Why do babies NEED to be held? (I need to get the word out!) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-12-2004, 03:58 AM - Thread Starter
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I know why, but I want to give some information to someone I know.
Last week I spent a couple of hours with her in the morning where she didn't take her 7 month old out of his stroller; then I was at her place & the only time she held him was to try to give him a bottle he didn't want & then when he was crying on the floor & I said, "pick me up, Mommy!", she said, "oh, do you think that's what he wants?" She picked him up & bounced him on her knee for a couple of minutes before putting him in the swing . Then when he became inconsolabe (by giving him more toys) in the swing, she took him upstairs & put him in his crib where he cried for a few minutes before going to sleep. When I asked her if he would have just gone to sleep if she held him, she said yes, but she wanted to be able to do stuff : I was pretty stunned, I guess, so I didn't ask, "Like what?" - we were just visiting & dealing with our 3 y.o.s .
It didn't really all hit me until I got home & thought about the day. It kept thinking about it & wondering what I'm going to say next time I see her (tomorrow). Our kids are the same ages, so I will be seeing her a lot at playgroups, etc. I want to let her know that I won't be coming to her house again if that's going to continue, but I don't want to attack her & cause hard feelings. Her baby is so easy-going, it will be hard to convince her that it's a problem. If there are any links to good info on this, I could pass them on, although I still don't know what I'd say.

Helen wash.gif Homeschooling Mama to Nicola photosmile2.gif 07/00 , Daniel kewl.gif 05/03 & cat.gifX2...and hug.gif with Barry caffix.gif since 08/87
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#2 of 6 Old 01-12-2004, 05:27 AM
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Oh Helen...this is a hard one. You definitely don't want to make her defensive. People's ears just shut down when they're defensive. Here's a fabulous article from Jean Liedloff (Continuum Concept) on the importance of the in-arms phase:


I have it printed off and nearby, so that when I'm having a hard day...I can be reminded why its sooo worth it. There's one particular section I'd suggest bringing up to your friend......

"The second essential function of the in-arms experience.....is to provide babies with a means of discharging their excess energy until they are able to do so themselves. A baby therefore needs constant contact with the energy field of an active person, who can discharge the unused excess for each of them. Babies — and adults — experience tension when the circulation of energy in their muscles is impeded. A baby seething with undischarged energy is asking for action: a leaping gallop around the living room or a swing from the child's hands or feet..."

Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to have to sit in one spot all day long...or for hours on end??? I would cry too! Another pretty easy concept to grasp........the more attention, love, kindness, gentleness and caring I put "into" him/her....the less they are going to cling to me. There is no "deficit" of love; no need to fill that hole, ya know?? They are wonderfully independent, curious little creatures that will play and explore....yet come back and "check in" from time to time. DESPITE what most people said would spoil them....meaning holding them all the time.

People who aren't familiar with this mindset might agree....but then question...how do I get everything done holding her all the time?? This is an opportune time to show your friend how easy it is to use a sling. The goal is to get someone from a mindset of "child care" and more into a "family care" mode. Jean Liedloff says it better than I can....

"When you're doing it right, your needs are the same as the child's and you don't have to choose between them."

Hope I gave you an smidgin of something useful.....lemme know how it goes....

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#3 of 6 Old 01-12-2004, 03:06 PM
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Fascinating article, Lisa! I love the idea of using cultural relativity to get the point across--yes, our lifestyles are different but our babies are not! The idea of their kids not misbehaving is really intriguing--though I have to think some of that comes from the behaviors that they see modeled around them. Americans are by and large selfish and whiny, so of course our children will think that's normal! Even if we ourselves model good behavior for them, they will eventually be enculturated--so I don't think AP can magically create mature angel-children, even though I'm sure it will help.

And hopefully no one will misunderstand, but I have to take issue with this statement:
"Unanimously, they let us know by the clearest signals that they should not be put down at all."

If I read the article right, this is referring to babies up to "creeping age," usually 7-8 months. I have to disagree with the "unanimously" part. I had read Sears and really wanted an AP parenting style for my daughter, and despite a horrible back injury I pursued it with all my will. I thought this meant "constant attachment." But when my daughter was 2 or 3 months old, I noticed that she was occasionally squirmy and fussy in my lap--not hungry, not wet, not gassy, just...well, grumpy.

The solution? Lay her on the floor on a blanket with a couple interesting things to look at, and leave her alone for a while!

Seriously, she was very good at letting me know when she'd had enough contact and needed some alone time. She'd lay on the floor and kick her legs and look around and have a good old time. I was a bit surprised by this, but I went with it (usually I sat close by her so she could see I was there, though I also used it as a bathroom break ). I came to the conclusion that the point of AP was to listen to your baby, not to impose a single, invariant "parenting style" on them for Their Own Good. This is something I think we forget sometimes when we're trying to be good, loving, attached parents--but we have to be willing to accept the baby's message, and every baby seems to have their own story to tell.

Looking at your friend's situation, Helen, it seems quite clear that she *wasn't* listening to her baby's message and responding. I can't blame you for being a bit put off by that. How hard would it have been to sit and talk with you while the baby was on her lap? Sounds like he did need a nap, but I'm sure there was a better way to get him there!! (Although maybe that wasn't her normal way of interacting with him, and she just wanted to talk to you without distractions??) Good luck with your quest!
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#4 of 6 Old 01-12-2004, 06:41 PM
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This is a great article to pass on to more conservative parents. It seems to hold more weight with them because it's a Harvard study. : Harvard Article
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#5 of 6 Old 01-18-2004, 05:39 PM
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Oh, goodness.
I can relate to wanting to be able to "do things" (like 3 meals worth of dishes!) but it makes me so sad to know that there are babies who spend most of thier infancy in some sort of mechanical thingy. Crib to car seat to swing to crib to swing to car seat.....

I've had so many people tell me my baby is "too attached". : And we're not even fully AP. He doesn't like slinging and often wants his own space. But because I hold him more than what is culturally the norm, he's too attached. <sigh>
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#6 of 6 Old 01-18-2004, 06:25 PM
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I visited my mom the first time with my baby this past Xmas, and she was constantly nattering on about my holding him "all the time." She was also constantly "modeling" for me how easy it would be to put him down on the floor with toys. Or making comments about how "he was sleeping so soundly and then she went and woke him up to feed him" when actually he had been crying and was famished - I simply responded to his cries before they got very loud.

My main strategy for sidestepping her criticism is and has always been to deflect it. Now, in this case, I regret that. I think I lost a valuable opportunity to educate everyone in my family about what it is we're trying to do with our baby by not letting him CIO, by rocking or nursing him down for as long as it takes, by responding to his cries right away, by co-sleeping and exclusively bf'ing for as along as possible and, yes, by holding him whenever he wants us to. Instead, I sort of denied that I was actually holding him as much as I was. And then she called the other day and could hear the baby (on my lap) in the background and asked, "Are you holding him?" - a simple enough question. And yet I was already on the defensive and so I denied it (!). I told her, "No, he's sitting right here on the couch beside me."

I cannot believe that I buckled so under the psychological pressure that I denied that I was holding my baby. AS IF IT WERE SOMETHING SHAMEFUL!

Anyway, rather than denying it all, I wish I had started out trying to inform, as you wish to do, Helen. Maybe I will forward these two articles to my mom.
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