Ask Dr. Vicki: Self Soothing
QUESTION: I recently read an article you wrote about babies and self-soothing. It was sent to me by the mother of my first grandchild. I am a bit concerned about her interpretation of the self soothing techniques you mentioned. Is it necessary for a 10 week old baby to cry for 15 to 20 minutes, multiple times each day to self-sooth? And during these self-soothing times is it advisible to leave the baby unattended and go outside because the crying is too stressful to listen too? Is it not teaching him that he has to cry longer and harder to get the attention he needs? The article was very good and I agree with the philosophy but it seems that it would apply more to a toddler than an infant.
Basically, I was a clinical source for the author who constructed the article. That being said, I will be glad to clarify my position. I call parenting a juggling act, because there is always a need to find balance between too much and too little—too much/too little intervention, too much/too little discipline, etc. This is true for babies, as well. I certainly do not mean to allow a new-born to be in severe distress. I think it’s extremely important to develop a very strong foundation of security for infants; making sure that they know their needs will be taken care of, and that there is someone there to watch over them. That’s different than delaying the development of their self-soothing mechanism. Constant and immediate intervention, to the point of experiencing virtually no discomfort or frustration, keeps the baby from working on calming themselves by discovering their fingers, looking at objects, etc. Basically, when articles are written and experts are quoted, the intention is to raise the issues and encourage parents to consider the extent to which they apply to their infants, kids, teens, etc. Parents still need to follow their own intuition and develop their own ‘juggling’ skills to meet the developmental needs of their kids.
Hope this provides clarification. Thank you again for reading the site, and also for posing the question.
Enjoy your kids!