Well, not me. My baby.
This is a fairly controversial topic, I know. If Dr. Sears and his 'attachment parenting' philosophies were to read this post, he would probably disapprove. But I'm going to go out on the proverbial limb here and say that it is GOOD for babies to cry themselves to sleep. Not FUN for the mommy. But GOOD. Just like vegetables. Let me tell you about my recent learning experience with letting my son (now nine months old) cry himself to sleep. Keep in mind that every baby is different, and since I only have one so far, this whole idea is based on my single just-nine-month experience in baby-rearing.
After I had Z, we had help here for the first two and a half weeks or so. My parents were here for a week, and then Hubby's parents were here for a little over a week. It was wonderful. I got sleep, and baths, and food prepared for me, and Z got held & loved on constantly. He was hardly ever allowed to cry for more than 30 seconds without being picked up. I actually didn't know that babies have to learn to lay by themselves sometimes, and I thought that parents were supposed to pick them up anytime they made a peep. Anyway, after our parents left, I was trying to hold Z constantly, and get things done around the house, and get some sleep occasionally...and I was exhausted and totally overwhelmed. Of course, that's normal for those first couple months, but really. It was terrible. At night, Hubby and I would take shifts. Z would eat, then he would get changed, and then he would need to be held until he drifted off to sleep. Sometimes he needed to be held for between twenty minutes and an hour. And then, if you THOUGHT he was all the way asleep, but he really wasn't quite ALL the way out, when you put him down in his car seat (where he slept for about the first seven weeks of his life), he would wake up and cry, and then you had to start ALL over again with the sitting and holding and waiting and watching his eyelids to see if they were still twitching.
So, at his one-month appointment, we asked the doctor about putting him down in his bed and letting him cry himself to sleep. And our doctor said that we should start that sooner rather than later. But then we went on vacation to see our families, and by the time we got home, he was about 6 weeks old. So we started putting him down in his bed. And letting him cry himself to sleep. For about two nights, it was pure torture (for all of us). We used the Ferber Method, where you go in every few minutes to check on them and let them know you're still there. At some point during these two days, we read somewhere that sometimes babies like to have their crib mattresses elevated, so we put some books under one end of the mattress, and that night, there was hardly any crying. He woke up in the night, ate, and then we would put him back down and he would cry a little and then go back to sleep. It was wonderful. Best thing we ever did.
THEN. A few weeks later, he started screaming, refusing to eat, waking in the night screaming...etc. The dr. said he had acid reflux, so we put him on Prevacid. Two weeks later, it hadn't worked. I remember one night in particular, he was up every half hour. All night. Hubby & I took turns sleeping on his floor, so we could just get up and put his binky back in when he cried. Two more weeks later, after that much time on Axid, he was doing MUCH better. But he was still crying at night. Hmmm...maybe because now he was used to us going to him at his first peep again??? So since we knew he wasn't in pain anymore, we decided to start letting him cry to sleep (and cry back to sleep) once again. And again, within two nights, he was back to being put down, crying for just a couple of minutes, and drifting off to sleep on his own. Shortly after this (around the time he turned four months old), he started sleeping through the night, and other than a few nights here and there (maybe one every two weeks or so) and when he's sick, he still routinely sleeps through the night. Now he is so good at putting himself to sleep that he hardly ever even cries. He just plays in his bed for a few minutes, and then all of a sudden, all is quiet, and he's asleep.
To hear him cry, even for a few minutes before a nap, is still hard, but for us, it's just so necessary. Now he knows how to put himself to sleep (and back to sleep in the middle of the night), which is an important skill. And I think he sleeps better because of it. And I know Hubby and I do.
I know everyone has their own opinions and perspectives about this issue, but for us, We just have to let our baby cry himself to sleep, because it works for us! Make sure to check out other Works-for-Me-Wednesday tips over at Shannon's place!