Is it OK to let your baby cry herself to sleep while you take a shower?
A first-time mom writes in with a problem. She says her 3-month-old baby frequently cries when she is put down when her mom goes to take a shower. This mom wants to know if her baby feels abandoned, and she wonders if it’s OK to let her baby “cry it out” from time to time. Sleep consultant Kelly Murray weighs in with some tips and expert advice.
A Mamas Uncut Facebook fan asks:
“Is my 3-month-old fine crying herself to sleep while I quickly shower?
My baby just turned 3-months-old. Normally when I shower, I put her in her Pack ‘N’ Play, but she screams the entire time. Two out of the past three showers, she has cried herself to sleep. I heard that at that age they feel abandonment issues if left alone to “cry it out.”
I try to shower as fast as I can. Will she feel abandoned because I don’t immediately come to her aid while she’s crying? Is it bad that she cried it out twice? It might be a stupid question, but I’m a first-time mom.”
Advice from Kelly Murray, Sleep Consultant
Hey Mama, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. By three-months-old, it is okay for a baby to cry it out (CIO). There is plenty of research to show that “cry it out” isn’t detrimental to a baby’s development or attachment as long as you’re responding to your child’s needs throughout the day.
For Example, in a study out of New Zealand, cortisol (stress hormone) levels were measured in 25 babies (4 to 10 months old) before and after sleep training. During this study, the participating mothers and infants spent 5 days at a residential facility to participate in extinction sleep training (aka, CIO babies were left to cry without any reassurance). On night one of sleep training, all babies experienced at least two periods of crying for 5-10 minutes before they fell asleep. By night three, the babies all fell asleep with minimal fuss. The investigators measured the cortisol levels in infants before the bedtime routine started, and after they fell asleep. On both nights, the babies’ cortisol levels remained stable between the bedtime routine and falling asleep after CIO.
You may want to start teaching your baby how to fall asleep independently during all naps and at bedtime. That way, she will learn how to put herself to sleep and will eventually stop crying when you do put her down independently. That way, you can do more than just take a shower during the day. Also, it will help her to be able to connect sleep cycles and result in longer naps and fewer night wakings. It typically takes a baby about a week to learn these skills and you don’t have to use a CIO technique. There are plenty of gentle methods available, such as the Sleep Sense method which I am certified in.
About Kelly Murray
As the founder and owner of Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting, I get the privilege of helping parents create sustainable solutions for their families to get the rest they need. Because, after all, well-rested babies and parents do everything better.
I’m the mom of two rambunctiously adorable kiddos, and wife to my amazing husband of 8 years. We live in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago, and in the warmer months, you can find us at the parks, beaches, museums and on the 606 bike trail. We love a good adventure! When my kids wake up every morning, the first thing they ask is “where are we going today?”
My greatest goal is to raise children who work and love hard. This is a big reason I prioritize sleep in my house. Who has the energy to work hard or the patience to be kind when they’re sleep deprived? I don’t care if they are the smartest or most athletic kids, I just want them to be good people who try their best at everything they do.
[Images via Shutterstock.]
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