Last night at a party I was holding my ten-week-old and eating at the same time. Another mother, whom I had just met, asked me if I hold her like that all the time.
I told her yes. I wasn’t really thinking that that was a bad thing, and forgot that some people see it as a bad thing.
“You’d better start putting her down so she doesn’t get spoiled,” she said.
“Oh I don’t really think they can get spoiled at two months,” I said simply.
“Oh, yes they can. You need to let them cry some. My sister’s kid is so spoiled and she held him all the time when he was a baby,” she said.
My friend who was there said, kind of quietly, “Well I think you are just meeting a need they have and crying is how they communicate, but thats just what I think.” (yay for having someone who knows how I feel around!)
The woman made a few more comments about spoiling kids and letting them cry.
So obviously I’ve got a few thoughts on the issue. I’m very opinionated on the whole cry-it-out issues. But I don’t run up to women telling them about attachment parenting and what I believe when I see them popping a bottle in their baby’s mouth while they sit in their car seats at the store.
I don’t tell them, “oh you know everytime you dont pick your baby up to feed him, he’s missing out on the beneficial hormones that help his brain develop” or mention that some studies have found that children who are rocked and held more have higher IQ’s later in life because of those hormones (That was a study done on about 1000 children at an army base in Germany, but I don’t have a link). Or even that children who are left to cry themselves to sleep have higher rates of Post Traumatic Stress disorder later in life because when a baby cries their brain is flooded with stress hormones and it affects them for their entire life.
I know these things to be true, but I don’t go around enforcing my views on people I just met. I’m more than happy to write about it or say how I feel, with tact and kindness most of the time, to people that wish to talk about it.
So this girl didn’t say much to me after that. And that’s what I don’t get.
I didn’t bring it up. I didn’t tell her how to raise her kid. But when she brings it up and I don’t agree she wants to act funny. Now maybe she was distracted by something entirely different and it didn’t have to do with our conversation. It’s possible I’m reading too much into it, its just that it happens over and over.
A mom I just met in passing a few weeks ago asked me if I was nursing. I said yes and she continued to tell me that she nursed for 3 weeks but stopped because of some certain difficulties. I told her yes, I went through the same things (I really fought for my nursing relationship with my first daughter). Then she wants to act weird and upset. I didn’t bring it up, but I guess because I went through similar things and made it, its a touchy subject for her.
So I digress, but here’s what I think about crying it out.
Babies are biologically programmed to need to be held. Numerous studies have shown the importance of touch to newborn development. Not getting enough touch is linked to mental retardation, among other things.
We now live in secure, large homes with locks and doors. When mankind lived in tribes, a mother would never think of leaving her baby alone more than a few feet away from her out of the sheer risk to its life from animals, weather, or what have you.
I’m not going to force my kid to try to comfort and soothe herself before she is ready. When she cries, although she is fed and warm and clean, she is still telling me something. I may know that I am only a few feet away and that no harm can come to her, but she doesn’t. She is crying to tell me that she needs to be held, that she needs to feel secure and safe in my arms. She didn’t spend 9 months thinking she was a part of me just to be born a grown-up.
If she trusts me, and trusts that she can communicate to me, she will grow up trusting others, trusting in communication and human interaction, and God, for that matter.
I’m just really getting frustrated when people use the word “spoiling”. We’re not spoiling our children, we are giving them warmth and security. One of my boss’s co-workers told him that I shouldn’t be tired from having a baby because I should have already trained her to cry at night and should be getting my sleep.
Crying it out and the Babywise philosphies and related ones— they are for the benefit of the parent and not the child and parents need to stop acting like its for the good of the baby in the long run, so that they can grow up. It’s to the detriment of the baby in the long run.
Babies are babies. They don’t come out being 18. Its a long process of nurturing.
People, like this one woman, have told me over and over that someone they knew held their kid too much and now they are spoiled.
Next time I know what to say because now I’ve thought about it.
We get compliments constantly about how well behaved Azita is, at two and a half. And we parented her this way. She has her moments, but she trusts us because we have always met her needs. And because she trusts us, she listens to us, even when we have to tell her no and she doesn’t like it.
And of all the kids that were at our house that night, about 5, the cry-it-out-kid was the one jumping off furniture, ignoring adults when they asked him not to grab certain things— the one who grabbed all the chocolates from the other children.
So which kid is spoiled and undisciplined? If I go by her reasoning, that one example of that one kid who was left to cry it out represents all kids who were parented that way and they must all be “spoiled” and undisciplined.
But we all know its not that simple. Parenting starts at birth and never ends. So two people could parent one way when the kids are babies and screw it up later, or maybe fix it later.
We are hardly perfect. But our kids have plenty of discipline and limits. They can only watch so much TV, have so many sweets, we demand politeness and expressing oneself not through whining. And they always know that we will listen when they are trying to tell us something is wrong or that they need a little reassurance.