What do you do with a crying/screaming 3-4 month old?

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I am hoping for differing opinions and reasons of doing some from posting this.

We have a 3 1/2 month year old son. After 3 months, he started being really fussy. He sleeps pretty good through the night, feeds regularly. In the past week he has up-ed his feedings from 6-7/day to 8-10/day (breast-fed). He is really good, quite or having a fun time, smiling, etc. right after he feeds, but usually after 30 or so minutes, he starts crying (if I'm holding him). And I can do everything and nothing will calm him down. What he wants is his mom to hold him. And when that happens, he calms down, or my wife calms him down by feeding him.

Is this the time to start disciplining him, knowing that he is not hungry for sure, do we let him cry himself out (for, what i think will be over an hour of crying)? Would any one consider this 'child abuse', I've heard this before?

Or do we continue in the path we are going, where my wife comforts him, every time he cries?

I ask because there are differing opinions. All our doctors or any medical professional we've talked to has said that he should be comforted. Books written by parents, parents in our church have stated that we just need to let him cry because he is throwing an infant version of a temper tantrum (he wants his way right now, or else...).

What do you think, why, how can you help me and my family and any one else experiencing the same thing?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Andrew,

I don't think you can "discipline" a three month old. I don't think the cognitive capacity for discipline is there. You can, however, work with an expected response by letting him cry it out.

We used some of the principles the book Babywise to help inculcate those principles. Babywise is not perfect (there are some significant things to be aware of) but with common sense, I think the idea of not having the family revolve around the baby is a sound one.

For example, I kind of cringed at Dena's FB post where she had to leave a time out because of Oliver's extreme fussing. Cringed not because I was critical of you all, but because I know how hard it is for a mom to get out, and how hard it is on a dad to deal with a difficult baby situation.

I hope this helps.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Could be gas too, especially since it's after feeding. Just a thought. Check out mom's diet and make sure there's no gassy foods there. Try some gas drops.

Also, when my son started getting collicky from 3-9 months. The only thing I could do to soothe him was to walk up and down the hall.

Just consider all the options... :2cents:
 

matt01

Puritan Board Senior
I am hoping for differing opinions and reasons of doing some from posting this.

We have a 3 1/2 month year old son. After 3 months, he started being really fussy. He sleeps pretty good through the night, feeds regularly. In the past week he has up-ed his feedings from 6-7/day to 8-10/day (breast-fed). He is really good, quite or having a fun time, smiling, etc. right after he feeds, but usually after 30 or so minutes, he starts crying (if I'm holding him). And I can do everything and nothing will calm him down. What he wants is his mom to hold him. And when that happens, he calms down, or my wife calms him down by feeding him.
Continuing to give him what he wants (his mother holding him) every time he cries, will reinforce in his mind that crying = getting what he wants. I don't think discipline would do a lot of good, as he probably isn't going to understand what you are doing. Letting him cry out would be the better option, and it certainly won't hurt him.

Both of our daughters have similar behaviour at some point along the way.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Gas is coming out nice and with great bowel movements :) I thin but I'll ask Dena.

Trying to consider all the options, and make a decision for our family. Seeking wisdom before I make my decision.

-----Added 8/25/2009 at 04:57:22 EST-----

I've heard that letting him cry it out is a form of child abuse. They have the view that the child needs something, that's why he is crying, to not meet that need is abuse (of some kind).
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Could be gas too, especially since it's after feeding. Just a thought. Check out mom's diet and make sure there's no gassy foods there. Try some gas drops.
For the baby of course. :)

Also, when my son started getting collicky from 3-9 months. The only thing I could do to soothe him was to walk up and down the hall.

Just consider all the options... :2cents:
As a father of four girls, I've had my share of trying to deal with inconsolable babies - they all had times in their little lives in which they would not happily spend time with Dad, and let me tell you that tears at the heart - as you well know. So the hardest thing to do is to simply sit there (or walk - I paced and rocked back and forth a LOT) and let your child cry while you hold him. I got better at this as children came and grew out of this stage, but at the time, especially the first, it was HARD to simply do nothing.

The detriment of allowing Dena to feed him every time he is inconsolable is hard to quantify.. but it's real. You don't want him learning that a) Mom gives him what he wants if he just cries hard and long enough and b) that consolation comes only in that particular form. One of the best things he can learn is that Dad is able to hold him and care for him such that he realizes that it's okay.

Youv'e got some good advice above. One of the hardest things for me to learn early on was that when I was charged with caring for Abigail (our oldest, now nearly 9) was that I had to give every ounce of attention to helping her calm down and remain calm. That seems like a no-brainer, but you dont' want to breed resentment in yourself when you're trying to do the right thing and give Dena an hour or two break, and at the same time get angry with your son because you can't think straight. You won't be able to, at least at first... and you have to let go of that desire to do anything but help your son out. Not saying this is what you're doing, just relating my own experience in our first child's case. (and second, and third, and fourth, having to relearn it every time, though relearning got easier).
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Gas is coming out nice and with great bowel movements :) I thin but I'll ask Dena.

Trying to consider all the options, and make a decision for our family. Seeking wisdom before I make my decision.

-----Added 8/25/2009 at 04:57:22 EST-----

I've heard that letting him cry it out is a form of child abuse. They have the view that the child needs something, that's why he is crying, to not meet that need is abuse (of some kind).
The unbalanced meeting of needs of this sort (answering every cry with milk), actually, is more abusive than not meeting it, In my humble opinion. The push to meet every "need" (put in quotes on purpose) is what, in my opinion, has resulted in our fat nation and a generation of children who cannot deal with rejection or not getting their way.
 

matt01

Puritan Board Senior
I've heard that letting him cry it out is a form of child abuse. They have the view that the child needs something, that's why he is crying, to not meet that need is abuse (of some kind).
Nonsense. Even our GP, who is a bit of a nut, argues that babies can cry for over an hour with nothing being wrong. I think I read something about the crying increasing lung capacity...
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
" parents in our church have stated that we just need to let him cry because he is throwing an infant version of a temper tantrum (he wants his way right now, or else)"

He's too little to be that manipulative. he cries not because he thinks it'll get him his way, but just because right now he's not happy - that's really as much as he's capable of formulating at that age. You're safe to follow God-given instinct and comfort him. Later, when he's old enough to realise what it means, you can gently begin to teach him that he can't always have what he wants.
The long term answer to "what to do with a screaming 3-4 month old" is,
Hang in there - it gets better! Autre temps, autre problemes!!!
 

Joseph Scibbe

Puritan Board Junior
I've heard that letting him cry it out is a form of child abuse. They have the view that the child needs something, that's why he is crying, to not meet that need is abuse (of some kind).
Rubbish. A baby often cries because they want attention. Plus at your childs age the baby often can not comprehend anything it does not see... "if mom/dad is not visible they no longer exist" and they are afraid. It is not child abuse but a good practice. To coddle the baby every time it cries is actually going to create a pattern that anytime I want something I get it.
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't believe that letting a baby cry is child abuse. If you've exhausted all other avenues (feeding, burping, cleaning, making sure there's no gas, etc.) then there is nothing wrong with the child physically....its just that the baby prefers the comfort of mom (which is what it sounds like in the OP).

You may want to try some methods to transition from mom to dad. For example, mom shouldn't hold the baby all day long, but allow the baby to be on its own at times. Also, mom can pump some milk and let dad feed once in a while. Also, you can try holding the baby while its wrapped in its mother's tee-shirt (anything that smells like her). This will help the baby get accustomed to dad as well.

Btw, I don't believe its too early to discipline.....I've known parents that started discipline while the baby was in the womb!
 

Berean

Puritanboard Commissioner
Just consider all the options... :2cents:
Take 2 of these for a brief respite. :think:
No lie. I used ear plugs when my youngest was 3-6 months during her worst crying times. It helped me a lot to keep me calm and focused, especially when you are in a tiny apartment.
Seriously. Incessant crying and screaming can send your blood pressure and your sanity through the roof. The baby won't know you're wearing them. :cool:
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
Btw, I don't believe its too early to discipline.....I've known parents that started discipline while the baby was in the womb!
How does that work?
LOL! I had a feeling that someone would ask! For example, if a baby is kicking into the mother's rib cage, the mom presses hard against that direction letting the baby know not to do that.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Btw, I don't believe its too early to discipline.....I've known parents that started discipline while the baby was in the womb!
How does that work?
LOL! I had a feeling that someone would ask! For example, if a baby is kicking into the mother's rib cage, the mom presses hard against that direction letting the baby know not to do that.
My wife tried that with one of ours, and it became a game... i.e. don't try it, folks, unless you're willing for your unborn child to start playing "flipper" with your ribs (as we used to call it)
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
It could be alot of gas, hold the baby high up on your shoulder and rub their back, you might be surprised at how much gas can be there.
Keep an eye out for ear infections, or even the beginning of teething pains.
They sell products to rub on their gums. It hurts when the teeth start to come in.
The baby sounds a bit young for the manipulation thing.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Actually, Andrew, have you ever tried the 'football hold'? That was a prettly calming position for all my girls at about the 3-4 month stage, whether they had gas (for which it was REALLY helpful) or not.
 

Jon Peters

Puritan Board Sophomore
We have four children and have used the Ezzo method with one of them. I cannot be as generous as Fed, I think the program stinks. I also disagree with those who say to feeding when she cries is a form of abuse and is bad. It's not. Remember, this is a BABY. The baby needs his mom; that's a good thing.

We have tried a lot of different things with our children. By far the most relaxing and enjoyable method for both mom and dad was comforting the baby and not letting him cry.

By the way, our second (now almost 8) cried for 5 months straight. Nothing calmed her down except her swing, and that didn't work all of the time. You need to be flexible. If scheduling and letting the baby cry works for you and the baby responds, then use that method. But don't be afraid to adapt and figure things out for yourself.
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm not a parent, but I was the caretaker for my cousin's children when she was ill, so I do have some experience with young kids. (an infant and a three year old.)

Whatever you do, please don't physically punish a child this young. I know some people think its a good idea, but as others have noted, your baby just doesn't have the cognitive ability to understand what he is being punished for. Letting the baby cry itself out as long as you have ensured that he's not hungry or in some type of pain is, I think, perfectly fine. My parents did this with us and I did it with my cousin's extremely fussy baby. Letting the baby cry and cry though can really tire you out and make you stressed and angry - so sometimes comforting is the better option.

I'll be in prayer for you and your wife. I know this can be a really stressful and sleepless time. I hope it passes quickly!
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
This has already been said in so many words, but it's possible that as the baby has grown, you may need to change your method of holding him. Or it's possible that after you've held him for 30 minutes, he is getting tired of being held?

The swing is also a good solution. Our oldest did much better when we put her in the swing when she got fussy. As it turns out, she is the child who needs to be up and moving all the time.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Sometimes crying is just a kid's sinful nature coming out, and some are lots worse than others. One of ours would cry for no reason and not stop. Following the advice we got at one of those big Reformed churches where everyone has a dozen kids, we (at three months) took turns blowing into his nose from a few inches away, which would stop the crying and when he started up again we'd lightly slap his leg with a wooden spoon, so he would associate the pain with his crying. It took three days, but that was it. The first day it took about 20 minutes, the next about 5 and the next just a few minutes. He totally stopped with the colicky stuff. He was the only one we had to do it with.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Much too early to discipline. You can start "shhing" him but he might be in pain.

With all my kids (who have been breastfed) there have been gas problems.

I learned, after James, how to resolve the problem with my kids and it might help you.

I lay the infant on my legs in front of me and take there legs and push them back into their chest. After a bit of a struggle, they will cry a bit and it will force a lot of gas out of them. They don't quite like the process but, afterwards, the gas in their intestines is relieved and they are much more content.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
There's nothing wrong with letting them cry it out for a while. Most of those who talk about letting them cry it out as being 'child abuse' have 'well adusted' children that are disrespectful, disobedient, and willfully rebellious in almost all things, but there are plenty of sociologically fancy words to explain those traits away.

We've had all sorts thus far and there is no standard rule here.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
We have four children and have used the Ezzo method with one of them. I cannot be as generous as Fred, I think the program stinks. I also disagree with those who say to feeding when she cries is a form of abuse and is bad. It's not. Remember, this is a BABY. The baby needs his mom; that's a good thing.

We have tried a lot of different things with our children. By far the most relaxing and enjoyable method for both mom and dad was comforting the baby and not letting him cry.

By the way, our second (now almost 8) cried for 5 months straight. Nothing calmed her down except her swing, and that didn't work all of the time. You need to be flexible. If scheduling and letting the baby cry works for you and the baby responds, then use that method. But don't be afraid to adapt and figure things out for yourself.
I have seen Growing Kids God's Way in action and it was terrible. It is as unsound as I can express. I have seen small babies with no comprehension spanked. It was horrible. And I am not convinced that it did anything for the kids and I am definitely sure the instruction taken from the Ezzo book did harm the parental view of the Mothers and Fathers I seen influenced by this teaching.

What's Wrong with Growing Kids God's Way

Ezzo.info: Evaluating Ezzo Programs Including Babywise and Growing Kids God's Way

Phillp Ryken on Ezzo's
Ezzo
 

Honor

de-cool
when my four year old was that age he sarted to cry for hours... nothing but me would consol him... everyone told me I was "spoiling him" I would hold him while he cried for what seemed like an eternity.... after this continued for a month my husband and I were starting to fight ( he said let the baby cry I said no way) I took him to the dr. after exentsive testing they found out that he was allergic to calcium enzimes. it's weird and not as common as being allergic to just milk. we had to cut out all dairy and dairy by products out of my and his diet. after a week there was a dramatic improvement. and six months later his stomache grew the nessisary stuff where now he has dairy just fine. My point is.... babies this young have only one way of communication. I highly doubt that this is the baby manipulating you. especially if it's after feeding. something could be wrong. I would get a copy of Dunston Baby Lauguage and before he starts into the full blown screaming listen to the sounds he making. Get a copy on ebay for like $25.00. then listen to your baby. My husband was racked with guilt because if we would have let him cry it out he would be allergic to this day. Not to mention the fact that he was in pain. I am all for letting a baby cry it out when it's bed time and you know that they can sleep through the night but you're not even to that stage yet. Please listen to all the advice you get here and then alway err on the side of compassion. I think that disipline should be reserved for willful disobediance. this isn't the case.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Just wondering, since feeding consoles him....

Is he getting enough? Does mom have enough milk for him

(as father to 8, and husband to wife who often run dry after 3 months...)

that is my take....
 
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