Should You Come Running When Baby Cries?

There’s an age old debate about how to handle a crying baby at nap or bed times. Should you let your baby cry it out, or come to her every time she cries? If you want to start a heated argument in a room full of parents or baby experts, all you have to do is take a strong position one way or the other.

Despite what experts on either side of the debate will tell you, babies have been growing up with both parenting styles for millennia. Most of them turn out all right. If they don’t, chances are there were deeper factors involved than whether their parents allowed them to cry it out in the crib or not.

There are pluses and minuses to both nighttime parenting approaches. Proponents of attachment parenting are quick to point out:

  • Responding to your baby’s needs right away helps her to bond with you and trust you to take care of her needs.
  • Babies who are tended to right away when they cry tend to cry less and for shorter durations.
  • Responding to baby’s needs right away helps you, as the parent, to be more sensitive and responsive to baby’s needs.
  • Some experts claim that going to your baby immediately when she cries actually helps baby develop independence more quickly (though this is contested).

Those who favor allowing babies to “cry it out” point out:

  • Allowing baby to cry for reasonable periods of time before going to them helps babies to learn how to self-soothe.
  • Crying is normal for babies, and crying for a reasonable amount of time won’t hurt your baby.
  • Children who were taught to sleep using the “Cry it out” method are less likely to throw a tantrum at bedtime later.
  • Most babies adapt quickly and learn to settle in and fall asleep within ten minutes.
  • Parents and children both tend to get more solid sleep when using the “cry it out” method.

It’s worth noting that no one suggests allowing younger babies to cry it out. Young babies need to feed every two to four hours. When they are crying, it’s generally because they need to eat. If you decide to use the “cry it out” method, wait until your baby is at least six months old.