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

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How should we respond to cries?

Here's an article by Ingrid Bauer

Loving Responses to Baby's Cries

By Ingrid Bauer

Not knowing why your baby is crying or how to respond can be one of the most difficult times any new parent faces. No matter what you've been told about spoiling or not responding to every cry, your whole body and instincts tell you to help. Now! That intense feeling is perfectly natural. It is part of an optimal nurturing system to help assure that babies have their needs met.
Here's how it works: if the vital needs of a baby aren't responded to promptly and adequately, the baby may attempt to communicate with a few more sounds or body signals. If these still do not relieve the problem, an alarm system kicks in. Everyone within earshot hears about it. Those cries are meant to get attention and response. Quickly!
Rarely, however, are they the first indication that something needs to be addressed. Except in cases of sudden fright or physical pain, crying is often a last resort. It indicates that earlier communication hasn't been understood or responded to in a satisfying way. That's why it feels so heartrending when you don't understand what your baby is trying to communicate.
Parents who practice a natural attached style of infant-care have a distinct advantage in responding to a baby's needs fully. Babies who are breastfed, are carried in-arms and have frequent or constant contact with their mother's bodies feel satisfied, secure, and content. In turn, this strengthens the parent's confidence, pleasure, and responsiveness. Studies have shown that these infants are more likely to have their subtle signals heeded, and cry less. Even when these babies cry, they do so in the loving arms of a parent who is doing their utmost to understand and help.
It's clear that babies are not the passive beings they were once believed to be. They are absorbing and processing new stimuli and sensory information moment by moment. They are also signalling in both subtle and not so subtle ways throughout the day, trying to communicate to their caregivers exactly what they need, when. When babies cries and signals are not answered At first, it's difficult to understand all the nuances of a baby's language. Yet when we listen closely, the signals become loud and clear. We soon learn that this snuffle means "I'm hungry", that look means "There's too much noise", and that squirm means "I need to poop".
What's hard then, is to overcome our cultural conditioning, which often denies these infantile needs, and to respond promptly. When parents are not responsive to their babies, this is usually because they themselves were not adequately responded to in infancy. As we learn compassion for our children, we simultaneously give ourselves the gift of compassion and gentleness on our journey.
Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), nature also has an emergency back-up plan when a baby's signals and urgent cries are consistently ignored. Biological design protects the baby from experiencing an extended, acute state of stress that taxes the adrenals and immune system. The body opts instead for a state of withdrawal and self-preservation.
The needs do not go away. They just become secondary to basic physical and emotional survival. In her fascinating and well-researched book Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent (Anchor, 1998), anthropology professor Meredith Small writes, "When signals are missed, babies stop signalling; they withdraw; they suck their thumbs; they turn away; they try to right the system themselves by not sending out any more signals." The baby protects herself by shutting down, and "accepts" the situation because she has learned that a response is not forthcoming.
We've been led to believe that this is more "convenient" and easier in the short term from the adult's point of view. After all, it seems to "work": the baby eventually stops crying. That partially explains the popularity and usually well-intentioned use of such nighttime techniques as "Ferberizing" or "crying it out". But for the baby (and in the long run for all concerned) the results can be potentially life-long and detrimental. When mothers are generally unresponsive or lack empathy, Small writes, babies "are more likely to exhibit negative responses and the attachment process does not go well. It is reasonable to predict that babies developing in such a system will not fare well in other interpersonal interactions."
As well, mothers who don't nurture this strong attachment with their infants are missing out on one of the greatest pleasures in life. As we nourish our babies at our breasts, we are given the gifts of increased intimacy, lasting convenience, enjoyment, and confidence that our babies' needs are being optimally met. We carry them next to our hearts throughout the day. Through the night we sleep with them next to our skin, their warm milky breath caressing our cheek. We're well aware that we do all this for our babies. May we remember that in the process we are also giving abundantly to ourselves.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dr Sarah Buckley's views

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep: Another Perspective

© Dr Sarah J Buckley 2005

This paper was first published in Playtimes, the magazine of the Playgroup Association of Queensland, May 2002, also published in Natural Parenting no 2, autumn 2003 .
An expanded version (twice as long) with more about controlled crying, and gentle approaches to sleep, is published in Sarah’s upcoming book,
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The wisdom and science of gentle choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

As a GP [family physician], writer and current full-time mother of four, I have many concerns about the standard advice that mothers are being given about young children and sleep in such sources as Queensland Health’s article “How Does Your Child Sleep?”(Playtimes, Oct 2001 ­ and Richard Ferber’s book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.
Part of Ferber’s controversial methods, sometimes called “Ferberizing,” include leaving children alone to cry for increasing periods (so-called “controlled crying”). Such sources suggest shutting crying children in their bedrooms for prolonged periods so that they learn to go to sleep alone.
Advising parents to ignore the cries of a distressed child, for however long, does not produce a loving and trustful parent-child relationship. I wonder how many of us would want our partners or friends to treat us this way, if we were alone at night and feeling upset and frightened.
But it is not only the hard-heartedness of these suggestions that concerns me. All of the scientific and anthropological research that I have read supports my instincts and experience. Our babies need constant care and attention because of their extreme immaturity. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about or feed themselves until relatively late in life, which makes the mother-infant relationship crucial to our offspring’s survival (McKenna 1996). Therefore, our children have developed behaviours and expectations to ensure that they get the special care they need in babyhood and beyond.
For example, for a baby, the safest place is in the mother’s arms—and this is still true today, with SIDS being the leading cause of death in young babies. This applies equally at night, when sleeping with the mother, also called co-sleeping, gives the baby protection, temperature regulation, emotional reassurance and breast milk. It’s a perfect system, and what babies are born to expect.
The mother also receives rewards—nature always supplies rewards to encourage us. Co-sleeping gives us less disturbed sleep because we both get into the same cycles, and our babies will wake to feed when we are both in light sleep. We can do more breastfeeding for less effort and therefore maximise the contraceptive effect.
We will also benefit from the extra doses of two breastfeeding hormones. Oxytocin—the hormone of love—is stimulated by both breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, and keeps mother and baby soft and loving with each other. Endorphins are the hormones of pleasure, making mother and baby relaxed and sleepy—just right for night feeding. No wonder co-sleeping mothers and babies wake up with a smile. Worldwide research confirms the safety of co-sleeping, as long as parents are not smokers, very over weight, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and attention is given to avoiding the suffocation hazards that go with our soft Western bedding.
Another major concern I have about these standard approaches to sleep is that they follow our society’s belief that children will not become independent unless we force them. In fact, research shows that the exact opposite is true. According to Paul Klein, “Research… confirms that indulgence of early dependency needs leads to independence” and “A mother’s reliability and receptivity promote trust and emotional stability in her child” (1995). In other words, when we treat our children with love and respect for their needs, we plant the seeds for a lifetime of happiness—and relaxed sleep.
For me, the benefits of co-sleeping do not end with babyhood. My older children are equally sweet and cuddly at night, and sharing sleep into the pre-school years has its own rewards. For example, sleep becomes a time to share intimacy and loving feelings, especially when the day has been grueling or conflict has arisen. There is nothing so sweet as lying next to my child as he or she drops into dreams (and often we do this at the same time). We have never had the bedtime battles or night terrors that are considered normal in our culture—and remember that our culture is totally abnormal, in global terms, in not sharing sleep between family members.
Every co-sleeping family that I have met has their own unique arrangement. Right now in our household, our middle children sleep together in a double bed, and our eldest Emma, 10, has graduated, in her own time, to her own bed. We continue to lie down to settle Zoe, 8, although she says she can put herself to sleep now. Jacob, 5, often joins us in the wee hours. We have a king-sized bed that we have turned around to make it 6’6” wide and 6’ long—a real family bed.
These three children, who are very confident and sociable, have no problems with different routines when they sleep over with their friends. Why would they, when sleep has always been easy and pleasurable for them?
My youngest, Maia, who is 15 months, continues to fall asleep most nights with Mother Nature’s best toddy—breast milk.
Since my first baby, I have gained more confidence and experience with co-sleeping, and honestly, some of the things that are said to discourage it strike me as crazy. For example, I have read in many places, including in the earlier mentioned article, that if we cuddle or nurse our baby to sleep, they may awaken later and “…may not be able to go back to sleep because their environment has changed.” As an adult waking up, I don’t remember how I got to sleep. It seems to me that our babies simply want to be held and nursed to sleep because it is pleasurable, biologically adaptive and it works.
A family bed might not suit everyone, but I feel that it is important to consider that co-sleeping is what we as humans have evolved to do with our young, and it is what our babies and small children expect. When we ask our children to sleep alone all night, we are stretching their biological capabilities and there is a good chance they will protest.If this happens, we can choose not to lock them up, but to take their feedback seriously and work to find loving, gentle and co-operative solutions.
There are many different possibilities.
For example, some families have invited an older child back into their bedroom and found that a “dose” of co-sleeping, or even sleeping on the floor (in what Emma calls a “nest”) is all that is needed.
In many families, as in ours, one parent lies down with a child or children until they fall asleep, giving reassurance at the time when it is most needed. Sitting quietly or meditating also work well at this time, and I am less likely to fall asleep myself.
When one of our children wake in the dark hours, we have often gone into the child’s bed—double beds work best for obvious reasons—and fallen asleep until morning. Currently, this is my partner Nicholas’s specialty: We have a casual division of nighttime labour with Maia being my responsibility, and the others his.
When a child is sick or needs extra care, having him or her in our bed, only an arm’s length away, feels good. Needing an extra dose of Mummy or Daddy is a good enough reason most of the time, and I notice that sleeping together promotes harmony in a subtle and beautiful way.
As parents, we are in it for the long haul. “Ferberizing,” “controlled crying” and the like are short-term solutions that I see as detrimental in the long-term.
Our children will outgrow their dependency needs—including the need for company at sleep time—in their own time, and our job is to provide the love, reassurance and guidance that maximises growth and happiness in the short and long terms.
As one !Kung mother from the African desert responded upon hearing that Dr. Spock advocated ignoring our children’s cries,
Doesn’t he understand that he’s only a baby and that’s why he cries? You pick him up and comfort him. When he’s older, he will have sense and he won’t cry any more.”
I hope that we as a culture can come to our senses and treat our children lovingly day and night.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Do you have any information?

If anyone has information on controlled crying, I would love it if you could email me at the address listed above. There is a huge amount of evidence that states that controlled crying is very likely to be harmful to infants.

Many are reluctant to study controlled crying, and there are many reasons for this. If you have an interest in research methods and study design, I would also be interested in your comments.

Don't forget to read all the information listed here, to be better informed about controlled crying and other methods involving leaving a baby to cry.

Kellymom's thoughts on CIO

From the Kellymom website;

What about letting baby ‘cry it out’?

There are two schools of thought about getting babies to sleep. One is a rather rigid method of "sleep training" where a baby is put down awake in a crib and left to cry himself to sleep so that he learns to "self-soothe" and doesn't develop sleep associations that require someone else to put him to sleep. This method has been around since the 1890's and was dreamed up by male university sleep laboratory researchers. Many of the popular "sleep training" methods of today are modified versions of this (allowing baby to cry for progressively longer periods without comforting him, instead of just leaving him to cry until he gives up and stops).
I can't, with good conscience, recommend the cry-it-out method for getting baby to sleep. Anyone who advises you to let your baby cry until he gives up and falls asleep is focusing on the baby's behavior (going to sleep by himself) and not on how the baby feels in the process. In my opinion, this "sleep training" often creates an unhealthy attitude about sleep: after going through this training, baby tends to view sleep as a fearful state to enter into and to remain in. Parents often need to "retrain" baby if there is any break in the usual routine. In addition, it can condition parents to ignore baby's cries, and break down the relationship of trust between parent and child.
Younger babies, in particular, do not have that sense of "object permanence" and if mom leaves them to cry, they are developmentally *unable* to realize that she is just in the next room. All baby knows is that he has been abandoned and that mom is not there. A young baby can only express his needs through crying. A baby who is left to cry alone will eventually stop crying because he has abandoned all hope that help will come: as far as he can tell, no one cares enough to listen, or come and provide comfort. In the book Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent, anthropology professor Meredith Small writes, "When signals are missed, babies stop signalling; they withdraw; they suck their thumbs; they turn away; they try to right the system themselves by not sending out any more signals." The baby protects himself by shutting down, and "accepts" the situation because he has learned that a response is not forthcoming. Crying is also hard, physically, on baby: it can lead to hoarseness that can last for days; the digestive system is upset; heart rates can climb to levels over 200 beats per minute; and oxygen levels in the blood are diminished.
Another school of thought, which I subscribe to, discourages viewing sleep as a state you can *force* a baby into. Instead, it's best to create a sleep-inducing environment that allows sleep to overtake the baby. The process of breastfeeding itself regulates baby's temperature and heart rate and lowers his blood pressure, and puts him to sleep. This helps your baby develop a healthy attitude about sleep, where baby views sleep as a safe, comforting, natural state.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Dr Sears on crying

1. An infant's cry – the perfect signal. Scientists have long appreciated that the sound of an infant's cry has all three features of a perfect signal.
First, a perfect signal is automatic. A newborn cries by reflex. The infant senses a need, which triggers a sudden inspiration of air followed by a forceful expelling of that air through vocal cords, which vibrate to produce the sound we call a cry. In the early months, the tiny infant does not think, "What kind of cry will get me fed?" He just automatically cries. Also, the cry is easily generated. Once his lungs are full of air, the infant can initiate crying with very little effort.
Second, the cry is appropriately disturbing: ear-piercing enough to get the caregiver's attention and make him or her try to stop the cry, but not so disturbing as to make the listener want to avoid the sound altogether.
Third, the cry can be modified as both the sender and the listener learn ways to make the signal more precise. Each baby's signal is unique. A baby's cry is a baby's language, and each baby cries differently. Voice researchers call these unique sounds cry prints, which are as unique for babies as their fingerprints are.
2. Responding to baby's cries is biologically correct. A mother is biologically programmed to give a nurturant response to her newborn's cries and not to restrain herself. Fascinating biological changes take place in a mother's body in response to her infant's cry. Upon hearing her baby cry, the blood flow to a mother's breasts increases, accompanied by a biological urge to "pick up and nurse." The act of breastfeeding itself causes a surge in prolactin , a hormone that we feel forms the biological basis of the term "mother's intuition." Oxytocin, the hormone that causes a mother's milk to letdown, brings feelings of relaxation and pleasure; a pleasant release from the tension built up by the baby's cry. These feelings help you love your baby. Mothers, listen to the biological cues of your body when your baby cries rather than to advisors who tell you to turn a deaf ear. These biological happenings explain why it's easy for those advisors to say such a thing. They are not biologically connected to your baby. Nothing happens to their hormones when your baby cries.
3. Ignore or respond to the cry signal? Once you appreciate the special signal value of your baby's cry, the important thing is what you do about it. You have two basic options, ignore or respond. Ignoring your baby's cry is usually a lose-lose situation. A more compliant baby gives up and stops signaling, becomes withdrawn, eventually realizes that crying is not worthwhile, and concludes that he is not worthwhile. The baby loses the motivation to communicate with his parents, and the parents miss out on opportunities to get to know their baby. Everyone loses. A baby with a more persistent personality— most high-need babies—does not give up so easily. Instead, he cries louder and keeps escalating his signal, making it more and more disturbing. You could ignore this persistent signal in several ways. You could wait it out until he stops crying and then pick him up, so that he won't think it was his crying that got your attention. This is actually a type of power struggle; you teach the baby that you're in control, but you also teach him that he has no power to communicate. This shuts down parent-child communication, and in the long run everybody loses.
You could desensitize yourself completely so that you're not "bothered" at all by the cry; this way you can teach baby he only gets responded to when it's "time." This is another lose-lose situation; baby doesn't get what he needs and parents remain stuck in a mindset where they can't enjoy their baby's unique personality. Or, you could pick baby up to calm him but then put him right back down because "it's not time to feed him yet." He has to learn, after all, to be happy "on his own." Lose-lose again; he will start to cry again and you will feel angry. He will learn that his communication cues, though heard, are not responded to, which can lead him to distrust his own perceptions: "Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm not hungry."
4. Be nurturing. Your other option is to give a prompt and nurturant response. This is the win-win way for baby and mother to work out a communication system that helps them both. The mother responds promptly and sensitively so that baby will feel less frantic the next time he needs something. The baby learns to "cry better" , in a less disturbing way since he knows mother will come. Mother structures baby's environment so that there is less need for him to cry; she keeps him close to her if she knows he's tired and ready to sleep. Mother also heightens her sensitivity to the cry so that she gives just the right response. A quick response when baby is young and falls apart easily or when the cry makes it clear there is real danger; a slower response when the baby is older and begins to learn how to settle disturbances on his own.
Responding appropriately to your baby's cry is the first and one of the most difficult, communication challenges you will face as a mother. You will master the system only after rehearsing thousands of cue-responses in the early months. If you initially regard your baby's cry as a signal to be responded to and evaluated rather than as an unfortunate habit to be broken, you will open yourself up to becoming an expert in your baby's signals, which will carry over into becoming an expert on everything about your baby. Each mother-baby signal system is unique. That's why it is so shortsighted for "cry trainers" to prescribe canned cry-response formulas, such as "leave her to cry for five minutes the first night, ten minutes the second," and so on.
6. What cry research tells us. Researchers Sylvia Bell and Mary Ainsworth performed studies in the 1970's that should have put the spoiling theory on the shelf to spoil forever. (It is interesting that up to that time and even to this day, the infant development writers that preached the cry-it-out advice were nearly always male. It took female researchers to begin to set things straight.) These researchers studied two groups of mother-infant pairs. Group 1 mothers gave a prompt and nurturant response to their infant's cries. Group 2 mothers were more restrained in their response. They found that children in Group 1 whose mothers had given an early and more nurturant response were less likely to use crying as a means of communication at one year of age. These children seemed more securely attached to their mothers and had developed better communicative skills, becoming less whiny and manipulative.
Up until that time parents had been led to believe that if they picked up their baby every time she cried she would never learn to settle herself and would become more demanding. Bell and Ainsworth's research showed the opposite. Babies who developed a secure attachment and had their cues responded to in a prompt and nurturing way became less clingy and demanding. More studies were done to shoot down the spoiling theory, showing that babies whose cries were not promptly responded to begin to cry more, longer, and in a more disturbing way. In one study comparing two groups of crying babies, one group of infants received an immediate, nurturant response to their cries, while the other group was left to cry-it-out. The babies whose cries were sensitively attended to cried seventy percent less. The babies in the cry-it-out group, on the other hand, did not decrease their crying. In essence, crying research has shown that babies whose cries were listened and responded to learned to "cry better"; the infants who were the product of a more restrained style of parenting learned to "cry harder." It is interesting that the studies revealed differences not only in how the babies communicated with the parents based on the response they got to their cries, but there were also differences in the mothers, too. Studies showed that mothers who gave a more restrained and less nurturant response gradually became more insensitive to their baby's cries, and this insensitivity carried over to other aspects of their parent-child relationship. Research showed that leaving baby to cry-it- out spoils the whole family.
7. Crying isn't "good for baby's lungs." One of the most ridiculous pieces of medical folklore is the dictum: "Let baby cry, it's good for his lungs." In the late 1970's, research showed that babies who were left to cry had heart rates that reached worrisome levels, and lowered oxygen levels in their blood. When these infants' cries were soothed, their cardiovascular system rapidly returned to normal, showing how quickly babies recognize the status of well being on a physiologic level. When a baby's cries are not soothed, he remains in physiologic as well as psychological distress.
The erroneous belief about the healthfulness of crying survives even today in one of the scales of the Apgar score, a sort of test that physicians use to rapidly assess a newborn's condition in the first few minutes after birth. Babies get an extra two points for "crying lustily." I remember pondering this concept back in the mid 1970's when I was the director of a newborn nursery in a university hospital, even before fathering a high-need baby had turned me into an opponent of crying it out. It seemed to me that awarding points for crying made no sense physiologically. The newborn who was in the state of quiet alertness, breathing normally, and actually pinker than the crying infant lost points on the Apgar score. It still amazes me that the most intriguing of all human sounds—the infant's cry—is still so misunderstood.

If only my baby could talk instead of cry I would know what she wants," said Janet, a new mother of a fussy baby. "Your baby can talk," we advised. "The key is for you to learn how to listen. When you learn the special language of your baby's cry, you will be able to respond sensitively. Here are some listening tips that will help you discover what your baby is trying to say when he cries.
The cry is not just a sound; it's a signal – designed for the survival of the baby and development of the parents. By not responding to the cry, babies and parents lose. Here's why. In the early months of life, babies cannot verbalize their needs. To fill in the gap until the child is able to "speak our language," babies have a unique language called "crying." Baby senses a need, such as hunger for food or the need to be comforted when upset, and this need triggers a sound we call a cry. Baby does not ponder in his little mind, "It's 3:00 a.m. and I think I'll wake up mommy for a little snack." No! That faulty reasoning is placing an adult interpretation on a tiny infant. Also, babies do not have the mental acuity to figure out why a parent would respond to their cries at three in the afternoon, but not at three in the morning. The newborn who cries is saying: "I need something; something is not right here. Please make it right."
At the top of the list of unhelpful advice – one that every new parent is bound to hear – is "Let your baby cry-it-out." To see how unwise and unhelpful is this advice, let's analyze each word in this mother-baby connection- interfering phrase.
"Let your baby." Some third-party advisor who has no biological connection to your baby, no knowledge or investment in your baby, and isn't even there at 3:00 a.m. when your baby cries, has the nerve to pontificate to you how to respond to your baby's cries.
The cry is a marvelous design. Consider what might happen if the infant didn't cry. He's hungry, but doesn't awaken ("He sleeps through the night," brags the parent of a sleep-trained baby). He hurts, but doesn't let anyone know. The result of this lack of communication is known, ultimately, as "failure to thrive." "Thriving" means not only getting bigger, but growing to your full potential emotionally, physically, and intellectually.
"Cry…" Not only is the cry a wonderful design for babies; it is a useful divine design for parents, especially the mother. When a mother hears her baby cry, the blood flow to her breasts increases, accompanied by the biological urge to "pick up and nurse" her baby. ("Nurse" means comforting, not just breastfeeding.) As an added biological perk, the maternal hormones released when baby nurses relax the mother, so she gives a less tense and more nurturing response to her infant's needs. These biological changes – part of the design of the mother-baby communication network – explain why it's easy for someone else to advise you to let your baby cry, but difficult for you to do. That counterproductive advice is not biologically correct.
"It…" Consider what exactly is the "it" in "cry-it-out": an annoying habit? Unlikely, since babies don't enjoy crying. And, contrary to popular thought, crying is not "good for baby's lungs." That belief is not physiologically correct. The "it" is an emotional or physical need. Something is not right and the only way baby has of telling us this is to cry, pleading with us to make it right. Early on, consider baby's cry as signaling a need – communication rather than manipulation.
Parent tip: Babies cry to communicate – not manipulate
"Out" What actually goes "out" of a baby, parents, and the relationship when a baby is left to cry-it-out? Since the cry is a baby's language, a communication tool, a baby has two choices if no one listens. Either he can cry louder, harder, and produce a more disturbing signal or he can clam up and become a "good baby" (meaning "quiet"). If no one listens, he will become a very discouraged baby. He'll learn the one thing you don't want him to: that he can't communicate.
Baby loses trust in the signal value of his cry – and perhaps baby also loses trust in the responsiveness of his caregivers. Not only does something vital go "out" of baby, an important ingredient in the parent- child relationship goes "out" of parents: sensitivity. When you respond intuitively to your infant's needs, as you practice this cue- response listening skill hundreds of times in the early months, baby learns to cue better (the cries take on a less disturbing and more communicative quality as baby learns to "talk better"). On the flip side of the mother-infant communication, you learn to read your infant's cries and respond appropriately (meaning when to say "yes" and when to say "no," and how fast). In time you learn the ultimate in crying sensitivity: to read baby's body language and respond to her pre-cry signals so baby doesn't always have to cry to communicate her needs.
What happens if you "harden your heart," view the cry as a control rather than a communication tool and turn a deaf ear to baby's cries? When you go against your basic biology, you desensitize yourself to your baby's signals and your instinctive responses. Eventually, the cry doesn't bother you. You lose trust in your baby's signals, and you lose trust in your ability to understand baby's primitive language. A distance develops between you and your baby and you run the risk of becoming what pediatricians refer to as a doctor-tell-me-what-to-do. You listen to a book instead of your baby. So, not listening and responding sensitively to baby's cries is a lose-lose situation: Baby loses trust in caregivers and caregivers lose trust in their own sensitivity.
Mother loses trust in herself. To illustrate how a mother can weaken her God- given sensitivity when she lets herself be less discerning about parenting advice; a sensitive veteran mother recently shared this story with us:
"I went to visit my friend who just had a baby. While we were talking, her three-week-old started crying in another room. The baby kept crying, harder and louder. I was getting increasingly driven to go comfort the baby. Her baby's cries didn't bother her, but they bothered me. My breasts almost started to leak milk! Yet, my friend seemed oblivious to her baby's signals. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore and I said, 'It's okay, go attend to your baby. We can talk later.' Matter-of-factly she replied, 'No, it's not time yet for his feeding.' Incredulous, I asked, 'Mary, where on earth did you get that harmful advice?' 'From a baby-training class at church,' she proudly insisted. 'I want my baby to learn I'm in control, not him.'"
This novice mother, wanting to do the best for her baby and believing she was being a good mother, had allowed herself to succumb to uncredentialed prophets of bad parenting advice and was losing her God-given sensitivity to her baby. She was starting her parenting career with a distance developing between her and her baby. The pair was becoming disconnected.

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