Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CIO Day 4

5 minutes to sleep!

I am hoping we finished our last day of CIO and our good little sleeper is back. Of course the million dollar question now is, what time will she wake up in the morning?

I just want to take the time to address the cry it out topic. Not because I feel the need to defend myself; it's more because I feel the need to educate. It is a debated method that some would never do and some take a little too far. I'm certainly not a CIO expert, but I have learned a thing or two about it and it is a method that works for us when necessary. Not all kids respond to CIO. For them, parents have to find other methods. If you tried CIO for several nights and you don't see a decrease in the amount of time they are crying, or they get too worked up (some to the point of gagging and throwing up), then I think another method would be more suitable.

I should also mention that I don't take CIO lightly. I don't believe in using it on babies at all. Reagan didn't sleep through the night until 10 months and that was ok with us. As long as she still needed to eat during the night I was going to feed her. We only started using CIO on a limited basis when Reagan had demonstrated that she had the ability and desire to sleep through the night and would have a relapse. I don't know what caused her relapse this last time, usually it happened after she had been sick. If she is sick and needs attention, we go to her. We don't let her cry. But a few nights of that and when she is well again she can still wake up out of habit to get the attention. Then we would use CIO.

CIO works best when you do it as soon as the problem arises. In this case, we let the problem go on for two weeks before we did CIO. Had we have done it sooner, she maybe would have only cried for two nights instead of four. It is hard to say. But the longer something has been a habit, clearly the longer it will take to establish a new routine.

Some say it is inhumane to let a child cry. I have a different perspective. I think it is inhumane that a child at the age of seven is invited to her first sleepover but can't go because she can't fall asleep without mom or dad lying in bed beside her. I think it is inhumane that a child at the age of six still can't sleep through the night without crying for his parents to come coax him back to sleep. Certainly those are extreme cases, but ones I know exist. You might think they'll outgrow it. The truth is most do, but enough don't. I think of those cases and think about how much sleep every member of the family has missed out on. Sleep is critical for development and mental wellbeing. If you and/or the kids aren't sleeping, you are missing out on health benefits. And then of course there is the social aspect that comes into play when a school age child still can't sleep through the night. I do realize that some of those kids have disabilities that prevent them from doing otherwise. But a vast majority of kids that age with sleeping issues just simply never learned how to sleep.

Reagan is old enough now that training her to have good sleep habits is an appropriate response. She has the ability and the aptitude to comprehend what is expected of her. Kids like routines. They thrive on routines. Training her to go to sleep at night after her nightime routine is not any different than teaching her to brush her teeth every day or to take her medicine in the morning. If I need CIO for a few nights in order to establish a routine that will last years, so be it. I consider this "the ounce of prevention over the pound of cure."


LauraC said...

Hear hear!

Anonymous said...

Do you have any research on the number of kids who aren't sleeping through the night during their elementary years? If so, could you post the citations?

JenFen said...

I just have to say that pic of Reagan is ABSOLUTELY adorable!!! And I second Laura's hear hear! She was one of my biggest supports when I choose to do CIO with Jadyn at 11 months and now she is my good sleeper although we are having a very similar setback to yours now 2 months into toddler bed. It sounds like it is is working and she will be healthier and happier for getting the sleep she needs.

Joanna said...

I agree completely with your attitude about CIO. I'm glad it seems like Reagan does as well.

Tara said...

I learned on my first child that "babying" them doesn't help anyone - them or me. After night after night of walking the halls trying to get my 10 month old to go to sleep, I remembered my mother's often repeated words "A baby that is put to sleep never learns to fall asleep." I've lived by those words ever since. I never had a term for it (like CIO), but that's exactly what it is. My children all go to bed on their own (all four!) and when it's bed time, it's bed time - period!