It's a decision made by new parents when they are most sleep deprived. Should we let our baby "cry it out" in an effort to sleep train the baby and eventually get more sleep ourselves? After two recent studies we are no closer to settling this long running dispute.
The sounds of a baby's cry makes most parents heart ache. The natural response is to rush to his aid. But when it comes to sleep time whether you should respond every single time depends on who you ask.
"I don't want you standing there. You kind of need to walk away," said Child psychologist Dr. Allison Chase
Dr. Chase says walk away and return in intervals 10, 15 or even 30 minutes to assure your baby he's ok.
"The ultimate goal is we are going to prepare him so that they have these really strong wings to fly the nest," said Dr. Chase.
The dreaded practice is called sleep training.
For or against the practice it's tough for any parent to witness. It's a decision many parents are tormented about. Should I rock my child to sleep, show him the love and affection he seems to be craving? Or put him down and let him figure it out and self soothe?
Dr. Chase and many experts believe not doing so could impact your child for a lifetime.
"Fast forward 10-12 years supposed he can't handle being distressed etc. At some point he's got to be able to figure it out and how to ahhh ha ok I can get through this and I can make it without someone there to pat his back," said Dr. Chase.
You mean comforting my child now is going to cause problems later? University of North Texas Research Wendy Middlemiss didn't buy that argument.
"It's an extinction. There's no response for my request for attention or for soothing so I learn not to make that request," said Middlemiss.
She says the reasoning didn't add up.
"I never really thought responding to a crying baby would be a hard sell," said Middlemiss.
But in an effort for other parents to buy in she went to work.
"It didn't make sense to me that crying and not responding would be a healthy way for an infant to develop," said Middlemiss.
And her study now published in the Journal of Early Human Development proved her point. After days of crying it out and no one coming to their aid the babies did eventually stop crying. They also appeared settled. But internally something else was happening.
"They still have very high levels of cortisol that had not changed from the first day," said Middlemiss.
Saliva tested on each infant showed their hormone stress levels remained just as high as if they were still crying.
Alyssa Goss refused to let two-and-a-half-year-old Henley cry it out for the very same reason, it didn't feel right.
"A baby who is crying in your arms doesn't have the same cortisol level that a baby left to crying an empty room does," said Gross.
She chose co-sleeping.
"I feel like you made a decision to have a baby and night parenting is part of it. Parenting doesn't stop at night," she said.
She says if anyone criticizes her decision, she has one response, look at her kids.
"I have very independent very do it themselves kind of child who are anything but mommy's kids," said Gross.
Don't worry if at this point you feel guilty for doing the cry it out method.
Another study out of the Journal of Pediatrics also supports the cry it out method. Babies were happy and loved their parents no matter what sleep style they chose.
"What I learned in the end it doesn't really matter. They are all fine. They all sleep and put themselves to bed and get up," said Jenni Elenniss, a mother.
Take that from a mother of five who tried all the methods. Now that's something that should have all parents sleeping easier.