When to Let Baby Fuss, Whine or Cry - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-20-2008, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was surprised last night to read the following quote on Dr. Sears' web site, under the heading of an article called, "What Attachment Parenting Is Not":

"As your baby grows, you become more expert in reading her cries, so you can gradually delay your response. Say, for example, you are busy in the kitchen and your seven-month-old is sitting and playing nearby and cries to be picked up. Instead of rushing to scoop your baby up, simply acknowledge your baby and give your baby 'it's okay' cues. Because you and your baby are so connected, your baby can read your body language and see that you're not anxious, so you naturally give your baby the message, 'No problem, baby, you can handle this.'"

Just yesterday, I decided to let my five month old ds whine in his infant seat while I showered. Normally I would hurry through the shower as soon as he started whining, since I would want to catch his early signals before he started crying. That has been my practice since he was born. It was my understanding that doing this would help him learn to communicate better and cry less. I had been afraid of backsliding ever since he became older and cried less but whined more. I had been worried that if I did not respond to his whining, he might learn to cry again. I found that was not the case. He ended up becoming quiet and playing with his toy. He seemed to become more, not less, sedate when I treated him as I did. (Of course, if he whines in discomfort, I respond in a way I think appropriate, such as trying to burp him.)

I'm still not sure I feel comfortable letting him cry. He usually only ever cries anymore when he is scared, overtired or in discomfort such as being hot and sweaty in his car seat the other day (which made me feel awful). But if he shrieks in anger if I don't respond promptly to his whining, I don't jump to respond.

How do you handle whining, crying, and fussing in your older baby?

Jennifer - mother to Wyatt (Feb 2008)
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:24 PM
 
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I think this is a great topic. Any parenting style can tend to polarize, and I struggled with feeling unable to be "totally AP." I felt that if my son ever fussed, I had failed. I finally just realized that this was my baby, and I had what I needed to take care of him - if I listened to myself. I found that sometimes my boy needed to fuss a bit to get to sleep, but if I listened closely, my heart told me when it was time to go in and help him. I mean really, I could feel in my heart when it was a cry that needed mama. Weird, but very cool. On the other hand, sometimes when I would try to "be there" with him till he went to sleep, it could end up in a long power struggle that left us both exhausted and upset.

I think AP is great in just getting you to connect with your little one so that you know what whines are just whines and what are cries for help/connection.

What I'm trying to say is I agree. Took me long enough...
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:26 PM
 
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My dd is 3 months old, she doesn't really cry that much with the exception if having lots of people in her face or being over tired. I wouldn't let her cry for any amount of time. I do let her fuss/whine for a couple minutes if I'm doing something that needs to be done. I think there is a difference with her expression of being dissatisfied and being distressed (though feeling dissatisfied for too long will lead to distress). During the moments where I let her fuss I engage with her by talking or singing or something to let her know I'm there and I tell her what I'm doing and about how many minutes I need. (I know she doesn't understand but still)

I guess what I'm saying is I think it's ok to let a baby fuss for a bit while you're doing something but I don't think it's ok to let baby cry.

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Old 07-20-2008, 04:33 PM
 
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It's funny to me how people think that responding to a baby is "spoiling," and assume that this approach will last forever, unchanged. Nothing about parenting can stay unchanged! Fortunately somebody turned me onto AP really early so I have learned the vital importance of being in the moment and trusting my intuition.

One thing I do for dd is talk to her. "I hear you, I'm sorry you're unhappy, I'm still bathing. Hygiene is good for mamas. . ." and maybe poke my head out to peekaboo.
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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I think that the point is that a newborn constantly has *needs* where an older baby can be fine if you don't attend to them instantaniously. I don't mean leaving them alone in their room for hours crying, but at 11 months old, I often let ds get frustrated, whine, and even cry, especially when I know why...

if he wants to play in the dog's food, well I'm sorry bub you can cry if you want, but you can't have dog food.

or when he gets frustrated trying to do something, like climb onto the couch, yes I could pick him up and put him on the couch, but he'll just continue to whine, because *he* wants to do it.

so yeah, if he is scared, upset, hungry, hurt etc I pick him up right away, but if he's angry, frustrated or bored, I'll talk to him and maybe help him, but not solve it for him
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by richella View Post
It's funny to me how people think that responding to a baby is "spoiling," and assume that this approach will last forever, unchanged. Nothing about parenting can stay unchanged! Fortunately somebody turned me onto AP really early so I have learned the vital importance of being in the moment and trusting my intuition.

One thing I do for dd is talk to her. "I hear you, I'm sorry you're unhappy, I'm still bathing. Hygiene is good for mamas. . ." and maybe poke my head out to peekaboo.
I don't think that responding to a baby is spoiling. In fact, I'm familiar with Dr. Sears' saying that babies don't spoil by being held but by not being held, just like fruit spoils when it's left on the shelf.

But I've noticed that there are certain ways of fawning over my ds that make him more fussy, not less so. For instance, I used to ask him repeatedly if he was hungry while I was unbuttoning my blouse. His response would be to wiggle and kind of fake cry. I was trying to teach him language by repeating the word "hungry". I now feel this is the wrong approach. Now I'm just calm while I'm unbuttoning my blouse, or sometimes I sing to calm him. Now he will just look at me calmly and sometimes smile or smack his lips.

Another example: I used to ask him repeatedly, "What do you want to do now?" I have found that when I am directionless and seeming to ask him for guidance, it makes him whiny. I have stopped acting this way. Oh, sometimes I'll hold him close to several toys and see which one he reaches for, then hold that one for him so he can play with it. And if he starts to screw up his face while I'm reading him a book, I put it away and we do something else. So I respond to him. But I no longer behave in a way that is almost seeking of his approval or guidance. Most of the time I will now take a strong direction with him. If I'm zonked early in the morning when he's ready to seize the day, it gets bad sometimes, because all I want to do is sit half asleep and hold him, and he's not going for that. He wants Mom to be active. So I have to be. But if I sit there zonked and try too hard to please him, it makes him more whiney. I think the key is responding to your baby but not trying to hard to please him/her.

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Old 07-20-2008, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by 2xshy View Post
My dd is 3 months old, she doesn't really cry that much with the exception if having lots of people in her face or being over tired. I wouldn't let her cry for any amount of time. I do let her fuss/whine for a couple minutes if I'm doing something that needs to be done. I think there is a difference with her expression of being dissatisfied and being distressed (though feeling dissatisfied for too long will lead to distress). During the moments where I let her fuss I engage with her by talking or singing or something to let her know I'm there and I tell her what I'm doing and about how many minutes I need. (I know she doesn't understand but still)

I guess what I'm saying is I think it's ok to let a baby fuss for a bit while you're doing something but I don't think it's ok to let baby cry.
Yours is still at the age when her wants are her needs. I never let mine cry his first four months. In fact, I still don't let him cry. It's just so much easier now because he's not inclined to respond to very many things by crying anymore. But he'll get to the point, I guess, where I may possibly let him cry in certain situations. Hopefully he will just fuss or whine but not cry, but we shall see.

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Old 07-20-2008, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tarajean56 View Post
I think this is a great topic. Any parenting style can tend to polarize, and I struggled with feeling unable to be "totally AP." I felt that if my son ever fussed, I had failed. I finally just realized that this was my baby, and I had what I needed to take care of him - if I listened to myself.
You sound like you have learned to avoid the mistake made by some well-meaning AP parents, according to Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept. I found an article online by her, called, "Who's in Control? The Unhappy Consequences of Being Child-Centered".

Here's a quote:

"Most of these parents have taken my advice and, following the Yequana example, kept their babies in physical contact all day and night until they began to crawl.2 Some, however, are surprised and dismayed to find their tots becoming "demanding" or angry — often toward their most caretaking parent. No amount of dedication or self-sacrifice improves the babies' disposition. Increased efforts to placate them do nothing but augment frustration in both parent and child. Why, then, do the Yequana not have the same experience?

The crucial difference is that the Yequana are not child-centered. They may occasionally nuzzle their babies affectionately, play peek-a-boo, or sing to them, yet the great majority of the caretaker's time is spent paying attention to something else...not the baby!"

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Old 07-21-2008, 02:08 AM
 
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If I know my baby isn't hungry, tired, or has a poopy or very wet diaper, I'll let her fuss for a little while. (Granted, the poopy thing can change in the blink of an eye!)

I just think it's about knowing your kid. This one is a little more physically attached than some of my other kids were at this age -- although one of my boys was like this as a babe. I've noticed that she's happy to crawl around on the floor and play by herself, but only after we've sat and cuddled for a while first.

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Old 07-21-2008, 03:52 AM
 
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The crucial difference is that the Yequana are not child-centered. They may occasionally nuzzle their babies affectionately, play peek-a-boo, or sing to them, yet the great majority of the caretaker's time is spent paying attention to something else...not the baby!"
I think this concept is great- having the baby be a satellite to our lives, so that they observe and participate as much as they are able, instead of us orienting ourselves to the baby all the time. However, I have found this difficult a lot of the time with my baby, who often gets fussy when I try to cook or clean or do things with her in the sling/ Ergo. What do I do, let her cry while I try to cut vegetables? Or play with her, give her the attention she wants so that she will be happy?

I too have been letting her cry a bit more as she gets older, if I need to do something, like go to the bathroom, or shower. One thing I notice as she gets older is that she might be fussing and crying, and then pretty much as soon as I pick her up she's happy again, able to calm down more easily than in the early weeks.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think this concept is great- having the baby be a satellite to our lives, so that they observe and participate as much as they are able, instead of us orienting ourselves to the baby all the time. However, I have found this difficult a lot of the time with my baby, who often gets fussy when I try to cook or clean or do things with her in the sling/ Ergo.
I have often had the same problem. It varies. For a while, I have been handing him off to dh while I fix dinner. The a couple days ago, I put him back in the pouch, and he really seemed to have missed it. He was very sedate in it. He seems pretty bored with his toys. He prefers to observe life rather than play with his toys, though he will enjoy playing with them for five minutes at a time or so if he is in the mood.

As long as he has motion and a change of scenery, he's happy in the pouch. If I'm outside, he never tires of looking around at the birds, the trees swaying in the wind, the cars going down the road, etc. If I'm shopping, he curiously observes people and products until he falls asleep. But if I'm puttering around the house, there is a small window of time before he gets bored. When he was young, like before he turned 2 1/2 months old, he could get all the stimulation he needed from my puttering around. But I guess there is not enough variety and novelty in it. Let's face it, our domestic lives must be boring compared to life in and around a Yequana village.

In a stone age setting, a baby would have lots of nature to observe. Mom or whoever was carrying the baby would be outside most of the time, active. There would be other people around doing concrete activities for the baby to watch, too. Lots of variety of human activities for baby to watch. Difficult for the modern woman to replicate. Being inside a house fixing dinner or sweeping the floor while baby watches from a carrier is not the same at all.

And forget about being on your computer to tend an internet business, or something like that, while baby watches from the carrier!

That is our predicament.

Jennifer - mother to Wyatt (Feb 2008)
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:35 AM
 
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My almost 7 month old has recently started to whine and fuss for wants and not needs. It has been an interesting transition. So I'm trying to learn to relax more. I used to get very agitated when he would cry or fuss (I'm a first time mom). Agitated in a way that I was very concerned for him and wanted to make it all better.
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:57 PM
 
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I don't ever just let ds cry, but the last month or so I have observed that he has a temper (both his dad and I have hot tempers, too) and will scream and cry if he doesn't get what he wants. At this point, he has both needs AND wants. He also is very independent & I try to give him room to do for himself before I jump in. If he can't reach something, I will support him trying to crawl towards it, or move it closer but not just hand it to him. I think he should experience a little frustration and the ensuing gratification when he figures it out. also, sometimes he simply cannot be accommodated. If we are at our Bible meetings he cannot just shriek delightedly through the entire program. He can learn to sit quietly (even though that learning process usually takes place in the back room where he won't disturb anyone ) If I'm in the shower and he starts whining but I know he's fine, I don't get all stressed like I did when he was very small. Sometimes after a moment of whining, he will find something else and occupy himself again for another 5-10 minutes. I think it's healthy for him to be able to entertain himself like that.

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Old 07-21-2008, 03:28 PM
 
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I think this concept is great- having the baby be a satellite to our lives, so that they observe and participate as much as they are able, instead of us orienting ourselves to the baby all the time. However, I have found this difficult a lot of the time with my baby, who often gets fussy when I try to cook or clean or do things with her in the sling/ Ergo. What do I do, let her cry while I try to cut vegetables? Or play with her, give her the attention she wants so that she will be happy?

I too have been letting her cry a bit more as she gets older, if I need to do something, like go to the bathroom, or shower. One thing I notice as she gets older is that she might be fussing and crying, and then pretty much as soon as I pick her up she's happy again, able to calm down more easily than in the early weeks.
Correct me if I interpreted it incorrectly, but I think she means to not carry the baby in a carrier. I often lay my babies down at the entrance to the kitchen in their gymini and cook. They love observing me and their surroundings and can do so for 30 minutes or more.

Mama to lovely twin girls 1/08
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