Monday, May 23, 2005

Letting Babies Cry

by Christina VanGinkel

Everyone has an opinion on whether a baby should be left to cry for any length of time. Many people believe that as long as the baby has been checked for all the basics, such as a wet or dirty diaper, nothing pinching or poking them, not too hot, too cold, etc. they should be left to cry it out so they do not become spoiled. What many people never think of is that the baby may still be in need of something. That being physical contact. Others forget the simple rule that before approximately two to three months old, and even older in some kids, a cry always means something. They do not know enough about the outside world to cry simply to manipulate someone. They are very self-centered at such an early age and if they are crying, it is for a reason. A brand new baby may be feeling the loss of the warmth and protection that was second nature to them in the womb. They may be unable to handle the challenges of the different stimuli that they are surrounded with on a daily basis. If picking up and cradling that infant can provide a sense of security, who are we as adults to deny them that just for the sake of not spoiling them.

An older baby that is relatively well adjusted, and will often play contentedly by itself the majority of the time, may suddenly crave the warmth and protection of a parent. They may be entering a stage where they are more aware of the different surroundings, sounds, and sights that fill their space. This is when you will have to star making judgment calls on whether to pick them up every time they cry.

If you are in tune to your child, or try to be as much as possible, you should start to pick up the differences in his or her cries as time goes by. A cry that means hold me, I am just craving a small amount of bonding, and pick me up because if you do not I am going to scream louder and demand to be carried everywhere, are most often very different in tone.

If you think you are no good at deciphering the differences, hang in there. It may be that your infant is too young, and all the cries mean hold me, feed me, clean me, and rock me. When they are a bit older, you will suddenly be confronted with the other type of cry, and you will instinctively know that they have reached an age where they are trying to manipulate their world. You will then have to decide whether to pick them up or let them cry.

Personally, I carried my children everywhere. They are now twenty-three, twenty-one, and twelve. The two older are well-adjusted adults and my twelve-year old is well on his way. No harm came to them from me toting them about first in my arms, and then on my hip. My back even held out, though I was often bombarded with comments as I carried my youngest around until he was pre-school age. Considering he entered the world at nine pounds fourteen ounces and continued to grow at a rapid, consistent rate, and I am all of five feet two inches tall, we still survived just fine.

Ultimately, remember this is a personal decision, one of the many thousands that you will have to make in regards to the upbringing of your children. Do what you think is best and do not think twice about what all the statistics say, or family and friends say. Remember also that even if you choose to pick up that crying baby, as I chose to do, that is no guarantee that the baby will miraculously quit crying. As babies are known to do, sometimes they cry for no reason whatsoever. That is half the fun of being a parent, dealing with the unexpected!

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