Great. Now we're giving the kids brain damage.

babyYou can find a study to justify any aspect of parenting (breastfeeding makes kids smarter, no it doesn’t, maybe it does!?) but sometimes you read something, and even though it goes against your parental instinct you simply can’t ignore. Like the latest Science of Kids on Babble that takes on crying it out.

Ignoring baby cries during sleep training is linked to all kinds of problems later in life — ADHD, antisocial behavior, lower IQ. At the root of these claims is the idea that the stress of crying and the absence of a responsive parent release intense levels of chemicals that alter a child’s brain development.

via Science of Kids: Crying it out.

I was a big advocate of cry it out (the method where you let your child cry for short, then eventually longer periods at a time until they learn to self-soothe) after we successfully sleep-trained our first child. But our new baby boy has humbled us as we now realize we had a good – no, great – sleeper with our daughter so you couldn’t really call the five minutes of whimpering every now and again “crying it out.” The boy schooled us on our first attempt with an hour and a half of heart-wrenching wailing at two in the morning. Now I’m trying to figure out if I caused irreparable damage to his noggin and/or nervous system. Good times, this weekend, good times.

Granted the article also points out –

None of the Sears studies listed shows negative consequences as a result of a structured sleep training program.

via Science of Kids: Crying it out.

But before you relax and dismiss, the piece also points out that there have been zero positive effects of letting your child cry it out. So let’s recap.

Crying it out = potential brain damage. But maybe not if it’s “structured.” (Anyone have a kid who freaks out on a schedule? Didn’t think so.) So maybe it won’t cause ADHD or antisocial behavior – but nothing good is coming from letting the little pishers self-soothe either.

So what’s a sleep-deprived parent to do?

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One Response to Great. Now we're giving the kids brain damage.

  1. Ms. Peveteaux,

    This may well be a case of confusing association with causation. This is common problem in science and research. The problem may be that children predisposed to ADHD, antisocial behavior, and lower IQ may cry more than other children and thus experience CIO more than other children.

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