Letting Your Baby Cry to Sleep – Is It the Right Thing to Do?

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 by 1 Comment
Letting Your Baby Cry to Sleep – Is It the Right Thing to Do?

As a new mom, my first baby often fell asleep in my arms after eating. I’d put her down, and she slept for a couple of hours.

As she grew a little older, she’d be fussy when she got tired and I’d hold her, pat her, and rock her to quiet her until she fell asleep. I didn’t know that I was establishing a bad habit.

When she woke up, she’d cry to be held. It didn’t matter if she’d slept 10 minutes or two hours. The worst was the night time. I talked with my pediatrician about this and asked, “Should I let my baby cry?” He told me to feed her, and put her to bed when she was tired…not when she was already asleep.

He said, “Let her cry for 10 minutes, and if she is still crying, go check on her to make sure everything is okay.” He said the crying was fine and actually good for her lungs. It took three days to break the habit, but I’m so glad I did!

A new study in the journal of Developmental Psychology shows that babies have a sleep cycle of about one-and-a-half hours. They wake up a little and then fall back to sleep.

Marthat Weinraub, the Professor from Temple University at Philadelphia who led the study said, “When mothers tune in to these night time awakenings… then [the infant] may not be learning how to self-soothe, something that is critical for regular sleep.”

If we look at crying to sleep as self-soothing, it might make it a little easier. I have to tell you, the three nights of letting my daughter cry, were kind of nerve racking.

The first time I didn’t pick her up when I went to check on her, oh boy she was angry and cried louder, but three nights later she went to sleep. She fussed a little a couple of hours later, but fell back to sleep.

Should you let a baby cry? Yes, with supervision.

Photo credits: rabble

Posted in: Parenting
Donna Sundblad

Donna Sundblad resides in NW Georgia where she serves as the president of the Writer's Alliance of Georgia. Her most recent book, The Inheritance, was nominated for the 2012 Epic eBook award.

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  • Julie C.

    I agree. Within reason, you need to let you baby sleep, wake, cry, settle and sleep again. It’s so difficult to do as a first-time mom! I remember sitting outside my child’s bedroom door, with a watch in hand, timing ten minutes, tears falling down my cheeks as I tried to ignore my baby’s cries. But after a few days and many attempts, we both learned that he could wake up, fuss, and fall right back asleep again. If I had run in every time to pick him up, I would have deprived him of that extra sleep.