Is 'crying it out' dangerous for children?

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PHOENIX -- It's an age-old debate. Should parents let their babies "cry it out"? Some say it's cruel. Others say they've had great success teaching their little ones to "self soothe."

According to an article published recently in Psychology Today, crying it out could actually be dangerous for children, potentially causing a lifetime of problems like anxiety issues, relationship issues and even ADHD.

Dr. Gerald Golner of Phoenix Pediatrics talked it through with Tess Rafols.

Golner said crying it out can be an effective method of teaching babies to sleep through the night and keeping down to reasonable times -- five or 10 minutes -- is "very unlikely to cause any problems." He said it's important to make sure the child knows that he or she has not been abandoned, which means intermittently checking in on the child, but not necessarily staying long.

The original idea behind letting babies cry it out was never to leave a crying baby indefinitely, Golner explained.

"I wouldn't consider doing anything dramatic until at least 6 months of age," Golner said, pointing out that there are many factors at play -- everything from boredom to hunger to a wet diaper to illness -- when a baby cries. "Most parents eventually have some instinct as to why their child is crying."

Still, pretty much everyone agrees that it's important for a babies to learn to sooth themselves back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night, and learn it sooner rather than later.

"Once you have a child who's much older -- say 2 years old -- and they are able to roam the house in the middle of the night … if they're in a crib, they're in a nice, safe place … so they are unlikely to do any harm to themselves."

For more information, visit www.phoenixpediatrics.com or call 602-242-5121.