Tag Archives: crying

Ask A Leader: Housework Stress and Car Seat Woes

By Leyani Redditi and Cason Zarro, API Leaders of API of Greater Atlanta, Georgia

Q: I am feeling overwhelmed with household chores and parenting. I want to be present for my children, but the pressure of everything I need to get done is so stressful. How can I get everything done and have time for my kids?

1208354_91362232A: I have struggled with this balance myself. It is fine to say to a brand new parent not to worry about the dirty dishes, but eventually they do need to get done. I find that when my home is relatively clean and we have food in the fridge and clean clothes, my family and I are less stressed.

So how does it all get done? Well, first of all, it doesn’t ALL get done. Some things will go by the wayside. Maybe it is the folding or ironing part of laundry. A basket of clean clothes still counts as doing laundry. By all means cut corners where you feel you can while still feeling good in your space. But even then there are repetitive and time-consuming tasks that somehow need to get done.

Here is what I have found to be the most helpful for getting things done while taking care of my children: Figure out a system, do things in short increments and do something each day.

Find your system: Everyone has a different way of organizing themselves (or not), but when you sit down and list the things that need to happen in a day, you see why you are so busy (and tired) and why sometimes it feels so overwhelming. So make the list, give yourself credit for how hard you work and then get strategic.

Figure out what things need to be done each day, each week and each month. How can other family members help with these tasks? You all live in the house and can all help in some way. My 3-year-old helps set the table and picks up toys during our family 10-minute toy pick-ups. My 7-year-old puts away her own clean laundry and feeds our pets. My husband helps with dishes and home maintenance. I have found it very helpful to have a Morning List and an Evening List. And, no, we don’t get everything done each day, but we are all involved, and we know what needs to be done (most days).

Work in short increments: Having a newborn taught me to use the very short amounts of time I had with both hands free to get a lot done. Talk about learning to prioritize! I love the idea of only spending 10 or maximum 15 minutes on a task. I don’t wait until I have an hour to do chores. I do 10 minutes here, 10 there, and slowly things get done. Really it’s finding the rhythm of your day and your family. I think about fitting in little bursts of activity so that I can have the luxury of long chore-free stretches with my children.

Do something each day: Household chores are ongoing and repetitive; the plates get dirty over and over again. For me, learning to think of these activities as “life maintenance” was very helpful. Just like brushing my teeth, there are some things that need to get done every day (or at least most days). I had to give up the idea that at some point I’d find a bunch of free time to get it all done. So I do something each day. Sometimes getting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher is it. Other days, we pick up the house as a family. We put on great music and set the timer for 10 minutes. Then it is a mad dash around the house full of laughter as we pick up and put away what we can.

Most importantly, give yourself credit for whatever you get done. Feel good you are doing something rather than bad that you are not doing everything.

~ Leyani Redditi

*Scroll down to read more suggestions from our readers.

Q: My 6-week-old baby cries and cries every time he is in the car. How can I help him like the car?

A: Although many babies are put to sleep by the sound and vibration of the car, there are quite a few babes who cry and want to get out. Time will certainly make this better, but there are some things you can try in the meantime.

Some babies are simply not comfortable in their infant car seats. If you think that is the case, you may wish to try a different model car seat. Sometimes switching to a convertible seat may result in a happier baby because the seat may be more comfortable. A convertible seat is one that can be placed rear-facing for infants, and then turned around when your little one has reached the rear-facing limits for the seat. You should consult the car seat manual to determine if your infant meets the minimum weight and size requirement for a convertible seat.

Nurse or feed your baby right before you leave. Make sure his diaper is dry and that he has burped. You want him to be as comfortable as possible before strapping him in his seat.

If there are any music or radio shows that you listened to while pregnant, try listening to them in the car. The familiar noises can be very comforting for babies. Try singing some lullabies or upbeat songs, depending on what your baby prefers. Some babies are soothed by white noise. In a pinch, radio static can act as white noise.

You could also try placing a T-shirt you’ve recently worn close to your dear son. The familiar smell of Mama may help him feel less lonely. Some families have found it helpful to tape a picture of mom’s face where the baby can see it. If you are the passenger, reach back and rub his head or sit in the seat next to him.

Sometimes you may need to pull over to a safe place and nurse or otherwise comfort your baby. I have found it helpful to pull over, sit in the seat next to my baby and lean over to nurse her. She will even fall asleep occasionally, and I can sneak around and drive while she sleeps peacefully. If your son will be comforted this way, it can be helpful to keep him buckled so that he doesn’t wake up when you are trying to get him back in his seat. You can also try nursing him like this before even leaving the house.

Allow extra time, especially if you need to be somewhere at a certain time. This can reduce your stress when you do need to stop. Reduce unnecessary trips, and encourage friends to come visit you.

If all else fails, talk to your pediatrician to rule out a medical reason such as acid reflux.

~ Cason Zarro

We asked readers on Facebook to tell us how they find balance with household chores and parenting. Click here to read the full conversation on Facebook.

Sunshine: Lower your expectations. Best piece of advice that was given to me!

Erin: We gave up cable and hired a housekeeper to come once every 2 weeks. Best money ever spent in our home of 2 full-time workers. It allows us to spend time with our kids after work and still get lunches packed, etc.

Ina: Prioritize–listening to your child’s idea is a “now,” folding laundry is a “later,” and cleaning the garage is a “maybe.” Downsize–don’t have too many clothes, toys and knick-knacks around. The more you own, the more you clean. Change the bottlenecks–if there is a time of crazy stress during the day, try to change it (e.g., if bathing in the evening is stressful, bathe them after lunch).

Leah: Sometimes you just have to let go of the phrases “I need to” or “I should.”

Elizabeth: I find a lot of comfort from a weekly chart. I do just two or three main house cleaning things per day, and then I’m not spending an entire day cleaning everything. I also remind myself that my chart is a guide, not a “to do” list. I keep my kitchen tasks for after school time since my son is in there already doing his homework. He sits up to the counter, and I help him with his homework as needed while I do the dishes and get dinner on.

Sandra: The bottom stair and a shelf at the top of the stairs are the gathering area for things that need to be put away. No wasted trips up or down the stairs. Going up anyway–take the packs of tissue to the hall closet. Coming down–bring the glasses to put in the dishwasher.

Jennifer: I take a nightly bath with my two youngest (4 months & 19 months). It’s probably the only way I can even fit in a bath at night for myself. It’s such a sweet moment and my favorite part of the day. I wash each, hand them one by one to dad to dress, then rinse off myself. Simple things make a difference!

Jane: Keep kids involved; it’s their house, too. All three of them love it when I allow them to wash the bathroom (not the toilet). We get $2 spray bottles, fill with water and either vinegar, bicarbonate or lemon, and let them go for it. Let go of your pre-kids standard.

Brittany: Just decide sometimes that it’s actually not the priority; sometimes playing with your kids, reading stories, or taking a relaxing bath while listening to jazz or opera is more important. Sometimes meditating and deciding to be grateful that it’s your life and those are your kids before you crank up the music and start working helps you keep focus.

Cathy: By just implying it should all be balanced and we should be managing it–without staff–is just unfair at times.

Savannah: Having a routine of cleaning during a certain part of the day has unintentionally given my daughter a routine for when to have “alone” play time, which she enjoys quite a bit.

Maria: If you have something you need to do without kids nagging, give them lots of attention first. Play a game, get exercise, feed them, snuggle. Then try to get your task done.

Lauren: Babywearing definitely helps!

Aimee: Honestly, I just let things go. I clean up food and big messes, but our house is not perfectly clean unless we have guests coming over, then I do a quick major overhaul! We work full time, and I’d rather spend the time I do have with my daughter. I’d love to always have healthy home-cooked meals, but we do a lot of ready-made meals from Trader Joes.

Louise: My hubby is superb and cleans the kitchen whilst balancing both kids in the mornings, so I can sleep a bit more (5-month-old feeds 2 hourly), and I do the rest of the house. Online grocery shopping is a godsend!

Elizabeth: A few tactical things we do to help keep me from being overwhelmed: hired a cleaning person, make two meals on Sunday so we have leftovers for the first half of the work week, and use a grocery list app.

Josie: While my husband is doing the bedtime routine, I take 10 minutes to pick up the toys and straighten up a bit. It’s easier to start from zero the next morning!

Melanie: I have baskets in several rooms, so when I see something that doesn’t belong in that room (comb, dog collar, Lego brick, calculator, etc.), I pop it in the basket. Then every week or so, I empty all the baskets into a pile on the lounge floor and shout, “Come and get your stuff; anything not collected goes in the charity bag.” Works every time, and we quite often have stuff there for charity, too.

Kristen: My husband shares in all chores and, in fact, probably does more than me since our daughter was born (9 months old and breastfeeding). I spent half my childhood pretending to keep house or work … just because our society tells us these things aren’t fun doesn’t have to make it true for us. For our family, housekeeping is part of the overall peace of our lives.

Judy: I am thinking about doing a home office share with another work-from-home mom so that we can trade off child care on 2 hour shifts for each other while the other gets stuff done.

Cherry: I remind myself that it isn’t my ever-so-clean carpets and clean kitchen that I will be remembering on my death bed … it will be my time spent with my DD.




Mother-Baby Sleep Experts Offer Tips for Soothing Crying Babies, Giving Exhausted Mothers Alternatives to Crying It Out

Recent research reports have encouraged mothers to not respond to their babies when they cry. In response to this advice, a panel of noted mother-baby sleep experts from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and Australia have developed a free handout for parents that offers parents ways to soothe crying babies, which is available through Praeclarus Press.

“My baby is only happy in my arms. The minute I put her down she cries.”

Exhausted new parents often wonder what to do. Should they let their babies cry? “No,” says a committee of prominent experts in mother-baby sleep. Crying babies should not be ignored. This committee, representing researchers and parenting advocates from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia, has written a free handout for parents: Simple Ways to Calm a Crying Baby. This handout discusses current research about mother and baby’s sleep and includes specific strategies for exhausted parents.überforderung

Although having a baby who is “sleeping through the night” is something most parents aspire to, the reality is that most babies wake frequently up to 12 months of age. It is the parents’ job to help their babies return to sleep quickly. To achieve that goal, parents are often advised to let their babies cry. Unfortunately, that method is not particularly effective in helping babies settle. Rather, parents who respond to rather than ignore their babies’ cries have babies who go back to sleep more quickly.

The reason for this is that babies have immature nervous systems and need others to help them regulate their emotions. When adults hear babies crying and respond, babies develop the tools, both physiologically and emotionally, to calm themselves. Leaving babies to cry increases babies’ stress levels and often keeps them awake longer. It does not guide them emotionally or physically toward the goal of regulating their own distress and response. Continue reading Mother-Baby Sleep Experts Offer Tips for Soothing Crying Babies, Giving Exhausted Mothers Alternatives to Crying It Out

My Dear Crying Baby

By Tamara Parnay

Newborn babyMy dear crying baby,
Don’t worry
I see through…
Just beneath your upset, tear-streaked face
Lies pure innocence
Just beneath your urgent, heart-rending cries
Lie complete and utter trust and dependence
Just beneath your immediate suffering
Lies relief
Just beneath my anxiety and fear
Lies joy
Just beneath my anger and resentment
Lies gratitude
Just beneath the challenge of this moment
Lies peace
Just beneath it all
Lies love
I see through all the way through
To love
I love you
My dear crying baby
I am here for you

Love, Mama

Discuss this topic with other API members and parents. Get advice for your parenting challenges, and share your tips with others on the API Forum.

Babywearing is Good for Babies

By Marie Blois, MD, member of API’s Board of Directors

Babywearing momBiologically, babies need to be carried in order to thrive. Studies have shown that otherwise well-nourished and cared for infants who are deprived of human touch fail to thrive and can even die. Good things happen when baby is carried. Research shows that babies who are held often:

  • Cry less — Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry. The long-term consequences of letting infants cry without responding are just beginning to be understood. One study found that letting babies cry permanently alters the nervous system by flooding the developing brain with stress hormones. Responding quickly to your crying baby is an investment: the less she cries now, the more peaceful the upcoming year. It’s well worth your effort.
  • Are more calm and content — Carried babies have a more regular respiratory rate, heart rate, and steady internal body temperature. Even very tiny premature babies can be carried safely in a sling without danger of compromised breathing or heart rate. Regularly carrying a baby encourages baby to feel secure and content.
  • Sleep more peacefully — Keeping baby close helps organize his sleep-wake cycles. Naptimes are spent in constant motion, close to mother’s heart and nighttime is dark and still with a loved parent nearby. One study of premature infants found that babies had longer intervals of quiet sleep when they had skin-to-skin contact with mother.
  • Develop better — Babies who are held experience human touch and movement. This stimulation has been shown to have a positive effect on baby’s development. Carrying baby enhances motor skills by stimulating the vestibular system (used for balance). Carrying baby naturally limits the time baby spends in hard plastic carriers, such as car seats, automatic swings, and such. Holding baby while moving counts as “tummy time.”

Our babies are clever. They are born knowing how to signal their biological needs. They root when they need to nurse, smile when they need vital eye contact for optimal brain development, and they love to be held. There are good biological reasons for these behaviors: they help babies survive and thrive.

Excerpted from: Blois, M. (2005). Babywearing: The benefits and beauty of this ancient tradition. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing. www.ibreastfeeding.com.

Crying and Comforting

By Pam Stone, co-leader of API of Merrimack Valley, New Hampshire

**Originally published in the Summer 2008 AP in a Non-AP World issue of The Journal of API

Comforting the CryingAll babies cry. And all parents are continually striving to find the best way to respond to those cries.

Unfortunately, there is an abundance of misguided information about how to best respond to a crying baby; sometimes friends, family members, and even health practitioners may push advice upon parents that has not been well-researched.

Babies are born with brains that are only 25 percent of their full-grown size. Ninety percent of post-birth brain growth occurs in the first five years of life, influenced greatly by each interaction between the child and his caregivers. Brain connections are formed based on life experiences, particularly emotional experiences. If a child is not consistently comforted when in distress, his brain will not form the vital pathways that will help him learn to manage his own emotions and impulses. This can have a lasting impact into adulthood. Continue reading Crying and Comforting

Dear Editor: Confused By Crying Article

Dear Editor,

Crying & Comforting articleThe article “Crying and Comforting” from The Journal of API, Summer 2008 AP in a Non-AP World issue, states: “Two commonly prescribed approaches include: ignore the crying and encourage the crying,” and it offers API’s stance on responding to our crying babies by saying, “Fortunately for parents and babies alike, there is a warm and compassionate middle ground between ignoring and encouraging crying. The AP approach…involves recognizing and empathizing with a baby’s emotions and patiently working with him to uncover the unmet need causing the tears.”

I would like to offer the perspective that there are various gentle approaches for comforting a crying baby, each of which is unique – as unique as every loving and attuned mother-child relationship.

It is common for mothers who are highly attuned to their babies to know when their babies simply need to cry – and when they are crying because of an unmet need. A mother might use additional soothing behaviors for her in-arms baby, or she might not. She might continue to search for causes for the crying, or perhaps not. If she feels like bouncing her crying baby, then she does. If she feels like holding her baby in stillness, then she will. When she opens her heart and follows her baby’s cues, she knows best what to do.

About the prevalence of approaches that encourages crying: I could not find any advice on the internet that promotes the encouragement of crying in babies and children. In my experience talking with many parents, I have not known anyone who encourages their babies and children to cry. Is this truly a commonly prescribed and followed approach?

Those parents I know who have learned about the stress-release crying approach do not decide to encourage their babies to cry. Rather, they interpret the approach as saying that it’s important not to discourage their babies from crying.

To illustrate this interpretation, I’ll share a friend’s story: Her two-year-old daughter was in an accident and was seriously burned. Weeks after the accident, her daughter sometimes needed to “cry and release her fears and tensions of what she had been through.” My friend explained that when her daughter didn’t want the breast, “I’d hold her but not attempt to stop her [from crying]. Some small thing would have her in floods of tears, and I could just tell that it wasn’t about the small thing, but about the accident.”

The Benefits of In-Arms Comforting of Crying Babies

I was confused about the following statements made about the stress-release crying approach in the Journal article:

  • “The parent is unable to identify the need using her mental checklist, so she holds the baby without comforting behaviors;” and
  • “Parents are to hold their infants and let them cry, and not try to calm the baby with distractions such as toys or pacifiers. While API agrees that the parent should recognize and empathize with the crying child, we also believe parents should be available emotionally and physically to help soothe the distressed child.”

Tender holding of one’s crying baby is itself one of the most soothing, comforting maternal behaviors available to any mothers. Mother can stand, sit, or lie down with baby in her arms. The simple act of holding one’s baby includes movement, sounds, smells, and touch, as well as other comforting sensations and feelings that defy description. Baby experiences the warmth of mother’s arms and body; soothing, rhythmic bodily sounds, such as mother’s breathing and heartbeat; comforting, rhythmic movements, like the rise and fall of mother’s chest and the whoosh of air from mother’s lungs as she exhales, and the rise and fall of his own chest against hers; the familiar smells of her body; and the comforting awareness that his mother – the source of all things good and wonderful – is there with him.

A message of unconditional love is offered, and received. Baby may sometimes be able to focus better on all of these most basic comforts, some of which are reminders of the womb environment, when mother holds him in stillness and silence, without rocking, bouncing, jiggling, rocking, singing, humming, etc.

I’m guessing most mothers would not want to restrict themselves from using any key comforting behaviors along with holding. Moreover, we would want to use them in any combination that feels “right” to us in the moment. For me, that might sometimes mean holding my baby without the use of other comforting behaviors and sometimes without endeavouring to find causes for the crying. I would not want to restrict myself from simply holding my baby, because sometimes it was exactly what my baby and I needed. This still holds true for my children (now 6 and 4) and me.

The tender holding of one’s baby or young child without other comforting behaviors does not need to be associated only with the stress-release crying approach. For me, to discard the option to hold my crying baby in stillness is to throw my baby out with his tears.

Are We Generally Accepting or Unaccepting of Crying?

There are at least two powerful influences that may be – but do not need to be – affecting our responses to our babies’ crying: Our upbringing and our culture. It may be helpful for parents to be mindful of these influences and start shifting their perspective, if necessary:

  • If we were raised by parents who let us cry-it-out alone as babies and/or who discouraged our crying, then quite possibly our own reactions to our babies’ crying are exaggerated by our own unresolved childhood hurts. How did my parents handle my crying? What feelings are aroused in me by my baby’s crying?
  • Crying is a behavior that is not embraced and accepted much in our society. What messages am I hearing about crying from doctors, friends, family, television, books, etc.? How much am I influenced by societal views about crying?

If a parent tends to be unaccepting of crying, she may lean towards either extreme of ignoring, or actively discouraging, her baby’s crying. I wonder, though, if it is common for parents to express their lack of acceptance in more subtle ways?

It seems to me that there is a fine line between discouraging crying and using soothing responses while searching for causes for the crying. How does my baby or child interpret my continuing efforts to search out reasons for his crying? Does he continue to sense my unconditional love for him? And what is the impact on me?

If a solution-focused mother is unable to pacify her baby, his crying may increase, which in turn may cause the mother to intensify her search for a solution. If she still isn’t able to discover the unmet need, she may understandably start becoming anxious (and mothers’ anxiety is often exacerbated when they are sleep deprived). The baby senses his mother’s growing anxiety and may become more distressed. It can become a vicious spiral.

Mother has lost touch with the moment. She isn’t paying attention to her baby’s evolving cues. Desirous of a settled baby (which isn’t the baby she has in her arms!), she may forget just how much she loves the one who is crying in her arms. She may forget to listen to him. To really listen to him. With stress levels rising, she might end up either blaming her baby or herself: “There is something wrong with my baby because he continues to cry. He’s not a good baby.” Or, “There is something wrong with me. I am failing my child because I can’t stop his crying. I’m a bad mother.” Of course, no one is to blame.

I would like to take a closer look at the toe-and-sock example given in the article: “Imagine that a baby is trying to communicate, ‘The seam on my sock is irritating my toe.’ The parent is unable to identify the need using her mental checklist, so she holds the baby without comforting behaviors.” The situation described sounds to me like a type of unobvious irritation that would likely go undiscovered by many mothers, no matter how they view their baby’s crying, whether or not they use soothing behaviors in addition to holding and whether or not they continue searching for solutions. So, in this type of situation, is it possible that the parent might find herself in a vicious spiral as she strives to find out what is causing the crying?

I also wonder whether it might be possible for any additional soothing behaviors, such as rocking, swinging, jiggling, and bouncing, to aggravate the irritation of baby’s toe? Furthermore, the parent might be in solution-oriented mode and eventually happen to take off the sock that is irritating baby’s toe, but perhaps her intuition might more readily lead her to do that when she has not been jiggling, rocking, singing to the baby, and not in search of reasons for the crying?

About the stress-release crying approach, the article states: “If the close contact alone is not enough to soothe the child…there will be further release of potentially damaging cortisol in the child’s brain and there will be no release of calming opioids. The child’s emotions may spiral out of control, leading to feelings of anger and rage and potentially toxic brain chemistry.” In light of the advice: “The AP approach…involves recognizing and empathizing with a baby’s emotions and patiently working with him to uncover the unmet need causing the tears,” I feel concerned about the impact of this statement on mothers, especially those new to mothering, and worry that this information punctuates the overall message about the importance of being solution-oriented.

The Benefits of Acceptance

It seems to me that a gentle approach to crying need not always be solution-oriented. In our busy, solution-driven society, we are admonished – or admonish ourselves – “Don’t just stand there. Do something!” Sometimes, especially in stressful situations, I find it helpful to remind myself of Buddha’s words, “Don’t do something. Just stand there!” Don’t do. Be. Be present. Be mindful. Be centered in my love for myself and my baby.

In order to provide calm and loving support to my crying in-arms baby, I found (and still find) it helpful to center myself in peaceful acceptance of the situation; to be still in my body, mind, and spirit; and not jump instantly into fix-it mode. However, that’s not always easy to do, especially when I’m tired, and given my tendency to be unaccepting of crying! So, I give myself the following reminders:

  • Focus on my breathing: Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Bathe my thoughts in the gratitude I feel for the simplest of things: Being alive, having arms and hands to hold, touch and feel, eyes to see, ears to hear. Celebrating these most basic pleasures gives me strength to deal with the challenges of this moment.
  • Connect with my love for myself and my child. I love my child so much. I love myself.
  • Answers will arrive to me when I flow with the situation, rather than resist it.
  • I am being the loving parent I wish to be.
  • My in-arms child knows that I love him just as he is now, tears and all. He knows my love for him is unconditional.
  • My child senses my inner peace, and this positive energy is soothing to him.
  • My child will not continue to cry forever. He will stop crying.

When I was attuned to my baby’s state, I was (as any attuned mother is) able to distinguish whether he was meeting a need by crying or his crying was a request for help in meeting a need. If, for instance, he wanted to breastfeed, I knew his signals and responded accordingly by offering my breast. However, on occasion I was not able to figure out what the need was. And, as far as I’m concerned, that was OK! I’m not a perfect mother! In my imperfect moments, holding my baby close to my heart, and just breathing deeply, eyes closed, was sometimes exactly what he – and I – needed.

With the conscious intention to remain present and highly attuned to my children, and aware of how my upbringing and culture influence me, I simply wish to respond lovingly to my child’s feelings and needs, be mindful and accepting of what each moment brings, and not be too anxious to bounce or sing away my child’s every tear.

~ Tamara Parnay, The Netherlands


Thank you, Tamara, for your letter. API’s intention in publishing the article was to warn parents against advice regarding comforting baby’s cries that works against the parent-child bond. API agrees with you that comforting the crying should be focused on meeting the need of the child. If a baby is comforted by being held still, that would certainly be more responsive and sensitive than to try rocking or jiggling.

The caution is against refusing to soothe a child who could be soothed by noises, repetitive motion, etc. because this particular child would cry longer and harder without these soothing techniques and that this is supposed to be a good thing for the child. API does not agree with this stance on encouraging crying.

There is a difference between soothing during an emotional outpouring and trying to stifle the crying. A parent can encourage a complete release of emotion while also comforting and soothing, and if the child prefers not to be soothed, then this is the better choice for the parents to make in order to respond sensitively.

Lastly, as you pointed out, it is important that the parent stays calm while soothing and comforting, even when unable to determine the cause of the crying. The important point is that the parent continues to seek ways to soothe the child, rather than giving up.

Thanks again for your letter, as it helps API to clarify our stance and helps to answer similar questions from other AP parents.

~ Rita Brhel, editor of The Journal of API