This is the final of the five part guest blog series by Susan Patton, a.k.a. “The Princeton Mom,” who found fame (and a recent TIME 100 nomination) from her controversial views on marriage in her book, Marry Smart. While you may not always agree with her, you’ll definitely want to hear her (often surprising!) stance on parenting’s hottest topics.
One of the greatest things you can give your children is the gift of self-reliance. It will stand them in good stead their whole lives. When you help your baby learn to self-soothe, you are laying the foundation for a self-sufficient child.
Okay, first let’s be clear about what sort of crying we’re talking about. If a baby is hungry, cold or in pain, they will cry, and they need your attention. Obviously, a tiny infant can’t feed himself, reach the pacifier he spit out, or help himself if his little arm somehow gets stuck in his crib. Those kinds of cries are usually high-pitched and relentless, and you should get to him quickly. But there is also a lazier cry — slower, and more whiny than desperate. Parents, you’ll soon learn the difference between the “come quick, I need you” cry, and the “I’m bored, and want your attention” cry.
Comforting a crying child can make you feel like Parent of the Year. When a baby is inconsolable and only you can calm him down, it reminds you of the love you share and how much this little being needs you. But he also needs you to back away sometimes so that he can learn to comfort himself.
Once you’re confident your baby is not hungry, wet, or in pain, I think the best thing you can do for your baby is to let him cry it out. He probably won’t cry long before falling asleep, and the more you go in to check on him, the more stimulated and sleepless he will be. I know, it’s very difficult to hear your baby cry. If you can endure that first night of crying (and if you’re lucky, it’s just one night), you’ll have done a good thing for your family and your baby. My baby is now 21 years old, but when he is home, I still get out of bed in the middle of the night, and quietly tiptoe in to his room to make sure he is breathing. Some things never change.
Do you think Cry it Out is best for baby?