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Psychologist: Crying It Out Damages Baby’s Brain

Alexandra Grablewski

Has cry-it-out been scientifically proven harmful to babies? Dr. Darcia Narvaez, a Psychology professor at Notre Dame, published a piece in Psychology Today making a case that the cry-it-out method of sleep training damages babies, making them less intelligent, more anxious, and less connected to their parents. She posits that children who are prevented from crying are actually end up more independent than babies who are left to self-soothe.
Plus: One Mom’s Story of Sleep Training

Says Narvaez:

“With neuroscience, we can confirm what our ancestors took for granted---that letting babies get distressed is a practice that can damage children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We know now that leaving babies to cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated person who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation.”

She goes on to posit that, according to various studies, crying destroys neurons, can wire you with stress for life, and can harden caregivers to a baby’s needs. She also believes say that extensive crying shows a “lack of experience, knowledge and/or support of the baby's caregivers,” a statement sure to raise the hackles of parents of babies with colic. In an addendum, she credits her own poor memory, bowel issues and social anxiety to her parents’ neglect.
Plus: 26 Baby Sleep Tricks to Try

Narvaez makes a seriously guilt-inducing case for those of us that used CIO to help our kids sleep through the night. However, I can’t say I see any evidence of damage in own happy kids, who are both champion sleepers to boot.

Did you do CIO? Do Narvaez’s arguments make you feel like it was the wrong decision? Do you think extensive crying in babyhood can lead to lifelong problems?