Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Cuddle at bedtime or cry-it-out babies

The latest research published about babies and sleep has again made me aware that we have been doing it right! Huge sigh of relief! We have not been doing the crying method with regards to sleep. When Mieka cries, we attend to her. We stay with her, and I nurse her, until she falls asleep. It feels right! It feels like the humane thing to do! But we (even ourselves who sometimes put the own barrier on our thinking) get feedback, even when she was very small, that you should let them cry, or not get used to your arms. Or you will have a spoilt baby…

That standard question that you get asked, especially when they are small little babies: “Is she a good baby?” As opposed to “Naughty”? What is that? Because they are more awake, and demand more of your attention, then the assumption is that she is naughty? And when you are sleep-deprived because of nightly wakings, then you are somehow doing something wrong?

Maybe it is something that goes into default mode. Default mode to parenting styles which was the in-thing when we were growing up. I even made the “mistake”, for the sake of peace in my previous life, to let my first-born cry after she was put down. (The teen has got ONE valid reason already when she blames her parents one day at the psychologist.) I cringe now, but at the time I had to please a jealous husband…

Penn State researcher Douglas Teti “examined the role of emotional availability on infant sleep” by putting in cameras in the bedrooms of babies between one month to 24 months.

He found:

  • Regardless of a family’s night-time routine: parents who were responsive and warm had fewer night wakings and an easier time drifting off. It makes the child feel safe and secure!
  • Scepticism towards sleep training: 1. it does not work! 2. It affects the parent-child relationship itself.
Now I know why it didn’t feel right to pat the baby, NOT look at her, and leave the room, and let them cry for a while before going back in. Still not making eye-contact! (It’s cruel! – my personal view!)

It gets better! Even though we had a bad night last night where Mieka just would not settle (I blame the five o’clock nap she got in the car), she mostly goes to sleep within 20 minutes when she is healthy.

All this too will pass, and we will definitely miss that small little body throwing her legs across us when lying next to us in bed…


  1. I am a cuddle to settle mum and have been with all 3. I was lucky that they all 'slept throught the night' at about 12 weeks but all of them would wake somewhere between 3 or 4 ish in the morning. Then I would cuddle back to sleep for all our sakes. So much quicker to get them back to sleep and the rest of the household.

    As the last 2 were breastfed (unfortunately didnt have the confidence with the first) they naturally fell asleep latched on so it was what they were used to. So when they did become restless to settle to sleep I could not see the 'let them cry' system working as it is the complete opposite.


  2. I have never managed to do the cry out thing - it did not work for us. But I do believe in kinder forms of sleep training - did it last year and worked so well. Where you sit next to them, pat, pat, and move further away all the time.

  3. Good on you for doing it your way. Everything you said made perfect sense to me. I don't think there should be rules anyway, or judgements. We all have to do what is right for us as parents. Your baby looks like one happy girl, whatever you are doing it's working! x

  4. Take it from one with experience in both the 'cruel' and 'softer' methods of sleep training... it doesn't work for everyone and i am now just accepting of the fact that my girl just doesn't need alot of sleep to begin with and I am just happy to share these precious moments with her while they last. So you go girl, Mieka looks happy and thats all that counts :)

  5. We did not use the cry it out method either. It did not make sense. Babies need to be attended to when they cry. Since they were small little babies we had a bedtime routine with the girls - bathing, singing lullabies, reading, listening to soft music before it is bedtime. Also bedtime is at a set time in our house (8:30PM). My kids today are very good about going to bed and I think it is because we had this routine and set time since the very beginning. They might be lying in bed talking and making jokes for like twenty minutes, but they stay in bed and after about twenty minutes they are fast asleep.

  6. I can't remember what it was like to struggle with my children at sleeptime...but I do know that now I lie down with my grandbabies until they sleep...I love it:)


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