When my daughter was a baby, I’d leap to attention at the first sign of a whimper – let alone full on crying. If I was driving and she cried, I’d pull over to feed her, change her nappy (often on a street pavement or in the boot), or simply comfort her. I fed her to sleep. I cuddled (and then fed) her when she woke at night. I’d heard that leaving a baby to cry would make them feel their demands weren’t being met, so they would stop crying for food/a nappy change.
This is, of course, a big pile of steaming crap. Have YOU met a baby who simply lies there in silence; making no demands because his mum left him crying a few times when she was in the shower? No, me neither.
When my daughter was three months old, I went out for the evening and she wouldn’t settle, so my husband put her in the cot and sat with her while she cried. He didn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t have breasts, she didn’t want a bottle, rocking wasn’t cutting it. After half an hour, she fell asleep. Until the morning. The next night, we left her to cry again. Within 10 minutes she was happily sleeping.
We have accidentally adopted the so-called ‘cry it out‘ method of sleep training. And guess what? She woke up the next day crying for food/sleep/cuddles, as normal. She’s now a happy, securely attached, balanced toddler. And recently became a big sister…
So – to all the anti-leaving-the-baby-crying parents – what do you do when you have two children? There will inevitably be times when both are hungry or tired – how do you appease both simultaneously?
I have the answer: you don’t.
One has to be prioritised and the other will have to wait. Slings – or baby wearing – are often recommended to combat this issue, but it won’t solve a pooey nappy.
This means that occasionally my second born is left crying while I tend to the toddler. I often deal with her first because the newborn’s crying is preferable to a tantrumming (mobile, loud) toddler. I reason that in the short term he loses out, but in the long term, he’ll gain the useful skill of patience.
And in a few months, baby 2 will be receiving sleep training akin to baby 1’s, when I have my first night out.
I don’t buy into the idea that leaving a baby to cry will result in lasting psychological damage, so it will involve crying and – if experience is anything to go by – it will result in a contented, good sleeper.
That’s surely the dream for every parent, isn’t it?
Over to you: is it ever OK to leave a baby crying?