Tag Archive | Family

Why I Won’t Make My Children Give Hugs or Kisses to ANYONE if They Don’t Want to

It’s seems so normal and innocent to tell our kids, “Now give grandma a kiss and hug for coming to your birthday party”, or “Hug your uncle to thank him for that gift!”, and then proceed to push them or maybe even force them to hugging or giving a kiss to whoever it might be. It never came to my mind before that forcing kids to show intimacy as a thank you or as a sign of respect or love (or for whatever other reasons we have) to other people is wrong until I read an article about it years ago.

In our minds we think family members or maybe even close friends have the right to be shown intimacies like hugs and kisses from our children. “Why won’t you hug your grandma? That’s not very nice!”. Do we want to shame our kids into showing intimacy? Because if we punish them or demean them for this personal choice we are taking away their right to consent. We are teaching them that they don’t have power over their bodies and that decisions about their bodies and intimacy are not their own. It seems crazy to think about this, especially if you are hearing this view of these circumstances for the first time, but the truth is NOBODY has the right or privilege to force our children to show them intimacy if the child is uncomfortable with it. Not even grandma. Not even mom or dad!

This is a separate issue from discipline and misbehavior. A child making a decision about other people touching, kissing, or hugging them is not a behavioral issue, it is a human rights issue. I am trying to say that a when a child is exercising her or his right to consent that it should not be deemed as a misbehavior and that if the child refuses to give or receive intimacy it should not be an offense, it should not be punishable, and it should not be looked down on.

I know I grew up feeling and thinking that grandparents deserved hugs and kisses, and even though I had no problem with showing my grandparents love in this way (at least not that I can remember), I still also remember feeling that I didn’t have a choice even if I didn’t want to hug and kiss them, and that it was expected from me. I’m not complaining, and I personally love giving affection to family and friends, (even other people I don’t know as well if they need a hug or a friendly pat on the back and if i know that both myself and the person are comfortable with that). I am just realizing what I want my children to learn more than anything and what I want them to use their whole lives: Their personal power and their rights as humans, most especially the right to consent and the right to feel however they want without other people negatively effecting their choices and emotions.

If you really love somebody and respect them than you wouldn’t force them to do things they are uncomfortable with or that they just don’t feel like doing. We can ask our children instead to just say “thank you” or to use some other verbal consideration appropriate to the situation, because really, that should be enough.

I don’t want to teach my children that to show love or respect to someone that they have to do things they don’t really want to do. The weird thing is that you see these types of situations everywhere, even in movies and TV shows. There will be a “funny” part in a movie where a young boy is dreading a kiss from his old smelly aunt or some other family member, and then is totally grossed out after they are forced or shamed into giving or receiving the dreaded hugs or kisses.

For example: It shouldn’t be considered rude to decline receiving a hug or kiss from your aunt Mildred, it should be considered rude for your aunt Mildred to expect or demand it from you no matter how you are feeling about it.

Every child is different, and you can’t say whether or not the child will learn the different social aspects of consent and the variables of sexual situations versus what our society thinks as normal “family or close friend” social interactions. You can’t say whether or not a child will internalize the idea that consent is not their own or anyone else’s and whether or not they will respect the words “no” or “stop” if they hear it from another person. It is completely possible that they might learn to feel uncomfortable verbalizing or become unable to verbally express their feelings concerning their personal consent and that they may find it harder to say “no” or “stop” to others. It is possible that the child will grow to completely understand when and where consent needs to be given and that they won’t have any issues with saying or hearing the word “no”.

It is also completely possible that we are setting up hurtful and damaging situations as extreme as rape and/or molestation. the reason this may be happening is because many of us might not be teaching our children from a very young age that only they have power over their own bodies, that only they can give consent to people touching, kissing, or hugging them, that they can not expect anything physical from others without having that person’s consent, and that the same goes for EVERY human being in ANY circumstance.

We have to show children that they are respected and loved starting with these seemingly small steps (not making them hug grandma or making them feel bad that they didn’t hug grandma for example), because ultimately they can make a big difference in our children’s lives and in our society as a whole. Children are people who have rights and feelings that need to be respected in all circumstances. It is our job to not only discipline our children and teach them right from wrong, but to empower them as people, and to help them flourish and thrive in order to live happy lives. One of the best ways we can do that is by teaching them the personal power and human right of consent.

April Birthdays and Pregnancy Reflections

BFP at 12dpo, my first positive test!

BFP at 12dpo, my first positive test!

I have been counting down to April using special events as markers of progress or milestones reached, most of which were holidays or fun events for our family to do with Elena. The first half was slow until we reached the holidays and time seemed to go a little faster, and even faster after the New Year.

Looking back on this pregnancy, I see a long and tough first trimester with things turning around at the very beginning of the third trimester. I was having horrible morning sickness all day and night and most of the time I was dead tired and could pretty much sleep any time any where. My husband really helped me through by stepping up and taking over the kitchen completely, becoming the family chef and dish washer, and being a great daddy.

He really came through for Elena’s 2nd Birthday Party in September (as he always does), and even though he got really sick that day himself, but through our misery I got so much joy from seeing Elena have fun and from being with my most wonderful family at the park in the shade.

We conceived our baby in July, and I announced that we were pregnant in August when I got my first real positive test and everyone (my family) was driving to Santa Cruz that day, while we were fixed to leave the next day. Those early weeks were so awesome food wise because I was not yet sick and I was putting away food like an elephant! And speaking of elephant as we made our way to Santa Cruz that next day we had the best lunch at the Ele.phant Bar in a back room alone where we enjoyed ourselves and Elena could be her toddler self.

When I saw her on the beach looking at the ocean for the first time, she was so so excited and happy that it is a moment I will never forget and I have been dying to go back to the beach ever since! She also had a blast on the rides and we got a lot of video of her sweet smiles and waving at us.

In October it was Elena’s first time trick or treating and she was a pro, dressed as Rapunzel with a jack-o-lantern candy bag. She has been candy obsessed ever since I got pregnant really, since I was too tired to be super strict about it. Vlad also celebrated is 32nd birthday that night and we all had a lot of fun.

I cooked a feast for Thanksgiving including stuffing, ham, green bean casserole, a couple other dishes, and hubby made a most succulent turkey. My dad and grandpa came over to eat and later we got to go to my aunt’s for more great family and food. I was so happy that I was able to eat and not feeling as sick at that point, though I was completely exhausted!

In December I bought tons of dollar store Christmas decor for our tree and apartment. I made a gingerbread house and cookies with Elena, though she was interested more in eating the candy than decorating with it. We watched lots of Christmas movies and Elena’s first song sung ever ended up being Santa Claus is Coming to town, to which she would add the words, “to bring presents me!”. Too adorable! Seeing her open her own gifts Christmas morning and being excited was also something I will never forget. We rung in the New Year at my mom’s and I was really wishing I could have had some wine or champagne that night.

For Valentines Day my grandma and mom joined Elena, hubby and I to Dis.ney on ice which featured Elena’s favorite princesses. Too much cotton candy made an intermission meltdown, but we made it through without a scratch lol. She was so cute though, clapping and turning around to make sure that every single one of us was clapping too! When Vlad and I took Elena to the ice show the first time it was much more of a success in that there was no meltdown and it was a great first family moment. That first show was around her birthday sometime in the fall.

I had been telling Elena throughout the pregnancy that baby Vera would come out after the Easter Bunny came to hide eggs, so March was a huge milestone to pass up in this pregnancy. We colored eggs for the first time together in our kitchen the night before Easter, and Elena was very proud of them. We had the best Easter morning at my mom’s with an amazing home-made breakfast. It was a relaxing Easter morning and the sky was gorgeous and heavenly after a night of a thunder and lightning rain storm. Then we went exploring Old Sac with Vlad’s best friends and Elena’s God papa and had a nice seafood dinner.

Throughout my pregnancy I have been worried about Elena and making sure I do lots of fun things for her before the baby is born. Reflecting on this pregnancy has really given me a better perspective because it is so hard to see the big picture on a day-to-day basis when I want some time for myself, or having to take time to clean the apartment, and some days not making it to the park or even making it outside on some days. But looking back now I can see that I have been putting her first the whole time, and I am still trying.

My birthday marked the very last milestone I was waiting to get to before the baby is born because it also marked the beginning of week 38! Elena was born during my 39th week of pregnancy. I was hoping for some special moments with her yesterday on my birthday and we definitely got some memorable ones. My mom took us to pick up the cake and then my family just relaxed and drank tea here while the kids played for a while. Then we were outside and Elena was throwing things in the duck pond, got too close, and fell in for the first time! Poor thing! At least it was shallow, she sort of walked/tripped into the water up to her chest.

Probably the best moments for her and I were relaxing on the couch after her bath, and then this morning when she woke up happy and calm and we just stayed in bed for a while chatting and cuddling. I told her that baby Vera was getting big and that she would come out soon and she replied, “No she not big, just little!”. And she is right, though I know Vera has been growing because I woke up to some new birthday stretch marks yesterday ha ha! She really likes my left side, and she was a very busy girl after 10:00 last night.

Before my birthday I was so worried about how hard and stressful things might be with Elena after the baby is born, but I’m not any more. I feel like she will be a wonderful big sister and that the welcoming of Vera into our family will be a smooth and happy one. I am looking forward to her birth and my husband and doula being by my side. The next big thing for Elena will be meeting her baby sister for the first time, and I can’t wait to see how happy and fascinated she will be with baby Vera!

Belly shots at 37 weeks!

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37weeks_side

37 weeks pregnant and the countdown is really on! My bellybutton is popped out a lot and the spot where my belly piercing was looks like a little slit that is about an inch above my bellybutton now. I have a small stretch-mark that runs up along that area and I wonder if it’s there because I took my piercing out too late in my last pregnancy or if I would have gotten a stretch-mark there regardless. Either way I am not too concerned, I don’t have any new stretch-marks, but I did get some bad varicose veins in my right leg again! They went away after my last pregnancy, so hopefully they will disappear again after this pregnancy!.

At my doctor’s visit I was “a fingertip dilated and 80% effaced”, not that this information tells me much about when I will give birth seeing as a woman could have a closed cervix in the morning and have her baby later that night! Or a mom could be dilated to four centimeters for three weeks or longer without any other signs of birth! So I am not concerned with this info, nor do I care to have any more pelvic exams. The OBs have not been particularly gentle, and I don’t want anything getting messed with in there! The OB said Vera’s head was very low, she has been head down for a while now which I am happy about. If she decides to come early or even around my due date than I have about 20 days or less till I go into labor!

When I asked the office staff if I could opt out of pelvic exams they actually had to go back and ask if it was ok. It turns out it is ok, but they were really hush hush and acting like it was a big secret or something. Is it that big of a deal to refuse a pelvic exam? They can tell how my baby is doing from measurements of my belly and by the baby’s heartbeat, so I don’t see a problem with it now. I also hope they weren’t too surprised when I asked for a female doctor for my appointment next week, the reason is because I don’t really like the male OB that my appointment was scheduled with, it is so not so much the fact that he is a man. He was just to distracting, asking a bunch of questions about my tattoo instead of giving me information about the baby. I love the last OB I saw, she took a lot of time with me this last visit and she listened to the heartbeat for a good while, so that totally made up for the last appointment. And she was really excited for me! So that was a nice feeling and affirmation that Vera is getting closer to entering the world!

I have still been nesting like crazy, cleaning, organizing and preparing as much as I can. It’s so fun and feels great when I accomplish a “nesting goal” now, and I am so thankful that I am not dead tired like I was in the beginning and middle of pregnancy. Not that I don’t have some dead tired days right now, but it is much better than it was, I am able to function! Time for more nesting today and some more precious quality time with Elena!

Me and PPD (Postpartum Depression)

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My daughter and I during Thanksgiving at 13 months postpartum, loving life!

 

When I was a kid I had severe anxiety and some insomnia off and on until the end of high school. I never knew that it was a type of depression until I was in college and I was reading about the different types. Nobody knew about any of it except my parents who I once disclosed my horrifying fears to, but they had no idea what was going on. My dad replied that if it kept happening that they would take me to a priest, so that shows how much knowledge they had about anxiety and depression in children. Sometimes my fears and anxiety would be paralyzing at night and I would lie awake practically until morning. My mom took me to talk to the school counselor in grade school and he talked about how I could imagine that noises I heard at night were just the cat outside or the wind or whatever, but I only saw him that one time and he didn’t help me. My mom doesn’t even remember any of this when I talk about it now, except for the fact that I could never spend the night at any of my friend’s houses as a kid, and if I did I would never sleep.

So when I became pregnant for the first time I knew I was at risk for PPD. My anxiety started up again toward the end of my pregnancy and I recognized the same fears and emotions I had as a child. The worst of it was after I delivered my daughter, it was very scary at night, so scary that I can’t disclose my thoughts or feelings that were happening to anyone except the therapists and support group that I was seeing. To this day my husband doesn’t believe that I even had PPD, and I think it is because I act so normal on the outside while I deal with everything on the inside alone, just like I had done as a kid. I never took medication for it because the worst of it ended after about the first month or so, but I wasn’t completely normal again until about nine months after I had delivered my daughter. I don’t trust those meds and all of the scary side-effects they can have. In the end PPD became my number one fear, really my only fear, about having children.

Right now I am researching ways to prevent PPD. Getting a lot of sleep, encapsulating my placenta, and keeping my diet healthy are what I plan on doing. I also need to get in touch with a good therapist and support group which helped me so greatly before. Even joining a mother’s group or breastfeeding group will help so much. I was a part of a breastfeeding group led by a wonderful RN when I was living in the bay area. She had also experienced PPD and we were able to talk and share thoughts and fears, which helped me so much. You just want to know that you are not going crazy and that you are not alone and what you are going through is normal for many mothers, at least that is what I needed.

I have had some down days and some mild anxiety up to this point, but I am worried that it will get worse. However I do not expect it to be as bad as it was the first time. I have a lot more good things going for me now: I no longer live with my intrusive mother in law, and I live just minutes away from my family instead of hours. I wish my husband could understand this about me, but it’s difficult for him for some reason. I am praying that the placenta capsules will do wonders for me, and I plan on writing a post about the benefits the capsules have for mothers and their babies. Meanwhile I am doing well, I have emotional days, but overall I am very happy and loving my life and I feel extremely blessed by what the universe and what God has given me.

Normalizing Breastfeeding For Older Children Will Help Our Society View’s of Breastfeeding and of Women

breastfeeding

breastfeeding (Photo credit: sdminor81)

I just saw a post on Babycenter by a woman who is concerned about breastfeeding around her ten year old son. Some women had some great comments, such as one woman who said:

“I think it’s so important to nurse our babies in front of our other kids, especially boys. It normalizes breastfeeding, and teaches them a healthy attitude about what breasts are for. I was 17, and my little brother was 11, when my parents had our little brother. My Mom didn’t think twice about breastfeeding in front of us. My brother was never uncomfortable about it, and to this day doesn’t bat an eye about women breastfeeding their babies. He is 24 now, and so respectful of women who BF, and I really think that it is because of the experience of watching my Mom BF our brother that he has such a healthy attitude towards it.I think if you try to be discreet, or hide it all together, that it really sends the wrong message. Any discomfort he or you may feel in the beginning will be very short lived. It will become just a normal part of everyday life. I would just be as nonchalant about it as possible. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable he will be.”

Another woman said that if you normalize breastfeeding for older children, it becomes a normal and natural thing instead of a weird gross thing, which unfortunately is the majority of our society’s view on breastfeeding.

I remember one time a guy I was dating asked me why he loved breasts so much, and I said it was probably because breasts are what he needed to feed his future babies, and he agreed because, well, it’s the truth! The reasons men and women are attracted to each other are all linked to fertility. Not feeding our babies the best nourishment in the world because we only view breasts as sexual objects is a major crime! Especially because the reason you are attracted to them in the first place is because they are a sign of fertility and will feed your babies!

I intend to add more research to this, but I really believe that if we make breastfeeding a normal and natural thing for older kids that our children will have more respect for themselves and for each other. Men would have more respect for women when they can view breasts as something more than sexual objects, and woman will also stop degrading themselves and feeling so uncomfortable about their bodies.

Fear of Miscarriage | Ask Dr. Sears®

Fear of Miscarriage

It’s normal to fear the loss of a treasured person, especially when that little person is the baby growing inside you. You may find yourself checking for bleeding or spotting every time you go to the bathroom. This is a normal reaction, especially for mothers who have previous miscarriages.

Don’t worry that every spot of blood or abdominal cramp signals miscarriage. Many women with healthy pregnancies show light bleeding (called implantation bleeding) early in pregnancy as baby is implanting into the blood-vessel-rich lining of the uterus.

What is a miscarriage? Miscarriage – the medical term is “spontaneous abortion”—means the natural loss of the pregnancy before the fetus is developed enough to survive outside the womb. If a miscarriage occurs before twelve weeks it is called an early miscarriage. If it occurs between twelve and twenty weeks it is called a late miscarriage. The loss of a baby after twenty weeks is termed a stillbirth.

Why do miscarriages occur? At least half of all early miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus so severe that growth cannot continue. Other, less common causes of early miscarriages include infections, endocrine deficiencies (especially of progesterone), rare immune system abnormalities (mother makes antibodies against the placental tissue), and exposure to environmental toxins (such as teratogens), drugs, or cigarette smoke.

Late miscarriages are more likely to be due to structural abnormalities of the uterus (for example, a uterus divided by a wall of tissue) rather than genetic abnormalities in the baby. Fortunately, these abnormalities affect less than one percent of women. Other causes of late miscarriages are abnormal attachment of placenta, uterine fibroids (benign tumors), an incompetent cervix, infections, or endocrine disturbances.

For around a third of all miscarriages, the cause is unknown. Miscarriages are not caused by sexual intercourse, safe exercises, heavy lifting, hanging pictures, doing your usual amount of work and play, a minor fall or accident, or stress or emotional upsets.

When are miscarriages most likely to occur? Most miscarriages occur before the eighth week of pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, the chance of miscarriage decreases.

How common are miscarriages? Most pregnancies begin with a healthy fetus, growing in a normal uterus, and result in a healthy baby. Studies have shown that around 10 percent of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. Very early in pregnancy, however, miscarriage may be confused with an unusually heavy, late menstrual period. So the general figure for all miscarriages is thought to be around 20 percent.

Can I reduce the chance of miscarriage? In most cases there is nothing you can do to prevent miscarriage, as most are caused by factors out of your control. There are, however, a few things you can do for your baby: give baby a healthy womb environment, refraining especially from smoking and harmful drugs, excessive alcohol, and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins.

What if I’ve had miscarriages? If you have had several miscarriages, your doctor will probably want to do special tests to see if a cause can be found. In many cases, he or she can help you achieve a pregnancy that goes to term. Structural abnormalities can be corrected by surgery. Hormone deficiency can often be compensated for by injections. Medical science has solutions for many of the common – and not so common – causes of repeated miscarriage.

TWO SERIOUS WARNING SIGNS FOR A MISCARRIAGE

1. Bleeding (either bright red or dark brown, depending on how recently the miscarriage began). As many as 20 percent of women with healthy pregnancies may have one or two episodes of spotting or light vaginal bleeding early in pregnancy, so a bloody discharge from the vagina does not necessarily mean a miscarriage has or will occur. Bleeding that is as heavy as a menstrual period or that continues for several days is more likely to be associated with a miscarriage.

2. Cramping abdominal pains, similar to menstrual pains, and/or a low backache

UNDERSTANDING A THREATENED MISCARRIAGE

Later in pregnancy a miscarriage will be more obvious. The bleeding is heavier, and often includes the passage of clots. Uterine contractions can become very intense. Sometimes these signs and symptoms signal an impending miscarriage – called a threatened miscarriage – rather than a completed one. In general, the longer the bleeding occurs and the greater the accompanying symptoms of pain, the more likely this pregnancy will end in miscarriage.

Call your doctor if you suspect a miscarriage. If you suspect you’re having a miscarriage, call your healthcare provider immediately, especially if you are passing clots or grayish-pink tissue. If your bleeding is heavy and persistent, or your pelvic pains intensify, go to your nearest emergency room. (Try to collect some of the tissue in a jar. It can be examined to confirm the presence of fetal tissue and, if desired, to determine whether or not the genetic make-up of the tissue is normal.)

If you have miscarried – your practitioner will perform a vaginal examination to determine whether the miscarriage is complete (you have passed all the tissue) or incomplete (some of the fetal tissue still remains in your uterus). Miscarriages that occur prior to eight weeks are usually complete. The later in pregnancy a miscarriage occurs, the more likely it is to be incomplete. If your healthcare provider determines that your miscarriage is incomplete, he or she will probably want you to have a D&C (dilatation and curettage). While you are under general anesthesia, your cervix will be dilated and any retained placental or fetal tissue is removed. During this procedure the doctor may attempt to determine the possible cause of the miscarriage by examining your uterus for any structural abnormalities. He or she may also send a sample of the fetal tissue to a laboratory for genetic analysis. Since there are many other reasons for vaginal bleeding, your doctor may choose to do an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis of miscarriage before doing a D&C.

If you have not miscarried – your doctor may just send you home. Or he or she may monitor you with ultrasound and blood tests.

ONE MISCARRIAGE DOES NOT LEAD TO ANOTHER

If this was your first known miscarriage, your risk of having a second one is only slightly higher than if you never had a miscarriage, especially if your first miscarriage showed a chromosomal abnormality, it occurred early in pregnancy, or you have previously given birth to a healthy baby. Even after experiencing two miscarriages, your chances of having a third one are not much higher than if you never had one. For example, if you have had two miscarriages, you have a 65 percent chance of carrying your next baby to term; a woman who has never miscarried or has had only one miscarriage has roughly an 80 percent chance of carrying to term. After three miscarriages, however, your chances of carrying your next baby to term go down to 50 percent. After three consecutive miscarriages, you would be wise to have a complete obstetrical evaluation to see if there are any underlying medical reasons that could cause you to have future miscarriages. If no reason can be found, you may reasonably assume that you still have an excellent chance of delivering a healthy baby.

via Fear of Miscarriage | Ask Dr. Sears®.

 

Breaking News: New Study does NOT show ‘Sleep Training Babies Causes no Lasting Damage’ « www.babycalm.co.uk

 

Breaking News: New Study does NOT show ‘Sleep Training Babies Causes no Lasting Damage’ « www.babycalm.co.uk.

Yesterday a new study appeared in the AAP’s journal Pediatrics which effectively declared controlled crying to have no ill effects for babies (or parents for that matter). The study was understandably pounced on by the mainstream media and my email hasn’t stopped pinging for the last 24hrs!

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I have spent the last day trying to get hold of the full paper, not least because I have confidently announced in my imminently to be published book that I don’t believe controlled crying (and other sleep training) is consistent with the needs of babies and that to date no (good quality) research has (in my opinion) proven its lack of lasting damage, talk about timing hey?! More than that though I genuinely cannot understand how any research worth its weight can confidently say that there are no lasting effects of this form of detachment parenting. So anyway I’d like to say a big thank you to Cathy for sending me the full paper today.

I’d like to get this blog up as quickly as possible, so bear with me as in all likelihood this means it will be incredibly badly written and read like a bit of a stream of my thoughts as I read through the paper. I’ll do my best to sum up at the end.

The study opens with this paragraph:

“Behavioral techniques effectively reduce infant sleep problems and associated maternal depression in the short- to medium-term (4–16 months’ postintervention). Despite their effectiveness, theoretical concerns persist about long-term harm on children’s emotional development, stress regulation, mental health, and the child-parent relationship. “

Behavioral sleep techniques did not cause long-lasting harms or benefits to child, child-parent, or maternal outcomes. Parents and health professionals can feel comfortable about using these techniques to reduce the population burden of infant sleep problems and maternal depression.”

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Potential Methodology Issues Not addressed in the Study:

  • Sleep problems were ‘parent reported’, at 7mths a questionnaire was given with the question “Over the last 2 weeks has your child’s sleep generally been a problem for you?” 47% of respondents answered ‘yes’ and thus became eligible for trial inclusion. The ‘problem’ was not elaborated upon and I would have liked to have seen more questioning to ascertain exactly what the problems were, what had been tried until that point, what information the parents had received and what support had they received up until that point in those first important 7months as this time period could have a big effect.
  • The sample (out of those reported sleep problems) was selected by the researchers, I can find no mention of how they were selected and what other criteria was looked into in terms of the infant’s/family history/psychological wellbeing until that point.
  • Parents must have been open to the idea of sleep training to agree enrollment in the study, would this therefore mean that their opinions/beliefs were reflected in other parenting practices?
  • Training was carried out on babies 8-10months of age so cannot be applied to any infants younger than this. It also does not tell us the effects of training on older children/toddlers.
  • Parents were able to choose the type of sleep training used – either gradual extinction (what you and I know as controlled crying) or gradual withdrawal (parent starting out sitting with child and moving further away but involving no crying) – though no distinction was made between the type of sleep training used and later impact in the results.
  • Control/Intervention group allocation was blinded only to researchers not parents (understandably it would be tricky to be blinded to parents – but I wonder how knowledge that they were in the intervention group affected parental perception).
  • The control group visited the same nurses and were free to ask for sleep advice, but the nurses in these control groups were not trained to offer specific sleep training advice, however what advice did they give? Pretty much any parent I know could give controlled crying instructions without special training, do we know that they didn’t give similar advice to the intervention group? I cannot find this information out and to me from this point in the study loses all credibility for me – Do we know what the control group did sleep wise? We know they reported that they had had a problem with their child’s sleep in order to enter the study, so it’s pretty likely that they would want to do *something* – were they followed up and questioned and asked exactly what they did do? Again I can find no mention – How do we know that a large majority of the control group DIDN’T sleep train?
  • Outcomes were measure by cortisol samples, taken at 6yrs of age (why on earth would they take them at 6year of age?! I find this very confusing and not at all relevant? From what I can see the first follow up – and potential cortisol testing was at 10 months, yet the concerns over stress to infants from sleep training is during and in the immediate aftermath of the training, a sample taken 2 months up to 5 years later seems bizarre? Where is the cortisol sample DURING and IMMEDIATELY after the training? This is the one that matters IMO).
  • Child emotional questionnaires and ‘quality of life’ questionnaires were parent reported (and occasionally child reported) – meaning that parents filled in the questionnaires giving their own opinions. We know questionnaire reporting is notoriously unreliable with two main factors – 1) wanting to tell the investigator what they want to hear and 2) sticking to ‘middle of the road’ answers, i will add in 3) here – what parent will want to report that they feel their child has an emotional/behavioural difficulty? Especially not when they have been enrolled into a trial looking into the effects their early parenting may have had upon these. I find it very hard to determine whether the measures of psychological wellbeing were all parent reported as the results are very vague, but if I were to make an assumption I would guess that the majority were parent reported. Child reporting surely would include bias – what child would say negative things about their parents in front of said parents?
  • In terms of parenting style (and thus I presume eluding to bonding too?) the researchers appear to feel that “authoritative parenting” (high warmth, high control) is optimal parenting whereas what they call permissive parenting (high warmth, low control) is sub-optimal. I would argue that having “high control” over children is NOT optimal parenting, or indeed respectful parenting and am not convinced at all that highly controlling parents are those exhibiting the most healthy parenting style. I would like to see how they define “high and low control” and look to see how many initial “permissive parents” morphed into “authoritative parents” from the intervention group as a result of the training undertaken, this information though is not provided.
  • Nearly a third of the sample were lost to follow up (31%) – that’s a BIG number and a major limitation – what if they didn’t agree/respond to follow up because they found the intervention traumatic/it didn’t work for them/it went against their instinct?

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Perhaps the most interesting part of this research to me those is this:

“There was no evidence that a population based targeted intervention that effectively reduced parent-reported sleep problems and maternal depression during infancy had long-lasting harmful or beneficial effects on child, childparent, or maternal outcomes by 6 years of age. Thus, this trial indicates that behavioral techniques are safe to use in the long-term to at least 5 years.”

Read that again, I’m pretty certain I dispute their claim that it has no long lasting harmful effects given the parental reporting, strange timing of cortisol testing, lack of information on what techniques the control group used, promotion of authoritative/controlling parenting as the optimum type, lack of information of life before 7 months of age (or in fact not much about life afterwards aside from financial questioning – what about childcare for a start) and lack of in-depth information about bonding (why no Ainsworth ‘Strange Situation’ type testing?). No the most interesting part to me is even with all of the above limitations in mind this research tells us there are NO LASTING BENEFITS to sleep training……Now which paper picked up on that then?! No, thought not.

So what DOES the research tell us?

  • There is still NO evidence that shows controlled crying under 8 months of age has no ill effects
  • The results did NOT differentiate between the different types of sleep training used (e.g: No Cry V Crying related options) in the results, therefore we do not know about the individual methods and their outcomes, only ‘sleep training’ as a broad label of many different types of training.
  • That sleep training does NOT have lasting positive effects on a child’s sleep behaviour
  • That nearly 50% of parents still have problems with their baby’s sleep by 7months of age (hey, perhaps that’s because it is NORMAL infant sleep and our expectations are incorrect)
  • That 31% of parents for some reason did not agree to follow up with the researchers
  • That parents tell researchers that they did not feel that sleep training affected their child negatively (tell me something new).
  • That controlled crying DOES work in the short term (I don’t think this has ever been disputed?).
  • That concerns over the effect of controlled crying on babies are still very valid, particularly in light of the recent Middlemiss study (that measured cortisol levels DURING training, not 5yrs later!) – A good summary of the concerns of sleep training can be read HERE.
  • That a whole lot more health professionals and  ’baby experts’ are going to use this as arsenal to tell parents that there are no concerns with sleep training involving baby crying, that it’s a good thing to do, even if it feels wrong to them, as parents, to do it.

Sigh………..

by:

Sarah Ockwell-Smith – Mum to Four, Parenting Author and Founder of BabyCalm Ltd

http://www.babycalm.co.uk

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BabyCalm: A guide for calmer babies and happier parents released October 4th –pre-order your copy HERE with FREE worldwide postage

Reference:

Price. A, Wake. M, Ukoumunne. O and Hiscock. H. ’Five-Year Follow-up of Harms and Benefits of Behavioral Infant Sleep Intervention: Randomized Trial’ Pediatrics;  September 10, 2012;