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_Whitetigress's avatar

Ok I'm overwhelmed with baby. Can you offer tips?

Asked by _Whitetigress (4349 points ) October 8th, 2012

Hello. So baby boy is 5 months. He’s strong, healthy and seemingly very curious. He is also the fussy type. Might I add extremely fussy. Needs tons of attention and can’t stand being put down by himself. He will yell, kick and scream whatever it takes. I don’t want to let him cry for more than 2 minutes before picking him up because I read that babies that cry themselves to sleep produce a ton of cortisol and it may have negative effects on brain development.

I’m a very busy part time student, part time worker and of course my spare time is baby sit time while wife is out working as well. Please feel free to offer words of wisdom and advice. I get overwhelmed especially since my mindset is always, “what is the next step” kind of mode. And it gets extremely hard to concentrate when doing research for homework. Also I get extremely frustrated that I can’t comfort him sometimes. For instance right now, I’m all alone caring for him and he gets bored of his toys. He has a walker, excersaucer (jungle edition), and other assorted toys. I read to him and he seems to lose attention after a while of hearing the animal sounds.

I want to figure this out. So far when he cries I check his eating hours appropriately, change diaper regularly, check to see if he’s sleepy.

I do have “dad” theories but my wife doesn’t believe me. From what I studied in Child Development I think he’s attached to his mother. He definitely is surrounded by women in his life (Auntie, Grandma, Wife, My Sister/Babysitter). And sometimes I don’t believe I can offer the comfort they can (since babies naturally like higher, gentler feminine voice, something I don’t have) Please help.

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31 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Just relax. Kids are tough. They can take a lot. Just go easy, they’ll play off that.

zenvelo's avatar

Your son is attached to you, he’s bonded to you and has known your voice for 14 months. So he looks to you for attention and comfort.

And by the way, you are not babysitting, you are caring for your son.

Sounds like you need to be down on the floor playing with him so he can play without being held. And when he is in a play pen, you need to be talking to him.

Try reading stories – a bit easier for you and he will like it as long as they have pictures.

hearkat's avatar

Babies that are worn tend to fuss less, and you can go about your activities. Strap him on and go about your day… also go for walks, do the shopping, etc. this way. Once he’s bigger and sitting strongly, get a hiking backpack and have him sit where he can watch over your shoulder… my son loved that.

@zenvelo: The ears develop towards the end of the first trimester, so baby has been hearing mom and dad’s voices for ~11 months now. And thanks for the statement about dad not babysitting, but simply parenting. That has been a peeve of mine for years!

CWOTUS's avatar

My son was that way when he was first born, too. Mom couldn’t even hand him off to me without him pitching a fit.

Don’t worry, he’ll grow out of it, probably before he’s a teenager.

Avail yourself of those aunties and grandparents to the fullest extent that you can.

PS: As a dad myself, I can tell you that your theories are for naught. Save your brain for things you can do something about.

SuperMouse's avatar

My oldest son was like this as well. I literally could not put him down without him losing his mind and no one else in the world could hold him without him screaming. I vividly remember telling the doctor I was worried that he would never learn to crawl because he wouldn’t let me put him down long enough! Eventually he began to let his father hold him – although 14 years later he isn’t super close with his father and is still more of a mama’s boy. Not to worry, I don’t let him overdo the mama’s boy thing and his stepdad is bonding with him more than his birth father ever did.

Keep interacting with the boy. He knows you are his daddy and he is bonded with you. When he gets a bit older you guys will start doing “manly” things together and the bond will become even stronger. Try to be patient and I second @CWOTUS there is not a whole lot more you can do at this point so just try to roll with it.

Shippy's avatar

Why not put him in a baby carrier, one that fits onto your back or front. That way he need not be put down and scream and cause a fuss. Alternatively, you could hang him from the door in one of those springy things, I cant remember what they are called, but they bounce up and down. Mobiles are also useful ones that he can nearly touch and are interesting to look at whilst he is laying down. But the best strategy is to maybe accept it, he is exploring his world, he is getting mad when he is put down to rest loll. That is how babies are!

Bellatrix's avatar

I third the baby carrier. My middle child was like this so I work a baby carrier while I did my housework and got on with things. She was happy. I was happy. The neighbours were happy.
They do grow out of this… then a mysterious new phase for you to try to understand will begin :-).

janbb's avatar

Yup – I was going to say carrier as well. He may be colicky and need to the motion and the comfort. He may well fall asleep in it and then you can do some homework. Another great thing for a colicky baby is to put them in a car seat and drive someplace or to push them around in a stroller. Rocking chair can help too.

gailcalled's avatar

My son, the first-born, was also nervy and a light sleeper. The reason babies are so deliciously adorable is to prevent strung-out parents from dashing their heads against the wall.

Five-month olds are never terribly interested in toys and walkers and other expensive gadgets.

The idea of the carrier seems to be the best advice. It’s certainly worth a try.

Don’t despair.

Pandora's avatar

First don’t believe everything that is printed about babies. Every child is different. Your job is to observe and listen and to also let him cry. My son was colicy for the first 3 months of his life and then cried a lot when he was teething. He is a well rounded healthy adult and extremely smart.
He is also fit, so no worries about cortisols making him fat. Even though he was a chubby baby, he grew out of it by the age of 2.
Children need to learn how to calm himself. If he stops crying when you pick him up than that should tell you he isn’t hungry, or tired or sick or in need of a diaper change. He just feels insecure. If you continue to pick him up every time, then you are confirming his fears that there is something to be afraid of but he needs not fear because he is now safely in your arms. Do make sure he is not teething. At 5 months they start to get tender gums.
I mean check him out. Make sure he is fed, dried and had appropriate rest. If he doesn’t fall asleep shortly after picking him up than get one of those round pillows that can lift his upper body and let him play with a toy. I am not saying to do this a lot. Only when you need to take care of other things, like cooking, cleaning, or even going to the bathroom.
Take your naps with his. Set a schedule. Babies become cranky and insecure if they don’t have a fixed schedule. I took care of lots of babies in day care. They all loved schedules. I don’t know how many parents where amazed that we could set their kids on a schedule and how much the fussy ones calmed down after a few weeks.
We had morning bottle, Short nap, then play time, then lunch, then nap time, then snack, then play time till parents came to pick them up. That was in a twelve hour schedule. Yes some parents dropped them off at 6 and picked up at 6 or 5. Even though they were not suppose to stay longer than 10 hours. But they would feel secure in a short time because they grew use to the schedule and knew what was a usual day. Play time was putting toys around them and squeeking them for noises and playing soothing music, and helping them to learn to roll, and introducing them to colors, reading to them and letting them touch different textiles and trying to get them to reach for objects and use their fingers and sing them songs about body parts. Repetition is key with babies. That is how they learn. One by one you will see them make connections. Like, oh if I wiggle, I can reach that toy. If I crawl I can reach mom, if I grab my bottle I can suck on it, if I stand I can take step, if I take steps I can walk or run. If I go too fast , I can fall.
Right now he know, if I cry I don’t have to really do anything. Mom will take care of it. His independence will help him grow faster. He needs to know you can be counted on but he needs to learn one other lesson first. If mom doesn’t pick me up right away, my world isn’t going to end. Go to him and play games with him and you can touch him but don’t pick him up. Once he is settled than go away again. Do it a little bit longer each time till he gets use to the idea that he isn’t always going to get pick up.
I knew a lady once who was like that. Never wanted to put her child down when he cried for her or demanded her attention. So she carried him everywhere on her back. It was ridiculous. Her oldest child hated her little brother because she could never have alone time with mom and all of little brothers demands came first. It got to the point where friends wouldn’t visit her either or invite her out. Her son was jealous of everyone and would through a fit if she paid attention to anyone other than him. You don’t want that to be your future.
You may want to tell other people in his life as well who may be spoiling him. I know people think you can’t spoil a baby. Oh, yes you can, or at least make him feel unsafe to be alone for and minute of the day.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Have you ever tried reading your school stuff to him? I know that sounds odd, but that’s what I had to do with my oldest sometimes. He actually liked it. I was in nursing school at the time and he wanted attention. So, I gave him attention by reading to him, it just happened to be from my Anatomy & Physiology book instead of a children’s book.

I also agree with the others about trying to wear him. There are a lot of carriers out there now, so you could probably find one you are comfortable with. Maybe you could ask around to your friends/family to see if someone has one you could try out to see if it helps.

Nimis's avatar

Baby carrier.
Swaddling.
White noise.
Car.
Stroller.

Wait a minute…White tigress is a dude?

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skfinkel's avatar

I think you may be on to something. Babies need and have a primary attachment person. That attachment person sounds like it is his mother—who you say is out working. It sounds to me like you are working too. The problem is that a five month old baby needs a great deal of attention, and both of you are busy with work, school, and more work. Babies of five months are not really able to play by themselves for long periods of time, rather they need to be held and loved and enjoyed. What I would recommend is that you do your work and school stuff while the baby is asleep. When the baby is awake, you really focus on him. If he doesn’t want to be put down, pick him up. Unlike the recommendation of @Pandora, I do not think you can spoil a baby—they want what they want because they need it. You are right too about the cortisol—not a good hormone for their little brains, which are growing like crazy. [@Pandora: this has nothing to do with weight gain!] While you can put on a baby holder which might help, take a look at how long he is being separated from his mother. Perhaps it is too long, and you can make some modifications there, at least while he is so young. Once he is secure, separations from his mother will be much easier for him to make. I find the biggest problems with children is that even when you are with them, you are not really “with” them, and they are simply not getting the attention they require. See if that could possibly be the case with you. Being a Dad is a big job and it is not baby sitting!

Pandora's avatar

I still don’t think cortisol is such a big deal. If it was then doctors would be quick to hand out medications for colicy babies or babies teething. They are going to cry period and I’m sure there are plenty of geniuses in the world that cried plenty as infants. Those studies probably have more to do with infants raised in orphanages with little human contact. Babies do need love and care and affection. They just don’t need to be held every waking moment. So I get some people don’t like the idea that babies being thought as spoiled. So lets just say you can condition them to expect to always be picked up. You can still comfort a crying child without being picked up. Most of the time they just want attention and to know someone is near. Babies will trust anyone who meets there needs. I use to have moms who would be surprised how their babies would do so well with me and not other people. They knew I could be trusted to meet their needs. But since I would have 4 babies to take care off, I could not always be holding all 4 at the same time. I would tend to one and have the others near by. I learned to feed 2 at a time and still keep the others entertained till it was their turn to feed. Sometimes they would cry till I could get to them but I learned to tell when it was, I want affection, I’m hungry, I’m dirty and I don’t feel well. Dad’s can learn that too. Prolong crying wouldn’t be a good thing to let a baby go through, but dad says he can’t take it for 2 minutes. I don’t see where having a tired and frustrated parent will help the baby. All babies look for securtiy. There world is all new and scary but they don’t have to be taught that picking them up every time is the only way the world is less scary. You can pat the baby, or put it in a carrier and make faces at it as you rock it or give it a ton of kisses. But nothing wrong with it so long as you are near and don’t let the crying escalate to a blow out. Then it may be more than being insecure. This is also a 5 month baby who should know how to grab toys by now. My neice’s child is 5 months and she is rolling and playing on her own already. She gets plenty of mommy and daddy time but at 5 months she is also very curious about her surroundings. If there is nothing wrong physically with the baby than it is that he has been conditioned to always need to be held. Which happens if they are always being picked up all day by different people. Now that my neice has settled in her new home with just baby and dad and away from grandparents and other relatives that would always pick her up, she has become more settled and sleeps better and even eats better. Her world is quieter and more settled.
There is one more thing. Babies do sense when you feel anxious.That could be why the little one cries. The less confident you feel the less secure your baby feels. So don’t stress. There is no perfect baby solution because all babies are different. But trust that you will know better than anyone else what your baby needs. (But first babies are tough) You’ll get the swing of things by the second. Never fear. Your first born will usually turn out to be the most independent.

skfinkel's avatar

Sadly, @Pandora, there are a shocking number of people walking around who are unhappy, unsettled, confused adults, and these same people are often very angry with their parents.

Since you thought cortisol had something to do with weight problems, how are you able to conclude that it is “not a big deal”? You don’t know what it is.

And, while there are some babies who have colic, most babies do not, and do not have to cry a lot. If they are cared for properly and rested, there is little to no crying. Crying is a signal that something is wrong. Once the baby learns that its needs will be taken care of, that cry frequently becomes more like a call, like, hey, it’s time to feed me, or change me.

Taking care of four infants is a lot—I thought there were limits of two per adult in a child care center. There are reasons we give birth to one baby at a time…

Pandora's avatar

There are many links on line as too the relationship of cortisol and weight gain. Cortisol levels also do change in your body. I have read plenty about cortisol. Doesn’t mean that once it increases it will stay elevated in the body for the rest of your life. I couldn’t speak about the relationship as to the effects on the brain because it is the first time I’ve heard of it. I did google it and it says there are some concerns about neurological effects of cortisol but they also say that there is a healthy amount of stress a child will normally have. Like when they cry because of their needs for instance. But I have raised two kids of my own. One that cried tons and knows very well how to deal with stressful situations and one who hardly ever cried and was picked up the moment she made a sound and she has a more difficult time dealing with stress.
No where on my comments have I suggested leaving the child to cry for countless of hours or even a half hour. There are simply other ways to deal with it that doesn’t have to involve carrying the child.
And as for the colic, you obviously never really took care of a colicy baby. My son cried so much that by 6 weeks of no straight sleep, I was hallucinating. It was feed him 4 oz for 2 hours and have him throw most of it up and then in 1 hour he was hungry again. He was constantly crying because he was either hungry or in pain. The only time he slept was either for 1 hour or longer if I drove him around in the car for a while. Their cry isn’t a normal baby cry. It is an I am in extreme pain cry. Went on for 3 months. Doctors back then wouldn’t give you anything for your infant no matter how much pain he was in. All they would say is give him time. He will grow out of it. And when his teeth came in I did what I could with teething gels but they would only buy me a few minutes before he was miserable again. Love does not cure all. It doesn’t make actual physical pain go away. Nor was I saying not to pick them up when they are in pain. Any good parent will want to try to easy their pain. But if it isn’t pain related or any physical need other than they want to be with you every minute. Which is understandable, you don’t have to pick them up every time. Sometimes its just enough that you are near by or doing something with them.
I’m sure some day cares may have only 2 babies per worker but then you probably would pay twice as much. They usually try to limit the ages per care worker. If you get a schedule set up it becomes quite easy to take care of 4. They were always changed and fed and slept on schedule and entertained. Parents would walk in any time of the day and were always amazed at how quiet they were. The only time they became fussy was when one of the original team was on vacation and we would get someone new who didn’t know what each baby was like and what they like. Babies feel other people stress. We always had two people on staff for 8 babies, but the moment 4 went home than only one care worker remained.
Only in hourly care did we have 2 care workers for 5 babies because hourly babies were only use to mom and dad and were not use to schedules or strangers.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Pandora when my first son was crying at this age, he needed to be held. Period. He was a high needs baby who for whatever reason needed lots of love and attention. I remember my then mother-in-law telling me I was spoiling him and that it was my fault because if I stopped holding him so much he would stop crying so much. I told her she had it backward, he cried when I didn’t hold him, not because I held him too much. He is 14 now and I am not the least bit sorry I held him as much as I did. He is a great and secure kid who gets great grades, is well behaved, and is not the least bit spoiled. For the record, I held my second and third as much as my first, and neither had the same reaction when I put them down. I knew nothing about cortisol at the time, I just knew that when I put that baby down he was unhappy and that he shouldn’t be forced to be unhappy.

I agree 100% with @skfinkel whose parenting advice is always spot on and brilliant it is absolutely impossible to spoil a five month old baby.

skfinkel's avatar

@Pandora: I know how hard it is to have a baby with colic, and you are right, none of my four had colic. I was lucky. That doesn’t mean that they never had upsets, or that sometimes it wasn’t easy to sooth them. But colic is a very distinct condition, and I think it is pretty rare.
You never said in your comments that someone should let a baby cry for hours—I know you didn’t say that and obviously you do pick up children. But you did write you that you think babies can be spoiled and crying isn’t so bad for them for a while. My view is different: I believe that you can’t spoil a baby (not that older children can’t be spoiled, they of course can be) and I don’t think crying is at all good for a baby. I don’t think it teaches the baby anything, except that their immediate needs are not being met which, for a little person who is totally vulnerable and completely dependent on others, is a very scary lesson.

Babies learn that they are loved and secure or that the world can be a frightening place where their needs are not met. These lessons last with them as they grow—and this is why the early years of meeting their needs is so very important. This is sowing the seeds of joy, and these little kernels will last throughout their lives, helping them with the challenges they face as they grow into adulthood.

janbb's avatar

Listen to @skfinkel – she is a parenting coach.

Pandora's avatar

So when your babies cry when being weaned off the bottle, or breasts. Do you just give in? Babies cry. It is how they communicate. My point is that a few tears isn’t going to break them and I do believe they are and can be conditioned.

There are parents who can’t stand to hear crying and keep this up for the first few years. I had another friend who was extremely loving and couldn’t bare to hear her kid cry. At 3 he was a terror. Hitting, yelling at adults who spoke to his mom and even hitting his mom in the store when she wouldn’t by he stuff. I only went to the store with her one time and I swore never too again. Kid tried to hit a stranger. In the car he got out of his car seat and tried to open the car door to jump out because he was still angry. My point it doesn’t happen out of thin air. The spoiled children all started as spoiled babies. In daycare we called it redirecting. We redirected their frustration and fear to something else. Redirecting thechild to your hip 24/7 is a quick answer but it isn’t the only answer.

I’ve also seen parents just strap a kid to their chest and continue to work. I don’t see that as quality time. They also learn to sleep while being held and then won’t sleep at night because they slept all day. Babies need their minds stimulated. I was just pointing out he can find other methods to deal with the baby’s crying other than just picking them up like a sack of potatoes.

Actually, it really doesn’t matter what we each believe. The OP, sounds like a loving father who is looking for other suggestions, to quiet his child without having to resort to holding him all day. Your arms do eventually get tired. Especially as the child grows. He needs ideas that involve making the child happy long enough for him to study. Not all children like to sleep all day. If he begins to resort to making the child sleep all day than he can trust the baby will be up all night.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Pandora I believe that it is precisely because I held my son as much as I did that he was secure enough not to require me 24/7 as he began to grow. By the time he was a year old he was able to spend time playing alone and exploring the world without me holding him constantly. I am pretty sure that if I had let him cry it out all those times as an infant he wouldn’t have developed the security that allowed him to feel safe enough to go off on his own and learn about the world. He did not grow into a beast of a 3 year-old and he is a pretty decent fourteen year old.

Pandora's avatar

@SuperMouse Well nothing is iron clad. Every child is different.
We did have one baby in day care that did want to be held a lot only by me and would push the other caregivers away and scream like death was coming. It didn’t take me long to discover he was very bright and intuitive. He knew when people didn’t like him and who did. He also loved discovering new things. The more I played and explored things with him the less he cried. He learned so quickly that he was moved to the next grade at 11 months

Some of our babies would stay till 14 months if we felt they were not ready for the next grade. Just pointing out that there are more ways to help a baby feel secure and loved. I’m not trying to offend anyone way of raising their child. But you have to wonder why has children misbehavior gone crazy.

When I would be with the older children who were 5 and showed extreme aggressive behavior, I found either the parent seemed too stern and cold or the parent thought their babies were perfect angels and controlled by the child. At the same time raising your child is like a crap shoot. Same parents raise 5 children. All with different personalities and all of us came out so different. So that proves to me that nature has a loaded deck.
I do miss my baby Christian. He is probably about 10 by now.

skfinkel's avatar

@Pandora Your description of the three year old terror has nothing to do with the fact that he was held when he was a baby, if in fact he was. (@SuperMouse also makes this point.) It sounds like there are other serious problems going on with him, and I hope his mother is able to get help. A child that is obnoxious and destructive may be getting that kind of behavior directed at him from others (usually grown-ups) from whom he is learning the behavior. From your description, he is on his way to becoming a bully himself. The first thing to do is see who he is around who could be mistreating him—and then get him away from that person.

If he is really just behaving badly, then there are ways to help the mother learn how to set limits, be consistent, how to say no to him.

Pandora's avatar

@skfinkel Nope. His mom and dad didn’t want any thing to scar him emotionally. So they caved at almost everything except for store purchases because they were not financially well off. He did start to behave once she realized that she had to be firm and set limits to his behavior. Let him cry or throw fits and to stand her ground. The day he almost threw himself out of the moving car and then started to hit her as she drove, woke her up. I pointed out to her that she was going to love him to death if she didn’t set rules. Once she started to, his behavior changed. He actually grew into a sweet young man who still loves his parents till today and is happily married.

bkcunningham's avatar

Do you play peep-eye or hide and seek with a blankie or This Little Piggie or Pat-a-Cake or nuzzle his neck or blow his belly or make funny exaggerated faces and noises?...

A 5 month old baby doesn’t have a big attention span when it comes to reading, @_Whitetigress. It sounds like he wants your attention. Eye contact and sounds that are directed at him and in his direction. Get down in the floor with him. He is learning to crawl and soon to walk. He needs to be on a blanket in the floor. He can entertain himself for a few minutes trying to get to a toy he wants. Tease him with a toy in front of him on a blanket while you sit in the floor and study. There are lots of ways to play and keep him occupied while you study. But first and foremost, he needs and wants your attention.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Pandora yikes! I am very glad to hear mom and dad came around and gave the little guy a fighting chance. My husband has a three year-old granddaughter who pretty much runs the family and I shudder when I think about what that situation will look like in ten years.

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