Nov 052012

“Just leave. Don’t worry about him. Sometimes babies just need to cry for a little while. He’ll be fine.” – NICU nurse to mother reluctant to leave her crying 1-day-old baby after a feeding.

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 November 5, 2012  newborn, NICU  Add comments

  27 Responses to ““…Sometimes Babies Just Need To Cry For A Little While…””

  1. Could you explain why babies medically *need* to cry for a little while? As a medical professional I’m sure this is medical advice you are giving… and not (bad) parenting advice… so please… let me know what medical problems will be most likely to occur if my baby doesn’t cry for a little while at this point in time.

  2. I’ve read that some older babies do “need” to cry for a bit to go to sleep because that’s just their personality and they don’t settle down with traditional comforting techniques. I never had one of those babies and my understanding is that they’re fairly rare.

    Newborns don’t ever “need” to cry. They need to preserve their energy to grow, and they need to be comforted and reassured that they’re with someone who cares.

    But maybe that’s how this nurse keeps her sanity in her job, when the NICU is understaffed and there are more babies than arms.

    • We’re going through that with our 17 month old. Some nights he’d rather cry in his father’s arms than nurse to sleep. However, he *always* cries in someone’s arms, NEVER alone in a room!

      • My second preferred being put down in his crib, by himself, in order to get to sleep. Holding him (unless nursing him) meant that he wouldn’t go to sleep at all.

        • I had the same experience with my (now) 2 year old. If I’m in the room with him, no sleep at all. If I leave him, crying for max 5 minutes, then he’s asleep.

    • My baby occasionally fusses for a minute or two when I put her down to bed, but only when she’s extremely tired and it’s always extremely obvious to me when it’s just a tired-about-to-pass-out fussy cry and a “no no no I still need you for something Mommy” cry. If it’s the latter she gets picked right back up no questions. If it’s the former, she’s always out like a light within 60 seconds!

    • My youngest almost always fusses before he falls asleep — for about 5 minutes. But there’s a difference between fussing and crying.

  3. Those crazy preemies and sick newborns get really tired of being coddled by their loving mothers for their short visits every day. **rolling eyes**

    I hated leaving my baby in the NICU, especially when she was crying. Sometimes I had no choice (e.g. when they were closing for the shift change or for an emergency). It was so hard. I loved when my nurses were compassionate but honest by saying things like “it’s getting a little hectic in here, but I promise I’ll be at your baby’s beck and call as soon as possible.” And I knew they were good for their word, because I saw how they treated other babies when the mother wasn’t around, and sometimes I peeked in before washing up and saw a nurse smiling down at her or holding her. The NICU nurses can make all the difference – they can be so amazingly wonderful (and I think the majority are this way), or they can speak without thinking and make it even harder than it has to be.

  4. Nursie Poo,

    I understand this is what you tell yourself to get through the day because, as one nurse over several babies, some without parents for hours at a time, it’s evident that some babies are going to cry. However, this isn’t true, especially when there is a mother ready, willing, and able to stay with the baby.

  5. This is mine. It might sound like this nurse was just trying to be reassuring — and I don’t doubt that she was — but it really seemed like she wanted me out of there. Our baby was pretty mellow from birth and I think this was the first time I’d ever seen him cry for more than a minute or so. It just didn’t feel right, and I wanted to keep holding and feeding him, but she was pressuring me to leave. Not trying to make me feel better about having decided to leave.

    Of course, the baby’s age is everything here. My understanding is that Ferber himself thinks only babies a few months or older should be left to cry it out. Not brand new newborns…whose mothers are trying to establish a milk supply. Goodness.

  6. Tiny babies DO. NOT. NEED. TO. BE. LEFT. CRYING. EVER.
    My now 18 year old had terrible colic (when a relative would sneak him formula) and would scream for hours. A different relative told me to put him in the crib and shut the door …to just leavehim there! I never did it – not once.

  7. Maybe I’m a bad mom, but when my child cries, even in the middle of the night, I don’t ignore him, ever. And he’s almost two.

    • yes absolutely the worst mother ever, how dare you respond to your childs needs! lol by saying that im calling myself a bad mother too but id rather be a bad mother spoiling her child than leaving him to cry!

      • I’ll join the ‘bad mothers club’. My almost 6 year old woke up crying last night (she’s battling a cold). I went in to see what was wrong and comfort her and (hangs head in shame) made sure she was okay and ready to go back to sleep before I left to go back to sleep in my room.

        Now I’ll go skulk off to a corner somewhere, where the good mothers don’t need to be exposed to such a deleterious influence. ;)

        • I’m also a bad mom. My 9 month old has never been allowed to cry for longer than it took me to figure out what was wrong. The biggest fight I ever had with her father was him leaving her to cry it out (bc his archaic mother told him to) while I went to a birth activist meeting. I came home to her crying so hard she was hyperventilating and for months after that she refused to have anything with her father. At 9 months she’s happy healthy and independant. Not the least bit spoiled.

  8. ok i am personally against leaving a baby to cry for any reason, but i will say that after around 6 months it wont hurt if you have to leave your baby a moment or 2 but at one day old if that baby is crying after a feed then it WILL hurt to leave them and if the mother is there willing/able to stay and hold HER baby then let her, it will make your job easier if the parents can take part in their baby’s care.

  9. Yes, everyone needs a good cry sometimes. It’s human nature. BUT we also need someone there comforting us, especially babies and toddler who don’t have the ability to regulate their emotions yet.
    My 2 year old still wakes up crying at night and I go comfort him because he needs it. He’s recently taken to caring for a baby doll and will lay her down to ‘sleep’. The baby will ‘wake up crying’ and he’ll go ‘comfort her’. Over and over. My two year old gets it, why not adults??

  10. I wouldn’t even let my new puppy cry it out. If he’s whimpering for something, he has a good reason for it.

  11. I can only speak for my babies and would never presume to tell another mother how to interpret her babies’ cries, but on the VERY RARE occasion, this is true for my girls.

    And please let me clarify. I do not just shut the door because they’re fussing. I “run down the checklist.” Are they fed? Warm/cool? Dry? No rash? Got their medicine (they have severe GERD that they can thank me for)? Constipated? Aaaah, have they been up the last 6 hours and didn’t take their morning nap? That sounds like a TIRED cry? If the answer to the last question is yes, the only thing that will get them to sleep is to gently set them in their crib, put their (light receiving) blanket over their tummies and step out. Rocking, singing, cuddling, any of that will keep them awake and fussing. Give them ten minutes (and only ten. If they’re still going after that, we go back in and check on them again – something must be keeping them up) of fussing and zonk. They’re out.

    All this being said, this was never the method until they reached adjusted term. My girls were born almost 7 weeks early and all the time they were “still in the womb” the rules were different.

  12. If a baby is in the NICU, odds are that there is something wrong. The last thing a sick baby needs is to be stressed out. If a baby is crying, they are stressed out about something! Good grief, a little bit of common sense goes a long way.

  13. My baby was in the NICU for prematurity and severe asthma which exasperated his inability to breathe on his own. The first time I heard him cry was heaven because he was over two Weeks old. I’m also one of those moms who let my baby cry it out when he was over a certain age (can’t remember exactly but maybe nine or ten months?) because he won’t fall asleep with anyone else in the trim. However we don’t let him scream and if he’s still fussy after a half hour we check on him. Any less time and he’s going to start the while process over again. Most of the time though he talks and sings until he passes out. However, with all of that said, I would never let my newborn cry without checking on him. That’s their only form of communication!

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