Hey, you’re a good mom. Even if your baby cries.

Remember Jennifer’s post about how crying-in-arms relates to Attachment Parenting? Some readers were confused about this practice. Some were relieved. Some were slightly amused that what came naturally had a name. This post isn’t for the moms in the latter group. It isn’t for the mothers with a sharpened intuition, those who don’t need books or Facebook groups, and certainly aren’t affected by Aunt Annie’s advice to just “Put that baby down!” Kudos if you’re in that group. I hope we all are someday.

I’m writing for those new mamas who have been told they’re doing it wrong, and because baby’s crying, these mamas are wondering if perhaps those voices are right. Between hormones and an entirely new role in life, a rock solid confidence in our mothering alludes even the best of us at times.

So, the question I’m addressing isn’t, “Should I put my baby down if he’s crying?” because most mothers, Attachment Parenting, Natural Parenting, maybe even French Parenting or not, aren’t likely to wash a round of dishes with a screaming baby in another room. It goes against an innate, biological urge.

The question becomes, “What is safest for my baby and me when he is crying?”

Below is an excerpt from the Touch chapter of our book.

A purple, organic Moby wrap was my mainstay for the first three months of Anabella’s life. The Moby, Anabella, and I were one and the same. Most of the time, it soothed her instantly. Even in her saddest, colicky moments, my precious baby was calmer there than in any other place.

Yes, I said it. She had sad and colicky moments, despite being held, nursed, and cuddled for most of her waking hours. Though research confirms the benefits of all the time-honored practices we’re sharing, there are no guarantees. Apparently Anabella didn’t read those studies. But instead of comparing my girl with study subjects, which could bring on guilt, shame, and confusion on even my most confident days, it was crucial to remind myself that my child is an individual. So though we know both anecdotally and scientifically that babywearing soothes infants, it’s not a magic pill.

There will likely be moments – and I’ve experienced quite a few – where the tails of your mei tai drag behind you, and your baby’s cries ring in your ears. It doesn’t mean you’re not touching/loving/nursing your little one enough. It means you are both human, and sometimes you each have bad days. (Of course if you suspect an underlying medical cause, get it checked out!) Those were the times I prayed the hardest, logged the most minutes on my phone calling far-away girlfriends, and saw the bottom of the ice cream carton. But at the end of the day, I knew I was doing my girl right by holding her close and letting her vent her woes in the safety of my arms.

I think there can be guilt or shame in AP circles, especially depending on whose blogs you read, what books you’re into, and whose company you hold, if your baby cries. If you just offered the boob, like, every five seconds, your baby would be fine (if you haven’t try this, though, it generally what they want…). If you cut out dairy and wheat and anything that used to live, she’d stop crying. If you did yoga every day and only thought positive thoughts during pregnancy, you’d have a happy baby.

Sometimes that’s just not the case. I know–it’s easy to get overwhelmed wanting to know how to fix every. little. cry. Especially with your first, when you have lots of time to do such investigative work! We should (yes, I used the word.) give our all to meet babies’ needs, but what if you’ve tried nursing, burping, pottying, cuddling, rocking, and loving? Then, take a deep breath. And maybe a piece of chocolate. This too shall pass. If you can, hold him, and let him know you’re listening.

But what if you can’t? What if one more cry might send you out the window? While leaving a baby to cry for a prolonged period is never a good thing, sometimes moms– especially single moms, working moms, and busy-with-a-big-family moms, need a breather. So what’s best and safest for mom and baby, might actually be a few moments apart. And that’s OK. If you have a partner, older parent, or even older sibling of baby, their warm arms might be an acceptable stand-in while you catch your breath.

Be encouraged, mama of a crying baby. Forget the studies. Forget that stupid line that you read in AP books–“Babies born in Africa don’t cry because their mothers offer the breast so frequently.” Or, “In non-Western societies, there’s not even a name for colic!” You’re doing a great job. Keep holding your little one, without fear of spoiling him, with confidence that you are modeling empathy, and pouring our love.

The takeaway here? Crying-in-arms, AKA mothering, is just another way to respond with respect and kindness to our babies.

 Megan is an in-love, at-home writer/mama to Anabella Sofia, who cried for about 13 weeks straight, from 4pm onwards. Anabella is now known to laugh for hours at a time. She’s that happy.

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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3 thoughts on “Hey, you’re a good mom. Even if your baby cries.”

  1. Love it! When Anya was about 1 year old, my husband came upon a research article that suggested (through clinical trial) that babies reach their maximum crying capacity at 46 weeks (no matter when they are born). A lightbulb went on. I remember when she was a month old. It was terrible, horrible crying. But we held her and the time passed. She is such a happy soul now.

  2. It was so great to read this!! After hearing so many people tell me just to put my crying baby down, and let him cry it out, when he was an infant…who cried about 16 hours a day…that the word is being spread that it is ok to both hold our crying babies, and to feel ok taking a break from them as well! It can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining loving on a crying baby day in and day out. But it does get better, and it makes the happy moments that much sweeter! My son is now a happy, well adjusted, sensitive big brother to a 2 year old sister, that he loves, and always to comfort when she is hurting. I like to think that the constant love and holding he got as s baby, as well as mini breaks that we both needed, has taught him human contact is a great and healthy thing, and helping and loving go hand in hand. Thank you for your words !!

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