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The aware baby

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Have any of you read this book? I checked it out from the library and I am not sure how I feel about it. The basic premise is that babies need to cry to blow off steam and get their emotions out. The author thinks that by doing everything we can to stop the crying that we are actually harming our babies. She is against pacis, comfort nursing, and doesn't think that babies should be shushed or rocked when they are crying. She says they should just be held in loving arms and listened to until they are done. She claims this helps them work through birth and other traumas and burn nervous energy, and shows them they are loved even when they are upset and crying.

I don't know how I feel about this. It sort of makes sense to me but I always have tried whatever I can think of to stop DS crying episodes. And something always worked. Last week I tried a couple times just holding him and reassuring him that I was listening while he cries, but ended up patting him or changing his position almost like a reflex. The one time I held him until he stopped without doing anything else, he fell into a deep sleep immediately after. But something didnt feel right about not doing everything I can to comfort him.

What do you think about this idea? Do babies need to cry sometimes without being encouraged to stop? By shushing and otherwise comforting them are we forcing them to suppress their emotions? She encourages allowing them to cry in arms from birth on btw.

I am new at being a momma and would appreciate any insight on this
post #2 of 36
I think that sometimes, yes, they need to cry and just have someone there to listen. But, I think you should try other things first - I mean, what if he's hungry? Or his diaper is dirty? There were times that my DS was crying at bedtime and wouldn't go to sleep, and when we checked his diaper after a few minutes we realized it was dirty.

If you've tried everything, and nothing is working, then just letting them cry while you hold them is a good thing I think.
post #3 of 36
It's instinctual to lovingly soothe your crying baby. We're biologically made to respond in this way. I wouldn't worry about it.
post #4 of 36
I figure if I can make DS better by comforting him, that's what he needed. But sometimes he also needs to cry, and when that's the case my comforting him does't work and I just hold him and sympathize. Then he knows I'm there and love him.
post #5 of 36
If a baby needs to cry to work out the overwhelming emotions of a busy day, rocking and singing and so forth won't stop the crying. What it will do is give mom or dad something to occupy them while holding the baby so THEY don't get overwhelmed and need to put the baby down.

It can also mean the difference between a healing cry and the baby making themselves feel worse and getting more and more worked up and screaming. A good hard cry can feel great, but if all it's doing is making you cry more and hurt your throat, it's not helpful.

I think the main message from the book shouldn't be "don't do anything to stop your baby crying" but rather "if you've done all the 'right' things and your baby is still crying, it's okay"
post #6 of 36
Originally Posted by marinak1977 View Post
I figure if I can make DS better by comforting him, that's what he needed. But sometimes he also needs to cry, and when that's the case my comforting him does't work and I just hold him and sympathize. Then he knows I'm there and love him.
This exactly. Sometimes Cecilia just needs to cry to get her frustration out, since she can't express it any other way. But I want her to always know I'm there for her and will be there to support her even when she just needs to cry. Not holding and cuddling her during that time would be CIO to me, and I'm certainly not interested in that.
post #7 of 36
I can see how that might make sense but it seems like something to be taken with a grain of salt. Maybe among the other things you try, you just let them cry in your arms to get out their frustrating but I can't imagine NOT trying comfort your crying child - what if they are hungry or need a diaper change or just to change positions and burp? I think that sometimes babies DO need to cry out frustration/tension/whatever but only after you have exhausted other options or your mommy instinct is telling you this is what your baby needs
post #8 of 36
I agree there's a little useful take away from this, but only when everything seems to be okay with the baby and they're still crying. I think there was a post on the forums here a few months ago that made me realize that instead of immediately trying to stop the crying, I should take his "concerns" seriously, but by acknowledging them verbally and giving him the chance to get them off his chest (as much as a baby can!), but I do this WHILE comforting him. I feel like it's helping train *me* to be sensitive to his thoughts and feelings now so that when he is verbal, I'll be in the habit of it, while also maybe helping him feel like I'm listening and commiserating. But comforting and doing my best to fix whatever's wrong comes first...it was more a realization that baby's have a right to cry to express themselves, and it's not my job to keep him from crying all at, just to respond to it when he does cry.
post #9 of 36
i disagree with that theory.
i think that babies tend to cry to communicate. they want or need something, whether it's to be held, fed, etc. and that is the only way to get a response.
i think that not answering your baby's attempt at communication can then make the baby out of control with crying from frustration.
like a pp said, if you try to soothe and the baby keeps crying, then maybe it's a release. otherwise, i tend to view cries as communication. our dd doesn't cry much anymore b/c we respond to cues, which we learned by responding to cries.
post #10 of 36
I dunno, I didn't read the book and don't plan to. But from what it sounds like to me it sounds like putting grown up ideas on to a baby. I think it is true that adults and perhaps sometimes older kids do need a space to let out frustrations, I think that when a baby cries it is because they have a basic need that needs to be met. The whole idea of what this book is professing makes me feel squeamish, quite honestly!
post #11 of 36
Originally Posted by hildare View Post
i disagree with that theory.
i think that babies tend to cry to communicate. they want or need something, whether it's to be held, fed, etc. and that is the only way to get a response.
i think that not answering your baby's attempt at communication can then make the baby out of control with crying from frustration.
like a pp said, if you try to soothe and the baby keeps crying, then maybe it's a release. otherwise, i tend to view cries as communication. our dd doesn't cry much anymore b/c we respond to cues, which we learned by responding to cries.

My DD only cries when something is wrong or she has a need.
post #12 of 36
I do believe that sometimes babies have to let off steam or have emotional outbursts, after all they are human and we all have to do that sometimes. Yell, scream, maybe rant a bit, BUT all the time, ummmmmm no.

For me my DD had some moments where she was just letting off steam, she is more emotional than my son, maybe because she's a girl? I mean as a woman I know I am much more emotional about some things than DH. DS is more opt to cry if he's not getting his immediate needs met-immediately. DD would cry sometimes and nothing helped her, so I can see how the theory would work for some babies.

Crying is communication, and some of babies are more vocal of their needs and wants-even if isn't anything more than just to vent.
post #13 of 36
I guess I don't get it. Bouncing, shushing, hugging and sucking are all sensations experienced by the fetus in the womb, and by giving them those sensations you are recreating a safe place for them where they can relax and feel peaceful and calm.

It seems fairly cruel to deny them those things in an attempt to help them cope with the stresses of life without crutches. I think there is a big difference between supressing an emotion and soothing a frazzled set of nerves.

It seems contradictory to my instincts.

That being said, I think most people here can tell you about the abuse of "soothers" in our society. It often seems to be that "keep the baby quiet at all costs" is the primary function of all parents. Loud babies, even the happy ones, are "bad babies". So I think I can see where the author is coming from, but I don't think it's for me.
post #14 of 36
I don't know. . .. as a newborn my ds did cry a fair bit even as we paced the floor and did everything we could to comfort him. But it still didn't seem right to me. .. he seemed unhappy and I wasn't okay with that. We found out a month or so later that he had a dairy sensitivity, so I think his tummy was just hurting him a lot. Not that this is the case for every babe, but it confirmed my mommy instinct that he was crying b/c something was wrong, not just to communicate or to let off steam.

Once we eliminated dairy he almost never cried. Only when something was really wrong. Now he is almost 9 months, learning to crawl, having some separation anxiety, and he does "complain" now. Not exactly a full-out cry, but he whines when I leave the room or when I take away something he's found on the floor to chew. . .so this seems different to me. This is more of a communication that he is frustrated and I do reassure him, but he is also at a stage where he is just going to be frustrated sometimes.

But I think I know the difference btw frustration and crying b/c something is wrong. I'd have to say that its like with any parenting advice. . .you still have to listen to your gut and to your own child. Not all children are going to fit into a particular theory.

As for the idea that adults "need" to cry to let off steam. . .I'm not so sure about this either. Of course, if something truly sad happens you need to cry, but I find that crying out of frustration or anger is counter-productive. I often feel worse. Its better to find a real solution/outlet for those feelings, IMO
post #15 of 36
I read it when my 4.5 year old was a baby. It was sort of a mixed bag for me.

On the positive side, it did help me accept that my baby might just need to cry sometimes, and that's okay. I think before that I sort of felt like a failure if she cried and I couldn't stop it. But it made me realize that she's a complex little being that isn't going to me all smiles all the time, and that I need to respect her right to have negative emotions. This concept has been really helpful even beyond babyhood.

On the negative side, I was not a fan of the advice not to comfort nurse, or rock, or whatever, but rather simply hold my crying baby as long as I had determined she had all her basic needs met (dry, fed, etc.). That just didn't click with me. It felt contrived, cold, and unnatural and went against every instinct I had. If I knew she would stop crying if I nursed her, who the heck was I to decide that isn't want she needed? What they want and what they need at that age are the same thing to me.

Anyway, it just seemed like such a contradictory book to me because it seemed to advocate for listening to what your baby is telling you on one hand but basically not listening to them on the other. I had a hard time reconciling those two issues.
post #16 of 36
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post #17 of 36
I read the book when ds1 (almost 6yo) was a baby. I really liked it, and thought it made sense in a lot of ways.

My own thinking on "letting a baby cry" is a little bit different. I see it like this- when my babies cry, I want to fix the underlying reason. My goal isn't exactly to get them to stop crying, it's to address the reason they are crying.
Just as an example, if ds is crying and I don't know why, I could get him to stop crying if I gave him a cookie. But that would be distracting him out of crying, and not addressing the reason he was crying at all. To me, that scenario is far from ideal.

I do think that sometimes, letting them cry is better than fussing with them, going from tactic to tactic, anxiously searching for something that will make them stop. For example, when ds1 was little, he would sob uncontrollably if someone other than me reprimanded him. People always tried to distract him/ make funny faces/etc to get him to stop crying. But actually, what helped the most was for me to hold him, talk quietly, sway with him, and just wait it out in private.
post #18 of 36
I've read the book as well, and I never took from it that she meant you should just let babies cry, uncomforted. Granted, it's been about 10 years since I read it, but the biggest thing that stuck with me was that I shouldn't be all desperate to stop their tears at any cost. It's OK for a baby to cry and the baby doesn't have to "justify" it to me, just like it's OK for me to have a good cry sometimes without feeling like I have to explain it to someone or stop for their sake. That doesn't mean I withhold affection or put the baby down and walk out of the room-- it just means I don't always have to go through a bag full of tricks and feel like if the baby doesn't stop crying, it's some kind of reflection on me as a mother. I actually think it gels quite nicely with Dr. Sears "You can't always stop them from crying, but you can make sure they don't cry alone" spiel.
post #19 of 36
But if I recall correctly the author states specifically that you shouldn't even do simple comforting things like rocking, swaying, patting or bouncing for fear that you will stifle the child's emotions and set up a "control pattern" or some such term. That just doesn't jive with AP to me.

I totally get the whole the message about not freaking out when babies cry. Sometimes even if all their basic needs have been met, it just happens and all you can do is be there for them. It's the advice to basically withhold comfort other than holding them that bothers me. Personally, I found Happiest Baby on the Block to be a godsend and am glad I followed that advice instead.
post #20 of 36
Well, as I said, it's been a while. I don't remember taking that from the book.
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