Just spotted this illustration is out in the wild! Before I adventured off to Iceland, I got a nice little project from SooJin Buzelli to illustrate a piece for CIO for their feature on knowledge brokers. Lots of fun excuses to draw glowing pomegranates and get a little experimental with the marks.

Had a lot of fun with this one!

The CIO method is neglect. Infants cannot self soothe. I give a fuck if you’re offended. And anyway that wasn’t the point of the post but here :

1. The argument goes that if you leave an infant long enough to cry for you and don’t meet his needs, he’ll eventually “learn to self soothe.” This is code for “give up expecting you to care.” What a tough lesson to learn about your parents at a few months old!

2. Infant distress interferes with brain development. Studies have shown that stress releases extra cortisol in babies and destroys nerve connections in the brain. Some other parts of the brain affected by severe distress are the limbic system, the left hemisphere, and the corpus callosum. Additional areas that may be involved are the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex. Babies who suffer early trauma were also found to have smaller brains than normal babies.

3. Babies cry to express needs and if we fail to respond to them, we don’t meet their needs. A baby may cry because she has an ear infection, is hungry, is in pain from teething, is feeling lonely or is scared. When nobody comes to feed her, comfort her, reassure her or otherwise meet her needs she may give up crying but she is still hungry, sad, afraid or in pain. The only thing that is “better” is that parents get to sleep through it.

4. The fundamental message of CIO is that the parent’s needs and wants are more important than the baby’s.

5. Researchers found that during CIO, young children went through four predictable phases. The first phase, labeled “protest”, consisted of loud crying and extreme restlessness. The second phase, labeled “despair”, consisted of monotonous crying, inactivity, and steady withdrawal. The third phase, labeled “detachment”, consisted of a renewed interest in surroundings, albeit a remote, distant kind of interest. They concluded that while leaving babies to cry it out can lead to the eventual dissipation of those cries, it occurred due to the gradual development of apathy in the child. (J. Bowlby, “The Nature of the Child’s Tie to His Mother,” International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 39 (1958): 350-373.)

6. Researchers found that babies who had been raised with CIO methods were ten times more likely to have ADHD later in childhood. (Wolke, D, et al, Persistent Infant Crying and Hyperactivity Problems in Middle Childhood, Pediatrics, 2002; 109:1054-1060.)

7. Crying it out desensitizes parents to their babies. Babies’ cries are designed to be hard to listen to on purpose, so that parents will come to them and meet their needs. When parents have to listen to screams from the next room repeatedly and do nothing about them, they generally have to turn off their natural empathetic response and try to numb themselves to the sounds of their children in distress. There isn’t an easy on/off button to rebuild the natural connection during daytime or more convenient times.

8. One study found that babies who had been left to cry excessively (who did not have colic) later scored an average of 9 points lower on IQ tests and had fine motor delays. (M R Rao, et al; Long Term Cognitive Development in Children with Prolonged Crying, National Institutes of Health, Archives of Disease in Childhood 2004; 89:989-992.)

9. Other researchers found that infants with excessive crying during the early months showed more difficulty controlling their emotions and became even fussier when parents tried to console them at 10 months (Stifter and Spinrad, The Effect of Excessive Crying on the Development of Emotion Regulation, Infancy, 2002; 3(2), 133-152.). Still more research has shown that these babies have a more annoying quality to their cry, are more clingy during the day, and take longer to become independent as children (P. Heron, Non-Reactive Cosleeping and Child Behavior: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep All Night, Every Night, Master’s thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Bristol, 1994. ).

10. Richard Ferber himself (considered by many to be the father of the CIO movement), admitted in a 1999 New Yorker interview that “some children are untrainable” — they just won’t stop crying. Many cry until they vomit or pass out, but never reach that promised perfect ending. By the time parents realize that this method will never work for their babies, great harm has been done to them — physically, neurologically, emotionally and more. And for parents for whom it does “work,” at what cost?

The thing about CIO...

Is that most people have no idea what it is. Sometimes babies cry no matter what you try, and you can’t do anything about it. Anyone who acts like this has never happened to them is full of it.

For example:

If your baby cries all the way home from Whole Foods, because they don’t want to be in the backseat, and you don’t hold them in your lap instead of leaving them in their car seat, that is not crying it out. Not even if they cry themselves to sleep back there seconds before you get home.

If you’ve done everything to comfort your baby, and nothing has worked & you want to cry along with them because of your breastfeeding migraine, but you put them down for a minute to take some deep breaths, that is not crying it out. Not even if after two minutes they quit crying. That doesn’t mean they felt you “abandoned” them while sitting right there next to them. It probably means they were overstimulated, as infants can get, and needed to wind down.

If you are in the Navy Exchange, and your baby starts crying as you are walking to the checkout lane with all your crap, and you pay for all your stuff & put it in the car first instead of sprouting some extra arms Go Go Gadget style & feeding or changing them on the spot, that is not crying it out. (But it is a cartoon reference most of you are too young to get).

If you are home alone, and your baby has been cluster feeding all day long because of a growth spurt, and you are starving, dehydrated & exhausted not to mention running low on your milk supply, and you put them down for a minute to get something to eat & drink but they loudly protest, that is not crying it out.

If you have a postpartum appointment where your previously torn taint is getting checked, and you’re taking a shower while your baby peacefully naps, but then they start screaming because you aren’t holding them & still you finish washing and shaving your hairy werewolf genitals before drying off and running to them, that’s not crying it out. And I’m anticipating that happening to me today. I’ll let you know.

I just don’t want moms thinking that if their baby ever cries for any reason that they’re horrible parents. Not true. And not the same thing as ignoring your baby’s needs in order to make them “self soothe.”

Why I’m against the cry-it-out method for babies:

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is really bad for a baby’s brain, if they get too much of it for prolonged periods of time. They’re too young to know how to self soothe. (That comes later.) They’ve done studies that show that even if your baby keeps crying after you pick them up, being in your arms lowers the stress hormone in their brain. This is why I hold my baby every time he cries. It’s okay to take a breather if you need one. If my baby has been crying for hours, I don’t mind putting him down for 5-10 minutes (but usually my husband will comfort him too). But I won’t let my baby feel abandoned.


Didn’t have time to read the IT priorities survey I posted about on Wednesday?  Here is a quick video summarizing the results of Protiviti’s annual IT Priorities Survey.  If you’re interested in learning more, visit to download the full report and register for our upcoming seminar.