On Crying and Fussiness

March 28, 2011 · 3 comments

in Daily Life, Development

Fussy babies are either annoying or “poor little thing” depending on if they are related to you.

My friend Kaylia (proud Auntie) made this astute observation and posted it on Facebook the other day, which resulted in a number of interesting and (some) humorous comments.

It’s common and understandable that loving and caring adults (both parents and others) often react to a baby’s cries and/or fussiness in one of the above ways, depending on the circumstances. Underneath the expression of “poor little thing”, or the expression of irritation and perplexity, as the case may be, often exists the desire to soothe or “help” the baby in some way, in order to stop the crying, and make the baby feel better. But I don’t think it’s always possible or desirable to try to soothe or distract a crying or fussy baby.

My response to Kaylia’s observation:

Can’t help it. Let me offer another point of view regarding a fussy baby! When a baby is fussy or crying, I don’t think, “Annoying” OR “Poor little thing.” Instead, I wonder about what the baby might be trying to express, and I try to “listen” very closely to understand what she might be trying to say, in order to be able to respond to her in a helpful way. Sometimes there is nothing we can do to ease the fussing, and it’s just a matter of being present with a baby, and letting them know we hear them.

Little babies have feelings, and things to say, and can also have bad days,  just like us. We wouldn’t like to be responded to in a condescending or patronizing way if we were having a hard time, so why respond to a baby as if they are either completely helpless, and in need of rescuing or pity, or on the other hand, as if they are a bother because we are frustrated by not being able to understand their way of communicating, and are unable to make them stop fussing?

Maybe the best any of us can do for babies (or for each other) is to be willing to listen,  try to understand, and offer help IF we can. I wonder if parents and caregivers would feel less frustration as well, if they let go of the idea that it was somehow up to them to solve the problem for the baby, or make the baby happy?

Just some food for thought.Smile

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katepickle April 28, 2011

I think we are trained to always ‘try to make it better’…. I know when my ten month old cries (and he does quite a bit at the moment) I just want to figure out what is wrong and make it better, I feel like that is my ‘job’ as his mother.

That’s all well and good when I can figure out what is wrong and if I can make it better, but when I can’t… that is the hardest. To just let him express himself and cry and just feel what he is feeling seems to go against all my instincts and that is when I feel most frustrated…..

Thanks for reminding me to listen more and just let my baby feel what he feels without judgement.

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