Since you’ve had a baby, you’ve undoubtedly received the sage advice to just let your baby “cry it out” when she’s fussy at night time. But many experts warn that this could cause your child to have negative feelings about night time and sleeping in general.
Don’t get us wrong, the overwhelming majority of babies who are allowed to cry it out and soothe themselves back to sleep go on to be perfectly normal and healthy people. We’re not trying to demonize this method of night time parenting.
What we are suggesting, though, is that are more sensitive ways to parent your infant while she is fussing at night time. Consider this: even as adults, most of us don’t want to be left alone when we’re uncomfortable or upset. How much more, then, do our babies want and need out love and affection when something is disturbing them?
Of course, it doesn’t take much to disturb a baby. It’s understandable why some feel that you should allow them to cry it out and soothe themselves when something is bothering them. Otherwise you could be spending a lot of time tending to a fussy baby who has learned that fussing helps her get your attention.
The thing is that babies’ thinking process is not developed enough to connect the dots and figure out that crying garners them attention, at least not in the first few months of life. Babies cry because that’s the only way they have of communicating something that’s wrong in their world. Whether they are hungry, hurt, uncomfortable, or dirty, their only way of letting you know that they need something form you is to let out a good cry.
Sometimes attention is exactly what they’re crying for. But that’s OK. Babies need lots of attention, and who else are they going to get it from? Giving your baby that attention when she needs it is part of what builds close relationship ties between a parent or caregiver and a child.
If your baby needs lots of night time attention, give it to her. She’ll grow out of it, we promise. Think about it: have you ever heard of a teenager who wakes up crying every night and wants to be cuddled and rocked? Of course not. The best thing you can do as a parent when your baby fusses at night is to try to enjoy the opportunity to be close to your baby.