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  • Megan

Why I Don't Believe in the Extinction Method ("Cry-it-out") for sleep training.

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

As a postpartum doula, my primary tenant is to support the family's needs based on their values. That said, implementing the Extinction method for sleep training a newborn or young infant is outside of my values and a deal breaker for my services. Here's why:

  • Human beings are a social species meant to support one another through physical contact in families and communities

  • Newborns act on need to survive - crying is their most obvious form of communication to have their needs met

  • We all begin as beings inside our mother's womb - a safe and warm place where we receive protection and nourishment for ~40 weeks - and then we are earthside and everything is cold, loud, and bright. We no longer feel that constant contact (thus swaddling a newborn and doing skin-to-skin), but we still need it.

  • Babies and young children rely on their parents to care for them in the ways that they are not yet capable. To deny a baby or child of comfort in moments of relative distress (no matter how small it may seem to us as rational and fully developed adults) is cruel.

As a mother, I understand the agony that comes with not being able to comfort our child enough for their tears to stop and the feeling of hopelessness paired with pure exhaustion. I look back on those deparate times now and recognize how truly hard it was and how I wish I had a doula there to help. As a mother to my second born, Wendy, knowing how fleeting these early years are, I just surrender to it fully. I remember thinking, when she was a newborn, "I can stay up with you all night", and I did a lot - and sometimes I suffered - but it's rare now. All I can say is that this phase is temporary, and even if your baby doesn't stop crying when you're holding them, just know that you are providing them with love and comfort that all humans need and deserve.

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