Egrrrl in the comments pointed me towards this list of anti-CIO links posted at MotheringDotCommune. While the overwhelming majority of the links are to opinion pieces, including the notorious “Harvard study” I’d referred to in the thread the comment was on – par for the course for AP/NP “evidence”, and many have references that do not relate to cosleeping but to routine abuse and neglect, there was one link to a position paper on controlled crying (.pdf document). I’m linking to the original position paper and not the transcribed HTML link, as it looks clearer to read and has some intresting points. It’s written by one Pam Linke, a parenting book author and the national president of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health, Inc. (AAIMHI). I can’t tell if she has any other relevant credentials (such as a degree in child psychology), but she comes out very supportive of cosleeping and against CIO. The sources she uses to bolster her position paper with, however, are…shall we say, interesting. The policy statement was first written in 2002, and revised Novmeber 2004.
Linke asserts that “Crying is a signal of distress or discomfort from an infant or young child. Although controlled crying can stop children from crying, it may teach children not to seek or expect support when distressed.” Unfortunately for her, there is no proof of this, and in fact, there is even no direct evidence that babies who undergo controlled crying suffer undue or lasting stress, as she states later on:”There have been no studies such as sleep laboratory studies, to our knowledge, that assess the physiological stress levels of infants who undergo controlled crying, or its emotional or psychological impact on the developing child.”
Actually, there have been studies which assessed the “emotional or psychological impact on the developing child” of controlled crying; one was written back in 1992, and the other was published in January 2004 ( a full 10 months before Linke revised her policy statement); Needless to say, they do not support Linke’s baseless assertions…quite the contrary. There is no evidence that infants who are left to cry for short periods of time are traumatized in the manner of neglected children in Romanian orphanages are, no matter how much some parenting experts may wish it or hypothesize about it. In fact, when the babies learned how to sleep for long stretches, it did them (and their families) only good.
Linke also claims that “If controlled crying is to be used it would be most appropriate after the child has an understanding of the meaning of the parent’s words, to know that the
parent will be coming back and to be able to feel safe without the parent’s presence. Developmentally this takes about three years. ”
Three years?! I think Linke needs a refresher course in child development. Children develop a sense of object permanence as young as 8 months old, some say even earlier. That’s how a baby knows Mommy doesn’t disappear into thin air when she’s out of sight, and is the source of the infant developing stranger anxiety. As for understanding what is said to them, even if they haven’t developed the linguistic capacity by age 3 to understand the meaning of the words “I’ll be back soon” (and I know precious few children that age who haven’t), the nonverbal concept of Mommy coming back can, and is, learned much earlier…by Mommy coming back night after night, morning after morning. Even tiny babies can learn to anticipate regular events.
Linke’s bibliography is, per her own admission, not particularly supportive of her statements:
“The list below is not specifically for studies on the impact of controlled crying on infants because there are no records of such studies. The list has sources of general background information related to sleep and to understanding children and stress.”
So we’ve got a mishmash of basic attachment theory research by Bowlby, Ainsworth and Bell (yes, children whose cries are constantly ignored for a long time go on to develop attachment sidorders); yet again, the Commons and Miller claptrap; and James McKenna’s factoids about cosleeping dyads which prove nothing aboust its safety. She also exhorts you to look into the works of Michel Odent, and further adds that “A wide range of articles for parents can be found on:
http://www.naturalchild.com or http://www.askdrsears.com”. I’ve already touched upon the subject of the quality of Dr. Sears’ “evidence” about cosleeping; his “evidence” regarding CIO is of similar…er, scientific rigor. And yeah, let’s send ususpecting mothers over to The Natural Child website, so they can learn how women who use formula, cribs and C-sections are fake mothers, among other things. Eek.
Next post, we’ll be looking at a big ol’ list of links to actual studies about CIO and its effects. Maybe it’ll be of help to those wishing to confront that other “big ol’ list of links” that pretends to be convincing proof that CIO will permanently damage your baby and turn him into a quivering, depressed lump of obedience and fear…and I promise it won’t contain any opinion pieces :-).
Filed under: Infant sleep |