Crying In Arms As It Relates to Attachment Parenting

I am confused by the idea of “Crying in Arms” and wanted to take a few minutes to share how I think it relates to  Attachment Parenting (AP).

The concept of “crying in arms” means that after all of baby’s normal needs are met, but he is still upset, you calmly hold him in your arms. You lovingly and gently look into his eyes and reaffirm how much you love him. The goal is to provide your baby with support and comfort while he’s upset.

The concept of Crying-in-arms (CIA) is different from crying-it-out and controlled crying. The crying-in-arms approach does not in any way suggest that it is ever okay to leave a baby alone to cry, or withhold anything that might comfort him.

Within the practice of Attachment Parenting, nursing and comfort should never be withheld from a baby. This does not mean that mom is always going to be available to nurse, but it should never be withheld because mom or dad is afraid nursing is performing a disservice to the baby.

Babies cannot be spoiled or over-comforted. They cannot over-nurse.

Some of the articles that promote CIA share that babies need to cry in order to have certain coping mechanisms developed within them. To me, this suggests that if I do not let my baby cry sometimes, I am giving him a disadvantage.

This goes against many mothers’ instincts–and science. Research shows that babies cry to express a need and it is our role to determine their need and meet it.

This is not to suggest that AP babies never cry. They do. And sometimes their parents are burned out and confused and have trouble determining or meeting this need.

Much of what is being conveyed sounds like a repackaging of the oldbelief that a baby needs to cry to exercise his lungs.  Allowing my baby to cry because ‘crying is beneficial’ did not resonate with my instincts or what I have learned.  It is tough to be sure when a babies needs have all been met.  Babies who are nursing can be nearly incessantly hungry, and simply need the comfort of the breast.

CIA is just a fancy name for something that I was already doing–respectfully responding to my baby’s needs.  If my baby cries and nursing (or anything else) won’t calm him down, I instinctively speak calmly to him, rub his back and try to soothe him.

Jennifer Andersen is the founder of Our Muddy Boots and lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.  Click here for advertising and media inquiries.