usually means the decision to let their baby cry without immediately going to the baby to comfort or calm them.

  • This is a method that is especially applied when the new baby is being sleep trained, and many generations of parents claim that this is the only way the child will become independent and learn to sleep on their own.

  • However, recently it has been debated whether or not this method is really the way to go, and if "crying it out" could potentially be harming your child.

  • Here are some surprising facts that may make you re-think the cry-it-out method:

  • Newborns aren't meant to sleep through the night

  • For any parent who have experienced having a newborn this probably doesn't come as a surprise. Robert Sears, M.D., author of The Portable Pediatrician book and app, said, "Newborn babies are just not made to sleep through the night, but some parents become obsessed with seeing that they do."

  • It is important to understand that no matter how much you want to try to sleep train your newborn into sleeping through the night, the idea is simply not that realistic. You will not do any harm to your baby now or in the future by reacting to their cries.

  • Crying for hours can be counterproductive

  • Let's be honest, if a baby is crying you are usually awake. So if you are trying to help the baby get more sleep and you getting more sleep as well, sitting there listening to them cry for hours is not helping anyone.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that keeping your baby in the same room with you is ideal for your sleep and the baby's safety. One big advantage of doing this is that the "crying it out" argument becomes moot because a mother's presence will soothe the baby.

  • Babies NEED to be held

  • According to psychologists, babies grow from being held. Their bodies get deregulated when they are physically separated from caregivers. Babies want to feel loved and taken care of, and this is primarily done through touch and being held.

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  • When you pick up a baby, especially a newborn, it makes them feel they are in the womb again, meaning they are protected from the outside world. If they are crying it is usually out of distress, from hunger or thirst, and they know their needs can be met through you- their parents.

  • There is no wrong or right

  • When it comes to parenting there is no one-way fits all method. You know your baby, and you will probably understand his or her wants and needs more than anyone else.

  • Don't let others try to tell you what is wrong or right. If you want to pick up your child when they cry, you should do it. If you are ok letting them cry a little bit before going to pick them up that is also up to you.

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Tamsyn Valentine is part of the content team at FamilyShare.com. She graduated with a degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations and journalism.

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