27 answers

Baby Won't Stop Crying If He Doesn't Get What He Wants.

My son starts crying and getting mad when he doesn't get his way. He is 8 months old now and it's getting worse. Before, I breastfed him on demand so I did hold him a lot. When we got him a playpen in his room, he would cry when he was alone. We didn't have enough room in the living room to put his big playpen there. So I moved my computer to his room so he'd have somebody there while playing. If we're in the kitchen or living room, we take him there in his bouncer or jumper. But now he just screams and cries when he isn't held. Or when I'm in his room, when I'm not playing with him. It's like he wants to be held all the time.

We wanted to set limits at around 6 months. But whenever we'd try he'd throw tantrums so loud the neighbors were upset. Now we have new neighbors and we know they aren't going to like it if we let him "cry it out" (as doctor advises - and we don't like the idea of letting him cry to sleep either).

During the day, I can keep him in his jumper or bouncer so he can see me while I am in the kitchen or cleaning up around the house. He cries and yells but I just go along with my chores. All the time, I talk to him, tell him what I'm doing, etc. to reassure him I'm not ignoring him. We feed and bathe him on time too. I want him to learn that there are times when we will play together, and times when he has to learn to play by himself. We want him to realize at an early age that parents and others need time for themselves too (and to get things done). But I don't know now how to do it. My husband would sometimes take him with him (either playing together or letting baby play with a toy) to give me a break so I can work or rest. But he will REALLY cry then.

When I was a baby, my family didn't interact with me much They left me in the crib most of the time because they were taught to think that holding babies spoils them. I never felt very close to my parents and I think that was one of the reasons. When we had our first baby, all I wanted was to love and care for him as all babies need. Now I'm asking myself where we've gone wrong.

As a note: He is a very willful and serious child. I do not like the idea of CIO but when we did try it, not only did the we and the neighbors not like it, it didn't seem to work. He just got madder and madder. But my son is very intelligent and observant. I feel he can express himself positively if we steer him in the right course early.

Oh, and I do tell him "NO" when he starts throwing a fit. I've told him "NO" and "STOP." He will look at me and yell even louder.
Thanks for reading.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

----- One more update. Thank you for all your advice. I am happy and relieved to know my son is acting normal and we aren't going to spoil him this way. I understand now what his needs are and why he behaves this way. We're just going to give him all the love and care he needs and let him become more independent at his own pace. Meantime we will enjoy this brief period (him being a baby) as much as possible. We want this to be a happy time for him and if ever he remembers it, I want it to be nothing but love and happiness and trust that he knows. Oddly enough, he just stopped screaming and crying so much around the time I posted this question. I notice he is playing more and more with his toys by himself. He is also taking regular naps in his crib (even though he sleeps with us at night). He is getting more mobile - he can stand on his own but isn't waking yet - and wants to explore.

I do practice baby sign language with him. But he hasn't signed back after 2 months of regular signing. I already use dozens of signs on a consistent basis. Signs about food, changing, toys, animals, parents and so on. Nothing yet.

Thanks for your responses. To clarify: My husband is an absolutely wonderful dad. Yes, he sings, plays with and cuddles our baby. He feeds, bathes and cares for him when he is sick. Whatever he may be doing, he'll drop it in a moment to spend time with him. In fact when our son was a newborn my husband cared for him more than I did while I recovered from c-section. They enjoy playing together a lot, but overall our baby prefers to hang out with me. We think it's because he spends more time with me in his play room (it's no longer his bedroom since we are now co-sleeping in the master bedroom) and they just need more time together. The problem is, like I said, he is REALLY LOUD if I'm out of his sight for even a few moments.

When I said family left me alone in the crib, that's it--they picked me up only to change me or bathe me. They thought they were doing the right thing. Back then, teaching a child good behavior from the get-go seemed more important than ensuring his or her emotional well-being. I do not see how I can be anything like that. I play with him. I read to him and make animal sounds. I put him on my lap and we watch baby videos together. I dance with him in my arms. We sleep with him in our bed. When we drive out, I often sit in the back with him so he has company Between chores and work, I get down on the floor and play with him.. As I said above, I talk to him while doing chores so he knows I'm not ignoring him. When we have dinner, we feed him too so he is not left out. I don't know how I could pay more attention short of simply not doing anything else. This is NOTHING like how I was raised.

It's not that I mind cuddling and playing with him. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I've always tried to enjoy it as much as I can. He is growing up so fast and I know this won't last. What we want to prevent is the possibility of him growing up ill-tempered and undisciplined, disrespecting us and quarreling with other kids. If other parents who've been there tell me this is not the case, I would be relieved. I don't know so I am asking. I welcome your advice. Just please understand I am not trying to ignore my child's needs or opt for "convenient parenting."

As for "expressing himself positively" - I meant that when he is older.

Featured Answers

I am a work at home mom and what I found that was really helpful was baby wearing. I had a nice sling that I could put him in and then I could work and do some chores with him and we were both happy. My kiddo was not a good napper for a very long time and the sling really helped us.

2 moms found this helpful

Google 'high needs baby'... this is my 9 month old exactly. Some of the moms on here actually told me about it... He will neverrr be happy! Always mad! It's EXHAUSTING! I'm just saying, i know how you feel. I still struggle with it daily but I'm learning when to laugh, when to ignore it completely, and when my son really needs my attention. My first 2 kids were angels... my son is my little hellion!! It's getting a little easier, but it's still tough. Hang in there honey, you're not in this alone :)

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im going to be very honest with you, but hope it doesnt come across too harsh. i believe your upbringing, and possibly advice from these same relatives to you as a new mother, has clouded your judgment.

first off, its not normal to leave a baby in a playpen alone (other than at nap or bedtime) and expect them to play for long periods. its not normal for a baby to stay in a bouncer for long periods by themselves. its not normal to expect a BABY to "understand" adults need alone time. its not normal to think an 8 month old baby to understand the word no. although, saying no to things like hitting or biting would be appropriate, at this age a baby doesnt understand your "no" is referring to him doing the only thing he knows to COMMUNICATE. your fit is him just trying to tell you what he needs. thats what the yelling is, its him trying to talk to you to tell you he needs something.

a young baby sleeps alot and just sits there, at 8 months, your son is fully aware of himself and you, and at this age, babies dont like being alone. 9 months is often when babies become clingy and have separation issues. at his age, your son is not just going to sit there, and at the same time, is not old enough to PLAY by himself. he wants to be entertained and have your attention.

all parents want to think their baby is "intelligent and observant" but the truth is this behaviour you described as a negative is completely normal for his age. he isnt willful or serious, he is a little baby wanting his mommy. your baby sounds like both my kids, my sisters 2 kids, my SILs 3 kids, and every friend/relatives' child i know at that age. your reaction is not. your baby CANNOT tell time, so he doesnt understand that you decided playtime lasts X minutes. i think your expectations of your son and motherhood are a little skewed. this is what is about, giving up yourself for a baby and putting the baby and his needs above all else. i think it is unreasonable to "teach" your son at 8 months he only gets X amount of playtime, and that he can play by himself for any period longer than 10 minutes.

your son needs to be held more and have your attention. you sitting on your computer in the same room is not giving him attention, and although some chores need to be done, they should be done at naptime and bedtime when able. he wants YOU, how wonderful is that. this little person who you made wants nothing else than to be with you. your son is completely too young for you to be putting these types of expectations on him. i really think you need to stop your plan and realize the expectations you have described are what parents want of a 2 year old, but only actually get from a 4 year old.

i dont mean to sound harsh, it is clear that you want to do whats right by your child and its clear that you dont realize your expectations are abnormal. you would have never wrote this if you thought there was anything wrong with it. i just want to warn you, your description of your life as a baby is actually more similar to what you are doing to your son, than i think you realize. i think your family has maybe had a greater impact on you as a mother than you probaly intended. good luck

12 moms found this helpful

You haven't "gone wrong" with the early attention you gave your child. You can't spoil a tiny baby. However, it sounds a bit like you went from what was probably a very healthy amount of interaction up to 6 months, to a rather abrupt cut-off of your attention, holding, playing, snuggling, coaching and care, from your son's point of view. I'm basing this on your phrasing, so forgive me if that's not accurate.

But your expectations of your son's ability to realize the needs of others isn't reality-based, it's theoretical. He's nowhere near an independent being yet; he still depends on you for meeting nearly every need he has, including physical and mental play and exercise. To whatever degree he recognizes that he's a separate person from you, he could actually feel unsettled and anxious. If he screams loudly for your attention and holding, and you go on doing what you're doing, that will only increase his anxiety.

Kids only very gradually gain empathy, and that doesn't even begin to become apparent until most of them are around 18 months. And they only very gradually become interested in toys and independent play. If they comply with being left to their own devices before then, it's either because they are uncommonly fascinated with simple toys (which could be a sign of a neurological disorder) or they have given up asking to have their needs met (because the way babies do that is to cry or scream).

I'm really sorry to hear that you were left to deal with your own needs by your parents. I hope you won't do that to your son. It sounds like that early dynamic could be reappearing in your own parenting. Are there any parenting classes you might have access to? Your view of what is "good" parenting could well be skewed by your own experiences and your relationship with your family. This would be a wonderful time to get a reality check, for your own reassurance and your son's legitimate needs.


I've read your "what happened" addendum, and would like to suggest that you read about Emotion Coaching, a term you can google for lots of information. This approach has been wonderful for every parent and child I know who has incorporated it into their family lives. It brings out the best in kids and parents, creates strong family bonds, great cooperation, and emotionally healthy and resilient kids.

11 moms found this helpful

He is still just a baby and you have done nothing wrong up to this point, but from reading your post I get the feeling that you need to adjust your expectations as to what your baby "should" be like at this point.

Some babies just want more interaction and attention and you don't need to suddenly start setting limits at 6 months. There is nothing magical about 6 months that says all of a sudden you should not pick him up when he needs it or not try to comfort him when he is crying. He cannot understand why you are ignoring him and suddenly are expecting him to entertain himself. I'm sorry, but I cannot see how an 8 month old infant can be "willful and serious" and be expected to "express himself positively". He cannot begin to even comprehend the concept that you guys want some alone time. My daughter is 3 years old and still isn't there yet. The toddler years is all about setting limits. You still have a ways to go.

He's just a baby. He needs you, his whole world revolves around you, don't ignore him and don't tell him NO and STOP. You stated that you don't feel close to your parents because they did not interact with you very much, and you wanted to give your baby all the love he needed, and yet you seem to be repeating the same pattern. Just hold him, love him, and cuddle him - it's what he needs now, and it will not last forever. If you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at times, then by all means give yourself a "time-out" to regroup, but don't keep ignoring your baby thinking that's what you should be doing right now at this age.

Parenting classes and some of the other resources already listed should be very helpful too.

9 moms found this helpful

Babies don't HAVE wants. A want is an optional thing. They have needs.

I agree with the others, you're placing expectations on your baby that are years ahead of where he is. Like he's 2 instead of 8mo. ALTHOUGH that means you're still doing better than my H. His expectations were typically 5-10 years ahead of where reasonable ones would be.

My husband came from a VERY abusive upbringing. He tried/tries his best.. but it REALLY colors his judgement. For example:

- That out 11 DAY old, should understand that crying annoys adults and not to do it in public or when he was trying to "concentrate", and therefor crying should be punished. OMG... almost divorced on the spot over that one.

- That a 1 year old should be able to take a bath by themselves (came home and found my husband working out and our son out of sight and hearing in a bath up to his shoulders).

- That a 2 year old should be able to walk to the park across a busy street and stay there on his own.

The list goes on. It makes sense to HIM, because that's how he was raised. His sister was born 10 months after him, and HE raised her. Gave her her baths from the time she was 6 months old (he was only a wobbler himself, just over a year and a half), fed her, changed her, took her to the park ALL DAY, the list just goes on and on.

So when he became a father he split in two ways: 1) he started reacting to our son the way he reacted to his sister, aka, like a toddler and 2) placed the same unreasonable expectations on our baby his drug using parents had put on him. He didn't WANT to be like his parents, but since he wasn't beating HIS baby, or locking him in the basement for weeks with a giant container of ramen as his only food source, etc... he didn't see how an adult raising a baby the way a toddler would was still completely and totally abusive/neglectful.

It took my husband a LONG time to realize his expectations were just plain wrong. An ELEVEN YEAR old can realize that throwing a fit is distracting (honestly, so can a 5yo, but an 11 year old has the maturity/ impulse control to be able to step back and look at how their actions effect others, a 5 year old just tries to be "good", but still loses it when they're tired/hungry/scared/upset), but not an 11 month old, much less and 11 day old.

I would strongly suggest auditing a developmental psychology course at your local CC (to find out what is age appropraite), or to look into parenting classes through your local hospital. NOT because you're a bad parent, you're not. Not at ALL, it's very obvious you love your wee one with all your heart and want the best for them... but to learn, again, what is age appropriate, and how to cope/deal with what is age appropriate. :)

9 moms found this helpful

Willful in a 3 yr old? - Oh Yeah. Willful in an 8 month old? Impossible.
At about 6 months old separation anxiety can start up. They recognize Mom and Dad's faces (and scents) and they have figured out where their bread is buttered. Mom's the great fixer of things (hunger, changes diapers, comforter). Peek-a-boo is a game they love now. And in a baby that age, they seem to think if they can't see you - you are gone! It throws them into a panic. They cry like their heart is breaking, and it is - they feel abandoned.
For a LONG time, I was my son's clear favorite. In a room of strangers, if I wasn't there, Dad would do. But the minute I came within 5 feet, my son would lean/launch himself at me from Dad's arms.
Separation anxiety is tough, and it can last for years. YOU know you just left the room so you can use the bathroom for a few minutes, but baby just falls apart. I actually learned how to use the bathroom while still holding him, and when he was a little older, he was ok with sitting by the bathroom door where he could see me. In the kitchen it was too dangerous to hold him while cooking, but if I left one foot way back from the stove, he was happy sitting on my foot while I cooked. Silly, I know. But he just needed me so much and I couldn't bear to hear that mournful little cry.
Babies absolutely NEED to know they are loved, and at this point you are building trust which will last a lifetime. At 8 months old, the language skills just are not there to be able to tell you in words what they are feeling.
Trust comes first. Independence comes later (3 - 5 years old and it varies a lot from child to child (and it even varies with time of day - a toddler may boldly run across a playground by day, but at night need some cuddling to get over a nightmare)).

7 moms found this helpful

Oh, I understand! I have twins, and they were BOTH like this as babies, so you can imagine how tired I was of holding babies. They "flunked out" of daycare, where I was leaving them a mere 3 hours a day, because they just cried if they weren't held all the time. They cried with their super-loving dad. They absolutely refused bottles, so I had to nurse them a LOT. They went ballistic if I walked into the other room for 30 seconds. As others have said, it really seemed like they NEEDED to be with me all the time, with huge separation anxiety. I would end up cooking dinner with one in a front pack and one in a backpack (I got strong!) The good news? After about age 1.5, it started to gradually get better. By their third birthday, they were able to start preschool without tears. Now, at age 4, they are still somewhat shy and slow to warm up to new situations, but they are generally happy, helpful, loving kids. They don't seem selfish or spoiled at all, and they play nicely and know how to share and so forth. On the bright side, their caution makes them much less likely to wander off in a crowded airport or mall or busy road or whatever. The bottom line? I know it's tough, but there's nothing "wrong" with your baby, and IT DOES GET BETTER! Get a good baby-wearing system, and hang in there, Mom!

5 moms found this helpful

At eight months, i bet your baby is mobile in some way - able to crawl or roll or something. At this age he really doesn't need to be confined to a play pen or a bouncer or jumper. He'd rather be out around the house exploring and exercising. The jumper may be getting too limited and confining for him.

As much as possible let him be near you. When you are cooking he can sit on the floor next to you, and you can give him some spoons or bowls to play with. When you fold laundry, let him play with a toy on the floor next to you. Same thing for the computer. As he gets older you can involve him in more and more tasks while you are working - this is a great way to build a relationship with your child. My three year old delights in helping me cook and clean, and we can spend time together while we do that. My nine month old is happy to be in the same room with us, playing with some of the tools of whatever trade we are engaged in.

You can also try taking him outside for a while every day - spend some time with him on a playground or just a walk, making sure you let him exercise.

When he does cry for you you can pick him up, hug him, calm him, tell him 'Mommy is working, and when i'm done we'll play', and then put him down. Do this as often as necessary through out the day, but challenge him to be patient between each time. (When he starts fussing, say 'just a moment, and i'll give you a hug', and then finish your task, and then pick him up.)

You can also put your toys in rotation - keep them put away and give him one at a time - when he gets fussy you can give him his hug and then put him down with a novel toy.

Hopefully, between that process and getting more exercise and fresh air, he'll both learn more self-sufficiency, and be more tired so that he can settle down to nap and sleep more easily.

(My son is similar to yours. Some days i end up carrying him a lot, and i even will put him in a backpack to vacuum or cook on those days. But, he will also play on his own a fair amount, and is developing his independence.)

4 moms found this helpful

Relax and take a deep breath. You are not doing anything wrong, and there is nothing wrong with your baby. What you are describing is separation anxiety, and developmentally, it is a very good sign. It means that your baby's little brain has grown to the point where he can recognize your face/smell/voice as different and separate from Dad's, Grandma's, or a stranger's. Remember when he used to go to just about anyone? He couldn't tell the difference between people then, and now he can. This also means that he understands that he is helpless, and that you are the one who takes care of his every need. It's not that he doesn't love his Dad, it's just that you are usually the one there to feed him, change his diaper, and hold him during the day. These are all good things.

An 8 month old has the attention span of a knat - like a minute or two, tops. And he hasn't developed object permanance yet, so if he can't see something, it doesn't exist. That's why peek-a-boo is so fun for them at this age.

So whenever possible, try to get your chores that require two hands done while he is napping. Or keep him close by you, within reaching distance, so you can at least touch him to calm him down. In order for him to grow into an independent little guy, he needs to know that his every need will be met. If he needs to be held, then hold him. He will soon be off to school all day and will be embarrased if you kiss him good bye in front of his friends. And then you will wish that you could hold him forever.

At this age, he is not mentally capable of manipulation. He is just a baby that loves and needs his mama. Let him be a baby while he is a baby. He will grow up all too fast.

4 moms found this helpful

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