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Is crying it out ever okay?  As you probably already know, I practice attachment parenting.  Sleeping training, especially crying it out is heavily discouraged in attachment parenting.  Therefore my answer to the previous question might surprise you.

Sometimes crying it out is okay.

I know you’ve seen the studies and the articles.  This one that simply calls sleeping training and crying it out bad for babies.  This one from Harvard.  This one that turns the subject of crying it out into a moral issue.

The truth is, I followed the tenants of AP with all three of my boys and am glad that I did.  However, each one of my boys spent some amount of time as infants crying it out, although sleep training was not a part of my parenting method.  There are situations where crying it out can’t be helped and I don’t think moms should feel an ounce of guilt when these situations happen.

So, when is crying it out okay?

1.  When baby is crying in arms.

Attachment parenting a baby doesn’t mean that the baby should never cry.  Even if you are doing everything right, babies still cry.

If you are holding your baby and being attentive to her as she cries, you shouldn’t worry that she is being harmed.  Even if you are out of solutions and can’t do anything but hold your baby, this doesn’t count as crying it out.

Sometimes when babies who are crying in arms eventually cry themselves to sleep, the attached mama experiences guilt that nothing she did was helpful.  This guilt is a waste of time.  Don’t allow it to invade your thoughts.

2.  When you are attending to other children in a triage situation.

When you have more than one child and have to parent them both, sometimes one child is left crying while you tend to the other(s).  It’s not fun, but it’s a fact.

In a situation where an older child needs to be fed or has a scraped knee, for instance, the baby might have to be put in a safe place while crying or be carried in a sling while crying while you help the older child.

This happened more than once in my home.  Because I sometimes found it difficult and time consuming to work around a crying, flailing baby in a sling, I had to put my middle and youngest sons in a crib for a few minutes while they cried and I bandaged my older son or made his lunch.

Parenting triage is a fact of life for mamas of more than one.  Those few minutes of crying while you attend to the more immediate need of another child will not do long term damage to your baby or your relationship.

3.  When you are feeling overwhelmed or angry.

Parenting can be difficult with the most easy-going babies.  It can be a nightmare with those babies who are more sensitive.  If you ever feel frustrated with your baby to the point of being angry, please put your baby in a safe place and take a break.

A crying baby can cause a lot of stress and it is not healthy for you or your baby to experience stress that turns to anger.  If you find that stepping away for a few minutes while your baby cries in a safe place doesn’t help you to reenter the situation with a clear, calm head, then it may be time to seek help from your physician or therapist.  In addition, a baby who cries to the point of inciting anger in her parents may have a medical condition that requires the expertise of a pediatrician.

Finally, remember that if you find co-sleeping is not an option for you, there are gentler ways to gradually get your baby to sleep.  A great resource is the The No-Cry Sleep Solution.  For even more resources, check out Elizabeth Pantley’s website.

Crying It Out pin

Photo Credits: Castillo Dominici

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