Dumb Parenting Advice: Don’t Soothe Your Baby

April 5, 2006

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Does anyone who writes for Parents magazine ever stop to think what they’re saying when they disseminate dumb parenting advice? To wit, I uncovered the following little gem in a recent parenting publication.

“If your child starts crying an hour after a full meal, avoid using your breast or a bottle to soothe her. Eventually she’ll learn to trust that when she’s hungry, she’ll get fed.”

Is it just me, or is that a contradiction? If you don’t nurse a baby or give her a bottle when she cries to be fed, how will she learn to trust? That is, in my opinion, dumb parenting advice.

For starters, who are the invisible people inside the popular parenting magazine (designed to sell you a million different products you don’t need and that can actually do you and your baby more harm than good) to say your baby isn’t hungry?

Have you ever eaten an hour after a “full” meal? Or drank something an hour after a “full meal”? Do the diet scheduling police come after you?

To a baby, food is love. If the baby is breastfed, especially, he may want to nurse because he’s:

needing to suck
about to become ill

And that’s perfectly acceptable to me. One researcher noted that breastfeeding mothers in one preindustrial society nursed their babies, on average, every 4 minutes. The babies were tied to their bodies and they simply swing him around to the front and nurse. Work, life, etc doesn’t have to stop.

Telling a nursing Mom to deny baby the breast is a recipe for milk supply issues. The more frequently baby nurses, the higher the fat content of the milk.

Besides, is there some great sin in letting baby learn to soothe, not by self, but by another warm loving person? Let’s take this a bit further, shall we?

Is it wrong for a toddler to reach for a hug when she falls down?
Is it wrong for a preschooler to reach for Dad when he falls off his bike?
Is it wrong for a teen to reach out to a parent when a friend falls victim to drugs or alcohol?

I don’t know about you, but I surely hope my kids reach out to me instead of “self soothing”.

People tend to soothe themselves with chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, and credit cards. If I don’t soothe the people I love, are they going to be more likely to look to alternatives that are far less healthy? Teens may reach for other teens (with the accompanying problems that result: teen pregnancies, drugs/alcohol, etc). Spouses may reach to someone outside the marriage, shopping and credit card debt, alcohol, etc.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were conditioned, from infancy, to reach out to a warm loving person who has their best interests at heart instead?

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2 Responses to “Dumb Parenting Advice: Don’t Soothe Your Baby”

  1. modernman on April 3rd, 2009 7:56 am

    Haven’t you ever heard of “Tough Love” (the idea that it is best to convince the people you love that you don’t care about them at all). Or have you ever heard people say “He/she is just trying to get get attention.” The problem with people, especially children, is that when they are hungry, or ill, or in any kind of need, they start going around trying to get attention.
    Some people will even go so far as pretending to attempt suicide, but it’s really just a “cry for help.” They don’t really want to die, they are just trying to manipulate health care workers into giving them treatment that they don’t really deserve.

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