Attachment parenting, ahoy!
August 25, 2009

When she cries, my entire world stops spinning.  Her lip quivers and my heart breaks.  A tear rolls down her cheek and my arms ache with the need to pull her closer, closer, ever closer.  Her face turns red and my brain begins to race through every possibility.  She screams then, the loud wail of a child in distress, and every inch of my body reacts and tenses.  My breasts fill with milk, my eyes well up, my heart beats faster, my lips linger on her forehead.  If someone else is holding her, it takes all of my concentration to keep from running to her, arms open, lullaby ready.

Nobody told me how torturous it would be to see and hear and feel that my child was upset.

The Almighty THEY tell me that I need to schedule her.  They tell me that I will spoil her if I respond to her every cry.  They tell me that she is manipulating me.  They tell me to try using a pacifier or to let her cry it out alone in my bedroom.  And sometimes I think that maybe they’re right, maybe they know what they’re talking about.

But then she cries.  And when she cries, I wonder how the sun still shines, how the sky is still blue, how it is that life keeps marching forward.  When she cries, my instinct kicks in, I NEED TO HOLD MY BABY, and every ounce of my being is devoted to making her happy.  The drive to comfort my child is one of the strongest, most basic urges I have ever felt.

I guess THEY cannot hear her when she cries.  I guess THEY cannot see my daughter, lip quivering, tears welling, shriek brewing.  If they could, I think they’d hold her too.


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  1. By WaltzInExile on August 25, 2009

    I don’t know about those THEY people, and I don’t care.  You can’t spoil a newborn.  And certainly not by holding her when she needs you.  You’re teaching her to trust you, which I think is more important than “scheduling” her to fit…I don’t know what.  Routines, yes, schedules, no, in my house.
    Works for us.

  2. By Katelyn on August 25, 2009

    Hold her!  Brooklyn’s never had a “schedule” and I think she’s the happiest baby I’ve ever known.  She was hungry, I fed her.  She was tired, she slept.  She was dirty, I changed her…..not rocket science, but it works, for us ;) Our wonderful pediatrician says whatever works for your family, is what is right to do.  Don’t listen to THEM.  Except maybe I should have not let her sleep in our room until she was 14 months because she may just sleep with us forever.  And maybe I’m OK with that too!

  3. By kbreints on August 25, 2009

    ‘They’ are never good to listen to when deciding how to parent your child. ‘You’ are the only one that knows. following your heart is always the best route.

  4. By on August 25, 2009

    a baby cant be manipulative until the ripe old age of around 3-4 months! lol forget the nay-sayers!!

  5. By red pen mama on August 25, 2009

    You can’t schedule a newborn! Geez, THEY sound a little heartless. Also: a newborn can’t manipulate you. That’s just crazy talk. Now a 5 year old—totally different story.

    That being said, I willfully admit I did not practice to the nth degree attachment parenting. My babies moved to their own crib by two and four months, respectively, with occasional sleepy times in our bed. And although I loved holding my girls, if they were not crying, I let them get used to just hanging out without me. That’s what worked for us. Good luck with what works for you!

    ciao,
    rpm

  6. By Tatiana on August 25, 2009

    “They” are ignoring everything that evolution and instinct tell mothers is right to do. We’re wired to respond to our babies.  You’re awesome :)

  7. By Julie Momster on August 25, 2009

    I feel exactly the same way, and have even been given that exact same “advice”.

    But my baby? She’s my baby. She sleeps in her own bed, and always has. But if she cries in the middle of the night, and a pacifier or bottle won’t help her? She comes into bed with me, and with a snuffle and a sigh, she’ll fall back asleep.

    Sometimes they just need lovin’s. And sometimes “they” can suck it :)

  8. By on August 25, 2009

    Yeah, I’m not a parent, but I have much more baby experience than the average single woman, and as far as I’m concerned, THEY can take a hike.  She’s a newborn, not a miniature adult. 

    Have fun cuddling your baby.  I love how you’re writing about motherhood with the same brutal honesty, and open heart, as you wrote about pregnancy.

  9. By Megan at FASS on August 25, 2009

    Ive never met a single mom who had a book binding and an index.  At some point the books need to eff off and instinct rules!

  10. By Stephanie on August 25, 2009

    it’s a mom thing. :)

    i think she’s too young to let her cry it out.. i don’t think she’s at that manipulative stage yet (which I think begins around 6 months!)

    you’re not spoiling her when you’re tending to her needs or go to her when she cries… you are creating feelings of security and comfort in your child and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that…

    don’t let people bully you into thinking you’re doing something wrong for your child by tending to your child’s needs!!! there will be plenty of opportunities for you to let Charlotte cry it out - but i totally disagree that it should happen within the first few months of life…

    keep being a great mom, and one day Charlotte might thank you for it ;)

  11. By C @ Kid Things on August 25, 2009

    Babies can not self-soothe until at least 6 months. You’re doing nothing wrong. This is just how she’s communicating with you.

  12. By on August 25, 2009

    Until my babies could roll over, hold up their heads, etc I responded to every cry. I got so tired of people telling me that was spoiling. A baby is much healthier emotionally when they trust that you will respond to their needs.

  13. By Jasmine on August 25, 2009

    We did AP…. it is good stuff…. keep up the GREAT work!

  14. By Alias Mother on August 25, 2009

    Yup, what they said and what you already know.  It’s too early to be manipulated.  When I first started getting manipulated (around 7-8 months, I think), I knew.  I could see the gleam in her eye.  You’ll know, too.

    And I’m with Waltz: routines, yes.  Schedules, no.  Routines help them figure out the world.  Schedules force them to adapt to an adult world that doesn’t fit them yet.  The difference is subtle, but significant.

  15. By Elizabeth on August 25, 2009

    I think it’s the coolest thing.  Also, I say it’s “instinct parenting”, but that’s just my perspective.

  16. By tracey on August 25, 2009

    Guess what? Your baby will grow up whether you hold her 24/7 or not. I say hold her. If you can survive on a non-schedule, then HOLD HER. The day will come, all too soon, that it won’t be an option anymore. My “baby” is almost as tall as I am…

  17. By erin on August 25, 2009

    Ohhohohohooo you must have seen Stephanie’s link and ensuing discussion/outrage re ‘Babywise’?

    That is a beautiful photo.

    Imho, spoiling or not, I’m going to hold my baby because it feels damn good to hold my baby.  It spoils you more than it does her. :)  And THEY can suck it.

  18. By kim on August 25, 2009

    Well you don’t need me to repeat what all the others have said above… cept to say i agree!

    Welcome to the wonderful world of motherhood, where everyone has an opinion.. often very different than your own.

    In our most vulnerable moments, and there are a million and one of them around parenting, THEIR voices are loud and make us question.. but in the end, our OWN VOICE rings louder, and tis the only one you need to pay attention to…. well your own voice and that lovely little voice you are holding close to your heart in the picture.

  19. By Heidi on August 25, 2009

    I think having a baby has made you more poetic.

  20. By Lori on August 25, 2009

    She needs you right now.  Enjoy the closeness.  You are wise to listen to your heart.

  21. By Tabitha (From Single to Married) on August 25, 2009

    I agree, there is something about a crying baby that is heartbreaking and I’d imagine it would be especially hard if that baby were yours.

  22. By Stephanie on August 25, 2009

    Even “Babywise” suggests tending to your babies every need from the get-go. It just talking about the need to not nurse your baby EVERY single time she/he whimpers. Babies don’t just cry because they’re hungry, they cry for other reasons, too. It just states that parents should be more aware of the other reasons and not just pop a boob in the mouth of a crying baby, just to get it to stop. You need to assess the reason for the cry and fix the real issue.

    I say forget the nay-sayer’s and hold your little girl.

  23. By on August 25, 2009

    I held my baby 24 hours a day until she decided to strike out on her own. She’s 15 months now and I still hold her whenever she wants. Physical love and attention will not spoil your child. It makes them feel safe. She is the happiest little girl I’ve ever met, she’s confident enough to go up to anyone and smile and babble.  I guarantee you will never regret spending the time holding your baby, but you might regret not holding her. Also, I have always and probably always will run to her when she’s crying and take her from whomever else might be holding her. That’s the mother’s perogative.

  24. By mommyknows on August 25, 2009

    Whoever, THEY are, THEY are wrong. You can’t spoil a newborn. A newborn can’t manipulate you. They cry for a reason. A newborn that cry’s for mom, need mom.

    THEY need to mind their own business!

  25. By Stephanie on August 25, 2009

    Re: blog comment

    Mmmmmm… veggies and rice sound AWESOME! Thanks for the heads up!

  26. By Veronica on August 25, 2009

    I always wanted to stab ‘they say’ with something sharp. And then subject them to a CD of a baby crying on loop and see how they fared.

    But then, I’m evil like that.

    I say (because I’m important, or something) that you’ve got to do whatever feels right.

  27. By Rebecca on August 25, 2009

    I agree with all the good “listen to your instincts” advice above.  The interesting thing is that science and reseach back up our instincts. 

    I think 6 months is a big milestone for a lot of things—sleep, eating, and increasing mastery of the environment, aka “manipulation”.

    The only area we really aren’t practicing AP is the family bed.  I have mixed feelings about it, and my husband is against it, so now that Nicholas is 6 months old, we’re transitioning him to sleep all night in his crib.  He’s gone to bed in his crib since he was about 6 weeks old, and he still wakes up to eat twice between bedtime and wake-up, but now we’re putting him back in his crib each time instead of bringing him to bed with us at the first wake-up. He’s doing great, but I miss my cuddle bug.  :-(  If I’m honest, though, we are ALL sleeping better this way.

  28. By on August 25, 2009

    Listen closely: if God didn’t want you to respond to your child the way you do, he wouldn’t have built you the way he did to respond the way you do. Totally ignore anyone or anything that tries to distract you from what everything inside you tells you to do. It’s your God-given hardwired mother-instinct. It’s real. It’s yours. And it’s what will help you be the very best mother Charlotte could ever have. Trust yourself. Ignore anyone who disagrees. You’re a WONDERFUL new mother!!!!

  29. By on August 25, 2009

    P.S. As for all this about “soiling” a baby? Hogwash! Do you know what real spoiling is? It’s raising your child in a way that makes it impossible for her or him to function in the world. Like spoiled fruit…not good for anything. Responding to the needs of a child doesn’t make for a whining, demanding child. NOT satisfying the needs of a child does that! A baby doesn’t “manipulate” adults. It cries because it has a tiny stomach which physically HURTS when it is empty. Meet your child’s needs and you’ll have a contented, well-adjusted child.

  30. By on August 26, 2009

    Hi Sara,
    Loved this post…love newborns, love to hold babies even when they are not crying :)  I agree with everyone above who says to trust your instinct.  My babies also responded very well to routine, and I found I was a more comfortable mother because of it.  We did not have the family bed though…my husband and I just don’t sleep well with the little ones taking up all the room in the middle!  I think both kids were in the crib at about 2-3 months old.  Oh how I treasure the snuggling when they join us early in the morning though!
    You’re doing a wonderful job Mom!

  31. By April on August 26, 2009

    ha! my kids weren’t scheduled until around 5 mo for the same reason :-)

  32. By tracy on August 26, 2009

    Two words: fuck ‘em. I am completely with you; felt exactly the same way, worried about exactly the same thing. Only YOU know what’s best for Charlotte right now. If your instinct is to go to her, do it. You are not going to spoil her, she is not manipulating you, SHE IS A BABY. Think of it from her perspective: she was in a perfectly controlled environment for 10 months & was tossed into the world. She needs time to adjust. She needs you. She needs to know you’re there. Trust me, you will know when it’s okay to let her cry it out. It will hurt like hell the first time, and it will hurt a million times worse the first time you have her sleep alone in her room (if she isn’t already) but it all falls under the category of “doing what’s best for her” because eventually, they do need to learn to self-sooth. You’re doing a great job, mama ~ trust your instincts.

  33. By Jennifer W. on August 26, 2009

    I wrestle with The They on a daily basis.  Well, They can kiss my butt.  If They bring up something I *should* or *should not* be doing, I like to throw in the old “Well it’s not like she’s going to need me to hold her when she’s 16.  I think I’m caring for MY baby just fine.“  You go pick up that baby whenever, wherever, from whoever you want.  They be damned.

  34. By Julia Brown on August 26, 2009

    I read a lot of different books in the beginning and, of course, they all contradicted each other.  I don’t think there’s a book out there that I’d agree with 100%, or that includes all the necessary footnotes.  I remember being proud of myself the very first time I bashed something in a book - I felt I moved to the next level in parenthood because I was finally confident (instead of just listening to everything everybody told me). 

    I’ve personally found that a rountine really helps me know what he’s crying about (I never believe in crying-it-out in their room).  When I’ve gone without one, I don’t know if he’s hungry or tired - and I’d end of feeding him even if I just fed him an hour ago.  But then he’d fall asleep right after I start to fed him - so it was from being tired…but then then he’d wake up early and I’d wonder if he actually got enough food - ahhh!  crazyness!  It got much easier though!!  At a year, he now sleeps 12 hours in his own room and he starts rubbing his eyes everytime he’s tired, so there’s no question as to why he’s suddenly grumpy! 

    Best of luck and be confident in what works for your family!!

  35. By mommica on August 27, 2009

    “They” are dumb.

  36. By Samantha on August 28, 2009

    Never listened to THEY and my Daughter is one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met.  She’s always in a good mood and we are the most unorganized family I’ve ever seen.
    Best advice do what you feel is right.  It’s our jobs to make the mistakes raising our kids not someone elses.  If my kids going to be screwed up I want it to be my fault!
    Love your site.  Enjoy being MOM

  37. By daria on August 28, 2009

    You can’t spoil a baby, especially an infant. Later, once you can tell that your kid perfectly understand what’s going, you have to watch out not to give in. But when the baby’s brain is still purely instinctual, it is perfectly fine, and I think _preferable_ to love and to hold them. So have no shame, just follow your intuitions - mothers know best what their children need!

  38. By Jinxy @ Jinxyisms on September 06, 2009

    I have read that you can’t spoil a baby under 1 and I believe and you know what I don’t care anyway.  When my baby cries I go to her, I try to make it better.  Screw THEM!

  39. By Jill@ModernMommyBlo on September 08, 2009

    Do not listen to them for 1 second!  Your baby still fully depends on you for her complete survival.  She is learning that when she has a need (even if that need is just to be held) that she can trust you to fulfill that need.
    You are doing the right thing in responding to her cries.
    Besides research has shown that babies who had their cries responded to grow up to be happier and more confident children because they have learned that they can trust their world.

  40. By Jess on November 25, 2009

    Ugh, Babywise. Wish all the books in the series would be pulled in order to save new moms the grief of thinking they have to schedule their babies (because babies can read clocks, ya know!) and thinking they can’t nurse their baby every time they cry. And no, your baby isn’t hungry every time they nurse. That’s why nursing for comfort is such a beautiful thing :)

    I’m Jessie and I’m an attached parent all the way :)

    And I love your blog, Sarah :)

  41. By Barbara on January 22, 2010

    As I have one going off to college in 5 short months, I am going to give you a little advise.  Don’t listen to whoever it is who tells you not to be there when she calls.  When she cries she is saying mommy I need you.  It will not get better is will just have more variety of words than tears and screams and if you think it hurts now wait till you look at her and realize you won’t see her everyday. Hug her, love her and enjoy every minute over-parenting brings.  It passes really quickly…

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