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  • Crying

    I have two daughters (4 and 1). My wife and I have raised both of them to the best of our ability following the AP principles. We are strong believers in this most natural and loving life practice and have great relationships because of it. Our daughters are very different! The older was so easy in comparison. She is easy going and dreamy with great social skills 4 going on 10. We are constantly reminding our selves that she is only 4 and thus responding appropriately as best we can. Our second daughter is feisty, exploratory, determined and sweet when she is in a good mood which is not very often. I think she is more of a high need baby. As an infant she always slept through the night but she was kind of colicky so it took a while to get her to sleep. She also really struggled with her 4 front teeth. So it has been a harder first year with her than our first daughter.

    We've used the same AP methods but they have reacted differently to it and us. Our older daughter developed a trust with us that all her needs will be met and that put everyone at ease. The younger one has not developed that trust and is much more needy. She always wants to be held to the point that it is difficult to get anything done. So things are done but with one hand and we do give her the attention she requires.

    She takes only 1 or sometimes 2 half-hour naps and wakes mom up several times at night. Lately though she is waking up more frequently, every hour and we are all pretty exhausted. It has been escalating to the point where she cries and bucks even though mom is holding her tight and breast feeding her. We do co-sleep but lately mom has been sleeping in the kids room so I can get some sleep for work and our older daughter sleeps with me.

    During the day she cries for no apparent reason so we pick her up and hold her which soothes her for a bit but then she pushes us away and starts crying again. So it seems like you can't win. I suggested to my wife a few weeks back that we should let her cry and see if she can work it out on her own. Mom was skeptical so I dropped the thought. At her checkup we mentioned her behavior to the pediatrician. She checked out physically fine. The pediatrician agreed with my assessment and said this is a good time to let her cry if she needs to and also to let her sleep on her own a bit.

    Two nights ago she had a bad night, woke up early and continued to cry all morning even though mom and I were holding her. So we put her in the play pen and sat next to her and she cried. She cried for about thirty minutes and throughout the time seemed to be getting calmer until finally she stopped and got into a much better mood. It has been two days now and she is almost a different baby, we're kind of shocked how much calmer she is. It seems that during her crying in the crib she learned how to calm herself down.

    Anyways sorry for the long post, was wondering if anyone has had any similar experiences. We'll see how it goes from here but I am inclined to give her more room to cry if she wants to. I don't think picking her up every time is the answer. If all her needs are met and she still wants to cry then we're thinking we should let her and not interfere with that. We're feeling like we are in uncharted waters. We know about meeting an infants needs and not letting them cry it out but our experience with our one year old has told us it it is okay if all her needs are met and nothing else is soothing her. She emerged from her cry a a lot calmer and for two days now. Last night we all slept soundly and the little one even slept in. It seems that self soothing is at odds with AP. from what I've read or is that not the case?
    Last edited by zeebie; 10-06-2010, 09:49 PM.

  • #2
    This is something I am also struggling a lot with these days with my 11 month old son. I completely understand what you mean about AP being at odds with self soothing. I don't think this is really true, but it sometimes feels that way.This begs the very important question: for someone trying to live by AP principles, when is it appropriate to let your child "cry it out"? And what is an appropriate way to do this? We were always very responsive to my son's needs and cries when he was a young infant and we learned early on that he is a high need baby. He has always needed to be held A LOT and still requires very frequent physical contact with me. It's been almost impossible to get things done on some days because every 5 minutes he whines/fusses/cries for attention. Sometimes he just needs a hug, sometimes he wants to be held or wants me to play with him. I usually meet his needs very quickly, but it gets pretty ridiculous when I'm doing activities where babywearing is not practical (cooking, getting dressed, etc). It is incredibly frustrating and confusing because on the one hand I feel like it's important for him to learn some self soothing skills and for me to tend to my basics needs. On the other hand, I don't like the idea of just letting him cry, which is exactly what he does (LOUDLY) if I don't respond quickly. I have never tried to let him cry the way you did with your daughter but I am starting to wonder if maybe I should? As we approach toddlerhood, I know it will become even more important for him to learn to cope with not always getting what he wants and for me to stand my ground as a parent. And you're right, once their basic needs are met and crying persists, what's a parent to do??


    • #3
      My son is twenty months old, and we only have gone through this with one child so far, but when he hit the tantrum phase I found AP principles to be really helpful. The trouble was that it took me a little longer to figure out that my approach to being there for him had to change a little. He didn't want to be held and rocked and shushed and soothed, he just wanted to be mad.

      This might be a little different than what's going on with the OP, but what worked for us was to move him somewhere safe (the living room rug was the site of a lot of tantrums!) let him be but sit next to him on the floor, or if it was really bad I'd lie down with him. I would quietly tell him (between screams, sobs) that it's okay to be mad, that I loved him, that he's alright, that it's scary to be so mad, but it'll be over soon, and the like. The first week of tantrums were frightening, and he would bang his forehead against the floor. The second week they got shorter and less violent and within a few months they have become things that last thirty seconds, a time to gripe and lie down and kick his feet a little.

      I don't think AP principles have anything to do with doing everything for your child, but rather with helping them the very best we can with learning how to manage this big world the best they can. To me attachment parenting is being receptive, observant and responsive to each child in each situation every moment. So that's going to include figuring out when to give a little space and let those scary moods come and go. If we react to them with fear and confusion we give the message that those states of being are scary and too hard for even us, the adults to handle.

      BTW, my son still has his mini-tantrums at least once every day, and I expect he will for a long while yet. He often goes to the living room rug to have them, though!


      • #4
        Oh dear! That sounds like a difficult dilemma for both of you!

        My son is almost 7 months old... not sure if my experience can help you, but I'll try. He doesn't like to be left alone either. I wouldn't call him high needs, just that he has specific needs and I figured them out for the most part.

        I started to practice giving him some space during playtime. At first, hanging out close to him, playing with him, then gradually letting him roam around on his own, all the while staying in the same room. (The playroom is baby-proofed.) Whenever he would cry out for me, I'd be close by to give him a hug and encouraging words. Then I would distract him with one of his toys, get him to play on his own and to stop him from crying, I would praise him when he would do something interesting with the toy. I try to praise him in a calm manner ("oh, very nice, you learned how to tap the the blocks together"), so he would respond in a calm manner too, then I go back to reading a book in the same room.

        If he doesn't calm down, I try to see if there's another factor at play: is he sick, tired, hungry, uncomfortable, bored with a toy?

        I know all of this might go out the window when separation anxiety sets in...

        Good luck!!


        • #5
          I love the tantrum on the rug idea! We are not yet at the full tantrum phase (although my son is already 'practising' throwing fits), but I really like the idea of allowing a child to express their emotions. And to try to better understand what our child really NEEDS to feel better.