The Michi Method is, and always will be, a gentle sleep training method. Like anything, the decision to sleep train your baby is a personal one, and its not something I would suggest you go into reluctantly. You really need to want to commit to making changes that will benefit your family, and you really need to know that you’re going to be able to stick to it. Gentle sleep training is certainly not a quick fix. It requires patience, consistency and determination. But it works. And it works because you want it to. That’s not to say that controlled crying doesn’t work. Quite the opposite, in fact. The internet and various books will tell you quite honestly that controlled crying works. But the reasons why it works are the reasons why I don’t recommend it.
It’s assumed by the title, but let’s just think about this one for a moment. Controlled crying is the act of allowing your baby to cry for controlled periods of time. You are in control of that time, and when an agreed amount of time has passed, then you are allowed to go in and comfort your child. This can be repeated over and over again until your child falls asleep. Generally, controlled crying requires you to increase the length of time that you allow your baby to cry before going in to comfort them. For some, it means leaving your baby to cry themselves to sleep.
Unless you’re made of steel, controlled crying is going to make YOU cry too. Feeling unable to comfort your baby at moments of distress is not pleasant. Lots of families tell me that hearing their baby cry causes them to feel distress and upset to the point where the sound is literally unbearable. There’s a reason for that! Being unable to speak, crying is a baby’s only way of communication. So the pitch and level of a baby’s cry is specifically designed to make parents want to respond to them. It’s that simple. So many families tell me that even the idea of controlled crying upsets them. I don’t recommend controlled crying because it’s upsetting.
Controlled crying works against your parental instincts
We are programmed to respond to our baby’s cries. As already mentioned, babies can cry at different pitches and each pitch means something different. Believe me, you will know when your baby is distressed! And for some, being left alone in a bed causes distress. If you’re doing a controlled crying program you will be required to act against your instincts by delaying or withdrawing your response to your baby’s cries. This is working against your parental instincts and is another key reason why I simply can’t recommend it.
Controlled crying does not teach trust
You are your baby’s world. When your baby cries for you, you respond with love and comfort. That’s human instinct and the reason why human beings have survived for so long. And by responding to your baby when he cries, you are teaching him that you can be trusted. You are a constant, a source of comfort, a safe zone. If you withdraw that comfort by leaving your baby to cry, he will struggle to build that trust in you. In contrast, gentle sleep training teaches babies that they can indeed trust you to respond to their cries.
In the short term, controlled crying will work in the fact that your baby will simply give up trying to communicate with you. Any fear or trepidation he had at falling to sleep by himself will not be ‘cured’, it will be repressed. Lots of families come to me distressed at the thought of having to go through it all again after their baby starts to wake once more having been sleep trained by controlled crying. The fact of the matter is that you have not taught your baby how to sleep; you’ve taught your baby you cannot be trusted to comfort him.
Gentle sleep training instills confidence and a sense of comfort, without compromising your natural instincts- and definitely with no tears!