When you become a parent, everyone has an opinion that they feel free to share with you whether you asked for it or not. Some opinions were interesting and challenging, some were lunacy. But the opinion that, when voiced, made me want to tear my hair out, made me want to lash out with rage, made me want to tell the opinion-voicer to shut their pie holes, was the one that went:
You don’t have to pick her up every time she cries, you know.
She’s fine. She needs to cry. Leave her alone.
You have to put her down sometime.
If you keep picking her up, you’re going to spoil that baby.
And it’s just such… a terrible thing to tell a new mother. A new mother coursing with hormones and whose entire body and being is focused on this infant, this infant that she is biologically and mentally wired to hold and protect, being told to go against everything she’s feeling right at that moment and to not respond when her baby cries out for her. It feels like some kind of sick social experiment: Let’s see how snaky we can make the new mom by torturing her by the sound of her baby crying, while simultaneously telling her to not pick that baby up.
No thanks. I didn’t listen to that one. I picked up my baby every time she cried. I still do. I pick her up every time she walks up to me and asks to be picked up. I pick her up every time she comes and clings to my legs. Soon enough she won’t want me to pick her up, and so I’m storing up as many hugs as I can, while I can, because this won’t last forever. And as it turns out, picking her up every time she cries may make her kinder and more empathetic later in life. It not only feels right; it is right.
So the next time someone tells you not to pick that baby up when she cries, forward them this article. Then tell them to stuff it. You’re too busy holding your baby to listen to their opinions.