I went to visit a friend after she had a baby. As I tiptoed into her room holding flowers, a bag of trail mix, and trashy magazines, her pediatrician was in there asking why the baby had a pacifier in his mouth. “I just couldn’t nurse him anymore, and every time I put him down, he cried, so I gave him that and he stopped and fell asleep,” she explained.
“Well, actually, that is what you are for. He shouldn’t have this yet. Listen to him cry, or nurse him,” he responded (I know!).
Her husband had clenched fists, the 10 seconds it took for him to walk out of the room seemed like hours, and I watched my friend and first-time mother try to hold back the tears. I had to grip onto the doorknob to keep my mouth shut. I kid you not, I bent the damn thing. Needless to say, he was their pediatrician no longer.
If you aren’t comfortable with letting your child cry it out (I don’t care how old they are) and can function better by doing anything in your power to get them to stop, then Mama, that is what you do.
If you would rather hold them so they can fall asleep instead of listening to them wail, then do that. They are a baby, and the only way they know how to ask for what they need is to cry or fuss. And when the words do come, you can work with them and teach them how to ask for what they want as they grow. Just like everything else, they are going to need some time to master this skill.
So for now, give the baby what the baby wants, give yourself a break, and save your sanity so you have something left to give others, and something left to give yourself. Everyone in the family will benefit, trust me. I gave in to all three of my babies whenever they cried, and they are growing up to be only semi-feral, so I’d say it’s mostly a success story.
Listen, you aren’t spoiling them, and they aren’t trying to manipulate you. They don’t know how to do that (of course it will come later). You rushing to comfort and soothe them is not going to turn them into a narcissistic asshole.
I always felt this was especially important during bedtime. Not only do you need your other kids to sleep, you have been at it all day, and by around 7 p.m., most parents are doing everything in their power to have some downtime to just chill the hell out. Some times we get it, sometimes we don’t, but if it makes it easier on you to give your child a binky, let them sleep naked in the hallway, or crawl in your cozy bed next to you while you read (or scroll Facebook, ahem) take the easy way out. Let them sleep wherever they will sleep, wearing whatever they will put on their little body, and just don’t worry about it. There is no shame in making your life, and theirs, easier.
Another thing, I always did anything I could to quiet my kids while we were in public. There are times when you can’t just leave the grocery store in the middle of your baby’s crying fit, because you are out of toilet paper, diapers, and coffee. The reality is, babies and toddlers don’t have the cognitive ability to translate why they are upset all the time, so they cry. If letting them play with your phone or a candy bar keeps them from crying and keeps rude jerks from giving you dirty looks, then bribe those little people of yours with all the chocolate and donuts and iPhones. You are not harming them by giving them something to keep them occupied. Remember, keeping our sanity is the goal here.
Simply ignoring the crying works for some, but if it doesn’t work for you and you find yourself losing your damn mind because you can’t listen to the bloody wailing for one more second, give the baby what they want. And if you have older kids, teach them how to comfort the baby so you can take a quick shower. Maintaining your sanity is what is important here. Because we all know the mother sets the tone for the household, and if she feels like she is going to wig out, so does the rest of the family. Just do whatever it is that you have to do to keep going. For most of us, that means giving the baby whatever the hell they want.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy