I am a social worker and parent in Australia concerned about the western practice of a method called 'controlled crying' that is used on infants to get them to sleep. This blog talks about the use of this method and other parenting methods. Search all the information on this site to be better informed about the practice of controlled crying. For any comments or questions, my email is

Friday, June 23, 2006

Questions to ponder.....

I am hoping to find research or child care and protection policies that may provide answers to these questions

What are infant sleeping problems? Can the health disciplines agree on this? There are many different definitions, and different disciplines within Western culture have different theories. Different cultures also have different theories on ‘sleeping problems’.

What is normal child development? Do infants need to learn skills such as teething, crawling or sleeping or do they simply achieve these things when their bodies are ready?

How much sleep is needed by an infant?

How can studies be conducted without these above questions being defined accurately first?

What stress levels if any are experienced by the infant undergoing the behaviour modification of controlled crying? (these can be measured by cortisol levels in saliva, blood pressure, and so on or perhaps be determined by the chemical makeup of tears)

What amount of time is acceptable to leave a crying baby?

What amount of time of leaving an infant to cry is considered abuse / neglect? How long are parents legally allowed to leave their child to cry?

Where is the line drawn? (eg. One mother I have heard of locks her babies in their rooms for two hours at ‘nap time’ and will not return until the end of that two hours. If they cry the whole time she does not attend to them. She believes this is controlled crying).

Studies clearly indicate this method works most of the time. Why does this method work? Is this simply an infant survival / protection mechanism?

What age of an infant is this method suitable for? Why?

When does Object permanence develop? (I've read it develops at 18months, 2 years, 6 months and 8 months, and need to find more information)

What affect does this method have on maternal attitude and responsiveness to their baby?

Why do parents need to distract themselves from going in to their baby? Do they feel an inate need to pick them up? or is this socially conditioned (a learnt social behaviour)?

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