Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let Them Scream?

I'm sure that anyone who has cared for an infant or young child knows the heartache of listening to the child's lamentations at nap time.  If you are new to the baby world, you will most likely feel an uncontrollable urge to dash into the nursery, lift up your distressed child and rock them to peaceful quiet.  Don't.  While you can sometimes put a child to sleep and then keep them sleeping as you transfer them from your arms to their bed, it is not as frequent as we'd like.  Rather, we must let them fuss and cry to sleep.  The question is how long do you leave them screaming?  When do you cater and when do you turn a deaf ear?  

If you rush in at the first whimper, your child will quickly learn your weak will and exploit it.  Whether they are tired or not, they will scream if they know you will come and give them attention.  Give your crying child a few minutes to accept the fact that it's nap time.  Let them cry out their frustration before succumbing to the bliss of sleep.  If you find crying difficult to cope with, go in every five minutes or so and comfort your child.  Do not necessarily remove them from their crib; rather, you can stroke their back and whisper soothing words of comfort.  Before you enter to comfort, however, be sure that their screaming has not decreased in volume or intensity.  Oftentimes, a child will cry for several minutes straight, but they gradually quiet down.  If you go in just as they are calming themselves down, you can destroy their sleepy mood.  The screaming will start again, and you're back at square one.

The best advice is to develop a bit of a cold shoulder and tough love aspect.  You must be able to withstand the screams because you know what is best for your child.  They need a nap, even if they think otherwise.  It can be painful to listen to your young one whimpering and bewailing their cruel fate.  You can endure, however, with great patience.  Just be sure to learn the difference between a child crying themselves to sleep and a child who screams for 20 minutes straight with an ever increasing volume and earnestness.  Sometimes you simply have to go in and take care of the screaming.  But don't buckle within the first two minutes.  Give your child some time to adjust and calm themselves before rushing to the rescue.  You'll thank yourself so much!

1 comment:

  1. Contrary to popular opinion, infants do not scream to manipulate their caregivers to their will. They scream because they are lonely and scared. I know the "experts" say you should leave them to do it anyway, but I never did and I have no regrets. Babies are little for such a short time, and rocking to sleep won't do any harm. It's what parents the world over did until the 1950's when some male doctor came up with "crying it out."