Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Controlled crying

The Scott Brown of sleep training techniques is called "controlled crying". You let your kid cry, but not as much as the colonel plans to do after he locks the steel door of his heart that happens to also be the door to his son's bedroom. (He swallows the key.)

Controlled crying is described in four steps by -- a name that certainly inspires trust. From the web site, I suspect it is a TV show.

Steps 1 to 3 are simple: bath, PJs, story time, cuddle, crib. But, Attention, attention: no wild hand gestures. You will be done with the first three steps in twenty minutes. Step 4 shouldn't take more than an hour. But don't worry: you have to do it only if your baby cries. I quote:

If your baby cries when you place her in her crib, start the controlled crying technique:

  • Wait five minutes before going back to the room. Make your check brief and any interaction minimal. Don’t touch, pick her up, or cuddle her – simply say, “Mommy/Daddy is here, go to sleep” and then leave, even if he is still crying.
  • If she’s still crying after 10 minutes, repeat the procedure.
  • If she’s still crying after 15 minutes repeat the procedure and continue to repeat it every 15 minutes until she’s asleep.
  • If she starts to quieten down, wait to see if she’s starting to settle to sleep – if you go in at this point you may disturb her. If she starts to cry loudly again, start your checking again.
[...] If you apply the technique properly your child shouldn’t cry for much more than an hour.
It seems very close to the "cry-it-out" solution of the colonel. Super nanny adds this insightful comment:
The key to this technique isn’t to stroke, pat or re-position your baby. This type of contact could be seen as a reward for crying and rather than reduce the crying it could teach your child to cry for a set period before you go into her and cuddle or stroke her… thus inadvertently encouraging more crying.
I dislike this technique on theoretical grounds: how is it that 'stroking, patting and re-positioning' will encourage more crying, while a warm 'daddy is here' will not?

Yet, there seems to be a strong body of evidence that this technique works within a few days. If the theory is in conflict with experimental results, the theory has to go.

This technique is not recommended before the age of six months. We hope that Dario will have been trained using other techniques by then. We have five months and two weeks left. Super Nanny says:
we feel a gradual retreat technique is more appropriate for younger babies.
This sounds appealing, but Super Nanny doesn't describe it. I find a good description in It looks great.

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