Do I think children need to get healthy sleep for optimal health? Absolutely! Do I think they should be placed in their cribs alone to cry for hours on end? Absolutely not!
So what are people referring to when they talk about CIO (Crying it Out)?
CIO is a general term for a method of getting your child to sleep through the night that involves putting them in their crib/bed and leaving the room while they cry themselves to sleep. It sounds scary and it makes parents feel that their only options are to either live with the constant waking in the night and replenish the “all night buffet” (a term I have often heard parents use when they refer to feeding their child to sleep countless times during the night), or leave their child to cry night after night alone in their rooms until they are so worn down that there is nothing left to do but sleep. I do not support either of these scenarios.
CIO has become one of the biggest parenting debates over the last few years and many people stand firmly on one side or the other of the topic.
I know that many doctors and other professionals suggest letting your child “cry it out” for a few nights so that she will learn to self soothe and sleep independently. In some cases parents have found success with this method, however, in my opinion, it leaves many questions unanswered and does not address many of the other important factors involved with your child getting healthy amounts of sleep. It also is not at all helpful to those parents who are uncomfortable with the thought of their child crying for hours on end, alone in their crib.
I feel that CIO is essentially doing nothing. Teaching your child to sleep independently involves much more planning and support than just simply walking away. Schedules, routines, proper bedtimes, and knowing how much sleep your child actually needs are all considerations for your child’s healthy sleep.
The bottom line is our children need sleep. Our children also need to feel loved and supported and understand that mommy and daddy are doing what is best for them.
So can there be a happy medium? Can you get your child the sleep they need without having to go against everything you believe as a parent? I believe you can.
Helping our children develop healthy sleep habits doesn’t have to be a tortuous affair that leaves our children feeling alone and abandoned, or threaten to break the precious bond between mother and babe (or dad, let’s be fair). It can often enhance our understanding of our children and how they behave in certain situations.
Sleep training comes in all forms and does not mean that you have to approach parenting with reckless abandon and throw everything you hold important out the window. There are many methods and finding the one that is right for you is very important. You cannot be successful if you are not completely comfortable with your program.
Sleep is a requirement of our bodies and as important as it is for our children to be sleeping well, so should mom and dad. I often say that the best gift you can give your child is well-rested parents and I think we would all agree that facing parenting challenges is much easier when we’ve had a good night’s sleep!
Jillian is the founder of Sleep Wise Sleep Consulting and can be reached for a FREE 15 minute phone consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org