Arguably the one parenting method no one likes to talk about, much less attempt, is the "cry it out" sleep training method. Who likes to listen to a baby cry, right? If crying means sadness and our baby is crying, they're sad, right? Well, not always. While we tend to associate sadness with crying, because we're conditioned adults, there are countless reasons why a baby cries. Knowing that, I can't help but wonder what babies think when they're crying it out? Are they crying out of anger that their mom or dad isn't doing what they want them to do? Are they crying because they're tired? Because they're hungry? Because they're sad? What are they thinking?
Many parents have so many feelings about "crying it out." Some swear by it, and credit "crying it out" for their peaceful nights of much-needed sleep. Others don't agree with the method which, of course, is their right. In the end, no matter what you do, someone is going to have some thoughts about it. But what about babies? What do the babies think about it? Of course, there's no way of knowing, as they lack the ability to articulate their thoughts in a way we can understand (which could be a good thing or a bad thing), so we're left to our own parenting devices, which usually means our minds will wander when it's the middle of the night and we're up with our babes.
So, in the name of sleep-less nights where I was left wondering what my baby was thinking while we let her "cry it out," here's what I think is going through a baby's mind when they're being sleep trained. As assumed, I think it's much harder for parents than it is for babies.
"Hey, Where Did You Go?"
I mean, it must be a tad confusing for the person your baby is the most used to (arguably, the person who comprises the majority of your baby's very small world) up and leaves. I get confused when my favorite show is no longer on Netflix, so I think this initial reaction is pretty fair.
"Um, It's Not My Bedtime Yet, Lady..."
It's no secret that babies come with their own schedules, and while creating a bedtime routine is really beneficial and can usually assist your baby in getting the sleep they need (and you need), it doesn't always turn out the way you want it to. Your little one might insist that, no, it is not time for bed no matter what it says on that schedule you optimistically made.
"It's Still Light Outside!"
I mean, I tried to use the light outside as a reason why I didn't have to go to bed or take naps or come home when I was in high school, so this is fair. This is also why parenting experts suggest that you create an environment that simulates or mimics night time, so that your kid can associated darkness with sleep.
"My Stuffed Animal Is Giving Me The Evil Eye, So You Need To Do Something About That"
Alright, this might just be me talking, because I think back to horror movies that have turned adorable stuffed animals into evil, malicious harbingers of death, but I wouldn't blame any child for being freaked out by their stuffed animals at night. Like, this is a legitimate fear for adults.
"OK, This Is Not How We Do Things..."
I can only imagine that an exit from the womb into the big, wide world is a weird experience, in and of itself. So, really, it's not too farfetched to assume my baby was thinking the following during our sleep training experience:
"I was perfectly comfortable in your tummy and now I'm out here where it's colder and everything is weird. I'm not entirely sure why I'm out here but I'm not so sure I like it either. This is not how I thought it was supposed to be."
"...And I Did Not Sign Up For This."
Remember that deal we made, mom? The one when I was in your womb that said, "I will always give you absolutely everything you want as soon as you want it"? Yeah, what happened to that? You need to keep your end of the deal, lady.
"I'm Telling My Pooh Bear About This Tomorrow Morning, Mark My Words"
We all had favorite stuffed animals growing up and our children are no different. My daughter's favorite is her Winnie the Pooh that we first got her at Disney when I was pregnant. She carries that bear everywhere no matter how old she's gotten (which scientists have proven is actually healthy) and cuddles him any time she can. I swear he knows all her secrets.
"You Know, Actually, This Is Kind Of Nice..."
Well, duh! I always enjoy my quiet time, so it makes sense that my daughter would enjoy hers, too. Any time I get to be by myself, where I can be alone with my thoughts to just read and relax, is a good time. In my daughter's case, I guess this could be quite time just to relax and play without someone around to say, "No, don't do that."
"...And It's Pretty Calm..."
Is this what it's like after a hurricane? The calm that comes directly after a storm has passed? You know, this is a lot like what it was like when I was in the womb, actually. Warm, quiet, getting darker. Wait, is this a bigger womb?
"...And I'm Kind Of Tired..."
Why am I yawning so much and why do I suddenly feel the need to rub my eyes so much? Uh oh. This can't be working. I cannot let mom win. I. Can. Not.
"Maybe I'll Just Lie Down For A Minute..."
Well, while we're thinking of a new idea, I guess it wouldn't hurt to just lay down and close my eyes. I think better that way after all.
That's when they're definitely done, but they don't quite get this far because, well, they give in to the ever tempting sleep.
"...But Don't Think I'm Going To Make It This Easy For You Tomorrow!"
With a sleepy yawn and heavy eyes, your baby just might, and probably a little unwillingly, give in. According to baby sleep experts, the "unwillingly" part is not unusual. It can often happen because of different situations that the baby is in. Don't worry, though, they'll be back at it again.