“Cry-It-Out” iPhone App Makes Me Want to Weep


The saying “there’s an app for everything” has become part of our cultural vernacular, and while some apps serve great purposes and provide handy information, the one I’m referring to in this post should have never been created, as it reduces parenting to dismissive gadgetry. Sadly, now you can use your iPhone to monitor your baby’s “cry-it-out” sessions. Adding insult to injury (such as the possible ensuing brain damage that the cry-it-out method may cause a child), the app bears the blasé title: “Ciao Baby.” How can any parent think it’s okay to give their baby the kiss off in such an insensitive manner?

In case you’re not familiar with what letting a baby “cry-it-out” means, it is a sleep-training concept that was introduced by pediatrician Richard Ferber, in which babies between four to six months old must learn to self-soothe in order to fall asleep. This often takes hours upon hours of screaming, crying and hysteria that sometimes culminates in vomiting and convulsions and may affect a child’s psyche by producing “lifelong emotional scars” and abandonment issues.

And “Ciao Baby” can help you achieve all of the above! Since the CIO method means that parents must put their baby in their crib awake, and then periodically check back in on them after certain increments of time, patting their back but not picking them up or – god forbid cuddling or holding them, the Ciao Baby app times and logs a baby’s outbursts and keeps track of the “time until next settle.” Wow.

Renown pediatrician Dr. Sears advises against letting a baby cry-it-out, imploring parents to “consider baby’s cry as signaling a need – communication rather than manipulation.” For those of you reading this who think their babies only had to cry-it-out for a week before getting the picture, Dr. Sears suggests that they simply became apathetic, they didn’t learn what you were trying to teach them. What a great first lesson to teach a child about life: fight for your needs, and then give up, knowing the one person who is supposed to care for you has turned his or her back on you.

I am certain that there are many parents out there who would staunchly support the CIO method, and have successfully and guiltlessly let their babies “cry-it-out,” achieving the end result of a baby who slept through the night at any early age and is perfectly well-adjusted. But as an advocate of attachment parenting, I deplore this practice with every fiber of my being. It is fundamentally wrong and unnatural to let your child suffer in order to achieve a convenient end for yourself. I’ve known parents who have shut their baby away in their crib so they could enjoy a movie, dinner or a glass of wine in the other room “in peace,” yet their child is screaming bloody murder within earshot and they are unfazed. And if you aren’t hard-wired to respond to your child when he is in need, why bother having a child in the first place?

Proponents (parents who use) the CIO method will argue that if it’s practiced responsibly and done correctly, that letting your baby wail their lungs out and go ignored is perfectly fine. But these are just excuses to make a parent feel better about not tending to their child’s primal need to be held and comforted. Or, these excuses resemble regurgitated theories from doctors and books that parents advise for information as they stray away from what feels right for them instinctively.

What would the world become if we simply said “ciao” to those in need and timed their cries for help on our iPhones? I shudder to think anyone is buying this app to help them better monitor their neglect.