Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm lying here crying, waiting for you to come. I don't know why you won't, but I feel so all alone.
I heard Grandma say to let me cry, it's good for me somehow, so you both agree not to spoil me. Well I don't know exactly what that means, but I am sure I disagree. All I know is that I'm cold and sad lying here alone. So I will keep crying with the hope that you will come.
I know I just ate and now it's time to sleep, but I feel so safe when I'm in your arms and that's where I want to be. Your body is warm, and you smell so sweet. It's easy to fall asleep, protected by your arms and listening to the calming sounds of your breathing and heart beat when you hold me close. I know I'm loved and cared for with you watching over me. But I feel so sad alone in this room waiting for sleep to come.
I have no words to tell you, and so I start to cry. It's my only way to ask for help, it's the only words I have to tell you that I need you. I get so excited when you listen, but I just don't understand why you won't listen now.
So I keep calling for you to pick me up, but please come fast. I'm afraid that I can't cry much longer, that I am going to give up. That I will feel too alone to even cry and too tired to hope you will still come. I'll feel so ignored here in this room. So unloved, so abandoned, so alone. It might not be true, but it's how I feel as I continue to beg for you and my cries continue to go unanswered.
Next time I will know not to cry so long. I won't try as hard to make you hear and I'll learn faster that you will not come. And there may even come a day when I don't cry at all. By then I will have learned that you don't care and I will have given up on trying to communicate my needs to you. I won't keep hoping or trust you to help me when I am sad. Grandma will be so proud that I have learned to "self sooth", but I don't know why giving up is a good thing. Maybe I will understand some day.
I'm finally too tired to cry, and I'm drifting off to sleep. I'm breathing kind of funny, I still feel like I can't catch my breath. I guess I really shouldn't have cried so long. I'll know next time.
It makes me so sad to think of all the babies that are left to cry. Like all parents, the parents of these babies love their babies dearly and just want what's best for them. Unfortunately, main stream thinking has made us all believe that letting your child cry it out is not only okay, but actually better for them in the long run. The truth could not be more opposite.
Leaving a baby to cry, unattended and without response by a parent is not healthy. All the stress hormones released from prolonged crying can actually alter a baby's brain. They can also become withdrawn and even depressed. How your child responds to CIO depends greatly on how it is applied and the baby's personality.
Babies use crying as one of their only ways to communicate with their caregiver. When a baby attempts to communicate over and over again and is repeatedly ignored, this baby learns that their communications will not be responded to. They lack trust in their parent or caregiver to meet their needs. So responding to a baby's cry is important in establishing communication and a trusting relationship with your baby.
Here are some great resources about prolonged, unattended crying:
Dr. Sears - Science Says: Excessive Crying Could Be Harmful to Babies
Dr. Ben Kim - Cry It Out: The Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Baby to Cry
The Natural Child Project - The Con of Controlled Crying
Dr. Sears - 7 Things Parents Should Know About Baby's Cries
Dr. Stephen Juan - 'Crying it out' may damage baby's brain
PhD in Parenting - Cry it out (CIO): 10 reasons why it is not for us
Peaceful Parenting - Should Baby Soothe Himself to Sleep?
The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley is a great book if you are looking for solutions for helping your baby sleep. I buy one for all the new moms I know!