The job of parenting is going to be filled with many, many choices where I wonder if the decision I've made will fuck up my child. Homeschool her or send her to public school. Let her quit her flute lessons or force her to see it through. Allow her to play with knives or make sure she doesn't. Let her cry it out or hold her and rock her back to sleep every two hours. Some of these choices are easy - obviously we know knives are not safe. Some of these choices are difficult - if I let her quit her flute lessons, she may not learn the value of determination, but if I make her stick with it, she might miss out on an activity that she could really enjoy. And some decisions are controversial - if I make her cry it out, she might grow up to be detached and insecure, but if I let her call the shots at bedtime, she may never know how to accomplish anything without our help. This last decision is what we're currently battling with.
Last night was night 4 of crying it out (CIO). It sucks. It is not easy to listen to her cry, knowing that she's wondering why we're not attending to her needs. I sit here and wonder, is she going to be insecure? Is she going to feel neglected? Is she going to withdraw from us? A friend of mine recently posted an article on her facebook page dealing with this very issue, entitled Cry it out: 10 reasons why it is not for us. The article claims that studies show CIO leads to lower IQ, social dysfunction, increased agression and violent tendencies, and ADHD, among other things. Of course this is concerning to me, and last night Matt and I discussed these points and our mutual feelings.
Here's what I know about my baby - prior to starting CIO, she would wake every two hours like clockwork, requiring me to hold her and rock her back to sleep. She was severely lacking in restorative sleep, and was irritable throughout the day. Her daytime naps were getting shorter and shorter. But since beginning CIO, she has consistently slept at night in two blocks of 4-5 hours each, waking only to eat. She has not cried out for help in getting back to sleep a single time in four nights. She has taken consistent naps during the day, and her overall demeanor is more pleasant and alert. So while I agree that it's possible for the CIO method to cause harmful effects, I also feel that with my baby, at this point in time, it's the right decision. It's a decision that will be closely monitored and adjusted as needed, but so far, so good.
I don't believe that the CIO method is for everyone; some parent-child relationships will thrive much more with co-sleeping - my friend who posted the article is a case in point. I also don't believe it's going to work if the baby isn't ready to be sleep trained. I feel like Addy is ready. She wants to sleep, she needs to sleep, but she just needs a little push to help her figure out how to do it on her own.