Darling Eliza brings to mind this issue. She is even more high-needs than her older sister, and life with her right now is really tough. It reminds me of the t-shirts I've seen that say, "You can't scare me - I'm a mom!" Sleep deprivation, extremely limited ability to get anything done during the day, and either remaining housebound (well, neighborhood-bound) or enduring screaming for the duration of any car trip. It really sucks in many ways. Luckily, I know from personal experience that it ends, and that fussy babies can become lovely little girls. It's just a question of battening down the hatches and doing what it takes to survive these few months, while respecting baby's needs and still allowing the parents some opportunity to catch their breath. In my opinion, having a securely attached child who can trust me and know all her needs will be met (NB: that's not to say in the future all her wants will be met) is well worth the trial by fire at the beginning.
However, many people disagree with this. The mainstream idea in our culture seems to be that babies should not inconvenience their parents too much, that their crying is not vital communication but obnoxious noise pollution to be stamped out, and that babies must be pushed toward independence as soon as possible. Thus, the cry it out advice. And in an exhausted state, many parents latch onto the advice as the holy grail of infant parenting - a way to get some sleep, some chores done, and some peace and quiet. It's understandable why people choose to do this. And it does "work" with many average babies - they give up trying to communicate their needs, or get exhausted, and go to sleep. I just can't bring myself to adhere to this technique when I consider the baby's point of view. Imagine being unable to move out of bed on your own, unable to take care of even your most basic needs, and in a scary, unfamiliar place. You call for your caregiver again and again, with increasing panic. No one comes. Eventually you become exhausted and fall into sleep. I just couldn't do that to my child.
Add in that high-needs/fussy/spirited/intense babies don't stop and fall asleep. They tend to cycle up and up and up, making themselves and everyone around them miserable. And mothers are wired to ache at their babies' crying like that, to intervene and make things better. It's almost as cruel to a mother to tell her she must not respond as it is to the baby. Message board postings about CIO attempts abound with phrases like, "my husband forced me to stay out of the room," "my husband had to hold me down," and of course, "we both cried for an hour."
In addition to all that, there are indications that practicing attachment parenting actually promotes healthier independence in older children, whereas babies left to cry and pushed to grow up tend more toward clinginess. Given that, and that the tough infant times last less than a year in most cases, why would anyone practice "detachment parenting?"
Next post: Ezzo parenting