Monday, August 23, 2010
Once again my friend asked me a question that made me think: "Can the rocking and bouncing of a baby can be so wrong if it is something people have instinctively been doing for so long?" I am not answering the question with a right or wrong because with babies you have to be careful, there are such and such.
I am citing another woman from a forum where I occasionally read about parenting problems and ideas. On a thread about Pikler she said: "If my baby is crying and I take her and rock her or walk around with her and she then stops crying - she had the need to be moved around and I fulfilled this need." And I am asking: "If a baby is crying in a supermarket and I am plugging her mouth with a pacifier and stop the crying - did this baby have the need to suck her pacifier and I just fulfilled that ?" Exactly.
My friend had started the rocking and bouncing after her son was a few weeks old and she found it hard to live to the Pikler method exclusively. She said it was a natural instinct and that she was also walking around the flat with her son in her arms. After a while she was frustrated, she sat down with me and did not know what to do. She was exhausted, her son was unsettled and would want to be entertained most of the time. I told her what my day looked like, that still I was not rocking my son to sleep even on really hard evenings, that only shortly I would walk around the flat with him, usually between feeding and changing times just to extend "mommy time" a bit. But most of the time he would play in his safe area, every now and then I would join him or I would just sit and observe or do the household etc.
A few days later we met again and she was much more relaxed. She had given up on the rocking and bouncing and the walking around. Instead she had bought a playpen and created a safe area for her son to play in. She said: "You know I can't entertain him 24/7 I realise how this would lack in quality. I just feel so much more with him when I have some time for myself in between."
Today she called me and said "I'm totally back on the Pikler thing. The last days have been so much easier, I am so much more relaxed and my son is too."
Since our son is some sort of best practice example but there are no siblings to compare if it's his nature or our education or both I am happy to share an experience from another person that shows what I have believed in from the start. Even before I had a child I did not understand how a child can be happy when she is upset and is bounced forth and back. And when reading in forums or hearing other women talk this is not the solution to most problems anyway. Most of the times parents talk about how they try EVERYTHING to calm their baby or make her go to sleep. They walk, they talk, they sing, they swing and when the baby finally sleeps they can't put her in her bed for hours because she could wake up and the game begins all over. So I would like to reply to the initial question with another question: "Is the rocking and bouncing of a baby really the solution to the crying or unsettled behaviour when this is going on for hours?" We may have been doing this for centuries but has it really helped ???
We have had some difficult nights with our son especially during some bad growth spurts or after a vaccination. But we usually sat down with him quietly and tried to calm him by holding and talking and stroking him. Of course it wasn't always easy but it has never taken us longer than an hour and usually he would just go to bed and sleep very well afterwards. On rare occasions I would stand up with him and slowly swing from one side to the other in very slow motions. But when I did so I made sure I'd stop right after he had calmed and that he would fall asleep without the movement.
Strangely he never insisted on being moved around either - as some women claim their children to do. How can they if they don't know it? A midwife said last week to a woman "A child does not demand chocolate before she knows chocolate."