Don’t Feel Bad When Your Crying Baby Makes You Crazy

Someone came to my blog with this thought the other day: “can’t cope with baby crying makes me angry then feel guilty”

Oh, sweetie. Don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there. Know that unless you are somehow abusing that child for crying, you’re fine. And, like everything in parenting: this too shall pass.

And that when my baby’s crying used to make me insane, I would go downstairs and beat up the washing machine. (Sorry, Dave.)

Know that a baby’s cry is DESIGNED to bother us. They are helpless, and their cry is their way of getting us to take care of them. There is scientific proof that when a baby cries, our pulse and heart rate increase. I know it’s true, I can feel it all the time. To this day if there’s a baby crying in my house it gets me totally agitated. And that’s what the sound is supposed to do. It’s so you’ll go running over and help that little baby. Mother nature knows self-preservation.

When I had my babies my mother used to say, “You check them and if they’re fed, changed, burped, and they don’t have a pin sticking in them – they’re fine.” (She had me back in the olden days when diapers had pins, apparently.) She told me stories of her friend who would put the baby in her crib and go outside and walk in circles around the house until the baby would stop crying because she couldn’t stand the noise.

I thought, Who were these cretins who raised us!? We don’t let our babies cry! We rock and soothe and calm them lovingly until they drift off into peaceful baby slumbers.

But let’s be honest. How well has that worked for us? We create babies who can’t fall asleep on their own and cry and cry until we pick them up, and we create endless back and neck aches for ourselves because we’re soothing them all the time.

Not to mention the stress on you and your family when you spend a good chunk of your day attempting to soothe the baby, while food goes uncooked and clothes go unwashed and the rest of your life, in general, falls to pieces.

I also remember when Mom and I first went shopping for baby stuff together. She was wandering up and down the aisles saying, “Where are the playpens? Are these the playpens?” (Referring to the pack-n-plays.)

Oh Mother, that’s just another thoughtless, horrible, neglectful thing that we don’t do to our children anymore.

OK, I hate to say it, but… my mother was right. (Just kidding Mom!)

But back to crying. Babies cry, it’s what they do. I remember hearing, “You’ll learn to read his cries,” and thinking, are you nuts? I have no idea what this baby wants! (Except to torture me.) But it’s true. If nothing else, you can at least tell the difference between real distress and just fussy-crying.

If they’re fussy-crying and you’re losing it, put them down (crib, bouncy seat, whatever) and walk away. They’ll be OK, and you need to calm down or things will just escalate for both of you. I make it a rule not to carry around a crying baby (unless it’s real distress). Why do I want to bring that noise closer to my ear?

Sometimes we think that they need us to comfort them when honestly, they need a break too. They can get fussier from being over-handled, which is definitely something I never learned with my first. That poor kid was man-handled for months. Every time he peeped I went running over to soothe him. And he didn’t learn to fall asleep by himself until he was over a year old. My fault.

If your baby is still little (6 months or less), I would highly recommend swaddling. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block has a good description of it. You have to do it right – nice and tight, don’t be scared – for it to really work. I guarantee you it does. I know you’re worried about squishing their little body but think about how squished they were in your belly! That’s tight. So they’re used to that feeling, it’s comforting to them.

If your baby is crying all the time, can’t be settled, and just seems unhappy, you’ve probably already considered colic. Talk to your doctor about it. They might agree and help you out, or they might tell you that babies cry and to live with it. If the crying is bad enough to distress you, I would advise that you push your doctor. Even if they still think it’s not colic, maybe they can help you get some support.

I had one delightful, sweet, beautiful girl in my day care who, even up until she was about three years old, cried every day. When she was a baby her mother would worry and I told her, “Babies cry.” She seemed to think that was a good answer (thanks Shelb!). Miss A was just a very emotional little thing, and it’s how she dealt with her feelings. As she got older I could tell she needed this release to help her move on with her day. So when she started to get wound up, I would encourage her go in the hall and cry all she wanted. When she was done she’d come back in the room with us and literally be fresh-faced and happy. Honest.

I don’t know if you’re having trouble with the baby sleeping, but I’ll get on this tangent because I know it was my biggest weakness when my son was first born.

Would you like to know how we got him to sleep? I remember trying to put him down to cry it out and my husband and I sitting on the edge of the bed biting our nails, and after ten minutes looking at each other and saying, “I CAN’T DO THIS!” If we’d only waited five more minutes!!! So we would do one of these awesome tricks: Drive him in the car. Walk around the house pushing him in a stroller (inside the house, it was January). Walk around and bounce him in the baby sling. Stay up for hours while he fussed. Or I’d lay in bed nursing him for hours on end.

Not a pretty picture.

So having said that, I’ll admit that nowadays I do I Ferber-ize babies. When infants first come to me, I soothe them to sleep until they’re about six months old. It is easier then because they nod off while feeding and you just have to lay them down without waking them up. As they get older, I don’t have the luxury of holding one baby until they sleep when I have four other kids who need to go down for nap too. Plus once they get to be 6 months and over, I pretty much can’t hold them anymore unless I want my back out all week. It does work if you can stand the crying. Once they understand that you’re not coming back, and that when they’re in the crib with music/white noise on, lights out, binky/bear/blankie in hand, they get the cues. Ferber-izing really works after a few days (and it’s not as evil as the rumors say; check the link above for some really good information).

If you can’t stand that method, use Supernanny’s. Or stay in the room with them so they can see you and they’re not scared, but give NO response. The idea is you don’t want to engage with them. As soon as you do they’ve won and any time you’ve put in up until now is shot. No eye contact, no picking up (unless they’ve crawled out of bed), no talking, NOTHING. You can even pretend to go to sleep yourself. In fact this method is pretty close to Ferber-izing anyway.

I’ll admit it’s easy for a day care provider to say that these methods work, because it is easier to listen to a baby cry when it’s not from your loins. But I’ve raised about twenty babies now (and even more toddlers and preschoolers who didn’t want to sleep either), and they’ve all done pretty well. They may go to sleep yelling, but they wake with happy smiles for me.

And I want to tell you, never beat yourself up for being human. The world puts a lot of pressure on us these days to be Perfect Mommies. And the world forgets that babies aren’t perfect, and they cry alot. Loudly. And no mommy, no matter how perfect she is, can tolerate that all the time, especially after that baby kept her up all night. We are not saints! But we’re expected to be the sweetest mommy there ever was, even when they are making us insane. It’s not logical. We are human and we feel upset too, and guess what – we still have needs (even if our lives have suddenly been hijacked by a very demanding 10-pound need-machine).

And, um, this isn’t the first time you will lose it on your child and then feel guilty. You should probably get used to it because it never ends. It’s just the fun of parenting! And being human, remember? Refer to this post if you’re totally depressed now.

It’s the dark side of parenting. It’s the part of parenting that all the baby books and experts and even your mommy friends don’t tell you about. They don’t tell you how much labor actually hurts, or what it feels like to be up at 3AM for the fifth (or sixtieth) night in a row, or how really, really hard it is to raise kids. They do it because, well, they want you to be happy. And who wants to make their new mommy friend depressed?

And how would you explain it anyway? Because just as you can’t explain the hard stuff, you also can’t explain the intense, completely foreign, almost cosmic* connection that you have with your baby. And how you love him so much that you ache inside.

But anyway. Babies aren’t always as sweet, calm, and content as the ads and tv shows and, basically, parenting culture, would have us believe. Sometimes they are demons, and we have to learn how to control our own response to the very strong emotions that brings up in us. As I said earlier, just walk away. At any age. Gather yourself and don’t come back until you’re calmer. You don’t want your first response to be the one your child remembers. Because they are wonderful and beautiful, they just need our love and guidance and HELP to make it through this whole growing-up thing.

So put that baby down, take a breath, brew some coffee, and go back to help them when you’ve got a better grip on yourself. Or go beat the crap out of the washing machine.

*I actually looked in the thesaurus (yes I am a total geek) to find another word there because “cosmic” felt too hippie crunchy. But the definition of cosmic was “immeasurably extended in space or time; vast,” and yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel about my kids.

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64 thoughts on “Don’t Feel Bad When Your Crying Baby Makes You Crazy

  1. Love this one – with three girls who have all been screamers, I’m shocked that I’m still standing. And the wisdom that comes with the second child is amazing….cause all of the sudden you realize they’re not dying and it’s okay to walk away for a bit. I wish I had believed that when people told me that with my first. I’m such a different person with my other two. They can be sitting in the middle of the floor screaming bloody murder and I’m okay with it (after checking to make sure they really aren’t dying) – it’s so liberating. Babies cry – and it drives us wild at times – but we all get past it. Luckily for us all.

  2. OMG, This was the first thing I clicked on and read after typing “what to do when your baby’s crying is making you insane,” in the search bar. I’m so glad because it really helped me feel better about the tough day I was having with my 9mo old who is teething. He’s my second boy and it’s a little easier to let him cry than the first one but it’s still like nails on a chalkboard. It’s just refreshing to read this to diminish a little bit of the guilt I was feeling for letting him cry a little bit. We all want to be Super Mom but we are human after all and trying to the perfect mommy just leads to more stress that you don’t need when your baby is crying his head off.

    • Thanks so much, Andrea! I’m glad to hear I’m helping stressed out mommies! So much of what we’re shown by perfect mommy/perfect baby culture is either unreal or unattainable. No one can do it. And with attachment parenting etc. we are expected to never let our babies cry – or if they do, we’re harming them somehow. So many people suffer from this stress – it’s time to let the moms know that it’s OK and you’re still a great mom even if your kids cry and are unhappy! It’s just a part of life that we can’t stop or deny, no matter how many kisses are in us. Thanks for your thoughts and good luck with those two boys – we’re in the same boat! – Amy

  3. It’s so nice to read an article that helps me realize I’m not a horrible parent (at least, not completely lol). I have a daughter who was colicky for a long time, but thankfully she out grew it. She hit five months and became a super-happy baby but then she hit seven months and is now one bi-polar little girl, lol. Thankfully she only has horrible screaming fits once or twice a week, but they’re so random (she’ll go from smiling and laughing while I hold her to screaming in my arms within a few seconds for no apparent reason) lately that they take my wife and I completely off-guard. Anyway, it’s nice to know I’m not the only who doesn’t look at a crying baby and think “Oh how cute!” lol.
    Thanks for your post!

    • Thanks so much for your thoughts, Christian! I’m glad you liked it. Yep, some days it feels like we’re being tortured by our “cute” babies! (But they are cute again eventually. And we’re all only human!) It sounds like she’s at the age where the feeling of being scared is starting to develop – so that might be why the sudden fits. Seems like you’re doing a great job of being a thoughtful parent. I like your blog too!

      • That might be what it is, she does seem to “freak out” a lot more easily lately, and it sounds like she’s scared (though we can rarely figure out WHAT scared her, lol). I agree that all it takes is a few minutes of her being calm to remember how cute she is again, and how cute she is! 😀
        Thanks, I’m glad you like it!

  4. ear plugs my friends,its what i bought a bunch of.They are a God send for moms,especially if If you are going to let your baby cry it out.My recommendation to you is run dont walk to your closest drug store/pharmacy and buy yiurself the biggest pack of ear plugs you can find.These will be for you and your man ,and any other unsuspecting guess who may be in the like of the audible attack,lol. have a pair in every single room of my house.They don’t completely block out the sound but they make the sound so much lower .Get the ones that block out the most decibels (did i spell that right) anyhow, get a few different kind ,figure out which are most comfortable.Teach baby to cry it out with happy ears lol you will thank me later PS great baby shower gift idea!!

    • Thanks Michelle – I can just see the look on a new mom’s face when she opens ear plugs along with all the onesies and bottles. That’s hilarious. I actually bring a pack to my trainings for child care providers as a joke – maybe I should start giving them to the moms too! I just read an article that said in France they let babies cry for at least five minutes before going to them so they can learn to self-soothe. Sounds like a good idea! Thanks for your comment!

  5. My daughter is a beautiful one year old creature who hardly ever cries – she is always happy and very outgoing. Yet, in those instances when she does cry (if she is tired or some other mysterious reason), I feel something of a mixture between panic, irritation and anger (compounded by the thought that I should not be feeling like this), which forces me to leave the room and go next door and hit a piece of furniture. Although she does not see me, she could hear me or ‘feel it’ in my body once I come back into the room..I can only foresee my reactions getting worse as she grows up..wondering if I need help and with who (psychiatrist, psychologist, etc…). And this happens when I am alone with my daughter, as I feel more easily distressed if my wife is not around to ‘absorb’ some of the situation..

    • This is such a heartfelt and honest comment, and I don’t think I can do it justice here in a short reply. I will post as soon as I can with a proper response. All I can say for now is, hang in there and remember how much you love your daughter. Be grateful that you can recognize when your response is getting out of hand and take the very healthy step of walking away and dealing with your anger. I am so proud of you for your openness and I will respond asap!! Thank you!

    • I feel the same way! My little man is teething, and after several nights in a row of waking up, then crying nonstop for naps, taking super short naps, so I can never catch up on sleep, etc, I have hit pieces of furniture, slammed doors, and sat on the couch, and cried my eyes out because I feel sooo guilty. I don’t want to be a mom that flies of the handle at her kids, and I HATE that I can’t seem to control the anger that I feel. Does it get better as they get older? I never realized it would be this hard. Especially with friends with ‘perfect’ babies who never seem flustered, and look at you like you are crazy when you tell them how hard it is. This post (Especially the washing machine bit) helped me realize that I am normal, and not the only one experiencing this!

      • Renee, I love your comment. It’s true, no one tells you how hard it can be! SOMEDAY he’ll sleep! And then hit the teen years and you’ll have to drag him out of bed! Give him Tylenol or some kind of teething relief (there are homeopathic ones). And YES I’ve always wanted to do an “It gets better” for parents!!! You still get angry but you love them SO much it helps get you through it. You’re in that place right now where you’re half-delirious from lack of sleep. That was the worst part. Thanks so much and good luck!

  6. Pingback: When a Crying Baby Makes You So Angry You Might Hurt Them | Sitting On The Baby

  7. Thank you for this post. It is so refreshing to find something so honest on such a seemingly taboo topic. Every other google post I found only made me feel bad about getting frustrated with my babies when they continued to cry when all their needs seemed to have been met. As a mother of 2 beautiful girls, the first of whom cried all day(!), I completely agree with everything said in this post. I let my eldest CIO at a young age as could no longer cope with the crying (this was obviously after getting her fully checked out by a Paedatrician). It meant she slept through the night early on and I at least only had to deal with the crying during the day. I too used earplugs! She is now a loving and very sweet 3 year old who loves us very much. She still has weekly meltdowns, but that is just part of her personality and we have learnt to accept her temperament. Thanks again!

    • Wow Laurie, thank you so much for that awesome comment! It means the most when someone gets something from my “honesty.” 😉 But I agree it’s very hard to be open about this topic. Thank you for sharing your story. I think one meltdown/week is a pretty good average!

  8. You are totally right, no one bothers to tell women these days exactly how difficult it is to have a baby. They don’t teach you this in schools, friends don’t tell you about this, and books don’t mention this. I had no siblings growing up, so I had to find out the joy of screaming first hand. My baby is 9 weeks old now, and the colic started at week 3. It has been a nightmare. Afternoon hits and the baby becomes a demon. Crying and crying, fussing and fussing. I check all the time, and wet diapers get changed within 5 minutes, and feed him and burp him, but nothing calms him down. I have finally resorted to the Ferber method of dealing with the crying. And it still continues. My mother, who lives with us and the baby is constantly derailing my efforts because she doesn’t believe in the cry it out method, and fusses over the baby until he goes to sleep at about 12 midnight every night. I can’t Ferberize him if she always calms him. I can tell it’s affected him already because he will scream till someone fusses over him or picks him up. My husband and I are living with her out of necessity, and believe me, as soon as we can afford it, we are moving out. Hopefully that will be before my mother totally cripples my son and makes into the most needy baby in the world, like he is turning out to be so far. I am not going to fuss over him when we move out like she does, and the baby better learn to self soothe at some point, because all this coddling isn’t going to continue. She won’t listen to me, I tried talking to her about it. Even my doctor’s office told me once I’ve tried everything and all the colic remedies, just letting them cry it out is the only thing you can do! So far, the colic is still going full speed, and the coddling is making my baby needy. 😦 I am in hell. 😦

    • I am so sorry to hear this. No one wants their experience with their baby to be all about the stress and crying. It seems like you feel you can’t stop your mother from intervening, and for that I am also very sorry. She needs to step back and let you handle it, especially if she’s keeping the baby up so late. A good book for you to read would be “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp – I don’t know if he deals with colic specifically but his swaddling method works wonders. If you can help your baby fall asleep that way then mom won’t be at him all night. Babies are very flexible – even if your mother is developing bad habits now, you can change them quickly once you’re in charge. Have a plan for how you will handle it and stick to the routine – babies respond SO incredibly well to routine and knowing what’s supposed to happen next. It makes them feel safe and they can let go and relax into sleep (bottle/nursing, dim lights, soft music or white noise, cuddling for a while but then laying down). Also know that he’s still SO young. This WILL pass – it will seem like forever but eventually the colic will go away and your life will be SO different. You’ll be able to love your baby in a whole new way. I wish you the best!

  9. Thank you soooo much for this… I’m a new Mommy via being a foster parent, to a beautiful baby girl all of 2 wks old yesterday. Quiet angel the fist week I had her, and then boom! The crying and shrieks sometimes for no reason.. and the anger, anxiety and agitation I would feel, I thought this could not be the right feelings to have… perhaps I’m not fit to be a Mommy and the Universe had it right all along… Then I found your blog… was so happy that tears of relief flowed… to know that I was not the EVIL person I thought I was… tx.. 🙂

    • You’re making the tears flow over here. Sounds to me like you’re going to be a GREAT mom. Thank the Universe for her and take DEEP breaths… 🙂

      From a writing perspective I find this post a little wordy now, but it’s still one of my most popular. SO many people deal with this hardship and, I believe, are made to feel evil like you said. We’re not saints – we’re human too and nobody can tolerate that sound for very long! Best to you.

  10. So glad to have read this! I needed it today since I thought i was going to pull my hair out of my head! I guess it’s not that I’m not mommy material, just stressed and needing a break. Oh yeah and human! Thank you!

  11. I appreciate finding articles like this. I’m in my first pregnancy, and I’m constantly thinking about how I’m going to deal with all sorts of problems when I finally do give birth~ I don’t know what kind of mom I’m going to be, but I’m glad to have advice like this when it comes time, I can remember that I’m not a bad mom, and other people have already dealt with what I’m going to be going through. 🙂 Thank you.

    • So sweet…you’re going to be a great mom! We all have those moments and doubts – I’m a failure, I can’t do this. Know that it’s OK to freak out, and you’ll always love your kid no matter what. 😉 Best of luck to you!

  12. Dear Amy, thank you for the wonderful advice.
    Today I was so angry at my sweet son. He had been sick for a couple of days, which made him extremely fussy and unable to sleep. I had been up for several nights in a row, attending his needs and today I couldn’t take it anymore.
    I lost my temper and put his clothes very rough. And he cried even harder of course. Then my nail accidentally scratched in front of his left ear and he looked at me before crying even louder. I felt so sorry and guilty for having hurt him. It wasn’t his fault he had a fever. I immediately held him close and rocked him to sleep. After that I went on the web and found your post and it made me feel better. The advice of walking away, I never thought of that myself, but it sounds brilliant. Thank you (from both baby and mommy).

    • Thank you Marilyn – funny I just came back to this post recently because we can all use this advice for kids at any age. They’re only human! And so are we – be gentle to both of you, and know that it’s OK to lose patience after several sleepless nights! Just love him and he’ll forgive you (and you can forgive him) LOL. Best to you and your son.

  13. Thank you for this. I agree with the other moms who came to this post after a guilt-laden stressful day. I have a 19 month old and a soon to be 3 year old. One won’t stop crying – teething plus cold, and one won’t stop humming and saying “mommy, mommy, mommy.” I love them both so dearly, that I was feeling totally guilty for, and depressed by, the feelings of frustration and aggravation I have had today. Sleep deprivation has a hand in all of this, too, as I know I stay up too late to “recover” me time at the end of the day. I need a bed time too, to help me keep my patience and, as you are saying here, to give myself permission to step away and to let them play together without me having to be a playmate every second.
    Thanks

  14. Thank you for this post! Maybe it’s my new pregnancy hormones going crazy but I feel like a terrible mom to my 14 month old. It feels like once I get her on a good sleep schedule everything goes crazy after a few days and we are right back to square one. The last month or two she’s been playing around in her crib after I put her down and would end up staying awake until after 8. I thought that maybe her bedtime was too early so I changed it to seven and then she started having night terrors every single night. I moved it back to six and now the night terrors are gone. I just feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and how can I be a great mom to her if I don’t know what to do. My husband works swing so he’s not at home for bedtime usually. I feel like I’m not meeting her needs when she cries and it just breaks my heart. It’s hard when everyone expects you to be super mom.

  15. I am so happy I found this blog. My daughter is 16 more this and for whatever reason her cries make me angry and feel like I’m going to puke( it was never this way with my son. He hardly ever cried unless hurt.) My husband looks at my like I’m crazy when I lock myself I. Our bathroom with the fan on and cry until she stops. She is extremely I consistant and although she is ferberized she unferbers herself week to week. Her naps are random and I have no idea if she ll go down or cry or not cry. I feel like am awful mom because she sounds so tortured and scared. I know she is fine but I can’t shake this feeling when she cries. Glad I’m not alone

    • Thank you for writing Ariana! Honestly, especially since you’ve already had a baby and not had these symptoms, it sounds like you might be suffering from a touch of post-partum depression. It can happen at any time, even when the baby is older than a year. You might want to talk to your doctor about it. Also your daughter is exactly at the age where kids start to develop fears because their world is getting bigger. They can walk, they can explore, and there are new fears for them to worry about. You probably have to chase her a bit and stop her from doing things like going in the street, etc. It’s similar to stranger anxiety that she may have already had before a year old, but she could be feeling that now too. Also language is developing and that is a very difficult process. So there’s a lot going on for both of you. Hang in there and keep taking good care of yourself!

  16. I’m currently a mommy to three boys under three (19 month old, one month old twins…) and one of my twin boys is driving everyone on edge at home… He cries a lot during the day, though mainly at night, and usually calms down after a good hour of soothing. But come evening the whole house will be awake due to his crying, and not a single thing will make him stop. To make matters worse we live in such a small house that you can hear the wailing resonate through the place.

    My 19 month old is a very light sleeper, so he wakes often because of this, and always soothes himself back to sleep with his favourite plushie. But lately, he seems broken when he wakes up, dragging around his blankie, looking tired all day long. He can’t seem to cope with the crying, and to be honest neither can I, I couldn’t stand it anymore. It felt like a breaking point. Lately my 19 month old was so tired he started crying at times, something he hadn’t done in months…

    I felt guilty for not being able to quiet down the fussy twin. I felt and often still feel like such a failure, but me and my oldest had to escape the crying, so we could both regain some energy. So I had to do something… I made a playing room for me and my oldest to escape too, we go play there, put some music on and try to relax after I’ve tried everything to calm down the fussy twin. I simply have to put down the twin at times, I always make sure everything is safe, and I’ll let him cry… Something I never did with my first but dare to do now because keeping everyone safe and sane has become a priority over pointless comforting.

    I’m still often forced to let my food go cold and (try to) soothe my little crying demon, but there will be times as well where he has to cry without being carried around, and that is OK, and should be OK. Yet I still get judged as a bad mother at moments because sadly some people expect mothers to be wizards with teleporting powers and magical diaper changing skills.

    The situation you are in dictates how you should cope with a crying problem. If you do not have the luxury of escaping outside / to a bigger room, and have several little kids to take care of, you need to dare to prioritise. Sometimes it’s not doable logistically, and mothers, as well as anyone who wishes to judge should understand that.

    I wish I had known this with my first, and I often still wish for a way to wash away feelings of guilt even when you know you’re making the right choices. I’m glad I found this blogpost… Writing this calmed me down. I realised I have a long road ahead of me. But this post, together with comments from other mothers prove that I too will get through this somehow, and if along the way we have to let our babies cry out for a bit, we will do that to keep sane, and that shouldn’t mean failure… So thank you for this post!

    • My friend, I have so much sympathy for your situation!! It’s often on the second or more baby that we learn that a little crying is not the worst thing in the world. In fact, it’s sleep “training,” and if you can think of it that way you will feel a lot better about what you’re doing. I often have to let babies “cry it out” at my child care due to simply needing a nap and having a lot of others who need care. But after they get the hang of it, they’re really really OK. And as I’m sure you’ll find after you can get everyone to sleep – you’re ALL going to be SO much happier. Kudos to you for finding a creative way to solve your problem, and being willing to put the energy and time into creating a space for you and your older child. It is truly disheartening to hear that you are being criticized instead of supported. It is an unfortunate parenting culture we live in now where we are really expected to be “wizards with teleporting powers and magical diaper changing skills” like you said!! (LOL BTW) We’re only human, and bring a good mom is not about never letting our children cry. In fact, sometimes, it’s those hardest moments when we can stand back and let them work through the struggle by themselves that we are REALLY being a mom. Best to you, I hope this passes soon!

  17. So glad I found this post – it is exactly what I needed to hear!
    I’m a first time mommy, and today was a trying day – he is now over a month old, and I am dealing with the usual 3 – 5 hours of sleep per night as well as some very heavy family problems. Today everything fell apart – both with my family and with my son. It started with me being deleriously tired, plus I am having trouble breast feeding. My son was screaming bloody murder, and I figured he must be hungry. After picking him up and trying to position him – during which time the phone was ringing and my breasts were leaking, and the nursing pillow was slipping off the couch underneath him – in frustration I brought his head very quickly to my breast. Even though I wouldn’t say I was rough, I felt like I wasn’t gentle enough with him trying to get him to latch on. This is after 2 hours of feeling frustrated because I was trying to sterilize the bottles, finish the dishes, put the laundry in the dryer and finish my damn cup of coffee which I had desperately needed, and had been trying to finish for hours, not to mention most of the afternoon I spent picking him up and soothing him and then trying – unsuccessfully – to put him to sleep. Going over to him for the twentieth time I moaned – on the verge of tears – “please baby, just give Mommy a minute to finish her coffee!” Really I should have just taken the moment, but I am still quite terrible at ignoring his pain-like cries, and my place is so small there is just nowhere to go for a quiet time out.
    This evening during a particularly bad crying patch he started choking out of nowhere, and I got so scared something was wrong – though his choking quickly passed once I sat him up. I held him close for the next 2 hours on the verge of tears and staring down at his sweet little face, feeling so SO guilty for shoving his face onto my breast during the feeding. I thought to myself “what if his choking hadn’t ended up being nothing, and something terrible happened? How awful I would feel that I had been frustrated enough to shove his face onto my breast instead of gently coaxing him on, like I usually try. If the unthinkable had happened during his choking all I would think about was how I shouldn’t have gotten so frustrated and been more patient, and that I would give anything to have him around – crying or not.”
    Next time I will just breathe deeply and take a moment for myself, then I can have the patience needed to properly feed him – no matter what state he is in. And I’m glad to know I’m not alone feeling frustrated that I can’t always calm him down! Thank you for this post!

    • J, thank you for your thoughts. As I always say we’ve all been there! And can’t believe what we’re capable of when we’re exhausted, frustrated, and pushed to our limits. Being a mom is about always learning and adjusting. If he’s still having trouble nursing please consult a lactation specialist or consider a bottle – he may be crying so much because he’s HUNGRY!! And let yourself off the hook – even though it feels like the dishes and laundry NEED to be done, they can wait. Everyone says “nap while the baby naps,” and every mom says they will, and no one does. But it’s really good advice…. be well and keep loving your baby!

      • Thank you for the reply, Amy! I definitely need to learn to put the housework on hold – it’s hard because I’m a Virgo, and we like things clean!! Definitely one of the toughest adjustments for me has been not getting the housework done like I used to. I always intend to nap during the day, and I just never do, I really need to try. I think I need to just relax while breastfeeding – he is also bottle and formula fed, and he eats like a 13 year old boy! He is going to eat me out of house and home once he starts on solids! 🙂 I forgave myself for getting frustrated, and will definitely be prioritizing a bit better and trying to put baby’s and my needs ahead of the family problems – but sometimes it’s hard, I just always want to help everybody! Even though I may be a super mom, I can definitely not be Super-Mom all the time! 🙂

      • Hey J Cee, I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for getting back to me – I know how annoying it is to be tied down to a non-stop nurser and be staring at all the dirt, grime, and laundry piles you could be cleaning… I have learned to live with a mess! But I’m a Sag so we don’t mind as much 😉 Glad to hear you are doing better, I think Super Mom is a total lie and we should all just be the best-as-we-can-be, which is really awesome, moms that we naturally are 😉

  18. What a great blog! The problems I face as a childminder mostly come from parents “over-handling“ their children. Unfortunately I can not carry three one year olds around and rock them all to sleep! IT IS OK TO LET THEM “FUSSY CRY”. We all want our boys to become men and girls to become strong women don’t we?

    • I agree. I was just thinking today that there is such a thing as “over comforting” – I think you took the words right out of my mouth! But the idea is, if everything is scary and they need to be comforted from it all, then what is safe? When do they get to feel secure? They need to learn this a little on their own, to self-comfort, and know that everything will be alright. Best to you!

  19. I read this article when my son was a bad sleeper. We Ferberized him at 9 months and he’s slept great ever since. Now I’m sitting, listening to my HORRIBLY bad sleeper scream her lungs out and I feel a little better reading it again. The ferber method doesn’t seem to work for her. She’s extremely clingy and stubborn. I can’t wait until she grows out of this. My nerves are shot.

  20. Thank you for this article..my babies nonstop crying sometimes is really upsetting and extremely frustrating to me sometimes. Luckily my husband is a godsend and really
    Is great at calming her down when I can’t..its really nice to have that support although the fact that he can calm her down when I can’t really makes me feel inadequate but what can you do I guess I can’t do everything right? And now I have this article to read and help me when necessary 🙂 It’s good to know I’m not crazy and just normal 😉

  21. Thank you for this post Amy. As my baby was crying and driving me nuts, i decided to google “going nuts when baby is crying ” and i stumbled onto your blog. I really need to just learn to walk away and not get frustrated or mad. I know its not the baby’s fault. He is only a month old and i feel so bad for getting irritated and annoyed at him. But it gets really hard at night. I feel like there is a dark side to me that I don’t want to see myself. So thanks for this post. it is nice to know I am not alone

  22. Thanks for this blog!

    My one year old has been sick most of July (including our vacation) and he’s been so difficult to deal with. He really only wants me and Im just mentally and physically exhausted. My husband has been away for work on and off for the last little while so it’s been just me (and my Mom when she is available). I used to be a calm, patient Mom but lately I’m easily frustrated and angered by my boys (I have a 3 yr old as well). I’m doing my best to deal and cope with the sicknesses, the lack of sleep and consistency and the guilt I feel. I keep hoping things will go back to ‘normal’ but there’s always something.

  23. It’s probably a good idea to just put your baby down, walk away and let them cry but sometimes my baby cries so hard she’s turning blue and can’t breathe. It makes me so scared! That’s why I don’t think I can just put her down and go to a different room. She did get used to me picking her up and walking around with her when she cries. I spoiled her really bad… I’m afraid I can’t fix that now

    • Everything is fixable! You always get another chance! How old is she? Turning blue is generally not a good sign, though sometimes really little babies can appear to get darker as their face flushes when they’re crying really hard. Something that’s really helpful is one of those sleep monitors that go under the baby and alert you if she stops breathing. Keep trying, spend a little more time away each time you put her down, and eventually she’ll understand. Look at the techniques in Heather’s comment above to help smooth sleeping routines. Best!

  24. My baby is 2 months old. She doesn’t nap and takes hours upon hours to get her to sleep at night mainly because she wakes up for absolutely no reason at all. You say a baby under 6 months you get them to sleep and then lay them down. Well what if that doesn’t work? My baby wakes up from a dead sleep the moment I lay her down. Then it takes another 1/2-1 hr to get her to sleep again. So I end up holding her or cosleeping. I hate cosleeping. I need my space and I worry endlessly I’ll suffocate her. So if you can’t do cio until 6 months, what am I supposed to do with her? Sit in a chair all day holding her so she sleeps after hours bouncing, rocking, etc. to get her to sleep? Then night time comes. Oh Gosh, night time.
    I am at the end. Literally, I have nothing left. I’m so tired, so depressed, so frustrated, so unhappy. I dread hearing my baby cry. I dread getting up in the morning and dealing with it all day. I dread the night because I know I won’t get sleep and possibly will be cosleeping.
    And the thing is..my baby is really really fussy. She won’t let me wear her, or walk with her in her carseat in the stroller, she cries in the car. I am a prisoner in my home. She cries and fusses all day. She doesn’t like to be held or cuddled unless it involves her bottle.
    I feel so done. I want to get in my car and drive away and leave her with my husband. I feel like I am trapped and I don’t know what to do.
    Please tell me I can have her cio. Because I don’t know what else to do.

    • Heather, this sounds dreadful and I’m so sorry you are going through it. First have her checked for colic, because that might be part of the problem. If the doctor gives her a clean bill of health, then you probably can let her cry. Because she has developed a habit of relying on the bottle or being held in order to fall asleep, it will be tricky to break that habit. It may take a week or even longer. Develop a routine that means it’s night time – bath, bottle, book, bed. Use white noise, a fan, or relaxing music and always put it on during the bed routine so she will have an aural cue that it’s time to sleep. Put her down and walk away. You can do this gradually, and go back to check on her, but don’t pick her up. Pat her on the back and say “It’s sleepytime, goodnight, I love you” and walk away. If she learns that she will be picked up when she cries, she will keep on crying. I know it’s excruciating – I did it with my son and I remember my husband and I white-knuckling it the whole time. If you can’t handle this, try looking up other sleep methods. You need to do what you’re comfortable with and what’s going to allow you to feel rested and able to care for your baby – when you are feeling as desperate as you do now, it’s not good for anybody. I sincerely hope you are able to work it out!

  25. Thank you 😂☺😊 i need this so much, i feel like I’m the worst mommy ever, no one is here to help and my son (8months old) cry for hours everyday….. I really afraid that I would hurt him. But then sometimes he would stop and give me the best smile ever.

  26. I know this is old, but I have a 2 month of colicky little boy right now. Tonight is one of those nights I’d like to eat a bullet. He has cried for 4 out of the past 6 hours which started soon after his Dad left for work of course. I just wanted to say thank you, because this article has gotten me through several nights like this. When it gets really bad, like tonight, and I have to put him in his crib and close the door to keep from jumping off the balcony, I sit on the couch and Google stuff like “putting the baby down when you can’t take the crying anymore”. This article always comes up and even though I’ve read before I read it again. By the time I’ve gotten through it I can go back in and pick him up. He often calms right down after that and then falls asleep. So again, thank you.

  27. I love this post. I am having a terrible day right now with my screaming son. I know he has the headcold and i am trying my best to make him feel better but i feel like screaming.
    I wish ny son would realize the more he crys the more his nose will be snotty lol.
    But i put him in his crib to cry because i was at my end and he fell asleep 🙂
    I felt horrible thou because i screamed in frustration to myself and it scared him and ny him cry more 😦

  28. Incredible advice, determined to keep honest, and I love that! thanks so much, I it was extremely beneficial to take the time to read this post. That’s what I said after birth of my now 10 month old baby girl. Ftm, I said to myself why doesn’t anyone tell you the bad stuff. All you hear I’d how amazing and beautiful it is. Not how Nora might colic for 4 straight months !!! Who wants to hear that…?? I DO ! 🙂

  29. Wow, great advice! I had just finished a phone conversation with by daughter whose 81/5 month old doesn’t sleep through the night and is not taking long enough naps. She is at her wits end, blames herself, is tired, crying and “pissed off” I gave her similar advice and wasn’t sure it was the okay way to go until you confirmed it for me. Believe me I get it but as they say this too shall pass…we hope. My daughter will hopefully start feeling better soon…I told her to also take some deep breaths and let him cry a bit (of course making sure he has no other issues keeping him from sleeping at night and taking his naps).
    Thank you!

  30. Thank You so much for this honest post. Yesterday I was losing my mind thinking I am the worst mother ever. But after reading this and after letting my emotions settle a bit I realized – I’m just a human. And you are right – as soon as my girls starts to cry, my heartbeat goes up and panic wants to follow. Now I know it is normal and it is much easier to calm down.

    I am also writing a blog in my own language (estonian), I would really like to reffer to Your post and translate some parts of it, I truly hope it is okay, it helped me and maybe it can help those in my country who doesnt know english that well. Not saying that I am perfect in handling it.

    But thank you once more, I feel like human again!

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  32. Mine is 3 months old, and he screams for the majority of the day and night. Now, recently he’s seemed to have developed seperation anxiety i have to cuddle him at night and hold him all day long in my baby bjorn. I have tried walking away for 3 to 5 minute in the times I need to calm down or cry myself. But when I come back he’s so upset. He’s shaking and sweating really bad. Spitting up. I don’t know what to do! How long to let him cry. I doubt I could make it more than 5 minutes I feel so bad!

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  34. I am 13 years old… Long story short I have been taking care of my sisters baby for over 5 months ( the baby is 8 months) I can not Stay in the same room with her when she cries I go completely insane. I cry scream slam doors punch walls…. I am a really easy going girl I could deal with a lot of pressure. But I have NEVER EVER did anything like that before. I cry myself to sleep at night cause I get so bad.I have not started my cycle so I cant be maternal yet can I? I just don’t get it help me.

  35. Ugh, I reached that point of walking away then looked up a few things in Google and found your blog. It made me laugh, smile and feel like I wasn’t alone. Thank you!

  36. You should not be a daycare provider. These are not your babies to be choosing to “ferber-ize.” many parents are not okay with that! Also if it bothers your back then that is YOUR problem. Get a new profession. & you shouldn’t be putting one baby down and have four other babies waiting. There should be a smaller child caregiver ratio.

  37. Really like your post. I was crying for half an hour after failing to put my 3 months old to sleep and dumped her to my husband then escaped to another room. I felt useless. I don’t understand why she always cries whenever she is tired. She is hungry but she refuses my nipple. It doesn’t make any sense. I hope this ends soon.

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