The Sears doctors chime in on CIO and other parenting topics

Ooh, just realized this is post #401 for me. Wow! That’s a lot of posting over the past couple years!

I’m not a big fan of Dr. Phil, but was happy to learn he was having the Sears doctors (Dr. William Sears and sons, Dr. James Sears and Dr. Robert Sears) on a show on Friday called “Young Moms Ask the Experts.” I didn’t get a chance to watch the episode, but I did read about it on Dr. Phil’s website and was happy with how it all unfolded.

The topics they covered ranged from PPD (postpartum depression) to discipline issues to bonding with your child to whether or not to let a baby CIO (cry it out) to SIDS to boosting children’s immune systems to colic and more. In my opinion, there was a lot of helpful information provided.

As most of you know, we’re a co-sleeping family and we don’t believe in CIO for our kids. Here are some things they mentioned on these subjects that I feel are particularly noteworthy:

On whether or not to let a baby (in this case, a 4 1/2 month old) CIO (cry it out):

Dr. Phil turns to Dr. Bob Sears. “What about this?” he asks. “Do you let them cry or do you not?”

“No, I don’t think you should let a baby cry it out,” says Dr. Sears, “and the most important thing is, Robert, who’s getting up with the baby during the night, anyway? Wendy is. So what do you care what she does? Let her go in there. Wendy, I applaud you for listening to your instincts and your intuition and going to your baby.”

Dr. Phil asks Dr. William Sears if he agrees.

“If your baby could talk, Wendy and Robert, here’s what he would say. ‘Hey, Mom and Dad, this is not working. I’m in a dark, quiet room, alone, behind bars*. I need to get close to you. I need to be in your bed, in a co-sleeper next to your bed, in your room somewhere,’” he says.

Next, Dr. Phil asks the Sears doctors to address a myth. “The myth is that if you let the child scream it out, it really develops their lungs,” he says.

“Absolutely wrong,” says Dr. William Sears.

Something I thought was particularly interesting to note:
“When a baby screams for 10, 20 minutes, or a half-hour night after night, what actually happens to the baby’s brain?” asks Dr. Bob Sears. “The blood pressure goes up. The pressure gets so high, new blood with oxygen can’t flow into the brain. So the brain can be deprived of oxygen, you guys. And that’s not all. It gets worse. The brain can be flooded with stress hormones, and we know that stress hormones can damage sensitive developing nerve tissue. So, night after night, weeks and weeks of crying can actually harm a baby’s brain. That’s why we encourage you both to respond to your maternal intuition. Robert, develop your fatherly intuition, so you can both really thrive as a family. Respond to your baby.”

Like I said, I felt like there was a lot of good information provided in this episode, but I don’t have the time to go into all of it. However, I am curious if anyone here (my readers) watched the episode? What are your thoughts?

Of course, I was happy to see the Searses suggest many of the things I believe in and choose to do with my children (which all really comes down to following my instincts). I think one of the most important things I’ve learned about parenting over the past 2 1/2 years is to follow my instincts whether it’s regarding sleep/CIO, feeding, discipline, health care, etc. If I trust myself to know what’s best for my child (whom I know better than anyone else), I usually feel good about my choices. :)

*For the record, the part about the baby being behind bars wasn’t meant that all babies that sleep in cribs feel like that way. It was meant in the context of if a baby is crying and crying and no one is coming to them, then it could feel like a prison. The Searses believe in whatever gets the whole family the most sleep (whether it be in a crib, in a co-sleeper or in a family bed). I think the main point they were trying to get across was that parents should respond to their babies.

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4 thoughts on “The Sears doctors chime in on CIO and other parenting topics

  1. i didn’t see that episode either, but i’m glad that Dr. Sears (and sons) were able to get that info out to the masses. i personally could never, never let a baby CIO :(

    Mothering mag. also had a great article a while back on “crying in arms” and how just holding a crying baby is way better than CIO

  2. I’m so glad you posted this!! I made a note to remind myself to watch it and completely forgot! I may post some of this on my web site – the cio part. How scary!! I cringe when I hear of parents doing that.

  3. Me too about CIO. I love Dr Phil and end up watching him mostly cause there’s nothing else on TV; he’s a good ole boy…

    But back to the point, I never let Aidan CIO, it seemed so wrong. I co-slept when he was newborn only for BFing convenience. Once he was in his own room in his own crib and he woke at night, I’d come in and stay by his side til he fell asleep, but did not take him out of his crib. Security for him, but teaching him that his crib is his sleeping place. He’s been the best sleeper since he was 2 months old!

    It was a great show and I was happy to see that Dr. Phil chose the Sears family to represent their point of view for infant advice.

  4. Pingback: Crunchy Domestic Goddess Year in Review - 2007 | Crunchy Domestic Goddess

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