It's this way with my husband (who feels terrible he can't comfort our son and has started saying he thinks our son doesn't like him), his grandparents and our sitters. Unfortunately, I have to work outside the home for one full day a week and usually two three-hour jobs a week as well (my husband and I work together, so he can't even have the familiarity of my spouse, even though he cries with him too). When I'm gone, he's unsoothable, and I feel horrible for being gone because I know he's hysterical, and I'm essentially letting him cry it out, against everything I believe.
It's to the point where last night (after picking him up from the grandparents who said he cried for most of the 9 hours he was with them), my husband said it's getting to the point where he's uncomfortable leaving him with people who aren't related to us (for fear of his safety due to someone getting so frustrated at his sobbing). Likewise, I feel awful for my four year old who is getting the short end of the stick. The only time he gets my attention is when I have the little one sleeping (usually on me in a sling or in my arms - otherwise he wakes up and cries within an hour - with the exception of at night when he cosleeps and I'm there) and when he's with another caregiver, their attention is wrapped up in trying to calm the little one, and he's not getting played with by them either.
So, I'm kind of desperate - I have no idea what to do to help him and the others trying to take care of him. Any advice would be so greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Hope it's ok for me to reply...
First off, you should recognize the difference between CIO and in-arms crying. If your db's caregiver is holding him while he cries, then he is not being allowed to CIO. :)
Second, use that sling to your advantage! Carry your babe in it near constantly while you are with him. Train him to settle down and center in the sling. And then require your caregivers to learn how to safely use it so that your baby will have a lovely Pavlovian response every time you must leave him.
I was very fortunate to never have to leave my babies in the first year or two, but I was a single mom (both times I had an infant) who quite selfishly liked to indulge in the occasional private shower or BM. Haha. I would have g'ma put the ultra-HN baby in the sling and walk and it kept them quite for just long enough so I could do something for myself.
So sorry it's taken me so long to answer you. I did post an answer but it never showed up. I think we have the technical problems solved now and am looking forward to this forum.
Blessed with Boys- Thanks for your terrific answer. Slings can indeed be the solution to infant distress and care by others.
Sissah- You have a baby who needs you. He only feels safe when he's with you. Hopefully, you can wear him most of the time, and that allows you to still interact with your four year old while the baby is asleep on you.
I realize that means your husband feels left out. But hopefully he sees this as a terrific opportunity to bond with his older child. The time will come when your baby will prefer Dad, believe it or not. But for now, encourage Dad to spend as much time with your four year old as possible. Both of them badly need that comfort!
As far as leaving your little guy while you work, that is tough indeed. Babies don't get used to being without us. They only feel comfortable when they bond with someone new. A baby who cries for nine hours at his grandparents is a baby who has not bonded with them so that he can feel safe and comfortable. The good news is, he is capable of such a bond, because he has it with you. The bad news is, it has not yet happened or he would not be inconsolable for nine hours.
I think BlessedWithBoy's suggestion to put him in the sling on the Grandparents is right on target. Most infants feel safer being worn. Will it be as good as being with you? No. They will move differently, sound different, smell different. Will he protest? Yes. Help the grandparents to understand that he is not rejecting them, that he needs to tell them how unhappy he is and have them hear, and that listening to him, soothing him, accepting his sobbing but offering their reassurance, is precisely how they can bond with him. If he cries and they really show up for him, he will learn to be soothed by them and to trust them. I guarantee it.
By the way, this is all true for Dad as well, but it is a lot harder for Dad because your little guy knows you are nearby. I am convinced they have a psychic connection to us and just sense our presence. So to achieve this bonding between Dad and Baby, you and your four year old may want to plan a weekly outing. I would recommend it anyway, because the two of you desperately need that time together without the baby. And if you do it weekly, sooner or later your baby will begin to trust and feel comforted by his dad. The key is that dad (just like the grandparents) needs to manage his own emotions through the crying. In other words, instead of feeling rejected, they need to see themselves as witnesses to your baby's big feelings. If they can embrace him and hold him while he cries without needing to shut him down, they will find that he bonds to them and the relationship transforms into one they will love.