I believe “crying it out”* is not good. I believe it should never be the default method of sleep training, and I question whether “sleep training” is even the way we should think about babies and sleep. I believe it can be ever so slightly bad, or pretty bad, or very very bad, depending on a whole load of variables, and while I believe it might sometimes be the least bad of the limited options available (and I blame the kyriarchy and a society that isolates women who mother for those limitations), still I believe it is never a good thing.
Now here are many things I do not believe:
- I do not believe using CIO makes one a bad person.
- I do not believe using CIO makes one a bad parent.
- I do not believe that parents who use CIO do not love their children.
- I do not believe that parents who do not use CIO love their children more than those who do.
- I do not believe that all children are measurably and irreparably harmed by CIO.
- I do not believe that using CIO will definitely make your child hate you, or think you don’t love them.
- I do not believe that CIO should be illegal.
- I do not believe people who use CIO should be shunned or ostracized.
- I do not believe I have any right (or desire) to tell any other parent what to do.
- And I do not believe that saying that I believe CIO is not good says any of the above.
Another thing I do believe is that it is possible to critique a widespread (dare I say dominant) parenting practice without criticizing individual parents — and I believe it is necessary to try to do so. I believe it is my right, and possibly my responsibility, to explicate the ways that patriarchy both creates and benefits from a society that promotes and routinely uses detachment parenting practices such as CIO — and I believe that until the society changes such that patriarchy is not limiting and influencing our choices this way, getting sucked into attacks and defenses of individual “choices“ is not only missing the point, it is supporting the patriarchy.
Which is not any individual’s fault, of course. But we can choose to work to avoid it — work to avoid both giving and taking offense as we work to change minds and cultures — and I believe doing so has the power to change the world.
*”Crying it out” or CIO is here defined as any method of sleep training involving leaving a child or infant alone to cry for any length of time with the intent of getting them to go to sleep by themselves. Crying in arms and leaving a child crying alone for a time because one is unable to cope with the crying any longer without risking damage to oneself or the child are not CIO.