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Can a 3.5 month old throw a temper tantrum?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
So my DS got super angry today while I was preparing to nurse him after his nap. He'd eaten right before the nap, so he wasn't starving, but he was not a happy camper. His fussing quickly escalated into a fit I'd never seen from him before. I held him and talked to him calmly and firmly, but didn't start nursing him until he'd more or less calmed down (about five minutes of angry screaming--not hurting or hungry screaming). I praised him when he calmed down and immediately put him to the breast.

Was this an okay way to handle this? I really wasn't expecting tantrums for a few more months....
post #2 of 8
Babies that age react to things that make them unhappy-pain, hunger, discomfort, frustration-but I wouldn't call it throwing a "temper tantrum" because to me, that implies that the child knows that crying and screaming will get him/her what he/she wants, and a 3.5 month old has no such awareness.
post #3 of 8

I don't think 3.5 month year olds really get cause and effect.  There's just no reason to delay something until they calm down so that they learn a lesson.  They're just not in a lesson-learning place developmentally.


There are two kinds of "tantrums" - melt downs that happen when the child just can't help it (and IMO, this isn't really a "tantrum" it's just a very extreme expression of emotion or need) and deliberate fits thrown with intent to get something.    A 3.5 month old is crying because he/she needs something, not because they think if they cry or "throw a fit" you'll react/provide faster.  They just aren't up for that kind of logic yet.  They cry out of frustration or hunger or pain or fatigue, not because they're trying to manipulate you.  At that age, crying is a reaction and expression, not a tool.

post #4 of 8
I wouldn't call that a tantrum. Babies don't think in that way. They're very much focused on needs: food, comfort, sleep, etc. He might be in a growth spurt or something and was just really hungry despite having eaten before his nap, or maybe he woke up still feeling sleepy (I know I sometimes do) or something else about comfort. They just don't put two and two together as far as thinking about how their behavior affects what you do. My first guess based on what you wrote is a growth spurt. They do sometimes wake up crazy hungry when they're going through that.
post #5 of 8


post #6 of 8

I don't believe anybody can deliberately throw a tantrum if they don't have intense feelings of frustration. Using CPS - collaborative problem solving theory kids look bad when the demands placed apon them by certain situations outstrip their skills to cope adaptively and in a flexible, appropriate way 

post #7 of 8
At 3.5 months, a child only knows "I'm fine" and "Something's wrong". Nothing else. All you did was delay the comfort that may have made him feel better. Not that I mean to make you feel bad. Live and learn for next time, is my motto.

To explain further, just because he nursed before the nap doesn't mean he wasn't hungry *after* the nap. Children grow in spurts, and much work is done during sleep to add muscle, etc. He may very well have been very hungry.

So, at this age, worry less about 'discipline'. Babies just have needs, and can't meet those needs themselves.
post #8 of 8

I agree with everyone's assessment about "tantrums".  


I sympathize with you.  My first daughter had meltdowns when she was tiny--like if she didn't get the perfect latch in a split second, she screamed uncontrollably in frustration.  She would refuse to nurse until she calmed down--sometimes it took 30 minutes to get her calm.  This was when she was 1.5 months or so!  If you placed her at the breast before she was calm enough, she would start screaming again.  I would have to be ready for that child to nurse and help her get latched on before it all started.  It was upsetting for a first-time mom, and I was doing a lot of crying back then!  My dd did end up having severe allergies, but this was separate, I think, because she had happier times of the day when nursing was relatively simple (it was never simple with her!)  The troubles nursing due to allergies were... different... and came just a bit later.  (You'll have to take my word for it!)


So, this is not a tantrum and what you are doing is not teaching him how to behave, what you are doing is calming the child.  


If he latches on and nurses just fine without calming him down first, do that instead.  If, like my dd, he simply cannot organize himself to nurse properly without a calmdown time, then do that.  

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