See Touchpoints (Part I) for the story of Martha and her nine-month-old, Molly, who is up many times at night, refusing her morning cereal, and grumpy and crying at childcare. I had time to speak with Martha about the normal Touchpoints which occur during the first two years of a baby's life. Specifically, we discussed the "Separation (or Stranger) Anxiety" (as described by Piaget) that was plaguing Molly's (and Martha's) life right now.
Once Martha understood that Molly's behavior actually represented important growth in her baby's development, Martha seemed to relax. "But, are there things I can do to help both of us out?" Martha asked. And YES! there are.
Molly needs comforting as she passes through this phase of life, and Martha wants to respond lovingly but without creating new nighttime "habits."
So Martha is keen on learning how to "wean" Molly from how much of you she needs at night!
When Molly cries the next night, Martha goes to her quickly, picks her up, but does not nurse her. She pats her back, speakes lovingly to her, and rocks her back to sleep.
The following night Martha responds to the baby's cries quickly once again, but this time does not pick her up. Instead, Martha gently pats the baby's back and speaks quietly and reassuringly into Molly's ear. Molly calms down and returns to sleep. The next night Martha responds to her daughter again, but this time pats her back but without speaking. Again, Molly calms down and returns to sleep. Two nights later Martha responds to the baby's cry as usual but this time stands sweetly beside the baby's bed. The baby looks up and returns to sleep. The next night, and thereafter, Molly sleeps through the night.
Molly and Martha have returned to sleeping at night. In a few more days, Molly enjoys her morning cereal with a smile on her face and no longer cries when left at childcare. Martha is able to go to work with a smile on her face, and not be exhausted and anxious as she does her job.
What a wonderful job this duo has done! Molly seems invigorated by a newfound understanding of the world and her mom by a newfound understanding of her daughter.
Martha reads up on that next Touchpoint (which begins when the baby starts to walk, around twelve months) and is determined to meet this challenge with the wisdom and confidence she is learning to have as a parent.
Read more on the Touchpoints philosophy and techniques.