In the rest of Chp 2, Solter covers topics such as what to do if your baby has already learnt to suppress crying, how to tell when she needs a cry, and basically offers advice and thoughts that will help the parent feel more confident in following this idea. She also offers some exercises whereby you reflect on issues that might help you, such as your childhood and feelings about your baby.
Chp 3 covers food. It includes further notes about nursing for comfort as well as understanding hunger and introducing solids. One of the basic threads running through all this is that a baby that was allowed to cry and did not nurse/feed for comfort, is able to self-wean and regulate their food intake.
Chp 4 is all about sleep. She advocates co-sleeping and why babies won't fall asleep. Naturally, one of these reasons is a need to cry.
It's difficult to know whether the Wildflower has improved sleep due to age (it's still quite bad anyway) or because of being allowed to cry. But when all this clicked for me, I realised that going to bed with all that repressed stress must make for a fidgety, restless, wakeful baby. How difficult is it for us adults, to sleep when we have unreleased emotions, stuff on our minds, worries, etc?
Solter suggests that a sleepy baby will sleep immediately and spontaneously (once stimulation is removed). She says that,
"True sleepiness in a baby is characterized by a tired, relaxed look. The baby will not be fussy, whiny, fidgety, or hyperactive."
I took a quick look at Sears' The Baby Book, for their suggestions on getting a baby to sleep. Amongst removing stimulation, the other suggestions include wearing baby down, sleeping close and other similar comforting, noise, as well as rocking, car rides, and a swaying crib. Nothing about a good cry before bed.
Solter suggests that a baby needs to be ready for sleep and will do so easily when they are ready. Sears suggests we can help them get ready for sleep with warm baths and massages. And then get them to sleep with the suggestions above.
The idea of making a baby sleep never rang true for me. Fortunately I ignored this part of Sears' book and allowed the Wildflower to get ready for bed when she appeared tired. However, whee things went pear-shaped, is that the appearance of tiredness began as much as 2-3 hours before she would actually fall asleep. Without being allowed to cry, she had a lot of pent up stress. And back then, I believed that rocking and walking her was the best thing I could do.
So what happened was that her tired moaning sounds lasted for an eternity and my rocking was stopping her from releasing the stress. They were very, very long evenings and nights. At the time I just thought, well, that's her way of indicating tiredness and working herself up for sleep. It wasn't until around 8 months of age that I started to question the behaviour.
Here's a great thought I read just this morning. Solter says that most of us read fussiness and whining as indicators of sleep. I know I do! Who doesn't say, upon hearing a whiny child before nap time, 'oh, he's getting tired'? This is just what Solter asks. And then states,
"Whining and fussing are indications of a need to cry, not a need to sleep."
*Mon slaps hand to forehead*
She says that whilst a fussy baby may be sleepy (which is I guess why we make the natural connection), they are not actually ready for sleep while they are fussing.
I think I've understood that on a basic level. Parents tend to do all the things that Sears suggests - to wind baby down from fussiness. But Solter goes right to the core of fussiness - baby needs to release built-up stress. Baby needs a cry.
And now that I think of it, the easiest times for me to try out this crying philosophy has always been right before a nap. Solter says that tiredness makes it harder for a baby to hold in emotions. Anyone who has seen a whiny unhappy child before bedtime can testify to that. But the crucial bit we skip, is that what this means is that it's easier for a child to cry when tired.
Right before a nap, a) I am most confident that she needs a cry, and b) she is able to cry more easily.
I think back to times when the Wildflower has fallen asleep in my arms without hardly a sound, and that most other times there's tons of fussiness going on. I made the connection with high irritability - that she needed to release tensions - but general fussiness was just tiredness to me.
Solter concludes her basic point with,
"[the baby] will not be truly ready for sleep until after she has cried"
I've just been given a whole new perspective on fussiness before sleep. And it is so obvious when you look at it from this side. As hindsight tends to be.