Cry it out? Don’t mind if I do.

The Cry It Out (CIO) method is polarizing.  Attachment Parenting at one end of the spectrum says CIO is harmful and creates insecure, fearful people. And Baby Wise followers at the other end say babies need structure and to learn to self-soothe by crying themselves to sleep when the parents say so.

No matter where you land on the spectrum, I think we can all agree that no method is ever perfect. Unless you’re a strict Baby Wise-r whose baby eerily sleeps through the night at 6 weeks — down the hall, in a crib, behind a closed door — or one of those African women who wear their babies 24/7 and have never heard a lick of colic. (These must be the same women who inexplicably stop working in the field to squat and push out a baby and then resume working.)

As mamas, the last thing we need is division among the ranks; self-doubt, pointing fingers and competitive comparisons do nothing to help us nurture and raise our babies. So let’s take a minute and settle this whole CIO debate.

Sometimes a mama’s just gotta cry it out.

Babies cry when they’re hungry, tired or wet. So do their mamas. I’ve spent many afternoons staring into the sweet face of my nursing baby, realizing I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and was downright hangry. And sleepless nights have left me groggy and weepy. Plus the whole incontinence thing after birth was not an empty threat. Dang it.

But we also cry because our hormones are raging, our identity has shifted to emcompass motherhood, and questions buzz around our heads as we pray for wisdom and patience to raise our children:

If I demand feed or nurse my baby to comfort her, will she one day be wiping the milk off of her chin and staring at an empty milk carton, wondering why she always guzzles milk after a breakup or hard day at work?

And if so, there could be worse ways to self-soothe, right?

Will bed sharing now result in a 10-year-old who can’t sleep, if not in our bed … and is consequently an only child?

Will my baby ever be OK away from me for more than a few hours at a time. … Will I ever be OK with that too?

Motherhood is a glorious bundle of challenges and special moments and gifts that we don’t know to treasure until they’re just memories, like pursed lips’ first taste of applesauce. Of course we need to cry it out.

After all, a baby cries and the mama can offer a dry diaper or some snuggle time to dry the tears. A mama cries and the possible culprits are endless. Sometimes she just needs to cry it out.

One Response to Cry it out? Don’t mind if I do.

  1. Ron Alford says:

    Welcome to the joys and angst of parenthood. When we were in the midst of it all, we never stopped to spend much time speculating on the impacts of our choices. Now, we second guess a lot of what we did. My conclusion is, short of our conscious decision at that time to not engage in inappropriate behavior (don’t ask for a definition), every action has a reaction. You pray the reactions don’t undermine God’s glory.

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