Friday, April 11, 2008

More bad "advice" for new parents

Sigh. When I see crap like this stupid study of how "too much coddling" of a baby can cause bad sleep habits, it makes me shake my head. To think that parents will actually follow this advice just makes me sad. One wonders if Dr. Elsie Taveras even has children of her own.
"It is very hard to let your child cry it out when they are toddlers," says Dr. Elsie Taveras of Harvard Medical School, referring to parents' tendency to pick up their children or bring them into the family bed to help them sleep. "But if you approach it differently — 'I am not even going to start my child making these sleep associations' — it's much easier to prevent [future problems]."
Yes, because as we all know, babies know the difference in your approach. I'm sure that when you explain to an infant, I'm letting you cry because I don't want you to make these sleep associations, he'll completely understand and go back to sleep.
She found that certain "maladaptive" parental habits — such as the mother staying with the child until he or she fell asleep, or the parent giving a child food or drink upon nighttime awakening — appeared to develop in response to babies' early sleep difficulties, at 5 to 17 months of age.
Well, DUH! You know, we tired moms and dads are trying to get the kids to sleep the best we know how. Most of us rely on what feels right to us, such as picking up a baby when she cries. Apparently, this is a "maladaptive" habit we need to start breaking right now, people! Damn you, woman! How dare you stay with your child until he falls asleep! Cut off all of your maternal and paternal instincts and let that baby cry! Because if you don't, she's never going to sleep on her own! Never! Oh, for crap's sake. Aren't we tired of hearing the same old thing over and over again? I thought this whole "cry it out" thing went the way of big hair and A Flock of Seagulls. Apparently not:
"It might be appropriate to be present in the room, comforting the child for a short time," Simard says. But it's most important "to let the child develop a capacity to comfort himself on his own."
Yes, that's right, you stand over there, parent, while baby "comforts himself" by... crying? Huh, I guess I don't get that. Crying oneself to sleep doesn't seem comforting to me. Ask yourself: If it was your best friend who was crying, would you stand there, watching, saying, It's okay, everything will be fine. Or would your first instinct be to go to that person and put your arms around him and give actual comfort? I think most of us would choose the second. Yet, when it is a helpless infant we're talking about, somehow it's okay to let them figure it out on their own. Please. Pick up the baby. Here is a clue the "researchers" appear to have missed: babies need their parents.

Here's another good one:
Babies who grew accustomed to falling asleep with a parent in the room, being held until they fell asleep, or being taken into a parent's bed when they couldn't sleep were also more likely as older children to have trouble falling asleep and to sleep fewer hours during the night. "Co-sleeping with the child does not seem to be a good solution for comforting a child after night awakenings," Simard says.
Do you think the researchers ever considered the possibility that babies and children who are left to fall asleep on their own just give up? They realize their parents aren't coming to comfort them, so they, at some point, give up asking for comfort. Is that what they mean by "self-comfort"? Seems to me that this would lead to worse long-term problems than having trouble falling asleep (which, honestly, I kind of doubt lasts very long into childhood -- the article didn't specify what they considered "older children" -- all of the parents I know who have co-slept with children don't end up with older kids with sleep issues). If the first thing you teach a baby is "Don't rely on me, kid!" what kind of message is that sending?

Bleh. These kinds of dumb studies irritate me to no end.


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