New Cry-It-Out Study Misses the Mark - Modern Alternative Mama

New Cry-It-Out Study Misses the Mark

admin May 24, 2016

A new study came out in the last few days, saying that cry-it-out is really just fine for babies…and maybe, it’s actually better.

There are so many things wrong with that “study” that I could not let it go.  Parents deserve accurate, real information about parenting practices, and this study isn’t it.  Let’s just dive right in.

New Cry-It-Out Study Misses the Mark

Let’s look at this study.

The study was done on just 43 babies.  That’s a tiny sample size, so no firm or far-reaching conclusions can be drawn from it.

These 43 babies were divided into 3 roughly equal groups (14 – 15 babies each).  Group 1 had sleep training.  Group 2 had “bedtime fading” (putting babies to bed gradually later each night, so that they’d sleep easier from being more tired).  Group 3 had sleep education but no specific bed time method.

Researchers did not control for a whole host of variables, including:

  • Time the babies went to bed
  • Actual methods used by group 3
  • Where babies slept (crib, in parents’ room, etc.)
  • How parents responded to night wakings
  • Babies’ differing needs at different ages (age range was 6 – 16 months at the start of the study; a 6-month-old has very different needs than a 16-month-old!)
  • Other parent-child dynamics besides sleep
  • Feeding method (breastfed babies tend to wake more often)
  • Teething, illness, or other sleep disruptions

With such a small sample size, so many variables uncontrolled, this study is basically useless.  Just straight up, bad science.

The inclusion criteria was “do you think your infant has a sleep problem” on a survey at a pediatrician’s office.  Parents with normal, healthy infants would say ‘yes’ to this, because our society believes babies should sleep through the night from 6 weeks old — which is ridiculous.  And these were healthy infants, as infants with health conditions or developmental delays were excluded.

The majority of the study participants were well educated and upper middle class, and nearly 93% came from two-parent homes.  This is, of course, not representative of the general population at all, further limiting the study’s validity.

Additionally, the study was not blind at all (obviously the parents had to know what method to use, but the researchers didn’t need to — yet, they did know), and parents were allowed to switch groups after being randomly assigned.  (Some parts of the test results later were blinded.)

But wait!  There’s more!

Why The Study Gets it Wrong

Let’s just suppose that all of that doesn’t matter.  Let’s suppose that the study isn’t poorly designed and that it actually has some merit at the outset.  What about how they measured their outcomes?  What about their original premise?

The entire study is based on a behaviorist theory of child-rearing — much of what our society believes about raising children today comes from the behaviorists of the 1950s.  These psychologists effectively thought that it was possible to ‘train’ people by using methods like rewards and punishment to encourage or discourage behavior.  They told parents not to hold their babies too often, to schedule their feedings, and to be basically hands-off.  It was “scientific parenting” and supposedly better.  It did not take into account babies’ actual feelings or emotional needs; only their physical needs.

In the study’s introduction, the researchers suggest that babies wake more frequently at night because of a “coercive behavior trap,” because the parents’ responding to the infants is more ‘rewarding’ than getting sleep.

I’m almost ready to just stop there, because that’s so ridiculously stupid, I don’t even know where to start with it.

This is obvious behaviorist nonsense.  It talks about the relative rewards/consequences as the motivator for infant behavior — no mention (nor understanding) of intrinsic biological need.  Infants don’t just decide to wake themselves up and cry for their parents to manipulate them!  (Not any more than any of us purposely wake ourselves at night, when we’re tired, because maybe watching TV is more “rewarding” — seriously?)  Something causes them to wake up — hunger, cold, hot, in pain, afraid, etc.  All they want is for their need to be met.

The introduction goes on and specifically mentions “behavioral learning theory” and “operant conditioning” which are straight up behaviorist psychology.  There’s no question from which premise/worldview they are operating.

I, and many others (including professionals in the psychology field) believe that behaviorism is the entirely wrong way to explain human behavior.  That’s a long discussion for another post, though.

The researchers looked at sleep “results” — how long it took infants to fall asleep, how many times they woke at night, total minutes awake during the night, and their total sleep time.

Time to Fall Asleep

This varied between groups from about 5 minutes to 20 minutes, after baby was put to bed awake.

Number of Night Wakings

This varies from 1 to 2 after 3 months, vs. 2 – 3 at the study’s beginning.  It isn’t very many times and is in line with normal wakings at the infants’ ages (average of 10 months old at study onset).

Total Minutes Awake At Night

All infants were awake approximately 45 – 60 minutes at night at the study onset.  Amount of time fell for all groups, to 10 – 30 minutes awake per night.

Total Sleep Time

All infants slept 10 – 10.2 hours per night by the 3 month mark — there was no significant difference between groups.

The only area that was significantly different was “time to fall asleep,” but even 20 minutes is not exactly a long time.

Next, they attempted to measure stress.  However, and this is a BIG deal, they did not measure infant stress during the crying period!  They measured it via cortisol levels in saliva the next morning.  Brief episodes of stress produce spikes in cortisol at the time of the stress, which drop within hours.  It’s expected that all of the infants would have normal levels by morning — and they did.  This is a really poor measurement and does not prove that they did not experience significant stress at bedtime.

Even so, there were no significant differences found in morning and afternoon cortisol levels between groups.  The only thing this proves is that short-term interventions didn’t cause chronic stress.

Finally, on attachment.  Although it is being reported that there was “no change in attachment” among parents in different groups, they didn’t state what the attachment was.

In the cry-it-out group, a whopping 45% of children were insecurely attached!  This was also true of 40% in the bedtime fading group, and 38% in the sleep education control group.  Also, attachment was only tested after intervention, not before, so it’s impossible to know if there was a change that occurred because of the intervention, and if that change was more pronounced in the intervention groups vs. control.

I don’t know about you, but 40% of children being insecurely attached is a big deal to me.  It’s clear that whatever parenting practices these families were using prior to this study weren’t really working so well.

The study additionally notes that although parents self-reported fewer night wakings over the study period, the objective actigraphy (tracking the infants’ movements to know when they are awake) showed no change — suggesting that infants are still waking, but no longer crying for their parents.  Slight waking is common for all humans in the lighter phases of the sleep cycle.  There is no speculation on why infants did not signal their parents — perhaps they outgrew a need, or perhaps they learned that their parents were not coming and stopped trying.

In the studies’ conclusion, it notes that one limitation was that it did not assess bed-sharing infants.  All infants were sleeping in their own space (and most likely in their own rooms, as the researchers note they did not look specifically at co-sleeping/room-sharing). Basically, the study looked at different variations on mainstream parenting, and found that none was really worse than another.

If you’re curious, the full text of the study can be found here.

New Cry-It-Out Study Misses the Mark pinterest

No Firm Conclusions

To sum it up, the researchers have a poorly designed study.  They have not properly controlled for variables.  They have a tiny sample size.  They did not look at different styles of parenting practices.  They did not look at co-sleeping/bed-sharing vs. infant solo sleep.  They did not look at differences in attachment before and after intervention.

There is absolutely no way to draw any firm conclusions from a study like this.

We have to ask, too, why nearly half of these babies were insecurely attached.  Clearly, something led to this — was it the sleep intervention or another parenting practice?  Are co-sleeping babies more likely to be securely attached?  We don’t know, as the study didn’t address this.

We’d have to ask a lot of questions about broader parenting practices to really understand anything.  We can’t say cry-it-out is “fine” from this information.

Basically, a lot of people are drawing very broad, far-reaching conclusions from this that just aren’t possible to draw.  Don’t take this seriously, or even waste another minute thinking about it.  It’s just bad science.

How do you feel about cry-it-out?

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  1. Thank you! I saw this study yesterday after several *concerned* family members posted it on my time line, as I am still getting up several (2-5) times/night with my 20 month old (they all insist I am spoiling him). I gave it a perfunctory read then and felt that it missed the mark, at best. I re-read it this morning and felt even more unsettled about it. I was so glad to find your article, which pinpointed all of the reasons it didn’t sit right with me.

    So thank you!


    • You’re welcome!

      Unfortunately, when new studies come out, most people don’t tend to look beyond the headlines — or possibly skim the article. If they agree with the premise already, they use it as evidence to back them up (like your family). If they don’t, they dismiss it out of hand. It doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad science, they believe it (or not) based on what they already believe about the world.

      Diving into the actual study, this is truly bad science!


  2. Can you explain how babies are determined to be securely attached versus not being securely attached?


  3. I agree that the new study is missing so many key components. I am not an advocate of CIO or ‘graduated extinction’ for getting babies to sleep, and firmly believe that the natural development of the infant/child should be respected. With that said, I’m also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), with a background in school psychology. Sure, behaviorists of 50 years ago did a terrible job of promoting the science and even advocated for methods that we now know are unethical.

    But I cringe when others blame behaviorists for shoddy research and incomplete results because ‘behavior’ terms were used.

    First, a ‘coercive behavior trap’ is a terrible way to explain what I think was trying to be explained. It’s supposed to be a name for the cycle of reinforcement going on (which is happening all the time… No matter what we’re doing…). In this case, they are saying, or trying to say, that parents responding to a baby crying reinforces the future occurrence of the baby crying (they cry to get our attention…normal, expected…and we respond, as we should). The baby learns that crying will result in the parent responding (again, this is normal and we should respond). On the other hand, the parent is also being reinforced because when they respond to the baby’s cries, the crying stops (which is relieving to the parent). In this way, the baby and the parent are both being reinforced (not rewarded…reinforced). Folks who promote CIO have taken this basic behavioral premise and basically said, ‘OK, so parents, if you slowly stop responding to the crying, the baby will stop crying.’ What they don’t take into account are other very important behavioral premises: that when you’re trying to decrease a behavior you first need to understand the function of the behavior – (what the baby is attempting to get, what she needs). Then you work with the individual to teach more appropriate behavior that will allow them to gain the thing they were trying to gain. In this case, babies don’t have many other behaviors in their repertoire, and crying is actually the last resort attempt to gaining attention to fulfill a need (need for love, comfort, attention, food, etc). So when parents stop responding to the crying, the baby learns that crying does not have the wanted results, and they stop. This is awful, because babies are then left with no replacement behavior for gaining the parents’ attention.

    While there may be psychologists out there who do not fully understand behavior, behaviorists shouldn’t be lumped into one evil group. Behavior analysis is a science, separate from psychology, and often misunderstood by psychologists and many others. Behavior analysts today follow a strict set of ethical guidelines. A person’s internal thoughts and feelings are very much factored into behavior. Normal development of a child is understood and respected.

    Behavior analysis is not nonsense (it’s a science), though this study may be nonsense. Behavior analysis very much explains behavior of all living organisms (because it’s a science), and it’s a shame when those who don’t understand it use terms associated with it inaccurately.

    I run a local Gentle Parenting group and business where I bridge the gap between understanding behavior science and gentle/positive/attachment parenting.


    • I understand what they were trying to say, but I still think behaviorism misses the mark.

      Yes, both parent and baby are ‘reinforced’ when baby cries and parent responds. However, this then suggests that the baby is choosing to engage in the behavior because they want to be reinforced in that manner. This is wrong, because babies can’t and don’t wake themselves out of a sound sleep for no reason, just because they want their parents’ attention. If they are tired and do not need anything, then they will sleep. If they are not sleeping but are tired, then clearly some other need is greater and must be met before they can sleep. Behaviorists look primarily at the *behavior* and miss the underlying issues.

      We could say we’re really looking at the same thing through slightly different framework and language — and we are — but I think that too many behaviorists take things too far and miss the mark. At least, based on what I’ve seen and read (via parenting books and several psychology courses). It may be that you are the exception, and that’s great! But a lot of the behaviorist explanations and recommendations I’ve read are just not good.

      And yes, the study and the way some of the explanations were written was nonsense.


      • I think a lot of the parenting books and psychologists you have heard are perhaps uninformed on behavior analysis. And no, a person does not necessarily ‘choose’ to do something if the behavior being engaged in has previously been reinforced. A baby wakes when something is needed. In the past they’re crying has been reinforced by a caregiver responding, and so in the future they are more likely to cry again when they wake and need something. This is just how behavior (and reinforcement) works. This is not suggesting that babies wake for no reason because they want their parents’ attention. All behavior has a function, a reason. The behavior is simply the communication of that need, that function.

        ‘Behaviorism’ doesn’t miss the mark… it’s just a science. People who misunderstand the science or use it unethically are the ones missing the mark.

        This explains the vocabulary of reinforcement:

        This explains the functions (underlying reasons) of behavior:


      • While I appreciate your critical evaluation of the subject at hand (the sleep study), I agree with the above poster that your understanding of behaviorism is incomplete and dated. The very fact that your understanding of the above sequence of behavior (baby wakes-baby cries-parent responds) is that the parent response reinforces, and subsequently trains, night waking is indicative of an incomplete understanding of behavior analysis and how behavior is taught and learned. In that sequence, it is NOT the waking that is reinforced, but the crying. The waking would be considered an antecedent, something that makes the consequences that have reliably followed crying (generally attention/food/comfort/etc.) valuable to the baby– which makes sense because sleeping babies don’t need any of these things! Here, crying IS reinforced– but the other misconception is that we as behaviorists would automatically see this as a bad thing, because the baby is “controlling” or “manipulating” the parent. This view ascribes a value (in this case negative) to a behavior, which behaviorism does not do. Scientifically, behavior occurs, and it is not inherently “good” or “bad”; those labels are given based on context. In this case, as the original commenter suggested, crying is a form of communication, and until a child can be taught a more functional way to request what he or she needs (usually speech), I wouldn’t suggest crying be ignored.

        This is nothing new– how many parents have you heard asking children who are learning to talk to “Use your words, tell me what’s wrong”? Over time, the cries are replaced with functional language so that we don’t end up with a bunch of adults who bawl when their crayon breaks or they can’t find their shoes (both things my 4-year-old has cried over just this morning!).

        All behavior can be described behaviorally; the interpretations can be inaccurate or incomplete, but that is the fault of a practitioner of behaviorism or the misunderstanding of a layperson, not the fault of the science. You wouldn’t say that biology “misses the mark” regarding conception and fetal growth because you personally don’t have a solid understanding of how cells differentiate after reading some birth literature and taking a bio class or two; I’m just asking that you don’t make the same sweeping type of statements about behavior analysis. Behaviorism is the scientific study of the behavior of all organisms– it is as complex and multi-faceted as any other field of scientific study, and cannot be boiled down to a few distilled statements without also fostering misunderstanding. I have recently earned my Ph.D. in behavior analysis as well as being a BCBA, and after 8 years of intensive study, there is still a lot for me to learn, so I hope you can see how it is understandably frustrating when others express strong opinions about something they haven’t the background to fully understand. When you study behavior, everyone is an expert– but not really.

        Anyway, I hope you have a lovely day. 🙂


      • I think it’s important to differentiate between two things here: the baby didn’t choose to wake up (we all seem to agree on this), but the baby DID choose whether or not to cry. I am not a CIO person (I can’t stand hearing my baby cry for long), but I am a mom who has no problem letting my children cry for 3-5 minutes to see if they self-settle. And I can honestly say that letting my child cry for 3 minutes at bedtime doesn’t affect whether or not he cries when something is wrong – night or day. Babies (in this case, we’re talking about babies 6+ months) are more intelligent than they are being given credit for here. And, quite honestly, while some people have no issue with getting up multiple times per night for a child older than 1 or so, I refuse to do so…at 1, s/he is DEFINITELY old enough to be self-settling, barring illness, disability or extenuating circumstances (for example, I have gotten up several times a night with unsettled foster children before, or when one of my children was ill).


      • I don’t think Kristen said babies wake for “no reason,” not at all.

        Her post:
        “In this case, babies don’t have many other behaviors in their repertoire, and crying is actually the last resort attempt to gaining attention to fulfill a need (need for love, comfort, attention, food, etc). So when parents stop responding to the crying, the baby learns that crying does not have the wanted results, and they stop. This is awful, because babies are then left with no replacement behavior for gaining the parents’ attention.”

        She even calls the reason for waking a need, which it is. I’m not sure about this whole “behavioralism” debate, since you don’t explain why you dislike it beyond an apparent deep-rooted philosophical quarrel with it. And I don’t know much on the topic. Furthermore, I agree with all your other points regarding this “study” (which should really be called something like “assorted inconsistent bedtime routines with questionnaires and saliva tests”).

        My purpose in commenting is to point out that Kristen and you are in agreement over the causes and appropriate responses to night waking, and so perhaps there is a nugget of science in her field that, when understood correctly, can actually support what we responsive parents intuitively know to be true about babies’ nighttime needs and emotional health. Maybe this science, rather than being (mis)used against infant health as it seems to have been up to now, can go a good way toward killing the idea that babies manipulate their parents. Just a thought 🙂


      • I think you may have missed the gist what Kristen explained in the previous reply. I am also a Board Cerified behavior Analyst and parent of three children. Behaviorist today do not advocate this practice. The function of a behavior does not imply intent. A baby does not wake up with the intent of getting a parent’s attention. The function of crying is to get their needs met (hunger, pain, discomfort). Until they develop more advanced forms of communication (speech), crying is all they have and should never be ignored. Please keep in mind that this practice was developed years ago during the early stages of the practice of behaviorism. In its early days, a lot of unethical practices were the norm. This is not so today. Applied behavior analysis looks at what the individual needs and tries to find replacement behaviors that serve the same purpose as the problem behavior. As mentioned before, a baby’s cry is a form of communication will continue until they develop new behaviors that serve the same purpose. Also, if a baby’s cries are “sometimes” attended to, it is unlikely that crying will ever be completely extinguished. Please don’t compare old practices with new. Many other field of science also recommended strange interventions in their early days so don’t be so hard on behaviorists.


  4. Saw this report on CTV national news last night. It absolutely infuriated me. I mean, to the point where I spent a half hour trying to find a place to comment on this ” study” It is sickening. Shame on them. I wonder who is paying them at the expense of our babies.


    • I know. 🙁

      They didn’t have financial ties though. They just…don’t get it. Bad advice based on bad science.


    • I felt exactly the same…saw it on Channel 7 afternoon news, tried to find the video on their site, tried to search for it on YouTube etc…it is such irresponsible reporting and parents who don’t do their own research/reading will take it as gospel >:(


  5. I am a CIO parent and wouldn’t change it for anything. My boys slept through the night by 8 weeks old and were formula fed. BF did not work for us. My younger son (14 months) goes down for the night and naps very easily. He is always awake and falls asleep with no crying. We sing a couple songs and then I walk out of the room and close the door. My older one reads books until he’s ready to sleep. They are independent and confident. They are well adjusted and well attached.

    How about instead of studies and fear mongering we just support each other. No parent does everything right. I’m sure people would say I’m wrong for switching my boys to toddler beds at 13 months and 11 months (they were so much happier when they had the ability to get up after naps and at night if they needed us. But it’s what worked for our family. Today’s parents are too afraid of everything! There is so much “information” out there and people can’t think for themselves. Where did common sense, instinct, and trust in ourselves go? And if it “takes a village,” why are we constantly criticizing and judging? And if is CIO, that’s my business. I do whati believe is best for my family. And if someone else wants to run to their child every time they cry or every 3 times, then go for it! If that’s what works for them,then they should do it and I should support their decision to do so. Not throw a study at it. Because I can finda study that supports just about anything.


  6. Thank you for the excellent and thoughtful commentary.


  7. My baby hasnever been traine dto sleep or left to cry it out and she sleeps like a rock for 11 hrs at 10 months and has done so since 3 months old when I stopped waking her up to eat. LOl babies are people just like us with different sleep patterns and such. Individulas. We cannot make them all behave in the same way. I think the root of all this nonsense is that people don’t want the inconvenience of having a baby. They want life to be the same after baby comes. But babies have needs and that includes emotional needs. So sad that our focus has shifted from meeting needs to having a well trained baby as if we were talking about a dog doing tricks for us.


  8. I agree wholeheartedly that letting an infant “cry it out” is misguided at best and abusive at worst. I also agree with the behavioral analyst that behaviorism as a science is generally misunderstood. B. F. Skinner is no longer the approved model for behavior science. That said, the person who saved my husband’s and my sanity when my daughter would cry and cry when we put her to sleep after a certain age was a British child psychologist named Penelope Leach. She was the only one we could find who endorsed a humane method of comforting the baby without “reinforcing” the behavior of either parent or child. In her book, she said to put the child down after nursing/feeding and changing if necessary. Tell the baby goodnight, I love you, see you in the morning, etc. Then leave the room. If the baby starts crying, wait 5 minutes (time it!), then go into the room. Do not pick up the child from the crib. Pat them and speak softly saying, “It’s bedtime. Mommy and Daddy are going to bed. We love you and we are right here. Time to sleep. Goodnight.” The child will probably be screaming the whole time you’re talking. No matter. Wait 5 min before going back in if necessary. Repeat until child falls asleep. Remain calm and soothing and smiling throughout. The first night will be the worst. You will think you’re going crazy. You’re not. You’re doing fine. It took 5 nights for this to result in a perfectly calm bedtime when my daughter was 3 years old. She had managed to stretch her bedtime ritual (4 books, 20 songs, water, repeated kisses, and crying) when she moved from her crib into a toddler bed. I was losing it every night. My husband fared no better. Once I had a plan I had faith in, I calmed down and followed it. It felt right because I knew I wasn’t abandoning her. She knew we were right there and we wouldn’t leave her to cry herself to sleep night after night until she “adjusted.” That’s the awful state children get to when they finally realize no one will come when they cry. This isn’t a lesson we wanted her to learn. We fervently recommend this method to all parents dealing with the sleep problem.


  9. I saw it on cbc. It seems it’s going viral in the media which is such a shame when it’s such bad science.


  10. Actually add cnn and abc and global news and pretty much every media outlet at this point. What a disgrace! And the saddest part is so many babies will suffer because of it.


  11. I am a clinical psychologist and a sleep researcher. My opinions are informed, but they are my opinions nonetheless.

    I agree with you about the small sample size. They *may* have been underpowered to detect large differences, but I completely disagree that it makes it bad science. This is how science works. We do a small study first (or a replication study, as was the case here). And then we follow up with larger-scale studies. My main reason for commenting (which I rarely do) is because I wanted to share a different viewpoint on controlling for all the other variables you mentioned. One reason that a researcher would choose NOT to control for all the other variables is because you want to determine whether your effect is due to the intervention and ONLY the intervention. There are variables we can’t control, which is why you have separate groups because the varibility is likely similar across groups and why random assignment is so important–this decreases the likelihood that you are putting people into a group you think might benefit more or less. I’m happy to go into more detail, but I can tell you that these “lack of controlling points you make” do not diminish the quality of the research in my opinion.

    You also state that the children were insecurely attached in the CIO group. The rates were actually similar across all groups and represent pretty well attachment style prevalence in the general population.

    And finally, morning salivary cortisol is a sound way to measure CHRONIC stress. Not acute stress, of course. But I suspect they did it this way because the concern is more about stress chronicity, not acute stress. Acute stress happens. Our bodies are designed to withstand that. It may be acutely stressful on our children when they fall or get into the carseat when they don’t want to. The issue is can they recover from it. It is perfectly healthy to have a stress response to something stressful. It is less healthy if we don’t recover.

    Do I think this is the best research study ever? No, of course not. No study is. This is the tough part of being a researcher. There is always a balance of how to best answer the question and what variables you control for and what variables you don’t, along with the balance of ethical considerations (which is why the people were allowed to switch groups, which, by the way, is also ecologically valid).


  12. I am 100% for letting a baby cry it out with the parent checking on them every 4-5 minutes, but not picking them up during that time. Babies/toddlers wake up in the night for various reasons, just like adults. They need to learn that it is ok to wake up and then close their eyes and go back to sleep, just like adults do. We did this with our firstborn at 5 months old and our second child at 3 months old. It took 3 nights with a total of about 15 minutes of crying with me checking on them every 4-5 minutes to reassure them that everything was fine. Months later I would hear them wake in the night while making their goo-goo-gah-gah sounds and then it was silent. They put themselves back to sleep with absolutely no crying-goal accomplished. In the morning they were happy and content in their crib and did not wake up screaming and crying. They woke up with the feeling of being secure and happy in their crib. They were and still are very secure, affectionate, well adjusted children. They slept through the night from 11:00-6:30. My only regrets are that I did not start this when our oldest was 3 months old like I did his brother. When it was nap time I purposely put them down when they were groggy, not totally asleep and they finished putting themselves to sleep. I know I will get a lot of flack but for our family it was the best decision we made and I have no regrets, none! I also potty trained in one day, yes, one day (both of our sons). I later pitty trained someone else’s children (girl and boy) in one day. Getting children to sleep through the night and potty training takes work. It seems to be easier to co-sleep so moms do not have to get out of bed and pull-ups seem to be what toddlers are expected to wear “just in case”. There should not be any backup diaper (pull up) on a child. That teaches them to use it as a diaper. Again, parents do not want to put forth the effort in some of these areas in my humble opinion.


    • Choosing to keep your child in bed with you until a certain age is not about lazy parenting, it’s about what’s biologically better for the child.

      And yes — most of mine slept in my bed until 15 – 18 months. And they all sleep in their beds just fine now, all night long. The one who was left in their own bed from a much younger age and expect to fall asleep alone woke at night the longest.

      Don’t judge another’s parenting when you don’t know.


  13. You completely miss the point.
    Cry it out last 15 minutes for 3 nights then the baby sleeps better and has a lifetime of putting self back to sleep

    Do you realize what a gift to your child that I?

    As an insomniac/eppileptic/fibro mama I wish I had my kids sleeping abilities

    They are now 11 and 7 and are very routine deep sleepers after 7 months old they learned to goto sleep on there own.

    Yes I still got up to feed and change diaper and put them back to bed they were the happiest babies and now happiest homeschooled girls because they get sleep they know how to put themselves back to sleep.

    Gees let them have that gift it’s really worth it!


    • You do NOT need to let your baby cry-it-out to accomplish this. I have never let my babies cry, and yes — all 5 of them sleep through the night in their own beds. And yes, they can put themselves to sleep and back to sleep if they wake. You do not have to “train” them for this to happen.


  14. I’m not a behaviorist, and can not speak to the validity of the study, but I totally agree with Tammy. After a certain age range, MOST babies (minus illness, teething, etc) should be able to settle themselves back to sleep…unless a parent rushes in to soothe. If parents are willing to wake up multiple times a night to “help” their babies fall back to sleep, that’s their business, but I personally could not/can not function without a decent night’s sleep. We were all about a schedule and fortunately it worked for us, with both of our children consistently sleeping through the night at around 4 months old. Just fyi, I personally could not let my baby cry it out for more than 10 minutes. I think it’s counter productive as the baby gets so worked up and frantic that sleep is unlikely…and it seems cruel. Every baby is different, but for us quality daytime naps were essential to quality night time sleep. Good luck to all the new moms out there!


  15. UGH! This study’s irresponsible and ridiculous conclusions make me so angry and sad. Think of all the parents and kids that this study (and it’s crazy amount of media coverage) will negatively impact. I have spent 18 years with my 8 children, trying to convince the naysayers that it’s OK when the baby doesn’t sleep through the night. Now I am very close to my youngest being ready to wean and move to a big-kid bed, and I am a little sad about it, but so happy and confident that I did what she (and all the others) needed me to do to help them feel secure and safe.


  16. I really think studies like this miss the mark because the truth is that nothing works for every child. Each child is unique and needs to be treated in a way that honors that child’s nature, even as an infant. I find The Child Whisperer to have a useful shorthand for figuring out a child’s inborn energy type which enables you to support your child in the best way possible.


  17. I agree with you – this “new study” wasn’t well done and I think it’s rubbish. My kids are teens now, but we co-slept and co-roomed with our kids when they were very young. I attempted to “Ferberize” my son at the urging of my mother and failed miserably. I’m glad we failed at it because it felt so wrong on so many levels.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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