Now The Studies Say We Should Let Our Infants ‘Cry It Out.’ Make Up Your Minds, Researchers

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shutterstock_75120478Make up your minds, researchers. I’d like to know how badly I’m screwing up my child. Is that too much to ask?

Wasn’t it just a few months ago that we were reassured that infant sleep training was kind of a bust? At that time, studies showed that infants who were able to self-soothe to sleep didn’t necessarily become children who were able to do the same. There were obvious benefits for parents, but for kids – not so much.

There were even studies that went as far as to say if you were sleep training using the ever-popular Ferber or “cry it out method,” you were probably raising a nervous, stressed-out kid:

With neuroscience, we can confirm what our ancestors took for granted—that letting babies get distressed is a practice that can damage children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We know now that leaving babies to cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated person who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation.

Whoa. Harsh. But it doesn’t really matter anyway, because now researchers are saying exactly the opposite. In yet another new study, we’re now being told that infants who aren’t sleep trained become more irritable than those who are, and we should seek help if our children are still having trouble sleeping through the night at 18 months.

I give up.

Personally, I couldn’t bear sleep training. Not because I thought it was a horrible idea, just because I am a total wimp that couldn’t handle hearing my child cry to the point of choking and gagging. I gave up early. He’s two now, and sleeps fine – but I have to admit it took a while. My husband and I probably would have benefited from trying harder to sleep train. But my child is a happy, healthy, friendly, well-adjusted toddler. I don’t know if that has anything to do with not sleep training.

Now number two is on the way. I think I am going to approach it in the same way. I’m going to see what I can bear. If he or she responds the same way my son did – it probably won’t be happening. I’m pretty comfortable with our own trial-and-error approach to it. And since the researchers will probably be saying a totally different thing next week – we’re probably just better off ignoring them.

(photo: Giuseppe R/