But, there is a real news story here, and it doesn’t need a cute baby photo as an excuse to post. New information contradicts a lot of confusing childcare advice you might have been getting since the 1970s.
Instead of taking a laid-back approach, get ready for this:
Parents, you should baby your baby!
Apparently, infants aren’t spending as much time being held, cuddled, and physically soothed by parents—and this may be affecting their personalities and emotional health down the road.
A Family View
Over a decade ago, I was somewhat friendly with a family where the mom worked at home on the computer and the father, worked partly at home, partly outside the home. When I first knew them, they had a couple of other children, and had just had an adorable baby girl, she was under six months old.
Sometimes I visited to drop off work or chat; I especially enjoyed interacting with two older children. But I found it disturbing that the baby was allowed to lie—in her crib, on the floor, wherever—and cry and scream until she “cried her self out.”
Now I know this was a loving and very engaged family, they were extremely involved in their children’s education and social lives and very loving and caring. Yet, this behavior didn’t make sense to me.
I cautiously approached another friend of mine, a supermom/teacher type, and without naming names asked her about this. She said:
Oh, that’s what doctors recommend nowadays, that you let them cry. Me, I could never do it, the sound of my child crying hysterically not only breaks my heart, it grates on my nerves, too!
I think these doctors are nuts, a baby needs to feel secure and loved. Why put a tiny little thing through all that stress?
I did a little research, and indeed, some childcare “experts” were recommending letting your child cry and cry and cry. So who was I to interfere or question their wisdom?
Flash-forward four years. That hysterically crying baby has turned into an adorable, very bright, little girl. A little girl who demands constant attention, and in fact, can’t do without it. If her demands aren’t met she sulks, has temper tantrums, and controls an entire roomful of people, adults and children both. She, and her older sister who was similarly raised, kick, smack, spit and thoroughly act out if they don’t get their way immediately. That was many years ago. I haven’t actually seen the family in a while, but I wonder what’s happening with them.
Wise-Woman Common Sense
After I read about this in Sciencedaily and the PsychCentral version of the story, I called up my old supermom friend and we reminisced and had a great talk. She is an elementary school teacher and she says that she thinks can guess which children had this regimen imposed on them, just by their behavior in her classroom!
She says in the last 25 years of teaching she has seen phases; rooms with a a significant minority of rowdy, creative, loud kids; rooms with a significant minority of anxious, angry, sad kids. And so on. She says a lot of today’s kids would rather be on the computer than talk face to face with another child. And so on.
Maybe we’ll talk her into an interview here one day, she’s a wise-woman for sure!
Experts Agree with Smart Mom (duh!)
According to the Psychcentral newstory:
Many experts assert that responding to a baby’s needs (not letting a baby “cry it out”) has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression; and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy.
But it isn’t just babies that need “babying.” Regular hugging, cuddling, comforting, spending quiet time reading or just talking and listening to your toddler and school-age child can have profound effect on his or her sense of self and relationships with others.
So, if you are blessed with a child, listen to the experts.
What do you think, moms and dads?
Oh by the way, these wonderful photos are by Simona Balint from Istanbul, Turkey.
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Last reviewed: 8 Jan 2013