The Crying Game: Dr. Bob Sears Tells Mommyish How To Soothe The Tears – Even For Colic

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So would you try switching diets? Cutting out gluten or milk? Keeping a food diary? “Yes, yes, and yes,” Dr. Bob told me. “You can cut out milk from your diet and see if that helps. You can take drops to help with TLD. But really, look for a reason. Try various things to get your baby some relief.”

All this talk about crying and a parent’s response naturally led me to ask Dr. Sears about Attachment Parenting’s misunderstood philosophies about responding to crying. “That’s one of the biggest myths,” he told me, “that attachment parenting says a baby should never cry.” “I would imagine that thinking your child should never cry would put a lot of pressure on a parent,” I offered. And it’s true, we’ve had writers here who struggled with the elder Dr. Sears’s philosophies because of the stress it can place on parents. “It would be put a lot of pressure on parents. And it would be completely unrealistic,” Dr. Bob explained. “But what we’re really saying is that parents should consider their children’s crying as their form of communication. You should try to respond to their crying, find out what’s wrong and help them with that.”

I admitted to Dr. Bob that I remembered hearing, “You should know what your baby’s cries mean,” as a mother and feeling completely inept. I had no idea if one cry meant she was hungry or another meant she was tired. To my surprise, Dr. Bob was right there with me. “I never figured it out either as a father, how to read the cries. That’s when I’d go to my wife. She could tell. But it’s going to be different for every baby. It’s about their personality.” So did I fail as an attachment parent? Not according to Dr. Bob. “It’s just about not tuning the crying out or ignoring it. It’s about being responsive.”

“If your four-year-old needed something and was trying to tell you that, you wouldn’t sit them in their room for a couple hours by themselves. Aside from discipline issues,” Dr Bob explained. “But you’d respond. When your infant is crying, they’re just trying to talk to you, to tell you that something isn’t right.” When explained like that, the attachment parenting response to crying made a lot of sense.

Then, I asked a question that I think Dr. Bob and his whole family have heard plenty. “What about the idea that you spoil your children by holding them all the time, by responding to ever minor cry?” Without a second’s hesitation, Dr. Bob told me, “Things spoil when you leave them alone. When you set them aside and just leave them there, that’s when they spoil. They become responsive when you pay attention.” Being responsive to your child isn’t about spoiling, it’s about establishing communication between a parent and child from the very beginning.

I think the biggest take-away for me as a parent is the fact that our children’s actions have a reason. Even when they’re little, their crying has a purpose and parents need to figure that out. When my toddler acts out, there’s probably a reason that I just can’t see clearly yet. Our children’s actions are a way to communicate. As these new treatments for colic show, even the inexplicable has possible causes now. Parents just have to be open to investigating the issues.

(Photo: Olinchuk/Shutterstock)

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