belief in the language value of your baby's cry.
A baby's cry is a signal designed for the survival of the baby and the development of the parents. Responding sensitively to your baby's cries builds trust. Babies trust that their caregivers will be responsive to their needs. Parents gradually learn to trust in their ability to appropriately meet their baby's needs. This raises the parent-child communication level up a notch. Tiny babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate.
I don't believe that babies should be left to cry or cry it out. When Kale was a newborn crying was the only way he could tell me what he needed and I believe that my job as a mama is to respond to his needs as quickly as possible. By responding to his needs, he learns that I'm there for him when he needs me and this builds trust which eventually leads to independence. To me, this makes so much logical sense that I have a hard time seeing it any other way.
Does that mean that "responding sensitiviely" is easy? Hells no. When Kale was a newborn, he had the tiniest little cry that made my heartbreak in itty bitty pieces. It didn't take long before that tiny little cry became a wail of terror that pierced eardrums and woke the dead. Kale cried A LOT the first few months of his life. A LOT. My midwife told me he was colic. I didn't accept it. I knew something was bothering him. Eventually, I figured out that I had an assertive let-down, that Kale was sensative to dairy and soy, and responded well to infant probiotic. Even though it helped, he still cried a lot.
It was hard.
Kris was working out of town four days a week and I was left to care for a crying baby. As much as people wanted to help, it was the night's that were the worst and the biggest thing I needed then was emotional support. Pretty soon that wail of terror was making it really difficult to "respond sensatively." Getting through this time was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It was hard physically because of the tension and exhaustion, mentally because I would beat myself up over getting frustrated, and emotionally because sometimes there was nothing I could do but cry along with him.
It took time, but I started to figure out how to stop his tears. I stopped having expectations and focused on accepting the baby I had. We stopped driving if we didn't have to (he hated the car seat), we wore him everywhere (he hated the stroller), I would pump in the middle of the night before nursing him so he didn't have to deal with the let-down. I never thought about leaving him to cry unless I absolutely had to or letting him cry it out at night and this is something I am extremely proud of.
What am I not proud of? The two times that I had to put him down while he was crying and walk away for a minute because my frustration and stress were getting out of control. I realize that I did the right thing by giving myself an opportunity to collect my thoughts and calm down and I realize people do this all the time - but it doesn't make it any easier to forget the look on his face when I walked away. Breaks my heart to even think about it.
Luckily, Kale rarely cries anymore. If he does it's because he's hungry or sleepy and both are pretty quick fixes. Now that Kale can point, pick things up and pass them to us, and say a small handful of words, he has other ways of communicating with us. We still respond to his needs, but as he nears toddlerhood, we're starting to think about limits and figuring out the difference between his wants and needs.
And even though I don't like to see Kale cry, I have to admit that sometimes it's kinda cute...