Evaluating Novel and Relevant Information for Children's Health and Emotional Development

BABY
  • To Kindle a Soul:

    Ancient Wisdom for Modern Parents and Teachers

    Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen

    Nighttime Care

     

    Although our children always need our sensitive responses, they especially need them at night. The combination of drowsiness and darkness makes children feel particularly vulnerable. We have to make special efforts to be attentive to nighttime distress.

     

    The effect of ignoring children’s nighttime cries was tragically illustrated during the only modern, cultural experiment in which children were voluntarily secluded from their parents during sleeping hours. Beginning in the 1930s, parents living on Israel’s secular kibbutzim1 elected to sleep their children away from home in communal children’s facilities. The small staff size at these facilities made it impossible to attend promptly to every cry, but the early pioneers of the kibbutz movement hoped that their children would adjust to the less attentive arrangement.

     

    The ill-fated trial produced horrendous results. A barrage of studies found that the graduates of kibbutz children’s facilities suffered disproportionately from a range of psychological disorders, including attachment deprivation traumas, major depression, schizophrenia, low self-esteem, and alcohol and drug problems. By 1994, more than half of all children on Israeli kibbutzim exhibited symptoms and psychopathologies associated with insecure attachment. Professor Carlo Schuengel, an investigator from the University of Leiden, Netherlands, echoed the findings of many earlier researchers when he identified the cause of the psychological disintegration kibbutz children experienced: “Although collective sleeping may allow for sufficient monitoring of children’s safety, it leaves children with only a precarious and limited sense of security.

     

    As data poured in revealing the damage that had been done by children’s sleeping facilities, kibbutz leaders abandoned the experiment. The last of the kibbutzim’s 260 children’s facilities was finally closed in 1998. Professor Ora Aviezer, director of the Laboratory for the Study of Child Development at the University of Haifa, summarized the disaster:

     

    Research results indicate that collective sleeping arrangements for children negatively affect socio-emotional development in the direction of a more anxious and restrained personality. Collective sleeping was abolished as it became clear that it did not serve the emotional needs of most kibbutz members. Its disappearance demonstrates the limits of adaptability of parents and children to inappropriate child-care arrangements.

     

    The “Modern” Cry-It-Out Sleep-Training Program

     

    Frighteningly, some children in the West are being exposed to just such inappropriate child-care arrangements today in their own homes. The “cry-it-out” sleep-training program offers parents an effective alternative to the hassles of nighttime childcare. Behavioral psychologists behind the plan have demonstrated that infants whose nighttime cries are not answered really do stop crying within as little as three days. Although the program has been touted as “a new, revolutionary method for teaching children to sleep through the night,” it constitutes no more than a revival of the disastrous kibbutz experiment, and what it really teaches children is despair.

     

    People are attracted to the cry-it-out method for the same reason they are attracted to many other destructive childraising techniques: It offers a quick behavioral fix. However, intelligent educators take into account the long-term effects of every childraising strategy. Ignoring a child’s nighttime cries might eventually produce quiet, but it does not cultivate security. Thus, children trained with the cry-it-out method were found to wake more often throughout the night, sleep less efficiently, and walk around with more daytime tiredness than children attended to by their parents. Moreover, children deprived of nighttime comfort are at risk for all the psychopathologies discovered among children who slept in kibbutz children’s homes.

     

    An Attentive Sleep-Training Program

     

    Training children to sleep through the night in a healthy and safe fashion requires distinguishing between five different types of cries:

     

    Occasional nighttime whimpers can be ignored. All normal infants make such noises during the night and do not necessarily need attention.

    Tantrums can also be ignored. These cries sound more angry than distressed.

    If a child cries loudly because he is afraid or lonely, then patting, massaging, or just lightly shaking his crib is usually sufficient to ease him back to sleep.

    If a child cries hysterically out of distress, he needs to be picked up and held for a period until he feels more calm, at which point he can be nursed, patted, or massaged back to sleep.

    If the child is hungry he needs to be nursed back to sleep. If he is wet he needs to be changed and then nursed, patted, or massaged back to sleep.

    A child might need to consistently experience this sort of attentive nighttime care for several months in order to become secure enough to sleep through the night. Admittedly, an attentive approach requires more parental energy than modern reincarnations of the kibbutz system, but it also promises a more psychologically healthy child.

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    Dangers of “Crying It Out”

    Darcia Narvaez Ph.D.

    Letting babies "cry it out" is an idea that has been around since at least the 1880s when the field of medicine was in a hullaballoo about germs and transmitting infection and so took to the notion that babies should rarely be touched (see Blum, 2002 (link is external), for a great review of this time period and attitudes towards childrearing).

     

    In the 20th century, behaviorist John Watson (1928), interested in making psychology a hard science, took up the crusade against affection as president of the American Psychological Association. He applied the mechanistic paradigm of behaviorism to child rearing, warning about the dangers of too much mother love. The 20th century was the time when "men of science" were assumed to know better than mothers, grandmothers and families about how to raise a child. Too much kindness to a baby would result in a whiney, dependent, failed human being. Funny how "the experts" got away with this with no evidence to back it up! Instead there is evidence all around (then and now) showing the opposite to be true!

     

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    The No-Cry Sleep Solution

    Elizabeth Pantley

    There are two schools of thought for encouraging babies to sleep through the night: the hotly debated Ferber technique of letting the baby "cry it out," or the grin-and-bear-it solution of getting up from dusk to dawn as often as necessary. If you don't believe in letting your baby cry it out, but desperately want to sleep, there is now a third option, presented in Elizabeth Pantley's sanity-saving book The No-Cry Sleep Solution

     

    Pantley's successful solution has been tested and proven effective by scores of mothers and their babies from across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Based on her research, Pantley's guide provides you with effective strategies to overcoming naptime and nighttime problems. The No-Cry Sleep Solution offers clearly explained, step-by-step ideas that steer your little ones toward a good night's sleep--all with no crying.

     

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    The Sleep Lady

    Kim West

    For 17 years I have personally helped tens of thousands families gently find sleep.

    I have sold over 100,000 copies of my books, including Good Night, Sleep Tight which families have dubbed “The Sleep Bible”.

     

    My sleep method, The Sleep Lady Shuffle is gentle, accessible, and can be catered to your family and your child.

     

    Good sleep habits and gentle sleep coaching build a positive parent-child attachment and encourage a strong bond.

     

    My sleep method does not involve crying-it-out, and it’s gentle and effective.

     

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    Mother–Infant Sleep Locations and Nighttime Feeding Behavior

    Kathleen Kendall–Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, RLC

    Zhen Cong, Ph.D.

    Thomas W. Hale, Ph.D.

    The controversy around mother–infant bedsharing continues to grow. In order to make sound policy recommendations, policy makers need current data on where infants sleep and how families handle nighttime feedings. The present study is a survey of 4,789 mothers of infants 0–12 months of age in the U.S. The findings indicate that almost 60% of mothers bedshare and that this occurs throughout the first year. These findings also indicate that 25% of mothers are falling asleep with their infants in dangerous sleep locations, such as chairs, sofas or recliners. Recommendations for promoting safe infant sleep are made.

     

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    Benefits of Co-Sleeping

    Popular media has tried to discourage parents from sharing sleep with their babies, calling this worldwide practice unsafe. Medical science, however, doesn’t back this conclusion and prove the benefits of co-sleeping (See Safe Co-Sleeping Research). In fact, research shows that co-sleeping is actually safer than sleeping alone (See Co-Sleeping: Yes, No, Sometimes?). Here is what science says about sleeping with your baby:

     

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    Nighttime Parenting

    Peggy O'Mara

    According to pediatric anthropologist Meredith Small, author of Our Babies, Ourselves, the US is the only country in the world in which babies routinely sleep in their own beds in their own rooms. Small reports on one study that showed that in 67% of the world’s cultures children sleep in the company of others.

     

     As breastfeeding has increased in recent years, so has room sharing and bed sharing. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) reveals that 67.7% of new US moms sleep with their baby at least some of the time.

     

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    Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Babies

    Darcia Narvaez Ph.D.

    Have you noticed all the stressed babies? Maybe one in 30 I see has glowing eyes, which I take as a sign of thriving. What's up? Perhaps ignorance about babies and their needs. Here are 10 things to know.

     

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    Raising Baby: What You Need to Know

    Joanna Lipari

    Bookstore shelves are crammed with titles purporting to help you make your baby smarter, happier, healthier, stronger, better-behaved and everything else you can imagine, in what I call a shopping-cart approach to infant development.

     

    Bookstore shelves are crammed with titles purporting to help you make your baby smarter, happier, healthier, stronger, better-behaved and everything else you can imagine, in what I call a shopping-cart approach to infant development. But experts are now beginning to look more broadly, in an integrated fashion, at the first few months of a baby's life. And so should you.

     

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    Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

    James J. McKenna Ph.D.

    Where a baby sleeps is not as simple as current medical discourse and recommendations against cosleeping in some western societies want it to be. And there is good reason why. I write here to explain why the pediatric recommendations on forms of cosleeping such as bedsharing will and should remain mixed. I will also address why the majority of new parents practice intermittent bedsharing despite governmental and medical warnings against it.

     

    Definitions are important here. The term cosleeping refers to any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each, the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues. Room sharing is a form of cosleeping, always considered safe and always considered protective. But it is not the room itself that it is protective. It is what goes on between the mother (or father) and the infant that is. Medical authorities seem to forget this fact. This form of cosleeping is not controversial and is recommended by all.

     

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    Screaming to sleep, Part One: The moral imperative to end 'cry it out'

    Amy Wright Glenn

    While in Philadelphia for business, Gabriel pulls up to his cousin Janet’s home to visit.

     

    “You made it!” Janet notes with joy. She embraces him with one arm. Her 5-month-old son Tyler is in the other.

     

    Two hours pass. Gabriel, Janet, and her husband, Keith, share stories and dinner. At various points throughout the conversation, Gabriel plays peek-a-boo with a drooling 5-month-old.

     

    “OK, it’s 7:30,” Janet abruptly notes. “Tyler’s bedtime.” She lifts her son up from his multicolored bouncy seat, wherein he has spent much of the evening. She walks him down the hall to his football themed nursery.

     

    Gabriel and Keith each pick up a fresh beer and retire to the family room. Keith clicks on the television. Within five minutes, Janet joins them.

     

    “Well, that was easy,” she says with a smile. Janet sits on the couch next to Keith, reaches for the remote, and turns up the television.

     

    Suddenly, Tyler is screaming. Screaming. Tyler’s screams could pierce through the din of any commercial. They could break glass. Gabriel sits up with a start, his heart racing.

     

    “No need to panic,” Keith mutters while kicking his feet up on an ottoman. “Welcome to the land of ‘sleep training.’ The doctor told us that it could take awhile, but Tyler’s got to learn. He always falls to sleep eventually.”

     

    Looking for Part Two of 'Screaming To Sleep'?

    Screaming to sleep, Part Two: The moral imperative to end 'cry it out'

    Gabriel looks at Keith in disbelief. “What does he have to learn exactly?” Tyler’s screams punctuate each word.

     

    “He’s got to learn that we don’t come to him every time he cries. Janet totally indulged him those first few months.” Keith continues, “But we are in charge. We are the parents. He’s got to learn his place.”

     

  •  

    Connecting Through Filling the Love Cup

    Pam Leo

    Human beings have a nutritional need for vitamin C, and when that need is not met, we cannot survive. For example, sailors died from scurvy on long sea voyages because they didn't know about a vital missing element in their diet. In 1747, a ship's doctor, James Lind, discovered that something in citrus fruits cured scurvy. Nearly fifty years later, in 1795, when the British Royal Navy began supplementing the sailors' diet with a daily ration of lime or lemon juice, sailors stopped dying of scurvy.

     

    Human beings also have a biological and emotional need for human connection. When that need is not met, we survive but we do not thrive. Human beings have an incredible ability to adapt to most living conditions that allow us to survive. However, we do not thrive when we have to adapt to living conditions that do not meet our biological and emotional needs.

     

    Children today have to adapt to living conditions that do not meet their biological and emotional needs. A vital element is missing in their living conditions. The sailors were unaware that they were missing a dietary element essential to their health. As a culture we have been unaware that the essential element, key to a child's wellbeing, is missing for many children in today's lifestyle.

     

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    It Doesn’t Take “Guts” to “Sleep-Train” An 8-Week-Old

    Amy Wright Glenn

    The staff at Regents Heights Nursing Home is tired. This is particularly true for those who work the overnight shift. The elderly residents keep buzzing for their attention. One resident is thirsty. One is lonely. One senile elderly woman just wants someone to hold her hand while she cries. The bald and blind 90-year-old man at the end of the hallway consistently needs help going pee. It’s beyond annoying. The staff is tired. They can’t get a break.

     

    Imagine their relief when care protocols suddenly change. As mandated by management, a radical reordering of care strategies is to take effect immediately. The staff no longer will spend their time relentlessly responding to the midnight “superfluous needs” of residents. No longer will they be “manipulated” by a 3am cry for attention. Why? A new geriatrician has written a book inspiring waves of reform across the country with regard to the care of America’s elderly.

     

    According to Dr. Edwin Beely, author of “Caring for The Aged,” all of an elderly person’s needs can be adequately met in daylight hours. Care during the evening/nighttime hours is optional. In fact, it’s to everyone’s benefit that it be discontinued.

     

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    Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

    James J.

    Where a baby sleeps is not as simple as current medical discourse and recommendations against cosleeping in some western societies want it to be. And there is good reason why. I write here to explain why the pediatric recommendations on forms of cosleeping such as bedsharing will and should remain mixed. I will also address why the majority of new parents practice intermittent bedsharing despite governmental and medical warnings against it.

     

    Definitions are important here. The term cosleeping refers to any situation in which a committed adult caregiver, usually the mother, sleeps within close enough proximity to her infant so that each, the mother and infant, can respond to each other’s sensory signals and cues. Room sharing is a form of cosleeping, always considered safe and always considered protective. But it is not the room itself that it is protective. It is what goes on between the mother (or father) and the infant that is. Medical authorities seem to forget this fact. This form of cosleeping is not controversial and is recommended by all.

     

Media Resources

Co-Sleeping With Infants: Science, Public Policy, and Parents Civil Rights

James McKenna, PhD