Saturday, August 21, 2010

Attention Intervention

Q: Is it unhealthy to let a four month old cry it out?

A: Depends who you ask.

The baby that screams the loudest wins the most attention.

And in my home, the winner of the loudest most vociferous wail comes from the very naughty little David Miles. Poor Layla's polite little wimpers could never compete with his milk-thirsty roars.

Starting at two weeks old, David suffered from I am Going to Take an Hour to Burp and Everyone is Going to Suffer with Me Disease . If Davy had to burp he HAD to be held upright belly to belly against my body or else he would go into a frenzy. The world stopped and patiently wait for the belch that often never came. This included his sister Layla who couldn't burp or be held or eat in peace without enduring screams from her younger brother.

At sixteen weeks, his digestive problems pretty much subsided, but he is now suffering from I Need to be Carried and Entertained by a Human all the Time or I am going to Lose It Syndrome. I came to that realization when I repeatedly put my recently fed, freshly changed, burped and cuddled David down in his car seat for just a single moment to change Layla's diaper. Within a split second of putting him down, he screamed bloody murder and and nearly nose dived out of his carseat. When I went to pick him up, my disheveled red faced infant transformed into a smiley happy baby.

I panicked.

What am I going to do? How did I spoil my baby in just four months? I immediately had visions of David as a toddler kicking and throwing himself on the floor at Toys 'R Us floor when I refuse to buy him a Transformer or fast forward twenty years and saw David as a man screaming and yelling at a bar because they don't have Guiness on tap.

I immediately took action.

I called the pediatrician and explained the situation. The doctor advised me to let the baby cry it out. I took her advice. I waited for the next tantrum and let him cry for about ten minutes before picking him up again. He stopped crying on his own but the look in his eye was one of sadness, depression, even loneliness.

I couldn't take it. I feared I scarred him for life. That he would never be the same bubbly happy hungry baby again. I picked him up, laid him on my bed, looked into his eyes and sang "If You're Happy and You Know It." His face lit up. He smiled. He squealed. I cuddled him and within moments things were back to normal.

As a new mother who is not so educated on different parenting techniques, I decided to do some research on the subject. I bought the Ferber book and read some stuff online. For as many theorists who believe crying it out is the only a means to end in teaching a child to be independent, there are a whole load of people who think "crying it out" does more harm than good.

I came across an attachment parenting website for parents of multiples., which advocates for breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and taking babies out with you and your husband on date night, argues against CIO methods as well as twin sleeping schedules, saying that children who are cuddled more during infancy become more independent adults.

Both theories seem extreme and I am still not sure what the best way to go is. One thing I am sure that I will take advantage of David wanting me to carry him around. In just a few years, he will probably tell me to leave him alone.

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