My daughter is 7 months old and I’m wondering how long is ok to let her cry for when I know she’s not hungry, wet, tired and just wants to be held.
I’m trying not to get her in the habit of being held all the time and I want her to learn how to self-soothe. I’m also trying to get her to take longer naps and the nurse at my doc office told me to just let her cry so she knows it’s not play time yet when she wakes up too early, but she stands up now in her crib so I just get nervous that she’s going to hit her face on the crib and I don’t know how long I’m supposed to let her go for. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Baby Help Line:
Letting A 7-Month-Old Cry It Out – Yes Or No?
Well, you’re probably asking the whimpiest mom on the planet… I’ve always had a hard time letting my babies cry for long periods (it is easier when they get older and you know for sure the crying is about some disagreement.)
Anyway… When a baby is at around 7 months old both stranger and separation anxiety often set in, and a baby can really need to be close to their parents a lot. This can go on for a few months. Both these anxieties are typical for the development phase they are in, which is when they start to realize that they are separate beings from their mom. Some babies will go through this without the parents hardly noticing, while for other babies, it is a very frightening discovery and they need a lot of comfort to get through this.
I know there are many proponents of simply letting the babies cry until they stop, either to allow some rest for the parent or to avoid “spoiling” the baby. I do understand the resting argument, although the crying is probably just as stressful as having to carry the baby around non stop. The spoiling argument is actually not correct. Babies do not get spoilt into wanting to be carried forever by picking them up during this period, rather the opposite. If picked up, they learn to trust that Mom or Dad is around for them and this helps them through the stage of separation anxiety and on to new adventures!
In addition to the fact that picking your baby up will speed up the process towards independence, the crying is their way of communicating and I find it hard to simply ignore it; they do cry for a reason and we want to teach our children that their feelings matter. One thing though, make sure to give your baby attention and pick her up often while NOT crying too, to avoid reinforcing the crying as the only way to get mom to pick her up! You’ll want to give her lots of attention when happy too!
So in short, I don’t agree with the nurse who told you to let her simply stand there and cry, but I understand your frustration regarding the naps. Have you tried letting your girl sleep in the stroller under supervision and simply start rocking it the minute she is showing signs of waking up? That can be a very effective way to teach a baby to take longer naps. (Just make sure you don’t leave her alone in the stroller EVER so that she can fall out!)
Also, you can always review her sleep schedule, to see if you can find any clues to why her naps are short. Maybe she needs to take fewer naps, for example? I have also tried to get my babies to go back to sleep after a nap, but once they are wide awake, I’ve never suceeded. You need to catch her just before she actually wakes up to have a chance to help her back to sleep. A baby that stands up is defintely awake. 😉
If you want to teach your baby to self-soothe, then baby steps will be much more efficient. Once the worst separation anxiety has started to subdue, you can start working on teaching your baby to fall asleep on her own – first maybe next ot you in your bed, then close to you, but in her crib. It takes a while and most children have periods of waking up for many years, no matter how good sleepers they are during other periods.
I really wish you good luck!
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