FAQ: Controlled Crying

In discussing the pros and cons of letting babies cry, there is one very important point that must be made first:

If your baby is crying and you feel that you are about to lose control and become upset with your child, leave the room. Leaving baby to cry for a few minutes while you calm yourself will not harm him.

What is controlled crying?
“Controlled crying” is currently used as an umbrella catch-phrase for all sorts of settling techniques, including what can only be called “uncontrolled crying” (the practice of repeatedly leaving a baby to cry himself to sleep).
Actual “controlled crying” or “controlled comforting” requires the parent/carer to wait a prescribed amount of time before entering the room to provide comfort to a crying baby / child.

Does it work?
It can be a useful tool, in some instances, with older children. I find it counter productive with children under two.

Does it harm my baby?
This recent study shows quite clearly the harm that uncontrolled crying can do; an abstract of the research is here:
What this means, in a nutshell, is that babies who are left to cry do stop crying, but they do not stop being stressed.

Do you practice controlled crying?
I neither condone, support, teach nor practice controlled-crying-type methods with small babies.

Mentoring New Mums

Something I’ve been doing a lot more of again lately – and meaning to blog about – is mentoring new mums. After meeting for an initial consultation, we meet again either weekly, or every couple of weeks, to build on Mum’s brand new skills, to discuss Baby’s development, perhaps to keep an eye on Baby’s feeding / weight gain, or to deal with an ongoing issue such as sibling rivalry, or postnatal depression. I am also available by phone and email to touch base with these families between visits.
Having a new baby is a really steep learning curve for many Mums, especially if there is no family support available. One of the Mums taking part in this program said that having me around is like knowing that the “safety net” is there.
For more information, please call me or email me.

Who? What? Why?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked “why don’t you write a book?” in the last twenty years, I’d be a very wealthy woman!! It’s because I prefer the hands on, one-to-one approach of home visits: I love visiting families, and I enjoy seeing that I can make a positive difference to their situation.

That said, there are certain “constants” that apply to almost every baby and child. I’m happy to share some of them here.

Firstly: babies and young children learn through repetition.
No matter what you do, if you do it regularly, your child will expect it as normal. Keep in mind that, from their perspective, it’s been done this way all their life. So, for example, if you always play a CD of Brahms lullabies when you put your infant to bed, then they will come to associate hearing that music with going to bed and going to sleep. Likewise, if you stand on your head in the middle of the backyard and whistle “La Marsellaise” when you breastfeed, your baby will also learn to expect this circumstance at feed time!

The point is, you need to be consistent and persistent with whatever you do. Because littlies learn through repetition. Babies and toddlers can’t tell the time: they learn to predict their day through the regular circumstances that occur throughout their day, and they build a feeling of security based on this “knowledge of routine”. So if you check the mailbox at 10am every day with Mister Three, he’s going to expect it. If you read three stories to Miss Two before bed every night, she’s going to expect it. If you change Miss Seven Month’s nappy and play peek a boo between sides at every breastfeed, she’s going to expect it.

Take some time to look at what you do, and how you do it, especially in any area where you’re having problems. What are you teaching your child, through repetition?

…to be continued…