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Desperate times, desperate searches

Around the world there are parents wishing their babies would sleep better. Some so exhausted, so frustrated, so at the end of their rope that they go searching on the Internet desperately trying to find the magic bullet that will make their baby sleep through the night.

In certain Western societies it has somehow become acceptable for otherwise attentive parents to ignore their children's cries, pretend that they don't have needs, and forget that they aren't helpless infants that are totally dependent on their parents. They don't understand why you are withholding your love, why you aren't listening to their cries of hunger or thirst, why you don't recognize how scared they are to be alone in the dark. They don't know that Ferber or Weissbluth or some other self-proclaimed expert told you that it was okay.

So parents hear from friends, on a message board, from their doctor, in a book, that if they are tired and their baby is not sleeping, that cry it out or sleep training or "tough love" is a good answer. And so those people go forth, to Google, to learn more about this approach that seems so unnatural, but yet that so many people are suggesting.

And as they search, Google and other search engines bring them to resources that might help them decide whether to ignore their instincts, put in earplugs, and let their baby scream. And sometimes those searches bring them here, to my blog, to my posts on Cry It Out: 10 reasons why it is not for us and Cry it Out: Is it harmful or helpful?.

Here is a small sample of the dozens and dozens of searches that have brought people to those posts just in the past few days (note: my reporting tool cuts some of them off):

  1. does the cry it out method work

  2. cry it out

  3. letting your baby cry at seven weeks

  4. babies cry to sleep

  5. at what age is it ok to let your baby cr

  6. cry-it-out, harmful

  7. baby cio not working

  8. cannot let baby cry it out

  9. can't let baby cry it out

  10. children sleeping through night cry it o

  11. my baby cries even worse each day

  12. cry it out sleep method negative researc

  13. cio parenting

  14. cry it out method negative

  15. does letting a baby cry it out have ill

  16. baby traumatized after crying it out

  17. never cying it out (cio

  18. reasons baby cry uncontrolaby at night

  19. "cry it out" method and 2 month old

  20. what age can you let an infant cry it ou

  21. baby too stubborn to let them cry

  22. letting your baby cry it out while teeth

  23. research baby crying it out

  24. how long can you let your baby cry to go

  25. is it healthy to let baby cry it out?

  26. let the baby cry out at night

  27. should you let a newborn cry it out

  28. can the cry it out method harm my child

  29. why does letting a baby cry it out work

  30. no cry out method

  31. crying it out, health risk

  32. should infant cio ?

  33. how long does it take for a baby to cry

  34. cry it out method + research

  35. is it time to let my baby cry it out?

  36. infant crying and throat damage

  37. letting your baby cry to sleep

  38. baby sleep habits, how long to let cry

  39. leaving your baby in a crib while crying

  40. can it be harmful to let a baby cry itse

  41. 10 reasons should you let babies cry

  42. cio weissbluth attachment

  43. to let him cry it out or not

  44. cry it out method baby

  45. crying it out psychological impact

  46. cry it out method has been proven to cau

  47. can letting a baby cry hurt her brain de

  48. how long to let baby cry it out

  49. letting your baby cry it out

  50. is it to early to let my baby cry it out

  51. is the cry it out method healthy for inf

  52. should parents let their kids cry to sle

  53. why is crying it out so hard for babies

  54. should you let your baby cry it out

  55. letting a 6 week old baby cry it out

  56. letting your baby cry

  57. risks involved with letting a baby cry h

  58. at what age should you let a baby cry it

  59. baby crying harmful

  60. letting infants cry it out

  61. how long child cry it out

  62. letting baby cry books

  63. why not cry it out

  64. 10 month old let cry to sleep

  65. why babies cry at night

  66. does a cry-it-out approach have any nega

  67. crying it out doesn't work

  68. cry it out 15 months

  69. how long do i let baby cry it out

  70. cry it out cry during the day

  71. arguments against "cry it out"

  72. william sears/ should you let a baby cry

  73. leaving your child to cry to sleep

  74. is it ok to let my baby cry it out

  75. should you let your baby cry

  76. letting infants cry to sleep causes

  77. infant cio

  78. cry it out method how long should you le

  79. evidence that crying it out is bad

  80. effects of crying it out on 4 month old

  81. let the baby cry

  82. letting baby cry to sleep

  83. does letting baby cry it out work?

  84. ask a sleep trainer baby

  85. do you let your baby cry it out

  86. do not agree with letting babies cry it

  87. let your baby cry it out at what age?

  88. what age should i let my baby cry it out

  89. when to let infant cry himself to sleep

  90. cry it out method

  91. cry it out and sweating

  92. baby cry out brain

  93. baby cry it out method

  94. age to let them cry it out

  95. is crying it out bad for baby

  96. leaving 8 week old baby to cry it out

  97. letting babies cry it out at 7 months ol

  98. hard core cry it out method

  99. is it ok to let baby cry to sleep

  100. no cry vs cry it out

There you have it. The most recent 100 searches that brought people to my posts on CIO, all within the last few days. And yet it leaves me wondering whether my posts helped anyone. If there are so many desperate people out there, did reading these posts convince any of them that maybe cry it out is not a good idea and that perhaps those that think it is have a skewed view of what is normal infant sleep and what is an appropriate way to deal with a child that is not sleeping? I know that the posts resonate with people that already agree with me, but please tell me...

If you were undecided about cry it out and read my post, did it help you decide not to let your baby CIO?
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Reader Comments (27)

Shocked at the CIO with 2 month old. Wow.

October 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergreta blau

@greta blau

Yes, it is sad. There are also ones at 7 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks. I'm sure in the past I have seen ones earlier than that too.

October 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Keep in mind 2 things:

- there's no telling how many more people may have been searching for methods to soothe babies to sleep without crying it out, because they would have landed on other sites, depending on their keyword searches.

- there are an awful lot of new and sleep-deprived parents who are desperate to soothe their babies and get them to sleep. In doing an internet search, cry it out woudl probably be one of their search terms simply because it's probably the best known catch-phrase for a method of putting children to sleep. I know if I looked back at all the searches I've done in my daughter's 1st year of life, there are plenty of things I've searched that I haven't followed. Cry-it-out and Ferber were amng them, although we didn't use those methods -- but I needed to read as much as I could on as many methods as I could to figure outwhat was going to work for us.

That being said, there are also a lot of people lacking in parenting skills and without the supports or knowledge to help them out.

October 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne

@ Marianne:

Thanks for your comment! You said "I know if I looked back at all the searches I’ve done in my daughter’s 1st year of life, there are plenty of things I’ve searched that I haven’t followed. Cry-it-out and Ferber were amng them, although we didn’t use those methods — but I needed to read as much as I could on as many methods as I could to figure outwhat was going to work for us."

That is exactly why I posted this and asked the question that I did. I'm wondering if the posts I wrote had any persuasive power or whether I am just preaching to the choir and being ignored by others.

October 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I don't know (preaching to the choir here), but I do know that last night I was searching for studies showing that cry-it-out is harmful, and your site came up third in my Google search results. That's pretty impressive. It wasn't quite what I personally was looking for, but it's certainly right there for any parent needing the info to read. They are very well laid out posts, I imagine they would make a great deal of difference to those that read them.

October 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

@ Cynthia

What were you looking for specifically? Maybe I can point you in the right direction.

October 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I found what I needed (and I see you have most of them linked in your entry anyway - I should have looked there first!), but thank you. :) I have a friend who had Babywise recommended to her, so I was writing her an email about the dangers surrounding the book. I was trying to avoid the emotional stuff and stick strictly to the "this scientific article here states..." blah blah blah. Honestly, I'm not the sort of person who goes around sticking her nose in other people's business like that! I just really wanted this new mom to know fully what she was getting herself into if she decided to go with the Babywise program. Fortunately, she wrote back today to say she wouldn't be. :)

October 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

@ Cynthia

Have you seen the http://www.ezzo.info/" rel="nofollow">Ezzo.info Web site? It is a Web site that presents a critique of Babywise and other Ezzo programs. Here is a brief description:

"These programs have many ardent adherents. Yet health-care professionals and notable Christian leaders have expressed concerns and even alarm about these programs.

This website exists to provide information and documentation to help parents, pastors, and other interested persons evaluate this program."

October 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Can i just say I love you!
I woke up this morning and after my year almost two of blogging for some reason...possibly talking to Dad (the Psychologist) believes that we are evolving.
We are leaving CIO behind...moving on to what I don't know...it is just too damaging to be sustainable.
Will we moving on in our life time? our childs? How many more children will have to cry...I don't know but I do know if we can keep on talking that we will keep on telling that there is another way.

October 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMegan


That's great! I think the first step in moving on is for society and individuals to adjust their expectation of what normal infant sleep is. When we stop expecting small children to sleep through the night in their own room by themselves, then I think we will alleviate a lot of stress for people.

October 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Yes, I have seen that site - so useful! But someone pointed out to me that maybe an email full of links from only one site wouldn't be terribly convincing, which was why I was trying to find a few other studies on the damaging effects of Babywise. Ezzo.info is definitely one of the first sites I'd recommend for something looking at Babywise, though. And if I were discussing CIO in particular with someone, your "10 reasons..." post would be a great resource. It really sums things up nicely.

October 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

I am so happy to find you! We have a one year old who occasionally has trouble falling asleep. I have never wanted to use CIO and others have been influencing my husband to use this method. Even tho' my child is one, I still want to go and comfort him and help him fall asleep. Please tell me if I am correct. I am going against a mother in law and a friend who has a child development degree! Yikes! Help!
Thanks for all your great posts! I am learning so much!
Skyler's Mommy, Karen :-)

October 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

As far as I remember from various studies of the effect of persuasion, it never really works in terms of converting the opposite camp. Most people pretty much look on the web for similar minds that are perhaps more eloquent in framing their own thoughts. However, as Richards Dawkins pointed out in his excellent "The God Delusion", if preaching to the choir succeeds in raising consciousness, or in helping the choir members feel better knowing their growing numbers, it still serves a purpose.

I think pages like this will help women feel better about their decision to always respond to their child's needs, however demanding these are, and ask for help with sleeping outside instead of trying to "train" a hapless baby -- asking for help from their husbands, their extended families, nannies, etc., there are so many options.

October 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthea

First of all, thank you so much for posting this, since I've been wondering what to do myself. I tried for 30 minutes to let my son cry once and I couldn't stand it. I felt so incredibly guilty.

Then, I read an article that posted several services to help develop a routine for your baby, instead of trying to train or coerce them into being quiet. Desperate, I tried Your Sleep Matters and they gave me a plan and even offer to follow-up with you. For the money, $105, it was well worth it. There are still sleepless nights, but they are few.

This has taught me one thing: that it's OK to ask for help, even from outside sources, when you expended all your extended family members.

Here's a link to the article for other services: http://www.savvymom.ca/index.php/newsletter/the_call_for_sleep/

Hope this helps,

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersavvymomdotca

Hi there, I just saw your blog and thought you might be interested in a new program that helps put babies to sleep. I work for the company who has developed a program called Sounds for Silence, and that is exactly what happens after you practice this technique with your baby. It truly is amazing!

Basically, Sounds for Silence is a program that was developed by a pediatrician with over 25 years experience that is a part of a technique known as SMS. SMS is simply a combination of Security (swaddling your baby), Movement (engaging your baby in repetitive movements) and Sounds (rhythmic, consistent and low frequency noises). In fact, we’ve asked moms and dads to try it out and have found 96.8% of babies were soothed by Sounds for Silence and that over half the babies were settled in less than 60 seconds. It really is quite amazing. To find out more, check out the website soundsforsilence.com.au

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

My experiences, from LLL meetings, is that gently educating only works when the person in question has some kind of inkling/intuition that something is wrong. There are so many parents out there that seem so disconnected/disattached from their children that no informational article is going to convince them.

But then there are the parents who have the connection to start with, and feel that little feeling of guilt or whatever that makes them look further. A little voice inside is telling them that letting their baby cry is wrong, and they are just waiting for someone like us to tell them so and to give them alternatives that will feel better. These are the people who's babies you will help.

When I meet someone who is discussing CIO, what I do is start with the emotions - how it feels when we hear our babies cry. If I can get someone to get in tune with that connection to their baby to start with, then moving on to more scientific information on normal sleep and the effects of crying tends to work. I have had people hug me and thank me for allowing them to finally have enough faith in their own intuition that they can now resist what all the mainstream people keep telling them.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTrish

The ones that make me cry are when they say the baby cried until they threw up.

I'm sorry - that's child abuse, there's no other definition for it.

But I also wonder why so many say "I hate to do it, but....", or "I hope I don't have to...", or "I just cried as I heard him cry...."... doesn't that tell one that what you're doing is not right?

I don't know. This will be a never-ending debate until our culture realizes that LOVE is actually a need that must be met in order for nature to allow the babe to sleep on his own.

October 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSandra

@Sandra, the sad thing is that most parents that do CIO do love their children. That isn't the issue. It is just that they are misguided about ideas regarding "tough love" and have been convinced by others that meeting their child's needs equals "spoiling".

October 31, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I am very impressed with your blog!

CIO has always seemed wrong to me but for some reason it seems like everyone we know has done it and feels the need to tell us how wonderfully it works!

My husband has suggested that we use the CIO method to get our 9 month old son to sleep longer stretches at night in his crib by himself...I showed him your posts on why it is wrong and it has helped me convince him that it is NOT the right way to go. I will continue to co-sleep and breastfeed my son - and know that I am doing the right thing! Thank you!!!

November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl


Thank you so much for your comment! I'm so glad I helped you convince your husband.

November 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I did come across your blog while searching for more information on CIO after having my first baby. Funny thing was that about one year before deciding to have a baby I bought Ferber's book. This was because BIL complained about LO not sleeping through the night. She wouldn't sleep longer than 4 hours. I thought Ferber's argument was convincing, e.g. who would let their child play with a knife just because she cried. I thought the method, graduated extinction, was bearable. That is, until I heard my own baby cry.
Anyway, you did have an influence on me to go down the no-CIO route. I just started reading some of the articles you posted and I did find one that seems to support uninterrupted deep sleep. I guess for some people that might justify sleep training (Ferber, Weissbluth).

August 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

My 1 year old twins sleep 12 hours a night by means of a routine that I started when they were born that I adapted form Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child along with other information from other sources. If one were to actually read the book, one would find that CIO is not recommended for a baby younger than 6 months, not recommended for any child who was even suspected of having colic, and not recommended to continue if it's not working at all. Likewise, Weisbluth also recommends using no-cry solutions if desired by the parents and highly recommends and praises co-sleeping/bed sharing and breast feeding. "Sleeping though the night" is considered to be obtained when the baby (babies, in my case) go right back to sleep after night feedings. It was easy to understand this while I was reading the book for informative purposes while I was still pregnant and not yet having been introduced to the competitive and judgmental world of parenting, was not clouded by any prejudices or emotion. I never viewed this book as a "method," rather as a detail of infant sleep needs. Perhaps I have the easiest babies in the world; maybe they were genetically predisposed to sleeping through the night and I just don't know what it's like to struggle with hard sleepers. What I think might be likely though, is that with consistency and persistence, my fraternal twins (two completely different people) got the right amount of sleep they need during the day so that they are not overtired and crying out during the night. They sleep and wake together. They have never CIOed.

October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRandi

first of all this isn't directed at anyone it's just me expressing my passionate views. This CIO method shouldn't even be called a method. It's a selfish dialogue for parents to follow because "they" said it's okay.

What I don't understand is what do ppl think, having a baby will give them sleep? Come on people, if you are that selfish to think that your needs
come before your baby's needs than you shouldn't be having a
It's like when ppl can breastfeed but choose to start supplementing with formula so they can "go on a night out" with their friends Really? You can't wait a few years
or in some cases months when your baby won't need his mama for a
couple hours? Your precious beautiful baby will only be young for a mere fraction of your life

Also it irritates me when ppl say thngs such as well happy mom equals happy baby
well it's time to be selfless to enjoy your sweet baby. Because we all know this is true; they grow up so fast

I LOVE your posts on these subjects
and have forwarded them onto other moms who have been reaching out to me for help regarding cosleeping, and CIO

I'm going to go lay next to my sweet baby now.

October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

I remember those google searches in the early days when i didn't know how to get my baby to nap... when he started teething and forgot how to sleep... I don't know if i ever came to this blog but i found others and i read articles and listened to my own heart and decided CIO was not for me or my baby. The result I have a securely attatched baby who knows he is safe and loved who knows mommy is here for him always and he will let me put him down in bed and walk away from him and fall asleep on his own without a tear because he KNOWS he's safe and loved. I have a baby who is easily soothed back to sleep at night because he's snuggled against mommy's breast. Who wouldn't want a baby like that? These articles also help me continue to convince my husband that we're making the rigth choice!

October 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdeaira

I've always tried to follow my heart when it comes to parenting and have never left my babies to CIO. However my second, my beautiful, strong willed daughter would nurse all day and all night if she could. I have been beyond exhausted, sick and desperate, and have even considered in my weakest moments "sleep training", as so many people claim to be so thrilled with the results. I goggled, and I read, and I ended up here. I'm glad I did, reading your blog has reaffirmed to me that I am making the best decision by always responding to my little one's cries! Thank you for this blog

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I come to your site whenever I need affirmation that what I am doing is right. (And as it happens, your brother is a childhood friend of my husband's!) I don't like the idea of crying it out, but sometimes it feels like I'm the only one out there who doesn't believe children need to be trained the way horses were once "broken". (Maybe that's melodramatic? I don't mean to sound judgemental -- it's just how I feel about how I want to raise my baby) In my circle of mommy friends here, I only know of one who hasn't been "sleep training" (in the CIO sense). It's hard for the comments of "if you don't break bad habits early..." or "they don't have a legitimate reason to be up, so you're just teaching them to need you..." not to get to you. My baby has generally been a decent sleeper, but for those days when she isn't (those days that feel longer than they really are!), coming here and reading really helps. So, thank you. It's nice not to feel alone. :)

June 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnemone

I love phD in parenting.

Also, I have googled quite a few of the searches you mentioned, including Ferber and dangers of CIO. Not because I would ever ever let my babies CIO but because I am always looking for links with information against CIO or other pro-AP sites I can put on my fb or send to my husband just to reassure him that we are doing right by our son by sharing our bed with him, breastfeeding, etc. The ferber search was just curiosity as someone mentioned him in one of my AP sites and in parenting 4 children, aged 7 months to 8 years, I managed to escape his "wisdom".

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that not every google search is not from someone looking for a reason to ignore their instincts on how to parent. I'm sure many are, but not all!

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

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