I know I still have 2 more months to go before I hear my baby’s cry but I have heard my friend’s baby’s cry. The 4 month old girl was crying in the stroller and the mother said that if she picks her up she will stop crying and demonstrated it to me. She picked her daughter up and the baby immediately stopped crying. So I asked: “why do you let her cry if you know picking her up will make her happy?” She told me it was not to spoil her. That got me wondering. Would picking the baby up really spoil her? Or would it comfort her and assure her that her mother is always there for her when she needs her.
I researched a few forums and the opinions were all over the place. Some parents agreed that picking up crying babies would spoil them, others were terrorized by this point of view claiming that picking babies up comforts them and sends a message that they have parents they can count on.
“The more we know about brain development, the more we know that when a mother is not responsive, it’s linked to [poor] cognitive development and social behavior, the hazard is of a child with too little conviction that he is really loved, as in unconditional love. If you don’t respond to him when he cries, he comes to distrust the validity of his own feelings and your willingness to respond to them.”
Parents who are likely to let a baby cry it out typically do so because they are afraid of spoiling a baby, something William Sears, author of The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition) calls “nonsense,” or as a way to get on a schedule, thinking that if the baby “learns” that this is not feeding time, for instance, eventually he’ll stop crying. “That’s management, not mothering.”
“Here’s what I tell parents,” says Sears, a pediatrician in San Clemente, Calif., who is known as the father of attachment parenting, a practice based on a high degree of responsiveness.
“When in doubt, put yourself behind the eyes of your baby and ask yourself, `If I were my baby, what would I want my mother or father to do?’ “
Finally I asked my own mom. I’m a very independent person, I went to university away from home at the age of 18 and haven’t lived with my parents since. I’ve traveled all over the world, lived in several different countries and had extended periods of not seeing my parents. I live in a different country now. Yet I know that they are always there for me. They are present even if I don’t see them or hear from them for a while. I asked my mom what she would do when I was crying. She would always pick me up.
Update: Here’s another article confirming that babies left to cry stay unhappy afterwards.
(Crying baby photo: credit to FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
WHAT DO YOU DO? DO YOU LET YOUR BABY CRY? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.
After posting this on facebook I got an excellent link from another mommy. This article explains what your baby does to convey that it’s:
- wants to play
- wants a break
- is sleepy
UPDATE: Now that I am a mother of a 7 month old I can confirm that I NEVER let my baby cry. As soon as she opens her mouth I give her what she wants – and it’s usually my breast. She is such a happy and delightful creature and I am sure that is thanks to my gentle parenting.
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