Ask Amma

Posts Tagged ‘crying’

Why is my baby so calm?

In Why on 17 October 2012 at 8:10 pm

Every one around me wonders, when I say, my son doesn’t cry much or he just wakes up only once during night for a feed and never cries for milk. I have seen him cry a very few times from the time he was born. The maximum he does while he is hungry is put all his fingers in his mouth or keep rolling and turning right and left.  My dad came 2 days ago and was astonished to see that he doesn’t cry while having bath. He seems very active otherwise. 
 
Does such behavior and gestures reveal the personality of of my little one when he is grown up? Will he be a shy and a introvert personality? 
– Amma of a 3-month-old in Baltimore
     Are you keeping a journal of these observations and questions?  What a rich experience it will be to revisit them. I am no behavioural scientist so I will start with the obvious – your observations are coloured by your expectations.  One person’s shy is another person’s gregarious.
     Now to your first question.  Crying is a form of communication.  Putting his fingers in his mouth or rolling and turning seem to be other signals that you have learned to read.  Eye contact, squirming, tense fists, craning neck, can all signal needs.   If he is able to communicate in other ways then he has no need to cry.
Dr Sears says:

 We have been led to believe that it is “normal” for babies to cry a lot, 
 but in other cultures this is not accepted as the norm. 

So one answer could be that he is not crying because he feels heard and is content.
     But if you feel that he is not only not crying but also not communicating very much, then I would suggest being more receptive.  Just as adjusting the tuner on the radio can make the sound come through clearly, there are ways you can tune in to the questions, concerns and messages your baby conveys.  The more you listen, the more baby tells you.  The more baby is involved in the happenings of those around him, the more he has to talk about.
     One lesson offered to modern society in Jean Liedloff’s groundbreaking work, The Continuum Concept is to let the world of babies be integrated with the world of the adults around them rather than keeping them in his “baby spaces” e.g. bed / cradle / playpen and with baby paraphernalia.  Some new parents are so concerned not to disturb baby’s feeding and sleeping that they separate baby from the rest of the family, household and social activities.  This often means missing out on all the fun – and remember that for baby, your work is a big part of the fun.  If you have to leave what you are doing in order to attend to baby, the atmosphere may be stifled.   Why not drop the formalities, carry on while carrying baby and let the ideas flow freely? The sling helps parents do just that.  Babywearer-in-chief, Dr. Sears, writes:

 Because baby is intimately involved in the mother and father’s world, she is exposed to, and participates in, the environmental stimuli that mother selects and is protected from those stimuli that bombard or overload her developing nervous system.

– Dr. William Sears, “Benefits of Babywearing
     The sooner a mother gets comfortable nursing anytime, anywhere, the easier life will be for both mother and child.  If one feels the need to go to a separate room or cover up every time baby nurses, it limits one’s mobility – no fun for mother or child.  While Ask Amma does not endorse any diaper, she offers for your amusement this advertisement for Lugs featuring a mother nursing freely in public.   No special clothing is required to nurse in public but if a nursing top nursing makes you feel more comfortable, by all means get one and nurse away.  Jivika nursing kurtas are zipper-free, making for discreet latch-on and latch-off.
     The sling and the nursing kurta are two garments that helps moms stay involved in various activities, even while attending to little ones.  This attention and involvement allows children greater exposure into the social behaviour of adults and also gives them a safe space to talk, listen and think.
     In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain describes how she came to embrace her quiet nature after a lifetime of trying to conform to social expectations to be the opposite, and invites readers to recognize the often overlooked strengths of introverts.  She contends that contemporary American society has over the decades, come to presume a higher degree of extraversion than in the past, and than is comfortable for a large part of the population that thrives on solitude.  She urges everyone to nurture environments that accommodate diverse personalities.  When allowed to blossom on their own, introvert and extravert qualities will develop along with other aspects of one’s personality.

Crying for no reason

In Why on 11 August 2012 at 8:00 pm

My baby is crying, yelling without any reasons and wants me to play with her all day round.  Can’t do anything!  Help!

– Ma of an 18-month-old in Kolkata
from 
La Leche League Pan-India: Breastfeeding Resource


Times when my daughter was crying or yelling “without any reason,” I thought back and tried to put myself in her shoes.  More often than not, the reason became apparent.  Maybe she had asked for something in a quiet voice but no one listened.  Maybe the day had been rushed.  I had a checklist I would use when in doubt: “Are you well-rested, well-fed, well-read, and well-hugged?”  It became a kind of calming routine that allowed us to troubleshoot.  Sometimes we used “well-worked”  or “well-played.”  You can substitute anything you enjoy doing together like “well-danced” or “well-bathed” or even “well-turned upside down.”  Even now, sometimes she herself comes and tell me, after observing her own anger or frustration, “I am not well-fed.” or “I am not well-hugged.”   There will also be times when we don’t know the reason – this happens to adults too.  You may not be able to make your child’s tears go away, but you can offer a shoulder.

Maybe, like you, she too is thinking, “Can’t do anything!  Help!”  My first thought when looking at the two pieces of the puzzle – her desire for more play and your need to do other things, is – involve her in the things you do.  At 18 months, my daughter was never happier than when at work.  She could water plants, dig in the garden, wash and dry clothes, rinse, dry and put away dishes, sweep and mop floors, dust tables, pour dal into jars (one of her top jobs), sort fruits and vegetables and wash them if needed (and even if not needed.)  Before cooking I would often give her a vessel with rice or dal and ask her to wash and mix it.  She would do this for a while and then I would cook it.  My memory is hazy with the ages, but “helping” make chapatis was also a favourite chore of hers, and by age 3 her creations were edible.

Letting her help will slow down the pace of your work, but it will meet her (and your!) need for play, which to her is not different from work.  The work is not only “your” work.  It is her work too.  As kids become verbal, these times of shared work become the setting for very interesting conversations as well.  If we think back to earlier times, or visit our rural cousins, we find that children enjoy the company of all ages, throughout the day.  They naturally take part in a range of activities, sometimes in the lead, sometimes in the background.  It can be difficult to provide such diversity of company or of activity in modern urban settings, but we can acknowledge that we are missing something important.  With a bit of creativity and if possible, help from extended family or neighbours, we can try to make up for it.

Is it okay to let him cry?

In Yes / No on 10 April 2011 at 6:40 am

Crying – is it ok to let him wail and cry when he asks for the breast or is crying harmful for him? My instinct is to pick him up when he cries but others discourage that…

Breastfeeding on demand vs on schedule – A__ can’t seem to follow a schedule and wants to be at the breast all day. At night he sleeps for 2 three hour stretches but from morning till the day is over he feeds more with only cat naps in the middle. Why is he doing this and how should I handle it?
– new mom from Palampur

Your son knows what he wants and it will only do good and certainly no harm to listen to him – think of it as a 9 month training program where he teaches you how to be his parents and you teach him about the world.. Infants need round-the-clock feeding, holding etc. If he can get his needs met without having to cry, he will have more time and energy to develop his other senses, communication skills, observation & analytical skills.

%d bloggers like this: