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

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Parent Responsiveness - A Study

Infant Stress and Parent Responsiveness: Regulation of Physiology and Behavior During Still-Face and Reunion
David W. Haley1 and Kathy Stansbury1,2

This study examined infant response and recovery from a social challenge and parent responses. Behavioral and physiological responses were measured from forty-three 5- and 6-month-olds infants during a modified still-face procedure that used an additional still-face reunion sequence. Results confirm the hypothesis that infants of more responsive parents show more regulation than infants of less responsive parents. Infants of more responsive parents showed greater regulation of heart rate and negative affect during the final episode of the procedure than infants of less responsive parents. In addition, this procedure elicited a cortisol response (from .22 μg/dl to .31 μg/dl). Findings suggest important links between parent behavior and infant stress reactivity and regulation.
Haley, David W. & Stansbury, Kathy (2003). Infant Stress and Parent Responsiveness: Regulation of Physiology and Behavior During Still-Face and Reunion. Child Development 74 (5), 1534-1546. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00621

Elizabeth Pantley's views

Here's an article from Elizabeth Pantley, who is the author of "The No Cry Sleep Solution" books.

Q. Should I Let My Baby Cry it Out?
From Elizabeth Pantley
A. Does it takes forever for your baby to fall asleep? Does he or she only fall asleep if you breastfeed, give a bottle or pacifier, rock, carry, swing, take a ride in the car, or perform other elaborate rituals? Does your baby wake up frequently throughout the night? Are your sleep issues further complicated because your baby won’t nap easily, or takes very short naps?
Do you ever feel like Leesa, mother of 9-month-old Kyra who said, "I am truly distressed, as the lack of sleep is starting to affect all aspects of my life. I feel as though I can't carry on an intelligent conversation. I am extremely unorganized and don't have the energy to even attempt reorganization. I love this child more than anything in the world, and I don’t want to make her cry, but I'm near tears myself thinking about going to bed every night.
Sometimes I think, ‘What’s the point? I'll just be up in an hour anyway.’"
As your sleep issues cast lengthening shadows over your life, you may begin to live purely for the moment. Your sleep-deprived, foggy brain may focus so intently on sleep that you can’t think beyond the next few hours of rest. You may have one – or many – people telling you that you should just let your baby cry to sleep. You are probably frustrated and confused. What you lack is perspective. To gain that perspective, ask yourself these questions:
Where will I be five years from now?
How will I look back on this time?
Will I be proud of how I handled my baby’s sleep routines, or will I regret my actions?
How will the things I do with my baby today affect the person he will become in the future?
Once you have some perspective about your baby’s current sleep issues, it is important to be realistic in determining your goals and to be honest in assessing the situation's effect on your life. Some people can handle two night wakings easily, while others find that the effect of even one night waking is just too much to handle. The key is to evaluate whether your baby’s sleep schedule is a problem in your eyes, or just in those of the people around you.
Begin today by contemplating these questions:
Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, my job, or my relationships with my other children?
Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?
What is a reasonable expectation for my baby at his/her age?
What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “acceptable”?
What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “pure bliss”?
Why do I want to change my baby’s sleep patterns? Is it truly what’s best for me and my baby, or am I doing this to meet someone else’s expectations?
Am I willing to be patient and make a gradual, gentle change for my baby if that means no crying?
Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your baby’s sleep, but what approach you will feel most comfortable using to help your baby sleep better.
In addition to my two-year-old son Coleton, I have three older children, and they have afforded me the perspective I lacked the first time around. My children have taught me how very quickly babyhood passes. I struggle now to remember the difficulties of those first couple years, so fleeting are they. And I am proud that I didn’t cave in to the pressures of others around us to do what they felt was right; instead I followed my heart as I gently nurtured all of my babies. That time is long gone for us, but those memories remain. And now, all four of them sleep through the night. And so do I.
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sleep deprivation

Parent sleep deprivation is the reason some practitioners give for the use of controlled crying on infants. Some claim that by reducing sleep deprivation in mothers, supposedly via controlled crying getting the infant to seemingly 'sleep better' (and this can certainly be debated), that this enables the parents to cope better with Post Natal Depression (PND). I believe there are many flaws in this argument. Firstly, it is almost impossible to separate sleep deprivation from early parenthood, and secondly that there are many influences in an individuals environment that would effect PND, not just sleep. In addition to this, different people have different reactions and symptoms of PND, and some do not suffer difficulties sleeping. In addition, the effectiveness of controlled crying on getting an infant to sleep longer is not always successful. I also find the below information on sleep deprivation very interesting, as it adds another dimension;

This is from Wikipedia online;

Sleep deprivation is an overall lack of the necessary amount of sleep. A person can be deprived of sleep by their own body and mind, as a consequence of some sleep disorders, or actively deprived by another individual. Sleep deprivation is sometimes used as an instrument of torture, but it has also been shown to be an effective treatment of depression.

As a treatment for depression
Recent studies show sleep deprivation has some potential in the treatment of depression. About 60% of patients, when sleep-deprived, show immediate recovery, with most relapsing the following night. The incidence of relapse can be decreased by combining sleep deprivation with medication [2]. Incidentally, many tricyclic antidepressants happen to suppress REM sleep, providing additional evidence for a link between mood and sleep [3].

What is attachment parenting?

What is attachment parenting?

Attachment Parenting: The Eight Ideals
Attachment Parenting is a philosophy based in the practice of nurturing parenting methods that create strong emotional bonds, also known as secure attachment, between the infant and parent(s) This style of parenting encourages responsiveness to the infant or child's emotional needs, and develops trust that their emotional needs will be met. As a result, this strong attachment helps the child develop secure, empathic, peaceful and enduring relationships.
In conjunction with the work of Dr. William and Martha Sears, and informed by current research, API promotes The Eight Ideals of Attachment Parenting. Recognizing that every family is unique, these ideals are guidelines to help parents understand their baby's needs to develop a secure attachment.

Preparation for Childbirth
Emotional Responsiveness
Breastfeed your Baby
Baby Wearing
Nighttime Parenting and Safe Sleeping Guidelines
Avoid frequent and prolonged separations from your baby
Positive Discipline
Maintain balance in your family life

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