CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Do you let your baby cry or not? That's the question sleepy parents are debating.
Some researchers recommend letting your baby cry at night, while others contend that leads to long term problems.
Charlie is a happy toddler with doting parents. As a baby, Charlie would cry when he should have been sleeping most of the night.
At three to four months, babies sleep five to six hours. Between six and twelve months, sleep time can be more than nine hours.
Charlie's parents, Emily and Daniel, ran into problems when their sleep was interrupted by Charlie's crying. Doctors say it's important to know that crying is communication.
"It could be expressing a need,'Hey I need my diaper changed, I'm hungry,' those are different ones," said Dr. Jill Aiken with Sandlapper Pediatrics."So you've got to weigh the type of cry it is."
The problem is babies also learn. Crying gets them what they want. So some sound off in the wee hours of the morning.
Following their pediatricians advice, Charlie's parents watched the clock. On the first night, they let Charlie cry one minute, then they went to comfort him.
The next night, it was three minutes.
"On the third night it was supposed to be five minutes," Daniel said."And after three and a half minutes, he'd gone quiet. Never woke up in the night. Not after that."
But those three nights, Emily felt like the worst mom in the world.
"It's like ripping off a bandaid," Emily said."You just have to go through those first three nights of letting him cry."
"When you see your child crying, you're gonna want to pick the baby up," Dr. Aiken said."But you'll hear the different pitches. You'll know when is this a severe problem."
It is important to work with your pediatrician before you set any plan in motion to comfort your baby or let your baby cry.