I was reading recently about a mother who was asking for ideas on how to figure out how to handle a six month old baby who screamed so often when put down, her mother found it hard to get her work done. This is what I wrote her.

Some babies are very independent, and don't think much of sitting and cuddling. Most babies like to be cuddled. But I only had three babies, out of my whole family, with a super cuddly, possessive, demanding personality. Whatever the reason for a six month old screaming, I would think his need for being held is greater than most. This may be a facet of a personality that will be very pleasant for you in years to come. Chances are, he will be close to you when he is older, a staunch supporter, and a bigger help than some children who are more independent from the start.

There ARE times a mother has to work, bending and twisting, using both arms in tight quarters, as you say, when she is awake. These times, a closed door between you and his screams will help preserve your sanity, and patience with her! I did this. I also got criticized for holding my extra needy babies too much. But I did not listen to the adults. I gave what I perceived was needed, when my babies were tiny like that.

You will want to remain patient, and enjoy him when possible, for the time is coming soon when he will have lessons to learn. Teaching him to obey will be much easier for you, if you have not grown exhausted with him already. Close the door when you have to, and hold on! But I would not let my six month old baby scream for longer than five minutes, or ten at the very most. When a baby becomes hysterical, they will likely not stop on their own, because they are no longer aware of anything except that their whole world has come to an end! They have a very small and limited viewpoint of the world!

In my experience, a baby can learn not to touch something, starting at six months. (I only had to teach a baby that young one time. It was a very mobile baby and a fireplace we couldn't avoid.) But a six month old baby is not able to conceptualize a long, drawn out cause and effect yet. He begins this process by finding out how to get his own needs met. Better cause and effect reasoning is coming, don't worry.

Out of your four children, is he the first one with this kind of personality? In my case, it was my second, my fourth, and my twenty-first!

In any case, the good news of course, is that he will begin to entertain herself more successfully before long, and this ability will grow. This is a time that will pass.

Times like this remind me of a joke I heard long ago - a pastor once asked his congregation to give examples of their favorite five words in the Bible. One man stood up right away. "And it came to pass!" He said.



2004 Rosemary Gwaltney

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