Thursday, September 13, 2012

And here we go again...

I'd like to know if there is a single parenting dilemna that the experts have not managed to completely confuse and muddle us on. The latest bit of parenting 'research' to hit the wires is that sleep training techniques are not harmful.
"For wiped-out parents wondering whether or not to sleep-train their restless babies, a new study in Pediatrics has some good news: strategies that let babies cry it out for limited periods while teaching them to sleep on their own can help families sleep better in the short term without causing long-term psychological damage in kids or weakening the bond between babies and parents."
My, have we come full circle on this or what? My mom sleep trained us as babies on Spock's recommendation but the extended cry-it-out method has fallen out of favour over the years and even the updated editions of his classic parenting manual don't recommend it any more.

When Ayaan was a cranky, sleep-deprived infant, Dr. Richard Ferber and his controlled crying method was at its height of popularity. So that is the way we went and I wrote about our experience here.

By the time Tarana was born, the tide had shifted yet again. A British parenting expert claimed that crying it out released toxic stress hormones in babies' brain and could cause long-term mental damage.
"Ignoring baby cries during sleep training is linked to all kinds of problems later in life –ADHD, antisocial behavior, lower IQ. At the root of these claims is the idea that the stress of crying and the absence of a responsive parent release intense levels of chemicals that alter a child’s brain development."
This obviously totally messed with my head and I dithered for a while and then went for a gentler method of sleep training with very limited amounts of crying - detailed here.

And now, the experts have done another turnaround and say that it's not harmful after all. So all that guilt I suffered about sleep-training Ayaan was futile. But then much of the guilt-tripping that I indulge in as a mother usually is.


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  2. Yup. Anything we do is analysed and counter-analysed. Best to go with gut feel.
    Now why did no one tell me this when I guilt-tripped all those years away? Wait a minute, they did actually!

  3. Ro - I wrote to my friend recently, if there is an award I will surely win hands down it is the feeling guilty award. Feeling like am not doing enough to take care of my mother, feel like I am not giving enough attention to the second one, feeling like I should push the kids more but I don't compared to the other moms I see around...never ends. Am so busy feeling guilty about these things that I don't remember to feel guilty about having tried a super gentle Ferber technique to sleep train him when he was I think close to one...Well, that guilt got boring I guess! New ones have taken over! :)

  4. [Chox] You mean yo have stopped now? Maybe there is some hope for me after all.

    [Noon] LOL :)

  5. But how would you know which of the studies are correct?

    I'm not a mother but I can imagine it being very difficult ignoring a baby's cries.

  6. Anonymous10:41 am

    Hi Ro, good to see you back :). i didn't do any sleep training and i am feeling guilty for that :) because at 11 now, she doesn't know how to fall asleep by herself :(

  7. Good to see you back in the blogging saddle, Rohini! When it comes to these gazillion studies, I think the way to go is to ignore every single one (including the million ones FB friends will bombard you with) and spend time listening to that gut and running with it.

    Regardless of what is done, someone is going to come around anyway and tell us that we should do as the French or Chinese or Martians. *sigh*

  8. There never is the 'right' way in any aspect of parenting, is there?

    Sleep training the kid or no...... I have successfully lost the ability to sleep through noise, light, alarms, doorbells, and of course a simple morning of a weekend. Whew....