Does the Estivill method work?

January 26, 2024

All parents, sooner or later, unluckily discover the Estivill method.

Some learn about it right from the referring pediatrician, still others discover it by talking to some other moms or by doing desperate research online after many sleepless nights.

A method of which one may not even know the name, Estivill, but one knows the mode: crying the baby before letting go of sleep.

This method is told in a book, which unfortunately has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Let’s see what this method involves.

The method

Here are the steps that punctuate the Estivill method:

  • introduce an evening bedtime routine; at the end of the routine, the child is placed in his or her crib and the adult must leave the room. This routine is implemented every day at the same time.
  • when the child begins to cry, one must wait to re-enter the room, thus allowing the child to cry for a few minutes; this timing of waiting should increase by a few minutes each day.
    upon re-entering the room, the parent can comfort their baby with words, but without taking the baby in their arms
  • the child then gets used to sleeping exhausted and without support from the parent

Analyzing these ways, we can see that there are so many weaknesses that can endanger the child.

As we have already mentioned in the article on co-sleeping, it is most important that the baby sleeps in the same room as the parent, so the adult can intervene promptly if needed.

The risk of SIDS, especially in infants, is a danger that should not be underestimated; having the baby sleep in the parent’s room is, therefore, most important, until at least 12 months of age.

Another alas, very sad, point is that of putting the baby to sleep alone, in his or her crib, while crying.

Babies need to be supported and comforted: the presence and reassurance from the adult will help the baby to let go to sleep more peacefully.

metodo-estivill

In my opinion, a child who falls asleep exhausted and stressed by the absence from the parent is a child who will carry repercussions of these behaviors in the long run.

How would you, in a time of need, feel about the people around you ignoring you while you are in pain and crying in despair?

I imagine you would feel even worse and remember it when the time comes.

WHY DO MANY PEOPLE SUPPORT THE ESTIVILL METHOD?

Despite the fact that it is now known to be a harmful method for children, their growth and psychological well-being, many recommend this method to get children used to sleeping alone.

Many pediatricians recommend the Estivill method simply because they do not know any alternatives: let us remember that pediatricians deal with child growth, illnesses and all things “medical,” but they are not experts in education and mother-child well-being.

The pediatrician who recommends the Estivill method simply tells the parent:

“The baby has to learn to sleep alone, don’t spoil him and leave him in the crib, he will get used to it.”

The truth is that it is not about pampering or crying: it is about presence, comfort and love, as well as meeting basic needs.

Anyone who advises you to implement the Estivill method is not up-to-date enough, does not know children’s physiology and is definitely giving you the wrong advice. Not only that, probably dangerous. As we mentioned in the article on co-sleeping, letting your baby sleep in another room increases the risk of SIDS by about 1000%.

Nowadays we receive dozens of emails every day where we are told about sleep consultants promoting these modalities through the use of messages on WhatsApp, these are mostly people without any title or of the improvised, some moreover with pending criminal cases.

At best these people will take a few hundred euros from your account, at worst they will give psychological advice or recommend dangerous medical practices.

Whenever you want to rely on someone, look for information about this person, the minimum qualification they must have is a degree in the field you are interested in. If then the information is opaque or the methods pushy, you have already realized that you need to go elsewhere.

 

metodo-estivill

As for the Estivill method, sure it was written by a pediatrician but he had to retract everything shortly after in view of all the criticism the scientific evidence against your thesis.

He tried to justify himself by saying that his method was created for older children but let’s face it, this method should not be used with adults either.

HERE’S WHAT WE THINK ABOUT IT

The mission of Parentalife is clear: we want to support parents to raise happy children.

It follows from this that for us, tears and exhausting crying at the end of the night should be just a thing of the past.

To all those who say, “We used to take beatings and grew up well,” we usually reply that others judge whether they have grown up well. And invariably these people barely know how to write in Italian, who knows what disasters they make with their children.

For us, the serenity of a family, and the awareness and happiness of a child come first.

It is no accident that we decided to create our own MAMISleep guide.

metodo-estivill

In the guide, we do not perform miracles; what we do is to give the parent all the tools to best cope with the time of sleep and overcome the difficulties that will arise.

In our guide, unlike the Estivill method, the presence of the parent is crucial.

The parent must be present during the falling asleep phase and especially must not let the child cry.

Crying leads the baby to stress; stress prevents the baby from resting peacefully and thus from sleeping for a long time. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out: if cortisol levels are high, falling asleep is difficult. A pediatrician, these things, should have studied them.

Being aware, knowing your child’s sleep and knowing how to intervene is the key to helping him or her sleep peacefully and for a long time, clearly respecting his or her physiological awakenings and needs.

About the Author

Severino Cirillo

Health, Wellness and Education Expert. With a degree in Community Health, he is the CEO of Informed Parent and is responsible for validating the blog's scientific information and coordinating the editorial team of experts, consisting of gynecologists, midwives, psychotherapists, and others in pregnancy, perinatal, and parenting wellness and health.