Cry, cry, baby!

For several days in a row our Little Guy has been waking up uncharacter- istically early, like 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. I know, I know, some kids (like my oldest, when he was little) always wake up that early. But Daniel usually sleeps until at least 7:00, sometimes as late as 8:00. Plus, he was waking us up with this weird, strident cry. And then he'd fall asleep in the car at 10:30. Clearly, his sleep cycle was messed up, probably from earlier in the week when he wasn't feeling well. So this morning at 5:40 we decided to let him cry. And after 20 hideous minutes, he fell back asleep until 7:30. Yay!!! My daughter, whose bedroom is right next door, heard him but also went back to sleep. Yay!!!

I'm a big believer in letting them cry it out. I know it's not the cool "attachment parent" thing to do. But even though I do some crunchy granola things like having home births, eating (mostly) organic foods, breastfeeding, using home-laundered cloth diapers (until recently, anyway), etc. etc., I am not an attachment parent. At least, I don't think I am. Though I must admit that my idea of what attachment parenting is all about is based more on my observations of other moms than a close reading of Dr. Sears. It seems like all the attachment moms I know use Dr. Sears as an excuse to not set limits. Result: clingy, whiny kids with poor social skills and low self-esteem because they don't know how to behave.

Furthermore, letting them cry it out works! Ok, you suffer for a day or two, when your Little Guy or Gal is first learning to put him or herself to sleep, and I will not deny that the suffering is intense. Listening to your child crying heartbrokenly for an hour is no picnic. But the rewards are amazing. There's a terrific book by a pediatric sleep expert which details how sleep benefits the growing brain. Not to mention the benefit to the parents of having a child that can put itself to sleep. After babysitting Daniel the other day, my mom commented that putting him to bed was "like hanging up a coat."

Attachment parenting, I believe, appeals to people who can't see the forest for the trees. People who would rather not vaccinate their children than listen to them cry when they get the shot. People who would rather spend hours rocking/singing/nursing/lying down in bed with their children than teach them to go to sleep on their own. I know I am simplifying complex issues here, especially the vaccination thing. But honestly, I have observed so many attachment parents who seem to have this attitude.

Well! That judgmental & self-righteous rant about other people's parenting techniques sure felt great! Stay tuned for a similar rant on how people misunderstand and misuse "time outs" with their toddlers . . . .


  • I've also read where attachment parenting is a better fit for cultures/societies that integrate other aspects of attachment life, such as bringing children to work, having extended families to care for children (so that it's not necessarily the parents' bed the children are sleeping in every night).

    I, too, love the results (if not the process) of crying it out. We had a babysitter last week who comment how she couldn't believe how well our six and two year olds went to bed.

    The freedom to have dinner out (tapas, by the way) without having to rush home and cuddle our kids to sleep is well worth a week of crying.

    And as counterpoint to the Searses, Dr. Spock says that if kids don't learn how to put themselves to sleep, if they cannot go to sleep without parental assistance, sleep can seem much more daunting and they feel much less in control of their lives.

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 10:18 AM