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 tiredâ€¦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 awakeningsâ€¦ 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