That being said, I've had a bit of a change of heart these past few months--partly because I'm living in a less-than-ideal baby sleeping situation currently and partly because I realize that families are doing their very best and could use as much encouragement as possible. Also, I'm starting to realize that "cry it out" really does seem to be a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" sort of dilemma. As we've been facing our own sleep dilemmas, I've been doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking. Thus far, here are the arguments for and against CIO that seem legitimate (in my mind).
- CIO enables the baby or young child to learn the important skill of going to sleep unaided. Lack of this skill may result in years of parental involvement in aiding a child to go to sleep and/or issues with insomnia later in life.
- CIO often results in more sleep overall and more consolidated sleep as the child is able to return to sleep unaided. Lack of sleep and consolidated sleep has been linked to lower IQ scores, less empathy, behavioral problems, and ADHD.
- Parents are able to get the sleep they need to be understanding, empathetic, patient, and have fun with their children.
- CIO may weaken parent/child attachment, teach child that they cannot trust their parents and/or environment. This may result in less attachment promoting behaviors including less empathy and behavioral problems.
- CIO has been linked with brain damage, lower IQ scores, and ADHD.
- CIO may cause unhealthy fears of sleep and/or the dark.
- CIO may cause a parent to lose trust in their baby's cues and therefore be less understanding, empathetic, patient, etc.
- Babies under 12 weeks of age cannot self-soothe (Weissbluth). Therefore, it would make sense that there could be some negative emotional/psychological/sociological affects of allowing a newborn to CIO.
- It is impossible to spoil a child in the first year of life (Erickson). (note: I'm not suggesting that parents should NOT sleep train in the first year of life. Just that there cannot be any "spoiling" if parents choose not to do so during the first 12 months).
- Accumulative sleep deprivation can be physically and mentally detrimental to both children and their parents.