The title may lead one to believe that I'm going bananas because of crying it out. However, that assumption would be wrong. Since printing the first 375 pages of this blog, I have learned that distinctive titles make the difference between finding information quickly or finding it in hours. I prefer the former.
This past week, I gave Dylan tiny pieces of banana. Not mushed up goop. Actual pieces. He'll be eight months old next Monday. I didn't start Ethan on finger foods until he was 9 months, having read that was the ideal time. Things have changed in the past four years, and I'm now reading that around 8 months, sometimes earlier, is fine. So I figured why not. After all, entertaining Dylan while trying to have a sit down meal with the family isn't always easy. Giving him something to focus on and bringing him into the family dinner mix is nice. I'm enjoying it, and he's doing great with it. Sweet potatoes will likely be next.
Alright. So on to crying it out (CIO). I'm not sure there's a more controversial topic in parenthood than CIO. When I was researching CIO with Ethan, I found that people were so quick to put you in your place. I posted on forums asking for help and options and ways of implementing CIO only to be blasted with hate responses that insinuated I was a selfish mother that only cared about my own precious sleep rather than my child's needs. As a first-time working mom with an infant that woke several (more than four) times a night, I was desperate for even a couple hours of consolidated sleep. To then be so harshly ridiculed for it was painful and left me with so many doubts about my parenting ability and my sanity. I was at a loss.
And so came the countless hours of research. Each theory the CIO haters threw my way, I researched. Each quote was tracked down to its source meticulously. And what I came to realize was that they were correct. Leaving an infant to cry will cause damage. But these studies were not examining CIO for the sake of sleep training. They were examining infants that had been left for hours day after day after day. These infants had the unfortunate mishap of being born to people that didn't mind leaving them in a playpen all day. That never got up to feed them in the night. These children were neglected. And studies prove that if an infant is not held or loved or touched or cared for, he or she can very well die just as if starved. It's called failure to thrive.
So armed with the information that three or four nights would not, in fact, cause my child lasting and irreparable damage, I decided that my safety and my existence were worth CIO. This decision came shortly after I fell asleep at the wheel on a road known as "Bloody 13." Something had to be done.
It worked, and I still got up once a night to feed him because I didn't use CIO to get a full night of sleep because I was selfish. And I don't regret my decision and I stand by my premise that I have caused no lasting damage to my child.
And so what I'm about to say is going to sound like a contradiction.
As I was trying to settle Dylan down to sleep tonight (he has recently started fighting naps and bedtime), I thought about those CIO days. And I thought about what it would be like to do that with Dylan. And I realized instantly that I would never use CIO again.
I am reading a book about Love & Logic parenting. In this book, they discuss the cycle of trust. Infants trust their parents to be there for them when they cry out. It's their only method of communicating certain needs. And so when we don't address those needs, we begin to breakdown that circle of trust that we have with our children. And for this reason, I cannot use CIO on Dylan. Does that mean I don't let him cry? Absolutely not. Just tonight, my husband ran up the stairs as I was getting up to go check on Dylan. He'd been crying for about five minutes, and my husband was coming to check on him.
Again, Dylan has started fighting sleep. Letting him cry for five minutes doesn't bother me. And when I go back in, I give him his paci, I hold him for a minute, kiss his is little head and rub his back as I lay him back down. And then he goes to sleep. The trust is still there because I have met his needs. His need for comfort.
Dylan doesn't require much. He may wake up at night, but he's easily fed and put back to bed. Every once in a while, he wants to have a little party, but it's rare, and there are nights when I can't sleep, so why wouldn't that be possible for him? When it comes to sleep, he's pretty easy.
But he does wake up to eat at least twice a night. And there are many who would say that at eight months, a baby doesn't need fed at night and the habit should be broken. There are some who would institute CIO because a baby his age should sleep through the night.
I'm not gonna lie. The thought crosses my mind sometimes toward the end of work week when I'm becoming delirious from exhaustion. But my husband, unless he hunts, let's me catch up on the weekends, and that gets me through. And Dylan will usually sleep until around 6:30 or 7, unlike Ethan's 5:00 a.m. at the same age.
But I believe Dylan needs something when he cries. I believe he's either hungry or just wants a little reassurance. After all, he spent the first five months in my room. Next to me. And I know that it won't last forever. He will eventually sleep through the night. It took my oldest almost four years to get there, but it happened. And Ethan didn't go without nightfeedings until he was nine months old.
The adage is true. All babies are different. And while Ethan needed something a little stronger to ensure that his mother didn't perish in a fiery crash, Dylan doesn't. And true CIO advocates would have said I needed to break Ethan of night waking at all. All I wanted was to break him from waking every 20 minutes for 2 or 3 hours in a row. I never minded having to feed him or hold him when he didn't feel right. I mean, I can't imagine teething feels good and why wouldn't a baby want a mother's comfort when something is hurting and they have no idea why?
If I had it all to do over, I'd still use CIO on Ethan because we modified it, it didn't last long, and it worked for our purposes. But if anyone were to ever approach me about CIO and whether they should use it, I would strongly caution them. Not in the way I was cautioned, which wasn't caution at all, but in a more gentler fashion.
I don't believe CIO should be used to get a baby to stop eating at night. I don't believe a baby's cries should be ignored because "there's nothing wrong." I do believe there are some sleep habits that become so bad that something drastic must be done with the knowledge that it in no way means a parent can expect nights full of sleep. One must not go into CIO lightly. I believe it has the potential of destroying some trust within the child and therefore, parents must compensate in other ways to ensure their child knows and believes in their love.
Not an easy thing....