Should I Pick My Baby Up When He Wakes Up Crying?

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There is a good deal of debate amongst today’s baby sleep experts regarding whether or not you should pick up a crying baby. We’re not going to pretend to give you a definitive answer here. Ultimately, you will need to go with your instincts. After all, you’re the parent.

That said, there are pretty good arguments both for and against picking up a crying baby. Of course, if your baby is less than four months old, there really isn’t any question. Babies at that age wake up for a very simple reason: Their tummies are too small to hold enough breast milk or formula to keep them satisfied for very long. They need to eat every two to four hours. So, if your infant baby is crying, by all means, pick him up and feed him.

Beginning in their fourth month, however, babies can begin to sleep for longer periods of time, and many experts believe that they should be encouraged to do so. Many baby experts advocate allowing your baby to cry briefly before coming to their rescue at night. The rationale is that if you teach your baby that you come running every time she cries, you’re going to be doing a lot of running.

It’s important to note that using this “cry it out” method does NOT mean that you should lie in bed for an hour while your baby is screaming. Most reputable experts recommend starting with a relatively short period of time (generally less than two minutes) of allowing your baby to cry before going to check on her. The idea is that you can gradually lengthen the amount of time you give your baby to try to soothe herself back to sleep before getting up and tending to them.

Attachment parenting advocates, on the other hand, believe that it is more compassionate to go to your baby right away any time she cries and tend to her. They contend that your baby’s emotional well being, as well as your own, depends on being right there for your baby any time she needs anything.

Parents who use this model tend to the bay right away, and try to help soothe her back to sleep after tending to any needs the baby may have. The idea is that if the baby knows that you are going to be right there when she needs you, she will generally sleep better.

Both methods have merits. Both methods have been used to raise healthy kids who do well socially and in every other way. Ultimately, you need to choose which method you believe is best for you and your family and do your best to be consistent with it.

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